Revive Our Hearts Weekend Podcast

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A Closer Look

Episode notes:

These programs make up today's Revive Our Hearts Weekend program:

Better Than a New Year's Resolution

How to Abide in God's Word

Remember What You Received

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Dannah Gresh: In Revelation, Jesus gave a warning to the churches in Sardis. That warning is also for us today. Here’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. 

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: If so-called believers in our churches don’t wake up and repent, if they are not vigilant in examining the state of their souls, Christ will come against them when they least expect it.

Dannah: Today we’ll talk about being intentional in our relationship with God. 

Welcome to Revive Our Hearts Weekend, I’m Dannah Gresh.

It’s a new year. I’m still trying to get used to 2022. Are you there yet? The calendars are all changed, but I just can't seem to get there in my mind.

Last week we talked about resolutions and heard Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth lead us through several of Jonathan Edwards’ resolutions. They were convicting on many levels, mostly because he was so young when he wrote them. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to last week's episode, go to our website, and click on "Resolutions."

Since we are still in the newness of 2022 and this year is still fresh and young, I want to look at how to examine our walk with God, maybe set some new goals . . . No, not just goals, let’s talk about a reset—spiritual reset.

Today, we’ll be taking inventory of our lives, talk about abiding in God, and also learn about the spiritual discipline of being watchful. Seems like a lot and yet, you’ll see how one idea really will flow into the other.

Del Fehsenfeld serves as the pastoral services director for the staff at Life Action Ministries. Life Action, of course, is the parent organization of Revive Our Hearts. Del encourages many people to take regular times of reflection, a timeout, a pause on life, a kind of self-examination to ask the questions: “Where am I in my spiritual journey? Where am I headed? How can I get to where God wants me to be?” Del loves to help people think through how to live an abundant life, a full life. And today, he’s going to direct that support to your life and mine. Here’s Del’s conversation with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Del Fehsenfeld: Jesus came and He really said some things that are pretty astounding. He said, “I have come to give you life and to give it to the full.” He said, “Out of your inward most being will flow rivers of living water.” So He obviously had something in mind for us that was available, that He thought was present.

Nancy: That is actually more than most of us experience.

Del: That’s right. When we sit back and look at the scope of those words and we take Jesus at His word, we realize that His intentions for us are to thrive not just survive. It’s really something that motivates those of us who know Him to press into that—to figure out what did Jesus have in mind when He made these promises. For the last couple of years here as a staff, we’ve been trying to press into that. The tool you referenced a minute ago, the Personal Vitality Plan, is just one way of pressing into that as an individual, but then also being able to share it with close friends who are also following Jesus with you.

Nancy: The older I get, it’s just been kind of an annual exercise for me over the years and something I do around New Year’s generally, but also at birthdays or spiritual birthdays—these are times of reflecting and saying, “Where am I? Where am I headed? What does God want to do in my life?”

The older I get, the more I’m interested in this because I'm thinking of running the race well all the way to the end. I want to look back on my life, not just my year, but my life, and say, “It’s been fruitful. It’s been what God intended.” Because I think if we don’t stop and have these intentional moments of seeking the Lord and letting Him speak into our lives in these areas, we end up at the end of a week or a month or a year or a lifetime and realize we just kind of drifted. We weren’t purposeful about the process so the result may be a lot less than what it could have been.

Del: There really is a lot at stake. One danger of a New Year’s resolution is that it’s been reduced to something smaller than what it really could be. Because what’s at stake in our lives when we stop and think about it? It's the things that really give our life meaning—our families, our relationships with our spouses, with our kids, the impact that we’re really having on people in our neighborhoods as we bear the life of Christ in witness. It really relates to our mission.

So there are things here that when we stop and think about it that are worth setting aside some time to think meaningfully about. The Scripture actually talks about this because the Scripture will come to us like, for example, it does when the apostle Peter is telling us that we need to make every effort to add to our faith and then he lists this process of the virtues that need to be progressively becoming true as we make those efforts to see those things added to our life.

Nancy: That’s not something that you just drift into. It doesn’t just happen by sticking your Bible under your pillow and hoping it will.

