Revive Our Hearts Radio

Grace for Today

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss says, "You don't have to try and impress God.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: God doesn’t want your religion. He doesn’t want your theological knowledge. He doesn’t want all the great things you’ve done for Him. He doesn’t need all that.

What He wants is for you and me is to say, “It’s not my brother, it’s not my sister, it’s not the prostitute down the street, it’s not the drug addict across town, it’s not the guy in prison that I’ll never meet; it’s me, Oh Lord, standing in the need of prayer.”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It’s Thursday, March 1.

For the last several programs, Nancy has been telling us the incredible story of a prostitute names Rahab. We read about this story in the book of Joshua. She found forgiveness and mercy from God when His people attacked her wicked city, and she found hope for the future. It has been so encouraging to hear what God did in her life.

We'll hear from Nancy in a few minutes, but first, some of our listeners are reflecting on their own stories of forgiveness.

Woman 1: When I was in college, I was not living for the Lord. I’d grown up in a Christian home, but I went on a college retreat with a church that I’d been invited to. That whole weekend we carried a stick around with us on which we were supposed to write the biggest sin that we had in our life.

It was during that retreat that Scripture was shared. I realized at the end of that retreat that what my biggest sin was was that I didn’t have Christ in my life. So at that point, at the end of the retreat, we had these sticks, and we had the opportunity to throw those sticks into the fire. I can remember saying to the Lord, “Father, I’m giving You my life, my old life, and this stick is my old life. I’m throwing it in the fire right now, and I’m giving it to You so that You can give me a new life.” And He has given me a new life, and He continues to transform it.

Nancy: Amen.

Woman 2: I really appreciate this story of Rahab because it was just a fresh conviction of really who I am and what an awesome God I serve. I have now been clean a year from methamphetamines. I was just seeking fulfillment from all the wrong places, all the wrong people.

This past year God has brought me to the Bruised Reed Ministry in Russellville. It has given me a chance to just develop a relationship with Him again. It’s so amazing to hear about the new identity that He gave Rahab and how it’s the same as it is in my life.

I was just sharing with one of my new roommates that I have hope that my story may help somebody, or that tomorrow is going to be a good day. I just have hope in Jesus Christ now. I have a joy and a peace that’s indescribable, and it beats any other high, any other relationship. It’s just amazing.

Woman 3: Earlier in our marriage there was some sin that I’d kept from my husband in my life. I was at my lowest, where it had been eating at me for so long. I’d kept it in for such a long time, and I knew I needed to go to him and ask for forgiveness, and I just didn’t know how.

He knew something was bothering me but did not know what it was. Finally, one day when I was sitting in the den, no TV was on, I was just, you could tell I was just having a really hard day. He came to me, and he said, “You just need to talk. Just tell me what’s on your mind. What you need to tell me, just tell me.” I said, “Well, I need to ask your forgiveness.” He said, “It’s okay.” He’s holding me in his arms, and I’m sitting with my back to his stomach because I didn’t want to look at him, and I just couldn’t talk. I was crying so hard.

I said, “I can’t tell you.” He said, “There is nothing you can tell me that is going to change my love for you.” So I told him. He just said, “I forgive you.” There was no lecture. There was no other, “I want to know this, this, and this.” All it was was, “I forgive you.” And immediately it showed me how much Christ really loves us. It doesn’t matter what we do or where we are, He’s not going away. All He does is say, “I forgive you” right then.

Nancy: Not everybody is going to be comfortable when a woman comes in the room saying, “Hi, my name is Rahab the prostitute.” Or, my name is Nancy the whatever. That can make some people uncomfortable—especially if they’re hiding or if they’ve not really experienced the wonder of God’s amazing grace, or think somehow they deserve it, or lots of reasons. But you know what? They need to hear anyway.

They need to see your openness, your life. You do not have to run from your past. It is what it is. It was what it was. But Christ is who He is. What they need to see is the freedom and the grace and the mercy that Christ extends to you, the forgiveness—whether they believe it or not, whether they receive it or not.

Sometimes it may make them feel uncomfortable and sometimes we have to live with that for some period of time. But ultimately, they need to see those living illustrations of the mercy and the grace of Christ. In time, that may be exactly what God uses to bring brokenness and humility in their own life.

You can’t live for them; you can’t respond for them, but God can give you freedom as you don’t run from your past. You’re not flaunting your past—it is what it is. I am who I am, but I’m not who I was. I am now in Christ, and I’m a new person. Praise God! Hallelujah! Think what you want. Say what you want. Reject—whatever. You don’t have to be in bondage to that because of the grace of Christ in your life.

Woman 4: I just got out of prison not too long ago. It was my second time around, but fortunately this time I didn’t have to spend as much time. When I was locked up, I had to make a great deal of changes in my life then and there in order to be able to cope. When you say “prison,” you get just the most horrible images. Basically, that’s pretty true.

I really had to stop believing that I could do everything myself, because that’s what got me in there, and I really had to learn about Jesus. I really had to do that, and I had to put everything I had into doing that—whether I had a Bible in front of me, if I was out in the compound reading the Bible stories, getting hope from the individuals that are talked about in the Bible, and the verses, the promises, and things like that. It was very, very difficult, and even as I think about it now, my heart starts pounding because I’m sitting here, and I had some flashbacks about it when you were talking.

I know that what man can’t do, God can, and He’s the only one that I’ve gotten any measure of peace from because it was just horrific—all that guilt and shame, and everything that you do to yourself, and what you do to your family and your friends, and you’ve just let everybody down, and you feel about this big.

But I can honestly say I’m pretty content now. I’m waiting to go back to Louisiana, and it’s going to be a while. But I can lay my head down at night, and I can sleep. I couldn’t do that before. I can sit there, and I can dialog and talk with God. Things aren’t all peaches and cream—they’re not—but at least now I’m able to cope with them a whole lot better, and I’ve got the Lord, and that just really, really helps a lot.

What I got out of your service today, your talk, was that no matter how bad we are, we’ve all got that scarlet thread going through us, and I think that was pretty neat when you said that. We’ve all got it, and I have it, but I know I’m not the only one that has it. I don’t know if that makes a difference to some people, but I guess to me it does. I’m still a really bad sinner, but I do love the Lord, and I know that He has saved me, and that’s all I have.

Nancy: What did John Newton say? Two things I remember: “I am a great sinner, but Jesus is a great Savior.”

We come from very different backgrounds. Some of us have never known anything other than to be around the things of God and to love Him and walk with Christ for most of our life, and some have gone through very far routes and are just in the process, some very, very recently, of coming to faith in Christ and being transformed by Him.

I hope that in our study of Rahab today God has encouraged your heart that, as Corrie ten Boom used to say, “There is no pit so deep that God is not deeper still,” that God’s grace is not greater than all of your sin.

To whatever extent you may have been dealing with issues of shame and guilt, you’ve heard the gospel, and you know that through the grace of Christ there’s new life available. Some of you are just starting into that, and I want to say “Welcome to the family.” What God has ahead for you, only God knows, but He wants to use you as part of the family line of Christ and to give to you all the rights and blessings of citizenship in the kingdom of God that anyone can have who has never done any of that stuff. I hope that’s the message you’ve heard and that that has been encouraging to your heart.

Now, I want to say one other word to those who come from the opposite background, and that would be myself included, because I know what it is to have a Pharisee’s heart, to grow up knowing the Scripture, knowing the ways of God, performing to the best of my ability, wanting to please the Lord, and yet many times having a heart that is self-righteous, that sees myself as different than, perhaps, other sinners, and when I come to the Gospels and read about the Pharisees, that’s where God speaks to my heart.

