Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: All this month on Revive Our Hearts, we’re praying earnestly for the Lord to intervene in our world that is so chaotic and in such distress. It’s good in these times to remember that our God is not in chaos or in distress. 

So we’re coming before Him in desperation, asking Him to show up in our homes, our communities, our churches, and throughout each of our nations and this world. As we begin today’s program, I want to invite you to join us in seeking the Lord fervently. Here’s Laura Booz to lead us in prayer.

Laura Booz: Our dear heavenly Father, we cry out to You on behalf of our families. We thank You for being the perfect Father to us, Your children. Thank You that You run after us when we’re stuck in our sin, and You lavish us with Your grace, and You pull us into Your home, and You feed us on Your Word and fill us with Your Spirit!

Oh Lord, we repent of leading our families out of a heart of flesh and stone, out of a heart of sin and law. Instead, oh Lord, would You please fill us with Your parenting heart? Teach us how to lead our families with love and grace. Teach us how to run after the sinner and to pull them back to the table. Teach us how to speak words of life and truth.

Lord, would You satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days? May our children see Your glory through us. May they see Your glory as we grow and repent and love. 

May they see Your glory in their own lives as You run after them and You pull them into Your family and You teach them from Your Word, and You call them and You show them how mighty You are on their behalf.

Lord, we trust You with our families, and we ask for Your great care and Your great mercy. We count on You. We trust in You. You are far greater than he who is in the world. We are not afraid. Instead, we are filled with faith, and our iron-clad trust in Your promises will last because You who have begun a good work in us and in our families will be faithful to complete it.

We praise You, Father, in Jesus’ name, amen.

Dannah Gresh: Heartache and pain are everywhere, but there is comfort available. Here’s Erin Davis.

Erin Davis: So here are the three words that lift my eyes from my discouragement every day. Ready for them? Three words: But. You. Remain. Jesus, You remain. All of this will pass away, but You remain!

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Brokenness: The Heart God Revives, for October 14, 2020. I’m Dannah Gresh.

Nancy: Throughout this month here at Revive Our Hearts, we’re working on this theme, Cry Out! These are difficult times. These are times of distress. Whether you live here in the United States, as I do, or in other parts of the world, you know that our world feels like it’s imploding. And many of our lives feel like they’re imploding from circumstances over which we have no control.

So we’re calling out to women together, “Let’s cry out to the Lord. Let’s pour out our hearts to Him and say, ‘Lord, we need You. We need Your perspective. We need Your wisdom. We need Your grace in this hour!’”

I can’t think of a better passage to help us in that season of crying out than the one that my friend and colleague Erin Davis has been unpacking for us over the past couple of days from Revelation chapter 21. We get to hear the end of the story.

We’re living right now in the messy part of the story—chapters of the story of history that are just hard to understand and sometimes hard to see, “Where is God in the midst of all this?” But Scripture says we need to lift up our eyes when things get tough, when they get difficult. 

We need to remember that these birth pains, this tumult in our world, is a reminder to lift up our eyes, for our redemption draws near. So I want to encourage you to open your Bible, or find it on your Bible app, to the last book of the Bible, Revelation chapter 21.

You want to fasten your seatbelt here because what Erin is about to share is what we need every day in this present world—not only to get us through as survivors, but to help us thrive with hope and with joy in the Holy Spirit as we look ahead to what God has for us.

And, Erin, I know you’ve been soaking in this passage for years, and I want to thank you for letting it get written into the core—the fabric—of your heart, and now for unpacking it for us in a way that is bringing us such encouragement and hope.

Erin: Well, I’m so delighted that I get to!

Nancy: Now, let’s listen as Erin Davis shares with us this final message on Revelation 21.

Erin: Thanks, Nancy. Well, you might not know her story, but if you’ve sung in many church services, I bet you have sung the words she has written. Fanny Crosby is the author of more than 9,000 hymns. One that I love is “Blessed Assurance.”Here are a few words from that hymn:

Perfect submission, all is at rest;
I in my Savior am happy and blessed.
Watching and waiting, looking above;
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

We’ve been talking about the promises of God recorded in the book of Revelation chapter 21, and Revelation records a vision that was given to the apostle John under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. By the time John was writing these words, he was an old man.

He was a young man when he had seen Jesus, experienced His ministry firsthand, but now he is coming to those sunset years—probably looking back with fondness, but even more looking forward to what was ahead for him.

John’s words are meant to give us that blessed assurance that Fanny wrote about, and to help us look above as we watch and wait for Jesus to return for us! I hope you’ve been following along. We really have been soaking in this passage for a couple of days. My life is a testimony that we cannot hear these words too often.

So let me read to us Revelation 21:1–5: 

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” [Underline those words “former things” in your Bible.] 

And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." 

Here’s what Revelation 21 has done in my life: it has run a steel rod of truth straight up my back! It helps me stand for the gospel in ways that no other passage really does, and here’s why. Because Revelation 21 puts everything in my life into two categories.

I had a short stint as a secretary in college, and I struggled with the filing system because there were so many different categories, different colors of folders, different places for things to go. Revelation 21 gives us just two categories! I am a farm girl, and so the farm girl in me likes to think of them as two buckets: former things and eternal things—that’s it.

There’s no third option; there’s no gray area. There are just former things and eternal things. This passage has given me a new filing system for everything in my life. Either it will last forever, or it is destined to pass away. It’s either a former thing, or it’s an eternal thing.

The former things are listed for us right here in Revelation 21:4: 

He [the “He” is Jesus] will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

Tears? Former thing. Death? Former thing. Mourning is a former thing; crying is a former thing; pain is a former thing. 

  • All physical pain your body will ever experience, it’s a former thing. 
  • All heartache your heart will ever experience, it’s a former thing. 
  • Everything that is broken in our culture and everything that is broken in us, they all go in the former things bucket.

They’re goners; they’re circling the drain. I like to think of it with a different word picture: they’re expired milk; they’re just waiting to be thrown out. Now, sure, they might sink, but it’s not something that I am going to have to carry with me forever.

We think about our own lives; we think about what keeps us up at night, what makes our stomach tied in knots with anxiety. What keeps us from worshipping, because we’re so consumed with worry? What fractures our human relationships, because we just can’t let it go?! All of those things will ultimately end up in the “former things” bucket.

And yet, those are the things that we spend the most time thinking about, the most time trying to fix, the most time venting about or talking to others about. Scripture is saying, “Put them in the former things bucket. It’s where they belong. They’re destined to pass away.”

So, what remains? What goes in the second bucket? Let’s turn in our Bibles to Hebrews chapter 1. I’m going to read to us Hebrews 1:10–12: 

You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.

These verses give us this language: they perish; they wear out; God will roll them up.

Well, what are the “theys” and the “thems” in these verses? It’s everything listed in Revelation 21:4. Tears . . . they will perish. Pain . . . it will be rolled up. Death . . . it will be gone. The broken earth beneath our feet is a farmer thing.

But force your heart to sit in this for a moment, Hebrews 1:11 again: “They will perish, but you remain.” You can think about anything in your life right now that’s causing you grief or sorrow or anxiety, and you could look at that thing and say, “They will perish, but You remain.”

Here’s my deepest area of sin and need: discouragement, which often veers all the way into despair. I will wake up every morning and drive my life into that sin-ditch every day without the Lord’s help. I’ll wake up and find myself discouraged before I’ve even had my breakfast! This is especially true in every area of ministry. 

Motherhood: where I’m trying to raise four boys to be warriors for the Kingdom. I feel discouraged in that space every day. Serving in my church: I’m sure your church is like my church in that it is full of sinners. It can be so discouraging to serve alongside sinners! Loving my neighbor sounds really lovely, until I practically try to do it . . . and it’s hard!

Leading women to know and love their Bibles is a great passion of my life . . . and a great source of discouragement, because so many women that I know and love aren’t opening their Bibles! And bearing with each other in love is a ministry all unto its own, and a place where I fight chronic discouragement.

Without the perspective of God’s Word, I would always be discouraged in those areas. And being discouraged inevitably erodes our joy. Without the perspective of God’s Word, I would be a discouraged, fruitless, miserable Christ-follower, and that’s not who I want to be!

So here are the three words that lift my eyes from my discouragement every day. Ready for them? Three words: But. You. Remain. Jesus, You remain! All of this will pass away, but You remain! 

I will always face discouraging circumstances, but I need not alway face discouragement because what recalibrates my heart, what reenergizes my work, what refocuses my eyes on the mission is the permanence of Christ and His Kingdom . . . which brings me to that second bucket. What goes in that bucket, that eternal things bucket? 

It’s so simple. Only three things go in that bucket. God goes in the eternal things bucket. Psalm 102:12 says, “But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever; you are remembered throughout all generations.” God is eternal!

God’s Word goes in the second bucket. It says in 1 Peter 1:25, “But the word of the Lord remains forever.” In Isaiah 40, verse 8, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” My Bible goes in the eternal things bucket!

One more thing: people. God’s people will exist with Him forever, and those who do not know him will exist without Him forever. All people are eternal things. That’s it! Just three things: God, His Word, and people. Those three things will exist for a million years; those three things will exist for a million, million years.

I don’t know the numbers that are bigger than those, but as far as our numbers go and beyond that, God, His Word, and people will exist forever! They’re eternal things! And this is the reality of Revelation 21 that has changed my life. 

It is what shifts our hearts away from the challenges we face and away from the challenges the people around us are facing—everything from minor annoyances to major heartbreaks has to go in one of the two buckets. God’s Word helps us see that so much of it is “a former thing.” Now, if you’re listening to this and you’re in the middle of real pain, real sorrow, I want you to hear me say this: I’m not saying those things don’t matter. 

God cares about the details of your life, and He asks us to carry the burdens of others. What I am saying, what Revelation 21 is teaching us, is that those things won’t always matter. Sharing the gospel, Christ’s work in our own hearts as we’re being changed into His image, the people we spend our days working beside, the children who sit around our breakfast table, the Bible which we spend our days reading and living, those things will remain forever. 

There’s a Helen Roseveare quote that has deeply impacted me. If you’re not familiar with Helen’s story, she was a missionary to central Africa in the mid-1900s. (She’s with the Lord now.)

While she was serving on the mission field, she saw civil war break out. She was arrested. The medical facilities that she had worked years to build were destroyed, and she was beaten and violently attacked. Yet whenever she would talk about living her life for Jesus, she would always talk about the privilege.

I’ve been captivated by these words in particular . . .

Helen Roseveare recording: Looking back, one has tried to count the cost, but I find it all swallowed up in privilege. The cost suddenly seems very small and transient in the greatness and permanence of the privilege.

That thought of the greatness and permanence of the privilege of living my life for Jesus has changed me. Helen’s words in particular have changed the way that I pray. I frequently pray like this: “Jesus, there is no cost to count here. There’s just the privilege.” And that is truly how I feel about living my life for Jesus.

It’s not because it’s easy, and it’s not because there are not speed bumps. But there is no cost to count; there’s just the permanence of the privilege. There’s just the fact that everything that matters goes in the eternal things bucket.

That’s not some pie-in-the-sky thought that doesn’t have any weight to it. Following Jesus cost Helen plenty! Jesus never tricked us into thinking it wouldn’t cost us. He promised us it would cost us (see Matt. 16:24). We’re living in this culture where, for some of us, we’re experiencing for the first time following Jesus costing us something . . . and there’s just the permanence of the privilege.

At the end of the day, or God willing, at the end of my life spent serving Jesus, there’s another prayer I’ve prayed often. Especially when I’m in nursing homes or around people at the end of their lives, I say, “Jesus, wring me out like a washcloth!”

I want to be in those final years and those final moments with just nothing left to give because I’ve been so squeezed by the Lord for His glory. And so, at the end of what I hope my life looks like-—where I’m just wrung out for the glory of the Lord—there’s just the permanence of the privilege; there’s just the eternal things bucket.

Whatever it costs us to follow Jesus, we should pay it, because we have the hope that God’s work in us and through us can never be taken from us! It’s already in the bucket, the eternal things bucket. There was an eighteenth-century pastor and theologian who would pray this prayer: “Lord, stamp eternity onto my eyeballs!”

I have that written in the margins of my Bible next to Revelation 21, because that’s what this passage does for me. It sears eternity onto my eyeballs. My flesh, my eyeballs, want to look at this moment in time, but this passage stamps eternity onto my eyeballs.

This is the reason why Revelation 21 has changed me, why I hope it’s changed my family, why I hope it’s changed my small group, my church, my community. It has taught me to focus on what goes in the eternal things bucket and to hold on very loosely to everything in the former things bucket.

I was traveling recently (and you should know, I’m a head-down traveler). The woman next to me was trying to strike up a conversation, and I was putting off the vibe that I didn’t want to talk, but she wasn’t picking up on it. She started to tell me this story. It was an unbelievable story! (I Googled it later, because it seemed so unreal what she was telling me.)

It’s her story. (I won’t tell it here.) But the bottom line was that her family had experienced such tremendous horror and grief. I couldn’t look her in the eyes as she was telling it to me. She finished the story and she looked at me. I knew she wanted me to tell her something, but I didn’t know what it was.

So I asked this question, “Are the promises of God true?” This woman was a pastor’s wife; she was a woman of faith. I needed to know if God really keeps His promises in a valley so dark I couldn’t fathom it.

She looked at me and smiled, and she said this: “Every single one of them!” God had kept His promises to her in such incredibly dark moments! And barely on the other side of that darkness, she was declaring that God keeps every single promise He’s ever made to His children. 

I think of her so often, and I can’t wait to see her in heaven and tell her how that story has transformed me, to know that these promises in Revelation 21—which, frankly, feel too good to be true—are going to be kept. Because, does God keep His promises? Every single one of them! 

I want you to think about Fanny Crosby again. I read to you some of her lyrics from “Blessed Assurance.”Here’s some of her story: Fanny was a blind hymn writer, but she wasn’t born blind. She experienced blindness as the result of a medical error when she was a baby. 

Someone once said something to Fanny about what a pity it was that God didn’t give her sight when He had given her so many other gifts. And Fanny said this, 

Do you know that if at birth I had been able to make one petition, it would have been that I was born blind. Because when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior!

In many ways, Fanny’s reality is our reality. When we get to heaven, all will be revealed. We’ll see in full for the very first time, the precious gifts that Jesus has been storing up for us, and this is our blessed assurance: former things are going to take their rightful place as things that are no more. They’re goners!

And eternal things: God, God’s Word, and God’s people will be ours forever! Lord, stamp eternity onto our eyeballs! Amen!

Nancy: We’ve been listening to Erin Davis, a member of the Revive Our Hearts team,reminding us that the things that trouble us in these troubling days, the things that burden our hearts, the things that make us weep and sigh are not eternal things. They will one day—soon—be former things!

And Erin, as you were teaching, I was thinking of that passage in Isaiah 43:18–19 that says, “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing.” 

God is doing a new thing. . .in us and through us so that we and those around us might be prepared for eternity, where prayer will be praise and faith will be sight. All those former things that clouded our vision, that made us so heavy-hearted and so burdened and so troubled will be gone—not even a distant memory.

Forever our hearts will be filled with the presence of Christ, the beauty of Christ, the glory of Christ, and the joy of eternity with Him! If we don’t keep our eyes fixed on eternity, we’re going to live miserable, frustrated, burdened lives. As we keep eternity stamped on our eyeballs, it doesn’t mean we won’t have pressures or problems or challenges here on this earth. We will!

But it means that those things will be instruments that God uses to prepare us for eternity. I’m thinking of that passage in 2 Corinthians 4:16–17 by the apostle Paul, who understood hard things, really hard things, harder than most of us have experienced. 

But in the midst of all that he said, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.For this light momentary affliction . . .” That’s the former things. They’re not former yet, but they one day will be. They don’t seem light, and they don’t seem momentary. They seem heavy and long.

But Paul says from God’s perspective, and from the perspective we will have when we are with Him in heaven, these are light momentary afflictions. And what are they doing? They’re “. . . preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (v. 17).

So those things that are hard, those things that will soon be former things, they’re preparing something better for us. They’re preparing us for that eternal weight of glory forever in the presence of Christ.

So, weary pilgrim, lift your eyes up, lift your head up, focus your hearts—set your eyes—on the things that are coming, those eternal things that can never be taken away from us. That will give you perseverance and perspective and joy in this journey!

Thank you, Erin, for walking us, over these days, through Revelation 21, those first five verses. 

If you’ve missed any of the previous sessions in this series, you can find them at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Dannah: Have you been encouraged to set your gaze on the eternal? I think you might be encouraged by what one woman had to share when she heard that message from Erin.

Woman: Over the past about two years, my heart has broken multiple times, and the things that have kept me afloat are eternal things. It has been Jesus, His Word, and His people. And so right now it’s like I’m holding the buckets of former things and eternal things. It’s the grief and the joy. There’s sorrow, but there’s hope.

And to realize my bucket of former things is just going to drop to the ground one day, like God is going to take the pain and the tears and the death that I have felt. It feels like I have died in a lot of ways. He’s going to erase that! 

Jesus is going to be holding me and holding that bucket of eternal things: His Word, Himself, and His people who have wrapped their arms around me and walked with me in the valley. So thank you for beating that drum of former things and eternal things. I can get lost in my pain, and we can be lost in that bucket. It feels like we’re drowning in the tears, and so we need the people who remind us: “eternal things, eternal things.”

The day is coming when it’s just going to be the eternal things and that the pain will be gone. That’s the hope that I’m clinging to. 

Nancy: As I hear you share your heart, and as our team has had the opportunity to walk with you through some of this, I’m reminded from this passage in Revelation that Jesus is making all things new! It’s not just that there are a few good things down here on earth and those are the ones that will last.

But it’s that all things—including us, our sinfulness, and our tendency to sin and to respond to circumstances with anxiety and discouragement—all of this will be made new! Heaven and earth will be new—new heavens, new earth. We have a God who is a redeeming God, who is making all things new!

Actually, the kind of things you have been walking through . . . And we can all fill in our blanks about what those situations have been for us; for Robert and me it’s been cancer this year. But God is in the process of not just fixing the old, but He will banish the old and He will make all things new! That is our hope; that’s our promise.

The former things that have so burdened us, they are actually part of the means through which God is making all things new. So we will look back on those things, and I think, believe it or not, we will say, “Thank You, Lord,” for the things that seemed so troubling, so burdensome. They will be seen in the light of eternity to actually be treasures because they pressed us to Him and pointed us to Him and gave us eternity stamped on our eyeballs. 

Praise the Lord for that! He resurrects! You know, as you support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts with your prayers, with your financial support, you’re helping us take these good tidings, this good news of what lies ahead, to women around the world who desperately need that perspective—women who are burdened, who are heavy-hearted, who are struggling. 

We’re taking them day after day to the Word of God where they can find the kind of perspective that we’ve heard from Erin in this series. Your support helps make all of that possible. 

When you send a gift to Revive Our Hearts this month, as our way of saying thank you, we want to send you a brand-new resource that’s only available through Revive Our Hearts. It’s a new thirty-one-day devotional for the Advent season. 

It will take you through the month of December—December one all the way through the thirty-first of December—and will help you to fix your eyes on Jesus during that season when so many things try to take our eyes off of Jesus.

We’ll be glad to send you a copy of this new devotional when you make a contribution of any amount to Revive Our Hearts this month. You can do that at ReviveOurHearts.com, or you can call us at 1–800–569–5959. 

I believe that this is a devotional God will use during the Advent season to help you focus your eyes on the things that are eternal, the things that matter and will last forever. Thanks so much for your support of this ministry as we continue to help women around the world fix their eyes on Jesus.

Tomorrow, we’ll be hearing from my friend Janet Parshall, a message called “A Pattern for Prayer.”I hope you’ll join us tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts as we continue to cry out to Him!

Reminding you that God is making all things new, Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries. 

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

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

About the Speaker

Erin Davis

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. She is the author of many …

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