Revive Our Hearts Podcast

His Grace Is Sufficient

Leslie Basham: The apostle Paul said he “took pleasure in weakness.” Nancy Leigh DeMoss says, “We can’t understand that from a human perspective.”

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: “He sounds nuts! Taking pleasure in trials and pressures and problems—why? Because He knows that in the midst of that there’s going to be a glory of El-Shaddai reflected that might not be seen any other way.

“I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, May 30.

If plants could talk, they’d probably tell you to go heavy on the water and the sunshine but to go easy on the pruning. But if you cared for the plant, you’d cut back the dead branches and allow new growth to occur.

We’ve about to hear how God does the same things in our lives. Nancy's in the series, El-Shaddai: The All-Sufficient One. 

Nancy: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower. The righteous run into it and are safe.” (Pro. 18:10) Those who know your name, Oh Lord, will put their trust in You for You have not forsaken those who seek You.

To know God’s name is to know God. And to know God is to be able to trust Him. We’ve seen that the name of the Lord is a place where we can run and we can be safe.

Over these last several sessions, we’ve been looking at a particular name of God that has become a very strong tower for my own life. It’s the name El-Shaddai.

El—the almighty, strong, powerful, omnipotent God who can do anything and everything. There’s nothing too difficult for Him.

We’ve seen that El-Shaddai, that strong, mighty God, was able to give to Abraham and Sarah a child when it was absolutely humanly, physically impossible for them to have a child.

We’ve seen that God waited, or made them wait, twenty-five years from the time He first gave His promise of a child until that promise was fulfilled.

Waiting on the Lord is so hard to do isn’t it, so many times? To us, twenty-five years seems like eternity, but it really isn’t. In the light of eternity, it’s just a moment.

So we need to get God’s perspective and learn to wait on the Lord, even when it seems that He’s not going to fulfill His promises.

Now there’s so many practical implications of this name for our lives. We’ve seen that El-Shaddai . . . Shaddai—God who is like a nursing mother—the “breasted one.” That word comes from the Hebrew word for breast. He’s like a nursing mother who pours Himself into our lives.

So not only is He mighty and capable, but He’s tender and caring. He’s all-sufficient. We’ve seen that the name El-Shaddai, Almighty God, All-Sufficient One is often in the Scripture tied in to the God who blesses us. He pours blessing into our lives.

But I want in this session to see another implication of the name El-Shaddai, and that is that He is the giver of fruitfulness.

From the very first pages of the Scripture all the way through the book of Revelation, you’ll see a theme and that is that God wants His people to be fruitful.

God said to Adam and Eve early on in the first pages of Genesis, “I want you to be fruitful and multiply” (see Gen. 1:28). Now, He was obviously speaking of their union bringing forth physical children and that is how the world is populated. But there are many ways that God wants us to be fruitful as we live in union and communion with Him.

The one who enables us to be fruitful is El-Shaddai. Let me point you to a few verses in the Old Testament that make this connection. We’ve read the verse over these last few days from Genesis chapter 17:1 where God says to Abraham, “I am [El-Shaddai, the] Almighty God,” the All-Sufficient One. He goes on in verse 2 to say, “I will multiply you exceedingly.” I will make you exceeding fruitful.

It’s El-Shaddai who makes us fruitful and who multiplies our lives. Abram went from being Abram (the exalted father) to being Abraham (the father of a multitude).

God is pleased when we are exceedingly fruitful. He wants us to be fruitful.

In Genesis chapter 28 Abraham’s son, Isaac, says to his son, “May God Almighty bless you [may El-Shaddai bless you], and make you fruitful.” El-Shaddai is the one who makes us fruitful.

In Genesis chapter 35 God says to Jacob, “I am [El-Shaddai]. Be fruitful and multiply” (v. 11). El-Shaddai is the one who is the giver of fruitfulness.

Now we learn in John chapter 15, Jesus told his disciples that our Father in heaven is glorified when we as His disciples bear much fruit (see v. 8).

