Tag Archives: God

Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study – Psalm 62:3-5a

Kendra Blog Title

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

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

Kendra Graham notes from Psalm 62:3-5a

“They have counseled only to thrust him down from his high position; how long will you assail a man, that you may murder him, all of you, like a leaning wall, like a tottering fence?  They delight in falsehood; they bless with their mouth, but inwardly, they curse.  Selah.  My Soul waits in silence for God only.”

Step 1

THE FACTS:
How long will you assail a man, murder him, like a leaning wall, tottering fence?  They counsel: thrust him down, they delight in falsehood, they bless with their mouth, inwardly curse.  Selah.  Wait in silence for God only.

Step 2

THE LESSONS:

There is the saying, “Good guys finish last”.  That is the saying that brushed through my mind when I first read these verses.  It’s the crooked business men/women that seem to get ahead.  It’s the people who have no boundaries and no conscience that get whatever they want.  Just turn on cable news for a solid 60 seconds and you can hear multiple political smears between candidates calling each other liars and thieves.  It’s hard to make it nowadays if you are determined to live a life with integrity.  It’s impossible to make it in politics.

David is asking these men, “How much longer will you try to press me down? How much longer will you try and try and try again to destroy me?”  Lies are being said about David in public.  Flattery is being given liberally in the presence of David.  Envy, jealousy, and hatred is the root cause of why these men are trying to bring him down.  David sees through it all with discernment.   What does he do to deal with these people?  Does David take it to the papers in an op-ed?  Does David do a sit down personal interview on Fox News Sunday to set the record straight?  No.  David pauses.  David pauses? Who has time for a pause at a time like this?!

SELAH, is a musical term for pause.  Our immediate reaction is to try to set the record straight.  David’s first reaction is to pause.  Pausing is so important.  It’s the hardest thing to do in the world.  Pausing makes us look guilty, right?  Pausing will make people think we are involved in all those things we are being accused of.

Pausing helps us gain focus back on where we need it to be.  Pausing gives us a moment to reflect.  Pausing will enable us to make clear decisions.  Pausing, most importantly, gives us that crucial moment to recalibrate our heart and soul back to God, His Word and His promises.  This is not easy peasy for David either.  You hear his complaints, you hear what is against him, and David is not just ignoring it, and saying it doesn’t matter, he’s not saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”.   It matters to him what is being said and done against him.  It truly matters, and it hurts, deeply.

Can you relate?  I can.  I want to fight, and scream and yell on David’s behalf (and my own) and make it right, and make those people see their error, so that they will be silenced.  David’s reaction is not to silence all the rumors, not to silence all the lies, not to silence the rotten flattery in his face, but David’s response is to be silent himself, determined to wait for God to move and to do.

David makes the physical decision here… his heart, telling his brain to tell his mouth and body to be silent. ugh.  Sorry… that is hard stuff.  I’m thankful we get to read and see here, that even David struggled with this.   There is no way to actually do this without the power of God.  We have to get in His Word, know His promises, and then believe them.

God never seems to work in the time frame or in the way we would like or demand.  His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9).

Step 3

APPLY IT:

Will we put our trust in the fact that God has got a firm grip on our circumstances, and the beat on the street?  Will we set our heart to tell our brain to tell our body to *pause* and mouth to be silent and wait for God?  ugh.  *sigh*  Sorry… that is just my natural reaction.  This is hard stuff.

SELAH.

LIVE IT OUT:

LORD, help me to pause today, and trust that You understand and know, and as things according to me are falling apart… perhaps truly they are just falling into place. Give me the strength to pause and believe You over everything else.

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What Scripture are you studying now? What have you learned? How has the Lord spoke to you? Share with us in the comments section.
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To see more of Kendra’s Bible Studies, click here.

Kendra Graham’s Bible Online Bible Study – Psalm 62:2

Kendra Blog Title

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

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

Kendra Graham notes from Psalm 62:2: 

“He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.”

Step 1

THE FACTS:  My stronghold. I shall not be greatly shaken.

Step 2

THE LESSONS:

When I read this verse, the portion that stood out to me was, “My stronghold.” A stronghold is something that has an overwhelming grip in a person’s life. We all have strongholds in our lives, and if asked, we can probably name a few without having to think too hard: shopping, eating, gaming, surfing the internet, exercising, toxic relationships, drugs (illegal and prescription), smoking, alcohol, TV, iPad/iPhone, money, work… one day we wake up and realize that our thoughts, actions and days are obsessed with certain things…. these things have a stronghold on us…. some good, some bad.  It seems to me though, that the bad things seems to reach their tentacles in deeper, farther and faster than the good things.

