Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Psalm 126, Day 4

Leslie Basham: Does it ever seem like more attention is paid to church programs and events than to being who God wants us to be? Here’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Some of our churches today are so enthusiastic about getting lost people to Jesus, as we all should be, but they’re trying to get lost people to a Jesus that lost people can’t see in the church.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Thursday, May 26, 2016.

What’s the best way to let the world know what your church is doing? You could run radio and TV spots, hire a public relations firm, or do marketing research. But when God visits His people in revival, He doesn’t need any of those strategies to get the world’s attention. Here’s Nancy to tell you more in a series called "The Cry of the Captives."

Nancy: We come to a portion of Psalm 126 today that describes something that is really hard for me to imagine happening in our day; but it’s happened before, and it really could happen again. I want to just paint a picture for you and give you a vision of what God could do when He sends revival to the hearts of His people.

We’ve been looking at Psalm 126, which breaks naturally down into three parts: past, present, and future. We’re still on verses one through three as God’s people are remembering what God has done in the past when He set them free from captivity (probably the Babylonian captivity) as they’ve returned now, many of them, to their homeland, and they’re offering to God praise for what He has done in the past.

Psalm 126:1 (NKJV), “When the Lord brought back the captivity of Zion [when God set us free], we were like those who dream”—of course referring to the edict of King Cyrus that allowed them to return to their own land.

Then verse 2, “[As those who have been liberated,] our mouth was filled with laughter and our tongue with singing.” And then, here comes the part that I find astounding, the second half of verse two, “Then they said among the nations . . .” Some of your Bibles may say “among the peoples” or “among the Gentiles.”

This is among the ungodly nations, the pagan nations, the unbelieving nations. “Then they said among the nations, ‘The LORD has done great things for them.’” The lost nations of the world stood up and paid attention and took notice because of the great work that God had done in the hearts of His people.

Can you imagine that today? The nations of the world that do not worship God—not just the nations, but the people of the world, the culture of the world, within our own country, people who are far from God, people who worship false gods, people who have no respect for God—can you imagine something happening within the people of God that would be so noticeable, so dramatic, so clear-cut, so clearly supernatural that the people who do not believe in God would stop and say, “God has done great things for them”? “The LORD has done great things for us,” the psalmist said, “and we’re glad” (v. 3).

We’ve been talking in these verses about the fruit of revival, and the last couple of sessions we saw the joy and gladness that are the fruit of God stirring in the hearts of His people and setting His people free.

But now, we see that when God moves among His people in revival, whether it’s one heart or many hearts, in your church or your home or your community, that unbelievers are compelled to take God seriously. When the people of God are living as the people of God, when they’re experiencing the fullness of all God intended for them, when they’ve been set free from their captivity, then the unbelieving world is compelled to take notice and compelled to take God seriously. “Then they said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’”

When the people of God are living as the people of God, then the unbelieving world is compelled to take notice and compelled to take God seriously.

Now again, let me just point out once again the progression here. Don’t miss it, because we often times get it backwards. The beginning of the progression here is that the captives were set free. They were set free from their bondage, and we’ve said that’s a picture of us being set free, delivered from our sin, from our spiritual bondage. Then, they had joy. “Then our mouth was filled with laughter and our tongue with singing.” Then, they had a witness in the world. “Then they said among the nations, ‘The LORD has done great things for them.’”

We want to do it the other way around. Some of our churches today are so enthusiastic about getting lost people to Jesus, as we all should be, but they’re trying to get lost people to a Jesus that lost people can’t see in the church. So we have these programs, and we’re passing out tracts and getting programs to get seekers into the church and trying to have the kind of services that will be seeker-friendly so lost people will want to come to our churches.

I’m telling you, ultimately, that’s not generally the way lost people come to Jesus. You know how they usually come to Jesus? They see the reality of Christ lived out in the people who call themselves Christians. That’s how it’s happened historically, that’s how it’s happened in the great evangelistic thrusts that have been effective at bringing people to Christ; it’s been in the wake of God moving in His Church. People see the reality and are drawn to that.

What is it that they see? First of all, they learn about His name and His character. “They said among the nations, ‘The LORD has done great things for them.’” The pagan nations who didn’t even know who God was—they worshiped foreign gods, they worshiped false gods—but they stopped and said, “The Lord!” They learned something from the people of God about the name of God, the character of God, the sovereignty of God, the right of God to rule over His people.

