Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Calm After the Storm

Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Our tears, if they are tears of repentance and tears of true mourning over sin, do not go unnoticed by God. He is keeping a record of them. In fact, Scripture says He stores them up in a bottle. Those tears are precious to Him.

Leslie: It’s Friday, April 6th, and you’re listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

We remember Good Friday with a sense of heaviness, thinking about the reality of Christ’s suffering and death. But we also remember it with hope, knowing that it was followed by the resurrection. We’ve been in a heavy series with Nancy called A Time for Tears, but it’s been helpful to look at the need to weep over sin. Today we focus on the hope that a resurrection is coming. Here’s Nancy.

Nancy: In the book of Jeremiah there’s another message, another theme, that recurs throughout the book, and that is, Jeremiah issues a call to the people of God to return to God. In fact, God Himself issues this call over and over again throughout the book.

That’s why it’s a message of hope because God says, “I’ve seen what’s going on in your hearts. I’ve seen what’s going on in your homes. I’ve seen what’s going on among my people. There’s judgment coming, but the threat of judgment is to cause you to repent and return and be restored so that I won’t have to mete out My full judgment.”

We have, all the way through this book, a message of restoration, a call to return, and we realize that God’s judgments are always for the purpose of restoration—that is, until the final, ultimate judgment of the wicked from which there will be no point of restoration. We have a message through this book that comes in different ways. Twelve times in the book we hear the words, “Return to the Lord.”

Return to the Lord. Turn around. Leave the place where you’ve been going your own way and return to God. Chapter three, verse twelve: " 'Return, faithless [or backsliding] Israel,' declares the LORD, 'I will frown on you no longer, for I am merciful,' declares the LORD, 'I will not be angry forever.’” 

Then there’s a plea for the people to confess their sins, to be specific in acknowledging to God, out of humility, the sins, and so we read in chapter three of Jeremiah, “Only acknowledge your guilt.” Get honest with God. Confess what you’ve done. “‘You have rebelled against the LORD your God, you have scattered your favors to foreign gods under every spreading tree, and have not obeyed me,' declares the LORD ’” (verse 13).

In Lamentations three we read this challenge, “Let us lift up our hearts and our hands to God in heaven, and say: ‘We have sinned and rebelled’” (verses 41-42). It’s lifting up the hands in surrender and saying, “Our hands are in the air. We agree. We have sinned. We have rebelled against Your law.”

Then the call to humble themselves—“‘Break up your unplowed ground and do not sow among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, circumcise your hearts’” (Jeremiah 4:3-4) “Put on sackcloth,” Jeremiah says. “Lament and wail, for the fierce anger of the LORD has not turned away from us” (verse 8).

Then Jeremiah says the evidence that you have returned, the evidence that you have repented, the evidence that you’ve humbled yourselves will be in the fact that you change your ways. You live differently. You don’t keep divorcing your wives. You don’t keep being involved in sensual and immoral relationships. You don’t keep being bitter and unforgiving. You don’t keep oppressing those who are poor and helpless. You don’t keep ignoring widows. You change your ways.

In Lamentations we read, “Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD” (3:40). "O Jerusalem, wash the evil from your heart and be saved” (Jeremiah 4:14). “This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: 'Stand at the gate of the LORD’s house and there proclaim this message: “Hear the word of the LORD, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the LORD ”’” (Jeremiah 7:1-2).

It’s as if he’s standing at the front door, the front entrance of our churches, and he’s saying, “This is what the LORD Almighty. . .says: 'Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words and say, "This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD!" If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your forefathers for ever and ever’” (Jeremiah 7:3-7).

Over and over again we see this call and this opportunity to return, to repent, to be restored, to change our ways. Now that really is a message of hope because for those who have mourned over their sin, God says, “They will be comforted.”

Throughout the book of Jeremiah, we see the character and the plan of God. That’s what gives us hope. We see, for example, that God is long-suffering, that He is a covenant-keeping God. Jeremiah chapter 51 says Israel is not forsaken by his God, though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel (verse 5). 

When you see how long-suffering God is, when I see how long-suffering God is in dealing with me, then there’s hope. I say, “Here’s a God of mercy. Here’s a God who is willing to forgive and who does not forsake me because He’s a covenant-keeping God.”

You see, God has a plan, and He is fulfilling that plan. Part of that plan is that He is going to judge the wicked. That should encourage us as we know that those who are evil-doers in this world will not go on doing their evil forever. Part of the character of God is that He will bring an end to all evil-doing.

Another part of His plan that ought to cause us to rejoice is that God will redeem and restore His people, and so He says in chapter three of Jeremiah, “‘I am merciful,' declares the LORD, 'I will not be angry forever’” (verse 12).

When I see how long-suffering God is in dealing with me, then there’s hope. I say, “Here’s a God of mercy. Here’s a God who is willing to forgive and who does not forsake me because He’s a covenant-keeping God.” We read in Jeremiah chapter nine, “‘I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice, and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight, ’ declares the LORD ” (verse 24).

Then you remember that, perhaps the best-known passage, or certainly one of the best-known passages in Jeremiah—chapter 29, verse 11 where God talks about the plans I have for you, plans to bless you, to give you a future and a hope.

Well, that says a lot about the character of God, but remember the context in which that promise comes. You go back to verse ten. God says, “After seventy years are completed at Babylon. . .” What does that refer to? The children of Israel were sent into exile for 70 years of captivity.

They were going to have to endure the consequences of their sins, but God did not forget them during that period of time. He said, “After seventy years are completed, I will visit you. I will perform my good word toward you and cause you to return to your homeland. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,” says the Lord, “thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope’” (verses 10-11).

Now remember, this is written to people who were on their way into captivity. The fact that God has plans for you does not mean that He will spare you the consequences of wrong choices, so when you find yourself there, don’t resent. Don’t resist.

Don’t rebel against the circumstances, but instead, realize that is part of God’s merciful and loving plan to bring your heart back and that even when you are under God’s chastising hand, that God still has a plan. This is part of it. It’s a plan to give you a future and a hope.

Just this morning in my quiet time I came across a little paragraph by Charles Spurgeon where he says, “Our Heavenly Father seeks our instruction, not our destruction. His contention with us has a kind intention toward us. Therefore, be not afraid because of the painful present, for it hastens to a happy future. He that smote you will heal you. His little wrath shall be followed by great mercies.”

As we’ve walked with Jeremiah through the day in which he lived and seen that the condition of God’s people and the things that caused him to grieve, we’ve said, “It’s time for us to grieve. It’s time for us to mourn over the things that break the heart of God.”

We need a call for the wailing women that is issued in Jeremiah chapter nine. God says, “Consider now! Call for the wailing women to come; send for the most skillful of them. Let them come quickly and wail over us till our eyes overflow with tears and water streams from our eyelids. The sound of wailing is heard from Zion: 'How ruined we are! How great is our shame! We must leave our land because our houses are in ruins’” (verses 17-19).

Then the prophet says, “Now, O women, hear the word of the LORD; open your ears to the words of his mouth. Teach your daughters how to wail; teach one another a lament” (verse 20). He goes on to talk about how he’s living in a culture of death, and the lives of the young men and the older men and the families are being torn apart, partially as a result of the judgment of God on His backsliding people.

Jeremiah says, “In such a time we ought to weep.” Specifically we as women ought to weep. One of the things that I have been asking God through the Revive Our Hearts ministry is to raise up a movement of women who know when it’s time to weep.

I’m not talking about women who always cry, women who are basket cases, but I’m talking about women who do know how to get into the presence of God and feel and sense and accept the heart of God, to see this world, to see their families, to see their churches, to see our nation as God sees it and then to accept as intercessors God’s burden and to say, “God, I’m willing to carry the burden that’s on Your heart.”

It’s a burden God has to give to you. We can’t stir up those tears, stir up that burden, but I do believe, as we get into the presence of God, as we get into the Word of God and we let His Word sink down into our hearts, we will become women who know how to weep, to weep not just because we’re hurting personally, not because we’re frustrated with life, but to weep tears of repentance and true mourning over sin—our sins and the sins of others.

I’d ask you, are you a wailing, weeping woman? Have you let God give you His burden and His heart for what’s going on in your family?

I look around in my own family, and I see issues that need to be dealt with. I see divorce. I see areas where honor is needed. I see areas of rebellion. I see areas of disrespect in extended family, among families of my friends.

Does that break your heart? Does that make you grieve when you see marriages falling apart around you, when you see teenage kids coming out of our Christian homes who have an attitude but don’t have a heart for God? Does that break your heart?

