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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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Kendra Graham Bible Studythecove.org

 

Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water that we may drink,” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me?” Why do you test the LORD? But the people thirsted there for water; and they grumbled against Moses and said “Why now have you brought us up from Egypt to kill us and our children and our livestock  with thirst?” (Exodus 17:2-3)

What Does it Say?

The people quarreled with Moses, “Give us water”  Moses: Why quarrel with me? Why test the LORD?

The people thirsted for water, grumbled against Moses, “Why have you brought up from Egypt to kill us, children and livestock?”

What Does it Mean?

Previously, we see that Rephidim was a place of resting, a place where water was historically expected to be.  The whole congregation of people had followed God, done what He has asked and where did it get them?  It got them to a place where water should be in abundance; yet,  there was nothing.  It is almost like God went out of His way to dry up the water personally.  God let them down again…. isn’t that where we go when this place of need becomes our story?

Oh, we know that God is going to provide Israel with water, we have read the story, but when God leads us to a place where we have taken a huge leap of faith, and then He does not provide in the way that is expected,  disappointment and questions about who God really is come to the surface.  Did we hear God right?  Is God really going to provide, for us, personally?  Is He leading us off a cliff?

Where was Israel going?  The two million plus people of God were on their way to Sinai where they would receive the Law, and then, God said He would lead them into the Promised Land (Exodus 3).  Israel had at this point spent close to two months in the desert, traveling from Egypt to Sinai.  Sinai was literally in view of Rephidim, they had just a little bit further to go, just a few more days to press on and get there.  God was leading His people by the pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night to Sinai, to the place where the Presence of God lives.  God was leading His people to Himself.  Think about that.  The children of God, the people after His own heart, had been away from home for 400+ years, and now they were this close to home…. this close to the heart of the Father…  Think, just for a minute… if your child had been gone a long time from home, and now you knew that they were on the journey back, and they were so close to home… what would you be willing to do to get them home a little quicker? It was almost like God was saying, “Don’t stop here, don’t stop now, come the rest of the way, it is just another 1.5-3 days away!  Come on! Keep coming!   The people were so close.

Instead of pressing in and pressing on, the people got angry.  In verse two it says they “tested the LORD.”  Why is that such a big deal?

God had lead Israel out of Egypt and throughout this wilderness journey, God was testing His people to see what was in their hearts (Deuteronomy 8:2).  God knew what was in their hearts, but the people did not know.  God had taken them out of Egypt in a hot minute, but it would take much longer to get Egypt out of them.  Here, at Rephidim, the people are tired of being the students, tired of God’s testing.  The people in their stubbornness decide to turn the tables on God.  The student is demanding obedience from the Teacher; “Give us water that we may drink”.  It is almost like God’s people are telling God that they are done with His arrangement. They are done being His people and they are done calling Him LORD. Unless He provides water for them to drink here and now, if He can.

Since God is not visible, the anger of the mob falls to Moses.  Moses speaks to God and God speaks to Moses. If Moses does not fix this situation pronto, not only are they done with God, but they will be done with Moses.  Mutiny is on the horizon.

In verse 3 the saying which hurt the heart of God most boils to the top.  The true heart of the people comes out as we read, “They thirsted there for water.

The people just wanted relief; they wanted what was expected to be in that location.  The people wanted the water that would drain off the mountain and pool there at Rephidim.  The people wanted water that would to quench their present thirst; water that would be soaked into the dry and thirsty ground, and leave them wanting again in a minute.

God was trying to teach the people that it’s not about the water!!!  It’s about the Source of the water!!!  We beg and demand for God to give us the provision, but we have no interest in the Provider.  Jehovah Jirah, the God who provides, because it is His name to do so, pleads with His people to COME TO ME!  Genesis to Revelation is the same message, God pleading with, and miraculously making a way for His people to come to Him!  God pleads for us to come to Him, not a ministry, or to the good things we are doing for Him, or to a denomination, or to a program.  He pleads time and time again, and died Himself to make it possible so that we can COME TO HIM!

It is time that we stop begging day after day for the provision and start the trek in our thirst, in our need, in our exhaustion to come to the Provider.  Jesus said in John 7:37, “Any one who thirsts, COME TO ME and from you will flow rivers of LIVING water.”  It is time church, that we stop settling for everything else under the sun, and come to the Source.  At the Source, there will be a never ending, never drying up supply.  Oh, that you would come….

What Does it Mean to Me?

When was there a time that you felt God let you down because He led you to a place that was empty and left you in extreme need?

When have you plead for the provision instead of pressing in to the Provider?

