Revive Our Hearts Podcast

How to Steady Your Heart

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss says anything that makes us need God is a blessing.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Suffering strips us of the temporal and focuses our hearts and sets us on the eternal. It detaches our hearts from this present world and attaches our hearts to heaven and eternity.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, December 4.

Sometimes simple truths can be the most powerful. I think you’ll be reminded of that today as Nancy begins telling us “Fifteen Things I’ve Learned in the Last Fifty Years.”

As we near the end of 2013, we’re looking back at some of the milestones in the year. Nancy’s about to tell you about a marker she experienced.

Nancy: Some of you are aware, those of you who do listen to Revive Our Hearts, that this year I’ve had the privilege of celebrating a significant marker in my life. My first conscious memory took place on May 14, 1963, when as a four-year-old little girl, I knelt by my bed and of all I knew of Jesus, gave all of myself to all that I knew of Him and sensed His call on my life.

That’s the point I mark of my conversion, the point of which He captured my heart and drew me to Himself. I knew almost no theological terminology, and I still don’t know a whole lot, but I knew . . . I mean, I was four, but I just knew that the Spirit was drawing my heart. I look back, and I say, “That’s when He made me aware of my need for a Savior and that He was the Savior that I needed.”

So this year I celebrated fifty years of knowing Jesus.

I just like markers and key celebration points, and I make a big deal about these things. God said to the Children of Israel after the Passover, “This is the beginning of the year for you. Every year remember this. Tell this story to your children. Have symbols and things that remind you of what this is all about when God passed over you in His judgment and gave you instead mercy because of the shed blood of the lamb. Remember this. Don’t forget it.”

You think you never would forget, but we do so easily. So I look for opportunities to remember Christ and what he has done in my life. I’m so thankful. And so I’ve been reflecting a lot this year on my spiritual journey.

A couple of years ago at the National Religious Broadcasters, I heard Chuck Swindoll speak on “Fifteen Things I’ve Learned from Fifty Years of Ministry.” He’d been at that time in vocational ministry for fifty years. Well, I want to share with you tonight, in very rapid-fire fashion, “Fifteen Reflections on Fifty Years of Walking with God and Knowing Jesus.”

Now, fifteen may sound like a lot, but you can be thankful. On my fortieth spiritual birthday I made a list of forty things that were a reflection of walking with God. Well, I’m getting into shorter lists now, so it’s only fifteen. We’re going to put these up on the screen. You can feel free to jot them down, but these are truths that just are so bracing perspectives for me.

These are not things I’ve learned. These are things that, as I reflect on, that I know are true regardless of whether I’m living as if they are or not, regardless of whether I feel these things are true or not, they are true. And they’re things I keep going back to.

I heard John Piper say one time, “I only have one message, and anything I write or say or do, it all comes back to that one message.” I sometimes feel like a one-message person myself, but I’m going to say it in fifteen different ways tonight, briefly. But these are just things that, as you go back and reflect on, they steady your heart in an unstable world.

When your own heart is prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love, you come back to these things that are true. You know that you know that you know that these things are true, and these are things that I stake my life on. My emotions don’t always follow, but these are things that are guarding up the castle of my heart and have proved to be true in my life over fifty years of knowing Jesus.

The first one is simply this: That God can be trusted. Great is Thy faithfulness. We live in a world filled with untold pain and misery and confusion and turmoil.

I got an email today from Joel Rosenberg. Some of you maybe follow his ministry. The headline was: “Is America facing implosion fiscally and spiritually?” And he talked about two new polls. One of them, a Rasmussen Survey and the other, the Wall Street Journal NBC news poll. Both had similar numbers saying that nearly 80% of Americans believe that the U.S. is on the wrong track, and the other 20% just don’t know that it is, indeed, on the wrong track.

You can look at what’s going on culturally and in our nation and internationally in the nations of the world. The world is on the wrong track. As the psalm says, the world is off course. Our own hearts can become unsteady in the midst of all this, and not only what’s going on in the world, but what goes on in our personal lives.

I’ve talked with several today who’ve shared heartache and pain and challenges that you’ve faced in your own life. I have friends who right now are going through all kinds of personal crisis, as do you—friends battling cancer, friends with prodigal sons and daughters, friends with business challenges and reverses. You look at all this and your own heart can kind of do flip-flops and get nervous and scared.

