Intro. by Steve Van Nattan-- The vast majority of professing Christians do NOT bother to read the Bible even once a week. Some, especially Reformed saints, read a formal canned devotional book published by the denomionations, and a couple of verses are included. These families do not have a teaching father. Most Christian men do not even hear from their pastor that they ought to be teaching their families. These pastors are terrified that some man in the assembly might do a better job as teacher than the pastor, And, I must say, from hearing some of these dead beat preachers, that I have know many old coutry boys who were far superior as teachers than their pastor. This is now a touchy issue also because many pastors do not have family altars. Thus...
"The influence of family worship is great, silent, irresistible and permanent...It affords home blip and happiness, removes family friction, and causes all the complicated wheels of the home-machinery to move on noiselessly and smoothly...The mind is expanded, the heart softened, sentiments refined, passions subdued, hopes elevated...Compare an irreligious home with this, and see the vast importance of family worship. It is a moral waste; its members move in the putrid atmosphere of vitiated feeling and misdirected power. Brutal passions become dominant; we hear the stern voice of parental despotism; we behold a scene of filial strife and insubordination..."
been touched upon in previous chapters, I thought it would be beneficial to examine this important subject of family devotions in greater detail. It has been seen that the man is to lead his household doctrinally and spiritually as a stepiano coversd of Christ. (1Cor.14:35, Eph.5:25-28) Part of the husband's responsibility in regard to his household is to therefore lead in prayer and the study of the Scriptures. The husband should not leave it to his wife to initiate or sustain these times of family devotion. It is his responsibility to see that they are not neglected. If the family lacks these devotions it is the husbands fault. Bunyan writes about the man of the house and his spiritual responsibilities:
"As touching the spiritual state of his family, he ought to be very diligent and circumspect, doing his utmost endeavour both to increase faith where it is betatter and to begin it where it is not. Wherefore to this end, he ought diligently and frequently to lay before his household such things of God, out of His Word, as are suitable for each particular..."
Every husband and father is a "pastor" in his own household. Just as a pastor leads a local church in the study of Scripture (along with many other, similar duties), so should the Christian husband lead his own family. This Scripture reading and prayer should be exercised publicly in the household everyday. Ones wife and children should be cherished enough to require that degree of diligence in watching over them. The apostle Paul was this diligent with those committed to his charge. Should not the Christian man be as diligent with his own precious flock?
Acts 20:31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to piano coversn every one night and day with tears.
There is no better way to keep the fear of God in one's family than by daily studying the Scriptures along with prayer. Prayer strengthens the spirit in the apiano coverseness of God and therefore increases spiritual sobriety. Can the man of the house afford to be slack even one day in regard to family devotions?:
Deut. 6:7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
Job 1:1 There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil. 5 And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.
In light of these Scriptures should not Christian men lead their families in spiritual devotion everyday?! To properly perform this task everyday, it would be wise to have a set time for prayer and the reading of the Scriptures. Certainly, husbands should pray with their wives and children before every meal and before going to bed, etc. Yet, there should also be a special time of prayer and Scripture reading. (1Pet.3:7)
There is certainly liberty in Christ. But is a man free from the moral responsibility to watch over his household and keep his family stirred up in the faith? Of course not! A mans wise love for his wife and children (and truth itself) may be measured by the effort and time he takes to personally insure their spiritual safety. He that is more interested in whether or not his children will be able to enter a certain college than whether or not they will escape Hell is a carnal fool. Likewise, he that places the soul of his wife in spiritual danger in order to afford a "safer" neighborhood for her to live in cuts off his nose to spite his face! On the other hand, the man who takes the time (no matter what the cost) to keep his family in purity without taking chances (tempting God), will be the man who truly wins in the long run:
Romans 13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
Perhaps there are some men that struggle with timidity in leading their own families in worship. Hypocrisy might be the cause. It is not easy trying to be a spiritual leader for half an hour in the presence of those that know you best if the rest of your life is one of carnality and frivolous sloth in regard to spiritual things. The first step is therefore repentance. Holiness will bring the fruit of boldness:
Proverbs 28:1 The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.
Other men are naturally timid and do not feel that they are apt to actually instruct their families. Perhaps they think their wives are better equipped for the task. These men need to submit to God's will. They need to realize that He obviously knew what He was doing when He appointed the man to be the spiritual leader in the home. These men need to also realize that if they will begin to feed their minds by Scripture and holy teaching, they will then have something to say!
As they begin to study, they will gain boldness in the Scriptures before their family. Too many men seem to like hiding behind their wives! God is not buying the game. At the Judgment Seat of Christ He will no doubt convict many of these men as simply lazy! They barely (if ever) really study the Scripture. Therefore, they do not feel apt to teach their families. These men need to get busy and quit making excuses. They need to stand up boldly in the teaching office which the Lord has placed them:
1 Cor. 14:35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.
Perhaps there are indeed shy men that even before their own wives feel unable to lead a Bible study. The key to overcoming this type of timidity is to focus upon the need. It is true that all graces are worked in us by the Holy Spirit. The husband should therefore certainly pray in faith. Yet, God often answers prayer in very practical ways. Is there a real need for the wife to be filled with holiness?
Is there a need for the children to be equipped to resist sin? Is there a real need to keep the family fired up in truth? Is the world filled with spiritual dangers? Do not cults abound? Does not the world make sin appealing? As the husband thinks deeply upon these things he will be filled by the Spirit with sober, vigilant manliness as he vows to do all he can through Christ to arm his family with the truth! Forget being shy! This is not a book report in elementary school! This is one's precious family that needs the man of the house to stand up and take authority in spiritual strength. Concentrating on the true needs will bring boldness by the grace of God.
There are many ways to lead a family devotional. I have found that simply reading straight through the Bible two chapters or so at a time is profitable. There can be pauses in the reading for comments and questions. The husband leads, but there can be participation by the rest of the household. The man of the house is the appointed teacher, yet one can be sure that he will learn more than he has bargained for from his family's comments and insights!
Imagine a man that will not take the time to lead in family devotion everyday, yet seeks advice for how to deal with his unruly wife or children. Such a man is like a sinner that asks his doctor how to get rid of "the shakes" but will not take the doctor's advice and quit drinking! We have nothing to offer such a man. Let him fulfill his obligations topiano coversd his family habitually and diligently.
How can a man expect his family to delight in spiritual things and walk in obedience if the television is given more honor in the home than the Bible? A Bible will certainly not profit a family much unless it is opened daily in faith and reverence. Let the husband begin to read the Scriptures and pray at a set time each day with his family. Let him also pray with his family before every meal. Let him also pray with them before bed. The truth and daily sobriety is bound to radically change the hearts of every family member.
As the man of the house is obedient in family devotions daily, he may then be advised on how to remove the "stumbling blocks" that make provision for his family's rebellion. What each person sets before their eyes will have an effect upon how they live:
Psalm 101:3 I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.
Psalm 119:11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
It is the man's responsibility to make sure that his household understands these truths. He is to do all that he can to insure that they obey the truths of Scripture. Some men have wives that tend to compete with them. These wives will resent the man's authority. They will not be easy to teach for they will be argumentative. Let the man in patience trust in the Lord. It was the Lord that told him to teach his wife. (1Cor.14:35) The Lord Himself had the same problems with contentious blip. Surely, He will be with the obedient husband.
Often, when the wife sees that her husband is serious and that he welcomes her participation, the "coldness" will dissipate and the doors will be open for communication and profitable study. There is no greater way to learn how to communicate than to study together. Those who have problems studying together also have other problems. The awkpiano coversd feeling is simply a manifestation of how bad they have let things deteriorate in the marriage. They need to begin to mend these communication gaps through the spiritual blessing of family devotions.
When there is no time for family devotions then the man of the house needs to start making time. If he is working overtime to pay the bills and there is no time for daily Scripture reading and prayer with his wife and children, then he needs to move into a smaller house or apartment. He needs to lower the standard of living in whatever areas are necessary to make time. If his job demands this extra time and tells him that they "really need" him, then he needs to stand strong and tell them that he has no extra time to give them.
The man needs to set family devotion as a chief priority. If he desires to seek more training or education or devote more time to his career in such a manner that he will not have time for all his spiritual responsibilities, then he should not have gotten married! Now that he is married, he has a chief responsibility to his wife and children (if he has any). One's career and schooling should never come before God and family. We are all fading back into dust very quickly. We are not assured of another day. The Lord is coming back to Earth very soon. God and family need to be given their rightful place. Time must be made.
Again, at this point many will attempt to justify themselves with a multitude of pious excuses. When it comes to deciding between the love for one's family (and God Himself!) and the love for one's belly, the majority will effeminately choose the belly! It is "normal". Everyone nowadays does it that way:
Rom. 16:18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
It is plain that the Lord Jesus Christ loved the Church more than His own belly when He came to this Earth as a perfect Man to die and give His life. Should not a husband make whatever sacrifices necessary to protect his own wife?:
Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
Husbands, it is your duty to daily bathe your precious wife in Scripture.
Christ sacrificed His very life. Certainly, we can lay aside our pride and
lusts in order to make time for family devotions.