Here in Psalm 62, David is saying that God is his personal stronghold. David won’t be shaken, because the Eternal God is his refuge, the place he runs to hide…. if you are like me, I tend to run to places like denial or the couch to take a nap and pretend like everything is fine, first, and then I will call a friend or two and tell of the injustice that has come my way and who is to blame. After I am done shaking my fist and raising my voice, I will then come up with a creative solution, instead of patiently and quietly enduring, focused on God’s Word trusting that He’s got this. God and His Word tend NOT to be our stronghold and refuge, but our last resort.

What I also like about this verse is that David says not only is God His stronghold but that, “I shall not be greatly shaken.”  David is not in denial about the fact that he is human, and that there are going to be those moments when you receive that phone call that devastates you, or receive that diagnosis, or have that meeting with your employer that crushes your spirit into a million pieces, or that circumstance that cruelly enters your life without rhyme or reason and literally shakes you and sends your life, heart and mind whirling.  There are things in this life that will shake us to the core and David’s life is not a life of exception to that.  Life events will happen and David will wobble, David will stress, David will be concerned, and I like that.

Sometimes we look at these awesome pillars of faith in the Bible, and we think they are superhuman–we rationalize, “Well, I’m not David… it was easier for David, because he was a man after God’s own heart.”  We give ourselves an out, because God must have been more visible to David than He is to me in the moment.  That is not true.  God was visible to David because David made a choice to make God his stronghold, to make God’s Word the place he ran to first, not last.  David, on purpose, set his heart and his mind to believe regardless of external factors! David repeated to himself in and in his personal journal of thoughts that God is who God claims to be in His Word, and David would tell himself over and over again, saturating himself with #Truth, because being shaken, well that is just a fact of life.  God is his rock and his salvation, not anything or anyone else.

We will be shaken by life.  Where you and I run to matters.  You are not alone.  You have not been set out to dry.  You and I have a place of refuge, a place of safety, a place to run and be protected and that is in the arms of God who loves you and I so much He came personally, in the form of a man, not trusting us to any other, so that He could be our personal stronghold.  Gird yourself on purpose in the strength of God’s Word.

Step 3

APPLY IT:

How have you been shaken? Where have you run to in order to find solace, peace and strength to face the storm of uncertainty?  What can be described as the stronghold in your life?  Is it the Word of God?

LIVE IT OUT:

Today…. life is hard…. uncertain…. certain elements are crushing… LORD, be my stronghold. Strengthen me according to Your Word and Your unchanging character.  Help me to deliberately place my trust in You.  Give me a testimony of Your refuge and protection.

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What Scripture are you studying now? What have you learned? How has the Lord spoke to you? Share with us in the comments section.
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To see more of Kendra’s Bible Studies, click here.

GUEST POST: Why Does God Allow Suffering

With the devastating massacre in Newtown, Connecticut Friday morning, many are asking themselves how could a loving God allow something like this to happen?  A frequent speaker at The Cove, Chip Ingram with Living On The Edge Ministriesreveals Bible truth about God’s perspective on how to overcome painful emotion and circumstances.

By Chip Ingram

“One of the most difficult issues in the world is the issue of suffering. Most everyone has probably asked at one time or another: “Why is there suffering – and if God is good and if God is powerful, then how can there be such evil and suffering in the world?”

This is a very big question that really warrants a much longer answer, but here is part of that answer in a nutshell: The issue for us is that this world is not what God originally created. When Adam and Eve sinned, the world became a fallen place where evil reigned. And this fallen state continues today.

Although it’s natural for us to ask this question especially when we are in the midst of a difficult situation or trial in your life, if we continue to ask the “why God?” questions, then we will get stuck in our pain and frustration. The purpose of this article is not to list all the reasons why a good and sovereign God can allow such difficult and painful things to happen in this world. And even if we did, there are some things in this life we may never know or fully understand.

But here is what we can know for sure: God is infinitely good, He has His children’s best interests in mind, and He wants to help us get through our difficult circumstances.

So, this is the game-changer: When you’re ready, stop asking “why?” and start asking, “what?” For example, ask God, “What do you want me to learn?” Or, “God, what do you want to do in me through this difficult time?” Or even, “God, what good could come out of this, if any? What do you think about this situation?”

There’s some deep theology to explore that is behind learning to ask “what?” but for now, we can be confident that when we do ask it, God will lead us to the right spot.”

