Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Loving God Over Everyone Else

Leslie Basham: Is there anything or anybody more important to you than Jesus Himself? That's what Robert Wolgemuth had to ask himself one Sunday.

Robert Wolgemuth: The Lord Jesus was saying to me, "Do you love Me more than these?" And I knew the answer. The answer was, "No."

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts for Monday, October 19, 2015.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Well, in my wildest dreams, I never imagined I'd be coming on Revive Our Hearts and telling you what I'm about to share with you. Today I have the privilege and the joy to share with you about God's unexpected grace in my life!

This news has been available at Revive Our Hearts for a while, so many of you have probably already heard. This year, I've been in a relationship with a godly widower. It began earlier this year as a friendship that he initiated with the purpose of exploring what God's will might be for our future.

Over the course of some months, as our friendship deepened, we sought godly counsel. Most of all, we prayed and we asked the Lord how He was leading in this matter. Long story short, on Saturday morning, May 2, Robert Wolgemuth asked me to marry him . . . and I said, "Yes!"

You can get a lot more detail about this story at ReviveOurHearts.com. And coming up in November, you'll be hearing a lot more here on Revive Our Hearts. I'll be sharing some reflections on the years the Lord has allowed me to serve Him as a single woman.

You'll also hear the full story of God's unexpected, amazing grace in Robert's life and in my life, and in His bringing us together. Again, you'll be hearing that in about a month. But today, I wanted you to have a chance to get to know Robert better.

While we were seeking the Lord for His direction about our future, Robert came and spoke at a chapel for our staff. We wanted to play that message for you today so that you could hear something of his heart. So here's my fiancé, Robert Wolgemuth, speaking at a chapel for the Revive Our Hearts staff earlier this year.

Robert: I would love for you to turn with me in your Bibles, or on your smart phone, (which doesn't really count as a Bible) to John chapter 21. Reading from God's Word:

After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself: Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing."

They said to him, "We are going with you also." They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.

Then Jesus said to them, "Children, have you any food?" They answered Him, "No." And He said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.

Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea. But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits), dragging the net with fish.

Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish which you have just caught." Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken.

Jesus said to them, "Come and eat breakfast." Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, "Who are You?"—knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish. This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead. [John 21:1–14]

The interesting thing about chapter 21 is that it begins with, "After these things." You know when you read the Pauline epistles they often start with the word "therefore." You've heard it said, "What's the 'therefore' there for?" So you've got to go back and find out what the 'therefore' is referring to.

Somebody has said it would be a great exercise to read the Bible backwards, because there's so much that is "in our last episode," right? This says, "After these things." And then if you go back to chapter 20, the apostle John comes in for a landing. Look at the last two verse of chapter 20—this sounds like the end of his gospel:

"And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book" [Now wouldn't you love to know? Someday we will, but it just kind of tantalizes: "Other miracles that are not in the book"] "but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name." [John 20:30–31]

The End. Well, not quite. The apostle John had a little more work to do, an "and that's not all!" infomercial kind of stuff, right? "There's one more thing we need to do." So he goes on to chapter 21 and has a few more things to say.

At the end of the day, this chapter (chapter 21) is an epilogue. Sometimes you read a book and it has an epilogue, and it's sort of a rearview mirror as to what has just happened. But there's some unfinished business, and it really is one of the more important encounters, I think, with Jesus in all of the gospels.

What we've just read (I stopped before I got to something that I think is critically important), this part is really terrific. Let's look at it together. There are seven disciples named here, two unnamed disciples, (we don't know who they are) and John refers to himself as what? The disciple Jesus loved. He doesn't say his own name in his gospel.

So, the sons of Zebedee would be James and John. So, seven of them, and what do they do? They go fishing. I don't fish, but I know some men that this is their life verse: "Let's go fishing!" So they go fishing. And you're thinking, Why did they do that? Well, that's what they knew how to do—that was their vocation.

Imagine the trauma they had just been through: the Gethsemane encounter with the soldiers; Jesus praying; the trial, the crucifixion, the resurrection; a couple visits with Jesus. Can you see the emotion building up in their hearts? So, what do they do? They do something familiar—they go fishing.

In 1987 I was working for a company called Thomas Nelson Publishers in Nashville. I had left a company in Waco, Texas called Word Publishing and taken a job as the president of Thomas Nelson. I got a call one day, absolutely perfectly timed.

