Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study — Hebrews 12:1-2

Kendra Blog Title

Welcome to Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study! This is a place where we can come together and share in our journey towards Scriptural truths and spiritual maturity. We pray this will be a safe, respectful, resourceful place to come and discuss God’s Word…to discover What it says…What it means…and What it means to you!

Make sure you don’t miss a post, just enter your email in the “Subscribe Via Email” box in the upper left hand corner of our blog. It’s free and you’ll receive these posts straight into your email inbox.

Kendra Graham notes from :  Hebrews 12:1-2

“Therefore, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which easily entangles us, and let us RUN with endurance the race that is set before us, (2) fixing our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

THE FACTS:  

Since we have a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, lay aside every encumbrance and sin and let us RUN with endurance the race set before us. Fixing OUR eyes on Jesus, author and perfecter who endured the cross.

Step 2

THE LESSONS:   

“You are the WORST runner I have ever seen!”  “But coach, it’s BLISTERING hot out here, the humidity is unbearable! Look…I come from a climate with a “dry heat”.  I just can’t run anymore in these conditions.”  This was the discussion that I was having with my college soccer coach, my senior year, during the 2nd day of preseason.  I was supposed to be the captain of the team, but I was running sprints–keeping in mind we were on number 5 and knowing we had to run about 95 more–I had to pace myself.  My coach responded to that with, “You run with reserve in your tank, and I need players willing to give me all they have every time.” #ouch

Now, dear reader, come to Rome with me–to the Vatican…

Vatican in Roman Times
The “circus” at the Vatican.

I’m going to be honest with you, I was ignorant on the history behind where the Vatican stands.  The area of the Vatican was known during the Roman Empire period as Ager Vaticanus.  It was a marshy piece of land where villas were built and the Emperor Caligula had beautiful gardens built for his mother.  The Emperor Nero added to it and built an impressive “circus” in the midst of the gardens.  What is Nero’s Circus you ask?  Well, it was a horse track, of sorts.  There was an arena built around a track for charioteers with horses.  In the middle of the track, there would have been a narrow strip of land, an isthmus of sort, that would have been adorned with obelisks or statues of the gods.  The obelisk in Neros Circus was one single piece of red granite weighing more that 350 tons! There were tunnels on either end of the stadium for the horses and athletes to come out, and there were seats for the onlookers.  There would have also been a section of “box seating” for the Emperor.

When the charioteers would come out, they would come to the box where the emperor sat and would pay homage to him, showing the crowd that they train and run for the emperor.  The crowd would cheer and chant the praises of the emperor, declaring his deity.  Often the emperor would address the crowd, being adorned in a sash of the god Apollos or Zeus, showing the crowd that he was a direct descendant from the gods,and that he had the authority as the son of the gods.  Can you see this imagery?

Vatican with 12 disciples on top
The Vatican, in all it’s glory. Do you see the statues of the 12 disciples at the top? They are life-size.
Kendra in front of the Vatican
Here I am in front of the Vatican!

With the emperor watching, these charioteers dressed in white robes, would have driven their horses in such a way as to win the race.  There would be nothing left in their tank, lest they be seen as a disgrace.  The point of these games were to declare to the world that Cesar is god.  This circus, Nero’s Circus is historically where the disciple of Jesus, Peter, was crucified upside down.  Peter was crucified at Ager Vaticanus.  I did not know this.

Peter
Statue of Peter.

Understanding what Nero’s Circus is, has given Hebrews 12:1-2 a deeper meaning.  We have been chosen by God to walk out of that tunnel for Him! Our run in this life, declares to the world–not that Cesar is God, but that Jesus is God!  The writer of Hebrews is using arena language here!  A language that the people of the time would have understood. This walk with Jesus, is an Olympic event.  Our walk, our RUN, declares that Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords.  This idea of discipleship is not just something on our Sunday schedule! It’s a BIG DEAL! So RUN!  Run #propelled2purpose.  RUN!

Since we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, we do not have the luxury of just walking it out, or running with reserve left in our tank.   RUN with perseverance the race set before us.  Each of us runs a different race, at a different pace, but for the same King.  The way we live and the way we run matters to a world that is looking on!  It will take perseverance!  Will it be hard?  Yes.  Will you have more excuses than you can count to bail out and quit?  Yes.  Is it worth it to stay in the race and finish well?  ABSOLUTELY!

