Need a family devotion to help your kids understand God’s love for them? This devotion is simple, brief, and meaningful, and is appropriate for kids of all ages. (Confession: I totally cried when we did this devo with our kids. )
Start by reading Zephaniah 3:17—I love the old NIV version (NIV 1984):
“The Lord your God is with you,
He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with his love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”
(This is where the waterworks started for me. I just can’t. It’s so beautiful. So overwhelming. So comforting. It sets my heart to singing every time.)
Explain to your kids that God takes great delight in them. Just as Mommy and Daddy put them to bed each night with a song, so God, our Heavenly Father, sings over us. Then tell each child one thing in their character that brings God great delight—be as specific as you can be. For example, with our four kids, we shared:
Kid 1: Your compassion, kindness, and concern for others’ feelings
Kid 2: Your soft heart towards God, the way you are always seeking Him
Kid 3: Your amazing patience and kindness to your younger sister, even when she drives you crazy
Kid 4: Your deeply loving spirit—you give affection so generously to others, and make us all feel loved
Talks like this are a wonderful way to encourage our kids and show them the height and depth and breadth of God’s astounding, mind-boggling, often undeserved but absolutely devoted love for all of us.
This image is taken from my new Instagram account, @elizabethlaingthompson, where I am posting scriptures, encouragement, and humorous thoughts to help you through your waiting journey. I’d love to see you on Instagram!
Want a simple family devotion that will build your kids’ faith (and your own)? This makes a great family devotion for Christmastime, but of course you could do it any time of year.
Start by reading Isaiah 9:1–7. (Try reading the New Living Translation version if you have younger kids—it’s a little easier to understand. I’m quoting the NIV here.)
Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation
and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
when dividing the plunder.
For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,
you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.
Every warrior’s boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.
You might need to take a minute to give a BRIEF, basic, broad-strokes explanation of the meaning of the passage after you read—it is an earful. Our 9- and 10-year-olds grasped it pretty well on their own; the 8-year-old was a little confused and needed more explanation. We explained that this was written during a difficult time for the nation of Israel, and it was meant to comfort God’s people by predicting the end of fighting and war. This passage tells us that a special child would be born to save God’s people.
Once you’ve clarified the meaning, ask:Who do you think this scripture is talking about? Our kids immediately shouted, “Jesus!” From there, ask why they think it’s about Jesus. (Details you can draw out: Jesus came from Galilee; he was a special child even when he was first born; he brought us peace with God through his death; he now reigns over God’s kingdom. If your kids’ attention span allows it (ours didn’t!), you can briefly touch on how Jesus was a wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting Father, and prince of peace.
Hold that thought…
Next read Isaiah 7:14:
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
Again, ask:Who is this talking about? Why do you think that? Take a few moments to draw out the connections in this verse to Jesus’ birth. Even if they don’t understand the word “virgin,” most kids already understand that Jesus’ mother, Mary, wasn’t married, and it was impossible for her to be pregnant, but she got pregnant anyway. Jesus’ birth was a miracle. Kids also understand that Jesus was a special baby from the beginning, and that his birth was a sign of God’s love for us.
Hold that thought again…
Then ask them:When do you think these passages in Isaiah were written—before or after Jesus was born?
Here’s the part where you blow their minds (and maybe your own, too): These words were written hundreds of years before Jesus was born! (Without getting too technical here, scholars date these chapters in Isaiah to somewhere between the 500s and 700s BC!) These passages are prophecies, telling us what God had planned for the future. Isn’t God amazing? He knows everything! He can plan things many, many years before they ever happen. Scriptures like this strengthen our faith in God, Jesus, and the Bible. They show us how powerful God is, and that the Bible is true.
Simple devotions like this are powerful because they expose our kids to basic apologetics, and give them strong, concrete evidence for their faith besides just “take my word for it; believe it because I tell you to.” Devotions like this also introduce kids to the Old Testament prophets, and help them make connections between all the different parts of God’s story.
If you try this devotion out with your family, I’d love to hear how it went! Feel free to post in the comments below!
Every day it gives me hope and keeps me sane. Every day it saves me from my own angst, my sinful thoughts, my despair over this dark and dangerous world.
I’m working on diving deeper into the Bible with my daughters, especially my preteen (age 10). I want my girls to understand that the Bible is not just a holy book, formal and distant and vaguely frightening. I want them to know the Bible as God’s living word: A comfort we can rely on in daily life. A tool that teaches us who to be and how to think. A guide that helps us understand God. An insight into how deeply God loves us, even when we make mistakes.
Here are 13 scriptures to read with your daughter, divided into categories (these scriptures will speak best to girls ages 9 and up):
says the Lord, who has compassion on you. (Isaiah 54:10)
2.This scripture helped me survive high school—I read it a million times, and drew so much comfort and confidence from it, knowing that God loved me even when I felt all alone at school.
But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.
For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. . . .
you are precious to me.
You are honored, and I love you.
Do not be afraid, for I am with you.” (Isaiah 43:1–3, 4–5 NLT, emphasis added)
What’s important to God?
3. Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:34–40)
4. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22–23)
5. Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:2–5)
Living a pure life in a dark world
6. How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
By living according to your word.
I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
Praise be to you, Lord;
teach me your decrees.
With my lips I recount
all the laws that come from your mouth.
I rejoice in following your statutes
as one rejoices in great riches. (Psalm 119:9–14)
7. For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (Titus 2:11–14)
8. Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world. (1 Peter 2:11–13 NLT)
9. Don’t worry about the wicked
or envy those who do wrong.
For like grass, they soon fade away.
Like spring flowers, they soon wither.
Trust in the Lord and do good.
Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you your heart’s desires.
Commit everything you do to the Lord.
Trust him, and he will help you. (Psalm 37:1–5 NLT)
10. But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
11. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. (1 Peter 3:3–4)
I’ll be honest: I’m not a big new year’s resolution girl. I find the idea of making a list of commitments for an entire year daunting. Perfectionist that I am, new year’s resolutions feel like an invitation to fail and feel guilty, all year long. (I know, I’m kind of dramatic. I’m working on it.)
But new starts and fresh attitudes for the new year? That I like. Drawing closer to God in the new year, and having a more spiritual focus? That I get excited about.
So now, instead of making new year’s resolutions, I view January as a time for re-charging my personal life and my walk with God, and for jump-starting our family’s spiritual life. January provides a fantastic opportunity to redirect our family’s focus outward and upward after the self-focus of the holidays.
Here are 5 simple ideas for helping your family jump-start your new year spiritually. Whether you’re married with no kids, or up to your ears in sippy cups, or spending your whole life chauffeuring teenagers around town, these ideas can help you kick off your new year with fresh focus and with God as the center.
Look back on the old year together.
We’re quick to look to the future, but what about the great things that have already happened? Spend an evening remembering the blessings and answered prayers from last year. Write them down and spend time praising God for what he has already given. If you made a prayer list last January, bring it out and look at it again. Can you cross some prayers off your list? God loves it when we remember his gifts and come back to praise him.
Start a new year prayer tradition.
Every January, we take our kids out to the beach for a new year prayer. Once we convince the kids that making sand angels is NOT the same thing as making snow angels, and will involve hours of hair-washing to get the sand out, we spend a few minutes shivering in the sand, talking about our hopes for the year. Each of us describes one thing we plan to ask God for in the coming year. And then we all pray together and take home a sea shell to commemorate the prayer. At home, we write our prayers on the shells. Simple, fun, and frigid!
Come up with an “impossible prayer” list.
“Impossible prayers” are things that seem impossible from a human perspective, but that our amazing God can do if we are bold enough to ask. Sit down as a family and come up with a list of things you all hope God will do this year—the crazier the better! Write them down where you’ll all see them, and commit to pray your impossible prayers all year as a family. Then sit back and watch what God does for you. (Want to read our family’s so-amazing-it-sounds-like-we-made-it-up “impossible prayer” miracle story?Click here.)
Choose a scripture that represents what you want your year to look and feel like spiritually, and revisit that scripture often as a family. Memorize it. Write it on the fridge and on the calendar. Remind each other of it frequently. Bring it up in family prayers and devotional times all year long. You can either pick one scripture for your whole family, or each person can choose their own.
Pick a theme word for the year.
What one word describes the focus you want to have in the coming year? Faith? Discipline? Kindness? Patience? Renewal? Selflessness? Vision? Generosity? Pick one, and make it your theme word! Find a scripture or scriptures that relate to the concept, and study them on your own and as a family. You can choose one word for the whole family, or let each family member pick their own word.
As we begin the holiday season, we’re all looking for ways to encourage our kids to be grateful. Here is a family devotion we did last year with our kids to encourage a thankful spirit. We called it…
“Overflowing with thankfulness. Literally.”
How’s that for a creative title?!
This devotion comes with a super silly illustration, but our kids loved it. We started by reading Colossians 2:6–7: “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him,rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
Then we gathered around the kitchen table and I asked if they wanted some milk. I put a cup in a bowl, and started pouring… and pouring… and pouring… until my kids were gasping in horror and the milk was spilling out all over the top of the cup, filling up the bowl. The milk was overflowing! We talked about how our gratitude should be like that—so big that we just can’t hold it in, and it spills out all over everything.
Then we stuck straws into the bowl (germs? what germs?) and let the kids drink the milk from the bowl.
Hi! I'm Elizabeth, and Lizzy Life is all about clinging to Christ in the chaos of daily life. As a minister, speaker, and novelist (The Thirteenth Summer), I love finding humor in holiness, and hope in heartache. I live in North Carolina with my preacher husband and four loud children. I believe the recipe for a happy life is simple: laugh-cry daily, pray continually, caffeinate constantly. My new book, When God Says "Wait," is now available from Barbour Publishing. READ MORE.
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Great food for thought, especially for parents with older children: "I wish we could all focus on the victories that we scored during each season. Mistakes and down times seem to pull at our memories so often. And if at some point our kids don't embrace the good teaching we tried to instill, we can be drawn even more toward the trap of guilt." ... See MoreSee Less