Have you had calls like that? And you say, "Lord, how did you know? (Well, I guess I know how You knew.)" Well, I needed this call. It was from my former boss. I had left his company to join his competitor. He had no reason to call me at all. But I was frozen up.

Have you ever been frozen up? You look at your desk and it might as well be crying babies, and you don't know what to do. You're frozen up. That is exactly how I felt when I got this call. (This is before caller ID, so I didn't know who it was.) And when he said my name, I just wept and thought, "Lord, You have just shown up in the voice of this man whom I love!"

He said, "What's up?" and I said, "Doc, I'm frozen up. I can't move!" So I explained to him. And remember, he is my number one competitor and I'm his number one competitor. He has no business helping me out. He should have said, "Great! I love the sound of that! I hope you never unfreeze! I want to beat you at your game!" But he didn't.

First of all, he encouraged me. He said, "I have great confidence in you," (you know, all those things that bosses say sometimes to their employees.) And then he said, "When we hang up, I want you to turn around and look at your desk, and I want you to scan it and find one thing you can do right now. Forget the stacks, the mounds, the stuff. Look for one thing to do."

And that's what I did. I thanked him, hung up, turned around, scanned my desk, and I found one thing I could do. I can't tell you how healing it was to be able to do one thing. Do you understand this? Does this make sense?

Well, here's Peter as the spokesman for these seven disciples, and he says, "You know what? I'm frozen up! I've just been through this incredibly terrorizing experience. What am I going to do? I'm going to 'look at my desk' and say, 'I know how to fish!'" And so he goes fishing.

It's a great reminder that, when this happens to you and me, rather than being overwhelmed by the amount of work to be done, we say, "You know what? There's one thing I can do right now," and you go do it! It can be a menial thing, a big thing, a strategic thing—but you do one thing.

And that's what Simon Peter did. He was enough in touch with himself in his own heart that he said, "I'm going to go do something. I'm going to go fishing." I love that picture. They spent the night fishing—that’s what they knew how to do—and they were completely unsuccessful.

Morning dawns and they see a person on the shore and they hear a voice. "When morning had come," this is verse four, "they did not know it was Jesus." Now, is that kind of a mystery to you? Why didn't they know? They'd been with him for three years. Why didn't they recognized His profile or recognize His voice? Do you wonder about that?

Do you remember Luke 24, two men walking to Emmaus? Doesn't that remind you of this? They were walking with Jesus and they were troubled, and this person walking with them asks, "Why are you troubled?" And they say (it's kind of insulting, isn't it?), "Are you the only person in Jerusalem who doesn't know what's just happened?"

Jesus is very patient with them. Wouldn't you have loved to have been there to hear Jesus summarize the whole Old Testament? I would love to have that, like in a pamphlet or something, to read it; a blog post.

When they get to where they are going (this is Luke 24:31), they invite Jesus for lunch, and then they have prayer for lunch. What does Jesus do? He breaks the bread after the prayer, and then what does the Scripture say? "Then their eyes were opened."

The text doesn't say, "And then they opened their eyes." There's a big difference between the two. We have no capability of knowing who He is unless He gives us the Spirit who gives us the opportunity to recognize Jesus and know who He is.

So these men [the disciples] saw Jesus on the shore, they heard His voice, but He hadn't yet empowered them to know who He was. "For by grace ye have been saved, through faith," right? It takes grace and faith. . .and then Scripture says, "and that not of yourselves." [Ephesians 2:8]

So in case you and I say, "Well, I'm a believer because I heard a sermon, I read a book and came to Jesus." No, no, no. You were drawn (1 John 4:19). The only way we love Him is why? "Because He first loved us." Somebody said, "Amen." God bless you!

Then Jesus calls them "children." Really? These are grown men! These guys are probably daddies, maybe granddaddies, and He calls them "children." I love that! John uses that a lot in his epistles, doesn't he? "Little children, little children." Doesn't that remind you of what Jesus said it takes to come to Him? He makes no mistake about it, "Come as children." I love that.

"'Have you any food?' And they answered Him and said, 'No.' And He said to them, 'Cast the net on the right side of the boat.'" [verses 5–6]

Now, is that a familiar moment? In John chapter 5, He did the same thing, but in John 5 the nets break (these nets didn't break.) And what did Peter do when he realized what Jesus had just done? Remember? He fell on his face and said to Jesus, "Depart from me, I'm a sinful man." So, Jesus told them to cast the nets on the right side of the boat, and they cast and the nets were filled.

Then, verse 7, "Therefore, that disciple" (who we're talking about right now, John, who wrote these words under the power of the Holy Spirit) "said to Peter, 'It is the Lord!'" I love that! He said, "Peter, get a life! Get a grip! It's the Lord!" And that's when Peter put on something and dove in the water and swam to Jesus.

Now, somebody's gotta get the boat to the shore, right? Peter jumps in the water, so what about the other six guys and the fish? Peter really doesn't care about that. Peter cares about his experience with Jesus, and so he jumps in the water. I love that.

Verse 8: They came in with the boat two hundred cubits—that's about a hundred yards, so they weren't that far. As soon as they came to land they saw a fire of coals with fish laid on it and bread. Okay, you read that, you scurry by that when you're reading the Scripture. But stop and say, Whoa, what? Really?

So these weren't the fish the guys caught. Jesus had already made breakfast. We know how, but isn't that a great thing? Bread, too. I mean, you can catch fish—that's food—but He had bread there as well. Just another miracle, another God-sighting. I love that.

And Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish which you have caught." This is interesting! Does Jesus need us to get His work accomplished? No, He really doesn't. The last time I checked, Pharaoh wasn't a member of a church or in a small group, and God used him [Romans 9]. God spoke to a pagan man to change the lives of His own people.

So if God wants to speak to you, He'll speak to you one way or another, right? "Bring some of the fish you've caught." Peter dragged the net to the land, full of large fish. Jesus said, "Come and eat breakfast." Don't you love that? Think of how much food has to do with fellowship and community.

What if the Lord had built us to have to eat once a week or once a month? But we get hungry every four hours—or every fifteen minutes!—and what you hear yourself saying is, "Let's go have lunch together . . . Let's go have breakfast together . . . I'll meet you . . ." Think how often that happens.

So Jesus invites His disciple to sit down with Him at breakfast. The Bible is substantial—there are about seven-hundred-fifty-thousand words in here. There's a lot that's left out, but wouldn't it be fun to know what that conversation was like? Jesus had just performed a miracle, there were all these fish lying on the shore, probably still flopping around a little bit, and they're talking. Wouldn't it be fun to know exactly what they were talking about?

So, "Jesus said to them, 'Come and eat breakfast.'" Let Me serve you, let Me strengthen you, let Me heal you, let Me forgive you. "Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish. This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead." [verses 12–14]

There's a little bit more to go here, and it really is one of the more sobering moments in the gospels. This is an encounter that had to happen before the end of this gospel: Jesus and Simon Peter had a little chat. Verse 15: "So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter–" You know the rest of this, don't you? You folks teach, preach, study . . . but just put yourself there. 

Peter has to have this sort of nagging thing inside—do you know what that's like? When you think you've lost something and you can't find it, and you've got that grinding thing inside and it doesn't go away until you find it, right? Or, you're in a relationship and the relationship has been broken somehow, and you've got that feeling? That's a really good thing, by the way; a really good thing to feel like that, because you want to do whatever it takes to get rid of that feeling.

So Peter's got this "thing." Jesus and he caught eyes the night of Jesus' trial—it says it in the gospels. Peter denied Jesus three times, just as Jesus said he would. But we've got some work to do here to get that part fixed. So Jesus looks at Peter and He says, "Do you love me as much as these?"

Now, it's interesting because Scripture doesn't unpack "these." So what's the antecedent to "these?" What are "these" referring to? Well, go ahead and fill in the blank. These: Your buddies, your job, your family, your children, your work, your ministry. Go ahead, you fill it in.

Jesus looked at Peter and said, "Do you love me more than these?" And in fact, the hard part is, if you're Simon Peter, Jesus asked him how many times? Three times. "Do you love me more than these?" Jesus said, "Tend my sheep, feed my sheep." I love that! Because Jesus said, in other words, "Now do something as a result of this."

Like we were saying earlier, are you traumatized, are you stuck, are you frozen up? Do something! So Jesus challenged him to feed the sheep, to tend to the sheep.

