Revive Our Hearts Radio

Gifts That Truly Last

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss says you could have this present on your next birthday.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: A reason to live, a reason to get up in the morning is that I know why I was created. It’s not to be happy, though God has brought incredible happiness and blessing into my life over these years. But I have a purpose in life and that is to live for the praise of His glory.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It’s Monday, May 12. There are certain days we set aside and celebrate events in history. Who doesn’t love singing carols at Christmas or waking up early for sunrise service at Easter? But one holiday that is unique to each of us is the day of our spiritual birthday—the day God granted us eternal life in Christ. Nancy’s about to describe this spiritual birthday.

Nancy: Well, I have to tell you that I love birthdays. In my family we actually call it birthday week. That means that if you forget one of your siblings’ birthdays (there are a lot of us), you’re safe, you’re okay as long as you remember within the week. So we call it birthday week.

Birthdays are, I think, a great time to reflect on what God has done in our lives over the past year. I usually do take some time on my birthday to celebrate what God has done, to give Him thanks for His goodness. It’s also a time to look ahead and to commit ourselves afresh to whatever God’s purposes are for our lives, to live life for His glory over the year ahead. So it’s a good marker point for me. I make some memorials at birthday points.

But there’s a second birthday that I celebrate each year that I consider even more significant than my physical birthday, and that’s my spiritual birthday. This week I’m celebrating my 45th spiritual birthday. Hard to believe, but I have just been so thanking the Lord and grateful as I’ve been reflecting on God’s goodness in my life over these years.

It’s just an awesome thing to me that God would have chosen me to be His child, to belong to him, to have a relationship with Him. I think of all the people in the world—billions of them—that have no concept of the gospel, no hope, no life. Then I think God found me and chose me to belong to Him, chose me in eternity past, made that real in my life 45 years ago. It’s an awesome thing to me.

It was 45 years ago that I had what is my first conscious memory. That is at the age of 4 as I knelt by my bed—it was at nap time—and trusted all I knew of myself to all I knew of Christ. I couldn’t have given you any big, long theological description of what happened.

My family had been having family devotions on a regular basis. They had been taking us through the Scripture, and I knew in my heart that I was a sinner who needed a Savior and that Christ was that Savior.

I look back on 45 years of God’s grace and work in my life and all I can say is, “Thank You, Lord. I am so, so grateful.”

Now, when we celebrate birthdays, there’s a family member or a friend, sometimes we give gifts to the birthday girl or person who’s having a birthday and we do that to express our love to that person. It’s fun to watch people open and enjoy those birthday gifts.

Six years ago as my 39th spiritual birthday approached, I began to think about some of the gifts that God had given to me with my salvation. I made a list. I came up with 39 gifts for my 39th spiritual birthday. Some of the gifts that God has given to me with my salvation.

At that time, I recorded a series for Revive Our Hearts called Thirty-Nine Spiritual Birthday Gifts. We aired that series the week of my 39th spiritual birthday in May of 2002. This week we’re going to share that series with you again but with others that I didn’t put on the list at that time.

So at the end of this series, we’re going to add six more gifts to that list of 39 that we aired back in 2002. I trust as you listen to the series that was recorded six years ago, they will be a fresh reminder to you of what it is that we have in Jesus Christ.

Let me ask you to turn to the book of Romans, if you have a Bible with you. Romans, chapter 5. The first several of these gifts come from this passage. These are spiritual birthday gifts that come from God to His children. Romans chapter 5. Let me just read through the text and pick up on what some of these gifts are, beginning in verse 1.

The apostle Paul says, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith . . .” That’s the first gift that we want to unwrap. We’ve been justified by faith. It means to have right standing with God, for God to declare me righteous. It’s a legal term that means I’ve been pardoned from the guilt and the penalty of my sin. My sin has been credited to Christ’s account and now He has credited His righteousness to my account. So I have been justified by faith.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have [and here’s the second birthday gift] peace with God.” Peace with God. Now why is that so significant? Because the Scripture tells us when we were born into this world, we were born as God’s enemies. We were at war with Him and He was at war with us because of our sin and our rebellion against Him.

One of the first and greatest results of having been justified by faith is that the war with God is over. The white flag of surrender has been waved and there is peace with God. We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul says then in verse 2, “Through whom [Christ] we have gained access by faith.” He is speaking here of being given access to the Father, access to the holy of holies where God lives. In the Old Testament it was unthinkable that a believing Jew could just walk into the holiest place and talk to God. He had to go through a priest. He had to go through sacrifices.

But now through the sacrifice that Christ has made for us on the cross, we have access—direct, immediate access—to a holy God, to the Father. We can walk right into His presence. That’s one of the birthday presents I’m thanking the Lord for.

Paul says in verse 2 that we have gained access “by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” We stand in grace. That’s another birthday present I’m thanking the Lord for. That speaks to me of having a position with God that is secure and is permanent. By God’s grace we stand secure. All that we need to live the Christian life, not based on our performance, but based on His. So we stand in grace.