I want to tell you, when I see the teenage children of my friends not walking with God and not having a heart and a hunger for God, it breaks my heart. I find myself praying for those parents, praying for those teenagers, that God will intervene on their behalf.

As we look around, we read the news; we see what’s happening, and I get these prayer cards turned in week after week from women whose lives are falling apart. A woman I remember saying recently, “My 4-year-old child I feel like I’ve lived with for 30 years because he is such a burden, such a frustration, such a handful, so out of control.”

I don’t even know this woman, but my heart breaks for her. I see women on their third marriage and having just had their third abortion and women whose lives are fragmented and broken, and my heart is heavy.

I want to be a weeping woman. I want to be a woman who knows when it’s time to weep. I would ask you, are you willing to take that burden on yourself?

Now you say, “I don’t know if I want to live that way. I don’t know if I want to have to live with that constant heaviness of heart. I don’t know if I want to have to carry those kinds of burdens. Life is already hard, and what if I let God really put upon me the burden that He feels for what’s going on in our homes and in our churches and in our nation?”

Well, let me give some words of encouragement for weeping women as we bring this series to a close. First of all, we learn in the Psalms, Psalm 56, that God notices, and He keeps a record of our tears.

Our tears, if they are tears of repentance and tears of true mourning over sin, do not go unnoticed by God. He is keeping a record of them. In fact, Scripture says He stores them up in a bottle (see verse 8). Those tears are precious to Him.

Then Matthew chapter five, Jesus told us in His first recorded sermon that those who mourn are really blessed. Now we don’t think of mourning and blessing as going together, but Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn because they will be comforted” (verse 4). 

You know, there’s a kind of comfort that you and I will never experience if we have never really taken upon ourselves the weight and the burden of what burdens God’s heart, if we’ve not learned to mourn over sin. If we have learned to mourn in that way, we have a promise that we will experience a richness and a depth of comfort that we can’t know any other way.

You want to be comforted? Learn to mourn. We think the way to get comforted is to have all our problems go away, and God says, “No, the way to experience real comfort is to learn to mourn over the right kinds of things.”

Along a similar line, Psalm 126 tells us that those who sow in tears will reap in joy. Those who go forth and take the Word of God and the principles of God’s Word, the Seed of God’s Word, and they sow it in the hearts of others, and they do it with weeping, with grieving, with mourning, with tears, the Scripture says there’s a promise that they will reap in joy.

I have found myself often, over the years, sowing the Word of God with tears of heaviness and grief and heartache for the lives of the women that I’m speaking to. But I’ve also had the joy of reaping, of seeing God turn the hearts of some of those women, of seeing their marriages get put back together and their children’s hearts turned to the Lord. I wouldn’t trade that joy for anything in the world.

When I experience reaping in joy, it makes me more willing to sow in tears. You see, the tears that you shed for that lost husband, for those parents who don’t know the Lord, for that wayward son or daughter, your tears will ultimately bring joy, not only to you, but to others.

We saw earlier this week how Nehemiah wept when he heard about the condition of Jerusalem with its walls that were broken down, but his tears turned to joy sometime later after God sent revival there at the water gate. Nehemiah 8 says, “Their joy was very great” (verse 17). Their joy was very great.

You know, even in the midst of carrying a burden—carrying a burden for our nation, for our churches, for our homes—I carry such a burden on my heart for women and for what is happening among Christian women that is so destructive and how their lives are being torn apart by bitterness and by anger and by immorality and by lack of submission to authority. I carry a burden on my heart for that, but let me tell you this. Even in the midst of carrying the burden, unexplainably, there can be joy.

In fact, just in the last day and a half, I’ve experienced this in a fresh, new way in my own life, and I hardly know how to describe it to you except to say that yesterday morning in my time with the Lord in preparation for this session, I was reading through the book of Jeremiah. I read probably a dozen chapters toward the end of the book of Jeremiah, and the whole thing is about judgment—judgment on the Moabites, judgment on the Philistines, judgment on the Babylonians. I mean it’s a very heavy message.

It’s a message of judgment, but as I finished reading those ten or twelve chapters, I slipped to my knees and began to just respond to the Lord in light of what I had read. I found God filling my heart with an incredible sense of joy. That doesn’t make sense, but I began to pray back to the Lord some of what I had seen about His character and His heart and His ways, even in the midst of threatened judgment.

For example, there are a few, little verses in those long chapters where God says, “Nevertheless, though I’m going to judge all these people, I’m going to have mercy on a remnant. I’m going to spare some. I will not utterly destroy,” and I saw the mercy of God. I saw the mercy of God in including me in that remnant, and I saw that, but for His hand, I would be under His eternal wrath and judgment.

I saw the plans of God. I began to have joy in even thinking about how righteous God’s judgment is, how it shows Him to be the holy God that He is. Righteous and true are God’s judgments.

As I began to look to the end of the story and remember how God will overcome all evil, how He will dispel all evil; He will get rid of it all and how righteousness will reign and rule, and there on my knees before the Lord, even as my heart is heavy for the women to whom I minister, to see hearts turned to Him, issues in my family and friends that I want to see God change, there was an inexpressible joy. I began to sing to the Lord, “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.”

It seemed almost foolish if you didn’t know the process that God had me in. I saw God living out in me at that moment a promise from His Word that weeping may endure for a night, but joy does come in the morning.

Now, it’s not joy unmixed with tears yet. I still have heaviness of heart. I still have emails and letters and phone calls to return and to read and to listen to from women whose hearts are breaking and whose families are fractured and whose lives are so very messed up. I carry a burden for that, but there’s an irrepressible sense of the control and the wonder and the glory of who God is in the midst of all that pain and heaviness.

Then you know what gives me the greatest joy of all? It’s the reminder of God’s promise in the book of Revelation. That’s the last chapter. You can read ahead to the end of the story and find out what’s going to happen. We have there the promise that the day is coming when God will wipe away every tear from the eyes of His people, that there will be no more death, no more mourning, no more crying, no more pain, no more sin, no more corruption, no more flesh.

God will be glorified. Jesus will reign over all of heaven and earth. He will be the established, recognized King, and there will be only a great, eternal celebration of His reign.

There’s a time to weep. There’s a time to mourn. This is that time, but in the midst of the mourning and the weeping, there can be joy. Don’t forget that the day is coming when it will be all joy, all celebration, and no more tears.

Leslie: On this Good Friday, we remember that it’s a time to weep. That reality may be hitting you hard today because of something going on in your life. I hope today’s message from Nancy Leigh DeMoss will give you hope. Keep taking that situation to God, and there will be a time of complete comfort and joy.

If tears are a big part of your reality today, I hope you’ll review this entire series from Nancy called, A Time for Tears. You can review the transcripts from each of the programs this week when you visit ReviveOurHearts.com, and you can also listen to the audio online.

You may want to just get a copy of this series on CD. When you order, you’ll get longer versions of Nancy’s teaching segments since we couldn’t fit everything on the radio. Ask for A Time for Tears when you call 1-800-569-5959 or look for it at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Whether or not you would like the CD series, make sure to contact us and follow up this teaching by going through a helpful booklet from Nancy called Begin at My Sanctuary. This booklet is yours at no charge when you contact Revive Our Hearts.

It will give you a sensitivity to your need. It will help you learn to cry out in a spirit of repentance and humility, which, of course, will put you on a path of true, Godly comfort and joy. Again, ask for the booklet Begin at My Sanctuary at no cost to you. Call 1-800-569-5959, or look for this free offer at ReviveOurHearts.com.

If you were going to take a walk through a desert, you’d want to prepare as thoroughly as possible. At points in your life, you will be walking through spiritual deserts, and next week we’ll help you prepare for those dry times. Please be here starting Monday. Now let’s pray with Nancy.

Nancy: Lord, thank You for putting a heart of mourning and grieving and tears within me. I don’t always want it. I know it pleases You, and so I accept it. I pray that You would raise up women across this nation, Your women, who would be women of tears as our Savior was, women who’d be willing to embrace Your heart and to take on us the heaviness and the sinfulness of this world that’s under Your judgment, to share that burden with You, to intercede on behalf of others.

In the midst of the burden-bearing, may we find joy. Thank You, Lord, for the fresh work of Your joy in my own heart. Would You remind us that the day is coming when all will be joy, no tears mixed in there? In anticipation of that day, we just say we love You. We rejoice in God our Savior. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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

All Scriptures are taken from the New International Version.

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

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