Tag Archives: Bible Teaching

Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study — John 21:20-22

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

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

Kendra Graham notes from :  John 21:20-22

20. “Peter, turning around saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His breast at the supper and said, ‘Lord, who is the one who betrays You?’  21. Peter therefore seeing him said to Jesus, ‘Lord, what of this man?’  22. Jesus said to him, ‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.’”

 

Step 1

THE FACTS:  

Peter turned around and saw the disciple Jesus loved following them. Seeing him, he said to Jesus, “What of this man?” Jesus said, “If I want him to remain, what is that to you? You follow Me.

Step 2

THE LESSONS:   

Isn’t this just it? Jesus forgives us, restores us, sets us straight… then– in one moment– BAM! Our focus is lost. I see something shiny and I’m off in another direction in a minute. I like that these verses are in here. Peter struggled with the same things I did!

Jesus graciously and tenderly restored Peter, refocused him on his set purpose, and before the conversation was over, Peter was asking about John.  What about John? Peter had just learned that his purpose was going to be HARD, HARD, HARD–without much personal glory. Tending lambs and feeding sheep is a pretty thankless job; therefore, Peter may have been tempted to think of himself and all his hard work as insignificant. SO…what about John? Does he get platform? Prestige? Wealth? Or is John’s lot similar to Peter’s? Who gets the better calling and purpose? I am sure none of us have never done that!

I love the simple answer that Jesus gives, don’t you? It reminds me of the book in the Chronicles of Narnia series, The Horse and His Boy. The boy in the book sees Aslan the lion wound his friend. The boy is confused.  Aslan is supposed to be a good lion. Why would he injure like that on purpose? The boy asks Aslan why he hurt his companion. Aslan answers, “Child, I am telling you your story, not hers.” Isn’t this just it? Jesus is telling Peter his story, not John’s or Andrew’s or Bartholomew’s. Jesus tells me and you our individual stories, not the stories of our spouse or our children.

 Your life has purpose. Your life has incredible meaning. Your life is not insignificant like the enemy pleads for us to think. The purpose and meaning of your life is found in those same two words that Jesus told Peter: “Follow Me.”  It does not matter what anyone else has been called to do or not to do. What matters is that today, you and I follow Him. Get into God’s Word. Allow God’s Truth to focus you for the day. Truths are hard. Set your mind and your heart on them. Hear Jesus say to you in this moment, “Follow Me.” The choice, as always, is yours to make; but, oh, the places you will go and the miracles you will see, even in the mundane… if each of us will personally, individually choose to follow.

Step 3

APPLY IT:  

Have you ever compared what God has called you to do versus what God has called someone else to do? Have you ever thought you would have more success and do a better job if God called you to XYZ instead of ABC?

What will you choose this day? Will you choose to settle your heart into God’s Word and follow Him? Or will you lay down some options for your life that you need God to follow on your behalf?

LIVE IT OUT:  

Today, Lord, help me to keep my eyes on You… not looking around seeing how everyone else seems to have it together and I don’t. Help me to follow Your lead today for the entire day… then give me the strength to make the same choice tomorrow. Everything inside of me seems to always want to veer off the rails. Keep me focused.


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

Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study — John 21:18-19

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

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

Kendra Graham notes from :  John 21:18-19

“Truly, Truly I say to you, when you were younger you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you old you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.”  (19) Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.  And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.”

Step 1

THE FACTS:  

Truly Truly when you were younger you used to gird yourself, walk where you wished.  When you grow old someone else will gird you and bring you where you do not wish to go. This signifying what kind of death he would glorify God.  Then He said, “Follow Me.”

Step 2

THE LESSONS:   

Have you ever told God what you would and wouldn’t do for Him?  Some of us have ideas of what we’re fit for and what we would do if God trusted us with the spotlight.  Peter was no different.  Remember John 13:37…Peter announced he would follow Jesus to the death!  Peter was impulsive and thought more of himself than he ought to at that moment.  Peter is really no different from any of us, is he? Peter did what he wanted to do for Jesus in the way he, Peter, wanted to do it.

