Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: News flash: You’re not perfect. Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You read the Word of God. You read the commands of God. You hear the things we teach on Revive Our Hearts. You think, "Yes, that all sounds great. I want to be this Proverbs 31 woman, this woman of hospitality, this woman who’s gracious and meek and kind and loving and submissive and always talks sweetly to my children.

"Yes, wouldn’t that be great? But that’s not me." I can’t do that. You come to the end of some days and you want to pull your hair out and say, "I can’t live this life!" I say, "Amen! Brilliant discovery." It’s an essential discovery to realize that you cannot please God apart from the grace of God.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, October 9. In a series called Seeking Him, we’ve heard about marks of true revival: humility, honesty, and repentance. Now, maybe you’re thinking those sound like great qualities but your won’t power is a lot stronger than your will power. Well, there’s good news. Developing humility, honesty, and repentance doesn’t have anything to do with will power but with grace. Here’s Nancy to talk about it.

Nancy: I received an email the other day from a listener that really struck me as being representative, sadly, of I think a lot of believers today. Here’s what this woman said.

I have an active prayer life. I listen to the radio, study my Bible, attend church, serve and give to others, and each morning I tell the Lord I’m here to glorify Him. I do and do and live and live as best I can. Yet I have a huge burden of guilt that I can never be enough, look enough, feel enough, believe enough in God.

There are times when you speak [she said to me], when you antagonize those feelings of guilt in me. You come across like you have everything together [if only she knew]. I get the feeling that I will never, ever be able to do enough or love enough or be enough to please God, that I will not ever be able to measure up.

Then she talks about how—and she’s right in this—the process of measuring ourselves and trying to perform sometimes takes us so far that we actually become like Pharisees, which is a very good insight. When you try to live the Christian life on your own—self-effort, self-reliance, trying to please God apart from His grace—that’s exactly what you become, a Pharisee, which is a fancy theological term for a white-washed sepulcher, as Jesus said it. Outside it looks good, but on the inside it’s full of dead men’s bones.

Now, the reason I shared that email is because I think so many of us—all of us in different ways—can relate to this struggle and effort to live the Christian life and feeling like we can never measure up. Really this woman’s struggle is not in trying to measure up to me or someone else she knows. It’s trying to measure up to the impossibly high standard of God’s holiness.

You read the Word of God. You read the commands of God. You hear the things we teach on Revive Our Hearts. You think, "Yes, that all sounds great. I want to be this Proverbs 31 woman, this woman of hospitality, this woman who’s gracious and meek and kind and loving and submissive and always talks sweetly to my children. Yes, wouldn’t that be great? But that’s not me. I can’t do that."

You come to the end of some days and you want to pull your hair out and say I can’t live this life. I say amen. Brilliant discovery. It’s an essential discovery to realize that you cannot please God apart from the grace of God.

God puts up His Word to your life. You hear something on Revive Our Hearts. You read something in the Scripture, and you realize your life doesn’t measure up to that. You’re wanting to be a good wife, you’re wanting to be a good mom, you’re wanting to be content as a single woman even when your heart is longing for marriage, and God convicts you. There’s a seed of discontent there. There’s a root of bitterness there and God convicts you of sin.

Every time God convicts you of sin, you can go one of two places. You can go to Mt. Sinai or you can go to Mt. Calvary. You say, “What do you mean by that?”

Well, what is Mt. Sinai? What happened at Mt. Sinai in the book of Exodus? In chapter 20 you read about this. What happened at Mt. Sinai? That’s where the law was given. Remember it came with thundering and lightening and voices and the people couldn’t touch the mountain or they would die.

God gave Moses the Ten Commandments to give to the people and the people were in fear and trembling. They knew that they couldn’t obey God and they certainly proved it within a matter of days when here they were worshiping and celebrating and partying around a golden calf, having already broken the first of those Commandments—thou shall have no other gods before Me (verse 3).

We are born to be lawbreakers. If you run to Mt. Sinai when God convicts you of sin, you will go to the place where you try in your own effort to keep a law you cannot keep. You will respond in pride, self-effort.

The other place to run is to Mt. Calvary. That’s where you humble yourself, the pathway of humility, and you say, “God, I cannot keep Your law. I am a lawbreaker. I am helpless and hopeless apart from Your grace.”

Now, if you run to Mt. Sinai, the place of pride, what will you do? You will defend yourself. You will try and justify what you have done. You will blame someone else perhaps. You will rationalize. "It’s not so bad compared to what someone else did. It’s just a little heart attitude, just a little thing. I mean I didn’t commit adultery. I just lusted in my heart."

You’ll try to cover up. God said, “Adam, what did you do?” Adam says, “Well, the wife that You gave me . . .” We blame someone else. God says, “What did you do?” We run to Mt. Sinai. We are proud. We defend ourselves. We say, “I can do this. I can live this life. I’m not so bad.”

Here’s something else we do at Mt. Sinai, the place where the law was given. We struggle and strive and we became Avis Christians. We try harder. I’m going to live this Christian life if it kills me. I’m going to be a submissive wife if I die in the effort. You may, because you can’t live the Christian life.

That’s going to where the law was given. That’s the place of pride. What happens when we’re proud? What does God do to proud people? God resists the proud. God opposes the proud. God sets Himself in battle array against proud people.

So when God is setting Himself against you, you have no grace. You can’t obey God now. So what do you do? You disobey God. You keep sinning. You disobey God. Disobedience brings conflict. It brings curses. It brings condemnation. It brings guilt. It brings bondage. It brings fear. Ultimately, it brings death.

The law is not bad but it was given to show us that we cannot keep the law. We cannot obey God. What we do is we become modern-day Pharisees, looking good on the outside, trying to reform ourselves, but unable to do so. Why? Because we’re responding in pride and what does God do to proud people? God opposes them.

Now, what happens when God convicts me of sin if instead of going to Mt. Sinai, the place of pride where the law was given, I go to Mt. Calvary, where grace was given through Jesus Christ? I humble myself. Lord, You’re right. I have sinned. I agree with God. Write those words down. Agree with God. That’s a response of humility to the conviction of God’s Spirit in our hearts.

Agree with God. No defending. No blaming. No rationalizing. No trying to cover up and look better. No trying to smooth it over. No going to church and saying, “Oh, everything’s just fine.” That’s pride. Instead we just humble ourselves and say, “Lord, You’re right. I am selfish. I am rebellious. I do have a problem with authority. I’m not a loving person. I love myself, but I don’t love my husband. I don’t love my kids the way that You want me to.”

You say, “That’s depressing. I’d always be admitting what a sinner I am.” No, that’s your only hope because Calvary is for sinners. Grace is for sinners. What does God do when we humble ourselves, we agree with God, we confess our sin? What does God do to the humble? God gives grace to the humble, the immeasurable riches of God’s grace in Christ Jesus.

What does God’s grace do? Philippians 2 tells us. Philippians 2, verse 13: “For it is God who works within you to give you both the desire and the power to live according to His good pleasure” (paraphrased). God’s grace is the supernatural life of God within me by the power of His Holy Spirit that enables me to will and to do, to desire and to do of His good pleasure.

You see, without God’s grace, I don’t have the desire to obey God. I may be convicted that I’m not obeying God, but I don’t have the desire. I’d rather do what my flesh wants to do than what God’s Spirit wants me to do. I don’t have the desire. I need God’s grace and that’s what God does within me when I confess my sin.

I agree with Him. I am this filthy rotten, dirty sinner. Yes, talk about low self-esteem. That’s what we all deserve. God says, “Oh, now you’re at a place where I can work within you to give you a desire to obey me.” “You can? You will? I want that.” God says, “I was waiting for you to ask.”

He gives you the desire. Then sometimes I have the desire to obey but I don’t have the how-to. I have the want-to, but I can’t do it. I don’t have the power to say no to my flesh when it’s gluttonous, when it wants to mouth off and say harsh or impatient things or to shade the truth to make myself look better. I just find myself doing it.

God lives within us. It’s God who is at work within you, if you’re a child of God, both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Then when God gives you His grace, you have the desire and the power to obey. You obey. What does obedience bring? Blessing, freedom, release, life, and ultimately you will be transformed—not into a Pharisee but into the likeness of the Lord Jesus.

So when God convicts you of sin, where do you run? To pride? To Mt. Sinai? I’ll struggle. I’ll strive. I’ll try harder, cover up, pretend like it’s not so bad. Or will you run to Calvary?