LIVE IT OUT

Today, LORD, show me where YOU are in my need, in the dryness of the journey, and teach me to drink from 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.

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KENDRA GRAHAM SPRING BIBLE STUDY

Welcome to Kendra Graham’s online Bible study. Our prayer is that you  will grow deeper in the knowledge and understanding of God’s Word and His promises for you. 

STEP ONE: Pray

STEP TWO:  Read the Text. 

Then all the congregation of the sons of Israel journeyed by stages from the wilderness of Sin, according to the command of the LORD, and camped at Rephidim, and there was no water for the people to drink.

(Exodus 17:1, NASB)

STEP THREE:   WHAT DOES IT SAY?
THE FACTS ONLY PLEASE

All the congregation of Israel journeyed from wilderness of Sin according to the command of the LORD, camped at Rephidim and there was no water for people

STEP FOUR:  WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
THE LESSONS

Have you ever felt like God had definitely led you to a place; I mean you felt a calling deep in your bones and it took such a tremendous act of faith on your part to trust God in His leading, only to get where He led and all you see is lack and hardship?

I am sure you all are better than me, but my first reaction is not to get on my knees and pray, my first reaction is to raise some serious questions.  Did I hear God right?  Was this all a huge mistake?  Why would God impress such a bold move of faith and then lead me to a place like this?

I have some questions about what God is up to. Does He hate me?  Has He abandoned me?  Has God led me right off a cliff just to watch me fall?  Did God lead me here so that He could hide me from everything productive?

Here in Exodus 17:1, God’s people have followed Him all the way from Egypt, through the Red Sea, to Marah, to Elim, to the wilderness of Sin, and now to Rephidim.  Where is Israel going?  The people of Israel are on their way to Sinai.  God has promised to take them out of Egypt (Exodus 3:8) and lead them to Sinai (Exodus 3:12), and then God will lead them to the Promised Land (Exodus 3:8).

The Wilderness of Sin is halfway to S-I-N-A-I. Rephidim is 3/4 of the way to Sinai.  Israel is ALMOST there!

Rephidim was historically known as a “place of resting.” It was a place in the desert where there were palm trees, and it was known for having water. Yet here in this passage, when the Children of Israel arrive at Rephidim, there is no water.

This is a problem.  There is expectation when God leads you and calls you to a place, isn’t there?  Israel had faithfully followed God and His leading for more than two months at this point.  They had done some grumbling along the way, yes, but the Bible tells us the “whole congregation” followed God.  What did they get for following God?  Hardship and need.  As we come to this part of the story, it almost seems as if God went out of His way to dry up the water that was supposed to be there, doesn’t it?  It seems that way to me.

I think that at times as we read a familiar Old Testament story and already know its ending, some of the original tension of the story can be lost, and we’re almost prevented from getting a real appreciation of the amount of faith God was calling His people to have. Let’s stop where we are and live in the moment of this verse: God’s people followed Him to a place where they would have a greater need than before.  Can you see that in your own life?

God’s people could not manufacture water in the desert.  So many times we do not come to God until all other options are off the table, so God, in His grace and love, brings us to places where we cannot be creative enough to provide for ourselves.  God wanted His people thirsty.  Why?

God’s name is “Jehovah Jirah”—Jehovah, the LORD, the God who is highly exalted above all Gods, and Jirah, who wants to be personally known as your provider. The fact is, we do not know that God provides for us, until we have need.  We do not know that He is the Living Water (John 4:10, John 7:38)…until we thirst.  My soul within me cries “Ugh!” and “Yay!” at that very statement.  I hate to have need! Yet I love when I get to see God provide.

I tend to have faith that God will provide for Israel, and for Moses, and for my pastor, and for all the really important people in the world; yet my faith fails when it comes to me believing that God wants me to know He is my provider.  God wants to write His name across the stories of our lives, and He cannot do that so long as I continue to be so self-sufficient.  Dependence is both a great place to be and a hard place to be.  God was leading Israel, and God is leading you and me.  Let’s hold on to that together.

God leads us to where He is… out of Egypt to Sinai!  For the Children of Israel, Sinai was the place of God’s presence.  Remember that God goes before us like a shepherd goes before His flock (Psalm 23).  Keep following the Shepherd. Keep depending on Him. Keep pressing on, and keep your eyes on Jesus when all your eyes can see is dry desert and all your soul can feel is a deep thirst.

