Tag Archives: Online Bible Study

Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study — Matthew 26:56

Kendra Blog Title

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

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

Kendra Graham notes from :  Matthew 26:56

“But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.  Then all the disciples forsook him and fled.”

THE FACTS:  

All this was done so Scripture of prophets be fulfilled. All the disciples forsook Him and fled.

Step 2

THE LESSONS:   

We were hand made by God to walk with God, know God and need God… but sin separates us from Him… So He came Himself, not trusting us to another, to make things right. Romans 5:17

Jesus was bound in the Garden of Gethsemane and led to the house of Caiaphas, where the scribes were already assembled.  Jesus was led down the mountain, across the Kidron Valley, and up the ancient steps to the house of the High Priest.  Was that night especially dark?  Was the only light on the path, the light from those arresting Jesus?  I wonder if even the insects and the nocturnal animals chose to just stay in that night?

Jesus was arrested in the cover of darkness, where injustice and evil prefer to reside undetected by the light.  Jesus even asks them why they took him in the cloak of night, when daily He taught in the temple, and at any time they could have seized Him in the light of day.  The question went unanswered.

There was a group already assembled at the house of the old High Priest, Caiaphas.  No wake up call in the middle of the night needed, it was as if everyone was on the same group texting thread and court was in session before Jesus arrived, like it was the norm…. away from the cameras and questions that would have been asked during the day.  The first three, of six trials of Jesus would take place in the middle of the night.

Jesus was alone.

The verses, here in Matthew, say that all His disciples fled and forsook Him.  None of them stayed to fight the mob.  None of them stood in great faith.  You see, the closest disciple of Jesus needs Him to die on that cross and rise from the grave just as much as the worst of sinners does.  The Bible says, “we all have sinned” – Romans 3:23.  It’s at this point that you see why God had to come personally.  God could not trust this part, His suffering and death to just anyone.  All of us would flee… BUT GOD loves us so much that He came personally, while we were enemies against Him, and died for us — Romans 5:8.  The wages of sin is death – Romans 6:23.  Someone has to pay that wage.   We were not created to pay that debt or bear the wrath of God, so God bore it Himself — alone.

This past May, as I ascended those ancient steps to the house that is historically accepted to be that house of Caiaphas, my soul was stirred as I saw Psalm 88 in a new light.  This house has been excavated in layers which shows that the “house” was much more than just a home:  There is evidence of living quarters, but also, the size and how it is laid out shows that perhaps it was also used much like a governmental building of sort.  It was much too big to just be a home, but what was found below was much more telling.

Kendra and Will Graham at the bottom of the ancient steps
Will and Kendra Graham on the ancient steps to Caiaphas’ house.

As you arrive, you enter a courtyard.  Today there is a church built on this location.  As you enter the church and begin to descend down, you see evidence of holding cells, or a small prison, which would not be a stretch to imagine that the home of the High Priest would have held religious prisoners.  The Jewish leaders were allowed to hold prisoners, they were just not allowed in Roman control to execute them.

Caiaphas Courtyard where Peter denied Jesus 2
Caiaphas’ courtyard, where Peter denied Jesus.

In this dark base of the home, there are holes cut out in the rock where leather straps would have been affixed to strap arms of the prisoners above their heads a little wider than shoulder length apart.

Prison with leather straps where they would tie up prisoners or bind them
Prison, with leather straps hanging from the ceiling, where prisoner would be bound.

In this pit there was a place of solitary confinement where they would put the worst of the criminals.  In this pit, there is a small hole from above, where the bound prisoner would have been lowered down into complete darkness.  There would be no escaping if someone was placed here.  Between the Jewish trials and the Roman trials, there was a period of waiting for the palace to awaken and be ready for business.  Is it too much to think, that Jesus could have been lowered into that pit, to await His trial before Pilate?

Pit

Underground cave info

When we descended down to the bottom of the pit, in what is believed to be the house of the high priest, silence overtook us.  Here in this pit we read Psalm 88 aloud, with the aid of a small light:

LORD, You are the God who saves me; day and night I cry out to you.

May my prayer come before You; turn Your ear to my cry.

I am overwhelmed with troubles and my life draw near death.

