Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Help Me Walk by Faith, not Sight

Dannah Gresh: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wonders, Are you walking by faith or by sight?

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: If you are banking your life on what is seen, then when your mate gets cancer, when your child has a terminal disease, when your mate says he doesn't love you anymore and doesn't want to be married to you anymore, when you lose your job, when you lose a trusted source of income, when your health fails and you get that terminal diagnosis; if you're living your life based on sight, then you will crater when it comes to these times of suffering and testing and trials and affliction. 

Leslie Basham: It's November 1, 2019, and you're tuned to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, along with Dannah Gresh.

Dannah: Nancy, I’ve gotten so much out of our current series, “My Personal Petitions.” I'm kind of sad it's the last day.

Nancy: This series over the last couple of weeks has been so good for me, too. I've gone back through these ten personal petitions that I've prayed many times over the years. I’ve just tried to unpack each one, first for my own heart. Saying, "What do we mean by this? What would this look like in my life?" It's made me want to pray these prayers afresh to the Lord and to ask Him to do these specific things in my life.

My desire always is, before I teach anything on Revive Our Hearts, that the Lord would do that work in my own heart. And I know you feel the same way when you teach, Dannah.

Dannah: I love that part of it, Nancy. I love that the Lord does that; that He teaches it to me. But it's also hard. I'm imagining as sweet as that has been in your life, it's also been a heart-searching time for you.

Nancy: It is a searching time. But when you see the Lord do a fresh work of grace in your heart as you lift these petitions up to Him, it also is really precious. So I've loved diving into the Scripture on these topics and letting the Lord feed me from His Word, and then feeding our listeners out of the overflow of what He has given me.

Dannah: This series has really confronted my heart. You're not going to want to miss any of these ten days. In fact, if you have, be sure to go to ReviveOurHearts.com and read the transcript or download the audio. I'm sure it will refresh your heart.

In fact, we’d like to help you remember these petitions throughout all of the year 2020. So we’d like to send you a beautiful wall calendar our team has designed. Each month is going to focus on one of these petitions and has stunning photography to enhance the content. We’ve covered ten of these prayers in the series, but we’re adding more petitions to the calendar. So you can use it starting this December through the end of the year 2020 to pray these petitions to God.

Nancy: I’d love it if we could send one of these ministry calendars to every household represented by our listeners. Because just imagine if we all prayed these prayers throughout the year, what a huge effect that would have on our lives, our churches, our families, and even our communities.

Dannah: It kind of gives me chills when I think about praying these things together. Be sure to join us. We can send you that calendar when you send us your gift to support Revive Our Hearts, a gift of any size. You can do that by calling us right now at 1–800–569–5959, or make that gift at ReviveOurHearts.com

Nancy: And remember when you get that calendar, you'll also get a bookmark that has the petitions listed on it. So you can stick that in your Bible, or place it on your nightstand or your bathroom counter, so you can remember these petitions and pray them throughout the year. Just a review, these are the petitions you’ll read about one each month in the calendar, the ones we've covered in this series. 

1) Lord, guard my heart.

2) Fill me with Your love.

3) Fill me with Your Spirit.

4) May I be clothed in humility.

5) Make me a servant.

6) Give me a grateful spirit.

7) Guard my tongue.

8) Give me wisdom and discernment.

9) Teach me the fear of the Lord.

Dannah: Thank you so much Nancy. And now, let's turn our hearts to hearing the final teaching in this series called "My Personal Petitions."

Nancy: Now we come to the tenth and final prayer request of this series, and that is this: "Lord, help me to walk by faith and not by sight." There is so much we could say on this one, and I just want to meander a bit on some observations and meditations on that prayer request.

The place my mind first goes is to Hebrews 11:1: "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, [it is] the conviction of things not seen." This is the basis for my request, "Lord, help me to walk by faith and not by what I can see, not by sight." And what is faith? It's the assurance of things hoped for, things I don't yet have fully, and it's the conviction, the certainty, the confidence of things I cannot see but by faith I know are true, and I build my life in confidence on those realities.

