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Kendra Graham Bible Study: Week Two Handout

Welcome to Kendra Graham’s online Bible study. Our prayer is that you grow deeper in the knowledge and understanding of God’s Word and His promises for you. Below is the handout for the second week of the Bible study with a few homework questions at the end. 

AM
#ENOUGH
to LEAD you…

STEP ONE: Pray

STEP TWO:  Read the Text. 

Exodus 13:17-22

(17) Now when Pharaoh had let the people go, God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, even though it was near, for God said, “The people might change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.”

(18) Hence God led the people around by the way of the wilderness to the Red Sea; and the sons of Israel went up in martial array from the land of Egypt.

(19) Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, “God shall surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones from here with you.”

(20) Then they set out from Succoth and camped in Etham on the edge of
the wilderness.

(21) The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way and a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and night.

(22) He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.

STEP THREE    WHAT DOES IT SAY?  THE FACTS ONLY PLEASE

 In this step you need to list the outstanding facts of the passage.  DON’T get caught up in the details, just list the facts.  Do not paraphrase.  Use the actual words of the passage.  This is God’s Word, a lot of times this step seems tedious to some, but I urge you, as we read, and say and write God’s Word, it begins to sink deep into our hearts.  If you just pick one fact out of the verse, write it down and meditate on it. 

17:    God did not lead them by land of Philistines, even though near; God said, “The people might change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt”

18:    God led by way of wilderness to Red Sea; Israel in martial array

19:    Moses took bones of Joseph; he made Israel promise, “God shall surely take care of you.”

20:    They set out on edge of wilderness

21:    The LORD was going before them in pillar of cloud by day and fire by night that they may travel day/night

22:    He did not take away pillar of cloud/fire from before the people

STEP FOUR:  WHAT DOES IT MEAN? THE LESSONS

Look for a lesson to learn from each fact. What are the people doing that they should be doing?  What are the people doing that they shouldn’t be doing?

 Is there a command to follow? A promise to claim? A warning to heed? An example to follow? Meditate on these. Ask God what lesson it is that He wants you to hear or learn.

 17:    God leads us by His way for His reasons. God knows us, and He knows how easy it is for us to bail when things get tough. 

18:    God’s ways are not our ways; that is probably why we struggle to follow Him. When it comes down to it, we want to control God and His direction, not let God control us and our direction.  Following the Good Shepherd will always take faith on our part.  KNOW that I AM is #ENOUGH to personally lead me.  *martial array– often we think we can handle “battles” because we look the part… but God knew the people were broken and He ALONE, the GOOD SHEPHERD, would have to do all the fighting this time on their behalf.  It is important to know we do nothing in the battle for our souls, we just receive the salvation offered.

19:    Joseph died BELIEVING that GOD would LEAD them out.  Sometimes we need to borrow the faith of others to make it though the desert.  Seeing Joseph’s bones would also be a reminder that Egypt was not their home and the Egyptian gods were not their gods, I AM knows the way out and will fulfill HIS promises even if we forget them or don’t believe them.  God’s faithfulness to HIS WORD does not depend on us and/or our belief or lack thereof.

20:    God brings us to the edge… so that we can make our own personal choice… we can follow Him to the wilderness, or we can follow Egypt.  God will not force us to follow, but bids us to come to Him and trust Him—even to this hard place between the Sea and the wilderness.

21:    The LORD, “I AM that I AM,” was leading them. His presence was visible
and present, yet they did not know Him. Faith will be needed to follow every time.

22:    God refused to take His visible presence away from His people, even though the people would constantly question that presence and whether or not it was trustworthy.  I AM knew He is #ENOUGH to lead His people and would daily show and teach His people that very thing.  God promises to never leave nor forsake us.  His presence today is found in His Word, His promises are #ENOUGH to follow and trust.

 

STEP FIVE:  WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO ME? NOW APPLY IT…. TODAY.

Take the lessons you learned and put them into the form of a personal question that you would ask your spouse, or a friend or your son or daughter.

 

As you write the questions, listen for God to communicate to you through His Word.

 

Do not rush.  Do not write things down just to have something on paper; this step takes more time that you may think. This is where Scripture meditation becomes real. This is where you begin to hear that still small voice speak to you, and place His finger in your life and begin to direct your paths…. this day, and the next, and the next.  Do you trust Him enough to put into place that which He is moving you to?

 

17:    When have you followed God when it made no sense at all? How did God show up?  Has there been a time when you sensed you should have followed God but did not like the direction or destination, so you refused?

18:    When have you put conditions on where God is allowed to lead you? When and how has following God taken faith on your part?  How have you tried to help God with all your “expertise”?  When have you humbly accepted salvation from God, knowing you had done nothing to deserve it or make it happen?

19:    When have you had to borrow the faith of someone else to make it through a certain situation?  Have you known anyone who died believing the promises of God even though they did not see those promises fulfilled in their lifetime?

20:    When have you made a physical choice to follow God, only to end up pinned in between the sea and the wilderness?  When did it seem easier and more sensible to bail out from where God was leading than to continue?  What did you do? Bail or continue?

21:    When has it taken faith for you to follow where God was leading? Has following God taken faith just one time, or does it seem to take more faith every time?

22:    When have you had to claim the promises of who God IS in His Word?  When have you felt as though God has left you, even though His Word says He won’t?  How and when has God’s presence led you, although you battled with doubt along the way?  When you looked back, were you able to see where God had been?  When has God been true to HIS Word, even when you were not true to Him?

STEP SIX:  LIVE IT OUT.

Look over all your facts, lessons and applications for a given passage. 

 

Is there a main theme to them?  Does one verse stand out over the rest for
some reason?

 

Hold yourself accountable to LIVE OUT in your daily life that which God impresses upon your heart.  Write it out, sign it, date it and claim the transforming power of God’s Word and His presence in your life.

  Be in the Word of God; know who God IS, not who I demand Him to be.

            Know Jehovah Raah as MY SHEPHERD as I decide to follow Him

 

HOMEWORK:

Do the Three Questions on: Exodus 16 – any verses

Get stuck?  www.annegrahamlotz.com

I AM #ENOUGH
To LEAD as SHEPHERD

1.  #ENOUGH in Places of DESPERATION

Exodus 13:17-22

2. #ENOUGH in Places of DECISION

Exodus 14:18-31

3. #ENOUGH in places of DESTITUTION

 Exodus 15:22-27


Thank you again for joining us for this Bible study. Feel free to let us know if you have any questions or concerns. Praying that you have a very blessed week ahead!


