Revive Our Hearts Radio

God Is in Your Most Desperate Situation

Leslie Basham: Here’s Ney Bailey

Ney Bailey: We are not born into this world as Christians and happen to become human beings at a point in time. We were born into this world as human beings with feelings and emotions, created in God’s image that happen to become Christians at a point in time.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with the author of Choosing Forgiveness, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, for Thursday, October 9, 2014.

Please be praying for the True Woman '14 conference that begins today in Indianapolis. We’re praying that thousands of women will find greater freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ over these next days. And if you’re not able to make it to Indianapolis, you can still be part of True Woman '14. You can watch the conference online. For details on how to watch this free LIVE stream of True Woman '14, visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Nancy is here to introduce today's Revive Our Hearts message.

Nancy: “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.” (Prov. 18:21) That verse from Proverbs reminds us that words really matter. Today we are going to hear a message that will challenge you to ask, “Have I been using my words to curse or to bless? Have I been speaking life and encouragement to my family and my community?”

We’ll hear a message delivered by Ney Bailey. She’s a long-time staff member of Campus Crusade for Christ and the author of Faith Is Not a Feeling. She’s also been a dear, personal friend for many years. Ney actually gave this message several years ago, but I had the chance to hear it recently as I was wrestling through a difficult relational issue.

I found my own heart so quickened, so challenged, and so encouraged by this message that I said, “We’ve got to share this message with our Revive Our Hearts listeners.” So I hope you’ll set aside time to really listen over the next few minutes. The truths that Ney shares from God’s Word could give you a whole new way of looking at your relationships and whatever challenges you may be facing today. Let’s listen.

Ney: Has anything negative happened to you in the last twenty-four hours? I can’t imagine it in such a wonderful place as this, but has anything negative happened to you in the last forty-eight hours? Or has anything negative happened to you in the last week? I see a lot of heads nodding. Well, if it hasn’t, it will, because the Lord Jesus Christ Himself said, “In this world, you are going to have troubles,” but He said, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NKJV). 

In Psalm 91:15 He says, “I will be with you in trouble.” We have already learned that Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away but My words will not pass away” (Matt. 5:18 NASB). That means His Word is truer than anything we feel. His Word is truer than any situation or circumstance that’s in our lives right now or ever will be in our lives.

We need to know that faith is not a feeling. It is a choice we have to take God at His Word. We especially need to know that when the negative hits. And what do we do when the negative hits? A lot of times we want to run from the negative, don’t we? Or blame someone else for the negative, ignore those negative feelings or fight them or push them away, rebel against them. We do all kinds of things to escape the negative feelings, and it’s so important when we’re in those negative times to know that His Word is truer than how we feel.

How much faith does the Scripture say it takes to deal with the negative? Anybody? What is the smallest amount? A mustard seed of faith. I think it is the Lord’s grace that He doesn’t say it requires an apple’s worth of faith or a grapefruit’s worth of faith. It’s His grace that He only requires a mustard seed worth of faith.

Just for fun a while back I got a jar of mustard seeds. I looked at those, and I was intrigued to see that there were large mustard seeds, there were middle-sized mustard seeds, there were tiny, tiny little mustard seeds, and my favorite was that there were some warped mustard seeds. I think I most identified with that.

But it would be like this, if we had a blackboard up here we could draw this. Let’s say there was some negative situation in your life or my life. If we just feel it and wallow in it and that’s all we do, you know what happens? We spiral downward, and there’s no help for us. But if we take that same negative situation pouring your heart out to the Lord like David, tell the Lord how you feel, but don’t stop there.

Then say, “But Lord I choose with my will to put my mustard seed of faith over on Your side. I choose with my will to take You at Your word this much, even though it’s a tiny bit." Then the Lord has something to work with, because the Scripture says we go from faith to faith in Romans 1:17. So if we take God at His Word a little bit, then we’ll take Him at His Word a little bit more and a little bit more.

Some of you have seen that now famous train diagram that has the Fact, Faith, and the Feeling. The "fact" is the engine. The "faith" is the coal car. Can’t do without the facts, can’t do without the faith and the facts. And the last of all, what is down here? The caboose, or "feelings." And if you ever see that little diagram, it’s on page twelve of the little “Four Spiritual Laws” booklet. At the top of the page it says, “Do not depend on feelings.” And what I want you to see there is it doesn’t say, “Do not have feelings.” It’s okay to have feelings. We were created in God’s image and part of His image is that we’re emotional beings, and we have feelings.

We were not born into this world as Christians that happen to become human beings at a point in time. We were born into this world as human beings with feelings and emotions, created in God’s image that happen to become Christians at a point in time.

One of the biggest problems I see as I travel around is that I hear Christians say things like, “Well, a good Christian shouldn’t feel this way,” or “If I were you I wouldn’t feel that way,” or “If you were trusting God you wouldn’t feel that way.” The fact is, you do feel that way, so what are you going to do about it?

I think the Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the best example for us in this. If you look at His time in the Garden of Gethsemane before He was going to the cross, He wasn’t in the Garden of Gethsemane saying, “The Son of God shouldn’t feel this way," or “If I were trusting God I wouldn’t feel this way.”

He let Himself feel everything there was to feel, but He trusted God in the midst of His feelings. And if you can get that, it will set you free. Because I find too many people trying to put their feelings over here and trust in God over here, and you need to bring them together.

If you look at what the Scripture says about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, it says, and these are words of Scripture, “He was deeply grieved” (Matt. 26:38 NASB). Is that a feeling? Yes it is. “He was distressed.” Another feeling. “He was troubled. He was in agony.” So we need to trust the Lord in the midst of our feelings.

So with that as a backdrop, how then, do we bring God into the negative? We are going to look at three ways in the time that we have. The first way is that we bring God into the negative by giving thanks and by praising Him.

I would like for us to look at Ephesians 5:18–20. We bring God into the negative by giving thanks and by praising Him. It says,

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord, [and here it comes] always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to God even the Father. (NASB)

We have already mentioned First Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything, give thanks because this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (KJV). I think the toughest word in that verse for me is the word “in.” The toughest time for me to give thanks is when I’m in it and I don’t feel like it.

Now, I have heard about giving thanks for years and have practiced that. But I heard a story a few years ago that helped bring this home and make it very practical to me. I was watching television one morning, and I heard a woman tell a story and this is what she said.

She said she and her husband had gone to a Christian retreat, much like this one, and they heard a speaker talk about the fact that they needed to praise God and thank God for everything in their lives, especially for the most difficult things. They had never heard about that before.

As they were going home, they said, “Well, you know what the most difficult thing in our lives is, it’s our son.” They had a seventeen-year-old son that had never given them anything but trouble. He had been a thorn in the flesh to the mother, to the father, to his brothers and sisters. They had done everything they knew to do with him, and it just simply had not worked. So on the way home, for the very first time, they thanked God for their son. They praised God for their son, and they committed themselves to do that.

As they drove home, their son had been home alone that night. As they drove into the driveway—they lived in a ranch style home—every light in the house was on, all across the house. They drove in the driveway. They said, “Father, we praise You, and we thank You for our son. We even praise You and thank You that the lights are on.” 

Then they went into the kitchen and they said, “There was the biggest mess you’ve ever seen.” Out on the counter were ice trays and Coke cans. And there was bread and mayonnaise and mustard and lunch meat and cookies and potato chips and even cereal and a cereal bowl, and milk. They stopped, and they said, “Lord, we praise You, and we thank You for our son. We even praise You and thank You for this mess.” 

Then they went into the family room. The den and the television was on and there were papers strewn all over and there were leftover Coke cans and cookies and sandwiches. They stopped and they said, “Lord, we praise You, and we thank You for our son. We praise You, and we thank You for this mess.”

They said it looked like he had gotten undressed on his way to his room, because there were his shoes, his socks, and his trousers. They continued to praise God and thank God for their son all that day, the next day, the next day.

Sunday afternoon, there was knock on the bedroom door, and the son said, “Mom, Dad, can I come in and talk to you?”

They said, “Sure, son, come on in.”

He came in. He sat down on the side of the bed, and he said, “Mom, Dad, you know, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, especially lately.” And he said, “I’ve been miserable and unhappy and frustrated as long as I can remember. I can’t take it out on my friends, because gosh, I need my friends, I gotta be nice to my friends. I can’t take my hostility out on my teachers, because I want to make at least halfway decent grades. The thing I realized, Mom and Dad, is that I’ve been taking it out on you and the family, and I just want to tell you I’m not going to do that anymore.” 

Seventeen years, eighteen years, nineteen, twenty, twenty-one. When he was twenty-one years old, this mother relayed this story to a Christian psychologist just as I have told you. And she said to him, “To what do you attribute the fact that from the time we began to praise God and thank God for our son, from the time he came in and said that to us, he has never once reverted to his old behavior?” And this is what the Christian psychologist said that was life-changing for me.

He said, “I attribute it to the fact that when you praised God for what you didn’t like, when you thanked God for what you didn’t like, you brought God into the negative, and you released His power to work.” 

And I thought, That’s fantastic! We don’t thank God for the negative because we don’t feel thankful for it, and it’s like we keep the lid on, and we don’t let Him in there. I believe that we become bitter to the degree we don’t give thanks. To the degree we’re not praising God and thanking God now for the things that are happening to us, to that degree, we’re becoming bitter. And I don’t want to become a bitter old woman, so I know that I need to praise God and to thank Him now. We bring God into the negative by giving thanks and by praising Him.

The second way that we bring God into the negative is by blessing and not cursing. This is another thing that I wish I had learned many years ago. I could have saved myself a lot of trouble.

I would like for us to look at James 3:8, 9, and 10. It says,

But no one can tame the tongue, it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. (NASB)

Now I, like most of you, grew up in the South, and I thought the word curse was the h-word and the d-word and a few other words, but that’s not what it means here. I understand the original word curse means "to speak evil of or to not speak well of." And the word bless means just the opposite—"to speak well of."

So let’s read it again with those new definitions in mind. “But no one can tame the tongue, it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it, we bless our Lord and Father, (we speak well of our Lord and Father) and with it, we curse men (we do not speak well of men and women) who have been made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come both blessing (speaking well of) and cursing (not speaking well of). My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.” 

I was speaking with my friend, Marilyn Henderson, who was one of the survivors of the flood. I said, “Marilyn, I don’t quite get a handle on these verses. Help me understand what they mean.”

And she said, “Well, Ney, this is a true story.”

In Portland, Oregon there was a fundamental Bible-believing pastor. And this pastor and his wife had had great trouble with their son. (And that was a different kind of trouble than the other son I just mentioned.) This particular son had been very rebellious and had taken up the hippie lifestyle and had left home about four or five years before, and they had not heard a word from him for all those years.

This pastor went to a Christian counselor that he knew very well, and he poured out his heart to this counselor. The counselor knew him well enough that he could really shoot straight with him. After the pastor poured out his heart, he looked at him and he said, "How long have you been cursing your son?" Now that is really something to say to a fundamental Bible-believing pastor.

And he said, "What do you mean, how long have I been cursing my son?"

And he said, "Well, the word curse means to speak evil of or to not speak well of, and everything you’ve just told me there in some way you are not speaking well of him. How long have you been doing that?" 

And that pastor hung his head, and he said, "Well, I guess I’ve been cursing him all of his life. I’ve never ever had a nice thing to say about him ever."  

And the counselor said, "Well, it hasn’t worked, has it?"

And he said, "No."

And the counselor said, "Well, I want to challenge you and your wife to do something. I want to challenge you and your wife for the next two months, when your son comes to mind, I want you to bless him. I want you to pray God’s blessings on him. When you speak of your son in your home, I want you to try to remember something good about him. I want you to speak well of him."

And the pastor said, "Well, I guess I’ve got everything to gain and nothing to lose, so I’ll take you up on that." He went home and told his wife, his wife agreed, and they began.

When they prayed for their son, they prayed God’s blessings on him. When they spoke of him, they tried to remember some good things about him, and that was tough for them to do. They continued to do that day after day. On about the tenth day, the pastor was in his study—true story—the telephone rang.

And you guessed it. On the other end of the phone was the son. And the son said, "Dad, I’m not really sure why I’m calling, but I’ve just had you and Mom and the family on my heart and on my mind for the last week or so, and I just thought I’d call and check in with you."

And the father said, "Well son, I’m so glad you’re calling!" He had to try to contain himself and not come right through the phone. They chatted for a few a minutes, and then the father said, "Well son, I don’t know if you can find it in your heart or not, but how about meeting me on Saturday on top of the hotel downtown for lunch?"

And he said, "Sure, Dad, I’ll meet you." 

The day came. They met for lunch. The son came in his old, kind-of ragged clothes. His hair was long. He was kind-of disheveled. Whereas before, the father would have just gotten right on his case and been very critical and judgmental, this time he went in with an attitude of accepting his son and blessing him in his heart. He asked him some questions. He listened. He affirmed him where appropriate.

At the end of that lunch, the son looked across the table and he said, "Dad, I don’t know what’s going on here, but I’ve kind-of enjoyed being with you."

And the father said, "Well, I’ve enjoyed being with you, too, son."

Then the son said, "Dad, do you think maybe just for tonight I could go home and spend the night in my old bed and see Mom and the family? Just for tonight?"

And he said, "Sure, son, we’d love to have you."  

As the father walked through the rest of that day, he was stricken in his heart. He was smitten in his heart to realize what a difference it had made to stop cursing his son and to start blessing him.

That night when the son was in his bed in his bedroom, the father went slowly in there and he sat down. He said, "Son, will you forgive me for all the ways I’ve treated you through the years?"

And the son said, "Sure, Dad, I’ll forgive you."

And he reached up, and he put his arms around his father’s neck. That was the beginning of the restoration of that relationship, but when was the real beginning? The real beginning was when that father and mother began to bless their son in their hearts.

Now, the reason that had such an impact on me was because at the time I heard that story, there was a relationship in my life on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being neutral and 10 being good, I had a relationship that was about –20. It was in the deep freeze. It was awful. I thought, Well, I’ve got everything to gain and nothing to lose.

I thought if I were to begin to bless this person, because I thought that if there were such a thing as a talking stethoscope that you could take and put to your heart that would reveal the words you were thinking, I thought, I’m badmouthing that person in my heart when I think about them.

So I began to bless that person. I know it doesn’t always work this way, but I think the Lord was trying to show me something. Within about a week, I had a telephone call from that person, and I had an invitation to lunch. It takes time and a process for us to get ourselves into these messes, and it takes time and a process for the Lord to bring us out of these messes.

As I've been sharing this I've had people come up to me and say, "I've been cursing my brother, my very own brother. I've been cursing my sister. I realize I've been cursing my children. I don't speak well of my children. I realize I've been cursing my husband. I don't speak well of my husband. I don't speak well of my parents. I don't speak well of my in-laws, or my employer, my friend, on and on."

A few have even said, "Ney, I realize I've been cursing myself. I put myself down all the time. I don't speak well of myself." A very few have said, "Ney, I realize I've been cursing God. I don't speak well of God."

I was speaking in Dallas, Texas at a conference. Two months later I was back at another conference in Dallas and unbeknownst to me, a person who had been at the first conference came to the second one.

In the sharing time she stood up and she said, “I heard Ney two months ago speak on blessing and cursing. At the time I heard her, I had a little girl, four years old, that had never gotten out of the ‘terrible twos.’ She had been terrible all through her twos, her threes, and her fours.”

And she said, “I realized I had been cursing her—daily cursing her. I went home and it did a lot just to stop cursing her, but I also began to bless her and affirm her where appropriate.” Tears were streaming down her face, and she said, “After about a week and a half, my husband came to me and he said, ‘Honey, the miracle we’ve been praying for for our daughter has started to happen.’”

I was speaking at another conference down near Austin, Texas. And a woman came up and she said, “Ney, I don’t know who gave me this tape, but I heard this message about blessing and cursing on a tape.” And she said, “When I heard it, it was like a neon sign went off in my mind—CURSE! CURSE! CURSE!” 

And she said, “I realized I had been cursing my son in-law who had been on drugs since he was in Junior High. I did not like him; I hated him. I began to bless him, and I stopped cursing him. After that time, he went into a drug rehabilitation center. Now I love him; he loves me.” 

Her daughter was standing there, and she said, “He is staying home this weekend so we can be here at this retreat.” 

“He calls me Mom, and I love him dearly. I don’t understand it, but in some unique way, God honors it when we bless and when we don’t curse.” 

Nancy: That’s Ney Bailey, and she has been challenging us to ask, “Is there anyone I’ve been cursing?” She’s been showing us the destructive power of the curse of words and the life that comes when we choose to bless others. Perhaps as Ney shared that message a specific situation or specific person came to mind. Would you ask the Lord for His power to restrain your lips from cursing in this situation? Ask Him to give you words that encourage, words that express gratitude, words that reflect your hope that God can infuse life into that situation.

Leslie: And Nancy, you also write about that in your book Choosing Forgiveness. It would make a great follow-up to listeners who have been moved by today’s message. For more information on ordering that book, visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Ney took us into some tough stories today. We all know what it’s like to walk through those difficulties. This month, we want to send a special wall calendar to our listeners. This calendar will encourage you during those tough times. It’s called the “Peace in the Storm” wall calendar.

Each month you’ll be encouraged by quotes from Nancy, along with some of her friends like Mary Kassian and Joni Eareckson Tada. Timothy Botts provides the artwork and you’ll love seeing how he interpreted these quotes. He creates inventive backdrops using a variety of art forms and delivers the quote in calligraphy.

We’ll send you the “Peace in the Storm” calendar when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount. Ask for “Peace in the Storm” when you call 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com. Well, Ney Bailey will be back tomorrow with part two of her message. I think you’ll be deeply moved when she talks about the pain she felt as a daughter and the freedom from that pain she discovered. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Don’t forget—you can watch the free LIVE Stream of True Woman '14 starting today, Thursday, October 9. Get all the details and then catch all the action from Indianapolis by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com.

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

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

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