A Special Christmas Scripture Study by Kendra Graham

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

Kendra suggests you use the following process when studying Scripture.  We have included an example of this process from John 1:1.

Step 1:  Pray
Step 2: Read God’s Word (look at the passage)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  
Step 3: What Does God’s Word Say? (list the facts)
1 In the beginning the Word was with God and was God.
Step 4: What Does God’s Word Mean? (learn the lessons)
1 God‘s Word is not just ancient philosophy, it is eternal Truth.
Step 5: What Does God’s Word Mean to Me? (listen to his voice)
1 How do I view the Bible?

Kendra Graham NOTES from Luke 2:8-20

What does it say? The Facts. 

8.  In the same region shepherds were keeping watch by night
9.   An angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, they were afraid
10. Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy for all
11. Today, is born a Savior, Christ the Lord
12. This will be a sign, a baby wrapped in cloths lying in a manger
13. Suddenly a multitude of heavenly host praising God
14.  Glory to God in the highest on earth peace with whom He is well pleased
15.  The angels had gone, the shepherds began saying, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem and see this thing the Lord made known to us”
16. They came in haste. Found the baby as He lay in the manger
17.When they saw, they made known the statement told of the Child
18. All who heard it pondered at the things told by the shepherds
19. Mary treasured and pondered these things in her heart
20.  The shepherds went back glorifying and praising God, all they heard and saw was just as had been told them

What Does it Mean? Lessons we can learn.

8.   The shepherds were the outcasts of society.  Shepherds were also considered “unclean” so a shepherd could not go to the temple, they were too filthy.  Imagine being told you were too dirty to worship God!  You were not even invited!  When a shepherd went to town they must yell, “Unclean” so people would quickly run away.  They did not have a thrilling job, but a very difficult, hard and often times dangerous job for little pay.  Shepherds had to work 24/7, often times in very harsh conditions.  What do you think a shepherd thought about at night?  Do you think they pondered their importance to God?  If I were a shepherd I would be tempted to think God cared about everyone,  except dirty ole, ignored, outcast, me.  It’s easy to believe the lie that I am insignificant.
9. God can bring light to even our darkest nights.
10. The words spoken from heaven were not words of condemnation or judgment but of joy, excitement, kindness and love and they are for you, shepherds.  Angels from heaven? Surely they must have a message for someone more important than just a shepherd.  No, sweet shepherd, you have not been overlooked, you have not been cast aside! Heaven has news, the first of the news was entrusted to those society had sidelined and deemed “outcast”.  The message was not just for the shepherds though, but for ALL people!!!  This includes you and I!  Hope, REAL HOPE in a hopeless dark place where we are tempted to think we are abandoned and forgotten…. yet no! Heaven sees you and I and is shouting and praising the birth of Jesus!  Jesus has come for you and me!
11. Jesus, this Savior is for us!  “For unto YOU THIS DAY!”  A Savior!  The shepherds you see were looking for just that!  A savior!  The government that had promised freedom, yet brought oppression.  The government that had promised ease yet had brought them extremely high tax burdens instead, The government had promised freedom for all, yet brought fear and slavery.  A savior was needed.  A Savior IS NEEDED still today.  Heaven still rings with the TRUTH, Jesus, a Savior was born that very night in Bethlehem for ALL people!
12. Heaven is clear on how to find Jesus.  No two ways about it.  No confusion.  God is not a God of confusion but clarity! (I Corinthians 14:33). Jesus is also close and easy to get to. Jesus is not hiding from us but begging us to come!
13-14.  Glory to God in the highest and Peace on earth.  Heaven sings of it at the top of their lungs!  Peace in a time of distress! Peace in a time of burden! Peace in a time of turmoil! Peace in a time of despair!  Peace in a time of depression! Peace in a time of heartache and despair!  Peace between God and man, a relationship that had been strained by sin since the beginning will be at peace through Jesus! This is something to sing about!  15-16a. The shepherds decided to go straight away in haste to Bethlehem.  They did not search the “Yelp” app for a sheep sitter in the area, they did not wait until they could get cleaned up first to go see Immanuel, God with us. The shepherds did not write a list of pros and cons on why maybe tonight is or is not a great time to go.  Jesus was there, in the manger, that night, if they didn’t go then, they would have missed the opportunity.   Each shepherd had to decide and go for himself… Phil could not go for David, Josh could not go for Jim, they all had to make that personal decision for themselves.  There was no one excluded from the invitation, there was room for all.
1
6b.  The shepherds found the baby in the manger.  Jesus was found right where heaven said He was!  God’s Word is true, and the Shepherds experienced it that night.
17.  After the shepherds experienced God’s Word to be true, they could not hold it in, they told what had happened.  No longer did it matter if people thought they had eaten some bad fish on that hill that night and hallucinated… how many times did they say on the way to find Jesus among themselves, “No one will believe us… let’s just agree that what happens on the hill stays on the hill…”  yet, after they saw Jesus, they could not hold in the message of heaven!  A Savior indeed was born and God leaned His angels out of heaven to tell them, the shepherds!
18. When people hear your testimony of how Jesus changes your life, there will be wonderment!  It didn’t matter that the shepherds were outcasts anymore, they had been changed by Jesus, and everyone had to hear!
19. Mary is reminded that God’s Word is true.  How she may have needed the shepherds story.
20. The shepherds were changed.  You can’t come to Jesus and go back the same! What did the baby “do” for them?  Did they go back with a million dollars?  A new house?  Were they able to pay their bills all of a sudden?  What about a new job, so they didn’t have to be outcasts any longer?  Jesus, you see, changed the state of their heart!  They saw that night how precious they were to God!  Freedom, peace and joy are not hinged upon a physical location or a certain job or way of life, freedom, peace and joy are a state of the heart that only Jesus can give.  The shepherds experienced it that night.  People even today are hearing the testimony of the shepherds and coming to Jesus! What is the state of your heart today?

