Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Never-Ending Wonder

Leslie Basham: Nancy Demoss Wolgemuth asks, “What are you focused on today?”

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: We spend so much time looking at our problems, looking at our circumstances, looking at our challenges, that they become humongous in our eyes. Then they eclipse our view of God, and God seems to be very tiny . . . if there at all!

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Choosing Gratitude, for May 14, 2019.

Nancy: Yesterday we started a short two-day series on Psalm 27, verse 4. Sometimes I like to do these short series just to have a chance to share with you something that I’ve been meditating on, something that’s been ministering to me in my own time with the Lord. This is one of those passages.

Actually, verse 1 of Psalm 27 is my husband’s life verse—Psalm 27, verses 1 and 4 (we’ll read it in just a moment). I don’t know if it’s my life verse but it’s one I have gone back to as many times as probably any other.

In fact, the first book I ever wrote, back in the year 2000, was a book on the daily devotional life called A Place of Quiet Rest. It was about cultivating intimacy with God through a daily devotional life. I’ve often told women if I could only write one book or have one message, it would be that message of learning to get in the presence of God on a daily basis, to live in His presence, to look on His beauty and to learn from Him—as we’re going to see in this psalm today.

When I inscribe those books for people who ask if I would autograph them, this is the verse, Psalm 27:4, that I will always write in that book. It’s such a precious one to me, and I hope it will be more so to you after these couple of days.

So let me read the first four verses of Psalm 27, and then we’ll focus on verse 4: “The Lord is my light and my salvation . . .” Now, just a reminder that this psalm is written by David, so we’re going to see that he’s in a very difficult place. But his starting place in this psalm, in the midst of difficulty and terror, is the Lord.

The Lord is my light in my darkness. He is my salvation and my rescue when enemies are after me like crazy!

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold [the refuge] of my life [my hiding place, my safe place]; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall.Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident (vv. 2–4).

Here’s a man who is in the middle of terrifying circumstances, but he’s not afraid; he’s confident. Then he tells us the mindset, the paradigm, the direction of his life, in verse 4, that I think explains why that could be the case.

He says in verse 4: “One thing [one thing!] have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after . . .” There were a lot of things he could have asked for, a lot of things he could be seeking for, a lot of needs he could have said he had. But he said, “One thing . . . If I have to boil it all down to one thing that I would ask of the Lord, that I would seek after, it would be this: “. . . that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.”

As we said yesterday, that doesn’t sound like a very practical strategy for dealing with all this opposition. But there is no better strategy, there is no more effective strategy, for dealing with whatever is in your life—whether it’s enemies or children or workplace challenges or health issues or financial issues.

Dwelling in the house of the Lord, living in His presence every day of your life, will give you the perspective and the position that you need to deal with whatever is going on all around you!

David goes on to say in this verse that he has two motivations or two reasons for wanting to dwell in the house of the Lord. The first is, “to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord.” The second is, “to inquire [or to meditate] in his temple.”

So he says, “I want to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. I want to look upon the beauty of the Lord, and I want to learn from Him. I want to inquire, meditate in His temple.” So let’s take those two motivations, those two reasons, and just meditate on them a little bit over these next moments.

He says, “I want to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord. (I want to look upon the beauty of the Lord.)” That word, “to gaze” means, “to behold; to contemplate with pleasure; to have a vision of.” He says, “I want to be enthralled with a vision of God—not a vision of my enemies, but a vision of God. I want to be in proximity to Him. I want to be close enough to Him that I can get up close and see the beauty and the wonder of Who He is. I want to enjoy His beauty!”

Now, again, he said in the first three verses all this awful stuff is going on around him. Why is he concerned at this moment about looking at the beauty of the Lord?

Because when you “turn your eyes upon Jesus, you look full in His wonderful face, all the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace” (lyrics by Helen H. Lemmel).

Here’s the problem: we spend so much time looking at our problems, looking at our circumstances, looking at our challenges, that they become humongous in our eyes. Then they eclipse our view of God, and God seems to be very tiny . . . if there at all!