So you see this contrast throughout God's Word and in our Christian lives—the contrast between things that are seen and things that are unseen. The things that are seen (or are visible) generally are temporal, of this material world. First John 2 tells us that this world, this world system, this physical, visible world is passing away. It's temporal.

Our physical, visible, material bodies are passing away. What you can experience with your senses, what you can see, hear, touch, taste, smell, these are the things that are seen. They are temporal. Nations, kingdoms, crime, famine, human relationships, money, things money can buy, jobs, houses, wars, human plans, human strategies, human resources—all these things are visible. You can see them, you can read about them, you can experience them, but they are temporal. They are not the ultimate realities. They are real, but they are not the ultimate realities. Those are the things that are seen.

But faith takes us into the realm of things that are not seen, things that you cannot know with your natural senses, with your human eyes, with your natural reason—things that are not seen are eternal. Some of those things that are not seen, that we believe even though we can't see them: First of all is God Himself.

"He that comes to God [whom he cannot see] must believe that He is" (Heb. 11:6). We have to believe that He is. Satan, an unseen reality, heaven, hell, eternity, the Holy Spirit, the promises of God, our inner spirits, the souls of men, future rewards, the sovereignty of God, His divine plan and order, and how He is orchestrating events to accomplish His purposes and His will. These are all things we can't see. We can't touch them and taste them and smell them and contain them in a petri dish or a test tube. We can't see them with our natural reason and senses.

Most people spend the majority of their lives totally in the realm of the natural: what they can see, what they can sense, what they can experience, what they can prove scientifically (so they think), that which is seen, that which is visible, that which is temporal and passing away.

This is what got Eve in trouble in Genesis chapter 3. Remember what the Scripture says? "When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate" (v. 6).

She made a decision based on sight, on sense, rather than on faith in the Word of God. She opted to act on what she could see rather than those unseen realities. And in this case, what was seen was not true and led her into deception. Had she chosen instead to walk by faith in the Word of God, there would have been a whole different outcome.

When we're tempted, aren't we likewise prone to go by our feelings, our emotions, our circumstances, lies the enemy feeds us, rather than the Word of God? I wish we could take time to just park in Hebrews 11, that great faith chapter. We read verse 1, that introduces that chapter: "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."

As you read through that chapter, you see all kinds of things that we experience and can enjoy and can enter into by faith in that which is unseen. So you may want to, after you hear this session, later in the day perhaps, go back and read through that chapter and see how faith leads people to act and to step out in ways based on realities that are not seen.

Here are some things that Hebrews 11 tells us; I won't quote the verses but I'll tell you the conclusions: First of all, verse 3 tells us that by faith we understand how this world came into existence and the origin of life. That's super important. Because if it didn't happen the way God said it did, then everything else we believe is predicated on a lie.

Verse 3 says, "By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible." The Word of God was not seen, and it's what is not seen that brought into being what is seen. That which is seen is visible, it is temporal and it is passing away. But it was brought about by faith in that which is not seen, the Word of God. It's by faith in that word that we understand how Creation came about.

Verses 4 and 7 tell us that it's by faith we are declared righteous.
Verses 5 and 6 tell us it's by faith that we please God.
In verses 7 and 8 we see that it's by faith that we obey God.
Verse 11, it's by faith—faith in that which is not seen, that we experience the supernatural, and that we live for future reward and promises we cannot see. We do this by faith in that which is not seen.

It's by faith in the unseen, according to verses 20 and 21, that we invoke blessing on the next generation. I know I'm speaking to some moms who have such a burden to see the gospel of Christ and the Word of Christ passed on to your children and to your grandchildren and to leave a blessing for the next generation.

The only way you can do that is by faith in that which is not seen. If you only look at that which is seen, you're going to live in turmoil, you're going to live in confusion, you're going to live in deception, you're going to lead your children the wrong way. You're not going to leave them a blessing that will take them closer to the heart of God, if you don't walk by faith in that which is unseen.

Verse 23 tells us that it's by faith in that which is unseen that we're freed from fear of evil, earthly rulers. So if I were you, I'd spend a whole lot less time reading and watching the news than in reading and watching God's Word. It's this unseen story, these unseen realities that tell us the truth about what's going on in this world, and about the cosmic underpinnings and undercurrents and oversight of God's sovereignty over all of history and nations.

This is where you see how the sovereignty of God is what brings nations to birth and destroys them, ultimately. You see the purposes of God, the plan of God, the redemptive story. It's the unseen story that is the most real story. It's the ultimate reality.

We experience it by faith, and as a result we're freed from the fear of, "What's going to happen if this person gets into office?" and "What if ISIS takes over this?" We're recording this long before this series will air, and by the time it airs, there will likely be some new world crisis, and people will be in terror. They will be in fear.

Even Christians give in a lot of times to this, and that's because we get our source of ultimate reality from what is seen, what you can hear on the news, rather than from exercising faith in what is unseen.

Verses 24 and 25 of Hebrews 11 tell us that it's by faith in the unseen that we can stand firm against pagan influences.
Verse 27, it's by faith in the unseen that we endure in this broken, fallen world.
Verses 28 and 31, by faith in what is unseen we are saved.
Verse 29, by faith in what is unseen we can do the impossible, we can escape from the enemy.
Verse 30, it's by faith in the unseen that we overcome the enemies of God and of our souls.
Verses 35 and following, a beautiful, powerful passage. It's by faith in the unseen that we can endure when our faith is tested and when we suffer in this present world.

First Peter 1:8 and 9 pick up on this same theme; Scripture says, "Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him [that is, in Christ. And in the midst of your sufferings, you] rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls."

What's the point there? We don't walk by sight. But we walk by faith—faith in what is not seen. It's by that faith in the unseen that we can "count it all joy" as James 1:2 and 3 tells us, when we meet trials of various kinds, for we know the testing of our faith produces steadfastness.

If you are banking your life on what is seen, then when your mate gets cancer, when your child has a terminal disease, when your mate says he doesn't love you anymore and doesn't want to be married to you anymore, when you lose your job, when you lose a trusted source of income, when your health fails and you get that terminal diagnosis; if you're living your life based on sight, then you will crater when it comes to these times of suffering and testing and trials and affliction. But if we will root our lives by faith in what is unseen—the promises of God, the character of God, the ways of God—then when these trials come, though we cannot see Him, we will trust Him.

Though we cannot see His hand we will trust His heart, and our lives will stand firm. We will be able to endure when the storms assail us. When they batter our houses, our houses will stand firm, because we're building our lives on the Rock, that unseen Rock, Christ Jesus.

We will see Him! What now takes faith will one day be sight. Then prayer will be praise and faith will be sight, but until then we walk by faith and not by sight.

In Luke 5:4 and following, there's a great account. (They're all great. I love them all. I love this one at the moment.) Jesus is in Simon Peter's fishing boat, and He tells the disciples to launch out into the deep and put down their nets for a catch (you know the story).

Peter says, "Master, we toiled all night and took [caught] nothing." Implied here, "We know how to fish, we're fishermen. You're a carpenter. We know how to fish; you don't. We know where to go for fish, we know when to go for fish." He didn't say all of that, but you sense that.

"But at your word I will let down the nets." That's walking by faith instead of by sight. "I can't see how this is going to work out, but I'm going to stake my life, my future, my present on what is unseen." So the disciples obeyed what Jesus said without really understanding—walking by faith instead of by sight—and what happened?

They wound up with that net-breaking, boat-sinking load of fish. Amazing! It's a miracle. God does miracles when we walk by faith and not by sight.

