More Than Bread…

I began my 3 month New Testament Challenge. Along with all the other Kenyans joining gyms, going on diets and starting to attend church, hopefully some of you who are reading this are doing it with me! This time round, I’m using a paraphrase of the bible (not an exact translation but more of an informal rewrite in contemporary language) called ‘The Message’. If you’re doing The Challenge, please invest in an easy to understand version or paraphrase; maybe one you haven’t read through before. You’ll be amazed how the dramatic story comes alive as you read it!

Some of you who take The Challenge will struggle with the reading plan. You’ll come to a great idea or difficult verse and want to stop and camp there; figure out what it means. But while this is a great thing to do, you need to take care not to miss the forest for the trees. Reading through as we’re doing every once in a while is a great way to get the big picture; a bird’s eye view of God’s word. And as Matthew 4:4 puts it, ‘It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth

Of course the main challenge will involve time. Ensuring you set aside enough time to do this every day. With this one, if you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail. So right from the beginning, set aside a time when you’ll do this daily. And if you miss a couple of readings, don’t beat yourself up! You can catch up by reading on the off-days or even extending the 3 months a bit.

Here are some of my favorite quotes (ala The Message) so far followed by some my resulting random thoughts (that I turned into prayer)…

Matthew 3:17This is my Son, chosen and marked by my love, delight of my life

Matthew 5:18 Not only that – count yourself blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens – give a cheer even! For though they don’t like it I do!

Matthew 4:23God’s kingdom was (Jesus’) theme – that beginning right now they were under God’s government – a good government! He also healed people of their diseases and the bad effects of their lives’.

Matthew 5:1When Jesus saw his ministry was drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions.’

If you’re doing God’s work God’s way, expect critics! I tend to get discouraged whenever I’m criticized especially if I perceive it to be unfair. Yet I feel affirmed and encouraged by my Heavenly Father to keep going in 2009 despite what any critics or haters may say. Say after me… I have the Father’s blessing and that’s what counts.

Jesus’ message to his generation was that God is now here to take over. Their only hope of survival lay in their giving their lives over to Him completely. Moving from the driver’s seat and surrendering not only the keys but the logbook as well (not minor repairs but a total overhaul). This is the message of the Kingdom. It’s a coup against my self-directed life. It’s not ‘say this prayer and you’ll be safe forever’. God isn’t interested in just taking over the religious sphere of our lives; in our Sunday piety… in turning us into ‘nice Christians. He wants it all, including Monday to Saturday. Secular and spiritual. It’s only when He has control over everything in our lives that He can deal with our issues and turn us into Fearless Influencers; who in turn take over on His behalf, not just the ‘spiritual’ and ‘religious’ areas but every sector of society.

When people realized he had a life-giving message, crowds were the result. Jesus raised the bar though. He took it a notch higher so that only those who were willing to go further could. I need to ensure that I’m not just following Him when it’s convenient. Instead I must move from being a consumer Christian and follow Him into those quiet and sometimes lonely places where I’ll hear Him most clearly.

If you’re taking The Challenge, please feel free to add a comment and share what you’re learning with the rest of us!


5 responses to “More Than Bread…

  1. Pastor M,

    I am joining you in the NT reading challenge. Thank you for the encouragement, I am ready to buy the Message Bible that version makes it sound like scriptures I haven’t read before! Today I was encouraged not to worry since God takes care of the birds, I’m sure He’s taking care of His kids too.

    Barikiwa sana,

  2. i will be joining you for the new year challenge . it is a late start ( late on 13 chapters) for me but i want to and it a plus also for me because i have had a message bible in my house for a while and i have not been reading will be a good time to make use of it.

  3. NIV is jus as sweeeeeeeeet as honey!am enjoying the soo jazzed at how Jesus played down his critics (pharisees) and how He atimes quietly sought private space by retreating to the mountains wen pressure mounted (news of the beheading of John the Baptsist).Do you also think Jesus at one time mus hav been on the verge of a nervous breakdown coz nowhere is sed that he RESTED!He was alwayz on the move, healing the sick, feeding the masses, fighting demons,teaching the disciples, having a midnight appointment with Elijah n Moses……talk of a fearless influencer!alas!am soo surprised tht Jesus also paid taxes!Though His was from the mouth of a fish!(u can imagine what peter must have 1st thought bout this crazy directive from Jesus!Ati get chappa from the mouth of a fish?!)He also never walked alone, always armed with His travel companions- he had a bunch of crazy peeps,kwanza peter!He saw it was fun to walk on water like Jesus did n he had to pay with some few gulps of salty water for breaking the law of gravity!The discilpes were also soo hungry during those loong mission trips with Jesus that they didn’t bother eating raw maize much to the anguish of the Pharisees.Sometimes their hunger made them 4get wash their hands b4 meals!Another amazing thing…his teachings!the parables, sermon on the mount,rebuke to pharisees, private teaching to the disciples are all gr8!he! it’s like av jus read the Bible for the very 1st time!it’s’s sweet!Thanx Pastor M 4 such an incredible initiative!God bless y’all!Enjoy yo weeknd!

  4. Hey all, just to encourage you to keep up with your reading! One week down, 11 to go. We can do this! God bless and have a great week.

  5. Pasot M,
    I just have to share my experience (even if I do not yet know where this is heading). I took on the Bible Challenge at the beginning of the year. My fiance got enrolled too and what has happened to me twice is amazing. Allow me to ramble just a bit. I left my job in October to move back here in what I was convinced was God’s direction, then I joined Mavuno in October and later in Nov your series on True North begun and I went like eeeh, did I run before God? Anyway, later that month, a leading event company asked for my CV and interviewed me about four times for an opening in their operations. I got the job and signed the contract sometime last week. Later that day, they sent me a message that they could not take up a contract with me at this time and that was the end. About a week before, in the reading, I had come across the Jesus walking on water and asking Peter to come on experience. Peter begun to sink when he was afraid and Jesus reached to him and asked him, why did you doubt me? Today (am abit behind in my reading), I read Mark 5:36 Don’t be Afraid Just trust Me NLT. It was Jesus’ word to Jairus when his daughter was declared dead. Pastor M, My God is bigger than my disappointments and He has a plan that I know. Incidentally, all these co incides with my request to God to show me what His purpose is for me. Thanks Pastor M for this challenge, all am saying is am hearing God in this challenge and His plan whatever it is will unfold for me in good time Blessings

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