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Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study — Esther 3:1

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 :  Esther 3:1

“After these events, King Ahasuerus promoted Haman, the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite and advanced him and established his authority over all the princes who were with him.”

Step 1

THE FACTS:  The king promoted Haman, the Agagite, and established his authority over all princes.

Step 2

THE LESSONS:

After these things…. what things?
After Esther, Mordecai’s niece, had been chosen as queen?
After Mordecai had received a position at the king’s gate?
After Mordecai had personally saved the king’s life by getting wind of an assassination plot, informed Esther, who informed the king, who then found the information to be true?

After all these things, Mordecai was recognized, Mordecai was promoted, Mordecai was seen by the king as as asset to the kingdom…. or NOT.

Mordecai was not only overlooked for the promotion, which he probably rightly deserved, but that promotion was given to his sworn enemy, an Agagite.  The Agags were a group of people who were enemies of the Jews.  It goes back to those years of wandering in the desert with Moses.

So what do you do with that?  All your hard work is not recognized.  Your loyalty not thanked.  Your friendship with the queen ignored.  Then to top it all off, your arch enemy is promoted over you.  That is pretty much the story of Mordecai’s life.

Always looked over.  Always having to sacrifice.  Never rewarded.

Mordecai lost his parents, he lost his single life when he chose to raise his niece Esther, then lost her to the king.  His life could be summed up in the next country music hit!

What do I love about this verse?  I like the fact that I don’t read in the following verse: #storyofmylife #nothinggoesmyway #Godhatesme #WhereisGod?

Mordecai could have taken a much different route in his assessment of the situation.  Instead, Mordecai states the facts.  As we get into the text and chapter more, we see that this Agagite that was promoted was a manipulative, power seeking, arrogant, evil man.  Again, for me, more questions…. why do the cunning sneaky people always seem to get to the top?  Why does God seem to ignore the faithful, and allow evil to rise with such ease?  We miss God’s favor even in the times of injustice. If Mordecai could see to the end, he would see God is moving the scenes, working in the shadows in the midst of injustice for the deliverance of His people.

We are incapable of seeing the favor of God at times, because when it really comes down to it, we don’t believe–really believe–that God is in control.  We believe God needs our help, we believe God needs us to right the societal wrongs.  I know I’m quick to shake my fist and my head at the way God allows some people to rise while smothering (it seems to me), those who are really trying to serve Him.

If you can relate, then pick your head and your heart up.  Read the rest of the book!  God does have this, and He moves in a more profound and large way than i could have ever dreamed of! God does see everything.  Faith, unfortunately is not about a life of emotional blessing after blessing.   Often, it seems like it is the exact opposite!  Frequently God has to knock the bottom out of us, and really get us in touch with humility in order to get us in personal contact with Him and His character.  We will never cry out to Him until we are desperate.

It is not about the “what” God gives us, it’s about the “Who” we get in the process! We get to know God in a personal way.  God needs us to move from a theoretical knowledge of Him, to a personal one.  God stretches our faith, allows it to struggle in the depths, so when deliverance comes in a mighty way, we can then boldly say, “I KNOW in Who I have BELIEVED and KNOW that HE IS ABLE!”  Faith is not faith until it is struggled with and stretched.  I hate every minute of it! BUT in the end, I LOVE it!  In the end, I can’t help but proclaim, “Oh how He loves you and me!”  Be confident!  God does see.  God is working.  God is in control.  We are free!  We are delivered from being dependent on promotions and the spotlight.  Nothing that is done for the glory of God goes unseen or unrewarded.  Keep on serving Him with passion!

#Delivered

Step 3

APPLY IT:

What causes us to doubt that God is in control, aware of the dire situation we are facing?

Can you relate to Mordecai in this story, always overlooked and forgotten about?  Will you, today, in this moment give that feeling of injustice to God, and ask Him to show you how or ask Him to give you confidence that He sees and is indeed still working on behalf of you, because you are His?

When have you demanded God work in a certain way, and God didn’t, so you got angry only to see days, weeks, or years later, that God did understand more than you could see at the time?

Will we look for God’s favor, and remain on our knees even in the midst of questioning and injustice?

LIVE IT OUT:
Today Lord, as I walk through this day, help me to focus my eyes on the FACT that You are in charge! Help me not to look to people, a job, a title, a promotion,or a government to give me hope for the future, but help me to solely look to You and trust that You hold me and my family in the palm of Your hand.  #Delivered

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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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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.

Registration is open and you can sign up online for Kendra’s evening study or by calling 1-800-950-2092.  (Click here to sign up for the morning study with Jane Derrick.)

Watch, as Kendra shares what you can expect from her study on the book of Esther:

Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study — Esther 4:16

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 :  Esther 4:16

“Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa, and fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day.  I and my maidens also will fast in the same way.  And thus I will go into the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish.”

Step 1

THE FACTS:  Assemble all the Jews in Susa.  Fast and pray for me three days (night), I and my maidens also will, thus I will go to the king, not according to law, if I perish, I perish.

Step 2

THE LESSONS:
“To everyone who has been given much, much will be required.” Luke 12:48

Many of us in swing states are being bombarded with campaign commercials, everywhere we go.  So, as Christians, who do we vote for?  HRC?  The Donald?  McMullin?  Johnson?  Does God’s Word give us a clear cut answer?  There are many Christians and theologians giving their two cents regarding who we should pull the lever for, and if we don’t follow their advice we are seen as wicked people who have sold our souls…. so some of us will stay at home and not vote at all, letting whatever happens, happen. But is that right either?  We are known as “One nation under God,” as a country where “God’s grace has been shed.”  So what is the right answer?

I love this verse in Esther, and I think we can receive encouragement and direction from it.  The lives of the Jewish people were in the balance–slated for slaughter–with nothing to be done to change the outcome. Or was there?  Ahhh, there was! Queen Esther, who had no “real” power at all, but was the one God called to stand up at that moment in history.  The “king” that Esther would risk her life to speak to, was Xerxes.  He called himself, “The king of kings,” the “Almighty.”  He had a complex for sure.  Xerxes was not a king who regarded life as precious…he was willing to sacrifice the lives of every man in his army if he could have control over Greece.  An evil and cruel dictator, Xerxes had his previous wife banished from his presence forever for one act of disobedience.  Worse yet, the right-hand man of this king was Haman, who was just as evil and manipulative–a true enemy of God and His people.  Haman is the one who made the kill order for the Jewish people across every province in the Persian empire.  (Cue the evil laugh…can you hear it?)

Esther was the only one with access to King Xerxes (kind of).  She needed to be summoned by the king to have the “privilege” of access, and he hadn’t summoned her in quite some time.  Esther couldn’t just walk in to the throne room uninvited unless she wanted to lose her life.  This posed a problem…what help would she be to the Jewish people if she was dead?  Esther had been silent regarding her Jewish heritage since she’d been placed in the palace.  Esther could have run away, she could have hid, she could have said, “What is the use?  What can my words do to make a difference?”  Esther was not ignorant about who she was dealing with.  Esther was absolutely right.  What could she do?  Esther could make things a lot worse–especially for herself, if you think about it.  Esther knew her own limitations, but she knew the true King of Kings and Lord of Lords… and she had access without limit to Him.

Esther turned to prayer and fasting for three days and called the Jews in the city to do so as well.  Esther would go and meet this responsibility head on, believing God would go before her.  If this meant the end to her and her people, it meant the end.  Still, she would gather her courage and go.  To whom much had been given, much was required.  Esther met the challenge.  Perhaps that is why she was Providentially chosen to be where she was.

We as Americans may not be kings and queens, but we do have access to the same Almighty King of kings and Lord of lords that Esther had.  The people of Persia had no right to vote for their leader, but we do.  Now is not the time to shirk the responsibility that has been given to us.  Running from the problem of the candidates is not gathering our courage.  What if three days before the election, we as God’s people who have been entrusted with this civic duty, prayed and fasted together, then, after three days, we put on our robes and went to the polls to vote for the person that God has laid on our hearts?

Remember, throughout time, God has used even the most wicked of kings like Nebuchadnezzar, Pharaoh, Ahab and Xerxes, because right in the middle of the darkness, He had the light of His presence, and in the end, delivered His people in spite of the odds.

There is a time to hold our tongues and keep our heads down, but that time is not now!  Now is the time to move from silence to supplication, as Esther did.  Now is the time to make a STAND on our knees like never before! My prayer for this election is found in Psalm 31:3, “For Your name’s sake, lead me and guide me.”

Step 3

APPLY IT:
Will we determine to move from silence to supplication on behalf of the responsibility God has entrusted to us?

LIVE IT OUT:
For Your name’s sake, lead me and guide me today, give me the ears to hear, the heart to understand and the feet to follow.

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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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To see more of Kendra’s Bible Studies, click here.

KENDRA GRAHAM’S ONLINE BIBLE STUDY — Luke 14:26

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 :  Luke 14:26
“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.”

Step 1

THE FACTS:  If any come to Me and does not hate his own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, his own life, he cannot be My disciple.