Click here to visit Chip’s website.
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Please join us in prayer as we lift up the families, friends and the entire community of Newtown during this heartbreaking time.  “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”  Psalm 34:18 

Click here for information on Chip Ingram’s seminar at The Cove on May 24-26, 2013, Spiritual Simplicity: Doing Less, Loving More.

The God With Scars

By James Emery White 

James Emery White, pastor in Charlotte, NC and author, will be teaching on Living as the People of God in Turbulent Times at The Cove on October 24-26, 2012.

 One of the first things that happens at a violent crime scene, after evidence has been collected, is the removal of any and all signs that violence has taken place. Broken glass is swept up, blood is wiped away, bodies are covered up and removed. Everyone wants to do everything possible to keep the memory of the event from lingering in their minds.

 

Not God.

In the Book of Revelation, John comes face to face with a scroll, sealed with seven seals, that no one is worthy to open.  Weeping that no one could open the scroll,  and that the very heart of the revelation would be kept from him, John is told that there is one who can open it—the Lion of the tribe of Judah. When John looks for the Lion, he instead sees a Lamb in the center of the throne. The Lamb is alive but bears all the marks of having been slain, suggesting that its death is somehow part of its power (Revelation 5).

Why is a previously slain lamb at the center of John’s heavenly vision? Why is a unique word used for lamb found 29 times in Revelation, but only once in the rest of the New Testament? (John 21:15). How can a lion of power be found in a lamb?

To understand all of this involves understanding the Passover. During the time when the Jewish people were enslaved by the Egyptians, God sent the deliverer Moses and unleashed 10 plagues before the stubborn hearts of the Egyptians would allow the release of the Jewish slaves. The tenth and decisive plague was the death of the fi rstborn of Egypt.

The sacrifice of an animal was a common way for people of that culture to make amends for their sins. It sounds strange to us today, but there was a very important idea behind it. They saw sin as something serious, deadly and gruesome, something that could cost them their life before a holy God. So it was only through some type of atoning, sacrificial death—something equally serious, deadly and gruesome—that the sin could be addressed.

God told the Israelites that if they would sacrifice an unblemished lamb—one without defect, perfect in every way—and then take the blood from the lamb and spread it on their doorposts, the angel of death that was being sent to deliver the tenth and final plague would pass over them, hence the term Passover.  The Israelites did as God said. The angel of death came, the firstborn of Egypt were killed, and the Israelites who had covered their homes with the blood of the lamb were saved. It had such an impact on the leaders of Egypt that they released the Israelites from slavery.

Jews have been celebrating the festival of Passover ever since as a reminder of God’s deliverance from death, and the freedom that came from that deliverance, through the blood of a lamb. The festival came to be marked each year with the slaughter of a lamb that would then be eaten, along with unleavened bread, in remembrance of the quick departure from captivity in Egypt that did not afford them time to add yeast. But even more important, the taste would remind them of the bitterness of the slavery that the blood had released them from.

Just before His death, Jesus gathered His disciples together to celebrate the Passover, but with a twist: “[Jesus] took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This  cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you’” (Luke 22:19-20).

Jesus gave the bread and wine new meaning. It would now represent Him as the unblemished Lamb that was sacrificed. Those marked by His blood would be freed from the slavery of their sin and would be passed over from the spiritual death that comes from sin. Through Jesus, “This was one death that was not to be airbrushed from the world’s consciousness. Instead, it was to stand at the center of human history, for we worship, as theologian Jurgen Moltmann once wrote, a crucified God.”  God was calling His people out of a deeper slavery than ever existed under the Egyptians—the very slavery of sin—into a new community in relationship with the living God.

This was one death that was not to be airbrushed from the world’s consciousness. Instead, it was to stand at the center of human history, for we worship, as theologian Jurgen Moltmann once wrote, a crucified God.

Any other God is false.

Even when facing a doubting Thomas, Jesus relied on one mark of authenticity: See my hands, see my feet, look at my side. I am the One that was crucified.

And that led Thomas to exclaim, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).

It reminds me of the controversy surrounding the violence portrayed in Mel Gibson’s film on the passion of Jesus. There was a great deal of conversation about the brutality, the torture, the blood in the movie. “It’s so violent,” people said.

I wanted to say, “Yes, because it was.”

The film was rated R, and it deserved that rating—but I would argue that the R stood for Realistic.  I would have been more offended if the film had tried to water it down, sanitize it or make what Jesus went through something less than it really was.

Scars matter. When you pray to a Lamb that was slain, a crucified God, you pray to One who is able to understand your scars.

I once read of a little boy who went shopping for a puppy. He went into the pet store and asked how much the dogs were. The owner said that they sold for anywhere from $30 to $50. The little boy pulled out $2.37, all that he had.

