Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss says it’s common for us to set our eyes on the wrong things.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: We focus on the giants, the world, the flesh, the devil, our past, our weaknesses, our circumstances, other people, and so often, I find myself saying—with this great, lavish table displayed in front of me when Jesus is saying, “Come and dine,” and I’m saying, “It’s too hard.”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, August 22.

What obstacles are blocking your goals? Is there any way to get through them? Nancy Leigh DeMoss will show you how as she continues in the series "Lessons from the Life of Joshua (Part 3): Trusting God for the Promised Land."

Nancy: If you go on the website of the state of Israel’s department of tourism, you’ll see that their emblem, their official emblem, is a picture of two scouts carrying a bunch of grapes on a pole between them. That picture is a reminder of this very important event in Israel’s history that we’re studying. Let me ask you, if you’re able, to pick up your Bible, to turn to Numbers chapter 13. We’re continuing in this passage for several sessions here. It's one of the very most important passages in the Old Testament and one that gives us a lot of light into God’s ways for New Testament believers as well.

Numbers chapter 13—we talked in the last couple of sessions about how the Children of Israel are at the southernmost border of the Promised Land. They’ve come out of Egypt. They’ve come through the wilderness, past Mount Sinai. They’ve been given the law. Now it’s time for them to go into the Promised Land, but they have sent twelve spies in advance to check out the land to see what it’s like.

We saw in the last session that when the twelve spies got into Canaan, they came across some giants, some tall, warlike men, and they were scared, as we’ll see, and came back with that report. But let’s jump in at Numbers chapter 13, verse 23. These twelve spies in the land of Canaan came to the valley of Eshcol. That word, Eshcol, actually means cluster.

They came to that valley, "And cut down from there a branch with a single cluster of grapes, and they carried [the cluster of grapes] on a pole between two of them." Now, that is one huge bunch of grapes! I can’t even fathom that kind of fruit. These two, strong men who were leaders of their tribes—on a pole between them over their shoulders—you’ve seen the picture—carrying this one, single bunch of grapes, and it says, “They also brought some pomegranates and figs.”

They were taking this back as Moses had told them to do. “Bring back some of the fruit of the land. Show us what it’s like.” Verse 25, “At the end of forty days they returned from spying out the land.” It had been 250 miles each direction, northward and then back south, and they came back to report. Verse 26,

They came to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the people of Israel in the wilderness of Paran at Kadesh. They brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land.

Can’t you imagine the people, their eyes just big as saucers. “You found that there? What an incredible land!”

Now, for hundreds of years, God had promised He was going to give this land to these people, but they had never seen it with their own eyes. Now here these twelve men, the leaders of their twelve tribes, have seen with their own eyes and have brought back a sample of the fruit of the land. Verse 27, “And they told him, ‘We came to the land to which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.’”

Now, the report of these twelve spies affirmed what the Lord had told Moses years earlier. Remember Exodus chapter 3 when God confronted Moses there in the burning bush? The Children of Israel were slaves in Egypt. God came to Moses and said, “I’ve heard the cries of My people.” “And I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey,” Exodus chapter 3, verse 8.

God had told Moses, “This is what the land is like. It’s a land flowing with milk and honey.” Now, if you have the New King James Version, there in the margin, it will say next to that verse, “It was a land with an abundance of food,” flowing with milk and honey.

That’s what the reference is. It’s a land of abundance. It’s a land of bounty. It’s a fertile land, a land that will provide well for you and all the people, and so it was true. The report of the spies confirmed what God had told Moses.

However, as impressed as these spies were by the abundance and the productivity of the land, they were even more terrorized by something else they had encountered in the land, and that was the people, the inhabitants, the people who lived there.

Picking up again at verse 27 of Numbers 13, “It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.” Verse 28, “However,” but there is a problem. There’s a challenge. Verse 28, “The people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. And besides, we saw the descendents of Anak there.”

We saw in the last session that the descendents of Anak were a tall, warlike, fierce people, actual giants. They said, “We saw these giants in the land. There are lots of big people, lots of strong people, lots of tall people, lots of strong, fortified cities.” Verse 29, “The Amalekites dwell in the land of the Negeb. The Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the hill country.” And of course, in that day the kingdoms were individual cities that had big walls.