I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am like one without strength

I am set apart with thudded, like the slain who lie in the grave whom You remember no more, who are cut off from Your care

You have put Me in the lowest pit, the darkest depths.

Your wrath lies heavily upon me; you have overwhelmed me with all Your waves

You have taken from Me, My closest friends and have made Me repulsive to them.  I am confined and cannot escape;

My eyes are dim with grief.  I call to You LORD, every day; I spread out my hands to You.

Do You show Your wonders to the dead? Do their spirits rise up and praise You?

Is Your love declared in the grave, Your faithfulness in destruction?

Are Your wonders known in the place of darkness or Your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion?

But I cry to You for help, LORD, in the morning, my prayer comes before You.      

Why LORD do You reject Me and hide Your face from Me?

From My youth I have suffered and been close to death; I have borne your terrors and am in despair.

Your wrath has swept over Me like a flood; they have completely engulfed Me.

You have taken from Me friend and neighbor, darkness is my closest friend.  

Can you hear Jesus pour His soul out?  Alone, abandoned and bound. What prophetic words written by David, so many years prior to this night.  Jesus, experiencing the complete and total wrath of God for us–instead of us.  Jesus endured it all.  God not trusting us, His hand-made creation, to anyone else, so He came personally to pay this incredible debt so that we can walk with Him, and know Him as we were created to experience. All this was  done to prove the Scriptures of the prophets.

God DOES love us! God is willing to give everything He has for us to be able to walk with Him and know Him!  God really does look at us like a bride sacrificing all He has for our eternal safety (John 3:16).  Jesus was abandoned, so we are not! This is the Gospel! This is the good news! Jesus was found worthy to the be Lamb at Passover for sin, once and for all!  We have been #delivered from the darkness because He was bound and #delivered to the darkness! So come on!  Come on! Let’s live bold and courageous, in the light, while there is still day, #Propelled to tell the Good News! God’s wrath has been stilled, by Himself.  Even when all forsook Him, He refused to forsake us.  We are free, we are #delivered, so live #propelled2purpose.

APPLY IT:  

How often do we see what God isn’t doing for us instead of what He has and is doing for us?  When was a time that I forsook Jesus, yet He refused to forsake me?

LIVE IT OUT:  

Today, Lord, open my eyes to see your goodness and your faithfulness as I remember the suffering You endured on my behalf.


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 — Hebrews 12:1-2

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” 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 :  Hebrews 12:1-2

“Therefore, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which easily entangles us, and let us RUN with endurance the race that is set before us, (2) fixing our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

THE FACTS:  

Since we have a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, lay aside every encumbrance and sin and let us RUN with endurance the race set before us. Fixing OUR eyes on Jesus, author and perfecter who endured the cross.

Step 2

THE LESSONS:   

“You are the WORST runner I have ever seen!”  “But coach, it’s BLISTERING hot out here, the humidity is unbearable! Look…I come from a climate with a “dry heat”.  I just can’t run anymore in these conditions.”  This was the discussion that I was having with my college soccer coach, my senior year, during the 2nd day of preseason.  I was supposed to be the captain of the team, but I was running sprints–keeping in mind we were on number 5 and knowing we had to run about 95 more–I had to pace myself.  My coach responded to that with, “You run with reserve in your tank, and I need players willing to give me all they have every time.” #ouch

Now, dear reader, come to Rome with me–to the Vatican…

Vatican in Roman Times
The “circus” at the Vatican.

I’m going to be honest with you, I was ignorant on the history behind where the Vatican stands.  The area of the Vatican was known during the Roman Empire period as Ager Vaticanus.  It was a marshy piece of land where villas were built and the Emperor Caligula had beautiful gardens built for his mother.  The Emperor Nero added to it and built an impressive “circus” in the midst of the gardens.  What is Nero’s Circus you ask?  Well, it was a horse track, of sorts.  There was an arena built around a track for charioteers with horses.  In the middle of the track, there would have been a narrow strip of land, an isthmus of sort, that would have been adorned with obelisks or statues of the gods.  The obelisk in Neros Circus was one single piece of red granite weighing more that 350 tons! There were tunnels on either end of the stadium for the horses and athletes to come out, and there were seats for the onlookers.  There would have also been a section of “box seating” for the Emperor.

