Tag Archives: Asheville Bible Study

KENDRA GRAHAM BIBLE STUDY: WEEK 3 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 third week of the Bible study with a few homework questions at the end. 

AM
#ENOUGH
to FEED you…

STEP ONE: Pray
STEP TWO:  Read the Text. 

Exodus 16:1-3 (NASB)

1 Then they set out from Elim and all the congregation of the sons of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin which is between Elim and Sinai on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departure from the land of Egypt.  2 The whole congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.  3 The sons of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the LORD’s hand in the land of Egypt when we sat by pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

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.

  1.  From Elim, all the congregation of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin between Elim and Sinai
  2. The WHOLE congregation grumbled against Moses & Aaron
  3. Sons of Israel said “Would that we died by LORD’s hand in Egypt by pots of meat when we ate bread to the full; you brought us into wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
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.

  1. When God moves, we need to follow; even if it means leaving comfort for the unknown. Things get hard and we tend to give up in the middle. We want God to make the journey easy, predictable and comfortable. Being in the middle is a HARD place to be.
  2.  It is human nature to look to blame people for why you are where you are.  We tend to blame others for not being God.
  3. When things get hard, it is easy to sell our souls for a bowl of chili with a baguette on the side. We want to leverage our #deliverance and control God.  Personal comfort above all. We tend to believe what we see and feel over the presence and promises of God. What it comes down to is the fact that we do not really believe God has our best interests in mind. Sure God loves Moses and Aaron and will provide for them; it’s easier for them, because God loves them… God just doesn’t care about us, the little people, like that. God will never leave us or forsake us, but we are willing to trade our eternal soul for a minute of relief. The name of God is Jehovah Jirah… Jehovah, the high exalted God who wants to be known as MY PROVIDER…  God cannot provide unless there is a need that you cannot meet. I AM more than #ENOUGH to provide for YOU.
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 than 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?

How do you try to control when and where God leads? When was there a time when things were going great, you were following God, seeing God work, and then you got into the “middle” of it and felt God abandoned the calling and you so you gave up? Or did you not give up and continue to hold on in faith?  What causes us to bail out of where God is leading us personally?

  1. When have you cast blame on someone else because it was easier than going to God in humility and asking Him where He is in the middle of the mess?
  2. What is your price?  You have left or are willing to walk away forever from God if __________________________? You are willing to walk away from God unless he does _____________________________?

Do you want the “what” that Egypt has to offer or the “Who” that God is?  Let’s be honest with God here… we ALL know the “right” answer, but between you and God ,what is YOUR answer?  Do your words match with your life?

Do you really believe the God whose name is Jehovah Jirah will provide for you personally?

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.

God has led us to the middle…. and God will lead us out. We live on God’s promises and the fact of His name, not explanations. 

            Know the promises of God.

                        Hold to those promises.

                                    Even in the middle when we want to quit,

                                                throw in the towel,

                                                            give it all up for a  minute of comfort…

                                                                        HOLD one more day.

 HOMEWORK:

Do the Three Questions on:

Exodus 17:1-5— any verses

Get stuck?  www.annegrahamlotz.com


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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Saturday Snapshot: Time of Refreshing

The Cove is a place where you can leave the distractions of the world behind and truly have rest. A place where your focus can  solely be on reading God’s Word and listening to His voice.  His refreshing is in His Word.  As you begin this weekend, take time for a few moments to just listen to what God has for you. Rest and Listen.

The law of the Lord is perfect,
    refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,

    making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7, NIV). 

I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint”  (Jeremiah 31:25, NIV).

A generous person will prosper;
whoever refreshes others will be refreshed”  (Proverbs 11:35, NIV). 

In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.  Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.  It will be healing to your body And refreshment to your bones” (Proverbs 3: 6-8, NIV).

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters,  He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right path  for his name’s sake
(Psalm 23:1-3, NIV).


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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Weekly Bible Verse: Proverbs 2:1-5

Our weekly Bible verse comes from Proverbs 2:1-5 (NIV)

“My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding— indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord  and find the knowledge of God.”


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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Saturday Snapshot: A New Season

As we move into this next season, we can expect that change is coming. We see it between summer and fall, as the temperatures cool slightly and the leaves slowly begin to change. We see it as kids go back to school and families  wrap up vacations and return to work.  We all know it’s inevitable that we will experience change in our lives, in ways big and small.

