Tag Archives: Easter

An Easter Message from Will Graham

The Agony of Betrayal: An Easter Message by Will Graham

As we consider Christ’s death and resurrection – His perfect sacrifice and His victory over sin and the grave – we naturally focus on the unbearable physical pain Jesus endured on our behalf. However, this Easter I want you to consider a different kind of suffering: the emotional pain Jesus experienced as those who were closest to Him turned their backs.

Jesus personally chose 12 disciples whom He poured himself into. They were His best friends; His “inner circle.” They surrounded Him, traveled with Him, learned from Him, and served in His ministry.

Jesus loved them, and yet He knew – long before they did, in fact – that a couple of these men would publicly betray Him.

Judas, of course, is the one that comes instantly to mind. We’re told in Luke 22 that “Satan entered into Judas…” (ESV).  John 13:2 says “the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him” (ESV). Judas went to the chief priests and officers, accepted a payment from them and then betrayed Jesus into their hands.

Judas’ treachery was the ultimate betrayal, directly resulting in a Jesus’ trial and the agony of the cross. But I wonder if the second betrayal might not have hurt just as much as the first.

Along with James and John, Peter was one of Jesus’ closest and dearest friends. When Jesus was being arrested in the garden, Peter violently defended him by attacking the high priest’s servant. (While this earned Peter a rebuke from Jesus, it also showed that he was no coward and he was willing to defend Christ to the death).

Given this, Peter’s denial of Jesus must have stung deeply. Literally at the same moment that Jesus was being beaten and ridiculed (Mark 14:65), Peter was busy distancing himself from Christ (Mark 14:66-72). Three times people approached Peter to ask him if he was associated with Jesus, and three times Peter denied Him, even going so far as to “…invoke a curse on himself and to swear, ‘I do not know this man of whom you speak.’” (Mark 14:71, ESV).

At a time when Jesus was being accused and beaten, His friends turned their backs on Him. What emotional pain this must have caused, even as Jesus knew it was coming and understood that it had to be!

Maybe you’re reading this and it sounds a little too familiar. Maybe you have friends or family members who have turned their backs on you, or perhaps – like Judas – they were instrumental in causing the suffering you are now enduring. Maybe you’re struggling through pain and despair, and the people you thought you could depend on have disappeared. Bodily pain hurts physically, but emotional pain slices directly to your soul.

My friends, I’m here to tell you that people will let you down. People will turn their backs on you and cause you pain. But here’s the key – Jesus was forsaken, betrayed and crucified, but He conquered all of that! People are imperfect, but Christ is risen and will not let you down!

The Bible tells us not to put our faith into men or princes. Instead, this Easter place your eternity in the One Who endured scorn, pain, and – yes – betrayal from His friends, so that you may have a hope that extends far beyond the pitfalls and pains of this world.


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Kendra Graham Bible Study: An Easter Message

Exodus 17:4-6a

(4)So Moses cried out to the LORD saying, “What shall I do to this people? A little more and they will stone me.”

 (5)Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pass before the people and take with you some of the elders of Israel; and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go.”

(6a) “Behold I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.”

 What Does it Say?

(4) Moses cried to the LORD.

(5)  The LORD said: Pass before the people, take elders and staff which struck Nile and GO.

(6) I will stand before you on rock at Horeb, strike rock, water will come for people to drink

What Does it Mean?

 It is Easter!  He is risen!  He is risen indeed!!  This passage of Scripture may seem like an odd one for the Easter season to you, but I was moved  this winter when I was studying these verses just how much God loves us and gave Himself for us, no matter what the cost would be to Him.  In order to provide for His people, the Provider would be stricken.

The people are thirsty and want the provision of water (See my previous two blogs on Exodus 17).  God wants the people to want the Provider. He wants people to come to Him. Then the provision will be given without measure.

God led His people out of Egypt, through the wilderness, in order to get to Sinai.  Sinai is where the presence of God lived, until the Law was given and the measurements and directions for the Tabernacle.  Once the Tabernacle was built, then God’s presence would be among His people as they journeyed to the Promised Land, and then finally, His presence would rest in the Holy of Holies in the Temple of Jerusalem that would be built many years down the road from this point.  God wants to live among His people, and He wants His people to want the same.

The people of Israel had journeyed in the wilderness around two months at this time, with the first destination being Sinai  (Exodus 3).  Israel was 3/4 of the way to Sinai and mutiny was afoot.  Sinai was anywhere from a 1.5 day journey to a 3 day journey from where they were currently, but the people refused to move until God gave them water, if He could.  The people tested God and wanted to kill Moses.

Moses, in verse 4,Cried out to the LORD.  Moses did not have a search committee formed, or resign his position because the vote was unanimous against his leadership, he cried out to the LORD and asked Him what to do.  God told Moses to take the staff, the staff that struck the Nile. This staff  is a big deal because it was no ordinary staff.  This staff was the physical reminder to the people of the power of God.  Moses was also to take some elders, and then walk before the people.  Moses was called on to have faith and walk that faith out before that angry mob.  I would have wanted a trap door or back door or another plan except walking in front of all the people who wanted to stone me.  Coming to God will always demand faith.  God then told Moses to go.

Go where?  Go to the rock that is at Horeb, which is the back side of Sinai, Moses knows this place well (Exodus 3).  Moses, the staff of God, and the elders are to finish the journey to Sinai.  Finish the journey in their exhaustion, weakness and thirst.  God is calling Moses to come to Him.  This is the same call that God has given out since the beginning of time and continues even today, especially at the time of Easter, “Come to Me”.  So Moses goes to where God is.

What is Moses to do when he arrives there?  God told Moses that I will stand before you, you shall strike the Rock.   Moses is to use the staff of God, the physical representation of God’s Almighty power and strike what?? The ROCK, the very heart and presence of God.

Matthew 26:31, “Then Jesus said to them, ‘You will all fall away because of Me this night for it is written, ‘I will strike down the Shepherd’…”

Isaiah 53:3-5,10a,  “He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from who men hide their face He was despised,And we did not esteem Him
(4) Surely our griefs HE HIMSELF bore, And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him STRICKEN,SMITTEN of God and afflicted
(5) But HE was pierced through for our transgressions
He was crushed for our iniquities;The chastening for our well-being  fell upon HIM
And by HIS SCOURGING we are healed
(10a) But the LORD was PLEASED TO CRUSH HIMSELF, putting HIMSELF to grief
He would render HIMSELF as the guilt offering

 See this here in the desert with Moses! Do not miss this Good Friday service at the Rock of Horeb at Sinai!!  God, came and stood before Moses, and commanded Moses to strike Him, with what??  With that staff,  the physical representation of all the power of God Almighty.  God strikes Himself, so the people can live.  Out of the Rock came water for the people at the expense of God Himself.  Do you see it?  Here, at the Source, truly is Living Water.  Hear again John 7:37 with all the passion that Jesus said it with, “… Jesus stood and CRIED out saying, ‘ If ANY man is thirsty, let him COME TO ME AND DRINK.”  Jesus continues in verse 38, “He who believes in Me, as Scripture said, from him will flow rivers of living water.”

God struck Himself to provide us with LIFE.  Jesus, who is God with skin on, was stricken by God Himself; God pouring out all of His wrath that sin demands upon Himself so that we can live.  God paid the debt that our sin demands.  This life is available if only we believe that God has done it.  This step of faith draws us to the cross by faith, and accepts what God has done on our behalf.  Each of us is invited to make that journey in our mess, weakness, thirst and exhaustion.  1John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

This is the choice laid out before us.  Who do you say Jesus is?  This Good Friday we remember how God was stricken, but Sunday is coming!!!!  Jesus defeated sin on the cross and defeated death at the grave on Sunday when He was risen by God to LIFE!!!!  Jesus always leads to life!

Believe on the LORD Jesus Christ and you will be saved! Acts 16:31

Oh, that you would come!!  Hear how God pleads for you!!

What Does it Mean to Me?

When have you come to Jesus?  What is preventing you from coming today?

LIVE IT OUT!

Lord, today help me to come to you in my weary, exhausted mess.  By faith I believe Jesus came, died on the cross for my sin and rose again to life the third day.  Come into my life and give me that living water that cost You so dearly.  Help me to live this day and the next and the next after that at the Source.  Thank you for Good Friday, and Easter Sunday! 


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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Special Easter Message from Will Graham

“What then shall I do with Jesus?”

By: Will Graham

For Christians, Easter is one of the most holy times of the year. With all that surrounds the holiday from a worldly perspective,  I find that many people simply miss the point of why we rejoice. Easter exists because Jesus died for our sins and conquered the grave. We celebrate life at Easter, because death lost its sting with Christ’s triumphant resurrection.

Sadly, so many of our family, friends and neighbors enjoy Easter, but have never experienced the true meaning of it. They may know of Jesus and what He accomplished on the cross, but they can’t or won’t make a decision about Him as their Savior.

In the Bible, we see a man who will forever be linked to what we call Easter. He talked to Jesus directly, he evaluated him, and yet he too, couldn’t bring himself to make a decision about what to do with Christ. His name was Pontius Pilate and Matthew 27:11-25 tells us a lot about this Roman Governor who oversaw the trial of Jesus.

First, Pilate rejected Jesus’ own confession of who He was: the Christ, the Savior. Pilate asked the question and heard the truth (straight from the mouth of the Son of God), but he took it no further.