When the charioteers would come out, they would come to the box where the emperor sat and would pay homage to him, showing the crowd that they train and run for the emperor.  The crowd would cheer and chant the praises of the emperor, declaring his deity.  Often the emperor would address the crowd, being adorned in a sash of the god Apollos or Zeus, showing the crowd that he was a direct descendant from the gods,and that he had the authority as the son of the gods.  Can you see this imagery?

Vatican with 12 disciples on top
The Vatican, in all it’s glory. Do you see the statues of the 12 disciples at the top? They are life-size.
Kendra in front of the Vatican
Here I am in front of the Vatican!

With the emperor watching, these charioteers dressed in white robes, would have driven their horses in such a way as to win the race.  There would be nothing left in their tank, lest they be seen as a disgrace.  The point of these games were to declare to the world that Cesar is god.  This circus, Nero’s Circus is historically where the disciple of Jesus, Peter, was crucified upside down.  Peter was crucified at Ager Vaticanus.  I did not know this.

Peter
Statue of Peter.

Understanding what Nero’s Circus is, has given Hebrews 12:1-2 a deeper meaning.  We have been chosen by God to walk out of that tunnel for Him! Our run in this life, declares to the world–not that Cesar is God, but that Jesus is God!  The writer of Hebrews is using arena language here!  A language that the people of the time would have understood. This walk with Jesus, is an Olympic event.  Our walk, our RUN, declares that Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords.  This idea of discipleship is not just something on our Sunday schedule! It’s a BIG DEAL! So RUN!  Run #propelled2purpose.  RUN!

Since we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, we do not have the luxury of just walking it out, or running with reserve left in our tank.   RUN with perseverance the race set before us.  Each of us runs a different race, at a different pace, but for the same King.  The way we live and the way we run matters to a world that is looking on!  It will take perseverance!  Will it be hard?  Yes.  Will you have more excuses than you can count to bail out and quit?  Yes.  Is it worth it to stay in the race and finish well?  ABSOLUTELY!

RUN this life, your life, with purpose, where you are.  Press in, not out.  I Corinthians 9:24, “Don’t you know that ALL the runners run, but only ONE gets the prize?” SO RUN like you are going to win it.  Your run…my run in front of our cloud of witnesses shows the world that JESUS is KING! SO RUN!

It was intentional that that particular Sunday school teacher poured into you, that pastor who taught you, that grandparent that finished well, and that mentor who lived Jesus to the end…. to show you how to RUN.  I Corinthians 1:11, “Follow my example as I follow Christ.”

 My cloud of witnesses include many people along the way who have shown me what it looks like to run their race for the True King.  These cloud of witnesses who have gone before showed me how to live Jesus to the cloud of witnesses in my race who sit and stand watching what I will do. I think of my middle school soccer team, my co-workers, my patients and my own children.  My cloud of witnesses who taught me are different from yours, and the crowd of witnesses watching me are different as well.  Our races are different, but our finish line is the same. 

SO, my DEAR READER…. RUN!!!!!  Run today as if it is your last.  How devastated would I be if Jesus said to me at the end of my race the same thing my coach said so long ago… “You run with reserve in your tank.” 

STOP holding back!  Peter did not hold back.  In front of his great cloud of witnesses, Peter, who began the summer needing to be restored because of the denials that were in his past, the guilt and shame that could have ended his race all together, ends well… here… at Nero’s Circus.  Caligula and Nero both thought they had built things that would forever stand to prove their deity, however today, centuries later, not many remember or have any idea whatsoever that those prestigious charioteers once raced for the pride of the deified emperor at the Anger Vaticanus.

Today, at the Vatican, most know that beneath the marble floors of the Vatican and Sistine Chapel lies a foundation where so many Christians finished their race, “ad mairoem Dei gloriam,” meaning: to the glory of God.  A foundation for the church that has lasted through the centuries.  “Upon this ROCK (Peter) I will build my church… Mathew 16:18.  Think about that… don’t be so quick to move on.  Think about what the Vatican is today.  There is not a shred of emperor worship left at “Nero’s Circus”, but the testimony of Peter still stands with strength to the glory of God.