This past Palm Sunday I was actually in the middle of a fast. I've never fasted for three weeks, but I did. And I was right in the middle of it, and it's Palm Sunday in Orlando, where I live. I'm at church, all the children came in with their little fronds, and I didn't hear a thing the pastor said (I've apologized to him since).

I didn't hear the music, and here's why: the Lord Jesus was saying to me, "Do you love Me more than these?" And I knew the answer. The answer was, "No." There's stuff in my life, there are people in my life—may I say there is a person in my life—whom I've put on the throne.

So I came back to my home and I went to my closet, and the Lord spoke to me and said, "This isn't just a matter of priorities; this is sin! If you love anything more than Me, let's call that what it is." So I confessed that.

The message that Jesus delivered to Simon Peter is the message for us, and that is, "Lord Jesus, only You deserve the throne!" The reason, really, for that, in addition to the fact that He does deserve the throne, is to protect the people and things that we're tempted to put on the throne.

If I put anybody or anything else on the throne, I've set them up for failure. They will crush me, they will disappoint me, they will fail me. So to protect them I take them off the throne. Does that make sense? So, on Palm Sunday 2015—who knows why that happened—the Lord Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit, gave me a really serious elbow that morning. He said, "Robert, everything else goes off the throne! Only I deserve the throne."

What an honor to be in His presence, and to be reminded that only He deserves that! Amen? Amen.

Lord Jesus, forgive us, forgive me, for putting a value on things that have no business being an idol. Only You deserve that position on the throne. So, together, we kneel at Your throne. Actually, we kneel at Your throne, but someday everyone will kneel at your throne—every name we read in the newspaper this morning, every name we heard on the news—everyone, everyone will someday kneel before this very same throne. But you've given us the joy of doing that right now!

So, we thank You, we ask you, Father, that you would remind us who You are. Don't ever let us come casually to this throne. This is holy ground! You are a holy God! So, together, we worship You. And the joy of that is because we've together said, "You are our Father. You have the right to say, 'Okay, now this is your brother and this is your sister, because you share the same Father.'"

So, we love You, we thank You. I thank You for these precious people in this room and for their hearts for You, for their great desire that none should perish, but that all should come to repentance. We thank You for that call that You've put on all of our lives for that to happen.

We love You, we praise You, we thank You. You are good! In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Nancy: We've been listening to my fiancé, Robert Wolgemuth. And yes, if you missed the announcement at the beginning of today's program, I really did say "my fiancé!" If you haven't heard the story of God's unexpected grace in our lives, let me encourage you to go to ReviveOurHearts.com and you can read more about it.

Robert and I have really been praying as we prepare to get married next month—November 14—that we'll be able to showcase the loveliness of Christ, and that people will see the gospel on display, not only through our wedding, but through our marriage to follow.

For at its heart, the gospel is the story of a bridegroom who pursued his bride, the story of Christ and His Church. So many dear friends have expressed the desire to share in the celebration of our marriage. I want to invite you to watch that story unfold as we'll be live streaming our wedding at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Also next month, I'll be sharing some reflections on the years that the Lord has kindly allowed me to serve Him as a single woman. And then the week after the wedding, November 16–20, you'll be able to hear the complete story of our courtship, engagement and wedding, right here on Revive Our Hearts.

And I'd like to ask you to please pray for us. Pray that the gospel will be seen in a powerful way as we begin to live out a picture of Christ's love for His Bride, the Church.

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy. Well, like Nancy just said, prayer is crucial for the beginning of any new marriage, or any new endeavor, or any new year! At Revive Our Hearts, we'll be putting a special emphasis on prayer throughout 2016. We'll be crying out to God on behalf of our nation and world during such desperate times.

To help you to remember to stay in this battle of prayer, we'd like to send you the Cry Out! wall calendar. Each year, Revive Our Hearts produces a wall calendar, and this year you'll read quotes from Nancy and her friends all about crying out to the Lord in prayer.

To see the layout and artwork, just visit ReviveOurHearts.com. We'll send you the Cry Out! calendar this month when you support the ministry with a gift of any amount. Ask for the calendar when you call 1-800-569-5959 or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

So where do you turn when you are in a life and death situation? Can you still be thankful and focused on the Lord through those times? We'll hear from a couple who have met God in amazingly deep ways while walking through very dark times of cancer. 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.