They were well fortified. They had their own kings, so there were lots of these little kingdoms within Canaan. "The Jebusites, the Hittites, the Amorites . . .and the Canaanites dwell by the sea . . . and along the Jordan” (v. 29). They had spied out the land, and they knew right where each of these city-states were with their kings.

Now, as I read this list—Amalekites, Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites, Canaanites—they say, “Here’s where this group lives. Here’s where this group lives.” They had spied it all out. As I meditated on this passage, a question that has come to my mind is, did this surprise them? What did they expect?

Now to be sure, they had never been in Canaan before. It was their first time to see the land, but their report was no different than what God had told Moses years earlier at the very beginning of this story.

I quoted a few moments ago from Exodus chapter 3 where God appeared to Moses in the burning bush, and God said, “I’m going to deliver My people out of Egypt. I’m going to take them to a land that flows with milk and honey.” What did God say in verse 17 of Exodus 3? “I promise that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.” What they saw is exactly what God had told Moses they would encounter when they got to the land.

God said, “Yes, it’s a land flowing with milk and honey, but there are enemies. There are hurdles. There are battles that will have to be fought in this land.” So these twelve spies, as they went up there into Canaan:

  • Did they expect to gain their homeland with no opposition?
  • Did they think there would be no adversaries to overcome?
  • Did they think that the abundance of the land would be theirs without a struggle?
  • Had they so soon forgotten the power of God?

They had seen with their own eyes how God had supernaturally overthrown the entire Egyptian military machine. They had seen how God had granted Joshua victory over the Amalekites. We read that in the book of Exodus. So now that they saw these Amalekites and Hittites and Jebusites and all these other "ites," how did fear and dread so quickly rise up in their hearts?

Did they think that God had brought them this far only to forsake them? Did they think that they would have to wage and win these battles in their own strength? And it’s not just the spies. Does it surprise us that there are adversaries to be overcome in our spiritual pilgrimage before we can fully enter into the abundant land and life that God has promised us? Did we get saved thinking that there would be no problems after we became Christians?

Now, if we have that misconception or a false expectation, maybe because of the way the Gospel is often presented to people today—“Come to Jesus. He will give you an abundant life. He’ll give you eternal life. He’ll solve all your problems. He’ll make your aches and pains go away. You don’t have to go to hell. You can go to heaven.” And who wouldn’t?

But maybe we’re making a mistake by not telling people, “When you become a Christian, you become a warrior. You enter into a battle. There are enemies to be overcome. There are battles to be fought, but God will be in you. God is stronger than the enemies. God will overcome the enemies through you.”

We’re not giving that message perhaps to people as we’re inviting them to come to Christ. What did you expect when you started on this journey of the Christian life? Did you think it was possible to enjoy the abundance of the land and of the Christian life without overcoming any obstacles? God has told us to expect trials, temptations, suffering, enemies of the cross.

God has said, “This is a fallen world, and we still live in sinful flesh. From here till heaven, the road is not going to be easy. There will be enemies to overcome.” Should we expect to be exempt from those enemies?

Think about what Jesus said to His disciples in John 16, as Jesus was getting ready to go to the cross. Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation.” Count on it. You will have tribulation. Now, the next phrase—I’m so glad the rest of the verse is there—He says, “But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

We don’t go into that tribulation unarmed. We go armed and clothed in Jesus Christ and armed with the armor of God that makes us able to stand against the wiles and the tactics of the enemy, but we go into a battle. Jesus said, “In the world, you will have tribulation.”

The apostle Paul said to the brand new believers in the book of Acts, chapter 14, he said, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God,” (v. 22). Did anyone tell you that when you were a brand new Christian? If they didn’t, they didn’t tell you the whole story.

Paul said, “Get ready for it. Prepare for it. Be armed. Be ready. Don’t be caught off guard. We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”

First Peter chapter 5—you’re familiar with this verse. “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (v. 8). He doesn’t stop his efforts to devour you after you become a child of God. In fact, he may intensify his efforts because now you can do more damage to his cause.

Beware! Be on your guard. Look out, and so the spies came back with this report, “The people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large.”