But we have to remind ourselves that contrary to everything we can see going on around us, we have a God who is trustworthy. He is sovereign. He is wise. He is loving. He is good. He is immutable. He never changes. He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever. All things in this world are moving toward the fulfillment of His will, His eternal plan, His good pleasure. That is an anchor for my soul. It’s an anchor for our souls.

I often say I love living under providence, and I love to see little glimpses of God’s providence at work. I love being just the recipient and the beneficiary of the gracious merciful, kind, providences of God and to realize that God never ever ever makes a mistake, that He can be trusted.

Someone has said that God’s will is what we would choose if we knew what God knows. If we were writing the script, we’d write it differently, but we’d make a big mess of it. And to realize that we can be at peace because He knows what’s going on and He’s in control of it. He is enough, and His promises are true, and He keeps His promises, and He knows our needs, and He cares. All these things that are true about the character of God, the covenant-keeping nature of God; He can be trusted.

"When all else around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay." God can be trusted.

Well, we could go on about that for a long, but we have fifteen of these, so number two—just things that steady my soul—and that is this: No one and nothing other than Jesus can satisfy the deepest needs and longings of our hearts, and that goes for all of us in every season of life.

We have so many cheap substitutes that we pursue after in our lives. We have a culture that is entertaining itself to death, and sometimes we follow suit as well in search of fullness, satisfaction for our souls, meaning. I mean, to follow Facebook, you would think that the most enduring things in this world are certain sports teams—depending on what time of the year it is—Downton Abbey, Duck Dynasty, the Oscars—whatever it is at that moment, American Idol, these are things that can really satisfy, we pursue after them. Yet we’re left longing and hungry still because they don’t deeply and lastingly satisfy.

And that’s because we were made for Someone and Something greater than all of that. Everything else is just a shadow. He is the substance. It's only when we realize what we have in Jesus will we stop spending our lives in reckless, heedless pursuit of things and people that can never satisfy.

So that goes for the single woman who is longing for a mate. That goes for the married person who is longing for a mate who loves Jesus or a different mate. That goes for the couple that are not able to have children and wrestle with that longing for a child. We have in this room those of you in recent times who have sent mates on to heaven and there’s longing—grief. That’s very human, but ultimately, don’t we all at every season of life have to come to say, “Lord, there is nothing and no one on this earth or heaven itself that can satisfy the deepest needs and longings of my soul other than Jesus.”

That doesn’t mean we don’t receive and enjoy the good things He gives us, but we don’t make gods of them. We don’t make idols of them. We realize that what my soul really is longing for is Christ. He is the substance.

Well, number three: The whole world looks different when you see it through eyes of praise. The whole world looks different when you see it through eyes of praise. It’s this whole thing of the attitude of gratitude.

I have a dear friend, a member of our advisory board, a businessman my age, who was diagnosed with acute leukemia just a matter of a couple of months ago. While Scott was going through the first seven weeks of chemo, ordered a copy of the audio version of the “Choosing Gratitude” book. He wasn’t able to read while he being weakened through the chemo, but in seven weeks, he listened four times through the entire book because he said, “I want gratitude to be the hallmark, the trademark of how we walk through this crisis.”

They don’t know the outcome is, humanly speaking, but they know in God’s economy, the outcome will only be wonderful. It only gets better from here. He’s been counseling and coaching their five young adult children to have an attitude of gratitude as they walk through this crisis.

I have another friend. Some of you know Bobbie Wolgemuth whose husband is a literary agent. She’s been battling cancer for the last few years. I talked with her not too long ago, and she said, “Birds don’t worry. They sing.” And that’s been her motto. So she and her husband Robert are singing their way through cancer.

Now, not in a Pollyanna way that’s “Oh, everything’s just hunky-dory.” It’s been hard. But they’re singing; they’re singing hymns; they’re singing hymns of faith. They’re saying, “Look, we can worry, or we can sing. We can whine, or we can worship.” Everything looks different when we see it through eyes of praise.

This is a truth I need to keep counseling my heart with because I am chronically tempted, through fifty years of knowing Jesus, I’m chronically tempted to murmur, to complain, to fear, to doubt, to discouragement. These are like besetting sins in my life. And that’s why I have to keep going back to the place of praise.

“Thank You, Lord, that when I cannot see, I know that You are good.” It’s a place of faith which is demonstrated through praise.

