KENDRA GRAHAM’S ONLINE BIBLE STUDY — James 4:8

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 :  James 4:8

“Draw Near to God and He will draw near to you”  - James 4:8.

Step 1

THE FACTS:  Draw near to God,  He WILL draw near to you.

Step 2

THE LESSONS:  New Years is upon us this week!  The ending of the year, but most importantly, the beginning of the next!  Some of us are happy to see 2016 come to a close and some of us are sad — wanting to hold on to moments in time that seem to fade away with the seasons.

New Years is a time of hopeful optimism for most of us, hoping the best is yet to come!  Well, the best is here and it is stated so simply in this verse!  This is one of my most favorite, clear verses in all the Bible!  What hope! What anticipation!  What amazement lies ahead! Draw near to God and He WILL draw near to you!

This verse does not say:  “If you draw near, God MAY draw near to you… it’s a gamble”… Nope! Play the Vegas odds on this one baby! IT’S a SURE thing!  You see, we were created by God, with His hands, in the dirt in the Garden of Eden!  All other creation was created with just a word, but man and woman were different!  Man and woman were hand crafted with the very fingertips of God!  Psalm 139: 13 says, “For You created my innermost being, You knit me together in my mother’s womb.”  God created us, each differently, each purposefully, on purpose, with purpose…. so many have heard that, but so few actually believe that!

God created us then to do what?  God created you and I to walk with Him, to know Him and to need Him.  By the way…we HATE the needing part… we hate to need anyone.  Here, in this verse, it says just that.  God is here, pleading, calling, wooing us to spend time with Him, yet often, we turn a deaf ear and refuse to listen.  We don’t like where we have to go to meet God, or we don’t like where He wants to go with us… or we don’t like the way He takes care of things in His time, in His way…. so we prefer to keep our distance.  We have a list of reasons how God is doing it wrong, but we will never spend time seeking out the why’s and the where’s of God’s presence.

The fact is: you are God’s hand-made creation and you mean everything to Him.  Your opinion on that statement will never change the fact of the statement.  So If God wants us to “Draw near” then how do we do it?

1.  Find Time.  Yup.  Start with 5 minutes and go from there.  Hard to do, but essential. (This time is separate from regular church time.)

2.  Open God’s Word and pray, asking God to speak to you.

3.  Do the three question Bible study method that I use in this blog.

  • What does it Say?
  • What Does it Mean?
  • What Does it Mean to me?

Don’t worry about getting through all of these questions on a verse every day if that’s too much.  Tackle one question per day.

4.  Live it out.  As you listen for God to speak in His Word, live out what He nudges your heart to do. Usually God will move your heart to go and do things you would never really think of on your own… or at least nudge you to do things in a way you could not have come up with on your own.  God is alive and active in His Word which never changes.  We need to go to God where He is, not where we think or want Him to be.

This is a process.  This takes time.  This is what it looks like to seek. Seeking takes time, perseverance and fortitude, but God in His Word says that if you do seek Him…. you will find Him!  Jeremiah 29:13: You will seek Me and find Me when you seek me with all your heart.  It’s the Who we are seeking… not the what we want out of Him.  Many just desire the what… but God…. pleads for you to desire the Who… because He formed you in your mother’s womb, and oh! how He desires to draw near to you!  If we take the steps to draw near to God, I bet we will find that He’s been there the whole time, and we’ll wonder how we missed His presence for so long!

SO THIS YEAR, let’s turn a new leaf!  Let’s BELIEVE God and His Word.  Let’s decide to draw near indeed!  Let’s commit to this for an entire year… then next year at this time… look back and try to count the ways that God Almighty walked with us, spoke to us and #delivered us.

Step 3

APPLY IT:  In the last year, who or what have you been desperate to draw near to?  A better bank account? A certain relationship? A different job?  A family? Status?

In this next year who or what are you looking to draw near to?  What are your ambitions?  What if your ambition was to draw near to God?  What is keeping you from drawing near to God?  Do you have a list?  Have you ever considered laying out your list to God on why you won’t draw near to Him?  Maybe the answers you want from Him are available… but it will require seeking them out?  Are you willing to invest?