As we anticipate that change is coming, what are some ways that we can be prepared and stay firm in our foundation? Let’s take a look at Psalm 28:7, ” The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him” (NIV).

No matter what change comes in our lives, it cannot destroy the unshakeable truth that our God’s love for us never changes.  He is our strength and shield for everything.  We can always lean on Him for the support that we need. Change and transition is hard for most people, but it becomes less difficult when we recall the promise that God is always  our firm foundation.  One of the ways that we can stay strong is by trusting in His Word,  meditating on verses just like this one and holding tight to His promise.

Another way to stay strong is by simply acknowledging and anticipating that change will come. It may come through a trial or just by a shift in life circumstances. Maybe it is a positive change that you direct, knowing that you want something new. Knowing that change will arise can prepare you for it.  As we look at 1 Peter, we see that the Apostle wrote this letter to his Christian brothers and sisters who were getting ready to face a change that would threaten their very lives: persecution.

In this short epistle (letter), Peter encourages the believers and instructs them in how to face the looming persecution they will undergo because of their faith. He tells them to, ” gird up the loins of your mind, be sober and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13, NKJV). When he spoke of “girding up [their] mind,”  Peter was referring to what many of those early Christians knew as “girding up your robe.” In the historical context of this verse, the term is reminiscent of the ancient Near Eastern custom of pulling up long robes and tucking them a belt when running so that nothing would be loose. In this passage, Peter is telling them to do this with their mind. He is saying that their focus needs to be on Heaven and on Jesus. Peter understood that when believers are heading into persecution, they have to make sure that their only thought pattern and focus is the Lord. He knew that these Christians would not endure if they did not have that singular focus in their mind. They could not allow “loose” thoughts to run wild. As we acknowledge that change will come to us in the days ahead, let’s remember to prepare our minds by focusing on Christ and Him alone. The enemy may want to put doubt, fear, and other things in our minds, but we will stand firm as we keep a singular focus on Him.

Another way to stand strong is through worship. Psalm 59:16 states, “But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress.” As we move through change and things begin to feel uncomfortable, that is the time to press-in even more in our worship of the Lord. As we enter His Presence, everything changes! Our perspective changes, and we gain hope and strength. We have peace. As we walk through seasons of change, we must pursue His Presence in the difficult moments.

How are you going to go through the changes that will come this year? How about the battles you know are inevitable. We can anticipate opposition, just like the people Peter spoke to in 1 Peter. Because of the words the Lord spoke to them through Peter’s letter, they had a plan of action when that time came. They were prepared; and because they were prepared, the First Century Church exploded! As those early believers kept their eyes on Christ, they did not waver; and as a result, everyone around them deeply desired what they had. Those around them wanted that eternal promise.

We have the same opportunity to show Christ to everyone as we ourselves go through periods of change. As people watch us go through this next season, will they be drawn to Christ in us? Will they want what we have? We must make up our minds now as to how we will go through this next season. He is with us and will never leave us!


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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Cove Bible Verse: Week of April 30th

The Lord is Our Refuge

Our Bible verse for the week is from Psalm 9:9-10

The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed,  A refuge in the times of trouble. And those who know Your name will put their trust in You;  For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.

————————————————————————————-

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’S ONLINE BIBLE STUDY — MATTHEW 28

Welcome to Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study! This is a place where we can come together and share in our journey towards Scriptural truths and spiritual maturity. We pray this will be a safe, respectful, resourceful place to come and discuss God’s Word…to discover What it says…What it means…and What it means to you!Make sure you don’t miss a post, just enter your email in the “Subscribe Via Email” box in the upper left-hand corner of our blog. It’s free and you’ll receive these posts straight into your email inbox.

KENDRA GRAHAM NOTES FROM MATTHEW 28

Matthew 28:18-20

“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always even to the end of the age.’”

What Does it Say?      

  • Jesus spoke: All authority has been given Me in heaven and earth.
  • GO make disciples of all nations.
  • Teaching them to observe all I commanded. I AM with you.

The Lessons

How appropriate that these are the last words of the Rabbi to the talmidin. After a talmid had followed a Rabbi and learned all there was to learn, the Rabbi would then, according to Mishna tradition, say, “As far as it is possible, you are like me now. Go! Seek others who will imitate you, because you are like me, and when they imitate you, they will be like me.” 

