Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Wisdom Illustrated

Leslie Basham: Godly wisdom applies to all kinds of situations, like this one:

Woman 2: My husband and I were living in the Atlanta area, and he was about to retire, and our plans had always been to build a home.

I had this killer closet that I wanted in my bedroom. I thought, “This will be our last house, Lord willing, so I want a closet I can get all my clothes in.” And he couldn’t quite get the concept.

Leslie: We’re about to find out what “killer closets” have to do with wisdom from the book of Proverbs.

This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for August 24.

Nancy’s been in a series called, The Way of Wisdom. After one of her teaching sessions, we let the recording keep rolling while Nancy asked the ladies in attendance for examples from their own lives.

Interestingly enough, many of their responses followed a pattern.

Woman 1: I had an experience with our pastor. One Sunday he suggested we read one Proverb every day on the day of the month. So this was on a Sunday, and I’d been going through a situation that I really needed some comfort from the Lord to give me some encouragement.

That day happened to be Proverbs 21. The very first verse that I read said that the king’s heart is like a channel of water in the Lord’s hands, and it truly is. He can turn it whichever way He wants for His loved ones (see verse 1). So it was very encouraging to me.

Nancy: That is a great verse. If you are a woman under authority, as we all are under some authority, the king’s heart is in the Lord’s hand. “As the rivers of water, He turns it"—the Lord turns it—the Lord turns the king’s heart "whither so ever He will."

And what a great promise. When you may not be able to trust the authority, you can trust God. Say, “The king’s heart is in the Lord’s hand, and God moves kings.”

You have it all through the Old Testament. God moved these pagan kings to end up doing His will, and kings who would never have thought of doing the will of God, God can move them to accomplish His purposes if we will wait on the Lord and let Him move.

Leslie: Had you ever connected submission with trusting God? That reference again about the king’s heart being in the Lord’s hand was Proverbs 21:1.

Now, this woman shared a practical illustration of how a verse from Proverbs can give perspective on an everyday situation.

Woman 2: Well, my husband and I were living in the Atlanta area, and he was about to retire. Our plans had always been to come back to Arkansas to build a home. He came ahead of me while I finished out the school year teaching, and he and the builder got busy laying the foundation.

He would call me each night and say, “Okay, this is what we’re doing. Should we move this wall?” And you know, I had plans set on a table. Then he came back to Georgia for a week and spent the week with me, and we went through the plans again.

I had this killer closet that I wanted in my bedroom. I thought, “This will be our last house, Lord willing, so I want a closet I can get all of my clothes in.” And he couldn’t quite get the concept.

So each day I would come home from school, and he would show me what he had drawn on the plans, and I’d say, “No, no, no.” And we’d start over again.

And then, by the third day, he was getting a little frustrated, and so was I. So I went to school, and teaching at a Christian school, we had devotions in the morning.

I just said, “Lord, You have to show me something.” I don’t usually do this, but I just opened my Bible to Proverbs, and it was Proverbs 14. And the verse said something like this: “A wise woman buildeth her house. A foolish one tears it down with her own hands” (verse 1, paraphrased).

And I thought, “Well, I wasn’t expecting quite that distinct of a response!” But I went home, and I said, “I don’t even want to see the plans. Whatever you’ve done today is perfect.” And it was.

Nancy: Neat. Great. That’s practical. Jenny, you like that?

Jenny: Very much!

Nancy: Jenny and her husband just finished building a house. They’re finishing building a house. Did you get your killer closet?

Jenny: It’s perfect! (Laughter)

Leslie: A wise woman builds her house. As you can see, we often have a lot of fun at our recording sessions. This particular series on wisdom was recorded in the studios of FamilyLife Today in Little Rock, Arkansas, and one of the ladies in the audience works there at FamilyLife.

Susan: Hi, I’m Susan, and I work here at FamilyLife, and I ran up to my office during the break just to check and see if there was anything I needed to take care of.

Some work had come in. I checked the deadlines, and I thought, “I’m okay. I can wait until after the sessions today and take care of those.”

And then my senior editor came to the door, and so I asked him about it just to make sure, to be under his authority and get his approval. He just waved me out and said, “Go ahead. It’s fine, no problem.”

So it was just a little thing of staying under authority, checking with my counsel before I could come down and continue to enjoy the sessions today.

Nancy: There’s so much protection in that. What if he said it wasn’t okay? There’s protection in that, too.

Usually it’s not who’s right and who’s wrong, because these usually aren’t federal issues or matters of right and wrong. It’s more a matter of I think God giving us tests to see:

  • Do you have a humble spirit?
  • Are you willing to come under authority?
  • Are you willing to bend?
  • Are you willing to be flexible? Or does it have to be your way?

Proverbs talks a lot about how the fool is the person whose way is right in his own eyes. He’s wise in his own eyes. A humble person is a wise person who says, “It doesn’t have to be my way.”

Anyone else, just a practical application of wisdom from your life or Proverbs?

Judy: Hi. My name is Judy. Yesterday, I was able to hear some of the lesson. Interestingly enough, for about two weeks there’s been an issue that’s just been troubling me at the church where I work.

A decision had been made, and a few of us in the children’s department were not settled with this decision and just were feeling so uncomfortable.

My natural way is go in like a bull in the china cabinet and just charge right in and make my opinions known and expect people to follow along, because what I think, of course, makes sense to me. I think to other people, it’s going to make sense to them.

This time I decided to just relax and to just wait. Yesterday, one of the things that was shared was to seek out wise counsel and have advisors. One of the girls here is a really close friend, and I stopped her and said, “I would like to talk with you about this issue so that I can just talk out my feelings, share with you my frustrations, and kind of phrase to you how I would like to share with the leadership of the church what my perspective is in a way that perhaps could be heard better.”

And of course, she was really receptive and said, “Just call.” I got back to the church yesterday afternoon, and it just goes to show sometimes how all you have to do is submit and show that you’re willing to wait and willing to listen to others.

I got back, and the decision that we all had wanted had been made. So it was just a real reassuring way of the Lord saying to me, “Just let Me have it. Let Me work through it. Just be patient and be humble.”

That’s not my natural nature. It was just a wonderful reassurance that when you do that, He is so faithful to just supply whatever you need.

Nancy: That’s great. It is so hard for us as women to wait. Am I right? We think we know—and we may know—we may not know as much as we think we know—but whether it’s in your marriage, how you and your husband are processing how to deal with a certain child or an issue, or something in your workplace or in your church, we’re very quick to come to conclusions about what needs to be done.

And we’re very verbal. We want to communicate what we have determined is best, and many times, the most effective thing we can do is just wait, be quiet, seek counsel, ask the Lord, but wait and give God a chance to act—and give the men involved a chance to act.

Sometimes I think these men would come more, step up to the plate and be quicker to provide the kind of leadership and direction that we wish they would, if we weren’t so quick to the draw.

So there are a lot of wise things in what you just said, Judy, that illustrate principles from Proverbs.

Judy: In the lessons that we were in, one of the things was how Esther was humble and how she really waited before she went into seek the king.

I have this friction that goes on with my immediate supervisor. This was the first opportunity, the first real jewel where I stepped back and let him really take the lead. He’s younger than I am; he’s not as administratively gifted. There are just things I feel I see more clearly from many years of experience in management and so forth.

My nature is just to rush forward. This was such a great opportunity to let him be empowered, let him be the one who championed the issue. He wrote me an email message and said, “You would be proud of me.”

It gave me an opportunity to go back and say, “I am so proud of you,” and just to build that relationship. Again, learning from so many things in the Word that I can just relax and let it sift through and then, for me, follow it.

So many times, I know it here, but I don’t live it out—just relaxing and living it out.

Nancy: Neat. That’s great. What an opportunity for that man to see you respect and wait, which men need, and we need to give it. When we’re giving it and they’re receiving it, there’s a lot more harmony, whether it’s in your home or in your workplace or at church. That’s great, Judy.

Leslie: We’ve been hearing real life examples of ways that some Revive Our Hearts guests have walked out this teaching on wisdom in their own lives. Now, we do have several other things in our lineup, including Nancy sharing about how she had to submit to someone else’s counsel when she wouldn’t have wanted to.

