Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Restoring Your Horizontal Relationships

Leslie Basham: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth encourages you to let your words be a source of healing today.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: You know what it's like to have a heavy heart and to have your body feel the toll of what's going on in your spirit. Our words, if they're pleasant words, if they're encouraging words, can be sweetness and health and strength.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of The Quiet Place, for Wednesday, September 5, 2018.

This week we’re marking a milestone. Nancy has been serving the Lord full time for forty years. Nancy, it’s been so meaningful to look back and celebrate God’s faithfulness over four decades.

Nancy: Yes, Leslie, it’s been such a joy to me recently to reflect back over the last forty years and to think about what a privilege to be a servant of the Lord and about all that He has done and the ministry He has allowed take place during those years. I’m enjoying the chance this week to think back over some of the topics that I’ve found myself teaching on again and again. On Monday we heard some excerpts from messages that were about the nature and character of God—so foundational. Yesterday we focused on having a right vertical relationship with the Lord.

Today we're going to turn and see how all of that affects our horizontal relationships with others. As you get to know God better, one natural result is that you’ll treat others differently. So today we’re digging into some archives to explore further how we can engage with others in a ways that really honors Christ.

Leslie: There are definitely some classic series we’ll want to cover. Starting with this one.

Nancy: The outcome of our lives—the way we turn out and who we are—is not determined by what happens to us. 

Leslie: This is the series “Freedom Through Forgiveness.”

Nancy "Freedom Through Forgiveness": We have certain responses that we do, we parent our children the way we do because of something that happened to us, because of the way we were parented or because of the way someone else dealt with us. I am just that way because of this aspect of my past.

But the fact is that the outcome of our lives and who we are is not determined by what happens to us. What has happened to us certainly has an effect upon us; it influences us. But, it cannot control who we become. The fact is who we are and the outcome of our lives is determined by how we respond to what happens to us.

You may be thinking, That is not very encouraging; that is not very good news because now you tell me I am responsible. I thought that if at least I could think someone else was responsible, maybe this would not hurt so badly. But, now you are saying that it is my fault.

Well here is why that is good news: If the outcome of my life is determined by things over which I have no control—the way people have treated me, have with dealt me or things that have been done to me—then, I am a hopeless victim. There is no hope for me.

If I have no control over the outcome of my life, then I have to remain the way that I am.

But, realize that we, by God's grace and as children of God, can choose, by the power of God's Spirit, how we respond to what happens to us. There is hope in that because God will give us grace to choose to respond in ways that are pleasing to Him, and that will set us free from the bondage of our past.

Every time you and I are wronged, we choose how we are going to respond to that offense. There are essentially two ways of responding to hurt. The first way is how most people respond, and that is they become a debt collector. What do they do? They hold the offender hostage.

They say, "You wounded me. And I am not going to let you go until you acknowledge how deeply you have hurt me." They put their offenders in a debtor's prison. I should not really say "they;" I should say, "we," because we have all responded this way to hurt at times.

When we become debt collectors, ultimately that pathway leads to resentment and bitterness. It is the pathway of retaliation; I will get even. We may not do it overtly. But we are withholding love and holding that anger and bitterness in our hearts. We are going to see that when we become debt collectors, we actually end up putting ourselves in prison.

We are going to focus, over these next sessions, on responding in God's way to the wounds and hurts of our past. Essentially, this is a pathway of releasing our offenders from prison, letting them go, setting them free.

I want to stress that we let them go not because they necessarily deserve it, not because they have necessarily come back and said, "I realized I was wrong. Will you forgive me?" They may never realize that. But we release them, not because they deserve it but because of God's incredible grace.

God's grace is undeserved. And as we have received God's grace, we extend His mercy and grace to others. This is the path not of retaliation but of reconciliation. We choose which pathway we will take.

Leslie: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, from a series on Revive Our Hearts called “Freedom Through Forgiveness.”

We’re hearing clips from several classic Revive Our Hearts programs today. They’re all about our relationships with each other.

Not only has Nancy clearly shown us the importance of granting forgiveness to those who have wronged us, she’s also shown us why it’s so important to ask for forgiveness from others.