That very night, after Peter made his bold claim, he was humbled after his multiple denials of Jesus.  Peter wept bitterly (Matthew 26:75).  Peter’s arrogance in leading the disciples, and showing them how things were done, had evaporated, melted away in shame and guilt.  In Matthew 16:18, Jesus said that “Upon this rock, I will build My church,” meaning upon Peter, God would work to build His church.

Was Peter’s providential purpose over?  Was Peter no longer qualified?  How could such a big thing be done through a denying disciple? Would that purpose now fall to another person who didn’t make such a big mistake?

In John 21, Peter realized he did not agape (self sacrificing love) Jesus at all, but only had phileo (friendship).  This was a blow to Peter’s ego and he knew his denial of Jesus broke Jesus’s heart.  Peter is in pieces! Deconstructed all the way to the soul!

Ahhhh…NOW Peter’s heart is ready.

Jesus began the reconstruction process of Peter by publicly restoring him so that he and the disciples would know that he still had a purpose–a call on his life.  Peter’s providential purpose did not change because of what Peter did.

How many of us think we can change that purpose spoken over our lives by God Himself, because of something we do?  That is pure arrogance.  Peter was in need of restoration, and Jesus publicly restored his heart and reiterated his call! Peter had been #delivered from the guilt that his denials had on his heart,  and was #propelled to follow through with his purpose, for the church, that Jesus stated with all authority back in Matthew 16:18!  #Delivered and #propelled so Peter could tend the lambs and feed the sheep of the church in humility!  Leading through humility! It’s the opposite of what most of us think or want to do.  We want to be leaders, absolutely, but humility can find someone else to rest on.

Peter did things the way he wanted before the cross, and now after the cross, Peter would do things the way Jesus asked.  Peter went from following Peter’s ideas of what Jesus wanted, to following Jesus.  Jesus tells Peter that he will indeed follow Him to his death.  Peter will be bound as Jesus was bound.  Peter will glorify God in his life and his death.  A hard but encouraging Truth.

Jesus ends Peter’s moment of restoration with the same question He began with three years earlier,  Peter, “Follow Me.”  THE CALL NEVER CHANGES! Jesus will not force Peter to do that providential purpose He has for him, but simply asks and then waits for a response.  This is what it will look like Peter, are you in or out?

Today the question remains the same, to you and to me.  Jesus invites us to follow Him.  Will we follow, or will we choose to miss everything we were created for?  Do we want to give Jesus an approved list of things we are and are not willing to do? Or will we simply, day by day, just follow Him?  Do we prefer to lead in arrogance, trying to press God into our mold, or will we allow God to reconstruct us and restore us to follow Him and lead others in humility?

Don’t refuse to be restored.  Allow God to bring out what has been hidden so you can be #delivered, #restored to LIFE, and then #propelled to His purpose.  God’s purpose for you is a bazillion times better than your purpose for you… we just have to give up control and follow… bound to whatever and wherever He leads.

Step 3

APPLY IT:  

Are you fighting the restoration process because you would rather things stay hidden in the dark?

Sometimes we fight restoration because our lives are being choked by guilt.  Do you think you have ruined and soiled any purpose God may have had for you because of what you have done?  Are you willing to ask God what His purpose for you is, and then to follow as He restores you? Are you willing to allow God to #deliver you and then #propel you to His purpose?

Why are you fighting so hard against following Jesus?  Put honest words to it.

LIVE IT OUT:  
Today… Lord, help me follow where You lead.  Begin that restoration process on my soul, and as you begin to sand away the rough edges, and de-construct things to re-construct things… give me the courage to allow You to do so.  I cannot follow without Your strength, courage and love.  Help me to follow You in humility.

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

Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study – John 21:17

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

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

Kendra Graham notes from :  John 21:17

HE said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, Do you love Me?”  Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?”  And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things, You know that I love You.”  Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.”