Well, my dad, Art DeMoss, loved that passage. I want to read to you a paragraph that he wrote in response to that story. It's been speaking to me lately as the Lord has been calling me into some places of greater faith—not walking by sight, but by faith.

Here's what my dad had to say:

Many of us in our Christian lives have been wallowing around in shallow waters, assuming it to be safer there. No need for miracles. But one of the divine paradoxes that I've learned over the years is that, contrary to normal expectations, it can be much riskier, much costlier to stay in the shallow water, rather than to trust the Lord and launch out into the deep.

Walk by faith, not by sight.

You see, when we exercise faith in the Person, the presence, the promises, and the power of God, that faith will then act on the principles of His Word. And it will move us into the realm of the supernatural. And I'll just tell you, from personal experience, that can be really scary. It's Peter stepping out of that boat, in the storm, to walk on the water to Jesus.

We walk by faith, not by sight. It can be scary. It can push us out in to the deep and we think, I'm going to die here! I'm going to die if I do what God says: if I forgive, if I let this go, if I love my mate in this way, if I make this choice, if I give this way, I don't know that I can afford that, but God's putting it on my heart.

If I walk by faith, it will take me into places that seem crazy. And some people, even well-meaning Christians, will be happy to tell you that they think you're crazy: "You're having another child!? You'll never be able to support that many children! How can you take care of six children? Are you crazy?"

And you say, "My husband and I have decided to walk by faith and not by sight, and we know that anything that makes us need God is a blessing, so we're saying 'yes' to this blessing. We're launching out into the deep. Yes, we know we can't handle this. Yes, we know this is too big for us. God's going to take us to a place where underneath are the everlasting arms. So we're going there."

For some of my single women friends, or for some married couples, this may mean that God picks you up and moves you to some place of the world that you never dreamed of going or living before. You say, "This is craziness! What about my retirement? What about my future? What about my plans?" That's all sight. Where's faith going to take you?

You say, "Yes, Lord, at Your Word I will launch out into the deep." What are you believing God for in your life, at this moment, that only God can do? A situation where you can't make it without Him? Our natural tendency is to want to manage and control our circumstances: "I don't more kids than I can manage. I don't want more work than I can manage. I don't want a harder life than I can manage."

And so we stay within this narrow confined place of what we think we can manage. The truth is, we can't manage anything without Jesus. But God says, "I want to stretch your boundaries. I want to send you out. I want to stretch your borders."

And God has done this in my life over and over and over again, repeatedly. I say, "Lord, You what? Really?"That's where I have this conversation from Luke 1 with the Lord over and over again. "How shall this be? How can this be?" And God says (as the angel said to Mary), "The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you."

And then by faith, not by sight, you say, "Yes, Lord! I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as You have said. I'm going to walk by faith." We want to figure everything out in advance. We want God to give us this detailed contract, this description of what following Him will mean, and what He's going to ask us to do, and we'll read it and we'll review it and we'll consider it, and then we'll decide if we want to sign on the bottom line.

God says, "No. That's sight, that's not faith." What's the walk of faith? God hands you a blank piece of paper and says, "Sign your name and then trust Me enough to fill in the details for you." Is that scary? Yeah! Where's it going to take me? "I don't know," but God knows. And you'll never be safer and more secure than when you're walking by faith rather than by sight.

You see, God places us in situations where we have to depend on Him. We have to trust Him even when we can't see where He's leading or how He's going to provide. That's where faith helps us see the bigger picture—the cosmic, unseen realities—walking by faith in the promises of God versus sight, what we can see.

That's what gives us hope and encouragement and confidence and joy. It frees us from worry. What did Jesus say? "Don't be anxious about what you'll eat and drink and what you'll wear. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness—the unseen." (see Matt. 6:31 and 33)

It frees us to be generous, to lay up treasure in heaven, to be generous givers rather than accumulating more stuff here on this earth. That's sight. Giving requires faith. Walking by faith instead of sight changes our value system. This is why the apostle John says, "Do not love the world or the things in the world. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life [all that seen stuff]—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with [all] its desires [what you can see, it's passing away, it's temporal], but whoever does the will of God [that which is unseen, walking by faith] abides forever" (1 John 2:15 and 17).

Walking by faith will enable you to trust the will and the purposes and the plan of God. It will enable you to submit to God-ordained authority, even when they're wrong, or when you think they're wrong. Because, you see, you believe Scripture when it says, "The king's heart is in the Lord's hand and the Lord turns it in whatever way He wants, as the rivers of water" (Pro. 21:1).

So my willingness to submit to God-ordained authority is an evidence of how big I believe God really is. Do I believe He can speak to the heart and change the heart of that human authority? It takes faith instead of sight!

When we walk by faith instead of by sight we don't live for the "here and now," but for the "there and then." That's what keeps us from losing heart and throwing in the towel. When we face affliction, as we will, we see that it has eternal purpose. Walking by faith gives us courage and helps us to keep our eyes on the finish line.

Let me just read to you several verses from 2 Corinthians 4 and 5. They're familiar to you, but I just want to wash our hearts, counsel our hearts, with the truth of God's Word. So the apostle Paul, who had suffered a great deal, says in 2 Corinthians 4:16–18,

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away [that's the part you can see], our inner self [that which is unseen] is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction [what we can see] is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison [what we can't see], as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient [passing away], but the things that are unseen are eternal.

The he continues in 2 Corinthians 5:1 and 2,

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed [he's talking about our earthly body], we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens [that's the unseen]. For in this tent [that is this human body, that which is seen, that which is temporal] we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling [that which is unseen].

2 Corinthians 5:5–7, 

He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.

So back to Hebrews 11—all those great heroes and heroines of the faith—verses 13, 14, and 16 tell us,

These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them [how did they see them? With eyes of faith, right?] and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland [an unseen place] . . . They desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

You see, the city of man is that which is seen, that which is visible. It's where most people place their deepest roots and longings and affections. It's where most people pay the most attention, that which is seen, the city of man.

But when you walk by faith you will be living not for the city of man but for the city of God, a city He has prepared for us, unseen. As the writer of Hebrews goes on to say in chapter 13, verse 14, "For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come." The heavenly Jerusalem.

We walk by faith and not by sight.

And so, oh Lord, I pray that our lives would reveal to the world how great and trustworthy and faithful, good and kind and merciful You are. May we be willing to step out in faith even when we can't see the outcome. And, Lord, give us lives that are not explainable in human terms—the lives that live for the city that is to come.

Thank you for that promise that the day will come when faith will be sight, the One we do not see know—Whom we love and worship and trust—we will see face-to-face, and faith will be rewarded. In the meantime, keep us walking by faith. We pray in Jesus' name, amen.

Dannah: Keep me walking by faith. That’s one of ten things Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth often prays for herself. She's been helping us explore all ten of these petitions these last two weeks on Revive Our Hearts. Today’s the final day of this wonderful series. I hope that you’ll join me and Nancy in praying these petitions all through the year 2020. 

What if you forget some of them? Well, we're going to help you remember by sending the 2020 Revive Our Hearts wall calendar directly to you. Each month’s calendar page will help you focus on one of these specific petitions. It will help you pray more effectively all year long. Not only that, we're going to put a reminder right in your Bible because we are going to send you a beautiful bookmark that reminds you to pray these powerful, transformational prayers. We're going to send it as our way of saying "thank you" when you make a gift to Revive Our Hearts this week.

You can make that gift by going to ReviveOurHearts.com,  or call us at 1–800–569–5959.

And don’t forget, if you've missed some of this series, you can watch this teaching on video. You’ll find the free video at our website, ReviveOurHearts.com.

What does the gospel have to do with dirty diapers? That may sound like a crazy question. But Nancy will talk about it with some moms who have a lot to say about both subjects. Please join us next week for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you walk by faith, day by day. It's an outreach of LifeAction Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

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