Yes, there was great fruit. Yes, the promises of God had gone before them, but they came back focused on the hardness, focused on the tribulation, focused on the obstacles they would have to face. The people, they’re strong. The cities, they’re fortified and very large.

You know, at times in my Christian life and in ministry, I have felt intimidated many times and sometimes nearly paralyzed by the thought of what we were facing. In this ministry, there are lots of obstacles.

In my own Christian life I have to deal with my own flesh, my own sinful desires, certain lusts of the flesh that tempt me, my besetting sins that, like a dog yapping at my heels all the time. There are those things, and then in the ministry there are obstacles. There are hurdles. There’s opposition.

There are staffing issues. There are funding issues. As I think about this ministry, we’re giving a message that is counter-cultural, and we’re like salmon always swimming upstream to deliver this message. That’s not easy. At times we run into, even in the evangelical world, philosophical opposition to our message.

You’re sitting here today and enjoying this message because your heart is tuned to God’s way of thinking. There are many in the evangelical world today who don’t want to hear God’s way of thinking, so when we talk about biblical womanhood, when we talk about God’s perspective on marriage and family and values and priorities and morals, we’re swimming upstream.

Sometimes I’m just almost paralyzed in my heart by the obstacles. I think about some of the gatekeepers in the Christian radio industry. Now, many of them are godly men and women who have a heart for this message and a heart for the truth, but some of the gatekeepers in Christian media and in Christian publishing are not looking for solid, biblical meat from the Word.

Some of them want programming that’s more “relevant,” more cool, more modern, and sometimes I think, “Lord, will we even be able to stay on the air? Will we be able to keep publishing books? Is the evangelical world—do they want this message, and if they don’t, how are we going to continue proclaiming it?”

Technology is changing, and we find those kinds of hurdles in our ministry. Sometimes I find myself thinking, “Can we keep up with the changes? Will we even be able to speak to the next generation of women?”

Now, there are different hurdles that you face in the season of life that you’re in, the things God has called you to do, but so often as I face my hurdles, I find that I’m prone to forget the power of God, prone to forget the faithfulness of God, the mighty deeds of God that have been displayed over and over and over again, not only in my life, but in the lives of countless believers who’ve gone before me, some of whom we read about in the Word of God. Aren’t you glad we have this history preserved to remind us of the faithfulness and the power of God?

But it’s like I forget all that. I forget all the generations and centuries of God’s promises being fulfilled and His power being displayed, and so I have to remind myself over and over again, Nancy, do you think this has somehow caught God off guard? Do you think it surprised Him?

Do you think He didn’t think of this? Do you think that He has brought you this far to forsake you, and do you think you will have to face these hardships alone and in your own strength? You think it depends on you?

You know, in the Christian life, as we survey what that means for each of us, we see the abundance that Jesus promised us. He wants us to be filled with the Spirit and to display the fruit of the Spirit. Talk about that cluster of grapes that the spies brought back hanging on two poles, so huge that it just makes your eyes bug out to see it—that’s what the fruit of the Spirit is like!

It’s supernatural. It’s amazing. It’s awesome. It’s huge. It’s different than anything you can find in the natural realm, and we see that Jesus has promised us the fruit of His Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, and I say, “Lord, I want those things. That’s abundance.”

We see the promise of intimacy with Christ. We see His promise to grant us freedom and fullness and fruitfulness in Christ, but we look at all those promises. We look at all that lavish feast that God has displayed for us, that He wants to give us, and what do we do? We focus on the obstacles.

We focus on the giants, the world, the flesh, the devil, our past, our weaknesses, our circumstances, other people, and so often, I find myself saying—with this great, lavish table displayed in front of me when Jesus is saying, “Come and dine,” and I’m saying, “It’s too hard. It’s too hard.”

I’m not seeing the feast. I’m not seeing the abundance. I’m seeing the enemies, the obstacles. So what do we do? We’re content to stay right where we are, don’t want to move forward.

That requires faith. That requires effort. That requires depending on the power of God. Sometimes, rather than rock the boat, we just want to stay in our comfortable, complacent, natural, little world.

