Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Twenty-Five Cents at a Time

Leslie Basham: A joyful, fulfilling life begins at the point of surrender. Here's Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You see, it's in the laboratory of lifenot in a conference somewhere, not sitting in a radio recording session—it's when you leave this place and you go and face the real world, your mate, your children, your parents, and your situation; it's in the laboratory of life that our initial consecration to Christ is tested.

That's where it's proven. That's where it's demonstrated in everyday, moment-by-moment choices and responses as we surrender to the sovereignty and the will of God.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, July 16, 2015.

A surrendered life is joyful. Nancy will talk about it, continuing in the series "Surrender: The Hearts God Control."

Nancy: For those of you who are married, you know that when you went and stood at that altar and said "I do" and exchanged your vows, that was just a starting point.

It was a very important point. It was the starting point, but it was just a starting point of what was intended to be a lifetime of surrender, mutual surrender to each other as husband and wife.

Once you said "I do," really the story was just getting started. Then you began a lifetime process of keeping those vows every day for the rest of your life. So after the candles were blown out and the rice was thrown and you returned the rented tuxes and all that stuff, then you had to begin to live out the implications of those vows that you had just madeliving them out in the nitty-gritty context of everyday life for better and for worse.

Over time, if you have been married any length of time, you know that you have grown in your understanding of what those vows really meant.

Undoubtedly, there have been moments when you have thought back to the moment when you stood at the altar and you made those vows, and you have said to yourself, "I had no idea it would mean this when I said that. It never occurred to me that he would want me to do that. I never dreamed that loving him would involve this." You have grown in your understanding of what the implications were of those vows.

So we have been talking about, in the Christian life, a two-fold aspect of our surrender to Jesus as Lord: An initial point at which we say "I do" followed by an ongoing lifetime process of living out those vows and of learning the implications of what it means to live in obedience and surrender to Jesus Christ as Lord.

So Paul says,

I urge you brothers and sisters [in the family of God], in view of God's mercy, [to present] to offer [to yield] your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your [spiritual or reasonable] act of worship (Rom. 12:1 NIV).

He's talking about the surrender of our lives to God both in an initial point of surrender and in an ongoing lifetime process. Because at the point of conversion, (for me that was at the age of four—you think back to when it was for you) the point at which you became a child of God, none of us could have possibly been aware of all the implications of that transaction, of all that it would mean.

So our initial surrender to Christ as Lord is really just a launching pad for a lifetime of continual surrender and sacrifice. Now on a daily, perpetual basis we're called to live out that consecration by responding to the various circumstances and choices of life in obedience, in surrender to His willliving out those vows in the nitty gritty of everyday life.

One preacher illustrated the ongoing, daily dimension of sacrifice and surrender this way:

We think giving our all to the Lord is like taking a $1,000 bill and laying it on the table, saying, "Here's my life, Lord. I'm giving it all."

But the reality for most of us is that God sends us to the bank and has us cash in the thousand dollars for quarters. We go through life putting out twenty-five cents here and fifty cents there.

Listen to the neighbor kid's troubles instead of saying, "Get lost." Go to a committee meaning; give up a cup of water to a shaky old man in a nursing home.

Usually giving our life to Christ isn't glorious. It's done in all those little acts of love, twenty-five cents at a time.

And so it is. There is that initial sense, and I experienced this as a little girl, of recognizing that the whole thousand dollars is God's. We give it all up to Him: Everything I am, everything I have belongs to God. And that childhood surrender to God was very realjust as your vows at the altar were real. You just didn't know all that they meant or all that they would mean, but it was still real. You meant it.

But now in the course of everyday life God says, "I want a quarter here. I want fifty cents there." It's not a huge sacrifice in the whole scheme of things. But then at times the Lord asks you to lay down several quarters or even a few dollars at once, something that seems like a little bit bigger sacrifice.

For example, instead of taking that expensive vacation or buying that new car or that new piece of furniture, give the money to a mission's project or to a family in need. "Oh," you say, "that's more than a quarter sacrifice God's asking for there. He's asking for more."

