As is my custom at holidays, I am providing you with an outline on Leading the Family Devotions at Christmas with your family. I encourage you to perform this important ministry function during this joyous, wonderful time of the year.
As I’ve mentioned before, it is critical to lead your family spiritually for several reasons. First, spiritual leadership is incumbent upon the husband. Being obedient to Scripture in this regard not only inures personal blessings from above, but it helps assure that The Faith is passed down in your family. Christmas is a time you can build your family culture: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” says Joshua in Joshua 24:15. Thirdly, this is a time to confer with your family. You need your family to be 100 percent behind your (and their) huge familial sacrifice in order to serve our country. They must be on your team in order for you to remain effective — and our country desperately needs believers to remain effective!
Your leadership at Christmas represents a sacred time to inure, assure, and confer with your family. Danielle joins me in wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas!
The following is a suggested outline in order to help prepare you for leading and facilitating a meaningful and spiritually nourishing time of family devotions at Christmas. Be praying beforehand.
II. PREPARING FOR THE FAMILY DEVOTIONAL
• ANNOUNCING DEVOTIONS
When you invite your family members and are informing them of the time to arrive and what time you will eat, mention the family devotion in the course of the conversation. This way people will not be surprised when you transition into this part of the day. It will serve to take pressure off of you when the time arrives to segue into the devotion.
• DRESSING FOR DEVOTIONS
Give prior consideration as to how you will dress. Dress one step above your guests — but only one step above. Your dress should show warmth, love, nobility, and a sense of seriousness. Remember, how you dress should reflect the fact that in the coming moments you will be God’s spokesman to your family — don’t take that lightly.
• TIMING DEVOTIONS IN THE DAY
It is best to have devotions after the main meal, during dessert, with warm beverages. Make sure the TV and background music are off and not competing for attention. Inform everyone kindly that they need to “turn off all electronic devices during takeoff and landing” (a metaphor BTW that is outdated!) What you don’t want is your young ones sending text messages or playing games while you are sharing God’s Word.
Facilitate serving food and beverages during this time. Such helps to take the edge off, especially for those who might not be saved.
• TRANSITIONING INTO DEVOTIONS
As you circulate among your guests and invite them into the room (the one you have previously determined is best for this purpose) make appropriate edifying-only small talk (you are starting to set the tone) as people settle in. Be extra sensitive to make your guests feel comfortable. Help with moving the chairs into the room, bringing people coffee, etc. Show a servant’s heart.
III. BEGINNING THE FAMILY DEVOTIONAL
• INTRODUCTORY REMARKS
Express your heartfelt gratitude that you could all be together during this wonderful time of the year.
• 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 cherish your mate. Follow the ACTS outline as you speak about your wife:
— Several things you most like
— Things she puts up with you
— Express gratefulness to her
— Mention you pray for her
• PRAISE YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS
Speak personally and edifyingly into the lives of your family members in front of others. This will require forethought to most effectively build them up. Herein you are setting long-term tone and culture for what you expect of the interpersonal relationships amongst your clan.
IV. OPEN THE SCRIPTURES TOGETHER
Open your personal Bible to the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 2.
• READ THE PASSAGE
Assign certain people to read through it (your best readers) and hand around your Bible. This isn’t so much a time to exegete the passage verse by verse as it is to cozy-up and listen to one another read God’s Word.
• EXPLAIN THE PASSAGE
Once the reading is completed be ready to share some of your insights into the passage of things that are self-evident. For instance, you could emphasize that Jesus is said to be Lord (Luke 2:11). Ask, “What does ‘Lord’ mean?” Kurios, the Greek word for “Lord” is used 747 times in the NT. In contrast, Savior only appears 22 times in the NT. Ask, “What is so significant about that?” Answer: Luke, herein, and the apostolic preaching of the first-century Church, emphasized the need for one to come to know Jesus as his Lord, or “master” — not just know Him in terms of knowledge only, or as an eternal insurance policy who doesn’t tangentially affect one’s life today (cf. Romans 10:9-10).
V. SING A HYMN TOGETHER
I recommend “The First Noel.” You can find the lyrics on the Internet. It is very appropriate for singing after reading Luke 2. If you are not a good singer, defer to someone else who is. The word “noel,” is from the Latin word natalis meaning birthday. It is from the same root we derive the English adjective, natal, meaning, “to be born.” If you have young children or grandchildren, you might want to add that this is a song about Jesus’ first birthday!
VI. SHARE YOUR PERSONAL TESTIMONY
An effective testimony includes the following three irreducible minimums: Prepare beforehand your personal conversion story along these lines (hold it to under three minutes, no long recitations of every detail of your life please. I can personally help to sort through, outline and codify this with you if you like):
• YOUR LIFE BEFORE RECEIVING CHRIST
• SPECIFICALLY, HOW YOU RECEIVED CHRIST
• LIFE CHANGES SINCE YOU RECEIVED CHRIST
The main thing you want to achieve here is to model for your family how they, too, can receive Christ if they haven’t already. So edit your comments with this in mind.
VII. SHARE THE GOSPEL
There is nothing more important that you can accomplish as a husband and father than to lead your kids to Christ — now is a good time! Here is how to transition into that:
• APPLY THE PASSAGE
It is fitting at this point, having read Scripture, sung a hymn, and having listened to your testimony, for you to return to the passage and apply it to their lives.
Ask your family members (if they haven’t already) to invite the Lord Jesus into their hearts — just like you did. Take advantage of the special warmth people feel at Christmas time, the power of having read the Word of God, and your personal testimony: These are pillars to support your very-personalized quest for their salvation. Don’t preach; rather, emphasize personal warmth and gentleness (while being very courageous in your inner person).
• GOSPEL VERSES TO USE
Look up the following passages prior to the devotion and mark them in your Bible. (Don’t read them off of this outline.) These Scriptures will aid you in sharing the Gospel in a succinct and thoughtful way. These verses progress through the plan of salvation; make appropriate transitions to achieve this same idea of progression.
1. Romans 3:23
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
2. Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
3. Romans 5:8
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
4. John 1:12
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,
5. Romans 12:1-2
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.
• INVITE OTHERS TO ASK JESUS INTO THEIR HEARTS
Publicly pray the following prayer, inviting anyone who would like to ask Jesus into his or her heart to pray along with you silently as you pray out loud:
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 also 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!
Be sure to follow up with your family members afterwards (not necessarily right then and there) and ask them if they prayed with you to receive Christ. Minister to each accordingly in your follow up.
VIII. CLOSING THE FAMILY DEVOTION
From the bottom of your heart, express to your family how important this time has been to you personally — and how you hope and pray it has been meaningful to them as well.
• CLOSE WITH THE SAME HYMN
Encourage everyone to sing the hymn once again from the heart.
• CLOSE WITH PRAYER
Choose someone else in the family who has a strong walk with Christ to close in prayer.
• CLOSE WITH APPRECIATION
You are the head of the household. Once again take this opportunity to set a tone of love, mercy, graciousness, compassion, longsuffering, and care. Abundantly shower others with His love and tell them how much you appreciate each one of them.
May God richly bless you as you lay hold of your spiritual leadership responsibilities in your household. This is what God has called you to, and you need serve your family with the same level of passion and attentiveness as you give to the nation. Herein is one of the most important functions you will perform in life, and with the greatest return on investment I might add! Lastly, it is common to feel woefully inadequate in this role (I still struggle with those feelings too). But just do it and ask God for the strength! He will empower you — wait and see what I mean! I’ll be praying for you my friend. cm
Merry Christmas from our home to yours!
Ralph & Danielle