RUN this life, your life, with purpose, where you are.  Press in, not out.  I Corinthians 9:24, “Don’t you know that ALL the runners run, but only ONE gets the prize?” SO RUN like you are going to win it.  Your run…my run in front of our cloud of witnesses shows the world that JESUS is KING! SO RUN!

It was intentional that that particular Sunday school teacher poured into you, that pastor who taught you, that grandparent that finished well, and that mentor who lived Jesus to the end…. to show you how to RUN.  I Corinthians 1:11, “Follow my example as I follow Christ.”

 My cloud of witnesses include many people along the way who have shown me what it looks like to run their race for the True King.  These cloud of witnesses who have gone before showed me how to live Jesus to the cloud of witnesses in my race who sit and stand watching what I will do. I think of my middle school soccer team, my co-workers, my patients and my own children.  My cloud of witnesses who taught me are different from yours, and the crowd of witnesses watching me are different as well.  Our races are different, but our finish line is the same. 

SO, my DEAR READER…. RUN!!!!!  Run today as if it is your last.  How devastated would I be if Jesus said to me at the end of my race the same thing my coach said so long ago… “You run with reserve in your tank.” 

STOP holding back!  Peter did not hold back.  In front of his great cloud of witnesses, Peter, who began the summer needing to be restored because of the denials that were in his past, the guilt and shame that could have ended his race all together, ends well… here… at Nero’s Circus.  Caligula and Nero both thought they had built things that would forever stand to prove their deity, however today, centuries later, not many remember or have any idea whatsoever that those prestigious charioteers once raced for the pride of the deified emperor at the Anger Vaticanus.

Today, at the Vatican, most know that beneath the marble floors of the Vatican and Sistine Chapel lies a foundation where so many Christians finished their race, “ad mairoem Dei gloriam,” meaning: to the glory of God.  A foundation for the church that has lasted through the centuries.  “Upon this ROCK (Peter) I will build my church… Mathew 16:18.  Think about that… don’t be so quick to move on.  Think about what the Vatican is today.  There is not a shred of emperor worship left at “Nero’s Circus”, but the testimony of Peter still stands with strength to the glory of God.

So let’s RUN today and not hold back regardless of the heat and humidity as we FIX our eyes on Jesus. RUN.

Step 3

APPLY IT:  

Who are the witnesses in my life? Name the cloud of witnesses that have poured into you… both living and deceased. What are the names of those watching your race who need to see you live out the fact that your life has purpose given from the hand of the King of kings?

How are you running?  Would others describe you as one who runs each day with reserve in your tank or abandoned unto God?

LIVE IT OUT:  

TODAY… strengthen my feeble knees, aching feet, and hurting hips to RUN in such a way to bring joy to my Savior.  FIX my eyes on Jesus…. fix my eyes on my current race, not the race I wish I had or want to have, but the actual race before me.


What Scripture are you studying now? What have you learned? How has the Lord spoke to you? Share with us in the comments section.

COVE BIBLE VERSE FOR THE WEEK OF AUGUST 21

This week’s verse is brought to you by Keith, the operations coordinator here at The Cove. His verse is Psalm 62:1-2.

For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress;
I shall not be greatly shaken.

Keith_Operations_Coordinator


Are you a Christian church or non-profit ministry looking for a place to hold your conference, retreat or ministry event?  Click here for more information on holding your event at The Cove.

Click here for a schedule of seminar, concerts, and retreats at The Cove in beautiful Asheville, NC.

Visit the Chatlos Memorial Chapel, Visitors Center, and Ruth’s Prayer Garden.  Click here for directions and operating hours. Tours are free.

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Saturday Snapshot — Will Graham Teaches From The Book of 1 Samuel

Will Graham taught on 1 Samuel this past weekend, at The Cove.  From the disobedience of Saul, resulting in the loss of his position as king, to the anointing of David, a young shepherd boy, to the famous story of David and Goliath, Will taught how God’s Word shows us how to abide in HIS presence, grow in courage to obey HIM, and experience a life of adventure.

Here are a few snapshots from the weekend…

Always begin with prayer…
This is what happens in the green room before a seminar or concert.  Will, his worship team and emcee asking the Lord to speak.

Shoot Number 17097 - Cove

Shoot Number 17097 - Cove

Worship with Mark Christian (far right), Gina Kingsmore, Richie Kingsmore (at the piano), and Kameron Myers on the violin.

Shoot Number 17097 - Cove

While Will serves as Executive Director at The Cove, he has also been called to teach God’s Word and share the Gospel around the world.

BGEA SHOOT #17097 - Cove 2017

Will and Kendra Graham greeting seminar participants.

BGEA SHOOT #17097 - Cove 2017

After the seminar, worship leader, Mark Christian had some fun with his drone and captured a birds-eye-view of both the Training Center and the Chapel.

drone shot from Mark Christian at Wil Graham seminar in 2017

drone shot of chapel from Mark Christian at Wil Graham seminar in 2017

SAVE THE DATE:

If you’d like to attend Will’s seminar next year,  he will be teaching August 10 -12, 2018.  You can register for 2018 seminars beginning next month (September 2017).


Click here for a schedule of seminar, concerts, and retreats at The Cove in beautiful Asheville, NC.

Are you a Christian church or non-profit ministry looking for a place to hold your conference, retreat or ministry event?  Click here for more information on holding your event at The Cove.

Visit the Chatlos Memorial Chapel, Visitors Center, and Ruth’s Prayer Garden.  Click here for directions and operating hours. Tours are free.

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Ruth’s Attic Bookstore Spotlight– Inspiration For Your Creative Spirit

Ruths-Attic-Logo-wKO_CMYK

As the relaxed flow of summer winds down and you prepare for the festivities that inevitably follow fall, you may be looking for a way to unwind and reconnect with the Lord. That’s why we’re sharing some lovely products from Ruth’s Attic Bookstore at The Cove that are bound to inspire creativity and draw you closer to God.

Whether you purchase in person, or call and have us deliver right to your home, we hope you will find something that will encourage you, or be the suitable gift for someone special in your life.

Each of these products is a great reminder of how our Creator God inspires a creative spirit within us.

Beautiful Word Bible
The Beautiful Word Bible (NIV) has hundreds of colorful illustrations scattered throughout the scriptures. There is also room for you to scribble your own notes and designs. $49.99 (ISBN: 9780310444275)
Colored Pencils
You’ll find two packs of colored pencils for sale in Ruth’s Attic Bookstore. From left to right $9.99 (ISBN: 6006937132658) and $10.00 (ISBN: 0759830240635).
Coloring Book Inside
This is a look inside The Color of a Song: It is Well with My Soul coloring book that you can see on the shelf in the next picture. $9.99 (ISBN: 081983615993)
Coloring Books
Ruth’s Attic Bookstore carries a wide collection of adult coloring books and journals.
coloring journal
This Jesus Makes All Things New coloring journal is great for writing and drawing your prayers or taking notes from a Bible study. $8.00 (ISBN: 7038000600594)
psalms in color
This little box contains cards inscribed with different Psalms and adorned with many designs for you to color and enjoy. $4.99 (ISBN: 6006937135239)

To order any of the products seen on this post, you may either purchase on-property at Ruth”s Attic Bookstore, by phone at 1-800-950-2092 (menu 3) or by email at bookstore@thecove.org.

God bless you!


 

CoveGiftCert
Give the gift with eternal benefits. Cove gift certificates make the perfect gift for your loved ones. To order a gift certificate call 1-800-950-2092.

To see a full list of events at The Cove, click here.

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COVE BIBLE VERSE FOR THE WEEK OF AUGUST 14

This week’s verse is brought to you by Jon, the assistant program director and afternoon show host at Billy Graham’s radio station, 106.9 The Light, located here at The Cove. His verse is Psalm 90:12.

“Teach us to number our days
    that we may get a heart of wisdom.”

Jon Wood_Assistant Program Director 1069

 

 


Are you a Christian church or non-profit ministry looking for a place to hold your conference, retreat or ministry event?  Click here for more information on holding your event at The Cove.

Click here for a schedule of seminar, concerts, and retreats at The Cove in beautiful Asheville, NC.

Visit the Chatlos Memorial Chapel, Visitors Center, and Ruth’s Prayer Garden.  Click here for directions and operating hours. Tours are free.