Then they learned something about His redemptive work, not just who He is, but what He does: “The LORD has done great things for them.” Ezekiel chapter 36: “Then the heathen about you shall know that I, the LORD, build the ruined places and plant that which was desolate” (Eze. 36:36 KJV paraphrased). When the people of God, the church of God, the family of God is restored, it’s revived; it’s rebuilt, that which was desolate begins to blossom and bloom. “Then the heathen around you shall know that I, the LORD, have done it.”

Exodus 7:5, as the people were getting ready to go out of Egypt, God had said, “Once I’ve delivered you, then the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord” (paraphrased). How will they know? When they see His power alive in us, not just because we tell them that Christ is the only way to salvation, but because we demonstrate it—they see it at work in our lives.

I love that passage in 1 Corinthians 14 where the apostle Paul talks about the church functioning as the church, people exercising their spiritual gifts, worshiping God, functioning together in love and in oneness under the ministry of the Word, etc. And then it says, “When a lost man comes into your congregation,” a seeker, “he will fall on his face and worship God and report that God is in you” (1 Cor. 14:25 paraphrased). When’s the last time you saw that happen at church?

If seekers come to your church, what’s drawing them? Why are they coming? Is it because there’s music and activities that are the same kinds of things they could find out in the world, and it’s just in a church building, so they find it there? Or when they come into your church service, when they come into your building, do they sense and see and experience the holy presence of God, and they fall on their face in conviction? They repent of their sins; they confess their sins; they worship God, and they say, “God is in this place. I can’t escape the presence of God.”

Repentance of God’s people leads to deliverance from captivity, leads to joy and gladness, which leads to our impact, our most effective, lasting impact on the lost world. You see, God is a God who loves the world. God is a God who is concerned that His glory and His salvation should be seen and felt and known and experienced, not just by us, but by the world.

He sent Christ for the nations. He has a heart for the nations, for all peoples of the earth, and the glory of God—He wants to be seen and known, not just in the children of Israel in the Old Testament. It wasn’t just for them. God said to Abraham, “I will bless you so you can be a blessing. I’ll give you a seed,” the seed is Christ, “and He will be a blessing to all the nations” (Gen. 12:2–3 paraphrased).

The Jews got kind of closed up in their own little religious cloister there, and they didn’t really care what happened to the rest of the nations. Isn’t that the way it sometimes is in our churches? We’re just happy with our little Christian clique here, but God says, “No, I love your neighbors! I love the world! I want to show My salvation to them.” But how does He do that? He does it through a radiant bride. He does it through an alive body that is His hands, His feet, His heart, His mouth, here in this world reflecting His beauty.

You see, in the unrevived state of the church, the world doesn’t even know that we exist, to tell the truth, unless it’s to make fun of us. But in times of revival, the world cannot escape what God is doing. In times of revival, we don’t have to promote ourselves or our ministries. We don’t have to hire PR firms to validate our existence or our results. Every one knows that God is there.

Now I want to tell you, ladies, that’s the kind of ministry I want to be a part of. That’s the kind of church I want to be a part of. That’s the kind of life I want to have: the kind of life that people look and say, “There is no explanation except God.”

When we went on the radio, I said, “Lord, there are already too many people on the radio. There are too many programs. There certainly are enough—we don’t need one more teacher on the radio.”

But we were sensing the Lord leading in this way, and I said, “Lord, if this is Your plan, if this is Your pleasure, than would You be pleased to anoint this ministry with the power of Your Holy Spirit, so that what You do in the hearts of the women that we’re ministering to would be so supernatural that their husbands, their children, their families, their churches, their communities, would see that You are alive and others would be converted and become worshipers because they see Your glory in us.”

Now when the world sees that, they may not understand it. They may not agree with it. They may not support it. They may not believe our message. They may not approve of it, but they won’t be able to deny it. They’ll have to stand back in awe and say, “God’s there.”

When it’s the supernatural power of God being seen and felt and experienced in His people, then God gets all the credit—no human instrument. It’s not because this guy’s such a great preacher or because he wrote so many great books or because she has this great ministry or people are drawn to this person because they’ve got a charismatic personality or because they’re such a great speaker. There’s none of that.

In fact, in revival, God often chooses and uses the most weak and inadequate and ineffective instruments. And that’s one basis on which I feel like I qualify, because I lift my heart and my eyes to the Lord so often and say, “I cannot do this.” I think that pleases God. Because if anything good or great comes into somebody’s life as a result of this ministry, there will be no question that it was God who did it. And it’s God who’s at work in people's lives.

