Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Start Your Day with God

Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Life without God at the center is absurd. It’s meaningless. It’s empty. It’s frustrating. Eating, working, relationships, any part of life, none of it makes sense and none of it provides any true satisfaction apart from God.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, June 13.

Last week we learned a lot about wisdom for daily life as Nancy welcomed her brother, Mark DeMoss, to Revive Our Hearts. As part of that conversation, they talked about some of the important principles they learned from their dad.

We're going to continue that theme and continue gaining biblical wisdom as Nancy begins a series called, Instruction of a Father.

Nancy: A while back I was asked to speak to a group of college-aged kids. It happened to be Father's Day. So as I thought about what I might share with these young people, I couldn’t help but think about my own dad. I’d been thinking about him much of the day. My dad went to be with the Lord nearly 25 years ago. It was on the weekend of my 21st birthday that I got the call that my dad had had a heart attack and was instantly with the Lord.

As I was preparing to speak to these kids, I was thinking about some of the things that my dad had taught me in the first 21 years of my life. I realized how many of those insights and principles—the legacy he left to me—has stayed with me in an incredible way over the past 25 years since he’s been gone.

I haven’t heard him speak. I haven’t been able to have him give me counsel, but he left a body of wisdom and counsel and instruction with me and with my siblings that has been incredible in its influence on my life. It’s been foundational.

Over the last 25 years, I’ve tried to apply in my life the things that my dad—and my mother I might add as well—taught me during those early years of my life. Now as a woman in my mid-40s, I have to say that I am reaping incredible blessings today in my life because of things that my dad and my mom taught me in those earliest years of my life.

So as I talked to those young people, I came a little bit as an older woman. I’m not old, but I’m older by far than they. I shared with them some of the things I want to share with you in this series, some things that I want to pass on to the next generation. I’m starting to think about what legacy I want to leave to the next generation.

I know we have Revive Our Hearts listeners of all ages. We get letters from elderly people, from little children, and everything in-between. I’m especially delighted to know that there are some young teenage, college age, young professional women who are listening to Revive Our Hearts. Some of them have come from godly homes and what we’re saying on Revive Our Hearts is just supplemental. It’s repetition for them of what they’ve heard in their homes.

But some of them have not had the privilege of having godly parents. They’re being tutored and mentored and nurtured in the ways of God—some of them for the very first time. So the things I want to share that I learned out of my dad’s life in those first 21 years of my life are things that I am so thankful to have been taught as a young woman, as a little girl, as a teenager.

Now, I want to start today with what for my dad was the bottom line of everything. I can say it in three words: Take God seriously.

My dad was a man who did take God seriously. He was not from a believing family by and large. He came to know the Lord in a personal way in his mid-20s. He had been a rebel. He had not had an interest in spiritual matters. He had been very far from God, as we all are until God comes and seeks us and finds us and opens our hearts to know Christ and gives us faith and repentance.

From that point, Friday, October the 13th, 1950, until the day he went home to be with the Lord 28 years later, my dad never got over the wonder of what God had done for him. It never ceased to amaze him that God would have saved him, that God could have saved him, and that God would have given him a whole new life, made him a new creation.

For him Christianity was not just a compartment of your life. It wasn’t just a category, a part of your life like your school, your job, your hobbies, your relationships, your family, entertainment, your faith. Faith wasn’t a compartment of life for him. “Jesus first” was not just a lapel pin that you wear. It was an absolute, fundamental, core reality of his life. Christ was everything. He isn’t a part of your life; He is your life.

So his way of thinking was that—and it needs to be our way of thinking—if you are a Christian, you are a new creation. Everything is supposed to be different. Our relationship with Christ is supposed to affect everything about our lives. It affects our goal for living—why we get up in the morning, why we exist.

For my dad the goal of life, the purpose of life was to glorify God. It was to reflect positively on God. It was to seek God and His kingdom and His righteousness above all things.

My dad felt that he owed everything to the Lord. He knew he did. He knew that he had no life apart from Christ, so he realized that he couldn’t call anything his own—his time, his possessions, his influence, his family, his plans, his future, his life. It was all the Lord’s.

He never could understand people who were kind of half-hearted or nominal Christians. That whole concept made no sense to him at all. To him if you were a Christian, you were a new person. You had to take God seriously. You had no choice.

So people claim to be Christians, as so many do today in our churches. They’re church members. They’re active in church, but they really live for pleasure. They live for their job. They live for their family. They live for recognition. They live for themselves. That made absolutely no sense at all to him.

I remember him telling the story when he was on vacation and one day he ran into a couple who were missionaries who were vacationing at the same place. My dad said to them in the way he would have expressed it, “How’s the fishing down here?”

Now what he meant by that was not literal fishing, but he was talking about what Jesus talked about when He said you will fish for men. What he meant was are people open to talking about Christ down here? Are they interested in spiritual matters? How are you finding it?

He was just blown away when this man said to him, “I don’t know. We’re on vacation.” I mean, my dad couldn’t fathom that you would ever take a vacation from God. You might take a vacation from your job but not from your relationship with God.

God did not save us to experience a part-time, weekend Christian experience. We’re all supposed to be full-time Christians, full-time servants of the Lord, regardless of our vocation. Being a Christian is not a 40-hour a week job, or it’s not a 2 hours on Sunday morning job. It’s a 24/7, all the time, day in and day out relationship with Christ.

So we need to ask if we’re going to take God seriously,

  • What is my purpose in life?
  • Why do I exist?
  • Why did God create me?
  • Why has He redeemed me?
  • Why do I get up in the morning?
  • What motivates me?
  • What drives me?
  • What keeps me going?

There are so many Scriptures as I was reflecting on this point of taking God seriously that came to mind immediately. For example, Colossians chapter 1, verse 16, where we read that

By him [that is by Christ] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and [get this] for him. [All things were made for Christ.]

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything He might be preeminent (vv. 16-18).

The supremacy of Christ. If you are a child of God, that is your goal that in everything He might be preeminent.

Ephesians chapter 1 puts it a little differently, but same thought. It’s that wonderful passage in the early verses of the first chapter where it says that God chose us. He adopted us into His family according to the purpose of His will, and what is that? “To the praise of His glorious grace” (v. 6). That’s what it’s all about. That’s what it’s all for. To the praise of His glorious grace, so people can look at your life and say what an incredible, gracious God she serves.

Ephesians 1, verse 12: “So that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.” That’s what it’s for. That’s what it’s all about.

My dad loved that verse in Acts chapter 20, verse 24, where the apostle said,

I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace (NIV).

To my dad that meant it’s not my business that matters. It’s not my friendships. It’s not my hobbies. It’s not what I do with my time. What matters is that I do what God has called me to do, what God saved me to do—to make Christ known.

I think one of the most powerful statements of that in the New Testament is in the last verse of Romans chapter 11, verse 36, where the apostle Paul says, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen” (NIV). It’s all about Him. He is the center of our lives. The very next verse, Romans chapter 12, verse 1, goes on to tell us so what? What are the implications of that for your life and mine? Paul says,

Therefore [because all things were made by him and through him and for him and for his glory], I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship (NIV).

In my personal quiet time yesterday, I was reading through the book of Ecclesiastes. I was reminded again of this concept of taking God seriously. As you read through the book of Ecclesiastes, and in this case I sat and read it all through in one sitting, which is sometimes a helpful way to read a book of the Bible because you get a better sense of the big picture, the overview.

Here’s what I got as a big picture from the book of Ecclesiastes. It says life lived apart from God, life without God at the center is absurd. It’s meaningless. It’s empty. It’s frustrating. Eating, working, relationships, any part of life, none of it makes sense and none of it provides any true satisfaction apart from God.

In Ecclesiastes 6:2, the writer says you can get wealth, you can get possessions, you can get honor, but if you don’t have God at the center of your life, you don’t have the capacity to really enjoy all those things you worked so hard to accumulate.

So as we come to the end of the book of Ecclesiastes, we see a counter-theme and that is, yes, life apart from God is meaningless, but life with God at the center is full. It’s satisfying. It’s purposeful. It makes all difference. Ecclesiastes chapter 8, verse 12 says, “It will be well with those who fear God.”

Fear God. That’s the bottom line. Take God seriously. Fear Him. Honor Him. Make Him the center of your life. He is the center of the universe. He is the One who spoke the universe into being with the power of His Word and who holds this universe together with the Word of His power. So how foolish of us to keep God at the fringe of our lives rather than where He rightly belongs, that is at the core.

So at the end of Ecclesiastes, the writer says the end of the matter, the bottom line, “all has been heard . . . fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Eccl. 12:13-14). Payday someday. Accountability will be had. At the judgment seat in eternity, we will wish that we had taken God seriously.

If you and I have any regrets when we see Christ face to face, it will be only one—that we did not take God more seriously. That we frittered our lives away with meaningless things, with things that didn’t have meaning because Christ wasn’t at the core and the heart of our existence.

So as I think back on the legacy my dad left me, that was the first point, the first thing that’s been so foundational is to take God seriously.

Now let me add a second one here. If you’ve listened to Revive Our Hearts for any length of time, you’ve heard me say this multiple times before, and you will hear me say it multiple times again. That is start your day with God

It’s no secret that the place I learned that is as a little child growing up in the DeMoss home where that was a way of life, where my dad emphasized, mostly by his example, the importance, the necessity of a daily quiet time, a daily devotional life. Call it what you want, but make sure you get it.

Now, this isn’t a substitute for the fact that we walk with God throughout the day but that we need time each day set apart to be in the Word listening to God and then responding to Him in prayer and praise. This is what gives wisdom, perspective, direction for all the rest of life.

I watch so many women today, women my age, older and younger, who are living these frustrated, frazzled, frenzied lives, which I fall into myself all too often. I believe more often than not a core reason is that we haven’t stopped to center our lives on Christ, taking quiet time alone with Him in His presence, cultivating an intimate relationship with God in His Word and in prayer.

Some people say, “I don’t have time to read my Bible. I don’t have time to have a quiet hour or a holy hour with the Lord.” Listen, choose your priorities for your life and then build your life around those priorities.

I’m going to say this especially to you younger women. I’m talking to all of us, but especially you women who are developing habits now early in your life, start those habits now. I’ll tell you this: It will never be easier than it is now. You may be a student thinking, “When I’m older, when I get through these exams, when I get through this degree . . .”

Listen, when you get through that degree, you’re going to have a J-O-B, hopefully. Or you’re going to be married. You’re going to have a husband. Then you’ll be saying, “Life is so much fuller now, so much busier now than it ever was. How can I have time for a quiet time?”

Then you’re going to have children, and you’ll never have an uninterrupted five minutes for the next ten or more years of your life. You’ll say, “Boy, life was so simple when I was a student. If I could just go back, I could order my days around biblical and godly priorities.

I want to tell you in every season of life, no matter how old or how young you are, there will be something that will conspire to keep you from having a daily devotional life. I wrestle with this almost every day of my life.

I’m telling you, I get in my quiet time chair and all of a sudden I’m thinking of 50 other things I’ve got to do. I get a new burden for housecleaning. I mean it’s incredible what things come to my mind when I set apart that time to meet with the Lord. It’s hard because Satan knows that if he can get me distracted and derailed there, he’s going to throw my day and my life off-kilter.

So many passages in the Scripture talk about the importance of seeking God early. “My voice You shall hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning I will direct it to You” (Ps. 5:3 NKJV). Psalm 143:8: “Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning” (NKJV). Isaiah 50:4: “The Sovereign LORD . . . wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught” (NIV).

Then in Proverbs 8:32-33 wisdom is actually speaking, and she says, “Now, O sons, listen to me: blessed are those who keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it.” Then wisdom says, “Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates” (v. 34). How often? Daily. Every day waiting beside my doors.

Joshua 1, Psalm 1—verses that tell us if we meditate on the law of the Lord day and night, we will be successful in everything that we do. Then James tell us that we need to receive with meekness the implanted Word. Not just reading the Word, but having a humble heart as we read it. Receiving it because it’s able to save our souls. It’s able to sanctify us.

James goes on to say, so don’t just be hearers of the Word. Don’t just listen. Do what it says (James 1:22, paraphrased). Receive with meekness. Submit yourself to the authority of the Word of God. I want to challenge you to listen to the Word, when you do whether it’s in public reading of the Scripture from the pulpit or you’re reading it privately, listen carefully.

I love the fact that in the church I attend we stand for the reading of the Word of God. Reverence the Word of God. Submit to it in your heart. Don’t sit in judgment of the Word. Let it sit in judgment of you, and let it be the authority in your life.

In every area of your life—whether it’s your work habits, your sleep habits, your eating habits, your marriage, your parenting, your dealing with struggles and issues in your life, sinful bondages, how you deal with people, how you deal with money, how you deal with time—let the Word of God be that which gives you direction and wisdom.

Then take the direction and the wisdom that it gives. Let the Word of God mold you and shape you and convict you and change you. We are sanctified by the truth, Jesus said in John 17:17, “Oh, Lord, Your Word is truth” (paraphrased).

As you start your day with God and then continue your day meditating on the Word of God—making it part of the warp and woof of your life—you will have blessing. You will have success. You will find wisdom. You will gain intimacy with God. You will discover and experience through all of your life the purpose for which God created you, and you will be able to fulfill that purpose because you’ve been filled with the Word of God.

Let me encourage you even in this moment not just to be a hearer of the Word but to be a doer. I wonder how many of you would say honestly, “The Word isn’t an essential habit in my life. I don’t have a consistent time of being in the Word, reading, studying, meditating, and responding to the Lord in prayer. I don’t have a consistent devotional life. I don’t have a regular quiet time.”

Can I say it’s not too late to start? Start today. Start tomorrow morning. Set your alarm a little earlier. Ask the Lord to awaken you when He wants you to wake, but make a determination in your heart that I will order my life around the priority of God’s Word. The number one thing in my life will be getting to know God, seeking Him, developing a relationship with Him, growing spiritually. You can’t do that without steady, consistent, faithful, regular intake of God’s Word into your mind and your heart and your life.

Father, I pray that there would be many, many women listening today who would make that commitment and would say, “Starting today, starting tomorrow I want to start my day with God. I’ll reorder other things in my life.”

Lord, I just believe that if everyone who is listening to these words today would take that challenge seriously we would together look back a year from now and say we are different women. Our lives are making an impact in our homes and our workplaces. We are a sweet fragrance of Christ to those around us, and it’s because we’ve been prioritizing that time with You on a daily basis.

So Lord make it so. May it be so. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been passing on a valuable principle she learned from her dad: Start Your Day with God.

In the archives at our website, you can find some other teaching from Nancy on developing a devotional life.  Those additional resources will help you follow up on what you heard today.  Here’s our address:  ReviveOurHearts.com.

Today’s message begins a series called, Instruction of a Father. It’s the kind of helpful teaching that’s affecting women around the United States. And Nancy, you recently got an email that shows how Revive Our Hearts is spreading around the world.

Nancy: Yes Leslie. I love the emails that we get from all around the world, but this one is very simple.  It just says “Dear Miss Nancy, I have downloaded so many of your programs and listen to them in my car, while working, and at night. They are very, very special to me.”

This email came from the African country of Namibia. This listener is able to download nearly ten years of archives from Revive Our Hearts thanks to women like you who have supported the ministry over the years. 

When you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount this week, we’ll say thanks by sending you The Little Red Book of Wisdom. My brother, Mark, wrote this book, and if I do say so myself, it is a terrific book. It has practical wisdom for your personal life and wisdom for your professional life. In this book he passes along wisdom he received from the book of Proverbs, from our dad, and from his own experience as well. Mark was our guest on Revive Our Hearts last week, and you can find more about the book by listening to those programs at ReviveOurHearts.com.

That’s also where you can make a special gift to help keep this program on the air in your area. When you make a gift of any amount, we’ll send you Mark's book, The Little Red Book of Wisdom. You can also make a contribution by calling us at 1-800-569-5959. 

Leslie: Do you ever struggle with worry? One way to ease anxiety is to allow God’s plan to become more important than your own. Hear more about that tomorrow, on Revive our Hearts.

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

 

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

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