Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: When God calls, you have to say “yes.” Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss:
My life is not my own. I’ve been purchased, bought with a price. My life is tethered to Christ, the Author and the Finisher of my faith. I’m coming to realize that there is no safer place than in the midst of the battle with Him.

Leslie:
This is Revive Our Hearts, with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It’s Wednesday, October 12. Over the last couple of weeks, Nancy’s been leading us in the series, When Men Don’t Lead: A Look at the Life of Deborah. We’ve seen how Deborah responded with courage when God called her to an important battle.

It’s not easy to say, “Yes, Lord,” and march into battle. Nancy knows that first hand. At the True Woman conferences in 2010, Nancy spoke about the life of Deborah and shared candidly about the struggles she’s been through when called to join a battle.

To hear those complete messages from True Woman ’10, visit ReviveOurHearts.com. The portion we’ll hear today will encourage you to join Deborah in saying, “Yes, Lord.” Let’s listen.

Nancy:
In Judges chapter 4, beginning in verse 12, we come to the description of the battle.

When Sisera was told that Barak the son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor, Sisera called out all his chariots, 900 chariots of iron [lest we forget how serious this enemy was] and all the men who were with him, from Harosheth-hagoyim to the river Kishon.

And Deborah said to Barak, "Up! For this is the day in which the LORD has given Sisera into your hand. Does not the LORD go out before you?" So, Barak went down from Mount Tabor with 10,000 men following him (vv. 12-14).

Now, Barak is in a life-threatening, dangerous situation. And what does Deborah do? She comes along at his request and encourages this man with the promises of God. We know the end of the story, but for all Barak knows, those 900 chariots are going to run over his 10,000 foot soldiers. But he’s armed with the promises of God.

Where did he hear those promises? From the lips of a woman of faith. She encourages him with God’s promises, she inspires him to move forward in faith. Ladies, a woman’s words can inspire courage and faith in the men around us, in husbands and sons and pastors others.

How many of us, as women, with our words have chipped away at the courage and the faith and the manhood of the men around us? Can we put an end to that and begin to speak words of courage and faith?

You say, “Well, my husband isn’t a warrior.” Do you believe God could make him a warrior? Do you believe God could infuse faith in his heart? You say, “You don’t know! He’s a mess!” Do you think God can redeem “messes?” God’s redeemed us! He’s redeeming us, and some of these men are so patient with we women being controlling and conniving and manipulative and, like Ford, always having a “better idea.” God have mercy on these men, having to live with some of us, who at times are shrews. Here’s a woman who shows the model of being an encourager and how her words inspired courage, rather than tearing down this man.

We’ll look at verse 15,

The LORD routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his armies before Barak by the edge of the sword. And Sisera got down from his chariot and fled away on foot. And Barak pursued the chariots and the army to Harosheth-hagoyim, and all the army of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword; not a man was left (vv. 15-16).

Who is the hero, the champion, in this story? It’s not Deborah; it’s not Barak. Who is it? Who routed Sisera and all his chariots? God did! Who subdued Jaban, the king of Canaan before the people of Israel in verse 23? The Lord did.

God will be victorious, and His enemies will be defeated. When the enemy, the tide of evil comes in like a flood, God will raise up a standard against him: the Name, the cross of Christ, the gospel of Christ, the truth of God. It is more powerful than all the world’s chariots and ideologies and philosophies and powers and armies and false religions. God is the victor; God is the champion. The battle is the Lord’s.

You see a beautiful thing in this passage, and you see it in life. God used human means in the battle. He used Barak; those Israelite soldiers fought hard. But God also sent supernatural, divine intervention to win the battle. Look at chapter 5, verse 20. I love these two verses, and you probably have never stopped to really think about them before.

From heaven, the stars fought, from their courses they fought against Sisera. The torrent Kishon swept them away, the ancient torrent, that torrent Kishon.

You say, “What in the world does that mean?” It appears, as you study this passage, that God sent, in the midst of this battle a violent thunderstorm—lightning, a torrential downpour, rain, hail, and sleet. And the Kishon river that is normally just a tiny little stream, flooded.

What happened to those Canaanite chariot wheels that they thought were their strength? Those chariot wheels got stuck in the mud, in the flood waters, and the enemy was thrown into panic, into confusion. The men on those chariots tried to run away on foot to escape the wrath of Jehovah God and His army.

What’s so cool about this story is that Baal was the Canaanite god, the god of the storms, so they thought. And in this moment Jehovah God demonstrated His supreme power over storms and over Baal and over all false gods.

 Ladies, there is no limit to God’s resources and His power. You put yourself, weak as you are, at His disposal. He will move heaven and earth, if necessary, to defend you and to glorify Himself. Don’t underestimate the power and the greatness and the grace of God.

 As the story unfolds, we see that there were some Israelites who willingly joined in the battle. But there were others who stayed at home and refused to get involved. The participants, the willing volunteers, were commended and blessed for their willingness to get involved.

Look at chapter 5, verse 11: “Then down to the gates marched the people of the LORD.”

From Ephraim their root they marched down into the valley, following you, Benjamin, with your kinsmen; from Machir [which is in the tribe of Manasseh] marched down the commanders, and from Zebulun those who bear the lieutenant’s staff (v. 14).

The princes of Issachar came with Deborah, and Issachar faithful to Barak, into the valley they rushed at his heels (v. 15).

Zebulun is a people who risked their lives to the death; Naphtali, too, on the heights of the field (v. 18).

These were the ones in these tribes who were willing to get involved in the battle. There were others who refused to get involved, even though they lived nearby. These were rebuked. Continuing in chapter 5, look at verse 15:

Among the clans of Reuben there were great searchings of heart. [They sat and thought about it.] Why did you sit still among the sheepfolds, to hear the whistling for the flocks? Among the clans of Reuben, there were great searchings of heart (vv. 15-16).

They thought about it, but they didn’t do anything. They opted to sit it out and let their brothers go into the danger of the battle and fight the battle.

Gilead [in the tribe of Gad] stayed beyond the Jordan; and Dan, why did he stay with the ships? Asher sat still at the coast of the sea, staying by his landings (v.17).

Look at verse 23, still in chapter 5, “Curse Meroz”—which is, most commentators think, a city or some think a city in Naphtali that was near the battle.

Curse Meroz, says the angel of the Lord, curse its inhabitants thoroughly, because they did not come to the help of the LORD, to the help of the LORD against the mighty.

In his commentary, Phillips Brooks says, “Meroz stands for the shirker, for him who was willing to see other people fight the battles of life while he simply comes in and takes the spoils.”

Commentator Matthew Henry of the Puritan era said, “Many are kept from doing their duty by the fear of trouble, the love of ease, and an inordinate affection to their worldly business.”

This has been a challenge to me as God has called me into the battle over these years, and at times I’ve been so afraid . . . so wanting to stay back behind with a way out of the fray. I’ve been reminded that it’s the fear of trouble, the love of ease, and an inordinate affection for my worldly business that will keep me out of the battle.

Ladies, God did not need those tribes to bring about the victory. He did it without their help. He had stars and lightning and storms and all of this at His disposal, but these people missed an opportunity to align themselves with God. They made excuses for not getting involved, and they were disgraced because they chose to sit out the battle.

God does not need us. He doesn’t need you; He doesn’t need me. His kingdom purposes will be fulfilled in this world, with or without you and me. But He’s giving each of us an incredible opportunity in our generation to join with Him in what He’s doing in this world, in the battle between good and evil. It's an opportunity to stand with Him and with His people, to risk our safety, and if need be, our lives, and to get involved.

Are you going to be one who joins in the battle? Or are you going to sit it out and play it safe? Back in chapter 4, as we come to the end of the account, we see one other woman who got involved, although admittedly in an unusual way. I won’t read the text, but starting in verse 17 there’s a dramatic account of the destruction of Sisera, the Canaanite commander, at the hands of a woman named Jael.

Jael was not an Israelite, but she sided with the God of Israel against His enemies. You read how Sisera flees through the torrential downpour to Jael’s tent, assuming he will be safe there since her family has a treaty with the Canaanites. Sisera is cold, he’s wet, he’s exhausted. You can picture him. He’s drenched; he’s been running through his downpour. Jael welcomes him, invites him in, gives him some milk to drink.

He’s exhausted from the battle, and he falls asleep. Then Jael takes a hammer and drives a tent peg into his head and kills him. Matthew Henry, one of my favorite commentators, suggests that it’s possible that Jael initially intended nothing more than true kindness and hospitality until God “by a sudden, immediate impulse upon her mind, directed her to do otherwise.” He goes on to say, “We’re not to rely on such impulses today.”

This is rather gruesome, and if you haven’t heard the story before, you think, “Wow, what kind of role model is this?” Keep in mind that Sisera was a ruthless, violent man who was attempting to destroy God’s chosen people.

In fact, in chapter 5 you read that his own mother talks about how he and his men would have thought nothing of raping and killing any woman they considered an enemy. In Deborah’s victory hymn in chapter 5, Jael’s act of courage is celebrated and she is blessed by God.

Chapter 4, verse 23, tells us, “On that day God subdued Jabin the king of Canaan before the people of Israel.” Chapter 5, verse 31, tells us, “And the land had rest for forty years.” Can I just remind you of the order? First, the battle, and then the rest.

The impact of Deborah’s life, her courage, her faith, her godly influence, was felt, not only in her generation, but in the next. It makes me ask, “What mark will your life have on this generation and on  those who are coming behind us?”

The spiritual battle in our day is no less intense than it was in Deborah’s day, and the enemy is no less powerful. God is chastising His people for our sins and our idolatry. So many believers in our churches seem oblivious to what is going on. There are others, many of you perhaps, who recognize what is going on, but we feel so helpless and powerless to do anything about it.

I received an email from Chuck Colson not too long ago who said,

I really believe in this moment in history that the one great hope is that the sleeping giant in our midst—the believers—will be awakened. It has happened before, and it can happen again if God so chooses. It’s the first item I pray for every morning.

We started out by reading that quote by John Angell James,

A community is not likely to be overthrown where a woman fulfills her mission, for by the power of her noble heart over the hearts of others, she will raise it from its ruins and restore it again to prosperity and joy.

I’m praying that God will raise up in our day not just one woman but thousands and thousands of women across this country and around the world . . . women who will arise as Deborah did, women of the word, women of biblical conviction and courage and vision, women of faith, women of humility, women who are willing to say, “Yes, Lord,” women whose lives will inspire the men around them to believe God for what only God can do.

I believe that the influence of that army of godly women will be incalculable in our homes, our churches, our communities, our culture, and around the world. I want to tell you that I know a little bit about the battle, and a whole lot more than I did when we started.

Since the launch of the True Woman movement at True Woman ’08 in Schaumburg, and many of you were with us there, in my own life that battle has intensified. It’s gotten much, much hotter, much harder. I have found myself battling fear, extreme weariness, plaguing doubts, discouragement nipping at my heels day and night. I’ve battled my own flesh. I cannot tell you how many times I have wanted to go AWOL.

At times, I’ll just be honest with you, I’ve become really, really tired of swimming upstream, of being “shot at,” not only by the world. It’s really not mostly come from there, but more from within, from within the church at points, from well-meaning people perhaps. Over and over again I’ve found myself wanting to go back to where it’s safe, where I can have a more normal life. But I also realize that God has His hand on my life.

There’s a call of God on my lif, not because I’m anything special or extraordinary, but just because I’m a redeemed child of God. My life is not my own. I’ve been purchased, bought with a price, and my life is tethered to Christ, the Author and the Finisher of my faith. I’m coming to realize that there is no safer place to be than in the midst of the battle with Him.

Many of you have read or heard the story, the C. S. Lewis Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Remember that moment when Edmund and Lucy and Caspian are on a voyage from Narnia headed east toward Aslan’s country at the end of the world? At one point their ship, the Dawn Treader, anchors near land and they all go ashore.

Some of the sailors are tired from the long journey, and they want to stop and spend the winter where they are and then head back west and return home to Narnia in the spring. They’re told that if they stay where they are, they’ll be given a feast fit for a king every night. That makes them even more reluctant to press on eastward toward Aslan’s country.

Then Reepicheep, the valiant talking mouse, speaks up—and sometimes I feel as small as Reepicheep—and he expresses his determination to keep pressing on no matter what. Do you remember what he says? He says,

My plans are made. While I can, I sail east in the Dawn Treader. When she fails me, I paddle east in my coracle [it’s a small boat]. When she sinks, I shall swim east with my four paws, and when I can swim no longer, if I have not reached Aslan’s country, I shall sink with my nose to the sunrise.

Ladies, God hasn’t promised that this journey will be easy, but He has promised to go with us. He has promised that one day prayer will be praise, faith will be sight, all tears will be wiped away, and our journey, every long hard step of it, will be rewarded and will seem as nothing in comparison to the eternal weight of glory that will be waiting for us.

There are some in this battle, and myself at times, who are tired and want to stop. Some want their reward here and now, the good life. They may choose to turn back, but by God’s grace and for His glory, my course is set. My plans are made, and I plan to press on until we reach “Aslan’s country,” the New Jerusalem, the city of the Great King. What I want to ask is, will you join me? Will you go with me? Let’s bow our hearts in prayer.

I am weak, but You are strong, O Lord. I am small, and You are great. I am sinful, and You are holy. I am afraid at times, but You are the God who gives faith . . . faith not in myself, through my own strength or efforts, but faith in the great arm of Jehovah God, the God of the storms, the God of Heaven and Earth.

I bow my heart before You and ask, "O Lord, may the things I have just said not be just words. Would You make them even more true in my own heart today than they have been before?" Lord, I join in praying for these women and myself, that You would grant all that is needed in this season, to say “Yes,” to You, say “No,” to our flesh, to press into the battle. Help us, Lord, give us courage, give us faith, to say “Yes.” I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
 

Leslie: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss, from True Woman ’10. She encouraged the women at that conference to look to the biblical example of Deborah, who willingly joined a battle when the Lord called her. Today’s message gives you a small taste of what a True Woman conference is like.

Would you join us for the upcoming True Woman conference next year? When you come to the conference, you’ll be surrounded by women with a hunger for God. They’ll be there to seek the Lord and will encourage you to seek Him as well.

At True Woman you’ll worship with Keith and Kristyn Getty, you’ll hear God’s Word explained by powerful communicators like Priscilla Shirer, Elyse Fitzpatrick, Janet Parshall, Joni Eareckson Tada, Nancy Leigh DeMoss and many others. You’ll have time to let God’s Word go deep in your heart. It’s a concentrated weekend away from the busyness of life so you can focus on Him.

Would you experience True Woman ’12: Seeking Him Together for Spiritual Awakening? It’s coming to Indianapolis September 20-22, 2012. You can register and read about more details at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Well, imagine praying for two years for God to send revival to your community. Wouldn’t you be tempted to give up? Tomorrow, we’ll hear about a church that consistently prayed until God did something big. We’ll hear from Bill McLeod and Henry Blackaby tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.
 

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

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

 

 

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