Sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness. Pro 16:21b ESV
This verse gives us the true key for becoming a leader and influential person.
Having come through the election cycle we’ve seen vivid examples of anything but sweetness of speech. In the aftermath of all the heavy handed mud slinging, patronizing attitudes, and criticism it may do us good to have this reminder.
The best way to win an argument or get someone to do what we want is not through rough speech, reprimands, or authoritarian inducements. Persuading someone comes through sweet speech. That is through kind words, gracious tones, and helpful gestures.
Sweet speech is demonstrated in complimentary attitudes, profuse expressions of gratitude, and genuine interest in the good of others. That means we should go out of our way to encourage those around us, more than we criticize them. We should be ready to publicly recognize good works and a job well done. And when we do need to correct someone, it should be more medical than detrimental. By that I mean our admonishments should be couched in cordial terms, courteous, and demonstrating the highest level of diplomacy.
Unfortunately, our natures makes us condescending and sarcastic. We usually spike the ball in someone’s face, talk down to them, point out their faults, and overlook those good things in their lives that ought to be commended and given credit.
All in all, there’s a great sin of omission. God’s will for our lives is that our speech be seasoned with the friendly sweetness that would result in people glorifying the gospel and furthering obedience to God’s law.
The Duggar’s once said that this was one of the main components of their parenting method. As parents, there is much to reprimands and we can come to have the habit of chiding our children for this or that. But they said that their goal was to encourage more often than they admonish them. They aimed to inspire them to be good rather than beat it into them.
Undercover Boss – Those who are the leaders are those who have a cheerful demeanor and who know how to motivate people. There’s nothing manipulative about it. It is simply the ability to arouse enthusiasm and coax them through positive reinforcement and helpful redirection.
Lately I’ve started reading a book entitled, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Maybe you will have the same attitude that my daughter did when I told her the title of the book. She said, “Poor daddy. He has to read books on how to make friends.”
But the book is all about this kind of thing. It shows how people become more successful and have greater ability to increase productivity when they demonstrate a genuine love for other people.
As Christians, this is to be the standard of our speech. So as we come to our time of confession, let’s bow our heads to confess how we’ve failed, and ask for the sweetness of the gospel to persuade our hearts and minds into renewed righteousness.
Prayer of Confession
Our Father in Heaven,
Hallowed by thy name. Lord, we recognize that we are blasphemous creatures. We admit that our mouths have spoken out of the abundance of our hearts. Our speech has often been unkind and disagreeable, causing people to be provoked more to anger than to obedience. Lord, we recognize that we have sinned by not demonstrating the verbal charm that we should have. We confess that we have not loved with our lips.
Lord we pray that you may forgive us for having failed in this regard. And we pray that you would teach us by example. Let the gospel of grace be spoken to our hearts. May the fact that Christ has died and rose again enchant us. May the fact that you renew the brokenhearted and clear the guilt of sinners be that which persuades us to follow in the footsteps of your dear Son, who’s words brought life and salvation to all.
God, grant us hearts that are full of the joy of your salvation that we might in turn persuade men to embrace the Savior of men.
In Jesus strong name we pray. Amen.
"Only men who know their weakness find their strength in Christ alone."
Almighty and blessed God,
We acknowledge you to be the only true and living God, full of glory, goodness, and grace. You possess infinite perfection and are wholly above the lowly capacities of finite man. You have all life in yourself and are due from angels, men, and every other creature under heaven, all homage, obedience, and worship.
We enter this solemn and sacred time recognizing our duty to submit ourselves to you and to your authority. We join ourselves together to render you the thanks you are due for your perpetual goodness, constant patience, and supreme mercy. According to your commandment we wish to set this day apart unto you and corporately publicize the excellency of your Name.
Yet we also acknowledge the poverty of our frame. By virtue of the corruption that dwells within us we are utterly indisposed to all good and wholly uninclined to seek your face. Neither are we disposed to worship you aright. Left to ourselves we are liable to follow our fancies and increase our guilt by seeking our own delights.
For this reason we call upon you and ask that you would manifest your sovereign and gracious hand among us. Let our worship remain pure and pleasing in your sight. Turn our wandering minds towards the constant watchfulness of your loving care. Settle our distracted hearts upon the abiding greatness of your Name. Grace us with your steadfast mercy so that we might be enabled and inclined to praise the eternally blessed God who resides in heaven and is adored by the angels and saints who abide there.
And though our worship is nothing more than the pitiful offerings of destitute beggars we pray that you might receive from us our feeble sacrifices and take pleasure in the bowing of our hearts.
For this we pray in the strong Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.
Jesus was crucified on Calvary which is also known as Golgotha, i.e. the place of the skull. That his death took place here reminds us that he came to fulfill the pledge in Genesis 3:15.
Though his heal was bruised, he crushed the head of Satan and abolished the curse of death.
1 Samuel 26 is something of a repetition of 1 Samuel 24, but the lessons it teaches are certainly not a regurgitation. There are fresh teachings to be mined in this study on the Lord's Dominion and certain victory over sin and Satan.
This study guide comes with personal investigative questions, answers at the end, and some structural analysis.
In the link below I provide you with a bible study guide and leader guide for 1 Samuel 25. This chapter, which is about Nabal and David's marriage to his second wife, seems almost out of place in the flow of the text. Hopefully this will help to make some sense to the narrative.
personal study of the text. The second section provides answers and serves as a leader guide. The third section is a structural breakdown of the text.
Training up a child in the way he should go means proactively educating your child in the faith from the earliest moments of life. This is the model exemplified in Timothy who was taught the faith from his infanthood (literally, from the womb! [2Tim.3:15]).
Because God's desire is that we immerse our children in the Scriptures, it is necessary to have some tools to help us do that. I thought it would be a good idea to pass on some books that have my wife and I have found extremely beneficial for our kids (and for us!). The following have really impressed us:
The Mighty Acts of God by Starr Meade is the book that we are currently reading with our 8 year old daughter at bedtime. I put it first because it is foremost among the books we have worked through. Mighty Acts follows the Bible's narrative much like any other children's Bible storybook. However, it excels them for three reasons:
The first distinguishing mark is the way it is written. Each of the stories are told in such a way that not only captures the Biblical text in a faithful rendering, but also captures your child's attention. You and your child will be drawn into the story and made to feel the tension tighten and release in each chapter.
Secondly, it comes highly recommended because it does not focus on the individual Bible characters (i.e. Joseph was a good man). Instead it focuses on the character of God and the redemptive themes that come to light through each story. Your child will walk away not just knowing more about the love, grace, and omnipotence of God, they will actually feel like they know him personally.
Lastly, Mighty Acts trumps other storybooks because of its useful tools. Provided at the outset of each chapter is a Bible verse which captures the theme of the story and could be used for memorization. At the end of each chapter the book provides excellent discussion points so that parents can bring the application home even more. This last feature I have found to be worth the price of the book in itself.
The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones is another solid acquisition for your 4-7 year old. The subtitle to the book reveals the essence of its focus, "Every Story Whispers His Name." This book is phenomenal because it seeks to make clear how Christ is revealed in and through the whole of Scripture.
Through Jesus Storybook your child will come to see that God has one overarching plan. Moreover, they will see how each of the individual stories fits within that plan and comes to fruition in Christ.
What I personally liked about this book is that you come to build expectation for Christ as you work your way through the Old Testament, just like the saints of old would have experienced. Being as this is so, it would make for a good book to use in the Advent season leading up to Christmas.
For those of you who want something a little more substantial, check out Cathrine Vos' The Child's Story Bible. Unlike most story Bibles, Child's Story doesn't skip much. Vos takes you through virtually every narrative in the Bible. Along the way she sprinkles in some helpful commentary so you (and your kid!) come to understand some of the more challenging parts of the Scripture.
What I liked about this book is that my daughter got a much more comprehensive understanding of the Scripture. As a kid who get's Scripture read to her at the beginning of school in the morning, dinnertime, and bedtime (not to mention a couple of times a day each Sunday), she needed something more than the typical Creation, flood, and David and Goliath stories you normally get in a story Bible.
Some might be intimidated by the volume of Child's Story. It is a big book with lengthy chapters (It took us about a year to work through it). But this should not be a deterrent. The chapters can be broken up easily for nightly readings, and the pay-off in terms of content is superb.
After Vos, we wanted something a little lighter. So we jumped into Day by Day, which is, as you may surmise, a daily devotional for kids. We read this last year with my daughter (when she was 7) and I found it good, but probably directed more toward younger kids (say 5-6). We actually read a couple entries a day because it was so short.
If you are looking for a lot of a thorough analysis, you will be greatly disappointed with this choice. However, if you are looking for something bite sized, bed-time natured and emphasizing practical daily life kind of stuff, this is a good buy.
I will say that one downfall to this book is that, because it focuses so much on how kids should live before God, it sometimes has a "man-centered" feel to it. Parents can easily overcome this by pointing out the grace in each passage. Moreover, this book is, as I said, very kid oriented. It is helpful in getting your children to think about how God's law applies to their lives in particular (i.e. relationships with friends, obedience to parents, prayer, understanding how Christ is Lord, etc.).
Ok, let's jump into something a little more didactic. After years of going through the Bible and various storybooks, we thought it would be good to start giving my daughter some real training in Bible doctrine. So this year for her second grade Bible class we've been using Starr Meade's Training Hearts, Teaching Minds.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism was originally designed for the purpose of instilling the basic tenets of the faith in children. Meade's book is great because it integrates a weeks worth of lessons for each of the catechism's question and answers. This makes it perfectly conducive for memorizing each of the Q & A's. What's more is that you get to spend a week looking at what the Bible says about each particular topic.
This sort of training is absolutely necessary at some point in your kid's education. Years ago a survey was done and it found that most all of college freshmen who grew up in the church and in Christian homes knew virtually nothing about the most basic Christian doctrines. Meade's work provides a great place to start your child on a much more sound track.
A dip in some church history may also be a good change up from your typical Bible storybook reading, especially if you are a homeschooling family. While I have not delved much into these yet, the History Lives series looks like an excellent resource for introducing your children (ranging 8-12 years old) to our great heritage.
You might ask why I promote a series of books that I have not yet read. I do so because I want to help broaden the scope of our young people's Bible knowledge. While there is never a substitute for the Scriptures, we should not limit our reading to the Scriptures. If we are going to know His Story, we must look at what God was doing after the close of the book of Acts.
As well, learning about the history of the church is important for gaining a well rounded Christian worldview. As Solomon said, "There is nothing new under the sun." All the errors we face today were most likely already tackled by our forefathers in the faith in earlier centuries. Letting your child become familiar with some of these events will allow them to see how the Bible has been applied, challenged, and defended through the ages.
Finally, back in the world of family devotions, let me suggest our latest read as a family: Long Story Short: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God. I do have a little beef with the length of these studies. It is very short and maturity in the faith will take much more quality time in the study of Scripture. However, the book is very well written and the short is right to the point. Best of all, the point is always theologically sound. Long Story Short is more than a children's story Bible. It unfolds the redemptive and theological implications of each of the stories of the Bible. What happens is that you and your children come to understand the flow of Scripture. The Bible becomes God's Story of our redemption and less a book of moralisms.
The book includes a Bible passage for reading, a short explanation, and a few questions for children for review and discussion.
I was asked about how we should understand the text about the stoning of the rebellious son in Deut. 18.:18-21. Here's a quick run down of my observations:
If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, 19 then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, 20 and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ 21 Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear.
Notice that he's a drunkard (a pot head) and rebellious. The charges are likely indicating extreme cases, rebellion possibly being crimes (and not just that "He won't go out and get a job"). It would seem to me that the combination of drunkard & rebellious indicates a person who is violent when high, to the point of threatening his parents.
Such would parallel other texts of Scripture that talk about the son who deserves death because he "strikes" his father and mother.
Also, both parents have to be in agreement: so there is a great deal of exasperation after all attempts of reconciliation and mediation have been attempted. Their discipline is being rejected. So there is a high level of noncompliance by the kid. A child who is so stubborn that he rejects all forms of discipline & exhortation is one that is extremely hardened and is likely a threat to others in society, let alone the parents themselves.
It is also significant that the text says that Israel would see and "fear." The mere threat of legal action might straighten him out to some degree.
The elders also would provide a fair trial to determine if the kid really deserved death (i.e. this is about the limits of parental jurisdiction & keeps a balance of power; i.e. parents can't be judge, jury, & executioner.)
One point is sure, the parents are not allowed to harbor a criminal. We hear so many parents today say, "He's a good boy" when he in fact has committed many crimes (even murder). These parents are to be concerned with justice and not favor the life of their kid when he deserves death.
All in all, the Lord's law is just and good and should be implemented in societies that desire order and wish to preserve the social stability of the community.
Are you interested in finding out more about home education? We invite you to attend our Introduction to Home Education meeting.
We will introduce you to some of the benefits of home education, walk you through the steps of how to begin homeschooling, give an overview of what services/resources are available to area homeschoolers, and answer any other questions you may have.
The meeting is free & open to the public. The time and location will be based on your feedback in the Registration form (click button below).
We encourage you to forward the invite to your friends, family, and churches. Email me with any questions.
One of the Hopewell members made this pulpit for our morning services. I call it the Cadillac of pulpits. It has a sweet dual tier for holding the manuscript and a bible.
It was a pleasure preaching from it this past Lord's day. I wanted to stand there all day. It was like having a comfy pair of pants that you didn't want to take off. I can't wait to stand there again this Sunday
Kindled Fire is dedicated
to the preaching and teaching ministry of
Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.