Well, number four—and we say this often in our ministry: Anything that makes us need Him is a blessing—anything that makes us need Him is a blessing.

I interviewed a pastor and his wife several months ago—we aired this on Revive Our Hearts not too long ago. They had lost a couple of children—one stillborn, and a number of miscarriages. I remember Pastor Mark saying, “Hard is hard, but hard is not bad.” Hard is hard, but hard is not bad because true blessing is not the absence of problems, but it’s the presence of Christ with us in the midst of the problems, in the hard places.

Throughout these years now, this year I’m also finishing thirty-five years of vocational ministry, which is a great privilege. I thank the Lord for that. But there have been many, many times, many places where I have thought, If I did not know that Jesus was in the boat with me right now, I would have no hope of surviving this storm. Have you been there or is it just me? You think, This boat is going under. This business, this family, this relationship, this situation, it’s going under.

There have been times since starting Revive Our Hearts that I’ve said, “Lord, we may go down, but as long as I know I’m doing what You put me on this earth to do, I don’t have to survive, but I do have to trust. I do have to obey. I don’t have to come out alive. If I’m going down, I want to go down knowing that I was doing what You put me here on this earth to do.”

But the fact is, in the long scheme of things, if Jesus is in the boat with you, you’re not going down. Anything that makes me need Him is a blessing. Pressure in life is unavoidable. Suffering is unavoidable. That’s what the Scripture tells us over and over again.

I was reading in Thessalonians this week. Paul’s talking about his afflictions, and he says, “We were destined for this.” I mean, that’s not a feel-good message. And he says, “And so were you. And when you received the Word of God, you received it as the Word of God which is able to take you through these storms and these afflictions and these adversities.”

But if it’s unavoidable, it’s also beautiful because suffering sanctifies. Pressure sanctifies. It strips us of all those things that attach themselves to us like barnacles to our souls that are not eternal. They’re temporal, and they distract our attention from things of eternity. Suffering strips us of the temporal and focuses our hearts and sets us on the eternal. It detaches our hearts from this present world and attaches our hearts to heaven and eternity.

I mean, think about it, if we never hurt, if we never wept, if we never were really deeply in pain, do you think we would feel our great need for God? Wouldn’t we be independent and self-sufficient? The greatest growth happens in the hardest places. Am I right?

Some of you have told me that tonight. You’ve just shared with me what you’ve been through this year, and you said, “But that’s where I’m growing.” The hardest place becomes the best place.

In our ministry we sometimes call those “Red Sea moments.” I’m up against a recording session, and I’m going, “I can’t pull this together.” We’re coming up on a conference, and I can’t pull this message together. I just can’t do it. I’m up against this Red Sea—there’s just these obstacles in front and on every side and behind. And then you stand still, and you see the salvation of the Lord.

Anything that makes me need God is a blessing. That’s when we see His power. That’s when we learn that He always comes through, that He always provides a means of deliverance.

Well, number five: His grace is sufficient. And that’s not theory, that’s not just textbook, that’s not just theology. It is good theology, but it’s also really, really true. His grace is sufficient. It’s sufficient for every need. It’s sufficient to cover every sin, every failure.

We are utterly dependent every moment of our life, every breath we take, we are utterly dependent on the saving grace of Christ, the sanctifying grace of God, the strengthening grace of God, the satisfying grace of God, and the grace of God that enables us to serve Him and others.

“Apart from Me,” Jesus said, “you can do nadda, zip, zilch; you can’t do anything.” And when we get to that place where we feel helpless and hopeless and we can’t do anything . . . God keeps me in a place of perpetual neediness. Do I like being there? Not really, nor do you, but is it a good place to be? Yes, it is because it keeps reminding me that I need to cast myself upon God and His grace.

My mantra since we started Revive Our Hearts radio is “We are weak, but He is strong.” I am weak, but He is strong. Yes, I am weak. Yes, I am helpless. I cannot do this without Him. But He is strong, and His strength is showcased through our weakness. Our limitations are no obstacle to His power.

So many, many times over the years I’ve had that exchange with the Lord, very similar to what the young Mary of Nazareth had with that angel when he came and said, “You’re going to have this Child.”

And she said, “How can this be?”

I’ve said that to the Lord I don’t know how many times . . . zillions of times. “How can this be? I can’t do this.”

