Category Archives: Bible Study Community with Kendra Graham

Scripture, Bible study, God’s Word, Kendra Graham

Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study – Matthew 16:18

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 Matthew 16:18

“I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”

THE FACTS:  

I say to you Peter, upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.

Step 2

THE LESSONS:   

Jesus traveled 25-30 miles from Galilee to Caesarea  Philippi with his 12 disciples to give a 10-minute lesson.  Jesus will go to whatever length He has to so that we understand the lesson that He wants to teach us.

Caesarea Philippi was an abased place.  If the disciples had a hard time going to “the other side” of the Sea of Galilee because of the Roman Decapolis, then Caesarea Philippi would have never been a place on any of their bucket lists!   Jesus had a lesson that the disciples needed to learn “on site” so when He would later say, “Go therefore into ALL the world and preach the Gospel,” the disciples would understand that statement to mean ALL.  This was one of the very last lessons Jesus would teach them physically.  After this journey, Jesus would make His way to Jerusalem and the cross.

Caesarea Philippi was a wicked and vile place.  The nickname for this place was literally called “The Gates of Hell” where the pagan fertility god Pan was worshipped.  In this place, there was a large cave where a huge amount of water ran out into what historians wrote to be a bottomless pool of water.  The people of that time believed that it was here that the god Pan and the fertility gods disappeared down to the underworld–to Hades itself.  People from all around the world would come here to beckon with vulgar acts the return of these spirits to bless their lives and give them fertility.  This, the “gates of Hades”, is a dark, powerful, evil place of conjuring evil spirits up in order to get their hearts desires. This place was wicked, ungodly and evil, contrary to everything in the Torah.  This place was such an abomination that Jewish tradition has it that when the Messiah would come, the gates of this place at Caesarea Philippi would be destroyed beforehand because the two would not be able to co-exist at the same time.

The Rock

So, Jesus began to teach, at the foot of evil with boldness and certainty, needing His disciples to know with their hearts who He is.  Jesus proceeds to ask a question, “Who do men say that I am?”

 The world is very confused and debauched, desperate to know who holds the keys to life.  People are willing to sell their souls for their desires, looking for someone or something to hold on to, to believe in.  In a world full of false gods… where is the True God?

The disciples began to give their list of who men say that He is… a prophet, Elijah, Jeremiah or others.  Then Jesus, makes it personal, “Ok, now, who do YOU say that I AM?”  Is Jesus just another prophet who will die a martyrs death?  Is Jesus just a hope of God to come?  Who is Jesus?

Simon Peter with boldness speaks with authority as he says, “You are the Christ the Son of the Living God!”

“Blessed are you, Peter!”  Jesus explains that it is God Himself that revealed that to Peter.

Peter boldly stated Jesus is the Son of the Living God, then Jesus turns to Peter and says, not even these gates of Hell, this formidable stronghold of evil, will be able to stand against him as he preaches the Truth with boldness and authority.  On this rock, I will build my church.

WHAT?  Remember where they are… they are at the base of this mountain carved out by Alexander the Great to honor the evil disgusting god, Pan.  Upon this rock?  Was Jesus pointing to that rock?  Remember they walked 25-30 miles for a lesson on site….

That rock represents everything that is evil, hopeless and broken in the world that we live in.  The commission is for you, Peter, and the rest of you to GO! Go into this world and preach the Gospel! A Gospel that will bring those people at the base of that rock true hope and life! Go into this community and build My church!  Replace their lie with the Truth.  AND… when you do, the gates of Hades will NOT prevail against it.  Think about it…. a gate is defensive.  A gate keeps people out.  So Jesus says, “Go on the offensive! Go through those gates, even those gates will not prevail against the authority of the Gospel.”

Jesus then turns and says, “IF ANYONE wishes to come after me, he must deny himself.” IF ANYONE.  Not just the good Jewish men and women from their home at Capernaum, but ANYONE… even if any of these pagans here partaking in this filthy ritual want to truly find LIFE and find it abundantly they are invited to follow Me just as you 12 have been invited to do so.  Can you see it?  Can you hear it?  Jesus calling to a pagan world from the depths of His soul…. these rituals are not where hope and value and purpose and meaning are found!  This debauchery leads to brokenness and hurt and heartache!  COME! Follow ME!  What are you giving in exchange for your soul??? If you follow Me, you will find LIFE!  It’s like Jesus was beckoning not just His disciples but the lost world to “COME to ME and LIVE!” Matthew 16:24-27

Upon this rock, the very doorstep of the Devil, Jesus proclaimed Truth with boldness and courage as He then turns to make His journey to the cross. Jesus was lighting that fire of courage and boldness inside of His disciples.  People will be #delivered and set free to #LiveBOLD powerful lives.  Oh, to  LIVE and have that abundant life that is only through Jesus.  Hope, peace, love found in the ABSOLUTE TRUTH of God’s Word.

We get so confused by the world, don’t we?  I just helped my daughter with a poem tonight where she had to identify with the “post-modern world”.  We are enlightened now.  There is no absolute Truth.  If you want to believe in the god pan, then go for it.  If you want to believe in yourself, go for it.  The only “Truth” that will be found in the end of it all is a world without peace, without hope, without love, and without God.  Everyone and everything, in the end, will let you down and leave. BLEAK.