And he’s saying, “I’m going to switch that around. Instead of gazing on my enemies, gazing on my problems, gazing on the challenges, I’m going to gaze on the Lord! I’m going to turn my eyes upon Jesus; I want to look full in His wonderful face. I’m going to contemplate with delight, with pleasure, His beauty.”

When you get a big vision of God, then all those other things of earth . . . It’s not that they aren’t there, it’s not that they’re not real, but they get put in perspective!

I love that quote of (and here I’m wandering off my notes, so I hope I can remember this quote) by G. Campbell Morgan who was a Bible teacher of the last century. He said,

The supreme need in every hour of difficulty and distress is for a fresh vision of God. Seeing Him, all else takes on proper perspective and proportion.

That’s what David’s talking about here. “I want to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord!” And so, David says, “I want to see the beauty of the Lord.”

Now, we know that God is righteous. He is holy. He is just. He’s powerful. He’s sovereign. He’s true. He’s almighty. But I want to remind you that He is also beautiful. Beautiful! He is lovely; He is desirable; He is good! So when you gaze upon Him, this is not a stern God who is ready to pounce on you if you don’t measure up.

This is a vision of God that some of you have. I don’t know where you got it, but I think you’ve got to change it! You’ve got to go to God’s Word to get your vision of who God is, instead of some other men you may have known—who maybe weren’t good men—or some way you were taught. Get a vision of God that is not only righteous and holy. All of that is beautiful, but He is beautiful! He is lovely! He is desirable!

Now, as I was meditating on the beauty of Christ, another passage came to mind from the prophet Isaiah where he says of the Messiah, in Isaiah chapter 53:2 (this will be familiar to you), speaking of the Messiah:

He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him . . . as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not (vv. 2–3).

So, how do those two passages align? We’re supposed to gaze upon His beauty, but Isaiah says, “He had no beauty; men hid their faces from Him.” Well, Isaiah is speaking of the incarnate Christ—God in the flesh—who laid aside His glory, His majesty, and His beauty and took on the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men—the incarnation.

As a man, Jesus took on the commonness and the limitations of our humanity. There was nothing, humanly speaking, extraordinary about Him. And, in fact, in His crucifixion and in His death the Scripture tells us that sinful men marred His physical appearance so He was not even recognizable.

It was hard to look on Him. This is a picture of the crucifixion, the death of the Messiah. Men hid their faces from Him.

But in His resurrected, ascended humanity at the right hand of the Father where He sits today and makes intercession for us as our Advocate, He is glorious; He is radiant; He is beautiful!

He still has His human body. He hasn’t discarded that. And one day we will have a glorious body like His, Philippians tells us. But He is glorious and beautiful! Psalm 96:6 says, “Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.”

I’ve experienced great joy in our part of the country of seeing the wonders of natural creation. We’re blessed to live in just a beautiful part of the country (at least some of the year!). I love Lake Michigan. Robert and I love sunsets. He likes sunrises more than I do; I like sunsets more than he does. (laughter)

We “ooh and aah” over these. I pull out my camera every night around this time, and I’ve got like thousands of these pictures probably, and each time we “ooh and we aah.” We say, “Isn’t that magnificent!” It never gets old! We love the wildflowers; we love the golden hour, when that late afternoon sun is glistening on the lake or the river where we live and the breeze is blowing in the trees.

All these things are beautiful, and they inspire wonder in our hearts! But they all point to the beauty of our Savior. The truest, deepest wonder is found in Him in that incomparable beauty that is revealed to eyes of faith in His Word and by His Spirit.

We can’t see Him physically, but with eyes of faith, we do behold the King in His beauty and we look forward to that day when will we see Him as He is. And, in fact, this vision of Christ is a transforming vision.

They say that you become like the people that you spend time around. You see some of these couples who’ve been married forty, fifty, sixty years, and they really do start to look alike, don’t you think, in many cases? (Some of you are a little scared about that!)

