Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: >Imagine a prisoner who sees the door to his cell finally swing open, and he says, “Mmm, I’d rather stay locked up.” Well, that sounds ridiculous, but when it comes to the captivity of sin, some people do the same thing. Here’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Sin does have pleasure for a season, and some of us would rather stay in the captivity than have the freedom of obedience.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Friday, May 27, 2016.

So many people wake up in a comfortable, suburban house and rush off in a nice car to another day pursuing a successful career. It looks like they have everything together, but they may be in serious bondage.

Nancy will show you how to find true freedom. She's on day five of a ten-part series called "The Cry of the Captives."

Nancy: As you know if you’ve been listening to Revive Our Hearts for any length of time, God has put a real burden on my heart to see what we call revival, what the historians have called revival—to see it happen in the hearts of God’s people. So it’s a joy for me to be teaching in this series from Psalm 126, which I think is one of the great revival passages of Scripture.

It doesn’t actually use that word, but what it describes is such a picture of what happens when God revives His people. I hope you’ve been following along with us. If you haven’t, it’s not to late to pick up your Bible and turn to Psalm 126, just 6 verses, and we’re managing to make a week-and-a-half or two of programs out of it.

There’s so many riches, so many treasures in that passage, and we spent the last several days looking at the first three verses where God’s people are remembering what God has done in the past. They offer praise for the past, the way that God has delivered His people from captivity. Probably in that situation they were directly thinking of coming out of the Babylonian captivity where they had returned to their homeland and now were once again free people—could rebuild their nation.

What a picture that is of salvation as God delivers us from Satan and from sin, from the bondage to sin, but also a picture of what happens when God revives His people, delivers us from those grave clothes we talked about earlier in this series—that Lazarus had when he came out of the grave! He was alive, but he was bound.

When God’s people are set free from their bondage to sin and self and this world, there’s a joy that is the fruit of that. We’ve seen the theme of joy throughout this psalm—joy and gladness and singing as the expression of people who have been set free. So that was the first 3 verses of Psalm 126.

Now we come to verse four, which is kind of the crux of this psalm. This is God’s people, not remembering but requesting. This is where the petition is, the prayer for revival. Now they make a plea based on what God has done in the past. They make a plea for God to do something in the present.

"Lord, we’ve seen what You’ve done before. We’ve seen what it was like when You set Your people free, and You gave them joy and gladness and the lost nations looked on, and they said, 'God’s there. The Lord has done great things for them.' But it’s just a memory for some of us."

Some of us can remember a time when God moved in our life or our family or our church, and wow, we think back on it. It was great! He set us free from bitterness. We got our conscience clear. We dealt with some issue in our past. A relationship was reconciled. Maybe God moved in a sweet way in revival in the life of your church, and you look back on that. Maybe it was three years ago or thirty-three years ago, and you think, That was great.

It’s possible that you’ve once again come back into some areas of bondage because it is our tendency, as long as we are in this flesh, to backslide, to gravitate back toward captivity. That’s why the psalmist prayed in Psalm 85, “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?” (v. 6) We need it again and again and again—the fresh moving of God’s Spirit in our hearts.

The psalmist prays here in verse 4 of Psalm 126, “Turn again our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the south” (KJV). Bring back our captivity. Here he’s saying, “We’re not content to settle for past mercies, but we need fresh reviving.”

Fresh reviving—are you walking in revival today, or does your heart need to be revived again? I don’t know about you, but my heart needs to be revived again and again and again and again. I find myself sometimes—I’ll go back and read old journals, and I’ll see how God set me free in an area. Then I realize I have fallen back into the same old bondage in that area once again, and I need God again to turn my captivity, to set me free again.

Now notice that this prayer in verse four is directed to the Lord. You say, “Well, that’s pretty obvious.” Well, it’s amazing how many other people we will go to for solutions and for help before we go to the Lord, but this prayer is directed to Him. Seek Him. “Turn again our captivity, O LORD.” The prayer is to Him. No one else can do what He can do.

There are issues in your family. There are issues in your church. There are issues in relationships that only God can move in, that only God can accomplish. We are dependent on Him.

I notice that not only is this prayer directed to the Lord, but it’s an earnest prayer. He says, “O, Lord.” I like that word, “O.” Particularly in the Old Testament you find it. It’s an expression of earnestness, intensity, desperation, longing.

I think it’s the “O” that’s missing in so many of our prayers today. I know it’s missing in most of my prayers, to tell you the truth. I find myself just praying about things in a rather routine way sometimes.

