Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Fruitful in the Place of Affliction

Leslie Basham: When you’re headed into a stressful situation, remember this from Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Wherever you’re going, He will go with you. He will go in you. He wants to make you fruitful—even in the place of your affliction.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Choosing Gratitude, for Thursday, May 30, 2019.

Over the last couple of days, Nancy’s talked about God’s faithfulness in times of trouble. If you missed any of this practical message, you can hear it at ReviveOurHearts.com.

She delivered this message to close of one of the True Woman conferences hosted by Revive Our Hearts. She's taking us through Psalm 107, which talks honestly about life’s struggles. Nancy’s here to show us how this passage also offers hope and refreshment.

Nancy: So we've seen trouble, crying, deliverance, and what comes next? Praise and thanksgiving. There's a refrain that's repeated four times in this chapter, and the first two lines are the same each time. 

"Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man."

Quoting again my friend, Charles Spurgeon. He says, "They must be horrible ingrates who will not honor such a deliverer for so happy a rescue from the most cruel death."

Listen, if you're a child of God, God has already redeemed and delivered you from the worst possible outcome that anyone can have—from sin, from Satan, from hell, from eternal damnation and condemnation, from the wrath of God. You have been delivered.

You may be in a storm. You may be in some other kinds of chains, but you've been delivered in the ways that matter most for all of time and eternity. So says the psalmist, "Give thanks to the Lord. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so."

One devotional writer I've been reading says, "A soul redeemed demands a life of praise." You might want to just write that in the margin of your Bible there. I've written it in mine. "A soul redeemed demands a life of praise."

A soul redeemed demands a life of praise.

Women, if you've been redeemed, if I've been redeemed, it is unthinkable that we should live lives of anything other than unceasing, unending praise and thanksgiving and worship. Now, we may do that through tears. We may do it at times when all around us seems dark, when the waves are so high that we're sick to our stomachs, and we can't see over them. We can't see beyond them. We can't find our way. We're wandering around. We're at our wit's end.

We lift our eyes up to heaven into the light of His face. Up from our darkness and we say, "Oh, God, I choose to believe that You are good, that Your steadfast love endures forever. I give You thanks that I have been redeemed."

A lady wrote to us and she said,

Years back, back in the early days of Revive Our Hearts radio, I was a heap of a mess on my kitchen floor as you spoke about loving your husband. This past week, fast forward, I was once again a heap of slobbering mess. But this time it was out of pure joy, thanksgiving, adoration, worship, and praise to my heavenly Father for His unending, undeserved faithfulness, grace, and mercy. The Lord has restored my family and my marriage. [And here I think this is even more important.] He has rescued me out of the slimy pit of self.

And every day let the redeemed of the Lord say so? Every day I have the glorious opportunity of speaking biblical truth into the hearts of discouraged women.

"Oh, give thanks to the Lord for he is good. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so."

Well, let me just walk us quickly through the conclusion here, starting in verse 33, where we see just a reminder of the sovereignty of God over all of life.

Verse 33: "He turns rivers into a desert." You say, "Umm, I'm not sure I want that." "Springs of water into thirsty ground." We're going the wrong way here. "A fruitful land into a salty waste." Don't want that. Why? "Because of the evil of its inhabitants."

Let me just say a word to some who may be here that you feel really satisfied with the way things are in your life right now. Things are comfortable. You think everything is just going fine. And that's okay to have some of those seasons; God is a God of seasons.

But I want to tell you this, if in the midst of you thinking everything is going okay, if in the midst of that your heart is not turned toward Him, if you are covering sin, if you are living in a slimy pit of self, God can with a word change the course of your life.

He can turn those rivers into a desert. He can turn those springs of water, what you think are springs of water, into thirsty ground. He can turn what you think is a fruitful land into a salty waste.

And let me say to those with prodigal children or friends, husbands, important word here, all of those women who were crying in the aisles last night? Be willing to let God be God in that person's life. And be willing to let God do whatever He knows is needed in their life to make them desperate for Him. Because when are they going to cry out to God? When they're in trouble, right?

