Revive Our Hearts Weekend Podcast

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A Look at Freedom

Dannah Gresh: Just before Jesus died on the cross for our sins, He cried out, “It is finished.” Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth says that many of us aren’t living like we believe what He said.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: The price for sin has been paid, yet we are languishing, overwhelmed, burdened, pressed down with a sense of our guilt and our unworthiness. We are refusing to receive the pardon that God has extended to us. If we refuse to accept that pardon, we will not experience the freedom and the release of that pardon.

Dannah: It’s Independence Day weekend, but are we really free? We’re talking about your freedom today on Revive Our Hearts Weekend.

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

After the pandemic forced everyone to take last summer off from pool parties and BBQs, this July 4th is back with party power! 

It’s predicted that the communal gatherings may be a bit louder and bigger than usual this weekend! We’re making up for a lost year. We Americans like our independence and our freedom.

But are we free? Are you free? I have to ask because the news I’m reading tells me of something else that’s gotten a bit bigger as a result of the pandemic: addiction! Can I just read a few of these headlines to you:

  • “Alcohol Addiction in Women on the Rise During COVID-19”
  • “Pandemic Created Perfect Storm for Addiction to Flourish”
  • “Has COVID-19 Made You Addicted to Your Phone?”
  • “Porn Use Spiked During the Pandemic”

Let me ask again: are you free? 

Today we’re gonna talk about how to experience freedom. True freedom! Give me the next thirty minutes, and I’ll give you some tools—and some courage—to break free! 

We’ll start in Titus 2. You know that chapter of the Bible, right?

You’re probably familiar with it. It’s the passage that encourages older women to teach the younger women. It tells us to “be reverent in behavior, love our husbands and children, be kind,” and so on. Really, the passage describes an exemplary woman! So I wonder, why are these five words included: “not slaves to much wine?” A Titus 2 woman should not be a slave to much wine.

Hmm, sometimes even God’s girls need to be reminded to beware of addiction! And some need help overcoming it. So, let’s stop and talk about this for a moment. 

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has taught extensively on Titus 2. She says that phrase, “not slaves to much wine,” can apply to any way we might turn to a substance to cope with or escape life’s difficulties. When I first heard her deliver this message, I saw areas of bondage in my own life that I didn’t even realize existed. And that was the beginning of freedom for me—specifically in one area that I didn’t even realize was one of bondage. I want you to hear this message because I think it could be a call to independence for you, too! Here’s Nancy.

Nancy: I read on MSNBC.com the other day this sentence:

Overworked, overwhelmed, and overscheduled women, juggling families, friends, and careers, are turning to stimulants, pain killers, and anti-anxiety meds to help launch them through endless to-do lists.

One psychologist said, “Women load their lives with so much that they get in over their heads and some turn to prescription pills to cope.”

And it’s not just among non-believers. I have a friend who is a mature believer who serves in full-time ministry who confided to me recently that she had begun to drink excessively in order to deal with pain and pressure.

There are women in this room today, women watching us online, who struggle with excess and enslavement to alcohol. It may be that you’re a closet drinker and nobody else knows. It may not be alcohol. It may be other addictive substances.

That excess, that enslavement is often the result of trying to escape, to alleviate emotional pain, relational pain, to find comfort, to find satisfaction. And in a sense, what we’re saying when we’re turning to these substitutes for God in our lives is, “God, You’re not enough for me, for this situation, for my pain.”

Let me say, if alcohol or an addictive substance abuse is an issue for you, the gospel, the good news calls you to live and walk in freedom, and God’s grace, that’s the point of this passage, will give you the power to experience that freedom.

Now, we’ve got a lot of women sitting here thinking, But I don’t have an issue with alcohol.

Well, let me say, I don’t think this passage doesn’t apply to you. There can be a host of things that we partake of in excess, to the point sometimes of becoming enslaved, addicted. And we need the gospel and the grace of God as much as our sisters who may be slaves to much wine.

It’s easy to get this kind of older brother pharisaical attitude, “I don’t deal with that. I can’t imagine having to be in a support group for that or a recovery group for that.” Well, you have your "that," and I have my "that"—more than one.

I’ve been thinking as I’ve been working on this talk about some things that I sometimes use in excess, and at times am even enslaved or addicted to. I’ll just mention these because I don’t want to park on what may be different from yours, but I think for many of us, myself included, food is a huge enslaving master. It may be eating too much. It may be eating too little. It may be fixating on food, obsessing about food. There are days I wake up thinking about food. I think about food all day long. And now you’re thinking about food and can’t stop thinking about food. (laughter)

You’ve had it happen where there’s, like, a dessert tray, a cheese and cracker tray, and you can’t just—or I can’t just—enjoy in temperance some of this good gift from the Lord. It’s calling my name, saying, “You have to have the whole tray now because there will never be any food in the world tomorrow.” (laughter)

And we’re laughing, but some of us have had the experience of just being so frustrated with ourselves, and we say, “I’m not laughing about this. This is a serious task master in my life.”

For some of us who battle with that enslavement of food, the other slave is the scale. That can be a task master, a slave.

It may be something different for you. Maybe, for me at times, it’s been Words with Friends. It’s a good thing. It’s a fun thing. It’s a connecting thing. But it can become my master. I can be enslaved to it.

Social media—perpetually, continually, incessantly, endlessly—checking Facebook, Twitter, Instagram feeds and whatever are the other social media options of your choice.

The opinions of others.

My work—I can be enslaved to that.

And let me just mention one that, “Honey, where’s my phone?” (laughter) My Smart Phone. I want to just say that this cute, tiny, little thing is often my master. There’s nothing wrong with this thing, or the other things that I’ve mentioned. But I think about how I can’t function without it. I use it for everything—you do, too—from news, weather and sports, to communication with friends, to even things like Bible study and research. But I find that I’m dependent on it 24/7 some days.

If truth be told, it’s difficult for me to get untethered from this, even for short periods of time. I get jittery if I’m separated from it. (laughter) I get stressed when I can’t find it. My husband sometimes picks it up—because I leave it everywhere. He sticks it in his pocket, and I’m, like, “Where is it?” Am I right, Honey?

I reach for it reflexively, constantly. Often it’s the first thing I turn to in the morning—let me just say, most mornings. It’s the last thing I look at at night, and many times throughout the day.

Now, I use my phone for a lot of good things, mostly, maybe all good things, but the question is: Has it become my master, or is it my servant?

Listen to the entire episode, "At Liberty." This come from the series, "Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together."

Dannah: Nancy knows how to get to the heart of the matter doesn’t she? If you’re struggling with bondage to something, I want you to know . . . it’s not the phone that’s the problem. It’s not the food or the wine that’s the real problem—it’s the heart. It’s your heart. It’s mine. What are you running to first when the day gets hard? What do you reach for first thing in the morning?

I’m gonna share something with you that Nancy wrote in her private journal. (Yes, I do have her permission!) 

Nancy was studying Exodus chapter 20, that chapter is where the Ten Commandments are first given  and the first commandment is, "You shall have no other gods before Me!"

Here’s what Nancy wrote in her journal:

God alone is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent, but at some level, my phone seems to have those same characteristics in my life. It knows most everything I want to know, just ask Siri. It’s always with me—omnipresent. And it can do a whole lot of things that I want or need to get done—omnipotent. Have I become more dependent on my phone than on God? Truth be told, I reach for my phone and refer to it more frequently throughout the day than I consciously reach out to the Lord and call on Him. By most any definition, I am addicted, enslaved to my phone.

Ouch! That takes courage to admit, doesn’t it?

Do you need to be courageous today? Is today the day you admit that you’re enslaved or addicted to something? It’s the first step towards freedom.

Song:

We cast our crowns before Him
Like the rusting leaves of autumn.
Now, every chain lies broken,
And finally we're free!1

I came up with a possible list of what you and I tend to be enslaved to—things that can become our idols. Yes, my friend, idols.

  • Work
  • My phone
  • The opinion or approval of others
  • Shopping
  • Having the latest ________
  • Being the first at having the latest _________
  • My garden
  • Working out
  • Me time
  • Alcohol
  • Drugs
  • Porn
  • The Internet
  • Social media

And here’s an idol I’m really struggling to tear down in my own life right now—food. Food sure can became a comfort, and it has this past year. Can you identify? (My waistline sure can!)

Are any of these idols a numbing agent for you? Do they help you to pass the time or slow down the brain? 

No matter what your idol may be, it’s time to break free, and we can only do that by crying out to Jesus for His help. Today, I want to help you do that.

Carrie Gaul is a Bible teacher and mentor of women. She’s part of the team here at Revive Our Hearts, and she says that what you need right now is to latch on to that power of Jesus to break free from whatever it is that is weighing you down. Here’s Carrie starting at the cross.