Also, we’ll hear an email from a wise woman and the choice she made to protect herself from temptation. But first, a clarifying word from Nancy about how the Proverbs aren’t iron-clad, 100% of the time guarantees.

Nancy: Now, when we say there are no guarantees that your children will walk with God, someone’s going to say, and I’ve heard it many times, “But what about Proverbs 22:6: ‘Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it’?” (NIV).

Let me just back up for a moment and say—and we referenced this earlier in our series on Proverbs—the book of Proverbs is a collection of wise sayings inspired by the Holy Spirit through Solomon, but they are general observations about how life works and how God’s ways work.

That doesn’t mean they were intended to be given as absolute, unconditional promises. It’s saying, for example, you read many times in Proverbs, “If you live a righteous life, you will live long, and the days of the wicked will be cut short" (see Proverbs 10:27). You say, “Well, what about this wicked person who lived to be 100, or my dad who dropped dead of a heart attack at the age of 53?”

“What happened to those promises?” The book of Proverbs is not essentially a collection of promises. It’s a collection of wise ways of thinking God’s way about life. They’re general statements that generally this is the way that it happens.

God does not say these are promises that will always be true that way. So God may choose, in His providence, to take a godly person home at a younger age, or in His providence, He may let a wicked person live to a very ripe, old age.

But the point is that if you want to live a successful and prosperous and blessed, and yes, long life, it’s better to live wisely. They’re just lifestyle choices, obviously. If you’re not an alcoholic, if you’re not gluttonous, if you’re not abusing your body, you’re not making foolish choices, you’ve got a good chance of not getting killed in a car accident.

And yet, some people who are being obedient do get killed in car accidents. So it’s not to say this is always the way that it is, but generally speaking, it makes sense to live your life this way in the way of wisdom.

So I think when we come to Proverbs 22:6, it’s saying, “Train up your children,” and we won’t exposit this whole text in this session. Train up your children in the way that God has designed for them to go. We could do a whole study on what that means, “and when he is old,” some would say, “as he is growing older, he will not depart from it.”

Well, the Proverb there, the pithy saying, the wise observation is that if you’re training your children in God’s ways, there is a whole lot better chance of their walking with God than if you don’t train your children in God’s ways.

Now, some people grow up in ungodly homes, and they turn out to walk with God. Some people grow up in godly homes, and they go from the Lord.

So it can happen, but the word of wisdom there is as a parent, your responsibility is to train up your children in God’s ways, and then you have the hope that there is the likelihood that those children will grow up to have a hunger and an appetite for the things of God.

Leslie: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss with some clarification for us with more black and white ways of thinking.

She’ll be right back, but I wanted to take this opportunity to remind you of a very helpful book for parents called Proverbs for Parenting. This isn’t an easy book to find, but Nancy thinks very much of it, so our team has made sure we have it ready for you.

This is a topical approach to the book of Proverbs, and it’s invaluable when it comes to the discipline and training of children. You can order your copy of Proverbs for Parenting from our website,, or call us at 1-800-569-5959.

Yesterday, we observed that sometimes the most difficult exercise a wise person has to practice is taking the advice of others, especially when it seems contrary to what you think is right.

Nancy shared about a time in the early days of Revive Our Hearts when she had to do that, too. Bob Lepine, co-host of FamilyLife Today, was coaching her on her teaching. He offered some counsel she wasn’t sure she wanted to take.

Nancy: We were recording this series on the book of Ruth. I still remember this. It was September of ’01. There was one particular session where Bob, who was sitting in the back of the room, said to me (and he’d never said this before and he hasn’t since), “I want you to do that session again because I feel like this was confusing, and you need to clarify this or whatever.”

Which I really didn’t mind, but as you can see, having to start and restart, to get your thoughts collected, and I’m so dependent on my notes, and I’m thinking, “Oh, yikes!”

Some of you women may have been there—Pat, you may have been there. One of the women stood up and said, “Let’s just pray for Nancy.” So they prayed while I looked at my notes, and then we re-recorded, had to do two programs instead of one, and it really was much better.

But after that session, a lady came up to me who had never been in the recording before. I don’t know her background. I don’t even remember who it was, actually. I didn’t know her story, but the session we had repeated was the one about women coming under the protection of their husband's covering. It was about women coming under men and just having a teachable spirit toward the men that God puts into our lives, so not just in marriage, but also in other relationships—how you need to have a teachable spirit.

Anyway, that was what the session was about. This woman came up to me afterwards, and she said, “It meant so much to me the way that you responded when Bob asked you to retape that session. You demonstrated what you were teaching us, and that made a mark on my life.”

I don’t know what her issues were, what God was speaking to her about, but how cool is that? You just try to develop a default mechanism that is to respond to counsel and reproof with a humble spirit.

And God blesses! He blesses you; He blesses others, and He multiplies the impact. Moms, you can’t imagine the impact on your kids when you take the pathway of humility and how that preaches to them maybe more than anything else you may have preached.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be right back. She’s been in a series called, The Way of Wisdom, based on the book of Proverbs. Today we heard from listeners who are injecting wisdom into some tough situations.

Nancy will tell us one more story along those lines, but first, let me tell you about a workbook that will show how God’s Word and your life can combine in beautiful ways. It’s called, Seeking Him: Experiencing the Joy of Personal Revival.

The workbook will lead you into wise choices of integrity, purity, holiness, and obedience. You’ll study topics like these for yourself and discover what they mean for your specific situations. When you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts, we’ll send the workbook Seeking Him to show our gratitude.

Just call us at 1-800-569-5959, or donate at With a final thought, Nancy reads from an email she received.


My husband and I have been struggling for the past year in our marriage. I felt so lonely, neglected, unloved, ugly, etc, etc. 

This is, by the way, from a woman who chose the pathway of wisdom and made the hard choice.

When that emptiness is overwhelming, the temptation is to seek validation and affirmation in a relationship outside of my marriage. My pastor’s wife is a good friend whom I love dearly. I’ve poured out my heart to her about my situation.

She encouraged me to counsel with her husband, and well-meaning in that, I’m sure. Given any other issue, this would have been an excellent resource for support and guidance. However, considering this was such an emotionally charged subject for me, and I was feeling so emotionally vulnerable, I felt it was more appropriate to share it with her.

I don’t doubt the character of the man of God who leads my church family, especially toward me. However, I know in the vulnerable state that I have been in, the ability that I have to attach myself emotionally to someone inappropriately. [So she didn’t go there.]

I know God is my comfort. I can attach myself and all my emotions to Him and need not commit a sin in my heart or against my husband.

Then she said, “P.S.,” which you know, there wouldn’t have to be this P.S., but by God’s mercy there is, “my marriage is getting better, slowly, but surely.”

Now, I guarantee you, if she had let her heart say, “But pastors are godly.” Yes. They’re supposed to be, and this one probably sounds like he is. But she knew her own heart, and she said, “I can’t go there.” Wisely, wisely she went to the pastor’s wife.

Had she let her heart go a different direction, I think she might not have had that P.S. But God is working in her marriage because He’s helping her to keep her heart focused on her husband and her home. So I thought that was a good illustration of choosing to make a tough choice.

Father, how I pray that as women, we will choose the pathway of wisdom. Thank You that You’ve made it clear to us that wisdom calls out from the highest places, that You’ve broadcast wisdom to our hearts.

Help us to choose it. Make us wise women. Help us to realize that every time we don’t choose the way of wisdom, we choose folly, and every foolish choice has consequences.

There’s no such thing as a small foolish choice, a little compromise, that we would pay a price, there will be consequences. Help us, Lord, to connect the dots, to see the results of the way that we’re choosing.

Make us wise women who have a godly influence in our homes, in our workplaces, in our churches, and among all those around us. I pray in the name of Jesus, who is the wisdom of God, and in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.


Speak, O Lord, as we come to You
To receive the food of Your holy Word.
Take Your truth, plant it deep in us;
Shape and fashion us in Your likeness,
That the light of Christ might be seen today
In our acts of love and our deeds of faith.
Speak, O Lord, and fulfill in us
All Your purposes for Your glory.1

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

1"Speak, O Lord." Words and Music by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend. Copyright © 2005 Thankyou Music.






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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.