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

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.

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

Follow us on social media. click map

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KENDRA GRAHAM ONLINE BIBLE STUDY

Exodus 3:7-8 (NASB)

(7) The LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings.

(8) So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite.

WHAT DOES IT SAY?

  1. The LORD said I have SURELY seen the affliction of MY people

I Have given heed to their cry because of taskmasters

I AM AWARE of their sufferings

  1. SO I HAVE COME to deliver from the Egyptians

to bring them to a spacious land flowing with milk and honey

to the place of Canaanite, Hittite, Amorite, Perizzite, Hivite

What Does it Mean?

Suffering and affliction: these are two words we do not jump up and down about, but they’re words we can all relate to.  Here in Exodus chapter 3, God has heard the cries of His people in Egypt, and so He has come to Moses to inform him of what is going on in Egypt.

Moses’ face is in the dirt; he is not speaking, God is speaking.  I think that’s something, don’t you?  Moses obviously has an opinion about what’s been happening to the Hebrews in Egypt, don’t you think?  I mean, the reason Moses finds himself there in the desert at all is because he has seen an Egyptian beating a Hebrew slave to death and he has subsequently murdered the Egyptian in a heated outburst of anger.  The treatment of the slaves bothers Moses so much, it has led him to commit murder.

Don’t you wonder if Moses had heard about this “God of the Hebrews” and questioned whether He had any real power at all?  Why hadn’t God intervened?  Why hadn’t He stopped all these atrocities from happening?  I think Moses legitimately thought he knew the depth of it all. Being a prince of Egypt, he’d had a “behind the scenes” view and had actually come to a place where he had  refused to be called the son of the Pharaoh’s daughter (see Hebrews 11:24).  Yet even at this point Moses still doesn’t know the depth of the brokenness of the Hebrews in Egypt, so God informs him.

The word for affliction is “oiny” which means much more than just physical abuse.  God is informing Moses that His people have suffered tremendous physical, emotional and mental abuse at the hands of the Egyptians and are crying out from the depths of their souls to be #delivered from Egypt. The word aware is, “Ra’ah,” which means God more than knows what the affliction is; it is as if it had been done to Him.

God sees the injustices.  God sees the pain; He walks with us in it, because He understands what it takes to have victory in it. I don’t like that.  I want God to protect me from it, not walk with me in it.

I love how in Exodus 3:8 God tells Moses, “SO I HAVE COME to deliver” (emphasis added).  God is not asking Moses to use his contacts in Egyptian politics or to use his power as a son of the Pharaoh’s daughter.  God is telling Moses, I AM is going to deliver them.  Moses, with his face in the dirt, probably feels more useless than ever: his relevance in Egyptian culture has long passed, he is wanted on a murder charge for which he is guilty, and he has no idea how to even begin to help a people that are that broken and hurting.  What could Moses say? What could he do?  Moses can do nothing.  All he brings to the table is his ability to bend his knee in the dirt to the I AM who will do the #delivering.

God came Himself.  God did not trust the Hebrews to anyone else.  Likewise, God did not trust you to anyone else.  He came Himself.  God Himself came in the form of a man: His name is Jesus.  Jesus lived a perfect life and then paid the debt that a holy God requires.  Jesus was stricken for us (see Isaiah 53).  Jesus died a horrible, horrific and painful death on the cross so that He could walk us through the pain and suffering of this world.  We pray to a God who understands all sides of the hurt.

God never acts on our time table or in the way we think is best, but when we cry out to Him, God hears, He answers, and He comes Himself.

What Does it Mean to Me?

When have you felt abandoned by God? What injustices has God          seemed to have missed or not cared about in your life? In what              area of your life is it time to claim that God is “the God Who                    Sees”? (Jehovah Roi)

When have you cried out to God with true intensity?  When have you seen God act on your behalf.

What causes you to doubt that the depth of your pain matters to an Almighty God?  When has anyone really understood your pain?

Who are you looking to, to deliver you?  How many people have let you down or left you disappointed?

LIVE IT OUT

Today, instead of just crying out to a friend,  or my mom,  or a boss, I will cry out to GOD, whose name is Jehovah Roi, the God who sees.  Lord, give me ears today to hear Your Word, a heart to believe Your Word and eyes to see You walk with me in this world.


Join Kendra Graham  for a free Women’s Bible Study at The Cove, Tuesday evenings through February 26. The study will also be live-streamed through social media. To view a snippet of the study entitled #I Am Enough, click here. 

To register for this study, please visit this link.

To watch the first session, visit this link. 


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

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.

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

Follow us on social media.click map

 

KENDRA GRAHAM: ONLINE BIBLE STUDY

“For unto you is born this day, in the City of David, a Savior which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; you shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”  (Luke 2:11-12, KJV)

What Does it Say?

TO YOU is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. This a sign to YOU; YOU shall find the babe in swaddling clothes, in a manger.

What Does it Mean?

Last week I received an invitation to the White House Christmas party. It was super exciting, the chance of a lifetime! I had never been in the White House! I had been by it, I had taken pictures of it, and I had even gone to the “White House Gift Shop” across the street from it…. but never inside!

How does one get a chance to attend the White House Christmas Party?  First of all, I needed to be invited (odds are this is the only and last time I will be invited)…  Second, I needed to accept the invitation and go through the list with the social secretary in the White House of what to bring, how to dress, and what not to bring.  I needed to know my arrival and departure time as well as parking information and what entrance I should walk through.

Once I arrived at the White House, I had to produce two forms of ID.  I went through three checkpoints. I went through a metal detector.  My bag was x-rayed twice.  If I exited, I would not be allowed back inside.  WOW.  What a process!  When GOD came to earth, should He not at the very least have done what the president does to stay safe? Shouldn’t God have had a screening process?

This is why I LOVE these verses so much!

First of all… Christ’s birth issued an invitation:

For unto YOU…

The gift is for you, and the gift is also offered for me. It’s personal.  God has always been personal, from the first day, when He walked with Adam in the cool of the evening (see Genesis 3), to when God’s presence was in the pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night (see Exodus 13:21), to when Jesus was born in Bethlehem and walked the shores of Galilee and taught, to today as He lives in the hearts and souls of men and women. His Word is just as alive and active (see Hebrews 4:12) today as always.

The name of God, Jehovah, means the All-Existent One (the One who has always been) but more intimately it connotes the meaning, the One Who Wants to be Known.  God wants to be known by us, personally, so He came and lived among us, with skin on, and His name is Jesus.