As I was meditating on this psalm, I thought, Where is the "O" in my prayers? I want to see God move, but am I desperate to see God move? “Turn again our captivity, O LORD.” O Lord, we need you to do that.

Then it’s a focused prayer. He’s saying, “This is what we need.” He’s not settling for lesser things. I mean, there are a lot of things we could ask the Lord for, and we’re supposed to take our requests to the Lord. But in this prayer, he’s saying, “Lord, the one thing I want is that you would turn back our captivity, that You would set Your people free, that You would deliver Your people."

Now as you read this passage, there’s no question that the person praying this prayer, or the people praying this prayer, want to be delivered from their captivity. They’re not content for things to stay as they are. They’re saying, “We can’t go on this way. This matters to us. This is important to us.” It’s a focused prayer.

Notice what it’s a prayer for. What are they asking God to do with such desperation and intensity and urgency? It’s a prayer for release from captivity, a prayer for deliverance from bondage.

Now when you pray a prayer like that, it implies that you realize that you have a need. It implies that you recognize that everything isn’t okay. Listen, if you think your life is okay, if you think you’re living an okay Christian life—you’re not doing as well as some, but your doing a lot better than some other people you know, if you’re content with where you are, you’ll never pray a prayer like this.

If you come to the place where there’s this holy dissatisfaction in your heart, and you say, “I can’t go on this way. I’m not content to live in this functional, marginal, Christian life, this nominal Christian life. I want the real thing. I want to live in freedom. I want to walk in the fullness of God’s Spirit,” it implies that you recognize that there’s a need, that you’re not doing okay.

I think of that passage in Isaiah chapter 64, which is another great prayer for revival. We’ve talked about it on this program before. When Isaiah prays that prayer, he says O Lord, “Your holy cities are a wilderness, Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation” (v. 10 NKJV). That’s honesty.

I think one of the reasons we’re not urgent in our praying today is because we don’t realize how urgent our need is. We wouldn’t say our lives are a wilderness or a desolation. Now some would, but most of us—we’re going to church. We’re doing our thing. We’re fulfilling our responsibilities, and there’s not this sense that our lives are dry and thirsty and barren and not what God intended they should be.

One of the reasons we’re not urgent in our praying is because we don’t realize how urgent our need is.

When that realization comes upon you, when you see yourself, not in comparison to every other Christian you know, but in comparison to the majesty and the glory and the holiness of God, then you say, “Lord, my life is a wilderness. It’s not what You want it to be. I am so needy.”

I know when I teach on Revive Our Hearts, people, I think, get this impression that everything I am teaching here, I am just living in the abundance and the overflow of all this great truth. Can I just tell you how many days I lift my eyes and heart to the Lord and say, “Lord, I am a mess”?

If the people who listen to Revive Our Hearts knew the things that I struggle with, the times when I feel so half-hearted, so cold, so barren, when it’s so hard for me to pray—if they could only know. Well, God does know. He does know, and He keeps putting in my heart—I’m so thankful for this—this holy discontent, this unwillingness to stay there, this longing to press on to know Him and to be filled with Him.

Today we have so much in the Christian world. We have big conferences and big ministries and best-selling, Christian books, and media ministries, but so what if our hearts are cold and hard and our eyes are dry and our lives are barren and our worship is empty and our homes are broken and our churches lack the presence and power of God? We’ve got a lot of activity but not a whole lot of power. That’s what we need, and that’s why the psalmist cries out, “Lord, would You turn again our captivity?”

When he prays for release from captivity, he’s implying not only that he recognizes he has a need, but there’s an implied desire to be delivered from captivity. I don’t want to stay here. I want to be free.

Do you have that desire? Do you really have a desire to walk in the fullness and the freedom of the Holy Spirit in your life, to live, not in the realm of the normal, Christian life where everybody else seems to live, but to live in the realm of the supernatural?

I know many of you do. I know that’s why you’re here. I know that’s why you listen to this program—because there’s a hunger in so many of you, but the danger is that we would be content to remain where we are instead of pressing on. Not only that we’d be content where we are, but we can even come to the place in our life where we actually kind of enjoy staying in captivity.

Sin does have pleasure for a season, and some of us would rather stay in the captivity than have the freedom of obedience because to obey God can be hard. It 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.

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 of my life I want to be free.”

Then it implies a willingness to be turned, not only a desire to be set free and delivered from captivity, but a willingness for God to turn our hearts. You know what that means? Repentance. It’s a willingness to repent, to turn from whatever is keeping me from experiencing that freedom.

I’ve been so blessed to be associated with Life Action Ministries, a ministry that God raised up to give this message of revival to local churches throughout the country. We’re based in southwest Michigan.

Revive Our Hearts is one part of that ministry. Revive Our Hearts is the women’s ministry of Life Action Ministries, and it’s been a privilege during this series to have the director of Life Action Ministries, Byron Paulus, and his wife, Sue, here with us in the studio.

I’ve asked Byron to join us for a few minutes here on today’s program, and Byron, as we talk about desperation and earnestness and desire and longing, our teams have been in probably now thousands of churches over the last forty years, and we’ve seen in some churches a real sense of longing and some individuals in those churches—a real sense of desperation and longing. What kind of difference does that make when there’s that longing?

Byron Paulus: I think it was Leonard Ravenhill, Nancy, as maybe one of the most prolific writers and most passionate men of God I’ve ever met when it comes to revival, that said one time, “If we’re willing to live without revival, we will.”

We go into these churches where people just aren’t any longer satisfied with status quo. They’re no longer willing to go on apart from a visitation of God, and God begins to do something in their heart and stir them and to begin mobilizing them in prayer.

I remember years ago we were in a rather large church, and I was there weeks in advance, just asking the people to begin seeking the Lord and praying. About a week before our team was to arrive for this concentrated, protracted time of seeking the Lord, I’d heard that there were prayer meetings taking place in this church in the middle of the night. In fact, I heard they were taking place between 2:00 and 3:00 in the morning.

Nancy: Wow.

Byron: Knowing that was rather unusual, I said, “I’ve got to find out more about this.” I picked up the phone. I called someone that I’d met there, and I said, “Is it true that there are prayer meetings taking place in the middle of the night?”

And they said, “Well, there sure is.”

I said, “Is it really between 2:00 and 3:00 in the morning?”

They said, “Well, yes it is.”

Then I figured the next logical question was, “Is anybody coming?”

They said, “As a matter of fact, there is.” They had planned, prior to this season of seeking the Lord and calling people to repentance, to really bathe it in prayer. So for two weeks leading up to the launching of this time in their church to seek the Lord, there were people praying.

They said as many as ten or fifteen homes and about ten or fifteen people in each home, night after night, between 2:00 and 3:00 in the morning—crying out to God with urgency and intensity for a real visitation of a heavenly type in their congregation. That’s 150 or 200 people that were gathering. They said that they wanted to pray at the most sacrificial time. Now the key was they were obedient to how God led them.

I would rather pray at seven in the morning, personally, but they felt like that’s what God wanted them to do. They obeyed, and as I look back on that period of time—it went on for not just one week or two weeks but three weeks that God worked in the hearts of those people. Some of the most dramatic, unexplainable, extraordinary works of God in the hearts of people and marriages took place. So yes, there is a direct relationship.

NancyAnd you saw, I remember, a number of years ago, when you were on an overseas trip—you saw this kind of desperation in a prayer meeting you had a chance to be a part of.

Byron: I really did, Nancy, and if I were to look back at some markers in my own life, of experiences that have changed me and deeply convicted me of my own lack of prayer, it would be this trip to Singapore. I was invited to a Friday night prayer meeting. They said it would begin at 10:00, and it would finish at 6:00 in the morning.

I went, and as I participated, I began to realize that this wasn’t just a one-time occurrence on a Friday evening—that they had been doing this for weeks upon weeks. What struck me, Nancy, was, not just that forty or fifty people would come out and pray all night on Friday night, but I noticed they prayed a lot for revival in America.

As that prayer meeting finished and I met with the leader, I said, “How long has this prayer meeting been going?”

He said, “For twelve years.”

I said, “Every Friday night for twelve years?”

He said, “Yes, sir.”

I said, “All night long from 10:00 at night until 6:00 in the morning?”

And he said, “Yes.”

I said, “Do you usually spend so much time crying out to the Lord for revival in America, or was it just because there were some westerners here?”

He says, “Oh no, we realize that if God sends revival to America, it will impact the world.”

I came back, and being a leader in a revival ministry now for forty years, and I just thought to myself, “I don’t spend all night Friday nights praying for revival.” Then as I further discussed just briefly, I said, “Why do you do this?”

It was interesting. He said,

Because I was a part of a revival in Nagaland that so touched my life, so transformed our hearts. I saw the glory of God. I’ll spend the rest of my life just seeking the Lord for another opportunity to see His glory descend.

Nancy: I know we have a desire to have that kind of desperation, and we have women sitting in this room—some of them are saying, “I’d like to have that kind of burden for revival.” How do you think you can cultivate that kind of hunger and thirst and desperation for God to move? I know we’re not there. We want to be, but how do you move in that direction?

Byron: Well, Nancy, I believe in my own heart, until you see the need, you’ll never really be motivated to do anything—to be a part of the solution. I believe the more that we just, like David, even in his own heart, he would say, “I’m poor and needy.” When we get a glimpse of God and who He is and all of His holiness and His purity and His power and His might and His glory—and as Isaiah said there in Isaiah 6, once we see Him and remember Him and His ways as you’re talking about in this series of remembering, then we’ll see ourselves.

That’s when Isaiah said, you remember, “I am undone . . . I am a man of unclean lips” (Isa. 6:5 KJV). I believe part of that is just getting a fresh encounter with God.

I’ve been meditating a lot on one little phrase back in Psalm chapter 80 where the psalmist cries out, “Give me life, that I might call upon Thy name” (v. 18 paraphrased). If we don’t experience life, if we don’t personally experience the presence and power of God in our life, then we won’t call upon His name.

I remember a seminary student asked to meet with me one time in my office, and he came in. We just had a brief meeting—maybe ten or fifteen minutes. Then he said, “Could we pray together?”

I said, “Sure, let’s do that.”

I’ll never forget, Nancy. He just prostrated,  laid himself out on my office floor, and he cried out to the Lord. He said, “O God, I want revival more than I want to breathe.”

I thought, “I don’t want it that bad,” and God just used that to convict my heart. As I dialogued with that seminary student, he had studied the history of revival as you’re doing right now on your Revive Our Hearts sessions.

You’re beginning to get a glimpse of what it was like when God visited before. What would it be, as it was there in Psalms, if we really were freed from the captivity? That, I believe, motivates us and urges us and compels us really to seek Him with all our hearts.

NancyWell, thank you, Byron. That’s Byron Paulus, the director of Life Action MinistriesRevive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries, and it’s been a privilege for me for years to serve with men and women like Bryon and his wife, Sue, who have a heart and a hunger to see God move.

As you’re hearing those accounts, I hope that God’s giving you an increased desire in your heart to say, “Lord, ‘Turn again our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the south.’”

When we come back together on Revive Our Hearts, we’ll pick up with that verse again and talk about what it means for God to turn our captivity as the streams in the south. You won’t want to miss the vision that that gives us for what God wants to do in our day.

Let’s pray. O Lord, we do cry out to You, and we say we need You. We need You to move in our day. We desperately need You to move, and I pray that You’d give us a recognition of our need in our own lives, in our families, in our churches.

Give us that holy dissatisfaction with business as usual. Come and visit us, Lord. Come and set the captives free for Your glory. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has helped us see how needy we are and how much we need to cry out to God. She’s been joined by Byron Paulus, the executive director of Life Action Ministries, partner ministry to Revive Our Hearts.

You've been able to hear the program today because of those who support Revive Our Hearts financially. And Nancy’s here to tell you how important your generosity ends.

Nancy: Throughout this month we’ve been letting you know about the ministry’s fiscal year-end needs. I’m so thankful for each person who has been prompted to give toward our goal of nearly a half-million dollars. Your gift means so much at this time, and it will help us a we continue to call women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ.

Now, if you've been intended to help us meet this goal but you haven't had a chance yet, we need to hear from you. Our fiscal year-end ends May 31, and it's important that we end this year in the black so we are ready to go into the summer in a healthy position. And as we've been sharing, when you donate any amount this month, we'll say "thank you" by sending the CD call Love Divine by pianist Jan Mulder. This is the CD that was playing in my house when Robert Wolgemuth proposed to me last year. We've listened to it many times since, and it has a special place in my heart. That's why I wanted to share this special version prepared for Revive Our Hearts.

And don’t forget! As a transcript reader, your gift will be doubled by some friends of the ministry who believe in the potential of digital media for getting the gospel out. They are encouraging you to partner with us in keeping the Revive Our Hearts' transcripts going strong. Visit ReviveOurHearts.com/donate/transcript and your donation will be doubled this month.

Thank you so much for helping Revive Our Hearts to continue to call women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ.

Leslie: If you’re like me, you pray that God will take away your tears. But Nancy says, we need to be asking God for the right kind of tears. She’ll explain more next week. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

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

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

 

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