But this is a transforming vision; it’s transfiguring. In gazing upon His beauty, in spending time living in His presence and gazing upon His beauty, we are—slowly but surely—transformed into His likeness. We become like whatever we fix our attention upon.

I find that I’m often far too occupied with my own appearance or image or beauty or with other things that I consider attractive or desirable. And by gazing upon those things or even upon negative things. Iif I fix my focus on things that are negative, that don’t meet the qualifications of Philippians 4:8 (they’re not pure and holy and good and true), if I fix my attention on those things, I’m going to become more like those things.

If I want to become more like Jesus, I’ve got to gaze upon His beauty and be consumed with the vision of His loveliness. David said, “I want to gaze on the beauty of the Lord, fix my attention on it.” It’s Colossians 3: fix your sight, your attention on things that are above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God (see v. 1).

To gaze means to steadfastly look at it. This is not a passing glance at Jesus, like when I just run through the spiritual drive-through on my way out to do my day—where I quick grab a proverb or grab a psalm. Listen, you’re not going to become like Jesus doing it that way . . . and I’ve done it that way way too many days!

If you want to become like Jesus, you gaze upon His beauty. I’ve been gazing upon His beauty in this psalm, the Lord who is my light, my salvation, my stronghold, my beautiful Savior, the Lord of all Creation! As we gaze upon Him, as we meditate on who He is, as we fix our attention on Him . . . that is a transforming vision!

What does 2 Corinthians 3:18 say?

We all, with unveiled face, beholding [gazing upon] the glory of the Lord [what happens?], [we] are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.

That says it’s a process; it doesn’t happen overnight. I would like for this Christ-likeness thing to have happened, you know, back at age four when I came to know Jesus!

I look at myself sometimes and I think, Oh, Lord. How do You put up with this? This stuff in my heart, it’s so ugly, it’s so not like Jesus! What do you do? You keep looking at Jesus, you keep fixing your gaze upon Him—not navel-gazing, not fixing your eyes on yourself.

Who was the author of many generations ago who said, “For every look you take at yourself and your sin, take ten looks at Christ, Your Savior.” You gaze upon Him and then He’ll show us what we need to see. In His light we see light. He will show us what He needs to change. We repent, we confess, we surrender. We are being transformed, little by little, into the same image—from glory to glory!

First John 3, verse 2, says it a little differently but same idea:

We know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

Just think about that! I mean, we’re sitting here today. We all like each other—we’re all behaving in here. But all of us have really cruddy places in our hearts and cruddy ways we talk and things we say that are not appropriate and attitudes and values that stink—when we get out of this room, right?

We talk about being true women of God, but the fact is so much of the time we really are not acting or thinking or feeling or displaying attitudes of a true woman of God. So how do you get to be that way?

You look on the true Son of God, the true man, the only true man. You gaze on His beauty, and one day when we see Him face to face, the process will be complete, and we will be like Jesus! Does that give you hope? Does that give you a vision? Does that give you a purpose for gazing upon, taking time in the presence of the Lord?

Well, David goes on to say in Psalm 27:4: “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life [to live there], to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord [to look upon Him, and then one more thing] to inquire [or to meditate] in his temple.” To learn from him, to search, to seek diligently.

David didn’t just want to contemplate the beauty of the Lord, he wanted to learn more of His character and His ways. He wanted to seek wisdom and direction from the Lord. He prays this often in the Psalms. Just a couple of psalms earlier, Psalm 25, verses 4–5, he says,

Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

And again and again through Scripture you see David inquiring of the Lord before He moves forward, before he takes action. There are so many things about which we need to be inquiring of the Lord. He invites us to bring to Him the perplexities, the challenges, the dilemmas that are facing us! Bring Him our unanswered questions, our need for direction, that child for whom no textbook was ever written or, “How do I rear this child!? I can’t do this!”

