* Share spiritual experiences in conversations
God told Moses that his miraculous experiences with Pharaoh should be retold to his descendants in his conversations. What stories Moses had to tell! Living out one of the greatest dramas in biblical history, he witnessed events few people would ever see. It is important to tell our children in our conversations about God’s work in our past and to help them see what he is doing right now. What are the turning points in your life where God intervened? What is God doing for you now? Your stories in your conversations will form the foundations of your children’s belief in God. (NLT)
Exodus 10:2 – “You will be able to tell wonderful stories to your children and grandchildren about the marvelous things I am doing among the Egyptians to prove that I am the Lord.”
* Different ways God speaks in conversations
Sometimes God speaks to his people with a majestic display of power; at other times he speaks quietly. Why the difference? God speaks in the way that best accomplishes his purposes. At Sinai, the awesome display of light and sound was necessary to show Israel God’s great power and authority. Only then would they listen to Moses and Aaron. (NLT)
Exodus 20:18 – When the people heard the thunder and the loud blast of the horn, and when they saw the lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance, trembling with fear.
* – Imagine hearing the very voice of God! Moses must have trembled at the sound. Yet we have God’s Words recorded for us in the Bible, and we should have no less reverence and awe for them. God sometimes spoke directly to his people to tell them the proper way to live. The Bible records these conversations to give us insights into God’s character. How tragic when we take these very words of God lightly. Like Moses, we have the privilege of talking to God, but God answers us differently–through his written Word and the guidance of his Holy Spirit. To receive this guidance, we need to seek to know God as Moses did. (NLT)
Numbers 7:89 – Whenever Moses went into the Tabernacle to speak with the Lord, he heard the voice speaking to him from between the two cherubim above the Ark’s cover–the place of atonement–that rests on the Ark of the Covenant. The Lord spoke to him from there.
* Avoid destructive rumors in conversations
Making up or spreading false reports was strictly forbidden by God. Gossip, slander, and false witnessing undermined families, strained neighborhood cooperation, and made chaos of the justice system. Destructive gossip still causes problems. Even if you do not initiate a lie, you become responsible if you pass it along. Don’t circulate rumors; squelch them. (NLT)
Exodus 23:1 – “Do not pass along false reports. Do not cooperate with evil people by telling lies on the witness stand.”
* Your presence more important than words in conversations
Why did the friends arrive and then just sit quietly? According to Jewish tradition, people who come to comfort someone in mourning should not speak until the mourner speaks. Often the best response to another person’s suffering is silence. Job’s friends realized that his pain was too deep to be healed with mere words, so they said nothing. (If only they had continued to sit quietly!) Often, we feel we must say something spiritual and insightful to a hurting friend. Perhaps what he or she needs most is just our presence, showing that we care. Pat answers and trite quotations say much less then empathetic silence and loving companionship. (NLT)
Job 2:13 – Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. And no one said a word, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words.
* Stay away from irrelevant disputes in conversations
The church at Ephesus may have been plagued by the same heresy that was threatening the church at Colosse–the teaching that to be acceptable to God, a person had to discover certain hidden knowledge and had to worship angels. Thinking that it would aid in their salvation, some Ephesians constructed mythical stories based on Old Testament history or genealogies. The false teachers were motivated by their own interests rather than Christ’s. They embroiled the church in endless and irrelevant questions and controversies, taking precious time away from the study of the truth. Today we could also enter into worthless and irrelevant discussions, but such disputes quickly crowd out the life-changing message of Christ. Stay away from religious speculation and pointless theological arguments. Such exercises may seem harmless at first, but they have a way of sidetracking us from the central message of the Good News–the person and work of Jesus Christ. And they expend time we should use to share the Good News with others. You should avoid anything that keeps you from doing God’s work. (NLT)
1 Timothy 1:3-4 – When I left for Macedonia, I urged you to stay there in Ephesus and stop those who are teaching wrong doctrine. Don’t let people waste time in endless speculation over myths and spiritual pedigrees. For these things only cause arguments; they don’t help people live a life of faith in God.
* Listening an important part of conversations
When we talk too much and listen too little, we communicate to others that we think our ideas are much more important than theirs. James wisely advises us to reverse this process. Put a mental stopwatch on your conversations, and keep track of how much you talk and how much you listen. When people talk with you, do they feel that their viewpoints and ideas have value? (NLT)
James 1:19 – My dear brothers and sisters, be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.
* Learning what not to say in conversations
Joseph remembered his dreams about his brothers bowing down to him. Those dreams were coming true! As a young boy, Joseph was boastful about his dreams. As a man, he no longer flaunted his superior status. He did not feel the need to say, “I told you so.” It was not yet time to reveal his identity, so he kept quiet. Sometimes it is best for us to remain quiet, even when we would like to have the last word. (NLT)
Genesis 42:8-9 – Joseph’s brothers didn’t recognize him, but Joseph recognized them. And he remembered the dreams he had had many years before. He said to them, “You are spies! You have come to see how vulnerable our land has become.”
* – What you say and what you don’t say are both important. To use proper speech you must not only say the right words at the right time but also not say what you shouldn’t. Examples of an untamed tongue include gossiping, putting others down, bragging, manipulating, false teaching, exaggerating, complaining, flattering, and lying. Before you speak, ask, Is what I want to say true? Is it necessary? Is it kind? (NLT)
James 3:2-3 – We all make many mistakes, but those who control their tongues can also control themselves in every other way. We can make a large horse turn around and go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth.
* Damage the tongue can do in conversations
James compares the damage the tongue can do to a raging fire–the tongue’s wickedness has its source in hell itself. The uncontrolled tongue can do terrible damage. Satan uses the tongue to divide people and pit them against one another. Idle and hateful words are damaging because they spread destruction quickly, and no one can stop the results once they are spoken. We dare not be careless with what we say, thinking we can apologize later, because even if we do, the scars remain. A few words spoken in anger can destroy a relationship that took years to build. Before you speak, remember that words are like fire–you can neither control nor reverse the damage they can do. (NLT)
James 3:6 – And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is full of wickedness that can ruin your whole life. It can turn the entire course of your life into a blazing flame of destruction, for it is set on fire by hell itself.
* What our words in conversations reveal about us
Our contradictory speech often puzzles us. At times our words are right and pleasing to God, but at other times they are violent and destructive. Which of these speech patterns reflects our true identity? We were made in God’s image, but the tongue gives us a picture of our basic sinful nature. God works to change us from the inside out. When the Holy Spirit purifies a heart, he gives self-control so that the person will speak words that please God. (NLT)
James 3:9-12 – Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it breaks out into curses against those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Can you pick olives from a fig tree or figs from a grapevine? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty pool.
* What motivates our speech in conversations?
When our speech is motivated by Satan it is full of bitter jealousy, selfish ambition, earthly concerns and desires, un-spiritual thoughts and ideas, disorder, and evil. When our speech is motivated by God and his wisdom it is full of purity, peace, consideration for others, submission, mercy, sincerity, impartiality, and goodness. (NLT)
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