Thanksgiving Day will soon be upon us, and I want you to be prepared to lead your family spiritually. As is my custom, I offer the following information to empower you for this special day with family and friends. I realize you’ll probably not use everything that follows, but take what might be helpful and spend some time crafting a plan for a spiritually growing, memory-building investment.
If the trajectory of our country is going to change, it must begin with our hearts. America’s systemic problem is spiritual in nature; therefore, we must first steward our own hearts and the hearts of our families before speaking about changing the direction of our country; anything less is hypocritical. May God use the following thoughts to aid in crafting a special, constructive day centered in our love for Jesus. Let us give thanks for all He has done for us! If I can be of help to you in preparing, give me a call.
Danielle and I have much to be thankful for in the honor of serving you. Together, in partnership, we have launched many new ministries in state capitols and foreign nations this year and are poised to begin many more in the months to come. We are grateful and thankful for all that God has done in and through you.
Read on, my friends.
The following is a suggested outline to help prepare you for leading and facilitating a meaningful and spiritually nourishing time of family gathering and devotions during Thanksgiving.
II. PREPARING FOR THE FAMILY DEVOTIONAL
A. ANNOUNCING DEVOTIONS
When you invite your family members and are informing them of the time to arrive and the time you will sit down to dinner, mention the family devotion in the conversation. By preparing them, people will not be surprised when you transition into this part of the day. Providing advance notice will serve to take pressure off of you when the time arrives to segue into the devotion. (Don’t surprise your guests.)
B. DRESSING FOR DEVOTIONS
Give prior consideration as to how you will dress. Dress one step above your guests—but only one step. Your dress should reflect the season, warmth, love, nobility, and a sense of seriousness. Remember, how you dress should reflect that in the coming moments you will be God’s spokesman to your family; don’t take that lightly or discount the sobriety of your duties.
C. TIMING DEVOTIONS
You might want to have devotions after the main meal, during dessert. Make sure the TV and background music are off and not competing for attention. Kindly inform everyone that they need to “turn off all electronic devices during takeoff and landing.” It’s best that you and the others aren’t distracted by a football game or the young ones’ text messaging.
I ask Danielle to serve dessert and beverages before I share. Serving them helps to take the edge off, especially for those who might not personally know Christ.
D. TRANSITIONING INTO DEVOTIONS
As you circulate among your guests and invite them into the room that you have previously determined is best for this purpose, make appropriate, edifying-only small talk as people settle in. You are starting to set the tone. Be extra sensitive to make your guests feel comfortable. Help move the chairs and bring people coffee. Manifest a servant’s heart.
III. BEGINNING THE FAMILY DEVOTIONAL
A. INTRODUCTORY REMARKS
Express your heartfelt gratitude that you could all be together during this wonderful time of the year.
B. PRAISE YOUR WIFE
Nothing is more important in the formation and stability of your children and grandchildren than for them to see how much you love your wife. Follow the ACTS outline as you speak about her:
C. INCLUDE FAMILY MEMBERS
Speak personally and edifyingly into the lives of your family members. This will require forethought to be most effective.
Ask some family members to share what they are especially thankful for this year.
Very importantly, herein you are setting long-term tone and culture in terms of the interpersonal relationships amongst your clan. This is a time to circle the wagons and huddle with your loved ones.
IV. OPEN THE SCRIPTURES TOGETHER
Prepare enough copies for everyone of the passage of Scripture that you will find at the end of this study.
A. READ THE PASSAGE
Ask your best reader to read Psalm 100. This isn’t so much a time to exegete the passage as it is to open the Scripture together as a part of your family tradition.
B. EXPLAIN THE PASSAGE
Once the reading is completed, be ready to share some of your insights of the passage that are self-evident from the reading.
C. SING A HYMN TOGETHER
The hymn “Give Thanks” written by Henry Smith, is very appropriate for singing after reading Psalm 100. (Lyrics are easily accessible on-line.) If not you, defer to someone else to lead who is gifted in music.
V. SHARE YOUR PERSONAL TESTIMONY
Prepare beforehand your personal conversion story. Speak no longer than three minutes. Refrain from reciting every detail of your life. Mention the following areas: an effective testimony includes three irreducible minimums.
Your main objective is to model for your family how they too can receive Christ if they haven’t already. Edit your comments accordingly. You are modeling a powerful living example and tool as to how they too can receive Christ, if not now, at a later date.
VI. SHARE THE GOSPEL
There is nothing more important to accomplish as a husband and father than to lead your kids to Christ— now is a good time! Here is how to transition:
A. APPLY THE PASSAGE
It is fitting at this point, having read Scripture, sung a hymn, and having given your testimony, to make some personal applications. These former ingredients will serve as pillars to support your quest for the others’ consideration of Christ.
Ask your family members (if they haven’t already) to invite the Lord Jesus into their hearts—just as you did. Consider and incorporate the special warmth people typically feel at Thanksgiving. Don’t preach; emphasize gentleness.
B. GOSPEL VERSES TO USE
I recommend that you look up the following passages prior to the devotion and mark them in your Bible. Don’t read to them from this study. These will aid you in sharing the gospel in a succinct and thoughtful way.
Notice how these verses progress through the plan of salvation—make appropriate transitions to achieve a similar, smooth progression.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name ( John 1:12).
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:1–2).
C. INVITE OTHERS TO ASK JESUS INTO THEIR HEART
Pray out loud the following prayer, inviting anyone who would like to ask Jesus into his or her heart to pray silently along with you:
“Lord Jesus, I need You. I realize that I have sinned and fall short of Your standard of perfection and am in need of not only a Savior, but a Lord Who will always lead me in the right direction. I open the door of my life today and ask You to come in and begin to change my life for good and Your glory. Amen!”
At a later time, you need to personally and individually follow up with your family members; ask them if they prayed that prayer with you. In the days that follow, minister to each accordingly as the family shepherd. Continue to cultivate your own understanding of being the family shepherd.
VII. CLOSING THE FAMILY DEVOTION
From the bottom of your heart, express how important this time has been to you.
It is very likely you’ll face heartfelt spiritual warfare in the form of lacking courage or doubting you should do this.
Expect that you may even put off some family members going in. You are definitely doing the best thing you could possibly do for your family!
A. SING THE HYMN AGAIN
B. CLOSE WITH PRAYER
You might choose to have someone else in the family who you know has a strong walk with Christ to close in prayer.
C. EXPRESS APPRECIATION
Once again, take the opportunity to set a tone of love. Abundantly shower others with His love and tell them how much you appreciate each one of them. How can you spend more time with your family members? For someone as busy as you are, your prioritization of time is probably your best way to express your love and extend your influence for Christ.
May God richly bless you as you lay hold of your spiritual leadership responsibilities. This is what God has called you to, and you need to serve your family in this way in service to Him. A family devotion is one of the most important functions you will perform in life—with the greatest return on investment, I might add!
PSALM 100 A Psalm for Thanksgiving
Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful singing.
Know that the Lord Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations.