Family Devotion: Groundhog Day

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Photo Credit: rongto via Compfight cc

Verse to Remember: 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not depend on your own understanding. – Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIrV)

Talk About This:

Where do you look when you want to check the weather? Do you watch the Weather Channel?  Check a weather app on the phone?  Or do you chase down a furry rodent to see what he has to say?

Groundhog Day is a funny holiday, isn’t it? All across the country people watch a cute little groundhog come out of his hole just to find out if he can see his shadow. The tradition says if he sees his shadow, we’ll have six more weeks of winter weather, but if he doesn’t see it, we can expect an early spring.

Sounds a little silly, doesn’t it? Do you think a groundhog can really predict the weather? Of course not.   It’s just a fun tradition and an excuse for people to celebrate.

If you really want to know what the weather is going to be like, you check with the experts. Weather forecasters have all kinds of scientific instruments and computers to help them know if it’s going to be hot or cold, wet or dry, windy or calm or something in between.

Can you imagine what would happen if we relied on the groundhog instead?  We’d show up for school on a warm, spring day wearing a toboggan and gloves or we’d end up in shorts and flip-flops when there was snow on the ground.

Of course no one really thinks a groundhog can predict the weather.  No one decides how they’re going to dress or when they’ll go outside based on what the groundhog says.

When it comes to weather decisions, we listen to the experts.  But what about other decisions?  Bigger decisions,  Who do you listen to when you have to choose between right or wrong?

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Family Devotion: The Big Game

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 Photo Credit: Erik Daniel Drost via Compfight cc

Holidays and special events are a fun excuse to get your family talking about faith.  Gather your family together for the following devotion time before the big game.

Verse to Remember:

“Training the body has some value. But being godly has value in every way. It promises help for the life you are now living and the life to come.” – 1 Timothy 4:8 NIrV

Talk About This:

It’s almost time for the biggest football game of the year.  Two teams.  60 minutes of game time.  Millions of fans watching around the world.  Everything comes down to this one big day to see who will become the ultimate champions.

What do you think it would feel like to play in such a big game?  Would you be excited?  Scared?  Nervous?

What would you do to get ready?  Would you work out and practice with your team or just sit around and eat donuts and watch TV?

You’d practice, of course!  You’d train, lift weights, run drills, eat the right foods, watch game videos and, basically, do whatever your coach told you to do.

If you were playing in the biggest game of your life, you’d do everything you possibly could to train yourself to win.

The Bible says that following Jesus is a little like that.  Every day of our lives is a big deal, bigger than any game.  Every day we’re either choosing to live life God’s way or just live for ourselves.  When we live life God’s way, people around us see Jesus in us and have the chance to become friends with God too.

But that’s not easy.  That’s why we have to go into training.

The Bible says, “Training the body has some value. But being godly has value in every way. It promises help for the life you are now living and the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8 NIrV).

So, what does it look like to train to be godly?   Do you lift heavy Bibles and run laps while praying?  Not exactly.

It starts by with spending time with God.  When we spend time with God, He will begin to train us to be like Him.

Read the Bible.  Memorize verses. Talk to God.  Practice obeying Him in little things.  Do the right thing when no one’s looking.  Share with others even if it’s something small.

The more we practice these little things, the more we will be able to be like Jesus in the big moments of our lives.

So where are you going to start?  What is one thing you can do this week to begin training to be like Jesus?

Prayer

God, thank You helping me to become like Jesus.  Please show me how to train my heart to be more like Him every day.  Amen!

For Extra Fun:  

Make paper footballs and have an awesome pre-game paper football tournament.

Family Devotion: New Year’s Eve

photo (44)Holidays are a great opportunity to start spiritual conversations with our family.  They offer us a chance to build meaningful traditions and point our kids to back to God even if the holiday itself has little or no spiritual significance.  Kids love holidays, and they make a fun excuse to talk about God together.  Following is the first of several family devotions I’ll be writing in 2015 to help parents make the most of the holidays throughout the year.

Holiday: New Year’s Eve

Verse to Remember: Lord, I will remember what you did. Yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. – Psalm 77:11 NIrV

Opening Activity:

Make a family timeline. Write the name of each of the twelve months on a piece of paper and challenge your kids to see how much they can remember that happened in your family’s life in 2014 and write them by the month when they occurred. Include big things and small things, good things and bad things.

For example, you might list things like getting a new pet, having a birthday, starting a new school year, going on vacation, catching the flu, welcoming a new baby brother or sister or even losing a loved one.

Read the Devo together:

Do you think you have a good memory?  How much can you remember that happened in 2014?  Have you noticed that people do a lot of remembering this time of year? Everywhere you look on TV, in magazines and on the internet, people are remembering the best and worst things that happened in 2014. They talk about the biggest news stories, the biggest movies and other special things that happened.

But way more important than remembering all of that stuff is remembering what God has done. New Year’s Eve can be a fun time to look back at the last year and remember the cool things God has been up to in our lives.

Look At the Bible:

In the book of Joshua, the Bible talks about how important it is to remember what God has done. For years and years and years, God had been promising to give His special people, the Israelites, their very own country, a place called the promised land. They used to be slaves in Egypt, but God rescued them, and in this story He does a miracle by stopping the water of a river so the people could cross over to their new home.

Wow, what a big day! The Israelites got a brand new home thanks to God’s amazing power, and they didn’t even have to get wet going there.  God did not want His people to forget the awesome things He had done.  He didn’t want them to forget how much He loved them, so here is what He told them to do.

Read Joshua 4:1-7 together. 

What did Joshua have the people do? How do you think they felt every time they saw that pile of stones?

Bring It Home

Let’s look at our family timeline. Look at all of these things that happened to us this last year. Which months do you think God was with us?  One month?  Two?  No, God was with us every single day.  What are some things on our list that we can thank God for? Where did God show up this year? What are some hard things that He helped us through?

Remembering the cool things God has done gives us courage to face the future.  The same God who was with us this past year, promises to be with us in the new year no matter what.

Prayer:

God, thank You for all that you did in our family this past year. Help us to remember how good You are as we go into the new year. Amen.

Extra Activity:

For an extra activity, make your own monument just like the Israelites did.  Get out the art supplies and have kids draw pictures that remind them of some of the good things God did in your family in the past year.  Put those pictures somewhere your family will see them as you go into the new year together.