Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Returning to Your Love

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss hosts the radio program, Revive Our Hearts, but that role isn't the most important thing in her life.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I've told our team repeatedly over the years, “If I cannot sustain intimacy with Christ and a relationship and walk with Him while maintaining the demands of this ministry, then the ministry has to go. I cannot sell my soul to the organization. I can't do it.”

Leslie: You're listening to Revive Our Hearts with the author of Choosing Forgiveness, Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Almost all of us would be quick to say, “I'm busy,” which means we need to make sure the pace of life isn't interfering with a close relationship with God.

Yesterday Nancy began an important message for busy people on rediscovering intimacy with God. It was first given at the National Religious Broadcasters' women's luncheon. We'll pick up toward the end of what we heard yesterday and then finish the second half. Nancy will be referring to Jeremiah chapter 3.

Nancy: Sometimes do you ever just—when you're alone, just you, and you open up your heart, and you say, “What in the world am I doing, and why am I doing it, and what is this all for? Ministry has become a machinery instead of a passion for a Person, Jesus Christ.”

God says, “I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride,” (Jeremiah 2:2, paraphrased) and so God makes His case against His bride. He says, “An appalling thing has happened.” God speaks as a jilted, betrayed lover, but always a lover.

We see in this passage in Jeremiah, and I encourage you to go and dig into the passage for yourself as I have been in recent weeks, that God is a reconciling, redeeming God who never stops loving, never stops pursuing His wayward bride. Amazingly, in this passage, He pleads with His people to come back, to return, in spite of how greatly they have forsaken Him, forgotten Him, and followed after other lovers. God wants the relationship to be restored. Aren't you glad?

Over and over again, God says in chapter 3, “Return!” “Return, faithless Israel . . . I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful . . . only acknowledge your guilt” (3:12-13). Get real! “Return, O faithless children,” (verse 14). "Return, O faithless sons; I will heal your faithlessness" (verse 22).

Oh, that's the Gospel! That's good news! That's the Gospel for saved people, and you know what? We need it. I need to preach the Gospel to myself every day of my life. I need to believe the Gospel every day of my life. “Return and I will heal your faithlessness.”

As I was meditating on that whole concept of God calling His people to return, yesterday morning, I was just thinking through all the times in 43 years of walking with the Lord that my love has grown cold, and my heart has been hard, and my heart has been far from God, and all the times that God has time after time pursued after my heart and won and wooed me back to Himself and said, “Return, return, return.”

What's the outcome? This isn't just for us because it's not just about my relationship with Christ, though that's huge, but there's a much grander, greater picture that God gives us here in the Old Testament and throughout the Scripture. God says in Jeremiah 4, "If you return, O Israel . . . then nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory” (verses 1-2).  If we, the people of God, return to the lover of our souls—blessing of the nations, the furtherance of God's glory, His kingdom and the fame of His name throughout the world.

God says to His people then, and He says to His women today, “I remember the devotion of your youth. I remember your love as a bride.” He remembers the devotion of your spiritual youth. Do you? God remembers, and He calls us to remember.

Let me ask you. How is it with your heart? Is it possible that there are those sitting here today, and I know it's not only possible but highly likely that for many, perhaps, the pace of ministry has outraced the pace of intimacy.

How's your love for Christ? Can you remember a time in your life when you loved Him more than you do today—not just theologically, not just in your head, not just with your words, not just with your message, but with your heart? Can you remember a time when your heart was more faithful, more devoted to Christ, when it wasn't a burden to spend time with Him, when you called Him, “Love of my life”?

Maybe now He's getting the leftovers of your time. It gets squeezed into the cracks of your overcrowded schedule. This is important for every child of God, but I want to say I believe it's even more so for those of us who are involved in broadcasting the Gospel to others, as most of us in this room are in some way.

In Galatians chapter 1, the apostle Paul gives what I think is a really important progression, and it's easy to miss it. Paul says, “God set me apart before I was born” (verse 15). "He put His hand on my life. He set me apart for the ministry of the Gospel." I believe that's true of my life. If you're a child of God, I believe it's true of your life.

Then he says, “God called me by his grace.” I know that's true of my life. God called me by His grace, and then Paul says, “God revealed his Son, Christ Jesus, in me” (verses 15-16). Some translations say, “God revealed His Son to me.”

"God set me apart before I was born. He called me by His grace, and then God revealed Christ to me and in me so He could be seen by others." That's what makes incarnational ministry. Paul says, “In order that I might proclaim, that I might preach Christ among the Gentiles” (taken from verses 15-16).

You know what we're doing today in so many cases in our pulpits and in our broadcast ministries and in our writing ministries? We're proclaiming and preaching Christ to those who need Him, but we've skipped over the step of Christ being revealed and real in us, to us, and through us to others.

We can't proclaim to others what we have not experienced ourselves. Christ has to be revealed to us and in us before He can be revealed through us to others. Ladies, people don't need just to hear what we have to say. They need to see Jesus in me. They need to see Jesus in you.

Over the past year, as God's been working on my heart and calling me to return in fresh, new ways to my love relationship with Him, I've taken several, specific steps as I've felt led by the Lord to return to a new intimacy with Christ.

I don't want in any sense to sound as if I have arrived because you never arrive till you see Him face to face. I'm a little hesitant to share some of these steps because God may lead you in totally different ways, but just to take off the wig for a minute here and tell you that God's been doing a fresh work in my own heart.

A big part of it has just been acknowledging need. God says, “Acknowledge your guilt,” and it's been important for me to acknowledge before the Lord and before others who are in the inner circle of my life that the pace of ministry has outraced the pace of intimacy in my life. I found myself over this last year needing to acknowledge that some of my spiritual gauges were dangerously low.

It's a good thing to say that before it gets to the place where the public can see it because Revive Our Hearts and my ministry—writing, speaking, radio—it could go on for maybe a long time, sadly, with those gauges below empty before the public would know, but God knows. As He's been showing it to my heart, I've found it's important to let others know.

I started something that I should have done years and years ago—computer-free Sundays. What a novel idea to have a Sabbath! It's been so life-giving for me! It's a gift from the Lord to recalibrate my heart and my love with Christ without email. It's wonderful.

I sent a list of questions to several of my closest friends, and I said to them, “I want you to feel free anytime to ask me any of these questions or anything else you want to ask.” Let me tell you what some of those questions were.

  • Are you having devotions, or are you having devotion? How was your time with the Lord this morning?
  • How's your spirit? Are you uptight, anxious?
  • Are you serving the Lord with gladness?
  • How are your spiritual and emotional gauges, and what are you doing to refill them?
  • Are there any areas that you've been teaching or proclaiming something that you're not living?
  • Is there anything you've been doing or not doing that you would not want others to know?
  • Are you faking it? Are you leaving a better impression on others than is honestly true?
  • Are there any areas of your life where you're not obeying what you know God wants you to do? Is there anything you need to repent of?
  • Is your heart tender and responsive to the Lord?
  • And I might add that question that I heard a year ago at this luncheon. Has the pace of ministry outraced the pace of intimacy in your life?

Six months ago yesterday, I met with a small group of friends. These are the kind of friends every one of us needs in our lives—people who aren't impressed by your title, people who don't need you to sign their book, people who don't even maybe listen to you on the radio. They just know you and love you and pray for you and hold you accountable. I said to a small group of these friends, “The pace of ministry in my life has outraced the pace of intimacy, and I'm scared.”

One of the people in that group said, “What is the greatest distraction in your relationship with the Lord?”

Now, I didn't have to think one split second to answer that question. I knew immediately what the answer was. I'm going to tell you my answer.

Your answer may be very different, but I want to ask you to answer that question for yourself. What's the greatest distraction in your relationship with the Lord? I knew immediately for me. No question—it's email. It's email.

I live by myself. I work out of my home, and I'm teaching the Word all the time. I'm in the Word. I have to be in the Word, and I'm thrilled. I need that accountability, but I found myself many, many days just getting up in the morning and saying, “I'll just check my email,”

Then an hour or two has gone by and my head is going 100 different directions. By the time I get into the Word, there's no chance of my having a quiet heart.

One of the people in that group said, “Would you make a covenant with this group that for the next six months that you spend at least an hour alone with the Lord every morning before you check your email?”

I have to tell you, I was in such a state at the moment that I almost choked on the question. I said, “I don't know if I can do that.”

Covenant was a big word in my mind, and one of those people loved me enough to say, “When you get desperate enough, you will.”

You know what? I was desperate. That was six months ago yesterday, and oh the incredible grace of God in my life over these last six months as, first thing in the day, with a quiet heart, without the distractions of electronics, my heart is just listening, waiting on the Lord!

I don't want to make it sound like every day has been a great, spiritual feast or victory. I live in battle every day as you do. I want to tell you something's different. Six months is over, and I don't ever want to go back to where I was six months ago.

The pace of intimacy has picked up in my life. The pace of ministry still is really, really fast, but there's intimacy growing.

I have on my desk a quote that one of our board members said to me on the phone years ago. I scratched it out. It's just on a little Post-it Note.

He said, “Remember your sacred areas, and keep them inviolate.” He said that to me as we started Revive Our Hearts radio. “Remember your sacred areas, and keep them inviolate.”

Some of you remember Jim Warren, who was for many years the host of Moody's Prime Time America radio program. Jim said to me as we were starting Revive Our Hearts radio, “Nancy, your calling card is your walk with God. If you lose that, you don't have a ministry.”

Now if I lose that, I may have an organization, but I won't have a ministry. I've told our team repeatedly over the years, if I cannot sustain intimacy with Christ and a relationship and walk with Him while maintaining the demands of this ministry, then the ministry has to go. I cannot sell my soul to the organization. I can't do it.