Let me read to you some quotes from some who participated in that revival of the Island of Lewis, that God sent in the late 1940s. Duncan Campbell was one of the instruments that God used to preach in that revival, and he said,

Revival is the going of God among His people, and an awareness of God laying hold of the community. In revival the fear of God lays hold upon the community, moving men and women who until then, had no concern for spiritual things, to seek after God. [It’s that mark of the supernatural.] So tremendous has been this sense of an awareness of God, that I have known men out in the fields, so overcome that they were prostrate upon the ground.

Imagine that in your workplace or your husband’s workplace or your kid’s school. Imagine! It was said that during those days in Lewis,

You could stop any passerby and find that he was thinking about God and the state of his soul. Within a matter of days, the whole neighborhood, in one particular case, was powerfully wakened to eternal realities. Work was largely set aside as people became concerned about their own salvation or the salvation of friends and neighbors. In homes, bars, and loom sheds by the roadside, men could be found calling upon God. [The supernatural power of God working through His people and drawing unbelievers to Christ. Because of this overwhelming sense of the presence of God,] the churches were crowded through the day right up through the night, to five and six o’clock in the morning.

Long services—who cares when God’s there? People aware of the presence of God: “Then said they among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them’” (Ps. 126:2).

At any given time, God’s people (that’s us), we’re either bringing reproach to His name or glory to His name in our world. In Malachi chapter 1: “From the rising of the sun to its setting [from east to west], my name shall be great among the nations” (Mal. 1:11). How does it happen? When God’s people are revived, when the captives are set free.

Then there’s that wonderful passage in Zechariah describing a future day:

Thus says the LORD of hosts: Peoples shall yet come, even the inhabitants of many cities. The inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, "Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the LORD and to seek the LORD of hosts; I myself am going.” People will come together and say, “Let’s go and find the Lord!”

Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the LORD. Thus says the LORD of hosts: In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew [a believer, a believing Jew], saying, "Let us go with you [Why?] for we have heard that God is with you’” (Zech. 8:20–24).

People lining up—people will be standing up to get in the doors of our churches, falling all over each other to get in the doors of our churches when they know God’s there. And God being there—that’s not some great mystical thing. It’s God being present and alive and active in us, in the hearts of God’s people.

We’re privileged to have with us during this series, as we’re recording it, my boss, Byron Paulus. He’s the executive director of Revive Our Hearts. He’s here with us during this series with his wife, Sue, and I thought it would be just a blessing for you to get to hear a little bit from Byron.

Byron, I know as we have worked together in revival ministry we’ve been privileged to see God do some incredible things in the hearts of His people that have had an impact on lost people in the community, people who weren’t even interested in what was going on until they heard what God was doing. You’ve been part of seeing some of that happen in some of the different meetings we’ve had in churches.

Byron Paulus: I’ve been very blessed to be a part of that, and just the very word revival speaks to me that it doesn’t stand alone. There’s always fruit and results that are really reflective of an extraordinary God, and evangelism is one of those.

In fact, somebody (I think it was Bill McLeod, our friend in Canada, in whose church Canadian revival was birthed back in the 70s) shared with us one time that in times of evangelism, evangelists seek sinners, but in times of revival, sinners seek the Lord. The presence of God and the wooing and the drawing and conviction and the heart of God just draws lost people to Himself in that environment of an outpouring of the Spirit of God in revival.

Nancy: I’m thinking back to a time in the early 70s, I think it was before I came to the ministry, actually, when God moved in a town in Indiana, and God moved first in the church, and in a couple of churches there, but the impact was really felt in the lost community.

Byron: Well, it really was. They say, if you’ve ever had a taste of an outpouring of God in revival, if you’ve ever been to the fire, the smoke will stay on your clothes forever; and in that community, that is true. In my life, as I reflect back onto the measure, the degree, the astonishing work of God throughout not just that individual church, but as a result of a huge reconciliation of two large churches, the presence of God just tabernacled for just a few short days. It was an undeniable phenomenal work of His Spirit.

I think of a salesman who was driving from Ohio to this town in Indiana. He came to the city limit sign during these days of the movement of God and revival and was so overcome with the conviction of God he couldn’t drive his car any longer. He pulled it off on the side of the road, got out there along the side of the road, on his knees, he said. And for the next twenty minutes, he just confessed areas of need before the Lord and really was drawn to Christ in an extraordinary way. He drove into that city after that season with the Lord, came to a gas station, got out, asked the lost gas station attendant, “Is there something going on in this city?” And the lost gas station attendant said, “Don’t you know? God is here.”

I think of a president of a bank sitting in his office on the second floor who attended no evangelical church, didn’t attend any services that were taking place, really was not even aware of what was happening in the city. But under the conviction of God’s Spirit began to weep, walked out into the street, and just asked, “Is there somebody that could lead me to Christ?”

And somebody led him to the Lord over a glass of tea in a restaurant. And his entire family, like it talks about in Acts, the whole household came to Christ. To this day now, he is serving the Lord in a major area of responsibility in a major ministry to this day.

Another business man, again, attended no services, was at work, fell under the conviction of God during those days when God was moving in that community. He was drawn to Christ, and soon was in full-time vocational ministry. So yes, the degree to which God just comes and moves in the heart of the lost in the midst of His manifest presence.

I think it’s J.I. Packer’s definition of revival that really just in the last week or two has touched my heart. He says, “Revival is God accelerating, intensifying, and expanding His work of grace in every believer’s heart.”

Revival is God accelerating, intensifying, and expanding His work of grace in every believer’s heart.

And revival is really when God just accelerates what would normally take us years. What is it, Nancy, that we used to often quote? God could do more in ten seconds of His manifest presence than in ten years of going to church or special series of meetings or anything else, apart from that divine moment of His presence.

  • He accelerates what would take us many programs and much effort in our homes and our own hearts of even disciplines, God does almost spontaneously and suddenly. 
  • He intensifies the conviction of God in a community or a church or even in our own individual hearts, the intensity that we can’t escape the fact that we need Him.
  • And then, the expanding work of God that goes beyond the walls of churches and even communities. And ultimately one day, as I know your prayer and our prayer is, that it will be an entire nation gripped by that presence of God and revival.

NancyWe’ll be hearing more from Byron later in this series, and I love to listen to the accounts. I love to be there when it happens. I want you to be able to see God move in that way in your church, in your community. I trust that through this series, God will move your heart to pray, “Lord, You’ve done it before. Would you do it again?”

Leslie: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, along with Byron Paulus from Life Action Ministries. Can you imagine what it would be like if the church didn’t have to target sinners, if sinners were actively coming to the church because of what God’s doing?

At Revive Our Hearts, we have a passion to see God wake up the church and show the world what it truly means to follow the Lord. And as Nancy’s about to explain, this message of revival and biblical womanhood is resonating around the globe. Here’s Nancy.

Nancy: I want to say a special word of thank you to those of our listeners who support this ministry financially. We are a listener-supported ministry, and I want you to know that your support is enabling us not only to broadcast this program in your area, but also by means of the Internet, to reach into parts of the world that we would never be able to minister to otherwise. I received an email not long ago from a listener that said, “I read your daily teachings from my personal computer in Zambia, Central Africa.”

We receive these kinds of reports from listeners, readers, those who by means of the Internet are able to access this teaching. Some of them are missionaries serving in other parts of the world and so grateful to have this kind of teaching.

And then, women and families in parts of the world that have restricted access for the gospel, but by means of the Internet are able to be discipled, challenged in their faith, and helped to grow to spiritual maturity. So we’re calling women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ, not only in this country, but all around the world.

When you give to support this ministry, you’re helping to reach out with the message of the gospel of Christ and His truth that sets people free through helping that message to be proclaimed all around the world. So as the Lord prompts your heart, would you consider making a special gift to Revive Our Hearts?

At this time, your gift is important; it’s valuable, and by God’s grace, it will be multiplied. Only eternity will reveal how many women in all different parts of the world were impacted spiritually as a result of your investment. Thanks so much for being a part of this ministry with us.

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy. Your gift this month will help us as we close a fiscal year and get ready for new budget cycles. Here at the end of the fiscal year we’re asking the Lord to provide donations of $487,000 to help us end in a healthy position. As a transcript reader, your gift will be doubled by friends of the ministry who want to encourage you to get involved at such a time as this. 

To help meet this need, visit ReviveOurHearts.com, or call 1–800–569–5959.

Tomorrow find out why some people refuse to embrace freedom, even when they’ve been locked up and suddenly see their cell door open.

Nancy: Sin does have pleasure for a season. Some of us would rather stay in the captivity rather than have the freedom of obedience, because to obey God can be hard, can be humbling. It requires breaking; it requires intentionality; it requires effort. And some of us would just rather drift—even if it means we have to stay in bondage. 

But the Psalmist is saying, "I'm not content to stay there. I want to press on to higher ground. I want to be free in all these different areas in my life. I want to be free.

Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

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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