Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Before the Highway Is Built

Dannah Gresh: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is thankful for her Smartphone . . . but she recognizes the danger that comes along with it.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: With this constant stimulus going on in our minds, we don’t have time to think . . . time to process . . . time to hear from God!

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, co-author of Seeking Him, for Tuesday, March 9, 2021.

Yesterday Nancy began a message called, "A Highway for Our God." That title comes from Isaiah 40, in which God’s people are told to build a highway in their barren hearts—an invitation for God to visit them.

This message was recorded before the pandemic, but there was still some pretty heavy headlines in the news at that time. It makes this message very relevant to what is going on in our world today.  

In part one of this message, Nancy explained that building this highway includes filling in low places. Let’s continue in Isaiah, chapter 40.

Nancy: Isaiah says, "The mountains and the hills" need to be brought low. Mountains and hills . . . these are things that need to be lowered. These are barriers, roadblocks, hindrances to revival, and these are things that may seem large and immoveable. You have to tunnel under them or go around them. They don't just move. 

But God’s Word says if we’re going to have this highway of holiness, there are some mountains that need to be moved. Some of these mountains in our lives, and in our culture, have been there as for long as we can remember, and they need to come down.

What are the hindrances to revival in your life? The things that stand between you and the presence of God . . . the things that stand between you and other believers?

Fear can be a mountain. A wrong view of God can be a mountain. I suppose the biggest mountain of all is pride . . . an exalted view of self. That’s a mountain can grow up in a day, right? Even in an hour! You come out of your quiet time, having had a sweet time with Jesus, and five minutes later you’re a monster! Me, too! Pride.

The low places need to be filled in, those valleys, the mountains need to be brought low, and then the uneven ground must become level.

That word for uneven ground (your translation may say it differently) is the word for a knoll, a hill. It’s not a mountain, but it’s an uneven place that has come to represent, has come to be symbolic of something that is deceitful, fraudulent, crooked.

This can be ways of thinking that don’t line up with God’s Word. There’s so much confusion today and unbiblical thinking all around us . . . as it relates to the sanctity of life and sexuality and marriage. The world is only getting further and further afield from God’s way of thinking.

We can look around and we can see a lot of uneven places—deceitful, crooked places that don’t line up with this Book. But you know what? It’s not just out there in the culture. It’s more personal than that. We have things that play in our minds—ways of thinking that aren’t consistent with God’s Word. Some of you have had this tape playing in your head since you’ve been a little kid: “Nobody loves me. I’m not worth anything. God doesn’t love me; if He did, something would be different.”

You see, we have ways of thinking we’ve bought into, lies we’ve believed, that have put us in bondage. This is uneven ground, crooked places that need to be straightened out. Hypocrisy can be in this category–leaving a better impression of ourselves than is honestly true.

When we meet each other in a setting like this, I’m at my best, you’re at your best. We smile, we shake hands, we hug. “How are you doing?” “Oh, great. It’s so good to see you.” We’re all so spiritual. How much of the time are we lying? Maybe we’re not lying, we don’t intend . . . Maybe the first time you meet somebody isn’t the time to tell them everything that’s going on in your life—I understand that. But we go to church with each other, a lot of you go to church here, and you know each other, but we never get in to see the reality in each others’ lives.

I’ve seen marriages fall apart where everybody in the church thought it was a terrific marriage—but they were playing church, they weren’t being church. There was hypocrisy. We’re so concerned today about our image, our PR, and I’ll put my hand up on this. When you’re in a public ministry like this, you’re thinking, How do I look? How do I sound? What do people think? What are they saying? This can become deadly to our souls. This image can be dishonesty about our true spiritual condition.

When was the last time you got really honest with someone who knows the Lord and could pray for you? You said, “I need prayer. My marriage is falling apart.” Or you’re addicted to pornography or in an online relationship. “I’m playing with fire. I’m getting to know someone other than my husband.” Have you gotten honest?

There are these crooked places, the hypocrisy in our hearts. Everybody thinks we’re great Christians. Listen, the world knows we’re not, and that’s why they’re not really impressed with the brand of Christianity we’re putting out there.

The world's not really impressed with the brand of Christianity we’re putting out there.

When I hear that seventy to eighty percent of the kids growing up in our evangelical churches, by the age of twenty-nine will be out of there—does that not say we have some crooked places that need to be leveled out, that there has been hypocrisy?

It can be mixed-up priorities. We claim to belong to God’s kingdom, but what we really love is our kingdom, this world, our stuff, our pleasure, more than we love God. 

I look at Facebook posts or Tweets. I see believers getting a lot of sound and good things through the social media like that (we use it and try to use it well). But sometimes as I read these posts from people I know and love and respect . . . Sometimes it seems to me that a lot of believers—if you look at what they post—are more passionate about their favorite sports team or Duck Dynasty or American Idol or . . . you fill in the blank if I didn’t get yours. That’s not a comment on those things. It’s to say, “Why does it sometimes seem that we’re more passionate about those things than we are about Jesus, about His Word, His people, His kingdom?”

Is it any wonder that the world is not motivated to know and love and follow Jesus when they see so few of us really delighting in Him?

Is it any wonder that the world is not motivated to know and love and follow Jesus when they see so few of us really delighting in Him?

There’s a fourth thing we need to do, if this highway is to be built, and that’s that the rough or rugged places need to become a plain. Those rough places could be rocks or boulders or shrubs—things that can trip you up. They’re not mountains; they’re not hills, but they’re little things we may have allowed in our lives that keep this highway of holiness from running through our lives.

They might be rough relationships that need to be smoothed out, a lack of love, disregarding the needs of others, treating others (maybe because they’re different than us in some way) with contempt.

I think these rough and rugged places, for a lot of us, could be just distractions. We are hooked on games and entertainment and amusing ourselves to death. I’ll just tell you, this is an area where the Lord really speaks to me—this whole area of distraction. These are things that are not sinful or bad, but they can steal hours of time that might have been spent loving Jesus, loving others, building my spirit.

We’re so distracted by iPhones (and whatever yours is called). I thought I left mine in the hotel room tonight, and it was like I couldn’t come to church without it. Some of you can’t be separated from yours. Some of you have carried on a lot of business since we got here tonight.

Here’s one of the problems with this constant stimulus going on in our minds—we don’t have time to think, time to process, time to hear from God. Enough about that one.

Roots of bitterness could be a rough place. Questionable, doubtful areas are rough things that aren’t inherently sinful, but they don’t edify or build up. Maybe God will show you what that may be in your own life.

We’re seeking to help build a highway for our God. What’s the outcome, what’s the goal? Why should we be doing this? Isaiah 40, verse 5 tells us that when every obstacle has been removed, when the highway has been built, when the way has been prepared for King Jesus, then—and not until then—“The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Why build this highway? So your town can see the glory of the Lord. So this country, so the whole earth, would be filled with the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. That is what we desperately need in our world! God has done it before. I think sometimes we think things have never been this bad. Yes, they have.

You read about it in the history of the Great Awakenings. In the Second Great Awakening, the crime rate was such that women were afraid to leave their houses at night for fear of being mugged in the streets. Does that sound a little like the twenty-first century?

It was social reform, moral reform, that decreased the crime rate in the Second Great Awakening. During the height of the Third Great Awakening in 1858, the Prayer Revival as it is often called, a reporter traveled from Los Angeles to Boston. He said it was like one continuous prayer meeting, “Wherever I stopped, the masses were gathered in public buildings, crying out to God.”

We read that something like a million people were converted in the wake of that revival, over several months. Fifty thousand a week, at the peak, were coming to know Jesus. And these weren’t people that just raised their hand or signed on some line. These were people who can be verified as having gotten connected to the church and gave incredible evidence of conversion.

Do you think God could do it again? I believe He could. I know He could, and I believe He wants to do it again. You see, the revival that we’re believing Him to send in our day is a glimpse of that ultimate day when King Jesus will return to this earth—the Man on the white horse—in all of His splendor and glory.

We’re preparing for that day. The highway will be prepared. In that day, this highway of holiness will be lined by a great multitude of redeemed sinners from every tribe and language and nation and people, and the glory of the Lord will be seen by all flesh together. We’re preparing the way for the coming of Jesus in His final coming.

