Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Renew Your Perspective

Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I've been reading in Pilgrim's Progress recently where Pilgrim and his friend Hopeful . . . As you know, Pilgrim is a Christian who is making his way from this earth to the Celestial City, to Heaven. At this point he is traveling with a friend whose name is Hopeful, and they stumble into Doubting Castle, which is owned by Giant Despair.

Giant Despair imprisons Pilgrim and his friend in a very dark dungeon where he tormented them, as Pilgrim's Progress says,

From Wednesday morning until Saturday night, without one bit of bread, or drop of drink, or Light, or any to ask how they did . . . and were far from Friends and Acquaintance . . . Giant Despair beat them mercilessly while [they were in his dungeon]. He counseled them to kill themselves.

He told them it wasn't worth going on and that they should just take their own lives. They thought that through. They considered it.

But Hopeful was used to bring hope to the situation, and they decided not to take their lives. So then, Giant Despair came back in and threatened to kill them himself, and he just gave this very gruesome, graphic description of how he was going to kill them as he had others before them.

So they had to go through the night with these wounds of the merciless beatings and the doubts and the fears that had been planted in their minds. Well, the passage goes on to say,

On Saturday, about midnight they began to pray [Pilgrim and Hopeful down in the dungeon], and continued in Prayer till almost break of day.

Now, a little before it was Day, good Christian as one half amazed, broke out in this passionate speech; What a Fool, quoth he, am I, thus to lie in a stinking dungeon, when I may as well walk at liberty? I have a key in my bosom, called Promise, that will I am persuaded open any lock in Doubting-Castle. Then said Hopeful, That's good news; good brother, pluck it out of thy bosom, and try.

They discovered that the key called Promise opened any lock in Doubting-Castle. . . . They escaped [from the castle. They escaped from Giant Despair. And the passage ends by saying], then they went on, and came to the King's Highway again, and so were safe.1

Leslie: You're about to learn how to use the key of biblical promises in your situation. This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, September 30, 2015. Nancy is in the series "Don't Lose Heart"—something the characters in Pilgrim's Progress had to remember.

Nancy: As I read that passage about how the key of God's promises unlocked the door for Pilgrim and Hopeful and got them out of this Doubting Castle and away from the Giant of Despair, I was reminded of the passage that we have been looking at in 2 Corinthians 4.

"We don't lose heart," Paul said, even though we are experiencing all kinds of hardships and challenges as we try to be faithful in serving the Lord. And what is one of the things that keeps us from losing heart? According to this passage, it's the promises of God. We need to learn to rehearse His promises.

We've been looking at how to keep from losing heart. We've talked about:

  • receiving God's provision
  • renouncing ungodly practices
  • recognizing the problem of spiritual blindness
  • resolving to promote Christ
  • relying on His power in your weakness
  • remembering the purpose of hardship

Now we come to the part of 2 Corinthians 4, beginning in verse 13, where we are challenged to rehearse the promises of God. Verse 13,

Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what is written, "I believed, and so I spoke," we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence (vv. 13–14).

What is Paul saying? We have some great and precious promises. Actually, those are the words that Peter used in 2 Peter 1. But they are talking about the same promises.

The promises of God are great and precious promises because they are true. They never fail. So Paul said, "We have faith because we have some promises." Our faith is not in our faith. Our faith is not in our prayers. Our faith is in God, who has made promises, and the promises are as trustworthy as God Himself.

Paul said, "[We know that the One] who raised up the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence" (2 Cor. 4:14).

Paul said, "We know that this isn't the end, that our sufferings will have an end, that this is not going to go on forever, that though it seems as if we are going to die, and we may die serving the Lord, there's something beyond death." There's something we have to look forward to.

The One who raised up Jesus from the dead will raise us, too! They can kill these mortal bodies, but they can't kill our spirits. They can't kill our relationship with God. They can't take eternity away from us. They can't take Jesus away from us.

He said, "[God] will raise us also with Jesus and will bring us with you into his presence." You see, Paul knew that there was a deliverance coming. It was a promise, and so he chose to believe it.

I think about promises throughout the Scriptures. Psalm 30:5, "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning." Your night may go on for weeks or months or years, but the promise is that joy comes in the morning.

So cling to the promises. Rehearse the promises of God. Job 23 says that in the midst of his excruciating pain, trying to be righteous and faithful to the Lord, he is suffering nonetheless. He says, "I'm looking for God in the midst of all of this" (Job 23:3 paraphrased).

"I look in front of me, behind me, to the right, to the left, and I can't find God anywhere. (vv. 8–9, paraphrased) But, he says, in verse 10, "He knows the way that I take." God sees me. When it comes down to it, would you rather know that you can see God or that God can see you? Job says, "[God] knows the way that I take."

And here's the rest of that promise, "When he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold" (Job 23:10). That's a promise. Rehearse it when you're in the midst of that desperate or difficult or seemingly impossible circumstance.

If you don't want to lose heart, rehearse the promises of God. Paul said in Romans 8:18, I'm persuaded "that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us."

Paul said, "I am convinced that there is glory that lies ahead." So he found the promises of God, he laid hold of them, embraced them, believed them, and was able to endure.

You see this theme through all of the New Testament authors, saying that you can endure present suffering in light of the promise of a future hope. You can endure if you know that there is going to be something to show for it. Rehearse His promises. Cling to them.

Look at 2 Timothy 4. Again, Paul is talking about suffering. He says,

The time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths (vv. 3–4).

So Paul says, "The time will come when you will be speaking the truth, and no one will be listening." Do you ever feel that's true in your parenting? You are speaking the truth, and no one wants to hear. There are those times. But he says, "know that there will be those times." And in verse 5,

As for you [Timothy], always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Do what God has called you to do. Be faithful. Endure the suffering. For he says in verse 6, 2 Timothy 4,

I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. [Paul was getting ready to die. He said,] I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (vv. 6–7).

Now here's part of what kept him going, verse 8,

Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

That's what keeps us faithful. That's what keeps us from losing heart—knowing that I will be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, knowing that I will be in the presence of the Lord for all of eternity, knowing that my faith will be refined as gold.

Again you see it in verse 14, 2 Timothy 4, where he talks about how Alexander the coppersmith did him great harm. He says,

The Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Beware of him, for he strongly opposed our message.

At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion's mouth (vv. 14–17).

He looked back on what God had done in the past. But here's what he does in 2 Timothy 4:18, he looks to the future promises of God. He looks to the future based on the promises of God,

The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into His heavenly kingdom.

Ladies, that's a promise. That's a promise I need when the going gets tough. When I get discouraged, when I think no one is paying attention, when I think no one cares, when I think I don't have the stamina to go on, when I deal with just the ordinary daily struggles of life in ministry, as you do, I need that promise.

Let me read it again. "The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed" (2 Tim. 4:18). Now,

  • It doesn't say when.
  • It doesn't say how.
  • It doesn't say that it will be tomorrow.
  • It doesn't say that you won't have to endure.
  • You will have to endure. But you can KNOW that sooner or later the Lord will rescue you from every evil deed and will bring you safely into His heavenly kingdom.

So Paul ends with the doxology in that paragraph which should rightfully be ours as well, "To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen" (v. 18).

We don't lose heart because we rehearse the promises of God. We believe them; we cling to them; we rest on them; we accept them as accomplished. For in God, they are true, and they will be true.

(Dennis Jernigan)

Don’t lose heart, faithful one;
Father is watching you, there’s no need to run.
So don’t give in for the Victor has come;
Don’t lose heart.

One of my sisters wrote me not too long ago sharing an experience that she had in China. I thought it was so appropriate in light of the passage we've been looking at in 2 Corinthians 4 as we have been talking about how to keep from losing heart. She said,

In China, I saw women weaving tapestries in a centuries old way—backwards. Therefore, the front of the tapestry cannot be seen until it is finished. The backside of the tapestry is, to be honest, ugly, full of knots and dark-colored and black threads. Yet one day, the beautiful weaving will justify the work.

So too, we see only the backside of the tapestry of life, and only a small section of it. Often there are knots, and the dark threads seem most numerous.

Yet when we see the whole tapestry on the right side ]we can't see that yet, but when we do], we will see how God has masterfully woven all the threads together (even wrongs done by us and to us).

God is weaving all the threads together to make a glorious master work of art.

As I read that description, I thought of a principle I want to touch on from 2 Corinthians, chapter 4—"How to Keep from Losing Heart." That is the need to renew your perspective. Let's look at verses 16–18 of 2 Corinthians 4.

Paul ends as he started by saying,

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparisons, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient [they are temporal], but the things that are unseen are eternal.

You see, God gave Paul a perspective that we need if we are going to keep from losing heart, and it is this perspective that kept Paul faithful in the fight, faithful in the race all the way to the finish.

He said, "We have a perspective that the hardships of ministry are redemptive. The hardships of life, the hardships of serving the Lord have a purpose. They are not meaningless. They are purposeful."

He says, "In the midst of those external pressures and problems" whatever they are; you make your own list of what you are going through. Whatever those external pressures and problems are, he said, "In the midst of them you can be inwardly strong and renewed."

While your world is falling apart, while your home is falling apart perhaps, and you have been seeking the Lord and praying and crying out to Him . . . It's so hard to persevere with what you’re living with—with the constant berating and criticism of those who are closest to you—whatever the circumstances that may be tearing you down outwardly. Inwardly you can be being renewed, strengthened by His Spirit in your inner person.

Then Paul gives this perspective that also helps us to keep from losing heart: "The pressures and problems you are experiencing," he says, "will not last forever. The things that you can see, they are temporal." In fact, he calls them "a momentary light affliction."

I think of that phrase, and then I think of some of the circumstances that I have been through. Worse yet, think of some of the circumstances that I have heard of others going through that are, many times, circumstances beyond their own control—health, finances, marriage, whatever—and these horrible, hard, painful circumstances, and I think, Paul would call them "a light momentary affliction"?

He says, "It's light; it’s lightweight." Well, when you are underneath that affliction, it doesn't feel very light. If you have been going through it for three years or ten years or thirteen years or thirty-three years, it doesn't feel very momentary. That's because we live in time. That's because we are so earth bound.

But Paul says, "I want you to have a different perspective. These afflictions really are momentary, and they really are light, and the time you will know that for sure is when you get to heaven. Then you will see that those afflictions have been working in you, producing for you a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

It's just the opposite, not a momentary light affliction, but an exceeding eternal weight of glory. You can't compare that weight of glory with what you have been going through on this earth. So don't lose heart; hang in there, persevere; stay faithful to the Lord.

Amy Carmichael wrote this little piece of verse. She said

All that grieves is but for a moment;
All that pleases is but for a moment;
Only the eternal is important.2

Live in light of eternity. Keep your eyes on things that are eternal. Keep your eyes on the finish line, and that will give you grace to keep going.

Many of you have heard the story of Martin and Gracia Burnham who were held as hostages in the Philippines by terrorists for 376 days of captivity. As the story began to unfold, after Martin lost his life there in the jungle at the end of that conflict and Gracia was rescued and came back home to the United States, I was so stirred by the fact that this couple, for more than a year of captivity, steadfastly refused to lose heart.

Then to hear the words that Martin spoke to his wife, Gracia, there in the jungle, as often they were tied to a tree, did without food for lengthy periods of time, and all the suffering and hardships they went through as missionaries over in the Philippines. But hearing the story of Martin telling his wife there in the jungle, shortly before he went home to be with the Lord, "We may not get out of this jungle alive” (and, in fact, he didn’t) “but we can leave this world serving the Lord with gladness."

You may not get out of your jungle alive. Your circumstances may be so awful that ultimately it ends up taking your life. But one thing you can do, by God's grace, if you are going to leave this world, you can leave serving the Lord with gladness.

I thought about what a challenge and privilege and a calling it is in the midst of hardship to serve the Lord with gladness, not to lose heart, to renew your perspective, to keep your eyes on the finish line. As you see Jesus there waiting for you at the end of the finish line, you will be able to press on and not to lose heart.

Thank You, Lord, for the riches of Your Word. Thank You for the knowledge that our sufferings are redemptive and purposeful and that our inner person can be being renewed even as circumstances may be tearing us down.

Lord, I lift up these friends and pray that You would encourage and strengthen their hearts with Your Word and that You will not allow anyone to lose heart. Keep us faithful, Lord, trusting You, looking to You, leaning on You, loving You, serving You, enduring all the way to the end. Thank You for the promise of all that lies ahead. I pray in Jesus' name, amen.

(Dennis Jernigan)

Don’t lose heart, faithful one;
Father is watching you, there’s no need to run.
So don’t give in for the Victor has come;
Don’t lose heart.
Don’t lose heart for your life I’ll defend.
Don’t lose heart.

Oh this life may seem hard for a season,
But I will be with you each step of the way.
So let these heartaches and trials serve their reason
To help you depend on Me more each day.  
Don’t lose heart for I am the way;
Don’t lose heart.

For the day will come when I’ll hold you
And put an end to every trial.
So let My love now enfold you;
My precious little holy child.
Holding you is worth every mile;
Don’t lose heart.
Don’t lose heart.  

Leslie: That’s Dennis Jernigan with a song called, "Don't Lose Heart," from the album Solo. That’s also the name of our current teaching series.

We pray that Revive Our Hearts will help keep you from losing heart each weekday. When you are tempted to be discouraged, we believe this daily reminder from God's Word will help give the perspective you need. We hear stories all the time of listeners who are encouraged when they feel like giving up. Nancy is here with one of those stories.

Nancy: I think of a woman we heard from who received that kind of encouragement. She’s a stay-at-home mom to four children under age five, and she and her husband are busy in youth ministry. She wrote,

There have been days when I’ve been so burnt out and overwhelmed by the mundane tasks of the day. I’ve turned the radio on numerous times and Revive Our Hearts will happen to be on, and it’s like God is speaking directly to me. It’s a word that I need just for that moment, a word that will put a heavenly perspective on my motherhood and my value as a woman.

When I felt like there was nothing left in me to give to my family, it was your ministry that God used to revive my heart to be able to continue on that day. Revive Our Hearts has gotten me through many tough days.

I love hearing those kinds of testimonies, and I’m so glad that we’re able to encourage that young mom, thanks to listeners who support Revive Our Hearts through their prayers and their financial support.

Perhaps you’re a regular listener to Revive Our Hearts, and this ministry has been a blessing to you. Would you consider helping us offer this kind of encouragement on a regular basis by becoming a Revive Our Hearts Ministry Partner?

Our partners commit to sharing the ministry with other women. They agree to pray for this ministry, and they support Revive Our Hearts with a monthly gift of $30 or more.

When you join this important group, you’ll receive a number of benefits in return. Each month you’ll receive a copy of our devotional that’s called Daily Reflections. You’ll also receive a monthly letter that I write to our Ministry Partners. Our partners are an important part of our team, so we want to keep them updated about what’s going on. When you sign up as a Ministry Partner, we’ll also send you a complimentary copy of one of my books.

For more details on how to partner with us in this way, just visit ReviveOurHearts.com, and click on “Donate/Become a Monthly Ministry Partner,” or give us a call at 1–800–569–5959.

Leslie: When you become a Ministry Partner, you'll receive one of Nancy's books. Our team will stay in touch so you'll know how to pray and how to share the message of Revive Our Hearts with others. Occasionally, we send the Ministry Partners some surprise resources as well. To join this important group, visit ReviveOurHearts.com. Click on: Donate/Become a Monthly Ministry Partner, or call 1–800–569–5959.

A mom has a huge effort on the lives under her care. On the next Revive Our Hearts, four grown children tell about the faithfulness of their mom: how her prayers, her passion for God's Word, and her joy influenced them for eternity. It will encourage you to be faithful in everything you do today—big or small. That's tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

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

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

1 John Bunyan. Pilgrim's Progess. Barbour Edition, p. 112.

2 Amy Carmichael. Thou Givest . . . They Gather, p. 57.

 

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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