Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: To seek more of God is an investment in time. Here's Nancy Leigh DeMoss with a question that we all have to grapple with.

Nancy: Will it be worth the price? If I pay this price to seek the Lord, will I really find Him? Will anything change? Will I really experience the joy of personal revival if I seek Him? Will my search be rewarded?

Leslie: It's Wednesday, September, and this is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Revive Our Hearts listeners across the country have ordered a copy of Seeking Him, the workbook Nancy wrote with Tim Grissom. Small groups have formed in churches to go through the material and watch the teaching on DVD. Nancy has prepared a 12-week series for radio called Seeking Him.

All of this represents a big investment in the hope for personal revival. Is it really worth it? Well, today, Nancy will tackle that question.

Nancy: Just over 150 years ago, on January the 24, 1848, a man named James Marshall found gold while he was working for John Sutter at his ranch in northern California—that came to be called Sutter's Mill. Word spread quickly throughout California and across the rest of the nation, and over the next two years, thousands of people flocked to California to make their fortune.

During that period of time, I read that the population of San Francisco exploded from about 800 people to over 50,000 in two years. People spent up to nine months making the hard trip to California. They came on foot. They came by wagon. Some came from across the ocean. San Francisco—that's how it first became a major port.

As they came, a few people made a quick fortune, but if you've read about this gold rush, you remember that the majority did not. In fact, after making the hard journey, once they got to California, they faced incredible hardships and virtually no guarantee of success. The death rate was high. I read that one in every five miners who came to California in '49 was dead within six months.

As I read that, I thought, “This is a picture of what it means to seek for something with all your heart, to be earnest in seeking after something,” but it also illustrates that you can seek for something earnestly and end up bitterly disappointed, end up not finding that for which you sought.

Well, I did a little study through the Scripture. I wish we had time to walk through all these verses. But just a study about what the Scripture has to say happens when we seek the Lord. Let me just start by promising you that your search will be rewarded.

This is not like the gold rush of '49. Seeking the Lord—God promises that you will be rewarded. He says if you seek Him, you will find Him, Deuteronomy chapter four, “You will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul” (verse 29).

There's the starter promise. If you seek Him, you will find Him. You will experience God in a new way in your life as you seek Him with all your heart.

Then, numerous times in the Scripture, Psalm 105 for example—the Scripture says, “Let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!” (verse 3). Seeking the Lord gives us the reward, the result, of joy, of satisfaction.

Psalm 22, “The meek shall eat and be satisfied. Those who seek him shall praise the LORD” (verse 26, NKJV). You want more joy, more satisfaction, greater freedom in praise in your life? Seek the Lord.

Then the Scripture says, in Amos chapter five, “Thus says the LORD to the house of Israel: 'Seek me and live' . . . Seek the LORD and live, lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and it devour with none to quench it” (verses 4-6).

You want to avoid the ultimate judgment of God? Seek the Lord because in seeking the Lord, there is life. There is eternal life, but there's also a quality of life to be experienced here that you cannot know apart from seeking the Lord.

We look for life in so many places and sources and people and things. God says, “Seek Me and find life. Seek Me and live.”

Then Psalm 34—you're familiar with this verse. “The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing” (verse 10). When you seek the Lord, you have everything you need. If you have Him, you have enough.

Then Lamentations three tells us that, “The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks for him” (verse 25). You'll experience the goodness of God.

My new favorite verse in the Bible came to me as I was studying this series. In the English Standard Version, Psalm 69:32 reads this way, “You who seek God, let your hearts revive.” Don't you think that's a great theme verse for Revive Our Hearts? “You who seek God, let your hearts revive.”

You know, my burden for revival was first kindled as a young girl when I began to read some of the accounts of how God had moved in past revivals in history, and I saw how those who sought the Lord experienced revival. I want to do something today that I seldom do on Revive Our Hearts, but I want to read to you a fairly lengthy account that I just discovered this week of a situation where God moved in the early 1950s in what was then Belgian Congo.

Let me just read it to you and see if it's not true that those who seek the Lord will have their hearts revived. This was written by an eye-witness of that revival, a man who was a missionary in the Belgian Congo—had been for many years and was there when revival came in 1953. He says:

When God comes in revival power, it's different than anything you can imagine. It's not a campaign or a mission, nor is it something whipped up. Revival occurs when God comes down.

I was the leading missionary in my station, and we had 130 churches in our area. They were busy churches with plenty of activity. We had many meetings, a medical work, and hundreds of children in the missions schools.

The people were cooling off. They didn't come to the prayer meeting and Bible study as they used to. We were rather like Lazarus—out of the grave but with hands and feet wrapped around with a towel. One missionary put it simply, "We had a good shop window."

Someone urged the missionaries to spend one whole day each month in prayer, and many took up this challenge. As a result, a number of us became aware that we were not burning for God. Missionaries realized that there were problems in their relationships and got right with each other. Then we got right with the national evangelists and pastors who joined us in prayer, but this was not revival.

The revival began in the mission station at Lubutu, more than 400 miles from where I worked. For some time, participants in the Saturday night Bible study and prayer meeting at Lubutu had been studying the book of Acts, especially the working of God in the early church, but the missionaries were concerned that there was no freedom in prayer, and the meeting was hard going.

Then one pastor broke down and wept. This was a very unusual thing. He explained that he had a hardness of heart, and as he shared, the conviction spread until there was sobbing, wailing, and groaning from all over the meeting.

Africans were on their faces crying and praying. The missionaries tried to quiet everything down [Isn't that like a missionary?], but they failed, and the meeting went on until two o' clock in the morning.

The revival had begun in Lubutu in January of '53. By May, it had spread to my brother's station, 160 miles away, and by July, it had reached me at Wamba, a further 260 miles away. And so it went on and on. The revival spread like a bush fire for hundreds of miles, and other missions were touched by it.

My church had sent an evangelist down to Lubutu at the end of his training, and he was there when the revival came. On his first Sunday back with us, he preached on Exodus 19, 10 through 11. “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and be ready by the third day, because on that day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people” (NIV).

It was a wonderful message, but nothing happened, so I gave out the last hymn and the benediction and then invited any who needed counsel to stay in their seats. As the congregation were leaving, a young teacher sat at the front, sobbing and shaking uncontrollably.

Meanwhile, a young paralyzed girl suddenly began screaming, "What shall I do? What shall I do? I'm going to hell!"

People came rushing back into the church. I was counseling those who were crying for help when an African ran in with the urgent message that my wife needed me at our house. I rushed home and found the place full of people.

The head man, a good Christian, was lying on the floor, twisting and turning in agony and crying over and over, "What shall I do? What shall I do?" After awhile, he confessed his sins and then declared with joy, "My heart is clean! I claim forgiveness through the death and blood of Jesus Christ, my Lord."

In a moment, everyone present was claiming forgiveness with a radiant joy, and we all returned to the church for another meeting. The next day was a day for putting things right with one another. Suddenly, God had come down, and it was a visitation from heaven.

God moved in powerful ways. I wrote a letter to an evangelist 200 miles away, intending to tell him what was happening at Wamba, but as soon as he read the letter, he came under the power of God. He shared the letter with his church, and the Spirit came upon them also.

Initially it was just a revival among God's people. Few unbelievers were saved for the first two or three months. God was cleansing the church first. Our hearts were being searched.

Some people had hidden sins for years, having come to the conclusion that these sins did not really matter. God was dealing with individuals painfully.

A little boy was convicted of having stolen a razor blade before his conversion, and he went to the Godless shop owner to make restitution. "Jesus has come into my heart," he said, as he passed over the cost of the blade, "and I'm on a different road now."

On the other hand, a big, strapping evangelist was found wringing his hands, with tears dropping onto the floor. This man was a bright star in the mission. He had established churches and led many to Christ, but he had a great sin to confess, and he could find no peace until he stood before the church and told it all.

His words were like an electric shock, and people dropped to the floor in repentance. By this time, the whole town was talking about God. Sometimes conviction could be a terrible thing, and those who resisted suffered most.

An evangelist went into a coma for three days. Another woman went mad under conviction until she confessed her sin. For some, this was the price of hiding sin and resisting God.

The Christians all came to the meetings, which could go on for a long time. It was not unusual for a Bible study to begin at 6:30 in the morning and continue past noon. People talked in whispers because they felt God was near.

One missionary wrote home, "We seem to be wrapped around by the presence of God. I have been in meetings where God was so real that you hardly dared to sit on a chair."

I was reminded of Job 42:5, "My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you" (NIV). We had saturated our people in the Word of God for a long time, and when the revival came, the value of this was clearly seen. People who had left the schools years before could be working in a garden, many miles from any Christian church, yet God came to them and brought verses to their memory.

The reformation that resulted from this revival was wonderful. Many had stolen from the state, and the Christians and converts wanted to make restitution. So many things were being returned to the Belgian office that an embarrassed official wrote to me, "Mr. Davies, I've no time to handle all this. Tell them to come to your mission and fill a truck, and you bring a load down."

God is light, and people could not live in fellowship with Him if they remained in the darkness of sin. People prayed as never before. Simultaneous praying was a common thing in the revival, but it never seemed to be out of place or disorderly.

The people also had a passion for evangelism. Even pagans wanted the Christians to come to their village to hold a service. People were saved by the hundreds and thousands as the church moved out.

And did it last? I kept a diary for 18 months, and at the end of that time, the power of God was still there. 30 years later, the leaders of the churches are those who were blessed by the revival.

Now, I want to talk for a few moments about the process of seeking God, the process of revival. Hosea chapter 10, verse 12 is a verse that will be familiar to many of you, but it speaks of the process of revival.

Hosea 10:12 says, “Sow for yourselves righteousness.” S-O-W, “Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed” or your fallow “ground.” It's a farming analogy here—sowing, reaping, and breaking up, plowing up, the unplowed ground. “For it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers righteousness on you” (NIV).

You say, “How long are we supposed to seek? This week, next week, twelve weeks? That seems like a long time in today's way of thinking. “Seek the LORD until he comes and showers” or rains “righteousness on you.”

Now, picking up on this farming analogy here—I will just admit to you that I know nothing about farming, being a city girl, and so I called a farmer friend recently, a man who grew up on a wheat farm in Kansas, and just talked to him for a little bit about what some of these analogies mean, what some of these word pictures mean and about the whole process of farming. I learned some things that you'd think are pretty obvious, but that are helpful to me, helpful word pictures as we think about this whole process of revival.

Obviously, it takes time to get a harvest. A process is required. You can't just throw seed on the ground and expect to wake up the next morning and have a harvest. There's a process involved. You can't bypass any step and expect to have the end result that you're looking for, and what's the first part of the process?

Now, they're not listed in order in this verse. The first part of the process is that breaking up your unplowed ground—the plowing process, and Mark was telling me how important this process is to farmers. In fact, he said it's the most time-consuming part of the process.

You don't see the fruit, you don't see the reward while you're plowing, but you've got to do it. You can't miss this step. What is the process of plowing? It's the process of preparing the soil to receive the seed, a picture of preparing our hearts, and I want to just tell you in advance, the first several weeks of this series are going to be plowing.

Plowing—preparing the soil of our hearts. Our hearts get so hardened by just living out in this world as we do, pursuing everything we pursue other than the Lord, that we need time, and it takes time to prepare our hearts, the soil of our hearts, to seek the Lord.

Now, Mark told me something I didn't know, and that is that there are two stages of preparing the soil for the seed before the seed can be sown. Mark was a wheat farmer, so they would plow in late summer and then plant in the fall. Where I live, we grow corn and soybeans, and so they plow in the spring.

Regardless of when they do it, the plowing—the first part of the process is the actual plowing, and that's when they're turning over the soil. They bring this tractor out with this big plow attached to it, and the plow goes down into the ground. This is the deepest part of the work. The plow has to go eight to ten inches down into the soil.

Now, if that soil's been packed down, it's tough work, and it takes a hard, strong instrument. Mark says you can feel the tractor pulling this plow as it's getting deep enough down into the soil to turn over the soil. All that hard soil on the top is turned over, and that good, fresh soil that's underneath the surface is brought up to the top.

Mark said, “I always loved the plowing time of year because it feels like you get a fresh start each year—fresh soil.” Wouldn't you like to have fresh soil in your heart, a heart that's receptive and tender toward the Lord? That requires plowing up the soil, and Mark said it's so important that the plow go deep enough into the earth. If it just skims across the surface, you're not going to get the best soil.

We tend to want God to revive us, but do it quick. Get this over with. Get the hard part over with quickly. We don't want God to go down to deep into our hearts. What might He uncover there? Yuck!

What might come to the surface? That can be scary, and can't you imagine that if the soil eight to ten inches deep there had feelings, it could say, “Ow! This hurts! Why don't you leave me alone? I was comfortable down here. Things were just fine till this plow came along and turned everything upside down in my life.”

There will be times in the process of revival when you will think, “Why did I ever get into this? Why don't we just leave well enough alone? Why do we have to dig all this up? Why this plowing process? This hurts!”

You want a harvest of righteousness? You want to experience the joy of personal revival? You've got to let the plow do its work.

Now, that's just the first part of breaking up the fallow or the unplowed ground. The second part is the harrowing process, and that's where they come back with another instrument that goes across the newly plowed up soil and breaks up all the clods. It's the refining part of the process and breaks that soil up into fine particles so that it will be just ready for the seed to come into it. It makes the soil smooth, and again, this process can be painful.

You've got those clods that are being broken up, and there are clods in our lives. There are tough places. There are hard places. There are thorny places.

There are stony places that need to be broken up, and I'll just tell you, it hurts when the Spirit of God starts to do His plowing and harrowing work in our lives. We feel exposed. We're not sure we want to go through this, but if you resist the plowing process, you'll never reach a harvest of righteousness.

Now this process requires patience—plowing, then planting, then waiting, cultivating, keeping the weeds out, the whole process of waiting for a harvest. There's a whole season, most of a year involved. You have to wait, and at times, it seems like nothing's happening. There'll be times that you're seeking the Lord when you'll say, “I tried it. It just doesn't work.”

Wait. The plowing part's going to be long, and at times, it will be hard. I'm just warning you, not so that you'll get scared away, but so that you can anticipate—this is normal. This is okay. This is a good part of the process. It's a necessary part of the process.

Let me ask if you would just be willing to trust God with your life over these next weeks. Say, “Lord, I trust that You know what You're doing, that Your Spirit knows how deep to go and how refined those clods need to be and what needs to be brought to the surface,” and say, “Lord, I will let you do whatever You know is needed in my life.”

I want to tell you, if you will be patient, if you'll wait on the Lord, if you'll let Him do that work—and by the way, you can't do it yourself. It's God who has to do this. The farmer can do everything right, but ultimately it's dependent on God to send the rain and the sun and to bring about the harvest. It's supernatural, but as you wait on the Lord, as you let Him plow up the unplowed places of your heart and sow the seed of His Word in the soil of your heart, you have the promise that there will be a harvest of righteousness.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been describing the process of revival. It can be difficult and extremely rewarding. She'll be right back to pray.

Nancy's in a series called Seeking Him. It's all about the joy of personal revival. This series is a little different. Each week of the twelve-week series has its own theme. This week's is called Revival: Who Needs It? Next week is on humility and the following on honesty.

Each week in this series corresponds to a chapter in the workbook Nancy wrote with Tim Grissom called Seeking Him. This workbook will walk you through topics like humility and honesty. It will present you with some tough questions, maybe dig up some issues that have gone unresolved for a long time.

Just like the process of revival, going through this workbook can be difficult and extremely rewarding. You'll find the time you invest in the Seeking Him workbook will be well spent.

When you make a donation of any amount to Revive Our Hearts, we'll send you the Seeking Him workbook along with a booklet called Preparing for Revival. Again, we'll send the extremely helpful workbook, Seeking Him, and you set the donation amount. Ask for Seeking Him and Preparing for Revival when you call 1-800-569-5959, or donate at our website: www.ReviveOurHearts.com.

The word revive speaks of someone coming back to life, so when we speak of needing revival, we're actually talking about the church needing to be revived, not the broader culture. Hear more about this tomorrow. Now, let's pray. Here's Nancy.

Nancy: Thank You, Lord, that You can be trusted and that Your Spirit knows exactly what is needed in each of our hearts. Oh Lord, I pray that you would prepare the soil of our hearts for these next weeks, for seeking You. Make our hearts tender and responsive towards You. May we not pull back or resist Your plow. May we let it go as deep as it needs to.

Turn up the covered parts of our hearts. Show us what you see. Refine us, and plant the seed of Your Word, and Lord, would you bring about in our lives, in our homes, in our churches, and in this nation, Lord, and around the world, the great harvest and fruit of unfailing love and righteousness. We pray in Jesus' name, amen.

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

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

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