Second, Pilate rejected clear evidence. Pilate investigated Jesus and came to the conclusion that He was innocent, finding that He had committed no crime. Pilate realized that the only reason Jesus was on trial was the envy and hatred of the religious leaders, but he rejected that truth.

Third, Pilate gave in to pressure. Though he heard the claims of Christ and knew He had done nothing wrong, Pilate was compelled to sentence an innocent man to death because of the influence of the crowd.

Finally, Pilate tried to cleanse himself from the death of Jesus. He knew that he had just condemned an innocent man to die, and he was responsible. In a symbolic gesture, he washed his hands and proclaimed the guilt for Christ’s death on the crowd instead.

My friends, Pilate had a decision to make. He knew the truth, but he couldn’t take a stand one way or the other. Instead, he asked a question: “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” (Matthew 27:22, NKJV)

That’s the question that so many today, perhaps even you, have a hard time answering. In far too many situations, people know the truth but – like Pilate – they give in to the pressures of others and walk away from Jesus, putting the decision off for another day.

However, indecision is a decision. Making no decision for Christ, is making a decision about Christ. And it’s one that has eternal consequences.

If you have been putting off the decision to follow Christ and make Him the Lord of your life, now is the perfect time. Jesus’ death and resurrection, which we celebrate as Easter, paved the way for you. I encourage you to receive that hope and accept Him as your Savior today!


To learn more on how to have a relationship with Jesus Christ and to have Peace with God, click 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.

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’s Online Bible Study – John 21:17

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

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Kendra Graham notes from :  John 21:17

HE said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, Do you love Me?”  Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?”  And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things, You know that I love You.”  Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.”

Step 1

THE FACTS:  

He said the third time, “Simon, do you love Me?”. Peter grieved because He said the third time, and he said, “Lord, you know all things, You know I love You.”  Jesus: tend my sheep.

Step 2

THE LESSONS:   

We all fail.  We have things that we have spent a lifetime hiding in the deepest, darkest places of our souls.  As Christians, why do we hide these things away?  I hide them away because I know what a huge disappointment I have been to my Savior.  I have shamed His name, denied His power, and I want that as far removed from my life as possible.

BUT GOD…. don’t you love those two words?  BUT GOD, loves us enough not to leave our failures in the depths of the dark… but Jesus, who is the light of the world goes into the deepest darkest places and casts His light there… why? To shame us?  Do we not already feel enough shame about that already?  I mean, seriously, we are about to burst asunder with shame… No, the Light of Jesus is not to shame and demean us further or demand repentance, or force a promise never to do it again. Jesus’ desire is to heal us, redeem us, #deliver us and propel us to His calling and purpose.  Jesus knew Peter would never embrace what he was called to do if this situation was not dealt with once and for all.

Peter had denied Jesus three times the night of Jesus’s betrayal and death.  Peter who brazenly said in John 13;37, “… I will lay down my life for You” yet mere moments later, his lips vehemently denied the One he claimed to agape love.  This is hard.  This is something we can all relate to.  We have actions and words said in our lives that have vehemently denied Christ, and we wish we could erase them.  Since we can’t erase them, we leave them in the dark.

BUT GOD… came to Simon Peter here in John 21 and asked him, “Do you love Me?”  Jesus asked this three times for Peter’s three denials.  Jesus was asking Peter, “Do you agape me?”  Do you, Peter, love me more than your life?  Peter responded, “Yes, Lord, You know that I phileo You.”  Phileo is the love of friendship and affection, but not self sacrifice.  Peter was saying, “You know Lord… You know I failed at that agape thing… You know when the rubber hit the road, I ran.  How can I tell You agape now, when You know… You know all things.  You know the biggest word for love I can legitimately use is phileo.”  Here, in verse 17, Jesus  takes agape off the table and asks Peter, “Do you phileo Me?” and Peter responded, “I phileo You.” The verse says it–so grieved Peter to say it.  Now Jesus is agreeing with Peter? Uggg. Hurt. Deep regret.  Honest self awareness is HARD… we all fall short and we hate it (Romans 3:23).  (The Truth will set us free… but it will make us miserable first.)

BUT GOD…. ahhh,… Now that Peter is broken over his inability to agape, NOW Jesus in HIS GRACE reveals to Peter that in his weakness…in his failure…and in his brokenness he can now be given a high calling!!! “Feed my lambs.”  It is  not until we are broken in pieces and humble that those pieces can be food for the most precious commodity on God’s heart, which are His lambs.  It’s in our weakness that He is strong.  It’s in the bringing to the surface, that which was hidden in the dark for so long, that we experience true redemption and grace and then can speak of it for others.  It was the love of Jesus that broke Peter, not the justice of an angry God that demands payment for sin.