God knows that. That’s why He chooses the weak, the foolish, the despised, not those who are bright and brilliant and capable and gifted. Oh, yes, a few like that, but not many, Paul says, so that the excellency of the power can be seen to be of God. The angel answers Mary in that exchange and says, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”

That’s God’s grace. You’re right. You can’t do this. It is humanly impossible to love that person, to forgive that person, to serve that person, to parent that child, to love that mate, to love that mother-in-law, whatever. You can’t do it. God says, “I know. But the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” His grace is sufficient.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been sharing fifteen things she’s learned in fifty years of walking with the Lord. When you fill your mind with truths like those and keep filling your mind with the truth day by day, it will have a big effect on your life. Nancy’s here to tell you about a woman who started filling her mind with the truth day by day, and it made a big difference in her thoughts and actions.

Nancy: I want to share an encouraging story with you about how a driven, ambitious engineer found freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ. At one of our recording sessions here in Michigan we were going around the room getting to know each guest in the audience. A woman stood up and told us about her background as an engineer.

Woman: I grew up in the 60s and 70s in a time when women were very strongly encouraged to go off to school and get a good education and enter the work force. So I found myself working as an engineer in a large company and being moved along very quickly and successfully. Really, I was very focused on my own success.

I think probably the biggest issue I know now in retrospect was pride and a false sense of control that I could get anything I wanted and somehow I could be happy, but I wasn’t happy. My husband became a Christian, a believer early in the marriage, at the beginning of the marriage. We weren’t married until thirty, and I pretty much told him he was going to cook a certain number nights of the week, and we were going to divide responsibilities equitably in our marriage.

I actually plotted our salary curves against each other and made it my goal to be ahead of his. I think it made us very competitive because we worked at the same business in the same job title, but it really undermined our marriage. God graciously gave him the patience to wait for me, and it took about ten more years.

I was raised in the church and called myself a Christian and God really spoke to me clearly one day and told me I was a fraud, and I knew He was right. At that point I started making plans to leave the work force. It took a while, about six months. Initially, my kids were very concerned because our income was going to go down drastically, and things that had become practice, like going out to dinner every Friday night, we knew we couldn’t continue to do.

Very quickly, though, they became, I think, really grateful that I was home and wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I found myself, knowing that I was a sinner, and learning more and more every day how much of a sinner I was, but not being really clear on how to live a Christian life. I didn’t know what that looked like.

I had young children then, and I’d be driving through town, and I’d catch Nancy on the radio. Almost every time I heard her, I’d end up crying because I felt like she really spoke to my heart, and I appreciated her transparency. I think she was a role model of how to be a Christian, and how to be enabled and empowered to study Scripture and learn and apply it.

I think what was so helpful of Revive Our Hearts, and also some Bible studies and some Christian women that I came to know, was understanding how to apply it practically so that Scripture became a living thing and not just a book I needed to digest.

I know some people donated to make Revive Our Hearts possible so that I could benefit and hear it, and I’m grateful for their sacrifices. Had I not had that, I can’t guess where I would be, and I’m grateful to be able to do the same.

Nancy: Now, there’s nothing wrong in a career in engineering, but this woman realized that the Lord had a higher priority for her for that season of her life.

I love hearing stories about how women experience greater freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness from knowing Christ. Doesn’t it bless you to hear that kind of testimony?

Well, when you support Revive Our Hearts financially, you’re part of making stories like this happen. We’re able to speak to women like this engineer thanks to listeners like you who believe in this ministry and want to see it continue.

I’m excited that this month some friends of this ministry want to invest where they see God at work. So they have offered to double the gift of each listener up to a matching challenge amount of $530,000.

We’re asking the Lord to put this challenge on the hearts of listeners to help us meet the entire challenge and then to go far beyond it. That will allow us to continue our current ministries, like providing this podcast each week day, and you’ll be helping the ministry accelerate a movement of revival and biblical womanhood.

Some of the ways we anticipate that happening are through things like the small group study True Woman 201 that we plan to release this coming year, and through the True Woman ’14 Conference this coming October, and through the growing Spanish language ministry.

Remember, your gift will be doubled. So to make a contribution, give us a call at 1–800–569–5959, or you can visit us online at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Leslie: Well, tomorrow Nancy will pick back up with “Fifteen Things I’ve Learned in Fifty Years.” Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

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

 

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

Join the Discussion