Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss says it’s common to find people drifting through life, lacking purpose.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: So many people who are listening to the sound of my voice right now are going to walk that way through 2012—looking back with regret, some with shame, some saying, “I wasted the year!” You don’t have to waste this year.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, January 9.

Nancy’s continuing in a series based on Psalm 119. It’s called Revive Me According to Your Word.

Nancy: Well, as we’ve been sharing over the past several days, we’re encouraging our listeners to take a Daily Bible Reading Challenge in 2012. And I was just sitting here before the session started thinking, I’ve said a couple of times I want to encourage every listener to take this challenge, and I’m sure maybe to some people that’s just not computing or they’re thinking somebody else will do that. I was just sitting here thinking, “Why would somebody not take that challenge?” I mean, are you going to sit there and think, “I don’t want to read my Bible every day in 2012”?

I think we have that desire as children of God, but sometimes we just don’t take the initiative or we’re not intentional about making that actually happen. You want to grow spiritually? Or you want to be the same place a year from now where you are today?

Now, the fact is you won’t be the same place a year from now that you are today in terms of your walk with the Lord. You’ll either have grown and have moved forward in your relationship with Him, or you will have . . . you’ll be backslidden. Spiritual life being what it is, we don’t just coast. We don’t just stay where we are.

So would you like to grow spiritually in the year ahead? Would you like to deepen your relationship with the Lord? Would you like to have more of His wisdom, more of His grace, more of His power, more of His presence in your life?

Okay, if you’re saying, “No,” then I’m saying, “Do you really know the Lord?” If you’re saying, “Yes,” then I’m saying, “Please, set your heart to take this Daily Bible Reading Challenge.”

Now, if you take that challenge, it is simply this: "By God’s grace, I’m purposing to read my Bible every day in 2012." I’m not saying how much or how long, but just that every day you’ll get some time in God’s Word. And I think, as you start doing that, that you’ll find that your appetite, your hunger grows. You want more of God’s Word, not less.

Let me take us back for our consideration to Psalm 119, which we’re looking at during the first couple of weeks of January this year.  We’re not going verse by verse through Psalm 119. We’re just looking at themes. And you may wondering how do I develop these themes? How do I decide what themes to pick out out of a passage like Psalm 119 that has 176 verses. How do you choose what to teach?

Well, here’s a little hint for your own Bible study: I’ve been reading Psalm 119 over and over and over and over again for the past several weeks. I’m encouraging you to do that during the course of this study. You’ll see things in God’s Word that I haven’t seen as the Holy Spirit tutors you.

But one of the things I noticed was that the word way—w-a-y, or ways, or paths appears many times in Psalm 119. Now, that stood out to me from multiple readings. So I asked myself, “Why does he keep talking about ways?” I came up with a list, and with Internet now, you can do this so quickly. There are lots of helps, and I just went to www.Biblegateway.com. I put in the word “way” and Psalm 119, and it listed out all the verses in Psalm 119 that had this word way or ways.

And then I started pondering them, and they fell into three categories. That’s what I want to talk about—those different uses of the word way. Because, as you consider this, this is meditating on God’s Word; it brings insights that you might not have seen just by a casual reading.

Now, in Psalm 119 we’re going to see that there are two contrasting ways, two contrasting paths that people can take, that people do take. And we’re faced with a choice. The choice we make makes all the difference.

One road, one path, one way leads to life. The other way leads to death. There is no middle path. There’s no middle way. We will either follow one path, or we will follow the other path.

Now, I want to start by looking at God’s ways which figure prominently in Psalm 119. As we look at Psalm 119, there are multiple references to God’s ways, and that’s always the best place to start—God’s way.

Starting in verse 1 of Psalm 119,

Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD! (v. 1)

Who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways. (v. 3) 

Now, this word way as it’s used in verse 1 and verse 3, it just means "a road, a path, a journey." The idea is of a well-worn path or road. It's symbolic of the course of a person’s life, the trajectory of a life, the direction of your life, the lifestyle, the way that you live. The way that you conduct yourself is your way of life. Your way of life has to do with the way that you think, the way that you conduct yourself. It’s a path.

Well, God has a way. He has a way that He conducts Himself. He has a way that He lives, that He functions, His character. His way is faithful. It never changes. He’s true to Himself forever and ever. So we start in this psalm by looking at the ways of God.