Step 1

THE FACTS:  

He said the third time, “Simon, do you love Me?”. Peter grieved because He said the third time, and he said, “Lord, you know all things, You know I love You.”  Jesus: tend my sheep.

Step 2

THE LESSONS:   

We all fail.  We have things that we have spent a lifetime hiding in the deepest, darkest places of our souls.  As Christians, why do we hide these things away?  I hide them away because I know what a huge disappointment I have been to my Savior.  I have shamed His name, denied His power, and I want that as far removed from my life as possible.

BUT GOD…. don’t you love those two words?  BUT GOD, loves us enough not to leave our failures in the depths of the dark… but Jesus, who is the light of the world goes into the deepest darkest places and casts His light there… why? To shame us?  Do we not already feel enough shame about that already?  I mean, seriously, we are about to burst asunder with shame… No, the Light of Jesus is not to shame and demean us further or demand repentance, or force a promise never to do it again. Jesus’ desire is to heal us, redeem us, #deliver us and propel us to His calling and purpose.  Jesus knew Peter would never embrace what he was called to do if this situation was not dealt with once and for all.

Peter had denied Jesus three times the night of Jesus’s betrayal and death.  Peter who brazenly said in John 13;37, “… I will lay down my life for You” yet mere moments later, his lips vehemently denied the One he claimed to agape love.  This is hard.  This is something we can all relate to.  We have actions and words said in our lives that have vehemently denied Christ, and we wish we could erase them.  Since we can’t erase them, we leave them in the dark.

BUT GOD… came to Simon Peter here in John 21 and asked him, “Do you love Me?”  Jesus asked this three times for Peter’s three denials.  Jesus was asking Peter, “Do you agape me?”  Do you, Peter, love me more than your life?  Peter responded, “Yes, Lord, You know that I phileo You.”  Phileo is the love of friendship and affection, but not self sacrifice.  Peter was saying, “You know Lord… You know I failed at that agape thing… You know when the rubber hit the road, I ran.  How can I tell You agape now, when You know… You know all things.  You know the biggest word for love I can legitimately use is phileo.”  Here, in verse 17, Jesus  takes agape off the table and asks Peter, “Do you phileo Me?” and Peter responded, “I phileo You.” The verse says it–so grieved Peter to say it.  Now Jesus is agreeing with Peter? Uggg. Hurt. Deep regret.  Honest self awareness is HARD… we all fall short and we hate it (Romans 3:23).  (The Truth will set us free… but it will make us miserable first.)

BUT GOD…. ahhh,… Now that Peter is broken over his inability to agape, NOW Jesus in HIS GRACE reveals to Peter that in his weakness…in his failure…and in his brokenness he can now be given a high calling!!! “Feed my lambs.”  It is  not until we are broken in pieces and humble that those pieces can be food for the most precious commodity on God’s heart, which are His lambs.  It’s in our weakness that He is strong.  It’s in the bringing to the surface, that which was hidden in the dark for so long, that we experience true redemption and grace and then can speak of it for others.  It was the love of Jesus that broke Peter, not the justice of an angry God that demands payment for sin.

The love of God is stronger than the justice of God… I battled over that statement.  Here, at Easter time… it was God’s justice and holiness that required the cross, but it was the love of God–in Jesus, who endured the cross, despising the shame (Hebrews 12:2) that satisfied the demand for our sin.  God’s love for us is greater than His desire to punish us.  We see that here in John 21.  Jesus is not wanting to shame Peter, but allowed Peter’s wounds so that He could heal Peter and propel Peter to his calling.  Peter had to descend step by step down the ladder of humility so that he could rise to his purpose.  Humility not humiliation… Jesus humbles… our own pride humiliates.  We usually refuse both.

