Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Psalm 126, Day 6

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Learn more about Cry Out! A Nationwide Prayer Event for Women

Leslie Basham: Nancy DeMoss Wolemuth looks at the direction our nation is heading as we ask God to provide a dramatic turnaround.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Listen, ladies! Revival—as far as I'm concerned after years of studying this and believing God for it—is not just a nice idea. It's not an option. It's something we have got to have.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Monday, May 30, 2016.

If you're like me, you'll pray that God will take away your tears. But today you'll be encouraged to cry the right kind of tears instead. Today’s program is part of a series Nancy began last week on revival. If you missed it, you can download the programs by subscribing to the Revive Our Hearts podcast, or just visit ReviveOurHearts.com. Here's part six of a ten-day series called, "The Cry of the Captives."

Nancy: We're looking at Psalm 126. In the middle of that Psalm we find this intense, earnest prayer for revival. As the psalmist says, Lord, would you "bring back our captivity, O Lord; as the streams in the South" (v. 4).

He's recognized (in the first part of this psalm) the times in the past when God has moved; when God has set his people free, and now he's praying for a fresh visitation of God's Spirit—for a supernatural, dramatic work of God.

That's something else I that see in this verse 4, "Bring back our captivity, O Lord; as the streams in the South." The word that is translated Negev or South in your Bible (depending on which translation you have) has as its root the word "parched." 

This Negev, this land to the South refers to the desert that is south of Judah. It's a dry place; it's an arid, barren place. In the dry season, the streams in the Negev—the streams in the South, a desert region—have little or no water.

So they have what is called a wadi [W-A-D-I] in Israel, which are just empty river beds. In the dry season, they are dry as a bone. They're not rivers; they're just river beds. They're places for water to flow, but there's no water in them in the dry season. But then comes the rainy season. In the rainy season, these sudden flash floods cause those streams to suddenly overflow their banks.

What happens is that scorched, dry, barren land suddenly is turned into a garden. I'm told it's an amazing thing. I've never seen it, but I've read about it. It happens suddenly. The waters come suddenly. The floods come suddenly, and the growth comes suddenly. It's like the ground was just waiting for the water to come so that it could spring up and not be barren anymore.

That description is the picture of God's supernatural presence and what it does when He comes to dry, hungry, thirsty hearts and to needy hearts, homes, and churches. When the Spirit of God is poured out on His people, there is the sense of the dry place becoming fertile—the desert becoming a blossoming, blooming place.

The psalmist is praying, "Lord, as the streams"—that word stream is actually the word torrents. It's like a flood of water when those torrents of water come into the south, to those dry river beds, and the desert is caused to blossom. "Lord, in the same way that You turned the desert into a fruitful place, would You turn back our captivity and make our lives fruitful? Come and work in our hearts."

God is always at work among His people, and sometimes He does it in a much more gradual way. But then there are those seasons when God supernaturally, dramatically, suddenly comes and does something that otherwise might take years to take place in a life or a family.

Let me give you an example of that. In the First Great Awakening, Jonathan Edwards was one of the great instruments that God used. He described what happened there in North Hampton in the early 1700s when God moved.

Here is a man who for years had been faithfully preaching the Word of God and then suddenly, God just ignited dry kindling and the fire started, the floods came, the riverbeds filled up, the desert turned into a fruitful place, and Edwards said:

When God in so remarkable a manner took the work into His own hands, there was as much done in a day or two as, at ordinary times, with all endeavors that men can use, is done in a year.

I've seen God do this in churches as we've taken teams from Life Action Ministries into the churches and seen God's hand in a period of a few weeks. I remember one church where there were fifty couples who were either divorced or separated and one or both partners were involved in an adulterous relationship. In the space of three weeks, God supernaturally moved in fifty of those families to bring about reconciliation and restoration!

If you've been involved in marital counseling, you know it can take years for that to happen. But in a short period of time, when God poured out His Spirit in that place, that's what happened. That's what you think of when you read Isaiah chapter 35: "The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom . . . They will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God" (vv. 1–2 NIV).

Isn't that what you want to see in your church, in your family, in our nation? Listen ladies! Revival—as far as I'm concerned after years of studying this and believing God for it—is not just a nice idea. It's not an option. It's something we have got to have.

"Lord, please turn again our captivity as the streams in the South" (Ps. 126:4 paraphrase).

So the Psalmist prays, he requests in verse 4, "Lord, would you please," he issues a plea for the present, "Lord, please come and turn back our captivity as the streams [or the torrent] in the South" (paraphrased).

Then, as we come to the last paragraph of this psalm, we see God's people reaping. God's people reaping. We saw in the first three verses, God's people remembering. They praised God for what He had done in the past. We saw in verse four God's people requesting that He would move again. So there's a plea for the present.

