Women of the Word

John MacArthur: One of the common problems in interpreting the Bible is this little phrase, “This verse means to me….” so forth and so forth and so forth. Let me tell you something. It doesn’t matter what it means to … Continue reading

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Since a Christian has no Savior but Christ, no Redeemer but Christ, and no Lord but Christ, if Christ is not raised, He is not alive, and our Christian life is lifeless. We would have nothing to justify our faith, our Bible study, our preaching or witnessing, our service for Him or our worship of Him, and nothing to justify our hope in this life or the next. We would deserve nothing but the compassion reserved for fools.

But, God did raise “Jesus our Lord from the dead, He who was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification” (Romans 4:24-25). Because Christ lives, we too shall live (John 14:19). “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:30-31)…

Those who do not hope in Christ alone for salvation are the real fools; they are the ones who need to hear your compassionate testimony about the triumph of Christ’s resurrection. So don’t forget the resurrection; rejoice in it and glory in it, for He is risen indeed

~John MacArthur in “Don’t Forget the Resurrection!

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Learning to Calm the Chaos

“I discipline my body and keep it under control…”

1 Corinthians 9:27

Self-discipline is not my forte. Although I’m not exactly a slob, in certain areas of life I definitely tend toward being a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, “Why start now if it’s not due until tomorrow?” kind of person.

Not only is this approach to dealing with my responsibilities stressful, in many cases, it is also sinful. Doing what I want to do when I want to do it is a far cry from the life of self-denial that Christ calls us to embrace.

By God’s grace, I have made tiny baby steps toward progress in recent months, but I still have a long way to go before I could be described as a disciplined person. I’m looking forward to getting there. :)

For that reason, I appreciate John MacArthur’s helpful advice on this topic 

Practically speaking, how can a person develop self-discipline in his or her life?

Here are some things that have helped me through the years:

1. Start Small. Start with your room. Clean it, then keep it clean. When something is out of place, train yourself to put it where it belongs. Then extend the discipline of neatness to the rest of your home.

2. Be on time. That may not seem very spiritual, but it’s important. If you’re supposed to be somewhere at a specific time, be there on time. Develop the ability to discipline your desires, activities, and demands so that you can arrive on time.

3. Do the hardest job first. When you do that, you will find it easier to do the simpler tasks.

4. Organize your life. Plan the use of your time; don’t just react to circumstances. Use a calendar and make a daily list of things you need to accomplish. If you don’t control your time, everything else will.

5. Accept correction. Correction helps make you more disciplined because it shows you what you need to avoid. Don’t avoid criticism; accept it gladly.

6. Practice self-denial. Learn to say no to your feelings. Learn to do what you know to be right even if you don’t feel like doing it. Sometimes it’s even beneficial to deny yourself things that are acceptable to have, like a doughnut in the morning or dessert after dinner. Exercising such self-restraint helps you develop the habit of keeping other things under control. Cultivating discipline in the physical realm will help you become disciplined in your spiritual life.

7. Welcome responsibility. When you have an opportunity to do something that needs to be done, volunteer for it if you have talent in that area. Accepting responsibility can force you to organize yourself.

Do you have a tip that you would add to the list? How do you seek to bring order into your daily life?

Photo: Jan Willem Geertsma

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“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”
-Ephesians 5:15-16

The believer who walks in wisdom knows to make the most of opportunity…

Do you notice how Paul says, “Walk wisely,” in verse 15 and immediately talks about redeeming opportunity in verse 16? Why does he connect those two? Because I am convinced that man plays the fool with time and opportunity more than he plays the fool in any other thing. That is the greatest category of foolishness, the misuse of time and opportunity. I feel this is talking to Christians here.

Remember what the Psalmist said in Psalm 90:12? He said, “So teach us to number our days,” why? “That we may apply our hearts to wisdom.” It is wisdom that numbers the days. It is wisdom that accounts the limited time. It is wisdom that buys the opportunity. Wisdom walking down that narrow path sees an opportunity for evil and shuns it because that’s the fool’s act. Wisdom sees an opportunity for good and grasps it because that’s the opportunity for God.

~John MacArthur in “Walking in Wisdom, Part 2

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The only human being who ever lived who had an absolutely perfect tongue was Jesus Christ and in John 7:46, you remember what they said?  “No man ever spoke like this man.”  He was perfect in His speech.  Absolutely without error.  Listen to this.  “Who did no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth.”  No sin in His life.  No sin in His mouth. 