This is the point we have come to with the Rabbi Jesus and His talmidin. The work of Jesus is completed once and for all. The Bible from beginning to end tells us all of the extreme love that God has for mankind, His handmade creation. It is the story of His love reclaiming a broken world.

The Son of God has opened seas and made dry paths across the abyss for His people…He has ventured to crowded cities during Passover to heal and commission. He has climbed mountains, crossed angry seas, pulled men out of tombs, chased down paths, and built charcoal fires to bring one at a time to the true knowledge of the personal love that He has for them.

We have seen the authority of Jesus proven by the Word of God. Jesus did not come to authenticate the Word of God; the Word of God authenticates Jesus.  The Word of God is always the standard.  Jesus, here is reminding the talmidin of that authority and that it still belongs to Him.  It is because of who Jesus is that we can go into all the world and preach the Gospel, the Good News! Redemption is here for a broken, messy and needy world, so Go!

Go!” Right here, right now, the command is given!

It’s as if Jesus is saying,

“I, the Rabbi, have chased you down, I know you see it! You came with Me and I set you free, removing  the walls that kept you hidden, scared, confused and beat down.  Now, GO!  Where I found you, find others. You now have the Story—the Gospel—burning deep inside your soul. It will propel you towards purpose—My purpose—to tell a broken world that the True Gospel has come!

“Go! Go across streets, across towns, across borders, across seas, to hurting people who are living in tombs! Go even to people who may—or may no—hold your worldview! Go even into Decapolises!  Embrace them with the True Gospel!  GO! Call others to COME follow you, so that you can teach them what it looks like to follow Me. This means you may have to spend time with them and do life with them.

“GO! Plead with them!  All authority is Mine, so I have the power to save you and to save them! GO! Preach with boldness the mystery of the Gospel. (See Ephesians 6:19).  Live a BOLD, unfiltered life, healed by the Gospel of Peace.”

This is the charge: Go everywhere and tell of Jesus. As you go to work, to church, to soccer practice and soccer games, reflect the Rabbi in all you do.  Continue to be covered in the dust of the Rabbi.  How do we do that when Jesus is no longer physically walking the earth?  We are covered in the dust of the Rabbi by continually being in the Word of God.  Often it’s the Word of God—our Bibles—that are dusty, and not us.

The Word of God is the only thing that can transform lives.  His Word is the authority, and it will transform your life to the purpose it was meant to have from the beginning of time.

There are two kings in this world. One king has the sole purpose to steal, kill and destroy your soul. And if he can’t have your soul, he will settle for stealing your fire, your purpose and your passion for God and His Word. The other King—the King of kings—has come to give you life and to give it with abundance.  The choice lies with each one of us.  You and I will bend our knee to one of these two kings. (See John chapter 10.)

GO! “Being confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will complete it” (Philippians 1:6).

Dear talmid, please know that you were not delivered just for deliverance’ sake, but you were delivered for purpose—for impact! You have been #Delivered to #LIVEBOLD impactful lives!  Jesus gave up His life so that we could have life and have it abundantly.

GO! Step out—and stay out—of your comfort zone. RISK it all to GO! Go where the Rabbi leads you. It may not be necessarily where you want to go, or think you should go, but GO… press into faith.  We have settled far too long for leading quiet, obscure, ineffective lives.  We’re free! We are #Delivered to #LIVEBOLD unfiltered lives.

COME! Be part of the story. Be covered in the dust of the Rabbi, and then GO! Don’t let anyone pour water on your fire. Go with passion.

What Does it Mean to Me?

Where is it that we go on a daily basis? As we go, how are our lives mirroring Jesus?  Which is more dusty in our lives, the Word of God, or us from being in the Word of God?

LIVE IT OUT

Today I will spend time in the Word of God; and as He sends me out today, I will mirror Jesus to the world around me.

Click here to join us tonight on Periscope as we finish our 2018 Evening Cove Bible study series, #LiveBOLD.

Click the link below to enjoy a poem written by Kendra’s twelve-year-old son, Quinn.  The topic relates to tonight’s study content, and we know you’ll be blessed as you read!

“God’s Purpose for You”

KENDRA GRAHAM’S ONLINE BIBLE STUDY – MARK 5:6-7

Kendra Blog Title

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

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

Kendra Graham notes from Mark 5:6-7

Mark 5:6-7

 “Seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before Him” (Mark 5:6, NASB)  “and crying out with a loud voice, he said, ‘What do I have to do with You, Jesus Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me!’” (Mark 5:7, NKJV)

 What Does it Say?      

