“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17 (ESV)
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.
THE PERFECT CHRISTMAS
Some of the most priceless moments of every Christmas celebration involve imperfections. Think back on all the church Christmas programs you’ve attended. Did any of the more memorable scenes involve mishaps or bloopers? If those amateur holiday productions were like most, a shepherd might have tripped over his staff, a wise man lost his crown or an angel forgot one of her lines. Yet we grin, applaud and cherish the memory of the sweet and endearing depiction of the Savior’s birth. Is there any better portrayal of the miracle of Christmas than seeing it through the eyes of a child?
The Christmas season is a study in contrasts. One evening a large and accomplished choir may stir your spirit and move your emotions with a dramatic performance of Handel’s Messiah, and the next night your heart melts as you open the front door to find a group of Christmas carolers from the junior high youth group singing a sweet though slightly off-key rendition of “Silent Night.”
Each December we’re given opportunities to travel back to Bethlehem and consider both the majesty and simplicity of the Incarnation. The miraculous story never grows old: The perfect, sinless, infinite Son of God taking on fragile flesh and coming to us in the form of a helpless baby. God’s perfect Son being born to a humble peasant girl in an obscure village, coming to bring salvation to a world marred by sin and imperfection. Majesty and simplicity merged to bring hope. If we wrote the script ourselves, we would welcome the King with flawless and beautiful surroundings. But we didn’t—He wrote it, and for a backdrop He rejected the perfect in favor of the imperfect. What could be more ordinary and imperfect than a stable and a makeshift bed of straw?
This Christmas, let’s ask God to help us find the miracle in both the majestic and the mundane. Let’s appreciate the beauty yet resist the temptation to measure our joy by the degree of perfection we can achieve. The tree may be slightly lopsided, with a gap in the middle. The gingerbread house may be leaning precariously to one side. And our actual home—filled with ordinary, imperfect people—may not look like the picture-perfect image of the harmonious family in the airbrushed magazine ad.
But “thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15, NASB). He came as our Immanuel… God With Us (Matthew 1:23, NIV), to bring His good and perfect gifts of peace, joy, salvation and hope right into the middle of our mess. If Christmas finds you lonely, tell it to the one who bore your griefs and carried your sorrows. (Isaiah 53:4). If the season finds you anxious and overwhelmed, allow your heart to be calmed by the one who is called the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). If Christmas finds you struggling with sin, admit it and confess it to the one who “knew no sin yet became sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). “He remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14). He came into our broken world, born in a dusty, dimly lit stable in order that He might one day deliver us from the filth of sin and the darkness of despair.
Seek to reflect the majesty of Christ this Christmas. Light the candles and hang the lights to announce that the Light of the World has come. Sing the timeless carols that tell the world of the joy He brings. Fill your home with reminders that God came in the flesh to make His home in our hearts. Then kneel and welcome Him. And if you notice the floor is a little dusty, thank Him for the reminder. The stable was dusty, too.
This December, please pray that the beauty of The Cove’s Christmas displays will honor and glorify the King of Kings whom we serve. Pray that those who come to celebrate His birth would sense His presence, feel His love, and be blessed and encouraged by every carol and hymn of praise that is sung. Pray that the Holy Spirit would empower and fill each flawed, imperfect person who serves Him on staff at The Cove. May He pour His strength into our weakness, and may the light of His presence shine through the cracks to reveal His glory. Oh come, let us adore Him!
“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen” (Jude 24-25).
Join us in praying for the following events in November:
Christmas at The Cove with Reggie and Ladye Love Smith and Friends — December 1, 2 & 3
(Emcee: Tom Bledsoe)
SeniorSalt Impact Carol Sings — December 5, 12, 13 & 14
(Emcee/Worship Leader: Ron Whittemore; Musician: David Gaines)
An Evening at The Cove with Tommy Coomes Band — December 5
(Emcee: Michelle Bachelor)
Women’s Christmas Luncheon with Karlene Shea — December 11
(Emcee: Patty Stump; Pianist: Kris Bartman; Special Music: Skylar and Luca Bartman by Faith Abiding)
Christmas at The Cove with Charles Billingsley — December 15
(Emcee: Michelle Bachelor)
Christmas at The Cove with Travis Cottrell — December 16
(Emcee: Michelle Bachelor)
Christmas at The Cove with Annie Moses Band — December 17
(Emcee: Michelle Bachelor)
Thank you for praying!
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 : Esther 8:2, 7-8
“And the king took off his signet ring which he had taken away from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai. And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman. (7) So King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew, “Behold I have given the house of Haman to Esther, and him they have hanged on the gallows because they had stretched out his hands against the Jews. Now, you write to the Jews as you see fit, in the king’s name and seal it with the king’s ring; for a decree which is written in the name of the king and sealed with the king’s signet ring may not be revoked.”