What Does it Mean to Me? So now what do I do with that?

8.   Do I know Jesus was born for me?  Am I tempted to think the story of Jesus at Christmas is for everyone else but me because I have fallen through the cracks of God’s mind?  Do I realize I am NOT insignificant to God?
9.  What causes me to think I am a lost cause in the darkness unable to be seen by a loving God?  Do I realize the One who breaks the darkness also reigns over it?
10. Am I in need of real hope that won’t pick me up to let me down?  Will I finally choose to put my hope in Jesus who will not disappoint?  And the HOPE of JESUS does NOT DISAPPOINT us, because God has poured out His love in our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom He has given us.”  Romans 5:5
11. Did I realize God sent Jesus, for me?  To whom do I look to for Truth? Does it seem like I have trusted in everyone and everything else only to be let down?
12.  Did I know God was so clear on how to find Him and does that fact bother me?  Am I looking for another way to God?  Am I tempted to think Jesus is being exclusive, when really, Jesus is just being clear and simple lacking confusion? John 14:6 Jesus said, “I AM the way, the Truth and the life, NO ONE comes to God EXCEPT through ME.”
13-14.  How many of us need the peace of Jesus with all the chaos in our lives?  Do you have that peace with God that Jesus came to bring?  Is it time I stopped looking to the world and its leaders and friends for this kind of superficial peace and went straight to Jesus who died to give it to me? What or who am I allowing to keep me from coming to the Prince of Peace?  Isaiah 9:6.
15-16a. Am I waiting to get things straightened up in my life before I go to Jesus? Do I realize I can never get things fixed without Jesus?  Have I been hoping that someone else would go first, or for me?  What personal decision have I made about Jesus and am I confident with that decision if I were to enter eternity this moment?
16b.  How many times have I been let down by other’s definitions of the word “Truth” in my life, my job, my family, my governmental leaders? Am I ready to go and see for myself that real Truth is only found in Jesus?
17-19.  How has Jesus changed my life and who needs to hear about it?  How do I need Jesus to change my life so I will have a testimony of God’s power to tell?
20. Do you need Jesus, the Prince of Peace, Almighty God, Wonderful Counselor, and Everlasting Father to change your life this Christmas? Did you know you too can have the same testimony the shepherds had that night?  Jesus came for you!

This Christmas simply take a moment to pray to the God who loves you so much, He came down personally to this world to fix the gap sin (anything we do wrong, the tiniest lie, the smallest infringement, to the largest)  has placed between us.  Just as the tide on the seashore fills the smallest dent to the largest hole when it comes in, the blood of Jesus covers all we have done in life to separate us from Him, if we just ask!  Will you ask Jesus to change your heart today?  Experience the same change those shepherds did that night!  It didn’t matter that they were still “just” shepherds, they knew that God not only saw them, but that they meant everything to Him.  You mean everything to the God who created you to know Him and walk with Him through life.  This Christmas will you give your heart to Christ?  You won’t regret it.  The shepherds sure didn’t!