Step 2

THE LESSONS:
WOW! This seems a little harsh, right?  Where are the loving verses  that we are so used to?  Why the hate?  Is this contradictory?   A lot of people skip over this in devotions and sermon, thinking surely God got this verse wrong in the writing of His Word… But did He?

Recently God taught me the meaning of this verse, and it was a hard lesson to learn.  My husband travels a lot, and because of this, misses out on things like school functions during the week and soccer games on the weekends, so I’ve made it a point to try to get to everything and represent for the two of us.  I decided, way back before the birth of my first child, that I would do all I could to be very present.  This decision means I must say no to a lot of things that I am asked or pulled to do.  My first instinct is to always say no right off the bat to everything, no praying needed, the answer is just no –always no.  So, in that still quiet voice, what do I do when God wants me to say “yes”?  I still say no. 

I was asked to speak at a Ladies Morning Out about 7 months ago.  My answer was “no”.  The woman in charge of the event kept pressing me to pray about about it.  I kept saying no.  I’m too busy:  I have 3 kids, I have anywhere between 2 and 5 soccer games to attend each weekend, and most of the time those games are anywhere from 1.5 hours to 2.5 hours away and often take place in different states–even in the same day.  Logistics are always running in my brain, and I can hardly get done what I need to get done, forget about adding one more thing to the pile.  The answer is “no”.

Don’t you see my very valid excuses?

Long story short… one month later, the answer was, “yes”, and I was mad about it.  My husband Will was going to be home, so he was going to drive to the first game in South Carolina, and believe it or not, the second child had her game changed to a local field, and I would be able to make it to the game.  I would just have to find her a ride so she could arrive the customary hour before to warm up.  One would think that I would be elated with how God worked that all that out for me.  Well… not so much.  I was still mad.

What it comes down to is that I want to do what I want to do.  Here in this verse in Luke, God is saying, “Kendra, I need you to put Me above a soccer game.”  That may be easy for some of you, but boy howdy, that is hard for me.  God was not even asking me to miss my child’s game at all…I would only be missing the warm up,  so that I could spend the morning in His presence with a group of other women… even if it’s inconvenient for me.  I was quickly becoming a Jonah in my heart…

BUT GOD… loves us enough to teach us and to love us in spite of poor, selfish attitudes.  Amen?!

I needed to go and speak to those women, why? Did I have some amazing insight that these women needed? Ummm no, but God needed to get His grip back on my heart.  God spoke to me that day, forget about speaking to anyone else, it was all for me.  Who do I love more?  My kids and their functions?  Or Him?  God is not asking us to neglect our families at all, please don’t hear that, but God is asking to be placed above them.  There shall be no other gods before Me.  Some people need help on saying no, they say yes to everything and are sucked away from what is important, but for me, I needed to say yes this day to my God above all else.  HARD to DO!

I still complained the whole way there and back, but luckily, God is used to working with and loving us with those Jonah hearts.  A lesson I will not soon forget.  This very verse came to mind and heart before, during, and after the message I gave that day.  Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus!

Step 3

APPLY IT:  Who or what are you placing above God in my life?  Do I say yes too often, or do I perhaps say no too often?

Is there something you don’t want to do or somewhere you refuse to go, even if God is moving your heart to do so?

What will you commit to pray about instead of just immediately answering to?

LIVE IT OUT:  Today, help me to have listening ears, a willing heart, and obedient feet to where or who You call me to.

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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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To see more of Kendra’s Bible Studies, click here.

KENDRA GRAHAM’S ONLINE BIBLE STUDY — I Corinthians 10:31

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 :  I Corinthians 10:31
Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Step 1

THE FACTS:  Whether you eat, drink or whatever, do all to the glory of God.

Step 2

THE LESSONS:  

There’s a song that Steven Curtis Chapman sings that is based upon this verse, “Every little thing that you do.. bring a smile to His face, tell the story of grace.. what ever you do, it all matters…”  I’ve needed this song this past and the coming week to help me focus on the moments that God puts in front of me.   Whether it’s cleaning the house, doing laundry, helping with homework, cheering at a game, working at the hospital, or listening to my husband or kids, I need to do it to the glory of God.   This can be hard.

I battle wanting to be doing and being somewhere else–doing something more important in my eyes–than whatever it is that I currently am.  This needs to stop.  Oswald Chambers made a statement that left a mark on my soul,  “Ministering in everyday surroundings does NOT mean we select our own surroundings.”  So often I think I know where I need to be and what I need to be doing, but believe it or not, it’s through the daily grind that God is patiently teaching me to bring Him glory…. in whatever I do, even something as basic as eating and drinking.