This Easter, at the cross, where the love of God trumps the wrath of God, where justice and mercy are perfectly met in completion, will you allow the Light of the world to bring to the surface that denial, that action, those words, so that you can be more than forgiven, you can be redeemed, restored and propelled?  You have a high calling on your life! Let it all come to the surface!  You are in the hands of a loving God.

God crush our hearts by Your love this Easter!

Peter did not hide his denial.  Peter was restored publicly and since that moment, has encouraged billions of people to know about it, so that those same billions could see the tender love of the Good Shepherd.  Peter is still feeding the sheep with his testimony which truly began with personal humility before a holy and loving Jesus… do you see that?  He refused to keep his failure, restoration or redemption to himself, he gave it to Jesus to do with as He pleased.  In our brokenness and humility, God can do whatever God wants to do with us and in that we become #propelled2purpose.

Step 3

APPLY IT:  

This Easter, will you allow God to have His way with whatever He wants?  Will you show Him your phileo love for Him as you give Him the right to use what He wants for His purpose?  Is there something keeping you from that intimate relationship with Jesus that you were created to have?  Will you, this Easter, open your heart and give Jesus open access?

LIVE IT OUT:  

Lord, we can’t… we can’t do this.  To allow You to use things that humble us is HARD… it’s soul hard! We spend a lifetime on reputation and image, but God, You made Yourself of no reputation and took on the form of a servant (Phil 2:7).  Lord, give me the strength to be humble so that You can propel me to Your purpose– not my own.


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

COVE BIBLE VERSE FOR WEEK OF March 27

This week’s verse is brought to you by:
Kent | Cove Guest Group Manager | 2 Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). 

SMALL_Kent_Bridges_Guest Group Sale Manager


Are you a Christian church or non-profit ministry looking for a place to hold your conference, retreat or ministry event?  Click here for more information on holding your event at The Cove.

Click here for a schedule of 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 — John 18:1-2

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

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

Kendra Graham notes from :  John 18:1-2

“When Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His disciples over the ravine of Kidron, where there was a garden, into which He Himself entered, and His disciples. (2) Now Judas also, who was betraying Him knew the place for Jesus had often met there with His disciples.”

Step 1

THE FACTS:  

Jesus had spoken these words, went forth with disciples over ravine, where there was a garden, into which He entered and disciples.   Judas betraying Him, knew the place, Jesus often met there w/ disciples.

Step 2

THE LESSONS:   

Night had fallen.  Jesus had taken time out with His disciples in the upper room, breaking bread with them and pouring wine, symbolizing what was to happen within the next 24 hours. Judas had left the last supper to go and do what he intended to do.  Jesus went forth.  Those are powerful words…  Jesus went forth, knowing what Judas was in the process of doing, knowing what was on the horizon, knowing that truly His body was going to be as broken bread and poured out wine…. yet…. He went forth.

Jesus and His disciples made their way through the city, out of the east side gate, over the ravine of Kidron, and into the garden.   Was there a chill or a dampness to the night as they approached the little brook there?  Did the disciples have to tighten their outer garments to keep warm?

The garden was in sight.  This was a garden place that the disciples knew well… ALL the disciples knew well, even Judas.  Jesus could have gone to a different garden… a different town… but no, this night, this is why He came, so He went forth.

How often had Judas met Jesus there?  What sermons, what individual chats did they all experience, there in that place that were not written for all of us to know?  How personal was this place to them?  To Judas?  Very personal… they knew it… the words are not… “Yeah… I think I know where you are talking about…” or “Let me pull that up on google maps”… Jesus met OFTEN there WITH them– THERE–His disciples, His best friends.  Have you ever wondered if the reason Jesus often met there, in that garden place, was to ensure that this moment, this night would happen?

You see, we desperately need Jesus to go through with this, or we are doomed.

Every person who experienced a miracle in the ministry and life of Jesus, needs Jesus to go through with this night, lest their infirmity be returned 100 fold…. we were not created to carry the burden of our own sin…. so Jesus went forth, leading the charge, not hiding from it, compelled by His great love for us–His handmade creation.

