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By Will Graham
Epic battles, the prophesied deaths of an entire family, the earthly embodiment of the holiness and presence of God carried away by captors, a nation judged by the Lord – Nobody can say that 1 Samuel 4 lacks action and drama!
Last year at The Cove, I hosted a seminar in which we began the process of working through the entire book of 1 Samuel, verse by verse. We progressed through the first three chapters of 1 Samuel, and things were looking pretty good for Israel. Samuel was being used by God in incredible ways as the Word of the Lord went across the entire nation. We’re told that God did not let a single word of Samuel’s “hit the ground.” In other words, everything Samuel said on behalf of God was impactful and came to be because he only spoke when and what God told him to speak.
Now, when things are going really well, doesn’t it always feel like something negative must be lurking around the corner? You’re on the peak of the mountain, but you’re still surrounded by valleys of darkness. When we return to 1 Samuel for my seminar in August of this year, that’s where we’ll find Israel. Things are turning bad.
You see, God had already spoken against the priest Eli and his family in chapter three, saying He would do something so amazing it would make “ears tingle” in judgment of the sin in the house of Eli, particularly with his two sons.
That fateful day of judgment came in chapter four as the Israelite army went out to battle the Philistines. The battle raged, the Israelites were defeated and lost 4,000 men.
While the soldiers of Israel were tending their wounds and trying to figure out why they suffered such great losses, they had an idea. They would send for the Ark of the Covenant. It was almost like they were treating the presence of God as a magic box that would guarantee military success.
So Eli’s sons took the Ark of the Covenant from the temple into the battlefield, and – in fact – the mere presence of the Ark and the thunderous roar it drew from the Israeli camp did initially intimidate the Philistines. However, they readied themselves for battle.
When the fighting was over, 30,000 soldiers from Israel, as well as Eli’s two sons, were dead. Worse, the Ark of the Covenant was captured by the Philistines. It was a dark, dark day for Israel as the judgment of God fell upon it.
We’re told that Eli was anxiously waiting for word about the Ark; not about his sons, but about the Ark of the Covenant. A weary survivor ran back to Eli and told him his sons were dead and the Ark was captured. When he heard this, Eli – who we’re told was old and heavy – fell out of his chair, broke his neck and died.
His pregnant daughter-in-law, upon hearing that Eli and her husband had died, went into labor and gave birth to a son. The life began to slip from her as well due to complications from the birth, but with her last breath she named her son Ichabod, saying “The glory of God has departed from Israel.”
I know, this is some pretty heavy stuff, but have you ever noticed that we learn more about the love and hope of God as we go through hardship? I believe that will be the case with the lessons we’ll draw from the next few chapters of 1 Samuel.
We’ll look at parenting, for instance. Eli had two sons who were lost in sin, but he didn’t do anything to discipline them and bring them back to God. He’d speak against his sons, but he didn’t deter them. In some ways, he had become as bad as them. He had his choice of meat in the temple and had become spiritually lazy. We’ll look at being a good example for your children and grandchildren.
We’ll also look at the idea of Ichabod. What’s Ichabod in your life? In what ways does it feel like God has departed from you, and how can you get the glory of the Lord back in your life as it was in Israel before God’s judgment on the nation and the family of Eli.
And, of course, we’ll look at the holiness of God. You see, God’s judgment is real, and His holiness is not a joke. When idols were placed in front of the Ark of the Covenant, they fell and physically broke. When people touched the Ark, they died. In fact, the Philistines couldn’t even keep the Ark of the Covenant – their great trophy from battle – because God inflicted their people with tumors just for being near it and possessing it.
There is power in the holiness of God, and this seminar will be an opportunity to hear the Word of the Lord, allow it to work in your life, let it take root and turn you back to Him. We’ll see that God’s love for us compels Him to chase us, even through our own wickedness.
And, spoiler alert, by the time we get to the end of the seminar, the Ark will be back in Israel…
God bless you, my friends –I hope to see you in August!
Click here to register for Will’s seminar at The Cove August 15-17, 2014.
Watch here as Will shares his excitement on teaching from 1 Samuel.
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!
Kendra Graham NOTES from Nehemiah 4:13-15
WHAT DOES IT SAY? THE FACTS ONLY PLEASE.
In this step you need to list the outstanding facts of the passage. DON’T get caught up in the details, just list the facts. Do not paraphrase. Use the actual words of the passage. This is God’s Word, a lot of times this step seems tedious to some, but I urge you, as we read, and say and write God’s Word, it begins to sink deep into our hearts. If you just pick one fact out of the verse, write it down and meditate on it.
13: I stationed men in the lowest parts, exposed places, in families with their swords, spears, and bows.
14: When I saw their fear, I rose and spoke to the nobles, officials and people: Do not be afraid of them, remember the Lord who is great and awesome; fight for your brothers, sons, daughters, wives and houses.
