In raising our 14 kids I can’t say we’ve always been consistent in family devotion times with the kids. It actually got much harder as the kids got older and had so many out of the home commitments. But before we got to that stage, we had fairly consistent family Bible times.
In the next couple of posts I plan to share some of the things we did that proved successful but not overwhelming to accomplish, as well as some of the resources we developed that can be picked up and used without prep time on Dad or Mom’s part. Rick was a dad who had a physically intensive job so he would come home very tired and not at his creative best, so something that did not require a lot of preparation was important for that reason. Perhaps you find yourself in a similar situation.
Family Devotions don’t have to be in-depth, or extremely time-consuming. They don’t have to follow a particular formula, and you don’t have to have visuals and activities planned out to accompany your time together in order to “make it work”. What is important, really, is that you try to set aside some time to simply lead your family in listening to God’s word and discussing it together. If you want to do more, great! But, if you cannot- don’t lose heart! Do what you can. Little is MUCH when God is in it!
Here are Easy Ideas and Resources for Family Devotions:
How can you instill the practice of studying God’s Word into your children? Well, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. But, let me share with you what we did with our own children….
From the time our children were babes in the bassinet, we played Bible audios for them at sleep times. It would be a comfort to them and help them to settle down to turn on their Bible CD’s. Pretty early on, Rick recorded audios for them and explained difficult words and meanings to them which was actually teaching them how to meditate on God’s Word. This also served to show the kids that God’s Word was practical and interesting to listen to.
We read Bible stories to our little people and had a Friday night Bible quiz each week asking questions from our reading during the week. We would reward them for answering questions, and it encouraged them to be attentive during reading times- to want to “pay attention on purpose.”
Family devotion time doesn’t need to be complicated. I remember little Matt when he was about 3 or 4; he would get his pillow and stretch out on his back underneath the coffee table every night with his feet up in the air touching the bottom of the tabletop. We never let our kids disrupt family time by running around being loud, but expected them to listen quietly. Matt, listening quietly, would fall asleep every time! Sweet memories. It’s okay. They’ll pick up a whole lot more than you think even if it appears that they aren’t being really attentive.
So, continuing with suggestions for easy Family Bible Times, let me share with you several more ways we spent time together as a family learning about God. (Miss Part 1? Read it here)
That’s a question we asked our kids often during their growing up years.
We made it into a little game that the kids begged to play. It was fun.
You are with a friend and he is about to pick the neighbor’s raspberries without permission. He wants you to join him. What should you do?
You hear of an elderly man at church who is recovering from surgery. You wonder if there are things he might need done around his home. What should you do?
Your baby sister grabbed your Bible and tore out several pages while you were out of the room. What should you do?
We would think of situations of temptation that we were pretty sure our kids would have to deal with in whatever stage of life they were experiencing. Then for family time, we asked our kids, “What would you do if…..”.
Character is so lacking in our culture today. Really, it’s more important to train your children in godly character than in any of the academic subjects. It is, in fact, a solid cornerstone for life. God seems to make a way for those who have learned to intentionally strive to build godly disciplines into their lives. Knowledge alone ‘puffeth’ up. (1 Cor. 8:1) Character, unfortunately, doesn’t just happen. It must be taught and cultivated. Children need to learn practical handles to apply it to situations they face day to day.
For years I have been distributing a handout called Identifying and Dealing with Offenses to moms wherever I speak. It is a list I made from observing the negative character traits in my own 14 kid’s lives. As I would see a problem area crop up, I went to the Scripture to see what the Word had to say about it, and then I made up short answer questions for the kids to use to help dig out the treasures of God’s Word concerning each issue.
Through the years, moms asked me to develop a study to make it easier for them to use, hence—Growing in Wisdom.
Do you grow weary of hearing your kids complain or argue with you or their brothers and sisters? How can you control their outbursts of anger? Did you know that God’s Word has a LOT to say about those issues and so many more? In fact, the heart of every problem you encounter with your kids is addressed in the Word, and He gives us the wisdom for knowing how to deal with it.
Consider Ephesians 4:
“So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind….. But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus,that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit,and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”
We learn here 3 commands :
We are to lay aside or PUT OFF the old self. Romans 6 tells us that our old life has been buried with Christ and we are now dead to sin. However, we must present our bodies to God as instruments of righteousness. “But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices” \
We are to be RENEWED IN OUR MINDS – We renew our minds by memorizing and meditating on Scripture, by learning what God’s Word says and acting upon it daily. Joshua 1:8 tells us “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.”We are promised success if we meditate on God’s Word.
We are to PUT ON our new self. Colossians 3 tells us “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity” We are to actively strive to cultivate these qualities in our life. The Holy Spirit is there to guide and help us.
In the last 4 posts, I’ve tried to give you some “shoe leather” – real stuff- you can do with your family, not just pie-in-the-sky ideas that sound good but aren’t practical. I’ve been doing this type of thing for MANY years now. I just completed my 37th year homeschooling and graduated my last child. Whew! But, I’m not done yet. Just beginning. I’ve got 16 grandchildren with number 17 on the way in March. And yes, I’m not their parents, but Scripture does hold me responsible to influence my grandchildren in a godly fashion.
I KNOW it’s not easy having a bunch of “littles” in your home to work around and cart with you in car seats when you go places. Believe me, I know all about it! But, listen to me- IT’S WORTH every minute of it.
What do you want to see at the end of your life? I want to see kids and grandkids and even great-grandkids who are thoroughly committed to the Lord, who are living lives pleasing to Him; a big part of that is investing themselves in others. People go to heaven. Things don’t. People can be saved. Things can’t. People can be encouraged and inspired to attempt great things for God and even do things that others may see as little things, but are really BIG things in God’s eyes.
You hear a lot these days in Christian circles about freedom in Christ. Christ has set us free! Yes, He has! I’m so grateful for that, but just why has he set us free? Does that mean we are free to evaluate all the philosophies of the world and make our own decision about how to live our lives? Can we merely follow our desires and tell ourselves that God gave us our desires and we’re free to pursue what we love to do?
If we are truly born again, we are bought with a price. We are to be servants of the Most High God. Our lives are not our own. We belong to Him, and the only reason He left us on this earth is to serve Him, not to pursue our desires.
How can I know what is the right way to raise my kids? How can I know if something “questionable” is okay to do? Are there any FAQ’s to help me make wise decisions? How can I raise my kids to be able to make wise decisions when they are no longer kids and looking to me for guidance in daily decisions? Or when I’m dead and gone? There are so many philosophies out there. How do I evaluate them?