I think most of us want to see the blessings of verse 5. Do you? Is that what you want to see? I know I do. But here’s the thing: first, we have to make the preparations of verse 4. We have to remove every obstacle, prepare a way for the Lord, and build a highway in the desert for Him.

As we close tonight, I just want to share a story. There are many I could have chosen—but one story of what can happen in a single church when the people set themselves to prepare in their hearts a highway for the Lord.

A number of years ago, I was part of a team from Life Action Ministries (which is the parent ministry of Revive Our Hearts). I was on a team that conducted a revival summit in a good-sized church in Ft. Worth, Texas. This meeting was scheduled to last for two weeks, which is unheard of today.

That pastor and the leaders got together and decided they wanted their church to take this two-week time-out and really seek the Lord. During those weeks, hundreds of believers got serious about seeking the Lord. They set out to build a highway for God. They started filling in the valleys, and pulling down, bringing down, those mountains of pride and sin in their lives, and dealing with the uneven ground and the rough places.

They got honest with God, and they got honest with each other and with themselves. They pulled off their masks of pretense and superficiality. People stopped playing church, and they got real about their true spiritual condition.

One man who said, “Everybody thinks I’m a super Christian, but I’ve really been spiritually dead.”

Another said, “I was proud, self-centered, and in desperate need of His grace.”

Another said, “It’s been years since I expressed my need for Jesus. I’ve been playing a game; I’ve been a phony.”

Then there was a businessman who was also a Sunday school teacher in that church. He said it this way: “My life was like the fake Rolex watch I wore. It looks good on the outside, but on the inside, there’s nothing of value.”

That man went back to all his family members, including a favorite uncle from whom he had stolen. He went back to former employees, to a former commanding officer in the military, to all these people to confess and make restitution for wrongs that he had committed against them.

Others began confessing sin that had been hidden for years—clearing their consciences. Thousands of dollars in restitution were made to former employers and the IRS and family members and businesses and banks. There was one CPA who stood before that congregation and confessed that he had stolen from his own mother’s estate.

There was an engineer in that church who confessed (and I’ve gotten to know him and his family since) that years earlier, when he was a student at Oklahoma State (OSU), he had stolen a calculator from the school bookstore. God convicted him of this. It seemed like a little thing, but God convicted him that he needed to make this right.

He wrote a letter, confessed what he had done, asked forgiveness, made restitution, and sent it to the school bookstore. Well, somehow, the school newspaper at OSU ended up getting a copy of that letter and printed it in the school paper . . . after which, the Oklahoman state newspaper saw it in the school paper and picked it up and printed it in the state paper.

Rick tells the story that one day he was sitting and—kid you not—(he’s from Texas, this happened in Oklahoma), he’s sitting in the Philadelphia airport. He picks up a copy of USA Today, opens it up, and there is his letter! He reads the story and said, “I’m looking around thinking, Is everybody thinking I’m this thief sitting here?

This same man had worked for a large national defense contractor. He had a level five clearance. It turned out that he had lied on his application for that job. Whatever it was, he went back to his supervisor. He was under conviction, thinking, I need to make this right. He had to wait—it was a least a year, maybe two as I recall—as they went through this whole bureaucratic process to figure out if he could keep his job.

He knew that he might lose his job, that he might even go to jail—this was a serious thing. But he knew, “I’ve got to be right with God.” Well, they didn’t take his job away. Ultimately, he was able to keep his job—but he didn’t know that.

While they were waiting to figure all this out, they took away his security clearance. So he had the same job, but he didn’t have the security clearance to get into the office where he did his job. So they put his desk (this is a true story) out in the hallway so he could do his job without going into the area where he needed the security clearance.

People would walk by, and they would ask, “What are you doing out in the hall?” He’d tell his testimony—that he was a Christian, and God had convicted him that he had lied. He did a lot of witnessing that year sitting out in the hall.

Over those weeks at this church, relationships were reconciled, marriages were put back together, families were reunited. Every imaginable form of immorality was confessed, and God helped root out issues of various types out of people’s lives. Those meetings that were scheduled to go for two weeks ended up going for six weeks.

As people built a highway for the Lord in their hearts, in that church the glory of the Lord was revealed. I was there. I saw it—night after night, day after day, a moving of the Spirit of God. There was an overwhelming sense of God’s presence that came over that place. There was an amazing spirit of worship and freedom and grace.

People were getting saved. There was one youth service where over forty teenagers made professions of faith—and I think it had something to do with those kids seeing the adults get real and get honest and get right with God.

Now, some of you may be wondering, Does it last? I’ll tell you, eighteen months later a couple of our team and I went back to that church. We sat for a couple of days and invited people to come and tell us where they were now; to tell us where God had met them eighteen months earlier and where they were “now.”

We listened and recorded their stories. I’ll tell you, it was still so fresh in their hearts. I remember one of those women saying, “Revival is not an emotional touch. It’s a complete takeover.” And that’s what it was.

Revival is not an emotional touch. It’s a complete takeover.

Listen, friends, Jesus wants to visit your family. He wants to visit your church. And He wants to visit you—your life, my life. So here’s the question: What do you need to do to prepare the way for His coming to visit . . . to build a highway of holiness by His grace, by the power of His Holy Spirit? To build a highway for Him?

It’s been a joy over these weeks to see people saying, “Yes, Lord, I want to let you to build that highway of holiness in my heart.” After we were in one city, a woman wrote a five thousand dollar check to a ministry. She wrote us a note about it. She said,

It was an act of restitution for a debt that could not be paid, from several years ago. I made a feeble effort at the time, but I never completed it. My heart was smitten as you spoke, and I knew I must confess and act in obedience.

It wasn’t possible, now, to pay this to wherever it would have belonged originally, so she sent it to a ministry saying, “I want to have a clear conscience.”

God may not be asking something like that of you, maybe it’s something very different. But what is it? What would it take in your life for God to build that highway of holiness where King Jesus can come and visit, and His glory can be displayed through your life into the world around you?

What would it take in your life to build a highway of holiness where King Jesus can come and visit?

Let’s bow our hearts in prayer. Lord, I believe you’ve spoken to many hearts tonight, because I’ve sensed in many of these people an ear to hear and a desire to respond to You. So I pray that You’ll take these next few moments and that You will have Your way as we’ve prayed tonight.

From left to right, from the front row to the back, in every place in this room, every seat that’s occupied, that we would not just spectate, but we would participate, that we would say, “Yes, Lord. Have your way in my life.”

Dannah: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been speaking from Isaiah 40 about building a highway, preparing for the Lord to come visit His people in revival.

At Revive Our Hearts, we’re passionate about women experiencing true revival. We aim to provide trustworthy, biblical resources to help them grow in their faith and thrive in Christ. We can’t do that without the constant support of our Monthly Partner Team.

This is a group of people who give $30 or more each month. They commit to praying for this ministry. And they believe in the mission of Revive Our Hearts and want to share that message with others. 

When you become a Monthly Partner, you help us reach women like this young mom who recently wrote to us. She says:

I am so grateful that I became aware of Revive Our Hearts about three years ago. I have grown so much in my walk as a result of the programs and resources you provide. I truly appreciate how everything points to God and is biblically based. Sometimes I listen to it with my daughter  who is five years old, and I love that what she hears reinforces the things we are teaching her. It has also led to some really amazing conversations. In fact, she has deep/hard questions sometimes! Thank you for all that you do.

Well, my friend, you're welcome. It's an honor.

If you’re interested in becoming a Monthly Partner, you can be part of impacting lives, just like this young mom and her five-year-old. And when you join the team this month, you’ll receive a special welcome bundle with several resources, including a new booklet called Glad You Asked: Answers to 10 Essential Questions. It contains answers to questions like: “I get so distracted when I try yo read the Bible. How can I focus?” and “If God loves me, why am I suffering?” You can use this booklet as a tool for your personal growth or a guide for your small group.

It’s just one way we want to say thanks for becoming a Monthly Partner this month. Go online to ReviveOurHearts.com to join our Monthly Partner Team today, or call us at 1–800–569–5959. 

Tomorrow we’ll hear about a pastor’s wife who wanted to set a good example to the women in her congregation. But in her heart, she was harboring unforgiveness toward her father. Hear how God got her attention and helped her find freedom.

Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Encouraging you to seek the Lord, Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.  

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.