Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: If you want to live well, you need to live wisely. Here's Nancy. 

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Wisdom is the ability to look at all of life from God's perspective, to see life from God's point of view. And how do we gain wisdom? How do we gain the ability to look at life from God's point of view? By numbering our days!

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, December 30, 2014.

Do you notice how much of life seems like drudgery and meaninglessness? Nancy will give you biblical perspective for times you feel that way. We're in a series called "Living in Light of Eternity," a perfect topic as the new year approaches. Here's Nancy. 

Nancy: We're going to be talking about a subject that we don't hear about very often today, and it's not an easy subject to talk about. We've been looking this week at Psalm 90, a prayer of Moses, the man of God. Moses has first of all established the fact that God is eternal. He is from everlasting to everlasting.

And then in the segment we looked at yesterday, we saw that man—compared to God—is frail. His time here on earth is short. His life is like a vapor; it's like sand on the seashore that's washed away with the tide. Now, in verse 7 of chapter 90, Moses talks about why man's time is short on earth.

Let me read, beginning in verse 7; he says, "For we have been consumed by Your anger." Now, look at that word "anger," and notice how many times this thought reoccurs through these verses.

We have been consumed by Your anger, and by Your wrath we are terrified. You have set our iniquities before You; our secret sins in the light of Your countenance. For all our days have passed away in Your wrath; we finish our years like a sigh. The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason by strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. Who knows the power of Your anger? For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath (vv. 7–11).

Now, if I were to summarize that paragraph, I would do it with just a few short sentences: Life is short and sad. Isn't that the sense you get from that passage? Life is short, and it is sad. It's trouble! That raises this question . . ."why?" Well, he gives us the answer here. It's the wrath and the anger of God that cuts man's life short.

And that raises one more question: "Why is God angry?" We see that question answered in this passage also: it's the sinfulness of man. God's wrath and anger is a righteous response to the sinfulness of man, and it's that wrath-caused by our sinfulness—that results in our days being cut short.

Moses says in verse 7, "We are consumed by Your anger and by Your wrath we are terrified." There is a principle in God's Word that has always been true and always will be true: The soul that sins, it will die. Death is the result, ultimately, of sin, and sin has this terrible destructive effect—not only on our soul but even on our bodies.

Moses said we are consumed by God's anger. He saw the way that sin physically consumed the bodies, the lives of God's people. Now, Moses knew something about death. We said that this passage was probably written when he was in the wilderness with two million Jews that God was going to kill off over a forty-year period because of their sin and unbelief.

If you do the math, you'll see that that's an average of seventy funerals a day for forty years that the children of Israel experienced. They knew something about sin consuming man and about being terrified by the wrath of God. Don't you think that those Israelites were just wondering, Who's going to be next? Is it going to be me?

There were some that were old, but there were a lot of young men in their forties and fifties who were dying off, one after the other, being consumed by the wrath of God. Moses says that God is angry. "We're under His judgment because of our sin."

The words used in this passage for "anger" and "wrath" are strong words. They speak of an outburst of anger, of passion, of rage. It's an overflowing fury of God. They speak of a fierceness that's overwhelming and complete. The picture is that nothing can stand in the wake of God's righteous, burning anger.

Modern man loves to talk about the love of God and the mercy of God and the grace and the tenderness and the kindness of God. All these things are true of God, but no less true is the fact that God is a God who hates sin, and that sin evokes the righteous anger and wrath and judgment of God.

Moses says, "By your wrath we are terrified." Listen, the thought of God's wrath should terrify us. Unfortunately, we don't think enough about God's wrath enough today to be terrified, but many passages of Scripture speak of this effect of being terrified by the wrath of God.

I'm reading now in Isaiah chapter 2, beginning in verse 10, where the prophet says, "Enter into the rock and hide in the dust from the terror of the Lord and the glory of his majesty."

"The lofty looks of man," Isaiah says, "shall be humbled. . . .The haughtiness of men shall be bowed down and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. . . . For the day of the Lord of hosts shall come upon everything proud and lofty, upon everything lifted up—and it shall be brought low" (2:11, 17, 12).

The "day of the Lord" in Scripture always speaks of a terrifying day of the wrath and judgment and terror of almighty God against unrepentant sinners. We see the fulfillment of the wrath of God as we read through the middle chapters of the book of Revelation. We see how, one after the other, God dispenses His judgments, which Scripture says are "true and righteous." God's judgments are good! They are right; they are pure.

We read in Revelation 6,

The kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of his wrath has come, and who is able to stand?" (vv. 15–17).

What is it that precipitates such fierce overwhelming, destructive wrath of God? Moses tells us in verse 8 of his prayer:

You have set our iniquities before You, our secret sins [the ones we think are secret] in the light of Your countenance.

You see, ultimately, all death and affliction is the byproduct, the inevitable fruit, of the sinful fallen condition of man.

Moses says that God's countenance, His face, is like the brilliant sunlight that comes streaming into a dark place, and it immediately exposes everything that, perhaps, was hidden by the darkness. It probes into the depth of our being. Our secret sins are exposed "in the light of your countenance."

As I've been meditating on this passage in recent days, this verse has struck some appropriate degree of fear and terror into my own heart. I think about my secret sins, the ones that I know about but I would never want you or anyone else to know about. But in the light of God's countenance, His face, they're all exposed! There's nowhere to hide.

Not only the sins that I know about, that I'd like to keep secret, but the sins that are so secret that I have not even seen them in my own life. The face of God, the holiness of God, the purity of God, the glory of God exposes that sinfulness—those hidden secret things in my life. "You have set our iniquities before you . . ."

I just picture all of my sins being set up, lifted up before God, for Him to see and for Him to expose to everyone else. That's not a pleasant thought to me. It makes me want to run to Jesus for cover, for forgiveness, for grace and mercy. nd that's the only place that we can find covering.

Moses says in verse 9,

All of our days have been passed away in Your wrath; we finish our years like a sigh.

That word pictures a moan—it's just the dying breath of someone who is in their last moments here on earth. He says in verse 10,

The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength [maybe] they're eighty years, yet their only boast is labor and sorrow; for it's soon cut off and we fly away.

We think seventy or eighty years is a nice long life; ninety years or more, that seems very, very long. But in the light of God's eternity, those years are nothing. Sin is what caused the average lifespan of man to be shortened. That's why only have generally, at most, seventy or eighty or a few more years.

Moses says, "Not only is life short, but this short span of life is filled with and characterized by meaningless labor and sorrow." That word "labor" speaks of "heavy labor, toil, misery, distress, oppression, travail." It's a word that carries with it the meaning of "drudgery," that unsatisfied feeling of being on a treadmill, and you just eke out one more tenth of a mile and keep going and keep going. You're not really getting anywhere, and you're sweating, and it's hard, and it's drudgery, "same old, same old."

The song I was thinking of this morning as I was reading through this passage was, "I've been working on the railroad, all my live-long days!" Just day after day, the same routine and monotony. Listen, life apart from God is meaningless labor and sorrow; it's repetitive, it's laborious, it's nothingness. And this pictures for us the hard way of life for those who live their lives apart from God.

So Moses says,

Who knows the power of your anger? For as the fear of you, so is your wrath (v. 11).

One commentator summarized this passage with one sentence, that I think says it so well. He said, "The common denominator of people, worldwide, is a sad tale of lives blighted by sin, inescapably answerable to the sin-hating God." Not a very pretty picture, is it?

God hates sin. He hates my sin; He hates your sin, and that sin evokes His righteous wrath. Now, if we don't know Christ, that's bad news, because either you and I will bear God's wrath for our own sins—when we one day stand before Him and are cast eternally out of His presence, consumed by His wrath, perishing in an eternal hell—or the good news!

The gospel is that we can trust in Christ, who bore the full brunt and fury of God's wrath against all of our sin when He went to Calvary. So, in the midst of this laborious, sorrowful, fallen, blighted condition in which we find ourselves, there is hope, because there is grace through Christ who said, "I will take on myself all the wrath that you deserve for your sin. I will be consumed. I will bear that wrath." 

Leslie: That's the reason to live and take on a new year! Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been talking about the shortness and the frustration of life, and the hope that Jesus has provided. Nancy will be right back with part 2 of this message. It's part of a series called "Living in Light of Eternity."

This coming year, 2015, is sure to bring challenges and struggles for all of us. I appreciate the way Revive Our Hearts keeps pointing me to the truth and the hope of the gospel. When it feels like life is dry, tough, and barren, Revive Our Hearts reminds me what it means to thrive in Christ.

How about you? Do you feel the same way? Will you help make it possible for Revive Our Hearts to continue encouraging all of us in 2015? Nancy and the team here are earnestly praying that the Lord will provide what the ministry needs for the new year.

Nancy: Yes, Leslie, with just a couple of days left in 2014, we're leaning hard on the Lord, asking Him for the provision we need for this coming year. Donations from friends who are blessed by this ministry make up a majority of our operating funds.

The reality of the way this giving works is that over 40% of those donations for the entire year are given during the month of December. And get this, a good part of those donations come in the final days of the month. We've been asking the Lord to provide a total of $1.7 million during the month of December.

Donations were lower than expected in some of the earlier months this year, and we're asking the Lord to make up that deficit and to provide all that's needed here at year-end. So, would you pray for us as a ministry during these important days? And if you haven't already given to this year-end need, would you get involved and give as generous a gift as the Lord puts on your heart?

Thank you so much for helping Revive Our Hearts help women thrive in Christ in the year ahead and beyond.

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy. To make your donation, visit ReviveOurHearts.com, or call 1–800–569–5959.

Let's get to the second half of today's teaching on "Living in Light of Eternity."

Nancy: We've looked at the shortness of life. Now Moses comes, in this prayer, to make a request in light of what he has realized about the shortness and the sadness of man's life apart from God. He says in verse 12,

So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Moses is saying, "I want to make a choice to orient my life around God, to live my life in the light of eternity." And he prays that God will teach us how to count our days, how to number our days. You know, if we're going to have a heart of wisdom, we have to have a teachable heart. We have to be willing to go to the Lord and say, "Lord, teach me what I do not know."

Wisdom is not natural. It does not come by osmosis. It doesn't come just with experience. The Scripture says God gives wisdom, and if we want wisdom about life and about death and about eternity, we must ask Him for it. Wisdom has to be learned, it has to be imparted by God.

Moses is challenging us. Through Moses' prayer we are challenged to evaluate the use of our time in light of the brevity of life and the length of eternity. If God gives you and me a lifespan of seventy years (and Moses is saying that's about an average expected lifespan), a little math will tell you that is 25,550 . . . just over 25,000 days.

If God gives you eighty years, that's 29,200 days. Now that seems like a lot of days, until you start to think about how many days have already passed and how few are left. I have a brother who was given just over 8,000 days before he was taken into the presence of the Lord as the result of an automobile accident a number of years ago.

I think of my friend, Janiece Grissom, who was given fewer than 15,000 days of what we anticipate will be our allotted 25,000 days. She was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease and, as a mother in her early forties, went into the presence of the Lord. We have no guarantee of even having those seventy years.

So Moses says, "Oh God, would You teach us to number our days so that we can gain a heart of wisdom." That's the goal of numbering our days, of counting our days . . . to gain a heart of wisdom. Wisdom is the ability to look at all of life from God's perspective, to see life from God's point of view.

How do we gain wisdom? How do we gain the ability to look at life from God's point of view? By numbering our days! By thinking about our lives here on earth in the light of eternity. How are you using your life? How are you using those days that God has given to you?

You know you've had so many to this point, but we have no idea if we'll have even another one, much less another two or five or ten-thousand days. And as you think about how you're using your life, ask yourself what will be the sum of all of those days, when you stand before God in eternity?

A poll taken by a company called Priority Management, Inc. figured that in a lifetime the average American will spend six months sitting at stoplights, eight months opening junk mail, one year looking for lost objects . . . that will be a little longer in my case! . . . two years unsuccessfully returning phone calls, and five years waiting in line.

When the sum total of your life is told, is that how you want it to be summarized? Moses says, "Teach us to number our days, so we can gain a heart of wisdom." I'll tell you one thing that helps a lot with this is going to funerals or visiting a cemetery. Those are powerful reminders of the shortness of this life, giving us a perspective on this life and the next.

I remember a number of years ago attending the funeral of my mother's only sister, who died at the age of thirty-eight from a rare lung disease. I was in my late twenties at the time. My Aunt Lynn was not a well-known woman. She was a faithful wife and mom.

But I remember hearing testimony after testimony in that funeral service of how her simple, loving, faithful life had touched other lives. She'd never done anything that would be written about in any history books, but her life had written something on the books and pages of the lives of the people who were her friends.

I remember sitting in that service as a twenty-eight-year-old young woman thinking, When my life is said and done, at my funeral, are there people who would be able to say that I really cared, that I loved them, that I was a real friend? What will have been the impact of my life?

Sitting at a funeral, looking at a grave marker, will help us to think this way. What is a wasted day, what is a wasted life? Well, really, there are two ways we can waste our lives. One way is living our lives without thought for God, just neglecting the spiritual dimension of our lives, neglecting spiritual matters—that's a wasted life. That's a life that has nothing to show for itself in eternity. Some of us who are not neglecting spiritual matters live our lives in another wasteful way, and that's in resistance against God: murmuring, complaining, resenting, resisting, disobeying what we know to be the will of God.

Some of us in this room are still in the first half of our anticipated life-span here on earth. A few perhaps, not many, may have actually gone into "overtime" in the light of eternity. Regardless of where we are in that span, I ask you these questions:

  • How do you want to live the rest of the days you have left on this earth? 
  • What practical difference would it make for you to live your life (those remaining days) in light of eternity?

The Psalmist said it this way in Psalm 39

Lord, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am. Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths [a hand-breadth is four fingers, the smallest unit of common measurement in the Old Testament times].
And my age is as nothing before You; certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. Surely every man walks about like a shadow; surely they busy themselves in vain; he heaps up riches, and does not know who will gather them.

What practical difference would it make for you to live your life in the light of eternity?

Author John Grissom tells a story about one of his best college buddies who died when both the young men were about twenty-five years old. He tells about how his friend called him and asked if they could have lunch together, and he told John that he had cancer. John was stunned. He couldn't believe this; they were both young men in the prime of life.

John asked his friend, "What do you do when you realize you're about to die?"

His friend said to him, "It's real simple. You get things right with God, and you spend as much time with those you love as you can, and then you settle up with everybody else."

Then his friend said, "You know, really, you ought to live every day like you only had a few more days to live."

When my dad went to be with the Lord, over twenty years ago, my mother found in his desk drawer a little slip of paper that had this verse written on it, Psalm 90:12, and it was written out in this paraphrase: "Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us to spend them as we should." My dad was a man who lived in the light of eternity, always reminding himself and us that we had so few days.

We knew not how few days he would have, as at the age of fifty-three he had a heart attack and instantly was in the presence of the Lord. But he was a man who, I believe, had a triumphant, fruitful entrance into eternity. From the time he met the Lord in his mid-twenties, until the day he went to heaven twenty-eight years later, he set about seeking how he could live the days that he had on this earth in the light of eternity.

If you knew you had only a few days or months or years left (and if it's thirty or forty or fifty years, it's still just a few days, really), what would you do differently? Are there any phone calls you would make that you have been putting off? Is there a family member that you would get in touch with and say, "Can we get reconciled?"

Is there somebody that you've been waiting for to come and ask your forgiveness that you would take the initiative to see if you could be restored in the relationship? Is there some wrong from your past that you would be motivated to make right?

Would you hold onto that grudge? Would you whine and complain about the circumstances that you have at this moment of your life, if you knew that shortly you were going to be in eternity, and none of that would matter anyway?

Leslie: Is there someone you need to call today? Perhaps, for you, it's not a matter of reconciling with them, but simply telling them how much they mean to you. Either way, don't count on having tomorrow.

This message from Nancy Leigh DeMoss is part of a series called "Living in Light of Eternity." To hear more programs in this series, visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

On tomorrow's program, we'll listen in on the prayer of someone who knew what it was to live in light of eternity. I hope you can join us.

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

All Scripture is taken from the NKJV.

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

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