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Just about everywhere we turn, someone is talking about love. In fact, it may very well be the most popular thing in our culture — we just love to talk about love, yet never before has love been more exploited, nor has it ever been more distorted. Love has become a meaningless word. And instead of standing firm in love, many Christians have been duped by the world’s definition of love, which proclaims self rather than sacrifice.

According to the world, we love in order to be loved. According to the Word, we love because God first loved us. Whereas the world falls in love, God’s people are established in love. The love that we possess, however, is not a fleeting whim that comes and goes with every mood and circumstance; rather, it is a love that is beyond ourselves. Our love, true love, has meaning, meaning that cannot be stripped away by any thing, any one, or any feeling. Our love cannot be shaken because it is grounded not in self but in sacrifice.

Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). In His once-for-all sacrifice, Jesus Christ demonstrated true love, the true love of God. By this great demonstration of love, love has been defined, and no worldly deception can seduce it. 

~Burk Parsons in “Love is in the Air

Women of the Word

Burk Parsons:

The Bible is the book of the Lord God Almighty. It is the authoritative, inerrant, and infallible Word of God, and, as Jesus taught us in His prayer to the Father: His “Word is truth.” It doesn’t merely contain truth or speak about truth; it is truth — it defines truth (John 17:17). We must, therefore, regard it as such.

Nevertheless, contrary to the popular saying, “God said it, I believe it, that settles it,” it is inconsequential whether or not we believe it. Our believing the Bible to be true, our regarding it as the Word of God, has no bearing on its veracity. It stands alone as the veritable Word of God, never returning void, always going forth to accomplish precisely what the Lord intends.

The Word of God is never to be the object of our scrutiny. Rather, the Word of God is that by which the Holy Spirit scrutinizes us. By His Word, the Lord employs His own version of higher criticism as He inspects our lives, interrogates our proud hearts, and reveals our sins. His Word alone is inspired (2 Tim. 3:16), literally “exhaled” by God Almighty so that we might inhale it, allowing it to dwell within our hearts richly. In this way, we will know it, love it, proclaim it, and breathe it as we speak His Word back to Him in prayer and as we bow before Him coram Deo, before His face and for His glory.

(“Higher Criticism”)

About Women of the Word

If we’re not conformed to the Word, we’ll be conformed to the world. There are no other options. In Women of the Word posts, you’ll find teaching on big topics like Bible study, theology, or Scripture interpretation delivered in enticingly small packages.

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“If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame” (Prov. 18:13). It is arrogant to answer before you hear. Humility does not presume that it knows precisely what a person is asking until the questioner has finished asking the question.

How many times have I jumped to a wrong conclusion by starting to formulate my answer before I heard the whole question! Often it is the last word in the question that turns the whole thing around and makes you realize that the questioner is not asking what you thought he was.

It is rude to answer a half-asked question. Rude is a useful word for Christians. It means “ill-mannered, discourteous.” The New Testament word for it is aschēmonei. It is used in 1 Corinthians 13:5, where modern versions translate it, “Love is not rude…”

Not answering a question before you hear it all honors and respects the person asking the question. It treats the person as though his words really matter. It is belittling to another to presume to be able to finish his question before he does.

Proverbs 18:13 says it is our “folly” to answer before we hear. That is, it will make us a fool. One reason for this is that almost all premature answers are based on thinking we know all we need to know. But that is “foolish.” Our attitude should be: What can I learn from this question? The fool thinks he knows all he needs to know.

~John Piper in “Listening Before Answering

Photo: OBMonkey

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God must be first in marriage for it to be lived to His glory. However, putting God first in marriage is not easy. Husbands can easily place their leadership of the household as primary, wives can easily do the same with their care of the house, and each spouse can easily put each other before God. These are but a few examples of things that can become idols if God is not kept first in marriage. 

To put God first in our marriages, we must recognize its place. Marriage is secondary and temporary, and God is primary and infinite. Therefore our marriages should always point back to God. To do this, we must submit ourselves to God every day. While all of Scripture helps us to learn our duties and responsibilities, Scripture specifically gives us the magnificent example of Christ and His bride.

