Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leaping Over High Places

Leslie Basham: What’s the one big, intimidating thing in your future? Have you asked God for help? Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Maybe some impossibilities in your life, walls you’re needing to leap over. You say, “I can’t do this.” Tell the Lord that. He knows you can’t. But He can do it. And by the power of His Holy Spirit within you He can give you the strength to do it.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, November 1.

Is there some action you’ve been procrastinating about, a call you need to make, a conversation you need to have, or an act of kindness you need to show? You can do it no matter how daunting it seems. Nancy will explain why as she continues in the series, Habakkuk: Moving from Fear to Faith.

Nancy: Jim Law is a friend of our ministry who pastors a church in Gonzales, Louisiana, about 40 miles from New Orleans. As you might imagine, this congregation, along with many, many others, experienced the fallout and the devastation of this great storm.

The Sunday following the hurricane, this pastor stood before his congregation and tried to help give them some perspective on all that had taken place. And as he did so, he found himself drawing on the passage that we’ve been studying here in Habakkuk.

Let’s listen as Pastor Jim Law shares with his congregation the Sunday immediately following Hurricane Katrina.

Jim Law: I don’t need to tell you that life has changed forever in South Louisiana. This week has almost been apocalyptic. As we look at our city streets, the traffic is at capacity; no gasoline or if there is the line is 20 or 30 cars in length. Yesterday I went into Wal-Mart, and I couldn’t believe it. There was no produce on the shelf, and the checkout line was 30-45 minutes just to be able to get out of the store.

As we began our worship this morning, I just was really drawn to a powerful benediction in the book of Habakkuk.

The prophet wrote,

Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and he has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places. For the choir director, on my stringed instruments (Habakkuk 3:17-19, NASB).

You know, as I read this benediction as Habakkuk was processing a hard message from the Lord about the coming invasion of the Chaldeans, I was thinking that we may not know much about fig trees or about fruit on the vines or about olives or calves in the stall. So let me offer this modern adaptation to Habakkuk 3.

Though Wal-Mart shelves are empty and there is no food in Winn-Dixie, though all the restaurants remain closed and though the mall should shut down and the stock market crash and the hospitals be no more. Though my wife should contract cancer or my child be ravaged by childhood disease or kidnapped without a trace. And though my home be decimated by an act of God, yet I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.

Nancy: We’ve been listening to Pastor Jim Law from Gonzales, Louisiana as he challenged his congregation to choose joy in the midst of the devastation brought about by a hurricane.

And you might add to that list: Though I still have arthritis or cancer. Though my husband is still in ICU, as the husband of a good friend of mine has been over these last weeks as I’ve been preparing. We’ve talked on the phone and through her tears and not knowing from one day to the next if her husband was going to make it. He went into the hospital for what for others would have been a routine surgery and ended up at death’s door. And through her tears she kept saying, “But God is so good. God is so faithful. There is grace,” even as she knew that she might be in the process of losing her husband.

You might add to that list: Though my husband still doesn’t have a job. Though my son is still in the homosexual lifestyle, or whatever it might be on your list. Now, not later when it gets resolved, not down the road when circumstances change, but right now I will rejoice. I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

We looked at verses 17 and 18 in the last session, and today we want to look at the last verse, verse 19. Habakkuk closes with a wonderful promise. It’s part of his prayer. It’s an expression of faith. And remember how the righteous live? The righteous live by faith.

And so he says in verse 19,

God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.

I was meditating on that verse early this morning, and I couldn’t believe how many verses came to mind that talk about the strength that God gives to those who are weak and in need of strength.

As we come to the end of this series, it’s been a long day of recording and a long week for me, and I’m so thankful to be closing here that God the Lord is my strength. Over and over again you see it in the Scripture. Psalm 18:1: “I love you, O Lord, my strength.” Psalm 138:3: “On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.”

God gives strength. And then that wonderful passage in Isaiah chapter 40: “Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord,” you remember that theme of waiting in the book of Habakkuk? “I will quietly wait. I will wait” (Habakkuk 3:16). 

“Those who wait for the Lord,” what will happen? They will “renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:30-31).

See the connection here? Habakkuk has been learning to wait on the Lord in faith. And as a result, God is replenishing his dwindling supply of faith. God is giving him His very own strength, supernatural strength, to deal with the affliction, to deal with the persecution, to deal with the coming days of trouble, to deal with all the lack of holiness around him and the people who aren’t repenting. And all the things that Habakkuk had cried out to God about in the first chapter, God is giving him strength to live in that kind of world.

You need strength to live in that kind of world. I need strength to live in that kind of world. You need strength to be a wife, a mom, a woman, a co-worker, a friend, a roommate to people who don’t know the Lord or aren’t walking with Him. You need strength.

You need strength as a mom to be the kind of mom to your children that you want to be and that you know they need. You need strength. But our supply of strength is so limited. We are so weak. Our strength dwindles. It gets spent. It gets used so quickly.

I’ve shared this before, but I’ll share it again that when we first started Revive Our Hearts a number of years ago, for a long, long time those first months, first year and a half or so, I just felt like I was always within seconds of drowning. It was just a huge new responsibility. And I think back sometimes to those days. And there was just this helpless, weak, needy feeling all the time.

And you know, years ago I asked the Lord never to let me be in a place in ministry where I could serve Him or walk with Him and feel that I didn’t need Him. I always wanted to be in a position where I knew I needed God. And that is one prayer God has been very faithful to answer. I will tell you that.

But in those days I just felt such overwhelming inadequacy and weakness all the time. And  that was really a good place to be. God did something very gracious for me early on, very early on in those months.

He began to wake me first thing in the morning, every morning for a year or more and almost every morning since to this day with the first or one of the very first conscious thoughts running through my mind in the morning is that little phrase from the song “Jesus Loves Me.” “They are weak, but He is strong.”

The tune and the words are running through my mind at the beginning of almost every day because it is so true. We are weak. I am weak. I start into the day realizing that I am weak, but He is strong. He is my strength. The Lord is our strength.

The apostle Paul learned that in Philippians 4. He said, “In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” What is the secret? Verse 13: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

God the Lord is my strength. He strengthens me. If I will humble myself, acknowledge my weakness and let His strength flow through me, He will give me strength to do whatever it is He calls me to do, strength to be content in every circumstance and season and situation of life.

He is the one who strengthens us. There’s an incredible passage in Daniel chapter 10. I hesitated to bring it in here because it’s in a much bigger, more complicated context. But let me just give you the gist of it. In Daniel chapter 10, a pre-incarnate form of Christ appeared to Daniel. He’s having visions, and he’s seeing things that are yet to come. It’s an overwhelming, awesome scene and encounter with Christ Himself.

Then in verse 16 of Daniel 10 he says to the One who stands before him, “O my lord, by reason of the vision pains have come upon me, and I retain no strength . . . For now no strength remains in me, and no breath is left in me.”

It’s like somebody has kicked him, and he’s had the wind sucked out of him. He says, “I can hardly breathe because of what I’ve seen. I have no strength left.”

You may have felt that way at some point when you had divorce papers served and you felt winded like you just could not breathe, and there’s no strength left in you. Or you got a doctor’s report that one of your children has a terminal illness, and you feel like there is no strength left in you. You can hardly breathe. That’s the feeling of intense weakness and frailty that Daniel feels having just had this encounter.

And then it says, “One having the appearance of a man touched me and strengthened me.” Not Daniel’s strength, but the strength of another infused into his body, strength from someone stronger than himself. Who was that? Well, look at verse 19.

“And this man said to Daniel, ‘Oh man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage.’ And as he spoke to me I was strengthened.” Whose word strengthens us? God’s Word.

Then this man who had touched him, this person with the appearance of a man who had strengthened him said, “Now I will return to fight against the prince of Persia.” Now without going into the whole context here, it’s clear that the person who touched and strengthened Daniel was none other than Christ Himself who was in the heavenlies fighting the spiritual battles against the prince of Persia, a picture perhaps of Satan or Satanic forces.

Christ, doing battle in the heavenlies, stopped the battle for a moment and came down to minister to His weak servant who was trembling as a result of what he’d seen. And Daniel is saying, “I can’t go on. There is no breath left in me. There’s no life left in me. There’s no strength left in me.” And someone, Christ Himself, came and touched him. “And at his word,” Daniel says, “I was strengthened.”

Ladies, I cannot tell you how many times over the years in serving the Lord, in being poured out, being spent, giving of myself to minister to others, I have felt so utterly depleted and weak and empty and no strength left. Many, many, many times.

But I also could not count if I tried the times that One with the appearance of a man, Christ, the Son of Man, the Son of God has come and in some way has touched and strengthened this servant. His words have strengthened me. He has infused me when I felt I could not go on one more day. He has infused me with strength over and over and over again.

And many of you have had Him do that for you. You know what it is to have no strength of your own and then to draw on His strength. The One who is able to overcome Satan and who is at this moment fighting against Satan in the heavenlies, that One comes to strengthen you in the battle.

It’s an incredible thought. God the Lord is my strength. That God would even have time for or interest in us is amazing, but He does.

So when you feel that you’re alone in the battle. Maybe you are alone in the battle. Someone said to me recently in talking about their workplace and people in their workplace who are not honoring the Lord; they feel very alone. Am I crazy? How do I walk into this situation and represent Christ and have the strength to be the woman God wants me to be? You’re alone in the battle sometimes.

It may be that way in your home. It may be that way in your church. It may be that way in your workplace. When you feel alone in the battle, when you are actually alone in the battle, remember this word from 2 Timothy 4.

“At my first defense,” Paul said, “no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it” (2 Timothy 4:16-17). The Lord stood by me and He strengthened me. And so Paul says to the Ephesians, “When you’re in the battle be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.”

And then I love that verse in Psalm 18. I needed it this morning. “For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall” (Psalm 18:29). I’m not a soldier. I’m not a warrior. I’m not strong physically or any other way. And I’m not the kind of person who would be running against a troop or leaping over walls.

But those are the kinds of people God gives His strength to. It’s His strength, not mine. It’s His life, not mine. It’s His joy that fills me and gives me strength. For by You, supernaturally I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall.

There may be some impossibilities in your life, walls you’re needing to leap over. You say, “I can’t do this.” Tell the Lord that. He knows you can’t, but He can do it. And by the power of His Holy Spirit within you, He can give you the strength to do it.

Notice that the strength that Habakkuk talks about here—God the Lord is my strength—it’s not just a future strength. It’s not He will give me strength. It’s not just a future grace, just a future joy. It’s right now in the present. God the Lord is right now my strength.

So when you’re exhausted, when you’re weak, when you think you can’t keep going, when you think you can’t handle one more problem, when you think you can’t teach those kids one more day, when you think you can’t love that husband one more day or respond to that person at work one more time, God the Lord is your strength.

Then what does Habakkuk say? “He makes my feet like the deer’s. He makes me tread on my high places.” That verse is found three times in the Old Testament. And to me it gives the picture of super-abounding strength, not just strength to make it, but strength to really make it. He makes my feet like the deer’s. He makes me tread on my high places. He makes me sure-footed in those hard places.

As you read this verse we’re coming to the very end of Habakkuk here, almost the last phrase, we see him talking about high places. Now that’s not where Habakkuk started, is it? So you see the progression in Habakkuk’s life?

Chapter 1 he was in a real low place. He was very despondent. And then in chapter 2 Habakkuk moves upward. He started in that low place, and then he moves up to that watchtower to get God’s perspective, to get up above the ground, up above the level where he’d been seeing things to get up and to see God’s perspective. That where he prays; he goes to see what God will say.

And from that place God takes him ultimately in chapter 3 up to His high places. Not just surviving, but triumphant! Not just a survivor, but a victor.

Those high places can be hard places. But he says, “God will make me sure-footed like a deer. God will give me grace. God will give me the strength. He makes my feet like the deer’s. He makes me tread on my high places.” And here we have a man who says, “I’m not content to live down it the valley of despondency. I’m going to keep pressing on to know God until He takes me to the high places.”

Now by the high places we don’t mean a place where life is easy, where there are no problems. That’s an ultimate high place. One day we’ll be there. But even here and now God can make our feet like the deer’s and can make us tread on our high places.

And just as I’m talking about this verse, I’m thinking about the hymn that’s familiar to you, an old song.

I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining every day.
Still praying as I’m onward bound,
"Lord, plant my feet on higher ground."

My heart has no desire to stay,
Where doubts arise and fears dismay.
Though some may dwell where these abound,
My prayer, my aim is higher ground.

I want to live above the world,
Though Satan’s darts at me are hurled.
For faith has caught the joyful sound,
The song of saints on higher ground.

I want to scale the utmost height,
And catch a gleam of glory bright.
But still I’ll pray until heaven I’m found,
"Lord, lead me on to higher ground."

And then that chorus:

Lord, lift me up, and let me stand
By faith on heaven’s table land.
A higher plane than I have found,
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.1

How do you get to that higher ground? The righteous shall live by his faith. And so with eyes and heart of faith Habakkuk says, “God the Lord is my strength. He makes my feet like the deer’s. He makes me tread on my high places.”

Leslie: Words of hope from the book of Habakkuk and Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Fear and doubt will pull you down, but faith will empower you to do surprising things for God’s kingdom.

That message is from a classic series from Nancy called, Habakkuk: Moving from Fear to Faith. We're getting a fresh listen to some of Nancy's most impactful series here in our 10th year of broadcasting.

When this first aired, a listener responded by writing:

Wow! I'm currently in a situation where my husband continues to lie to me about paying our mortgage. This is a painful situation that has almost cost us our home at least four times. This last time I was very exhausted and ready to quit. The teaching today has brought strength and encouragement to me.

I stumbled across this website, and I'm convinced it was meant for me to hear what I heard today. I always struggled to maintain joy while in the battle. As of this moment, this is in my past. This teaching has clarified so many things for me.

Thank you for the sacrifices you make on a daily basis to bring such powerful and anointed insight.

We're so thankful that for the last 10 years, God has been orchestrating events so that women "stumble" across the teaching of Revive Our Hearts. We're thankful for the way He uses our listeners to make it happen.

Over these 10 years He's allowed us to continue, thanks to your donations. You're a part of changed lives in your area and around the world. When you make a donation of any amount today, we'll send you the 2011 Revive Our Hearts' wall calendar.The theme is: The Incomparable Christ. It's been artistically designed to bring beauty to your home and truth to your heart.

Ask for your wall calendar when you call us at 1-800-569-5959, or donate at ReviveOurHearts.com.

When Nancy began our study in Habakkuk, the prophet was complaining and lamenting. Tomorrow we’ll look at the final verses in Habakkuk and find out why the end is so different from the beginning. Please 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 English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

1"Higher Ground." Johnson Oatman, Jr.

2Piano Hymns - If You Could Hear What I See. "Higher Ground." Gordon Mote. Used with permission.

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