The love of God is stronger than the justice of God… I battled over that statement.  Here, at Easter time… it was God’s justice and holiness that required the cross, but it was the love of God–in Jesus, who endured the cross, despising the shame (Hebrews 12:2) that satisfied the demand for our sin.  God’s love for us is greater than His desire to punish us.  We see that here in John 21.  Jesus is not wanting to shame Peter, but allowed Peter’s wounds so that He could heal Peter and propel Peter to his calling.  Peter had to descend step by step down the ladder of humility so that he could rise to his purpose.  Humility not humiliation… Jesus humbles… our own pride humiliates.  We usually refuse both.

This Easter, at the cross, where the love of God trumps the wrath of God, where justice and mercy are perfectly met in completion, will you allow the Light of the world to bring to the surface that denial, that action, those words, so that you can be more than forgiven, you can be redeemed, restored and propelled?  You have a high calling on your life! Let it all come to the surface!  You are in the hands of a loving God.

God crush our hearts by Your love this Easter!

Peter did not hide his denial.  Peter was restored publicly and since that moment, has encouraged billions of people to know about it, so that those same billions could see the tender love of the Good Shepherd.  Peter is still feeding the sheep with his testimony which truly began with personal humility before a holy and loving Jesus… do you see that?  He refused to keep his failure, restoration or redemption to himself, he gave it to Jesus to do with as He pleased.  In our brokenness and humility, God can do whatever God wants to do with us and in that we become #propelled2purpose.

Step 3

APPLY IT:  

This Easter, will you allow God to have His way with whatever He wants?  Will you show Him your phileo love for Him as you give Him the right to use what He wants for His purpose?  Is there something keeping you from that intimate relationship with Jesus that you were created to have?  Will you, this Easter, open your heart and give Jesus open access?

LIVE IT OUT:  

Lord, we can’t… we can’t do this.  To allow You to use things that humble us is HARD… it’s soul hard! We spend a lifetime on reputation and image, but God, You made Yourself of no reputation and took on the form of a servant (Phil 2:7).  Lord, give me the strength to be humble so that You can propel me to Your purpose– not my own.


What Scripture are you studying now? What have you learned? How has the Lord spoke to you? Share with us in the comments section.

Message from Will Graham: An Easter Message

EASTER MESSAGE WILL GRAHAM(1)

But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with HIs wounds we are healed. ~ Isaiah 53:5 (ESV)

While the New Testament details the crucifixion extensively, my own personal belief is that there is no greater text dealing with the suffering of Christ than Isaiah 53:5. As we near Easter — a time in which we remember and celebrate the finished work of Jesus on the cross — I’m once again reminded of this emotional, poignant passage. This single verse shows so much about our own human brokenness, and Christ’s incredible sacrifice.

When Christ suffered, it was not pointless suffering, but it was in order to meet four of man’s greatest needs.

Forgiveness: Isaiah says that, “He [the Messiah] was pierced for our transgressions.” The word for transgression is that of rebellion or revolting. In other words, we have rebelled against God and His commandments. We’ve sinned against Him, and we need forgiveness. God’s answer is that He sent His only Son Jesus to shed His blood for our sins in order to forgive us of our sin. (See Hebrews 9:22)

Substitution: Man is not only sinful but he is guilty and deserves punishment for breaking God’s commandments. When we break laws in society, punishment is given to us. For example, we receive a fine when we are caught speeding. However, when we break God’s law, the punishment is death. (See Romans 6:23) Therefore, man’s need is not necessarily to get out of punishment or a reduction in punishment, but man needs a substitute. Jesus was pierced, crushed, chastised and wounded — for OUR sins. And because Jesus loved us, he chose to take our place. He became our substitute.

Peace: Since we broke the covenant with God, our natural human status is to be in conflict with the Lord; the opposite of peace. Knowing this, and knowing that we could never afford to pay for such a peace, God gave His Son to take the wrath the God in order to appease His holy nature. Man was in debt to God and God paid His own bill. Jesus’ chastisement on the cross enables us to have peace with Him.

Healing: Due to our own actions, we allow sin to come into our bodies and start to bring about death. This is spiritual death, and because it is spiritual, we need a divine cure: Jesus. Christ’s death on the cross allows spiritual healing to come to our dying souls. By His wounds we are healed.

Our sinful human nature is not a surprise to God. Yet in His love for us, He provided a way for us to find forgiveness, substitution, peace and healing through Jesus.

Perhaps as you read this, you are beginning to realize that you’ve never found forgiveness, or healing, or peace. You’ve struggled to do the right thing, trying to earn your way to heaven, only to fall time after time.

If this sounds familiar, now would be the perfect time to find out the true meaning of Easter, and place your faith in the One whose death and resurrection we celebrate this season!

God bless you.  — Will Graham