This particular garden is located on the east side of Jerusalem and in a few hours from this moment, Jesus will be drug from the east side of Jerusalem, and in the end will be lifted up high on a hill, on a cross on the west side of Jerusalem.  Jesus will complete it all, for all.  Sin will be put away as far as the east is from the west.  So, you see, we need Jesus to not shrink back here, and so Jesus went forth.

Jesus went into the garden that night, not only to pray for the strength needed, but He went to that garden–to that place–that night, to be found, by the one betraying Him.  Have you ever thought about that?  Jesus did not go to hide, He went to be found.  Jesus came to be found by you and me, so He shows up in places that we know well, so that we won’t miss Him.

I reflect back in my childhood all the way through today, and I see distinct places where Jesus was found along the way.  I see His providential hand moving the scenes even if I missed it at the time.  Jesus came to be found by you, too!  If you have never found Him, spend this time before Easter, in this period of lent, looking for Him, asking Him to open your eyes, so that you can see Him. Jesus endured this night, not to play some mystical hide-and-go seek game with you… but He went forth to be found.  Don’t miss Jesus this Easter!

I love those who love Me; and those who diligently seek Me will find Me. Proverbs 8:17

Step 3

APPLY IT:  

Where can Jesus be found in your life?

Will you ask Jesus to reveal where He is, if you cannot see Him?  Sometimes, it comes down to the fact of our pride… we don’t want to know because we want the excuse that God has abandoned us… but God with skin on went forth to be found this night in the garden… for you, and for me.  Let’s start fixing our hearts on the Truth, even if it’s hard.

LIVE IT OUT:  

Today, see where Jesus can be found in my life, whether it be in an ordinary or extraordinary place, and thank Him specifically for that.


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

Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study — Esther 9:29

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 9:29

“Then Queen Esther, daughter of Abihail, with Mordecai the Jew wrote with full authority to confirm this second letter of Purim.” 

Step 1

Your Extraordinary Call

THE FACTS:  

Queen Esther, daughter of Abihail, with Mordecai the Jew wrote with full authority to confirm Purim.

He sent letters to all Jews in kingdom of Ahasuerus, words of peace and truth.

Step 2

THE LESSONS:   

Esther was not just “Esther” she was “Queen Esther.” Esther had been queen for about 6 years at this time… it was not new, she just had no idea of the influence and authority she had been granted until she “selah-ed” … paused… simmered in who God is, what His promises are for her, and then stepped in the faith that God’s promises and His Word would hold.

It was in the stepping that she found that God had gone before her and had already #delivered her.  What did Esther already have that God wanted to use???  Well… in chapter 5 Esther put on her royal robes…. that was the start.  God was not going to use something she didn’t have… God had already #delivered her with something she DID have.  Here in chapter 9… Esther is finally stepping into the authority she was given and she used…. a pen.  Esther picked up that pen with ALL AUTHORITY… I love that she is daughter of Abihail… she is still that orphaned girl–an ordinary girl with an extraordinary calling–that picked up a pen and wrote with authority! Esther surrendered the ordinary she had in her hand to Almighty God and He made it extraordinary… drawing His people unto Himself.  Esther’s faith drew a nation NOT TO HER but to GOD!
God used a stick in the hand of Moses.  God did an awful lot through that seemingly ordinary shepherd’s stick, to again, draw HIS people to Himself.  In John 21, the disciples had a fishing net in their hands… God changed the use of that net for fish, to a net for men and began to draw a dying world to Himself.  God used their net, to bring His hand made creation to HIMSELF… not to the disciples.         Look what God can do through ordinary items that He has put in our hands!  The problem is that often we want in our hands what someone else has in their’s or we want the spotlight, and the glory for ourselves.  “If God would only give me “that”… well then I could really reach people for Him.”  Our focus is not quite right, often due to the lack of “selah” … a pausing to simmer in who GOD is, not who we think we are.There is an extraordinary call on your ordinary life.  Stop getting bogged down in believing your purpose is less than it is because all you have are the mundane repetitive things of life! Instead ask God to give a new meaning to your mundane!  Ask God to transform the mundane to extraordinary even in those little things you do.  Watch God use your mundane to draw your kids, your neighbors, your Sunday school class, or even that person your meet in the line at Walmart, to Him for His glory.In Ephesians 1:18-23, Paul pleads that we would know the hope of our calling, and greatness of the strength and power of Jesus on a personal level.  We have spiritual royal robes, that many of us have yet to don.  Oh that we would submit and surrender that which is in our hand, and see what God will do with it.  It will take courage.  It’s time to stand.  You are not alone. #deliveredwithpower

