Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study – John 15: 1-8

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” in the upper left hand corner of our blog. It’s free and you’ll receive these post straight into your email inbox.

Kendra Graham notes from John 15: 1-8

I AM the true Vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.

Step 1

THE FACTS:
1. I AM the true vine, My Father the vinedresser.
2. Every branch in Me that does not fruit, He takes away.  Every branch that fruits He prunes to bear more.

Step 2

THE LESSONS:
Do you remember that amazing, great, and deep theological movie with Keanu Reeves in it called, “A Walk in the Clouds”? This movie was so great at depicting the scene here in John 15 that Jesus is trying to get across on the night of HIs arrest.  These are in essence, the last words of Jesus, who had eternity to decide what He was going to say, and this was it, John 15…. abide! Stay with Me, even when you want to disassociate and run!  Which is the situation the disciples were about to find themselves in.

Ok, back to the movie… so this vineyard owner in Napa Valley, California came from Mexico, and with everything that he had, all that he owned in the world, he invested it in this land to produce a vineyard. This man, was the owner/operator/cultivator of this land in Napa Valley now, and with his root in hand, he began the process of growing his vineyard. The vineyard was very successful, with acres and acres of beautiful grapevines.

When Keanu Reeves arrives on scene, the leathery old, wrinkled man wanted to show him what he was really looking at. They walked together to the top of a ridge, where they looked out and the aged vineyard planter looked at the young Keanu Reeves and asked him, “What do you see?”  Keanu answered, “I see a lot of work, a lot of vines, a lot of grapes.”  The elder owner explained how wrong that answer was, and brought the young lad to a plant that was surrounded by an iron fence, and he explained to the ignorant young man, that really, he sees one vine.  All the growth–all the fruit–came from this one root, planted so long ago.  If that root dies, so does the vineyard.  Everything the family owned was wrapped up in that one root of that one vine.  I told you! #Theological #deep!  John 15 shown Hollywood style!

God, who loves you more than anything, invested all He had, and came Himself, with skin on, and His name is Jesus. Jesus is the vine.  God’s complete and total investment.  Everything, every bit of fruit we have in our lives is dependent on that vine.  We were created by God, to walk with Him, to know Him and to need Him, so He made a way Himself, so that we could be connected, and that is only through Jesus.

God cares about His vineyard. Just like the old man in the movie, got into the vineyard business to cultivate the fruit, to grow the fruit… the vineyard owner is not anti-fruit, he is pro-fruit.  Do we hold it against the vineyard owner when he prunes the fruit and gets rid of the dead branches?  How could he!!!??  Hahaha… don’t be crazy, of course we would tell him he has to tend to those branches, and if he doesn’t prune, the only thing he will have is a mess and distasteful drink to consume.

Yet when God prunes… we hold it against Him. We think He is against us!  How could He?  But God…. invested all He had in this vineyard, and so not trusting it to anyone else, He prunes, cultivates and directs where the growth is supposed to be.  It’s in these times of pruning when we want to dispatch ourselves from the vine entirely…. then blame God for dying out.  It’s in these times, however, when we need to purposefully keep ourselves in His presence.  It’s in these times of pruning when our faith is proven to be genuine and worthwhile.  It’s in these times of pruning, that if we can stay attached to the vine, the sweetest fruit will blossom, no matter the location we find ourselves in.

How can we be assured of that? The investment that has been made, cost God all He had, and the cost was for you, and for me, so that we could bear much fruit.  The choice to abide in His presence, through it all, is ours.

4

APPLY IT:
Are you in a time of pruning? (You can tell if you are if you are in the midst of losing something… people, places and things in your life.)

Will you choose to stay in His presence, attached to the vine, trusting there is fruit to come of it all, or will you run, disassociate and dry out?

3

LIVE IT OUT:
LORD, life is hard. It’s so hard when things I love, and things that bore fruit in season past, now get pruned.  I want to scream, “Do you know what you’re doing?  Don’t prune that!”  LORD, give me the strength to stay in your presence and allow the fruit you produce even from my suffering, to be a sweet aroma in Your presence today.  Help me stay attached, when everything in me wants to run.

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

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NOTE: If you are unable to attend Kendra’s winter Bible study at The Cove  in person (January 12 – February 23, 2016), we will continue the online study as well, using lessons shared during the LIVE study.  We are also streaming the study LIVE via Periscope.  You can catch ALL the replays here.

Not sure how to use Periscope? 
1.
You must first sign up for Twitter (it’s free).  Click here for step-by-step instructions.
2. Then you sign up for Periscope (it’s free).  Click here for step-by-step instructions.

You don’t have to have Periscope to watch the replays.  You can just click on the links below.

Click here to watch Week One’s study with a special performance by artist Jared Emerson.

Watch Week Two’s message on TRUTH here.

Watch Week Three Message here.  Kendra shines a Light on the woman with issues.


 

 

PRAYER NOTE: FEBRUARY

We hope that 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 will share these with you at the beginning of each month in hopes that, you too, will be encouraged.

Prayer Note(3)

By Donna Riesen

Pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17, NKJV)

We made it through! Although much of the snow has melted, images remain frozen in our memories…we, the survivors of “The Blizzard of 2016.”

The huge winter storm affected the entire eastern third of our nation and disrupted the lives of more than 100 million people. Aside from the usual snow-day inconveniences of school closings and grocery stores emptied of milk and bread, there were serious and deadly consequences resulting from this massive weather system. At present, the total number of deaths attributed to the storm stands at 55. At any given moment during the storm or in its immediate aftermath, a look at online news feeds and TV newscasts revealed a study in contrasts.

One minute we viewed pics of adorable snow-suit clad children sledding with dad; next, we heard accounts of horrific traffic fatalities as semi-trucks lost control on icy highways. We grinned as we watched a Giant Panda delightedly frolicking in the powdery snow…but grins faded as we heard the tragic report of a mother and toddler who perished in their idling car—deaths blamed on carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of the vehicle’s clogged tailpipe. Our hearts broke as we learned the child’s father had been just outside, shoveling to free the car of snow.

In an odd confluence of events, we saw simultaneously the breathtaking beauty of a world covered in glistening white…”Yaaay, God!”…and the heartrending tragedy of death and destruction…”Why, God?” The varied images of the blizzard brought it into focus again: The human condition exists in a kaleidoscopic jumble of joy and pain, laughter and tears, hope and despair. At any moment, you may have a relative suffering from cancer and another celebrating the birth of their first child. On any given Sunday, your pastor may be preaching to a business professional who just received a promotion, and another who never found work after last year’s layoff.

The Old Testament records the account of Job, who after learning of the loss of his cattle, servants and even his own sons, held tight to his faith as he issued this challenge to his wife, Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity? (Job 2:10, NKJV).

As the account of this faithful man’s suffering continues, we see him begin to question God. Yet among the many lessons the book of Job teaches us, one of the most important is this: God is big enough to handle our questions. In Job chapter 38, God lays out some questions of His own, all designed to lift Job’s eyes away from his current dire situation and up to the omnipotent, sovereign God who created and sustained him. Among the many revealing questionsGod asked Job is this: “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail?” (Job 38:22, NIV).

Rather than providing a detailed meteorological map and a lesson on low pressure systems and atmospheric phenomena, God gave Job a vivid mental image of the true Source of blizzard conditions. When we’re hit with a storm of trouble and “Yaay, God!” changes to “Why, God?”, we’re tempted to ask, “Who’s minding the storehouse?” The God who’s big enough to handle our questions answers, “I AM.” There are other biblical references to God’s storehouses. The psalmist David reminds us, “He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth; He sends lightning with the rain and bring out the wind from His storehouses.” (Psalm 135:7, NIV).

In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave us this reassurance: “Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?” (Luke 12:24, NIV)

After confronting the Israelites with their sins of apathy, unfaithfulness and corruption, the prophet Malachi delivers God’s message of hope, promising blessing to His children if they will turn back to Him in repentance and obedience:

“’Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty,’and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.’” (Malachi 3:10).

On any given day in 2016, we will minister to a wide range of people at The Cove. When this year’s seminar season begins on February 12 with the Chip Ingram Military Marriage Retreat, some of the military personnel who attend will have just returned home from a long deployment. No doubt there will be couples whose marriage is near breaking from the strain of long periods of separation and stress. Others may be visiting The Cove simply as a relaxing getaway and a means of celebrating and strengthening an already strong marital bond. Newlyweds and seasoned marriage partners will be in attendance—each person as individual as a snowflake. How can we adequately minister to the heart of each participant? We can’t, but God can! Pray that He will throw open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing on these men and women. Pray that God will open their hearts to each other and to Him.

The February 24-26 Leadership Renewal Retreat with Jim Henry will bring pastors from various denominations and varied situations. One pastor and spouse may arrive with joy and excitement, happy to be attending the retreat and anticipating some well-deserved downtime. Another pastoral couple may come with heavy hearts, seeking respite from a troubled ministry that is strained to the breaking point. Each retreat participant will arrive with a different set of needs and expectations, but all will be knocking at the door of the same Storehouse. Pray that the blessings of refreshment, renewal and encouragement will be poured out upon these faithful servants. Praise God, He hears our prayers, and His storehouse is never empty.