Follow us on social media.
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Saturday Snapshot – 106.9 the Light

Did you know that we share this beautiful 1,200 acre property with a radio station?

106.9 the Light is the award-winning, listener-supported radio station that was founded by Billy and Ruth Graham in 1962 and is operated by Blue Ridge Broadcasting.

Their mission is to lead as many people as possible into a personal and dynamic relationship with Jesus Christ and encourage their listeners in spiritual maturity and active service for Christ. They strive to do this through playing music with a hopeful message as well as through solid and powerful Bible teaching.

While the radio station is based here in Asheville, it broadcasts to a seven-state area that covers parts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia, Kentucky, and West Virginia. With a coverage like that, it reaches over 6 million people which makes it the 12th largest FM radio station in the nation, in terms of coverage area. You can also listen to 106.9 the Light online at www.1069theLight.org.

Initially starting with the AM signal WFGW (the first three letters stand for William Franklin Graham, and legend has it that the last ‘W’ stands for wife), Blue Ridge Broadcasting acquired the FM signal WMIT in 1963.

Blue Ridge Broadcasting is celebrating its 55th year of ministry this year. Below you will see the official announcement from Billy Graham as well as other things, old and new, that are around the station.

Radio Announcement
Announcement from Billy Graham about the station
Radio Equipment
This corner holds equipment used by the station in the past.
Floor Radio
This floor model radio belonged to Ruth Bell Graham’s family when she was a child. It has been refurbished to working condition.
Ministry Partners
This table holds items provided by ministries 106.9 has supported.
BG Preaching
This photo of Billy Graham preaching the gospel over the air waves overlooks the main staircase in the building.
DJ Jon Wood
Afternoon show host, Jon Wood, gives a traffic update.

The next time you visit The Cove, give 106.9 the Light a call to schedule a tour of their facility!


 

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Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study — Luke 8:26-29a

Kendra Blog Title

Welcome to Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study! This is a place where we can come together and share in our journey towards Scriptural truths and spiritual maturity. We pray this will be a safe, respectful, resourceful place to come and discuss God’s Word…to discover What it says…What it means…and What it means to you!

Make sure you don’t miss a post, just enter your email in the “Subscribe Via Email” box in the upper left hand corner of our blog. It’s free and you’ll receive these posts straight into your email inbox.

Kendra Graham notes from :  Luke 8:26-29a

“Then they sailed to the country of the Geresenes, which is opposite Galilee.  And when He came out onto the land, He was met by a man from the city who was possessed with demons, and who had not put on any clothing for a long time, and was not living in a house but in the tombs.  Seeing Jesus he cried out and fell before Him and said in a loud voice, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you do not torment me.” (29) For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man.”

THE FACTS:  

They sailed to the country of the Geresenes, opposite Galilee.  When HE came out on the land, He was met by a man from the city, possessed by demons, living in the tombs.  Seeing Jesus he cried out and fell before Him, “What business Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Do not torment me.”  He commanded the unclean spirit out.

Step 2

THE LESSONS:   

The disciples and Jesus had just left their city of Capernaum.  Capernaum, and the people there, took very seriously the commands and the Word of God.  The people strived to be separate from the encroaching Roman world and stay true to God; however, this day, Jesus tells His disciples to get in the boat and go to the other side.  This is a BIG deal for them, because you see, they would have NEVER gone to the other side.  The other side was where the Decapolis was, a Roman territory.  The Roman world was a pagan world, a world with many gods, the head god being that of Caesar Augustus (Octavian) who was said to have descended from the gods himself.  Octavian was literally referred to as the “son of god”.

Ruins of the old city of Decapolis
Ruins from the old city of Decapolis.

The “other side” was enemy territory… yet Jesus was getting in a boat to go and seek and to save ONE lost sheep.  En route, there was a terrible storm where the disciples thought they were going to die, but Jesus calmed the sea with a word.  The Word of God is powerful.  The boat safely sees the shore in the country of the Geresenes, opposite Galilee.  Everything on this opposite shore is opposite…. not just the location.

