365 daily readings and conversation starters for your family.
The NIV Once-A-Day At the Table Family Devotional helps you discuss the principles and promises in the Bible as you enjoy a meal together. With 365 daily readings to help you start conversations with your family around the dinner table, it’s perfect for the family who wants to make time to center their lives on God’s Word. This devotional book suggests topics for conversation and then gives you a brief Scripture passage and a devotion to read together.
- Scripture text from the accurate, readable, and clear New International Version (NIV)
- Devotional readings designed for family discussion
- Questions to consider together as you discuss the day’s topic
- Closing prayers
- 10-point type size
About the Author
Christopher D. Hudson served as the General Editor of Strive: The Bible for Men as well as Revolution: the Bible for Teen Guys. He was a consulting editor for the New Men’s Devotional Bible and has created many other best-selling Bible projects. In addition, he has created daily devotional titles such as Day by Day with the Early Church Fathers. Christopher lives with his wife and three children in northern Illinois, where he also serves on the athletic coaching staff of Wheaton College.
Read an Excerpt
once-a-day at the table FAMILY DEVOTIONAL365 daily readings and conversation starters for your family
By Christopher D. Hudson
ZondervanCopyright © 2012 Zondervan
All right reserved.
Chapter Oneday 1 january 1
AFTER GOD'S OWN HEART
What do people mean when they say, "I'm too busy not to pray"?
When is the best time for you to pray? Why?
In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. Psalm 5:3
In 1 Samuel 13:14, God describes David as "a man after [God's] own heart." One of the ways that King David sought God was through prayer. David's conversations with God were notable.
In Psalm 5, we find three clues to David's prayer success. The first is found in the words, "In the morning." David didn't pray whenever he felt like it; he prayed every day. More specifically, he prayed every morning. He dedicated the first part of his day to God.
The second clue is found in the words, "I lay my requests before you." David wasn't shy about telling God what he needed. He approached God with confidence, the way he would approach a friend. He shared what was going on in his life and what he thought he needed.
The third clue is found in the words, "wait expectantly." David didn't drop his requests at the Lord's door and then go on his way. He waited for God's response. Sometimes God said "yes"; sometimes God said "no." Either way, David listened to God.
If you want to be a person after God's own heart, you need to devote yourself to prayer as David did.
Dear God, thank you for meeting with us any time we approach you. Let us never forget what a privilege it is to talk to you. Amen.
day 2 january 2
What are some things that people are devoted to?
What gets in the way of devotion to God?
"And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever." 1 Chronicles 28:9
Devotion is the word we use to describe participating in a short Bible study and discussion, like the one we're having now. But the word devotion also refers to the attitude that drives us to seek God.
To be devoted means to be dedicated. And in this verse, David is telling his son Solomon to wholeheartedly dedicate himself to God. King David knew that people can't halfheartedly serve God.
When we do serve God with wholehearted devotion, God will reward us. When we make him the focus of our lives, he will bless us. That's his promise. The more devoted we become, the more he blesses us.
To devote our life to God means that we live completely for him. It means that we live our life to please and honor him. We seek him, worship him and love him—with our whole heart.
Dear God, you are the only one who deserves our wholehearted devotion. Help us clear the obstacles in our lives that keep us from being wholeheartedly devoted to you. Amen.
day 3 january 3
Share a time when someone knew you were a believer without having been told. What gave you away?
Share a time when you knew someone was a believer without having been told by that person. How did you know?
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1–2
How much can we learn about people by observing them? If we followed someone around for a day, we would quickly learn what food that person likes to eat, what music they listen to and what makes them laugh. We would be able to see what that person read, who their friends were and how they spent money. Before long, we would be able to give a full report on our subject.
What if someone followed you around for a day? What might they learn about you? What would your daily choices say about you? How long would it take your observer to figure out that you're a Christian?
There's an old expression that says, "If you were on trial for being a follower of Christ, would there be enough evidence to convict you?" What would you say to that? Is there evidence in your life that you have been transformed?
Dear God, thank you for changing our lives completely. Let us remember that we are always being watched by people who want to know what it means to be transformed by you. Amen.
day 4 january 4
Why does God want your worship?
How can we become a more worshipful family?