And so we can say then that to the degree that our holiness approaches the holiness of Christ, to that degree we are conformed to His image, to that degree our speech will be godly

James says control your tongue because of its power to control you.

Speak only gracious words.  Can I be real practical with him?  Speak only gracious words.  Speak only kind words.  Speak only loving words, true words, thoughtful words, holy words, sensitive words, edifying words.  Speak only gentle words, comforting words, words of blessing, words of humility, words of wisdom, words of thanksgiving.  Speak only unselfish words and peaceful words.  And if you do that, you’ll control every other part of your life because the only way you can do all of that is being under the power of the Spirit of God.  But the focal point is to concentrate on the control of your tongue.

~John MacArthur in “Taming the Tongue, Part 1

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Do you ever become discouraged and disheartened when your spiritual life and witness suffer because of personal sin or failure? We tend to think we’re worthless nobodies—and left to ourselves, that would be true! But be encouraged—worthless nobodies are just the kind of people God uses. If you think about it, that’s all He has to work with!

But have you ever stopped to consider why that’s true? Listen to this: God chooses the humble, the lowly, the meek, and the weak so that there’s never any question about the source of power when their lives change the world. It’s not the man; it’s the truth of God and the power of God in the man…

God’s favorite instruments are nobodies, so that no man can boast before God. In other words, God chooses whom He chooses so He might receive the glory. He chooses weak instruments so no one will attribute the power to the instruments but rather to the God who wields the instruments.  

~John MacArthur in “God Glorified in the Nobodies

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Celebrating Christmas—Can It Possibly Be Wrong?

“My soul glorifies the Lord 
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior”

Luke 1:46-47

Should Christians celebrate Christmas?

To most of us, the very question sounds ridiculous. “What could possibly be wrong with celebrating the birth of our Savior?” we wonder.

Yet there are some who see Christmas as a pagan holiday which originally had nothing to do with Christ’s birth and should, therefore, be avoided by His followers.

If you’ve ever heard such arguments and felt confused over them, the following thoughts from John MacArthur and Grace to You should provide you with a little clarity about why the celebration of Christmas is a worthy endeavor…

Scripture doesn’t specifically command believers to celebrate Christmas—there are no prescribed “Holy Days” the church must observe. In fact, Christmas was not observed as a holiday until well after the biblical era. It wasn’t until the mid-fifth century that Christmas received any official recognition.

We believe celebrating Christmas is not a question of right or wrong since Romans 14:5-6 provides us with the liberty to decide whether or not to observe special days:

One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks (Rom. 14: 5-6).

According to these verses, a Christian can rightfully set aside any day—including Christmas—as a day for the Lord. We believe Christmas affords believers with a great opportunity to exalt Jesus Christ.

First, the Christmas season reminds us of the great truths of the Incarnation. Remembering important truths about Christ and the gospel is a prevalent New Testament theme (1 Corinthians 11:252 Peter 1:12-152 Thessalonians 2:5). Truth needs repetition because we so easily forget it. So we should celebrate Christmas to remember the birth of Christ and to marvel over the mystery of the Incarnation.

Christmas can also be a time for reverent worship. The shepherds glorified and praised God for the birth of Jesus the Messiah. They rejoiced when the angels proclaimed that in Bethlehem was born a Savior, Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11). The babe laid in the manger that day is our Savior, the “Lord of lords and King of kings” (Matthew 1:21Revelation 17:14).

Finally, people tend to be more open to the gospel during the Christmas holidays. We should take advantage of that openness to witness to them of the saving grace of God through Jesus Christ. Christmas is chiefly about the promised Messiah who came to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). The holiday provides us with a wonderful opportunity to share this truth.

Although our society has muddied the message of Christmas through consumerism, myths and empty traditions, we should not let these distract us from appreciating the real meaning of Christmas. Let us take advantage of this opportunity to remember Him, worship Him and faithfully witness of Him.

["Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?" Hear John MacArthur explain more in response to the question in this audio clip.]

And now to jump-start your worship this season, Dr. MacArthur teaches from the Scriptures on the true spirit of Christmas…

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If you’re in Christ, the riches of God in glory are yours. That is why…we are not to be preoccupied with what we eat, drink, or wear. Instead we are to “seek first His kingdom, and His righteousness; and…not be anxious” (Matt. 6:33–34).

Attack anxiety in your life by applying what you have learned about contentment. Be confident in God’s sovereign providence, and don’t allow your circumstances to trouble you. Instead of giving in to panic, cling to the promise of Romans 8:28: “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God.” Regard that verse as a spiritual lifeline for the rest of your life.

Also, buck the tide of our materialistic, selfish society by being satisfied with little and more concerned about the spiritual welfare of others than your material needs. Be obedient to God’s Word and confident in His power to meet all your needs. May our Lord keep all these principles in the forefront of our minds that we might be content—and free from anxiety! 

~John MacArthur in “Contentment Comes from Giving

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God wills us to be thankful all the time, in all things. That’s the point of 1 Thessalonians 5:18 where Paul says, “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” So if you’re saved, Spirit-filled, sanctified, submissive, and suffering, you have one thing left to do in order to follow God’s will—be saying thanks.

Paul’s simple, direct command—in everything give thanks—allows believers no excuse for harboring ingratitudeIn everything carries an unlimited requirement. It refers to everything that occurs in life. With the obvious exception of personal sin, we are to express thanks for everything. No matter what struggles or trials, God commands us to find reasons for thanking Him always (Acts 5:41James 1:2-31 Peter 1:6-9). That’s His will.

If you’re not obeying that command, you’re not following God’s will

~John MacArthur in “God Wants You to Give Thanks, Part 1

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We all have to admit that worry is a common temptation in life–for many it is a favorite pastime. America, the most affluent society in the world is also the most worry-filled society in the world—that is, if spending on security, mental illnesses, and intoxicants are any indication. Americans worry, and worry is a sin. It is neither insignificant, nor inconsequential. And for the Christian, it is absolutely contrary to faith Christ

If you worry, what kind of faith do you manifest? “Little faith,” according to Jesus (Matt. 6:30). Now if you are a child of God, by definition you have a Heavenly Father. To act like you don’t—nervously asking, “What shall I eat? What shall I drink? With what shall I clothe myself?”—is to act like an unbeliever in God’s eyes (vv. 31-32).

Think about it this way: Christians who worry believe God can redeem them, break the shackles of Satan, take them from hell to heaven, put them into His kingdom, and give them eternal life, but just don’t think He can get them through the next couple of days. That is pretty ridiculous, isn’t it? That we can believe God for the greater gift and then stumble and not believe Him for the lesser one reveals an embarrassing lack of faith.

~John MacArthur in “A Worried Christian

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Families, meaningful marriages, which are so essential to society and its preservation…which are so essential to real fulfillment in life are only possible where you have unselfish attitudes, where personal desires are constantly sacrificed for others. And if that’s not happening, there cannot be meaningful relationships.

You cannot have the collision of two independently selfish individuals and build a relationship. It is a battle of people struggling to humble themselves. That’s essential. That’s the key to all relationships, to be Spirit filled, to be speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, to be saying thanks and to be submissive [Ephesians 5:18-21]. Just those four things, that’s the foundation.

That is where you have to start this whole thing. Where you have people who walk in the Spirit fulfilling the Word of God in obedience to the truth, where you have people with a song in their heart and a song on their lips, where you have people who say thanks for everything that comes into their life and where you have people who are eager, in fact they’re in a hurry to take every occasion to humble themselves and submit themselves to those around them, you have meaningful relationships. That’s how you build relationships.

~John MacArthur in “A Plan for Your Family: God’s vs. the World’s, Part 1

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[1 John 4] Verse 11, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought…what?…to love one another.” We are called to this love because we have been given the capacity to love by the very nature of God dwelling in us. We have been called to this love, having that capacity because we’ve seen the model of that love. Greater love has no man than this, said Jesus, that a man would lay down his…what?…life for his friends. 

This love is about sacrifice. This is so missing in Christianity in our day. It’s all about me, me, me, me, me, fix me, make me happy, make me satisfied. It’s not about Christ and it’s not about others. Beloved, we have seen the model, we have seen the example. You never need to ask the question…what does it mean to love somebody else? It means to make the sacrifice…

Listen to what Ephesians 5:1 and 2 says, “Therefore be imitators of God as beloved children and walk in love.” You want to know how to love? Imitate God. And then he goes on to say, “And imitate Christ, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for you.” God gave up His Son and His Son gave up His own life.

There you have it. The model of love is sacrifice. So we are to love one another because God is the source of love and we bear His nature and thus we have literally been flooded with that love. And we are to love one another because Christ is the manifestation of the Father’s love and Himself the great example of self-giving love.

~John MacArthur in “Manifesting Perfect Love, Part 1

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Now if you’re gonna stop lusting – here’s the second thing. Number one, abstain from fleshly lust – 1 Peter 2:11. Number two, make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lust. If you’re going to stop lusting then you have to refuse to accommodate fleshly lusts.

I mean it’s just simple. If you struggle with gluttony, then don’t go to the market with a massive grocery basket and go directly to the junk food section and then take it all home and try to prevent yourself from eating it. If you struggle with lust then don’t turn things on the television or the Internet or whatever other source that you have that are going to feed that. Don’t fill your mind with images that feed your lust. If you don’t want to fall then don’t walk where it’s slippery.

You really need to refuse to furnish your mind with the means to entertain evil thoughts…it’s that easy. Stop lusting means stop providing the stuff that generates that lusting. You have to stop sin before it starts. You have to deal with it in the heart or you’re never going to be able to deal with it in your life. This is not something we don’t know about. It’s just something we need to be reminded of…

James 1:14: “You’re tempted when you’re carried away and enticed by your lust.” As I said, it’s lust that conceives, gives birth to sin. Sin produces death. So if you’re going to abstain from lust then you have to make no provision for the flesh regarding lust. 

~John MacArthur in “Aggressively Attacking the Sin in Our Lives

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When you were saved you were saved unto sanctification. Paul says in Romans 6:19 and Romans 6:22, “You used to be the slaves of sin,” then he says, “you’re now the slaves of righteousness which results in sanctification.” The process of becoming holy is a direct result of salvation. You were saved and the process of becoming holy began and step one, abstain from immorality. Simple.

What does that mean? Stay away from sexual sin. Now young people always want to say, “How far away? How far away do I have to stay?” Which means, “How far can I go and still be okay. Is it okay, you know, to hold hands and hug each other? Is it okay to kiss? Is it okay to touch each other? Is it okay to go beyond that as long you don’t do the very act? What can I do? Is it okay if we’re engaged? Is it okay if we’ve decided that we’re really the ones and somewhere down the road we are going to get married? How far can I go?”

That isn’t even the right question. That question betrays a sinful heart. The question isn’t how far can I go and get away with it, the question is how can I be sanctified, separated from sin and holy unto God, that’s the question…that’s the question. How can I conduct my physical relationships so that I am holy which means separated from sin? And as you begin to play with the emotions that God has designed to lead to consummation and intercourse, you begin to allow your mind to move in to the area of thinking about that, you are in sin because if a man in his mind commits adultery, God’s eyes, he’s committed it, right? If a woman commits it in the mind, it’s been committed before God because He sees the mind.

You have to stop short of the impure thought, the impure motive, the lustful passion…The question isn’t how far can I go and still be okay, the question is how can I be holy, how can I be utterly separated from sin, how can I be totally pure, completely holy unto God, pleasing Him, excelling still more? How can I excel still more? How can I be more excellent? Not how can I drift a little bit the other way and just get on the edge?

~John MacArthur in “Abstaining from Sexual Sin, Part 1

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Spiritual joy is unrelated to circumstances. Spiritual joy is something completely different than happiness which is related to happenstance, happenings, chance, occurrences, events. Spiritual joy is a gift of God. Remember the definition? The theology of joy I gave you? Spiritual joy is a gift of God to those who believe the gospel, being produced in them by the Holy Spirit because they believe and obey the Word mixed with trials and set their hope on eternal glory. That’s the theology of spiritual joy. And so, we as believers can know that joy when we walk in the Spirit…

I think forgetfulness will steal your joy. You say, “What do you mean by that?” Well, failure to keep the memory of what you were saved from. Why is that new Christians always seem full of joy and you get to the people who have been saved 40 years or so and they begin, many of them, to look really sour? Have you noticed that? Why is that? I never knew a church split led by new Christians…never. Never heard of a major church problem created by new babes in Christ, never heard of it. Never heard of conflict in a church between a group of brand-new Christians, never heard of it. Never heard of a group of miserable griping murmuring complaining people in a church all of whom were just saved. Ridiculous thought. You’ve got to be a long-time Christian to be like that. 

Why? Because somehow we forget what we were saved from. We lost the freshness when new Christians seem to have that joy of the psalmist in Psalm 103:2 which says, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits.” Cultivate a memory of good things, will you? Don’t be a joyless cranky sour-dour person. What kind of an advertisement is that?

~John MacArthur in “Elements of Joy, Part 3

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