Listen Up: Ten Minute Family Devotions on the Parables

Recently, I've been blessed with a new devotional called Listen Up, that solely focuses on the parables of Jesus Christ. In the New Testament, you'll find that Jesus often liked to use parables to reach His followers. There were several reasons for this. For one, using comparative examples helped those who listened to His teachings, gain a better understanding of the message He was trying to convey. Another interesting theory is that Jesus spoke in parables to hide His message from enemies who were also present whenever He spoke in public places. Those who followed Him would hear His message, whereas unbelievers and scoffers would miss it altogether.

After teaching a parable Jesus often said, "Whoever has ears, let him hear." In other words, "This is important, so you better listen up" and what could be more important than the good news of the kingdom of God? This family devotional provides a unique opportunity for parents to help their children "listen up" and hear the gospel as Jesus himself shared it. Jesus told simple stories using everyday activities and objects that point to surprising spiritual truths about life in his kingdom. In the parables children (and adults!) will learn to treasure the gospel.

Marty Machowski is a Family Life Pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, where he has served on the pastoral staff for more than twenty years. He is the author of numerous resources for churches and families, including the Gospel Story for Kids series and The Ology. He and his wife, Lois, and their six children.

Listen Up is a thirteen-week devotional written for the entire family. The title is very appropriate, because it derives from the moment when Jesus said, "Whoever has ears, let him hear." The overall idea is to provide families with an understanding of Jesus' teachings through investigating and exploring the parables. If you and your family have ever been intrigued with learning how to interpret these stories that Jesus so often told, then this is the devotional to get.

Unlike traditional devotionals, Listen Up offers a little something different. Along with your daily studies and reflections, there are also discussion questions, interesting facts, songs to sing, and even hands-on activity suggestions for the family to take part in together. This makes it an exceptional tool for teaching and studying the parables as a family unit.

I think older children will walk away with more understanding of the parables and the overall reason as to why they're so important, however, the extra features such as the activities and songs also allow this to be easily enjoyed by much younger children. The other thing to think about with parables is that they are short stories. Jesus used them to provide analogies of the messages that He was trying to convey to His followers. Younger children will find some of the parables most exciting, because they'll see it as a fable with a special message to learn.

With a total of thirteen weeks of studies on the parables, the devotional is broken down into one study a week that should be worked on for five days out of the week. Of course, this could be adapted to your own family needs. What I found is that each daily session is short and sweet, so it's actually really easy to fit in throughout one's busy schedule. The sessions are also fun and interesting to read about, so you could easily take two or three, and compress them into one daily study if your family schedule allows for this. I personally found the studies so intriguing that it was difficult to put the book down and not continue on reading.

One of the features that I really like about this devotional, besides the fact that it focuses solely on the parables, is that it already includes all of the required Bible verses and passages in the book. While I'm typically accustomed to going back and forth from a devotional reading to my Bible, the idea of having everything placed right inside one book is especially convenient when doing the study together as a family, particularly with younger children.

This devotional provides parents with the extra resources to share Jesus' parables with children of all ages. The extra songs and activities are wonderful, because they really get younger members of the family involved. Piquing a child's interest by creating unique and entertaining ways for them to learn is a great way for them to develop a joy for reading the word of God. If you're looking for a good study on the parables of Jesus that would work for the whole family, then I definitely recommend the Listen Up devotional. Even if you are seeking to explore the parables on your own using an individual lesson plan, this book will definitely give you a solid foundation and knowledge of the study.