Why would God come to live among us?  God created man and woman with His hands, and gave each of us a soul designed to walk with God, know God and need God.  We don’t like to need God, but it is just a fact of creation.  We are created with a God-shaped soul. The problem occurs when we see that the character of God is holy and perfect and we are not (Romans 3:23).  God cannot refuse His own character; He cannot make any exceptions for unholy men and women to come into His presence, yet we were created to walk with, to know and to need God.

GOD so loved the world that He GAVE HIS only SON.
(John 3:16)

God was the only One who could fix the problem, so He came Himself, refusing to trust you and me to any other person, place or thing.  God would come with skin on and live that holy and perfect life, then pay the debt that unholiness demands—which is a blood debt—on the cross.  God Himself would pour out His wrath on His own Son, in order to spare you and me.  God Himself made it possible to invite us to walk with Him and know Him, because we are desperate and need Him (see Romans 5:9-10).

God came down to you and to me and was born in Bethlehem—in a barn, with no amenities, no cleanliness, no state of the art fetal monitoring system, no NICU doctor on standby, no nursing staff to make sure His Apgar score was reasonable, no one to clear His lungs and dry Him off according to hospital policy. Jesus came not to be flashy or to to wield His power over Caesar Augustus.  Jesus came to be found by everyone.

I love how the words that were spoken that night were to shepherds.  Shepherds who would not have had business or formal attire to wear to the celebration.

I love how God was so very clear with the shepherds… they were invited personally, and God was going to be clear about where to go to find Him.

God with us, Emmanuel, did not want to remain a mystery for eternity. His birth was not meant to confuse us or send us on some hypothetical goose chase.  God came to be found. He came to be found by each shepherd that night and by you and me today. The angels did not exclude any of the shepherds in that field; all were invited corporately, but the decision to come would be personal.  Tim could not go for James, and Nicholas could not go for Sam, each of them would have to decide whether or not to make that journey to the place where He could be found.

I love how the barn is not an intimidating place. The place that God with skin on could be found was accessible to each shepherd—no shower or change of clothes needed… and bring the sheep, too! Don’t delay! Come now, just as you are.

GOD refused to be out of reach of the very people He came to save.  The elite business man and owner of the barn could come to where Jesus was, as well as the outcast and the shepherd.  No one is forbidden to approach a manger. No one is out of place or under-dressed.  There is no secret service to escort you out if your two forms of ID are not acceptable.  You can stay as long as you like and come back as often as you can.

Jeremiah 23:13 is just as true today as it was before the birth of Jesus: “You will seek me and find Me when you seek with all your heart” (NIV)

An invitation to the White House is great, but an invitation to the very throne room and presence of the Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of peace… now that is really something!

Jesus is right here, within reach; we just need to come and accept His invitation. The invitation is for all, just as you are. No need to fix, clean or straighten up before you come, or you will never come.  The decision is personal. Will you accept this invitation, this Christmas, to know the One who gave up heaven so that you and I can begin to know Jehovah—the One who has always been, Who desires to be known by His handmade creation. The choice is yours.

What Does it Mean to Me?

What decision have you made about the invitation that is extended to you this day, a Savior which is Christ the Lord?

LIVE IT OUT

Today, I will take time to remember the true meaning of Christmas and reflect on that day that I accepted His invitation.

Today, if you have never accepted that personal invitation to come to Jesus, will you accept it now with a simple prayer?

Dear Lord Jesus,
You left heaven to come so that I can walk with You and know You, because I need You.  Your Word says “God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that whoever believes in Him, will have eternal life” (John 3:16). I am accepting Your invitation today, now. Come and be my Savior, this day. Teach me to walk with You from this moment on. Amen.

 Merry Christmas!


Kendra Graham is  offering a free Women’s Bible Study at The Cove starting Jan. 8th. The study will also be live-streamed through social media. To view a snippet of the study entitled #I Am Enough, click here. 

To register for this study, please visit this link.


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

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.

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

Follow us on social media. click map

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Pinterest

KENDRA GRAHAM: ONLINE BIBLE STUDY

God led the people around by the way of the wilderness.
(Exodus 13:18, NASB)

What Does it Say?

God led the people by way of wilderness

What Does it Mean?

This may seem like a weird topic for a blog at Christmas time, but this blog has been in the desert since last March!  I believe that together we are going to stay in this desert as long as God keeps us here.  Christmas in the desert may not be such a bad thing.

Surviving the Fire Swamp

Have you ever seen the movie, The Princess Bride?  It is one of my favorites. In the movie, Princess Buttercup is promised to marry Prince Humperdink, but Prince Humperdink is not her true love.  Buttercup’s true love is a poor farm boy named Wesley. As the heroic Wesley arrives to save Buttercup from the clutches of Humperdink, the Prince’s soldiers are in hot pursuit. Wesley takes Buttercup and runs towards the Fire Swamp, laughing as he looks back.

“Ha! Your pig fiancée is too late!” he says.  “We will soon be safe in the Fire Swamp!”

Alarmed at that statement, Buttercup replies, We will never survive!

To which Wesley responds, “Nonsense! You’re only saying that, because no one ever has before!”

The Egyptians and the Israelites viewed the wilderness like Buttercup viewed the Fire Swamp.  The wilderness was a place of chaos—a place of death, banishment and punishment. The wilderness was not a place of ease and safety, and it made no sense why God would lead His people into a place of hardship like this. Did He not know that for the Israelites the last hundred years or so in Egypt had been absolutely unbearable?  Didn’t He realize that this mass of people coming out of Egypt were hurting and broken?  Was God going to finish the job in a place of desolation so that there would be no trace of His people left on the face of the earth?  Why?

Changing Our Focus

I sometimes think that it’s easy for me to focus on the wilderness.  I mean the hardship there is staring me straight in the face.  Let’s not live in denial about this; let’s call it what it is.  I am not going to jump for joy when God says, “Kendra, for you I have a howling wasteland, a wilderness that you get to go and live in!” I am not cheering and saying, “Yay! HURRAH!”  I am probably saying, “Well, that figures.  God hates me.”  Look, I’m being honest; it’s just the truth of the matter.  I might as well not lie about it.  Just the word, “wilderness” seems barren, harsh, and like it goes on literally FOREVER. Wilderness? “Yippee….” (Eye roll emoji).

What if instead of focusing on the destination, we focused on the journey?  What if we focused on the first part of that verse?  “God led the people.

Well, I don’t like it.  I don’t like that God is leading me to a place to die. That almost makes it worse,  doesn’t it?