Sometimes the trouble needs to get to be bigger trouble. You're a mom and you're a wife and you love your kid, and you don't want to see him hurt. And some of you are perpetually trying to rescue your kids and your mates and everybody around you from the cross. God's trying to get them to the cross, and you're always trying to get them off the cross.

You may get them off, but they'll be bloodied, weak, and wounded. God wants them to come whole to be redeemed, to be rescued from their sin. So let God be God. Don't try to rescue them from the cross. Don't you put them on the cross, okay? You let God do what He knows is needed.

But here is the good news. Know that whatever discipline God brings about in our lives or those we love, He can also with a word restore. Look at verse 35: "He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water. And there he lets the hungry dwell, and they establish a city to live in."

You see, in this psalm we've seen spelled out the theme of this weekend. He wants to take you to a place of freedom. Verse 16: "For he shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron." That sounds like freedom to me. Get up. You're free. Go. Sin no more. Freedom.

Look at the fullness in verse 9: "For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things." Freedom, fullness, and look now at fruitfulness, verse 37.

These people who've been through all these. They've been in trouble, they've cried, they've been delivered, they're giving thanks. Look at verse 37. Now "they sow fields and plant vineyards and get a fruitful yield." By His blessing.

God sent chastisement, He sent discipline, He sent trouble, He sent storms. But now He sends blessing. They multiply greatly, and He does not let their livestock diminish.

Verse 41: "He raises up the needy out of affliction and makes their families like flocks." That's not just for married people, by the way, too. God put the solitary, the single, in families. God wants to make you fruitful. You're going to sow the fields. You're going to plant the vineyards, verse 37, but God's going to give the increase. A fruitful yield.

He's going to bless, and you're going to multiply greatly. As you're needy and you cry out to Him, He's going to raise you up, and He's going to make us have families like flocks. Fruitfulness in Christ.

A lot of women in this room are going home to hard places. Hard jobs, ungodly environments. For a few days here you've been able to kind of push that stuff out of your mind, and here we are sitting on the mountaintop listening to God's Word and singing songs and loving Jesus. And a few hours from now, you're going to be in a whole different place.

We have 600 senior pastors' wives here. Some of them I can tell you are hurting really badly. Some of them, some of you are in churches that if God doesn't intervene, it's chaos, it's a mess. It's not what it is supposed to be.

So you're going back to that tomorrow, if not sooner. But I want to tell you this, wherever you're going, He will go with you. He will go in you, and He wants to make you fruitful even in the place of your affliction.

You can experience fullness, freedom, and fruitfulness in Christ as long as you keep abiding in Him and letting Him have His way, letting him be God, trusting Him with what you can't understand, not demanding answers, not demanding fixes. Yes, crying out, and then trusting God to deliver in His way.

Not only does God want to turn some of the desert places where you are in His way and time into fruitful places, but for generations to come the fruit of your walk with Christ will be experienced in the lives of coming generations.

One commentator says about this conclusion here, "Although there are ups and downs in this life, the end of all things for God's people is not down, but up." Can you remember that? "We know this and we look for it because we know that God is both good and sovereign. God loves us. And because He does, He comforts us, preserves us, and brings us through even the hardest experiences in life."

Two more verses. What's the outcome? Verse 42: "The upright see it and are glad."

There's joy for the people of God. Anybody here leaving with joy greater than what you came with? Some of you get your joy cup filled? (applause) Joy is not an emotion. It affects us in our emotions, but joy is the presence of Christ with me, in me, through me in the midst of the storm and the pain.

Joy is the presence of Christ with me, in me, through me in the midst of the storm and the pain.

But look what else happens as this redemptive story is lived out, as the gospel is lived out through us. I love this. "All wickedness shuts its mouth." Shut up! All wickedness. You see here the restraint of evil.

When God's people are being the people of God, as we're living in freedom and fullness and fruitfulness in Christ, in God's time. I watched the news today and I'm going, "God, let wickedness shut its mouth." There are the encroaching powers of false religions and evil people in this world.

You say, "Yes, it's bad out there, but it's true in my world where I live, in my workplace, in my family. There's so much evil." I want to tell you one day as you walk with Him through this, all wickedness will shut its mouth. (applause)

And could I say, too, that means also all the wickedness that's in here, in my heart, in your heart. Listen, it's a proud heart that only sees the wickedness out there and thinks it's their problem, it's their issue, it's their fault. That's pride.

The heart of humility says, "Lord, it's not my brother. It's not my sister. It's me, oh Lord. Uproot the wickedness out of my own heart." And through Christ all that wickedness can shut its mouth.

Final exhortation, verse 43: "Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord."

Listen, there are women in this room who feel like you don't deserve His goodness, His mercy, His love. You're thinking, I deserve what I'm getting—that storm, the prison.

A lady came to me last night and said, "I made some very foolish choices much like Chrissy's, and I've repented. I've come back to the Lord, but we're still pulling out thorns in my life."

So some feeling, I deserve what I'm getting. And some of you may be reluctant to run into His arms, reluctant to believe that that steadfast love of the Lord could be for you.

Can I just say, first of all, you're right about one thing? We don't deserve it. You don't deserve it. Those of us who think we deserve it don't deserve it. We don't deserve the steadfast love of the Lord. But He gives it anyway. He gives it to undeserved rebels, enemies, undeserving.

And knowing that, can I remind you that you don't have to perform to be loved by Him. You don't have to fix your own life. Cry out to Him, and believe Him to come and do by His grace what you could never do.

Could we bow our hearts in prayer in these closing moments? I want to just ask you two questions in this quiet moment. First of all, did you identify with some of the trouble we read about? Maybe right now are you lost, wandering? In some sort of prison? Sick? Storm tossed?

What do you do when you're in trouble? Cry out to the Lord. A lot of women did that last night. But crying out to the Lord shouldn't be just something we do when an invitation's given. It's something we ought to be doing all the time. Don't stop. Keep crying out. Keep praying. Keep looking up. Cry out to the Lord.

Keep crying out and believe in His way and in His time He will rescue you. He will bring you to your desired haven.

The second question, have you been redeemed? Have you been delivered from trouble? What do you do? Two things, you give thanks. Would you do that just right now from your heart? Maybe just whisper a prayer of thanks for His redeeming love in your life, for His goodness.

And then you tell others. "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so." Declare it to God. Declare it to others.

Leslie: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, talking about God’s faithfulness in times of trouble. If you missed any of this encouraging message today, or any of the messages in this three-day series, you can hear it again at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Before we’re done today, we’re going to hear from a woman who wants to do exactly what Nancy was just talking about: praise God for what He’s doing in and through her. What you’re about to hear is the audio lifted from a short video you can watch at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Julie McGregor: My name's Julie McGregor. I'm from New Zealand. I currently live and have lived for seven years in Cambodia.

Leslie: Julie was an ambitious young woman who had worked in the corporate world in New Zealand. She was a high-achiever, and she worked hard at everything she did. But after a personal life crisis, she needed a change of pace from her life in New Zealand.

Julie: I called out to God and just said to Him, "I need to see you at work in a bigger context than my life." And so my church said, “Well there's a lady in Cambodia who we support, and she needs some help for a couple of months,” so that's how I first got there. And I haven't moved back. So Cambodia is home now.

In the beginning, I was working with small Christian organizations doing leadership development, but really my whole rhythm of life was the same.

Leslie: Even though she moved to Cambodia to be a missionary, Julie's focus on achievement and getting results never changed.

Julie: I was very good at doing work for Jesus. All I did was swap being paid a lot for not being paid a lot from living and working in a Western context around the world to living and working in a third-world context. I was still making sure I was achieving and being valuable. I thought I had to be valuable to God and use every skill that he's given me, and I have to be value for the supporters that are sending me.

Leslie: This pressure to achieve was crushing to Julie. So she began seeking the Lord—asking Him to uncover the root of her desire for success.

Julie: And my identity, He showed me, was caught up in achieving, and all I really had done was swap my context. But I was still working for Him, but He showed me I wasn't working with Him.

Leslie: Julie began reorienting her focus on the Lord, instead of the things that she could do for the Lord.

Julie: If our relationship with our Father— if our intimate relationship with the Lord is put on the back burner and is not the bullseye, is not the central focus, then we will burn out and we will be toxic to the very people that we have been called to love.

Leslie: As Julie's heart became aligned with God's heart, He opened a completely new door of ministry for her.

Julie: Now, after a long journey, now I work in Cambodia's largest women's prison in Phnom Penh. I teach Bible, and we worship. I've never been to seminary. I'm completely unqualified to be doing what I'm doing, yet God truly is so strong in my weakness. The women in my class, which has grown over the last five years from about six people to forty, is made up of women from all over the world, every continent.

Leslie: Julie began listening to Revive Our Hearts when she came to Cambodia. As she's listened, she’s found the Revive Our Hearts resources to be invaluable to her in this new ministry to women in prison.

Julie: God has used Revive Our Hearts, Nancy, and the podcast on the app. Thank goodness for the Internet that I can actually access these resources from a place like Cambodia. It doesn't matter the time zone I'm in, and it doesn't matter that we don't have shops or places that I can go to access resources like you can in this country. And it was through listening to Revive Our Hearts that I actually really thought, Oh! I actually don't think I know my Bible. 

So that was the beginning of me letting projects go and doing less (it would seem to the outside world), really studying God’s Word for myself, and now teaching the women in the prison to study for themselves and God is transforming them as they recognize their true identity. I am so grateful! I have no idea how I would have done a lot of the ministry that I've done in the last couple of years if I hadn't had access to the Revive Our Hearts podcast.

Nancy: You know when I’m up late studying, putting the final touches on a message for Revive Our Hearts, I really should think of Julie. When it’s tough to pull material together and present it in a way that is thoroughly biblical, I can remember, “Julie is going to hear this across the world, and she may need to be encouraged today.”

And when you give to support Revive Our Hearts, you can think of Julie too. When you make a donation to this ministry. You are helping us invest in her. We encourage her so that she can then encourage the women she serves in Cambodia. Now, our ability to keep speaking to women like Julie and to others like her across the globe is facing a challenge.

As we've been sharing this month, we really need to see an infusion of donations to the ministry as we close out our fiscal year at the end of May so that we can make plans for the twelve months ahead. I’m so thankful for all who have given to meet this need so far. We started out with a need of $775,000. If you go to our website, ReviveOurHearts.com, you can see a progress bar that we've been updating each day to let you know exactly where we are on that goal.

If you've already participated, thank you so much! If you've wanted to give but haven't gotten around to it yet, remember, it's the final week of May, and we really need to hear from you.

When you give a gift of any amount, as our way of saying "thank you," we'll send you the resource that we've been talking about called the Refresh kit. This set will help lead you through a thirty-day process of experiencing personal refreshing. It includes a booklet with a number of devotionals on aspects of personal revival like: obedience, humility, and holiness. The set also includes a number of cards with “making it personal” questions and Scriptures to reflect on. Then there is a place to write your responses on to those questions and the Scripture.

The whole objective of this resource is to give you a tool to grow in your relationship with the Lord and experience times of personal refreshing in His presence. We’d love to send you Refresh when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount. You can donate online at ReviveOurHearts.com, or call us at 1–800–569–5959.

Leslie: Can the Lord save a marriage—even when, humanly speaking, there’s no hope? Tomorrow, we’ll hear from a couple who watched the Lord save and restore their marriage. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth helps you thrive in Christ. It's an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.