Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Dannah Gresh: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth says these difficult days could be our greatest opportunity!

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: What might God be calling the church to be or to do in our season of distress? We’re experiencing not only a physical pandemic, but a pandemic of evil that is engulfing our culture! We can be angry, or we can realize that this season could be our greatest hour for the glory of God and the spread of the gospel!

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, coauthor of You Can Trust God to Write Your Story, for December 31, 2020. I’m Dannah Gresh.

How did you respond the last time you found yourself in a proverbial “storm” of life? Are you the kind of woman who is quick to scream for help or even cry out for pity? Today, Nancy is going to remind us that as believers, we have other options—even some that might seem unusual or unnatural. Here’s Nancy.

Nancy: You may be familiar with the name John Wesley. He was the founder of Methodism. He was an eighteenth-century evangelist who was greatly used by God in a revival movement in England.

A significant influence in Wesley’s conversion was the example he saw in a group of Moravian missionaries that he encountered in 1736 on a ship that was bound for America. As Wesley watched these Moravians, he was impressed by their kindness and their humility. He called them, “the Germans.”

When the Germans were mistreated, they never lashed out or retaliated, and he took note of all of this. But the really key point came one Sunday when the ship got caught in a fierce, life-threatening storm. 

Wesley made his way to the Lord’s Day service that the Moravians were holding in the ship that morning. He was curious to see whether they would be scared to death, like everyone else was. And what he saw was so striking to him that he recorded these thoughts in his journal:

In the midst of the psalm wherewith their service began, the sea broke over, split the mainsail in pieces, covered the ship and poured in-between the decks as if the great deep had already swallowed us up!

And then he said (and I’ve got this in bold in my notes), 

A terrible screaming began among the English! The Germans [the Moravians] calmly sung on. 

They just kept singing—when the waves of this storm came and inundated their ship!

So, in the midst of this terrible crisis, you have most of the people who are frantically screaming (which is totally understandable, I think), but then you had a few, those who knew and trusted the Lord who is the Lord over the storms. And what were they doing? They were calmly singing!

It reminds me of Paul and Silas thrown into a prison in the city of Philippi. When an earthquake comes, what are they doing? They are singing hymns! So the Moravians had a good example in the apostle Paul!

Well, this whole thing in that service there on that capsizing ship made a huge impression on Wesley. As I read that story, I thought, You know, the way that we as believers respond under pressure is observed by nonbelievers around us.

And all the storms and distresses of this year that we’re just ending today, they’ve revealed a lot about what we really believe. I mean, look at social media. You’ve got a lot of people who are howling in fear; they’re terrified! And you’ve got a small number who are calmly singing. Which has it been for you?

Are you in the screaming-with-terror category, or are you in the calmly-singing category? Yesterday we talked about how I posted on Facebook . . . I was just curious to know because I’ve seen some people who have experienced just amazing, inexplicable peace and calm and even joy in the midst of this tumultuous year.

So I put on Facebook, “If you’ve experienced peace and joy through much of this year, could you just tell me how? To what do you attribute that? How would you explain that?” And I read to you some of the comments that people posted. We talked yesterday about several of those categories.

People said it’s an “attitude of gratitude” that had been a key to their peace and joy. Others said that it had to do with getting into the Word, keeping their hearts anchored in Scripture. People talked about prayer, lifting up their prayers to the Lord. Philippians 4:6–7 tells us that if you pray in the midst of these circumstances you will have the peace of God. 

And then we talked about the grace of God—God’s grace that carries and sustains us when we cannot carry or sustain ourselves. We’re going to look at two more categories of responses today that people said in their comments to that Facebook question.

The fifth category was being intentional regarding what you’re thinking about and what you’re focusing on—not just letting your mind or your thoughts or your emotions go rogue, but being intentional. 

Paul talks about it in 2 Corinthians 10:5 as taking every thought captive to Christ. So they talked about keeping their eyes fixed on Jesus and on the character of God.