The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord. David the king also rejoiced greatly. 1 Chronicles 29:9
If you ask someone, "What were you put on this earth to do?" chances are you'll find out what that person likes to do: "I was put on this earth to play soccer." Or you might find out what that person feels responsible to do: "I was put on this earth to take care of my family." But neither answer is correct. As human beings, we were created for one purpose: to give glory to God.
That means worship—and that's what God wants from us more than anything. The Israelites discovered how important worship is to God. When King David announced that he was building a temple where the people could worship God, the Israelites leapt at the chance to be a part of it. They gave the best of everything they had to use in the construction. They devoted themselves to worship. As a result, God blessed their nation with peace, wealth and respect among the other nations of the world.
God is pleased by our worship and blesses us. Receiving his blessing gives us cause to worship him more, which gives him reason to bless us more. It's a beautiful cycle!
Dear God, we worship you for your love and goodness. Thank you for taking care of your people in the past, for taking care of us today and for taking care of us in the future. Amen.
day 5 january 5
Who's the first person you turn to when you don't know what to do?
How do you know when you've made a wrong decision?
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5
We live in a complicated world. We will face complicated decisions. Fortunately for us, we have a resource we can use. God, the source of all wisdom, invites us to share our dilemmas with him. He makes his wisdom available to us.
In order to take full advantage of the opportunity, though, we first need to empty ourselves of our own "wisdom." Sometimes when we ask for advice, we have already made up our minds, and we're just looking for someone to agree with us. That might work with friends, but not with God. If we're going to tap into his wisdom, we need to forget about what we want or what we think should happen. We need to let him guide us.
If you're not sure how to recognize God's voice, try talking to him from different perspectives about the situation you're facing. Talk about the pros, the reasons you should do something. Then talk about the cons, the reasons you shouldn't do it. Let him work in your heart and mind to help you realize which direction is best.
If you really want God's wisdom, just ask him for it.
Dear God, thank you for sharing your wisdom with us. Never let us forget that your help is available whenever we need it. Amen.
day 6 january 6
KEEPING AN OPEN MIND
Describe a time when you changed your mind about something. What made you change your mind?
When something is new to you, how do you decide whether it's right or true?
The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out. Proverbs 18:15
In order to acquire knowledge, we must be open to new ideas. If people weren't open to new ideas, consider the following repercussions:
All movies would still be in black and white. We would still be writing letters instead of texting. Computers would still be the size of refrigerators.
Thankfully, many who have gone before us have been open to new ideas. In Proverbs 18, King Solomon tells us that being open to new ideas is also important in our spiritual lives.
This can be a challenge sometimes. It's easier for us to stay in our comfort zones, to hang out with people who act, think and believe like we do. New ideas can be disruptive and uncomfortable. They challenge us to look at the world, other people and ourselves in ways we may not want to.
But new ideas also stretch us and help us grow. That's why wise believers are open to new ideas. If you want to be wise, surround yourself with God-honoring people who challenge you. Push yourself to read different kinds of books than you would normally choose. Ask God to open your eyes to new ways of thinking that give you more insight into his truth.
Dear God, thank you for creating us with the ability to learn new things. Protect us as we explore new ideas and help us recognize your truth when we find it. Amen.
day 7 january 7
YOUR WILL BE DONE
What do you think God wants you to do with your life?
What happens if you ignore God's will?
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5–6
Have you ever gotten lost? Even though you really thought you knew where you were going? Would you have gotten lost if you had had good directions?
We can get lost in life if we don't use the guidebook God has provided us with—the Bible. We were not designed to be "know-it-alls." None of us were. We were designed to rely on God's instructions and on his will.
This isn't always simple. God's will isn't always obvious, but that doesn't mean that we should put our lives on hold while we wait for him to reveal his plan for our lives. God's Word gives us plenty to go on. The Bible tells us how to behave, how to treat others and how to live wisely. When we follow the instructions God has already given us, he will further reveal his will to us.
Dear God, thank you for caring enough about us as individuals to create a plan for each of our lives. Guide us as we strive to determine your will. Amen.
day 8 january 8
BETTER THAN A GPS
Has God ever led you anywhere that surprised you? Explain.
What's the best thing to do when you don't understand why the Lord is leading you in a certain direction?
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Psalm 32:8
While God gives us direction through the Bible, he is not a GPS that we can stick on the windshield. God won't say, "In three and a half years, turn left and attend this college." God leads us in a more subtle way, through our hearts.
God's leading may not always make sense to us. For one thing, his choice of route may not be a straight line. He may lead us off the highway, against traffic or through a random desert. He may take us in a complete circle and bring us right back where we started. He may lead us out into the middle of the ocean and then tell us to make a U-turn.
The GPS only considers where we want to go and the shortest way to get there. God considers an infinite eternity that includes where we begin, where he wants us to go and what we need to learn along the way.
If we trust God to guide us, one day we'll look back on our life and see just what an incredible journey it was.
Dear God, you are amazing because you know the best route for every person's life. Guide our steps so that we go exactly where you want us to go. Amen.
day 9 january 9
What's your favorite—whether it's an animal, plant, rock formation, beach or something else—of all the works of creation?
How do you feel when you think about everything God has created?
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1
Think about what it's like to bring an art project home from school—something you've worked hard to make, all by yourself. You've poured your own unique creativity and skills into designing your masterpiece.
How would you feel if you brought it home, hung it in the middle of the living room, and then watched as everyone completely ignored it? Think about it. Not one gasp of amazement. Not one "Wow, how did you do this?" Not one comment about the colors you used or the skill of your design or the amazing talent behind the work. How would you feel?
Do you suppose God feels the same way when people ignore his creation? After all, he created the world and everything in it. Every day we are surrounded by the beauty of his work and the incredible detail of his design. But how often do we mention it? How often do we even notice it?
Let's start a habit of giving God his due. Let's make a commitment to noticing something new, something beautiful, something incredible in creation every day and thanking him for it. Let's see what that does for our relationship with him.
Dear God, we are in awe of your creation. Every day we see something incredible that you made. Let us never lose our sense of wonder at your creative power. Amen.
day 10 january 10
THE WARRIOR KING
If you were in a battle, who would you want by your side? Why?
How does God want you to respond to the evil and suffering in this world?
Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Psalm 24:8
When we hear the words, "God is love" or "God brings peace to our hearts," we get a sense of God's gentle, healing nature. But if we stop there, we don't get the whole picture of what God is like. In this psalm, David describes God as a King who is "mighty in battle."
That's not just a poetic description, either. The fact that God is a warrior King has very real meaning for us, his followers. If God leads the way into battle, we must be prepared to join him.
Who is the enemy? Satan is God's enemy. So is sin. The Bible says that anything that is not for God is against him (see James 4:4). This means that he has a lot of enemies!
Our battle armor is God's truth, righteousness and faith. We fight for God with the "sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Ephesians 6:17). We join this King of glory by obeying his commandments and by loving others.
The battle will not be easy, but we already know the end of the story. God wins. And so will we.
Dear God, we praise you for your love and your willingness to fight for what is right. With your truth and love, prepare us for battle against the evil and suffering all around us. Amen.
day 11 january 11
THE ALL-KNOWING ONE
What do you know now that you didn't know one year ago?
If you could choose one thing to know a year from now, what would it be? In other words, what would you like to learn more than anything else?
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Romans 11:33
Has it ever occurred to you that nothing new ever occurs to God? He already knows everything there is to know. This is a difficult concept for us because we learn something new every day. And we could learn a million new things each day and still not know what God knows.
God knows everything from the past, everything that's happening in the present and everything that will happen in the future. He can read every thought we have. He knows more about how we feel than we do. We may be able to fool ourselves, but we can never fool God.
The fact that God, and God alone, is all-knowing makes him the only one we should entrust with our future. He knows the destination of every possible path we could take in life. He knows which ones end well and which ones don't.
Who else, then, should be our guide? If we ask him to, God will use his perfect knowledge to steer us in the way we should go. Able to see what we cannot, he will lead us along the paths that bring us ultimate fulfillment and joy.
Dear God, we speak this prayer out loud to you even though we don't need to. You know our hearts. You know our thoughts. Help us understand that you know what is best for us. Amen.
Excerpted from once-a-day at the table FAMILY DEVOTIONAL by Christopher D. Hudson Copyright © 2012 by Zondervan. Excerpted by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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