THE FACTS: The king took off his signet ring and gave it to Mordecai. King said to Esther, “BEHOLD, I have given the house of Haman to Esther, now YOU WRITE as you see fit, in the king’s name, seal it w the king’s ring; a decree written in the name of king & sealed with signet ring may not be revoked.”
It matters what you do, it matters that you believe and act on the beliefs that you so passionately profess.
Here in the story, the climax has been reached: Esther has prayed and fasted for three days, she has stepped out in faith and trusted that God had given her the title of queen, “For such a time as this.”
Esther, risking her life walks into the throne room and after two banquets, she pleads for her life and the life of her people living in the Persian empire. The king is incensed–who would dare try to kill his queen? Killing the queen is tantamount to treason, an action worthy of death. Haman is identified as the culprit. Haman is promptly escorted out of the room with a bag placed over his head. Haman will be hung on the very gallows he built to impale Mordecai, who is the enemy of Haman, but the hero of Jews.
Haman is gone, but the edict of Haman is still very much alive. In just 9 short months, the Jews across the Persian empire will be slaughtered. Esther has saved her own life from Haman’s hand, but now she continues to plead for the lives of her people. The king must reverse the edict, the king must do something so that he saves her people, and in verse 3 we find Esther weeping and pleading at the king’s feet.
I LOVE the response of the king!!! “Behold! I have given…” I love the word “behold”. Behold is a demonstrative participle which means the king is demonstrating (showing) Esther the power that she possesses. The same power that Haman had in order to write an edict to destroy is the same power Esther has to protect and save. Esther possesses the very power of the king to write an edict that cannot be revoked!
The king then tells her to GO AND DO IT! GO! Esther, in the power of the king of Persia! Go Esther! The very words written on the page will be sealed with my signet, proving it is binding! GO Esther!! YOU WRITE! And there it is.
Think for just a second, what if Esther said, “Yeah, I hear what you are saying–I see the ring and all–and I hear you telling me that whatever I write you will stand behind it and “okay” it, but honestly, I just don’t believe it. I like the ring and all, and I will wear it and show everyone that the king gave it to me and explain that there is just nothing that can be done for my people. I tried.” #supercoolring #canthelp #sorry
THAT WOULD BE CRAZY!!! The king had delivered the Jews, but Esther needed to step out and believe the power that the signet ring is endowed with. Esther was charged, “You write,” and she did. God delivered His people through the ring of a pagan king, because Esther and Mordecai wrote and completed the task set before them.
Can you hear the Jeremy Camp song playing in the background as you read this?
“The same power that raised Jesus from the grave! The same power that commands the dead to wait, lives in us! The same power that moves mountains when we speak. The same power that can calm the raging sea, lives in us. He lives in us.”
YES, THESE WORDS ARE SO TRUE! Let’s sing it! BUT do you REALLY believe the words, or is it just a catchy tune?
All the promises in Jesus are yes and Amen (2 Cor 1:20)! That means that ALL, ALL, ALL God’s promises are as if they are done and completed already in our lives!
We are free!
We are #delivered!!!
We don’t believe it. Oh, I have faith for you, I believe God has delivered you, but me? Often times I do not believe the promises of God are yes and amen for me.
For such a time as this, it is time that we begin to STAND and, just as Esther was charged by the king, we must also “behold “and remember what we have been given!
APPLY IT: What would you do differently if you really believed that the very power that God used to raise Jesus from the dead really lives in you?
Where has God called you to make a stand or send out a statement, but you don’t believe that you have really been delivered? Will you ask God to show you specifically?
Hint: It will always be hard, and more often than not, it will usually not be something you would have chosen yourself. Faith is HARD… but it is how God proves to YOU that His promises are ALL yes and amen to you!
Have you gone to church for years, and profess to be a Christian but your life is not reflective of the power of Christ, but the fear of failure?
LIVE IT OUT:
Ephesians 1:18-19 — “I pray that the eyes of your heart (and mine) may be enlightened so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His (Jesus’s) inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which he brought about in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand.”
That same power is the desire of God to work through us. Oh, how God wants to show us our faith is not in vain in the Lord (I Cor 15:58).
Today STAND, SIT, WRITE, PRAISE, WALK, RUN in VICTORY! Believe, then go and do because you are free, you are #delivered.
What Scripture are you studying now? What have you learned? How has the Lord spoke to you? Share with us in the comments section.
If you’re in the local area and can attend our free annual Women’s Bible Study at The Cove, here in Asheville beginning in January 2017, we’d love to see you.
Watch, as Kendra shares what you can expect from her study on the book of Esther:
One of our favorite reasons for being a drop-off center for Operation Christmas Child are the smiling faces and people we get to meet. But, even better is knowing that God knew, before the beginning of time, the exact child–somewhere far away–that would receive their box in the name of His son Jesus.
Here are just a few of the smiling faces sharing the love of Jesus as they dropped their boxes (over 3,000 in total) off at The Cove during collection week…
These three show us that packing boxes is a fun family activity!
A local church beat their goal by over 300 and delivered 901 boxes!! In case you were wondering, this is what 901 boxes looks like…
Three faithful women head up the shoebox ministry at their church, but as one man put it, “It’s the Lord doing it!” Isn’t it wonderful how God uses His children to accomplish great things here on earth!
A local machining company’s employees and their families packed 100 boxes for girls and 100 for boys. This is one of their employees who delivered the boxes and some of our Cove staff/volunteers praying over the boxes.
You may recognize these precious girls’ faces…these three best friends began packing boxes in 2013. (Click here to read a post about their first year of ministry.) This year they raised money through doughnut sales and yard sales, and packed 125 boxes! When asked if they would do this again next year, they all wholeheartedly said, “Oh, yes!!”
106.9 The Light radio station was here on the last collection afternoon to greet people as they dropped off their boxes.
This precious 4 months old may have been our youngest to donate a box. And because he and his mama were one of the first 25 to drop off their boxes during The Light’s on-air mention, they went away with some neat giveaways.
More boxes being delivered….
This local couple enjoys packing several boxes each year. Here they are inside the large tractor trailer where the boxes collected, here at The Cove, are stored.
Thank you to everyone who packed a box for a child this year! Join us in lifting each box and each child that will receive one in prayer.
Have a blessed weekend, friends!
Click here for a schedule of upcoming seminar, concerts and retreats at The Cove in beautiful Asheville, NC.
By Will Graham, Cove Executive Director
As we’re coming up to the Thanksgiving holiday, it’s important to stop for a moment and consider all of the many blessings that we have. It’s easy to do most of the time. We’re thankful for the roof over our heads (unless we don’t have one). We’re thankful for our jobs (unless we’re one of millions who are unemployed). We’re thankful for our families (though many are struggling as they watch a loved one deal with a debilitating or deadly disease).
So, maybe it’s not always so easy to give thanks. Maybe it’s easier to huddle in the corner and look hopelessly on as the world seems to be falling apart all around us. We’re witnessing very serious and troubling conflicts and upheaval on a daily basis.
Things don’t look great at home either. Our chaplains who work in areas that have been impacted by major tragedies (floods, tornadoes and the like) report that up to 70 percent of those to whom they minister were already facing some sort of “storm” in their life prior to the natural disaster.
Truthfully, it may be easier to focus on all the hurt and pain in the world than it is to focus on being thankful. It’s easy to be discouraged. Undoubtedly, many of you are dealing with very deep and personal pain as you read this.
Of course, as Christians we understand that there’s more to the story. My grandfather, Billy Graham – who turned 98-years-old this month – once wrote: “We’re living in a time of spiritual darkness and political upheaval. Only the forward-looking Christian remains sincerely optimistic and joyful, knowing that Christ will win in the end and ‘if we endure, we will also reign with him.’ (2 Timothy 2:12)”
If we can be thankful about only one thing in this world, it’s that we know the One who is in control; the Rock to whom we cling.
That’s what sets us apart, isn’t it? That’s why we can be thankful in a world of turmoil. That’s what gives us encouragement when the never-ending procession of talking heads in the 24-hour news cycle tell us how bad everything is.
And that’s why we need to be sharing this hope at every turn, knowing that everyone else needs it just as badly as we do.
In this dark world, we do have hope, we do have reason to be thankful, and we do have a calling to share that hope with others. Be praying for those you know who need to hear this message, and – when God gives you the opportunity – share it.
And then, my friends, when God answers your prayers and you see a harvest, that’s something to truly be thankful for.
We have a modern-day Psalmist on our hands: Quinn Graham, Will Graham’s son and Billy Graham’s great-grandson, wrote a special Thanksgiving Psalm to share.
We hope this blesses you.
If you’d like to comment on the Psalm, we’ll make sure Quinn gets your messages.
Speaking of Thanksgiving, maybe one of our Cove recipes will be perfect for your upcoming holiday get togethers. Click here to see if one of our recipes might do the trick.
May the Lord bless and keep you, our friends. Have a wonderful weekend!
Click here for a schedule of upcoming seminar, concerts and retreats at The Cove in beautiful Asheville, NC.
The 2017 free Women’s Bible Study is right around the corner and we hope you’ll make plans to join us in January.
Watch as Jane and Kendra share about their studies in the videos below:
Online registration is available this year, so click here to register for Jane’s Tuesday morning study (January 10 – February 28, 2017) . If you prefer, you may also register by calling 1-800-950-2092.
An optional $12 lunch will be available after Jane’s study each week, but reservations must be made by noon on the Friday prior to each week’s study. To make your lunch reservation, call 828-298-2092. Lunch is a popular option, so be sure to get your reservation in early, as dining room seating is limited.
Register for Kendra’s Tuesday evening study (January 10 – February 21, 2017) by clicking here. If you prefer, you may also register by calling 1-800-950-2092.
Please share this post with your church and your circle of women friends and family.
See you in January!