LIVE IT OUT:  Today, I will open God’s Word and do the three questions… I intend to hear God speak to me through His Word, then walk as He leads.

___________________________________________________________

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

If you’re in the local area and can attend our free annual Women’s Bible Study at The Cove, here in Asheville beginning in January 2017, we’d love to see you.

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:

NOTE: If you are unable to attend Kendra’s winter Bible study at The Cove in person (January 10 – February 21, 2017),  we will continue the online study as well, using lessons shared during the LIVE study.  We are also streaming the study LIVE via Periscope.  Can’t watch live?  Don’t worry, you can catch the replays in the Periscope app indefinitely.

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

Saturday Snapshot – Christmas Beauty

Oh, how we love that celebrating our Savior’s birth involves pretty lights and decorations!

If you’ve been here, you know how gifted our guest services team are with making this place especially beautiful for the Christmas season.

Enjoy…
front entrance smMrs. Ruth Graham, herself, picked these light fixtures out from an antique store here in Asheville.  Wouldn’t she love the adornment?!
light with garland sm

Sleigh bells ring, can you hear them?
This is probably one of the most photographed spots during our Christmas events.sleigh sm

Where two or more are gathered…
We love the fellowship that takes place in this cozy seating arrangement, and others, throughout the building. lobby sitting area sm

The wreath over our fireplace was given to the Grahams by a neighboring landowner as a “welcome to the neighborhood” gift back when the Training Center was built in the early 90′s.  The wreath is 8-foot in diameter and is made from grape vines from the neighbor’s property.

fireplace smMany of our ornaments are homemade.  Our staff work on them throughout the year.  
handmade ornament smWishing you a very blessed and merry Christmas, friends!

2016 Staff Photo_Christmas_Luncheon small


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

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

Saturday Snapshot — Christmas Caroling

Christmas at The Cove is in full swing!  We had some beautiful caroling going on earlier this week with our SeniorSalt Carol Sing events.

Here is a sampling for you to enjoy…

Click here to see what senior events we have scheduled for 2017.

What special plans or activities are you partaking in this year to celebrate our Savior?


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

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

 

 

KENDRA GRAHAM’S ONLINE BIBLE STUDY — MATTHEW 1:21

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 :  Matthew 1:21

“She will bear a Son, call His name Jesus, He will save His people from their sins.”

Step 1

THE FACTS:  She will bear a Son, call His name Jesus, He will save His people from their sins.

Step 2

THE LESSONS:  Merry Christmas!  Jesus has come!  The Gospel has been born and has been fulfilled!   I’ve been reading a great book by Timothy Keller called, Hidden Christmas, and it has captured my mind and thoughts about Christmas like never before.  The book delves into the genealogy of Jesus, and has brought things to the surface that I’ve not ever really thought about.

We always hear that Jesus is the “Son of David,” meaning, King David!  Well, Jesus–being the King of Kings, it only makes sense that He would come from a kingly line, right?  In Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus, King David is mentioned but he is mentioned in a way I always kind of skimmed over, “David, the father of Solomon, by Bathsheba, who had been the wife of Uriah”  Matthew 1:6.

The one thing David probably wanted everyone to forget about him (adulterous affair which lead to the murder of Uriah), is actually in the geology page of Jesus.  King David, needs a Savior.

Who else is on the list?  Well, there is a Canaanite woman who was a prostitute…Rahab–saved in Jericho…then, there is a Moabites–Ruth, and don’t forget Tamar, who tricked her father in law into conceiving a son with her.  This is the bloodline of Jesus! The great grandmothers of Jesus, are in desperate need of a Savior.

It’s amazing that Matthew even included women in the list, because in that day and time the culture did not recognize women in their ancestry at all, it only went through the men!  What a pedigree Jesus has!  Herod the Great was known to actually blot certain people out of his genealogy because he was ashamed of them and didn’t want people to know there was any relation, yet  here, Jesus, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, claims them all, regardless of what they had done! Praise God!

Jesus was not coming to prove His worth to anyone, or pad His resume so He could advance up the ladder of power and wealth.  Jesus came for a very real and messy problem, and that problem was sin.  The Bible says, “All fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23.  This verse could not be more clear than by the very bloodlines of Jesus!  The closest relatives of Jesus, needed Him desperately to save them from their sins.