Carrie Gaul: Jesus died in our place. And that same power that raised Jesus from the dead is now living in you and in me if you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ. And that power that raised Jesus from the dead is the very same power that can set you and I free from the sins that are entangling us. Our past doesn’t have to identify us anymore, my friends.

You see, in order to think rightly about the messiness of our lives, the messiness of our circumstances . . . and we all have it. Some of you are sitting there today and saying, “If you knew the reality I’m living in, you would know this isn’t true for me.” No!

That is not true! The messiness of our lives, whatever it is, we superimpose the truth of God’s Word over that. Psalm 19 tells us that while we’re doing that, in the midst of doing that, in the mundaneness of what constitutes most of our days (isn’t that true?), we’re bringing delight to the heart of our God.

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.”

Would you echo with me the truths that there is none like our great God—there is none like our God who takes delight in even the thoughtsof our minds of those who have been redeemed and have placed their faith in Christ Jesus; those who, according 1 Thessalonians 2:4, have been approved by God.

You see, if you have placed your faith in Jesus, you no longer need to wonder where you stand with a holy and a righteous God. You don’t have to doubt how God sees you. You don’t have to question. You don’t have to wonder. Scripture says you have been accepted by the beloved, accepted in the beloved. Because of Jesus, the beloved Son of God, you have been accepted by a holy and a righteous God.

You have been entrusted with the gospel, the glorious good news of the gospel, to share that with others whatever your season of life. Some of you are empty nesters. Others of you are college students who are buried in papers and projects right now. Some of you are young mamas who are submerged in little people and diapers and wondering if ever anything will change in your life.

You have a mission. You have a calling. You have a purpose that’s been placed upon your life, and that purpose is that every day, wherever you are, you get to declare the old, old story of Jesus and His love. You get to declare the truths of what Jesus has done. You get to show that through your life and through your words.

You get to tell people how He’s made you a new creation and how your sins have been forgiven and your past no longer defines you, how you’ve been set free by His love, and how He’s tenderly and compassionately molding and shaping your life into the image of your Savior.

And you say, “Carrie, that’s great. There is just one problem: That’s not my reality. It’s not where I’m living. It has been years since I’ve known that kind of freedom and joy. It has been years since I’ve been free from the sin and the doubt that’s entangled me, that’s captivated me, that’s holding me in bondage. In fact, I’m not even sure how Jesus’ life and His death is supposed to impact me in the here and now. I’m not even actually sure what happened when I placed my faith and my trust in Jesus.”

Listen to the entire episode, "You Can Stop Trying to Be Good." This comes from the series, "Approved."

Dannah: Oh, how well I know what Carrie is talking about! I was in my twenties when I realized just how long it had been since I experienced the freedom and joy of my relationship with Jesus. It had been so long since a bright-eyed blonde little girl had surrendered her heart to Him. It had even been a long time since I’d been acting out—sinning in my specific area of bondage. But years after I’d white-knuckled my way out of sinful behavior, I still wasn’t free! But I wanted it. I needed it! 

Do you want freedom? Do you need freedom? Sister, you know there’s so much more to your story than the time you spend with your phone, or the wine you drink when no one is watching, or the cupcakes you stuff down your throat hoping no one will notice how many you ate, or the hours you spend surfing the net to look at things you’ll deeply regret. Yes, there is so much more to you than that!

Let me tell you how I finally began to experience freedom. In desperation, I cried out, “God help! I cannot do it alone! I’ve tried. I am overcome by shame. I am not free!” You see, I’d tried to do it on my own! I’d tried to clean up my act myself. My shame made me feel so unworthy, that I’d believed the lie that the blood of Jesus—it was for everyone else, but it wasn’t for me! And that caused me to believe the lie that I—me, myself, and I—had to prove my way back into my Savior’s heart! Hello! He’s my Savior! HE is my Savior. I am not! And you are not. You cannot do this alone, my friend. You cannot earn your way out, buy your way out, behave your way out, perform your way out of your bondage!

But there’s Someone who can break you free. Here’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth to remind us of all that Christ has done for us.

Nancy: The penalty’s been paid, the sacrifice has been made. “It is finished!” Jesus said, as He died on Calvary.

The price for sin has been paid, yet we are languishing, overwhelmed, burdened, pressed down with a sense of our guilt and our unworthiness. We are refusing to receive the pardon that God has extended to us. If we refuse to accept that pardon, we will not experience the freedom and the release of that pardon.