Step 3

APPLY IT:  

What is in your hand currently that God wants to use in an extraordinary way to draw His people to Him and His glory?

 Are you willing to ask God what is in your hand and then wait for Him to show you?

LIVE IT OUT:  

Today, do all, no matter how mundane for the glory of God with all the authority that He has given you as a child of the King.


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

Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study — Esther 9:26

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 9:26

“Therefore they called these days Purim after the name of Pur.  And because of the instructions in this letter, both what they had seen in this regard and what had happened to them, (29) these days of Purim were not to fail from among the Jews or their memory fade from their descendants.”

Step 1

#DELIVERED

THE FACTS:
Therefore they called these days Purim after Pur.

Both what they had seen and happened

these days of Purim were not to fail from Jews or memory fade from descendants

Step 2

THE LESSONS:   I can’t help reading this Scripture and remembering the verse in Genesis 50:20: “But as for you, you meant evil against me; BUT GOD meant it for good, in order to bring it about, as it is this day, to save many people alive.

Our current world is on fire… everywhere we look, there is trouble, heartache and uncertainty.  These Jews in Persia  understood these same things, all too well.   On a personal level, in our own lives, when we chunk down the “global-ness” of that statement… we too, understand and experience trouble, heartache and uncertainty.

If there’s one thing we have learned from Esther, it’s that we don’t know we need to be delivered, until we need to be #delivered.  The Jews needed #deliverance in Esther 1:1, but they had no idea until Esther 3:14.  God was already moving on the scene, working in the shadows–it was already done–but His people needed to walk it through.  In the process, they cried out to God, and if they were anything like me, they cried out with questions, fists and hot angry tears.  “Where are YOU?”  “God, you are NOT fixing this!”  “Have you forgotten us?” “Have you just forgotten me?”

It is so much more than just “fixing it” to God.  When God works, He works completely.  God usually doesn’t work in the way my little dust-fist demands, and thank goodness for that, because my insight and my vision are so minimal.  The longer we stay in bondage in a place, in a circumstance, with a particular guilt, to a particular person… we begin to think less– much less of God and His power to show up and break the chains.  SO God… loves us enough to walk us through the fire of refinement, pleads with us to press into His leading, and surrender to our own menial and small ideas of #deliverance.

Bear with me a second here–let’s go back to Haman for a minute…  The evil and pride that Haman committed had a multiplying effect… it reached first to his family (10 sons hung on the same gallows as he was), and then further… more death and destruction… for those who followed him in the Persian empire and led assaults on the Jews (no one can destroy what God has determined to protect and preserve).  Now, lets go back even further… King Saul, refused to surrender to the obedience of God, refused to humble before a holy God, and look: Generations later… Mordecai, his descendant, was pressed in the same way, yet Mordecai humbled himself and put on the sackcloth that his great-great-great grandfather refused.  Sin holds us in a vice and in a place of bondage that Jesus came to destroy (Luke 4:18).   Church! Christian! Let’s stop settling to pass on a legacy of #disobedience and #defeat.

Here, in Esther 9:26, God flips the switch: Pur meaning “lot”… was an appointed time to die, to be annihilated, to be destroyed–BUT GOD–turned around what was meant for #defeat into #deliverance, and we have Purim.  We have Purim because Mordecai surrendered and submitted to what God had called him to… Esther surrendered and submitted to what God had called her to… then the multiplying effect of surrender and obedience to God spread throughout the Persian Empire to the Jews and Gentiles alike (9:3-4).  This legacy of #surrender and #submission to God has spread through the ages and still to this day is not forgotten.  Pass on a legacy of #obedience and #deliverance.

Esther 4:14, God will still do what He has set out to do, God doesn’t need us to get His work done, but oh, how He desires for us to walk along with Him as He does it.  The choice remains with us, each and every one of us.  Does your personal obedience matter to God?  Yes.  And it matters to those who will come after you.  You have a providential purpose. God has placed a high calling on your life, not for harm, but for the glory of God (Jer 29:11). It matters what YOU do.  There’s a difference you can make, but the choice is up to you.  Will you be the one to refuse to live a life defined by your personal fear and #defeat?  Submit and Surrender to God, because God is faithful (Phil 1:6) to completely #deliver you from your guilt, unbelief, bitterness, unforgiveness, hatred, pride and even from your insecurity and insignificance.  You had a price on your head and it has been paid for by an Almighty God who loves you more than He loved His own life (John 3:16).

Let God take your story of #defeat in His nail scarred hands and transform it into a life of #deliverance.  From the beginning–from before you even knew you had a need–He knew, so He came to set you #free.  It’s time that we stop hiding in the shadows and start standing on the fact that we are #free…we are #delivered.

2 Corinthians 1:9-10:  “Indeed we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.  He has delivered us from such a deadly peril and He will deliver us again.  On Him (Jesus) we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us.”

Step 3

APPLY IT:  Will we allow our lives to be defined by the multiplying effect of #defeat or #deliverance?  What is preventing you from surrender and submission to God?  Is the call too painful?  Too embarrassing?  Too hard?  Too scary?  Too overwhelming?  We all have so many good reasons not to… so did Esther, but perhaps you have been placed here for such a time as this, for future generations to see that while it may look like you are at the door of #defeat, in reality, you are at the threshold of #deliverance…

LIVE IT OUT:  Today… surrender… submit to what God wants… help me today to walk through the fire, if You want me to.

#befree #bedelivered

God bless…

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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.  We will begin streaming LIVE each Tuesday evening around 7:15 p.m. ET (give or take a few minutes).

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.

Make sure to follow The Cove on Twitter and Periscope, so you will be notified when we go LIVE.  We are @TheCoveNC.

Saturday Snapshot – A Look at the 2017 Program Guide

The 2017 Program Guide is out and we’re pleased to share it with you today on video.

To have a Program Guide mailed to you, please click here and complete the online request.

Get registered today for one of our seminars, programs, or concerts. Click here for a schedule of upcoming seminar, concerts and retreats at The Cove in beautiful Asheville, NC.

If you’d like to hold your own event at The Cove, click here for more information.

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

Bless you, friends.  Have a wonderful weekend!

KENDRA GRAHAM’S ONLINE BIBLE STUDY — Esther 1:1a

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 1:1a

“Now it took place in the days of King Ahasuerus….”

Step 1

THE FACTS:  It took place in the days of King Ahasuerus…

Step 2

THE LESSONS:   It took  place in the days of King Ahasuerus…so what does that mean?  What were the days of King Ahasuerus?  King Ahasuerus was better known as Xerxes the great.  Xerxes ruled and reigned over the Persian Empire from 485bc-465bc.  Xerxes was a wicked and cruel leader whose motto was, “One world, one ruler,” and that one ruler was him.

God’s chosen people, the Israelites, find themselves in the midst of the Persian Empire as slaves to Xerxes–like 44% of the world found themselves at that time.  How did they end up there?  What happened to God’s promise to His people about having a land of their own?  God’s people conquer in the book of Joshua, but here in Esther they are conquered.

