When someone’s arrested, a rule called the “Miranda rights” requires the first words spoken to the accused to be, “You have the right to remain silent.” This right is given in order to protect the accused from bringing further incrimination upon herself. Oh, that the Holy Spirit would whisper those words to me before I speak! Proverbs 10:19 says, “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.”
Words. We speak them, think them, and write them. We use them to persuade, deter, build up, tear down, instruct, make someone laugh, and make someone cry. Our words shape us, shape others, and reveal what’s truly in us.
Words can bring healing . . . and they can bring deep hurt. Proverbs 18:21a says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” As people created in God’s image, our words, although not omnipotent like his, are still potent. Our words have power, not to be life-creating, but to be life-giving. Sadly, because we’re broken, sinful, and rebellious, our words also have power to destroy and be life-taking.
Do your words breathe life into others—or do they suck the life out of those around you? Do they bless and not curse, strengthen and not weaken, build up and not tear down? James says that, even though we can tame every kind of animal, no person can tame the tongue. So where do we turn? How can we become women who use our words to offer life, and healing, and hope, and help?
Because our words simply expose the reality of what’s happening in our hearts, the only hope we have is to be changed from the inside out. We need to be women who are transformed by the Word of God.
God’s Word Creates Life
Our God is a God who speaks. Speaking is the first thing we see him do in Genesis 1—and his words bring life! He spoke everything into existence: the heavens, the earth, the sun and moon, the land, the sea, the birds, and the animals. His Word brought forth life.
Once God spoke life into existence, life continued to be found in obedience to his Word. Adam and Eve were told to obey God’s good Word. Their obedience didn’t earn them all of God’s good provisions; God had freely given them everything they needed. Obedience to his Word simply meant they would continue to experience everything he had graciously given…
Many of us who love God and his word will soon be planning for fall Bible studies. Along with organizing volunteers and coffee pots, we will be making an important decision: what bible study resource do we use? Other than a familiar author’s name or referral by a friend, how do we choose well? What should we be thinking about when choosing a bible study?
Asking four questions can point us in the right direction. First, what is the author’s view of scripture? Second, what does the author do to lead you into the text? Third, what does the author do to lead the text into you? And fourth, who is the hero of the story?
Author’s View of Scripture
First what is the author’s view of scripture? One of the easiest ways to know if the author thinks the text itself is most important is whether or not you are directed to actually read it. This must always be our first step with the word. Even if it is a familiar passage, we must first get back into the context and hear the words afresh before we begin our study.Next, care must be taken to accurately exegete, or interpret each passage. Verses should be studied and explained within their original context, not pulled out to make an unrelated point. Authors who view the scriptures as authoritative and inspired by the Holy Spirit will point you to read the text first and will handle it with care…
When my oldest daughter was six, my husband and I left the country for two weeks. Two weeks. It’s really not that long, but, from the perspective of my six-year-old, it seemed like an eternity. She was afraid to be left without us, she was sad because she was going to miss us, and she was worried about what it would be like with us gone.
Knowing phone calls would be difficult at best, I left her with several things to comfort her when she was sad and strengthen her when she was afraid—a photo of us, some notes to read, and the reminder we would be praying for her. I also tried to reassure her by telling her, “We’ll be back before you know it.” After all, we were only going to be gone a little while.
A little while. The phrase is used seven times in John 16. Jesus, preparing his disciples for his death, said, “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me” (John 16:16). At the thought of Jesus leaving, the eleven disciples were like my daughter: they were afraid, sad, and worried. Not only did Jesus reassure them with the certainty they would see him again, he also promised them he would leave them three things: his Spirit, his joy, and his peace.
“Stay, Paula, stay!” This is what my Savior calls me and all of us as Christians to do in John 15 as He urges us to abide in Him. “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). The Greek word for abide means “stay, to remain where you have been placed.” This means we must remain vitally connected to the Vine.
In eternity past, the Father chose us to be united with His Son who redeemed us for His glory and set us apart for His purposes. By abiding in Him, we grow and bear lasting fruit as the Spirit empowers and enables us. Rankin Wilbourne says in his book, Union with Christ, “Like a dog commanded to stay we must exert ourselves not to become distracted or move away from our Master.”
John 15 teaches us a great deal about our Master, Jesus, the One who calls us to abide. We learn that He is the Vine and we are the branches. As His people, we are vitally connected to Him and apart from Him we can’t do anything. Apart from Him, we can’t bear fruit, not lasting fruit that brings glory to God. The fruit that we bear in our life proves that we are His disciples and that we have been united to Him.