God has spoken to my heart through Rahab, but not because my past matches hers in terms of behavior. What has spoken to me is realizing that no matter what my behavior or my past, I need the grace of God as much as any Rahab, and I am no more a candidate for His grace and no more able to save myself on my own than Rahab could have been.

It’s interesting to me, as we’ve opened the mic here, that some of the women who have had the easiest time being open are the ones who’ve come out of Rahab’s background. That’s not just true here. I think you’ve seen it perhaps in your own church or other believers you’ve known.

There’s something about, as I’ve observed, those who know that they are sinners, and they know that everybody else knows it, and they’ve done prison time to show it. That’s what they’ve got to show for it. There’s nothing to cover it up. It’s just out there, and there is a transparency and a freedom and an openness and a brokenness that Christ loves that comes out of some of those women with some of those backgrounds.

That’s why, in the Scripture, you see Jesus in the New Testament being so drawn to the woman caught in adultery and the sinful woman in Luke chapter 7. We don’t even know what her list of sins was, but we know she had a reputation for a background of sexual sin, as did the woman at the well.

These were the people that Jesus wanted to hang around with. You know why? Because they knew they needed Him. Because they were open and not trying to put on a good front about what their past had been and what their spiritual needs were. They knew they needed a Savior, and so they were like magnets drawn to Jesus because they knew they needed the grace of God.

And who spent their time criticizing Jesus? It was the Pharisees. It was the scribes. It was the religious leaders. It was the people who had all their doctrine down and had never been—they never did time anywhere except the temple. They were the ones who looked down on the “sinners” and who had a hard time receiving Christ. You know why? They didn’t think they needed Him like all these other people did.

Who were the ones that Jesus gave His most scathing denunciations to? To whom did He say, “Woe to you!”? Did He say it to the woman caught in adultery? Did He say it to the woman at the well? Did He say it to the sinner woman in Luke chapter 7? He didn’t say “woe” to them. To them He said, “No one else condemns you, throws a stone, neither do I. Go and sin no more.” “Your faith has made you whole.” “Here’s water of life.” He offered Himself and all that He had to them because they knew their need. But to the Pharisees, Jesus said, “Woe to you. The prostitutes will get into heaven before you do because you don’t see your need for a Savior.”

People who have Pharisees’ hearts have a hard time being open, being honest, being transparent. You get in a room and you ask them to share what God’s doing in their life and they’ll tell you some doctrine they’ve learned; they’ll give you a Bible lesson, but they have a hard time just being real about the issues of their own hearts.

Sometimes their sins, often their sins are not the more visible ones. Scripture talks about sins of the flesh and sins of the spirit. Pharisees feel justified because their sins may not be sins of the flesh. They’d never run off with somebody’s wife. They’d never be a drug addict. They’d never do something that would land them in prison.

Theirs are sins of the spirit—pride, self-sufficiency, greed, self-righteousness, jealousy, selfish ambition. Well, you can have all those things in your heart and everyone think you’re a great Christian. I think one of the things God is wanting to say to those of us who maybe come from more of that background, what kind of heart is it that God says He receives? It’s a broken heart, a contrite heart, a humble heart. David said, “Lord, if I thought You’d accept it, I’d give You all these offerings, but that’s not what You’re looking for.”

  • God doesn’t want your religion.
  • He doesn’t want your theological knowledge.
  • He doesn’t want all the great things you’ve done for Him. He doesn’t need all that.

What He wants is for you and me to take the place of Rahab and to see her in us and us in her, and to say, “It’s not my brother, it’s not my sister, it’s not the prostitute down the street, it’s not the drug addict across town, it’s not the guy in prison that I’ll never meet; it’s me, Oh Lord, standing in the need of prayer.”

Until you and I have that kind of a truly broken, repentant heart before God, we cannot be candidates of His grace. As long as we think we’re okay, you might think, “Well, I’m already a Christian, I came to that point of brokenness.” Here’s the question:

  • Do you continue to live with an awareness of your desperate need for Christ?
  • Do you continue to live as a broken person, as a humble person?
  • Do you continue to see, “You know what? Apart from God’s grace preserving my life, I’d be right there with Rahab. Apart from the fact that God created some circumstances that allowed my life to be preserved from some of those behaviors and activities.”

God looks at the heart, and I think it’s the Rahab hearts, those who don’t know all the theology, they haven’t been to all the, you know, she’d never been to Jewish school, she hadn’t been raised in all this stuff. She was a Canaanite for crying out loud, just this very rough background. She knew so little. She’d done so many things wrong and so few things right, but God saw her heart and saved her.

Then you’ve got the people in Israel, or the people who’ve grown up in church all their lives who have been doing everything right, but their hearts aren’t right. So who’s better off?

I want to say that if your background is more like that of the Pharisee, or your tendency is more in that direction, then you need to do what I find myself having to go back and do periodically and regularly, and that is to say, “Lord, show me who I am apart from Christ, and give me a fresh sense of the hideousness of my sin.”

Ask God to show you how hopeless and helpless your life would be apart from Christ. Then you will be able, with Rahab the prostitute; and John Newton, the infidel and slave trader; and Chuck Colson, the White House hatchet man; and a few other great people in the kingdom of God, to say and to sing:

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me. 
I once was lost, but now I’m found, 
Was blind, but now I see.

It’s all, all, all of God’s grace.

Leslie: Grace has been our theme over the last week-and-a-half or so while we’ve studied the life of a prostitute who received God’s forgiveness. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has led us through this story of a woman who found freedom and a future because of grace.

Today’s program marks the end of this series called, Rahab and the Thread of Redemption. We often have to trim minutes off of Nancy’s teaching in order to fit our time slot in the radio, but when you order the series on CD, you’ll get the complete talks. This series is no exception, and you can order it at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Have you ever been a part of something bigger than yourself? Well, that’s what being involved with Revive Our Hearts is like. I get to sit here and talk with you every day, and it makes me excited to play a small role. Many of our listeners are playing a role, too, and we’re about to meet one of those listeners. Elizabeth Grattan brings us this story:

Elizabeth Grattan: Becoming a ministry partner is a decision that’s taken very seriously by those who appreciate the vision of Revive Our Hearts. There are many who are carefully and prayerfully considering the challenge to make a monthly commitment.

I had the opportunity to speak with Revive Our Hearts ministry partner, Carol, and I asked her what she might say to someone thinking about taking that step.

Carol: Well, that is good to count the cost, and then to just be encouraged. I would, first of all, pray about it. If God is putting that on your heart, if you have been blessed by this organization, if you have grown in your walk with the Lord, and if that has been something rich and meaningful that has spilled out onto your sphere of influence, to your husband, to your family, to your children, your grandchildren, your associates, other people that you come in contact with, your church; it just seems like, oh, you want to give back something in honor of that goodness, to praise Him and offer to Him.

No matter how small it is, God always uses whatever we give Him and multiplies it in ways we probably can’t even see. I think, as in the case of being a ministry team member, He gives back to us much more blessing than we could ever ask, think, or imagine. So I would encourage someone, even if they think it is a meager offering, that God will use that and bless that abundantly.

Leslie: When you become a Ministry Partner, we'll say "thanks" by sending you one of Nancy's books. You'll also get a monthly devotional called, Daily Reflections, and can attend one Revive Our Hearts conference each year at no charge; that includes True Woman '12 coming to Indianapolis this September. Would you get more information about what it means to join the Ministry Partner team, and all that you'll receive in return?  Just call us at 1-800-569-5959, or go to ReviveOurHearts.com.

Authors Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Mary Kassian put together a panel of their trusted friends to discuss true womanhood, how you live it out day by day, what does it really mean practically. We'll hear some of that conversation starting tomorrow.

Please join us for Revive Our Hearts.

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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