by Gene Taylor
"O LORD, correct me, but with justice; not in Your anger, lest You bring me to nothing. Pour out Your fury on the Gentiles, who do not know You, and on the families who do not call on Your name; for they have eaten up Jacob, devoured him and consumed him, and made his dwelling place desolate." (Jeremiah 10:24-25)
The above prophecy was made to Judah after the ten northern tribes had already been carried into Assyrian captivity. The southern tribes refused to learn from that experience and continued to turn their backs on God.
Jeremiah prophesies that Judah would also fall captive to a foreign power, Babylonia. It is not surprising to find the fury of God poured out on heathen nations, people who did not know, recognize or believe God. But it is surprising to read that the "fury" of God would be poured out on "the families who do not call on Your name." These were families of the Jews who failed to worship God as they should.
God demanded that the Jews assemble for public worship. For example, Jeremiah 26:2 required them to go to Jerusalem for worship. But God also demanded families gather and call on His name as families. "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up" (Deut. 6:6-7).
This same principle is taught in the New Testament. "And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4). This principle, devotion as a family, should characterize all families, including mine and yours, but, sadly, it seems to have little application today among many who claim to be children of God and put the Lord first.
Why Have Family Devotion
There are many reasons to have worship as a family. They include the following.
- To help our children develop a proper attitude toward the Lord. Our children scrutinize our lives and thus, most of the time, develop the attitudes we have and make the judgments we make. Usually, they will not get their attitudes so much from what you teach but what you say and do. If, in your home, the Lord is seldom mentioned, the church only spoken of complainingly in disparaging terms, and God's sovereignty is never acknowledged, your children will, more than likely, develop the same attitude. If, on the other hand, there is a constant spirit of reverence, a steady devotion to Christ, and daily acknowledgment of God's rule over the household, your children will develop those attitudes.
- To confess our faults to one another and pray (Jas. 5:16). There is not a person who does not need to do this (Rom. 3:23). What better place to do it than in the home? Sometimes, though, parents are hypocritical. They leave the impression that they are above sin. There is not a parent who is not guilty of sin. It is a tragic mistake to leave the impression that parents are blameless.
- To offer thanksgiving for all that we have (1 Thes. 5:17-18; Col. 3:17). Every blessing is from God. We would not have them if not for His grace. It is easy to leave the impression with our children, though, that we are responsible for the things we have. We should not be high-minded and fail to give God the credit. While it is true that we work for what we have, if not for the power and love of God, we would have nothing. We need, as a family, to come together with hum-ility and gratitude and let our children know that all blessings come from a loving heavenly Father.
- Because of the example good people have left for us. Abraham believed in family devotion (Gen. 18:19). Joshua was confident his house would serve God (Josh. 24:15). Timothy was taught "the faith" since he was a child (2 Tim. 1:5)
What to Do in Family Devotion
- Read the Bible. Make your reading brief. It needs to be enjoyable for children.
- Discuss what you've read. Let children express themselves and ask questions. It becomes more enjoyable for them if they are part of the activities.
- Pray to God. Teach children to be thankful for blessings. Teach them to be humble by the humility you demonstrate.
If you are too busy to spend time teaching and studying God's word with your children, put on the brakes and slow down. It is a terrible mistake to think that children get all the spiritual instruction they need at public classes and worship services.
If you have a family devotion, great. If not, start now. It could mean eternal life for both you and your children.