Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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A Powerful Weapon

Dannah Gresh: Have you ever felt fearful after watching the news or reading the headlines? Dr. Karen Ellis says you need a safe place.

Karen Ellis: The news is, it’s danger everywhere. Danger! Danger! Danger everywhere. So how can I find a refuge for what’s true?

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, co-author of Seeking Him, for October 2, 2020. I’m Dannah Gresh.

Well, welcome back to our second day of crying out to God, and we want this month at Revive Our Hearts to be more than a prayer emphasis. This is a “for such a time as this” appeal. We want to urge you to cry out to God in desperation, longing, and repentance through all of our daily audio messages, through our blogs, and our special 31-Day Email Prayer Challenge.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: And, Dannah, that’s going throughout the month. There are thirty-one days in October, but even though today is October 2, it’s not too late to join that. Just go to ReviveOurHearts.com, sign up for that prayer challenge, share that prayer challenge.

Each day there will be a short devotional that you can read, some prayer prompts, a Scripture to focus on so you can pray Scripture back to God. In fact, I loved what our guest, Karen Ellis, said yesterday. She said, “When we pray Scripture back to God, He can’t say ‘no.’ This is His Word. This is His will. And it’s to accomplish His purposes.”

So we’re hoping that tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of women, and men as well can do this, throughout the world would sign up and say, “We’re going to cry out to the Lord during this tumultuous time in our world.”

It’s a difficult cultural moment, but as our guest reminded us yesterday, after this cultural moment, there will be another one. And we’ve got to learn in the midst of all this to be people who do the greatest action, and that is crying out to the King of heaven and earth to do what only He can do to bring about His purposes in this world.

Karen Ellis, I’m so thankful for you. You’re a kind of newish friend. We’ve gotten to know each other better over the last year or so, but I’ve been kind of online stalking you for a while. I have been so edified and encouraged and challenged by your voice on social media and as I’ve been able to hear you teach some.

You were scheduled to speak at True Woman ’20, which was supposed to be last month, but in God’s providence, that’s been postponed. But I’m so thankful we can have you here on the broadcast and our podcast this week. Thank you for joining us.

Karen: It’s such a pleasure to be here with you. You have no idea. It’s a blessing just to get together and chat and learn from each other. And, yes, I’m excited for what today might bring.

Nancy: Karen, you’ve been known for advocating for the suffering, persecuted church around the world. You’ve brought things to my attention, and I’m thinking, How did I miss that? How did we not know that?

I think we get so self-absorbed here in this country, the United States, with what’s going on around us that we forget that we have brothers and sisters around the world who, much longer than this pandemic has been going, have been suffering in ways that are probably unfathomable for us. But you’ve kept them on our radar, and you’ve kept prayer on my radar—you’ve put it on my radar in a way that probably wasn’t before.

Dannah: Yes. In fact, I’m itching to ask you, Karen, how has the pandemic impacted the persecuted church, and how should we be praying for them?

Karen: Well, this is one of the ways we’ve been learning to pray more and talk less is. Rather than listing all of the concerns for you, maybe we can just . . . I’ll just pray them right now. How does that sound?

Nancy: Let’s do it.

Dannah: I love it.

Karen: That way you’ll learn what the concerns are, and the Lord will hear our hearts as well at the same time.

Father in heaven, we thank You that our brothers and sisters around the world are being strengthened and encouraged to endure under very difficult circumstances, under hostile conditions. And, God, in many cases, this pandemic that has visited us has made their situations even more difficult. Some are in refugee camps. They were already in compromised positions. Some are suffering from health issues in those camps before the pandemic even hit, God. I think of Yemen who was already suffering with cholera and starvation.

I think of other places that already have networks functioning underground, where they know how to get what they need. And I thank You for those places where churches are able to respond in ways that their governments cannot or will not. But, Lord, in some cases, in many cases, this is hardship on hardship.

And so, God, we pray that You would be able to maneuver them to be able to get the resources in that they need. God, for those who don’t have enough food because of COVID, for those who now have no ability to work because of COVID, for those who are suffering with COVID, God, would You be their breath? Would You be the breath in their lungs?

And, God, for those who You are calling home, even in this moment, I pray that You would surround them with the doctors and nurses and caretakers who know You and can comfort them as they move into Your kingdom, God.

We give You thanks for these brothers and sisters around the world; that You enable them to be faithful; that they teach us how to be faithful; that they show us that You strengthen them when their faith waivers.

God, I thank You that You promised to keep a people for Yourself, and that promise is, “Yes, and Amen.” You will keep it all the way to glory, and we will see each one of our brothers and sisters when we behold You face to face and gather around Your throne with our family from every nation, tongue, and tribe.

Thank You for making us one. Thank You for making us distinct. Thank You for making us a people that cut across all the cultures and all the other tribes of this world. Thank You for making us a distinct, unique people, in Jesus’ name, amen.

Nancy: Thank you, Karen.

I want to encourage you as you’re hearing news, as you’re seeing the headlines from other parts of the world, to think of believers in those countries and to ask yourself how they might be impacted and to turn that concern to prayer.

I’m just thinking, Karen, as you prayed just now, there are some believers in Yemen and in some of these other countries who, right now, were needing what you just prayed. And heaven is moving to their aid, to rescue, to help, to encourage, and to strengthen. Because you sent that prayer up, God is sending grace down in this moment.

And we can all be a part of what God is doing to minister to these brothers and sisters that we may never meet this of heaven, but we have a part in what God is doing in their lives. Even as some believers in other countries are praying for us in the United States to be stripped of our idols and to be brought to a place of humility and repentance, we are being carried, probably in ways we might not realize by the prayers of others around the world.

So what a precious family as we span the globe and then one day we’ll meet at the throne. Thank you, Karen Ellis, so much.

Well, today we want to open to the Word because that’s what directs our prayers. And, Dannah, I remember that when the pandemic first started to break out, our team got together and said, “We need to make a shift in our programming.” And within a course of a few days, we had made some changes.

And the first series we aired (we pulled it from the archives) . . . I had taught through Psalm 46 years ago, and in God’s providence, we were able to put that on the air. It just seemed like that text was so fresh, timely, and timeless for what was beginning to unfold in our country. Of course, we had no idea that months from then, in the fall of 2020, we’d still be needing that same passage—but God knew, and He was preparing our hearts.

And we want to turn back to that passage today. So let me encourage you to open your Bible, if you can. Stop. Don’t just spectate when, if you can join us in the Word, scroll to it on your phone, or open your Bible there.

And, Karen, I know that this passage has been a go-to one for you during these last several months. Can you share with us anything of how the Lord started to put this passage on your heart?

Karen: Yes. I don’t even remember how I stumbled on this except I know it was the Lord that led me there. I don’t remember how I found Psalm 46, or how Psalm 46 came to be on my radar, but I wasn’t the only one there. Once I found it, I was like, “Hmmm, I should probably camp out here for a little while.” I started to hear other people in different prayer groups, and then my pastor preached on it. I was like, “Okay, Psalm 46. I’m supposed to be here to a little while.”

I think I came here looking for answers to what God might be up to during the pandemic. And I was like, “What are You doing, God? What is this moment in world history?” There’s been major moments, obviously, in the thousands of years that world history has been rolling on, but why us? Why now? And what might God be doing through it?

It’s kind of wild that when I put this together with prayer, when I think about prayer now, I think God’s given it to us as a weapon, as a spiritual weapon. It’s not just a nice thing to do. And the interesting thing about treating it as a weapon is, if you think about all the weapons of the world, anybody can disarm you. I can build a bigger nuclear bomb. I can disarm you with your gun. I can take a sword or a knife out of your hand.

But nobody can take prayer away from you. Nobody can stop you from praying. Nobody can disarm your prayer. Isn’t that a crazy thought? It’s an amazing weapon.

Nancy: This is an acknowledgement that God is all powerful and that, as we’re praying, we are linking arms with Omnipotence, as Oswald Chambers said. There is no power on earth that can sabotage or undo that power. I think we tend to feel, as believers, like we’re so weak; there’s so little we can do against all the powers of worldliness and the kingdom of darkness that are arrayed against us. But as I listen to you, my heart is so encouraged that, yes, we are weak, but we are not powerless through Christ.

Karen: We’re not the first people to . . . I mean, if we feel like all of a sudden this pandemic has exiled the whole world and the Church and isolated us from each other, you start to think to yourself, Not only are we able to link arms with the Lord with this powerful weapon, but we link arms with each other when we pray. Even if we’re not praying together in the same time and space.”

Nancy: Yes.

Karen: You remember, the Jewish exiles went back to prayer again and again and again, in every desperate situation. And God answered them, the united prayers of His people, with miracles. He overturned the plans of wicked leaders and advanced the cause of His kingdom. You think about Daniel—Daniel called people to pray. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, they united in prayer. Esther called her nation to prayer.

We’ve been learning that the call of an exile is to gather with fellow believers in prayer, and that outcome will be a prayer revolution. And so as I’ve been thinking about this stirring to prayer and this pandemic pause that the world has been set on and how God might be turning our eyes to Him with this powerful weapon, I’ve been thinking a lot about all of that in relation to Psalm 46.

Nancy: Let’s just take a moment and read Psalm 46 and then, Karen, we’ll let you walk us through how God has been using this to show Himself and His ways to you in this season. So, Psalm 46. In my Bible it’s titled, “God Is Our Fortress,” and it says it’s to the choir master. So this is something the choir master, the music leader, the worship leader is to lead the people of God in expressing back to Him.

Verse 1 of Psalm 46:

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Karen: Amen.

That whole first section, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into it and they are safe,” for me has been, “Where is the safe place? Where is the safest place for me that is far away?”

If you watch the news, praying people, let me tell you: Don’t take your cues from the news. Take your cues from Scripture. The news is, danger everywhere. Danger! Danger! Danger everywhere. It’s often highlighting dangers that are there. They’re real. They’re very real. But it’s also manipulating and creating fear in places where there is not danger. So how can I find a refuge for what’s true?

I remember you mentioned the last time we talked on the previous show that I took a break from Twitter and from social media. One of the reasons I stepped away was because I just didn’t know what was true anymore. I didn’t know who was telling me the truth. I didn’t know who was giving me something unfiltered. I just couldn’t tell. I couldn’t discern. So I had to step away.

And for me, that season was about running into this Strong Tower and feeling safe again and letting Him remind me through Scripture and through His kingdom purposes and His kingdom missions what I’m supposed to be thinking about, what I’m supposed to be looking at, how I’m supposed to be regarding the world, and getting that perspective before I could go back in. And I was able to go back in with that and return with a much more calm spirit, a much better grounded spirit.

So I just love how this passage turned me . . . It speaks of the earth giving way, the mountains being moved into the heart of the sea, and waters roaring and foaming, and the mountains trembling at its swelling. It’s speaking of natural disasters. That’s where you realize, “Oh my goodness! I have no control over what’s happening in this world as this world groans in expectation, waiting for the return of the Lord.”

It was so intense that in just that one section, verses 1 through 3, He became my Strong Tower. He became my safe place.

Dannah: Wow! That really is a healing balm to my heart as you speak, Karen, because it’s been so easy for me to default to fear. When you start speaking that way, you say that the news and the newsfeed is so full of fear, but God’s Word is so full of security and safety and hope.

What a challenge my heart is receiving, that if I’m not filling myself up with these words, I’m not going to be able to handle the facts that are in the news cycle right now. So thank you for that admonition.

Nancy: What a witness this is to our world that is reeling in fear. I’m thinking of that passage were Jesus says in the gospels, at the end times when there are these natural disasters and the world is imploding, that people’s hearts will actually stop. They will have heart attacks because of fear. Fear is a very powerful thing, but what a witness it is in fearful days for God’s people to be able to say, “We will not fear though the earth gives way.”

In the midst of all of this, we’re going to be people—not cocky, not overconfident, not arrogant—who humbly cast themselves on God and say, “We are safe in Him. What can the enemy do to us? Like, the best is yet to come!”

Dannah: You know, Nancy, the other day Bob and I were talking with a physician who’s not a believer. I would say he’s somewhat agnostic. He said, “One of the things I can’t get over is that as I treat COVID patients, the Christians don’t seem to be as afraid as the others. There’s something different I can’t explain.” That is causing him to really think about God in a different way for the first time ever.

Nancy: Wow! And it’s not that Christians don’t face fearful circumstances like everybody else, but it’s that there’s a bedrock, a safe place, a secure place underneath us that enables us to weather that storm—even if it does take our life.

Karen: That’s right. It underscores the fact that fear is normal. There are fearful people all throughout Scripture, and yet it’s the place where we go to be safe. It’s not that you’re all of a sudden, “Oh, I’m not afraid of anything anymore!” Um, no. Fear is actually quite human, because it’s kind of our default position. It’s where we draw our strength from to face that fear and move through it.

I can’t tell you the number of times where I’ve moved into a fearful situation, knees knocking. It’s not like the fear went away, but I knew I was safe. And I knew that I would be okay regardless of the circumstances because I had my strong tower around me.

Nancy: It’s the Scripture saying, “When I am afraid, I will trust in You.”

Karen: That’s right.

Nancy: We turn to Him because we are afraid, and He delivers us from the power, the controlling power of fear as we trust in Him—as we cry out to Him, and as we trust in Him.

Dannah: It’s not just that He helps us mitigate our fear and make us feel safe when fearful things are happening around us, but verse 4 gives us a promise that’s pretty unbelievable. Wouldn’t you say, Karen?

Karen: I love this verse! I like to think that “the river whose streams make glad the city of God the holy habitation of the most high. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved.” I just like to think that that’s the saints moving through the stream of history. We see that river carried all the way by the Holy Spirit. We see it carried all the way and manifested in Revelation. The Holy Spirit inhabiting God’s people.

“God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.” Two things here that just strike me is that nations raging and kingdoms tottering is not new to the stream of history.

Nancy: Right.

Karen: Kingdoms come, and kingdoms go, but in the end, this truth I know: Only what’s done for Christ will last.

That’s such a calming thing to remember that, as the stream, as God’s people wind through the stream of history, with Him keeping them in one continuous line, He is the one who’s sustaining them regardless of what happens Regardless of the storm that’s raging around them—whether it’s cultural, whether it’s political—He is keeping a people to Himself. He created a people for Himself in the Garden—He promised to keep them in spite of themselves. And He is keeping a people all the way through Revelation.

“He utters His voice, and the earth melts”—that just reminds me of His sovereignty over all of these things. The Lord of hosts is with us. He’s not watching us move through this stream of history, He’s actually navigating it with us through His Holy Spirit.

So we’re not going through this strange global season, this pandemic season, by ourselves as His called, set-apart people. He is walking through this season with us. He hasn’t abandoned us. He hasn’t left us alone.

Nancy: And that means above all people on earth, the people of God should be people of contentment and peace and calm and joy. He makes glad—“this river makes glad the city of God”—in the midst of kingdoms and nations tottering.

But you also see as you go into the second half of this psalm that the Lord is involved in all of what’s going on in this world—the desolations, the wars, the end of the wars. God is not absent from any of that. In some way that we can’t fully fathom this side of heaven, God is engaged in all of this. He’s not absent during this season.

Karen: I like how you say He’s engaged in it, because verse 8 was a struggle for me. When I got to that, I was like the disciples. “Oooo, this is a hard saying!” “Come behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth.” He is somehow engaged. I love how you say that, Nancy, that He is engaged in this work because it is His creation.

Even as the world is broken, and even as sickness and death—which were never intended for us, but here they are. He is helping us navigate this broken world and its broken effects, and the brokenness in culture that we see and the brokenness in governments. He’s the one standing there with us in it, bringing redemption out of it.

Nancy: Yes. And that’s the hope we have, that this desolation is not the last chapter. It’s not the end of the story. God is a redeeming God who is making all things new. And in His time and in His way, He will make wars cease. He will burn the chariots, these war chariots with fire.

Karen: There’s the promise, isn’t it?

Nancy: Yes! So you see there, the juxtaposition that you see all through Scripture of judgment and salvation. God is judging this wicked world. There will be ultimate cataclysmic judgment. I think all the judgments between now and then are just to bring people to repentance, to give people an opportunity to bow the knee, to claim Christ as Savior.

But in the end, there will be cataclysmic judgment for the wicked, eternal judgment, but also the gift of eternal salvation for those who have found refuge in Him. How precious is that promise as we sit here amidst these tottering kingdoms and nations and devastations.

Karen: So then we can “be still,” when everything is raging around us. We can “be still” and know that He is exactly who He says He is in the midst of the world that He created.

Nancy: And that term “be still” . . . We think of it kind as a passive thing, maybe something on a needlepoint hanging on your wall or on a Pinterest board. But “be still” is really an active thing. It means “cease your striving; cease your worrying; cease your anxiety; let your heart be still.”

It’s like a command to your own heart: “Be still.” God is saying to us, “Stop wrestling; stop joining all the cacophony of angry, hostile, debating, contentious voices that we hear all around us—at least in the United States in this season we do—so much arguing. God is saying to us, as His people, “Be still. Don’t be in the middle of that fray. Know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations.”

Karen: I used to be in theater, and there’s this wild principle. It’s a principle that’s used in choreography and staging. When you have a lot of action going on on stage, like, imagine twenty, thirty people dancing furiously. They can all be in sync, or they can be out of sync, but they’re just all dancing furiously. The choreography can be some of the finest you’ve ever seen. Then one person walks on stage very still. All eyes will go to that spot despite all the movement that’s going on on stage.

We use that as a device to draw attention to one thing. It’s interesting how the thing that is still is the thing that everyone looks at. So I’m just wondering what that does for our witness, in a world full of cacophony, when our hearts are so still that we’re not adding to it, that we’re not behaving in that chaotic, frenzied way.

Dannah: Karen will be back to pray in just a moment.

Nancy: Before she does, I want to just take a moment and thank you for your prayers for this ministry and for your financial support that makes it possible for us to keep sharing this message with women around the world.

If this ministry has been a blessing to you, and the Lord has used it in your life, could I encourage you to consider making a donation to Revive Our Hearts at this time? You can do that by visiting us online at ReviveOurHearts.com, or you can call us at 1–800–569–5959.

Thank you so much for partnering with us, especially this month as we challenge women around the world to cry out together to the Lord in these desperate times. Now, let’s join Karen Ellis in praying.

Karen: Heavenly Father, again, I come to the idea that You have set the world and the Church on pause to turn our eyes to You, God. We are captivated by many things. Our hearts are caught by many things, God—some good things, some right things. But, God, we’ve allowed them to take Your place on our hearts.

God, return us. Use this time to speak to us, God, as one, as one people belonging to You, to move as one people belonging to You, to be a set-apart people that cuts across the grain of every cultural idol and every political idol, that is still moving and living and being in the world but so not of the world that the world looks at it and says, “What is it with you?”

God, help us to get to the historical stream of the saints who came before us, God. You were the only one who lived a perfect, righteous life here on this earth, God, but there were saints in history who got a little closer to the bullseye of leaving a good witness. God, we want to be in the stream of those faithful saints.

God, we want to be a blessing to those around us. We want to reflect Your glory God in a way that draws people to You, in a way that shows who You truly are, God.

God, continue to use this set-apart season to cut away that which is not of You. You’ve driven us to our knees, God. Thank You for waiting for us there. Thank You for promising that You’ll meet us there in that place with friendship and love and purpose and mission and intimate communion, God.

Thank You for the weapon of prayer, that it’s not like the weapons of the world, God. Turn our hearts to You, Lord, in Jesus’ name, amen.

Dannah: Amen. Oh, thank you, Karen. Truly the Lord has pushed us to our knees in 2020, but He will be faithful to meet us there.

Please join us next week as we continue to cry out to the Lord. Nancy will be teaching on several passages in Scripture that teach us why we do that and how to do it. And also, on Monday, we’re relaunching our live videocast Grounded. It will now be a weekly program at 9 Eastern, 8 Central.

And if you’re not able to join us live on Monday mornings, you can catch it any time on the new Grounded podcast coming soon.

Thanks for joining us. Have a great weekend, and please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Showing you how to pray using the Scriptures. Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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About the Speakers

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 …

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Karen Ellis

Karen Ellis

Karen Ellis is the Director of the Center for the Study of the Bible & Ethnicity at Reformed Theological Seminary (Atlanta). She holds Master’s degrees from Yale University and Westminster …

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