Fun Mealtime Family Devotional

Have you ever thought about how many Bible stories involve food? Whether it’s Abigail preparing food to take to David in an attempt to avoid disaster or the Last Supper, food plays a role in numerous Bible stories and scriptures outside of the context of a story.

The dining traditions and even many of the foods in these scriptures may be unknown to your kids. As a result, when they hear or read about those things in the Bible they have little understanding of what is being said. This can confuse them or even convince them the Bible is too hard to read. The good news is you can have fun, teach them some important food related customs and words and improve their Bible reading comprehension at the same time.

The set up for your “Bible” meal can be as simple or as elaborate as you like. If you have older kids or teens, you can have them do some research to help. The basics would involve creating a table space on the floor with fabric or a tabletop flat on the floor (card tables and banquet tables with the legs folded work great for this). Throw pillows on the floor next to the table for you and your kids to lounge against as you eat. People generally ate with their hands from communal serving dishes, but individual plates and bowls did exist and I’m sure were used depending upon the situation.

The menu can be as simple as rustic bread, dates, figs, grapes, olives, fish (some suggest sardines), lamb, quail (ask your butcher), etc. If you want your kids more involved in preparing the foods, try a lentil soup recipe (spoons did exist then!) or making unleavened bread. You can find lists of every food mentioned in the Bible and authentic recipes with a quick search online.

Want to really teach your kids some important lessons? Have a basin of warm water and wash their feet before they sit at your table. Share with them some of the stories from the Bible involving food. Talk about the things that were discussed at the Last Supper. Marvel at the miracles of Jesus feeding the 5000 and then the 4000. (Fun fact. It is believed the 12 baskets of leftovers at the feeding of the 5000 represented the 12 tribes of Israel. The 7 baskets of leftovers at the feeding of the 4000 is thought to have represented all of the Gentiles who were referred to as the 7 nations at the time.)

Have fun with it. There are so many Bible stories involving food, you can do this more than once, changing the menu to match the story. It’s a fun way to teach your kids some important lessons from the Bible while helping them better understand what they are reading in it.

Fun Ways to Teach Your Kids Bible Application Principles

There is a misconception that teaching kids the stories in the Bible automatically means they know how God wants them to live their lives. Most kids need help finding the commands and principles in Bible stories, as well as guided practice in learning how to live those commands and principles on a daily basis.

You could choose to do this through lectures, but it’s not the most effective way for kids to learn. You can actually have fun with your kids and teach them at the same time. Here are some of our favorite ideas.

  • Make English muffin pizzas. Pizza isn’t mentioned in the Bible, but taking English muffins, pizza sauce and a few toppings can give you a great forum for teaching your kids about the practical application of what they are learning from the Bible. As your kids are creating their pizzas, encourage them to talk about what is happening in their lives. Find ways to reinforce what God would want them to do in specific situations. Or instead of telling them what God wants them to do, ask older children how they think God would want them to handle certain situations. See if your kids can think of examples in the Bible when someone encountered a similar situation.
  • Complete a family project together. Whether it’s planting a family garden, cleaning the garage or serving someone, working together gives you lots of opportunities to remind your kids of relationship principles and commands in the Bible. You can also spend time teaching your kids godly conflict resolution skills or help them develop strategies for better self-control of the things they say to others.
  • Have a family game night. Competition can bring out the worst in many people. Games are a great way for everyone in your family to work on godly traits like honesty, patience, perseverance and more. Spend time after the game is over talking about the principles they can practice when they are playing games.
  • Go for a long walk or hike. Kids tend to gradually open up if you are present and available to them. Make sure the walk is long enough to give them time to relax and talk and for you to respond as needed.
  • Hang out in the yard together. Blow bubbles, play in a sand box, watch the clouds or stars go by, mall driveway chalk drawings. Once again, your undistracted availability as you do quiet things together gives them opportunities to share their thoughts and concerns with you. It also gives you a relaxed way to teach them what God wants them to know.
  • Use one of our free application activity ideas. Our primary ministry website has dozens of application activity ideas with meaningful ties to Bible stories. Just click on the application tab for dozens of great ideas. Originally meant for Bible classes, many can also be adapted for families. http://teachonereachone.org/activity-ideas/

Taking the time to make sure your kids understand the application principles in Bible lessons and giving them guided practice can increase the likelihood they will be able to live the lives God want them to live. As a bonus, you will be creating fun family memories.

Fun Family Devotional on Needs versus Wants

A huge stumbling block to raising selfless children is the confusion that often arises between understanding what they truly need and what they merely want. Not accurately understanding the difference can eventually lead to all sorts of ungodly life choices. There’s a fun family devotional you can do to help your kids start realizing God’s view of the difference between needs and wants.

Grab your kids, a Bible and several magazines with ads and catalogs or plain paper and markers. Tell or read them the story about King Ahab and Naboth’s vineyard in 1 Kings 21. Explain that Naboth owned a vineyard. King Ahab wanted to plant a vegetable garden and decided that Naboth’s vineyard was the best place to plant his garden. Unfortunately, for Ahab, Naboth was unwilling to sell his land to the king. Instead of finding another place to plant his garden, Ahab forgot he had just wanted the land, but began to believe he needed it. His wife Jezebel stepped in and made matters worse, by telling Ahab that he basically deserved the land. She had Naboth framed for cursing God and king which meant he was stoned to death and Ahab seized the vineyard for his garden.

Explain to your kids that, while we may not go as far as Ahab and Jezebel, not recognizing the difference between our needs and our wants can lead us to making poor, ungodly and sinful choices. Challenge your kids to find or draw pictures of the things they want and the things they need. With older children, it is important to also discuss levels of need. For example, I need to have clothes to wear, but do I need a hundred pairs of shoes or a dress that costs $20,000?

Younger children may struggle with understanding they don’t need a toy, but merely want it. Older children and even you and your spouse may struggle to decide when a need has crossed the line to want. While the Bible doesn’t say we can never have anything we merely want, it is important to weigh the cost of that want and how purchasing it may prevent you from helping others who cannot meet their basic needs for food, clothing, shelter, etc.

Discussing needs versus wants needs to be ongoing in your home. Working with your kids to be careful to avoid selfishness and greed in pursuing their wants is key to them serving others and sharing their faith.

Fun Ways to Use Cooking to Teach Your Kids About God

Cooking is a life skill your kids will be glad they have as they enter their young adult years. What if you could teach them about God at the same time you are teaching them to cook? What if you could also serve others and share your faith at the same time?

You may not have really paid much attention before, but food is mentioned a lot in the Bible. Sometimes it is part of a story. At other times it is used to describe a promise of God or for other purposes. There are so many mentions of different types of food, you could easily teach your kids kitchen skills, how to make certain recipes and cover quite a bit of scripture at the same time. You can even share the finished products with someone to serve them and your kids can share their faith as they explain why they cooked those specific foods.

Here are some foods, at least one scripture where each is mentioned and the cooking lesson you could pair with it.

  • Almonds are mentioned in the story of Joseph in Genesis 43:11 and an interesting story about Aaron’s rod in Numbers 17:8. Assuming your kids aren’t allergic to nuts, you could teach them the different varieties of nuts and teach them how to shell each type. Or you could focus on the almonds and make a Jewish recipe for almond bread. Although the recipe probably doesn’t go back as far as the Bible, it is considered a historical Jewish recipe.
  • Figs are mentioned in the story of Abigail and David in 1 Samuel 25:18 and in the story of Jesus cursing the fig tree that wasn’t producing figs in Mark 11:13. This ancient recipe is considered a Roman recipe (amongst others), but since
    this recipe is popular in many countries in the area, it is probably similar to that for the fig cakes Abigail gave David and his men.
  • Salt, coriander, cumin, dill, garlic, etc. Spices are mentioned in the Bible, too. Matthew 5:13, Matthew 23:23, Numbers 11:5 and other verses mention various spices. Spices served to not only add flavor during Bible times, but in some cases helped preserve foods or slowed the growth of germs that cause food poisoning. Have your kids taste the various spices and try cooking this chicken recipe with coriander and cumin that is popular today during Passover.
  • Lamb is associated with Passover and the last supper as well as numerous other stories about sheep. Try a new lamb recipe.
  • Quail is from one of the more humorous stories in the Old Testament (To us, probably not so much to the Israelites!) in Exodus 16. You probably won’t see quail in the meat area of your grocery store, but the butchers in ours either keep some in the back or will order it for you.
  • Locust and honey made up the diet of John the Baptist. You can find edible locusts/crickets/grasshoppers (basically the same insect) at wilderness and hiking stores or online.
  • Fish were caught for a living by Peter, Andrew, James and John. Scholars think the fish was probably tilapia which, once again, your butcher can get if they don’t carry it.
  • Bread was a staple and was probably either unleavened, rustic whole grain or a bread similar to pita bread today. Bread is mentioned in numerous Bible stories and a quick Google search can help you find one new to your kids. You can find lots of possible recipes online depending upon which type of bread you want to make. Remember for any Passover story, the bread would have been unleavened. Otherwise it was probably the rustic bread or the pita type bread.

There are quite a few other foods in the Bible that you can use to continue your cooking and Bible lessons, but these should give you a great start. Have fun with it. Your kids will remember the Bible stories you share while cooking even better than the ones you normally just tell them.

Fun Activities to Teach Your Kids About Communication

Communication is a wonderful thing…when it works well. Unfortunately, in families – particularly amongst siblings – there can be communication issues that can damage and eventually sever relationships. There are some fun activities connected to Bible stories that can help you start teaching your kids about communication.

For both activities, you will need materials your kids can use to build something. For older kids you want to make the “building supplies” as unique as possible. Think uncooked pasta, straws, marshmallows, etc. For younger children, blocks or Legos work well.

For the first activity, tell your kids the story of the Tower of Babel found in Genesis 11:1-9. Give your kids the building supplies. Tell them they must build the tallest tower possible without talking. The older your kids are, the more difficult you can make the task…like they need to use all of the supplies or it has to hold a certain amount of weight. Giving older kids a time limit can also up the pressure. Be extremely strict about the no talking rule. No noises, etc.

When time is up, ask your kids the problems they faced because they couldn’t talk. Would it have been easier if they could speak? What if they could speak, but spoke different languages? Why is it difficult to communicate without words? Why do our words sometimes make communicating more complicated?

For the second activity, tell your kids the story of Nehemiah found in the Bible book of the same name. This time, your kids need to build a wall using the materials you provided, but this time they can talk. As soon as they start, starting yelling at them and try to distract them like the people did in the book of Nehemiah. If needed, call their names, ask them questions…anything you can verbally do to distract them from their building before time expires.

Afterwards, discuss how distractions can make communication more complicated. How did it feel when one of their siblings was trying to tell them something, but you kept interrupting the conversation and/or distracting them? How much more difficult did it make their communication? What things distract them when others are trying to communicate with them? Why is it important to minimize possible distractions when having a conversation? With older kids, this is a great time to talk about how devices impact communication.

Have fun with it. Future activities can encourage them to communicate well and handle communicating in godly ways with someone when they are in conflict. For now, just get them thinking about the importance of clear, undistracted communication.