God’s chosen people were to obey and follow God, and if they did, God would bless them, but if they did not, God would send them into exile to discipline them and bring them back to Him.  Israel obeyed for awhile, but then… they stopped.  God was true to His Word.  King Nebuchadnezzar came in to Jerusalem, and in 536bc, wiped the city out.  Remember, Daniel and his friends were taken and in Daniel 1:1 they firmly decide not to defile themselves… they decide to go vegan before vegan was a trend.  Daniel and his friends were found to be more fit than all the other captives, so they get to keep their diet.  God shows Daniel and his friends favor.  Daniel ends up being a confidant to not only the Babylonian kings, but to the Medes and the Persians as well.  This is unheard of!  #ThefavorofGodisreal.

Daniel is a prophet and tells the people that God will allow them to return to the land of promise after 70 years of captivity.  Darius (Xerxes father) releases God’s chosen people to return back to their land of promise.  Less than 1/4 decide to go back… and now… here we are… the days of King Ahasuerus…

Soooo why did the Israelites not return?  God had CLEARLY called His people to be led by Him to their land given by Him.  Was Persia such a fabulous place?

It’s easy to point our fingers and judge for sure… there was a time in my life when I read this book and did just that… judged them.  I mean seriously… if they had returned like they were supposed to then there would be no need for Esther to risk her life… but no… they are disobedient, stiff necked people.  Yep.  So am I.

Would you have gone back?  I mean, you just got that promotion at work… your kids just got into the best school system… 1st world amenities…to go where?  Last time they heard about Jerusalem it was burned to the ground, completely destroyed.  No indoor plumbing?  Having to boil water over a fire?  What school system was in place there for your kids so they could have a shot at some sort of future?  Yeah… none.  It’s not like they could site visit and then if they didn’t like it, return over the long weekend.  You go–you stay.

Oh… so “God” had called them out?  Well…. where has God been these past 70 years?

God has been SILENT–that’s where God has been.

NOW God wants us to give EVERYTHING up and follow Him?  Trust that His Word is true for me and my family?  Hmmmm…. wow… now that my friend, is quite a gamble isn’t it?  And THAT is where we find ourselves today… not so far off from those Israelites in 536bc.  That very same calling is on our lives… TRUST that God’s Word and His promises are true and will hold…. for me.  There it is.  In the days of Ahasuerus… God’s people found themselves still living in exile… because it was hard to gamble it all on the fact that God is who He says He is.  We don’t know we need to be #delivered until we need to be delivered.  The Israelites needed #deliverance… so in chapter 1 Almighty God was going to work on that.

Step 3

APPLY IT:  SO, what say you?  Has God placed a calling on your life that you have put on the back burner?  When things calm down, when I’m more economically stable, when my kids are out of the house…  What is keeping you from going all in?  What is preventing you from believing and taking God at His Word?  Will God really be faithful to you?

Maybe God has been silent for YEARS… and now… you are to just believe His Word will hold for you in your desperate situation?  Has God allowed a desperate situation in your life so you have no options left on the table except to trust Him?

When has God shaken you to wake you up to your need?

LIVE IT OUT:  Today… help me to surrender the battle I face at the feet of Jesus.  Help my unbelief and #deliver me.

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If you’re in the local area and can attend our free annual Women’s Bible Study at The Cove it started last week, but it’s not too late to join us!  We’d love to see you in person.

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.)


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.  We will begin streaming LIVE each Tuesday evening around 7:15 p.m. ET (give or take a few minutes).

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.

Make sure to follow The Cove on Twitter and Periscope, so you will be notified when we go LIVE.  We are @TheCoveNC.

UPDATE from January 10th study (last week): Friends, we had major technical difficulties with the LIVE streaming.  We are chatting with the tech people at Periscope and Twitter and hope to have it up and ready to go next week.  We apologize for any inconvenience.  Please pray this will get figured out.

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.

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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:

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.