Or instead of settling into that comfortable retirement life, volunteer your services to a ministry or to your local church or community. Or perhaps adapt your standard of living to make it possible to be a keeper at home, to be a mom at home with those kids. There's a sacrifice involved there.

Then there are some of those big sacrifices He asks for. Periodically maybe asking for a sacrifice that makes all those other previous sacrifices seem insignificant by comparison.

For example, the Lord may ask you at some point to release a son or daughter to serve the Lord in a country where Christian witness is restricted. Your mother's heart says, "Is it safe? Will he or she be secure?"

And God says, "That child belongs to Me. I want you to give up that child for the cause of My kingdom."

You say, "Lord, that's not a quarter sacrifice, that's not a few dollars, that's a big sacrifice."

But because you have given everything to the Lord, because you recognize that it all belongs to Him, you come to the point where you say, "Yes, Lord, I surrender. I give up what You are asking for at this point."

For you that big sacrifice may mean faithfully loving your unbelieving mate who makes life miserable for you.

For you that big sacrifice may mean accepting with thanksgiving the gift of a physically disabled child who's going to require constant lifelong care. That's not just an afternoon God's asking you to give up, that's a huge commitment.

But you see, it doesn't seem so huge when we recognize that everything we are belongs to God, that He has the right to everything, that we have given up our lives, we've offered up our lives already.

We've said, "I do." We've been to the altar. We've said, "Lord, I am Yours." And now God's saying, "Okay, here's the part I want now."

Sometimes through struggle and sometimes through tears, and that's not wrong, we come to the point where we say, "Yes, Lord, it’s all Yours. If that's what You want me to do, I embrace that."

So whether it's twenty-five cents here, fifty cents there, several dollars, or a $100 bill here and there, what would it mean for you today to offer up yourself to God as a living sacrifice?

What would it mean practically? What is God asking of you today? In your life circumstances, in your workplace, in your home, in your church, in your relationships, what sacrifices is God asking you to make?

What would it mean for you today to offer up your body to God as a living sacrifice? Paul said, "I urge you." It's a free will offering, a voluntary offering. "I urge you." Not, “I order you.”

"I urge you in view of God's mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. This is your spiritual [your reasonable] act of worship."

So whether they fall in the category of twenty-five cent pieces or $100 bills, realize that every act of obedience is significant in God's economy.

When you realize that it's all for Him, that you're giving up yourself, not just for your husband and your children and your friends and your church and for others, but that you are giving up your life, your time, your resources, your efforts; that as you mother those children, you are doing it for God.

As you love that husband, as you serve that elderly parent, as you care for the needy in your community, you are offering yourself up as an offering to God. It's all for Him.

As you realize that, doesn't it add a sense of purpose and joy as you bring your sacrifices and offerings?

Now you can bring your sacrifices and offerings without grudging, without complaining, without whining but with a glad heart.

"Oh, Lord, this is for You. If this is what is pleasing to You, for me to be in this obscure position caring for this needy person who doesn't have anybody else to care for him, or taking care of this child who has been sick for so long, whatever it is, Lord, it’s for You, and I do it gladly for Your sake."

One of the clearest statements of the practical terms of surrender for every follower of Jesus Christ is found in the words of Jesus in the gospel of Luke, chapter 14. Let me ask you, if you have your Bible, to turn to Luke chapter 14.

In this chapter beginning in verse 25, we find Jesus surrounded by a large crowd. They had seen the miracles. They had heard the stories of what Jesus had done. And they were really into this "Jesus movement."

Yet, it's interesting to me that Jesus never played to the crowdunlike what we might have been tempted to do. He wasn't concerned about His ratings. He wasn't running for office. He wasn't trying to attract the biggest crowd in town.

In fact, He wasn't even really too worried about what would happen if people left the crowd. He knew full well that when people heard His message about the Kingdom of God and the extent and the expanse and the demands of that kingdom, that many of them would lose interest in His movement.

But that never kept Jesus from being straightforward. Jesus was proclaiming a new kingdomthe Kingdom of God and proclaiming Himself as the King of that kingdom.

He was going to say to the people, "Here's how that kingdom works." He wasn't just going to say what they wanted to hear. He wasn't trying to make them feel good or make them keep coming back for more.

He was going to tell them what He knew they needed to hear if they wanted to be citizens and subjects of that great kingdom of God.

So Jesus looked at the crowd on this particular day and He said in effect, "If you want to follow Me, you need to understand what's involved." So we come to verses 26 and 27. Jesus said, "If you are going to follow Me,” and here’s the summary, “you are going to have to love Me supremely. Love Me more than you love anything or anyone else."

Verse 26, "If anyone comes to Me," Jesus said, "and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters," and here's the heart of the matter, "even his own lifehe cannot be My disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow Me cannot be my disciple" (vv. 26-27 NASB).

So there was no question about Jesus' point. Anyone who was listening that day knew what Jesus was saying. He was not offering His listeners some sort of weekend Christian experience. He wasn't just offering them an escape from their problems, or an anesthetic for their pain, or fire insurance from hell.

Everyone listening to Jesus knew that when He talked about a cross and taking up your cross, they knew that meant one thing. It meant death. It meant certain death, and Jesus was saying, "If you want to be part of this kingdom, if you want to be My follower, you have to come and die to everything that competes with My reign and My rule in your life."

When we come to verse 33 at the end of this passage, Jesus repeats His call to total surrender. And He says, "Any of you who does not give up everything that he has cannot be my disciple" (NIV).

This is a call to total surrender, to consecration. All that we have, all that we are is offered up to God.

Now I think that Jesus' words in this passage are so penetrating because they are so practical and personal.

He identifies specific issues that must be surrendered by those who call themselves His followers. Things like our relationships (father, mother, friends, brothers, sisters), our affections, what we love, our physical bodies, our rights, our possessions.

This is not just a general call. This is getting specific. God's call to lay down our lives on the altar of sacrifice means that we give Him everything that we areour rights, our reputation, our desires, our future, our plans—everything that concerns us.

As we have been saying, first for a lifetime, "I do," and then day by day, moment by moment, decision by decision, continuing to give up to Him our lives as a living sacrifice.

Some of you have heard me talk before about Dr. Helen Roseveare who is one of my spiritual heroines. During the 1950s and 60s, she served as a missionary doctor in what was then Belgian Congo.

And it was there that she suffered enormous atrocities during the Simba rebellion. Whenever I need to be reminded of what it means to live a fully surrendered, consecrated life, I go back and reread her compelling story.

I wish it was still in print. It's called Living Sacrifice. If you can find a copy, get it. It's a tremendous book. In that book, Dr. Roseveare gives a practical description of what it means to be a living sacrifice. And can I say that this description applies to every believer? Wherever you are and in whatever season of life, this is what it means for us to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Here's what Dr. Roseveare said:

To be a living sacrifice will involve all my time. No time can be considered as my own or as off duty or free.

To be a living sacrifice will involve all my possessions. All should be available to God for the furtherance of His kingdom. My money is His. He has the right to direct the spending of every penny. I must consider that I own nothing. All is God's, and what I have, I have on trust from Him to be used as He wishes.

To be a living sacrifice will involve all of myself. My will and my emotions, my health, my thinking and activities all are to be available to God to be employed as He chooses. And should He see that someone would be helped to know Him through my being ill, I accept ill health and weakness.

God has the right, then, to choose my job and where I work, to choose my companions and my friends.

To be a living sacrifice will involve all my love, my time, my possessions, my money, my self, and now my love. I relinquish the right to choose whom I will love and how, giving the Lord the right to choose for me.

You just fill in the blank there. Think of the person that is in your life that's just hard to lovethat mate, that parent, that in-law, that roommate.

She said, "I relinquish the right to choose whom I will love and how, giving the Lord the right to choose for me. Whether I have a life partner or not is wholly His to decide." By the way, Dr. Roseveare never married but she relinquished that right to the Lord.

I gladly accept His best will for my life. I must bring all the areas of my affections to the Lord for His control, for here, above all else, in my love life I need to sacrifice my right to choose for myself.

I need to be so utterly God's that He can use me or hide me as He chooses. I will ask no questions. I relinquish all rights to Him [and this is what I love] who desires my supreme good. He knows best.

We're safer and more secure than we possibly could be if we were holding onto those things for ourselves.

I look at some of you younger women with all of your life ahead of you, and knowing that there are many choices that you still face, I just want to say to you as I sometimes say to the kids, "Listen to this old lady and let me tell you that you will never ever regret saying 'yes' to God about whatever He wants for your life."

Say it now while you are young. Say it now while those choices are still before you. Say, "Yes, Lord, whatever You want. Children, no children, marriage, no marriage, job, no job, here, there, wherever. Lord, I know that You desire my supreme good, and You know best."

Now it's one thing to have an emotional experience at a Christian gathering where you are inspired and you are challenged to surrender control of everything to God.

You say, "Yes, Lord," and they sing. And you come forward or you pray and you cry. And you say, "Boy, I have surrendered my life to God." Many of us have had that kind of altar experience, if you will.

But we all know that it's quite another matter to live out that surrender once the emotion of the moment has passed, once the bus gets home from the conference, when you lose your job and the bills keep coming, when you discover that your husband is viewing pornography on the Internet, or when you are diagnosed with cancer.
Then do you still trust that God knows what is best, and are you still willing to relinquish everything you are and everything you have to God?

You see, it's in the laboratory of life, not in a conference somewhere, not sitting in a radio recording session. It's when you leave this place and you go and face the real world, your mate, your children, your parents, your situation.

It's in the laboratory of life that our initial consecration to Christ is tested. That's where it's proven. That's where it is demonstrated in everyday, moment-by-moment choices and responses as we surrender to the sovereignty and the will of God.

Does that seem like bondage to you? In fact, it's the only way to true freedom.
I think of the hymn writer, George Mattheson, who said,

Make me a captive, Lord, and then I shall be free.
Force me to render up my sword and I shall conqueror be.

Lord, we recognize that if we want to be truly free, we must choose the pathway of surrender and sacrifice and slavery to Jesus as Lord.

So, Lord, this day afresh we offer up ourselves to You. Thank You that You know what is best, that You desire our best good.

Thank You that You can be trusted. Afresh this moment we say, "Lord, I surrender all to You, amen."

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been inviting you to accept the Lord’s call to complete surrender.

Do you know a special group of listeners have surrendered their time and some finances to make it possible for you to hear the program today? Those gifts allow Revive Our Hearts to be available to women in difficult life moments. Here’s Nancy to explain more.

Nancy: A listener in Georgia wrote and described a tough marriage situation that she’s facing. She said, “I found myself at a low point this morning when I tuned in to Revive Our Hearts.”

She heard a message about remaining faithful through struggles. She said, “It was as if God orchestrated the time with you and spoke directly to my heart with peace and comfort.”

As I often say, I love living under providence. I’m so grateful for the way that the Lord orchestrates those kinds of connections in ways we couldn’t possibly predict when we’re creating radio programs.

I’m also thankful for our faithful Ministry Partners who support this ministry each month, making Revive Our Hearts available when it’s needed. I’m sure those ministry partners will never fully realize this side of eternity how God has used their faithful prayers and support.

But emails like the one you just heard remind us that when you support Revive Our Hearts, you’re not just underwriting an organization. You’re giving to impact lives and homes in a profound way.

We’re asking the Lord to raise up a lot more Ministry Partners to help underwrite Revive Our Hearts on a monthly basis.

If you’d like to find out more about how to become part of that special Ministry Partner team, give us a call at 1-800-569-5959, or visit us online at ReviveOurHearts.com/partner.

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy. Well, tomorrow discover how to be a servant even when you feel like you have nothing left to give. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

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

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

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