Daily Family Bible Studies - Preface
Many years ago I began producing a series of Bible studies tied to the theme of my Sunday morning sermons. Whatever the topic of the lesson the congregation heard, they could take home a copy of the Daily Family Bible Studies that would allow them, as families, to talk about the lesson throughout the coming week. Families in the church, especially those with young children, found this to be a way to dig more deeply into what they heard the preacher say and discuss its practical application.
Over time, these Daily Family Bible Studies have been used not just by families but by individuals, small groups, and Bible classes to provide a five-lesson set of topics for meditation and discussion. Four years’ worth of these studies are now available: (1) in the form of PDF ebooks, and (2) as posts on the WordPoints.com website. Readers can also subscribe to an email which arrives each Saturday morning with the study for the following week. (If you’d like to subscribe, https://wordpoints.com/subscribe/ is the web address to go to.)
There is great value in families talking about God’s word together (Deut. 6:6-9). If we intend to transmit our faith to our families (2 Tim. 1:5), we must do more than take our kids to church services: we must talk about God at home. These Daily Family Bible Studies are meant to foster the habit of family Bible study. If you have another study tool that accomplishes that purpose, by all means use it; many such resources are available nowadays. But if you need something to get you started, these studies might give you the nudge you need.
But you don’t have to be a “family” to use these studies. Now that I live alone, I continue to use them myself. They make a good framework for a Monday-Friday Bible study or as the basis for one’s daily devotional time. These themes are adaptable to a wide range of uses. I hope you’ll “take the ball and run with it” — be creative and see what you can do to modify these lessons for your own use.
The English Standard Version is used as the base translation for the studies, and the New King James Version is often used for comparison. But you can use the studies with whatever translation you normally use. When there are differences in translation, you will profit from discussing which translation you think most clearly brings out the true meaning of the passage. (And it may not be the one you simply like the best.)
Each day’s study ends with some words of wisdom from Proverbs. In sequence, these readings go straight through Proverbs in two years. In other words, Years 1-2 cover the entire Book of Proverbs, as do Years 3-4.
The lessons are set up in a yearly format, with 52 lessons for each “year,” but you don’t have to start January 1. Feel free to use any of the lessons at any time. That said, starting off a new year with this kind of plan is a good way to have a better year. To families as well as individuals, I recommend beginning each new year with some specific goals for spiritual growth. It’s not enough to say, “We need to do better.” The question is: what activities are we going to engage in that might make a difference . . . and will we stick with them?
As a preacher, I always tried to be balanced in my choice of topics. Not all of the themes here (based as they were on sermons) are equally suitable for children, but I believe that even the more “adult” topics are important for families to discuss, and each topic is adaptable to any age group. There is some repetition in the topics, and that is intentional. I believe in the value of spaced repetition, so don’t fear to use a study that sounds very similar to another study from several months ago. It will help you to look at that theme from a little different angle.
And that brings me to the subject of adaptation. When I originally wrote these studies, people would sometimes say, “These studies don’t fit the age of our children” or “This kind of format doesn’t work for us.” Well, I admit that I wrote these lessons for my own use as a father in those days, and I confess to having my own children in mind as I wrote them. But any Bible study tool, no matter who it’s written by, will need to be adapted by anybody else who uses it. So whoever you are, I never meant that you could use these studies “straight out of the box,” just as they are. I meant them only as a suggestion. Depending on the specifics of your situation, you will have to modify these lessons in some ways. But I hope you will find them suggestive. They will give you something to work with, so you don’t have to start from scratch in devising your family Bible studies. At the very least, the topics for the studies will give you some subjects your family could discuss. If all you do is take these topics and teach them to your kids in your own way, you will have done well.
And as for the topics, many have told me they have used the topics for Wednesday night invitation talks, table talks at the Lord’s Supper, small-group studies, or even sermons. So the index of topics is a good “idea thesaurus,” if nothing else. If the question “What can I talk about?” ever stumps you, here are some ideas to get you started.
Some find the discussion questions in the lessons “too simple.” My response is that “common sense is not always common practice.” People often overestimate how much they understand the “simple” things they know. You might profit from talking about these basic truths again (in your own words, rather than the parrot-language we normally use). But again, the questions were only meant to be suggestions. Don’t just give the obvious answer, but discuss the significance of the points made and talk about their application. Make this material your own.
I’m often asked, “What is the best time of day for families to study together?” Well, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to that question. Many families find the breakfast table is a good place to have a family devotional, but you will need to figure out what works for your family. Whatever you come up with, I will tell you this: no time is going to work if you are not willing to sacrifice to make it happen. If any little interruption that comes up is enough to derail your family Bible study, you may as well quit saying that Bible study is a priority in your family.
If there is one recommendation I would make, it is this: whatever you do, keep the Scripture text for each day’s study the central focus of the study. Don’t just use the idea of the study as a springboard for opinion sharing; keep the passage at the center of your discussion. What does the passage teach? How can we use this passage today? You want these studies to be Bible studies — and not just topical talks on abstract ideas.
If you wish to print or make copies of these lessons, you have our permission to do so. (See the “Note to Copy Shops” on the copyright page.) There is no need to write us and ask for permission. We want this work to be as widely distributed as possible. The more copies people make, the more the author will like it.
Thanks to all who have used these studies over the years. At present, nearly a thousand of you get them by email every week! May God bless you for your interest in daily . . . family . . . Bible studies.
Gary Henry – WordPoints.com