When you think about holiday gatherings, is including uplifting, positive conversation a part of your planning strategy? The Apostle Paul, in Colossians 4:5-6, provides us with a challenge to develop Table Talk Techniques so that our wisely chosen words will bless and purify those gathered at our table. Studying and meditating upon how our heavenly Father used food as a means of communicating His love and provision for His children provides some potential Table Talk topics. Consider the thoughts that follow to stimulate you to formulate your Table Talk Techniques.
TABLE TOP TOPICS
- The fall and redemption of man began with fruit (Gen. 3) and culminates with a feast (Rev.14:19-21).
- A widespread famine prompted Joseph’s Father to send his sons to buy grain in Egypt. This grocery shopping excursion resulted in a miraculous family reunion (Gen. 42:1-28, 43, 50).
- God’s provision of manna (what is it?) in the wilderness (Ex. 16:4-35).
- Men went to investigate the land of Canaan and returned with reports of the available food (Num. 13:1-29).
- At points of distress in Elijah’s life, God provided food and drink (1 Kings 17:6, 19; 19:1-8).
- Our Lord fed the multitude several times (Matt. 14:13-21, 15:32-39).
- The final Passover Meal with our Lord and His disciples was an occasion filled with interactive conversation where questions were answered and life issues were clarified (John 13:1-5).
THE TABLE AS A CHANNEL FOR DISCIPLESHIP
Extending biblical hospitality has the potential of becoming a channel for discipleship. A disciple is a follower or student of an individual or philosophy. Ephesians 5:1 provides us with a clear description of who is to be our discipleship role model. We are daily to become more like our heavenly Father by embracing His character qualities (study Psalm 86 and 145 asking yourself the questions, “What is God like?” and “How am I to treat others?”).
When we choose to invite others to our home, we are providing a venue for quality time and extended conversation that is simply not possible in a public place. Our homes become centers for discipleship when they are dedicated to our Lord. The necessary ingredient is a selfless, loving heart in which the love of God has been shed abroad (Rom. 5:5) and in which godly character is cultivated. Let’s take a survey of the Scriptures and create a word collage of the necessary character qualities to prepare us to develop Table Talk Techniques. We will use the words Table Talk as our foundation.
A trustworthy lifestyle nurtures security, love, service, limits, freedom, enjoyment, faith and encouragement. Those discipled by trustworthy women are challenged to reach their full potential (Prov. 18:22, 19:14, 31:11).
Willing to nurture others even when it is inconvenient. A study of Elizabeth’s life (Luke 1:39-56) teaches us much about trustworthy hospitality as we see how she responded to her unexpected guest, Mary, who was experiencing significant personal challenges.
Believe that we can be used as an instrument of righteousness when we extend hospitality (Rom. 6:12-13). Just as a fine musical instrument requires tuning by a skilled technician using a fixed standard, so our bodies must be tuned by the Master Technician according to His unchanging Word to be effective disciplers.
L—LED BY THE SPIRIT
Ephesians 4:25-32 describes how the Holy Spirit should lead our behavior as we communicate with others. We should not say anything that will wound another or our heavenly Father. Our conversations should be kind and gracious (Prov. 31:26).
When we write out our testimonies of how we were adopted into God’s family and review them until we can warmly communicate them to someone without notes, we have developed an effective evangelistic tool. Marking our Bibles with the plan of salvation is a helpful strategy (Rom. 3:19, 3:23, 5:8, 5:12, 6:23, 10:9, 10:10, and 10:13).
Being thankful is an act of the will that generates the giving of thanks to God for everything regardless of the circumstances (1. Thess. 5:18). A study of the Psalms reminds us that giving thanks is an act of the will, not the emotions.
The attitude and words of a woman led by the Spirit are to affirm those she disciples. Proverbs 25:11 and 15:23 provide an artistic description of well-chosen words. If we choose to monitor our words through these verses, they are likely to be an encouragement to others.
It is important for us to know and follow the commandments, or laws, outlined for us in the Bible. God’s laws will be infused into our lives when we choose to talk about them throughout the day—especially when we eat together at the table (Deut. 6:4-7; Josh. 1:8).
If we want our tables to be used as channels for discipleship, we will exhibit good judgement and discretion in our conversations (Col. 4:6). Rather than being too aggressive or bossy, kindness, gentleness, and compassion will characterize our words (Prov. 15:1-2; Eccl. 10:12-14). As we practice being trustworthy, we will be careful to maintain confidences (Eccl. 5:2).
When I think of the traditional American family from the 1950’s, the picture that comes to my mind is always of a happy family sitting around a table with a delicious home cooked meal steaming in the center. The father, still in his work clothes, is seated at the head of the table as mom, glowing from having her family all together, walks in with another platter of warm food. The children are happy and healthy, patiently waiting (but with fork in hand) until father prays over the food; the family then eats, laughs, and enjoys their table fellowship. This picture unfortunately does not describe the modern family. Home cooked food and fellowship have been replaced by IPads and takeout. According to the American College of Pediatrics (ACPeds), “over the past three decades, family time at the dinner table and family conversation in general has declined by more than 30%” and one third of families with children from ages 11 to 18 eat together only one to two times a week. Family meals and conversation are more important than many people realize. The ACPeds note that some of the benefits of eating regular meals together are: reconnecting with the family, creating traditions, setting structure that helps children feel safe and secure, allowing parents to monitor their children’s moods and behaviors, encouraging healthy eating by home cooked meals, and giving an opportunity to invite neighbors and others to eat with your family. As Christians, mealtime also creates an occasion to practice table discipleship as you sharpen each other (Prov. 27:17) and spur one another on to love and good works (Heb. 10:24).
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus also sat down to eat food, create fellowship, and to disciple others. He “reclined at the table” with the Pharisees (Luke 7:36), with the tax collectors and sinners (Luke 5:30-32), and with his disciples (Matt. 26). Before Christ’s death on the cross he enjoyed one last Passover meal with his disciples- the Lord’s supper (Matt. 26:17-29). There he encouraged the men to look forward to the heavenly feasts we will share in God’s kingdom (Matt. 26:29)! Therefore, following Christ’s example, let us make table discipleship a priority this holiday season and onward!
"The Benefits of the Family Table." The American College of Pediatrics, May 2014.
THE EVERYDAY HOMEMAKER’S MONTHLY MEDITATION THOUGHT
God has said, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you” (Jeremiah. 31:3).
Therefore I may boldly say, "I am a deeply loved woman."
A GIFT FOR YOU!
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Blessings on your day as you focus on making your house a home!