Several years ago I was privileged to be a participant in a meeting of several thousand full-time Christian workers where God met with us in a great way in personal and corporate revival. It was interesting during the period of several days how God moved in that place in deep conviction of sin.

There was a lot of public confession of sin but also a lot of one-on-one confession. There was a spirit and a sense of heaviness as the Holy Spirit weighed down on our hearts in conviction and confession of sin. But it’s interesting to me, as I reflect back on those days, that one of the songs that was sung most frequently during that period of time, and was sung with such great release and freedom as people broke through into God’s forgiveness, was a song called "White as Snow."

Maybe you’re familiar with that little chorus:

Though my sins be as scarlet,
Lord I know that I’m clean and forgiven by the power of Your love. 
Through the cleansing of Your blood,
By faith in Christ I know I can be white as snow.

We’ve heard for years, many of us, that old gospel song,

Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me;
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee;
O Lamb of God I come, I come.

My invitation to those in this room today who may be weighed down by a sense of burden and guilt over past sin, past failure, is to come, receive His pardon. The pardon’s been granted.

You say, “I don’t feel like I deserve to be forgiven.” You’re right, you don’t. I don’t deserve to be forgiven. The wonder of Calvary is that the pardon has been granted for undeserving, fallen, hell-bent sinners, who had no right to any of the mercy or grace of God. In Christ, the Lamb of God, He has poured out that cleansing.

Just as I am and waiting not,
To rid my soul of one dark blot.
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot;
O Lamb of God I come, I come.

Just as I am Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God I come, I come.

You can listen to the entire episode "You Can Be Free from Sin." This is part of the series, "Lies Women Believe about Sin."

Dannah: I hope you will come to Jesus today. This is your invitation. And, let me share a practical step if you’re struggling with something about which you are ashamed. Tell someone. Tell a godly friend. Jesus alone can forgive and redeem you and wipe the slate clean, but He’s given us each other to do the work of healing because our chains are not often broken instantaneously. We need each other. James 5:16, one of my favorite verses, tells me to confess my sin to someone. It say, "Confess your sin one to another . . ." why? ". . . so that you can be healed! When I finally admitted that I could not overcome my sin and shame, but Jesus could. One of the best next steps was telling someone about my sin.

As terrified as I was for anyone to know my secret and shame, telling someone and hearing them affirm, “Yes, Jesus died for that!” Well, it was the sound of freedom to my broken heart!

How’s your heart? I hope it’s on the verge of breaking free!

If God used our conversation today to speak to your heart, I’d love to hear your freedom story, our team would love to hear it. You can send it to us by dropping a comment on our website ReviveOurHearts.com. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on “contact us.”

If you feel some conviction as we end our time together, I want you to know that’s God’s kindness. Romans 2:4 tells us His kindness leads us to repentance. This month we want to help you grow in your understanding of kindness. We’d like to give you a copy of Nancy’s new booklet, A Deeper Kind of Kindness. When you give a gift of any amount to help support Revive Our Hearts, we'll send it to you

This is available only from Revive Our Hearts when you give a gift of any amount to the ministry. It's our way of saying thank you. Go online to ReviveOurHearts.com to make a donation, or call us at 1–800–569–5959, and make sure to ask for A Deeper Kind of Kindness

Do you ever have a hard time rejoicing with those who rejoice? Uh-huh, yes, you go to weddings and baby showers, but can you high-five your best friend when she drives up with the brand-new car you’ve been wanting for years? Sometimes rejoicing with those who rejoice is hard. Next week we’ll talk about loving on our friends in times of mourning and rejoicing. That’s on the next Revive Our Hearts Weekend.

Thanks for listening today. I hope you have a safe and joyful holiday celebration.

Thanks to our great team: Phil, Dylan, Rebekah, Justin, Michelle. And I’m Dannah Gresh

Revive Our Hearts Weekend is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

1“Finally Free,” from The Art of Celebration by Rend Collective, © 2014 Integrity Music.

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

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About the Teachers

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.

Carrie Gaul

Carrie Gaul

Carrie Gaul is a biblical correspondent for Revive Our Hearts.  She and her husband Dennis have two married children and are enjoying grandchildren.  Carrie has a deep love for God's Word and a passion to see women grow in ever-increasing intimacy with Jesus through the study and application of His Word. Carrie is the author of Joy in the Midst, a Bible study on Philippians.

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.