When inquiring of the Lord, you live in His presence. You look on His beauty, and then you inquire in His temple asking Him for wisdom for difficult places we’re going through, for difficult relationships.

He is the source of all wisdom. The Lord Jesus is the wisdom of God, and He’s a Good Shepherd, and He knows how to lead His people in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

There are a lot of places we often turn for light and direction, right? Friends (text a friend, call a friend, dial a friend), books, podcasts, pop culture, our own experience, our own opinions. But to whatever extent these sources are not rooted and grounded in Christ, they will all prove to be faulty guides sooner or later,

So come into His presence, dwell in Him, seek His face and His will; make this a way of life. This is what David said. And remember, this is not an easy season of David’s life; he’s not just pulling away to the cloister of the temple. He is living real life with real enemies and with real battles and real circumstances. In the midst of that he says, “This is the life, the lifestyle, I want to have!”

What are you inquiring of the Lord about? I know I’m praying and needing and seeking Him for wisdom and grace in some specific relationships, for direction for various challenges and issues in our ministry . . . inquiring of the Lord. But how often do I run to somebody else first instead of inquiring of Him?

David kept this one thing before him at all times. He was purposed. He determined not to be too busy, too distracted or too overwhelmed to live in God’s presence, to look on His beauty, and to learn from Him.

When he was surrounded by adversaries, opposition, obstacles, challenges, he knew that whatever he needed in that moment, and in every moment for all of eternity, would be found in the presence of God.

Now, you might wonder: how did it all turn out for David? Like, while he’s out there seeking the Lord, do the enemies just come in and run him over? Because we think, Look, if I don’t look out for myself, if I don’t fight these battles, I’m going to lose!

Well, you read through this psalm and you find in the first three verses that’s there’s a freedom from fear that David had even in the midst of terrifying circumstances. In verse 5 you see that he finds protection in the day of trouble. He finds in the Lord safety and security. It wasn’t promising that there would not be any trouble, but that he would have security and safety even in the midst of trouble.

You find at the beginning of verse 6 that there was victory over his enemies. In the second part of verse 6, that there was thanksgiving and joy: “I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the Lord.” This is the fruit, the outcome, of this way of life—this “one thing” way of life.

Verse 13, you see that he gets faith and hope and courage. Let me read the last two verses of this psalm: “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!” Here’s David who’s besieged by his enemies! But he has hope for the future!

He says, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (v. 14). Now, David didn’t ask for any of these outcomes (freedom from fear, protection, victory, thanksgiving, joy, faith, hope, courage), he just asked for more of God.

But when he got more of God, he got all of this and more—not just in this life, but forever. Just a few psalms earlier he says, “And I [will] dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Ps. 23:6). Forever! You see, choosing that lifestyle now of dwelling in the house of the Lord is what we’re going to spend an eternity doing—gazing upon His beauty, learning the wonder, the never-ending wonder, the never-ending discoveries we will make for all of eternity of His beauty and His wisdom and His grace! And for all of eternity this is what we will be doing in the house of the Lord!

So David is saying, and my prayer for you as well is, “Let’s do that now.” Let’s start that journey now: living in the house of the Lord! This one thing I will seek after. I came across a song that reflects on Psalm 27, on this passage we’ve been looking at the last couple of days. It’s a little different style of music than perhaps what you’re accustomed to, but I want to encourage you, as you listen to it for these next couple of minutes, to just let it wash over you and let the Lord encourage you to make this one thing that David chose the one thing that you choose as well.

One thing I ask
To dwell in the house of the Lord
All my days.
To gaze on His goodness and walk in His ways.
He will shelter me
He will be my strength
In the triumph that He brings me
I can hold my head high
In His house I shall lift up my voice.
I will sing . . . I will praise the Lord.

One thing I ask
To dwell in the house of the Lord
All my days.
To gaze on His goodness and walk in His ways.
Amen. 1

Leslie: Today on Revive Our Hearts, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been encouraging us to seek one thing only: to seek the Lord Himself! She wanted to play you that song, and to find out more about it, take a look at today’s transcript at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Revive Our Hearts is all about pointing you to that one thing, to connect you with the Lord through His Word each day. We do that through this radio program. Do you know we’re also doing that through a series of blogs? Erin Davis heads up the team writing those blogs.