Lord God, thank you for coming to us!  Jesus, who is God came to make things right between us by dying on the cross, shedding His blood so that I could be forgiven.  Thank you for going to the extreme, and doing whatever it took, for me.  Overwhelm me by your love.  You died, then three days later rose again from the grave conquering the sin that has kept me away from you my entire life.  Forgive me for things I have done to separate us.  Change my heart as you changed the shepherds heart that night you were born. 

If you prayed that prayer, those same angels that told the shepherds of the birth of Jesus are praising and raising the roof in heaven, for YOU!  Jesus loves you and saw you as the reason to be born that night!  Now, begin your walk with Jesus here on earth by studying His Word, the Bible. 

Join us this year in this online study as we encourage one another daily in God’s Word!  God bless you!  Remember, peace is not a location, but a state of the heart that only God can give, for He is the Prince of Peace, why settle for anyone else? Amen and Merry Christmas! 

Homework: Psalm 1:1

If you can make it to The Cove in person, join us on Tuesday evening, January 8, 2013, for a 7-week study on Psalm 23.  It’s free!  Bring a friend, neighbor or your Bible study group.  all are welcome!  Click here or call 1-800-950-2092 for more information and to register.   

Merry Christmas from The Cove

 

Merry Christmas from all of us at The Cove!

2012 has been a year filled with God’s beautiful blessings here at The Cove.  We thank each of you for being a part of it!

May God’s blessings and His truest joys be with you this Christmas season and always.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  Luke 2:10-11   

Come see us in 2013!  Click here to see what’s going on next year at The Cove.

GUEST POST: Why Does God Allow Suffering

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

By Chip Ingram

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kendra’s Bible Study…Joshua 24: 5-8

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

Kendra suggests you use the following process when studying Scripture.  We have included an example of this process from John 1:1.

Step 1:  Pray
Step 2: Read God’s Word (look at the passage)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  
Step 3: What Does God’s Word Say? (list the facts)
1 In the beginning the Word was with God and was God.
Step 4: What Does God’s Word Mean? (learn the lessons)
1 God‘s Word is not just ancient philosophy, it is eternal Truth.
Step 5: What Does God’s Word Mean to Me? (listen to his voice)
1 How do I view the Bible?

Kendra Graham NOTES from Joshua 24:5-8 

FACTS:  What Does it say?

Verse 5: I sent Moses & Aaron.  I plagued Egypt.  I brought you out.
Verse 6: I brought you out & you came to the sea & Egypt pursued you to the Red Sea.
Verse 7: A. When they cried to the LORD, He put darkness between you & Egypt, brought the sea upon them.  Your own eyes saw what I did.
Verse 7: B.  You lived in the wilderness a long time.
Verse 8:  I brought you to the land of Amorites, they fought, I gave them into your hand, I destroyed them before you.

LESSONS: What Does it Mean?

verse.5:  God delivers His people through extraordinary circumstances.  God is faithful to His people, He saw their affliction, heeded their cries for help, was aware of their suffering, and DELIVERED them (Exodus 3:7-8).  Moses and Aaron got to watch.
Verse 6:  Sometimes God allows me to be pinned in, in an impossible situation, with nowhere to go but to Him.  I am so quick to downgrade to the thought that God hates me and has it in for me when things “seemingly” get worse as soon as I turn to Him.  I see a dead end, but in reality with God, it is just the beginning of great and miraculous things to come!
Verse 7:  A. Sometimes being pinned in brings me to exactly where I need to be, the throne of grace, desperate, humble, weak, and dependent.  So often I am quick to beg God to change my situation then I will believe and obey, and God says, “Child, believe Me, obey Me, and see what I can do with your situation.”  I will have a testimony that I witnessed with my own eyes.
Verse 7:  B.  So, let me get this right…. God DELIVERS His people, just so they can suffer day in and day out in a WILDERNESS???!!!  Who needs that kind of deliverance right?!   Exodus 16:4, “…. that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in my instruction.”  Sometimes God leads me to a place that makes no sense, a wilderness.  God’s people were NOT in sin (yet), God simply wanted to teach His people to trust Him, in every situation and circumstance.  The people were going to need the lessons learned in the wilderness, in order to have the boldness and the faith it would take to conquer the promised land.  God cares about refining me and wants me to more than just “look to Him”, but learn to “LEAN on Him! It took them a LOOOOOOOOONG TIME!  God is a very patient teacher.
Verse 8:  The battle belongs to the LORD, when I follow the LORD’s lead, he leads me to some scary places sometimes, but there is no safer place than the places where God goes before me.