15: When our enemies heard God had frustrated their plan, all of us returned to the wall, to his work.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN? THE LESSONS.
Look for a lesson to learn from each fact. What are the people doing that they should be doing? What are the people doing that they shouldn’t be doing?
Is there a command to follow? A promise to claim? A warning to heed? An example to follow?
13: Do not panic, don’t run, be courageous. Be on guard. Don’t live in denial, know where the weakness lies and fortify! Nehemiah’s people will not go out looking for a fight, but the people of God will be ready to make a stand if need be. STAND.
14: It is important to remember who we serve. He that is in us (me!) is greater than he that is in the world…. easy to say, hard to believe. It is important to remember what is at stake as well (our families’ present and future generations). The STAND you make and the STAND I make TODAY matters! Courage now.
15: Often times when the enemy sees it will not be an easy victory, and we will just not hand over the keys to the city and rights to our lives, the enemy will back down and we can get back to work.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO ME NOW? APPLY IT…. TODAY.
Take the lessons you learned and put them into the form of a personal question that you would ask your spouse, or a friend or your son or daughter.
As you write the questions, listen for God to communicate to you through His Word.
*Do not rush. Do not write things down just to have something on paper, this step takes more time that you may think. This is where Scripture meditation becomes real, this is where you begin to hear that still small voice speak to you, and place His finger in your life and begin to direct your paths…. this day, and the next, and the next. Do you trust Him enough to put into place that which He is moving you to?
13: Where has God placed me to make a stand? What places in my life, in my church, in my family, on the job, need to be fortified? Do I tend to respond in panic when attacks are imminent or do face them in the power and strength of God’s Word and promises?
14: Have I sidelined myself not thinking that what I may or may not do for God matters? When have I made a stand for Christ and when do I wish I had the courage to make a stand for Christ?
LIVE IT OUT!
Lord, help me today, where I am to be able to make a stand for You. Whether it is with my children as I break up an argument, or at work while my co-workers strike up conversation, or anywhere I may be. Give me confidence in Your Word and Your promises as I stand on them today.
Homework: Nehemiah 4:20-23
Get stuck? www.annegrahamlotz.com and Anne will walk through the Three Questions with you and help you along!
By Will Graham, Cove Executive Director and grandson of Billy Graham
On a daily basis I’m blessed with memories and stories of the many ways God chose to use my grandfather to reach people around the world over the course of many decades. Nearly everywhere I go people stop to tell me about how entire families and generations were impacted by his ministry. It’s humbling.
What many people may not know is that it almost didn’t happen. Everything we know of the ministry of Billy Graham from the late 1940s on – the massive stadium events, the evangelistic movies, the radio programs, the counseling of presidents and kings – hinged on a singular moment in history that took place at the California retreat center of Forest Home.
I visited Forest Home last year to get a fresh perspective on my grandfather’s story, and I’m returning there next week to speak at their annual Summer Family Camp.
As such, now seemed like the right time to share the story of the evangelist named Billy Graham, a discouraged young man searching for answers and direction in his life, unsure of God’s plan for him.
At the mid-point of the 20th century, he had already been an evangelist with Youth For Christ and had preached across Europe in the aftermath of World War II. He had held his first “Billy Graham Crusades” in places like Charlotte, N.C, and Grand Rapids, Mich. He was also the president of Northwestern College in St. Paul, Minn., the youngest college president in the country.
Not everything had gone as planned, however. His crusade in Altoona, Pa., had been – in his own words – “a flop.” It was spiritually difficult and he felt things had gone poorly, and it left him questioning whether or not evangelism should be his focus.
At the same time, a very good friend and contemporary of my grandfather’s, a man named Charles Templeton, had begun challenging my granddaddy’s way of thinking. Mr. Templeton, who had preached with Youth For Christ as well, had gone on to study at Princeton, where he began to believe that the Bible was flawed and that academia – not Jesus – was the answer to life’s problems. He tried to convince my grandfather that his way of thinking was outdated and the Bible couldn’t be trusted.
My grandfather had more questions than answers.
As a young man in his early-30s, all of these things were swirling in his mind when he traveled to California in 1949. Should he invest fully in the college, which he knew meant seeking further education for himself? At the time Northwestern wasn’t accredited, and for it to become so he – as president – would need to get an advanced degree, which would require taking several years off from preaching.
Should he leave the school and follow the calling of an evangelist, even though Altoona had gone so poorly?
Did he even believe the Bible from which he was preaching, or should he follow Templeton in questioning its validity?
It was at this time that my discouraged grandfather reluctantly accepted the invitation of Henrietta Mears to visit and speak at a Christian retreat center called Forest Home. Mears had worked at First Baptist Church in Minneapolis for Pastor Riley, who was also my grandfather’s predecessor at Northwestern, and she was a very well-known and godly woman. She would end up having a huge impact in Hollywood, Calif., as she served as the director of Christian Education at First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood. She took grief for inviting him to speak because he was not part of the camp’s denomination, but God had a plan in all of this.