Our worlds are really not that much different from the first-century world.  The pre-modern world was just as abased and hopeless as the enlightened post-modern world.  Hopeless people looking for truth, hope and love.  Hopeless people needing a relentless God whose Word is TRUTH.  A Truth that will hold through the questions, doubt, and heartache.  A Truth that indeed will “set you free”.  A Truth that demands a holy payment for unholy sin.  A Truth that doesn’t flinch or change through the ages.  SO Jesus, God with skin on came and His name is Jesus, Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

The gates of Hades at the foot of Mount Herman in Caesarea Philippi are in ruin.  The Word of the Lord endures forever, and His church continues to be built each and every day even in the most evil and dark corners of the earth.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO ME?

Who do YOU say Jesus is?  Jesus said He is the Way, the Truth and the LIFE in John 14:6.  DO YOU believe that?  Everyone will have to answer that question.  Who do you say Jesus is?

What formidable stronghold have you been called to #LiveBOLD and proclaim Jesus to?

LIVE IT OUT:  

Go into all the world reflecting the love and passion of Jesus to a dying, confused and hopeless world.

– Kendra

P.S. Ladies, registration is open for my 2018 Women’s Bible Study at The Cove.  Let’s get together seven Tuesday evenings in January and February and dig into the Word of God.  Register online today.

Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study – Daniel 10:12

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 Daniel 10:12

“From the first day that you set your heart to understand and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard.”

THE FACTS:  

From the FIRST DAY you SET your heart to understand and humble yourself before God, your words were heard.

Step 2

THE LESSONS:   

Humility vs Pride…. this is the battle isn’t it?  This verse is really powerful.  Pride drives us from God.  “There they cry out, but He does not answer because of the pride of men” Job 35:12.  God does NOT hear the cries of the prideful, but of the humble, He does.  Proverbs 29:23 says, “A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble sprit will obtain honor.”  Isn’t that just the opposite of what we think?  IF we are humble, then we will be walked over, we will be looked at as weak, and we will not get anywhere in life…. but here, in God’s Word, the opposite holds the Truth.  When we bow to our pride, then we are exalted.  When we bow to our pride, then our prayers are heard.  This is SO HARD.  Humility goes against all that is in me…. whether my pride comes in the shape of arrogance or self-pity… my pride is big and at times seems like an insurmountable obstacle in my life.

In this verse in Daniel, it says, “From the first day you set  your heart to humble.”  The word “set” is the Hebrew word, “nathan” which means: to grant; to be delivered up, to be put upon, to permit, to humble to.”  THAT IS HARD.  Maybe not for you… but I am a fighter unfortunately.  From the first day that I allow God to grant me humility… set my heart to allow God to deliver humility to me…. uggggggh…. sigh…. HARD…. who wants two heaping scoops of humility… maybe three or four if we allow God to do what He wants to…. wow… why would He do this?  Why does God want to humble us so much?

God wants to humble us so that we can see that He will come through for us when we have complete and total dependence on HIM, and not ourselves.  To see that when we are humble, open, feeling like a sitting duck ready to be destroyed, HE WILL fight for us and defend us.  God wants to humble us so that we can see and know that HE IS FAITHFUL and will be faithful to US… it’s not just a tagline that New Testament pastors preach every Sunday, but meant to be a way of life.  When we are humble we are more able to show grace to others and be a testimony of what God will do for His people.  God wants to exalt us in HIS time in HIS way, not our own… and that only comes through humility.  To obey God… takes humility

Humility is NOT natural, and not easy… it wasn’t meant to be, that is why even Daniel, the great prophet, had to “set” — had to “determine,” had to “purposely choose” to humble himself before God.  It takes strength to set your heart to humble and obey God instead of fighting for yourself and your own reputation. It’s easy and natural, to allow personal pride to rule the day.  We love to self-protect.  We love to judge.  We love to fix problems ourselves, but God wants us to pray in dependence upon Him.  God will not abuse your humble state but will protect you, be your refuge and be your God.  God hears the words of the humble from the very first day that we set our hearts to do so.  We are not setting ourselves to humble under the hand of man who seeks to destroy, whose intentions are evil, but God pleads with us to set ourselves to humble to a loving God who is relentless for us, loving us more than we could ever comprehend.

When it comes down to it… we don’t understand the ways of God and often we have more questions than answers…. but if we could humble ourselves, God would hear our prayers and heal our lives, families, churches, cities, and nation.  The story begins with you and me setting our hearts to humble before God.  Each of us given a unique fingerprint so that God could leave His unique imprint of faithfulness in our lives to the world around us.  If only… you and I would set ourselves to allow God to humble us before Him.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO ME?

What steps will I take to set my heart to humble before God?  Has God asked a certain type of obedience out of me but my pride is preventing me from doing so?  Speaking to a colleague? family member?  Friend?  Boss?

KG BS OBEDIENCE TO GOD BEGINS WITH HUMILITY

LIVE IT OUT:  

Obey God today where He leads you, in what He asks you to say, and what He asks you not to say.

LORD, help us to begin to obey you in the small things every day as we set ourselves to humble before you daily.  Give us the strength to even pray that prayer, as we fight against it.

– Kendra

P.S. Ladies, registration is open for my 2018 Women’s Bible Study at The Cove.  Let’s get together seven Tuesday evenings in January and February and dig into the Word of God.  Register online today.

Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study — John 16:33

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 :  John 16:33

These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.

THE FACTS:  

These things I HAVE SPOKEN: in ME you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation. Take courage; I have overcome the world.

Step 2

THE LESSONS:   

Life is hard…

This past week has been difficult for my family.  My second daughter (my middle child) broke both of her arms playing in a soccer game, where ironically, it’s against the rules to use your arms.  This is the daughter that has always had to work harder.  This is the daughter who has learned perseverance and struggle at a young age.  This is the daughter who knows of tribulation more intimately than the others.

I have another dear friend who is clinging to the promises of God, tooth and nail, as she claims His faithfulness to keep her family intact.

Yet another friend across the country had her world rocked beneath her feet as her husband, a “God-fearing” man, left her and her four children to marry a woman he knew for months.

Let’s be honest, can we?  Let’s revisit the last blog post for awhile.  In this world we will have tribulation… we get that part, all too well, do we not?  Then when we come to God in the rawness of our emotion and our eyes cannot see straight because of the tears that obscure our view, we cry out “Marah!”  That bitter water from the desert.  This is bitter!  Where are You God?!  The article from December 3rd, 2015 in the Daily News keeps populating my thoughts, when on the front cover it proclaimed, “God isn’t Fixing This!”  My soul cries “Marah!”

Mass shootings…. Marah!

Hurricanes that kill and destroy… Marah!

More questions than answers…. Marah!

Here in John 16:33, Jesus plead with His disciples to hear these words.  Jesus is God with skin on who had eternity to decide what words He was going to use and speak, and these are the words that He spoke directly before His betrayal, torture, execution and resurrection.  Jesus was not speaking of defeat, but victory.  The disciples were about to see with their eyes what was going to look like a defeated Messiah…. but that was not the Truth.  It takes courage to believe the Truth.  In the TRUTH there is peace and joy.

Jesus did not wait for eternity to come in order lie to us. Jesus came to speak Truth so that we might believe (John 20:31).  The problem with the Truth is that we don’t like it.  The Truth is, that the Truth is harder to believe than a lie (John 8:45).

When things are going great, we tend to pat ourselves on the back for being so smart and so savvy, but when things fall apart, and we have more questions than answers, instead of holding to the Truth of who Jesus is, we raise our fists and we shout, “Marah!”  You brought us to this place to kill us.  You are not good.

In this verse, John 16:33, we see Jesus is trying to pour courage and peace into His disciples.  In the middle of chaos, in the middle of suffering, in the middle of the storm, if you cling to Me (Jesus), if you believe I AM who I say I AM, then there is peace and victory.  Your eyes see defeat… your heart feels defeat…. BUT I HAVE OVERCOME… and that victory is given to you!  We can claim that same victory the Apostle Paul and Corrie Ten Boom (The Hiding Place)  did in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 When they proclaimed, “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed, we are perplexed, but NOT in despair, persecuted, but NOT forsaken, struck down, but NOT destroyed.”  These are HARD Truths to hold to…. but HOLD.  By the skin of your teeth, HOLD to the faithfulness of God when all you want to do is let go.

This past week I have watched the You Tube video below, over and over.  This woman was caught in the middle of Harvey, the recent hurricane that devastated Houston.  The rain continued to fall for days beyond what was predicted.  This woman had her family with her, trapped in the upstairs of her townhouse.  In the middle of tribulation, in the middle of losing all her material possessions, “Marah” was not pouring out of her soul, but peace… strength… and the power of God was evident.  This is the power of the Truth of who Jesus is.

Without Jesus we have the storms, but no anchor that holds.  The testimony of this woman’s song gives me the strength to stand and sing when Marah is at the tip of my tongue.  Our testimonies of the faithfulness of God need to be spoken of.

The Truth is…. we will have tribulation.  Regardless of whether or not you are a follower of Jesus.

The truth is, that as long as we are in this world, there will be struggle.  That previous statement may be a Truth that brings anger boiling to the surface of your soul…

We were created to walk with God, know God and need God…. Another Truth you may or may not like.

We were never intended to face or walk through life without the help of Almighty God… so He came personally, and overcame… His name is Jesus.  John 14:6, Jesus said, “I AM the way the TRUTH and the life.”  Singular… the way…. the Truth … the Life… You may find that statement as well, angering and “exclusive”, but God did not wait for eternity to come and then confuse us… that statement, above all, is very clear….

Jesus came and His name means, “Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace” Isaiah 9:6.

Marah is easy… it’s natural… but to this woman… praise poured out.  Lord, give us the courage to hold… when all we want to do is let go.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO ME?

How have you battled or how are you battling to hold to the Truth of who Jesus is?

When did you have peace in the midst of Tribulation?