I love that the family of Jesus included both Jew and Gentile.  We are all God’s hand made creation which started in the Garden of Eden, and He loves us more than anything.  God loves us so much, that He came Himself, not trusting us to anyone else, “…. for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”  God came Himself, “… and they shall call His name Immanuel, which means, “God with us”- Matthew 1:22-23.

We need Jesus, pure and simple.  Our bloodlines and our lives are just as messy, if not messier than the ones listed here in the beginning of Matthew, but know this:  THERE IS HOPE and His name is Jesus!  Jesus was born of a virgin, Mary, and grew in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man.  Jesus lived a perfect life, and performed many miracles, but that is not the reason He came.  Jesus came, to die, to save us from our sins.  Jesus came to bring peace between God and man where there had been enmity.

God loves you too much to leave you to your own devices, so He came and poured out His extreme wrath on Himself since you and I were not created to carry such a burden.  Jesus died so we can live.   “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” Romans 6:23.

In this season of gift giving, I pray that you would receive the greatest gift of all, and that gift is the very forgiveness of God.  It can be  hard to receive because we like to be the giver, we like to be in control, but this gift will always be out of reach and cannot be earned.  There’s no buying it with your Amazon Prime membership, so God has freely given it, and it is Himself.  We are created to walk with God, to know God and to need God–it’s not a design flaw.  Oh that this Christmas you would accept that gift found under the tree, the tree of life, which is the cross.

The reason for the season is that Jesus came to save us from our sins.  May this acceptance of the precious gift of God be forever in your bloodline from here on out.

Step 3

APPLY IT:  Do you know your desperate need for a Savior to save you from your sins?

When have you received the gift of God?  Have you ever asked Jesus to forgive your sins?  Did you realize that sin was the entire reason Jesus came?

Will you receive this gift today? Now?

LIVE IT OUT: Today I will stand amazed at the love God has for me!  Oh that He came Himself, not trusting me to another, to live a perfect sinless life, to die a sinners death, and then to rise from the grave!  Today may I count my blessings that I know Jesus!

Today, if you have never accepted that free gift of God, pray a simple prayer today, “I believe You came Yourself, God with us, and Your name is Jesus.  I pray you forgive me for my personal bloodline full of sin.  You lived a perfect life, died a sinners death for me and then rose from the grave!  Thank you for forgiving me!  Teach me to walk with You.  Amen.

___________________________________________________________

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

If you’re in the local area and can attend our free annual Women’s Bible Study at The Cove, here in Asheville beginning in January 2017, we’d love to see you.

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:

PRAYER NOTE: DECEMBER 2016

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

Prayer Note(3)By Donna Riesen

THE PERFECT CHRISTMAS

Some of the most priceless moments of every Christmas celebration involve imperfections. Think back on all the church Christmas programs you’ve attended. Did any of the more memorable scenes involve mishaps or bloopers? If those amateur holiday productions were like most, a shepherd might have tripped over his staff, a wise man lost his crown or an angel forgot one of her lines. Yet we grin, applaud and cherish the memory of the sweet and endearing depiction of the Savior’s birth. Is there any better portrayal of the miracle of Christmas than seeing it through the eyes of a child?

The Christmas season is a study in contrasts. One evening a large and accomplished choir may stir your spirit and move your emotions with a dramatic performance of Handel’s Messiah, and the next night your heart melts as you open the front door to find a group of Christmas carolers from the junior high youth group singing a sweet though slightly off-key rendition of “Silent Night.”

Each December we’re given opportunities to travel back to Bethlehem and consider both the majesty and simplicity of the Incarnation. The miraculous story never grows old: The perfect, sinless, infinite Son of God taking on fragile flesh and coming to us in the form of a helpless baby. God’s perfect Son being born to a humble peasant girl in an obscure village, coming to bring salvation to a world marred by sin and imperfection. Majesty and simplicity merged to bring hope. If we wrote the script ourselves, we would welcome the King with flawless and beautiful surroundings. But we didn’t—He wrote it, and for a backdrop He rejected the perfect in favor of the imperfect. What could be more ordinary and imperfect than a stable and a makeshift bed of straw?