APPLICATION:  WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO ME????

Verse 5:  What causes me to doubt that God is aware of and cares about my current circumstances?
Verse 6:  Do I trust God with the direction He wants to lead in my life?  What impossible situation is in my life that God is just waiting for me to turn to Him with so He can do the miraculous?  When have I been pinned in only to see God work in unbelievable ways?Verse 7: A.  When have my own eyes seen God work in an unexplainable way?  When have I gone to God in my weakness and desperation and experienced His personal faithfulness to me?  If I have not experienced God’s hand of faithfulness in my life is it because I have never allowed myself to be completely dependent on Him because I don’t believe He will be faithful to me?
Verse 7: B:  Do I have a teachable spirit, even when God leads me to places that don’t make sense, and seem to cause me more pain?  Do I trust God and allow Him to refine me in the way that is best for me?
Verse 8:  Do I believe God will go before me and protect me or do I think He will do that for everyone else except me?  What do I really believe about God?

HOMEWORK:  LUKE 2:8-20
PICK your FAVORITE verse or TWO in this Christmas passage and share in the joy of Christ’s birth!!!!
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Women’s Bible study at The Cove begins January 8, 2013.  Morning and evening options.  While the studies are free, we do ask that you register.  Bring a friend or two!  See you in January!    Click here or call 1-800-950-2092 to register. 

Over 20 Countries Represented at The Cove This Week

by Trevor Freeze

If you think the Jesus.net conference is just another weekend getaway, you should spend a couple of minutes talking with Grace Sumbillo and Mark Ty.

Traveling more than 9,000 miles from their homes in Metro Manila, Philippines, to The Billy Graham Training Center in Asheville, N.C., Sumbillo and Ty know this is more than just another startup website project.

They know this five-day conference — with people from more than 20 countries represented — is more than just a chance to buy a new widget or learn about the latest Internet fad.

People in the Philippines are just like people in the United States. They’re hurting and searching.

And they oftentimes go online.

“It’s God moving,” Ty said. “It’s not really about us. It’s about God moving people to this website.”

In the Philippines, that website is HopeKayGod.net, their version of PeaceWithGod.net, the Internet Evangelism website launched by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in April of 2011.

“We chose ‘Hope’ because the word ‘Peace’ in the Philippines means not fighting,” said Ty, the web developer of the project. “We found ‘Hope’ is more universally known in the Philippines.”

HopeKayGod.net hasn’t even been up for two months, and barely any online advertising has been done, yet people are finding it. And they’re finding a video presentation of the Gospel of Jesus in the local language of Tagalog.

In the last week of November alone, more than 2,000 people stumbled upon HopeKayGod.net, with more than 75 making decisions for Christ and over 20 percent filling out a form to be contacted for more information.

“My background is in IT,” Ty said. “To be able to use my work skills in ministry is very exciting.”

And the Philippines’ project isn’t even officially launched yet. Along with Portugal, Mexico and two versions in the U.S. (one English, one Spanish), the BGEA is expanding its Internet Evangelism ministry.

And the potential is staggering.

In the past 20 months since launching more than 6 million people have visited PeaceWithGod.net, which features a clear video presentation of the Gospel.

More than 1.4 million people have indicated they made a decision to receive Christ as their Lord and Savior. More than 185,000 have filled out a form requesting more information. The BGEA’s Internet Evangelism team then follows up with five discipleship e-mail lessons and as well as answering any other questions the new believers may have.

“Everyone who asks a question, we respond to them,” said Bob Hill, BGEA’s Director of Strategic Planning and Project Management.

The challenging task of responding to all the inquiries has been met by a volunteer base of 270 trained e-counselors and discipleship coaches. Soon that number will nearly double as training qualified online coaches continue to expand.

But in the Philippines that number currently sits at two.

Sumbillo is in charge of the e-coaches for HopeKayGod.net and while her two trained e-coaches are very efficient, she is in the process of training 10 other e-coaches.

She hopes to have them up and running by February, when HopeKayGod.net plans to officially launch around a Hillsong United concert at Araneta Collesium in Manila that will help promote the online ministry.

“We’re surprised that even without much promotion people have found the website.”

Questions range from general curiosity about God to specific ones, such as “Why does God allow bad things if He loves me?”

“It’s an exciting ministry,” said Sumbillo, describing how a Philippine woman living in Canada found the website and prayed to receive Christ. “It’s just the work of God.”

BGEA’s work in the Philippines dates back to 1977. A young 15-year-old by the name of James Tioco was one of the 412,000 people who came to the 1977 Billy Graham Crusade at Rizal Park in Manilla.

Tioco was one of more than 22,000 who came forward to accept Christ into his life and has been on fire to spread the Gospel ever since. From Operation Christmas Child involvement to 2006 leadership roles in both My Hope Philippines and the Franklin Graham Festival in Manila, Tioco has fanned the flames of evangelism in his country.

Then he heard about using the Internet to reach people for Jesus and he was all in.

Quickly a partnership with the Philippines formed and a site was built using the Tagalog language.

“I can see a lot of churches using this for their evangelistic ministry,” Ty said. “What I like about this website is you’re looking at real people talking.”

And that’s part of what the Jesus.net conference is all about. Getting people together, who are in some form or another under the Jesus.net umbrella, to talk about their specific online ministry and to learn from each other.

“It gives people an opportunity to all get on the same page,” Hill said. “It’s a movement. We just have to make sure we’re all moving the same direction.”

Click here to bring your ministry group to The Cove for a conference or retreat.

Behind The Scenes…Through the Lens

Have you ever met someone and wondered what they are like outside of work or away from the usual setting in which you see them?

When you come to The Cove, you are sure to be greeted by staff members with smiling faces that reflect what is deep inside each of their hearts…a love for the work to which God has called them.They are called to serve you, so that you are free to hear from HIM while at The Cove. 

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as
good stewards of God’s varied grace
.” 1 Peter 4:10

A call to serve. Now, that’s a beautiful thing. But, maybe there’s more than meets the eye. Let us introduce one of those smiling faces to you today – Patty Smith. 

Patty works in our Housekeeping department. What most people do not know is that she has a passion and a gift for photography…and serving at The Cove. The photographs below are from Patty’s personal collection, captured right here on property.  Enjoy!

How long have you worked at The Cove and what brought you here?
Patty: “I have worked at The Cove for ten-years. I began as a housekeeper. For the last six-years, I have been a housekeeping supervisor and also help with front desk and other lodging duties. I married right after high school and had my first child a year later. I started college but quit to raise my son and later my daughter, as well. I was blessed to be able to stay at home for many years and homeschool my children. But, there came a day when I thought I should help with the finances. I wasn’t actively looking for a job but was praying and thinking about it. One day a new member of the church I was attending, who knew nothing about me, asked if I needed a job and told me she just started working as a housekeeper at The Cove. I felt good about it so I applied and was hired.”

How did you first start taking photographs?
Patty: “I wanted to be a photographer when I was ten-years old. I was not encouraged to become anything in my home growing up. The goal for my stepfather was to get me and my sister to the obligatory age of 18 and out of the house. I never stopped wanting to take photographs, but had very little resources since I was married right after high school and did not have the finances to do very much. In the last few years I have been able to pursue the dream that all but died. I am working on a degree in Fine Art with a concentration on photography right now in my 40s!”

 

How and when do you take photographs at the Cove?
Patty: “One of the hardest lessons I have learned as a photographer happened at the Cove one morning. I was coming down the cabin road around 7 a.m. when two very large bucks tumbled down the bank right in front of me and continued the fight that had obviously began up the mountain side. They locked horns and pushed one another furiously for about five-minutes in the road, right in front of me. I sat in my car, headlights on them, and watched; lamenting the fact that I did not have my camera or even my cell phone. That particular moment is recorded only in my mind. So now, except for rare occasions, I keep my camera in my car. Most photos I have taken are spur-of-the-moment. You can’t plan to drive around the curve and find a mama bear and her two cubs playing on a cabin porch. There are other times when I am working and I might see a particular flower, tree, or block of color and patterns that I think I want to capture. I remember those places and when I have a free moment I get my camera and take a picture. I have driven around the Cove property, after work, in the spring and fall or on a rainy day when the colors and the surprises found from just looking a little closer, tug at me. God is an artist. Our grounds maintenance crew also have an artistic vision. I am amazed some days, when I really look, how beautiful The Cove is.”

What is your favorite part of working here?
Patty: “The job I have is physically demanding and some days I feel like I just can’t make it another day. But, I am surrounded by very precious ladies in the housekeeping department who pray for me and encourage me. When it gets a little bit hard something tends to happen to remind me that we make a difference, even in our small way. One of those moments happened just recently when a deployed military participant checked in and said he was overwhelmed by the beauty of The Cove. He said he was almost in tears as he drove up the road. In his words, “I have served 2 tours in Iraq and I get to come here.” His attitude and appreciation made my tiredness fade a little. People like this make every hard task a little easier to bear.”

Do you have a favorite Cove story?
Patty: “There are many stories that fill the years and I don’t really have one that stands out among them. I have had the privilege of meeting Billy Graham and escorting several speakers to their cabins. I have been blessed when helping Cliff Barrows by his genuine concern for me personally. On that same note, Steve Brown blessed me just recently when I called him to check on a problem with his wireless internet connection in his cabin and he asked if I slept well the night before because he had prayed for me personally. When you feel insignificant and small in the great scheme of things going on and plans being made, these moments are life-affirming and appreciated. I think it is the sum of these small moments that create the big story.”

We all feel blessed to work at such a beautiful place and serve people like you! We hope to see you at The Cove soon.

Kendra’s Bible Study…Joshua 24: 1-4

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

Kendra suggests you use the following process when studying Scripture.  We have included an example of this process from John 1:1.

Step 1:  Pray
Step 2: Read God’s Word (look at the passage)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  
Step 3: What Does God’s Word Say? (list the facts)
1 In the beginning the Word was with God and was God.
Step 4: What Does God’s Word Mean? (learn the lessons)
1 God‘s Word is not just ancient philosophy, it is eternal Truth.
Step 5: What Does God’s Word Mean to Me? (listen to his voice)
1 How do I view the Bible?

Kendra Graham NOTES from Joshua 24:1-4

What Does it Say?

Vs.1: Joshua gathered the tribes of Israel, the elders, judges, & officers. They presented themselves before God.

Vs.2: Thus says the LORD the God of Israel, “From ancient times your fathers lived beyond the river, Terah, the father of Abraham and Nahor, they served other gods.”

Vs.3a. Then I took Abraham from beyond the River, led him though Canaan

Vs.3b. God multiplied descendants, gave (Abraham) Isaac,

Vs.4: To Isaac I gave Jacob & Easu, Easu I gave Mt Seir to possess, but Jacob & his sons went to Egypt.

What Does it Mean? Lessons 

Vs.1:  I LOVE that God is not just for the head honchos.  FIRST Joshua called ALL the tribes of Israel, then the leaders.  God doesn’t just speak to the ones we put in charge, God speaks to all of us, if we will just come and listen.  How He beckons me to just come and listen to all that He has to tell me.   

Vs.2:  God reminds us to remember our past, remember from where He drew us.  God’s gracious eye to see us, call us, woo us, and love us in spite of our sinful state that kept us far from Him.  I don’t think we are to dwell in our past, but remembering from whence we were drawn should give us pause for thanks. 

Vs.3a: “I took” Abraham….  God saw, God drew, God led, God loved…. Abraham did nothing but follow.  God calls us to “Come follow Me”, Jesus, God’s son, God with skin on, said that phrase a lot in the Gospels, “Come, Follow Me”  we are invited to come and follow, not come and lead the way… no matter how gifted we are in leadership, or talented by genetics, come… follow.  Abraham followed even though he did not control the direction, timing or place he would go.  

Vs.3b.  When I choose to follow Jesus, I will see the impossible become possible, and I will see God’s faithfulness displayed day after day.

Vs.4.   Sometimes God leads others to places of “ease” it seems, then me? Oh, He leads me to places of affliction and suffering.   Regardless of the place God leads me, He is there, and if He is leading, then He goes before me…. even when the place seems like the valley of the shadow of death.  God’s faithfulness to me continues regardless of the place I find myself in.

What Does it Mean to Me? Personal Application

Vs.1: How many times does God beckon me to come into His presence, beckon me to open His Word and just listen to what He has to say to me, yet, I am too busy, or the time doesn’t suit me, or I just don’t want to?  Did I realize God has something to say to me, or do I get caught up into thinking He only has things to say to pastors and other people of that sort?

Vs.2: How did God call me?  From where did God draw me?  From what miry clay did the LORD reach down into and pull me out of so that my feet could be firmly set upon the Rock which is Jesus? 

