Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: When you face a busy day, what keeps you going? Vitamins? Caffeine? Maybe adrenaline? Do you think to pray for strength? Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Regardless of our season of life, regardless whether we’re married or single, what our calling is in life, we cannot fulfill that calling apart from a commitment to cultivate a personal relationship with God.

Leslie: It’s Tuesday, February 27th, and this is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Are you tired today? Ask any woman that question and you’re likely to hear a resounding yes. At least as resounding as possible from a woman exhausted from the demands of life.

Maybe you know someone who just feels like they’re always dragging. I hope you’ll send them a transcript of today’s program. To do that, visit ReviveOurHearts.com because Nancy will offer some practical steps on being awake and energized to do the things God has for you to do. Today’s teaching is part of an in-depth look at Proverbs 31 called The Counter-Cultural Woman.

Nancy: We’re continuing to walk through Proverbs, chapter 31. Actually, to some of you it may feel as if we’re crawling through Proverbs, chapter 31. I’ve just been so encouraged personally and challenged by what we’re seeing as we go verse-by-verse through this portrait, this looking glass, of a woman of virtue, a woman of excellence. God is teaching me as I’m teaching you. I’m being enlightened and growing in my own understanding.

I just want to remind us over and over again that no woman can be like this woman apart from the Lord. Left to ourselves we could never have the kind of heart that would cause us to give ourselves in this selfless, serving, sacrificial way that this virtuous woman does in Proverbs chapter 31.

Yet I also want to remind you—and this is where I get such hope—that any woman can be this woman no matter what your background, whether you had godly parents and models or not, no matter what your season of life, no matter how much you may have failed or blown it. Any woman, married or single, can develop, by the power of the indwelling Spirit of God . . . Christ who lives in you can help you to become this kind of woman.

Let me remind you again that the heart of the matter is not all of the things this woman does. It’s not all her activities, all her accomplishments, all her achievements, all her skills. They are considerable, but those things all flow out of a relationship with God. That’s the bottom line.

Now we’re not going to get to the bottom line for a while yet because it comes at the end of the chapter, but we know that this is a woman who fears the Lord. She’s a woman who has a reverence for God, a trust in God, a holy sense of awe about God. Out of that reverential trust and fear and love and devotion to God comes springing forth her heart for the relationships that God has put in her life. In this case, it’s a married woman, so her heart for her husband, her heart for her children, her heart for her home. That all comes out of her devotion to God.

You and I cannot be the women God made us to be and wants us to be and that we want to be, regardless of our season of life, regardless whether we’re married or single, what our calling is in life. We cannot fulfill that calling apart from a commitment to cultivate a personal relationship with God. That’s got to be the number one, core priority of every day of my life—to walk with God.

You say, “I’m too busy. I don’t have time to do that.” If you don’t have time to cultivate your relationship with God, then you’re doing some other things that you shouldn’t be doing. We’ve got to just determine this is what matters—that I seek the Lord, that I know Him, that I get into His Word, that I get wisdom from Him, that I get the power of His indwelling Holy Spirit to enable me to be the woman He wants me to be.

A woman said to me just a while ago, “After I left the last session, I was feeling so hopeless and overwhelmed and like I was just such a failure on every count as it relates to Proverbs 31.” But she said in the next session . . . She said God really encouraged her and showed her His grace and the hope that there is.

Let me just say, there is hope for every one of us as women. It starts by acknowledging where we don’t meet the standard. But then, as we agree with God about our failure, coming to Him for grace and for strength and for transformation, to make us into the women that He wants us to be.

So I want to keep . . . As we hold up this standard, I want to keep reminding you that we don’t attain to this standard by our own effort, our own abilities. We acknowledge that we cannot attain to this standard. This is the law, in a sense, that we’re looking at.

It must press us to Christ, who is our righteousness, who is our hope, and to the cross where we cry out to God. Where we say, “Break me, mold me, make me, shape me, transform me by Your grace, by the power of Your salvation and Your gospel. Make me into the woman that I could never be apart from You but that I am sure to be by the power of Your Spirit.” So I want to keep speaking words of hope and grace.

Now, we come today to verse 17 of Proverbs chapter 31. We’ve seen this woman taking care of her family’s clothing needs and their food needs. She’s making an economic contribution to the family by being thrifty and spending and saving and investing wisely.

This verse is pretty important (verse 17) because after all the things she’s doing, we see that she needs strength. She’s a busy woman. She’s an active woman. She’s a diligent woman. She’s probably at times, undoubtedly, a tired woman. So we see a very practical verse—17: “She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms.”

If you’re following along in the New International Version, it says, “She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.” Or the Amplified Version is helpful here: “She girds herself with strength [spiritual, mental, and physical fitness for her God-given task] and makes her arms strong and firm.”

That word “gird,”—she girds herself with strength . . . That word means to equip or prepare for action. She does what she has to do to be equipped and fit to do what God has called her to do.

At different seasons of your life, that may look different. It’s not always the same requirement for each season of life. We see a woman, not just in this verse, but throughout this chapter, who works with energy and enthusiasm. She’s not a woman who’s dragging around.

Now, that makes you think maybe this is “Super Woman.” This woman does not exist. There is no such woman. But God has provided His grace to strengthen us to do His will. Whatever I need to do the will of God wholeheartedly and cheerfully, God can give me the grace and the strength to do that.

But I have to cooperate with Him in appropriating that strength and that grace. It means I need physical strength. As long as God gives health, I need to be maximizing what He has given me physically to be developing a greater endurance, greater capacity for endurance.

Now, I’m not a person who naturally is real interested in things related to nutrition and exercise. That’s not one of the things I have a lot of focus on in my life. But I need a little bit more focus. My dad used to remind us that Paul said to Timothy that “bodily exercise profits little,” but he would say, “It does profit a little.”

No need on any of these things to go to excess or extremes or to have this become your god; but physical exercise, I’m finding the older I get, is important. I’m finding the older I get the more important it is what I eat. I found that I could live on fast food when I was in my 20s; but when I hit 30, I couldn’t keep living that way and have the strength to do what God had called me to do. Now that I’m in my mid-40s, I find it’s even more important that I take care of this temple, this body that the Holy Spirit lives in, that God has given me.

So some practical ways . . . If you find yourself just not having the energy to do the will of God, I just say practically watch your sugar intake. That means that eating has to do with our ability to glorify God. Physical exercise. I find that when I am getting moderate physical exercise I have greater stamina. I have greater physical energy, greater capacity for serving God and others. I don’t get tired so easily.

We know medically and physically that physical exercise is a help in dealing with even our emotional well-being. If you’re always living on the edge of depression, it may be that just some simple steps . . . Now, if you’re depressed, it may not seem simple to get up and take a walk, but that’s where just taking some steps of obedience, as hard as they may seem, may help just to lift your spirits and make you more fit—girded up for action to serve your family.

When I have some moderate physical exercise on a consistent basis, it just improves my overall outlook on all of life. I find that when my body is disciplined, I am more likely to be disciplined in other areas of my life. When I let this area of physical discipline go, you know what goes next? My tongue. I start wasting time. My temperament. My reactions. Everything else seems to get out of control when I let my body go.

Now, this is not something that comes easily for me, and I find myself particularly in the last couples of years thinking I just don’t have time. I just can’t fit this in. God has been gracious to put some people around me who care not just for my soul, but care for me as a person.

I had a woman call me recently and she said I want to challenge you . . . She didn’t call out of the blue. She is a friend and a praying friend. But she had been praying for me and she said, “I think you need to go back to walking.” I had put that aside for some period of time here. She said, “I need to get to walking again. Could we hold each other accountable?”

She emailed me just in the last day or two and we emailed to each other and reported to each other. I did get my three walks in last week. The third one, I promise you, I would not have gotten in had I not known that she was going to ask how it was going. But I am so thankful for friends like that who will help me gird myself for action, to be strengthened physically.

This is important because you are your husband’s helper. That’s what God made you to be. That’s your God-given purpose in life. You glorify God by helping your husband. One of the areas where you need to be a helper to him is in the realm of the physical. In terms of physical and sexual relationship, you need to be making sure that you’re caring for your body in such a way that you have the energy, the heart, the motivation to minister to his physical and sexual needs.

In a very practical way, as a woman, keeping yourself fit in a way that . . . The fitness is not your goal. Fitness is not your god. Fitness is not your objective. Your goal is to glorify God and even in that practical way by being able to minister to the physical needs of your husband in the area of your appearance and even sexually being able to give yourself to him.