Then Paul says, “We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” Hope is another one of God’s spiritual birthday presents to us. Now this is not a word that means being uncertain, like I hope that it won’t rain tomorrow.

When the Scripture uses the word hope, it speaks of something that’s absolutely certain but we haven’t realized it or experienced it yet. What is our hope, our certainty? It’s that our ultimate destiny is to share in the glory of God. That’s a great birthday present.

The next one doesn’t sound like something you would necessarily ask for for a birthday present, but it really is also a great gift. Verses 3-5, Romans 5: “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance [or endurance]; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us.”

Paul says there are times in the Christian life when God gives us the gift of suffering, tribulation. It’s the picture of being put into a juicer, of being squeezed. Pressure being brought to bear so that the juice comes out. What is the juice that comes out under pressure when we experience pressure and tribulation and suffering? It’s a sweet juice, the fruit of perseverance, endurance, character and hope. So one of the 39 birthday gifts I’m thanking the Lord for is suffering.

Paul says hope does not disappoint us, verse 5, “because God has poured out His love into our hearts.” The love of God. That’s another birthday gift, a spiritual birthday gift. I see this love going two directions. Paul says God has lavished His love on us. It overflows in us. There’s an abundance of the love of God.

Then what happens? His love for us results in our love for Him, creates in us a response of lavish, overflowing love for Him. When I think about the love of God for me, what He has done in my life, what He rescued me from, how He loved me when according to this passage I was ungodly, verse 6. I was a sinner, verse 8. And I was His enemy, verse 10. That’s incredible love.

Love of God for sinners, for the ungodly, and for His enemies. I say, “O Lord, I love You, not in the way that You love me and not as I wish I could love You and not as I one day will love You, but I do love You.”

Then Paul says—here’s another birthday gift—verse 5, “God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” Now the Holy Spirit is like—I don’t mean to be disrespectful by this—but He’s like a whole bunch of gifts wrapped up in one because in the gift of the Holy Spirit that God has given us, there are so many gifts wrapped up in the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit lives in us. The Scripture says that God has given us the Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing what is to come. You know what that means? He’s kind of like the engagement ring. He’s the down payment, the guarantee that all that God has promised to us in the future, we will experience.

With the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives comes the gift of conviction of sin, comes the gift of God’s comfort. With the Holy Spirit is the gift of God’s counsel. I have a resident Counselor living inside of me. What a gift!

The Holy Spirit makes Christ known to us. The Holy Spirit teaches us the truth about Christ. The Holy Spirit takes this Book, the Word of God, and illuminates it to our understanding. I could never understand this Book without the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Paul goes on to say in verse 6 of Romans 5, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless . . .” That word means when we were helpless. We could not have saved ourselves. We had no interest in seeking after God—whether you were 4 or 44. When you came to faith in Christ, you were helpless. I was helpless.

“Just at the right time, when we were still powerless [helpless], Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (verses 6-8). He died in our place.

Now Paul goes on to say in verse 9, “Since we have now been justified [declared righteous] by his blood [the blood of Christ], how much more . . .”—even more amazing, even more wonderful, he’s saying, is the fact that we will be “saved from God’s wrath through him [Christ]!”

That’s the next birthday gift I want to unpack. In Christ we have been saved from the wrath of God. Apart from Christ you and I would have to endure eternally the wrath and the judgment of God, the righteous wrath of God against our sin. The Scripture says that Christ, when He went to the cross, bore on Himself the full fury of God’s wrath against me and against my sin. So one of the birthday gifts that I’m thanking God for today is that I have been saved from the wrath of God by Christ.

Verses 10-11 tell us another special gift that God gives us. “For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” That’s the next birthday gift. It’s a spiritual birthday gift. We have been reconciled to God.

You see, when I was born physically, when you were born physically, we were born separated from God because we were sinners and He is holy. But now through Christ and His taking our place on the cross, we have been brought into a state of right relationship with God. We’ve been reconciled, brought together, formerly enemies. Now we’ve been brought together. What a gift that is.

Now the next several gifts I’d like for us to unwrap are found in Ephesians chapter 1. You may want to turn there. Ephesians 1, beginning in verse 1. There’s a whole list of them in this passage. I’m just going to pick out several of them. I’ll begin reading in verse 1. “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (verses 1-2).

Now he goes on to say in Ephesians 1, verses 3-4: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For He chose us in him before the creation of the world.”

This thing of my salvation, I know when I entered into it. But it didn’t start when I was 4 years old. It didn’t start 39 years ago this week. It started in eternity past when God devised a plan to draw my heart to Himself, to save me, to give me eternal life.

“He chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ” (verses 4-5). That’s the next gift I want to open and that’s that we’ve been adopted into God’s family. Now God is my Father and I am His child.

I have a whole new nature. I’ve been given the nature of Christ, the nature of God now lives in me and I can bear His likeness because there’s a family likeness. There’s a family resemblance for those who have been adopted into God’s family. I’m accepted into His family.

We move on to verse 7 in Ephesians 1 and find another gift that God has given us. It says “In him we have redemption through his blood.” Redemption through His blood. Now the word redemption is a word picture that comes from the ancient slave markets. It speaks of someone paying the necessary ransom, the price required to purchase a prisoner or a slave out of his bondage.

That’s exactly what God has done for us. That’s what He did for me 39 years ago. He found me as a prisoner, a slave to sin, to Satan, and to myself. God said, “The price has been paid. You can be redeemed.”

Now what was the price? He redeemed us through His blood. Paul says, “In him we have redemption through his blood [here’s another gift], the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us” (verses 7-8). Forgiveness of sins.

You say, “What kind of sins did you have at age 4 that you needed all of His great forgiveness?” Well, the Scripture says I was God’s enemy, that in my heart was the capability to do any sin. The worst sin that has ever been committed is no greater than what was in my heart to do apart from Christ.

So to know that I’ve been forgiven of all those sins is an incredible gift—not just my past ones, not just the ones before I was 4 years old, but all the ones that I ever would commit. I love that old hymn:

My sin, O the bliss of this glorious thought.
My sin, not in part but the whole
Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! O my soul.1

There’s one other gift here in Ephesians 1 that I want to just have us unwrap for a moment and it’s stated actually three times in this passage. Let me read these phrases. First in verse 6, “He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace.”

Then he says down in verse 12, “We, who were the first to hope in Christ [the goal was that we], might be for the praise of his glory.” Then in verse 14, He has redeemed us, made us His “possession—to the praise of His glory.”

You say, “What’s the gift in that?” Here’s what I found in that phrase that’s repeated three times. In Christ I have a purpose for living. I know why I was created. It’s not to be happy, though God has brought incredible happiness and blessing into my life over these years.

But I have a purpose in life and that is to live for the praise of His glory. It’s not about me. It’s all about Him. That’s my reason for living. I have a purpose for living and what a great gift that is. A spiritual birthday gift that I received in Christ.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been helping us rethink what a birthday gift is all about. We’re celebrating Nancy’s 45th spiritual birthday, the day she came to know Christ, by thinking about some of His gifts to every believer. Hear more about those gifts tomorrow.

Now today we heard part of a program first broadcast in 2002. Listening makes me so thankful for all of the years the Lord has allowed Revive Our Hearts to minister to women. Those years represent softened hearts, restored marriages and new life among our listeners.

As God has led us year by year, our Ministry Partner team has been indispensable. Their financial gifts have allowed us to focus on ministry, not finances. They’ve allowed us to expand the radio broadcast into new cities we couldn’t have added without them. Elizabeth Grattan talked with one of these ministry partners to find out what motivated her to join us in this way.

Elizabeth Grattan: For some, the decision to become a Revive Our Hearts ministry partner was one of stepping up a previous commitment. Revive Our Hearts ministry partner Terry shared with me about the decision she and her husband made and she speaks to others to consider the challenge of becoming a Revive Our Hearts ministry partner.

Terry: Because of really several years of being involved with Revive Our Hearts and the blessing that it had been in my own life and my desire for others to be impacted by the ministry, my husband and I began to give financially to Revive Our Hearts as we were able, usually two or three times a year.

Then as Revive Our Hearts grew, as the ministry grew, they issued a challenge over the radio for people to join them by giving on a monthly basis. I know when we decided to be monthly partners, my husband was a little concerned about making another commitment. We already had a couple of commitments, really one monthly commitment, beyond our local church.

So I think it is something to consider, to take seriously, but I also would say to not be afraid to make, even if it’s a small commitment, I still think that it allows you to be connected with the ministry in a way that is different than just being a listener. The analogy I’ve used is, it goes from being someone who visits the church to becoming a member of that church. You become a part of the ministry.

So if you’ve been ministered to or someone you know has been ministered to, if you have a heart for impacting the culture, I think Revive Our Hearts is worthy of your financial resources if have them. If you don’t, if you feel like you are already committed, then join together in prayer for the ministry and be a part of Revive Our Hearts in that way.

Leslie: Will you pray about becoming a Revive Our Hearts ministry partner? If you’re ready to commit to praying for us, giving monthly and telling other people about Revive Our Hearts, we need to hear from you. When you become a Ministry Partner, we’ll keep you informed on what’s going on in the ministry, providing a monthly resource and an update from Nancy.

We’ll send you one of Nancy’s books when you sign up and send you to one Revive Our Hearts conference per year at no charge. Get more details at ReviveOurHearts.com, or ask about becoming a ministry partner when you call 1-800-569-5959.

Tomorrow Nancy will share more of the gifts you received when you came into relationship with Christ. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

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

1"It is Well With My Soul." Horatio Spafford.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the radio series.

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