No pen, no words, no image can express to you the loveliness of my only, only Lord Jesus.
– Samuel Rutherford
No pen, no words, no image can express to you the loveliness of my only, only Lord Jesus.
– Samuel Rutherford
I still remember our first night of devotions. I was a brand new stepdad and barely getting to know my four new bonus kids, whom I loved so much. I was quite nervous because I had no clue how my kids would receive God’s words. I prayed and God reminded me that He sends out His Word according to Isaiah 55:10-11. His Spirit through His Word gave me peace.
Now, it was time.
I would love to tell you that they were gentle, sweet, and quiet little angels who sat there, smiled, ate their peas, and then afterward, broke out in a stunning rendition of the classic hymn, “The Solid Rock”.
Instead, when I announced what we were doing, it took our family a whole twenty minutes to get calmed down. The eye rolling. The sighing. The rejection. The adamant declarations of boredom. The gnashing of teeth. I wasn’t offended by the reaction but I did have to wait until they settled down.
On that, I bust out with Mark 1:1. From that little verse, we discuss some very basic concepts and ideas. We wrestle with the deep things of God. After the end of the devotion, one of my sons remarked, “That’s all? Man, I could have gone back to playing a long time ago!”
The next week, they all reminded each other, “Shhhh, guys! Remember, this will only take five minutes if we are quiet.”
The point of that is the old cliché: “There nothing to it but to do it.” Forget what your kids (or bonus kids) might think about you. You are charged to lead your house especially all things spiritually. There is no excuse. (We will get to that in a minute.)
I intentionally picked Mark’s Gospel to kick off our very first family devotion for two reasons. One, I tend to default teaching the Bible expositorily (explaining the text as you go through the Word) rather than topically. Two, Mark’s Gospel is the best book to show what Christ has done for us and I thought showing what Christ has done for us and more precisely, what Christ has done in us would be more tangible with the minds of our young kids.
I have made mentioned of our family devotions on the Internets and gotten a few requests for my notes. So that is what I am doing just that here. Starting next Wednesday as a regular weekly series, I will share my notes and discussion topics over Mark as well as some parent notes to help you out.
As for leading your family through devotions, don’t think of outright preaching and teaching. Instead, we want to generate discussion. Do not worry about being able to teach. Instead, pray, read the text and think of good questions to spark conversations. In my experience, our best devotions are always the ones that are driven to the finish by the kids and not by me. God through his Word provides the topics. Me? I simply read the Bible and ask the questions. (How easy is that?)
Questions or comments? Feel free to ask away.
Update: Instead of doing this in a weekly series, I will post them as they are ready to post so that no one has to wait for a week until the next one is posted.
The Bible – Should go without say. However, many times, many teachers, preachers, and small group leaders (myself included) will “cut straight to the chase” and engage the commentary instead of engaging the Word of God. Remember, the commentaries are not without error—they are the observations of the author. Slow down, pray, read, chew and meditate.
The Gospel of Mark (NICNT) by William L. Lane – Incredible thorough and wonderfully written, Dr. Lane walks the reader masterfully through not only the Gospel but the perspective of the writer Mark.
Calvin’s Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) by John Calvin – I like to keep an old school commentary for better perspective. (Note: if you don’t find the exact passage in this commentary, just locate the commentary for the similar passages in Matthew and Luke.
Savior of the Suffering (Mark) at Internet Monk – I was looking for a cool Byzantine picture of St. Mark and ran into this very cool resource that lays out Mark, using the aforementioned Lane commentary as resource, for your studying pleasure.
Mark (St. Andrews Expositional Commentary) by R.C. Sproul – I got this for my birthday this year. As I reading from page 1, I am using this as a reference for where we were at. Excellently written and a real joy to read thus far.
By God’s grace, I heard this wonderful message shortly before I got married. When I first heard it, I got what Dr. Beeke was laying out but it seems to be too much. However, when I started a new family, it became crystal clear what I needed to do and that same weight became glorious. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)
You don’t have to perfectly subscribe to what Dr. Beeke advised here. But pray, let that message sink in and ask God for help. You are not alone in leading your family because God is your Lord.
Consider the criticality of family devotions:
Family worship time is the most important thing I do in my life. I wouldn’t miss it for anything in the world. It isn’t perfect but it is critical.
The commander of Columbia shuttle that disintegrated in mid-air was so devoted to family worship that he recorded eighteen videos for his family, one for each day that he was supposed to be gone. How valuable do you think those videos are to his family now? What a legacy he has left.
– Joel Beeke, Leading Family Worship
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:2-5
I get to make much of God when I proclaim His Word. I get to lift Christ on high and know nothing except him crucified. I get to be totally and utterly dependent on the power of the Holy Spirit.
What a joy it is to preach the passage at hand. What a relief it is that I don’t have to mention the verse once in the sermon, then go on my own diatribe and spit out my own opinions. What heart-filled gladness that I can see the magnificence of God exalted and in falling so short, I would my very best to explain to others what I am seeing.
But oh, how naïve of me: to be called to preach but only preached just a few sermons. Every single little opportunity savored, gracious and humbled to get that one shot to preach the gospel of God—well, that is maybe your one and only shot. You may not be asked back. You might be barred from preaching there ever again. You might not make it back to preach again next Sunday.
But you get another try at it. God’s grace abounds and you get one more chance to love, serve, and feed His flock. You get to swallow your pride and open your heart and mind and let His Spirit work through you.
So, what are you going to do with that one shot?
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; 2 Timothy 4:1-2a
We desperately need a new generation of expositors, men cut from the same bolt of cloth as Calvin. Pastors marked by compassion, humility, and kindness must once again preach the Word. In short, we need Calvins again to stand in pulpits and boldly proclaim the Word of God.
– Steven Lawson, What’s the Answer to the Modern Day Church?
More than ever I believe in preaching as a part of worship in the gathered church. Preaching is worship, and it belongs in the regular worship life of the church no matter the size of the church. In the small church it does not become conversation or “sharing.” In the megachurch it does not become hype and jingles. Preaching is worshiping over the Word of God—the text of Scripture—with explanation and exultation.
John Piper. The Supremacy of God in Preaching. Revised Edition. Baker Books, 2004. 9.
People are starving for the greatness of God. But most of them would not give this diagnosis of their troubled lives. The majesty of God is an unknown cure. There are far more popular prescriptions on the market, but the benefit of any other remedy is brief and shallow. Preaching that does not have the aroma of God’s greatness may entertain for a season, but it will not touch the hidden cry of the soul: “Show me thy glory!”
John Piper. The Supremacy of God in Preaching. Revised Edition. Baker Books, 2004. 13.
The keynote in the mouth of every prophet-preacher, whether in Isaiah’s day or Jesus’ day or our day, is, “Your God reigns!” God is the king of the universe. God is the king of the universe. He has absolute Creator rights over this world and everyone in it. But there is rebellion and mutiny on all sides, and his authority is scorned by millions. So the Lord sends preachers into the world to cry out that God reigns, that he will not suffer his glory to be scorned indefinitely, that he will vindicate his name in great and terrible wrath, but that for now a full and free amnesty is offered to all the rebel subjects who will turn from their rebellion, call on him for mercy, bow before his throne, and swear allegiance and fealty to him forever. The amnesty is signed in the blood of his Son.
John Piper. The Supremacy of God in Preaching. Revised Edition. Baker Books, 2004.26-27.
Mark 1:1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Lets go through this grand introduction, idea by idea.
Who wrote Mark?
Who is Mark
Mark is said to be the writer for Peter
What does Mark write about?
Mark testifies about Christ Jesus
Matthew – Jesus is King (Lion of Judah)
Mark – Jesus is Servant (The Ox)
Luke – Jesus is Man (The Human)
John – Jesus is God (The Eagle)
In Mark, we are going to talk about all that Jesus did (like a Servant, like a hard working ox) for us, in us, and through us for the glory of God.
of the gospel
What is the gospel?
Parents: This is the good news—that God has done everything to save His people to Himself forever. All we need to do is trust in Him, believe in Him and love Him and know that everything He does is for His glory and our joy. If God is not out for His glory, we are never free to have joy. But since He is for His glory and His name sake and not just for us, we have the fullness of the freedom to love, worship and trust in Him joyfully. The Bible is not a bunch of rules. The Bible is all about Jesus Christ. The Bible speaks on who exactly God is, what He has done and what He will do.
The question is: do you want in on the fun? Do you wanna come play and be in continuous awe, wonder, joy and love of His glory? Come on. Let’s go.
Parents: What we will see in Mark is basically little bitty tightly wounded passages that speak of all that God has done. Now, if you have read any part of the Old Testament, these little passages in Mark are merely the OT in bite size chicken nuggets, except they are much more tasty and actually good for you. In other words, you are going to see these little passages of “Jesus did this” and “Jesus did that” solidifying what God did in the OT.
Who is Jesus Christ?
Son of God
Parents: Ah what an audacious claim. In America, some of us were not blessed with good dads that love Jesus. Some of us got dads that were not so perfect and sometimes, there is a struggle not to compare God as Father in light of our earthly dads when in fact it should be the other way around. As we might struggle with that, the culture of the Middle East struggles with Jesus Christ as being the Son of God. That is highly offensive to them. How could Jesus Christ claim to be the Son of God. For Christ to be the Son of God is Christ declaring He is One with the Father.
I and the Father are one. John 10:30
The Son of God became man so that men might become sons of God.
What does it mean to be a son of God? Are you an adopted son of God? Are you his precious child? Are you his little boy and his little girl?
If you believe and trust in Him, what He said, what His Son did, then yes, you are his little kid—forever.
Series: I have made mentioned of our family devotions on the Internets and gotten a few requests for my notes. So that is what I am doing just that here. Every Wednesday as a regular weekly series, I will share my notes that I write in preparing for family devotions.