Erin Davis: So I like to think of the blogs as three sisters. The “big sister” is the Leader Connection blog. Leslie Bennett runs that and it is for women’s ministry leaders. We want to be a steady drip of both encouragement and equipping lots of great writers on that blog.

The “middle sister” is TrueWoman.com. That is sort of the “every woman” hub. We’re trying to teach you discernment on that blog; we’re trying to give you some tools to build your muscles of discernment. You might read on that blog a post about sexuality. You might read on that blog a post about parenthood. You might read on that blog a post about loneliness.

There are a number of topics there that we’re talking about. We’re talking about biblical womanhood, but I hope we’re giving it some practical application.

And then the “little sister”—my favorite, because I ran that blog for ten years—is LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. It’s hard to say, but it was born out of the book Lies Young Women Believe . . . but it has evolved so far past that.

We have a readership of girls that are coming there weekly; they think of us as their big sisters. We want them to think of us as their big sisters, and we want to just have conversations about what’s going on in their lives.

We want there to be continuity between those blogs. I hope that a mama is reading the True Woman blog and her daughter is reading the Lies Young Women Believe blog and the woman who’s leading the women’s ministry at their church is reading the leadership blog. I hope they’ll see continuity of messaging and heart.

All of those are a conversation. Blogs work kind of like an organism: we’re constantly evaluating our content, we’re hearing from readers about what they want us to write about, we’re filtering that through our grid as a team . . . and we’re trying to tackle both cultural issues and heart issues in real time!

Nancy: What an amazing time we live in, when writers like Erin and the team at Revive Our Hearts can share biblical truth all around the world through these blogs! We’re able to take this opportunity and share the truth with women in different seasons of life thanks to Revive Our Hearts listeners like you who see the value of that kind of ministry.

When you support Revive Our Hearts, you’re helping to keep this program coming to you each weekday . . . and you’re making sure those blogs continue. You’re helping spread biblical truth through videos, books, leadership training, and . . . I could go on and on!

The month of May is when we evaluate plans for the year ahead, and we start our new financial cycle. We call it our fiscal year-end. In order for all those outreaches to keep moving forward—and to take some new opportunities that God is giving us—we’re asking Him to provide at least $775,000 here in the month of May.

Would you be praying with us that He will meet this important need? Perhaps you can be part of the answer to that prayer. When you make a gift of any size this month, we want to say thank you for your part in this ministry by sending you a brand-new resource we’ve created simply called Refresh.

This Refresh kit looks . . . well, it looks refreshing! It’s got a spring theme. When you open it, you’ll be encouraged to experience refreshment in the Lord each day for thirty days. There are several devotionals on experiencing personal revival, and there’s a set of cards that has Scriptures to reflect on and heart-searching questions on personal revival.

There’s a place to write your thoughts so you can process the ways that you need refreshment and the insights that you’re getting from God’s Word. We’d love to send you this Refresh kit when you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts.

And, if you’ve never given to this ministry before, you can help in a unique way. A friend of Revive Our Hearts has offered a matching challenge to anyone who makes a gift this month who has never given before. So your first-time gift will be doubled up to the challenge amount of $75,000.

It’s easy to make your donation at ReviveOurHearts.com, or you can call us at 1–800–569–5959.

Now on a little different note, does it seem like most of the news you hear about the country of Russia is bad news? Well, that’s going to change tomorrow as we hear from several young women from the former Soviet Union who now have a passion to reach Russian-speakers with the truth of God’s Word! Be sure and be back with us tomorrow.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to keep pointing you to Jesus. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

1 Hangad. Hangad. "One Thing I Ask." Jesuit Communications Foundation, Inc. Product link.

 

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

Join the Discussion