Seeing Jesus from distance, he ran up, bowed before Him.

Crying out with loud voice: “What do I have to do with You, Jesus, Son of Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me.”

Step 2

What Does it Mean?

Here, Jesus and the disciples are on “the other side.”  As we discussed at length last week, the disciples—the talmidin—would have never gone to the other side, ever.  Focused on obeying God and staying out of the world, the disciples had no room for the mess that was Rome.

This man who lives among the tombs, naked and crazed, is a very good example of why they stay away from the other side. This man is a Gentile (unclean), naked (unclean), has all sorts of wounds oozing blood (unclean), and doesn’t just touch dead things, but LIVES with the dead (SUPER DUPER UNCLEAN).

Yet Jesus is driven to this man… a man who is an absolute mess. Jesus sees beyond the physical, beyond what is obvious, beyond the persona that is put out for everyone to see and to fear. In Roman society that places high value on beauty and accomplishment, there is no one worth less than this man—yet Jesus sees him as worthy—so much so that He has crossed the angry sea to get to him.

Overcome by demons, the man is driven by the demons that reside within him. Yet verse 5 says, “Seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up to Him.” Isn’t that something? The demons know that they are in submission to Jesus! They know they must bow down in the presence of the Son of the Most High God; BUT the demons think they have a plan to beat God at His own game.

That is the arrogance of the enemy.

 What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?” The demons here are claiming that they have legally and legitimately stolen this “other side,” and, specifically, this man. The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10); that is their plan, and has always been their plan.

“This side”—this Roman side—sees Caesar as god. “This side” has no room for Jesus! “Go back to Your other side, Jesus!” The demons understand the power of the name of Jesus, so they are literally saying here, “GO!  In the name of Jesus, leave me and everyone over here alone!”  Casting out Jesus in the name of Jesus?  That is #BOLD.  The demons understand who Jesus is. Oh, that we would!

Notice what the demons do not say in this passage: They do not say, “In the power of Neptune,” nor do they call on the name of Zeus, Apollo or Mars. The demons know that every single god that is worshipped on this other side is powerless. It’s only the name of Jesus.

Only the name of Jesus offends. Our world and today’s culture are no different. The world and its culture actually legitimize the name of Jesus by running so hard from it. “There is no other name given under heaven whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Now Jesus binds the demons by His Word, sending them to the bottom of the sea and healing the mind of this man.

How many of us have been here, where this man is?

Maybe we are not streaking through the streets, cutting ourselves with sharp stones or living in a graveyard, but we are no better off. We hurt. We suffer. We shriek out in response to the pain in our souls night and day… but the nights… oh the nights are so long. We have been kept from our purpose.  Our lives have been stolen from us, and life has destroyed our fire. Some of us feel that we deserve the lot we have, because of the choices and decisions we have made. We continue to hurt ourselves, because we believe this is as good as it gets for us. I have been here. I have, in my anger, hurt and despair felt lost and forgotten by God and driven by bitterness and anger.

BUT! Praise God! Jesus has come “to seek and to save those who are lost.” (Luke 19:10) God Himself has come to that “other side” where we’ve been hiding. Where we have been hoping on one hand God would just leave us alone to die, but on the other hand praying that someone would see and care. See here, God cares! God cares so much that He came Himself—not trusting you to another—to free you, to #deliver you. We often come at Jesus just like Legion did in this story, with fists flying and speech reeling. But GOD sees beyond our pain, beyond the legions of deep, deep hurt, and He speaks HIS Word.

The very name of God is the only name that saves (Acts 4:12); yet so often we prefer to use that name against Him, just like Legion did here. BUT Jesus comes anyway, to speak the power of Truth over us, the power of Truth found in the Word of God.

You were meant for more than this. Are you tired of being bound?  Are you willing to be set free?  He came to preach the GOOD NEWS! “To release the captives and set free those who are oppressed” (Isaiah 61:1-2).  Come… come to Jesus in your pain, mess and hurt.  The choice is yours.

What Does it Mean to me?

What legion of emotions and circumstances have you bound?

When did you come to Jesus and how were you #delivered?

Everyone follows someone or something. Who or what are you following? What visceral response do you have at the name of Jesus?

LIVE IT OUT

In humility, not arrogance, I bend my knee to Jesus. I will get into the Word of God and determine to believe Truth.

P.S. Ladies, our in-person Winter Women’s Bible Study at The Cove is now underway, and it’s not too late to join us!  Let’s get together Tuesday evenings in January and February and dig into the Word of God.  Register online today.

Can’t make it in person?  We’ll be streaming LIVE each Tuesday evening on Periscope, via Twitter, where you can watch from the comfort of your own home.

Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study — John 10: 9-11

Kendra Blog Title

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

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

Kendra Graham notes from John 10: 9-11

  “I am the door of the sheep, if anyone enters through me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal, and kill and destroy; I came that they may find life and find it abundantly.  I AM the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

THE FACTS:  

I am the door of the sheep. If any enter through me he shall be saved, go in and out and find pasture.  The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy.  I came that they may find life abundantly.  I AM the good shepherd; lays down his life for the sheep.

Step 2

THE LESSONS:   

I’ve been thinking about this verse in conjunction with my trip to Israel for the past six months.  I had the opportunity to go to Bethlehem, where Luke 2 describes how the shepherds were living in the fields, keeping their watch over their flocks by night.  Wil and I weaved our way through the city and out to where the hills were littered with caves.  These caves are where shepherds would bed down for the night as they hustled the sheep deep into the darkness of the cave for safety.  At the mouth of the cave there could be found evidence where fires had been, blackened marks on the roof of the cave.  The shepherds would start a fire, cook their dinner perhaps, and maybe use the fire for warmth and protection from any wild animals that would be tempted to attack their sheep.  The shepherd would then bed down in the front of the cave, lying his body across the opening so that an intruder would first have to get through the shepherd before attempting to take the life of one of his flock.

mouth of cave where shepherds would stayStanding there in the darkness of the cave was overwhelming.  The John 10 parable of the shepherd and the sheep came alive to me.  I could hear the sheep bleating in the dark, not understanding why they had to be trapped in this cold, dank, dark place.  I could see the shepherd as he set up camp for the night.  Unbeknownst to the sheep, their safety was first and foremost on his mind.

Can you see it? The sheep are in the cave, protected by the physical body of the shepherd.  The shepherd will lay down his life and die before he relinquishes one sheep to the slaughter.  The shepherd’s body is the actual door.  The LIFE of the sheep is on the mind of the shepherd.

The sheep will go in for protection led by the shepherd and will be led out by the shepherd to eat.  So what do they eat?

Standing on the hills outside of Bethlehem made me wonder this very thing.  I asked our local tour guide and pointed to the lushest spot that I could see from the hill just beyond the city.  Do they eat there?  Are those the pastures of Bethlehem that David penned the 23rd Psalm in?  There was what seemed brown desert as far as my eyes could see… except for this one beautiful patch of greenery! An oasis in the desert!

IMG_5428

Our guide laughed,  “Oh no! The sheep would never be allowed to graze there! Farmland is hard to come by here in the desert, there are not fields of green!  The sheep may be able to glean the fields after harvest, but never be allowed to romp in the crops!”

Ok…. then where in the world would these sheep eat?  Luke 2 says they were living in the “fields by night” and Psalm 23 says pasture land… is that not lush green new delicious grass as far as the little sheepie eyes can see?

Standing in the “fields” which are really  “shepherds’ desert hills”, because that is where the caves would be found and where they would bed down, he told me how the sheep have always grazed in that land, and it has been rolling around in my mind ever since.  It isn’t what I thought.

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 Across the hills, there are noticeable sheep grazing trails which he pointed out.  All I see are trails in the dirt and I see rocks, a lot of rocks, I don’t see a bit of green.  More confused than ever, he explained to me about the desert climate.  Rain is a luxury in places like this, but there is a little humidity in the air, and it does rain, a little.  This little bit of rain combined with the humidity will accumulate on the rocks in the hills (fields), and underneath these rocks, as the water accumulates in the shade of that rock, a mouthful of yes, lush new green grass will grow.  The shepherd will look for a hillside that was exposed to this moisture and bring his flock to graze it from top to bottom or bottom to top.  Each step, a mouthful for the sheep.  The sheep must continue to follow the shepherd because he knows what hills have the food.

I could now see, each step, contains just enough food for the next step, and there’s not enough grass to bask in that one place for the rest of your life, but enough for the day.

This reality changes everything.  Today’s pasture is not enough to fulfill tomorrow’s needs.  The shepherd knows where the sheep need to be.  The shepherd leads the sheep through the desert, not for their harm, but to provide for their life.  The shepherd leads the sheep in the dark dank cave at night, not to punish or torture the sheep but to protect them.  The shepherd lays his own body across the door, not to keep the sheep in, but to keep the enemy out.

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 How often have we had the wrong view of God?  We look at God through the eyes of sheep, we can’t help it, we have more in common with the sheep than with God.  BUT GOD, loves us anyway, and in those very hills, in those very skies that I gazed into, that day, I remembered the night that was lit up with all heaven as the angels proclaimed to the shepherds and the sheep, “For unto YOU is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord!” The hills that had fulfilled the needs of the sheep that day were those very hills facing the city of David.

Like it or not, we all follow someone or something, even you leaders out there.  The Word of God says, that everything else is like a thief, that comes to steal your joy, kill your dreams and ultimately destroy.  Have you ever asked yourself, “Is this all there is?”  LIFE is not elusive.  Jesus came to give us LIFE, to take us back from the thief that has stolen everything and restore us to the LIFE that He has intended us to have from the beginning of time.  It doesn’t look like we think, just like those sheep trails, but God with skin on came for US.  Jesus came to be our Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of peace Isaiah 9:6.  We are all created to follow after someone or something, so Jesus came, to lead us and to give us life abundantly, one mouthful at a time.

Jesus said I AM the good shepherd, so who better to invite to His bedside the night of His birth, than those shepherds who understood what it was like to lead, love and protect the sheep?

For God, so loved the world that He gave His only Son, Jesus, to be that shepherd for the sheep. Jesus would indeed lay down His life so that we, His sheep, could have life abundantly.

Glory to God in the highest! 

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO ME?

Where are you looking for sustenance in life?

When have you demanded that God provide everything you need up front?

Who or what are you hoping in to find your daily needs met?

What really do you expect God to do for you?  Have you been looking at God as though He is torturing you instead of providing and protecting you?  Will you seek to find the Good Shepherd this Christmas in His Word?

LIVE IT OUT:  

Open God’s Word today and glean who Jesus is, and how He desperately wants to lead you and give you life.  Ask today that your eyes be open to where He is, in this season, in your life.

– Kendra

P.S. Ladies, registration is open for my 2018 Women’s Bible Study at The Cove.  Let’s get together seven Tuesday evenings in January and February and dig into the Word of God.  Register online today.

Can’t make it in person?  We’ll be streaming LIVE each Tuesday evening on Periscope, via Twitter, where you can watch from the comfort of your own home.

Watch the 2018 Women’s Bible Study video here:

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

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

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

Kendra Graham notes from :  Esther 9:26

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

Step 1

#DELIVERED

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

Both what they had seen and happened

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

Step 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step 3

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

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

#befree #bedelivered

God bless…

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NOTE: If you are unable to attend Kendra’s winter Bible study at The Cove in person (January 10 – February 21, 2017),  we will continue the online study as well, using lessons shared during the LIVE study.  We are also streaming the study LIVE via Periscope.  Can’t watch live?  Don’t worry, you can catch the replays in the Periscope app indefinitely.  We will begin streaming LIVE each Tuesday evening around 7:15 p.m. ET (give or take a few minutes).

Not sure how to use Periscope? 
1.
 You must first sign up for Twitter (it’s free).  Click here for step-by-step instructions.
2. Then you sign up for Periscope (it’s free).  Click here for step-by-step instructions.

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

KENDRA GRAHAM’S ONLINE BIBLE STUDY — James 4:8

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

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

Kendra Graham notes from :  James 4:8

“Draw Near to God and He will draw near to you”  – James 4:8.

Step 1

THE FACTS:  Draw near to God,  He WILL draw near to you.

Step 2

THE LESSONS:  New Years is upon us this week!  The ending of the year, but most importantly, the beginning of the next!  Some of us are happy to see 2016 come to a close and some of us are sad — wanting to hold on to moments in time that seem to fade away with the seasons.

New Years is a time of hopeful optimism for most of us, hoping the best is yet to come!  Well, the best is here and it is stated so simply in this verse!  This is one of my most favorite, clear verses in all the Bible!  What hope! What anticipation!  What amazement lies ahead! Draw near to God and He WILL draw near to you!

