Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: So many people talk about changing the world, and they have good intentions. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth says without God’s help, nobody will change much of anything.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: You can’t make your parents love each other. You can’t make God’s people come together in oneness. We can’t even change our own hearts. It’s a work of God, and that’s why we need to pray, “Lord, would You do what only You can do?”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Monday, May 23, 2016.

Is part of your life out of control? You can’t seem to shake that behavior or that habit no matter how hard you try. Maybe what you need is true revival. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth will explain why as we start part one in a ten-day series called, The Cry of the Captives.

Nancy: Our burden in Revive Our Hearts is to call women to experience freedom and fullness and fruitfulness in Christ.

A lot of times we’re talking to women who are moms or grandmoms. They are a little further ahead in life, and they’re having to deal with a lot of issues in their lives that started sometimes back in high school—teenagers or even younger. And what a blessing they feel it would have been to them if they could have heard some of these things.

 So those of you who are young women here becoming older women, our prayer for you during this series is that the Lord would encourage you and speak to you. We know that you are the women of the future, and the moms and the grandmoms of the future; and what God is doing in your lives during these days is so important.

There’s an incredible opportunity for you young women to reflect the beauty of Christ and the glory of God in your generation, probably in a way that I can’t do or your mom will not be able to do.

My boss, the director of our ministry, Life Action Ministries which is the parent ministry of Revive Our Hearts, Byron Paulus and his wife, Sue, are with us here. Throughout this series in different parts, you’re going to have a chance to hear from Byron as he shares some of his thoughts about this whole matter of revival: what it looks like and what it’s like when God moves. At different points during this series, Byron will be sharing with us some of the things he has seen God do in revival, not just in the history books, but in real life.

So let me invite you to open your Bible to Psalm 126.

Psalm 126 is given a title. It says “A Song of Ascents.” A-S-C-E-N-T-S. A Song of Ascents. It’s one of several psalms that is titled that way. Psalm 120 to Psalm 134 is a part of a Jewish hymnbook, if you will. These are songs that the Jewish pilgrims would sing as they were on their way up to Jerusalem. That’s why it’s called Ascent.

Jerusalem was on a hill, and as they would ascend up to Jerusalem three times a year for their national feasts, they would sing. They would sings psalms. They would sing praise to the Lord. They would sing their prayers. And this is one of those prayers that they would sing.

Now the setting for this particular psalm is probably after the Babylonian captivity. It probably was not written by David. It may have been written by Ezra as he came back with the people from Babylon. We don’t know who wrote it.

But the exiles had returned to the Promised Land. Not all of them had returned. Some were still in Babylon, and they were still in captivity. Those who had returned still had struggles and issues to deal with. So it’s a reference to some great deliverance to God’s people that this psalm begins.

We think that reference is probably to people coming back from the captivity to the Promised Land. They had been delivered out of captivity in Babylon to the Promised Land.

Now by way of introducing this passage, let me read the whole psalm. It’s a short one. I’ll give you the general outline of it, then we’ll start by breaking it down piece by piece over the next several days and see what it has to say for us.

The first three verses have a past tense to them. In the first three verses, we see God’s people remembering. And as they remember, they give praise for the past. They remember praise for the past. Let me read verses 1 through 3.

When the Lord brought back the captivity of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: Then they said among the nations, the Lord has done great things for them. The Lord has done great things for us and we are glad (Ps. 126:1–3 NKJV).

See the past tense there. Something has happened. It’s probably the return from captivity in Babylon. The Lord in the past has done something for us, and we are praising Him for it.

So God’s people are remembering, and they praise God for what has happened in the past.

Now verse four is not God’s people remembering, but God’s people requesting. This is their petition. They’re making a request. It’s a plea for the present, not praise for the past, but a plea for the present. Verse 4:

Bring back our captivity O Lord, as the streams in the South. 

Lord, You have delivered us from captivity in the past, now we’re asking You to once again deliver us from our present captivity.

And in the next days, we’ll talk about what that means and why they felt the need to pray that.

Then verses five and six, we see God’s people reaping. First, God’s people remembering, God’s people requesting, and now God’s people reaping. And as they reap, they have a promise for the future. Past, present, and future, now a promise for the future.

Those who sow in tears, shall reap in joy. [Something yet to come. A promise for the future.] He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him (vv. 5–6).

