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The gospel [good news]: central to Paul’s message

February 19, 2024
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Daily Scripture

Philippians 1:3-7, Romans 1:1-5, 16-17

Philippians 1
3 I thank my God every time I mention you in my prayers. 4 I’m thankful for all of you every time I pray, and it’s always a prayer full of joy. 5 I’m glad because of the way you have been my partners in the ministry of the gospel from the time you first believed it until now. 6 I’m sure about this: the one who started a good work in you will stay with you to complete the job by the day of Christ Jesus. 7 I have good reason to think this way about all of you because I keep you in my heart. You are all my partners in God’s grace, both during my time in prison and in the defense and support of the gospel.

Romans 1
1 From Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for God’s good news. 2-3 God promised this good news about his Son ahead of time through his prophets in the holy scriptures. His Son was descended from David. 4 He was publicly identified as God’s Son with power through his resurrection from the dead, which was based on the Spirit of holiness. This Son is Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through him we have received God’s grace and our appointment to be apostles. This was to bring all Gentiles to faithful obedience for his name’s sake.

16 I’m not ashamed of the gospel: it is God’s own power for salvation to all who have faith in God, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 God’s righteousness is being revealed in the gospel, from faithfulness for faith, as it is written, The righteous person will live by faith [Habakkuk 2:4].

Daily Reflection & Prayer

NOTE: The GPS usually offers 5-10 verses of Scripture. If you’d like to dig deeper than that, Pastor Hamilton says, “Join me during Lent, as we focus on Paul’s messages, to read the 13 letters attributed to Paul in the New Testament–the earliest documents of our New Testament.” Click here to download our reading plan that will allow you to read all of Paul’s letters between now and Easter.

We surveyed the life of the apostle Paul in a three-week series last November. Now for Lent, we focus on this apostle’s pivotal teachings, which played a huge role in shaping the Christian faith. And we have to start where his self-understanding did: with the gospel. “The Greek word euangelion, frequently translated ‘gospel,’ means ‘glad tidings,’ or ‘good news,’ and in Pauline usage it refers to the message of God’s saving work in Jesus Christ.” *

  • Paul gave a clear-cut account of the vital core of the gospel he taught: “God promised this good news about his Son…. This Son is Jesus Christ our Lord.” “The Gospel accounts describe events from the life of Jesus and the Lord’s teachings, whereas Paul’s focus is on the significance of Jesus’ life and message, with a particular focus on the meaning of Jesus’ death and resurrection.” ** How do the Gospels and Paul’s letters help you value Jesus more fully than either of them could alone?
  • Why would Paul feel he needed to tell Christians in Rome that he was “not ashamed” of the gospel? “The pagan Romans… didn’t care for the Jews. They sneered at them and distrusted them. From the Roman point of view, Christianity was bound to be seen as doubly strange and unwelcome: a kind of Jewish religion that made other Jews angry!” *** What factors today can make you feel ashamed of the gospel, and eager to hide your faith from those who don’t share it?
Prayer

Lord God, thank you for the life-changing good news about Jesus’ saving grace that has touched my life. Guide me into an ever-deepening grasp of your wonderful salvation. Amen.

GPS Insights

Valerie Nagel

Valerie Nagel

Valerie Nagel serves as a Connection and Care Pastor at Resurrection Leawood. She was born, raised, and attended college in California. Her Master of Divinity degree is from Duke Divinity School. She began serving as an associate pastor in the Rio Texas Conference in 2011 in the Austin area and San Antonio. From congregational care and welcoming guests to leading in worship, Valerie loves the ministry of the local church. She juggles ministry with being a mom to Caleb (born 2012) and Jacob (born 2015), friend, avid reader, lover of the outdoors, beginner to the world of CrossFit, and foodie.

While I sometimes want to dismiss my experience as “not that bad,” the truth is, I grew up in Christian communities that preached a gospel like Jonathan Edwards’ Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God. They didn’t talk about us being loathsome spiders above a fire (Pastor Adam mentioned Edwards’ metaphor in this weekend’s sermon). But I know that kind of gospel. I know the subtle use of fear and overt call to conversion because of the threat of hell. It was a message that didn’t feel good. I knew God loved me, but the way it was taught to me felt unhealthy, though I couldn’t name all of what was problematic about it as a child. It is only as an adult that I have come to see that from every angle the Gospel truly is good, joy-filled news. It’s a message of God’s love for us and the lengths God would go to love us.

The first time I heard a pastor point out the detail that the father in the story of the prodigal son ran to meet him, I got tears in my eyes. Far too often the emphasis as the story was told to me was on the son and what a screw-up he was. First the shame, then the love. But when we begin with love the whole story feels different.

The same thing is true for other passages of Scripture, such as Paul’s letters that we focus on during Lent. But other passages too, like Psalm 139. It could be read with fear. God knows us. God sees us and searches us. Is God watching us waiting for us to fail? Or is God lovingly gazing on us? Is God watching to be sure we feel God’s love on a journey that can be filled with so much difficulty? God want us to know that we are never alone and that nothing can separate us from God’s love.

One of the ways I have always felt God’s love is through music. I give thanks for the COR Worship Collective, the amazing musicians in our church, and the music that some of them write. Throughout Lent the COR Worship Collective will be sharing video releases of music. The music is for us to enjoy, sing along to, and be reminded of God’s love. But it’s also something we can share with others, especially on social media. This past Friday they shared “Before and Behind,” based on Psalm 139. It’s my prayer that when you feel low, when the messages of shame whisper in your ear, when you feel like you have failed, that you will listen to songs like this one and hear God loudly singing over you with words of love, compassion, and grace. You are beloved!

Click here to hear the Worship Collective’s recording of “Before and Behind.”

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* A. B. Luter, Jr., article “Gospel” in Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993, p. 370.
** Hamilton, Adam, The Call: The Life and Message of the Apostle Paul (p. 35). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.
*** Wright, N.T., Paul for Everyone, Romans Part One: Chapters 1-8 (p. 8). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.