We need God’s grace when He convicts us of sin, but we also need God’s grace when He creates circumstances in our lives that we cannot handle, circumstances that we cannot manage, circumstances that are beyond our control. For you that circumstance right now in your life may be child number four.

You did okay with the first one or two or three, but then God sent that very special child who just knows how to push all your buttons, that child for whom no textbook was ever written. You think, “Lord, I was managing just fine (what you’re not saying is ‘without You’), and God says, “I know you were, but I want you to need Me, so I gave you one more.”

Now when God creates circumstances that are beyond our control, circumstances we can’t handle, we can respond in one of two ways, the same ways we can respond when God convicts us of sin. We can respond in pride or we can respond in humility.

When we respond in pride, we say, “I can handle this.” We are self-sufficient. Or we just run from the circumstance, resist the circumstance, resent the circumstance. So either we say, “I don’t want that circumstance. I’m going to get rid of it. Or we manipulate our way to try and get out of it. Or we say, “I’ll just try harder. I can do this.”

We live in a pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps kind of culture. You can do this. You’re a woman. You can manage. We try and we struggle. What happens when we respond to God in pride? What does God do to proud people? God resists the proud. What happens when God resists us? We can’t obey Him. You’ll find you have no capacity to respond to those circumstances when God is resisting you.

Sometimes what happens is we don’t see the hand of God. It’s these kids! If they would just go live with somebody else. Or if I just had some other husband. Your kids aren’t your problem. Your husband’s not your problem. Your singleness isn’t your problem. Your roommate isn’t your problem. Your boss isn’t your problem.

Your problem may be that God is resisting you and you have no capacity to respond to these pressures and circumstances because you’ve been responding in pride. God resists you when you respond in pride.

Now, we all know what it’s like to respond to circumstances in pride because that way comes naturally. But there’s a supernatural way of responding that we have to learn as new creatures in Christ and that is responding to circumstances in humility. Responding to those circumstances by humbling ourselves.

What do we do when we humble ourselves? We acknowledge our need. We say, “Lord, I need You.” We cry out to God. “Lord, help!” God loves it when we say, “I need You. I can’t make it without You.”

Let me just have us imagine for a moment, and I’ll just tell you this illustration is not original with me. It’s been a helpful word picture to me. We’re standing up in heaven one day and we see all these garage doors, just a whole long row of garage doors in heaven. All of a sudden we hear a siren go off.

We see this ambulance come racing out of that door and it says on the side “Grace Ambulance.” We say, “God, what’s this Grace Ambulance stuff?” He’s saying, “Somebody down on earth just cried out for help and I’m sending My grace to rescue them. They acknowledged their need. They humbled themselves. They cried out to Me, and I’m sending My grace to their need.”

Now ambulances don’t come to your house just everyday. When do they come to your house? When you need them. How do they know that you need them? You just think, “I just broke my leg. I really need an ambulance.”

Is an ambulance going to come to your house? What do you have to do? You have to pick up the phone, call 9-1-1, say “I need an ambulance.” You have to humble yourself in a way and say, "I need help." The ambulance comes racing to the scene of need.

God says, “I’m going to give you the desire. I’m going to give you the power to respond to this circumstance. You can’t do it on your own, but I can do it in you and through you.”

Now, do you have some days when you just feel like you need a grace ambulance coming to your rescue every moment of the day? I want to tell you that’s pretty much where I live. I hope it’s where you live too. That’s a good place to be. It’s a scary place to be. It’s a hard place to be.

Someone was asking me just before this session, “With all the schedule you keep, with all the things that you have to do and the demands on your schedule, how do you keep your walk with God fresh?” I was getting ready to teach this session, and I said, “God keeps me always needing Him. He keeps me desperate.” That’s a good place to be.

Some of you have heard me say that years ago I asked the Lord to never let me get to the place where I could do ministry without Him. You know God has been so faithful to answer that prayer request over the years. To keep putting me in a place where I have deadlines that I can’t meet without His grace, situations and circumstances in the ministry that I can’t handle without His grace, where I have to keep crying out to Him, “Lord, I need You!”

There comes the grace ambulance to the rescue bringing a truckload full of grace, tailor-made grace, custom-made grace to fit exactly my need.

So your husband has disappointed you more times that you can count. You don’t think you can love him and respect him anymore. You can’t on your own. But you cry out for God’s grace. Here comes the grace ambulance, racing to your scene of need saying, “You can’t love him. You can’t reverence him, but I can do it through you.”

God has grace for every single moment and circumstance of your life. Every one. There’s not a circumstance you have ever faced. There’s not a circumstance you will face when you get home tonight. There’s not a circumstance you will face any moment for the rest of your life until you see Jesus that God’s grace is not available and more than sufficient for your need.

God has grace for my precious friend who’s struggling in a marriage where her husband has been unfaithful and they’re trying to rebuild trust and rebuild a life together. It’s been very hard. Very long haul. There are many, many days when just physically, emotionally, spiritually she has told me, “Nancy, I don’t know how I can do this apart from God’s grace.”

She couldn’t. It’s been hard. It is hard. But God’s grace is available. She’s not too proud to ask for it. She’s crying out for it day after day after day, moment after moment.

I’m thinking of a staff member in one of our partner ministries who just a few weeks ago lost her sister, her niece, and her 16-year-old daughter in a tragic car accident. A triple funeral. God has tailor-made grace for that woman. Now, I’m not saying it will be easy. She has a lot of long, hard hours and years ahead, but God has grace.

God has grace for my friends whose daughter is battling an alcohol addiction and the parents are just not knowing what to do in this situation. God has grace for that daughter whose battling that alcohol addiction. Moment by moment grace, not grace for down the road. Not grace for what may be, but grace for what is this moment.

How do you get it? You cry out. You say, “Lord, I need You. I can’t do this on my own.” Grace to respond to hurt. Grace to respond to misunderstanding. Grace to respond when you’re wronged. Grace to respond when you’re tempted, when you experience loss or grief or heartache or hardship or pressure or deadlines.

Grace to . . . practical little things! As I was working on this session, I wrote down, “Grace to stay out of the kitchen late at night when you’re not hungry and you just want to go eat!” You say that’s silly. Well, that’s where I live. That’s where some of you live.

It was late at night when I was working on this, and I thanked God in that moment for His grace as I cried out, “Lord, I need You. I can’t be disciplined on my own. I can’t be self-controlled. I need You to work in me that which is well-pleasing to You.”

Grace, grace; infinite, marvelous, matchless grace. God resists the proud, but God pours out His grace, God lavishes His grace on the humble.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be right back to pray for us that God’s grace will empower us today.

Maybe you’re like the woman we heard about today who lost three family members in a car accident and you need grace in the middle of suffering. We have some online material that will help you. Visit ReviveOurHearts.com and click on topics. Then click on suffering and read the helpful, hopeful articles there.

When you visit that new and improved topics page, you’ll discover help for your life and your friends and your family’s lives. Topics like womanhood, prayer, priorities, church, and a whole lot more. Check it out and read about the topics most pressing to you right now.

ReviveOurHearts.com and the Revive Our Hearts radio program are possible thanks to listeners like you who give. These listeners are partnering with us to help women discover freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ. When you make a much-needed donation today, we’ll say thanks by sending you the 2008 Revive Our Hearts wall calendar.

The theme this year is “Prayers from the Heart.” It includes prayers written by Nancy along with Scripture and artwork that will be an encouragement to your day. As you use this calendar to keep track of a busy schedule, you’ll be reminded to pray, to devote your day to God, and trust Him for strength.

Ask for “Prayers from the Heart” when you make a donation by phone. The toll-free number is 1-800-569-5959 or donate online at ReviveOurHearts.com.

You and I need grace, but we’re not just supposed to keep that grace to ourselves. It’s meant to share. Nancy will explain that tomorrow. Now she’s back with a final word for today.

Nancy: What is it in your life that you’re facing right now? What circumstance, what situation for which you need God’s grace? What is it that you can’t handle without God’s grace? I want to tell you God has a heaven full of tailor-made, custom-made grace waiting for you, waiting to dispatch it, waiting to send it to your rescue, to your side, to your need.

He’s just waiting for you to cry out and say, “Lord, I acknowledge my need. Help. I can’t do this without You.” As you cry out to Him, even in this moment, hear those ambulances coming to bring God’s grace to the scene of your need.

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

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

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