Has God ever been faithful to you in the midst of tribulation?

Will you have courage to share your story of God’s mercy and faithfulness to encourage others to hold when everything they see and feel is screaming Marah?

When did God change your moment of “Marah” into a moment of praise?

If you have yet to trust the Truth of who Jesus is, will you today?

LIVE IT OUT:  

Show me what is real more than what I feel.  Lord, meet me in my Marah, and put Your words of praise deep in my heart.  Help me to claim the fact that You have overcome the world when everything seems to tempt me to believe the opposite.  #overcome

Lord Jesus, today I come to You.  Help me believe that You are the way, the Truth and the Life.  Forgive me for the Marah, the bitterness that has separated You and I.  Come into my life and be my Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace.

– Kendra

Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study — Matthew 26:56

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 :  Matthew 26:56

“But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.  Then all the disciples forsook him and fled.”

THE FACTS:  

All this was done so Scripture of prophets be fulfilled. All the disciples forsook Him and fled.

Step 2

THE LESSONS:   

We were hand made by God to walk with God, know God and need God… but sin separates us from Him… So He came Himself, not trusting us to another, to make things right. Romans 5:17

Jesus was bound in the Garden of Gethsemane and led to the house of Caiaphas, where the scribes were already assembled.  Jesus was led down the mountain, across the Kidron Valley, and up the ancient steps to the house of the High Priest.  Was that night especially dark?  Was the only light on the path, the light from those arresting Jesus?  I wonder if even the insects and the nocturnal animals chose to just stay in that night?

Jesus was arrested in the cover of darkness, where injustice and evil prefer to reside undetected by the light.  Jesus even asks them why they took him in the cloak of night, when daily He taught in the temple, and at any time they could have seized Him in the light of day.  The question went unanswered.

There was a group already assembled at the house of the old High Priest, Caiaphas.  No wake up call in the middle of the night needed, it was as if everyone was on the same group texting thread and court was in session before Jesus arrived, like it was the norm…. away from the cameras and questions that would have been asked during the day.  The first three, of six trials of Jesus would take place in the middle of the night.

Jesus was alone.

The verses, here in Matthew, say that all His disciples fled and forsook Him.  None of them stayed to fight the mob.  None of them stood in great faith.  You see, the closest disciple of Jesus needs Him to die on that cross and rise from the grave just as much as the worst of sinners does.  The Bible says, “we all have sinned” – Romans 3:23.  It’s at this point that you see why God had to come personally.  God could not trust this part, His suffering and death to just anyone.  All of us would flee… BUT GOD loves us so much that He came personally, while we were enemies against Him, and died for us — Romans 5:8.  The wages of sin is death – Romans 6:23.  Someone has to pay that wage.   We were not created to pay that debt or bear the wrath of God, so God bore it Himself — alone.

This past May, as I ascended those ancient steps to the house that is historically accepted to be that house of Caiaphas, my soul was stirred as I saw Psalm 88 in a new light.  This house has been excavated in layers which shows that the “house” was much more than just a home:  There is evidence of living quarters, but also, the size and how it is laid out shows that perhaps it was also used much like a governmental building of sort.  It was much too big to just be a home, but what was found below was much more telling.

Kendra and Will Graham at the bottom of the ancient steps
Will and Kendra Graham on the ancient steps to Caiaphas’ house.

As you arrive, you enter a courtyard.  Today there is a church built on this location.  As you enter the church and begin to descend down, you see evidence of holding cells, or a small prison, which would not be a stretch to imagine that the home of the High Priest would have held religious prisoners.  The Jewish leaders were allowed to hold prisoners, they were just not allowed in Roman control to execute them.

Caiaphas Courtyard where Peter denied Jesus 2
Caiaphas’ courtyard, where Peter denied Jesus.

In this dark base of the home, there are holes cut out in the rock where leather straps would have been affixed to strap arms of the prisoners above their heads a little wider than shoulder length apart.

Prison with leather straps where they would tie up prisoners or bind them
Prison, with leather straps hanging from the ceiling, where prisoner would be bound.

In this pit there was a place of solitary confinement where they would put the worst of the criminals.  In this pit, there is a small hole from above, where the bound prisoner would have been lowered down into complete darkness.  There would be no escaping if someone was placed here.  Between the Jewish trials and the Roman trials, there was a period of waiting for the palace to awaken and be ready for business.  Is it too much to think, that Jesus could have been lowered into that pit, to await His trial before Pilate?

Pit

Underground cave info

When we descended down to the bottom of the pit, in what is believed to be the house of the high priest, silence overtook us.  Here in this pit we read Psalm 88 aloud, with the aid of a small light:

LORD, You are the God who saves me; day and night I cry out to you.

May my prayer come before You; turn Your ear to my cry.

I am overwhelmed with troubles and my life draw near death.

I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am like one without strength

I am set apart with thudded, like the slain who lie in the grave whom You remember no more, who are cut off from Your care

You have put Me in the lowest pit, the darkest depths.

Your wrath lies heavily upon me; you have overwhelmed me with all Your waves

You have taken from Me, My closest friends and have made Me repulsive to them.  I am confined and cannot escape;

My eyes are dim with grief.  I call to You LORD, every day; I spread out my hands to You.

Do You show Your wonders to the dead? Do their spirits rise up and praise You?

Is Your love declared in the grave, Your faithfulness in destruction?

Are Your wonders known in the place of darkness or Your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion?

But I cry to You for help, LORD, in the morning, my prayer comes before You.      

Why LORD do You reject Me and hide Your face from Me?

From My youth I have suffered and been close to death; I have borne your terrors and am in despair.

Your wrath has swept over Me like a flood; they have completely engulfed Me.

You have taken from Me friend and neighbor, darkness is my closest friend.  

Can you hear Jesus pour His soul out?  Alone, abandoned and bound. What prophetic words written by David, so many years prior to this night.  Jesus, experiencing the complete and total wrath of God for us–instead of us.  Jesus endured it all.  God not trusting us, His hand-made creation, to anyone else, so He came personally to pay this incredible debt so that we can walk with Him, and know Him as we were created to experience. All this was  done to prove the Scriptures of the prophets.

God DOES love us! God is willing to give everything He has for us to be able to walk with Him and know Him!  God really does look at us like a bride sacrificing all He has for our eternal safety (John 3:16).  Jesus was abandoned, so we are not! This is the Gospel! This is the good news! Jesus was found worthy to the be Lamb at Passover for sin, once and for all!  We have been #delivered from the darkness because He was bound and #delivered to the darkness! So come on!  Come on! Let’s live bold and courageous, in the light, while there is still day, #Propelled to tell the Good News! God’s wrath has been stilled, by Himself.  Even when all forsook Him, He refused to forsake us.  We are free, we are #delivered, so live #propelled2purpose.

APPLY IT:  

How often do we see what God isn’t doing for us instead of what He has and is doing for us?  When was a time that I forsook Jesus, yet He refused to forsake me?

LIVE IT OUT:  

Today, Lord, open my eyes to see your goodness and your faithfulness as I remember the suffering You endured on my behalf.


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

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.

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.

KENDRA GRAHAM’S ONLINE BIBLE STUDY — John 3:14

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 :  John 3:14

“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life.”

Step 1

THE FACTS:  

As Moses was lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, the Son of Man must be lifted up, whoever believes in Him will have eternal life.

Step 2

THE LESSONS:   

I’ve been processing some things since my trip to Israel.  So many things are going around and around in my head and my heart.  Early one morning, my family and I went to visit the garden tomb – the place that is accepted to be the tomb of Jesus.  It was so surreal because the sun had risen just 30 minutes beforehand and as we entered through the gate, I began thinking about what that Sunday morning was like for the women who came to the tomb to dress the body of Jesus — early that glorious morning.

The caretaker of the garden met us at the gate to give us a walking tour of the garden.  Before you get to where the tomb is, you’re taken to a place where you can look outside the gate to the mountain, which resembles a skull, the place known as Calvary.

Skull Hill from Kendra

The caretaker was explaining Roman crucifixions: typically, the Romans would set a cross on a main thoroughfare into the city, so that those traveling would be reminded and warned not to cross the Roman Government.  It’s a little hike to the top of the place of the skull, which overlooks a main road into the city. The caretaker asked us several questions:  Why would the Romans haul criminals up a hill?  It made more sense to him, that crucifixions would have taken place at ground level.  This way of thinking shocked me… I had always “seen” the crucifixion high on a hill, so people far off could see Jesus bearing the sin of the world.

What if Jesus was crucified on ground level?  What if Jesus, was taken outside the gate of the city, and His cross was placed along the path that led into Jerusalem, at the time of Passover.  How many more people would see Jesus?

Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness…. the Hebrews – with Moses in the wilderness – were dying from snake bites, so Moses did as God had commanded him, and put a serpent of bronze on a staff.  If the people looked to the serpent on the staff, they would be healed, but if they refused, they would die in their diseased state.

Can you see the people trying to hustle into the city before sundown for Passover?  Can you hear the chatter?  Can you hear the gasps, as those people: man, woman, and child would have to pass Jesus at street view — the Passover Lamb, who was slain for them?  In order NOT to see Jesus, (crosses were at eye level, or just above), the people would have to physically move and go another direction away from Jesus. Even if they put their heads down as they passed the horrific sight at the base of the mountain, they call Skull Hill, could they not see the shadow that the Lamb upon the cross was casting in the setting sun?  Jesus could not be missed at this level.  Jesus had to be dealt with at this level.  Jesus, God with skin on did not wait for eternity to come, only to be out of reach or out of sight from the very ones He came to save.  Jesus would not have been missed by anyone that Passover.

Still today, Jesus must be dealt with.  You can’t go anywhere and not see a cross on a chain, or a cross on a church, or a cross on the internet.  A decision must be made about Jesus.  You have already made a decision about Jesus.  Not making a decision is making a decision in the negative.  Jesus came to save.  Jesus came to heal.  Jesus came to deliver us.  We were created to know God, walk with God and need God.  Sin has separated us from the God who came to walk with us.  Romans 3:23, For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  Romans 6:23, For the wages of sin is death (just like those in the wilderness so long ago), BUT the gift of God is eternal life through JESUS.  IF we believe that Jesus came to be that perfect Passover Lamb, and take our sin as far as the east is from the west, we will be saved.  Jesus conquered sin at the cross and death at the grave.  The tomb is empty.  If that garden tomb that I saw that day in Jerusalem is not the actual tomb Jesus was laid in, just be sure the one that truly is His tomb, is just as empty.

Today, at the base of Skull Hill is still a main thoroughfare into the city.  What does it look like?  There are bags of trash piled upon each other all the way across the base of the hill.  It is a bus depot for tour buses.  My heart almost can’t handle it.  Trash.  Unkempt.  Not even noticed by so many who pass in and out and around.

Trash at base of Skull Hill from Kendra
Modern day with trash lined along the road.

This moment in time, in my life gave me so much to ponder.  I thought I would share.

Step 3

APPLY IT:  

What say you about Jesus?  Will you look to the cross and be saved?  Jesus was lifted up in the wilderness, outside the city…will you now look to Him and be saved?

LIVE IT OUT:  

Today, I thank you Jesus for being lifted up on that cross for my sin.  I believe you died for my sin on that cross, and I believe that the grave was empty that third and glorious day!  Help me look to you when everything within me wants to look away.


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

KENDRA GRAHAM’S ONLINE BIBLE STUDY — Genesis 22:13 & 14

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 :  Genesis 22:13 & 14

“Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son.

Abraham called the name of that place, The LORD Will Provide, as it is said to this day, “In the mount of the LORD it will be provided.””

Step 1

THE FACTS:  

Abraham looked and behind him, a ram was caught in the thicket  and Abraham went and offered him up in place of his son.  Abraham called the place, “The LORD Will Provide”.

Step 2

THE LESSONS:   

I just returned from Israel two weeks ago and am still processing all that I saw.  There is so much, that I’m having a hard time soaking it all in.  I wish I could process in the present, but that is not how my brain works.

Allow me to take you to the Mount of Olives…

View from Mount of Olives from KG 2017 Trip smAt the top of the Mount of Olives you are on the east side of Jerusalem and look across the Kidron Valley, past the walls of the great Old City of Jerusalem and to the place called the Temple Mount.  The top of the mountain we are looking at, is Mount Moriah.  Mount Moriah is the place where Abraham walked long ago with his son Isaac, who was bearing the weight of the wood for the sacrifice on his back as they maneuvered, together, up the mountain.  On the top of that mountain, Abraham is willing to offer his son to God, trusting that God would either raise Isaac from the dead, or stop the process completely.  Isaac was the son of promise to Abraham; the son that he had waited 100 years to have.

The wood was laid on the altar, then atop the wood, Isaac was placed.  God stopped Abraham from harming his son in that moment by providing a ram in the thicket.  Abraham trusted God completely with his most dear possession – his only son from his wife Sarah.  Everything God had promised Abraham was wrapped up in Isaac, but Abraham trusted the Who that did the promising, over the what of the promise.  This is huge.  We tend to have faith for the what… and overlook, or yell at, or are disappointed in the Who.  We were created to trust and walk with the Who of the promises, not the promises themselves.

As you look at Mount Moriah from the Mount of Olives, I noticed something that took me by surprise.  As I scan across…. from left to right…. on the far right I saw this place, on the exact same range as the temple mount, the top of Mount Moriah …. and what I see is a place called Calvary.  The place of the skull, the place where the Bible says Jesus, God’s one and only Son, bore the wood for the sacrifice on His back (John 19:17), yet there were no angels sent to stop the process.  Here, on the same mountain, so many years later, there was no ram caught in the thicket that dark day.  Yet on that day, instead of a ram, we hear in our hearts the words of John 1:29, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”  “God who spared not His own Son…” Romans 8:32.  Abraham was supplied a ram, which was insufficient until the Lamb.  Jesus was led as a lamb for slaughter and bound as a sheep before her shearers (Isaiah 53).  The Lamb was led bound from the Garden of Gethesemene on the Mount of Olives, over the valley of Kidron, through the east gate – up, up, up the ancient steps which led to the top of that famous mount of sacrifice.  Jesus was tried by 3 Jewish audiences, and 3 Gentile audiences, found to be perfect without blemish, thus pronounced worthy to be slain as the perfect sacrifice of God.  God knowing we were not created to bear such a burden, so He bore it Himself, pouring all His wrath out upon Himself.  Jesus, Redeemer of Israel and the world.

Isaac saved from slaughter, and Jesus offered as that lamb to slaughter in his stead, my stead and your stead, all on the exact same mountain range.

Oh the deep deep love of Jesus.  I do not believe I will ever be able to process all this in it’s entirety.  How appropriate that Abraham called that place, “The LORD will provide.”  Yahweh, the LORD GOD, WILL provide….[ future… will]…. and He did.  God may have provided Abraham with a ram that day, but He provided all of us with the Lamb years later.  Praise God! He has provided indeed!

Step 3

APPLY IT:  

What makes me question God’s provision for me?  When have I been more focused on the “what” of the provision than the Who is providing?

LIVE IT OUT:  

Today, Lord, help me to go through the day in awestruck thanks for the provision You have granted to me.  Show me how to walk more closely with my Jehovah Jirah.  Oh that You would be more personal to 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.

Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study — Luke 24: 17,21

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 24: 17,21

“And He said to them, “What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?” And they stood still, looking sad.  (21a) “But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel.”’

Step 1

THE FACTS:  

He said, “What are the words you are exchanging with one another as you walk?” They stood still looking sad.  “We were hoping it was He who was going to redeem Israel.”

Step 2

THE LESSONS:   

Has God ever not fit into your box of what a good God looks like?  I don’t think we readily want to admit that we put God into a box, but I hear it a lot, not only from others, but in my own speech as well.  “How could a loving God….” — you fill in the blank.  God doesn’t fit in any box, and that, my friend is a good thing!  Some of us are so hurt, that we find ourselves walking away from the God who loves us and gave Himself for us.  We are not happy about walking away… we just can’t make our idea of God match the reality we see and feel.

Here, in Luke 24, we meet up with two disciples walking to Emmaus from Jerusalem, after the crucifixion and resurrection.  The disciples had been charged to stay in Jerusalem, but here we find two men, described as disciples of Jesus walking the seven miles to Emmaus.  The men were sad, confused and on the verge of despair.  Jerusalem was the place where everything they thought they believed in was shattered on the cross when Jesus submitted His spirit and died.  Jesus died and was then placed in a tomb.  Three days had passed from Friday to Sunday, and now the tomb was found empty.  There were “some women” (24:22) who said the tomb was empty but they then claim they saw Jesus alive. After the women passionately tell their story, some disciples went (“some of us” 24:24), and the tomb was empty for sure, but Jesus they did not see.  It makes no plausible sense that Jesus would show Himself to “some women” and leave “some of us” out.  I mean, Peter and John are disciples, the “big” two, you know?  So these two men, here in Luke 24, crushed in spirit, did the only thing they could do…. LEAVE the situation entirely.  Run…far and fast away from the pain.  It didn’t matter that some of Jesus’s last words were to stay.  Everything they had believed about who Jesus was or is, was at that time in complete limbo.  Have you ever been there?  Can you relate?  Everything you have been taught to believe about who God is, is flipped upside down in a minute?

The men were probably going back home… going back to their lives pre-Jesus.  BUT that is not the end of this story…. it is only the beginning.  Jesus, God with skin on, relentless and compelled for His handmade creation, pursued them, and “began traveling with them” (24:15).  I LOVE THAT!  Jesus went seven miles out of His way to hound down these disciples!  I love that when Jesus got there He didn’t scold them for leaving, or tell them they just never listen, or condemn their confusion and sadness.  Jesus asks in verse 17, “What words are you exchanging while you walk?”   These men LEFT Jesus, but Jesus refused to leave them!  Jesus LISTENED.  How amazing is that?  Jesus was not mad that they didn’t “name it and claim it” and he didn’t scold them for not being joyful in all situations either! Jesus listened to ALL their pain, all the way to Emmaus…. the opposite direction of where they were supposed to be.

The men laid their souls bare, telling Jesus of all that had happened.  These men were verbally processing everything they had seen with their eyes, everything they had believed in their heart, everything that happened that morning at the tomb.  Often when we talk it all out with God, what is on the surface really is not the real deal of why we are so upset.  The men were so upset because Jesus was not who they truly believed Him to be.  The men used what they had seen and felt to draw a logical conclusion that was against what they had believed.  What they believed and what they saw did not match, so they fell on the side of logic. The men thought Jesus was the Redeemer of Israel.  That is the root of their sadness.  Their idea of what a Redeemer of Israel was to look like all added up while Jesus was alive (24:19), but not since witnessing the cross.  Since Jesus did not fit in their box, they walked away from the source of all that pain and disillusionment.  That totally makes sense to me.  I see the same pattern in my life time and time again.

Jesus hounds them down, listens to their pain, and then legitimizes the Truth.  In Luke 24:26, Jesus reminds the men of the prophets and their words.  The prophets spoke Truth.  Jesus could not remind them of His words, because you see, every word Jesus spoke was in limbo… the men were not so sure His words were Truth and life anymore.  So Jesus, tenderly, reminded them in all Truth what the Redeemer looks like.  Pressing these men to remember out of love.  The hope these men had in Jesus as the redeemer was not misplaced, but their emotions at the time were, and their emotions were driving them in the opposite direction of where they should be.

The Truth is powerful.  We must cling to the Truth when our emotions are screaming and hot tears are burning our souls.  Hold on to the Truth.  The emotions are real, but let’s press in to the Truth and not allow them to drive us away from the One who loves us and gave Himself for us.  Let Him meet you on your road today.  Pour it all out to Him.  Your heart matters!  Let’s strive together to be driven by Truth. Encourage today with the Truth of God’s Word given in love.

Step 3

APPLY IT:  

When has my belief in who I thought Jesus to be been put on the ropes?

How have I put God in a box?

Have I allowed my emotions and logic to drive my belief about God, or will I be determined to be driven by Truth?

When have I poured out all my doubts and questions to Jesus?

LIVE IT OUT:  

Today I will press to cling to the Truth and not be driven by my emotion.  My hope is not misplaced in Jesus…. oh that He would strengthen my grip!


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

Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study — Mark 10: 46-48

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Kendra Graham notes from :  Mark 10:46-48

“And they came to Jericho.  And as He was going out from Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the road.  (47) And when he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene he began to cry out and say, “Jesus Son of David, have mercy on me!” (48) And many were sternly telling him to be quiet, but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”’

Step 1

THE FACTS:  

As He was going from Jericho, with disciples and a great multitude, blind beggar Bartimaeus was sitting by the road. When he heard it was Jesus he began to cry out “Jesus Son of David have mercy on me!” Many sternly told him to quiet but he kept crying all the more.

Step 2

THE LESSONS:   

We don’t show up in Jesus’s path — He shows up in ours.  I love this story for so many different reasons.  Can you see Jesus leaving the city of Jericho? The disciples, the crowd, the buzz, the noise.  Jesus is on His way to the cross, but before all those events happen, He happens along Bartimaeus, a blind beggar.  Bartimeaus hears that it is Jesus of Nazareth coming his way, and he begins crying out.  Why is Bartimaeus crying out?  Bartimaeus is crying out because he is in desperate need.  Isn’t that wonderful?  Bartimaeus knew he was in need of Jesus!

We hate being needy and desperate, it’s not the American way.  Bartimaeus knew his desperate need, and more so, knew Jesus was the only answer to that need.  What a blessing is that?  I love that Bartimaeus didn’t yell out blaming God for his condition, we all would understand if he did, haven’t we all been there? Bartimaeus yelled with perseverance and submission to who Jesus is, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”  Bartimaeus knew Jesus is the Messiah.  A blind beggar knew Who’s presence he was so close to being in, and refused to miss his opportunity.  Jesus was coming, and he would cry out with all that he had if it was the last thing he did.

The multitude was thrilled and encouraged that Bartimaeus was crying out!  Or not…  the world, even those who are seeming to follow Jesus will often times be the very ones to try to keep you down.  I don’t think the crowd intentionally did not want this blind beggar healed, I just think sometimes out of the best intentions to “insulate” Jesus, those following forget why He came and who He came for.  Jesus came to and for the desperate and messy.  Often when we are trying to get to Jesus everything and everyone will be a road block to getting there…. to Him.  The real question is, “What will detour you from reaching through the multitude to Jesus?”

We will listen to the crowd of voices in our head… “Jesus doesn’t want to be bothered with the likes of you.”  “Jesus has better things to do, more important things to do, than to spend time with you.”  “You are too far gone, too messed up for Jesus to fix.”  We end up believing the voices screaming at us, and we shrink back, allowing others to define what God sees when He sees us.

I LOVE the fact that Bartimaeus disregarded it all, and he cried out all the more.  If Bartimaeus did not continue to cry out here and now, he may lose his only opportunity.  Jesus is here now.   Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of David.  Jesus is the only One who can do anything about his condition.  IF Jesus refuses to heal him, it will not be for his lack of crying out for the opportunity to ask.  If Jesus did or didn’t heal him, it would not change the fact of who Jesus (Son of David) is, but a touch from Jesus sure would change who Bartimaeus was.  It was worth the risk, the humiliation, and it was worth pressing through, and crying out in spite of the rejection and lack of support from all those closest to him in the crowd.  Bartimaeus was completely at the mercy of Jesus. Jesus hears his cry and asks him what he wants.  Bartimaeus wants his sight.  The darkness immediately falls away, and the blind beggar is healed.  Jesus tells him, “Go your way” and Bartimaeus began to follow Jesus.

If not for the blindness and poverty of Bartimaeus would he have ever cried out with such desperate fervor for Jesus?  We don’t know we need Jesus until we desperately need Jesus.  How thankful did Bartimaeus become for his blindness, for his personal darkness?  Jesus came to him, met him there and healed him.  It was Bartimaeus’s personal story of darkness that gave him words to speak in the light.  Jesus meets our personal desperateness with His mercy, if we will but call out and persevere, refusing to lose heart.  Sometimes, it is not until we are trusted with total darkness that we realize how precious it is to walk in the light.

Step 3

APPLY IT:  

Crying out in the darkness of our situation to God with loud anguish will often make people uncomfortable and they will want to silence you, but take heart:  Isaiah 58:9  “Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry and He will say, “Here, I AM.”’  We all want immediate results from God, but will you continue to cry out all the louder when it seems no one is listening, especially God?  What exactly are you looking for from God?  Bartimaeus articulated exactly what he wanted…. mercy.

Ephesian 2:4, “But God who is rich in mercy with His great love, loved us.”  Do you believe God is rich in mercy for you?  It’s in these times of darkness that our true belief is flushed out to the surface.  Will you cry out all the more?

LIVE IT OUT:  

Today,  cry out to Jesus.   Claim His name, His promises and for the sake of who He says He is, hold on to your faith against all odds.  #overcomer


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