Here’s Nancy in the series "Seeking Him." During that series she spent a week on the significance of having a clear conscience. She has some questions to help us evaluate whether we need to make things right with another person.

Nancy "Seeking Him": Are you right with your mate? How did you leave this morning? Are things clear between you? Are you right with your parents? Your children? Your in-laws? Your roommate? Your employer? Your employees? Fellow-workers? Church members? Every person you know—just think of those categories of people.

Is there anyone you find yourself avoiding eye contact with? Why? Is there anyone you’re afraid to run into because of something you’ve said or something you’ve done; somebody you just wouldn’t want to encounter on the street this afternoon?

Do you have an unreconciled conflict with another person? Is there some offense you’ve covered up, and you hoped no one would find out? Maybe you’ve done something illegal. Maybe you’ve sinned against the law or the government. Do you have any unpaid debts? Things you’ve stolen? Someone you’ve cheated? Something you’ve borrowed, maybe from the workplace, maybe from a friend, and never returned?

People whose reputation you’ve destroyed with your tongue? We’re talking here not just about sins of commission, but sins of omission, maybe people that you ought to have served or blessed or helped in some way, and you haven’t done it because of pride or selfishness or too busy or lack of love.

If we don’t have a clear conscience first with God and then with others, we will experience debilitating consequences in many different ways in our lives. It can be spiritual, emotional, or even physical consequences of not having a clear conscience.

For example, if your conscience is not clear, if you’ve been sloughing off on the job, you’ve been lazy about your work, and other people in the office know it. They’re having to shoulder part of your load. What do you think is going to happen when you go and try to witness to those people about your relationship with Christ?

That’s why Peter says in 1 Peter 3, “Make sure that you have a clear conscience so that no one can revile your good behavior in Christ” (v. 16 paraphrased), so the enemy won’t be able to blackmail your mouth shut when you go to witness.

In Psalm 32, after he committed his great sin with Bathsheba, David talks about the physical and the emotional torment that he experienced as a result of keeping silent about his sin.

He says, “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. . . . My strength was dried up as by the heat of summer” (vv. 3–4 NIV). Even our joints can become dried out and not be as lubricated as they once were when we have a guilty conscience.

You say, “How does that work?” I don’t know. But I know that our physical well-being is connected to the well-being of our spirit, our emotions, our soul. Our relationship with God and with others can even affect us physically.

You’ve heard how doctors have said that many gastrointestinal disorders and disorders of various types can be affected by the state of our conscience. If we’re not right with God, if we’re bitter, if we’re angry, if we’re unforgiving, if our conscience isn’t clear, it can take a toll on our bodies physically.

In fact, if you don’t have a clear conscience, according to 1 Timothy chapter 1, you can actually shipwreck your faith. That’s what Paul says in 1 Timothy 1:19, “Holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith” (NIV).

Paul also says in 1 Timothy chapter one, verse five, that if we don’t have a clear conscience, we’ll have a diminished capacity to love others. He says, “The result of our teaching, the goal of our teaching is love” (paraphrased). This love comes springing forth out of a heart that is pure, a conscience that is clear, and a faith that is genuine.

So it’s very important that we commit ourselves to have a clear conscience with God and with every person.

Leslie: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth in the series "Seeking Him." She spent a week in that series on clearing your conscience and offered a lot of insight into how to do that. You can hear those practical steps when you listen to the series at ReviveOurHearts.com. Click on “Resources,” then “Programs,” then search for the series “Seeking Him.”

As we celebrate Nancy’s fortieth year of serving the Lord on a full-time basis, we’re looking today at some of her classic messages on our relationships with other people. Here’s part of a series called “Encouraging One Another.”

Nancy "Encouraging One Another": Proverbs chapter 12:25 tells us that "Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad" (NKJV). Do you know that our words can actually be a tonic, a medication, a healing power in someone else's life? Because you see, depression is ultimately a matter of the heart. It's heaviness in the heart. It's the heart being bowed down, and it's the result of some sort of anxiety that's internal.

It's not just a physical matter, though it may have physical symptoms that relate to it. But ultimately, it's a matter of the spirit and God says that our words can minister grace and gladness and help to discouraged or depressed hearts.