Think about some of the things Jesus did–some were “menial” things really–that made a huge difference.  Jesus washed nasty, dirty, stinky feet.  He ate dinner and broke bread, savoring the moment with His disciples, pouring His last words into them.  Jesus sat by a well and asked for a drink.  In the process He changed a woman’s life, and subsequently, an entire town.  Jesus brought glory to His Father whether it was cleaning, eating, or drinking.

Our character, and what we really believe about who God is, comes out in doing these menial things, too.

As I pondered this, I realized that I cannot do the things God puts in front of me on a daily basis for the glory of God without the power of God coursing through my  heart, soul and mind.  I cannot, because it is not in me to do these things AT ALL.  I cannot use a towel and water basin, as Jesus did, to the glory of God, without God empowering me to do so.

I am weak, shallow and prideful, but God loves me enough to strengthen me, deepen my relationship with Him, and humble me through everyday tasks.

What a mighty God we serve!  It matters to God that what I do, I do for His glory, because of His name sake.  There’s no room for complaining.   I like to think that when God asks me to do something really big and important that I’ll be ready to shed my selfishness and do what He calls me to, and in doing so, glorify Him.  Honestly, if you and I cannot be trusted to bring God the glory in what He puts in front of us today, in this moment, what ever makes us think He should trust us with anything bigger?

Wash the feet of those teenagers, those co-workers, that spouse that God has trusted you with today.  Let’s steadily minister in the everyday opportunities given to us in this moment and just see how God shows up.  These “little” things, like the song says, matter.

Step 3

APPLY IT:  What menial things are on the page for you to do today?  Will you ask God to empower you to do those things today for His glory?  When have you gone about your day for God’s glory and saw God show up in an unexpected way?  Do you battle with insignificance?  Today, how will you set that battle aside as you focus on where God has placed you and ask Him to focus your eyes on where He is in your everyday circumstances?

LIVE IT OUT:  Today Lord, empower me to do those little things for Your glory, even when in my eyes there is no glory to be found in them.  Today Lord, open my eyes to the people you place in front of me as I am eating and drinking at the table, and Lord, open my heart and my mouth to pour into them YOU as I engage over Cherrios, yogurt, or a bagel.  Change me, so they can see You.  #tothegloryofGod #today #don’twastethemoments

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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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To see more of Kendra’s Bible Studies, click here.

Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study — Proverbs 3: 5-6

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 :  Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

Step 1

THE FACTS:  Trust in the LORD with ALL your heart. Lean NOT on your own understanding. In ALL your ways submit to Him.  He will make your path straight.

Step 2

THE LESSONS:  UGH.  That’s what these verses mean, in a nutshell, to me.  These verses are HARD for me.  “Trust in the LORD, lean not on you own understanding…”  These statements are hard  for me to both process and implement, especially when life involves trusting God with your children.

One of my girls right now has been placed–providentially–in a HARD situation.  She feels overwhelmed, under-qualified, like she carries the pressure of the world on her shoulders.  She’s struggling, stumbling and drowning.  As a parent I want to sneak into her brain and her heart and help her to feel courageous and confident in the fact of God’s promises.  I can’t do this for her.  The choices are hers to make.  UGH!

It’s interesting how I can see where and how my daughter needs to have faith, walk in confidence of God’s promises, and know who He is, when it comes to her situations.  Yet, when it comes to me doing the exact same thing in my own situations, I freak out, feel overwhelmed, and think God has abandoned me.  Hmm, I wonder who she learned this from?

God is working out in each of us the exact same thing: TRUST/ FAITH.  A life of trusting in the LORD and not on our own understanding will never become a reality except through CONFLICT.   There are situations where we don’t want to trust in the LORD, or we want to lean on our own wisdom and understanding. We’re convinced that our own thought processes are logical and make sense, and from our point of view, God’s thought process does not.

Trust, by definition, isn’t trust without being tested and proven.   God allows us to be in places where we have a choice to make: 1. Trust God and His Word and that His promises will hold, or 2. Trust ourselves and our limited view of the event.

All too often I veer off and choose #2, because I like the illusion of having control.  God is good, and loves us enough to place us in circumstances where we’re required to make this choice.  Oh, how He pleads in His Word with us that we would trust in Him–trust that He will make our paths straight, and that as we model that choice to our children, they would, in turn, understand that as God’s promises hold for us, those same promises will hold for them.

Regardless of choices made by others, may it be said of us, that we will submit our ways to the LORD.  This is SO HARD in the here and now, but the result is promised, “He WILL make our paths straight.”  We must believe that what God has said He WILL do–He will indeed do–and in spite of not understanding or seeing the end before the beginning, we prove our trust/faith as we take one step at a time, minute by minute.

As I type this out, I’m processing and trying so hard to trust.  It’s difficult to observe struggle in the lives of those we love, isn’t it?!  I’d love to take the struggle from my sweet girl! I’m trying to claim these verses for myself in this moment, and praying that someday, she will, too.  #thestruggleisreal #trustisHARD #God’spromiseswillhold

Step 3

APPLY IT:  In what ways is your faith being tested?  What is challenging your trust in God right now?  Will your choice prove your faith in the promises of God or kill it?  Where do you need to submit your ways to Him?  How will you do that?

LIVE IT OUT:  Oh Lord, give me strength, for my strength fails me continually!  Help my unbelief as You guide my feet and give me the strength to step forward on Your promises and not to run in fear.  You have not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind (2 Time 2:16).  Today, I will choose to put my hope in You and will determine to praise You, my Savior, My God (Psalm 43:5).  Help me to trust the hardship of my children to You, as You are working out in them the exact same thing You are working out in me!

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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.
__________________________________________________________

To see more of Kendra’s Bible Studies, click here.

Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study — Joshua 1:9

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 Joshua 1:9:  

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of a good courage.  Do not tremble or be dismayed for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

Step 1

THE FACTS:  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of a good courage, do not tremble or be dismayed, the LORD your GOD is with you wherever you go.

Step 2

THE LESSONS:  Well, here we go! It’s the last week before school officially starts.  I don’t know about you, but for me, as I look to this year, I see all the places I need to be and the commitments I’ve made, and instead of being excited and ready to conquer the new school year with fresh energy and focus… I kinda want to hide.  Schedules…demands…yuck! Gone are the days of sleeping in and enjoying the summer.  Now it’s off to science fair projects and research papers.

I have three kids: one in high school, one in middle school, and yes, one in elementary school…just to keep things going in completely different directions!

When I asked my kids about what they are looking forward to this year, all of them expressed…. fear.  The girls are afraid because they are on new travel soccer teams and they don’t know the girls or the coaches.  My middle school daughter is afraid because this will be her last year in a school she absolutely loves.  My youngest and only son is scared because he is homeschooling this year and is afraid his teacher may lose it come Christmas. :)  OK, that is a REAL fear! I am afraid because what if I can’t homeschool adequately?  What if I can’t get these girls to their games across the wide blue yonder each weekend?  What if the school work load is too hard and these children need more help than I have time to give them?  Fear…. fear… fear.

Fear keeps us from doing that which God has called us to.  I may not be preparing to march around Jericho, but I sure feel the impending battles that are just around the corner.  Has God really called me to where I am?  What is it God is doing this school year in our family and among all these schools and teams we are part of?

I go back to Joshua 1:9 often because it reminds me that God knows that fear is a very real emotion that we battle with.  God did not chide Joshua for having fear, but He did call Joshua not to give in to fear.  We have a choice who we give the power to in our lives.  Fear is our natural response, so we must saturate ourselves in the Word of God on a daily basis.  This is our only hope.  We need to determine to trust that God IS with us and will lead us.  Setting our hearts and minds to believe the promises of God as we step out daily is a HUGE challenge, but so worth it.  God loves to leave us in these dependent situations, where we can’t even begin to conquer or vanquish all that is demanded of us.  This way, God stays at the forefront.

As the academic year begins and we feel pressed upon and pulled in so many directions, may the first direction we determine to set our feet, eyes and heart in, on a daily basis, is in the Word of God.  In the Joshua 1:8, it says, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall mediate on it day and night so that you may be careful to do all that is written in it; for THEN you will make your way prosperous and you will have success.”  Success summed up: Stay in the Word of God and follow His lead…. day by day, by day.  Let’s dedicate to do that this school year, and show our children what courage looks like.  Courage is following hard after God.  Just do and go where the LORD leads today, then again tomorrow…all for His glory.

I love the quote accredited to Ambrose Redmoon: “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important.” As my kids and I discussed our fears, we came up with the promises of God that we can focus on instead.  Fear quickly turned into anticipation of what God will do and how He will accomplish the impossible in our personal lives.

  • God is faithful and true (Revelation 3:14).
  • God will not leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).
  • With God ALL things are possible (Matthew 19:26).
  • Our God reigns (Psalm 93:1).
  • “See, I have set before you an open door and NO ONE can shut it, for you have a little strength, have kept My Word and have not denied My name.” Revelation 3:8

Step 3

APPLY IT:  How have you given in to fear instead of faith?  What promises of God do you need to claim to get through the day?  Are your eyes seeking to see things beyond today?  Will you determine this school year to begin your day with your eyes and heart set in God’s Word?  Where is God calling you to be courageous?

