Excerpt taken from Old Story New by Marty Machowski
The greatest hope of all Christian parents is to see their children come to a personal faith in Jesus Christ. Most parents would climb the highest mountain or slay the fiercest dragon should it guarantee their children’s salvation. But just as our conversion was a work of grace, so the conversion of each of our children depends upon the transforming work of the Holy Spirit, not our labors. And yet we are not powerless to act, for in God’s kindness he chose to partner with us in his saving work by giving us something to do.
We get to tell God’s story to our children—the mighty life-transforming message of the gospel. The gospel, the Bible tells us, is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). We are sowers who plant the seeds of faith each time we speak the truth of God’s story to our children. Like a farmer sprinkling the newly planted seed with his watering can, we send our prayers to God while we keep our eyes fixed upon the soil of their lives, waiting to rejoice with the first sprouting leaves. Even then, though we’ve sown the seeds of the gospel, we still marvel and wonder about how they sprouted (Mark 4:26–29).
The gospel story, filled with adventure, suspense, drama, and mystery, easily captures the attention of our children. A good book is said to come alive when you read it if it captures the imagination. The gospel story in the Bible goes a long step further: It is alive and able to cut through the hardest sinful heart, giving life to the deadest, unbelieving soul.
Like a double-edged sword cuts an apple in two, the Word of God cuts through our pride to show us our sin. Then it points us to Jesus, the only hope for our forgiveness before a holy God. As John said toward the end of his Gospel, it was written “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31). We are saved, and our children are saved by the Holy Spirit as we review the story of Christ in the gospel.
Why is it, then, that, for so many Christian families, the Bible sits on a table unopened or remains hidden on a shelf, sandwiched between storybooks and a dictionary? One common explanation that some good Christian parents offer is that they don’t know where to begin. The Bible seems long and sometimes complicated. They are not sure how much to read at one time or what to say to their children about what they just read. They are not sure where to begin or how much to share and, if they give it a try only to be met at the end by their children’s blank stares, they get discouraged.
Many parents have burst out of the gate running like a racehorse with all the excitement of how the Bible was going to transform their children, only to tire after the first bend in the track. Somehow their Bible ends up back on the shelf with the other books. Discouraged, they say to themselves, I guess I must not be one of the super-parents who can explain the Bible with commentaries and teach their children words from the original Greek.
There are no super-parents. We all struggle, and we all need help to stay on course. That is where I hope Old Story New can help make sharing the Bible with your children a whole lot easier. By dividing the Bible story into shorter parts and giving you everything you need to lead a ten-minute family devotion, Old Story New does the hard work for you. Simple discussion questions (and answers!) for each day’s devotion help you interact with your children over what you read to them. You’ll get fewer blank stares, and you will be surprised at how much they understand and remember from day to day.
As you read and discuss God’s Word, you can be sure the Holy Spirit is also at work drawing your children closer to God and opening their minds to understand the life-giving message of the gospel. Remember, our job is to plant the seeds and water—God is the one who makes the seeds grow.
All You Need Is Ten Minutes a Day!
If you can find ten minutes a day, you can use this tool to pass on the most valuable treasure the world has ever known. Contrary to what many believe, daily family Bible study need not take a lot of time. God can use a short, simple family devotion consistently practiced over time to yield more fruit in the lives of our children than we realize—a quick daily devotion not as easily derailed by our busy schedules. Each day as the gospel is presented, God is at work.
Our hope in God is to see our children reading their Bibles and having devotions on their own, not because they have to, but because they want to. The truth of God’s Word brings us to Christ and is effective to sustain us and help us to grow all of our days. There is simply no greater delight for Christian parents than watching the Spirit of God guiding their children through faith-filled study of God’s Word. No earthly treasure compares.
God’s Word, when hidden in our hearts as children, is used again and again in our lives later on. The Spirit of God will bring it back to our minds to help us in our walk with God and to enable us to encourage others we meet along the way.
Every family can find a few minutes in the daily routine. Some families gather for their devotional at the start of their day; others try the dinnertime approach. Lay the devotional book and your Bible(s) beside your plate at the dinner table. As soon as everyone is finished eating, take ten minutes for family Bible study. Old Story New does the work for you! All you need to do is read the passage of Scripture for the day, follow that with the short commentary, and then ask the listed questions. Finish it all up by inviting one of your children to pray.
It’s Simple to Use
Old Story New when used with Long Story Short is a family devotional program designed to explain God’s plan of salvation from Genesis through Revelation. Long Story Short covers the Old Testament, and this volume, Old Story New, covers the New Testament. Together, they provide three years of family Bible study! For every Old Testament lesson your family will learn the answer to the question, “How does this passage point forward to Jesus?” For every New Testament lesson the question is, “Where is the gospel?” Since the Bible is the story of God’s unfolding plan of redemption, every passage of Scripture points forward or back to Calvary.
Each week starts off with a creative activity, exercise, or bit of trivia to introduce the passage. On days one through four you review a portion of the week’s Scripture passage. Special attention is given on day three to connect the current passage to the gospel. On day four we’ve added a question for your older children to ask you, and on day five you and your family will investigate a Bible passage from the book of Psalms or an excerpt from one of the prophets to discover how the passage points forward to Christ.
This devotional book can be used differently depending on the ages of your children. Since this book is rich in gospel truth, it works for families with children of all ages. Take a look at the following categories to find the one that best describes your family.
Marty Machowski is a Family Life Pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church, a Sovereign Grace Ministries church in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, where he has served on the pastoral staff for more than twenty years. As leader of their children’s ministry, Promise Kingdom, he has worked for many years to develop kids Bible curriculum and devotional material that connect church and home. His passion is equipping families to understand the Bible as one gospel story and help them share that with their children. Visit Marty's website for more information about the Gospel Story for Kids series and curriculum. The website is also home to Marty’s blog on family, children’s ministry and more.