The Presence of the Shepherd

Does it really make things worse?  Or does it change everything?  God’s name is Jehovah Raah, which means “shepherd.”  A shepherd leads from the front, he doesn’t prod from behind.  A shepherd does not leave the sheep to be slaughtered or killed, but protects the sheep from all harm. The shepherd does not starve the sheep to death but finds enough food to provide the needed nourishment to continue. The shepherd does not leave the sheep, the shepherd leads the sheep. The Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep (John 10:11, NKJV).

You are not alone, even in the wilderness.  The presence of God Himself changes everything.  If all you have is God in the wilderness, and His name is Shepherd, Provider, Faithful, Deliverer, Conqueror and King, then nothing else is needed.  God is #ENOUGH.  Perhaps we have been led into the wilderness to learn this very thing.

He Keeps His Promises

Spurgeon told the story of an old saint who lay on her deathbed and declared that Jesus would never forsake her, because He promised to be with her wherever He led her. Someone asked her, “But suppose that He did not keep His promise and you were to be lost forever?”

She answered, “Then He would be the greater loser than I.  It is true I would lose my soul, but God would lose all His honor and glory if it were not true.”

If God went to such extremes to #deliver each and every one of us from the grip of Egypt, only to allow us to die as He led us into the wilderness, then God would lose His name, His character, and His perseverance in completing every work that He undertakes.

For the Sake of His Name

God leads you and me to where He is. This season of Christmas is not the easiest season for many of us. Many of us feel we have been led to the wilderness to die a slow death alone and abandoned. That is not true. Claim the name of God in the wilderness, in the midst of the barren and empty place you find yourself, and just see if the fact of the presence of God does not change everything. For the sake of His name, He will lead you through.

Nevertheless He saved them for the sake of His name,
that He might make His power known.
(Psalm 106:8, NASB)

 For the sake of You name, O LORD, revive me.
In Your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble
.
(Psalm 143:11, NASB)

“For My own sake, for my own sake, I will act;
For how can My name be profaned?
And My glory I will not give to another.”
(Isaiah 48:11, NASB)

What Does it Mean to Me?

Why has God led you to where you are?

When were you in a wilderness and saw God’s presence provided in a very real and tangible way?

If you are in the wilderness now, how will you seek to see the name of God proven today?  Are you even willing to look for His presence?

God promises in Jeremiah 29:13 that if we seek Him with our whole hearts we will find Him. What have you given the power to hold you back from seeking God in your wilderness?  Anger? Bitterness? Frustration? Depression? Despair?

LIVE IT OUT

Today, Oh LORD, give me the strength and desire to seek You, and the perseverance to continue to seek until I find Your presence and Your glory, here in this place.

God’s presence changes everything!

KENDRA GRAHAM: ONLINE BIBLE STUDY

“And you shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. You shall do so for 6 days. (4) Also seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark; then on the 7th day you shall march around the city seven times and the priests shall blow the trumpets. (5) And it shall be when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall will fall down flat, and the people will go straight ahead”  (Joshua 6:3-5, NASB)

What Does it Say?

  • You march around the city, all men of war circling the city once, for six days.
  • Priests carry seven trumpets before the ark.
  • On the 7th day, march around city seven times; and priests blow trumpets.
  • When they make a long blast on the trumpets, the people will shout with a great shout.
  • Walls will fall flat.  People go straight ahead.

What Does it Mean?

I shared earlier this summer about my visit to Seattle and the unforgettable experience of watching a glass blower as he placed glass pieces into the fire and went on to create absolute masterpieces.  A piece of that glass now sits on the desk where I study each morning.  It’s a jellyfish paperweight.  (I know that may seem like an odd choice, but my Aunt Tina and I signed up for a glassblowing class, and that was the craft of the day!)

I was hesitant to try my hand at this.  I had been watching the skilled artist do his thing, and I was blown away by his talent.  I do not have talent.  I should tell you that I stopped doing art projects when I was six and my snowflake in Miss Ruyle’s class turned out to be a total disaster. Yet Aunt Tina is such an encouraging person, and since she was going to take the class, I agreed to give it a shot. We signed our names on the waiver (the one that states the ovens are 2,000 degrees), and we picked a time slot to blow a piece of glass together.

The description of the class sounded innocent enough. The first qualification was that the participant had to be over the age of five—yes, a jellyfish glass paperweight is something a 5-year-old could make. I kept reminding myself of that all day. My heart raced as Aunt Tina and I returned to the glass shop at our appointed time. I was terrified the jellyfish would be similar to the snowflake downfall of 1980.

The glassmaster took me into the studio and had me pick out colors.  That was easy enough.

Then the work began. He put a piece of glass on a rod and patiently talked me through the process.  It was challenging.  I had to keep my rod spinning the entire time while simultaneously adding color and shape to my glass blob. The glassmaster never left my side, continuing to  instruct me and once in a while taking over the task of spinning the rod when I forgot and became distracted with a different task.

In the end, I did it!  My jellyfish looked like a jellyfish and everything!  I could not have done it if the glass master had left my side.  The individual tasks were none too hard or overwhelming, but I could not have completed the entire project without without the help and guidance of the skilled glassblower.

God Brings Down the Walls

This experience reminds me of the times when God asks us to step up and do something with Him.  Here in this passage in the book of Joshua, God was going to bring the walls of Jericho down.  God did not need Joshua or his army; yet He was teaching them what they could do if only they would live a life of obedience to Him.

Jericho was a formidable city—daunting with its huge outer walls. From the outset, the task seemed impossible; yet God was with Joshua as He had been with Moses.  As these verses record, God told Joshua exactly what He wanted him and the Israelite army to do:  Joshua and his army were to walk around the city once a day for six days; then on the seventh day, they were to walk around it seven times.

Simple Tasks, Unconventional Strategy

Was this beyond their capabilities?  No.  If the Israelites could do anything at this point, it was walking—they’d just finished doing that exact thing in the desert for 40 years!  Walking was in their gifted column.  GREAT!  Easy peasy.  Oh, and the priests would need to go out in front, carrying seven trumpets; and just behind them would come the Ark of the Covenant (a visual reminder of God’s promises and provisions).

Is any part of that task list difficult?  No.

Does it make sense? No, not so much. God was clearly telling Joshua what He wanted the Israelite army to do; now the question was, would they do it?

This is not how war is done, by the way. No general has ever re-used this tactical plan.  Priests do not normally go in front of the army.  Priests are not usually armed.  When the priests blew those trumpets, they probably already felt like sitting ducks; and now, drawing all that attention to themselves, well….

