Revive Our Hearts Podcast

A Highway for Our God, Day 2

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss is thankful for her Smartphone . . . but she recognizes the danger that comes along with it.

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

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, November 10, 2015.

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.

In part one of this message, she 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. Do you have any mountains around here? Not really. Well, you've seen pictures of them. Mountains don't just move. You have to go around them or tunnel under 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?

I'm taking a trip this weekend, by God's grace, to try and see some mountains come down in some relationships. It's hard. I'm not looking forward to it, but it needs to happen. There are mountains that need to come down. There are barriers—broken relationships. Bitterness is a mountain. Unforgiveness is a mountain—it needs to come down. It can be those mountains of attitudes of self-centeredness. It can be idols in our lives—money, power, sex, leisure, pleasure, or just self. Those mountains can be addictive habits, sinful bondages that seem so powerful, so big, so overwhelming. It's where you are thinking that it will never change. Listen, God can bring mountains down. God can cause them to move. We need to believe Him that He can tear some mountains down in our lives and in our families and in our churches and in this world. 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.

I spoke at a conference several years ago that was attended by several thousand full-time Christian workers. God moved in that week in an extraordinary way. I've never seen anything quite like it before or since. I had the privilege of speaking at that conference and watching the Spirit be poured out. Following that week, for months I received a lot of really sweet notes and letters (this was before email). I received letters of commendation. This ministry had financial supporters, and they would send cassette tapes (if you don't know what one of those are, ask somebody).

So the people in the ministry were sending these tapes out to their supporters. They were sending in their newsletters reports of what God had done. Some of them would send me a copy of their newsletter so I could see how grateful they were for this revival that God had sent. I would take those letters and reports and stick them in a file in my office.

Long story short, a couple of years later, I realized there were some roots . . . Actually, the subject I had spoken on at that event was humility and brokenness. I came to realize a couple of years later that all of this had gone to my head in ways that I hadn't realized. I wasn't conscious of it until the Holy Spirit turned on the light in my heart. I realized those letters had come to mean too much to me. That bulging file had become a source of pride in my life—the very thing I had spoken against. This had become more about me and about Him.

Through a series of circumstances, I was asking some people to pray for me, I felt prompted that that file needed to go. I met with some friends in Colorado Springs. I was going to be there, as God would have it, in the next week or so. I had called them in advance, and I said, "Do you have a fireplace in your house?"

They said, "We do."

So we went and met in their living room and started a fire. I took those files and just a handfull at a time, I took out those letters and put them into the fire and burned them until those files were empty. There was nothing wrong with those letters. What was wrong was what had happened in my heart—the mountain of pride that had grown up. As that file got emptied out, what a sweet sense of the fresh presence and power of God in my life.

I'd like to stand here and tell you that was the last battle I ever had with pride, but that would not be true. So again and again, that mountain has to come down. Are there any mountains or hills in your life that need to be brought low? A relationships that needs to be restored? Someone you need to forgive? "Casting down every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God" (2 Cor. 10:5).

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.

I was trying to share Jesus the other day with a young, twenty-something man who was working at a place I visited. I found that this kid had been raised in an evangelical, more or less, church, in a Christian school through ninth grade. I had talked to him before and he had never shown any interest in spiritual matters. Then I met his mom and found out this kid at a church background, so I started asking him about it.

He says, "I've seen all kinds of people go to the altar and cry and make all these emotional decisions. We would have revivals in school, but by the weekend they'd be back living like that had never happened." He said it was not just kids. I've seen it with leaders in churches. He wasn't ranting. He was talking pretty calmly. He said, "I don't buy it." He said, "I believe this . . . but I'm not going to church." He had seen something that didn't ring true for him.

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.

Listen, in this Revive Tour, we’re going from city to city, 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. They said things like 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. I think it had to do with the use of marijuana when he was in college. 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 let me say, that church in Texas was a well-taught church. It was biblically grounded. That pastor loved the Lord. He had been faithfully preaching the Word there for years. Those people there didn't hear and "new" truth. They just had a concentrated context in which they were challenged to do something about they heard, to let it be real.

Jesus wants to visit this country; He wants to visit this world with His presence and His glory. Aand 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?

My appeal to you tonight, as we build this highway of holiness, is that you would repent where needed; that you would confess and known sin. For some of you, maybe that you would actually turn off your phone and take time each day to meet with the Lord, to listen to Him. My appeal to you is that you would pray, that you would seek the Lord. Would you cry out to Him to come and visit this city that so desperately needs to see the power God? Pray with others. Seek Him with all your heart.

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.”

In that same service there were two businessmen who had had some dealings with each other. They were actually friends, but . . . long story. Anyway, after the service, one of those businessmen went to his wife and said, “God’s put something on my heart. Do you have a check?” She did.

She gave it to him, and he went to the other businessman and said, “God’s really spoken to me. There’s a low place that needs to be filled—something I need to do. There’s some unfinished business. God wants me to give you this check.” He had written the check for twenty-nine thousand dollars. He handed the check to his friend and said, “This is what I need to do, to obey the Lord, to do what He wants me to do.”

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.”

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

Throughout 2016 here on Revive Our Hearts, we’re going to encourage you to join thousands of others in “Crying Out” to God for revival, and explore the topic of prayer. When we look around at the huge need for people to come to know Christ, when we see violence and division, we believe it’s time to cry out and ask God what He’d have us do for such a time as this.

We can issue this call for women to cry out thanks to listeners like you who support the ministry financially. When you make a donation of any size, we’ll show our thanks by sending you Nancy’s devotional book, The Quiet Place. Each devotional is about a page, and there are enough daily devotionals in the book to last you a whole year. I hope you’ll start this book on January 1 and keep benefitting from it every day through the end of the year. Ask for The Quiet Place when you call 1–800–569–5959, or go online to ReviveOurHearts.com, donate online and order the book. We’ll send one book per household with your donation.

That website, Revive Our Hearts.com will be busy this weekend. It’s where you can watch the LIVE stream of Nancy’s wedding to Robert Wolgemuth. They have put a lot of effort to make this a special occasion that points people to Christ and the Church. I hope you’ll watch for yourself this Saturday starting at 12:30 CST. For details, visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Tomorrow Nancy will tell us about some of the things she’s learned during fifty-seven years of singleness. She starts a series called “For My Single Sisters . . . Before I Become a 'Mrs.'” And this message is really for everybody. Whether you’re married or single, you’ll get a lot out of the teaching. I hope everybody will 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 ESV.

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