Archive for the 'Family Devotions' Category

03
Jun
09

Keep Up the Bible Reading!

Read This Book!Homebuilders,

I just want to encourage you as I encourage myself to keep up the Bible reading! We recently started Deuteronomy, which is a very enjoyable OT book to read, and the Psalms on the present schedule are so helpful to our thinking spiritually.

As well, the companion devotional book we have promoted,  For the Love of God, (vol 1) can now be downloaded for free, thanks to an old friend, Andy Naselli, who is compiling some of D.A. Carson’s works and making them available online.  I still prefer to have a good, hard copy of any book I read to mark up, so you can still get it at the Inter-City Bookstore.

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26
Nov
08

Watts to be Thankful For?

The First Thanksgiving

The First Thanksgiving

Isaac Watts in his Guide to Prayer lists a number of things to be thankful for. Many of these I had not contemplated before reading this book, and it formed a helpful list of things which God has blessed us with that we should give thanks for. I plan to read this list at our dinner table before we partake of our dinner. Perhaps you would like to do this too.

Watts says, “To give thanks is to acknowledge the bounty of that hand from which we receive our blessings, and to ascribe honor and praise to the power, the wisdom and the goodness of God upon that account” (29).

We should give thanks both for benefits we have and have not prayed for!

We give thanks for those benefits which God has bestowed on us without our asking

  1. For making a distinction between us as fallen men and fallen angels. Fallen men can be redeemed, yet fallen angels cannot.
  2. For His work of reconciling sinners: “We give glory to thy justice and to thy grace for this work of terror and compassion, this work of reconciling sinners to thyself by the punishment of thy Son.”
  3. For the preservation of the true gospel even to the point that we have heard and believed it: “We give glory to that power of thine that has guarded the gospel in all ages, and through ten thousand oppositions of Satan has delivered it down safe to our age, and has proclaimed the glad tidings of peace in our nation.”
  4. For being born into a land of light: “that thou hast built habitations for thyself amongst us, and that we should be born in such a land of light as this.” 
  5. For preservations from dangers which we could never foresee nor prevent.
  6. For not cutting us off in a state of nature and sin: “That our portion at this time is not among the children of wrath.”
  7. For so many conveniences and comforts

—and all this before we began to know thee or sought any of the mercies of this life or the other at Your hands!

We give thanks for those benefits we have received as an answer to prayer.

  1. We acknowledge the blessings when we become receivers of what we have petitioned for: “Truly thou art a God that hearest prayer, and thou hast not despised the cry of those that sought thee. We ourselves are witnesses that thou dost not bid thy people seek thy face in vain” (31).

We give thanks as well for the following, among other things:

  1. The multitude of mercies we have received, their greatness and continuance;
  2. The glory and self-sufficiency of God the giver: that he is happy in himself and stands in no need of us, and yet he condescends to confer perpetual benefits upon us;
  3. That He is sovereign and might dispose of his favours to thousands and leave us out of the number of his favorites. We are as vile and unworthy as others, and our God beholds all our unworthiness, all our guilt, our repeated provocations, and his past mercies abused, and yet he continues to have mercy upon us and waits to be gracious” (32).

God is Great and God is Good. Let us thank Him for our food–and the many other mercies and graces He gives to us!

26
Apr
07

Our Reactions and Our Heart

He who is slow to wrath has great understanding,
But he who is impulsive exalts folly. Prov. 14:29

[Warning: Talking about this passage with your family is guaranteed to provide accountability for you, dad!]

What is one very simple way to know if you are growing spiritually? Keep track of how often you are reacting angrily.

Our spur-of-the-moment reactions provide a simple, straightforward spiritual guage for each one of us. Dads, we know what it is like to get cut off on the road and react angrily, only a second later to realize that the little eyes are wide open in the back seat looking at you (or am I the only one this happens too?). Moms, how about when the kid dumps the legos out for the third time? Kids, how do you react when your classmate gets the last ________ that you wanted?

The key element in our reactions is not the circumstance that brings it about. These vary and are as many as the proverbial sands on the seashore. The key element is whether we give thought to the circumstance before reacting or if we are impulsive.

Too often, we have an impulsive, angry response. Sometimes we call it frustration, sometimes we blame it on our personality, but all times we really know it is because, at that moment, we are not understanding that whatever is happening is controlled by God.

In our reactions, we have the immediate choice to exalt God or exalt folly. If we have understanding, we exalt God by being slow to anger. If we lack understanding, we are impulsive and exalt folly.

Questions:

1. Name a circumstance recently where you responded with folly or anger. Name a time you remember when dad responded this way. Mom. Brother, etc.

2. How would you have responded had you taken some time to think about and understand the circumstance? How should dad, mom, etc. have responded to their situation?

22
Apr
07

Confidence in Fear?

In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, And His children will have a place of refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

No Fear! Any of us who grew up in the 80’s remember that slogan’s birth! In the present age of X-games and extreme sports, it is fun to let our kids know that we were there when extreme sports were invented!

No Fear! Our world tells us that it is weak to fear and that we have to prove that we don’t have any fear–that we are confident in every situation. We all know, however, that when sin rears its monstrous head or when tragedy strikes as at Virgina Tech or in Hurricane Katrina that there is no other reaction for the unbeliever than fear and disbelief.

As believers in God, we are taught the reality of the world system and of the destructive effects of sin in individual lives and in the world system at large. We learn that God is bigger than any of these problems–that He is All-Powerful and Sovereign.

So, we are told that our strong confidence comes in fearing God. When we fear Him, we stand in awe of Who He is. We revere Him. We respect Him. We obey Him. We let Him have His way with us and with the world without accusing Him of wrongdoing. While we do that, we have confidence, because we know He not only controls all things, but He holds us in His hand as well, and so our fear turns into confidence. As Joyce Oshiro, our missionary in Japan sang a couple weeks ago, “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me!”

Questions for Kids:
What kind of things are you afraid of?
What things are not controlled by God?
Who should we be confident in–ourselves or God? Why do you think we can be confident in God?

21
Apr
07

Going Astray or Finding Mercy and Truth?

Homebuilders: I would like to post some challenges for you to use in your family devotions time. I hope these are useful.

Do they not go astray who devise evil? But mercy and truth belong to those who devise good. Proverbs 14:22

What kind of things do you think about when you have some free time? Do you think about doing something good or do you think about doing something evil? The writer of this Proverb gets right to the heart of the matter here by telling us that those who make a habit of plotting evil, trickery or harmful courses of action will go astray, or, leave the path of God’s will and their walk will no longer please Him. Those who think about the good they can do and make plans according to that thinking will show mercy and truth.

Mercy and truth… these are things that God loves. More than that, these are things that God is. God is Mercy. God is Truth. God is Mercy in that rather than giving us what we deserve because we are not perfect, he is patient and longsuffering and he gives us forgiveness instead. When we think about doing good, or “devise good” as the proverb says, we show mercy. God is Truth in that he never uses lies or tricks to get His way, unlike us. If we devise good, we will be honest people. Some people put a lot of time into devising lies, covering their sin and being dishonest. Doing that leads us astray.

This is a warning. We go astray if we devise evil. Astray—like a sheep wandering on our own course into certain danger. Astray—going a direction we choose, but ending up in a destination we never would have chosen. One preacher said this, “Sin will take you farther than you ever wanted to go, and keep you longer than you ever wanted to stay.” Astray. It starts by the plans we make and the outlook we have. Are we devising good . . . or evil? Let’s make plans for good—for mercy and truth—for this pleases God!

Questions for Kids:
1. How are two ways we can devise good?
2. How are two ways some people devise evil and how can we stay away from doing that?
3. Choose which path you want to take: One which goes astray or one which shows mercy and truth. How do we stay on that path according to this proverb?