“Lord, don’t make me go forward. Don’t make me move. I’m comfortable here. Okay, yeah, there are lots of problems, and I know I’m not experiencing the abundant life You have for me, but at least this is familiar.” So many Christians get stuck just on the southern border of the Promised Land and never go in because they’re focused on the giants.

I love that old hymn by Isaac Watts, “Am I a Soldier of the Cross?” He talks about the warfare that’s involved in the Christian life, and he says,

Must I be carried to the skies 
On flow’ry beds of ease, 
While others fought to win the prize 
And sailed thru bloody seas?

I’m reading in my devotions this year a one-year book of Christian history, and each day’s devotional is a snapshot, a nugget out of the past, Christian history, great men and women of God through all generations. Many, many of those that I’m reading about each day are people who were martyred for their faith. I’m talking about teenagers, men, women, husbands, grand-moms, wives, people in every walk and season of life, people hundreds of years ago, people in recent years.

Must I be carried to the skies 
On flow’ry beds of ease, 
While others fought to win the prize 
And sailed thru blood seas?

Are there no foes for me to face? 
Must I not stem the flood? 
Is this vile world a friend to grace, 
To help me on to God?

What do I expect? Do I expect the world to just push me along in the direction of godliness? No, we’re going against the current! We’re counter-cultural. We’re swimming upstream, and that’s what Isaac Watts goes on to say.

Sure I must fight if I would reign,
So increase my courage, Lord! 
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain, 
Supported by Thy Word.

What will keep you faithful when you have to swim upstream, when it’s hard, when you’re facing the enemies and the giants in your life or in your calling? It’s the Word of God. It’s the promises of God. It’s the power of God.

When faced with obstacles, we have a choice. We can respond in one of two ways. The obstacles are unavoidable. We must face them. We must through many tribulations to enter the kingdom of God. There’s no getting around them.

Some of us spend our lives trying to escape the inevitable, and so that’s why we’re medicating our pain. We’re just trying to escape. You know, anything I can do to escape. And God says, “No, run into the pain.” Face it. Deal with it. It’s going to be there, but I can respond in one of two ways.

In the next session, we’ll see two very different ways that these leaders of Israel responded to the same set of challenges. In one case, their choice proved to be fatal, and in both cases, their choice determined the outcome and the whole course of their lives.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been very honest about the obstacles that threaten each of us, but she’s also been very honest, encouraging, and hopeful about the power of God to get you past those obstacles so you can enjoy all He has for you. She’ll be right back to pray.

We want to assist you in the process of getting past obstacles and enjoying God’s best, so we’d like to send a booklet full of hope found in the Bible. It’s called Promises to Live By. When you meditate on these promises from the Bible, the obstacles won’t seem so intimidating.

When you make a donation of any amount to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts, we’ll show our gratitude by sending, Promises to Live By. Your donation will help us continue bringing Revive Our Hearts to you each weekday. And you’ll be helping spread this kind of teaching to women everywhere who need it.

We’ll be making this offer—Promises to Live By for your donation—through the end of next week, and we can send one copy per household. Ask for it when you call 1–800–569–5959, or look for this offer at ReviveOurHearts.com.

When you are hit by a crisis, learn how to respond in faith instead of fear. Nancy will talk about that next week. She's back to end our time together.

Nancy: Let me just ask if perhaps you have been moaning, groaning, whining, obsessed with the enemies, the giants, the obstacles. That’s where your focus has been, and instead of focusing on the lavish feast that God has prepared for you, the table He has set before you, you’re just conscious of all the reasons it can’t be done, why it’s so hard.

I know I’ve been there so many times myself, but can I tell you that to focus on the obstacles will debilitate you? It will weaken you, and you will begin to live in fear rather than in faith. Would you just right now lift your eyes up to the Lord and say, “Lord, I trust Your Word. I want to be a woman of faith. You are bigger than the giants. You are greater than the hurdles, and Your supernatural power can take me into the Promised Land and can give me there peace and rest.”

Lord, I pray that we would take You at Your Word, and our lives would demonstrate that You are greater than any hurdle, any obstacle, any giant. May our lives be a reflection of how great and awesome You are. I pray in Jesus name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

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

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