Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Pointing a Finger Inward

Leslie Basham: Isn’t it easy to look at the culture and find shocking things to complain about? Nancy Leigh DeMoss says it might be more helpful to look at the shocking things we do ourselves.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: The message that we need today is not a message of pointing a finger of blame at other people, but of saying, “Lord, what do You see in us that if we were different as Your people, the world might stop and take notice and want to know You.”

Leslie: It’s Wednesday April 4th, and this is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

When you’re sick, you need the doctor to be honest about your condition. Can you imagine a doctor withholding the bad news because it might hurt your feelings? That would be crazy! So why does it seem like so many don’t want to hear the truth about their spiritual condition? Here’s Nancy in a series called A Time for Tears.

Nancy: “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Consider now. Call for the wailing women to come. Send for the most skillful of them. Let them come quickly and wail over us until our eyes overflow with tears and water streams from our eyelids.' The sound of wailing is heard in Zion. ‘How ruined we are! How great is our shame’” (Jeremiah 9:17–19).

We’ve been looking all this week at the weeping prophet—the prophet Jeremiah, and seeing that he has words that are as relevant for us today as they were when he first wrote them 2700 years ago. He’s issued a call for women to take a role of grieving and mourning and weeping over the condition, not just the condition of the pagan world, but the condition within in the people of God.

We looked yesterday at several charges that God brought against His people through the book of Jeremiah. We want to look at several others today. When God looks at His people, He looks past the veneer, past the surface, past all our impressive statistics and our press reports, and He sees what’s really going on inside the hearts of His people. What does He see? What concerns Him?

If you come to the place where you see what God sees, you will find your heart is broken. You will find yourself become a grieving woman, and in so doing, you become a part of the solution.

What is God’s concern with His people? Well, He speaks to the fact that they have rejected His Word. He says, “Hear, oh earth. I am bringing disaster on this people, the fruit of their schemes.” That’s an interesting phrase, by the way. Disaster ultimately is always the fruit of the evil ways of men, and God says, “I’m bringing this disaster on people, the fruit of their [own] schemes.” Why? “Because they have not listened to my words and [they] have rejected my law” (Jeremiah 6:19).

Most of us attend Bible-preaching churches. Some of us even have the name “Bible” in the name of our church. We would tend to read a verse like this and think, “Certainly He’s not talking about someone like me. They read the Bible in my church. They preach the Bible in my church.”

The question isn’t are they reading the Bible in your church, though increasingly, there are many churches where you don’t hear a lot of the Bible being read. The question isn’t is it being spoken. The question is—is it being heard? What we have heard, in so many cases, we haven’t done anything about. If you and I would obey just a fraction of what we know from God’s Word, we’d be, I think, in the throes of a great revival. God says, “My people have rejected my Word. They’ve not listened. They’ve rejected my Law.”

Then He says they’re guilty of idolatry. We think, “Oh finally. He hit one that doesn’t relate to us.” Well, I don’t know about that. God says, “Because they have forsaken Me, burned incense to other gods and worshiped the work of their own hands; that’s why I’m bringing these troubles into their lives.”

“Do you now see what they are doing in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood. The fathers light the fire, and the women knead the dough and make cakes of bread for the queen of heaven. They pour our drink offerings to other gods to provoke me to anger” (Jeremiah 7:17–18).

God’s saying idolatry has become a family affair—children involved, mothers involved, fathers involved—worshiping ourselves, worshiping our pleasure, worshiping our work, worshiping everything but God. “'The people of Judah have done evil in my eyes,' declares the Lord. 'They have set up their detestable idols in the house that bears my Name and have defiled it'” (Jeremiah 7:30).

God says, “You’re coming to the temple. You’re coming to the house of the Lord, and you’re sitting right in the holy place getting divorced in the church. You’re being bitter in the Church. You’re holding grudges in the church. You’re stealing from God your tithes and your offerings in the church. You’re worshiping yourself,” and it’s going on in the house that bears the name of the Lord.

God says, “They have turned their backs to me and not their faces; yet when they are in trouble, they say, ‘Come and save us!’” (Jeremiah 2:27). When we get in trouble, we cry out to the Lord, “Come and help us!”

God says, “Where then are the gods,” lower case “g,” “that you made for yourselves? Let them come if they can save you when you are in trouble!” (Jeremiah 2:28). You worship your bank account? You worship your job? You worship your pleasure? When you’re in trouble, don’t cry out to Me.