So we have God's people remembering. They offer praise for the past. We have God's people requesting. Verse four, there’s a plea for the present. Then we have God’s people reaping as God gives them a promise for their future. That’s the outline of where we’re headed over these next several days. I hope that will help you remember how this psalm hangs together.

So let’s begin with verse one. God’s people remembering as they offer praise for the past. For us as New Testament believers, we’re going to see ways that this song, this psalm, can be applied to express our longing for God to do a fresh work by the power of His Spirit in our lives, our homes, our churches, in our day.

Verse 1: God’s people remembering. “When the Lord brought back the captivity of Zion, we were like those who dream” (NKJV). Now some of your translations will say, “When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion” (KJV) or “The Lord brought back the captivity of Zion.”

Now before we talk about what that means, the bringing back or the turning back the captivity of Zion, first of all, notice who is doing this work. Who turned back the captivity? The Lord did it. The Lord! The deliverance was a sovereign work of God.

Salvation, your deliverance from sin is a sovereign work of God. Your sanctification, your deliverance from self, and that’s quite a prison isn’t it? That’s a sovereign work of God.

Spiritual work in the life of a man or a woman or a young person cannot be manufactured by men. You can’t make it happen. It’s a sovereign, gracious work of God. When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion.

He goes on to say in this psalm, “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad” (v. 3).

Any time something good happens in your life spiritually, there’s only one person you can give credit to. It’s the Lord. The Lord who sets us free. The Lord has done great things for us.

There’s kind of a parallel psalm. We won’t talk about it in this series, but Psalm 85:6, “Will you not revive us again?” Who does the reviving? God does the reviving.

We need to remember as we pray—whether you’re praying for revival in your life, in your home, in your church, in our nation—revival is a sovereign work of God. We cannot manufacture it. We cannot make it happen.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a preacher in England many, many years ago, and he had such a burden for revival in his day. He wrote a book on revival, a set of sermons. He said,

Revival is a miracle. It can only be explained as a direct action and intervention of God. Men can produce evangelistic campaigns, but they cannot and never have produced a revival. A revival by definition is a sovereign act of God. God and God alone does it.

That’s, by the way, the reason that prayer is so important part of revival.

You want to see God work in your family? Prayer is essential because there are things you want to see God do in the lives of your kids and your marriage, in your grandchildren. Some of you young people here, you’re wanting to see God do a miracle in your family and maybe a miracle is really needed—you can’t make it happen.

You can’t make your parents love each other. You can’t make God’s people come together in oneness. We can’t even change our own hearts. It’s a work of God, and that’s why we need to pray, Lord, would You do what only You can do?

We get a picture here of someone who is not satisfied with explainable Christianity, that which we can do. Our efforts. Our programs. What we want to see in our day is what God can do. And what God can do can’t be explained in terms of a program, a strategy, or a human effort.

We’ve seen what religion can do. We’ve seen what church can do. We’ve seen what marketing efforts can do. We’ve seen books by Christians that have sold millions of copies and programs that have been sold to thousands of churches, but we want to see in our churches and in our homes and in our lives what only God can do. Unexplainable! The supernatural!

That’s what we’re praying for when we pray for revival. So when we look to the needs of the church, as we look to the needs of our world today, as you look to the needs of your home, we need to stop looking inward and stop looking outward for the solutions, and we need to start looking upward.

Only God can meet those needs. The Lord turned back the captivity of Zion. You have done great things for us. The Lord has done great things; the great things you want to see in your family.

Some of you moms are so tired of trying to fix things in your family, and I say that’s a good thing. But the best thing is when you get to the place where you realize you can’t fix anything in your family. You can’t make your kids have a heart for God. You can’t make your husband have a heart for God. But God can.

There’s not a home, there’s not a life, there’s not an environment, there’s not a church that God cannot transform by the power of His Spirit. So revival, a work of God, it’s a sovereign work of God.

Then we read here about a release from captivity and bondage. When the Lord turned back or brought back the captivity of Zion, He saying we were prisoners, we were captives. They were captives in Babylon for seventy years.

Before that, they had been captives in Egypt for 400 years, slaves in Egypt. It was the Lord who turned back or turned again or brought back our captivity. God set us free. The psalmist is praising God for his deliverance, for his release from captivity.

When I read that verse, I think about the words of Charles Wesley. “He breaks the power of cancelled sin. He sets the prisoner free.” That’s what God’s in the business of doing. Setting prisoners free!

You see this theme running through Scripture. I think of Isaiah 61:1, “The Lord has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound” (paraphrased).

You may have heard me share before on Revive Our Hearts, but I love this picture in John chapter 11 of the raising of Lazarus from the dead. When Jesus came to that tomb where Lazarus was after having been sick, what was Lazarus’s condition when Jesus got there? He was dead. I mean, four days and as the King James says, “he stinketh.” I mean he was dead. That’s a picture of lost people. They’re dead. Lost people, by the way, can’t get revived.

Revived means to come back to life. Lost people need to get vived. They don’t have life. Lazarus is a picture of that condition. He’s dead. Then when Jesus just spoke the word and said, “Lazarus, come forth,” Lazarus came forth in obedience to Christ’s word. But what was his condition when he came out of that tomb? He was alive, but he was bound. All of those grave clothes wrapped around him with all those sticky substances to hold him together between the layers, like a mummy. I mean, he couldn’t move. He may as well been dead for all practical purposes. He was alive, but he was bound.

I think that’s a picture of the average Christian that I meet today. Alive but bound. Barely breathing. I mean they may as well be dead for all practical purposes, and sometimes you can’t really tell the difference.

Only God knows whether they’re really alive. God did not intend for you to live that life of bondage as a child of God. It was for freedom that Christ set you free.

Jesus said, “Loose him, and let him go.” That’s a picture of what God does in revival. He sets the captives free.

I remember doing a Revive Our Hearts conference in Minneapolis a number of years ago. I was getting to leave at the end of the conference and a woman came running up to me up the foyer, and she said, "I'm free! I'm free!"

She was so excited to free. I had no clue what was going on. Then she told me this story about how for years she had lived with issues of bondage in her life, dealing with past relationships, broken relationships. She had been to counselors; she had been to seminars; she had been to conferences; she had heard some people who were much better communicators than I am. But God had spoken to her heart in this conference and had shown her a root issue that when she had responded and said, "Yes, Lord," the grave clothes came off. She said, "I'm free! I'm free!"

That's the condition God wants His people to be in. And the process of setting us free is sometimes called "revival."

So many believers today that I meet have lost hope of ever being truly free. They’ve just settled into, “That’s just the way it is.” They’re spending their life walking around with all those graves clothes on in bondage.

Just as the children of Israel got accustomed to living in Babylon, they got accustomed to living in Egypt. They didn’t like it, but they just assumed that was where they were going to spend the rest of their lives.

Maybe you’re still there. I want to tell you, God wants to set you free. You don’t have to stay in that captivity. But I’ll say this. There’s no human means of you getting set free.

There’s no pastor, no book, no conference, no seminar, no Christian radio teacher, no counselor who can set you free. Christ is the One who sets prisoners free.

You want freedom? You’re going to get to Christ. You want revival? You've got to get to Christ. You want revival in your home? You want revival in your marriage? You want revival in your church? The Lord turns back captivity to Zion.

Second Peter 2 says that whatever overcomes a person, to that he’s enslaved (v. 19). Are you enslaved to something? Are you in bondage to something? Bitterness. Broken relationships. Shame. Guilt. Fear. Bondage over your past. Bondage over things that have been said to you in your past. It’s like those grave clothes—words someone said to you in third grade (you’ll never; if you only; you can’t; you will). Those words are just like grave clothes wrapped around you, and they cling to you, and you can’t get free.

I tell you, you can get free. You don’t have to be enslaved by that. Maybe you’re enslaved to the fear of man, the fear of what others will think. Maybe it’s an eating disorder, maybe it’s a sexual sin, maybe it’s a moral habit, a personal moral habit, maybe it’s a sin of the spirit: jealousy, a competitive spirit, pornography.

I remember one woman saying, you think this is a men’s issue, but a woman wrote to us and said, “I have been a prisoner to pornography for forty years.”

I got a letter this past week from a woman, and I didn’t know until the end of the letter that she was seventy years old. I would have thought it someone in her twenties describing the bondage in her life, her issues; and it turned out this woman had been married for fifty years and had lived with these bondages all those years.

And you know what? God’s been setting her free. She said, “I wish I hadn’t waited until seventy to hear these truths.” My heard breaks for that woman and for women who are going to be where she is if you don’t get to the truth and get set free now. You don’t have to wait until you’re seventy. He sets the captive free.

Have you been brought back from captivity? Maybe you’re not even a child of God. Maybe you’ve never been set free from your sin and your self. You say, “But I’m sitting here in this recording session; of course, I’m a Christian.”

You know what? You can go to a Christian church, a Christian school, be in a Christian home, and none of that makes you a Christian anymore than if I had been raised in a garage would make me an automobile.

Have you ever been set free by Christ from your self, from your sin, from bondage? You say, “I know I’m a Christian, but there’s still those grave clothes wrapped around me.”

“When the Lord brought back the captivity of Zion, we were like those who dream.” Could this be true? It almost doesn’t seem real. A woman came to our last recording session, and as we’re introducing ourselves, she said, “Something has happened in my heart recently,” and you could see in her face. She didn’t quite know how to explain it, but she’s a woman who’s living in revival. She said, “I’ve been saved many years, but I’m just now getting it.” She’s getting set free.

She said, “I can’t get enough of the Word. I love it!” There’s a hunger. There’s an appetite. Listen, newborn babies are hungry. They eat. You don’t have to make them eat, generally speaking, if they’re healthy.

Once you get set free, you’ll have a love for the Word, and a love for the Lord, a hunger for Him, an appetite for Him that you can’t have when you have all those grave clothes wrapped around you.

God wants to set you free. There’s no one and nothing else that can do it. No one else to turn to. No where else to turn. Your therapist won’t do it for you. The Lord will set you free. And when he does, you’ll say with the psalmist, “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad.”

Leslie: Will you pray with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth when she returns in just a minute? Take anything that’s holding you in bondage and give it to God in prayer and watch Him do great things.

If you wonder if real change is possible, let me encourage you. We see the Lord lead listeners in real change in the real world all the time. Nancy’s here with one example of how hearing the Word of God on Revive Our Hearts can result in a change of actions.

Nancy: Last month we aired a series on the importance of having a clear conscience. And we heard from a number of listeners shared with me personally about an area they needed to clear their conscience. One woman had been carrying a guilty conscience for a very long time. When she heard this message, it motivated her to make things right. She told us,

I was able to write the letter I needed to write and send to my former employer asking for forgiveness and repaying the money I stole times four, like Zaccheus. It was huge load off my heart and I am thankful that God gave me the courage to make things right.

She did that in faith, not knowing what the results would be. But then she heard back.

This past Saturday, I got a lovely letter in the mail from my former employee and the check I sent. They truly forgave me. What a gift forgiveness is! I am so grateful.

And after this experience, the Lord has used this listener to mentor and help other women who are struggling with clearing their conscience.

And I am so encouraged by that. We’re not just speaking to women who need to hear God’s Word. And He’s then using those women to spread what they hear to others. This ministry could not exist without the help of listeners like you. You made it possible for us to speak to that woman who needed to take action and confess stealing all those years ago. In order to keep the ministry going, we really need to hear from listeners in a significant way here in May. It’s when we wrap up our budget cycle and prayerfully make new plans for the the coming year.

I want to say "thank you" for those who have already responded to this need and has sent a gift to help out at this time. Our team is continuing to pray and to ask the Lord to provide the close to half-million dollars that we need by the end of this month.

Would you ask the Lord how He’d have you get involved here at the end of our fiscal year? You could play an important role as we continue calling women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ.

Leslie: Visit ReviveOurHearts.com to get involved. Or call 1–800–569–5959. When you make your donation, we’d like to say thanks by sending you a CD by Jan Mulder called Love Divine. It’s a collection of hymns with Jan Mulder on piano with the London Symphony. This is a special Revive Our Hearts edition you can only get from the ministry. Again, call 1–800–569–5959 or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

So much energy is expended in the church complaining about how bad the world is. We act so surprised when unbelievers act like unbelievers. We really should be focused on eliminating sin from the church, not the world. Nancy will talk about that tomorrow. Now she’s back to pray.

Nancy: O Lord, thank You that You set captives free, and would You be doing that even this day in the hearts of Your people. O Lord, would You speak words of deliverance and release from prison to those who have been living in a prison for who knows how long. Set Your people free, Lord, to love You, to worship You, to obey You. Return again, our captivity, O Lord, for Jesus’ sake we pray it, amen.

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

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

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