My Gospel

How does the Gospel affect your life? Is it the defining centerpiece of your life? Is it your very life?

Paul writes an interesting phrase in his last letter to Timothy describing the Gospel:

Keep your attention on Jesus Christ as risen from the dead and descended from David. This is according to my gospel.
– 2 Timothy 2:8

Why did Paul refer to the Gospel as “my gospel”? He didn’t write that story. Paul wasn’t the originator of the Gospel. The words seem strange, almost sacrilegious. This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not the gospel of Paul.

Note the start of the verse: keep your attention on Jesus Christ. Paul’s aim in training Timothy in the faith wasn’t to exalt himself, it was to lift up Jesus. Paul called the Gospel his because it was personal to him. The Gospel didn’t just detail historical events, it showcased the grace poured out for Paul, and for the world. The Gospel Himself met Paul personally on the road to Damascus and completely transformed his gaze, his purpose and his future. The Gospel, Jesus Christ, was now his life. Jesus changed him. This wasn’t only the disciples’ Gospel, or the early church’s Gospel, this was his Gospel.

Paul was a picture of the Gospel.

We need to hear that, and we need to own that.

If the Gospel is merely words preached on a Sunday morning, we’ve missed it. If the Gospel is a set of morals to live by, we’ve missed it. If the Gospel works for us while we’re at church, but is optional at work, we’ve missed it. If I embrace the Gospel but still maintain my rights or remain in charge of my life, I’ve missed it.

The Gospel becomes mine when Jesus is my life. I cannot live without the reality of my resurrected Lord. His truth and His grace should dictate my comings and goings.

My life must speak aloud, in word and action, of Jesus the One and Only.

And even when I fail and my faith falters, Jesus doesn’t. When God looks at each of us, He sees a person for whom He sent His Son to die. He sees someone He lovingly made to have a personal relationship with Him, a person He longs to accept His salvation. Jesus loves us, and willingly gave up everything to make a way for us all, whether or not we accept His gift of grace.

My life is a picture of the Gospel. So is yours.

Diving into the Word this summer

It’s summer!!

In addition to splashing in the pool, exploring at the river, sleeping in (well, we are working on that!), and jumping on the trampoline, it’s also a perfect time to dive into the Word of God.

Though we emphasize the Bible as a family in our devotions, AWANA work and special experiences (like Christmas Countdown and 2 Weeks 2 the Cross), summer is a special time to dig deeper in the Scripture sandbox. We want our kids to discover God’s Word for themselves, and independently spend time with their Savior. Summer provides us an expanded format for them to learn how, at their own level and pace.

The kids' Bibles and devotion binders

The kids’ Bibles and devotion binders

Here’s how we are approaching our personal devotions this summer. This plan may change, because I want to give each of us the opportunity to wander down the paths where Jesus leads us!

We are using this page out of Lauren's Explorer Bible as a template for her devotions to start the summer.

We are using this page out of Lauren’s Explorer Bible as a template for her devotions to start the summer.

Early Reader Plan
Lauren, my six-year-old, has leaped forward with her reading skills. She surprises me every time I hear her read. This is her first time to study God’s Word on her own, since she now has the ability to read and write very well. I just bought her an NIrV Explorer Bible (with a purple cover), and she loves it! It is a treasure to her, as God’s Word should be. I love the NIrV translation because it is specifically geared toward young readers. Inside her Bible, we found a highlight page with Scriptures taking the reader through the life of Jesus. What a perfect place for her to start! So, each day (most likely weekdays), she reads the Scripture verses, then writes a few sentences about what she’s read and then draws a picture to help her remember. In addition to embracing the Word of God for herself, she is also furthering her reading, writing and comprehension skills. When we finish the life of Jesus, we will likely focus on another Bible hero, like David or Esther.

This is Lauren's first devotion page. She started reading about the life of Jesus in her Bible, and this is her synopsis and illustration!

This is Lauren’s first devotion page. She started reading about the life of Jesus in her Bible, and this is her synopsis and illustration!

Advanced Reader Plan
Jackson, my nine-year-old, is an advanced reader who just needed some focus and a plan to process and apply what he was reading. I discovered he was jumping around in Scripture rather than reading it through, so I asked him what he would like to study. He knew right away he wanted to know more about the life of Jesus! So, I collected devotions from TruthforKids.com. They have a plan for kids to work through the entire Bible in a year, with Scriptures and devotions for each day. I had downloaded them last summer and we had started from the beginning, but trailed off during the school year. So, I printed off the first chunk of devotions starting in the Gospels. In addition to the Scripture and devotional reading, Jackson needed a place to process and record what God was teaching him. So, I found a great free resource for kids and teens to use for Scripture journaling. Each morning, Jackson will read Scripture and the corresponding devotion, then journal and pray. He is currently using his NIrV Explorer Bible, because his NKJ version has a tiny font size, but he’s ready for a good beginner study Bible, probably in a NKJV, HCSB or ESV. (Not sure what I mean with those acronyms? Find out more about Bible translations and what might be a good fit for you!)

Adult Reading Plans
Both Matt and I are working through different Bible reading plans with YouVersion Bible App. If you don’t have their Bible app downloaded on your phone, you need to! There are so many plans to choose from, and you can sign up for reminders, and even push the “catch up” button if you get behind. I’ve completed many reading plans that have taken me from “cover to cover”. Right now, I am doing a 100-day focus on the Gospels. Matt is working through a read-the-Bible-through-in-a-year plan.

Even if these Bible study plans aren’t the right fit for you and your family, find a way to focus on God’s Word this summer! And, please drop me a note to let me know how you are diving into the Bible!