Vs.3a Do I come to God with the heart to follow, or the heart to tell Him where I want to be, where I am gifted and where I should be?  Am I willing to follow where He leads? 

Vs.3b How have I seen God’s faithfulness on display in my life?  Have I missed seeing God’s miraculous power because I didn’t like, agree, or see the point for the places He was trying to lead me to? 

Vs.4 Have I thanked God purely for His desire to lead me where He is?  Isn’t it cool that God will go to extremes to show (me) His people His love and faithfulness?  When and how has God shown His faithfulness to me in the dark places?  When has God blessed me with places of ease where joy just seemed to flow without measure?

Homework:  Joshua 24:5-8

Sign up for the free annual Women’s Bible study at The Cove here.  It begins on January 8, 2013.   

Recipe from The Cove’s Kitchen: Black Bean and Turkey Chili

Want a new idea of what to do with all that leftover turkey? Here’s a great recipe from our wonderful kitchen staff at The Cove!

Ingredients:
1 lb black beans
2 diced yellow onions
2 diced red bell Pepper
1 diced green bell pepper
2 – 3 lbs shredded turkey (you can use as more or less depending on the amount you have leftover)
32 fl oz. beef stock
4 tbsp chili powder
2 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp minced garlic
3 bay leaves
1 lb fresh diced tomatoes
Salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:
1. In stock pot, sauté onions until caramelized
2. Add and sauté peppers and garlic
3. Add beans, beef stock, diced tomatoes, and turkey and stir.
4. Add chili powder, cumin, paprika, bay leaves and simmer for 1 hour.
5. Add additional seasoning to preferred taste
6. Enjoy a nice bowl of turkey chili on a nice cool fall day!

Three Reasons to be Thankful

by Will Graham, Executive Director, The Cove

As I reflect back on the past year, there is so much for which I am very thankful. I’ve been blessed with opportunities around the world to share the love and hope of Jesus Christ. I’ve seen miracles take place this year as I’ve watched people place their eternal faith in the hands of Christ.

Yet, as I ponder the amazing love of the Lord, it strikes me that so often we view our salvation as commonplace. We have received this unbelievable gift, and rather than bursting with thankfulness and jumping with joy we tuck it into the back of the dresser like a pair of socks.

Let’s take a moment to focus on the topic of thankfulness. Luke—the physician—recorded this event in the life of Jesus, showing why we ought to be thankful.

Found in Luke 17:11–19, this is the story of Jesus healing ten lepers. Once they were healed, the ten men ran off excited. But only one came back to praise God for what had happened. Just as these men were physically healed of their leprosy, we receive salvation (or spiritual healing) from Jesus that warrants our gratitude.

First, we can be thankful that Jesus came to us (vv. 11–13). The text says that Jesus went through Samaria and Galilee, both of which were made up of people stigmatized by society. Samaritans were considered unclean people. Galileans were misfits and rogues, and yet Jesus made the effort to go to them. They did not have to go to Jesus. Similarly, God came down from heaven some 2,000 years ago in order to redeem mankind.

Second, we need to also be thankful because Jesus hears our cries (v. 14). The text says the men yelled out to Jesus because they were lepers, and the law required them to stay at a distance in order to prevent infecting others. But Jesus stopped and answered their cry for help. This is significant. These men realized their own situation—that they were very sick and they could not help themselves. If they could have, they would have already done so. They realized that only Jesus could help them and so they cried out to Him. Likewise, when we cry out to Christ for our salvation, it is because we understand that we are unable to save ourselves. We are spiritual lepers in need of healing.

Finally, we need to be thankful that Jesus can cleanse us and make us whole (v. 14). Jesus told the men to go show themselves to the priests, and on the way, the men were healed. They exercised faith in Jesus—they believed He could heal them—and showed obedience as they did exactly what Jesus commanded them to do. Only Jesus has the ability to forgive sin and cleanse us spiritually, as He cleansed the lepers physically.

We should be thankful that we serve a God who can heal, cleanse and save – physically and spiritually – and who comes to us and invites us into communion with Him. When we give thanks to God, He is honored and glorified (vv. 15-19). The Bible says that only one man came back to thank Jesus, and when he did, he was honoring God.

We’re entering the holiday season and things will begin to get hectic, but I encourage you to be sure that you aren’t like the other nine. Please take the time to come back to God and thank Him for what He has done for you. He came down, He heard your cry, and He answered it by healing your soul. My friends, we have every reason to be thankful!

The blog of the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove