Monday, September 19, 2011

Family Devotionals

One of the core things that our kid’s ministry at church highlights is that us moms and dads should be the primary shepherds of our children’s faith. Church activities and classes should act as a supplement to what our kids learn at home from us, not a substitute. In other words, we should not leave it up to our church to teach our kids about God - we parents need to take the main role. At D6 ( a few years ago Jake and I heard a sermon from our pastor encouraging parents to be opening up the scriptures at home with our kids….meaning, digging into the Bible on a regular basis as a family. We had been reading to our kids out of their little children’s bibles before bedtime almost every night, but we decided it would be great to add in a sort of family devotional night at least once or twice a week. That way the whole family could sit down and talk through/discuss verses, freely ask questions, pose life application challenges and take the time to pray for each other. As we’ve housed various host students and people in our home, this time has not only become a great way to teach our kids, but it has also invited new house members into a non-intimidating setting to learn about our family’s faith. Jake and I rotate the leadership role often so that each of us take responsibility in ‘preparing’ what scripture we will talk through, as well as discussion questions.

Through this act of preparing short devotionals for our family, I’ve realized that I REALLY love writing my own! At first I would try to find family devotionals online, but I quickly found that it was just easier to write them myself so that I could tailor them according to who was in our family at the time. There are many devotionals written for ‘Christians’ who have already expressed faith in Christ. But often times there have been kids in our house who know nothing about God, and it’s best to make it personal – not generic – so that they can enter in quickly. Add in the age range of kids in our family and different backgrounds they are coming from and you pretty much have a smorgasbord of hearts that you are hoping God will break into.

I thought I would share a few devotionals on the blog in case someone else out there needs an idea of how to start in writing your own. Here is one that I did with the kids the other night (I would say this question format is good for 5 years and up):

Scripture: Daniel 3 (story of Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego)

Read Daniel 3: 1-7 aloud, then ask:

1) So what was King Nebuchadnezzar asking the people to do?
-To bow down and worship the image made of gold

2) What would happen to the people if they didn’t follow this command?
-They would be thrown into a blazing furnace.
-Ask them what a furnace is to make sure they know.

3) What is God’s command about worshiping any god other than Him?
-Let them answer then read Exodus 20:3-4
-Highlight that God wants us to believe in Him alone as He is the one and only True God. He wants our whole hearts.

Read Daniel 3: 8-18 aloud, then ask:

1) Why was King Nebuchadnezzar mad at Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?
-Because they would not worship the image of gold he had set up (3:12)

2) Why did Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refuse to worship the image of gold?
-Because they served God alone (3:17)

3) Did Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego know that if they refused to worship the image of gold they would face death in a fiery furnace?
-Yes (3:15b, 17,18)

4) So what was their comfort, even in facing death?
- Even if they didn’t make it through this trial alive, they would still inherit reward in eternal life. Eternal life is worth any suffering we may have to endure first.

5) So, although Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were facing a painful death, they remained faithful and did not deny God by worshipping an idol. They also believed that they would be rescued out of the furnace. Who were they trusting in to deliver them?
-God (3:17)

Read Daniel 3: 19-23 aloud, then ask:

1) What do you think is going to happen?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Read Daniel 3: 24-30 aloud, then ask:

1) So what happened to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego?
-The fire did not harm them. Not even a hair on their head, or a piece of their clothing. They didn’t even smell like fire (3:27).

2) Who did King Nebuchadnezzar attribute Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego’s deliverance/rescue to?
-God and Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego’s faith in Him.

3) So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were determined to follow God no matter what…even to the point of death. What were some ways that we saw that God rewarded their faith?
-He protected them from harm in the fiery furnace
-Through their faith King Nebuchadnezzar saw the awesomeness of God and praised Him.
-In the end God was glorified

At some point throughout devo you can ask them: What would you have done if you were put in the same situation as Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego – to worship a different god or else? Add in more personal questions like this as the discussion allows.

Pray that we can all demonstrate deep trust and faith in God, and be committed to following Him no matter what - just like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did.

Memory verse – say aloud and practice with actions: Exodus 20:3 ~ You (point to each other) shall have (cupped hands) no (shake finger ‘no’) other gods before me (down on knees, hand raised to heaven).

With younger kids you can then do a craft to drive the message home. I cannot take credit for any of the craft ideas that I post! Most of these I have either gotten online or from church. This one in particular was an idea from our children’s ministry coordinator at our church that she helped me think of for our Ghana trip bible studies:

Craft: Make a fiery furnace.
Supplies: Long white sheet of paper, yellow-orange-red tissue paper, scissors, glue and glue containers, crayons for each child, marker for adult helper to write “I will follow God”.

Tear/cut pieces of yellow, orange and red tissue paper to be about 1" square pieces and put the eraser end of a pencil (or a stick, or a finger) in the middle. Then scrunch the sides up around it. Then dip the tissue paper-covered pencil in glue, and transfer it to a piece of construction paper to make it 3D. Lay the piece of construction paper sideways and fold the outer halves in to make flaps. Put the tissue paper fire on the flaps, then open it up to see the men all safe inside. (They can draw three men...four if they want to throw in the angel.) They/we can write, "I will follow God" above the men.

My kids LOVED this craft and we went over the details of the story again as they each made their own fiery furnace.

Look at the concentration on their faces!

And finished furnace #1...............................................

Finished furnace #2 (I had to help JJ and Jayla draw the men and angel on the inside, but they did all the tissue paper work on their own!)

Finished furnance #3 - completed by a fireball herself! :)

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