The temptation is there every day of my life to do it, and it's there in yours as well. “To love the Lord our God,” Steve Green used to sing this song, “To love the Lord our God is the heartbeat of our mission, the spring from which our service overflows.”

Most of us in this room are leaders, but I want to ask today, are we lovers—lovers of Christ? Have we lost the devotion of our youth?

Ron Harris is here today. He's the chairman of NRB. He sent an email to our team a few days ago. He said, “What will please God more as NRB closes, that we signed more stations for our program, that we learned how to increase our Arbitron numbers, or that we had a personal, and course-changing encounter with God?” We know the answer.

I want to say, with love in my heart, ladies, that NRB and your ministry, your organization, your church, your family do not need one more high-powered, smart, capable, talented woman. What NRB needs, what your ministry needs, what my ministry needs, what your family needs is a woman who loves Jesus with all her heart. That's what it comes down to.

God says, "'I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride'” (Jeremiah 2:2). God remembers. He calls us to remember, and then once we remember, He says, “Return. Return. Acknowledge your guilt. Take off the wig. Get honest. Come back. I will heal your faithlessness, and then nations will bless themselves in Him, and in Christ shall they glory.”

Would you pray with me? I wonder if there are some women here today who would want to take off your wig.

Can you be honest enough before God and with yourself and perhaps even before others seated around you to say, “The pace of ministry in my life has outraced the pace of intimacy, and I want to return. I want to take a step today to return to first love—devotion to Christ.”

If that's true of you, could I just ask you to stand right where you are and say, “I want to take off the wig, and I need to take a step of returning.” I don't know where you are or where you've been, but God has been speaking to your heart. You just want to say, “I want to take off the wig.”

Just stand right where you are if God's been speaking to you about that, and I want to pray for you as I would have stood a year ago had that question been asked. I'm standing today to say, “I want to keep returning to that first love.”

Anyone else? Just take the wig off. The pace of ministry has outraced the pace of intimacy, and I want to take a step today to return.

O Father, I cry out to you on behalf of these who are standing and others that you're calling and speaking to. I just thank You for Your incredible grace, for Your invitation to return, and would You grant us the gift of repentance? Make us to live as repenters and restore and renew our hearts to that first devotion, that love of a bride, the devotion of our youth, and stir up within us that fresh devotion for the Lord Jesus, in whose name we pray it, amen.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been inviting you to rediscover intimacy with God if you've drifted away. You are going to head into some of the temptations she's been describing. There will be busy times in the future. That's why I hope you'll get a copy of this complete message on CD. Pull out the audio and listen when you're in a hectic season of life.

Just order the series, Rediscovering Intimacy with God by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com.

Women have been contacting us this month at ReviveOurHearts.com to join a special group of listeners. Nancy's here to tell us more.

Nancy: Throughout the month of January we've been inviting our regular listeners to get involved with the ministry at a deeper level. Listeners have been responding. They've been signing on to become new Ministry Partners.

That means they will be helping us to speak to more women like the one who wrote us to say, "I don't know how trivial I would have lived my life if not for God's Word and His Holy Spirit working in my heart, especially through your program."

When you become a Revive Our Hearts Ministry Partner, you'll help us to make those deep kinds of connections with women's hearts—showing them how God's Word applies to their day by day lives.

Income to Revive Our Hearts can fluctuate greatly depending on the series we're airing and the time of year, but our Ministry Partners provide a solid, much-needed base of support month by month.

Ministry Partners make the commitment to share the message of Revive Our Hearts with others, to pray for the ministry, and to give at least $30 a month to the ministry.

When you become a Ministry Partner, I'll send you a monthly letter sharing what's on my heart and giving you some behind the scenes peeks at what's going on at Revive Our Hearts. And each month you'll get a new edition of our devotional called Daily Reflections.

I hope you'll contact us for more details about our Ministry Partner team at ReviveOurHearts.com, or call us at 1-800-569-5959. 

Leslie: Angie Smith was at her friend’s baby shower, praying for the health of this new mom and the baby she was carrying. It was difficult, since Angie was carrying a child with serious medical problems. Hear how she was able to pray for her friend’s comfort while preparing for her own storms. That’s Monday, on Revive Our Hearts.

The message we heard today was from the National Religious Broadcasters a few years ago. Nancy was speaking at the Women's Luncheon. Fellow broadcaster, Janet Parshall, was there and closed their time in prayer.

Janet Parshall: Gracious, loving, heavenly Father and most glorious King, we thank You for the unity of the message here today that You are our first love, that You are wooing us back to You, and that we as busy women in ministry may have abandoned and forgotten our first love.

Father, thank You for standing there with arms wide open, welcoming us back any moment, at any time. Father, it is our fervent prayer that You would, in fact, revive our hearts. We love You because we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that You loved us first. We pray in the name of the One who gave us life and gave it eternally. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.

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

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

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