Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: God spoke directly to prophets like Habakkuk. Does He do that today? Here's Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: God is not revealing anything new today. He's given us all we need to know. Now, the Holy Spirit will take this Word, quicken it to our hearts, apply it, show us how it relates.

The Bible probably doesn't have your husband's name in there. The Bible probably doesn't tell you what college you should go to or what job you should take, but the Holy Spirit, as you are in the Word of God, will take the Word and quicken it to your understanding and to your heart and show you how it should be applied to your current life circumstances and situation.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, October 13. If you've missed any of Nancy's series called Habakkuk: Moving from Fear to Faith, you can order it on CD at ReviveOurHearts.com. It's a very honest look about very raw emotions, and today we come to a turning point in Habakkuk's spiritual journey. Here's Nancy.

Nancy: If you've been with us through this series on Habakkuk, you know that most of the first chapter was not real hopeful on the face of things. We had a lot of doom and gloom and calamity and Chaldeans coming in to take over the earth. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you can order the series and listen to the whole thing, but we come today to what I think is one of the most hopeful first signs of hope, certainly, in this book in chapter 2, verse 2.

Let's pick up at verse 1 so we get some context here. Habakkuk is now ready to really listen to what God has to say and how God will respond to the questions and the concerns that are on Habakkuk's heart, and so he said in verse 1 (we looked at this in the last session),

I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he [God] will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.

Then verse 2—I love these five words. “And the LORD answered me.” “And the LORD answered me”—I want to just park on those five words today—“And the LORD answered me.” Now, to give us some context here, if you go back to chapter 1, verse 2, remember that Habakkuk said to God, “How long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?” Habakkuk didn't think that God was listening to him, and if God was listening, it didn't look like He was doing anything.

Now, we have this reminder that God has been listening all along, and I wonder if God was just waiting for Habakkuk to get to a place where he was still enough, quiet enough long enough to listen to God's answer. “And the LORD answered me.”

It's just a precious reminder that when we cry out to the Lord, He hears us, and He answers us, not always in our time, not always in the way that we would have hoped, but He answers us. I love that phrase—“The LORD answered me.”

In fact, you find this as a thread running through the Scripture. You find it often in the Psalms. Psalm chapter 138, verse 3

On the day I called, you answered me.

Psalm 3, verse 4,

I cried aloud to the LORD, and he answered me from his holy hill.

Psalm 99, verse 6:

Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel also was among those who called upon his name. They called to the LORD, and he answered them.

Psalm 118, verse 5,

Out of my distress I called on the LORD; the LORD answered me and set me free.

Isn't that what Jeremiah 33 tells us?

Call unto Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things that you know not. (verse 3, paraphrase)

Now, God doesn't always answer us in exactly the way we had thought He would.

I'm thinking of that verse in Job. Actually, it's repeated twice, in Job 38 and then again in Job 40. It says,

Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind (38:1 & 40:6).

Well, we don't want a whirlwind to come into our lives, but sometimes that's how God speaks to us, is in the whirlwind.

Then Exodus chapter 19—you remember the children of Israel were parked at Mount Sinai, where God gave them the law. It was an awesome place, and let's read a little bit about that context and what it was like when God answered them.

On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled (verse 16).

I think if we knew what God is really like, trumpets and lightning and thundering and thick clouds wouldn't make us tremble as much as the presence of God would make us tremble.

Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain.

Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the LORD had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. [Got the scene here? This is a loud scene.] Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder (verses 17-19).

What must that have been like? I can't imagine, but God answered Moses when Moses spoke to God.

Now, come back to Habakkuk. Habakkuk has gone up on his watchpost. He's said, “I'm going to look out to see what God will say to me,” and God knew that his heart was in a position where he was ready to hear. He was ready to receive what God had to say, and it says, “Then the LORD answered me.”

Now, that raises this question in my mind. How long had Habakkuk been in that watchtower, at that watchpost? How long had he been waiting? How long had he been listening? How long had he been waiting for an answer?

Well, the obvious answer is we don't know because the Scripture doesn't tell us, but I'll tell you one thing we do know. He'd waited as long as it took for God to answer. We don't know how long a time span there is between verse one and verse two.

Did God answer him in three minutes? Did God answer him in three hours or three days? How long was he at that watchpost? We said that's not a literal watchpost. It's an attitude of expectancy—waiting on God, saying, “Lord, speak. Your servant is listening.”