If I’ve not been your God, go and cry out to those gods you’ve been worshiping—your boat, your pleasure, your weekends, your vacations, your hobbies—go cry out to them and let them save you, “for you have as many gods as you have towns, O Judah” (Jeremiah 2:28).

Well, God has another accusation against His people: He says they’re guilty of adultery. Adultery. He says—and He minces no words here—“You have lived as a prostitute with many lovers. Would you now return to me? You have defiled the land with your prostitution and [your] wickedness” (Jeremiah 3:1–2).

Keep in mind, He’s not talking to the lost world here. He’s talking to His people who bear His name. “Therefore the showers have been withheld. No spring rains have fallen. Yet you have the brazen look of a prostitute; you refuse to blush with shame” (Jeremiah 3:3). You’re not even ashamed of what you’ve done. You’re not ashamed of the fact you love TV more than you love Me.

God says, “You don’t even know how to blush. You’re sinning, but you’re not ashamed of it.” He says, “‘Like a woman unfaithful to her husband, so you have been unfaithful to me, O house of ‘Israel,’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 3:20). You put your sports, your children, your work, your pleasure, your possessions, your recreation—everything ahead of God. You’ve got time for everything, but you don’t have time for Him.

Now God has another grievance with His people, and this is a tough one to talk about, because as women, this is something that we can use as ammunition, and that is wrong. This is something that we need to grieve and weep over, not use as a weapon. One of the things that God says through His prophet Jeremiah is that even the spiritual leaders have failed to be what they ought to be.

He says, “The priests did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord?’ Those who deal with the law did not know me; the leaders rebelled against me. The prophets prophesied by Baal, following worthless idols” (Jeremiah 2:8).

“A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: the prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?” (Jeremiah 5:30–31).

“From the least to the greatest,” He says, “all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. They dress the wound of My people as though it were not serious” (Jeremiah 6:13–14).

What does God say? Some of your spiritual leaders, your writers, your preachers, your speakers, your seminar and conference speakers—some of them are putting Band-Aids on hemorrhaging wounds.

I remember going to one particular women’s conference. I came away so grieved, so heavy-hearted, because I know the stories of the women sitting in those seats. I hear them all the time. I know the bitterness, the anger, the broken marriages, the hostility in their relationships, and I heard stories.

We laughed, we cried a little bit, and the women went home, and I suppose for a few moments, they may have felt a little better. But I said, “Oh God, what have we done? We’ve put a Band-Aid on a deep wound. We’ve not really got to the heart issues.”

Our leaders are dressing our wounds as if they’re not serious. “‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace. Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all. They do not even know how to blush” (Jeremiah 6:14–15).

And then lest we get harsh on our spiritual leaders, and let me say, when you see needs in the lives of your pastor and your spiritual leaders—that should not become an opportunity for criticism. If you criticize those men of God, you are wrong.

What it ought to do is drive you to your knees. You don’t go talk to other people. You go talk to the Lord. Every man of God has feet of clay, just as we do, but you take it to the Lord, and you say, “Lord, would You sanctify him? Would You preserve him? Would You preserve his marriage? Would You put a hedge of protection around him?” You cry out to God on his behalf.

But lest we should get smug, God has another accusation, and it’s the one of hypocrisy. He goes, “My people are going through the motions of religion, but it’s a front. It’s a pretense.”

“Although they say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’ still they are swearing falsely” (Jeremiah 5:2). They talk good spiritual talk, but it’s not their heart.

God says, “Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, ‘We are safe’—safe to do all these detestable things? Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching, declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 7:9–11).

There came a point where Judah did say, “We return to you, O God.” And we think, “Oh, there—they’re repenting.” But God knows the heart, and He knows that even though sometimes we look like we’re repenting, we’re still rebelling inside. We’re still having it our way. “‘ Judah did not return to Me with all her heart, but only in pretense,’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 3:10).

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be right back with the second half of today’s teaching. Maybe you’ve grown up knowing about the things of God all your life and are wondering about this call to repent and weep. Is it something you need to do? This is an important question, and I hope you’ll spend some time answering it.

Would you read a booklet by Nancy called “Begin at My Sanctuary”? It will help you understand repentance better, even if you’ve grown up going to church and doing good things. We’ll send you a copy at no charge when you call us and ask for it. Order the booklet, “Begin at My Sanctuary,” when you call 1-800-569-5959, or look for this free offer at ReviveOurHearts.com. Now let’s get back to the series, A Time for Tears.

Nancy: What kind of things make you cry? Do you ever stop and think about what makes God cry, about what grieves the heart of God? Scriptures tells us that God can be grieved. We read in Genesis chapter six that, “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on earth had become and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” And the Lord was grieved. “He was grieved that he had made man on the earth and his heart was filled with pain” (Genesis 6:5–6).

God’s heart can be grieved. His heart is grieved over evil, over sin, and over what it does to His creatures that He loves. So the question becomes for us: Do you and I weep and grieve just over the things that break our hearts, or do we weep and grieve over the things that grieve God’s heart?

The message that we need today is not a message of pointing a finger of blame at other people, but saying, “Lord, what do You see in us that if we were different as Your people, the world might stop and take notice and want to know You.”

We’ve looked at a call for the wailing women. God calls for the skillful wailing women, the mourners, the grievers, to come and to wail and grieve. He says, “The sound of wailing is heard from Zion” (Jeremiah 9:19).

We’ve been reading in Jeremiah chapter nine: “How ruined we are! How great is our shame! We must leave our land because our houses are in ruins” (Jeremiah 9:19). It’s our grief, our ruin, our shame. It’s our houses that are in ruins. But I want us to pause today to get a little bit more specific about some of the sins that we need to confess as the people of God.

I’d encourage you to ask God to help you make a list. I’ve got a list in front of me, and I’m going to mention several of these things. But as you pray and seek the Lord, ask God to give you His eyes, to give you His point of view, to help you see the church, the people of God, professing believers today, those who are called by His name—ask Him to help you see our condition through His eyes.

Ask Him to break your heart over what you see. God’s people are sinning in very much the same ways as our nation is sinning, and that ought to grieve us. Am I grieved, are you grieved, by our lack of love for the Word of God? As the people of God, what a privilege to have the revelation, the Word of God, but we treat it as such a light thing, with so little respect, with so little regard.

We’re characterized by biblical illiteracy in the Church! We know more about movie stars and entertainers than we do about biblical heroes. What a privilege to hold this book in our hands. But do we love it? Do we read it? Do we memorize it? Do we meditate on it?

There’s a lack of the fear of the Lord in the Church today. We don’t tremble at the Word of the Lord. We love to sing all the songs, and we love to have all the activity, and we love all the excitement. But when is the last time you sat in church and sensed an awe—a reverence, a dread—of the Lord?

Not a fear that we have to run and hide from Him, because in Christ we can approach Him boldly, but a sense of the dread of how holy He is and how, apart from Christ, we’d have no chance of approaching Him. The fear of the Lord.

What about our priorities? I’m talking about our priorities as the people of God. So many times they’re temporal rather than eternal. What are the things that concern us? What do we spend our time doing? Do you want to know what your real priorities are? Go look at your checkbook and at your calendar. See where you spend your time. See where you spend your money.

Where are the people of God spending time and money? It’s on sports and entertainment. It’s on secular books and magazines. There’s not necessarily something inherently wrong with all of these things, but what matters to us? Is it things of eternity, or things of time?

By and large, in the Church today, if the truth were known, the fact is we love TV and movies more than we love God’s Word and prayer. We can tell you about all the current movies, but we can’t tell you about what God’s saying to us through His Word. What do we have an appetite for? We’re the children of God!

Do we have an appetite for a relationship with our Heavenly Father, or do we have an appetite for the world? We have more heart to be entertained than to serve and to minister, and so we go to church to be entertained.

There’s a lack of holiness that characterizes the Church today, a worldliness. And worldliness is not just things we do or don’t do. Worldliness is having a heart for the world, a heart like the world, being attracted to the same things the world is attracted to. Again, let me just mention entertainment. In our movies, in our videos, in our music, in our television viewing habits—what do we have an appetite for? Things that are pure and holy and good and true, or things that are the world’s philosophy?

There’s a lack of holiness in the church today as it relates to sexual issues, and we’re getting emails and letters and calls from people even listening to this program, women who are dealing with every conceivable sort of sexual sin and sexual addictions. Pornography is no longer just a man’s issue. It’s become a huge issue with women—Christian women. Sexual addictions.