So let’s RUN today and not hold back regardless of the heat and humidity as we FIX our eyes on Jesus. RUN.

Step 3

APPLY IT:  

Who are the witnesses in my life? Name the cloud of witnesses that have poured into you… both living and deceased. What are the names of those watching your race who need to see you live out the fact that your life has purpose given from the hand of the King of kings?

How are you running?  Would others describe you as one who runs each day with reserve in your tank or abandoned unto God?

LIVE IT OUT:  

TODAY… strengthen my feeble knees, aching feet, and hurting hips to RUN in such a way to bring joy to my Savior.  FIX my eyes on Jesus…. fix my eyes on my current race, not the race I wish I had or want to have, but the actual race before me.


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 — Luke 8:26-29a

Kendra Blog Title

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

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

Kendra Graham notes from :  Luke 8:26-29a

“Then they sailed to the country of the Geresenes, which is opposite Galilee.  And when He came out onto the land, He was met by a man from the city who was possessed with demons, and who had not put on any clothing for a long time, and was not living in a house but in the tombs.  Seeing Jesus he cried out and fell before Him and said in a loud voice, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you do not torment me.” (29) For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man.”

THE FACTS:  

They sailed to the country of the Geresenes, opposite Galilee.  When HE came out on the land, He was met by a man from the city, possessed by demons, living in the tombs.  Seeing Jesus he cried out and fell before Him, “What business Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Do not torment me.”  He commanded the unclean spirit out.

Step 2

THE LESSONS:   

The disciples and Jesus had just left their city of Capernaum.  Capernaum, and the people there, took very seriously the commands and the Word of God.  The people strived to be separate from the encroaching Roman world and stay true to God; however, this day, Jesus tells His disciples to get in the boat and go to the other side.  This is a BIG deal for them, because you see, they would have NEVER gone to the other side.  The other side was where the Decapolis was, a Roman territory.  The Roman world was a pagan world, a world with many gods, the head god being that of Caesar Augustus (Octavian) who was said to have descended from the gods himself.  Octavian was literally referred to as the “son of god”.

Ruins of the old city of Decapolis
Ruins from the old city of Decapolis.

The “other side” was enemy territory… yet Jesus was getting in a boat to go and seek and to save ONE lost sheep.  En route, there was a terrible storm where the disciples thought they were going to die, but Jesus calmed the sea with a word.  The Word of God is powerful.  The boat safely sees the shore in the country of the Geresenes, opposite Galilee.  Everything on this opposite shore is opposite…. not just the location.

 Verse 27 says that Jesus came out of the boat on to the land and immediately he was met by a man who is running around naked and living in the tombs.  I wonder if the disciples watched from the boat, because it does not clearly state whether they ever got out of the boat of or not.  If I was a disciple and saw Jesus get out of the boat and then saw this crazy naked man who lived in the tombs run up to Him…. I would have stayed put.  You see THIS is why we are not to go to the other side!  This clears it up! It is for our safety!  We will always have plenty of reasons why we should have stayed home.  Legit reasons!  BUT GOD…. driven by His relentless love for His handmade creation will not be deterred, detoured or distracted. Our lives are messy and many of us are left in shambles from a harsh world, but Jesus is driven to get out of the boat and come to us regardless of all the reasons He should stay away.

Cave like opening on left side of hill tomb would have been here
Tombs would have been in caves like this one on upper left side of photo.

The demons who are residing in this man immediately know Jesus.  Isn’t that something?  The demons don’t wait for Jesus to flush them out, but in the name of Jesus–the Son of the Most High–the demons named Legion actually try to command Jesus to leave them alone!  How about that?!  Even the demons know there is power in the name of Jesus!

The demon possessed man is healed.  The demons ask to be sent to a herd of pigs, which Jesus allows, and they cast themselves into the sea.

In verse 28, the man who is healed asks Jesus if he can go with Him, but Jesus sends him back to share his story to those living in the Decapolis.   The man returns proclaiming Jesus to that Roman territory.

