The first I heard of ‘Family Devotions’, was when I was listening to a set of encouragement CD’s that I ordered from a website called http://www.titus2.com No one in my family circle had ever used that term, nor did anyone use that term in the church that I grew up in. Once I found out what it meant I was further perplexed, because again, no one that I was in contact with sat down on a regular basis to worship God and read the Bible……as a family……..at night……..in their home. That sort of thing was done in Sunday School and during sermons at Church. Furthermore, reading the Bible was not completely necessary as long as you listened really good to the preacher every Sunday……..right? Sure.
I have read the Bible several times now, but it took a major catastrophic event to make me desperate enough to crack open those crisp, crinkly pages of my 20-odd-year-old Bible and actually read it. Before that point, the most I ever did with my Bible was highlight verses that I liked from sermons or those that were told to me from friends. If I had questions about the Bible, I just asked the elder members of my family, because they seemed to know everything about it. The problem was, their words of wisdom were not satisfying my needs at the time. It wasn’t until I was flaming mad at God that I opened up my soul to His Word……but at the time I didn’t know that I was actually allowing God to get closer to me, I was just researching how God could be so quiet during such pain and suffering. It took His silence during that time for me to realize that He had been there all along…….and that everything that I needed to know was within those Pages.
When we started to homeschool our children, we knew that they too needed to learn about God’s Word. I ordered a great Bible curriculum that would go through the Bible from the Old Testament to the New, over at Rod and Staff Publishing. It’s great and the textbook that the children use is actually the Bible, but it’s still not the same as having the kids actually read it. Then, I ordered several ‘Family Devotion’ books, which were also great. They all categorized their devotions into character qualities, which my children also needed to learn and apply to their lives. Yet, it was still not reading the Bible for themselves. Finally, after going through several programs, feeling guilty because we were making excuses to skip Family Devotions, and feeling awkward and uneducated about what the Bible actually says…….we decided to just read the Bible for ourselves! A funny thing happened then; we no longer felt awkward, we felt as if we were on a mission…….God’s Mission…….and it feels good!
Leaving your child’s Christian education up to a Christian School, Sunday School, or even a homeschool Bible curriculum is not enough. As parents, we have very specific guidelines on how we are to teach our children about God…….Deuteronomy 6:6-9 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. We all need to take this seriously. What could be sweeter and more fulfilling that walking with your child down a path that will lead them closer to Christ?
As a Christian, the best thing you can do for yourself is to read the Bible. Don’t just let others tell you what it says……that’s not only lazy, but it can have harmful consequences. The Devil can lead us astray if we base our beliefs on hearsay and what we think the Bible says, but do not know ourselves. God speaks to each of us differently, and I am a firm believer that God can and will speak to you while you read His Word. What He says to me, will not necessarily be what He says to you. Praying over and reflecting about what you read from the Bible will make for the most personal and gratifying relationship that you can have between you and God. If you haven’t read it before, now is the time………from beginning to end, every chapter, every word. Make the time and you will not be sorry.
Several years have past since I read my old Bible for the first time, and I have read several different adaptions of the Bible besides my original King James version. My favorite for new readers is ‘The Book’, put out by Tyndale. It makes for very easy reading and understanding. I believe that everyone should eventually go back through the King James version for individual study, but it can be difficult to understand at first. The Book reads just like it says, a book. Knowing that God put all of the knowledge into one Book for you and me is overwhelming sometimes…..but it solidifies the faith that I have in Him, and reminds me how much He loves me……even though I don’t deserve it and will never get to a point where I deserve it. Thank you God.
Here is our very simple plan for ‘Family Devotions’, and how we came to this resource:
1. GET YOUR HEAD IN THE GAME: If you haven’t read the Bible personally, that’s ok. Don’t wait until you have to begin reading it with your child, instead read it together and learn together.
2. DON’T BE A HARSH TEACHER: The Bible says this about teaching children in a harsh manner, Colossians 3:21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. If you preach the Bible to your children and become a harsh judge, you will turn your children off. You could even be the reason that they turn from God……..please be gentle in your teachings, something that all parents have to work on, myself included.
3. BE A HUMBLE SERVANT: Do NOT be a Know-It-All, even if you hold a Ph.D in Biblical and Theology studies. Be humble as you read His Word, and if your children have questions that you do not know the answers to, humbly seek out the answers together. If you do hold the answers, gently and with a humble spirit teach them to your children. Did I stress humble enough?
4. DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED: If you feel that you are not getting anywhere with your kids after the first few steps above, then look above again……but this time towards Heaven. The Bible says this about teaching your children, Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. That takes the pressure off of you, and puts it squarely on His shoulders…..where it belongs. Teach them as He says, but leave the rest up to Him.
5. KEEP IT SIMPLE: We read the Bible starting with the New Testament, and then read the Old. I felt like it would teach the kids about Christ and how they should live their lives, and then read about the History before Christ. However, my way is not the only way. Read it from the old to the new, just read it! You can find One Year Bible reading plans here: http://www.oneyearbibleonline.com/readingplan.asp
6. DO IT EVERY MORNING, NOON AND NIGHT: If you can’t do it all of those times, at least do it once a day. The Duggars read from Proverbs every morning to get their day started off on His path. We have adapted that practice as well. Did you know that Proverbs has 31 chapters, which is perfect for each day of the month? Yeah, I didn’t because I had never read them for myself……see? A fine example of reading the Bible for yourself! When the month ends, start re-reading Proverbs again the next month. You will always hear and learn something different, I promise. We also read ‘My Utmost for His Highest’, usually at lunch time, and then Bible reading at night. If you can only do one, make sure it’s reading the Bible all the way through, like on a one-year plan. If you do not know about the Duggars, or you have heard of them but think that they are just a bunch of people who have a lot of kids, then you are in for a treat. They are a remarkable family who has shown the world that you can indeed live your entire lives for Christ, even in today’s society. Read about them for yourselves here: http://duggarfamily.com/content/home The mother of this super-large family, Michelle Duggar, has a blog which you can read here: http://duggarfamily.com/content/michelle_blog
7. OPEN YOURSELF UP FOR SOME SERIOUS QUALITY FAMILY TIME: The gentleman from MathUSee has a a family workshop entitled ‘The Family Who Stays Together, Stays Together’. Get it? If you want some serious bonding time with your kids…….read the Bible together. There is absolutely no better way to strengthen your family, nor draw them closer together, than reading about, praying to, and worshiping God. If you have time for television, kids’ sports, or extracurricular activities, then you have time for Family Devotion. For those that don’t know, MathUSee is a math curriculum for homeschoolers. What many do not know, even homeschoolers, is that Steve Demme (who is the founder and teach over at MathUSee) is also a Christian speaker who has workshops to encourage families. You can check out the above workshop, and others like it here: http://www.buildingfaithfamilies.org/family-workshops/
8. SEEK ENCOURAGEMENT. The CD’s that I talked about at the beginning of this post are really powerful for homeschool families. However, even if you do not homeschool, they teach you that there is a whole other way to live out your role as parents…….for the glory and honor of Christ. The authors of the website, http://www.titus2.com are Steven and Teri Maxwell, and the CD set is ‘Encouragement for the Homeschool Family’ and ‘Feed My Sheep: A Practical Guide To Family Bible Time’. These CD’s are awesome, I do not make a penny off of referring them to you, and if you let them, they will change your whole outlook on your family and faith.
If you are not at this place in your walk with Christ, I encourage you to get there through any means possible. If you think you will sound like a fool, or that your kids will think you a fool…….I promise you that those feelings will melt away after a while. God has your back, and will bless your family devotion time if you conduct it in His name. If you seek Him, I assure you that you will find Him. If there is anything that I can do to help you, encourage you, guide you, or even just listen to your thoughts, than please leave a comment. If your not comfortable leaving a public comment, then email me at http://firstname.lastname@example.org
Good luck and God Bless!