In Ephesians 5:22–24 husbands are instructed to lead their wives as Christ leads the church, and wives are instructed to support their husbands as the church supports Christ. What a weighty example to follow! Now reflect upon the fact that it was Christ who was perfect — blameless, with no need to apologize, and yet it was Christ who laid down His life out of love for His bride and obedience to His Father (5:25). 

May we be humbled by Christ’s example and make every effort to live it. May that be true of our marriages as well as our Christian life.

~John Cobb in “Marriage to Glorify God

Photo: OBMonkey

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We are not yet perfectly holy in practice, and passages like Colossians 3:5–8 that call us to put sin to death exist because disobedience is a reality for us. Still, the Bible defines Christians as already holy, “sanctified…in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11). In Christ we have made a decisive break with unholiness. Our Creator declares us holy in His Son—we are saints of God Most High, and He sees us as pure through Jesus’ blood (Col. 1:2Heb. 9:13–14).

God’s message to Christians is not “you are not yet holy, work on it until you get there,” but “you are holy, be what you already are in Christ.” This viewpoint fosters confidence, passion, and a true understanding of sin. Knowing our Father sees us as holy in His Son, we are encouraged to make real, though fitful, spiritual progress. God by His grace declares us holy, so believers cannot fail utterly to make what we do line up with who He says we are. Understanding that we are holy citizens of a holy kingdom, we are eager to fulfill our civic duty to mortify sin.

~From “Putting Sin To Death” Ligonier Devotional

Photo: OBMonkey

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Christians must never utter a harmful word. The Greek term translated corrupt in Ephesians 4:29 is used elsewhere to describe spoiled fruit, rotten fish, and anything else that is worn out and useless. Words with such corruption bring decay to the bonds of fellowship in the church, undermining the effectiveness of the covenant community. If even our idle words will be brought into judgment, how much more will speech designed purposefully to hurt other people impact our assessments and rewards on that last day (Matt. 12:33–37)?

Paul’s admonition does not mean harsh words are never appropriate. After all, sometimes only a hard conversation will turn other people from their sin, thereby edifying them in the long haul (Jude 22–23). Ultimately, the standard for acceptable speech is that which edifies the body of Christ (Eph. 4:29). Our words are to help provide what is lacking in other people, to give them encouragement that will advance their spiritual growth. Jesus spoke these kinds of gracious words (Luke 4:16–22), and we who are His disciples can do no less.

~Ligonier Devotional “Proper, Edifying Talk

Photo: OBMonkey

Beauty Supplements

Your daily dose of true beauty advice…

Christians must never utter a harmful word. The Greek term translated corrupt in Ephesians 4:29 is used elsewhere to describe spoiled fruit, rotten fish, and anything else that is worn out and useless. Words with such corruption bring decay to the bonds of fellowship in the church, undermining the effectiveness of the covenant community. If even our idle words will be brought into judgment, how much more will speech designed purposefully to hurt other people impact our assessments and rewards on that last day (Matt. 12:33–37)?

Paul’s admonition does not mean harsh words are never appropriate. After all, sometimes only a hard conversation will turn other people from their sin, thereby edifying them in the long haul (Jude 22–23). Ultimately, the standard for acceptable speech is that which edifies the body of Christ (Eph. 4:29). Our words are to help provide what is lacking in other people, to give them encouragement that will advance their spiritual growth. Jesus spoke these kinds of gracious words (Luke 4:16–22), and we who are His disciples can do no less.

Words spoken to us at just the right time stay with us for the rest of our lives, as do words of malice. If the words of others have this impact on us, then we can be sure that what we say has the same kind of impact on others. We should therefore strive to speak only that which will build others up in their faith, which requires Spirit-given discernment regarding what we are to say and when we are to say it.

~From the Ligonier Devotional “Proper, Edifying Talk

Photo: OBMonkey

Shedding Light on Dark Thoughts

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life…”

Matthew 6:25

In a recent edition of Tabletalk, the monthly devotional magazine of Ligonier Ministries, a number of pastors and theologians combined their skills to produce a collection of fictional letters entitled “Letters from the Abyss.” These letters follow the pattern of C.S. Lewis’s famous work, The Screwtape Letters, with senior demons providing their young apprentices with advice on how to ensnare believers in sin and frustrate their effectiveness for Christ. The purpose of both The Screwtape Letters and “Letters from the Abyss” is to help believers avoid ignorance of Satan’s devices (2 Cor. 2:11) and successfully resist his schemes (Eph. 6:10-18). 

I found the following letter on anxiety by Chris Larson to be especially applicable for us as women. The more quickly we realize that our anxious thoughts are not of God, the more quickly we can submit to the Lord, resist the devil, and see him flee (James 4:7).
[Remember that in this letter "the enemy" refers to God.]

Dearest Oriax,

What?! You’re worried because your subject is worried? You seem to think that his fretful concern and persistent questioning will lead him to find answers with the enemy. Let us reassure you that such is rarely the outcome. The more these humans wallow in gnawing uncertainty and narrow-mindedness, the more they will come to resemble our cowering condition instead of patient confidence in the enemy’s will.

They call it “anxiety,” and you would think it’s a virtue they cultivate as often as possible. Lest they repent and grow closer to the enemy, do not let them understand anxiety as a link to that ancient sin of their first father, Adam; namely, that of pride. Oh, how we delight in that triumph of our father below! It is still so hard to believe we convinced Adam that he actually needed something more than what he had been given by the enemy. Ah, the cosmic treason is even now so delectable to our memory!

But I digress. Let this Christian confuse anxiety with sober-mindedness. Convince him that he is being diligent and careful, that it is others who are not being wise. Suggest to him a name for this: let’s tell him that he is being “realistic.” Give him an illusion of control, thinking he can manipulate circumstances so as to remove all trouble. Indeed, let him think he is better than lilies and sparrows, fretting about to add one more day to his short life. Oh, yes, keep him busy in worry and let him think that he hasn’t yet worried enough (the way humans second-guess themselves is particularly humorous to watch). Thus will anxiety’s cycle perpetuate itself, with very little involvement from you. We should mention in passing how helpful anxiety is to our cause, since people can be so preoccupied with this or that worry and effectually neglect a whole host of duties and care for others.

Relish his refusal to know what we know. Indeed, our situation is in the greatest peril when once our subject begins to focus outside of himself. The enemy wants His people to rest, even to be still, trusting that He cares. In fact, even we’re worried at times because we still haven’t come up with an effective countermeasure to the promises the enemy makes.

Your Master,
Legion

[Tabletalk, February 2011, p. 9]

Photo: Robert Radermacher

Voting for Those without a Voice

“…the LORD hates…hands that shed innocent blood…”

Proverbs 6:17

Are you voting today? I do hope that you will make the most of the amazing blessing God has given by allowing us to be a part of a representational form of government. There are so many who can’t even dream of having such freedom.

Ligonier Ministries has posted a powerful article by R.C. Sproul, Jr. answering the question, “How much weight should our opposition to abortion carry in our voting decisions?” Every Christian needs to prayerfully consider this question.

We bundle together this issue and that, everything from tax rates to school vouchers to flag burning to abortion and call it “family values.” There is a right and a wrong answer on all these issues. But abortion is not like any of the others. It stands out all on its own. In a hundred years, the Christian church will not hang its head in shame that it did so little to pass a Constitutional Amendment against the burning of the flag…In a hundred years, if God should be so gracious, we will be looked upon as that godless generation of the church that watched tens of millions of babies go to their deaths. Indeed, we’ll be remembered as those “Christians” who elected men to office who believed that the state ought to protect the rights of some mothers to murder their babies.

It is unfair to draw too tight a comparison between abortion in America and the Holocaust in Nazi Germany. There are significant differences. First, the Holocaust was carried out, by and large, in secret. The rank and file Germans had no idea what was going on. We, on the other hand, every last one of us, woke up today knowing that four thousand babies would die today…The Holocaust lasted roughly ten years, and the Nazis killed roughly six million people. We, on the other hand, have been at this for 35 years, and have killed more than fifty million babies. It is an unfair comparison, unfair to the Nazis. We are far worse monsters.

We have allowed a godless culture to dull our conscience to the cries of the unborn for far too long. May God raise up men and women in our government who will serve as defenders of life, and may He give us the courage to vote them into office.

Read the entire article HERE.

Photo: Bound 4 Life