Revive Our Hearts Podcast

 Leslie Basham: For a long time Carrie Gaul tried to earn God’s favor by being perfect.

Carrie Gaul: It was always important to look like you had it together because I thought that was the goal. I thought that was what would please God—pulling it together.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Choosing Gratitude, for Thursday, October 19, 2017.

Do you ever feel like giving up? I know everyone feels that way sometimes. So today's message from Revelation applies to us all. Nancy’s been teaching through this letter in a series called "Letters to the Churches in Revelation, Part 7: Encouragement to Persevere." 

Today we’ll continue to explore practical applications of Christ’s return with a guest who’s been listening to these programs with us. Carrie Gaul has been listening to the series, and we're about the hear some clips of her conversation with Nancy as she lets us in on some of the helpful insights she’s received. First, let’s get to know Carrie.

Carrie: I’m a biblical correspondent with Revive Our Hearts, so I get the privilege of answering phone calls and emails that come in. Really, it’s giving the hope of the gospel to those who are often hurting and in need, and it’s getting the joy of hearing “God stories” that come in again and again.

Nancy: What are some of the things we hear most commonly from women who are writing in to the ministry that you are responding to?

Carrie: One of the most positive things over and over again is the powerful tool, the “30-Day Husband Encouragement Challenge.” That little, tiny tool has powerfully impacted the lives of marriages across the country.

We will hear again and again and again what God’s doing just as a result of women intentionally, purposefully setting their hearts to, at least once a day, encourage their husbands. Many of them recommit again and again until it becomes a life habit.

Nancy: Hardly a week goes by that I don’t get an email or more from somebody who is taking that challenge. It is so transformational just to start looking at their husbands through eyes of encouragement rather than criticism. It changes not only the women, but in many cases it changes the husband.

I read one this week where the wife says, “My husband is softening; he’s seeing me differently.” Well, he’s not being barraged with criticism. That’s making him more receptive and her more responsive.

I know you deal with some tough things, too, issues that people write in about. I appreciate it when they do. What is our approach for handling those types of issues when people write us.

Carrie: Taking people back to the Word—there’s always hope in spite of how desperate the situation is or how dark the circumstances might be. Circumstances might not change, but their mindset, their hearts can be changed as they fix their hope on Christ and walk in the power of His ways. I think there’s just the need for encouragement—they can go on; they can persevere. There is something beyond this life, and this suffering will come to an end.

Leslie: The deep encouragement that Carrie Gaul passes on to listeners via email is similar to the kind of encouragement we’ve received the last couple of weeks from Nancy’s teaching. She’s been in a series "Encouragement to Persevere." We’ve seen how the hope of resurrection will help you through any trial.

An important question that’s been raised in this series is “When exactly will Christ return for His Church?”

Nancy: Some who have studied this passage believe that what Jesus is saying is that Christians will be spared from going through the Great Tribulation.

Leslie: It’s a question that has divided scholars for a long time.

Nancy: There are others who believe that what better fits this context and the whole of the New Testament is not that Jesus is promising to these believers or to us miraculous escape out of the hour of trial, but instead, He is promising His supernatural protection in the midst of the trial.

Leslie: Last week Nancy had this to say:

Nancy: In my opinion, we don’t know and can’t know for sure, and we don’t have to know for sure.

Leslie: A lot of listeners wrote in appreciating Nancy’s approach. And our guest, Carrie Gaul, appreciated it as well.

Carrie: I read recently as quote where someone said, “The study of prophecy is not for the curious; it’s for the suffering saints of God to be encouraged.” I thought, What a different spin that puts on the study of prophecy. If you look at the bigger picture, it’s getting the eternal perspective. It’s not about the details. The details are glorious, what God’s given us, but the focus is that we’re pressing on toward the goal.

There’s a reason to endure through that trial. The importance of understanding in the midst of whatever trial—whether it’s marriage, or the difficulty of toddlers hanging on legs, or teenagers that are coming in at 1:00 and want to talk all night . . . Whatever tribulations and trials we are going through, God’s using them for a purpose in our life to refine us, to lay up eternal rewards for us. He may not deliver us from those trials, and if He doesn’t, there is a reason. I heard someone say, “If it’s not from the trial, it may be by the trial that He delivers us, or through the trial.” We may have to go all the way through it.

Those three friends of Daniel, the only thing that was burnt off of them was the cords that held them in bondage and captivity. What a glorious thought that whatever trials we’re in the midst of, God’s using it to burn off the captivity we may have been held in.

I heard a lady just this weekend share. Where we attend church, this area is in a very economically depressed area because of what’s going on right now. She is retirement age and is looking forward to retiring from being a counselor in an elementary school in that area. She just loves that position and is excellent at it. She’s a godly, godly woman.

She was sharing with me the results of how the economy is impacting families and these little children. Little girls are sitting at their desks pulling their hair out, literally, because of the stress that’s in their family, families having to move because there are no jobs. She said, “Carrie, I wouldn’t quit and retire this year for anything. This is the mission field God’s been preparing me for so long, and the door is wide open.”

I thought, Oh, that we would all see whatever it is that we do, whatever realm we’re employed in, whatever realm we’re serving in as a mission field. We would look at life very differently if we got up every morning and thought, "God, where do You want me to meet a need this week? Where do You want to speak through me into a life’

Nancy: Sometimes when it seems that the doors are least open, or it seems that the obstacles are the greatest, that really is God’s means of opening a door. To point people to an eternal hope and to get people's hearts detached from things of this world that couldn't be their savior anyway.

Carrie: You talked earlier in the series, Nancy, about what keeps us from thinking about heaven, what keeps us from having an eternal perspective and some of those things, the distractions, how good we have it here.

Life is very good. We’re very comfortable. We really don’t have need of a whole lot of things. I spent a couple of months in a Third World country a few years ago and was so struck by the joy that is evident in the lives of those who have nothing. I mean dirt floor homes and nothing, sometimes not knowing where their next meal is coming from. But many of those who are in Christ and know Him as personal Savior, I’ve never seen such joy.

I’ve never heard anyone speak about heaven. They sing about it; they speak about it. It’s just conversation. You don’t have to create it. They don’t have to read a book on it. They’re longing for something that’s different than what they’re experiencing right now.

Nancy: They don’t have their stakes down so deeply here.

Carrie: That’s right.

Nancy: Because what is here to hold them here?

Carrie: That’s right.

Nancy: I see this sometimes on our Revive Our Hearts comment blog—and for those who are not aware, each day on the Internet, on our website, there’s a transcript of the day’s program, and there’s a place where people can record comments, can interact with each other, can respond to the message of that day.

It’s just interesting how many people recently have posted on that comment blog, or on our True Woman blog about how the chips are down. They’re in life’s hardest circumstances they’ve ever been in. Some of them are really close to death’s chute, but there’s a peace and a joy and almost a gleefulness. I hate to use that word because I’m not magnifying poverty. I’m just saying there’s a freedom from the pride and the restraints and the stuffiness of having stuff that I almost envy, and they have nowhere to turn but the Lord.  

Leslie: Listeners have been writing to us about the hope they’ve received from the teaching of Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, and many of those emails are answered by Carrie Gaul, our guest today. She’s been reflecting back over the series "Encouragement to Persevere." It was based on the letter to the church of Philadelphia in the final book of the Bible. During this series Carrie gained some fresh perspective on Revelation 3:8.

Carrie: It says, “I know your deeds; behold I’ve put before you an open door which no one can shut because you have little power.” Oftentimes this was the story of my life. I grew up believing, knowing I had little power. That wasn’t a surprise, but believing that you didn’t let anybody else know that. You kept a very hard shell on the outside. It needed to look good. If you were sinking down, you pulled yourself up by your bootstraps. Even if you were dying on the inside, nobody else needed to know that.

Even as a young Christian, through the majority of my Christian life, it was always important to look like you had it together because I thought that was the goal. I thought that was what would please God was pulling it together, and the reality, as God began to open His Word to me, He showed me that is not what He glories in, that is not what brings Him praise. It’s the humility and understanding I am nothing, I have nothing. He knows that. He knows everything, and yet He is able to bring perhaps the greatest glory to Himself out of those who have little power because they have no ability on their own to pull it off.

That was such a paradigm shift in my way of thinking as a Christian woman, and I still battle from time to time the need to feel like, “Just pull yourself up by your bootstraps, Carrie,” rather than saying, “I can’t do this. I never could, and because of that, God, You receive great glory through it. You be strong where I am weak.”

Nancy: It reminds me of the apostle Paul saying in 1 Corinthians 2: “I was with you in weakness and fear and much trembling [this is the apostle Paul], and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (vv. 3–5). 

The context there, the power of God is Christ crucified. Talk about weakness. Talk about the ultimate defeat from the human vantage point. Satan wins; Jesus loses is what it looks like. But he says, I resolved, "I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (v. 2). 

What seemed to be the great defeat, the great weakness of Christ actually became the means to the great victory, the resurrection power of Christ. Paul says, “When I go to minister, to serve, I’m not going to go out there and try and blow people away with how impressive I am.” He knew he wasn’t impressive. He knew where God had found him. He knew how greatly he had sinned, and the battles with his own flesh—as I know mine. He said, “If I’m going to glory in anything, it’s going to be in Christ and Christ crucified because that’s where the strength of God is magnified."  

When people see that, their faith doesn’t rest in our impressive words or in the great lessons they were able to hear on Revive Our Hearts. Their faith rests not in the wisdom of men but in the power of God, and that’s what’s life changing.

I think this passage also points us to what keeps us, which is the hope of what lies ahead. Back to Revelation chapter 3 here, the letter to Philadelphia, there’s a future promise, “I am coming soon; I will keep you; I will reward you; I will make you a pillar in the temple of my God.” The whole return of Christ, and I think that part of the balancing act, and the tension that surfaced in this series was, “How do you keep your eyes on that future hope, keep it in mind, long for His return, while still being fruitful and productive, and not an escape artist, while you’re living here in this present world?”

Carrie: I have a sweet, little friend who has a four-year old son. She’s been going through a study of Daniel right now. So as a result of that, thinking more, which I think is so uncommon for us in this culture, even in the church, to be thinking about Christ’s return. We just don’t talk about it much. So she’s had her heart and her mind turned more in that direction. As a result of that, she is talking about it in their home, even with their little four-year old and 18-month old.

She shared a story recently that he got up in the morning, came down in their little morning routine, sat next to her on the couch, and in the course of conversation, cuddled up next to her, kind of looked at her, and all of a sudden ran over to the window and pulled back the blind and said, “Mommy, do you think Jesus is coming today?”

She said, “I just sat there and thought, Oh, I hope so. Wouldn’t that be neat?

They went on to have this conversation, but she said it was such a good reminder that he expected it enough to go look out the window and look up into the sky and say, “It might be today.”

I thought in my own life, “What a conviction. How many times do I wake up in the morning and really, truly think, I wonder if it might be today. And if it was, how would I live? How would I live differently?”

I have a sweet friend who gave me a little puzzle that she made and wrote on it, “Jesus is coming.” I have that sitting on my desk so that every morning I look at it. I need that tangible reminder that it’s real. It’s not just something I’ve read about, but that it’s imminent, as you said.

Nancy: What does that do for you?

Carrie: It makes me look, Nancy, at even basic-type things. Like, what are my priorities today? From an eternal perspective, why am I really serving these people? If it’s my husband, if it’s my grown children, why am I calling? Bigger perspective: Because of eternity; because I want to plant seeds of eternity in their heart; because I want them thinking about, “It might be today.” It gives me a longer-term vision than just getting caught up in the details of what’s going on today. The details of today can be very distracting and very overwhelming, and I need constant reminders that it really might be today.

Nancy: Lord, how thankful I am for these sweet reminders, even from a four-year old who lifts the blind and says, “Do you think Jesus is coming back today?” That’s the heart we want to have, Lord, mindful, waiting, longing, loving and hastening the day of Your appearing; yet being faithful where You’ve placed us right now, doing what You’ve left us here to do, knowing this is not just a time in limbo but a time to be fruitful, a time to be part of the harvest.The fields are white and ready to harvest.

You’ve told us to pray for laborers to come and work in that harvest, and for us to be about our Father’s business, pursuing the furthering of Your kingdom, knowing that there are people who live around us, people we work with, who don’t know you, who will be eternally lost if You come today.

So, Lord, help us not only to be preparing our own hearts and our own lives, but to be looking for those open doors, those opportunities for service, for usefulness, for fruitfulness, that we might not approach You in shame, but that we might not approach You empty-handed.

Then, Lord, when You give us the crown for faithful service, and You say, “Well done,” and You make us pillars in the temple of Your God, and You write Your name on us; then, Lord, our great joy will be to give those rewards back to You and to say it was all You. It was all about You. It was all by Your grace. It was all for Your glory. It was all for the eternal privilege and pleasure of worshiping and loving and honoring and exalting and praising You.

Lord, it all starts with You; it all continues with You, and it all comes back to You.

So make us faithful. Keep us faithful. Grant us eyes to see what lies ahead and hearts and hands to labor in the meantime in the place where you have put us.

And Lord, I’m mindful as we pray, even now somebody who’s listening who is in the midst of tribulation. I pray that You would strengthen their hands, strengthen their heart. Give them the hope that is in Christ. Let them know that they can hold fast; they can persevere by Your grace.

While I pray for those who may be listening to this program, my heart also goes out to those in other parts of this world who are faithful believers who are this day experiencing persecution and rejection and ridicule and trauma and trial and tribulation for their faith, people who would never have a chance to listen to this program.

Lord, would You hold them up today? Would You grant them courage and grace to persevere in circumstances that we really cannot fathom? Lift them up to You today. I pray You would make Yourself known to them and that the promise that You are coming soon will sustain them and carry them and grant them joy and faith and hope in the midst of whatever circumstances they may be facing.

We thank You, Lord, for the blessed hope that is ours of the glorious appearing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and we bless You for that. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been providing a powerful reminder of the hope available to you because of the coming return of Christ.

She's been sharing today with Carrie Gaul about the hope we have in Jesus Christ. We’re able to bring you programs like this one thanks to listeners who give and make the ministry possible. When you give any amount this week, we’ll say thanks by sending you a book from Nancy called Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy. If you get the book now and start reading, it could make this the most meaningful Thanksgiving you’ve ever experienced.

When you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts, we’ll send you a copy. Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com, or ask for Choosing Gratitude when you donate by phone. Call 1–800–569–5959.

Our friend Carrie Gaul will be back tomorrow.

Carrie: The old, old story of Jesus and His love for us is shattering the mirage of performance and perfectionism, and legalism, and moralism, and whatever "isms" that reside in my heart.

My hope isn't found in have a life and a family that appear faultless and perfectly put together. My hope is found in the God of Jacob. I don't have to wonder how God is going to respond to the messiness of my life. He's the God of Jacob. He redeems; He delivers; He sets free. He does it at Calvary, and He does it every day of our lives. He's setting us free from bondage and captivity. He's bring us from death into life. 

We are already there positionally, but there is so much more—there's so much more!

Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to make gratitude a way of life. It's an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

 

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