 Verse 27 says that Jesus came out of the boat on to the land and immediately he was met by a man who is running around naked and living in the tombs.  I wonder if the disciples watched from the boat, because it does not clearly state whether they ever got out of the boat of or not.  If I was a disciple and saw Jesus get out of the boat and then saw this crazy naked man who lived in the tombs run up to Him…. I would have stayed put.  You see THIS is why we are not to go to the other side!  This clears it up! It is for our safety!  We will always have plenty of reasons why we should have stayed home.  Legit reasons!  BUT GOD…. driven by His relentless love for His handmade creation will not be deterred, detoured or distracted. Our lives are messy and many of us are left in shambles from a harsh world, but Jesus is driven to get out of the boat and come to us regardless of all the reasons He should stay away.

Cave like opening on left side of hill tomb would have been here
Tombs would have been in caves like this one on upper left side of photo.

The demons who are residing in this man immediately know Jesus.  Isn’t that something?  The demons don’t wait for Jesus to flush them out, but in the name of Jesus–the Son of the Most High–the demons named Legion actually try to command Jesus to leave them alone!  How about that?!  Even the demons know there is power in the name of Jesus!

The demon possessed man is healed.  The demons ask to be sent to a herd of pigs, which Jesus allows, and they cast themselves into the sea.

In verse 28, the man who is healed asks Jesus if he can go with Him, but Jesus sends him back to share his story to those living in the Decapolis.   The man returns proclaiming Jesus to that Roman territory.

Think about this entire scene and what the disciples are witnessing.  The disciples are charged to go to a place they thought God told them to stay away from.  They get in a boat and have immediate opposition which they could easily interpret as God saying, “GO BACK”… yet just as they are about to abandon ship, Jesus stills the storm.  They press on.  The boat lands on the other side and immediately there is a crazy naked man who is screaming at them.  WOW.  Surely God did not want them to come here, right?  BUT GOD… the Son of the Most High,  gets out of the boat and goes TOWARDS the crazy tomb dweller.  The demons believe Jesus is the Son of God… the disciples are still hashing it all out.  Jesus heals the demon possessed man and then sends him back to the Decapolis.  (Don’t you know the disciples had to be relieved when Jesus said the naked tomb dweller could not go with them?!) Then Jesus gets back into the boat to go back to Capernaum.

What risk for ONE lost sheep!  What will those say on the other side when they return?  This could definitely be bad PR!  Would it have been worth it for you or me?  I don’t think I would have risked all that for a crazy tomb dweller… and then I would have missed the miracle.

Later, when Peter in Acts 10 is directed by God to visit Cornelius, he finds there a group of believers who receive the Holy Spirit in the same way as the Jews had.  During this visit of several days, we can assume Peter would have eaten with his Gentile host.  Through Peter’s prior vision (Acts 10:9-16), God prepared him to break bread with Gentiles with a clean conscience. How much do you want to bet that the food that was served was pig!?!?  Looking back, the “crazy tomb dweller” turned out to be of major importance to the building of the Kingdom of God.

It is so easy to forget the importance of ONE single act of obedience.  It is so easy to marginalize people that we don’t agree with or understand.  People were never lost on Jesus.  The Good Shepherd goes after the one lost sheep.  Jesus didn’t need a platform in the Decapolis in the amphitheater or prestige among the Romans to be taken seriously.  Jesus went to where no one would have gone to seek and to save that one impossible messy sheep that most would have just let roam.  This is Jesus.  Jesus is relentless and compelled for you and for me, even in the middle of our mess.  Jesus will cross turbulent seas and hunt us down as we hide among the tombs, because He loves us that much.

Step 3

APPLY IT:  

Do you remember a time where Jesus was relentless for you when most would have given up?  Where and to whom have you been propelled to share your story of Jesus?

The man in the tombs wanted to go with the disciples, but Jesus called him to stay and to share where he was…. often we would rather be anywhere else other than where Jesus has asked us to be.

LIVE IT OUT:  

Lord, as You bring others into my life today, give me the Words, the strength and courage to show them Your love…. even the unlovely and messy.

Will you share your story here with us about when Jesus was relentless for you?  There is power in our stories of how Jesus #delivered us…. After He #delivers us, he #propels us to purpose.

Share with us in the comments section below.

COVE BIBLE VERSE FOR THE WEEK OF AUGUST 7

This week’s verse is brought to you by Polly, a guest from one of our Intensive Bible Trainings. Her verse is Psalm 27:14.

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

Polly_Yarbrough_Guest


Are you a Christian church or non-profit ministry looking for a place to hold your conference, retreat or ministry event?  Click here for more information on holding your event at The Cove.

Click here for a schedule of seminar, concerts, and retreats at The Cove in beautiful Asheville, NC.

Visit the Chatlos Memorial Chapel, Visitors Center, and Ruth’s Prayer Garden.  Click here for directions and operating hours. Tours are free.

Follow us on social media.
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Saturday Snapshot — We Love Our Volunteers!

We don’t know what we would do without the help of our faithful volunteers here at The Cove.  From administrative tasks, to Chapel tour guides, to helping with seating at our events, they serve with smiles and generous hearts for this ministry.

We currently have 142 volunteers serving at The Cove, and they logged 16,428 hours in 2016.  That’s like one person working 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, for two entire years!

Yes, we are blessed!

Every year, we celebrate our volunteers at the Cove Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon.  Take a peek at the fun afternoon this past weekend:

program

As volunteers emerged from the shuttles they were greeted with a red carpet and cheering fans!

Jenni

volunteers clapped for

Hugs all around.  Our volunteers are FAMILY.

hugs all around

more hugsgigi huggingGigi Graham extended a warm Cove family greeting to each of the volunteers.

Gigi

Gigi escortingThere’s nothing like good fellowship around the table…

dining room sm

Will Graham, Cove executive director, giving greetings and thanks to our faithful volunteers.

Wil greeting

Barbara utilizes many of our volunteers to lead tours and pray at the Chapel and Visitor’s Center.

Barbara greeting volunteers

Worship with Stephanie Seefeldt…

volunteers worshiping with Steph

Stephanie wrote a special song for the volunteers…This is an excerpt:

excerpt from Steph son

Each volunteer received a gift bag as the fun afternoon came to an end…

gifts cropped

The Lord has blessed The Cove with these beautiful volunteers and for that we give thanks!

If you are interested in volunteering at The Cove, click here.


Visit the Chatlos Memorial Chapel, Visitors Center, and Ruth’s Prayer Garden.  Click here for directions and operating hours. Tours are free.

Click here for a schedule of seminar, concerts and retreats at The Cove in beautiful Asheville, NC.

Are you a Christian church or non-profit ministry looking for a place to hold your conference, retreat or ministry event?  Click here for more information on holding your event at The Cove.

 

PRAYER NOTE: August 2017

Prayer Note(3)

We hope you will enjoy our “Prayer Note”—an internal communication here at The Cove, created each month to remind and encourage our staff to pray. We share these with you at the beginning of each month in hopes that you, too, will be encouraged.

Math Board

As someone who struggled with math through all my years of schooling, my philosophy on the subject is simple: “There are three kinds of people: those who can count, and those who can’t.”  Math was my nemesis. Numbers swam in my head, formulas made me dizzy, and I couldn’t tell a factor from a variable. The one phrase I identified with was “math problem” (problem being the operative word).  In particular, word problems gave me fits. Being called on to solve the one about the train entering the tunnel at 30 mph always gave me a sinking feeling of standing in the middle of the tracks waiting to be mowed down. The only light at the end of that tunnel came when I heard the bell ring to signal the end of class.

Those of us who are mathematically challenged may have a greater appreciation for some of the biblical accounts that turn the conventional laws of arithmetic upside down. When the numbers don’t add up, God has His own way of solving the equation. A crowd of 5,000 hungry people? 5 loaves + 2 fishes + Jesus = No problem!

GIDEON’S LESSON IN SUBTRACTION

I love the way God does the math in the Old Testament account of Gideon.

The introductory verses of Judges 6 portray a sad scenario. The Israelites had again strayed from God and as a result had seen their land invaded. For seven long years the ruthless and cruel Midianites had ravaged the land, ruined crops and destroyed Israel’s livestock. Our first glimpse of Gideon comes in verse 11 as we see him at the bottom of a winepress, a deep pit where he has gone to thresh wheat in secret to escape the harassment and oppression of the Midianites. Yet here in this literal “pit of despair,” Gideon is called a “mighty man of valor” by the angel of the Lord and is ordered to “go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian.” (See Judges 6:11-14.) Fearful, timid, and feeling woefully inadequate, Gideon responded, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house” (6:15). The Lord’s answer to Gideon solves any potential mathematical, military or logistical problem: I will be with you (6:16).

After requesting a sign from the Lord, Gideon did obey, demolishing the altar of Baal and cutting down the Asherah pole that had been erected as an altar for the worship of false gods. (See Judges 6:25-27.) The remainder of this Old Testament account sets up a math problem that ends with a hands-on lesson in what has been referred to as God’s arithmetic.

Judges 6:33 tells us that “All the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the East came together and they crossed the Jordan and encamped in the Valley of Jezreel.” This amounted to a huge army amassed against God’s people. (We’re told later in Judges 7:12 that they were “like locusts in number.”) Yet verse 34 sounds a hopeful note. “But the spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon, and he sounded the trumpet, and the Abiezrites were called out to follow him. And he sent messengers throughout all Manasseh, and they too were called out to follow him. And he sent messengers to Asher, Zebulon, and Naphtali, and they went up to meet him” (Judges 6:34, ESV).

After putting out a fleece and receiving another confirmation of God’s call on him to save Israel, Gideon had put out the call and begun to assemble the troops, eventually numbering around 33,000. Yet as Gideon would soon learn, God had a math lesson to teach as He began to deconstruct Gideon’s “strength in numbers” military strategy.

The Lord said to Gideon, ‘The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’’” (Judges 7:2, ESV)  Verses three through seven provide the account of how God instructed Gideon to reduce the size of his fighting force, setting them up for what appeared to be a disadvantage as a small army of just 300 men—yet setting the stage for an astounding display of God’s Glory.

Verses 9-14 tell us of God’s patience in reassuring Gideon and giving him courage for the battle ahead. The remaining verses of Judges chapter seven give the astonishing account of how the Lord delivered the massive Midianite army into the hands of Gideon and his small band of 300 valiant soldiers. Using only torches, trumpets and jars, the undersized Israelite army simply obeyed God’s instructions and then stood and watched Him work a miracle of victory and deliverance.

What an encouraging picture for those of us who may sometimes feel outnumbered or ill-equipped, and what an inspiring reminder of Who is really fighting our battles as we go about serving the Lord!

TRUST GOD TO DO THE MATH

As you pray for the needs of The Cove throughout the month, begin with praise. We’ve seen God’s hand at work in amazing ways this year. Seminars are well-attended and we’ve heard many testimonies of lives changed by the power of His Word.

Yet the one part of the equation that we rarely have the privilege of seeing is what Charles Haddon Spurgeon called “God’s Multiplication Table.” When God speaks to the heart of one individual at The Cove and brings healing, restoration, forgiveness and hope, we have no idea what miracles He may have in store for them as they exit our gates and return home. We do know, however, that God is faithful. We know that the seeds planted as God’s Word was sown will produce an eventual harvest in His time. Will a troubled marriage eventually be restored or a family transformed? Will a neighbor hear the gospel or a co-worker be invited to church? How will the seeds of God’s Word be sown by that one individual who found renewal and new purpose at The Cove? In what ways will God’s love be shown and His kingdom advanced?

As Spurgeon wrote, “Mustard seed is the smallest among seeds, and yet it becomes a tree-like plant with branches which lodge the birds of heaven. We may begin with one, and that ‘a little one,’ and yet it will ‘become a thousand.’ The Lord is great at the multiplication table.”

Praise God for what He is doing at The Cove, and thank Him in advance for how He will continue the work He has begun in the life of each individual who meets Him here. Remain faithful in prayer, knowing that He has called you here to The Cove to play a small part in His multiplication table.

Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.”  Colossians 4:2, NKJV

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you
will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
” Philippians 1:6, ESV


We appreciate you joining us in prayer for the following events taking place on The Cove property during the month of August.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.   (Psalm 95:6, NKJV)

AUGUST CALL TO PRAYER

An Evening at The Cove with The Collingsworth Family — August 10

Will Graham — August 11-13
God’s Will is No Secret

SeniorCelebration: Jim Henry with Dueling Pianos — August 14-16
Rabbits Worth Chasing 

Steve Brown — August 25-27
When God is Silent

R. T. Kendall — August 28-September 1
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Intensive Bible Training- 
Experiencing the Presence of God

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The blog of the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove