Having family devotionals consistently is difficult with the pressures that demand your time. Bruce Ware, who is a professor at Southern Seminary, as well as a father, author, a church elder, and husband talks about starting and stopping family devotions hundreds of times, and encourages parents to keep starting them back up. The Christmas season is a great time to re-start having your family devotions or to start having family devotions.
In my last post, I gave you one idea for family devotions during the advent season with what is called the Advent Candles, which begins four Sundays prior to Christmas. Even if you get a late start, start anyway. Your kids won’t know the difference.
Before I give you other ideas, I do want to give you a few principles that should govern our Advent Devotions, and for that matter all of our devotions.
- A High View of Scripture: Scripture should be read, talk about, explained. Scripture should direct our storytelling and not the other way around.
- Devotions that put the incarnation of Jesus in the context of God’s redemptive plan throughout history. In other words, the story of Jesus’ birth is much greater than the story of his birth, manger, the shepherds and wise men as wonderful as it is. In Genesis 3, God the Father makes His first promise to send the Word and from there He unfolds his plans throughout the pages of the Old Testament with the final and full revelation with the incarnation of His Son.
- Be flexible. Every family will conduct devotions differently according to ages of children and the gifting of the family. Additionally, there are other verses that you can use to show God’s promise that you may want to substitute or add.
- Jesse Tree – great for all children, but especially younger children. It is a visual way of telling the story of God’s unfolding redemptive plan with Christmas ornaments. Each day in December leading up to Christmas, your children can make or unwrap an ornament to hang on the tree while you read one of the 25 devotionals that trace God’s redemptive plan from the beginning, long before Jesus was born. The readings culminate on Christmas with the birth of the new “shoot . . . from the stump of Jesse,” as foretold in Isaiah 11:1.
- You can find The Jesse Tree Activity Kit at www.christianbooks.com, or you can make your own. There are Jesse Tree devotionals as well at this website. One outline as an example is located at: http://www.jesse-tree.com/jesse_tree.html. Another helpful website is: https://www.rca.org/sslpage.aspx?pid=1602. For Trinity folks, Jon and Suzanne Rushing have been doing the Jesse Tree with their children so they are an excellent resource as well.
- The VillageChurch in Texas has an excellent Advent Guide that you can download. You can find it at www.desiringgod.org .
- For younger children, use your nativity set to help tell the story. You could do this over several days. Then have your children tell you the story to you!
- Purchase The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones (at any bookstore) to go through God’s unfolding story of redemption with younger children.
- Use the Christmas decorations as object lessons that point to Jesus and God’s plan to send Him to save us from our sin and give us eternal life. For example: Christmas tree is an evergreen and is a picture of eternal life; angels; stars; ornaments; Christmas gifts show the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ.
These are just a few ideas to get you thinking about how you can begin decorating the hearts of your children with our Savior and Lord, Jesus! I encourage you don’t put it off, because before you know it they will be out your door! Don’t worry about being perfect; just be faithful and do your best as you rely on the Lord through prayer.
What questions do you have? What suggestions? What are you doing with your family?