Did God hate them?  Did God want them killed for some reason?  Had God read the rules of war?  I’d have a lot of questions, especially if I’d been one of those priests:  “Joshua, did you hear God right?”

God calls us to tasks, and often those tasks are not beyond our capability; we can walk, we can blow a trumpet, we can shout…. but the task does not appear to promise success in the end. We might end up a laughing stock. We’ll be the butt of jokes.  That person will never speak to me again if I do that.  My friend will think I’m crazy.  We may think of a host of reasons not to obey God and take up the task, but what if we simply obeyed?  How might we see God work?

All for God’s Glory

Whatever task He is asking you to perform, the work is impossible without God.  He is doing the work, just as the glassmaster was really making the jellyfish that was in my hands.  The work can’t be done—and is impossible to complete—without the Master at our side.  It’s God who deserves the credit and the glory in the end.

Can’t you just hear Joshua’s response as the news reporter interviewed him after the walls fell?  “Yah, well, we really had been practicing walking with power, and well, these new Air Jordan sandals, well they did the trick!”  The idea of Joshua taking the credit is laughable.  There is no other explanation but God. The problem often lies with us wanting a tithe of God’s glory.

Closing the Faith Gap

When God calls me to things that are only possible with Him, the question really comes down to obedience.  There is always a gap between what I can do and what God must do.  That gap is faith.

Do we have ears to hear what God is asking of us and the faith to do it?  His command could be as simple as, “Text that friend of yours this verse that I showed you today.”

“But she’ll think I’m crazy!” So we don’t.

What if we did??  Obeying in the simple things is HARD, but in the end we just might see those walls of Jericho fall if we can get over our pride and desire for control and if we let God put those sandals on our feet to walk, place a trumpet in our hands to blow and give us a message for our voice to shout. The simplicity of faith is often HARD as we rely on God to do what He says He will do.

What Does it Mean to Me?

Do I have a testimony of a time when God nudged me to do something simple and I did it?  What were the results?  Was it for my harm or for His glory?

Has God ever called me to do something my pride just wouldn’t allow me to do?  Have I ever regretted that?

Live it Out:

Today I pray that You, Lord, will make me sensitive to Your Spirit.  Give me the faith to stop and talk to that person who passes my way, to encourage a clerk at the store with a gift or a word, or perhaps just text a friend with a verse.  Lord, may it be You Who leads me. I tend to think I know best, and I know there’s someone who needs to hear from me. Help me to obey as You lead.


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

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.

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

 

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KENDRA GRAHAM: ONLINE BIBLE STUDY

#Enough for the Next Step

 

“So he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mountain of God. ”
( I Kings 19:8, NASB)

 What Does it Say?

He arose, ate, drank and went in the strength of that food 40 days and nights to Horeb, mountain of God.

What Does it Mean?

My husband and I recently watched “Hacksaw Ridge,” a movie that depicts the true story of Desmond Doss and the battle that occurred on Hacksaw Ridge in May of 1945.

A conscientious objector, Desmond did not object to his responsibility to serve in America’s military; but because he refused to take a life, he refused to carry or shoot a gun. Desmond Doss was a medic who was determined to save life, not end it.

The Medic Without a Gun

The battle that day was a grave one, and Desmond walked into it armed with nothing more than his medic supplies, his Bible and his faith.  Many lives were lost, and the American forces retreated off the ridge and back down to safety—all but the injured and the medic without a gun. Those who could retreat, did so; yet Desmond stayed, determined to treat, care for and protect the injured left on that ridge (American and Japanese).  Fear and exhaustion overwhelmed Desmond as he cried out to God, asking Him why he was there…

Immediately a cry was heard through the black smoke: a soldier, in pain, needing attention. The exhausted young medic asked God for the strength to get to the injured man and for the wisdom to be able to help him.  Alone in the dark that night, Desmond Doss treated and lowered to safety more than 75 soldiers who would have no doubt died without immediate attention.  When Desmond was interviewed years later, he remarked that his only prayer had been, “Lord, help me get just one more to safety.”  Just one more…

The Prophet Praying to Die

In this chapter of I Kings, Elijah is beat up, exhausted and ready to die. Unable to muster one more step, the beleaguered prophet sits down beneath a juniper tree (rotem– broom tree).  There, God provides shade in the middle of the wilderness, to take the heat off of Elijah. He then provides the prophet with food and water (resources that are desperately lacking in the desert). God comes to Elijah, providing the prophet with what he needs to take the first step, then the next step and then the next.

The Journey to Where God Is

Where was Elijah going, anyway?  God was leading Elijah exactly to the same place He leads us today: to where He is.  Elijah had just enough sustenance to make it to where God was—Horeb, the mountain of God.  Horeb, the same mountain where Moses had been leading sheep and encountered the bush that burned but was not consumed.  Horeb, the mountain to which God had led the children of Israel after their deliverance from Egypt.  Horeb, the mountain where Moses had been given the Ten Commandments—the mountain Moses had climbed when he cried out, “Show me Your glory.”

The journey to Horeb was a long, arduous, 40-day trek; yet it was a journey with purpose:  God wanted Elijah to know Him, to know His Name.  Elijah had given up comfort, ease and worldly prosperity, but he would gain an intimate knowledge of who God is and who he, Elijah, is to God.  Was the risk of giving it all up worth the reward in the end?

In the end, Elijah—the man who had begged for death to come swiftly—never tasted death as he was swept up in a whirlwind directly into the presence of God.  All the wealth and power that King Ahab and Queen Jezebel had at that same time in history could not be compared to the impact, testimony and relationship that Elijah had with the Great I AM.

Elijah had just enough for the next step… and found out God Himself was #enough, especially in the struggle.

 

The God Who Is Enough

Today, perhaps you are like me and the next step is exhausting to think about.  As Elijah was fed by God, may we too come to His Word today and depend on His provision for the same thing.  Dependence on God is a great thing, but it leaves no room for personal glory; and although we hate the thought of being dependent, in reality all of us are.  We’re dependent on a job, a relationship, a paycheck, a church, a doctor, or a coach… What if we just turned our eyes to Jesus and depended on Him to work through all those things?  Oh it’s hard, and we will fight giving God control over even the smallest detail, not to mention the largest!

Today, open God’s Word and ask Him to feed you…. just enough for the next step.  May God show you that His Name and His promises are #enough.

What Does it Mean to Me?

When has God given me just enough for the next step?  (Your testimony matters!)

How do I need God to provide strength for the next step?

What promises of God do I find in His Word that I can hold on to in times of exhaustion and heartache?

LIVE IT OUT

God, You promise that You are Jehovah Raah, the Shepherd, so lead me. You say You are the bread of life and the living water, so nourish. God, You claim that You are Jehovah Shalom, peace, so bring peace to the tumult.  God, Your Word tells me You are Jehovah Nissi, my banner in times of battle, so take up for me.  Please give me the strength to lay these things down at Your feet, and grant me the faith to believe that You are #enough for the next step.

 



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

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.

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

 

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KENDRA GRAHAM- UNBROKEN: PATH TO REDEMPTION

 “I AM the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage.  I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.  Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I AM the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.”

(Exodus 6:6-7, NASB)

What Does it Say?

I AM the LORD and WILL bring YOU out from burdens of Egyptians. I WILL deliver YOU from bondage, I WILL redeem YOU with outstretched arm. I WILL take YOU for MY people.  I WILL be YOUR God. YOU shall KNOW I AM, who brought YOU out.”

What Does it Mean?

There is a powerful message of freedom in the new movie, “Unbroken: Path to Redemption.”  The main character in the film, Olympic champion and World War II hero Louis Zamperini is a man burdened by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of his wartime experiences. After Louie’s plane crashed, he survived 47 days at sea on a raft in the South Pacific—only to be captured by the Japanese and specifically targeted and tortured by Mutsuhiro Watanabe, known to prisoners as “The Bird.”


(Picture of Louis and “The Bird”)

Louis was plagued by nightmares which kept him in bondage and drove him to alcohol, enabling him to forget his misery, if only for a few hours.  On this dark and dangerous path of destruction, Louis’ marriage was being destroyed and his relationship with his daughter threatened. His very life was destined to come to an abrupt end if Louis continued in the direction he was headed.

In a key scene (without giving the entire movie away), Louis finds himself at a point requiring him to choose who he will bend his knee to. The image of “The Bird” is mocking him, telling him, “You will NEVER be free from me!”  “The Bird” is saying in not so many words, “BEND YOUR KNEE TO ME!”  Louis walks towards him, drawn to destruction…. drawn to bend his knee forever to the very thing that will kill him. But…there is hope. Behind Louis’ right shoulder there’s another image—a different choice: a preacher, with an outstretched arm, preaching the Word of God. It’s a choice that offers FREEDOM from all that has burdened him. In this moment of great struggle, Louis does bend his knee.  (You’ll have to watch the movie to see to whom.)

Here is where the choice lies, for each one of us.  We will bend our knee to the slavery Egypt offers or to the freedom the living God offers. The misery of bondage beckons us, reminding us that we’re broken—useless and left alone by a God who has forgotten us and cannot hear our cries. The TRUTH of God’s Word reminds us that we are loved—that we were created on purpose, with purpose. There is a battle raging over your very soul. Your choice matters. Your knee will bend, but to whom is what lies in the balance.

The truth is that God, with His outstretched arm, has broken the chains of bondage that have kept us enslaved to the world and all its misery. Here in Exodus, God declares what He is going to do for His people; then the story continues and HE finishes it.  I love what Pharaoh’s magicians say about what is happening in Exodus 9, “It is the finger of God.”  Forget all the power of God’s outstretched arm to save His people: God is doing it with just a finger (I bet it was the pinky finger)!

God saved His people. But, why?  Did He save them just to put a feather in His cap?  Just to impress the superpower of the day?  It was more than just saving… God saved His people so that they could knowI AM,” personally.

God created us to know Him.  He led His people into the wilderness not to torture them, but to teach them. God saved them from horrific misery and bondage; but it was more than that, and God continues to be more than that today.

Through Jesus Christ, God came personally in the form of man.  He came for one reason: to free us from the bondage and misery the world has to offer.  Jesus, by the power of His out-stretched arms on the cross, conquered the power sin has over our lives. Three days later, He conquered death and the grave when He rose from the dead in power. The chains of sin and death are broken forever, not just so we can be saved, but so that for the rest of our lives we can experience the power of that freedom and know its author personally. His name is Jesus.

We are not forced into freedom, it is a choice.  Freedom—the path to redemption—is an incredibly difficult choice.  As you watch the movie, you’ll see it played out. In Laura Hillenbrand’s book, Unbroken, Louis himself states just how hard the struggle was to walk away from “The Bird,” when he says, “It is actually hard to walk away from everything that is killing you.”

God severed the chains of bondage that had gripped Louis Zamperini’s life, and He can do the same for us today, if only we will walk away from our bondage and walk towards God, accepting the freedom He has bought for us with His own blood.

The very same choice the Hebrews faced so long ago is the choice you have before you today:  Bend your knee to Egypt, or bend your knee to the LORD GOD who has delivered you with His outstretched arm. (Or finger!)  You cannot live on both sides of the Red Sea; you must choose. Egypt will kill you in the end. The Bible tells us “the enemy “has come to steal, kill and destroy,” but Jesus has come to give LIFE and LIFE abundantly (see John 10:10).

What Does it Mean to Me?

  • What kind of life are you holding on to? Are you living a life with your knee bent in bondage to the past—toward bondage to guilt and shame? Toward enslavement to the rat race and a life defined by the power and influence of Egypt (the world and its culture)?
  • Why do we choose to live in bondage instead of freedom?
  • Why is it so hard to leave Egypt and all that it has to offer?

LIVE IT OUT

LORD, open my eyes to see You, and open my heart to follow You. Take away the struggle of chasing Egypt, and place within me a new heart to hear and follow You. Oh, that I may know the One who freed me!

Watch the trailer here. 


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

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.

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KENDRA GRAHAM: ONLINE BIBLE STUDY

“Moreover, I will make My dwelling among you, and My soul will not reject you.  I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.  I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so that you would not be their slaves, and I broke the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect.”   (Leviticus 26:11-13, NASB)

 What Does it Say?

I will make MY dwelling among you. My soul will NOT reject you. I will walk among you, be your God and you MY people.  I AM the LORD your God who brought you out of Egypt, so you not be slaves, I broke the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect.

What Does it Mean?

Aaron Shust recently wrote a song called, “Zion.”  There’s a line in the song that says, “You have no other shepherd, you have no other Lord.”  This phrase has been rolling around in my heart and mind for a few days, and in the end it brought me back to Egypt.

God’s chosen people had been captive in the land of Egypt for over 400 years.  Pharaoh was the leader God’s people knew.  The Egyptian gods were gods with whom the Hebrews were well-acquainted.  Throughout the land of Egypt, Pharaoh was seen as deity—a direct descendant of the gods.  In the eyes of the Egyptians, He made the sun rise and set, and he ensured the Nile would flood so the crops could grow. It was Pharaoh who brought the seasons and Pharaoh who protected the land.

Do you think it was possible for the Hebrews to believe that their own God had forsaken them after 400 years?  Is it too far-fetched to think that some Hebrews even found themselves in Egyptian temples, worshipping Egyptian gods?  Did the Hebrews ever look to Pharaoh to have their needs met?

In many ancient pictures of pharaohs, the ruler is portrayed holding a shepherd’s crook in one hand and a flail in the other, with his arms crossed over his chest.  In this way, the pharaoh was represented as being the shepherd and lord (or master) of Egypt.  The flail had multiple meanings: it was seen as a tool representing harvest, but it was also seen as a tool of power and punishment. The shepherd’s crook, on the other hand, represented the pharaoh as the leader of his flock.

In the Exodus, God’s chosen people were called out from under the leadership of and bondage to the pharaoh, yet that was all the Hebrews had known for generations.  God must have seemed very silent to them throughout those years of captivity.  Exodus 3 speaks of the pharaoh being a harsh taskmaster, breaking the Israelite slaves in both body and spirit.  Yet here in this Leviticus passage we see it revealed that Pharaoh would no longer be shepherd and lord:  YHWH, I AM that I AM would be their God and they would be His people.  That was the deal.

God was not ignorant of the hardships His people endured.  The Exodus 3 passage tells us God heard their cries and sent Moses, the deliverer (a foreshadowing of the day when God Himself would come as deliverer through Christ’s incarnation).  Here in Leviticus, the Word of God reminds His people that God did not reject or forsake them.  YHWH is a God who desires to walk with His people; yet in order to walk with them, God had to call them out.  When God called His people out of Egypt—out from under the thumb of Pharaoh, out from bondage, and out and away from the gods Egypt worshipped, He was calling them #home.  They would have to go through the desert, yes; but that was where they would learn to walk with, see, and experience the love of this personal God who #delivered them.

God’s call is the same today, and the same choice lies before us.  We are created to serve someone or something; that’s how it is. The choice is Egypt, or God.  Egypt had all the amenities and wealth of life. Sure, the Israelites were slaves. It was terrible and they were miserable, but it was predictable. Walking with God in freedom is a daily choice of dependence.  Freedom is HARD.

God created us to walk with Him—to know Him and to need Him.  There is no better shepherd, no kinder Lord than the LORD, YHWH.   We have been called out from the slavery the world offers, into the freedom that God gives.  The world of Egypt (the world) offered slavery and death, and it still does today; whereas God gives LIFE and life eternal (John 10:10).

I pray that you’ll determine today to have no other Shepherd, no other Lord.  Resolve to let YHWH lead you #home, even if the desert must be traversed in the process.  Oh, that we have ears to hear the One True God and voices to declare that the LORD is our God and we are His people.

What Does it Mean to me?

Who is my shepherd?  Who is my Lord?  Am I walking with God daily in freedom, or am I a slave to the world and all of its demands?

Do I even want to live in the freedom God gives?  What is the hardest thing I would have to leave behind in my “Egypt”?

Live it out:

Teach me how to walk with You, Jesus, even if it is through the desert.  Draw me to Your Word and teach me.  Give me the strength to live in the freedom You offer and died to give.  (John 3:16)

“Zion”
Aaron Shust


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

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.

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

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Having Mixed Emotions About Back to School Time? A Word for Parents

Having Mixed Emotions About Back to School Time?
A Word for Parents

As our kids go back to school this year, let us determine to kindle afresh our love for the Word of God.

For I am mindful of the sincere faith that within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother, Lois, and you mother, Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well. And for this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God…  (2 Timothy 1:5-6a)

What Does it Say?

I am mindful of the sincere faith in you which first dwelt in your grandmother and mother, I am sure it is in you as well.  I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God

What Does it Mean?

I have put off this blog for three weeks.  I don’t want to think about school starting again.  I am one of those parents that LOVES summer and wishes time would stop for a minute—but it never does.  Today, with my eldest child, I begin the trek known as “senior year.”  Today, like it or not, she will have her senior portraits taken.  My heart can’t handle it.  I don’t want to feel all the conflicting emotions that are fighting for precedence.

Bittersweet is a great term to describe it. “Bitter,” because this is my last year with her at home 24/7. This is my last school year to pour into my eldest daughter all the things she needs to know before she heads off to a college four hours away. This thought makes me panic; it makes me want to grasp to keep her here with me, just as she’s always been for the last 18 years. The bitter hurts.

(CJ’s Senior Graduation Pic)

This time can also be described as “sweet,” because I am so excited for her to embrace this new direction in life. I love that she prayed for months and months about where God wanted her go to school.  I can’t wait to watch the journeys she embarks on and what she gets to see.

My heart is an absolute conflicted mess.

Whether we as parents are dropping kids off at kindergarten or they are driving themselves to their first day of their senior year, the school year can be daunting.  Every year I say, “I want to be better, more engaged; I don’t want to forget which day is a half-day and what time my parent teacher conference is. I will not run from that dreaded science fair project and wait until the night before to get all the supplies. I will be on top if it this year!”

What does being “on top of it” really mean in the grand scheme of things?  What does it really look like?  I ran across these verses in 2 Timothy a few weeks ago, and God spoke to my heart about what is really important. Living out a sincere faith in front of your kids is a BIG DEAL.

As our kids go back to school this year, let us determine to kindle afresh our love for the Word of God.  A genuine faith is a faith that is not one where we dust off our Bible app on Sunday mornings. A genuine faith is one that gets us out of bed a bit earlier or drives us to stay up a bit later and open up the Word of God and ask God to transform our lives. A genuine faith is one that stirs up in us in such a way where we must carve out specific minutes each day for God’s Word and direction.

I remember in high school when I would get out of bed early to ensure I had enough time to properly tease my hair and hairspray it in place so that it did not move. I still remember glancing into the dining room and seeing my dad every day with his Bible open, reading the Word of God and praying.  That image is forever seared in my memory.  My parents lived out their faith in the most genuine way in front of me, and remembering my dad at that dining room table has had a life-long impact on me.

Here in these verses, Paul is reminding Timothy of his grandmother and mother. These two women, in the middle of a corrupt Roman society, lived out their faith. They lived out the message of the Gospel in front of Timothy. Their legacy of faith had impact. Paul uses that real life example of faithfulness in the home to stir up and remind Timothy of the faith that is in him as well.

Paul goes on to remind Timothy in verse 7 that God has not given him a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power and love and discipline. It can sometimes be HARD and frightening to live out genuine faith in our culture today; but this school year as parents, let’s determine to pass on that legacy: the legacy of a sincere faith that is not just talked about but is lived out. This school year let’s determine to be disciplined, above all, in the Word of God. Let’s LIVE BOLD, faith-filled lives in front of our families.  A fire left to itself will burn out, so let’s stir the embers of faith this school year as never before.

Homeschool parents, public school parents, independent private school parents, and Christian school parents, what if we all together got on our knees and prayed fervently day after day for God to raise US up to live the Gospel in front of our kids in a supernatural way? Can we even imagine how in this school year we would see God work in unbelievable ways?

As the school year progresses we may fail at being those “super-parents” we expect ourselves to be: attending every performance, volunteering for every field trip, and having the most incredible science fair projects. But what if this year we determined to be those parents with a faith that is on fire? This will be hard; but God has not given us a spirit of fear but power, love and discipline.

Today, I embark on a bittersweet journey with my daughter.  I pray that above all she will remember the Gospel fire that lives within me. Let’s tackle this school year saturated in the sweetness of the Word of God.

What Does it Mean to Me?

When are you carving out disciplined personal minutes to be in the Word of God?  If not every day, will you determine to discipline yourself to open God’s Word three times a week?

Do you have a legacy of faith in your family, or will you be the beginning of that legacy?

How can your faith be described?

LIVE IT OUT:

Today, LORD, thank you for meeting me here in Your Word.  As today proceeds, please stir up Your Word within me.  Give me the power to live out the Gospel in front of my family today.


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

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.

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

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KENDRA GRAHAM: ONLINE BIBLE STUDY

 “Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker—An earthenware vessel among the vessels of the earth!  Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?’ Or the thing you are making say, ‘He has no hands?’”  (Isaiah 45:9, NASB)

What Does it Say?

Woe to one who quarrels with his Maker. Will clay say to potter, “What are you doing?” Or the thing made say “He has no hands?”

What Does it Mean?

I recently traveled to Seattle, Washington. Greeted by Seattle’s cold and rain, I began to feel as if the cold weather continues to chase me! As I navigated the city’s rain-soaked streets, I was drawn to what seemed to be the warmest spot in town— a unique glass shop called Art by Fire. The ovens inside the shop were 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and my Aunt Tina and I could literally feel those ovens breathe their warmth into the chilly side street we were walking. In the days since our visit to that unique place, my heart and mind continue to process our experience.

My aunt and I watched with intrigue as the glassmaker placed a rod into the fire to take hold of a lump of glass. As he removed the clear hot piece of glass, he continuously turned the rod to prevent the glass from falling off the rod and on to the hard concrete floor. As long as the glass remained in this red-hot state, it stayed incredibly pliable. The artist then added color, firing the glass again as it cooled and became less moldable. While the glass was at its hottest, the glassmaker used tools to shape the lump of glass into a work of art. We watched in amazement as the master designer reached for pliers and began pulling apart pieces of glass to create the petals of an iris. Then, with creativity and great skill, he applied a large putty knife of sorts, placing pressure in the proper places and rounding certain pieces out at just the correct angle. When I asked how he’d learned to create these amazing pieces, the artist said, “I see them in my mind, then my hands get to work.”

As I watched this extraordinary artist work, a verse in Isaiah came to mind: “..will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?’”  (Isaiah 45:9, NASB).

The glass didn’t scream at the creator when put into the fire. The glass needed to be put into the fire so that it could be formed and so that color could be added. The glassmaker told Aunt Tina and me that it was the fire that solidified each piece’s unique color. The glass would cool quickly as the artist worked, so multiple trips to the fire were needed.  The process was fascinating: Early-on it was difficult to see what the piece was going to become, but by the end it was obvious—the lump of glass had been transformed into something beautiful—a true piece of art that was worth every penny of the price listed on the tag.

My heart was softened as my eyes witnessed the process from start to finish. I so often become frustrated with God because of the fire He leads me to walk through. I tend to immediately think that God hates me and doesn’t care if I die or if I hurt. I am evidence of the creation screaming at the potter, “What are You doing?!”  The process is often excruciating as I fight and refuse to face the fire, doing all I can to run from the extreme heat; but what if I allowed the Creator to place me where He needs me to be, for as long as I need to be there?

The interesting thing about that glass-artist was that when he placed the glass piece back into the fire to heat it up, it was never in there for very long: just long enough to make it pliable—then it was immediately removed. The artist explained that while the glass piece was being fired he had to pay very close attention it, constantly turning the piece to prevent it from falling off the rod or getting destroyed in the fire. If the artist left the glass in the heat of the fire for too long, it would liquify the glass, defeating the purpose of the piece.

Sometimes it seems like “forever” in the furnace; but if I decided to stop fighting, and allowed the Creator to fashion what He wants, adding the color He desires (not the color I demand), what kind of testimony would my life become?  What if I allowed the Creator to use those pliers to pull away the petals from the stem so that I could become what He desires me to be? I confess I don’t like the heat of the fire or the pressure of the pliers. Yet I know this truth: God never promised life would be easy, but He did promise that we would never be alone and that He will never leave us or forsake us (see Hebrews 13:5).  The book of Romans tells us that the “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18, NKJV) and that “All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28, NASB).

We can trust the Creator. The white-hot heat of the fire or the burning heat of the desert is not for our harm, but for our good. This is where faith comes in. We have faith for something, because it’s hard.  We hold on to the fact of God’s promises when everything around us and everything in our hearts says to put our fists in the air and RUN from the fire and from everything we thought we believed about God.

What if we held on, pressed in, and really believed what we have said we believe? Then our lives would reflect a work of art that only God could create. The choice to trust is yours. This is hard! I wish it were easy, but I encourage you to press on, my friends… through the heat of the desert and the flame of the fire.

What does it Mean to Me?
  • How hard has it been to choose to stand in faith and not run in fear, anger and bitterness?
  • When have you seen God or felt the closeness of God while going through the fire?
  • How can we pray for you today if you feel alone in the midst of the fire?

LIVE IT OUT

Today, LORD God, give me eyes to see Your hand on that rod while this fire threatens to overwhelm me, and give me a heart to accept it as I cling to Your Word. Give me today a specific promise from Your Word that I will claim. Instead of the anger and bitterness I feel rising in my soul, may Your Word be the cry of my heart.


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