My family and I recently made a change. For a while now, we have sat down most mornings and read a daily devotion from a book of daily devotions. When the kids were really little, we thought that this would make the concepts of the Bible approachable for them and we needed to bring it down to their level if they are to understand it. We also reasoned that the stories involved with the good devotional books would help them to internalize and apply the lessons. We have had some excellent devotional books by different authors and I liked them when we were reading.
But we became convinced that God was telling us to do differently and read through the actual Bible with the kids. We had been doing that individually, in church and in school and obviously I have been teaching the Bible each week so there is lots of Bible in the house. It was just that God impressed upon us though that He wanted us to change our family time from devotions about God’s Word to God’s Word- so we did.
I have to admit I was a little nervous about this idea. I know, I am a pastor and God directed and I am nervous sounds pretty silly but intellectually I thought that it might not work.
What if the kids get bored, what if the younger ones don’t understand or the older ones tune it out and get turned away from the Bible because of, well I am not really sure the because of but all sorts of fears cropped up…but I was convinced that God said so off we went.
It has been wonderful, for them and for us. Devotionals are great and we enjoyed our time reading them but each one of us has greatly benefited from reading line by line, chapter by chapter though the Bible. The kids are asking questions as we go through and obviously thinking about what is being read. They have been discussing the stories of the Old Testament and how they related to Jesus and how the mistakes of the people from Abraham to Joseph’s brothers relate to our own lives.
The older kids have started looking at online commentaries as we read, something that I did not know was even a thing until I was well into adulthood. The youngest are looking at their picture Bibles to follow along and asking good questions, though the “What is circumcision” discussion was interesting. Sections of Scripture that I thought I knew are teaching me things that I had just not realized until we all discussed it.
It feels like the Holy Spirit is showing up each morning and teaching us through His Word – kind of like the Bible says He will.
This may seem obvious to some but it has been wonderful discovering that the Bible is just not like devotionals. Devotionals may have parts of the Bible in them, but there is only one Word itself and its alive and active sharper than any two edged sword. It just has been making a huge difference in our family and in our every day life.
So looking back, I don’t regret using devotionals and believe that they were good tools when the kids were younger and when we were establishing the pattern of family reading time in the morning. But I think the Bible itself is just better when the kids are ready.
So when you can make a transition from things about the Bible to the actual Word, I would encourage you to go for it. God will take care of any fears you have in doing so.
As an additional tool, the Bible Project has wonderful videos that outlines the books to give context and make them more accessible.