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When Christian parents are struggling to find consistency in God’s Word as they disciple their children, Deuteronomy 6 is one of my favorite passages to consider with them. Verses 4–9, known as the Shema (from the first word in Hebrew, translated “hear”), are a beacon of clarity and practical encouragement. Drawing from this passage, we can look at the foundation, the flow, and the family essential to the holistic application of God’s Word in our homes.

First, look at the foundation of family discipleship. If we as Christian parents aim to better apply the Word of God in our homes, what’s our starting point? According to Moses here in Deuteronomy, we begin with our hearts and eyes fixed upward on God, not outward on the task before us:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.” (Deut. 6:4–6)

As we seek to disciple our children, God Himself is the foundation of our mission, not our own plans or efforts.

The Shema gives us a direct charge from God to base our lives on the revealed truth of who He is. In the Shema, God uses His covenant name to clearly declare Himself to be the one true God, the promise- keeping Redeemer who has humbled Himself to bless His people. That’s our starting point. We receive a truth external to us, a truth that should never cease to startle us: Almighty God wants a genuine relationship with us, and He is willing to instruct us, guide us, and ultimately substitute Himself for us so that He might grant us the righteousness needed to accomplish that union (2 Cor. 5:21). Our love for God is rooted in and grows out of that reality. It is all-encompassing; it occupies our entire being—heart, soul, everything, with all our might. There is no compartmentalization of our response to God. He will have all of us or none of us.

Applied more specifically to family discipleship, the firm foundation of the unique worthiness of God helps us clarify the aim of our efforts. This is needed because Christians are not immune to faulty motives. We might be tempted to wield God’s Word in our homes as means to a particular end, whether it be better behavior in our children or the wholesome facade that we maintain for our neighbors. Praise God that His Word is powerful enough even to cut through faulty motives that view the Word merely as a means to an earthly end. Yet our homes should rather rest on the foundation of Word-centered discipleship that exalts God as He transforms us into the image of His glory (2 Cor. 3:18).

Deliverance is a family affair—a covenant family affair.

Building on that foundation, as we strive to bring the Word of God to bear in every aspect of our homes, Deuteronomy prompts us to consider the flow of that faithful labor. Moses exhorts, “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deut. 6:7). With our lives centered on the truth of God’s Word, obedience flows outward as we live in the light of God’s path. One way that we demonstrate this disposition is by being diligent to pass God’s Word on to the next generation.

What does this look like in the home? As evidenced in Deuteronomy 6:7, diligently applying God’s Word in the home looks like healthy rhythms of life, all circling around the center of gravity that is the glory of God and His revealed Word. Formal and informal habits cycle and feed off one another as they continually provide openings to gospel conversations. We speak, sing, and pray God’s Word so often that we engrave it on our children’s hearts. We talk with our children about God’s Word as we’re sitting together in our homes, whether in structured family worship or spontaneous conversation. We talk with them about God’s Word when we’re on the go, redeeming the time and demonstrating that the Bible is continually accessible and beneficial in every little moment. We talk with them about God’s Word when we lie down and when we rise, imbuing their lives with formative habits built around fellowship with God. These rhythms will look different in every household—even in different seasons of the same household—but they are all centered on God’s Word and our desire to honor Him by being faithful stewards of it in the lives of our children.

Finally, as we weave these rhythms of grace into our homes, we must realize the company that we’re called to keep—our redemptive family. Even as the Shema teaches us to make God our foundation and to let our obedience flow outward from that truth, the wider context of Deuteronomy 6 is that of a covenant community of God’s chosen people. As God instructs them, He reminds the households of Israel that they—collectively—have been brought out of the land of Egypt (v. 12) and are now being led into land that He promised their forefathers (v. 10). On this side of the cross, we also belong to a covenant community freed from slavery and brought into a new kingdom.

Parents, do you desire to lead your children into the freedom and promise of Christ? You are not alone on this journey. Deliverance is a family affair—a covenant family affair. Just as you bind the Word of God to your household to nourish and guide them, bind your household to a healthy local church that will do the same.

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