The beginning of a new year is upon us. For many people, the new year represents a new beginning and the opportunity to make new resolutions for life. In this month’s newsletter, I’d like to suggest that we make some resolutions in the area of home life. Here are some resolutions we’d ask you to prayerfully consider incorporating into your family.
1. Personal Devotions
The first resolution is that we maintain regular times devoted to Bible reading and prayer (or “personal devotions”). Why is this so important? Paul says that we are not to be “conformed to the image of this world, but transformed by the renewing of our minds” (Romans 12:2). The way to renew our minds is to fill them with the Word of God, and one of the only ways to do that is to read the Bible. The Scriptures, Paul says, “are inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). One of the best ways to make sure that we are taking in the Bible on a regular basis is by having a Bible-reading plan. Our church has handouts that you can put in the front cover of your Bible that consist of a reading for every day of the year.
It’s also important that we pray consistently. The apostle Paul urged “that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people” (1 Timothy 2:1). One of the best times to do this is right after reading the Bible. Among other requests, we can ask the Lord to help us apply what we have just read to our lives.
Having a set time to read the Bible and pray is crucial. This is because, personal devotions usually don’t get done unless we have a plan and a set time that we are determined to do them. The time of day that you do a devotion is not commanded in Scripture, so you’re free to do it whenever is best for you. However, there is something good about doing it in the morning before the rest of your day gets started. Spending fifteen to thirty minutes (or more) in the morning before your work begins communicates to God that He and His Word are the most important parts of your life.
2. Family Devotions
Family devotions can be just as important as personal devotions for the spiritual wellbeing of our homes. Scripture is clear that parents are responsible for instructing their children in the ways of the Lord. Listen to Deuteronomy 6:6-7:
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Listen also to these words from the apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:4:
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
This verse tells us that it is specifically the “fathers” who are the ones responsible for making sure their children know the things of God.
So, the question is, parents (and especially dads), besides bringing your family to church regularly, how are you going to lead your children into a knowledge of Scripture and how are you going to teach them to walk with the Lord? One way to do this is by having family devotions. Just as personal devotions (including Bible reading and prayer) can help you grow spiritually as an individual, in the same way family devotions can help you grow spiritually as a family. Having three or four times a week when you gather together as a family and read the Scriptures and pray can go a long way in helping you “bring your children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” In a moment, I’ll suggest some resources to help you.
3. Husband and Wife Time
Yet another resolution worth making that will strengthen your family in 2011 is having what I call “husband and wife time.” This is not a novel idea, it just consists in spending time, alone, as a husband and wife. It seems simple, but when you have children, and a busy life, time alone with your spouse can be easily neglected. One way to make sure you are spending quality time with your spouse is by simply sitting on the couch together (maybe after dinner) and talking—not watching television, not talking to the kids, but talking with each other. Another way of maintaining a consistent “husband and wife time” is by having a regular “date night.” Again, this isn’t a novel idea. It simply consists in going on a date with your wife. Who said you had to stop dating once you got married? Dating probably strengthened your relationship with your spouse before you got married, and dating can continue to strengthen your relationship even if you’ve been married for decades. And dating doesn’t have to be expensive, either. It can be something as simple as eating popcorn and watching a rented movie together after the kids go to sleep. Regardless of how sophisticated your plan is for your date, what’s important is the time you’ll get to spend together.
So, here are some resolutions worth considering for 2011. By God’s grace, may we grow as Christian individuals, as Christian families, and as Christian couples, all for the glory of God, that His name might be exalted in our lives over the course of this new year!