And we’ll see in this psalm that the writer of the psalm loves God’s way, and he’s determined to follow it and to embrace it. There’s no doubt as you read this psalm that he loves God’s way. Listen to these verses:

In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. (v. 14).

I will mediate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. (v. 15)

I have chosen the way of faithfulness [the way of truth as some of your translations say]. (v. 30)

I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart. (v. 32)

Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. (v. 33)

So the psalmist says, “God has a way. I love God’s way. I want to follow God’s way. I want to live my life according to God’s way.” That’s the heartbeat of this psalm.

Now, also in this psalm we see another way, and it’s referred to repeatedly as false or deceitful ways. Depending on your translations, some say false ways, some say deceitful ways. And the psalmist talks about these false ways, and you can tell (and I’ll read you a few verses here) that the psalmist hates these false ways. He’s determined to reject that course, that path, that way. He’s determined to avoid getting on to that path.

And it’s interesting that every time he talks about false or deceitful ways, those ways are always contrasted to God’s ways which are true. So these ways are polar opposites. God’s ways, which the psalmist loves, are true. These false ways, which he abhors and wants to stay away from, those ways are false or deceitful. And you see these two in multiple verses.

Verse 29, for example:

Put false ways far from me, and graciously teach me your law!

“I don’t want this false way; I want the true way."

That false way, the New International says they’re deceitful ways. That way for false ways means something that’s an untruth. It’s a sham. It’s a way of life which goes completely contrary to God’s law. So God’s way is the way of truth. The false ways are the opposite ways, the ways that are contrary to God’s truth.

Look at verse 101:

I hold back my feet from every evil way in order to keep your word.

See the two ways contrasted there? Same thing in verse 104:

Through your precepts [that’s God’s way] I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way [that’s the opposite way].

Verse 128—same thing here:

I consider all your precepts to be right. [God’s way, he says, is right.] I hate every false way.

You see these two different ways? One is true; one is false. So we have God’s way which is the way of truth, the way the psalmist wants to follow, and we have the false, deceitful ways which the psalmist hates and is determined to avoid.

Now earlier I said that the word way, when you trace it through Psalm 119 is used in three different categories. I said there were two paths. What’s the third category? It speaks of God’s ways—we’ve looked at that. It speaks of false or deceitful ways—we’ve looked at that. And then there are references to “my ways.”

The question is: Are we following in His way or in the false evil ways? We will follow in one or the other. We’ll be following God’s ways, His course, His path, His trajectory; or our ways—we’ll be following the evil, deceitful ways. No middle ground. We’re following it at any given point of our lives—God’s ways or false, deceitful ways. So he talks about “my ways” and he desires that his ways would follow in God’s ways.

Verse 5, for example:

Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!

He says, “I want my way to be Your way. I want Your way to be my way.” Verse 9:

How can a man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.

It’s God’s Word that sets us into living God’s way. Verse 26:

When I told of my ways, you answered me; teach me  your statutes!“

"When I told of my ways”—that’s an interesting phrase. The New International there says, “I recounted my ways.” The New King James says, “I have declared my ways.” I think this speaks of an honest heart before God.

People around us may not know which way we’re really pursuing, but God knows, and He wants us to confess to Him the truth about our ways. Where we have been following false, deceitful ways, He wants us to be honest about that, to tell Him. That’s what confess means, to say what God knows is true about my heart. That’s confession.

So, have you recently told God of your ways? Have you been honest with God about where your ways are not following His way, where you’re following false, deceitful ways?

Think about that relational conflict that you’re in right now. Do you need to confess to God that you have become bitter in your heart toward that family member who’s wronged you or maligned you or hurt you in some way?

Are there other ways that you’re believing lies, that you’re following ways that are not true? Tell God your ways, and then ask Him to teach you His ways. Be honest with God.

That’s where so many of us are living a sham. We’re pretending. We’re going through the Christian life pretending like, “Oh, we’re just good Christians.” But inside our ways are not consistent with God’s ways. And I love that phrase the psalmist says, “I told of my ways.” It’s telling God the truth about our ways.

And then verse 59: “When I think on my ways”—maybe that’s what we need to do first, to think on our ways.

When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies.

Isn’t that a description of repentance? I think about my ways. Stop just coasting through life, living mindlessly, heedlessly, thoughtlessly, and begin to live an intentional life, thinking about your ways, telling God what your ways really are, getting honest with Him, getting honest with others, with God’s people.

And then when you think on your ways, if you see that your ways are not consistent with His ways, then turn your feet to follow His way. That’s repentance, turning around, going in the other direction.

You see, the psalmist is living an examined life. He’s not just la-dee-da-da. We just wake up, go to work, come home. So many people who are listening to the sound of my voice right now are going to walk that way through 2012. And a year from now, you’re going to be sitting one year older, one year more immersed in those lies, one year more just on your own way and looking back with regret, some with shame, some with just like, “I wasted the year!” You don’t have to waste this year.

I guess I’m kind of earnest about this because I’m really preaching it to myself. I drift in so many ways. You don’t hear that when you listen to Revive Our Hearts. You hear me at my most passionate. But you don’t live with me. I’m thinking about my ways as I’m working on this, as I’ve been studying this passage. And I’m telling God my ways. I’m asking Him to help me turn my heart and my feet toward His ways.

I want to live an intentional, examined life that says, “I’m not just going to drift this year. By God’s grace, I want to follow His ways.”

He says in verse 168:

I keep your precepts and testimonies for all my ways are before you.

The fact is, whether you think about your ways or not, whether you tell God your ways or not, He knows your ways.

  • He knows where you’re drifting. 
  • He knows where you’ve believed lies, where you bought into the lies. 
  • He knows where you’re toying with sin. 
  • He knows where you’ve given into full-fledged addiction to sin. 
  • He knows your ways. 

All my ways are before Him.

I can’t tell you how many emails we get from listeners who are church members who they or family members or friends are engaged in devious, false, deceitful ways. We got an email this week from a young woman—my heart goes out to her. She says, “I’ve had a child by this man. I’m living with him. I know we need to get married, but I can’t bring myself to do it.”

It’s a bigger circumstance than what I can tell, but she says, “Every time I start thinking about God, I know that I need to take this step, but I haven’t done it.” You see, she’s got a battle going on, but the fact is God knows her ways.

You may be in church. People may think your ways are doing great. But all your ways are before God. He knows. Think about your ways. Tell God your ways, and then turn your feet toward His way.

He says in verse 35: “Lead me in the path of your commandments.” That word path there is different than the word way, although the meaning is similar. That word path is from a root verb that means "to tread, to tread on a road." It’s a beaten down track or path. It’s not a new path. It’s been trodden down by previous travelers or pilgrims who’ve gone that way before.

It’s a reminder that we are not alone in this journey. There are other pilgrims who’ve pursued God before us. They’ve made a path. They’ve left footprints for us to walk in, and we are a part of forging a path that others will come behind and follow.

Is my life beating out a path that will encourage those who come behind me to follow God’s ways?

Jesus talked about these two ways in Matthew chapter 7 in the Sermon on the Mount. He says,

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (vv. 13-14)

Just another reminder as we’ve seen from Psalm 119 that there are only two ways. There’s God’s way, the way of truth, and there’s the way of sinners, the false, deceitful way. These two ways of life are polar opposites. They have vastly different outcomes for those who walk in them.

The way to life, remember this, is not the popular way. You’ll never find the multitudes going on the way to life. It’s not an easy way. It’s hard. Jesus said it would be hard. You have to swim upstream—to mix my metaphors there. You have to go against the flow. It’s narrow. Not many find that way because they prefer their own way, the easy way. They prefer the way of falsehood and deceit rather than having to bow to God’s truth. They don’t want to relinquish their own way. They don’t want to trust Christ.

So remember that ultimately Jesus is the way. God’s way is His way. He said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn. 14:6).

And what an important reminder that is that you will never find the path to life through your own self-effort, your own thoughts, your own best intentions. You will only find it in Christ, but that means turning from your own way, your own false, deceitful ways and embracing Christ and His way.

In fact, in the early Church, Christianity came to be known as what? The way. That term is often used in the book of Acts to refer to the system of Christianity. Remember in Acts 16, the demon possessed girl, it says she followed Paul crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God who proclaimed to you the way of salvation.”

God’s way is the way of salvation, and it will always be opposed by Satan. It’s not the easy way. It’s the way of faith in Christ, of relinquishing your own efforts and following Him.

So as you think about your ways, can you be honest? Are you walking in His way? Or are you walking in false, deceitful ways? The path that you choose will determine everything about your life—your attitudes, your values, your priorities, the way you handle money, the way you treat people, the way you use your free time, the decisions you make.

That’s why the psalmist says, “I will fix my eyes on Your ways. I have chosen the way of faithfulness.”

Oh, Father, how I pray that today You would cause many, many listeners to agree with the psalmist and say, “I will fix my eyes on Your ways.”

Perhaps you would just like to make that your prayer right now, and from your heart say, “O Lord, I will fix my eyes on Your ways. I have chosen the way of faithfulness. O Lord, I choose Christ. I choose truth. I choose You. I choose Your way.”

And if I could just encourage you that as you choose Christ and His way, you are choosing the way of life, the way of joy, the way of peace, the abundant way of life that Jesus came to give you.

Thank You, Lord, Your ways are good and true, and with all our hearts we say, “We choose Your way.” Amen.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been showing us what it would look like to live purposefully in 2012. That message is part of a series based on Psalm 119. It’s called Revive Me According to Your Word.

And Nancy, I know a lot of women are excited to live more purposefully in 2012. They’re eager to begin the challenge that you described earlier in the program. Can you remind us of that challenge?

Nancy: I’ll be glad to, Leslie. And it’s really simple: I’m asking every listener—that’s right, every listener—to make a commitment to read God’s Word every day in 2012. And I really believe that that simple commitment will be radically life- changing and transformational for anyone who will take it, starting with myself. That’s the commitment of my heart, to get God’s Word into my heart, into my mind every day this year.

Now I know how easy it is to make a commitment at the beginning of the year, but also how easy it is to forget that commitment by the time you get to, oh, February, March, or April. So to help you keep this commitment throughout the year, the team at Revive Our Hearts would like to send you an email reminder twice a month.

You can sign up for the challenge and to receive those emails at ReviveOurHearts.com. And when you’re there, you’ll find a whole lot of resources to help you keep this challenge—like Bible reading plans, depending on how fast you want to read, how much you want to read, what approach you want to take. There are lots of tracks that you can run on to help you with your Bible reading.

We’ll also send you a couple of really helpful resources when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size. The first is called “My Personal Bible Reading Journal.” Our team designed this journal to give you a place to keep track of what you read throughout the year and then to also record something about how God is speaking to you through His Word. It’s a simple journal that will track with you through a whole year of Bible reading.

And then we’ll also send you the CD, Psalms from the Heart. Our team asked me to read some of my favorite psalms aloud, and then they created a beautiful musical accompaniment. Listening to these psalms throughout the day will help you saturate your heart with God’s Word.

We’ll send you these two resources when you support Revive Our Hearts this week, and your gift will allow us to continue bringing Revive Our Hearts to you and to thousands of others each week day.

Speaking of that, let me say how grateful I am for everyone who participated in our largest matching challenge ever at the end of 2011. I am thrilled to report to you that the Lord put it on the hearts of our listeners to not only to meet that complete challenge amount, but also to exceed it. I’m so thankful for everyone who had a part in making that happen.

Your gift this month, and your continued partnership with this ministry will help us keep the current level of ministry going strong and will also prepare the ministry for what we believe is significant growth in the days ahead.

So when you provide a gift of any size, be sure to ask for “My Personal Bible Reading Journal” and the Psalms from the Heart CD. Just give us a call at 1-800-569-5959, or you can donate online at ReviveOurHearts.com, and when you visit our website, be sure and check out the Daily Bible Reading Challenge, and let us know that you’d like to take that challenge to read the Bible every day in 2012.  [For a two-week page of the journal to get you started, click here.]

Leslie: Well, Psalm 119 mentions the importance of keeping God’s Word. In fact, it mentions it twenty-nine times. Nancy says that means we need to pay attention.

Nancy: You think if God says it twenty-nine times in one chapter, that we need to keep His Word, obey His word? It makes me wonder: How many things do I know about God’s Word but I’m not doing?

Leslie: Hear more tomorrow on 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.