Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: If you don’t step out in faith and attempt the impossible, you will never see what God can do. If you just play it safe, if you just go where you feel secure and handle what you think you can handle or manage, you’ll never see what God can do.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, September 24, 2014.

Would an outside observer think you were highly organized, driven, a good planner? These are all admirable qualities, but if that’s all people see in you, then something is missing. Nancy will explain why we should take on tasks bigger than our ability to plan, organize, and execute. It’s part of the series "Lessons from the Life of Joshua (Part 8): Before We Conquer."

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I was interviewed yesterday afternoon for another radio program from another ministry. One of the questions they asked me was about what kind of books I like to read. I told them that I love reading biographies, always have. I teethed on biographies. I read my first biography when I was a little girl, probably seven or eight years old. It was a biography of J.C. Penney. I don’t know how that came into my hands, but it was a children’s version. I read that biography over and over and over again.

But over the years I have loved reading biographies of men and women who have been greatly used by God in various ways, a lot of missionary biographies—Gladys Aylward and Hudson Taylor and George Mueller and Amy Carmichael. I recommend those highly to you. I recommend you read those to your children. There are a lot of children’s biographies available today that weren’t available when I was a child.

But the common denominator and I think one of the things I love about these biographies of men and women of God in the past is their willingness to step out in faith, to step out into the impossible, to move forward when what they were getting ready to do did not make sense to human reasoning, when what they were doing seemed or actually was impossible, when others could not understand what they were doing or why or maybe even thought they were nuts.

These men and women stepped out. And so George Mueller says,

If God wants to feed these thousands of orphans [and ultimately it was] without us asking anybody for funds, He can do it. I built that orphanage so people could see how great God is.

Men and women of faith challenge our own faith today.

Well, as we’re walking with Joshua and the Children of Israel getting ready to go into the Promised Land, we see that the Israelites come today to a crisis of faith. Each step they’re taking at this point is a step of faith from start to finish. And the faith of the people is not going to go further than the faith of the leader.

So we see in Joshua a man of faith. And the Children of Israel along with Joshua are in a position where if God doesn’t come through they are not going to survive. Can I say that’s a good place to be?

Now, we don’t like to live there. That’s a scary thought to be in a place where if God doesn’t come through we’re not going to survive. But that’s where sight ends and faith begins, and without faith it is impossible to please God.

Let me ask you to turn in your Bible to Joshua chapter 3. And let’s pick up back at verse 1 just to give us some context here.

Then Joshua rose early in the morning and [the Children of Israel] set out from Shittim. [This was their camp east of the Jordan River.] And they came to the Jordan, he and all the people of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over (v. 2).

So they’re getting ready to go across the Jordan River from east to west into the Promised Land, Canaan, which lies to the west of the Jordan River. We need to note in verse 15 that there’s a little parenthesis there.

In verse 15 it says, “Now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest.” That’s an important note because this is going to make what is about to happen even more a crisis of faith.

During the course of most of the year the Jordan River is approximately 100 feet wide, and it can be easily forded. But in the early spring there’s melting snow that comes down from Mount Hermon and the Jordan River overflows its banks and becomes a mile wide at places—not 100 feet wide but a mile wide.

And at this point it would be impossible to cross on foot. Why did God wait to send the Children of Israel over the Jordan River until the river was impossible to cross? Why didn’t He send them across in some other time of year when they could have just walked across on foot and not had to have a miracle?

Well, for that very reason. They would not have needed a miracle if He had waited for some other time of year. God sent them across when they had to depend on Him.

Do you know why I think that was? One, so the people would develop their faith muscles before they went in to fight all these enemies on the other side of the Jordan. But also there was no way anyone else could get the credit other than God.

Everyone would know. The Jews would know. Their children would know. We would know today as we’re reading this, the Canaanites in the land. Everyone would hear this story and would know God did this.

My dad, who’s been with the Lord for many years now, used to have a quote in his office, and in various places I would come across this quote. He loved it and would have it printed out. The quote is: “Attempt something so impossible that unless God is in it it is doomed to failure.”

My dad was a man of faith, and he loved that challenge to attempt something so impossible that unless God is in it it is doomed to failure. And that’s exactly what we find as the Children of Israel are getting ready to go across the Jordan River in its swollen, flooded condition.

Now go down to verse 6 of Joshua chapter 3.

Joshua said to the priests, "Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on before the people." So they took up the ark of the covenant and went before the people.

So the priests led the way carrying the Ark of God, which we saw in the last session represents the presence of God, the guidance of God. God is going before His people. And the picture you get here as you meditate on this passage is that God Himself was actually going ahead into the Jordan River before His people to open up a road through the Jordan so that people could cross over.

It wasn’t just this box, the Ark of the Covenant, held by human hands of the priests that was going across. It was God. And can I remind you that God will never lead you into and across a Jordan River, an impossible circumstance, that He does not go before you and open up the way.

I love that old chorus we used to sing when we were children.

My Lord knows the way through the wilderness;
All I have to do is follow.
Strength for today is mine all the way,
And all I need for tomorrow. 1

How do we get that? By following Christ, by following the presence of God. I love how He goes before us and makes a way across these impossible rivers.

We also used to sing that little chorus.

Got any rivers you think are uncrossable?
Our God specializes in things thought impossible.2

God’s wanting to strengthen our faith muscle, and He does it by going before us.

Now we don’t tend to like impossibilities. We don’t like walking across swollen, flooded rivers. Our natural tendency is to want to play it safe, to want to be secure. But faith which pleases God moves forward at God’s direction even when that means walking into a swollen, flooded river. It means the willingness to move forward in spite of unknowns, in spite of risks, in spite of impossibilities. And this is the way that we glorify God.

But how do you get that kind of faith? We can’t stir up that kind of faith in our own hearts. We don’t have that kind of faith naturally. I think we see a clue to how we get that kind of faith in these opening verses of Joshua chapter 3 as we realize that knowing God, knowing who He is and what He’s like, is what deepens faith in our hearts. It becomes the basis for faith. The knowledge of God enables faith in our hearts.

If you look at chapter 3, verse 3 and again in verse 9, God is referred to as “The Lord your God.” Joshua is speaking to the Israelites and he says, “The Lord your God.”

Now that was in contrast to the pagan gods of the Canaanites who were not personal gods. You could have never said, “Baal, your god.” But Joshua said to the Children of Israel, “He is God, your God.”

In verse 10 Joshua calls him “The living God.” Again, that is not at all like the pagan gods of the nations around them. Those gods were dead; they were not living gods.

And verse 11 He is called “The Lord of all the earth.” Verse 13: “The Lord of all the earth.” And again this is in contrast to the pagan gods.

It was thought by the unbelievers, the pagan nations, that these gods had jurisdiction over specific parts of the earth. It might be the god of the mountains or the god of the sea or the god of the river.

And Joshua is saying, “Jehovah is not the God of the mountains or the seas or the rivers alone. He is the God over all the earth. All these other “gods,” so called, must bow before Him. He is the sovereign Lord and God over all the earth. He is the Lord your God. He is the living God. He is the God of all the earth.

As you meditate on who He is, on His power, on His omnipotence, His omnipresence, the fact that He is your God, a living God, the God of all the earth, your faith will be strengthened.

Someone was telling me the other day that they had had an experience where they were in desperate need of something for their ministry to go forward and it wasn’t happening and the deadline was approaching.

And he said, “I went out just a week before we needed this provision from the Lord and I looked at the night sky and I saw the stars.” And he was kind of breaking down tearful as he was rehearsing what God had done.

And he said, “I looked up into that night sky and I saw all those stars and I said, ‘Oh Lord, if You can make all these stars that I see in the heavens tonight, You can surely provide what we need to move forward in this ministry."'

And then he told tearfully of how God did provide within the week exactly what was needed. And my faith was strengthened and encouraged as I heard him tell that story. Well, keep your eyes on the Lord and focus on Him. He is the one who gives strength and faith and courage to move forward.

Now in verse 8, God tells Joshua to tell the priests, “When you come to the brink of the waters of the Jordan you shall stand still in the Jordan.”

We know the story so we kind of read these stories with glazed eyes, not really putting ourselves in the situation. Imagine being one of those priests. And they’re human just like we are, okay? They haven’t read the book of Joshua yet, and they don’t know the story. They’re having to move forward without knowing how it ends.

And they’re being told, “You’re going to stand in the Jordan.” They’re looking at the Jordan. It’s flooding. It’s raging. It’s strong. There’s no way they can go and stand in the Jordan. But that’s what they’re to do.

And then Joshua says to the people in verse 10,

Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites. Behold the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is passing before you into the Jordan.

And when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap. (vv. 10-11, 13).

I drove across the Arkansas River last week. As I looked at that river I just thought of this scene that I’ve been living with in Joshua. I tried to imagine telling a million people standing on one side, “You are going to cross over this river on foot and go to the other side.”

No way is this possible. And that’s why Joshua says, “Here is how you will know that the living God is among you.” Crossing the Jordan would be a confirmation of God’s promises. It would affirm the faith of God’s children. It would bolster their faith. It would give them confidence as they moved in to take possession of the land God had promised to them.

But it took faith not only to conquer the enemy. It took faith to take the first step, which is to get across the Jordan River. They could not get across without faith.

I want to remind you that if you don’t step out in faith and attempt the impossible, you will never see what God can do. If you just play it safe, if you just go where you feel secure and handle what you think you can handle or manage, you’ll never see what God can do.

Joshua said, “Here’s how you’ll know that the living God is among you.”

  • What evidence is there in your life that the living God is among you?
  • What evidence is there in your family that the living God is among you?
  • What evidence is there in your church that the living God is among you?

I’ve said to our staff before, my desire for our ministry is that this ministry, Revive Our Hearts, would be a ministry that could not be explained in terms of human effort and initiative. I want a ministry that can only be explained that the living God is among you.

Well verse 15 of chapter 3,

As soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water. The waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away at Adam, the city that is beside Zerethan, and those flowing down toward the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off (vv. 15–16).

The city of Adam where the water was supernaturally dammed up was a city 15–20 miles upstream. There are those, archeologists and commentators, who think that there may have been an earthquake that caused this to happen. That may be.

God may have used an earthquake. But if He did it was split-second timing that the earthquake happened when it did as soon as the priests put their feet in the water and that another earthquake came and caused the waters to come back. Either way it was definitely supernatural, God causing the waters to be held up.

And then it continues, verse 16:

The people passed over opposite Jericho. Now the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was passing through on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.

Then turn to chapter 4 verse 15:

And the Lord said to Joshua, "Command the priests bearing the ark of the testimony to come up out of the Jordan." So Joshua commanded the priests, "Come up out of the Jordan." And when the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord came up from the midst of the Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet were lifted up on dry ground, the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and overflowed all its banks as before (vv. 15–18).

Now put yourself in the sandals of those Jews now standing on the west side of the Jordan River as they turn and look behind them. The pathway through which they’ve just come on dry ground and “whoosh!” all those waters that have been dammed up for 15–20 miles upriver come flooding back over. The dam breaks. And imagine how awestruck they must have been and maybe a little bit terrified as they realized there is no turning back now. We are in Canaan. We are facing the enemies, the opposition.

But there’s this mixture of awe and gratitude and wonder and maybe fear mixed in there because this is the land God has promised to give His people. And now they’re in it. They’re standing in it. God has taken them over.

I love what D. A. Carson says in his commentary on this passage. He says, “As the Jordan resumed its flow it was as though gates had closed behind the divine King and his vassals as they entered the royal estate.”3

Isn’t that great? What a picture. The King has led the way, King Jesus, King Jehovah. He has led the way symbolized by the ark of the covenant. And the King and His vassals are entering the divine estate. And as they set foot into the Promised Land, the gates close behind the King and His people.

Wow. What a moment. What a scene. And all entered into by faith. Now they’re committed; they have no choice but to face the battle before them.

So we see that the exodus from slavery 40 years earlier begins with the crossing of another body of water, the Red Sea, under the leadership of Moses. And now the exodus ends with the Children of Israel crossing the Jordan River under the leadership of Joshua.

The exodus from Egypt was an exodus from bondage. And it pictures our deliverance from the slavery of sin. The crossing of the Jordan into Canaan is a picture of how we enter by faith into our spiritual inheritance. And these are both passages that God intends for each one of us.

If you’re a child of God then you have crossed over the Red Sea. You have been brought out of slavery, out of Egypt, out of the possession of Satan into the possession of God, now belonging to Him. And He has delivered you; that’s a miracle.

As a child of God, He intends for your life to continue to be a walk of faith, crossing over by faith the Jordan Rivers of your life into the Promised Land, the land He has given you for an inheritance and a possession.

And Lord, how we thank You for Your power and how You led Your people across the Jordan River into places that are impossible. And Lord, I pray that You’d grant our hearts faith as we face the things, the challenges that are ahead of us.

May we believe You. May we move forward by faith. And may we see You act as only You can do. May others know that there is a living God among us. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: When we’re shuffling through daily tasks it’s easy to forget what a big God we serve. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been calling us to a courageous approach to any big task God’s calling us to tackle. Set your heart on God’s power and goodness and not on your own ability.

That message is part of a series called "Lessons from the Life of Joshua (Part 8): Before We Conquer. And Nancy’s here to talk about how this kind of biblical teaching interacts with every day life.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Throughout this study on the life of Joshua, we’ve looked at battles. How the Lord calls us to battle and equips us for those battles.

All of us know what it’s like to be in a battle. Maybe not one with spears and swords like in Joshua’s day, but other kinds of battles. Here's a battle that one listener wrote us about, and perhaps you can relate. She wrote to tell us she’s caring for aging parents. And she’s parenting a young adult special needs child.  She wrote, “I live in a challenging marriage with a husband who has his own special needs and struggles with his commitment to Christ.”

In the middle of this, she’s to be actively involved in discipling other young women and leading Bible studies. It was encouraging to me the way the Lord is using Revive Our Hearts to strengthen her and encourage her in the midst of these battles and enable her to keep pressing on in serving the Lord and others. She wrote,

I began listening to Revive Our Hearts when it first aired. The ministry has helped me grow in my own walk and has equipped me as I reach out to younger women. I have grown so much over the years due to this ministry and I continue to learn, grow, and be challenged as I listen to the podcasts. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I am so grateful for all of you!

And I’m grateful, too, especially for those who help make this program possible. That includes our team that produce these programs, the stations that air them, but it also includes the Revive Our Hearts Monthly Partner Team. This group plays a huge role in you hearing the program each weekday—whether by radio or the means of the Internet.

Monthly partners participate in this ministry by praying, by sharing the ministry and the message with others, and by giving to support this ministry financially each month.

We need new ministry partners. This month we’re asking the Lord to raise up at least 800 new monthly partners in September to be a part of this ministry. You're a team with us. We can't do this ministry with these monthly partners. When you join, when you say, "I want to be a monthly partner," we want to say thanks to you by sending you the new edition of my book called The Wonder of His Name. This is a hardcover special gift edition. It's beautifully illustrated by Timothy Botts. It's got meaningful devotions on thirty-two different names of Jesus. So we'll send that to you.

Then each month we'll send you a daily devotional that's prepared especially for our monthly partners. As a monthly partner you’ll also get a free registration to one Revive Our Hearts or True Woman conference each year. Each month I'll be in communication with you sharing what's on my heart, sharing updates about the ministry. So this really is a partnership.

Together God is being glorified in the hearts of women all around the world as a result of this monthly partner team.

Would you ask the Lord if He would have you become one of our monthly partners. Now, that's quite a commitment. I want to ask you to pray about it—especially if your life has been influences through this ministry—you've been helped through this teaching, you've been encouraged, you've been blessed. Then maybe it is time for you to step up and say, "I want to be one of your monthly partners. I want to be engaged with you in calling women to freedom, fullnes, and fruitfulness in Christ.

Leslie: To join the monthly partner team, visit, or call 1–800–569–5959.  

Preserving memories has become a popular hobby for a lot of people, but it’s more than just that. Marking memories and milestones can be a significant way to remember what God has done in your life. We’ll talk about it tomorrow. Please be back, for Revive Our Hearts.

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

1“My Lord Knows the Way Through the Wilderness,” Sidney E. Cox, 1951.

2“Got Any Rivers?” Oscar C. Eliason, 1945.

3Carson, D. A. (1994). New Bible commentary: 21st century edition. Rev. ed. of: The new Bible commentary. 3rd ed. / edited by D. Guthrie, J.A. Motyer. 1970. (4th ed.) (Jos 4:1). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press.



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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.