Revive Our Hearts Podcast

You're Never Alone

Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I think sometimes when we present the Gospel to people, we do them a disservice by suggesting that the Christian life, when you come to Christ, you're going to have joy and peace and happiness and wonder. Though we wouldn't say it this way, the suggestion is that your life is hard now, but when you come to Jesus your life will be easy.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with the author of Lies Women Believe, Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Today Nancy begins a series called, The Battle After the Battle, and she’ll pick up with this idea: Sometimes people are told that when they come to know Christ they’ll instantly be delivered from all their problems.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: People do then come to trust Christ sometimes under a wrong or false impression and discover before they've been a Christian very long at all that they have plopped right down into the middle of a battle. I think if they're not prepared for the battle, this can be really disillusioning. The battle takes place on many fronts, but there's a lot of warfare imagery in the Scripture.

I’ve talked about being soldiers. Now, I confess, as a woman, that I kind of think, “The battle—that’s the kind of thing men ought to do.” My instinct is to want to be the one back behind the scenes and at home. But if you’re a child of God, the Scripture says that you are in a battle, and you may find yourself at times on the front lines of that battle.

We need to understand something of what the battle entails, who is involved, what the sides are, and how it works. We're not going to go into great detail of that in this session, but I want us to look at a passage in the Old Testament that gives us some insight into some of the enemies that we face and some of the ways and means that God has given us to face and to defeat and to overcome those enemies.

Let me ask you to turn in your Bible to Genesis 14. The first part of this passage is not as familiar as the second part, but I believe the two parts have a strong connection that, when you put it together, it makes a whole lot of sense. This is the passage that has greatly encouraged me in my own walk with the Lord, and I really just want to share some out of my own life experience as this passage has strengthened me.

As we go through the passage, we're going to see that Abram, which is the name for Abraham before God changed his name to Abraham, he has been chosen by God. He has been taken out of his pagan, idolatrous background and chosen by God to be the father of a new people, a nation set apart for God, the Jewish raceout of whom would come the Messiah. So that's who we're talking aboutAbram, one of the first major characters in the Old Testament and one of the most important.

In this passage that's a fairly obscure passage in Abram's life, he faces two battles. Now there is one that is described in some detail that is the obvious battle. It is a major battle. Enabled by the power of God, Abram scores a decisive and impressive victory in that battle.

But that first major obvious battle is followed, as we'll see tomorrow, by another battle that I call “the battle after the battle.” That second battle was more private than public. It was more subtle. But I believe the outcome of the second battle was even more strategic and critical than the first.

So beginning with verse 1 of Genesis 14. Now, I’m not going to read all these verses, but verses 1-12 give us the background to the major battle, which is fought beginning in verse 13. But let's just overview the background, the first twelve verses. In verse 1 there are four kings from the east, kings of city-states or city-nations who confederated themselves together. So this is a confederation of four kings.

One of them you'll see is named Chedorlaomer. It's a long name, and I don't know how you pronounce it. I call him King Chedor when I read through this passage. So we'll just talk about King Chedor and his troops. He is the most prominent king in this confederation that's in verse 1. There are four kings headed by King Chedor.

Then verse 2, they made war with five kings whose names most of which we can’t pronounce. These five kings included the kings of two cities that you will recognize, Sodom and Gomorrah. So there's a battle between the four kings and the five kings. King Chedor over the four kings, and then the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah and three others. These two confederate groups come against each other. King Chedor and his allies win the battle and conquer the five kings for twelve years.

Then in the thirteenth year, we read this in verse 4, the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah and their allies rebel and decide, "We've put up with this long enough. We're not going to be vassals of King Chedor anymore." They rebel.

Well, King Chedor is not going to take this lying down. He and his allies arm themselves and they start a massive series of battles. They swoop in from the east. Really, what you see in verses 5-9 is that they conquer everything in their path. They were victorious. I mean, this is a powerful military alliance that conquers everything. Finally, they come to these confederate nations that include Sodom and Gomorrah and they overcome those nations as well. They are victorious.

Now, why am I going through all this detail? Why does the Scripture go to all this detail? Because when Abram gets involved, we're going to see that the task he faces in taking on King Chedor and his armies is a formidable task. It's an impossible task. King Chedor and his allies have just conquered the whole region. I mean, nobody has been able to put up any resistance against them.

King Chedor and his group take over the king of Sodom and king of Gomorrah. They take these city-states hostage. They take their men as prisoners of war. They go off and celebrate, have their party. They've got all these prisoners of war. That's what happens in verses 1-12.

Verse 11 says, "Then they [that's the four kings, King Chedor and his group] took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all the provisions and went their way."

Now verse 12: "They also took Lot." Is that name familiar to you? What's Lot doing in Sodom? Well, we know from chapter 12 that Lot, who was Abram's nephew (Abram's brother's son) had made a choice, a poor choice, a foolish choice based on temporal, earthly values to go to the pleasant-looking, the seemingly attractive land. He went and parked his tent, if I might say that, pitched his tent near Sodom and Gomorrah. Now we find out in this chapter that he has become assimilated into Sodom so much so that when Sodom is conquered, he is taken as well as a prisoner of war.

So verse 12: "They took also Lot, Abram's brother's son, who dwelt in Sodom" by this time he is living in Sodom "and his goods, and they departed."

Now verse 13 tells us that someone escapes and tells Abram. "Then one who escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew." That's the first time in the Scripture where the word Hebrew is used. They told him that Lot his nephew had been taken captive.

It helps us to understand in the context here that by this time Abram is in his eighties. But we see in Abram somebody who is a man of God. He has been chosen by God. He has been selected by God for a purpose. He is conscious of his relationship with God and the fact that means he is here on earth for a reason. He can't just sit back and let this nephew of his be in this situation. He has got to do something about it. You can't just let the enemy run over the situation.

Abram knows because of his relationship with God, though he is virtually the only believer on the planet at this time, he knows that God can do anything. He knows that however outnumbered he may be in the human realm, because he is a child of God, a believer of God, that he has omnipotence at his disposal. He acts, I believe, in that faith. Abram is a man of faith.

Each time he steps out into the impossible and the unknown, it's not because he is crazy. It's not because he is blustering his way through and just thinks, "I can handle this." He knows his own weakness. He knows his own limitations. He is in his eighties. But he also knows his God. He knows that God can do anything.

He has no guarantee of succeeding. He doesn’t know the end of the story as we do, but he still acts. He has to attempt this rescue. It's the right thing to do. He can't just sit there and let evil overcome this situation. Now, Sodom and Gomorrah were evil places. But here is a relative of his who is caught in the crossfire that he knows isn't where he ought to be spiritually, but he still loves this young man and his family. He is going to act redemptively. He is going to step out and do what he can to attempt this rescue.

Let me just say as we face spiritual battles, if we look at the enemy, if we look at the opposing forces and the armies that surround us in this world, we'll never act. We'll say it's impossible. It is impossible.

But if we remember whose we are, who has chosen us, who we belong to, who has given us His name and set us apart for Himself; if we remember that we belong to God, then we will be able to step out in faith without any guarantee of succeeding in the immediate short term, but knowing that in the long run as we act in faith we are linking arms with omnipotence. God is going to win the battle.

We come to verse 14. It tells us, "When Abram heard that his brother was taken captive." Now that's an interesting phrase there, because Lot was not Abram's brother. Lot was Abram's nephew, technically. But there's a sense here that even this little phrase shows something of Abram's heart. Lot was the one who had not respected his uncle, who had made some temporal, materialistic decisions, who had a wrong set of values, was earthly and worldly-minded.

But Abram the man of God and the man of faith views his nephew as his brother. He has a heart for this man and is willing to take some extraordinary steps in a battle that he may well lose, as far as he knows, in order to rescue his brother. There's a compassion and a concern here, even though this was a man who had taken advantage of him.

"Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his three hundred and eighteen trained servants who were born in his own house, and he went in pursuit as far as Dan" (verse 14). This is a remarkable story if you get some of the background here.

Again, keep in mind that Abram is 80 years of age or older. He is no spring chicken. He's got God on his side, and that's the only thing that gives him hope, and that's what does give him hope.

He pursues from Hebron where he lives to the area of Dan, which is 140 miles away. He takes these troops, these household servants and people that have come around him that are armed for battle. That sounds like a lot, but it's nothing against those confederate kings of the east. So here is this little 80-year-old man with his 318 household servants who are going to take on this massive military alliance so that he can rescue his brotherhis nephewLot.

It says in verse 15 that "he divided his forces against them by night, and he and his servants attacked them and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus." This is another 100 miles beyond Dan.

This is where a map . . . By the way, when you're doing a Bible study, if you have maps in the back of your Bible, use them. It makes the Scripture come alive. You don’t have to have a seminary degree—I don’t have one myself—to use some of these tools. If you just read these words in the passage, and you don't have any idea of where these places are, you might think it was just down the street. But it's not. We're talking about a total of 240 miles that he pursues and attacks this mighty military machine—King Chedor and his allies.

Then verse 16 tells us, "So he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the people." So here is Abram. He is hopelessly outnumbered. He goes against this force, and he wins. I mean, these are the four kings of the east who had taken everything in their wake! They'd conquered Sodom and Gomorrah, which were massive powers themselves, and Abram, definitely in the minority, definitely the underdog, wins! He is victorious in this major battle.

Well, the only explanation is God. Now, this was a very public battle. It was a very visible battle. It was a major battle. But there's an account that follows in Genesis 14 that is not often connected to the account we just read in the first half of the chapter. Yet to me, the two accounts are very closely connected. What we're going to look at today in Genesis 14 is the battle after the battle.

The first battle is the major one, the obvious one, the visible one. It's the one where God gives a clear and decisive victory. As I think about major battles that we face in different areas of our lives, it may be that you’ve come back from some great spiritual experienceit's a great mountaintop experience where you've just seen God do great things.

You come off a spiritual high or a period of great blessing, you come through those times, you’re encouraged, you’re excited, and then you face the battle after the battle. I would suggest that it's the battle after the battle that is the more subtle and the more dangerous and critical battle than the major obvious one.

Genesis 14:16 tells us that after this great battle, after this great victory, "Abram brought back all the goods and also brought back his brother Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the people." So he had done war against these kings of the east. He had liberated Lot and his family and their fellow citizens from the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and had come back.

Now is the challenge. Now is when the real challenge begins. The dangerous thing is that often we're not prepared for the battle after the battle. When we go into the big battle, we're charged up. Adrenalin is flowing. We're depending upon God. We're praying. We're getting everybody else praying. But we forget that after the battle we also need to stay girded up spiritually. The battle isn't really over once that major victory has been won. Another battle was ready to begin for Abram.

Now as I try to put myself in Abram's shoes and think what it must have been like for him coming back after this battle, I think he must have had a mixture of emotions at that time. For one thing, he had just gone 240 miles in one direction and 240 miles back. How must he have been feeling physically? I mean, just sheer exhaustion and weariness!

Watch out when you're physically tired. Some of you mothers, you can remember what it was like having those little children, the babies, the infants, and that season of time in a mother's life when you're just always tired. That's when you need to be specially girded up, because physical weariness can make us cowards in the internal, private battle.

He must have been depleted, emotionally spent. Yet on the other hand, there must have been a sense of exhilaration. I mean, just think of what had happened! What a story! What a magnificent victory the Lord had won!

What I find in after some of those most incredible victories, there is a very natural letdown. Adrenalin wears off and now you're just back to life as normal. There is an emotional letdown that can make us very vulnerable.

He had a sense of accomplishment, perhaps. I think there could have been easily in his life the temptation, as there is in ours, to get overconfident, to be smug, to think, "Look what I've done! I am quite an 80-year-old!" He had gone against those kings at the age of 80. He could have been very vulnerable to pride at this point.

Not to speak of the fact that he could have also been very fearful of retaliation. King Chedor and those kings of the east were not a power to be played with. What if they came back at him? So he could have come back in a state of depletion and weariness and weakness and felt "I'm terrified at what may happen next."

Well, Abram returns home, and after the battlethe major battlewe do have to come back home. We have to come back to real life, to real situations that are just very daily. Not so dramatic, but just the reality of everyday life. When Abram returns home, verse 17, after Abram returns home, the Scripture says, "The king of Sodom went out to meet him . . . after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him."

Let me just say that it's at this point that we face, as Abram must have faced, the tendency to let down our guardto think that we're home free. Yet it's at this point that we need to be especially guarded, that we need to be especially sensitive to our need for the Lord's protection, because this is where we're most vulnerable to lose it.

I remember a time a number of years ago when I was privileged to be a part in a great moving of God's Spirit in a touch of revival. It was all God. Only God could have done it. It was the kind of thing I've looked for and prayed for and longed for. And God did it!

God moved in an extraordinary way among a group of believers. I was privileged to be a part of that week and to see the power of God and the glory of God. I felt like I was living in the foyer of heaven for about a week. It was very exciting. It was very humbling. It was a major battle, and God won a major victory.

Well, I flew home from that week, landed in South Bend, Indiana. Some friends met me to take me from the airport back to my house. When I landed, they told meI knew that there were some friends, mutual friends, who were staying at my home, so that wasn't the surprise. However, what was a surprise was that these friends who were at my home also had their dog with them in my house.

Well, I grew up without pets in our home. I'm not crazy about animals. Please don't call me or send me letters. I'm not violent toward them. I'm just not crazy about them. I was happy that these people were in my home, but I was not happy to hear that their dog was in my home. I went ballistic. I went nuts. I'm telling you, I don't know that I've ever seen a faster slide from the portals of heaven to the . . . well, let me just say it was not a pretty picture.

I'll tell you what happened. I wasn't prepared for the battle after the battle. The dog wasn't the issue. The issue was my pride, my unpreparedness, my starting to think that I was something because I had been a part of what God had done there this week. God knew I needed the humility of seeing who I really am apart from Him. But because I wasn't expecting the battle after the battle, I wasn't prepared. I was blindsided.

Don't be surprised after a great spiritual victory. You've just had the greatest quiet time you've had in months. Ten minutes later, you're on the highway honking your horn at the guy in front of you with this mad outburst of road rage. How can this be?

You go and you teach a Bible study, and God works in a wonderful way and people's lives are being encouraged. You get home and you're screaming at your kids. How does this happen? It happens because we're not prepared for the battle after the battle. Don't be surprised.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has given us a realistic picture of what it means to walk with God. Sometimes it’s a battle. Nancy has painted a realistic picture of the battle but also has shown you the source of strength that will let you face that battle with confidence.

At Revive Our Hearts we’re encouraged to continue pressing forward in the battle by the women who write. They listen in a variety of situations, but we love to hear from each one. Here’s Nancy:

Nancy: I’ve met a lot of women who’ve told me that they listen to Revive Our Hearts each day while exercising. One listener in Austin, Texas, wrote:

“I love listening to your podcast. It usually prompts me to hit pause and pray while I run, alternating prayer and podcast.”

Well, I’m encouraged by that because you get the feeling that this woman is not just listening. She’s actually pondering God’s Word and letting it get into her life, asking God to let it transform her heart.

A special group of listeners help us connect women with God’s Word. We call them our Ministry Partner team. I send this group monthly letters so they know what’s on my heart and what’s going on in the ministry and how they can pray for us. Each month Ministry Partners also receive our devotional that’s called Daily Reflections. That devotional is only available to our Ministry Partner team.

Those are just a couple of the benefits of being a Ministry Partner. Of course, the biggest blessing is knowing that God is using the efforts of this team to speak to women in all seasons of life, helping them apply God’s Word to their lives.

So throughout the month of January, we’re asking those who are regular listeners to Revive Our Hearts, and whose lives have been touched by this ministry, to consider joining our Ministry Partner team. As a Ministry Partner, you commit to praying for this ministry and to donating $30 or more each month.

Would you take a moment and ask the Lord if He would want you to join with this ministry at a deeper level by becoming part of our Ministry Partner team? You can get more information by going to ReviveOurHearts.com or by giving us a call at 1-800-569-5959.

Leslie: To join the Ministry Partner team, just visit ReviveOurHearts.com or call us at 1-800-569-5959.

Have you ever been surprised by your own inconsistency? One day you’re walking in close fellowship with the Lord, and the next you’re impatient and tense. Why is that? Nancy will address that tomorrow, continuing in the series, The Battle After the Battle. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the New King James Version.

 

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