How long did he wait there? He waited long enough to get the answer from God, and I think that's one of the reasons so many of us feel that God doesn't answer our prayers—because we don't wait long enough. We throw up our prayer, and then we're out of there, on to the next activity, the next busy thing in our lives. We're not waiting for God to answer.

You say, “Do you mean I'm supposed to have my quiet time like for three days without stopping? I mean, who would feed my kids? How would I go to work, and don't I live my life?” I'm saying we need to live our lives in an attitude of waiting on God and expectancy, anticipation, alertness until God gives what we need, however long that takes.

You've been praying for your husband. You've been praying for your child. You've been praying about a job. You've been praying about a situation with your in-laws or a situation in your school, and it's not changing. How long do you wait for God to act? How long do you wait to get God's perspective? As long as it takes. That's the answer.

Wait on the Lord, and we're going to see that theme coming through the book of Habakkuk. It's not stated explicitly here, but I think it's implicit, implied in this passage, that he waited.

In fact, here's another illustration of this from the book of Jeremiah, chapter 42.

The people . . . came near, and said to Jeremiah the prophet, "Let our plea for mercy come before you, and pray to the LORD your God for us, for all this remnant—because we are left with but a few, as your eyes see us—that the LORD your God . . .”

The Lord your God, the people said. These are God's people, but they said to Jeremiah,

Pray that the LORD your God may show us the way we should go, and the thing that we should do (verse 1-3).

Well, that raises this question. Why didn't they pray themselves? The answer is, they weren't on praying ground. They didn't have pure hearts, but they knew that Jeremiah walked with God. That makes me wonder. Do people know when they need prayer prayed effectively that you are a person they think of coming to and saying, “Would you pray for me?”

They came to Jeremiah, and they said, “We need mercy. Would you pray on our behalf?” Jeremiah says to them, “I have heard you. Behold, I will pray to the LORD your God,” the Lord your God. He's your God, too. He's not just mine. He's yours, but,

I will pray to the LORD your God according to your request, and whatever the LORD answers you I will tell you. I will keep nothing back from you.

At the end of ten days the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah (verses 4 & 7).

The people come, and they say, “Pray for us.” Jeremiah says, “Okay, I'll pray for you.” Ten days later, God's word comes to Jeremiah for the people. Are you willing to wait for God's word?

What if it takes ten years? In our minds, if it doesn't happen in ten minutes, I'm out of here. Habakkuk said, “I'll take my stand on my watchpost. I'll look out to see what God will say to me.” “And the LORD answered me.” Wait until the answer comes.

Now, I want to go on a little bit of a rabbit trail here, and I think this passage gives me a good opportunity to say something that I think needs to be said in our generation. I want to talk about how God speaks to us today.

“The LORD answered me.” What does that mean for us? What does that look like for us? Well, there are numerous places in Scripture that can help us, but one that I find the most helpful is if I go to Hebrews chapter 1, and you may want to turn there.

Hebrews chapter 1, verse 1 tells us that,

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets.

So there is a way that God used to speak to people. As you think to the Old Testament days, we've just read about some of those ways. God spoke in the whirlwind, in thunder, in voices, through Jeremiah the prophet.

God gave these audible voices. “God spoke in many ways, at many times to our fathers by the prophets. But in these last days,” now in these times, in this day, “[God] has spoken to us,” God has spoken to us and finished speaking. He has given all His word to us, “by His Son, [Christ], whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world" (verses 1-2).

God used to speak in a lot of different ways. Now, God has given us His complete revelation, His complete Word, and the living Word, Jesus Christ. When we come to Hebrews chapter 12, the author says, “See that you do not refuse him who is speaking” (verse 25a).

Long ago, God spoke in a certain way. In these last days, God has spoken to us by His Son, but then He says there's a sense in which God is now still speaking to us.

“For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven” (verse 25:b). He says, “God is still speaking, and that raises this question. How does God speak to us today?

You say, “I want God's answer. I want to know what God thinks. I've set myself on my watchpost. I want to know how God wants me to respond to this issue in my marriage or my church or my workplace.

"What do I do? How should I expect to hear from God? Am I going to have a dream? Am I going to have a vision? Am I going to hear an audible voice? How will I know that God is speaking to me?"

Well, as we just read in Hebrews chapter 1, prior to the completion of Scripture, God frequently used things like visions and dreams and audible voices. That was not unusual in the Old Testament for God to speak in those ways.

Now that we have the completed Scripture, the written Word of God, God speaks to us through His Word. He has spoken to us through His Word. His Word in the written Scripture is complete, and God speaks to us by His Spirit who lives within us.

What does the Spirit do? The Spirit helps us understand the Word, so the Spirit within us gives us understanding, illuminates the Word. As I've been reading the book of Habakkuk these last weeks, I've been trusting the Spirit of God to shed light on these passages, to help me understand their interpretation and their application to my life.

The Holy Spirit takes the Word that's just ink on a page if the Holy Spirit doesn't open it up to us, and makes it come alive to us. He makes application to our hearts. As I read the Scripture, I realize this is God speaking to me. It's the Holy Spirit who's giving me that realization. It's the Holy Spirit who convicts me as I read the Scripture, who prompts me, who leads through the Word of God.

God speaks clearly today, as clearly as ever, by His Spirit and through His written Word, the Bible, so do not expect God to speak to you or to answer you when you go to your watchpost, when you go to your tower and you're looking for answers—don't expect God to answer you apart from His Word. Let me say it this way. God is not revealing anything new today.

Now, you'll hear people say, “God told me this. God told me that.” If what they're saying is, “God told me that through His Word,” that makes a whole lot of sense, but if they're saying, “God told me something new or different that is not in the Word of God,” they're speaking for God in a way that we know is not biblical.

God is not revealing anything new today. He's given us all we need to know. Now, the Holy Spirit will take this Word, quicken it to our hearts, apply it, show us how it relates.

The Bible probably doesn't have your husband's name in there. The Bible probably doesn't tell you what college you should go to or what job you should take, but the Holy Spirit, as you are in the Word of God, will take the Word and quicken it to your understanding and to your heart and show you how it should be applied to your current life circumstances and situation.

You cannot expect to ignore the Scripture or spend limited time with it or be hasty with it, get minimum doses of it into your heart and then fill your mind with other books and TV programs and music and expect God to answer you.

One of the things I've noticed since Revive Our Hearts began is that there is a real move in the Christian, evangelical world away from the teaching and preaching and proclamation of the Word of God. And what has replaced it? Well, many things, but one of the most popular things that has replaced it is music. We're hearing as it relates to, for example, Christian radio today, “More people will tune in to the station if you have music than if you have the Word of God being proclaimed,” and so the argument goes, “We'll get the Word into them through music.”

Now, music is biblical, if it's biblical music. There's nothing wrong with it, but God speaks to us through His Word. Even music, if it's going to be really beneficial to our spiritual lives, must be getting the Word of God into our lives. But the conventional wisdom is: “People don't want to hear the Word of God taught. They want to hear more music.”

Well, I don't doubt that that's true, but the question is: Do they want to hear from God? Do they want answers, or do they just want to be entertained? If you just want to be entertained, then just keep your life full of music and other things that keep you happy, but if you want to get answers, you've got to go to the Word of God.

We've got to be people of God's Word. You can't ignore the Scripture, get minimum doses of it in your life, fill your life with other things, and expect to get answers from God.

What are the takeaways for us? Number one: God hears and answers when we pray. We may not think He's hearing. It may not feel to us like He's hearing. We may not see His answer. We may not understand His answer, but God hears and answers prayer.

I love those five words in verse 2 of Habakkuk chapter 2, “And the LORD answered me.” Now, keep in mind the position that Habakkuk was in when the Lord answered him. He was expectant. He was waiting. He was listening. He was at his watchpost. He was on his tower.

Some of us aren't hearing from God because we're not taking the time to listen to God, to wait on Him, to let Him speak to us. God hears and answers when we pray, but remember this: God doesn't always answer immediately. What is He waiting for? I don't know.

  • Maybe He's waiting for us to be ready to listen.
  • Maybe He's waiting for us to be in a place where we can be prepared for the answer.
  • Maybe He's waiting for something that has nothing to do with us, but God knows why.

He has His reasons. We can trust that, though He does not always answer immediately, He is still hearing, and He is in the process of answering. We've got to be willing to get away from the crowd, to be still, to wait, to listen for Him to speak, and that's this whole thing of meditation—as we go to the Word of God—not to be hurried or distracted.

I want to just tell you, God's been doing something very fresh in my own heart in the last couple of months, in my own, personal quiet time. I've been challenged to go to the Lord's Word and to my time with the Lord and putting away other distractions, other interruptions. I'm finding that I'm able to hear better when I'm not doing too many things at the same time, when I'm stopping to meditate on the Word of God.

That's one thing I've loved about this study of Habakkuk. I've been just living in the book of Habakkuk, and as I walk with my walking partner, we talk about Habakkuk. We quote Habakkuk. I've been thinking about Habakkuk when I go to sleep and when I wake up, and I'm just, verse by verse, phrase by phrase, mulling it over, meditating on it, chewing on it, listening, saying a phrase and pondering—what does God mean by this?

“And the LORD answered me.” What does that mean? What does that look like? As a result, the Word is coming alive to me in a way that doesn't always happen if I'm allowing interruptions or distractions or if I'm in a hurry or I'm trying to get through massive amounts of Scripture every day. It's been good for me just to slow down, to go to my watchpost, to listen to what the Lord will say.

Then remember that God's answer is not always what we had expected or hoped. When you go to listen to God, don't tell Him how to answer, and don't limit how He will answer to the way that you think He should or the way that you'd expect He will.

God loves to surprise us with His answers. You may not think His answer is the right one, but I guarantee you it is. That's where faith comes in, and that's what Habakkuk comes to see.

Let me ask you this. Are you hearing from God? Is God speaking to you? Are you getting answers from God?

“And the LORD answered me.” “I called, and the LORD answered me.” “The LORD answered.” “The LORD answered.” It's all the way through the Scripture.

  • Is God answering you?
  • Is He speaking to you?
  • If not, why not?
  • Are you putting yourself in a position, in a place where you can hear from Him?
  • Are you in the Word?
  • Are you meditating on it?
  • Are you pondering it?
  • Are you taking time with it?

Ladies, don't tell me how busy you are because I know. I'm busy too. We all are, and I just think sometimes, all this activity—God would rather have a lot less of it and just more of us.

You know what? I find I have to be ruthless with my schedule. There are people I can't meet with. There are people I can't see. There are letters I can't write. There are places I can't go. There are speaking engagements I can't take.

Now, I'm not saying I never do any of those things, but I have to limit those things. Sometimes people don't understand why I'm not doing more things, why I'm not more social.

You know what? It's because I've decided that in this life I want to be getting ready to meet God, and that means I want to be listening to Him. That takes time.

You've got to make time. It's not just going to happen in your schedule. You've got to carve out the time. Set it apart. Set it aside.

Go to your watchpost. Go to your tower. Look out to see what God will say to you, and in His way, and in God's time, He will answer you.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be right back to pray. We pray in faith, knowing God will answer. The book of Habakkuk has shown us what it feels like to feel like God isn't listening. It also explains why sometimes God's answer is different from what we expect, and today we saw that God does answer those who patiently wait for Him.

Would you dig deeper into Habakkuk and discover more about prayer, waiting, frustration, and joy? During Nancy's current series called Habakkuk: Moving from Fear to Faith, I hope you're reading and rereading the book of Habakkuk, and I also hope you'll get a copy of a Bible study the team here has created. It's called Worry, Woes, and Worship.

It's a 30-day Bible study that will walk you through discussions of unanswered prayer, unexpected answers, frustration, and joy. You'll be invited to explore what the Bible says about prayer and given time to evaluate your own relationship to prayer and the Lord. You can order Worry, Woes, and Worship when you make a donation of any amount to Revive Our Hearts. Just ask for it when you call 1-800-569-5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

For 2,000 years, believers in Jesus have claimed He's coming back soon. Well, most of us don't plan in thousand-year segments or think of a millennium as soon. Nancy will help make sense of it when she's back on Monday. Now, here she is to pray.

Nancy: Lord, give us ears to hear and hearts to receive what You will say to us. Thank You that You're a God who speaks, a God who has revealed Yourself. Thank you that You want to give us direction and wisdom and insight and understanding.

Help us to have quiet hearts, to be still enough long enough to listen to You and to receive what You will say. 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 Bible unless otherwise noted.

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

Join the Discussion