What about the condition of our homes? God accused His people of rebellion. We saw that in the book of Jeremiah. Would we not have to say as we look at our Christian homes today that many husbands are rebelling against God—Christian husbands? Many Christian wives are rebelling against God by rebelling against the authority of their husbands.

They’re out of order, and guess who else is out of order? The children! Should that come as any shock to us, that our teenagers, in many cases, have rebellious hearts, when they see moms and dads who go to church, who tip God in the offering plate, who serve on church boards, but they don’t have a heart for God? Why is it that our children are growing up in our Christian homes by and large do not have a heart for God today?

I’ll tell you one big reason is because they’ve seen our values. They’ve seen our hearts, and they’re just like us. They’re just a magnified reflection of the values they’ve seen in us. Divorce is as common in the Church today as it is out in the world. What happened to the teaching that God hates divorce? Why are we not grieved, broken-hearted, when we see another marriage fall apart? Are our hearts broken over the things that break the heart of God?

Then as for our sins as women in particular. I wish we could just take time and camp here for a while—sins of bitterness, unforgiveness, the lack of a meek and quiet spirit. As women, we’ve been deceived. I’m talking about Christian women. We’ve prioritized careers over children. We’ve broken vows. We’ve failed to reverence husbands.

As women today, by and large, we are self-absorbed—absorbed with our own hurts, our own needs, our own feelings, our own lives, and there are so few of us living that selfless, serving, sacrificial life. So many of us as Christian women are angry and controlling. We could say there are sins of men, as well, and surely there are, but God wants us to get honest about what’s inside of us and to be broken-hearted and to weep and to grieve.

Am I’m grieved not just by the sins of the church, not just by the sins of other believers I know, but by my own sins? I listened last week to an elder Christian statesman, and my heart was gripped by how he told at the age of 65, he retired. He said, “I was grieved, because I realized over the decades of my ministry, we have lost the spiritual life of the nation, and it was on my watch.” This is a man that has been greatly used of God, and he said, “I wept for an entire day.” He said, “Now, some of you are going to say, ‘Well, you’re not responsible for that.’” He said, “God made me feel responsible.”

After he spoke, I found myself on my knees, broken-hearted, grieved over what has happened in the lives of Christian women in the past twenty years, when I’ve been ministering to women. “O Lord, what is it in me that needs to be repented of? Cleanse me. Wash me. Use me as Your instrument in this day.”

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be right back to pray. If you’ve been moved by Nancy’s message, there are several ways you can learn more about these subjects. You don’t have to do them all, but would you consider doing something to respond to today’s sobering message?

Nancy just talked about women being deceived. If that struck a chord with you, I hope you’ll get a copy of Nancy’s book, Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free. Thousands of women have been deeply touched by this book that addresses contemporary issues women face.

If today’s program has put in you a greater desire for holiness, I hope you’ll get a copy of Nancy’s book, Holiness: the Heart God Purifies. Get more information on both these books at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Whether or not you order anything else from us, please take a next step on today’s topic by asking for Nancy’s booklet “Begin at My Sanctuary.” It’s our gift to you at no cost. Make this part of your daily Bible study, and gain a greater passion for holiness and repentance. Ask for “Begin at My Sanctuary” when you call toll free 1-800-569-5959, or look for this free offer at ReviveOurHearts.com.

When you sit down to order at a restaurant, you expect a bill to come. You always have to pay your bills, so why do so many people expect there to be no reckoning at the end of their lives? Hear more about it tomorrow. Let’s pray with Nancy now.

Nancy: Father, help us to grieve over our own sins as You grieve over our sins, that we would be willing to be honest, to let You turn on the spotlight, the searchlight, and show us what’s inside. O Lord, may we not be trivial or trite or light when talking about our sin. God forbid that we should ever laugh about it. Give us a grieving, weeping heart. “How ruined we are. How great is our shame. We must leave our land,” the prophet said, “because our houses are in ruins.”

Oh God, have mercy on us. Wash us. Cleanse us. Forgive us, and fill us with Your Holy Spirit, so that our lives may create hunger and thirst and longing for You in the lives of those that we touch. For Jesus’ sake we pray it, amen.

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

All Scripture is taken from the New International Version.

 

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