He wants us to be exceedingly fruitful. Our purpose in life is to bring glory to God, and how do we bring glory to God? By being fruitful, by bearing much fruit.

What kind of fruit does He want our lives to produce? We need to know what the fruit is so that we can look to El-Shaddai, our All-Sufficient One, to produce that fruit in and through us.

Well, God wants to produce in us the fruit of righteousness, of holy living. God wants to produce in us the fruit of His Spirit: love, joy, peace, paaaaaaaaatience, gentleness. I don't have that in me. 

Left to myself, I will never have the fruit of gentleness. That’s why I need to draw upon His sufficiency. He’s the giver of fruitfulness. He’s the one who produces the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.

The fruit He wants to produce in us is the fruit of Christ living in us and being expressed through us, the fruit of the character of Christ being formed in us, the fruit of our being a blessing to others because of the life of Christ in us, the fruit of children, natural children.

God is pleased, mothers, when you have children. But you not only want to have physical children born to you, you want those children to have a heart for God. You want them to be spiritually fruitful.

Who is the giver of fruitfulness? It’s God—El-Shaddai—who will enable you to lead your children and train them in a way that will lead them in paths of righteousness. It’s El-Shaddai in you who will be your sufficiency as you disciple those little children.

Now some of you might be single, as I am, and you don’t have physical children. But I’ll tell you what—I have spiritual children in different places all around this country. A couple of them are sitting in this room today—women who have not only influenced my life, but God has allowed me to be fruitful in their lives, to encourage them in their walk with the Lord.

What enables us to produce fruit in the lives of others? It’s El-Shaddai! He is my sufficiency. He is the one who produces that fruit in us.

You see, God did not intend that you and I, as His children, as His daughters should just exist on this planet or that we should just survive, that we should just cope with everyday life. God wants to make us exceedingly fruitful.

I just want to believe God for that in my own life. I want to have the kind of faith that Abraham had at age ninety-nine when there was no sign of God’s promise being fulfilled that he would be the father of a multitude, yet the Scripture says that he believed God (see Rom. 4:30).

He believed El-Shaddai, the All-Sufficient One. I love God. I want to glorify Him with my life. I want to bear much fruit for His glory, but I don’t have the capacity to bear fruit on my own. You don’t either.

We just have these natural barren selves apart from God. That’s why Jesus said, “It’s crucial that you abide in me and that I abide in you, that you stay connected to that vine” (see John 15:1-18).

That nursing infant is never going to get milk from that mother unless the infant draws close and is connected to the mother. There’s a union; there’s a oneness that enables that mother to pour herself out into that infant. As we abide in Christ and His Word abides in us, God pours His sufficiency into us so we cannot just exist here but actually be fruitful.

For you see, it is El-Shaddai who chastens or disciplines His people so that we might become more fruitful.

It’s interesting how throughout the Scripture El-Shaddai, God Almighty, is connected not only to blessing His people and making them fruitful, but it’s a name that’s also connected to the God who chastens His people so that they can become more fruitful.

Because to experience God’s sufficiency, the All-Sufficient El-Shaddai, we first must experience our own insufficiency. To experience His fullness, we first have to be emptied out.

God can’t come and fill us if we’re filled up with self, with our own resources, our own pride sometimes to get that pride and that selfishness emptied out, God out of His love will chasten us to empty us so that we can get filled up with Himself.

The more of pride and self-sufficiency there is in our lives, the less fruit we can bear for God’s glory. He wants us to be more fruitful, to bear much fruit, so He brings chastening into our lives so that we might become more fruitful.

So how should we respond to El-Shaddai? We’ve seen the implications His name has for our lives. I just want to wrap up these sessions by reflecting briefly how we should respond to this all-sufficient God.

I think the first, and obviously most appropriate response, is to worship. As God reveals Himself with all of His different names and His character the first response is to worship God.

I love that passage in Genesis chapter 17 where God appears to Abraham at the age of ninety-nine and says, “I am [El-Shaddai] (the first time that name was ever used) walk before me and be blameless” (v. 1).