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Join us in praying for the following events in February:

FEBRUARY 2016 EVENTS
(For more information or to register, click on the links below.)

Women’s Bible Study with Jane Derrick — Morning:
January 12-February 23
Love that Makes A Difference

Women’s Bible Study with Kendra Graham — Evening:
January 12-February 23
Portrait of a Disciple

Military Marriage Retreat:
Experiencing God’s Best for Your Marriage
with Chip Ingram — February 12-14

An Evening at The Cove (dinner, concert, and meet & greet) with Brandon Heath — February 14 (lodging also available)

Leadership Renewal RetreatFree to Lead: Encouraging the Shepherd with Jim Henry — February 24-26
NOTE: This retreat is free to qualifying pastors and their spouses.

We appreciate your prayers.  God bless you!

Saturday Snapshot — More SNOW!!

You may have seen last week’s snow post, but wait until you see how beautiful it was when we got MORE snow!  It was serene and absolutely beautiful.

Enjoy the photos and see if you recognize the man shoveling snow at the end of this post.

BGTC front gate sign with snow
Welcome to The Cove!
chandelier with snow in background
Bringing the outdoors in.
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These rocking chairs look inviting no matter what season we’re in!
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Early bird gets the…
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Snowy white chapel.

 

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View from above the overlook.
Wil Graham shoveling snow Jan 2016
Leader with a servant heart, Will Graham, lends a hand in making our sidewalks safe.

 

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Why not make a snow angel at work! Angie, our Guest Services Coordinator, knows how to have a good time!

Come see us! Click here to visit our website.

 

 

Pastor Saeed Abedini Finds Rest at The Cove

Many of you have asked how Pastor Saeed Abedini is since his release from imprisonment in Iran.  It has been a pleasure to host him here at The Cove for a much needed time of rest and a chance to reconnect with family.

While here, Saeed told Franklin Graham that “he is not angry and he is not bitter about his imprisonment—but he is tremendously thankful for his freedom and to be back in the United States.”

Greata Van Susteren traveled to Asheville to interview Pastor Abedini in our beautiful chapel.

Pastor Abedini chapel interview jan 25 2016

Click here for more behind-the-scenes photos.

To view the video interview click here.

We appreciate your continued prayers for Pastor Abedini and his family in the coming weeks and months.

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For a full schedule of seminars, retreats, and concerts at The Cove, click here.

Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study – Ephesians 6 and Mark 5

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” in the upper left hand corner of our blog. It’s free and you’ll receive these post straight into your email inbox.

Kendra Graham notes from Ephesians 6:14b + Mark 5:27-29

Ephesians 6:14b …having put on the breastplate of righteousness.

Mark 5:27-29  After hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak. (28) For she thought “If I just touch His garments, I will get well.”  Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.

Step 1

THE FACTS:
Ephesians 6:14b: Put on the breastplate of righteousness.
Mark 27: After hearing about Jesus, she came, in the crowd behind Him, touched His cloak.
Mark 28: “If I touch His garments I will be well.”
Mark 29: Immediately the flow of her blood dried.

Step 2

THE LESSONS:

Having “put on” the breastplate of righteousness… there is an action verb here… the word “put on” in the Greek is the word, “endyo” which means: to reach to put on, to sink into. When I read this verse and the definition of endyo, I immediately thought of the woman who was covered in issues in Mark 5:25-34.  This woman had an issue of blood for 12 years that she could not fix.  This woman tried everything she could to fix her issue, every doctor, every remedy and instead of getting better, she got worse.  In the society of the day, this woman would have been isolated from family, deemed unclean and uninvited to attend church, functions, parties or fellowships.   The issue this woman had would have left her ashamed, destitute, desperate, and deserted.

Then… she hears about Jesus! Jesus is said to be the Messiah! God with skin on!  He was within her reach.