Now, there are other areas where we need strength. Not just in the realm of the physical, but also in the realm of the emotional and the mental and the spiritual. If you’re like me, and I know we all have this as women, there are times when we just get drained. We get depleted.

It’s not just a physical draining. Sometimes just in the course of being and doing what God has given to us to do we find ourselves mentally and emotionally and spiritually weary. I want to just say that God has strength for us in those realms as well. The virtuous woman, the excellent woman will apply to God for grace in those areas.

One of the things we need to do as virtuous women is to identify things in our lives that may be sapping us of spiritual or emotional or mental strength. What are the things that drain energy from us?

We could actually do a whole series on this subject, but let me just note what some of those are that have come to my mind. One thing that will definitely rob you of emotional and spiritual strength and physical strength is bitterness, unforgiveness, anger, unresolved issues in relationships. Where there is bitterness no matter how wrong the other person may have been, you will suffer for your bitterness.

David writes in Psalm 32 about how when he was bitter and did not have a clear conscience, how his physical and moral and spiritual vitality was just zapped. He was drained of vitality and energy. That’s what unconfessed sin will do to us. God didn’t intend for our bodies to hold up and our spirit to hold up under the weight of sin that we have not dealt with God’s way.

Complaining is something . . . and ingratitude . . . these are things that will drain us of spiritual and emotional energy. Worry and anxiety. These are sins. We may have a whole bunch of circumstances that explain why we’re worrying or why we’re anxious, but God holds us accountable not for the circumstances, but for our response to those circumstances.

When we give in to worry, when we give in to fear, when we give in to anxiety over whatever . . . It may be over the weather or over your children or over your job or over your financial situation. Though the world may be falling apart around us, when we give in to anxiety and fear and worry, we are zapped. We are drained of strength that God wants us to have.

I’ll tell you one definite thing that I think drains a lot of energy and saps a lot of strength from a lot of women and that is that most of us are involved in some activities that are not on God’s agenda for our lives for that season of life. It’s not that they’re things that are wrong in and of themselves, but it’s not the season. It’s not God’s will for you.

Some of us fall into that trap of saying yes to everything and everybody that needs something done, whether it’s in the church or at work. Some of you women are in the marketplace not by the will of God. Some of you are there by the will of God, so I’m not trying to put anyone on a guilt trip.

I’m just saying you may be drained because you are working outside the home at a season when it’s not God’s time for you to be doing that, and you’re wondering why you can’t have all this energy and desire to meet your husband’s needs and to keep your house and to meet your children’s needs.

It may be that you’ve committed yourself to one or more activities that you thought you had to do or thought you should do or wanted to do or somebody else wanted you to do, but you didn’t check with the Lord first and ask Him, “Is this the season for me to be involved in this activity?”

We need to bring our schedules under God’s control and ask Him, “What is Your will for my life for this season.”

By the way, your husband ought to be involved with you in that process as your spiritual head. If you’re overwhelmed and have more to do than you can do, go to your husband. Even if he’s not a believer, God can give him the ability to give you wise counsel. Now, I’m not saying that every husband can give the spiritual counsel that you need, but involve your husband with you in that process of determining if there are things in my life that should be handled in another season.

Well, the Scripture says that the joy of the Lord gives us strength and that if any one of us is weary and heavy-laden, we should come to Christ and He will give us rest (see Matthew 11:28-30). Rest for our souls. I find that when I’m lacking in strength, when I’m drained, maybe because I really am doing the will of God, but I’ve been depleted in doing it, I need to come back to the Lord and ask Him for strength.

Do you know He can do that supernaturally for you? I experienced that yesterday in our session. As I came to yesterday morning to teach, I had not had a lot of sleep the night before and I was physically and emotionally and spiritually just drained. I prayed before coming into this session yesterday morning, “Lord, would you strengthen me to do Your will.” And you know, He did. All day long.

He’s been doing that for me today, and He can do that for you. If He needs to, He will send angels to strengthen you as He sent angels to strengthen Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. So ask the Lord.

One of the gracious things the Lord did for me in the first year of Revive Our Hearts ministry—the radio ministry. . . It was the toughest year of my life in terms of demands and strain and drain and stress and I found myself often very depleted and really leaning hard on the Lord.

Now, I’m still leaning hard on Him, but I can . . . I just have such memories of that first year. One of the things the Lord did for me that was so sweet for a long period of time—and to this day it happens occasionally—I would wake first thing in the morning and the first phrase that God would bring to my heart was that phrase from the little song, Jesus Loves Me, “They are weak but He is strong.”

You know, I’ve grown to love that little phrase because it was so good for me to acknowledge as it’s good for all of us to acknowledge. We are weak. Left to ourselves, we’re not strong enough to do what God calls us to do, but He is strong.

So day after day, I found myself during that first year—and it’s become much more of a habit in my life—a good habit—to say, “Lord, I’m weak, but I know that You are strong, so be strong in me today. Strengthen me to do Your will.” As we ask and as we wait and as we depend upon Him, He really will give us the strength that we need to live lives that are pleasing to Him.

Leslie: Consistently ask God for help. Eat well. Exercise. You’ve been getting solid advice from Nancy Leigh DeMoss about ways to prepare yourself for the work God has for you. I think Nancy’s teaching strengthens me to serve the Lord. Listening to her is kind of like having a personal biblical trainer and spiritual nutritionist rolled into one.

Do you know how much training you’d receive from Revive Our Hearts if no one donated to the ministry? Well, none. You’re able to hear us every day because of donors who want to support Nancy’s teaching. If Revive Our Hearts has helped you grow stronger in your knowledge of God’s Word, would you consider passing on the benefit to other women?

Join the ministry partner team, a special group of people who intercede, invest, and interact. Those three “i’s” mean you pray for Revive Our Hearts, commit to a monthly financial gift, and tell other people about it. The number one reason for joining the ministry partner team is to help women connect with God’s Word.

That’s such a good reason, maybe I shouldn’t even tell you about the other side benefits you’ll receive. Like a copy of Nancy’s latest book, Choosing Forgiveness, at no cost. You’ll also be able to visit one Revive Our Hearts conference at no cost to you, and every month you’ll receive an exclusive CD or other resource.

Because there are so many benefits to being a member, it sounds like a really hard team to join, but I’ll let you in on something. If you’re willing to pray and tell some friends about Revive Our Hearts, if you’re willing to make a monthly donation of an amount you choose, you can be on this team. All you have to do is sign up at ReviveOurHearts.com.

When it’s time to play with your kids, do it enthusiastically for God’s glory. When it’s time to work, do it diligently. Nancy will show how the Proverbs 31 woman strikes a balance in the way she spends her time, whether working or playing. I hope you’ll be back to hear that tomorrow.

During our current series called The Counter-Cultural Woman, we’re giving some husbands a chance to honor their wives. We heard a whole program of tributes a couple weeks ago. If you missed any of that, you can hear the audio at ReviveOurHearts.com. Today we’ll give another husband a chance to tell us why he appreciates his wife.

Husband: "She looks well to the way of her household and doesn’t eat the bread of idleness." That’s Proverbs 31:27. At first glance verse 27 doesn’t seem particularly flattering. It’s not one of the Proverbs 31 verses that stands out or is often quoted, but as it relates to my wife Kathy, mother of three, it speaks volumes.

You see, 17 years ago our second child Stephanie was born with autism. It would be dishonest of me to say that it didn’t shake us to the core. Frankly, we were devastated. We were in Australia at the time with Campus Crusade for Christ, thousands of miles from parents and close friends. We were confused, dismayed, and even scared.

To be honest, we had times of being angry with God in those early days. But in time, through prayer and time in the Word and through support from our friends and some tears, we began to at least accept it. Once Kathy was willing to receive Stephanie’s autism from the God that she knew was both sovereign and loving, she really got “stuck into it,” as they say in Australia.

Within a year, she had read everything that she could find published on autism. It wasn’t long before she knew more than our pediatricians. But what’s more amazing is that she hasn’t tired or procrastinated or quit for all 17 years of Stephanie’s life. As a result, Stephanie is fairly high functioning for an autistic young person.

All this and while at the same time she was nurturing two other children and being the best wife that a man could ask for. Yes, Kathy’s looked extremely well to the ways of her household without bitterness, self-pity, or hesitancy. I’m blessed and honored to be the husband of such an awesome woman.

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

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