As I toured Forest Home last year, it moved me greatly to walk the paths that my grandfather walked as he struggled with the Lord, and ultimately had the experience that would change the course of his ministry and the eternities of millions.
You see, while he was at Forest Home, he spent a great deal of time studying the Bible, and he kept seeing the same phrase pop up. “Thus sayeth the Lord… Thus sayeth the Lord…” While my grandfather had always accepted in his head the authority of the Scripture, this became the turning point as he realized in his heart that God’s Word is divinely inspired, eternal and powerful!
One night at Forest Home, he walked out into the woods and set his Bible on a stump – more an altar than a pulpit – and he cried out: “O God! There are many things in this book I do not understand. There are many problems with it for which I have no solution. There are many seeming contradictions. There are some areas in it that do not seem to correlate with modern science. I can’t answer some of the philosophical and psychological questions Chuck and others are raising.”
And then, my grandfather fell to his knees and the Holy Spirit moved in him as he said, “Father, I am going to accept this as Thy Word—by faith! I’m going to allow faith to go beyond my intellectual questions and doubts, and I will believe this to be Your inspired Word!”*
My granddaddy wrote in his autobiography that as he stood up his eyes stung with tears, but he felt the power and presence of God in a way he hadn’t in months. “A major bridge had been crossed,” he said.
The resulting change did not go unnoticed. The next day my granddaddy spoke at Forest Home, and 400 people made a commitment to Christ. Henrietta Mears remarked that he “preached with authority” that she hadn’t seen before from him.
This was August 1949, and mere weeks later Billy Graham would go on to hold the historic 1949 Los Angeles Crusade in the tent erected on the corner of Washington and Hill Streets. That outreach was scheduled to last three weeks, and ended up going for eight weeks as people packed the “Canvas Cathedral” and media outlets nationwide began talking about the upstart evangelist.
Because of that moment kneeling by a stump at Forest Home, I get to hear stories of lives changed through my grandfather’s ministry. Because of that moment, my father and I are invited around the world to share the same hope of Christ that my grandfather preached in Los Angeles and hundreds of other locations both near and far. That moment not only changed Billy Graham’s ministry. It impacted eternity.
*Just As I Am, Billy Graham, 1997
Click here for information on Will Graham’s seminar at The Cove Agust 15-17, 2014.
Have you ever been angry with someone and lashed out with hurtful words or actions you wished you could take back?
Have you noticed that sometimes it is the people closest to us are the first to catch the worst of our anger? Whether it be a spouse, your child, or a close friend.
Over the weekend, Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages, addressed the topic of anger in relationships as he ministered to 150 couples who were attending our military marriage retreat weekend. (Click here to see pictures from the weekend.)
Anger can be an issue in any marriages, but because of the unique nature of military marriages with long periods of separation and sometimes very little communication, this emotion rears its ugly head all too often. In an effort to provide helpful tools that can be applied to any relationship, Dr. Chapman shared the following 7 steps on how to respond to an angry person:
1. Listen to the person who is angry. Hear them out. Just LISTEN. James 1:19 tells us, Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. Try to remember that the person who is angry with you is angry because, in their mind, you did wrong. You will never get to the root of the issue until you listen and find out what is/has bothered the angry person.
2. Listen to the person who is angry. Yes, we are repeating step 1–that’s how important it is! In most cases, people don’t hear most of what was said the first time. In the heat of the moment, angry word poured it out to you, but you didn’t hear it all.
3. Listen to the person who is angry. Are you starting to get the gist of how important listening is? Listen at least 3 times. The issue will not be resolved until the angry person has been very clearly heard.
4. Seek to understand the angry person. Put yourself in their shoes and try to see the world through their eyes. You cannot have a proper understanding until you understand where they are coming from.
5. Express understanding to the angry person. Try a statement like this: “If I were in your shoes, I’m sure I would be angry also.” 6. Share additional information. You can now give your perspective on the situation. The benefit of this step is that through this process you are teaching others how to respond to an angry person. (This is also an excellent way to model healthy communication in front of your children.)
7. Confess any wrongdoing. Admit your wrongdoing if they have a legitimate reason for their anger. This step will also build trust. It’s a big step for most people to admit when they are wrong.
Active-duty, Guard and Reserve military service-members can attend seminars, concerts and retreats at The Cove at no cost. Click here for more information.
Click here to see what’s going on at The Cove in the coming months.
The beauty of God’s creation will never cease to amaze us here at The Cove. Both the doe and the butterfly were seen near the chapel this week.
As you go about your day, take a look around and notice the beautiful details your Creator has gifted you.
Have a blessed weekend!