A good word can make a heavy heart or a depressed heart glad. Proverbs chapter 16:24 tells us "Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones" (NKJV). You say, "The bones, that's a physical part of your body." You're saying words can even help you physically.

You can't really separate your physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. I mean, we are body, soul, and spirit. Your body doesn’t exist without your soul and your spirit. So what affects one of those affects all parts. The Scripture says that our words can so minister pleasantness and grace and strength and courage and sweetness to the soul that even the health of our bodies is affected.

You know what it's like to have a heavy heart and to have your body feel the toll of what's going on in your spirit. Our words, if they're pleasant words, if they're encouraging words can be sweetness and health and strength.

I think of that verse in the Song of Solomon that's been a challenge to me many, many times where it says the bridegroom in that passage says to his bride, "Honey and milk are under your tongue" (Song 4:11 NKJV). He's talking about the power of her words to encourage and to strengthen.

Honey will strengthen a person in weakness. If they take a little honey, it gives them some strength. Milk helps to mature bones that are immature or weak. And he's saying, "Your words have that power in my life to encourage, to strengthen, to build up my life in its weakness."

I often wonder as I speak (too often I wonder after I speak when I need to wonder before I speak), Are my words ministering as honey and milk to strengthen, to encourage those around me who are weak?

And again, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of this with the people we are closest to—the people who live inside the four walls of your own home—the people we work with day after day. That’s where we tend to take such liberties and to say things that we would never say to a visitor or a guest or someone we were trying to impress. I’m not suggesting that we should be trying to impress one another. I’m just saying that we need to be sensitive to the power of our words—the power of our words to bring healing and strength and life and encouragement.

Leslie: That’s part of a message from Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth called “Encouraging One Another.” As Nancy marks forty years of serving the Lord vocationally, we’re revisiting some of the most important themes in her speaking. Today we’re focused on our relationships with others. And one type of encouragement she’s provided is to single women. We’ll close today with a series she delivered right before getting married to Robert Wolgemuth in November of 2015. It’s called “Thoughts for My Single Sisters Before I Become a Mrs.”

Nancy "Thoughts for My Single Sisters Before I Become a Mrs.": Our issues are generally not issues so much derived from our circumstances as they are issues derived from our hearts. And our hearts don't change a lot on either side of the marriage or the singleness divide. I find that what's true of our hearts before we're married is generally true of women's hearts after they get married.

So what we need to deal with is not so much how to change our circumstances, but how to let God change us in the midst of our circumstances, whatever they might be.

I want to just start and tell you the bottom line of this whole little series and my reflections on this subject. It's the theme of my life as I look back on these years of walking with the Lord, and this is what I want to say to women as I make this transition from being a single woman to being a married woman. Get it down. Here it is: God is good, and He can be trusted to write your story. God is good. He is wise. He is loving. He is everything that is good. God can be trusted. He can be trusted to write your story.

You see, when we're little girls, we think what we would like the script of our lives to be like. And that's why for little girls raised on Disney and Disney princesses, so many the longing is for marriage, a certain kind of marriage, and a certain kind of romantic relationship, and certain dreams.

For you, the dreams may have been different. You had this vision for your life. You had this script you hoped it would follow. And maybe from the time you were a little girl, it was off script. It didn't unfold the way you hoped it would or thought it would.

Maybe you thought you'd get married and have six children, and you got married and found out you couldn't have any children.

It's the maybes. It's the you-thoughts. It's the we-thought. It's, "I had this script for my life. I thought my kids were going to turn out this way. I thought my marriage was going to turn out this way. I thought my health was going to turn out this way."

But it's turned out really to be different than anything you ever dreamed of. And I want to say: God is good, and He can be trusted to write your story. He can be trusted to write the script for your life. And whatever God writes for your life and for mine—looking back, looking forward—the script God writes, the story God is writing is a good story. It's a beautiful one.

Romans 12 tells us, "The will of God . . . is good, and acceptable, and perfect" (v. 2 ESV).

I've often said . . . it's been attributed to me. It's not original with me, and I don't know who said it originally, but I love the quote, "The will of God is exactly what I would choose if I knew what God knows."

The will of God is good. God can be trusted. You can trust God to write the story for your life.

And I've heard so many stories as I've been on this journey. I walked into a store the other day and met a woman. She said she had heard about my engagement. She said, "You give me hope!" And she, I think, is seventy years old. I can't remember what she said. "Maybe God still has someone for me!"

And then I heard a story recently about a seventy-four-year old woman who married for the first time, after adopting and raising three children. That's quite a story God wrote for that woman's life!

But you say, "My story may not end up that way. It certainly hasn't ended up that way yet."

Well, first of all, let me tell you: It's not the end of your story yet. I'm here to tell you that.

But also, no matter how it ends, if you let God write your story, if you let God write the script for your life, it will be good. Joy comes not from writing our own story or having the story go as we would have scripted it. Joy comes from saying, "Yes, Lord," to whatever story He writes for our lives.

Psalm 84 tells us: "The Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly" (v. 11 ESV).

And let me say, by the way, nobody can walk uprightly apart from Christ who is our righteousness. Right? That's not saying, "If you don't have a husband, therefore, you must not be good enough person."

That's not what it's saying at all. It's saying, "Those whose faith is in Christ—who lean on Him, who count on Him for their righteousness—God will not withhold one good or needful thing from you. And in the meantime, He will be to you a sun and a shield. He will be your warmth. He will be your protection. He will be your covering. He will be your energy. He will give grace, and He will give glory.

The woman who longs to be married, who has this unfulfilled longing for marriage, is not relegated to spend her life in misery, in despair, being discouraged, being downcast. She has a sun. She has a shield. She has grace. She has glory. And she has assurance that not one good or needful thing will God withhold from her life.

Now, in 1 Corinthians chapter 7, the apostle Paul talks about this whole issue of marriage and singleness, and a few other things related. And he says . . . (I'm just summarizing this passage really quickly. Maybe someday we'll do a whole study of this.) He says that both marriage and singleness are a gift, both are a calling, both have blessings and benefits, and both have challenges.

And then here's what he says in verse 17 in 1 Corinthians 7: "So let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him" (ESV). 

Verse 24: "So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God" (ESV). 

Now, I'm not going to exposit this whole text. There's lots in it. There's a lot of confusing parts in it. But this much is clear: First of all, in the bigger context of this passage, Paul gives freedom to the people of God to choose to marry, if God provides that opportunity, or to remain single for the sake of serving the Lord with undivided devotion.

He says, "Marriage is a good thing; singleness is a good thing—in the will of God. If you can stay single, and you can do it consecrated to the Lord, that's what I recommend. I will spare you some difficulties that married people are going to face." So there are some advantages to being single.

In the bigger context, he talks about some advantages of being married. And he says, "You are free to marry as long as you marry in the Lord. Or you're free to remain single if God has gifted and equipped you to do that."

But the point I want to say in the verses I just read is that marriage and singleness are both a calling from God.

Leslie: The speaker you just heard was Nancy Leigh DeMoss. And not long after she gave that talk she got married and became Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. To hear more of that message, you can visit ReviveOurHearts.com. Click on “resources” then “Programs” then search for “Thoughts for My Single Sisters Before I Become a Mrs.”

Today we’ve been hearing clips of several classic messages from Nancy. We’ve been doing this to mark Nancy’s forty-year anniversary of serving the Lord full-time.

Nancy has taken many of her messages through the years and turned them into devotionals. In fact, she’s written 366 of these devotionals and turned them into a book, called The Quiet Place. If you’ve benefited from today’s program, I hope you’ll read more of what Nancy has to say in this daily devotional. Nancy’s back to tell you more about it.

Nancy: The Quiet Place is a collection of 366 daily devotional readings. They are excerpted from different ones of my books, from much of my teaching over the years. Through the course of a year, you'll walk through many of the themes that we are talking about this week. Each day's reading is just one page. It includes a Scripture verse, a devotional reflection on that verse, and then two or three questions to take it home and make it personal.

We've love to send you a copy of The Quiet Place this week as our way of saying "thank you" when you make a donation of any amount to support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. To make a donation, just give us a call at 1–800–569–5959, or you can visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Leslie: As we continue exploring the main themes in Nancy’s teaching, tomorrow we’ll hear from Nancy on how to whether life’s storms. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help your relationship thrive. It's an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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