“Here is all of my money. I don’t know how much it is, but it’s worth it.”

The store owner knew it wasn’t enough, but he let the little boy look at the puppies anyway. He looked at all of them, but at one in particular: the runt of the litter, which had a limp. The boy asked the owner what was wrong with that dog, and the owner said that he was born without a hip socket.

“That’s the puppy I want!”

“Son,” the owner said, “I can’t sell you that dog. He’s not worth it.  I’ll just give him to you for free.”

Tears filled the little boy’s eyes.  “Mister,” he said, “that dog is worth as much as any other animal in this store. You take my money.”

The owner did, and only as the boy walked out did he notice that the boy had an artificial leg.

Let us now and always worship the Lamb that was slain, the crucified God. But remember that you get to pray to Him, too. And when you do, you can trust that He understands whatever is making you limp.

This article is from the June 2012 Decision magazine.

James Emery White’s seminar titled Living as the People of God in Turbulent Times takes place at The Cove on October 24-25, 2012.  Call 1-800-950-2092 or click here for more information and to register.

True Freedom

By Will Graham

I believe that most of us who have placed our faith in Jesus would agree that we have found the cure for the heart problem that ails the world. We’ve experienced the peace that passes all understanding, while every day we watch others sinking in despair with their hearts far from God. Sadly, it’s rare when we actually seize the opportunity to toss a rope to the man or woman beside us who is drowning in their hopelessness.

I was recently reminded why it is so important to not miss these chances to reach others when God offers you the opportunity. I was speaking at a weekend Celebration in Terrell, Texas, just east of Dallas. My good friend and ministry partner Todd Pierce, a rodeo cowboy, came down from Idaho to share his testimony from the stage of what Christ has done in his life.

On Saturday, the second of the three days of the event, Todd was preparing to come over to the Performing Arts Center where the Celebration was being held. As he pulled up to a stop light, he saw a man by the side of the road asking for spare change. God moved in Todd’s heart, and Todd pulled his car off to the shoulder of the road and waved the man over.

Todd invited him to the Celebration, and – after hearing what the man had to say about “those Christians” – convinced him to come along. The man quickly went off to find his brothers, and the three of them returned and climbed into the back of Todd’s car.

I had no idea that any of this was taking place while I was backstage preparing to preach on youth night. That evening, when I offered the invitation for the young people in the crowd to make a commitment to Jesus, I quickly noticed the full head of gray hair making its way down to the front.

One of the three men that Todd had picked up – nicknamed “Freebird” after the Lynyrd Skynyrd song – heard the Gospel and, there in the Terrell ISD Performing Arts Center, prayed to accept Christ as his Lord and Savior.

Afterwards he told Todd, “They call me ‘Freebird,’ but I’ve never felt free in my life until tonight.” He couldn’t believe that people loved him and hugged him even though he was wearing dirty clothes and hadn’t showered.

The next morning, as our team met for devotions in the local Holiday Inn, we rejoiced at the work that God had done in Freebird’s life. We were grateful that Todd responded when he felt God calling him to pull the car to the side of the road.

As we closed our time together, we received word that Freebird was on his way to the hotel. He had decided that – having made a commitment to follow Christ – he wanted to be baptized as well! That morning, along with Todd and our emcee Mark Christian, I had the amazing blessing of helping to baptize Freebird in the Holiday Inn swimming pool.

When we asked Freebird – whose real name we learned was Fred – if he was going to come to Sunday afternoon’s final Celebration service, he declined. “No, I’m leaving right now to head home to Alabama,” he said.  “I called my wife and told her we’re kicking this alcohol thing, and we’re getting our marriage right.”

My friends, people need the Lord! Do you have an urgency in your spirit to share Him with others? Do you want to see people find true freedom in Christ? Do you believe that eternity is at stake?

When the Holy Spirit nudged Todd to stop alongside the road, he could have easily said, “I’m going to share my faith with thousands of people this weekend. I’m doing my part. I don’t need to do this too!” And when the man by the side of the road started bad-mouthing Christians, Todd could have driven away. But, of course, he didn’t do either of those things. Because of that, Freebird’s eternity – as well as his marriage and his life here on earth – has forever changed.

How often do we watch our co-workers, family, friends, and neighbors – even the man asking for extra change on the street corner – struggle through life without sharing with them that they can have true hope for eternity? We’re always too busy, or too timid, or – frankly – too jaded to share the love and peace we’ve found. Don’t miss those opportunities!

I pray that I never forget what Freebird taught me, and I pray that you too will be challenged to truly see that people need the Lord.