Del: Yes. Intentionality is something that’s woven all through the teaching of the Scripture. The Scripture comes to us and says it’s God that’s at work in us to do by His power. So we absolutely are dependent upon the Spirit, and yet you have other things in the Scripture that actually say:

  • You’re to fight the good fight of faith. 
  • You’re to set your hearts on things above. 
  • You’re to set your minds in a certain direction. 
  • You’re actually to look at some things in your life and say, “These things won’t stay in because they need to die off in my life. They need to be put off.” 

And then there’s some other things that as we’re setting our hearts and minds that we need to be really focused on pursuing.

So you have this rhythm in the Scripture. You want to think of it as both dependence on the Spirit—opening up to the resources that only Jesus can bring through prayer and these kinds of things—but also on the other hand bringing our full selves, our full efforts to bear on how our lives unfold.

The greatest danger to our spiritual life is not the big and bad things that sometimes we think of as train wrecks. It’s just the daily process of drift. If we’re not really intentional to check drift in our lives in all its forms, then we end up as you were mentioning, just seeing our lives pass us by without getting to the best things.

Nancy: I think the tendency is just inertia there. We tend to organize our lives around things that are short term or not so important because there’s a lot of trivial stuff in everyday life. I mean, you have to get kids to school, and for moms get meals on the table and get to work. I mean, there are just those "have to" things in life that are sanctified by the presence of God and His grace. But it’s so easy, I think, to ignore or just overlook things that if they were more a part of the rhythm would have greater long-term value for us.

Del: I know what you’re talking about there because I have four kids myself. The oldest is thirteen, the youngest is five. A good day in our household a lot of times is just making it through. My wife and I at the end of the day share the exhaustion that parents all over share, and sometimes surviving is a really good day.

But when those days of survival just get strung out one after another, that’s when you’re back into that sense that, “Does Jesus have more for us as individuals? As families? What is that? How do you escape the tyranny of the urgent to really also be making progress towards the bigger picture goals that are close to our hearts?”

We have some things in our lives where we recognize the importance of annual checkups and the intentional kinds of interventions to see things differently than what they are. People do this in their careers, too. A lot of times you’ll have a career vocational plan that you’re working. Or in their financial goals you set some long-term goals for retirement.

But we’re less accustomed to thinking about that process of goal setting and intentionality in areas of our lives that we somehow think should just happen. So when it comes to our families or our core relationships, sometimes even our relationship with God, we think we’re going to grow maybe by osmosis—that things will just somehow be different.

What we’re finding as a spiritual community here is that those things just don’t happen. As much as we wish that were true, you just don’t wake up tomorrow and discover that your problems have evaporated or that you’re somehow just more like Jesus because you’ve lived another day.

That’s what I think the wisdom of the Scripture is telling us. Jesus actually intends for us to be intentional and attentive and focused in the way that we follow Him. In much the same way that an annual visit for a checkup can help us physically, I think that there’s some things that we can do to create a checkup, so to speak, for us holistically, which would include our emotions, our body, and our spirit.

Listen to the entire episode, "Better Than a New Year's Resolution." This is taken from the series, "A Personal Vitality Plan."

Dannah: I love how intentional Del Fehsenfeld is in leading us to a full life. There’s a link at our website to the Personal Vitality Plan that Nancy referred to. It's something I use each year. I just love this tool. This is a great plan to help you with a fresh start. I think we all need that from time to time—a fresh start.

Speaking of which, my research in the spiritual development of young girls lead me to something that needed a fresh start! In a nationwide survey of moms and girls ages seven–twelve, I discovered a frightening fact: tween girls aren’t developing the habit of reading their Bibles! So, I started a new podcast for tween girls and their moms . . . or grandmas! It’s called True Girl. It’s my hope that these drive-time truth nuggets will launch value-forming conversations that point you and your favorite tween girl toward deeper dives into God’s Word! We’ve had a lot of fun putting these True Girl episodes together. 

And we’re feeding these girls spiritual meat. For example, here’s just a portion of the latest episode where Staci Rudolph and I talk about abiding in God’s Word. But before we talk, we'll hear my friend and True Girl lead teacher, Chizzy Anderson. She’s going to read John 8:31 and 32 for us.

Chizzy Anderson:

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

Dannah: Wow! I mean think about that! Jesus made us a pretty big promise when He said that. He was saying you don’t have to feel confused about what you believe. You don’t have to feel imprisoned by bad feelings, instead you can be free. But, did you hear there’s something you have to do to experience that freedom? You’ve got to abide in God’s Words.

Staci Rudolph: I gotta be honest though, Dannah, that sounds great and all, but how? How do you abide in God’s Word. 

Dannah: Well, let’s take a look at the word “abide,” okay? Because that’s kind of a word we don’t use a whole lot, so we need to define it. One definition says it means, “to continue without fading.” Another definition for abide means to “remain stable.” So, to abide means “to continue or to remain.” 

So, to abide in Jesus’ Words, which we find in the Bible, you would spend a lot of time reading the Bible, thinking about it, talking about it, learning about it, your mind stays on it, continues thinking about, remains on the topic of it. It’s like your thoughts are superglued to the truthful words of Jesus. 

Staci: I like that. Superglued to the truth of Jesus. But I gotta know, Dannah, we’re getting vulnerable here, right?

Dannah: Yup. 

Staci: I’ll be the first to admit, sometimes I am actually superglued to my screens and not my Bible. If I’m not careful I can catch myself spending too much time watching YouTube or listening to music videos.

Dannah: Yeah, I get that. I have the same problem. I want to be super clear, okay? It’s not that everything we find in those places is bad, but a lot of times the messages you hear are not truthful. And when they aren’t, that can make us feel confused. It can distract us from staying superglued to the truth of Jesus. 

But if you take time every single day to read the Bible, you’ll start to recognize what is true and what is a lie when you watch Netflix or hear a song. So, that will help you filter your music and stuff, and by that, I mean you’ll know what you should put on your playlist. 

You’ll also know what you should give a big thumbs down to and never listen to again. It’s all about keeping your mind on truth. 

Staci: Okay, I find that I like to abide in God’s Word by listening or singing worship songs. 

Dannah: Yeah, me too. 

Staci: I’ve always just kind of loved music, you know that about me. 

Dannah: Yeah. 

Staci: I learned early on that it was just a good way for me to remember things. It helped me focus on the characteristics of God and learn what His Word was teaching me and kind of put it in my heart. 

Song:

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my life, my strength, my song.1

Listen to the entire episode, "How to Abide in God's Word."

Dannah: That was a sampling of the new True Girl podcast for tween girls cohosted by myself and Staci Rudolph. But that truth about abiding is for you and me, too! I want to add a few thoughts on why it’s important for us to abide.

Some of the last words Jesus spoke to His disciples before He was arrested and crucified were an invitation to abide. Last words are precious words. They’re important words. We choose them carefully when we’re the ones speaking them, and we treasure them whole heartedly when we’re the ones who’ve received them.

Let me read some of our Savior's last words before He was crucified for our sins. Lean in and listen.

John 15:8–11 reads:

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

Why is Jesus inviting them—and us—to abide, to stay to remain in Him? Because he loves you! And if that’s not enough, what is he inviting you to abide in? His love! What an invitation! Jesus is saying, "Stay, stay, stay here in my love."

How is he inviting you to abide? In obedience. “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love.” How do we learn to do it? By staying so close to the heart of Christ that we learn from Him.Jesus told us He is our example. He said we are to obey. I quote, “As I have kept my father’s commandments and abide in his love.”

One way we abide is to obey what God’s Word teaches. We cannot just be hearers only! We’ve got to do what the Word says! Abiding equals obeying! Jesus did it. So should we.

Does that sound difficult? Is the obedience God is asking of you in your life right now difficult to embrace? If so, let me remind you what the outcome of abiding will be. Jesus said he invites us to abide “so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be full!” If you abide, expect to experience joy!

I remember I time I experienced this kind of joy! I had been fasting as part of my new year’s reset to abide in Christ .I believe it’s a critical and oft ignored Christian discipline, but fasting is not easy for me. Still God’s Word says to do it!

I was doing it. I was obeying the Word. And the end of my fast was approaching, but . . . I wanted pizza! I was so tempted. The only way I could manage to stick to the fast was to read my Bible and pray. So I locked myself in my room and persevered.

My friend, I want to tell you, during that hard fought for obedience, it was about twelve hours, twenty-four hours maybe, the presence of God came so heavily onto my spirit that when the fast was over, I did not want to leave that room. I didn't care about pizza. I just kept reading the Word, weeping, as I sensed the joyful presence of God. Why? Why didn't I want to leave? Because I felt the great joy of being loved! Why did I feel that? Because I abided in Him and obeyed.

Now, I want you to think about a sport that you played in school. Remember playing offense or defense? Offensive, that was making sure the ball got in the intended goal and you scored a point! Defense, that was making sure that your opponent didn't score against you. 

When we abide, we are playing offense. We are moving toward God. But let’s look at defense in our spiritual walk. What can we do so our opponent, Satan, doesn’t attack and score against us. One way to block attacks from the enemy is to be watchful.

In Revelation 3 beginning in verse 1, Jesus was talking. "To the angel of the church at Sardis write: 'The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. "I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead."'"

Those are some strong words, and they get stronger. Listen to verse 2. "Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you."

Nancy was teaching through these strong verses when she received an email from a leader of one of the Life Action Ministries road teams. As you may know, Life Action is the parent ministry for Revive Our Hearts. Our road teams travel and minister revival principles and truths in local churches all across the country.

One of the revivalists shared this email that came from a man in one of the churches. Here’s Nancy reading the email.

Nancy: I am thirty-two years old, and I have known the Lord and "believed" for many years. "Believed" would be the operative word there. Believed but not lived.

It sounds like the people in Sardis doesn’t it? You have a reputation that you are alive but you’re dead. This man said,

Before Life Action visited my church, I was an extremely stagnant and stubborn "Christian," if you could call me a Christian at all. I was only attending church because my wife (praise God for her influence) had gotten me to attend. I didn’t pray with my wife and family, except the occasional prayer at the very rare family dinner. I didn’t sit with my children and teach them God’s Word.

I felt that I was doing okay in my life because I had comfortable finances, a semi-happy family, and now I was even going to church. Basically, Satan had me right where he wanted me.

He’s got a lot of people right where he wants them. You have a reputation for being alive but you are dead. He goes on to say,

The first time my wife told me that we were having a "Revival" at the church, I basically scoffed and laughed at the word, while making a motion as though I were playing a tambourine and shouting hallelujah. If I had known what I was about to go through, I wouldn’t have done that. After hearing some very hard-to-hear things, I finally found myself saying, "Yes Lord."

As soon as I was willing to be quiet and listen to what God had sent these wonderful people here to say, the flood gates opened and all the conviction I had experienced for the last ten years came back in a powerful way. I listened and did what God asked.

God placed it on my heart to modify many different aspects of my life. . . . He placed it on my heart to remove all music except that which has Christian lyrics. . . . I now pray with my wife. I pray with my family, and we also started a family time that includes reading God’s Word together. I had never done any of this, so it was strange at first, but God guided my wife and me. . . . Thank you for giving me back my family. Thank you for helping give me back to God.

I love the way he says that. Giving me back to God.

I’ll be eternally grateful.

Now Jesus says to the church in Sardis, and He says to us in our churches today, “If you will not wake up, if you will not be watchful, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.”

Jesus says, “I’m coming.” And commentators differ as to if He’s talking about the Second Coming of Christ. Most seem to think that He’s not, though that is the ultimate coming, but that He’s talking about a prior visitation in which He will judge and discipline this church and the people in it.

Regardless, if He’s coming in more immediate judgment and discipline, that final coming will the one where the ultimate books are opened and the record is told and the final judgment will take place.

But Jesus says, “I am coming like a thief.” Now, not to steal but in the sense that as He says, “You will not know at what hour I will come against you.”

A thief doesn’t announce his arrival. A thief doesn’t call ahead and say, “I’ll be there at 3:00 in the morning.” He doesn’t let you know when he’s coming. He catches you by surprise. You don’t know when he’s coming. You can’t predict the timing. He’s coming at an unexpected moment, Jesus is saying.

So that ought to create a sense of urgency. And the people of Sardis knew how important that watchfulness was, how wakefulness was, because years earlier when enemies had scaled their walls and invaded their city it had happened suddenly, unexpectedly, when they weren’t being watchful and they weren’t alert.

In the same way, Jesus is saying if so-called believers in our churches don’t wake up and repent, if they are not vigilant in examining the state of their souls, Christ will come against them when they least expect it in judgment or in chastening in this life or at the end of time.

There are many, many Scriptures that you could cite here that talk about this need for constant spiritual vigilance and watchfulness. Jesus said in Matthew 24, “Stay awake.” Other translations say, “Be alert. Keep watch for you do not know what day your Lord is coming” (v. 42).

The apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5: “So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake [be awake, be on the watch], and be sober” (v. 6).

So the call of Jesus to the church then and now and our hearts is, be vigilant. Keep watch over your own heart. Don't drift spiritually. It happens so easily.

Keep watch over the hearts of others—over your children, over others around you. Not in the sense of we are responsible to control them. But be alert, be prayerful, be watchful. Moms, wives, praying for your husbands, praying for your children, your grandchildren, praying for others in your church.

Be alert to the schemes of the evil one. Keep watch for spiritual predators who would try to steal or pervert the gospel of Jesus.

Keep watch for Christ so you won’t get caught off guard when He comes. Be ready. Be watchful. Be waiting. Be awake for Him so that when He comes, you can see Him coming with anticipation and with joy rather than with fear, with dread, or with indifference.

Listen to the entire episode, "Remember What You Received." This comes from the series, "Letters to the Churches in Revelation (Sardis)."

Dannah: Be awake, keep watch.

Friend, we need to grow. We need to abide in Him, and we need be watchful. Don’t let the enemy take what has grown, what God has done while you’ve been abiding in Him.

I hope today has been helpful to you. Watch, abide, and take inventory of where you are. Such valuable things to keep in mind as we walk with God.

One of the best ways I know to help us watch and abide is to be in God’s Word. If you’re not already in a study plan, it is hard to know where to start, isn’t it. Well, I want to suggest something for your fresh start, it’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth’s A Place of Quiet Rest Journal. It has suggested Scripture readings, ideas, and questions to think through. It's a great help to get you into the year with a fresh start. 

This journal is yours with a gift of any amount when you give to Revive Our Hearts. Just call 1–800–569–5959, or go to ReviveOurHearts.com/weekend and click on today’s episode. It’s called “A Closer Look.” Remember to ask for A Place of Quiet Rest Journal.

Next week, I want to continue our discussion on examining our lives. We’ll talk through this question: How much would you be willing to give up for Jesus? We’ll talk about giving up on the next Revive Our Hearts Weekend.

Thanks for listening today. Thanks to our team—Phil Krause, Dylan Weibel, Rebekah Krause, Justin Converse, Michelle Hill, and for Revive Our Hearts Weekend, I’m Dannah Gresh.

Revive Our Hearts . . . calling women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ.

1Keith & Kristyn Getty. “In Christ Alone.” In Christ Alone. Getty Music Label, LLC  2006.

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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.

About the Host

Dannah Gresh

Dannah Gresh

When Dannah Gresh was eight years old, she began praying that God would use her as a Bible teacher for “the nations.” When she sees the flags of many countries waving at a Revive Our Hearts event, it feels like an answer to her prayer.

Dannah is the founder of True Girl which provides tools for moms and grandmothers to disciple their 7–12 year-old girls. On Monday nights, you’ll find Dannah hosting them in her online Bible study. She has authored over twenty-eight books, including Ruth: Becoming a Girl of Loyalty, Lies Girls Believe, and a Bible study for adult women based on the book of Habakkuk. She and her husband, Bob, live on a hobby farm in central Pennsylvania.

About the Guests

Del Fehsenfeld

Del Fehsenfeld

Del completed a Master’s Degree in marriage and family therapy and worked as a counselor before joining Life Action Ministries in 1996. He serves as Senior Editor and Pastoral Services Director and is involved in a combination of writing, counseling, and speaking responsibilities. He and Debra live in Niles, Michigan, and are the proud parents of four children: Shepard, Kária, Chálissa, and Sol.

Staci Rudolph

Staci Rudolph

Staci Rudolph is a lead teacher for True Girl. From co-hosting online Bible studies like "Habakkuk: Walking By Faith Through Difficult Days" to facilitating biblical discussion of teen topics on the True You videocast, Staci is passionate about encouraging tweens, teens, and women of all ages to walk in God’s Truth.