I love these last two verses. God's people reaping—and here's where we have a promise for the future. There's a new metaphor that comes into the psalm at this point. It's a metaphor of sowing and reaping. Let me read verses five and six.

Those who sow in tears, shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

Now in those two verses I see two things I want to focus on in this session and the next.

First, we see the cost of sowing and second, we see the certainty of reaping.

The cost of sowing. What's the phrase that tells you the cost of sowing? "Those who sow in tears. Those who sow in tears!"

Second, we have the certainty of reaping. What phrase tells you that? "They shall reap in joy. They shall reap in joy!"

So let's look first at the cost of sowing because you can't reap until you have sown. First, there has to be a cost of sowing. And then there's the joy of reaping. What is the cost of sowing? Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. "He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing" (v. 6).

"Those who sow in tears." As we look at other portions of the Scripture, we know that the seed that we're sowing is what? It's the Word of God. That's the seed that we sow in people's hearts. That's the seed that is sown in our hearts. So this thing of sowing in tears—and in this psalm, you see God's part in revival, and you see our part.

We've said that revival is a supernatural work of God. He's the one who turns back our captivity. He's the one who brings the harvest, but you see in these verses that we have a part. We have to do some sowing. God doesn't do the sowing. We have to do that.

Compare the sudden work we saw in verse four where God suddenly sends the torrent, the outpouring of His Spirit with the steady work of verses five and six, sowing in tears. Going through the regular, ordinary, challenging routine effort of sowing. Not all Christian work is the sudden spontaneous moving of God's Spirit. Sometimes it's just the process of faithfully sowing and sowing in tears.

Now as I think about this matter of sowing in tears, I think there are at least three kinds of tears that may be involved, and let's talk about those.

First of all, "sowing in tears," may be tears of labor. Tears of labor. Hard work. Perseverance. Patience.

You think of this farmer who's going through the labor of preparing the soil and then sowing the seed. He's not seeing the outcome yet. He's not seeing the fruit. He's not seeing the product. He's going to have to wait a while for that. But he's going through the perseverance, the hard work, of sowing. In our spiritual lives and in ministry, there are those times where we just have to be faithful in sowing seeds.

A lot of you are mothers. You know what I mean when I talk about faithful sowing of seeds in your children's lives. You don't reap the fruit right away.

I have a friend who is reading through the Bible to her four little children. She started when her oldest—before she even had four. Her oldest was, I don't know, probably five and her oldest is now about eight, and they're just getting ready to finish the Old Testament.

She's been reading through the Bible, and a couple of her kids are really little kids, and they read the Bible every day. She's read through the Old Testament, and she's sowing the seed of the Word in children's lives.

But it's going to be years before she sees the full fruit—the full result of that sowing in her children's lives. There's perseverance. There's patience. Think about a woman in labor, the hard work, the sowing in tears—a woman who is in travail in order to give birth to a new child.

Then think about that verse in Isaiah 66, "As soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children" (v. 8 paraphrase). There's the sowing in tears, the labor, the hard work.

I've been with a friend in labor twice—the same friend with two different children. It's hard work. It's labor. It's sowing in tears. I can remember that woman saying halfway through the labor to her husband, "John, I can't go through with this." Well, at that point, she didn't have much choice. But, they're the tears of labor.

I think of that kind of labor and travail when I think of people who faithfully sow the word of God into people's lives. Moms. Pastors. Studying, preparing to teach, to minister to others.

Think of the apostle Paul in Acts chapter 20 where he said, "I serve the Lord with all humility, and with tears and with trials" (v. 19). He said that to the Ephesian elders as he was leaving Ephesus after having been there for three years. He says, "For three years, I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears" (v. 31).

Moms, you know what that's about. You know what it's like when your children are little or they're teenagers and you want to see them go God's direction, and you're laboring with tears; laboring in your heart. You want to see them get it. You want to see the Word of God take root in their lives.

There is this sowing in tears—this faithfully sowing the seed of the Word of God even when we don't see results.

By the way, I just want to say a word of appreciation and gratitude for faithful pastors, for men of God who week after week are faithful in studying the Word of God, preparing and delivering the Word of God, and I'd add to that Sunday school teachers. Faithful servants of the Lord who sow into my life. Those who labor. Those who travail. They will reap with joy.

Now, there's another kind of tears. Not tears of labor but tears of confession and contrition over our own sins, and our spiritual condition. This is a thread you see throughout the Scriptures.

James chapter 4, "Be afflicted and mourn and weep" (v. 9 paraphrase). What are we to mourn over? Our sin. Our stubbornness. Our willfulness. Our pride. Our resistance against God. Mourning and weeping over sin.

Jesus said in Matthew chapter 5, "Blessed are those who weep for they will be comforted" (v. 4 paraphrase). What are they weeping over? They're weeping over their sins. They're broken over their sins; they're heart-broken; they are grieved. They have what Paul talked about to the Corinthians,"A godly sorrow that leads to repentance" (Matt. 7:10 NIV). Confession and contrition over their sins.

It's David, the Psalmist, saying, "O God, against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight" (Ps. 51:4 NIV). It's being broken-hearted over my sin, over my spiritual condition.

As you read the history of revival, you can't escape that conviction and contrition over sin is a characteristic mark of revival every time. We need to pray for that in our own hearts. We need to pray for that kind of weeping and grieving and mourning over sin in our generation.

In the 1930s God moved in a revival in the Shantung province of China. During this great outpouring of God's Spirit, it was said that during those days, "The preachers couldn't finish their sermons before people would begin crying out in agony because of their sins."

I read those kinds of things because in our culture, in our day, that is almost unheard of. But we need to get back to that. We need to ask God to give us the capacity to weep and to mourn and grieve over our sin.

To see our sin—if we could ever see it as God sees it, surely we would weep! Surely we would mourn. But we're so good at looking at our sin in comparison with everything and everyone else, it doesn't bother us that much. So we trivialize sin. But sin is no trivial matter. When we've seen it as God seen it, and sees what our sin has cost: Christ on the cross. We can't laugh about it; we can't make jokes about it; we can't be half-hearted about it; we will mourn and grieve and weep over our sin.

I've quoted earlier in this series from the Brian Edwards' book on revival. He says,

A deep, uncomfortable, and at times overwhelming, conviction of sin is an indispensable part of revival. We often have a tinted view of revival as a time of glory and joy and swelling numbers queuing to enter the churches. That is only the part of the story. Before the glory and the joy, there is conviction; and that begins with the people of God. There are tears and godly sorrow. There are wrongs to put right, secret things, furthest from the eyes of men, to be thrown out, and bad relationships, hidden for years, to be repaired openly. If we're not prepared for this, we had better not pray for revival. Revival is not intended for the enjoyment of the church, but for its cleansing.1

When was the last time when you wept over your sin? I may mean literal tears, but more than that, I want to know that when is that last time, in your heart, you deeply grieved over your sin? When was the last time you were heart-broken over what your sin has done to a holy God? "Those who sow in tears will reap in joy."

Do you want the joy of forgiveness? Do you want the joy of a clear conscience? Do you want the joy of knowing that you're right with God? "Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy." What kind of tears? Tears of confession. Tears of contrition. Tears of brokenness. As we see our sin, our spiritual condition, and we say, "O Lord, forgive me!" Forgive me! Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.

Father, how I pray for a greater capacity to grieve over my sin, to see it as you do. Thank You that You've made provision for forgiveness through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Help us never to take that provision lightly, not to trample the blood of Christ by trivializing our sin, or comparing ourselves to others and feeling that we are doing so much better.

Lord, help us never to scoff at righteousness or to make light of sin. Give to me, give to the women who are listening, give to Your church in our day a sense of the weightiness and the seriousness. Bring a conviction, O God, of sin.

Thank You for the promise that those who sow in tears will reap in joy. Let the tears come so the joy may come. I pray in Jesus' name, amen.

Leslie: It's not natural to ask God for the ability to weep, but it's good and right. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth will be right back.

First let me remind you of a unique opportunity to put into practice what you’ve heard today. I think if you look around at the state of our world, you’d agree it’s a time for tears, just like it was in Jeremiah’s day. And we are going to cry out for our nation and our world for such a time as this.

On September 23, we are asking God to bring together at least 100,000 women to pray. Here’s how you can be involved. Visit ReviveOurHearts.com to sign up and to put together a group in your area. Then on September 23, your group will join a simulcast from Cry Out: True Woman '16. We’ll be together praying there at the conference, you can pray right in your community and join other groups praying across the country and around the world. To sign up and get more information, visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

If you’re familiar with this program, you know that the last words you always hear are that Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries. What is Life Action Ministries? The mission of Life Action is bringing revival to churches, and the ministry does that by sending teams to churches. Byron Paulus is the Executive Director of Life Action, and Nancy is talking with him about the importance of revival.

Nancy: Someone might ask what was so different about a Life Action meeting that has impacted some churches with revival? Going to churches, we're really not teaching things people are hearing in their churches Sunday after Sunday. What is it about ten days or two weeks of a meeting like this that can make such a difference in so many lives?

Byron Paulus: Nancy, I believe that people are hungry for the presence of God. I believe people are starving and will take whatever time is necessary to deal deeply with the issues of their heart.

I think we're seeing anywhere from sixty (just seeing a report from last week) to one hundred percent of Sunday morning attendance without all the hype and emotion and advertising, coming out night after night after night.

Nancy: We're talking about evening services every night, for ten days to two weeks. This is unheard of these days. You know that. But people come you're saying.