Think about this entire scene and what the disciples are witnessing.  The disciples are charged to go to a place they thought God told them to stay away from.  They get in a boat and have immediate opposition which they could easily interpret as God saying, “GO BACK”… yet just as they are about to abandon ship, Jesus stills the storm.  They press on.  The boat lands on the other side and immediately there is a crazy naked man who is screaming at them.  WOW.  Surely God did not want them to come here, right?  BUT GOD… the Son of the Most High,  gets out of the boat and goes TOWARDS the crazy tomb dweller.  The demons believe Jesus is the Son of God… the disciples are still hashing it all out.  Jesus heals the demon possessed man and then sends him back to the Decapolis.  (Don’t you know the disciples had to be relieved when Jesus said the naked tomb dweller could not go with them?!) Then Jesus gets back into the boat to go back to Capernaum.

What risk for ONE lost sheep!  What will those say on the other side when they return?  This could definitely be bad PR!  Would it have been worth it for you or me?  I don’t think I would have risked all that for a crazy tomb dweller… and then I would have missed the miracle.

Later, when Peter in Acts 10 is directed by God to visit Cornelius, he finds there a group of believers who receive the Holy Spirit in the same way as the Jews had.  During this visit of several days, we can assume Peter would have eaten with his Gentile host.  Through Peter’s prior vision (Acts 10:9-16), God prepared him to break bread with Gentiles with a clean conscience. How much do you want to bet that the food that was served was pig!?!?  Looking back, the “crazy tomb dweller” turned out to be of major importance to the building of the Kingdom of God.

It is so easy to forget the importance of ONE single act of obedience.  It is so easy to marginalize people that we don’t agree with or understand.  People were never lost on Jesus.  The Good Shepherd goes after the one lost sheep.  Jesus didn’t need a platform in the Decapolis in the amphitheater or prestige among the Romans to be taken seriously.  Jesus went to where no one would have gone to seek and to save that one impossible messy sheep that most would have just let roam.  This is Jesus.  Jesus is relentless and compelled for you and for me, even in the middle of our mess.  Jesus will cross turbulent seas and hunt us down as we hide among the tombs, because He loves us that much.

Step 3

APPLY IT:  

Do you remember a time where Jesus was relentless for you when most would have given up?  Where and to whom have you been propelled to share your story of Jesus?

The man in the tombs wanted to go with the disciples, but Jesus called him to stay and to share where he was…. often we would rather be anywhere else other than where Jesus has asked us to be.

LIVE IT OUT:  

Lord, as You bring others into my life today, give me the Words, the strength and courage to show them Your love…. even the unlovely and messy.

Will you share your story here with us about when Jesus was relentless for you?  There is power in our stories of how Jesus #delivered us…. After He #delivers us, he #propels us to purpose.

Share with us in the comments section below.

Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study — Luke 24: 17,21

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 :  Luke 24: 17,21

“And He said to them, “What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?” And they stood still, looking sad.  (21a) “But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel.”’

Step 1

THE FACTS:  

He said, “What are the words you are exchanging with one another as you walk?” They stood still looking sad.  “We were hoping it was He who was going to redeem Israel.”

Step 2

THE LESSONS:   

Has God ever not fit into your box of what a good God looks like?  I don’t think we readily want to admit that we put God into a box, but I hear it a lot, not only from others, but in my own speech as well.  “How could a loving God….” — you fill in the blank.  God doesn’t fit in any box, and that, my friend is a good thing!  Some of us are so hurt, that we find ourselves walking away from the God who loves us and gave Himself for us.  We are not happy about walking away… we just can’t make our idea of God match the reality we see and feel.

Here, in Luke 24, we meet up with two disciples walking to Emmaus from Jerusalem, after the crucifixion and resurrection.  The disciples had been charged to stay in Jerusalem, but here we find two men, described as disciples of Jesus walking the seven miles to Emmaus.  The men were sad, confused and on the verge of despair.  Jerusalem was the place where everything they thought they believed in was shattered on the cross when Jesus submitted His spirit and died.  Jesus died and was then placed in a tomb.  Three days had passed from Friday to Sunday, and now the tomb was found empty.  There were “some women” (24:22) who said the tomb was empty but they then claim they saw Jesus alive. After the women passionately tell their story, some disciples went (“some of us” 24:24), and the tomb was empty for sure, but Jesus they did not see.  It makes no plausible sense that Jesus would show Himself to “some women” and leave “some of us” out.  I mean, Peter and John are disciples, the “big” two, you know?  So these two men, here in Luke 24, crushed in spirit, did the only thing they could do…. LEAVE the situation entirely.  Run…far and fast away from the pain.  It didn’t matter that some of Jesus’s last words were to stay.  Everything they had believed about who Jesus was or is, was at that time in complete limbo.  Have you ever been there?  Can you relate?  Everything you have been taught to believe about who God is, is flipped upside down in a minute?

The men were probably going back home… going back to their lives pre-Jesus.  BUT that is not the end of this story…. it is only the beginning.  Jesus, God with skin on, relentless and compelled for His handmade creation, pursued them, and “began traveling with them” (24:15).  I LOVE THAT!  Jesus went seven miles out of His way to hound down these disciples!  I love that when Jesus got there He didn’t scold them for leaving, or tell them they just never listen, or condemn their confusion and sadness.  Jesus asks in verse 17, “What words are you exchanging while you walk?”   These men LEFT Jesus, but Jesus refused to leave them!  Jesus LISTENED.  How amazing is that?  Jesus was not mad that they didn’t “name it and claim it” and he didn’t scold them for not being joyful in all situations either! Jesus listened to ALL their pain, all the way to Emmaus…. the opposite direction of where they were supposed to be.

The men laid their souls bare, telling Jesus of all that had happened.  These men were verbally processing everything they had seen with their eyes, everything they had believed in their heart, everything that happened that morning at the tomb.  Often when we talk it all out with God, what is on the surface really is not the real deal of why we are so upset.  The men were so upset because Jesus was not who they truly believed Him to be.  The men used what they had seen and felt to draw a logical conclusion that was against what they had believed.  What they believed and what they saw did not match, so they fell on the side of logic. The men thought Jesus was the Redeemer of Israel.  That is the root of their sadness.  Their idea of what a Redeemer of Israel was to look like all added up while Jesus was alive (24:19), but not since witnessing the cross.  Since Jesus did not fit in their box, they walked away from the source of all that pain and disillusionment.  That totally makes sense to me.  I see the same pattern in my life time and time again.

Jesus hounds them down, listens to their pain, and then legitimizes the Truth.  In Luke 24:26, Jesus reminds the men of the prophets and their words.  The prophets spoke Truth.  Jesus could not remind them of His words, because you see, every word Jesus spoke was in limbo… the men were not so sure His words were Truth and life anymore.  So Jesus, tenderly, reminded them in all Truth what the Redeemer looks like.  Pressing these men to remember out of love.  The hope these men had in Jesus as the redeemer was not misplaced, but their emotions at the time were, and their emotions were driving them in the opposite direction of where they should be.

The Truth is powerful.  We must cling to the Truth when our emotions are screaming and hot tears are burning our souls.  Hold on to the Truth.  The emotions are real, but let’s press in to the Truth and not allow them to drive us away from the One who loves us and gave Himself for us.  Let Him meet you on your road today.  Pour it all out to Him.  Your heart matters!  Let’s strive together to be driven by Truth. Encourage today with the Truth of God’s Word given in love.

Step 3

APPLY IT:  

When has my belief in who I thought Jesus to be been put on the ropes?

How have I put God in a box?

Have I allowed my emotions and logic to drive my belief about God, or will I be determined to be driven by Truth?

When have I poured out all my doubts and questions to Jesus?

LIVE IT OUT:  

Today I will press to cling to the Truth and not be driven by my emotion.  My hope is not misplaced in Jesus…. oh that He would strengthen my grip!


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 — Mark 10: 46-48

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 :  Mark 10:46-48

“And they came to Jericho.  And as He was going out from Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the road.  (47) And when he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene he began to cry out and say, “Jesus Son of David, have mercy on me!” (48) And many were sternly telling him to be quiet, but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”’

Step 1

THE FACTS:  

As He was going from Jericho, with disciples and a great multitude, blind beggar Bartimaeus was sitting by the road. When he heard it was Jesus he began to cry out “Jesus Son of David have mercy on me!” Many sternly told him to quiet but he kept crying all the more.

Step 2

THE LESSONS:   

We don’t show up in Jesus’s path — He shows up in ours.  I love this story for so many different reasons.  Can you see Jesus leaving the city of Jericho? The disciples, the crowd, the buzz, the noise.  Jesus is on His way to the cross, but before all those events happen, He happens along Bartimaeus, a blind beggar.  Bartimeaus hears that it is Jesus of Nazareth coming his way, and he begins crying out.  Why is Bartimaeus crying out?  Bartimaeus is crying out because he is in desperate need.  Isn’t that wonderful?  Bartimaeus knew he was in need of Jesus!

We hate being needy and desperate, it’s not the American way.  Bartimaeus knew his desperate need, and more so, knew Jesus was the only answer to that need.  What a blessing is that?  I love that Bartimaeus didn’t yell out blaming God for his condition, we all would understand if he did, haven’t we all been there? Bartimaeus yelled with perseverance and submission to who Jesus is, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”  Bartimaeus knew Jesus is the Messiah.  A blind beggar knew Who’s presence he was so close to being in, and refused to miss his opportunity.  Jesus was coming, and he would cry out with all that he had if it was the last thing he did.

The multitude was thrilled and encouraged that Bartimaeus was crying out!  Or not…  the world, even those who are seeming to follow Jesus will often times be the very ones to try to keep you down.  I don’t think the crowd intentionally did not want this blind beggar healed, I just think sometimes out of the best intentions to “insulate” Jesus, those following forget why He came and who He came for.  Jesus came to and for the desperate and messy.  Often when we are trying to get to Jesus everything and everyone will be a road block to getting there…. to Him.  The real question is, “What will detour you from reaching through the multitude to Jesus?”

We will listen to the crowd of voices in our head… “Jesus doesn’t want to be bothered with the likes of you.”  “Jesus has better things to do, more important things to do, than to spend time with you.”  “You are too far gone, too messed up for Jesus to fix.”  We end up believing the voices screaming at us, and we shrink back, allowing others to define what God sees when He sees us.

I LOVE the fact that Bartimaeus disregarded it all, and he cried out all the more.  If Bartimaeus did not continue to cry out here and now, he may lose his only opportunity.  Jesus is here now.   Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of David.  Jesus is the only One who can do anything about his condition.  IF Jesus refuses to heal him, it will not be for his lack of crying out for the opportunity to ask.  If Jesus did or didn’t heal him, it would not change the fact of who Jesus (Son of David) is, but a touch from Jesus sure would change who Bartimaeus was.  It was worth the risk, the humiliation, and it was worth pressing through, and crying out in spite of the rejection and lack of support from all those closest to him in the crowd.  Bartimaeus was completely at the mercy of Jesus. Jesus hears his cry and asks him what he wants.  Bartimaeus wants his sight.  The darkness immediately falls away, and the blind beggar is healed.  Jesus tells him, “Go your way” and Bartimaeus began to follow Jesus.

If not for the blindness and poverty of Bartimaeus would he have ever cried out with such desperate fervor for Jesus?  We don’t know we need Jesus until we desperately need Jesus.  How thankful did Bartimaeus become for his blindness, for his personal darkness?  Jesus came to him, met him there and healed him.  It was Bartimaeus’s personal story of darkness that gave him words to speak in the light.  Jesus meets our personal desperateness with His mercy, if we will but call out and persevere, refusing to lose heart.  Sometimes, it is not until we are trusted with total darkness that we realize how precious it is to walk in the light.

Step 3

APPLY IT:  

Crying out in the darkness of our situation to God with loud anguish will often make people uncomfortable and they will want to silence you, but take heart:  Isaiah 58:9  “Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry and He will say, “Here, I AM.”’  We all want immediate results from God, but will you continue to cry out all the louder when it seems no one is listening, especially God?  What exactly are you looking for from God?  Bartimaeus articulated exactly what he wanted…. mercy.

Ephesian 2:4, “But God who is rich in mercy with His great love, loved us.”  Do you believe God is rich in mercy for you?  It’s in these times of darkness that our true belief is flushed out to the surface.  Will you cry out all the more?

LIVE IT OUT:  

Today,  cry out to Jesus.   Claim His name, His promises and for the sake of who He says He is, hold on to your faith against all odds.  #overcomer


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 21:20-22

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 21:17

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.

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 — 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.