The next verse tells us Abraham fell on his face. He recognized he was in the presence of greatness, sufficiency, all-sufficiency. Abraham had already seen his own insufficiency and the insufficiency of anyone or anything else to provide a child of the covenant, a child of the promise for him.

So in the face of this all-sufficient, omnipotent God—before he sees the answer to God’s promise—he worships. Now some of us think, “Once I see the answer, once God gets me out of this mess, once God takes me out of this affliction time, then I’ll worship God.”

Well, of course you will! The challenge is and evidence of faith is: Will you worship Him now when you can’t see the outcome of His provision? When all you have is faith to tell you that God is all-sufficient, will you worship Him? Will you fall on your face before Him and worship?

As we worship El-Shaddai, we need to recognize our own insufficiency. We are unable to fulfill what God wants to do in and through us. You can’t raise those children on your own. You can’t love that husband on your own. You can’t be the witness God wants you to be in that workplace on your own.

You can’t produce the fruit of the Spirit in your life on your own. Recognize your own insufficiency. But, don’t stay there! Don’t keep your eyes on yourself!

Now, some of us just substitute others. We realize we’re not sufficient, so we look to others even as Abraham looked to his servant and to his handmaid Hagar to provide a way out of this predicament of childlessness.

And God says, “Have it your way—but I want to do it My way.”

Don’t settle for less than God’s best for your life. Don’t settle for sufficiency that others can provide for you when God wants to give you all sufficiency.

So we need to get our eyes off of ourselves and our own insufficiency—get our eyes off of others and their partial sufficiency. Stop looking inward; stop looking outward, and begin to look upward.

Keep our gaze always fixed on God, El-Shaddai, who is our all sufficiency. He alone is our sufficiency.

We sing so easily that little chorus “Christ Is All I Need.” Do we really believe that?

Someone has said that “you’ll never know that Christ is all you need until He’s all that you have. When He’s all that you have, then you will come to see that He really is all that you need."

So rather than looking inward or outward, look upward and trust in His all-sufficiency. That means, as we’ve seen out of the life of Abraham, being willing to wait for God.

Now, I’m willing to wait as long as He hurries. I can wait for five minutes or five days or five months if I have to, maybe, but it’s in the waiting past all hope that we find God to be at His best, to be at His greatest expression of His sufficiency.

Don’t take matters into your own hands. It took twenty-five years from the time God first promised a child to Abraham till Abraham held his son Isaac in his hands—twenty-five years!

But God wasn’t in a hurry, and He certainly wasn’t late. God waits, many times, until it’s clear that there is no way for this situation to be fixed unless He intervenes.

Trust His sufficiency and as you’re waiting, draw near to Him. As that infant is brought near to the mother’s breast to feed upon the mother—draw near to God and allow Him to pour Himself into your life to meet every one of your needs.

This is the experience the apostle Paul had. He talks about it in 2 Corinthians chapter 12. Remember how he was given this thorn in the flesh. We don’t know what it was, but we know it was some sort of affliction. He said “concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.”

There’s nothing wrong with asking God to remove the situation, but when God doesn’t remove it, what do you do? You listen to God’s word to Paul, verse nine, 2 Corinthians 12, “He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” 

So what did Paul say? “Okay, El-Shaddai. Your strength is sufficient. So what will I do? “Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities” (v. 10 KJV).

That’s what I’ll make a big deal about instead of just trying to be strong by myself. I’ll boast in my weaknesses because that’s when God’s grace is seen at its best, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities.

He sounds nuts! Taking pleasure in trials and pressures and problems. Why?

Because he knows in the midst of that there’s going to be the glory of El-Shaddai reflected that might not be seen any other way.

“I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (v. 10).

So in the midst of those infirmities, those stresses, those distresses; we’ve got to submit, to say, “Lord, if it pleases you, it pleases me.” Remember that the goal is greater fruitfulness.

Nathan Stone many years ago wrote a classic book on the names of God. He summarized this name, El-Shaddai, “Almighty God” as it’s translated in our English Bibles in this way. He said,

The name “Almighty God, El-Shaddai, speaks to us of the inexhaustible stores of His bounty.

I love that word. It’s “inexhaustible.” What He has to supply for us as our all-sufficient one never runs out. He says,

It speaks to us of the riches and the fullness of His grace in self-sacrificing love pouring itself out for others. It tells us that from God comes every good and perfect gift, that He never wearies of pouring His mercies and blessings upon His people.

But we must not forget,” he goes on to say, ”that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. His sufficiency is most manifest in our insufficiency, His fullness in our emptiness. That being filled from us may flow rivers of living water to a thirsty and needy humanity.

I like that! I need resources, and you do as well. In my everyday world, you do in your home in your role as a wife or as a mother, in the role to which God has called me ministering the Word of God, the truth of God. I need, you need, those daily fresh reserves those resources to give out to others.

When we run out of our own resources, as the old song says “our Father’s full giving has only begun.” ("He Giveth More Grace")

There’s no limit to His supply. It’s an inexhaustible sufficiency that He offers to us. So God made Himself known to Abraham as El-Shaddai and then God said, “Because I am your all-sufficient one, walk before me and be blameless.”

If God had not given Himself to us as El-Shaddai, we would have no hope of walking before Him and being blameless.

We’ve seen how El-Shaddai is the one who blesses us. He’s the one who makes us fruitful. He wants us to be exceedingly fruitful, and in order to help us bring forth much fruit for God’s glory—He chastens us.

El-Shaddai, in the book of Job is the name used thirty-one times as God’s servant suffered he recognized that the chastening ultimately was coming from the hand of El-Shaddai, not as punishment, not as judgment, but as a purifying, pruning, purging work of God so that Job’s life could bring forth much fruit all for the glory of God.

Lord, for the one in this place today who is experiencing your chastening hand, and for all of us who have or will at some point we thank you that you are our El-Shaddai, that you can be trusted, that you are using the chastening and the pruning to prune away self and pride to empty us of ourselves so that we might be filled with You so that our lives might be exceedingly fruitful.

Help us to embrace You and Your chastening hand and produce in our lives I pray afterward the peaceable fruit of righteousness that You may be glorified, I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: Is there some hard thing that’s making you worried or nervous? Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been helping you remember you can handle it in God’s strength.

At Revive Our Hearts, we’ve been asking the Lord to meet our needs, and we’ve been watching His people give and pray to help provide. I hope you’ll join them. Here’s Nancy with some details.

Nancy: I want to say a huge word of thanks to everyone who has prayed for Revive Our Hearts this month as we’ve been coming to the end our fiscal year. And also, a great big thank you to everyone who have contributed to the goal this month of $350,000. And while we are saying thanks, let me say how very grateful I am to every new supporters who has given toward a $100,000 matching challenge for first-time givers. What a blessing is has been to see the Lord providing over these last weeks.

These gifts will help Revive Our Hearts continue our current ministry outreaches in the months ahead. And they will help us launch into some new ministries that God’s has been leading us toward, such as in the months ahead, taking the Spanish broadcast to five days a week. You'll be hearing a lot more about that over the coming months.

Today is May 30 and tomorrow is May 31, so it’s not too late to contribute to these important goals for our ministry support for this month. Please, would you ask the Lord how He might want you to give and then be sure and contact us by tomorrow.

Leslie: Nancy has discovered a CD that will help keep your heart at peace. It's called, Hidden in My Heart, volume 2. We've told you about volume one before, and it has meant so much to our listeners. Like volume one, Hidden in My Heart, volume 2 includes Scripture set to lullabies. Here’s a sample.

Song from Hidden in My Heart, volume 2:

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever and ever.
Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever and ever.
 

Leslie: We’ll send Hidden in My Heart, volume 2 when you donate any amount at ReviveOurHearts.com, or call 1-800-569-5959.  

“Sugar and spice and everything nice. That’s what little girls are made of.” Does this children’s idiom reflect the truth? What are girls made of? We’ll explore that 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 New King James Version unless otherwise noted.


 

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