LIVE IT OUT:  TODAY, I will claim the promises of God as I go out.  LORD, may You and Your promises trump all fear, and give me the courage to tackle what You have set before me this day.

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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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To see more of Kendra’s Bible Studies, click here.

Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study — Matthew 11:28-29

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 : Matthew 11:28-29

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls.”

Step 1

THE FACTS:  Come to Me all who are: weak & heavy-laden.  I will give you rest. Take my yoke and learn from Me, you will find rest for your souls.

Step 2

THE LESSONS:  This blog post came on a difficult day for me.  I’ve been given the day off from my job at he hospital, which might not seem like a bad thing, but in my heart of hearts I can’t afford the day off.  I’m a labor and delivery nurse and mostly just work in the summers and a few other dates throughout the year.  This schedule gives me flexibility, but is not a consistent source of income.  This day off set my fingers running numbers, and put my head and heart in an absolute panic!

In this moment, God purposely set my eyes in His Word on this verse today: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls” Matthew 11:28-29.

Like me, have you ever had a difficult time resting?  Like being in control?  I like knowing that my children’s needs will be provided and paid for by hard work.  But not today…God whispered in my ear, “Rest.”

After panicking and shedding a few tears, I wondered, “Doesn’t God know I NEED this day of work?”  While I was crying, God whispered again, “See how tired you are, dear one?” And as I write  these words, I’m off to crying again.  I am tired…so tired, weary and heavy laden.

This verse is in red… red letters…the words of Jesus–God with skin on, and He has said specifically to me (and you too)…”COME TO ME, {Kendra}, and I WILL give YOU rest.”  Jesus is giving me a rest from my responsibility– not in the way that sounds–I don’t want to walk away, hide in my house and quit my job…but God is willing and able to give me rest in the midst of work.  Isn’t it comforting to know that while we take responsibility for our children and love them more than words can say, ultimately, they belong to God who loves them more than we could even imagine?

An alternate rendering of this verse in the Greek explains it like this, “Come to me all you who are working to the point of exhaustion.”  Is there anyone out there who can relate?  Some of us are absolutely overwhelmed.  We have things on our plate that we never asked for, and we have found ourselves in a  stormy, out of control, season of life where we are just trying to breathe.  Where we are working and working, and doing the very best we can, but rest is eluding us.

So what do we do?  This verse tells us exactly what to do… “COME TO ME.”  I’m seeing that perhaps God is allowing me to be completely over my head and in a place where I can’t handle it.  I think maybe God allows times like this to prove His sufficiency to me.  God is flushing the pride out of me and reminding me that it’s not about my control over anything.  This verse shows me where I am… and then tells me to come to Him with it all.

So, where do I go? Where do you go when you are stressed to the max? Who are we turning to?  Are we going to the wrong source?  Is that why we are in such a panic?  I know that’s why I’m in such a panic.  I want to turn to my job, pay check and bank account…. which is always, and will always be insufficient.  Perhaps being overwhelmed and unable to make numbers crunch is actually a wake up call to come to a deeper intimacy with my God (Psalm 63).

After I come to Jesus, the next command the verse gives is to take His yoke upon me.  The phrasing here, with the yoke being put on…you put the yoke ON.  This phrase “putting on a yoke” does not imply that the oxen will sit in the barn, but that he is going out to work.  The way oxen work is that the younger, more ignorant oxen is paired with an older one; the younger oxen just follows in the steps and in the direction that the older oxen goes in.  The older oxen bears most of the burden of the work and knows where to go in the work; the younger oxen just has to focus on following where his partner leads.

Here we see God is not swooping in and erasing all our problems in a grand manner. He is not lightening the load just yet, but we are to come and stick our head in His yoke and follow where He is going amidst the responsibilities that are before us.  HE promises this: YOU (personal pronoun here, you, {Kendra!} WILL find rest for YOUR soul.

Jesus is not relieving me of the responsibility, but rather relieving me of the burden of that responsibility if I just follow Him.

Today, through His yoke, He led me to actual REST.  The burden for my workday rests on Him.  The burden of the needs for my kids rests on Him.  GOD HAS GOT THEM and ME in His hands… God loves my children more than even I do! I am saying this out-loud to myself as I type it, because it is so hard to believe sometimes.

We all want to control our own hours, pay checks, every little aspect of our own little worlds, and yet God wants us to rest, and let Him bear the burden.

Each of us must set our yoke to follow Him.  HARD WORDS for me today, how about you?   He’s telling us to REST…REST…REST.  So what choice do we have?  I have chosen to rest today, calling on Jehovah Jirah–MY Provider, YOUR Provider– who is not ignorant of our needs at all, yet knows them more intimately than we can ever imagine.

Step 3

APPLY IT:  Who or what is the source you run to when you are weak and overwhelmed and have worked yourself to the bone?

Will you set yourself in the yoke of Jesus and His Word, or will you try to solve everything in your own failing and insufficient strength?

Is this time of your life perhaps pressing down so that you can see your extreme need for an all- sufficient God?

Is God calling you to a deeper intimacy with Him through this circumstance?

LIVE IT OUT:  Today, when I begin to panic every hour on the hour, knowing that all I have to give is insufficient, I will set my head to claim in my heart who YOU are.  Today I will REST in Your yoke, You have given me.

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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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To see more of Kendra’s Bible Studies, click here.

Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study – Psalm 63:1

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 : Psalm 63:1

“Oh God You are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for You in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”Step 1

THE FACTS:  Oh God, You are my God; earnestly I seek YOU, my soul thirst for YOU in a dry and weary land.

Step 2

THE LESSONS:  Daily there is confusion and chaos.  I love to go back to this verse a lot.  It’s one of those verses that tends to steady my feet and focus my gaze.  Oh God… “Oh God” being the God we pray to at meals, sing to at church, hear the pastor preach about….. but MY GOD… now “My God” is something entirely personal.  My God is personal.  Jeremiah 9:23-24 says, “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches,  but let him who glories, glory in this: that he understands and knows Me, that I AM the LORD.”  This is the purpose and the key to life.

To know the LORD… to spend time in God’s Word.  God’s Word is Truth.  (John 17:17)

In times like this, when information is pouring into us at the speed of light… it is important, to daily–before the chaos begins– to spend time soaking in the Truth.  God’s Word has been true from the beginning of time and will not cease to be true today.  God can be trusted.

With so many things vying for our attention, vying to control us, we must now, more than ever, decide to know “my God” and not settle to just hear about who He is from others.

God loves you more than anything, and knows the struggle and confusion of life, so He came, personally, with skin on, and His name is Jesus, so that we could walk through this life with Him.

When you are tired, weary and exhausted…. earnestly seek “my God,” for “My God shall supply all your needs in the riches of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19).

Step 3

APPLY IT:  Are you in a dry and weary place in life?  Do you know “my God” or have you settled to listen about “oh God”?  Will we get into God’s Word as God’s people and begin living lives to glorify Him or will we live in fear of what will happen next in this crazy world?

LIVE IT OUT:  Today I will be determined to get into God’s Word and begin to learn about this God who loves me more than anything.

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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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To see more of Kendra’s Bible Studies, click here.

Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study — 2 Timothy 1:7

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 :  2 Timothy 1:7

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

Step 1

THE FACTS:  

God has not given us a spirit of fear, but power, love and sound mind.

Step 2

THE LESSONS:   When I read this verse today, I couldn’t help but think of my father-in-law, Franklin Graham.  Franklin is criss- crossing America this election season going to each state capital and pleading with God’s people to pray for the country.  There has been push  back in some states, but that doesn’t seem to deter the vision and passion that God has given him, as I watch God’s power illustrated through his message and work.

When God gives a vision to His people, He provides the power needed to see it accomplished.  It seems that often the church has been satisfied to be the “silent” majority.  We are so afraid to offend and so afraid of our speech that we make sure all of our words are politically correct, and in doing this, we have chosen to live powerless fearful lives.

Boldness matters.  We absolutely cannot fulfill God’s plan for our lives without boldness.  There is a difference between being bold just to hear ourselves speak, and being bold because it is what God has called us to do.  That is why I think in this verse Paul is urging Timothy and other believers that along with God’s limitless power, he has strategically placed the word “love”.  God so loves the world, He said so, and He proved so in John 3:16.  Being bold and powerful in the name of Jesus involves loving His hand made creation.  God calls us to do big things, only possible through His power, AND in HIS love.  It’s not a power trip we are going on, it’s not a spotlight we are stepping into, it is a service we are accepting to show others the love of God through His call and in His power.

Lastly, this all comes together with a sound mind.  This does not mean that everything God calls us to do or things He places in our hearts to do will all make sense, because quite often, we know it is God’s vision because it defies all logic.  When God calls us to do things, they are as Henry Blackaby likes to say, “God-sized”.  We tend to keep God in a box that we can explain–but what kind of God is that if we can explain everything away with logic?  God does the impossible.  God’s people should have personal testimonies in their lives of God’s impossible workings.  What God calls us to will always be clear…. and that clarity will be the very thing that makes our knees shake with fear.

Let’s be realistic here too…while we’re talking about it… we will experience fear.  It’s just natural, however,  this verse challenges us to literally set our fear aside, and focus on the new spirit that God Himself has given us.  Fear and timidity will keep us from using the gifts that God has given.  God has given us all we need to live daily as unstoppable over-comers.  The choice is ours.

I love how 2 Timothy continues…. (8) Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord….  Oh that our lives would reflect an amazing impossible story of God’s love and power in our personal lives and that we would have the boldness to shout it out!  We may not be called to criss-cross America, but this I know…. You will have an amazing testimony of God’s power in your life.  Let’s not live life and miss everything we were created for.  There is no better time to start than the present!

Step 3

APPLY IT:  What will rule your life and dictate your actions?  Fear or boldness in God’s Word? Are you satisfied living a safe, timid life apart from the “more” that God has called you to?  Don’t know where or how God has called you to live courageously? Get in God’s Word, and ask Him to show you.  Will we live lives claiming the Truth that God is a God of clarity, not a God of confusion? (I Corinthians 14:33)

LIVE IT OUT:  Today, LORD, give me boldness where I need to be bold, give me clarity, give me Your love for Your people as I claim Your power to walk through doors I would rather run from.

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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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To see more of Kendra’s Bible Studies, click here.

Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study — Matthew 10:42

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 :   Matthew 10:42

And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you he shall not lose his reward.  Matthew 10:42

Step 1

THE FACTS:  

Whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water, I say he shall not lose his reward.

Step 2

THE LESSONS:  

“Your patient just came into triage,” my charge nurse reports. “Your patient did cocaine two weeks ago but nothing recent; she is resisting giving any sample today to test for drugs in her system. This is her 4th baby. She has not had prenatal care.”

This is what I do. I work in labor and delivery. I get to see the miracle of life day-in and day-out on a full time basis during the summers. I love my job, but I don’t necessarily love all my patients.  When I received report on this patient a week or so ago, I was furious. I was mad at this woman.  Cocaine!? Really? No prenatal care? This poor baby. Will no one stand up for the baby? Will no one fight for this little boy yet to be born? I was telling all of this to God and I was stomping around looking for a wheelchair thinking to myself, “I should just make her walk…” I was in the moment with my self-righteous anger and had some really valid points!

Then that still small voice spoke to my soul… (Sometimes I hate that still small voice… I’m riled up … I want that voice to escalate to the level my soul is on! I need validation!)

God, of course, will refuse to stoop to my shallowness and for that I am glad–truly. As my soul is stirred, God calmly and slowly asked, “Are you done?”  Am I done? Well, honestly I could go on… But that is my cue to be done… So I said, “Yes.” God moved my heart to understand that I have been called to care for her as if I was caring for Him. Ugh! I had nothing else to say. My arrogance had been humbled in just a few words spoken to me by my Creator.

This verse here in Matthew challenges us to serve those we think are undeserving of being served. The words  “little ones”  can more accurately be translated as “the humble.”. You serve because it is as if we are serving Jesus. It’s the woman at the well, the woman with issues, the woman caught in adultery.  Hurting, humble women…. Like my patient caught up in cocaine who may have never been served a day in her life. This woman who may never see her children again after she gives birth since they will most likely be wardens of the state in the social services system. This woman…. Jesus would have stopped to care for. This woman… HE sent me to give cups of ice to–two at a time, since water is not allowed during labor at the hospital where I work.

I sat with her. Held her hand. Encouraged her. Spoke to her by name. Cleaned her. Made sure she got her epidural promptly.  I loved her, not because it was in me to do, but because God loves her and gave me what I needed to show her that.

At the end of the day my patient said, “I ain’t never had no one “hep” me afore, You good to me, nurse.” I responded, “You are loved by God and I was supposed to show you that.”

No further words were spoken. My shift ended minutes after the baby was born. This verse in Matthew states I won’t lose my reward, and truly, I saw the love and grace of God in a new way. My reward was seeing the love of God in a personal way, not just for my patient, but for me. It’s hard to receive. It was hard for my patient to receive those words. It’s hard for me to receive them too.  The Truth is…. God loves us and sent His son Jesus to prove His love to each of us in a personal way. (John 3:16).

Step 3

APPLY IT: 

Who has God placed in your life today that needs to see HIS love? Your family? Your patients? Your co-workers? Someone who crosses your path just for a moment in a store, at a practice, or at the gym? An enemy maybe? Will you be on the look out for the hand of God wanting to show you and others His deep personal love?

LIVE IT OUT:  

Today Lord, open my eyes to see and my hands to serve the humble ones you send my way. Give me the strength to do it, because You and I both know that it is not in me. Help me to receive Your love today so I can give it out.

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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.
__________________________________________________________

To see more of Kendra’s Bible Studies, click here.