Let me read you a few examples of those comments. One woman said, 

The absence of any television signal in our home is a huge blessing. Our news intake is very limited, and we curate what news we do read online. No TV leaves more time for the Word, prayer and good books.

This focus [there’s that word!] encourages us with the big picture of God’s kingdom and the understanding that many saints have lived in uncertain times to the glory of God. Christ will never leave us, and in Him we will persevere in joy!

Here’s a shorter one that said something similar; this woman said, 

Turning off the TV and remembering that the Lord is in control, no matter what, has been the source of our peace and our joy this year. 

Another woman said, 

Focusing on the character of God is so encouraging! [And she just picked one aspect.] He is the Prince of Peace. 

And then she quoted Isaiah 26:3, where God says He will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are fixed on Him. That’s a promise of God’s Word.

Here’s a woman who was in the Word. She found out the character of God; she found out that He’s the God who gives peace when we keep our minds fixed on Him—and that gave her peace this year!

Here’s another one I loved. This woman said, “I get down; I get sad . . .” And if that’s not true of you, you probably haven’t been alive for the past year! There have been times for all of us when we’ve been down and sad. ”But then,” she said, “I get 20/20 vision!” You say, “What’s that? 20/20 vision? How does that help you not be down and sad?”

She went to John 20:20 (I’ve never heard this before!) which says that (this is after the crucifixion and the resurrection): the disciples saw the Lord and were overjoyed. That’s 20/20 vision! You need that vision in 2020, but 2020 is almost over; you’re going to need 20/20 vision in 2021! John 2020: the disciples saw the Lord.

Their lives were sad; they were down, until they saw the Lord, and then they were overjoyed! So, what are you focusing on? What are your eyes fixed on? What are your emotions fixed on? Is it the character of God, or is it the rough-and-tumble of the storm around you?

And then, here’s a sixth comment of the categories we got on that Facebook post, and that is, allowing God to change us through the storm and through the trials. Let me read you a couple great examples of that. 

Here’s one from a single woman who lives in Mexico; she has had no stable job since February. She said, 

God has strengthened me tremendously this year. There was no shortage of bread on the table. God is transforming me greatly! 

She said God has been “strengthening me and God has been changing me.” 

Let me read you a couple examples of how that has happened in people’s lives. One woman said, 

I’ve had peace during this year because the ugly of COVID revealed the ugly in me, and God has been gracious to walk with me to a change in perspective! 

I kind of had an “ouch!” when I read that: “The ugly of COVID has revealed the ugly in me.” This woman said, 

Before COVID, I was constantly obsessed with getting ahead. It was like my thought life was stuck in a rut of payoff/debt, make more money, and buy a bigger house!

My husband is an airline pilot and was promoted to captain in March. We’ve always struggled financially and thought that with this promotion we wouldn’t have to struggle anymore, and we could finally start making progress. COVID shut down the world the very week he was promoted! He held his promotion until the end of The Cares Act, and now we’re back to a first officer’s salary, with a forty-percent pay cut.

Initially I was angry with how this was affecting our dream, rather than being concerned for others who would contract that virus. But God is patient! He has reclaimed my heart and my focus! We may never get ahead, and honestly, that’s okay. The Lord has become more lovely to us! So far, He has continually provided, despite the pay cut. God can indeed provide a table in the wilderness! (see Psalm 78:19; 23:5) 

So here’s a woman who said, “God used COVID—the storm—to change me!”

Here’s one other comment that illustrates this beautifully. This woman said that 2019 was a difficult year: 

I spent all of that year being a caregiver for my mother-in-law, who had Alzheimer’s. She went to be with the Lord in October of ’19. I declared that 2020 was going to be "the year of Butch and Dorie!" 

(Butch is this woman’s husband of twenty-eight years.) She was so looking forward to having a year that she and her husband could just enjoy together, now that they weren’t responsible for the care of her mother-in-law. She said, 

I could look back on this year and be resentful that our plans didn’t pan out like we thought, but God knew I needed to slow down, breathe, take care of myself physically, mentally and spiritually. He knew that without having to be still, I wouldn’t—and more than likely I would have wrapped up 2020 in the same way as I do every other year: frazzled, hurried, and spiritually dry. So I’ve cherished this year. There’s a lot of chaos around us, no doubt, but I rest in what His Word has promised. Troubles may come, but He has overcome it all! He is with me, and in Him is rest, peace, comfort, and fullness of joy.

Wow . . . 2020! . . . to talk about rest and peace and comfort and fullness of joy?! It reminds me of a couple of verses in the Old Testament that have been kind of bulwarks for my own faith and things for me to aspire to. 

Proverbs 31. (You know Proverbs 31, the virtuous woman?) The two verses in that proverb that I think are especially timely: verse 21 says, 

She is not afraid for her household when it snows, for all in her household are doubly clothed (CSB).

She’s made preparation for the storms. She’s planned ahead, and she has planned ahead spiritually for the protection of her family and for their provision, so she’s not afraid. But then verse 25 says, 

Strength and honor are her clothing. 

Another translation says, “Strength and dignity are her clothing” (ESV). 

This is not a woman who is cowering in fear. She’s not just pathetically wasting away, pining and moaning. Here’s a woman who has strength and dignity. Scripture says she can, “laugh at the time to come.” Another translation says, “She smiles at the future” (NASB). 

Look, if you’d been at the end of 2019 and you knew what 2020 was going to hold, would you be smiling at the future? Would you be laughing at the time to come? Well, look ahead to 2021; we don’t know what’s going to be in that. Can you smile as you think about the future, whatever it may be?

Here’s a woman who has freedom from fear. She’s clothed in dignity and strength, she smiles at the future. So my question is, How can we do that when there is so little to smile about in our world today?

We’ve just celebrated the first Advent of Jesus, His first coming to this earth—Christmas. A lot of us were especially looking forward to celebrating Christmas this year because of everything that’s wrong in this world!

My friend Dannah Gresh has told me that she put up her Christmas lights in September! I’ve heard of other people who have done that as well. They were just like, “We’re ready to be done with 2020. We want to get to Christmas!” There’s joy connected with the first Advent of Christ. His coming to earth is a cause for great joy!

But I’ll tell you something that is even better, and that is the hope of His return—the hope of His second coming to earth, when He will make right all that is wrong in this world. That is a cause for great joy! 

That is our hope. That’s why we can laugh, why we can smile as we think about the future. But what about in the meantime, while we’re still living down here where there is still so much that is so wrong? 

Let me take you to one other verse, Psalm 94:19. I love this verse, and I love it so much I want to read it to you in four different translations, because I just want you to soak in what it says!

Here’s what the ESV reads: “When the cares of my heart are many [can anybody relate to that this year, many cares weighing down your heart?], your consolations cheer my soul.”

The NASB says it this way: “When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your comfort delights my soul.”

Or the CSB: “When I am filled with cares, your comfort brings me joy.” 

And then the NKJV: “In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.” 

Notice the psalmist was acknowledging that there are worries, there are cares, there are anxieties, there are things that weigh us down and trouble us. He’s not pretending like those things don’t exist.

How could you look back at 2020 and pretend like those things don’t exist? And I want to tell you what, they didn’t just exist this past year, they’re going to exist in the year to come. You may be listening, and you don’t know it yet, but 2021 is going to be a lot harder for you, perhaps, than even 2020 was. 

You say, “No way! I couldn’t bear that!” Here’s what the psalmist says: “When I’m filled with cares, your comfort brings me joy.” He’s saying you can have joy in the midst of the hard times and the hard places.

Now, at the beginning of this program today, we talked about how our response to storms as Christians impacts the world around us—even as John Wesley saw those Moravians who were calmly singing instead of being panicked and screaming on that stormy ship.

During the early days of Christianity, there were three plagues that broke out in the Roman Empire. And in each case, as we look back, the church experienced significant growth, both in numbers and in spiritual vitality. Now in general during those plagues, the non-Christians did everything they could to escape contact with those who were sick: “Let me out of here!”

But the Christians reached out to minister to the sick. They got sick and died themselves many times. But this had a huge impact as people saw the reality of God’s love being lived out. Large numbers of those nonbelievers came to put their faith in Christ.

One of those plagues took place around 250 A.D. At one point during that plague there were five-thousand people a day who were dying! Cyprian was a bishop in North Africa, and he described this horrific situation in detail. It’s gruesome; it’s heartbreaking to read, but he also viewed this tragedy as an opportunity for the people of God, a chance for them to demonstrate the beauty of Christ and the supernatural power of the gospel. In fact, listen to what he said in one of his sermons: 

What a grandeur of spirit it is to struggle with all the powers of an unshaken mind against so many onsets of devastation and death! . . . What sublimity! [How sublime it is!] to stand erect amid the desolation of the human race and not to lie prostrate with those who have no hope in God, but rather to rejoice and to embrace the benefit of the occasion!” [an opportunity for the gospel]

Dionysius was a church leader in Alexandria during the time of this plague in about 250. During his tenure the church in his area had endured intense persecution. But just as that was dying down, there was a severe epidemic that broke out in his city. And it came at a time when the believers were planning for an annual church festival that we, today, would call Easter.

In the midst of that plague, at the onset of that festival, Dionysius wrote a letter. He said, 

Other people would not think this a time for festival . . . [but] far from being a time of distress, it is a time of unimaginable joy.

Now, alas, all is lamentation, everyone in mourning, and the city resounds with weeping because of the numbers that have died and are dying every day . . . Many terrible things had happened to us even before this. First we were set on and surrounded by persecutors and murderers, yet we were the only ones to keep festival even then.

Every spot where we were attacked became for us a place for celebrations, whether field, desert, ship, inn, or prison . . . so yet again we found joy in the peace which Christ has given to us alone. [Is that amazing?!] In the midst of the plague, in the midst of the persecution we found peace and joy that Christ gave to us.

Far from being a time of distress for us, this time of distress in the world was a time of unimaginable joy! 

What an amazing, powerful gospel witness this was in the third century world! 

And so my question is, what might God be calling the Church to be or to do in our season of distress?

Here in the United States and around the world, we’re experiencing not only a physical pandemic, but a pandemic of evil that is engulfing our culture—and that is the far worse pandemic! We can be angry; we can live in despair and fear. We can scream at all the people who don’t agree with us. We can throw in the towel. Or we can realize that this season could be our greatest hour for the glory of God and the spread of the gospel!

Oh, Lord, may it be so, that in our day You would make Yourself known through the people of God, who are experiencing through Christ—and through Christ alone—unexplainable, unimaginable joy and peace! May this be our day of opportunity for gospel witness! I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Dannah: Amen! Wow. We’re listening to Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, who has been encouraging us to be witnesses for Christ by experiencing His joy, even in the middle of this unusual year. She’ll be back in a moment.

Here’s the reality: during the course of our lifetime, this could be our greatest moment to glorify God. If you’re encouraged by what you’re hearing today, I want to give you one last opportunity to join us in the remaining hours of 2020 to equip women all over the world to walk lives that reflect God’s glory.

We have just a few hours left to take advantage of a matching challenge of just over one million dollars. Will you help us? Every gift made by midnight will be doubled! But hurry! We have to hear from you before midnight. Your gift at this time means so much to us. Visit ReviveOurHearts.com to make that gift, or give us a call at 1–800–569–5959.

Now, if you’re listening to the podcast early in the day, you may be able to get to the post office and have something postmarked today, December 31. Send your tax deductible gift to Revive Our Hearts at P. O. Box 2000; Niles, MI 49120.

I don’t know about you, but I want to get back to Nancy to hear her final words of encouragement for 2020. 

Nancy: Thank you, Dannah, and a huge thank you to each person who has participated in the matching challenge so far this month! We’re so grateful, and eager to see what the Lord is going to do, even in these final hours of the year. 

Now, before I leave you today, I’ve got to share with you a story that I heard yesterday. When I heard it, I said our listeners need to hear this as well. It’s a story about a woman who is a member of the underground Church in Iran. A woman started receiving, through a roundabout way, the Revive Our Hearts podcasts that have been translated into Farsi. 

Some of you have given to support the Farsi ministry that we’re doing with women in the Persian world. This woman wrote to a friend in Europe, who wrote to a woman in California, to share how God used these Farsi programs in her life! 

The voice you’ll hear is of the woman in California reading the message we got from the woman in Iran (of course, reading it in English), the woman who has been impacted by these Revive Our Hearts Farsi broadcasts.

Thank you, thank you so much for sharing these podcasts! Last year, the financial problems and economic crisis pushed me to leave the city and live in a far village. And then, COVID-19 hits. On top of a jobless situation, I also contracted the virus.

While being distressed, lonely, and so sick, I received these podcasts. I am separated from all believers in the Father’s House. [By “Father’s House,” she meant the underground Church she used to attend.] In the last ten days, I was feeling lonely, afraid, sick, hopeless, angry, and bitter, to the point that I just wanted to stop my medication and die!

But suddenly, in the midst of this situation, I received these podcasts. Oh, my! Listening to the first one, I could clearly hear Jesus’ voice inside of me telling me, “Fret not! Fret not!” I could feel His presence so vividly!

Then I started listening to the second podcast and then the third one. Oh, my! It was as if the lady who was speaking was describing my life! Through her voice, Jesus was giving me wisdom and solutions. I realized that He was loving me, inviting me to trust Him, to delight in Him, and to wait upon Him only! I re-surrendered and rededicated my life to Him. 

Now, I know that I should not fret, no matter what, and I should boldly look up and courageously look ahead! Thank you, thank you so much, my friend! These podcasts prove to me that Jesus is here with me and, even if I die, He will receive me gladly! Thank you so much for blessing me with these podcasts.

Nancy: Wow, incredible! As I’ve listened to that audio clip several times in the last twenty-four hours, two things have struck me. First of all, I’m just so grateful for the way the Lord has used the ministry of Revive Our Hearts to minister grace to this precious woman and to so many others like her around the world.

That Farsi podcast is just one of the many languages through which we’re helping women to experience hope and peace and joy in Christ . . . and that’s possible because of the generosity of friends like you who have supported this ministry, especially through this difficult year. 

I’m so, so thankful that the support has continued and we’ve been able to continue these outreaches. So, thank you for that, and thank you for your support during this month, and helping us to meet this matching challenge. Lord willing, our prayer is that we’ll meet all of it before this day is over!

Thank you for being a part, through your prayers and through your support, of what God is doing in these far-flung places of the world, including to this precious sister in Iran! 

But here’s the other observation I’d like to make. Here’s a woman who has faced isolation, threat of persecution, horrendously difficult circumstances, and still, she has found peace and joy! She says that she has purposed to, “boldly look up and courageously look ahead!” Isn’t that what we need as we end this year and go into the next, to boldly look up and to courageously look ahead?

This woman has said that she knows that she is not alone, that Jesus is with her. I want to say, whatever you’re facing at the end of this year, whatever we may face in 2021, God promises that we are not alone! Our God is with us! He’s been with us this year. He’ll be with us through this coming year, forever and ever. For those of us who are in Christ, we are never alone!

Song “We Are Not Alone”:

We are not alone; we are not alone.
God is with us.
We are not alone, for God is with us!
We, we are not alone, for God is with us now and all our days . . . always.
We are never alone!

And God will make us strong,for God is with us.
We will press on, for God is with us,
Now and through all our days, always.
Forever and ever, we are never alone.
Our God is guarding us now.1

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you find peace in times of trouble! It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

1The Royal Singers (soloist Cataline Chirtan).We Are Not Alone” (words and music by Pepper Choplin). Let All the World Rejoice ℗ 2013. Corul de camera The Royal Singers—Bucuresti Romania.   

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

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.