This verse does not say:  “If you draw near, God MAY draw near to you… it’s a gamble”… Nope! Play the Vegas odds on this one baby! IT’S a SURE thing!  You see, we were created by God, with His hands, in the dirt in the Garden of Eden!  All other creation was created with just a word, but man and woman were different!  Man and woman were hand crafted with the very fingertips of God!  Psalm 139: 13 says, “For You created my innermost being, You knit me together in my mother’s womb.”  God created us, each differently, each purposefully, on purpose, with purpose…. so many have heard that, but so few actually believe that!

God created us then to do what?  God created you and I to walk with Him, to know Him and to need Him.  By the way…we HATE the needing part… we hate to need anyone.  Here, in this verse, it says just that.  God is here, pleading, calling, wooing us to spend time with Him, yet often, we turn a deaf ear and refuse to listen.  We don’t like where we have to go to meet God, or we don’t like where He wants to go with us… or we don’t like the way He takes care of things in His time, in His way…. so we prefer to keep our distance.  We have a list of reasons how God is doing it wrong, but we will never spend time seeking out the why’s and the where’s of God’s presence.

The fact is: you are God’s hand-made creation and you mean everything to Him.  Your opinion on that statement will never change the fact of the statement.  So If God wants us to “Draw near” then how do we do it?

1.  Find Time.  Yup.  Start with 5 minutes and go from there.  Hard to do, but essential. (This time is separate from regular church time.)

2.  Open God’s Word and pray, asking God to speak to you.

3.  Do the three question Bible study method that I use in this blog.

  • What does it Say?
  • What Does it Mean?
  • What Does it Mean to me?

Don’t worry about getting through all of these questions on a verse every day if that’s too much.  Tackle one question per day.

4.  Live it out.  As you listen for God to speak in His Word, live out what He nudges your heart to do. Usually God will move your heart to go and do things you would never really think of on your own… or at least nudge you to do things in a way you could not have come up with on your own.  God is alive and active in His Word which never changes.  We need to go to God where He is, not where we think or want Him to be.

This is a process.  This takes time.  This is what it looks like to seek. Seeking takes time, perseverance and fortitude, but God in His Word says that if you do seek Him…. you will find Him!  Jeremiah 29:13: You will seek Me and find Me when you seek me with all your heart.  It’s the Who we are seeking… not the what we want out of Him.  Many just desire the what… but God…. pleads for you to desire the Who… because He formed you in your mother’s womb, and oh! how He desires to draw near to you!  If we take the steps to draw near to God, I bet we will find that He’s been there the whole time, and we’ll wonder how we missed His presence for so long!

SO THIS YEAR, let’s turn a new leaf!  Let’s BELIEVE God and His Word.  Let’s decide to draw near indeed!  Let’s commit to this for an entire year… then next year at this time… look back and try to count the ways that God Almighty walked with us, spoke to us and #delivered us.

Step 3

APPLY IT:  In the last year, who or what have you been desperate to draw near to?  A better bank account? A certain relationship? A different job?  A family? Status?

In this next year who or what are you looking to draw near to?  What are your ambitions?  What if your ambition was to draw near to God?  What is keeping you from drawing near to God?  Do you have a list?  Have you ever considered laying out your list to God on why you won’t draw near to Him?  Maybe the answers you want from Him are available… but it will require seeking them out?  Are you willing to invest?

LIVE IT OUT:  Today, I will open God’s Word and do the three questions… I intend to hear God speak to me through His Word, then walk as He leads.

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What Scripture are you studying now? What have you learned? How has the Lord spoke to you? Share with us in the comments section.
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If you’re in the local area and can attend our free annual Women’s Bible Study at The Cove, here in Asheville beginning in January 2017, we’d love to see you.

Registration is open and you can sign up online for Kendra’s evening study or by calling 1-800-950-2092.  (Click here to sign up for the morning study with Jane Derrick.)

Watch, as Kendra shares what you can expect from her study on the book of Esther:

NOTE: If you are unable to attend Kendra’s winter Bible study at The Cove in person (January 10 – February 21, 2017),  we will continue the online study as well, using lessons shared during the LIVE study.  We are also streaming the study LIVE via Periscope.  Can’t watch live?  Don’t worry, you can catch the replays in the Periscope app indefinitely.

Not sure how to use Periscope? 
1.
 You must first sign up for Twitter (it’s free).  Click here for step-by-step instructions.
2. Then you sign up for Periscope (it’s free).  Click here for step-by-step instructions.