Monday, October 8, 2012

The Best Part of the Day

Our family recently started using Our 24 Family Ways by Clay Clarkson during our Bible time.  It is a wonderful devotional tool for training children in biblical values and Christian character.  If your goals include training your children in godly living, this devotional guide is a wonderful resource.  When I find a great book, I love to share!  This is definitely one I'm recommending.

Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6

The 24 Family Ways:

Concerning AUTHORITIES in our family...
  1. We love and obey our Lord, Jesus Christ, with wholehearted devotion.
  2. We read the Bible and pray to God every day with an open heart.
  3. We honor and obey our parents in the Lord with a respectful attitude.
  4. We listen to correction and accept discipline with a submissive spirit.
Concerning RELATIONSHIPS in our family...
  1. We love one another, treating others with kindness, gentleness, and respect.
  2. We serve one another, humbling thinking of the needs of others first.
  3. We encourage one another, using only words that build up and bless others.
  4. We forgive one another, covering an offense with love when wronged or hurt.
Concerning POSSESSIONS in our family...
  1. We are thankful to God for what we have, whether it is a little or a lot.
  2. We are content with what we have, not coveting what others have.
  3. We are generous with what we have, sharing freely with others.
  4. We take care of what we have, using it wisely and responsibly.
Concerning WORK in our family...
  1. We are diligent to complete a task promptly and thoroughly when asked.
  2. We take initiative to do all of our own work without needing to be told.
  3. We work with a cooperative spirit, freely giving and receiving help.
  4. We take personal responsibility to keep our home neat and clean at all times.
Concerning ATTITUDES in our family...
  1. We choose to be joyful, even when we feel like complaining.
  2. We choose to be peacemakers, even when we feel like arguing.
  3. We choose to be patient, even when we feel like getting our own way.
  4. We choose to be gracious, even when we don't feel like it.
Concerning CHOICES in our family...
  1. We do what we know is right, regardless of what others do or say.
  2. We ask before we act when we do not know what is right to do.
  3. We exercise self control at all times and in every kind of situation.
  4. We always tell the truth and do not practice deceitfulness of any kind.
Many families find it difficult to carve out a place in the daily schedule for Bible time.  Our family has also struggled with this.  Having a set time and a plan will help you make family devotions a priority.  Just today I heard of a family who is getting everyone up at 6 a.m. to read the Bible before Dad goes to work.  (By the way, this family has 11 children!)  What could be more important than teaching our children to love God's word?

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.
1 John 1:4  

There is no right or wrong way to do a family Bible time/devotions.  Each family must decide what works best for them.  I will share with you what our family does since I am often asked, but please know there is no special formula or schedule.  

We meet each night in the family room at 7:30 (or as close to 7:30 as possible).  Dad opens our time with prayer or sometimes he will ask one of the older boys to pray.  After the prayer, we read from the Bible.  We choose a book of the Bible to read as a family and each night we read a chapter of that book.  We've read James, John, Acts, Romans, I and II Thessalonians, 1 Peter, and others.  We go around the room and each read one verse.  We  keep going around until we finish the chapter.  When we are finished, we discuss what we've just read and ask/answer questions.  We share with each other how a special verse ministered to us or how God's Spirit spoke to us.  Next we share praise items and discuss prayer requests.  We have a prayer request notebook we write in each night.  The date goes at the top of the page and we make 2 columns, one for praise items and one for prayer requests.  The very best thing about the notebook is looking back!  It is so encouraging to look back at the things we have prayed about and see how God has answered!  We put dates beside requests when we receive an answer.  When everyone has had a chance to share we allow time for those who need to ask forgiveness from someone in the room.  It is wonderful to ask forgiveness and to go to bed with a clear conscience.  Sometimes we (Dad & Mom) have to ask forgiveness from our children for being impatient or some other thing and sometimes siblings want to ask forgiveness for being unkind to one another or not sharing or something.  After that, we have our prayer time.  We start with the youngest and each person takes a turn praying.  (Sometimes Dad will have just the men pray or he will call on one person to pray.)  Since adding the 24 Family Ways devotional guide to our Bible time we do one of the lessons in that book as well.  For each "way" there are 5 lessons.  The lessons are brief and include scripture verses and discussion questions.  We also use the coloring book that goes with the devotional guide.  The pictures are fantastic and the younger kids like coloring them. 

The most important thing about Family Devotion/Bible Time is not how or when you do it.  It's not about what book of the Bible you read or if you spend 30 minutes or 3 hours.  The most important thing is spending time in the Word as a family and spending time praying together.  Some families sing as a part of their time, other families have a time for memorization.  There are many ways to do it.  If you aren't already having a family bible time, might I encourage you to gather the family, open the Bible, and start one today?  You will be glad you did!  In fact, it will soon become the best part of the day and you will be shaping your children's hearts for eternity!  They will one day look back and fondly remember this special family time. 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6    

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