Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Working in the Power of the Holy Spirit, Day 4

Leslie Basham: We minister in such incredibly challenging times. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth asks . . .

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: How can we help these people, these women who have such baggage, such issues? They're coming out of such difficult, dysfunctional backgrounds. They're in such tough marriages. They've been abused. They've been wounded. They've been bruised. How can we help them? How shall we ever move the world?

Leslie: Later in the program we'll hear from Jean. She knows what it was like to be one of those women with such heavy baggage.

Jean: So, if you were pregnant and you wanted an abortion, you called me. I called my guy, and we arranged the abortion. Abortion was not legal at the time, so it had to be done behind closed doors and in very unsanitary conditions. You never knew if you were going to lose your right to have children in the future. That was a gamble that you took. It didn't seem like such a big gamble to me. I wasn't going to have this kid.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Thursday, May 12, 2016.

All week Nancy's been showing us how to more effectively minister to other women. Not by trying harder. Not by building more strength in ourselves. But by being filled with the Holy Spirit.

If you missed any of her earlier points this week, you can hear the messages at ReviveOurHearts.com. She delivered this message at Revive '15, the conference Revive Our Hearts sponsored for women's ministry leaders. Let's join Nancy as she helps us know how we can invest in other women for such a time as this.

Nancy: Number 7: Do you want to have anointed lips and ministry? Confront the will. Confront the will. What do I mean by that?

I think a lot of times we lay content on people, but we don't take it home. We don't say, "So what does God want you to do about what you just heard?"

When we first started Revive Our Hearts, our program was a quarter hour—a little bit less than that—which means I had about twelve-and-a-half minutes. I was used to doing conference messages—an hour, an hour-and-a-quarter, an hour-and-a-half. I said, "What in the world can you do in twelve-and-a-half minutes?"

And I'm always thinking on those broadcasts. Now we have the half-hour format, so I have a little bit longer to work with, but I'm thinking of a progression.

  • I want to prepare the heart, get the attention, get the interest.
  • Then I want to exposit the text, lift up the Scripture, teach the Word.
  • I want to illustrate it.
  • I want to apply it. 
  • Then I want to confront the will. I want to take it home.

And I'm always thinking that progression as I'm in a conference, teaching, speaking, teaching the Word, on the radio. A lot of teachers never get to that last point—confronting the will, asking pointed questions that convict the conscience. "How does your life measure up to this truth? Stop and think about this."

Oswald Chambers said it this way:

What the world needs is not a little bit of love but a surgical operation. The calling of a New Testament worker is to uncover sin and to reveal Jesus Christ as Savior. Consequently, he cannot be poetical; he must be sternly surgical. We have to probe straight down as deeply as God has probed us, to be keen in sensing the Scriptures which bring the truth straight home and to apply them fearlessly.

Take it home. Make it personal.

When Jesus spoke in Matthew 21, it says, "They perceived that he was speaking about them" (v. 45).

People love to amen when we're talking about the sins of other people. (laughter) But when Jesus spoke, there was conviction. They knew He was talking about them. Do people know that you're talking about them when they hear you teach the Word?

This happened in the book of Acts repeatedly. When Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, they were pricked in their hearts.

When Stephen preached right before his martyrdom in Acts 7, they were cut to the heart.

That means we can't back off when the truth sometimes of this Word is unpalatable or it meets resistance. We have to be willing to speak words when necessary of warning, of judgment. And we can't be intimidated by the response of the people or the lack thereof.

Now, if they're responding to us being rough or rude or lacking compassion, that's one thing. But if they're reacting to the truth, then we have to not rescue them from the cross.

Our goal is not to be popular; our goal is to be true to the Word. And the success of our ministry is not determined by how people respond but by the faithful delivery of the message to the heart of the people.

That means we have to be free from the love of the praise of men or need for approval of others. And it's such, for me, an Achilles heel, and for many of us as speakers, to want to be affirmed. "How did I do? How did it go? What did you think?"

Now, we wouldn't say that, but that's been something God has had to put the ax to the root of in my heart again and again and again over the years, to say, "It doesn't really matter. What matters is: Was Christ glorified? Did people come under conviction by the Holy Spirit?" Not me putting them under conviction, but the truth putting them under conviction.

And did I give time and room and space for the Word to settle into their hearts?

This is why I have such an issue with (I'm going to step on some toes here) this modern-day thing that everything has to be, like, nine minutes or less because we have pea-sized brains and attention spans. But I find that it sometimes takes longer. You say, "These services are so long!"

Okay, physically, we have limits. I get that. But I think sometimes our church services are so by the clock, so by the minute, so by what we think the shortest attention span in the room can stand that we get it done, get out of there, and just about the time the Holy Spirit decides to show up, the only person left is the janitor. Right? (laughter)

Sometimes it just takes time away from the TV, away from our phones, away from YouTube to listen and to settle in and let the truth convict and confront our wills.

I mentioned to you earlier today, E.M. Bounds' book Powerful and Prayerful Pulpits. He says,

True preaching, true teaching of the Word lays the heart and the conscience bare and reveals sins as they will be exposed naked in the day of judgment.

I don't want the people who listened to me or read my books to get to judgment day, and they sat under my ministry for years, and they never got exposed by the Spirit of God for what was in their hearts, and they're not ready to give account on judgment day. I'd rather create some discomfort now, this side of the judgment, so there can be repentance, brokenness, confession, breathing in grace. And they stand before Christ, ready to face Him without fear.

Number 8: If you want to have an anointed ministry, call for a response. Call for a response, a decision, an action, some kind of response. Always teach for response, not just to transmit information. Information has to lead to transformation.

And I believe that every time we're exposed to a truth in God's Word, whether it's in our quiet time, it's in a Sunday morning worship service, it's in a conference like this, every time we're exposed to truth, I believe that a personal response is required.

And if we don't . . . I've been to conferences, and sometimes we fall into this ourselves. What happens, you get to conferences where it's wall-to-wall speaking, and we don't prepare hearts, we don't follow up on messages. And what happens is people are left in that Luke 8 condition where they wear a path on the soil of their hearts because they've walked over. They've been hearers but not doers again and again and again and again. And finally the soil gets packed down hard and the seed just bounces off.

And that happens to people who are sitting in our churches today week after week because we're not calling for a response.

James 1 says, "If you listen but you don't do something about it, you are self-deceived" (v. 22, paraphrased).

There's a danger of aborting the birthing process in people's lives by just laying content on them without asking them to do something about it—however the Spirit directs them. It needs to be appropriate, gospel-oriented, grace-induced, Spirit-led responses, in whatever way the Spirit may be working in their hearts.

And that will differ from person to person, from message to message. The response is not always the same for every hearer.

Sometimes the response is just simple affirmation. Agree with what God has said. Affirm it to be true. Say, "Amen," in your heart. That may be the response.

Sometimes the response is submission. Wave the white flag of surrender. Say, "Yes, Lord."

Sometimes the response is exaltation—to celebrate and rejoice in what God has said to us, what He's revealed about Himself through His Word.

Sometimes the response is reflection, meditation, contemplation, Selah. Stop and think about this. Meditate on it. Savor it. Ponder it in your heart. Consider what implications it has for your life.

Sometimes the response is confession, repentance. Don't take the heat off of people when the Spirit of God is moving in conviction. Don't rescue them from the cross.

Now, our goal is not to put people under a pile of guilt and say, "You always need to be introspecting, seeing if there are some sin you've committed." Listen, the Holy Spirit is great at exposing what needs to be confessed. But don't move on so quickly that you miss the opportunity for people to respond to the Spirit. Take it home.

A lot of times that's missing, I think, in our teaching, our preaching. Call for a decision. Call for a response.

Now, you can't tell people what that should be, what that should look like. I like, actually, to call people to make some kind of verbal or visible or physical response. I often will encourage people in our audiences to kneel, as an expression of humility, or to stand or to pray with someone else, or to share something with someone else. Yes, that can be uncomfortable, but I think it's so important to get it out. We've just communicated it to the head, but we're saying, "Something needs to be done with what you've just heard."

Then number 9: Confidently trust the power of the Word, the power of the truth. Don't underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit working through this Word to transform lives.

Listen, to the world, this is an antiquated book that's been deconstructed. Only the feeble-minded really believe it. But I want to tell you what I know differently, and you do, too.

This Book . . . mine's marked from cover to cover with things the Lord has shown me by His Spirit.

I love reading. I read a lot of books. I've read a lot of books. But there is no other book like this Book. Jesus said, "The words that I speak to you are Spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63).

Martin Luther said, "The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has hands, it lays hold of me; it has feet, it runs after me."

I love that! It's alive. Believe that it is as you're teaching it. The power of the Word. It brought the world into being. With a spoken word, creation was formed. It holds the world together. He sustains it by the Word of His power.

"He sent His Word and healed them" (Ps. 107:20).

The Word heals. It convicts. It converts (Ps. 19).

John 17: It sanctifies.

This Word is so powerful in the hands of the Holy Spirit when He wings it into the hearts of those that we're speaking to. So don't get caught up in this modern gobbledygook about all this stuff you need to give people to help them solve all their problems.

Listen, if we would really get people to the Word and open it up and teach it and illumine it to their understanding and with the power of the Holy Spirit, we would see lives transformed.

I've watched over the years as I've just tried to faithfully teach the Word of God, I've watched women's hearts melt. I've watched them change. I've watched them grow. I've watched them flourish. This has all happened to me, in my own heart, under the consistent, faithful, anointed ministry of the Word.

I think we have, as Jen said earlier, a crisis of confidence about the power of the Word.

In a sermon of Charles Spurgeon's about the miracle of the earth quaking after the resurrection of Christ, he said something that I think has bearing on what we're talking about here. He said, "We say of ourselves: How should we ever move the world?"

How can we help these people, these women who have such baggage, such issues? They're coming out of such difficult, dysfunctional backgrounds. They're in such tough marriages. They've been abused. They've been wounded. They've been bruised. How can we help them?

"How should we ever move the world? The apostles did not ask that question. They had confidence in the gospel, which they preached. The apostles believed in shaking the world with the simple preaching of the gospel. I entreat you," he said, "to believe the same."

A number of years ago I read a story by John MacArthur in his book Our Sufficiency in Christ. It's a powerful illustration of the power of the Word. I want to close this message by reading that story to you. He said:

Not long ago, a man I had never met before walked into my office and said, "I need help. I feel strange coming to you because I'm not even a Christian. I'm Jewish. Until a few years ago, I had never even been in a church. But I need help from someone. So I decided to talk to you."

I assured him that I would do my best to help him. I asked him to sit down and explain what was troubling him. The conversation went something like this:

He said, "I've been divorced twice. Now I'm living with a woman who's my lover. I don't even like her, but I haven't got the courage to leave her and go back to my second wife. I'm a medical doctor. Worse, I'm an abortionist. I kill babies for a living. Last year in my clinic, we did $9 million dollars' worth of abortions. I don't do only therapeutic abortions. I do abortions for any reason. If a woman doesn't have a reason, I give her a reason.

"Six weeks ago," the doctor said, "I came to Grace Community Church on a Sunday morning. I've been coming every week since. Last week you preached a message called 'Delivered to Satan.' If there was ever anyone on earth who was delivered to Satan, it's me. I know I'm doomed to hell because of what I've done. I'm absolutely miserable and unhappy."

Now, do you see the work of the Spirit in all of this? John MacArthur hadn't done anything yet. The Spirit had been preparing and drawing this man, just like He's preparing and drawing people who are coming to your class next week.

"I'm continually seeing a psychoanalyst, and I'm not getting any help at all. I can't stand the guilt of all this. I don't know what to do about it. Can you help me?"

I said to him, "No. I can't help you."

He looked at me startled. Sheer desperation was evident in his face. I let it sink in. Then I said, "But I know Someone who can help you—Jesus Christ."

He said, sadly, "But I don't know who He is. I've been taught all my life not to believe in Him."

I said, "Would you like to know who Jesus Christ is?"

He said, "I would if He can help me."

"Here's what I want you to do." I reached over and took a Bible off my desk and opened it to the Gospel of John. I said, "I want you to take this Book home and read this part called the Gospel of John. I want you to keep reading until you know who Jesus Christ is, then call me again."

Later that week I was recounting the incident to the pastor of another church. He said, "Is that all you gave him? Just the Gospel of John? Why didn't you give him some help, some messages to listen to, some questions to answer—something? Just the Bible?"

I said, "Don't worry. The Bible is like a light. You don't need to defend it. Just open the door and let it out. It will take care of itself. If his heart is open at all, the Bible can do more to reach him than I could possibly do with reams of other study material. What could I possibly give him that's more powerful than Scripture itself?"

The next Friday I received a telephone call. The doctor wanted to see me again. We made an appointment. He showed up precisely on time. He came into the office, walked past me as if I weren't there, sat on the couch, dropped the Bible beside him, and said, "I know who He is."

I said, "You do?"

He said, "Yes, I do."

"Who is He?" I asked.

"I'll tell you one thing, He's not just a man."

I said, "Really? Who is He?"

"He's God!" he said with finality.

I said, "You, a Jew, are telling me that Jesus Christ is God?" I asked, "How do you know that?"

He said, "It's clear. It's right there in the Gospel of John. Look at the words He said. Look at the things He did. No one could say and do those things unless He was God."

He was echoing the apostle John's thesis perfectly. I nodded enthusiastically. He was on a roll.

"Do you know what else He did? He arose from the dead. They buried Him, and three days later He came back from the dead. That proves He's God, doesn't it? God Himself came into this world."

I asked him, "Do you know why He came?"

He said, "Yes, I do. He came to die for my sins."

"How do you know that?" I asked.

"Because I liked John so well, I read Romans. And as soon as I clean up my life, I'm going to become a Christian." 

I said, "That's the wrong approach. Receive Him as your Lord and Savior now, and let Him clean up your life."

Then I asked the man, "What would such a decision mean in your career?"

"Well," he said, "I spent this afternoon writing my resignation letter to the abortion clinic. When I get out of here, I'm going to call my second wife and bring her to church with me." And he did.

Dr. MacArthur concluded by saying, "'Is not My Word like a fire,' says the LORD. 'And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?'" (Jer. 23:29).

The Word of God is alive, Hebrews tells us. It's powerful. It's "sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (4:12).

Have confidence in the power of the truth, the power of the Word of God.

Ladies, it doesn't depend on us at all. It's His power. His Word. His truth.

I'm jealous for you, and for myself, to experience the divine anointing. Not something mystical. Not something emotional. But by faith, to receive day after day, task after task, fresh oil, the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

I have a pastor friend who sent me an email a number of years ago. For a long time, I forwarded it back to myself about once a month because I wanted to re-read it, be reminded of it. He shared it with me, and I share it as my burden for you. He said:

I carry a burden for the unction of God to rest on you. Please don't ever take it for granted. That is the power that cuts through to the heart of the matter. I know such unction comes by God's grace, but through a high price. That price is worth it in light of the need and eternity.

Don't let your ministry go stale. Don't let it become a program or a formula. Realize that it is always Christ who is the answer and the need of women and men alike. Take people to Christ. See every program, every page of every book, every interview, every conversation as an opportunity to lead people into His presence, for that is what we need.

The evaluation of everything in your ministry should be: Was God there? Did people experience an encounter with the God of the universe? Was He pleased to come? Did I recede so that He could be clearly seen and experienced?

Leslie: That's Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, showing us how to better invest in the needy women around us for such a time as this.

She gave that message at Revive '15, a conference Revive Our Hearts hosted for women who wanted to learn how to teach other women.

And let me tell you about a guest who was there in the audience that night. Jean was really moved by the story Nancy read about the abortion doctor.

Jean could relate to many parts of that story, including the part about taking unborn life. Before the Roe v. Wade decision in the U.S., Jean would help women get illegal abortions.

Jean: So, if you were pregnant and you wanted an abortion, you called me. I called my guy, and we arranged the abortion. Abortion was not legal at the time, so it had to be done behind closed doors and in very unsanitary conditions. You never knew if you were going to lose your right to have children in the future. That was a gamble that you took. It didn't seem like such a big gamble to me. I wasn't going to have this kid.

Leslie: Jean has an engaging story, and we're going to devote a whole day on it here on Revive Our Hearts. But let me just give away the ending a little bit and let you know that Jean has been transformed. She is now investing in the lives of many, many younger women, helping them avoid the path in life that she once walked.

Jean: After the first Revive Our Hearts, I bought the whole DVD packet. And once a month we held this huge meeting in our area, and we'd get fifty to sixty people there and we would just show the DVD's. So we brought Revive Our Hearts back to our community.

I have not only read every one of Nancy's books, I have taught every one of Nancy's studies. I taught Lies Women Believe. I taught that study, I think, four or five times. And that is just a fabulous study especially to new Christians—people who are just coming to the Lord. When you start to teach it for the first time you think, Oh, I don't know what this is going to say. And then boom, you turn the page and there you are. It's always a wonderful study.

Leslie: Nancy, how does it feel to know that Revive Our Hearts is helping Jean grow as a woman who is teaching other women?

Nancy: Oh, Leslie, my heart is so full when I hear stories like this. You know, at one time in Jean's life, she may have looked on the outside like a hopeless case. But this kind of testimony shows us the power of God and the gospel and His Word to turn a life around.

And not only that—He is now using Jean to invest in other younger women. I'm so thankful that Jean came to the Revive '15 conference and that Revive Our Hearts is able to provide her with resources and encouragement so she can keep making those investments in the next generation.

You know, Revive Our Hearts can only train and equip leaders like Jean as long as listeners like you continue supporting this ministry financially. We especially need your help here during the month of May as we come to the end of our fiscal year. That's when we wrap up the accounts, we set new budgets, and we decide what kind of ministry opportunities we're able to take on in the year ahead. Now, in order to end this fiscal year in a healthy position, we're asking the Lord to provide close to a half-million dollars during the month of May.

Now, that's a huge goal. But we're praying and believing God and inviting friends like you to join with us in giving generously to provide for those needs. Would you ask Him how He might want you to be involved as an answer to those prayers?

When you donate any amount this month, we'll send you a CD that has ministered to my heart and played in my home over and over again. It's called "Love Divine," and its beautiful hymn arrangements by pianist Jan Mulder. Be sure to ask for the piano CD when you call 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Leslie: Thanks Nancy. Tomorrow is going to give you what she calls "A Charge." It has nothing to do with a credit card. It's a charge for you to invest your life in spreading the gospel to other women. Prepare to get inspired for such a time as this and join us tomorrow for Revive Our Hearts.

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

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