This Christmas, let’s ask God to help us find the miracle in both the majestic and the mundane. Let’s appreciate the beauty yet resist the temptation to measure our joy by the degree of perfection we can achieve. The tree may be slightly lopsided, with a gap in the middle. The gingerbread house may be leaning precariously to one side. And our actual home—filled with ordinary, imperfect people—may not look like the picture-perfect image of the harmonious family in the airbrushed magazine ad.

But “thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15, NASB). He came as our Immanuel… God With Us (Matthew 1:23, NIV), to bring His good and perfect gifts of peace, joy, salvation and hope right into the middle of our mess. If Christmas finds you lonely, tell it to the one who bore your griefs and carried your sorrows. (Isaiah 53:4). If the season finds you anxious and overwhelmed, allow your heart to be calmed by the one who is called the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). If Christmas finds you struggling with sin, admit it and confess it to the one who “knew no sin yet became sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). “He remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14). He came into our broken world, born in a dusty, dimly lit stable in order that He might one day deliver us from the filth of sin and the darkness of despair.

Seek to reflect the majesty of Christ this Christmas. Light the candles and hang the lights to announce that the Light of the World has come. Sing the timeless carols that tell the world of the joy He brings. Fill your home with reminders that God came in the flesh to make His home in our hearts. Then kneel and welcome Him. And if you notice the floor is a little dusty, thank Him for the reminder. The stable was dusty, too.

This December, please pray that the beauty of The Cove’s Christmas displays will honor and glorify the King of Kings whom we serve. Pray that those who come to celebrate His birth would sense His presence, feel His love, and be blessed and encouraged by every carol and hymn of praise that is sung. Pray that the Holy Spirit would empower and fill each flawed, imperfect person who serves Him on staff at The Cove. May He pour His strength into our weakness, and may the light of His presence shine through the cracks to reveal His glory. Oh come, let us adore Him!

“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen” (Jude 24-25).


Join us in praying for the following events in November:

Christmas at The Cove with Reggie and Ladye Love Smith and Friends — December 1, 2 & 3
(Emcee: Tom Bledsoe)

SeniorSalt Impact Carol Sings — December 5, 12, 13 & 14
(Emcee/Worship Leader: Ron Whittemore; Musician: David Gaines)

An Evening at The Cove with Tommy Coomes Band — December 5
(Emcee: Michelle Bachelor)

Women’s Christmas Luncheon with Karlene Shea — December 11
(Emcee: Patty Stump; Pianist: Kris Bartman; Special Music: Skylar and Luca Bartman by Faith Abiding)

Christmas at The Cove with Charles Billingsley — December 15
(Emcee: Michelle Bachelor)

Christmas at The Cove with Travis Cottrell — December 16
(Emcee: Michelle Bachelor)

Christmas at The Cove with Annie Moses Band — December 17
(Emcee: Michelle Bachelor)

Thank you for praying!

KENDRA GRAHAM’S ONLINE BIBLE STUDY — ESTHER 8:2, 7-8

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

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

Kendra Graham notes from :  Esther 8:2, 7-8

“And the king took off his signet ring which he had taken away from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai.  And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman. (7) So King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew, “Behold I have given the house of Haman to Esther, and him they have hanged on the gallows because they had stretched out his hands against the Jews.  Now, you write to the Jews as you see fit, in the king’s name and seal it with the king’s ring; for a decree which is written in the name of the king and sealed with the king’s signet ring may not be revoked.”

Step 1

THE FACTS:  The king took off his signet ring and gave it to Mordecai.  King said to Esther, “BEHOLD, I have given the house of Haman to Esther, now YOU WRITE as you see fit, in the king’s name, seal it w the king’s ring; a decree written in the name of king & sealed with signet ring may not be revoked.”

Step 2

THE LESSONS:

It matters what you do, it matters that you believe and act on the beliefs that you so passionately profess.

Here in the story, the climax has been reached: Esther has prayed and fasted for three days, she has stepped out in faith and trusted that God had given her the title of queen, “For such a time as this.”

Esther, risking her life walks into the throne room and after two banquets, she pleads for her life and the life of her people living in the Persian empire.  The king is incensed–who would dare try to kill his queen?  Killing the queen is tantamount to treason, an action worthy of death.  Haman is identified as the culprit.  Haman is promptly escorted out of the room with a bag placed over his head.  Haman will be hung on the very gallows he built to impale Mordecai, who is the enemy of Haman, but the hero of Jews.

Haman is gone, but the edict of Haman is still very much alive.  In just 9 short months, the Jews across the Persian empire will be slaughtered.  Esther has saved her own life from Haman’s hand, but now she continues to plead for the lives of her people.  The king must reverse the edict, the king must do something so that he saves her people, and in verse 3 we find Esther weeping and pleading at the king’s feet.

I LOVE the response of the king!!!  “Behold! I have given…”  I love the word “behold”.  Behold is a demonstrative participle which means the king is demonstrating (showing) Esther the power that she possesses.  The same power that Haman had in order to write an edict to destroy is the same power Esther has to protect and save.  Esther possesses the very power of the king to write an edict that cannot be revoked!

The king then tells her to GO AND DO IT!  GO! Esther, in the power of the king of Persia!  Go Esther!  The very words written on the page will be sealed with my signet, proving it is binding!  GO Esther!! YOU WRITE!  And there it is.

Think for just a second, what if Esther said, “Yeah, I hear what you are saying–I see the ring and all–and I hear you telling me that whatever I write you will stand behind it and “okay” it, but honestly, I just don’t believe it.  I like the ring and all, and I will wear it and show everyone that the king gave it to me and explain that there is just nothing that can be done for my people.  I tried.” #supercoolring #canthelp #sorry

THAT WOULD BE CRAZY!!!  The king had delivered the Jews, but Esther needed to step out and believe the power that the signet ring is endowed with.  Esther was charged, “You write,” and she did.  God delivered His people through the ring of a pagan king, because Esther and Mordecai wrote and completed the task set before them.

Can you hear the Jeremy Camp song playing in the background as you read this?

“The same power that raised Jesus from the grave!  The same power that commands the dead to wait, lives in us!  The same power that moves mountains when we speak.  The same power that can calm the raging sea, lives in us.  He lives in us.”

YES, THESE WORDS ARE SO TRUE! Let’s sing it!  BUT do you REALLY believe the words, or is it just a catchy tune?

All the promises in Jesus are yes and Amen (2 Cor 1:20)!  That means that ALL, ALL, ALL God’s promises are as if they are done and completed already in our lives!

We are free! 

We are #delivered!!! 

We don’t believe it.  Oh, I have faith for you, I believe God has delivered you, but me?  Often times I do not believe the  promises of God are yes and amen for me.

For such a time as this, it is time that we begin to STAND and, just as Esther was charged by the king, we must also “behold “and remember what we have been given!

Step 3

APPLY IT:  What would you do differently if you really believed that the very power that God used to raise Jesus from the dead really lives in you?

 Where has God called you to make a stand  or send out a statement, but you don’t believe that you have really been delivered?  Will you ask God to show you specifically?

Hint: It will always be hard, and more often than not, it will usually not be something you would have chosen yourself.  Faith is HARD… but it is how God proves to YOU that His promises are ALL yes and amen to you!

Have you gone to church for years, and profess to be a Christian but your life is not reflective of the power of Christ, but the fear of failure?

LIVE IT OUT:

Ephesians 1:18-19 — “I pray that the eyes of your heart (and mine) may be enlightened so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His (Jesus’s) inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.  These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which he brought about in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand.”

That same power is the desire of God to work through us.  Oh, how God wants to show us our faith is not in vain in the Lord (I Cor 15:58).

Today STAND, SIT, WRITE, PRAISE, WALK, RUN in VICTORY!  Believe, then go and do because you are free, you are #delivered.

___________________________________________________________

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

If you’re in the local area and can attend our free annual Women’s Bible Study at The Cove, here in Asheville beginning in January 2017, we’d love to see you.

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:

The blog of the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove