Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Gospel in Your Daily Thoughts

Leslie Basham: Is the gospel affecting your thoughts day by day? Here’s Carrie Gaul.

Carrie Gaul: Before we can speak the good news of the gospel to others, we have to begin by speaking it to ourselves—daily, continually—because our lives (and you know this) are tremendously impacted by the conversation that goes on between our ears every day.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts for Tuesday, June 10, 2014.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I want to welcome back to Revive Our Hearts today our guest teacher for this week, who is my long-time friend and partner in ministry, Carrie Gaul. Carrie, it’s so great to serve with you in this ministry. God’s used you in many ways: You’ve taught Bible studies in our ministry and in our community, and you’re part of our biblical correspondence department.

Carrie’s also a wife, a mom, a grandmom, and you’re loving hearing her heart this week as we’re talking about this whole matter of what it means to be approved. It's something we’re always seeking for, and something—as Carrie’s sharing this week—we have and can find in Christ. She's sharing what it means to be approved.

So open your ears, open your hearts, open your Bibles, and let’s dig and ask the Lord to speak to our hearts today about what it means to be approved in Christ. Carrie, thank you so much.

Carrie: Thank you, Nancy. If you have your Bibles, open with me to 1 Thessalonians 2:4. We’re going to dig into that passage a little bit more today. We began in our program yesterday by using the visual illustration of an empty cup to symbolize the way that we as women often seek to have our need for approval met, through the relationships we have.

Approval whether it’s with our friends, our spouses, our children, our coworkers . . . sometimes even distant acquaintances like those on Facebook and Twitter. We’re always asking, “Am I approved? Am I worthy? Will you approve me?” We saw in 1 Thessalonians 2:4 that those of us who have placed our faith in Jesus Christ have already received the divine stamp of approval engraved across our lives, not because of our own works—what we have or have not done—but because of Jesus’ works . . . because of His life, His death and His resurrection.

Our desperate need and longing, as women, for approval has already been met in Christ Jesus. We’re merely the receivers, the recipients, of what Jesus has accomplished through the historically documented facts of His life, His death, and His resurrection. As a result, when we have placed our faith in Him, we are no long under condemnation. We’ve been declared blameless and faultless and spotless by a holy and a righteous God. We’ve been approved.

The practical, life-transforming, almost unimaginable results that flow from that truth—the completed works of Jesus in the past—continue into the present circumstances of our lives today. So, my friends and fellow followers of Jesus:

  • How did the fact that you are approved by God impact your life in the last twenty-four hours?
  • How did it impact your interaction with your husband last night? 
  • How did it impact your interaction with those little ones as you were scrambling to get out the door this morning? 
  • How is the fact that God has already approved you impacting you in those difficult relationships?

Maybe some of you have a loved one who has not spoken to you for many months and refuses to be reconciled. There are so many of you in the audience today as young mommas. How is the truth that you’re approved, when you are simply struggling to survive the midnight feedings and the sleepless nights and the reality of a chaotic house, how is that impacting the fact that you have worth and you have approval, and it’s already been determined?

It’s not based on whether or not you even get a shower today. It’s not based on whether or not your house looks like it could be in a magazine tonight. It’s based upon the fact that God, because of His love for you, sent His Son to die in your place and to give you His righteousness.

In my own life, these glorious truths that we’re talking about, they’re really the truths of the gospel. They are truths that I wholly embrace, truths that I’m so deeply grateful for. Far too often in my own life, those truths seem somehow separated from my daily reality. It’s as though this huge chasm exists between the life-transforming truths of the gospel and the rubber-meets-the-road daily reality of our lives, and that’s a problem.

It's a problem because 1 Thessalonians 2:4 says not only have you been approved by God, but we’ve been entrusted with the gospel to speak it, to share it. You see, it’s not like we just get this incredible gift and then we hold on to it. We have the opportunity, we’ve been commissioned, to share it with others. We’ve been made stewards, ambassadors of this amazing gift we call the gospel.

If I were to ask you today to write down what you believe the gospel is, I wonder what you would say. I wish we had time to interact (I love to do that with women), and to just define what we would say the gospel is. You see, it’s a term that so many of us have known since we were infants, some of us in our mothers’ wombs, many of us for years. We use the term often, but what is it really?

What is the good news of the gospel? The following is perhaps one of the most concise definitions. You’ll want to mark this in your Bible (I marked it in my Bible as the most concise definition I’m aware of, in Scripture, of what the gospel is). It’s found in 1 Corinthians 15, starting with verse 1:

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand . . .
For I delivered to you, as of first importance what I also received, [and here it is] that Christ died for our sins [that’s point number one] according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, [that’s point number two] and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (vv. 1, 3).

That’s the gospel in a nutshell.

Don’t rush past that. So often that which is familiar to us becomes like “white noise.” We hear it and we read over it quickly, and we just move on. Don’t let that happen! Pause . . . and think . . . and meditate . . . and let it soak into your heart . . . the practical realities that flow out of the life and the death and the resurrection of Jesus. It’s amazing!

He died for your sins so that you wouldn’t have to. He paid the penalty for your sins, He was separated from His Father so that you and I never have to be, but He’s no longer dead my friends! He is no longer dead. We serve a risen Savior. These truths and all that flows from them will radically transform your life, and when they do you will never be the same.

You will not be able to not talk about it. You will tell others. You’ll want them to experience the love of Jesus that you’ve received. You can’t keep it to yourself. I saw this so beautifully fleshed out recently in a conversation I had with a relative who has been a follower of Jesus for probably over fifty years.

She’s a student of the Word. She served over twenty years in a prison ministry, but to be honest—and if she were here today, I think she would tell you that she struggles at times to believe personally, for herself, that which she has affirmed to other people for all of those years. (I talked with her on the phone earlier this week, and I said, “You know, I can either ask forgiveness for sharing this, or I can ask permission.” . . . she gave permission.)

She’s battled feelings of isolation, feelings of discontent, feelings of being unloved, feelings of being discouraged and defeated at times. She’s in the midst of a battle with cancer right now and this precious woman is experiencing the freshness of the gospel truths in a way that’s transforming everything about her.

It’s transforming the way she thinks. It’s transforming the words that are coming out of her mouth. It’s transforming the way she sees things. Her circumstances have not changed—in fact, they’re getting worse—but in the midst of that reality she’s encountered Jesus, and she’s telling everyone about it.

She said to me recently, “Carrie, whether I live or I die, I am a forgiven child of God. He walks with me and He talks with me. Carrie, God doesn’t love us because we’ve obeyed Him—He loves us because He is love.” She’s been a follower of Jesus Christ for years, but I have never heard that kind of freedom enjoyed in her life. She’s experiencing it; it’s a fresh awareness of the gospel that is dramatically transforming her.

The Scripture says in 1 John 4:16, “We have come to know and have believed the love God has for us.” She has known the love of God for years, but she’s beginning to believe it for herself. That which had once been duty—in sharing the truths of the gospel—has now become great delight.

She isn’t just fulfilling an obligation, she is sharing out of the overflow of a heart that had been deeply touched by the lavish, extravagant, pursuing, unmerited love of her Savior. You see, my friends, before we can speak the good news of the gospel to others, we have to begin by speaking it to ourselves . . . daily, continually . . . because our lives (and you know this) are tremendously impacted by the conversation that goes on between our ears every day.

In fact, do you know that the conversation that you’re having with yourself right now will far exceed any conversation you have with other people? (You’re looking at me attentively like you’re actually listening—many of you have a conversation going in your mind right now.) It influences us; it impacts us.

So if we were to listen in on the conversation in your head right now, what would we hear you saying about your present realities? What would we hear you saying about the things in your past? What would we hear you saying about whatever it is that you know is on the horizon of your future?

How are you counseling your own heart, as Nancy so often says, with the truth of the gospel? The book of 1 Peter (and I’d love for you to go there with me) provides for us insight into just how crucial it is that we superimpose the truths of the gospel over the realities of our daily lives.

You may know that 1 Peter is actually a letter written by the apostle Peter to a group of believers who lived during a tumultuous time in history. They were scattered geographically, having fled increasingly hostile government opposition to their faith in Christ.

They were separated from loved ones, from family, from friends, and they were surrounded by the unfamiliar. They were suffering for the cause of Christ, living constantly under the threat of, “What now? What if? What’s going to happen today?” They were vulnerable, and they were struggling, and they were always being watched.

As we consider the believers that Peter is writing to in the book of 1 Peter, in chapter 4 where we’re going to land, it’s not hard to imagine that they would have had waves of discouragement and confusion, and perhaps even defeat and despair at times. The purpose of Peter’s letter to the believers is to encourage them, it’s to equip them, it’s to help them set their minds on that which is true.

In reality, we know now that greater days of persecution were just ahead for those believers. If you’re in 1 Peter 4, we’re going to begin at verse 7 and read down through verse 10:

The end of all things is [at hand]; therefore, be of a sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. . . .
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, that comes upon you for your testing, as though something strange were happening to you; but to the degree that you share in the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation (vv. 7–10, 12–13).

Peter says to those believers, “Listen to me! Time is short. The culmination of all things is near. That’s not a bad thing. It’s what we’ve been eagerly awaiting and eagerly anticipating. It’s what we’ve been looking forward to.” And because of that, he’s got their attention, and he gives the most interesting list.

He says:

  1. be of sound judgment and sober spirit 
  2. love deeply
  3. show hospitality
  4. know and use your spiritual gifts
  5. don’t be surprised by fiery trials 

We could spend days talking about that list and how those realities impact the days in which we’re living today.

But for our purposes today, I want us to simply focus on the priority that Peter gives us when he says, “Be of sound judgment.”  The word in the Greek is sophroneo. It means "to be in one’s right mind or to think rightly." The word comes from two words: the word so, from sozo, which means “to save,” and then from sophron, which means “sound,” and then we attach that to the word phren in the Greek, which means “mind.”

And so it means “Think with a saved mind,” or “a sound mind.” To those who are in the midst of difficult circumstances, Peter says, “Folks, time is short, and we have got to remain focused. You’re surrounded by all manner of distraction. . .” and some of you know that reality today.

There are things unfolding around you that are unsettling, they’re alarming, they’re even frightening at times. But listen to me, listen! Focus! I envision my sweet little daughter-in-law, who’s here today, taking her little two-and-a-half-year-old son’s (Joshua) face in her hands and saying, “Joshua, look at me. Look at me!”

Peter’s saying, “Look at me! It’s possible for you to remain calm and collected in the midst of all that’s taking place around you. It’s possible for you to be of a saved mind, regardless of the circumstances that are unfolding around you.” If you’re here today and you’re listening to my voice and you have circumstances that are spiraling out of control—relationally and physically and financially and emotionally—can I ask you, what are the thoughts that are filling your mind?

What are you dwelling on? What are the thoughts that are filling your mind as you go to sleep at night? When you wake up in the morning, what is the first thought that pops into you mind? What are you talking to yourself about?

You say, “Carrie, my life’s in such a whirlwind right now, I don’t even know what I’m thinking about.” I understand. I have been there . . . I have been there.

But I can also tell you from personal experience, when I have been in that place, the focus of my conversations with others generally represents what’s going on in-between my ears. It generally tells you what I’m thinking about. Scripture says, “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” Whatever is in your heart is what is going to come out of your mouth.

  • What’s at the heart of your conversations? 
  • What are you talking about with others? 
  • What are you dwelling on today? What are you saying to yourself? 
  • Are you thinking with a saved mind? 

Do you have that helmet of salvation—the hope of our salvation—securely centered upon your head? Are you superimposing the truths of Jesus’ life, His works on your behalf, over the reality over whatever you’re living in every day? Is there a huge chasm between the truth—the life-transforming good news of the gospel!—and the rubber-meets-the-road daily realities of your life?

First Thessalonians 2:4 says we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak—first to ourselves and then to others.

Nancy: Carrie, that’s just so huge a thing in my life, in each of our lives, that we are counselling our hearts according to the truth of God’s Word, and then letting that truth transform the way that we think and react to everything in life—that saved mind, that sound mind.

If we don’t have that, what’s the alternative? Insanity! You go crazy, because the circumstances of life, the unexpected interruptions, the unexpected heartaches, the unexpected news from the doctor, whatever’s going on with your kids and their season of life, or your singleness and that season of life . . . all those things will overwhelm your emotions. You’d go crazy if you don’t have the truth of God’s Word speaking into your life, changing your life, changing the way that you live.

That’s why I’m so thankful we have a program like Revive Our Hearts, where 260 days a year (with speakers like Carrie, teachers like myself, others that we interview) we can be just, one day at a time, pumping that truth into our own hearts and minds and into others’ lives.

That twenty-five-minute-a-day dose of truth isn’t enough. We need it all day long. We need to keep going back to it throughout the day. That’s why we try to offer resources that can encourage you to get into the Word and to let the truth of God’s Word renew your mind, change your thinking, change your life.

We’re offering, as Carrie’s teaching this session this week, as book that’s been very meaningful to her, to me, and to others. It’s by our friend Elyse Fitzpatrick called Comforts from Romans (that’s the book of Romans), and the subtitle is, Celebrating the Gospel One Day at a Time. These are bite-sized devotional readings, thirty-one of them, that take you through the first eight chapters of the book of Romans. You’ll get more of this way of thinking . . . what is the gospel? What does it mean? What does it look like? How does it apply to my life where I live, where I work, today?

We’re making that resource available this week to anyone who makes a donation of any amount to help support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. If you’d like to make a gift, if you’d like to have a copy of that book Comforts from Romans, just give us a call at 1–800–569–5959, or you can visit us online at ReviveOurHearts.com. Let us know that you’d like to make a donation to the ministry, and then be sure to ask for this book, Comforts from Romans.

You don’t want to miss tomorrow’s Revive Our Hearts, because Carrie’s going to be sharing an illustration about these truths that has been so deeply impacting to women all around the world as she has shared this. You want to be here. Be sure that you join us tomorrow for Revive Our Hearts.

Leslie: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss with our guest speaker on Revive Our Hearts, Carrie Gaul.

Nancy’s been telling us about the book Comforts from Romans, and I’ll remind you that special offer is available only during this series. Let us hear from you by this Friday, June 13.

Every day this week you’ll find a new video version of Carrie’s teaching that goes along with that day’s radio teaching. To see the video for yourself, visit ReviveOurHearts.com, and I hope you’ll think of someone you know who will benefit from this teaching and send them a link.

Carrie Gaul says you can stop trying to be good . . .

Carrie: Your good behavior is offensive to God, apart from Jesus Christ. Even our righteous acts are like filthy rags in His eyes, apart from the blood of Christ. The gospel is not, “Clean up your act. Get it together. Sell out for Jesus, and God will forgive you.” That is not the gospel—that’s moralism.

Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

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

All Scripture is taken from the NASB.

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

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