Byron: This is very abnormal today. But they do because I think they realize that the issues they need to deal with, in their heart, is not a "quick fix." I believe they realize that when we're going to take time to seek God that extensively, that God is going to show up in their hearts as well as their church, and He will do what they could never do to heal the hurts.

I think you would say—and I know our leaders out there in revivals and in our four teams would say—the number one problem in the churches today really is bitterness. There's a lot of deep wounds and hurts, for whatever reasons (and we could list many), but bitterness stems out of and becomes the fruit of that hurt.

Hebrews tells us that sexual immorality (13:4) causes anger and all these broken relationships. When we take time to identify, to deal in deep ways, to seek purity of heart, and holiness of heart, we begin to understand grace in a fresh way, and the Holy Spirit in a fresh way.

I don't think we can do that in one night or two nights or three nights. To really go deep, I believe, results in a permanent life-change. So people come and they spend that extended time. and we don't want meetings for the sake of meetings. When the old revivalists came, they would stay for ten weeks.

Nancy: They would build a tabernacle and stay until God came.

Byron: They would or pitch a tent. They would and stay for however long it took for God to show up. Then when God came, they just moved to the next community. They would pitch a tent or build a tabernacle. "How long you going to be here?" "'Til God comes!"

We're so accustomed today . . . I believe in our own ministry sometimes as well as in our churches, to just do church and to put it on a calendar.

Nancy: Do it fast.

Byron: Go through the motions at times. We really want to say, "No, we're going to set aside that time to see God, when He comes." That's our objective, and that's our goal.

I know God is already there in a general sense of His presence. James tells us to "draw near unto him and he'll draw near unto us" (4:8). There is that cultivated sense of the presence of God. I believe the Puritans, the biblical Pentecost, and other evidences where there is revival historically—that there are seasons of time when the manifest presence of God came. When God just tabernacled with His people.

Whether it's in a marriage or in issues I'm facing in my walk with God, or corporately as a church, it's in those manifest times, in the presence of God that He does what we can never do apart from those divine moments.

Leslie: That’s Byron Paulus, executive director of Life Action Ministries, the parent organization for Revive Our Hearts. Byron has been sharing his heart for revival. It’s what fuels Life Action and Revive Our Hearts. Nancy’s back to help you know how you can help fuel the mission of Revive Our Hearts as well.

Nancy: Today you’ve heard the heart of Revive Our Hearts and Life Action Ministries. We are asking the Lord to move upon His people again in revival and spiritual awakening. And as you look around day by day, doesn’t the need seem more and more obvious? Basic ideas of right and wrong and marriage and gender are being turned upside down. Violence and unrest seems like a daily occurance. So in other words, it’s a time of great hope.

We know the Lord of heaven and earth can transform societies by changing hearts from the inside out. And in these desperate times, we’re asking Him to do just that, in a dramatic way. That's why I’m asking you to join us on Friday evening, September 23, as women across the country link hearts and pray together for revival in our day.

I’m asking the Lord to bring together at least one hundred thousand women in perhaps thousands of locations. Just imagine the churches in your community, the schools, the homes, just filled with women—smaller groups, larger groups. Women coming together to get on their knees and to cry out to the Lord to come and intervene in our day.

We're going to do that by participating together in a simulcast prayer event that we've called Cry Out! As you can imagine, this is a massive undertaking. And it’s coming in a year where we are challenged to keep regular ministry going. But we've said that this is something that we've got to do. 

You can make a big difference as you partner with Revive Our Hearts in meeting both out day-to-day ministry needs and the needs related to the Cry Out! Prayer Event.

As we've been sharing with you this month, the end of May marks the end of our fiscal year. That's when we wrap up our current budget cycle and begin to launch into a new one. We've been asking the Lord to provide a goal of almost a half-million dollars, here in May.

I'm so thankful for all of those who have contributed thus far, and I wanted to give you an update about where we are in this project. The last report I received last week showed that we've reached about half of the total of the fiscal year-end need this month. Now, if we don't meet that goal by the end of May, that's tomorrow, it could result in our having to trim some current ministry outreaches. We're asking the Lord to make up this significant gap today and tomorrow, before the close of our fiscal year-end.

When you make a gift of any amount today or tomorrow, we want to say "thank you" by sending you a CD that has meant so much to my husband and me. It's called Love Divine: A Collection of Hymns performed by pianist Jan Mulder. Thank you so much for standing with Revive Our Hearts and helping us share the message of revival and spiritual awakening with women in the United States and around the world.

Leslie: We've been learning to weep over our sin, but there's another reason to weep—looking out at the world and seeing such pain. Those tears are meaningful to God, too. Tomorrow, we'll consider how to take those burdens for others to God in prayer. 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 New King James Version unless otherwise noted.

1 Brian Edwards. Revival! A People Saturated With God (England: Evangelical Press, 1990), 120.

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