Jesus within reach! Hmmmm so…. would you have run out to find Him?  We love to say the Sunday School answer… “Of course! Jesus is there!! Lucky her!”  Really?  Often times my reaction when things are bad… when my life is covered with issues that continue to get worse no matter how hard I try, is to be kind of mad at God… fold my arms, sigh, and say, “Oh, Jesus is here is He?  Well, do I have a bone to pick with Him!” We don’t run out to find Him, nope, we sit, arms folded in our pride, and demand He comes to us and give us an explanation for all the mess.  If we are being honest…

This woman… low on iron… exhausted… hurting… desperate… decides to fight the crowd, she is determined to go in spite of have very valid reasons to stay home. The customs of the day were such that every person she touched or that touched her, would become unclean, so going out into a mob… probably could have gotten her stoned to death… if people knew her issues.  This woman being weak and tired could be trampled to death, not having the strength to fight to get to Jesus… I mean that is what it would take.  To get to Jesus would take everything she had.

See this here… don’t miss it… determined and driven against a physical crowd and an emotional crowd keeping her down, telling her she is filthy and unclean and undeserving, yet she fights. This woman will reach for that righteousness, that cleanliness of Jesus if it is the last thing she does.  This woman is on the ground crawling… how do I know that?  She reaches for the hem of His garment, not the lapel.

This woman is very aware of her status, she comes in absolute humility. No demands, no fist flying in the face of Jesus, no anger or bitterness, just desperation.  Feel this here, press into this crowd, feel the feet stepping on her hands as the crowd is electric with anticipation of Jesus being there… feel her garments being stepped on, dirt being kicked in her face, maybe even an unsuspecting sandal in the face.  This woman coming to Jesus, invisible in a crowd of people, no one knowing what she is going through… can you relate?  This woman refuses to give up until she sees it! There it is!  The tip of the tassel on the hem of His garment! It’s Jesus!

Jesus knew she was there… she was the one lost sheep in the crowd of sheep that day. That crowd could have been created just for her… would  she be desperate enough to press in here? Against the odds?  Jesus was pleading, seeking, calling, stirring… desperate to save… she was the reason He came.

This woman…think about it… was willing to make Jesus unclean! Jesus unclean!  What do you think about that?  That is what it takes to be healed.  That which has covered our hands and made us unclean, we must give to Jesus.  This is the reason Jesus came.  Jesus would choose to hemorrhage Himself, blood flowing from His veins even to death, since that is what it would cost Him to make her clean… yet He stays within reach!  I love this!  Did Jesus kick the hem of His garment her direction?  Can you see it?  Can you see the love in His eyes he has for this woman, scraped, battered and bruised…. by more than just the crowd… to see how intent she is on getting to His presence?  Can you hear in His heart, Jesus pleading, “REACH!  Come on woman…. R-E-A-C-H! You can make it!  Reach, and I will put on my righteousness all over you!  Covered… CLEAN!”

The woman reached as far as her fingertips could go and she held on to Jesus, and immediately let go of all the issues that plagued her.

Healing is found in the presence of Jesus. If you are willing to fight the crowd of emotions like anger, bitterness, judgment, unforgiveness, and misery… if you can reach with all that is in you to make Jesus unclean with all your issues, He will cover you in His grace, mercy and righteousness.

The breastplate covers your vitals… your issues will kill you, unless they are covered with the very righteousness of God. No one can reach for you, you must reach with your own hand.

Come… do not delay. Get into the Word of God today because you were created to walk with Him, know Him and you desperately need Him whether you see it or not.  Jesus died to give you victory through this valley, but you will have to reach for it.

4

APPLY IT: 

Are you desperate enough to come to Jesus… or do you prefer to coddle your pride and the million reasons you should stay away?   Will you reach for your therapist, a friend to pander to your way of thinking, continue to try to atone for your own issues–to no avail–or will you reach for Jesus?  Will you stay in His presence holding on to the hem of His garment as long as it takes to be well even if being well doesn’t look like you have demanded?

3

LIVE IT OUT:

Today, I will reach for His presence, fighting the sleep I would rather have. I will choose God’s Word and His presence before the busyness of life awaiting me this day demands my attention.

HOMEWORK: John 15:1-8

NOTE: If you are unable to attend Kendra’s winter Bible study at The Cove  in person (January 12 – February 16, 2016), we will continue the online study as well, using lessons shared during the LIVE study.  We are also streaming the study LIVE via Periscope.  You can catch the replays here.

Not sure how to use Periscope? 
1.
You must first sign up for Twitter (it’s free).  Click here for step-by-step instructions.
2. Then you sign up for Periscope (it’s free).  Click here for step-by-step instructions.

You don’t have to have Periscope to watch the replays.  You can just click on the links below.

Click here to watch Week One’s study with a special performance by artist Jared Emerson.

Watch Week Two’s message on TRUTH here.

Watch Week Three Message here.  Kendra shines a Light on the woman with issues.

The blog of the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove