Your 2018 Kavanah Read Thru the New Testament

Want to change your life forever?

For years now we’ve been talking about “the 15 minutes a day that will change your life forever.” So this is your invitation to join us—and to invite others to join you—in this 2018 adventure.

Of course, we’re talking about reading the Bible. But not just reading the Bible—as good as that can be. What we’re talking about is reading the Bible together. Why together? Because reading the Bible by yourself is great, but reading the Bible together is exponentially more transformative. 

[Don’t believe us? Here are two true stories: True Story #1  True Story #2.]

Our 2018 NT Chronological Plan.

Have you ever wondered what a chronological New Testament would look like? Or how the Gospels describe the same event with different words and perspective? If so, this reading plan is for you. It’s impossible to state exactly in what order everything happened but this is an attempt and we hope it will bring new light to the eternal story of Jesus Christ. 

We invite you to jump in with us as we utilize the YouVersion App and it’s reading plan feature. Simply activate the NT CHRONOLOGICAL plan. We also suggest that you activate the daily reminder feature . Since it’s a 6 month plan we’ll be able to read this plan twice during 2018.

During the first half of the year (182 days) we’ll read thru the New Testament to observe Kavanah priorities. For the second half of the year (182 days) we’ll go deeper as we re-read the New Testament digging into the link between following Jesus and prayerfulness. We’ll start the read in January, but we’ll be inviting new friends to jump in along the way.Wherever we are in the sequence we invite you to begin where we are and read with us. 

We invite you to read with us and friends using YouVersion and the NT Chronological plan during 2018. Jump in anytime and keep reading with us.

YouVersion App: God’s Word is WITH you.

Tens of millions of people are using the Bible App™ to make God’s Word a part of their daily lives. Download the free app and access your bookmarks, notes, and reading plans from anywhere. Enjoy hundreds of versions, including audio, all on your mobile device. We’ll be using the NLT text and audio personally, but we invite you to read in the version of your choice.

The YouVersion Bible app makes it possible to not only read the Bible online via your smart phone, iPad, or computer, but you also can read it in whatever translation you choose. Another bonus is that you can also listen to an audio of each day’s readings for FREE!

But Wait! There’s More!

As we read through the New Testament together this year, we’re going to be looking for Kavanah. What’s Kavanah? That’s a great question.

Kavanah is a Hebrew word that helps us understand how God empowers us to live as disciplemakers. In its simplest form, Kavanah means “to aim.” In disciplemaking, it describes the place where my disciplined actions meet God’s active presence in my life. If disciplemaking is about following Jesus together, every day, we need his power to do it. And Kavanah helps us see how.

We find the roots of Kavanah in the Babylonian Talmud. Berakoth 32b says, “Our Rabbis taught: Four things require to be done with Kavanah, namely, [study of] the Torah, good deeds [loving others and showing kindness], praying always, and one’s worldly occupation.”

Kavanah is how we hit the bullseye as a disciple. It enables us to be filled up by Jesus, anticipating what God is going to do in us, through us and around us. We practice these four priorities with others, depending on the help of the Holy Spirit to hit the Kavanah bullseye…

So as we read this year, I suggest every time you come across one of the four Kavanah priorities in your Bible reading, you make a note in your Bible like so…

W = study God’s Word to know and love God

P = prayerfulness

L = loved extravagantly by God to love others

C = a C323 (Colossians 3:23) life of worship

If you’re really into crazy and fun, consider using four different colored pencils/highlighters—one for each of the four Kavanah priorities. When you’re done, you’ll have a fun and simply way of seeing just how much Kavanah is in the New Testament.

As we study, pray, love and live together, we hit the bullseye as disciples—who makes disciples—who make more disciples.

 

Well, there are only two questions left to ask:

1. Are YOU in? Let us know…

2. Whom will you invite to join you? We invite you to share this post and invite them. What are you waiting for?

Bonus: You can ask to join one of our Facebook Reading groups where you can see others questions and insights plus share your own.    Group 1.    Group 2.

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Want to read more? The better, stronger relationship with God that you’ve always longed for will not happen accidentally.

The best reason to study Scripture

Have you ever taken note of what the Bible says about itself? I did a little word study on that once, and here’s a brief snapshot of how the authors of Scripture describe it:

Your Word is flawless, more precious than gold, sweeter than honey;
it’s my delight, my counselor, my comfort;
it’s eternal, boundless, trustworthy, true, and right
it’s a lamp for my feet and a light for my path;
it’s like a fire in my heart;
it’s alive and active, sharper than a double-edged sword,
it penetrates to the soul and judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart;
it is God-breathed and useful for teaching training in righteousness;
it is truth;
it sanctifies us;
it’s the joy of my heart;
it’s the way to life.

Wow. This is quite the book we hold in our hands. It is a reflection of the amazing God who wrote it for us, through the human authors. And His Spirit goes with His Word and empowers it.

The ancient rabbis taught that kavanah was necessary in four facets of life: prayerfulness, studying Scripture to know God, loving others, and doing your life’s work as an act of worship.

Pray, study, love, live.

They held that to really honor God, we must pray, study, love and live with intentionality—paired with an expectancy that God is here and that he will work.

To know God himself

Ultimately, the best reason to study Scripture to know God. The Bible is an essential, incredible part of the life of a Christ-follower’s life. It’s in Scripture that we get to know God’s heart and see how he’s acted on behalf of his people and his name throughout history. In it we glean wisdom and learn God’s will. Of course, ultimately, we get to know God Himself, and that profoundly shapes every other area of our lives. And the more we know Him, the more we love Him, which is the most important of all (Mark 12:28-30).

We pray that today, you’ll open your Bible with fresh eyes. Approach God’s word with kavanah: with intentionality and commitment, but also with an awed expectancy that the power of the Most High is at work in its pages and wants to be at work in your life because of it. We pray that you not only read it, but you study it, love it, learn it, and live it. It’s in keeping it that there is great reward.

Is God stingy? A sweep through the Old Testament

Stingy…or supremely generous

When we filter God through the view of our own temperament, experiences or frustrations, we can easily act like a three-year old. I want my way! More ice cream, Mommy! And we quickly dismiss the possibility that loves often says no. We just think God’s being stingy with us.

How can I accept that God’s given me is already the right amount for this moment? That what he’s giving me is the most generous, because it’s just what I need?

I often switch roles with God. I look at him through three-year-old eyes. Eyes that can’t see the bigger picture. To counter this tendency, I often read through Scripture in big sweeps. It helps me to step back and get a “parent’s” view—the one a three-year old can’t perceive.

God, thanks for giving me not what I want, but what I need right now.

God’s overflow to us

Here’s a sweep through the Old Testament passages that the NLT translates with the concept of overflow. They help me to regain a long-view perspective. They let God define himself instead of me re-interpreting him through my biased filters.

Inside the [brackets] are my rough out-loud thoughts to help prompt our havering and wrestling together…

  • Psalm 23:5 You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. [note: enemies are active and present and the Psalmist still views God as blessing him…]
  • Psalm 65:11 You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance. [Easy, hard, difficult, places exist and God still transforms them, but he doesn’t remove the “hard pathways.”]
  • Psalm 130:7 O Israel, hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is unfailing love. His redemption overflows. [Hope meets God’s unfailing love. The need for redemption remains and his redemption comes through his sharing with us his love in a time where hope and redemption meet in me… Got it.]
  • Proverbs 3:9-10 Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine. [It’s all his. And it’s all within his eb and flow of ups and downs. I find it funny that it says to honor the Lord with my wealth… when I know that it’s his, not mine; he’s having me check my attitude and grasp on what I claim rights to that’s not actually mine.]
  • Proverbs 15:28 The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking; the mouth of the wicked overflows with evil words. [I guess the advice goes two ways… be slow to speak because it quickly shows what’s inside of me…]
  • Jeremiah 13:17 And if you still refuse to listen, I will weep alone because of your pride. My eyes will overflow with tears, because the Lord’s flock will be led away into exile. [I love the turning, twisting of the alone and together in this passage. I weep alone, but the shower of tears are for God and his children. I love that it is emotion linked with truth that are causing the tears.]
  • Hosea 11:8 “Oh, how can I give you up, Israel? How can I let you go? How can I destroy you like Admah or demolish you like Zeboiim? My heart tears and my compassion overflows. [Ok, when was the last time compassion overflowed me? God, please tear my heart so compassion is visible in my choices and actions.]
  • Joel 2:24 [Full Chapter] The threshing floors will again be piled high with grain, and the presses will overflow with new wine and olive oil. [How often do I claim the fruit and curse the times of shortage. Why do I take credit for one and not the other?]
  • Joel 3:13 Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, tread the grapes, for the winepress is full. The storage vats are overflowing with the wickedness of these people.” [Ouch. We can have plenty of fruit and not be drawn to God, rather it simply fuels more rebellion, wickedness and selfishness. God please give me what I need in a way that causes me to see you as provider, companion and redeemer.]
  • Zechariah 1:17 “Say this also: ‘This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: The towns of Israel will again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord will again comfort Zion and choose Jerusalem as his own.’” [Seasons of much come and go, but the real purpose of life together remains. Why do we see God in a good light in one season and not another? Oh, no…the three-year old in me is finding his way to the floor in a fresh tantrum…]

Haver: A whole new level of friendship

Haver is a word we Cadre missionaries love to use. It helps us understand how God designed us to live as disciples together. Here’s some background on where “haver” comes from.

Haver (ha· ver) is a Hebrew word that means friend; comrade; companion. It’s the practice of grappling in twos or threes over Scripture and talking about how to live it out together. In the First Century, both men and women wrestled together in disciplemaking friendships. The female version of the word is haverah.

Learning together

A havruta, or what we call a disciplemaking learning community, supports these friendships. This was the standard learning style for teaching 12-17-year-old students in villages like Capernaum, where Jesus lived after Nazareth. Adults in the community were welcomed to join students in the bet midrash, or house of learning, whenever their jobs or life allowed them the freedom.

havering

Get yourself a haver

Finally, the plural is haverim (ha· ver· im): learning as friends, together. It’s a learning method where teachers pass on faith instruction to groups of 2-5 students. Together, they wrestle the content as friends for both understanding and application in life, together.

The ideal way to support a disciplemaking lifestyle is through friendships (haver) linked in a disciplemaking learning community.

Lois Tverberg describes it well in Sitting At The Feet of Rabbi Jesus: “Pairs or small groups grapple together aloud over a text, earnest in their desire to dig deeper. This tradition is ancient – a rabbinic comment was made before Jesus’ time that you should ‘get yourself a haver,’ a study partner.” (Tverberg’s books and blog are a great source for understanding the cultural context of Jesus’ life and teaching.)

 

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Want to further explore the concept of haver? Grab a friend and wrestle these passages together:

Ecclesiastes 4:12

Proverbs 12:26

Proverbs 17:17

Proverbs 18:24

Proverbs 27:6

Proverbs 27:10

John 15:13, 15

 

Our love affair with books

 I know. We’re in love with books these days.

The Bible? Not so much.

I am often asked by ministry leaders, “What are you reading?” I smile and deadpan, “The Bible. It’s an amazing book. It’s really changing my life.” (This is where my wife starts kicking me under the table.) They’re like, “Well of course the Bible, but what other books are you reading?” I continue: “No, seriously, I’m reading the Bible and trying to learn how to make disciples like Jesus.”

Insert long awkward pause here. Often the conversation changes subjects or ends.

Interesting, ain’t it? Maybe it’s my coffee breath. I’m not trying to be a self-righteous jerk. I’m simply trying to answer the question—and have an honest and thoughtful conversation.

THE Book

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-books. I’m not trying to throw all books except the Bible under the bus. I’ll read/listen to about 12-15 books this year. But I used to read about 30 books a year. In an effort to make the Bible my first and primary text in life, I’m learning to be very selective about what books I read. I even ask God to show me what books he wants me to read. I value good books, but not more than THE Book.

 

open-bibleI think it’s a big mistake to make any book beside the Bible the first and primary focal point of disciplemaking. (Yes, that goes for anything I’ve written as well.) Why? Because the way you give disciplemaking to someone is the way they will tend to give disciplemaking to others. So, instead of making a book the center of your disciplemaking, make THE Book the first and primary text of your Disciplemaking Learning Community…so that when those you disciple start to disciple others, they will do it using the Bible. (Call me old school if you want. I’ve been called worse.)

It’s time to get over our love affair with books and get back to our love affair with Jesus as found in THE Book.

There. I said it.

After you’ve established God’s Word as the the first and primary text in your life and disciplemaking, then you may want supplement your learning with a book if you are so inclined. However, don’t feel obligated to use books. God—as it says in the Bible—has already given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).

There I go again.

“The words of the wise are like prodding goads, and firmly fixed [in the mind] like nails are the collected sayings which are given [as proceeding] from one Shepherd. But about going further [than the words given by one Shepherd], my son, be warned. Of making many books there is no end [so do not believe everything you read], and much study is a weariness of the flesh.”
—Solomon in Ecclesiastes 12:11-12

So what’s next for you?

I challenge you to consider the 15 minutes a day that will change your life forever.