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TEXT: Psalm 44
SUBJECT: Family Life #26: Bible Stories in the Home
This is the fourth Sunday of the month and time for another sermon on Family Life. Today, I want to speak mostly to the parents. But not only to them. What I say also applies to grandparents, to aunts and uncles, and to others who want children to know the Lord and to serve Him all their lives.
Kids, you need to listen too, because, though you don't think so now, most of you will grow up to have children of your own. And you'll need to do what I tell you this afternoon. The best time to prepare for parenthood is long before you get married or have kids.
The topic is Bible Stories in the Home.
TEACHING IN THE HOME
Underline the word, "Home". Most of our Sunday School teaching takes the form of stories; a lot of the preaching does too. But pastors and Sunday School teachers cannot take the place of parents. I have gone to church all of my life. For the most part, I had good pastors and teachers. Yet I learned a hundred times more about the Bible from my father's stories than I did from all the sermons and lessons I sat through in church.
A girl I grew up with, attended the same church, and went nearly as often. Unlike me, however, she had no Bible stories at home. When she was in her early twenties, she asked me if-after all the bad things she had done-she could still be forgiven. I told her she could and pointed her to Apostle Paul as an example of a great sinner forgiven by God. As long as I live, I will never forget her answer,
Had I referred to Beniah, Huldah, Tola, Jair, or Evil-Merodach, I would have understood her blank look. These are obscure characters in the Bible. But Paul? Who has a more exciting and profitable story than he? Yet my friend didn't know him. Why? Because her parents never told Bible stories in the home!
The Lord commands moms and dads to teach their kids, to teach them His Word. You cannot do that faithfully without telling Bible stories in the home. David enjoyed that privilege. Your kids should too, v.1,
"We have heard with our ears, O God,
our fathers have told us,
what deeds You did in their days,
in days of old."
BIBLE STORIES ARE BEST
What's so special about Bible stories? Aren't there other ways to teach God's Word? Yes. Aren't they also effective? Of course. It's not that other ways of teaching are bad, only that Bible stories are better. Bible stories are better for adults. And they're far better for kids. I can prove that, I think.
First of all, the Bible itself comes to us mostly in the form of stories. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts, take up more space in the New Testament than the other 22 Books combined. And what are they? They're stories about Jesus Christ and His disciples.
The Old Testament is about the same. Of course we have songs, prophecies, wise sayings, and so on, but mostly, we have stories of God and His People.
As for the doctrinal and practical parts, they grow out of the Stories! The first line in the Ten Commandments, for example, is not a commandment at all. It's a story,
"I am the LORD your God,
Who brought you out of the
Land of Egypt, out of the
House of bondage".
The same is true of all the key doctrines. Think of justification, sanctification, adoption, and so on. Where do they come from? They come from a Story! We're accepted by God, become His children, grow in grace, and so on, only because of what Christ did for us. And "what He did for us" is nothing but a Story called The Gospel.
A second reason story-telling is the better way to teach is this: Stories are more interesting and easier to remember than mere doctrines or duties. Let me give you an example. You want to teach your son the duty of fearing God.
One way of doing is by quoting a verse, Proverbs 1:7,
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction".
There's nothing wrong with memorizing that verse, of course, but you can make the same point far more effectively by telling a story, cf. II Kings 2:23-24.
THE GOAL OF STORY TELLING
The goal of story-telling is to communicate the knowledge of God. The stories are often exciting and interesting, but they're not in the Bible merely to excite or interest someone. God describes Himself to us by way of story. For example,
Of course you can learn these things in other ways. If you read a book on the Attributes of God, you'll find proof texts showing that the Lord is holy, compassionate, faithful, and so on. But the Stories do it better. They make the attributes of God "come alive" to those who read or hear them.
HOW TO TELL A BETTER BIBLE STORY
If it's important to tell the stories of the Bible, you need to tell them as well as you can. Some people are better at it than others, but nearly anyone can do it and everyone can surely do it better.
How, then do you tell a better Bible story?
In the first place, if you want to tell a good Bible story, you've got to know the story you're telling.
This means you have to study the Bible and review the stories from time to time. I tell stories every night. For the most part, they're the same ones my dad told me. Yet even now-after forty two years of hearing and telling them, I get mixed up. When I do, I apologize to the boys, look it up again, and tell it right the next time.
If you're telling the story of Goldilocks, it doesn't matter if there are three bears or four. But God's Word is no bed-time story. It's the Truth. And it has to be told accurately. That means you've got to know the story. And that means study and review.
In the second place, if you want to tell a good Bible story, you've got to tell it seriously.
Bible stories are not silly tales you can tell any way you want to. No! They're God's Word and must be handled with reverence. Now, reverence is not the same as putting on a phony voice and trying to sound super-holy. But it means speaking the Word of God as though it were supremely important.
Parents ought to have fun with their kids. There's a time for joking, teasing, tickling, playing. But Bible story time is not the time! It's a time for being serious.
In the third place, if you want to tell a good Bible story, you've got to tell it understandably.
If the goal of Bible stories is to teach your kids about God, then no matter how well you choose your words, if they don't "get it", you didn't tell it properly.
Stay clear of technical language; avoid big words. Tell the story as simply as you can. Aim the story at the youngest or dullest person there. If you're feeding a Great Dane and a Chihuahua from the same bowl, put it low. The Great Dane can bend down to the floor easier than the Chihuahua can reach up to the table.
In the fourth place, if you want to tell a good story, keep it as brief as possible.
If you want to tell the story of Moses, for example, break it up into many shorter stories. Tell of his birth in one story; tell of his exile from Egypt in another; tell of his call to save Israel in a third, and so on. If you try to tell the whole thing in one story, you'll skip many important details and make your kids hate story time.
In the fifth place, if you want to tell a good story, tell it over and over again.
II Peter 1:12 says,
"Therefore, I will not be negligent to remind
you always of these things, though you know
them, and are established in the present truth".
Kids love to hear the same stories over and over again. When my boy was little, he made Grandma read Marvin K. Mooney to him a million times, it seems. She begged him to let her read something else, but no, he had to have Marvin K. Mooney.
Reading Dr. Seuss books over and over may delight the child, but it will make the parent lose his mind! But not Bible stories! I never get tired of the Fiery Furnace, of the Lion's Den, of David and Goliath, and especially of the four wonderful things that happened when the Lord Jesus was crucified.
Keep telling the stories till your kids can tell them back to you.
Lastly, if you want to tell a good story, pray.
WHAT BIBLE STORIES ARE GOOD FOR.
In the closing minutes of the sermon, let me tell you what Bible stories did for David, and what-with the blessing of God-they'll do for you and your children,
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