Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Trust and Obey

Leslie Basham: If you see God’s plan as more important than your plan, you can stop worrying. Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You see, God is in control. Whatever He pleases He does. And if He does it, it’s because it pleases Him. We need to come to the place where we say, “Lord, if it pleases You, it pleases me. If it’s what You want, it’s what I want.”

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, June 14.

Sovereignty: It sounds like a big, complicated word. But it’s an important idea to grasp. Your approach to God’s sovereignty influences the way you approach situations every single day. Nancy will help you understand why as she continues in a series called, Instruction of a Father.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I’m sharing with you in this series some of the principles and insights that I learned from my dad, and my mother as well, during the first 21 years of my life before my dad went home to be with the Lord.

As I look back on my life now, I can see how much of the blessing that I’m experiencing in my life today is the fruit of a foundation that my dad laid in my life and in our family by teaching us the heart and the ways of God.

I’m looking back on some of the principles that have stood me in good stead, some of the principles I’ve determined to make a part of my life. I’m particularly wanting to challenge younger women, women who are on the front side of life—making decisions now. I’m so pleased to see a number of younger women with us here today. And I know we have a lot who listen to Revive Our Hearts.

I’m wanting to just look you in the eyes and love you enough to say earnestly, “If you will make these principles a part of your life starting now, you will look back on life ten or twenty or thirty or forty years from now and you will say, ‘Those principles have made all the difference.’”

I look around today, and I see a lot of women my age. You can just tell by looking at their faces that their lives have been hard. Their faces are hard. They’ve been through multiple marriages, multiple abortions, serial immorality. So many situations potentially could have been avoided if they had taken to heart these principles. Some of them didn’t know these principles, but if they had known and heeded these principles when they were younger women, they would have been spared much heartache and misery.

Now, the fact that you obey God in these principles doesn’t mean you won’t have heartache and you won’t have misery in your life. God uses suffering to sanctify us. But there’s a lot of hardship we experience in our lives that is just the consequence of going our own way rather than going God’s way. And that’s what I want to spare you from.

Now some of you are thinking, “Well, I’m not a young woman, and you’re teaching younger women here.” Can I say by God’s grace, it’s not too late to start? You may be a new believer, or you may just be starting to take your walk with God seriously. Start now. Ask God to catch you up. He can restore the years that the locusts have eaten. He can give you a fresh start. He can revive your heart today. These are principles that are so important, regardless of what season of life you may be in.

Today, I want to share another principle or two with you that my dad emphasized in our growing up years. I want to say he emphasized them mostly by his example. That’s particularly true in the case of this third principle, which is simply stated: trust and obey.

Now if you want a more theologically sophisticated way of saying that, let me give it to you. I learned from my dad the importance of resting in the sovereignty of God, and then surrendering to the sovereignty of God. Resting in God’s sovereignty—that’s the trust part—and then surrendering to God’s sovereignty—that’s the obey part.

My dad had a high view of God. Most of us today have a high view of self. What matters most to us is our feelings, our thoughts, our ambitions, our plans, our ideas, our opinions when what should matter supremely is, “What does God think? What matters to God? What is His opinion?”

You see, my dad taught us that God is sovereign, which is a sophisticated way for saying He is the boss. He is in control. He is the supreme ruler of heaven and earth for all of eternity. He is Lord. We don’t make Him Lord. He is Lord.

And joy comes when we acknowledge that He is Lord; we rest in His Lordship. We trust His sovereignty, and we surrender to it. That means that God has the right to give, and God has the right to take away.

I saw my dad at seasons of gain and seasons of loss, seasons of joy and seasons of pain. I saw him in both kinds of seasons. And Ecclesiastes says, “There is a time for everything” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, paraphrased). Those times will come into your life.

I watched my dad in times of loss and pain and grief resting in God’s sovereignty, trusting that God knows what He’s doing. He is all wise. He doesn’t make mistakes. He can be trusted. Trusting that every event in my life is being orchestrated by a wise and a loving and a good God. Then nothing takes Him by surprise, and He can be trusted no matter what.

When you view God as sovereign, then you will trust Him, and:

  • You will have a grateful spirit rather than a whining spirit.
  • You will have a meek spirit rather than a resistant or a bitter or a resentful spirit.
  • You will have a quiet spirit; no complaining, no murmuring, just trusting that God is good.

No matter what happens in your business or your husband’s business. No matter what happens in your health. When you experience a tax on your reputation, when you experience disappointments, when there are circumstances in life over which you have no control (and there will be), you can trust that there is Someone who is in control. And He is a good, wise, and loving God. Trust and obey.

I love that verse in Psalm 135 that says,

For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps (vv. 5–6).

You see, God is in control. Whatever He pleases, He does. And if He does it, it’s because it pleases Him. And we need to come to the place where we say, “Lord, if it pleases You, it pleases me. If it’s what You want, it’s what I want.”

Romans 12 tells us the will of God is good and acceptable and perfect. And you know why so many of us never come to experience that in our own hearts? We’re never really convinced that God’s will is good and perfect. It’s because we haven’t surrendered to it. We’re not resting in it; we’re not trusting in it. We’re not submitting ourselves to it.

You know the book of Daniel is a book as much as any in the Scripture that really highlights this issue of the sovereignty of God. I was reviewing through portions of Daniel yesterday and seeing this thread about the sovereignty of God.

In Daniel 4:3, King Nebuchadnezzar is getting ready to tell his life story. It’s his memoirs; it’s his autobiography. And he starts at the end. He starts at the conclusion he finally came to. Here’s the conclusion, which is where he starts. He says,

How great are his signs [speaking of Jehovah God], how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion endures from generation to generation.

Now, here is a pagan king who came to believe late in life that God is God, that Jehovah is sovereign, that His dominion endures from generation to generation. He came to believe that Nebuchadnezzar was not the ultimate king, that God was the ultimate King.

Now, how did Nebuchadnezzar come to that conclusion? The hard way. The long way. And I think one of the reasons this whole passage is in the Scripture is so that we won’t have to learn the hard way and the long way.

In Daniel 4:17, Daniel speaks to Nebuchadnezzar—Daniel being the prophet, the man of God. He’s interpreting a dream that the king has had. Now this is early on in the king’s life. And he says, “King, this is the purpose of your dream. God has given it to you so that you may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men.” The Most High in my Bible is in capital M, capital H—the “Most High.” Who is that?

It’s God El Elyon. It’s God the Most High, the Supreme One, the sovereign Lord. And Daniel says, “Nebuchadnezzar, you think you are high and exalted. You think you are the greatest king on this planet. You have something to learn. There’s a King who is higher than you. He’s higher than all kings.

“And the exercise God’s going to take you through, king, is that you’re going to have to learn, as all living have to learn, that the Most High rules the kingdom of men. He gives it to whom He will, and He sets over it the lowliest of men. God determines who is king.

“You didn’t win this thing by some popular election or because your dad was the king. Ultimately, you’re the king because God put you there. Anything you have in life you have because God is sovereign.”

Now because Nebuchadnezzar at that point in his life didn’t yet understand this lesson, he still thought he was sovereign. God was going to teach him a lesson. So Daniel said, speaking for God, “You will be driven from among men. Your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. You will be made to eat grass like the ox and you will be wet with the dew of heaven. And seven periods of time [or seven years] will pass over you until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will” (Dan. 4:15–17, paraphrased).

What happened here? You remember the story? King Nebuchadnezzar a year later went crazy. He lost his mind. He began to live and function like an animal. And I want to say this. If you try to run your own life out from under God’s authority and rule, you will end up with animal-like characteristics.

Now you may not end up in the field eating grass like an ox. But in your emotions, in your thinking, you will become irrational. You will become animal-like until you realize that God is Most High and say, “Yes, Lord, I surrender. I rest in sovereignty. I will obey You.”

Well, King Nebuchadnezzar went through those seven years. And then he gives his testimony. He says in Daniel 4:34,

At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven. [That’s the turning point. “I looked up!”]

And my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, "What have you done?”

Nebuchadnezzar learned heaven rules. It’s the bottom line. And now Nebuchadnezzar said,

I praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride [those who think they are sovereign, those who think they’re in control, those who walk in pride] he [the Most High God] is able to humble” (vv. 34-35, 37).

So what’s the life lesson here? Trust and obey. Rest in the sovereignty of God. Surrender to the sovereignty of God. Make it a pattern, a habit of your life to say, “Yes, Lord. I receive the circumstances You’ve brought into my life. I embrace this hardship.”

Now you don’t ask for hardship. But when it comes into your life, you receive it. You humble yourself. You bow before the discipline of God, before the hand of God, before the choices of God, before the will of God. You bow the knee. You bow the neck. You bow your heart, and you say, “Yes, Lord, I receive Your control in my life.”

Can I tell you that you will never be more secure, you will never be more safe, and you will never be happier, more satisfied, than when you are trusting and obeying: resting in sovereignty and surrendering to sovereignty.

Now I’m taking advantage of this series to try and pass on particularly to the next generation, the younger women, some of the things that I learned from my dad that have been foundational in my own life.

This next one is just real practical and basic, but it’s very fundamental in my life. And this was this principle that little things matter a lot. Little things. Now in my notes I put the word “little” in quotes. Things that we think of as little, matter. And they don’t just matter a little; they matter a lot.

This is one of the threads, the themes of my dad’s life and of our upbringing. He was constantly emphasizing to us the importance of choices and habits, little things, little choices, little decisions—habits that seem to be inconsequential. The importance of good and bad choices and habits. The problem with habits is they are so habitual. They’re habit forming.

And what happens is we make these choices and decisions and actions that we think are little things, but they become big things when they become habits. And this works both ways, for good and for bad.

My dad used to remind us, I don’t know how many times, that bad habits are easy to make, easy to fall into—just a series of little choices, little things—but they’re really, really hard to break. Now I heard my dad say that when I was 15, 16, 17, 8, 9, 10, at every age. But now I really believe him because now I’m 45 years of age, and I’ve got some habits in my life. Well some of them are good habits because I made some right choices as a young woman, as a little girl, and now they’re good habits. I’m so glad for those.

But I’ve made some wrong choices as a little girl, and now I struggle with those habits, those things that have become hard to break. And how I wish I had listened more carefully and heeded more consistently this challenge about habits, about choices. Habits are the result of little, single, individual choices and acts that you made when you’re 16 or 20 or 25. You don’t think it’s a big deal.

A practical illustration here, and it sounds a little silly maybe, but it’s an issue for a lot of women—the way I eat. It’s a huge struggle in my life, and it has been for all my adult life. And I’ll tell you why. I made a lot of wrong choices about what to eat as a teenager and in my twenties.

I lived in (I almost named the place, but I don’t want any lawsuits against Revive Our Hearts) a fast food restaurant that specializes in greasy hamburgers—single, double, or triple. And I lived there in my twenties. I didn’t think anything of it. It was a little thing to me what I ate.

Well, now it’s a big thing because I’ve got some bad habits that are really hard to break. Now I don’t still live in that fast food restaurant. But it’s been a huge challenge in my life to adopt healthy eating habits.

It’s the law of sowing and reaping. It’s this principle that comes from God’s Word that you reap what you sow. Every act, every choice I make, no matter what age I am, has consequences. And I’m looking into the eyes of some young women, younger women. And I just want to say to you every act, every choice has consequences. You will reap what you sow.

You’re sowing seeds now—what you do with your time, your eating habits, your exercise habits, the way you spend your money, the way you work, your sleep habits, how you use your free time. These are habits you’re developing today.

How many of you who are older than I am would say that you agree that you wish you’d made some different habits when you were younger? There are some habits that are hard to break now. You reap what you sow. The choices you make today that seem inconsequential will have consequences.

Every act, every choice, sows a seed. And it will reap a harvest. The challenging thing is that the harvest isn’t usually immediate. I planted a lot of seeds in my earlier years. Now by God’s grace and the counsel and wisdom of godly parents, I planted a lot of good seeds.

And I didn’t see those results, some of them, until more recent years. But I planted some bad seeds, and now I’m wrestling with some of the consequences; the harvest is now coming in my forties.

For the most part it’s a joyous harvest. I’m thanking the Lord for some of the choices that I made because my parents made me make those choices. My mother and I fought for all of my growing up years about my keeping my room neat. I don’t want you to think she was a fanatic about this, but I was (as I look back on it) a slob! I mean, I don’t even know how I found my bed now that I think about how awful it was. I could not fathom why it would matter to her that I would pick up my room, that it would be something that the Center for Disease Control would be worried about.

Well, now I understand that that has to do with order, with reflecting the character of God, God’s heart that is excellent, God’s ways that are excellent. And I understand there are implications for other parts of my life, but that simple discipline was so important. It wasn’t until I was a grown woman that I began to develop some of the wise disciplines I could have developed much earlier had I been receptive to my mother’s counsel.

My dad used to say it this way: “This thing about habits and choices and little things—you are what you have been becoming. You are today the sum total of what you have been becoming. And you will be down the road what you are becoming now.”

So take some counsel from an older woman, if you will. And those of you who are younger women, could I just plead with you, appeal to you to make wise choices now. Now you’re saying, “I’m older. I’ve already made wrong choices.” That’s what grace is for. You repent. You confess. You get God’s grace, and you start over again.

By the power of the Holy Spirit, every one of those bad habits can be broken. That’s what the cross is about. That’s what the gospel is about. That’s what the grace of God is for is to make us new creatures.

But how much better to listen to counsel, to take it and receive it and let it impact your life as a young woman.

Leslie: Little things matter. Nancy Leigh DeMoss heard those words from her father, and she’s been reflecting on them here with us. That message is part of a series called, Instruction of a Father.

Little things matter to Revive our Hearts. When listeners like you get involved with the program, it makes a big difference. Your prayers and your financial gifts—even if they seem small—help us continue broadcasting in your area and providing biblical teaching online.

And, Nancy, when listeners are faithful in giving—however much they’re able—the Lord can do big things.

Nancy: That is so true, Leslie. I'm thinking of a woman named Rebecca wrote to tell us about the big changes in her life that came after beginning to listen to Revive Our Hearts a couple years ago. She says, “It has freed me to become a woman of God that I never expected or understood in my first thirty years of life.”

As her story unfolded, Rebecca was a doctor working in a fast-paced, competitive environment. She says that when her daughter was born, “I began having a nagging feeling that something was amiss in my daily walk with the Lord.”

She says, “I began to struggle with the stress of being emotionally available to my husband and new daughter. Listening to your broadcast morning after morning made me take a closer look at the job and my day to day schedule. It was then that I realized that work was slowly becoming more of an idol and my family was getting less and less time and emotional energies than I was giving to patient care.”

This year, Rebecca sensed that God was calling her to resign from her job as a physician to spend this critical season with her family. She says, “I look forward to a beautiful future for our family. When God calls me back to the work force, I will be ready, but for now, I am content to be in His arms and under His direction.”

The time and effort Rebecca's investing in her family in this important season could pay off in extraordinary ways for decades to come. I’m thankful for the way that God’s used Revive Our Hearts in the process of focusing her priorities. And I’m thankful for listeners like you who support this ministry and make it possible for us to continue speaking to women like Rebecca.

When you support Revive Our Hearts with your prayers and your financial gifts, you’re helping us to continue broadcasting in your area, touching the lives of women who are influencing their families and those around them.

When you send a gift of any amount to Revive Our Hearts this week, we want to say thanks by sending you a copy of The Little Red Book of Wisdom. This is a book written by my brother, Mark DeMoss. It's a little book that packs a wallop. It has a lot of practical insight on how to incorporate wise habits into everyday life.

We’ve looked today at the power of little things that can add up in a big way. In The Little Red Book of Wisdom, Mark describes a lot of these little habits. When you invest in some of these small actions consistently, you’ll begin to see some dramatic changes.

This book is filled with helpful, wise counsel, and it's a great read not only for you, but a perfect gift for a husband, a dad, a granddad, son, or son-in-law. We’ll be glad to send you a copy when you send a gift of any amount to Revive Our Hearts. Be sure to ask for The Little Red Book of Wisdom when you call to make a gift at 1-800-569-5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Leslie: Godly counsel is invaluable. Find out why you need the input of others and how to get it. 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.

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