Hold on to the fact of who He isShout it out!  Shout it in the car…on your walk…in your house on top of your coffee table:  “JEHOVAH JIRAH is God’s name, and because of HIS name He will be MY JEHOVAH and MY PROVIDER even when I can’t see how!”
(See I Samuel 12:22)

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

 When has God led you to a place that seemed more lacking than full?  When has Jehovah written His name, “Jirah,” your provider, across the story of your life?  How is God trying to teach you to trust in His name?  What causes you to doubt that God will provide for you?

STEP SIXLIVE IT OUT.

Today, in all the chaos, in all the empty, and in all my thirst, I will claim the name of Jehovah Jirah; even if I do not feel it or see it, I will shout what His name is and ask God to open my eyes and heart to the truth that He is “Jehovah” who wants to be known to me as “Jirah.” 


Will you prayerfully consider encouraging someone with your story of how God wrote His name of “provider” across the story of your life?  We would love to hear from you here, in the comments section.  Also, consider sharing your story of God’s provision with someone in your own community.  As God’s people we need to get back to a place where we not only remember His name, but believe it!  Your stories can help encourage us to hold on to Him in the hard and desolate places.  Life is hard, but Jehovah is Jirah!

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


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

Are you a Christian church or non-profit ministry looking for a place to hold your conference, retreat or ministry event?  Click here for more information on holding your event at The Cove.

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

Follow us on social media.click map

 

Kendra Graham Bible Study: Week 5 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 fifth week of the Bible study with a few homework questions at the end. 

I AM
#ENOUGH
TO BE YOUR BANNER IN THE BATTLE

 

The Three Questions
I AM #ENOUGH to be your banner in the battle….
STEP ONE: Pray
STEP TWO: Read the Text.

Exodus 17:8-12a (NASB) (8) Then Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim. (9) So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” (10) Joshua did as Moses told him and fought against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron and Hur went up to the top of the hill. (11) So it came about as Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. (12a) But Moses’ hands were heavy….

  • 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.

8: Amalek came and fought against Israel. 9: Moses to Joshua: Choose men FOR US and go fight Amalek. I will station myself on top of hill with staff of God in hand. 10: Joshua fought against Amalek, Moses Aaron and Hur to top of hill. 11: As Moses held hand up, Israel prevailed, let hand down Amalek prevailed 12a: Moses’ hands were heavy.

  • 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.

8: There WILL be battles. People will try to take our freedom and send us back to slavery. In these moments we can often experience incredible periods of doubt, during which we question everything and wonder if maybe this “freedom thing” just isn’t for us. During these times it’s easy to slip back into victim mentality, thinking this is as good as it gets for people like us.

9: There are different responsibilities for different people in the same battle. Even here we see Moses display great faith as a leader should. #lessoninleadership God is #ENOUGH, and God’s plan for Moses was not on the battlefield but on the praying field. Be confident in where God has called you, and don’t try to control areas that you are supposed to delegate and let go. “for us” – Notice the direction was not to get the strongest, the smartest, or the ones with the most experience…the only qualification for battle was to find those men who are “for us.” God chooses people who have hearts that are for Him. Your resume may be impressive…your Biblical knowledge may be superb…but if your heart isn’t right… you cannot be trusted and will not be chosen for battle.

10: We need to man our unique battle stations and not drop the ball, sleep in, or forget to show up. The battle is real, and real lives are in the balance. It matters that you show up.

11: The posture of prayer. Oswald Chambers said, “Prayer is the work.” When we direct the eyes of others towards Jehovah in our personal battles, we begin to see Jehovah Nissi overwhelm the enemy and empower us in His strength to continue to fight and press in and not give up. When we drop our eyes from the vertical to the horizontal, the battle will overwhelm us and take our breath away. Prayer is essential to see the victorious work of God personally and corporately.

12: Prayer can bring us to weariness more than any other action. Prayer is work that we have to set our minds and hearts to! Don’t give up because of the way things seem, or because of the lack of movement or the length of time you have been pleading. Keep praying in the weariness…often at the weariest moment is where we will see the biggest victory.

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

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

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

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

8: When has there been a battle in your life that you had to fight? How often would we rather just appease the enemy, thinking the enemy will leave us alone if we are just tolerant enough? What battles are worth fighting? What hills are worth dying on? Are there any? Have we hidden from the battle too long? How are we called to stand and to “do all to stand” (Ephesians 6:13)? How does that look today? Where have I been satisfied to have a victim mentality?

9: Where have you been called to serve? Are you able to serve in your area with passion and precision, or do you feel like you also need to serve in all the other areas as well because no one will do it right if it’s not you leading in every aspect? What kind of heart would God say you have? What, or Who, are you “for”? Are you for you? Are you for God? What do your actions say about who you are for? Are you willing to ask God to reveal who you are for? Do you have a heart to be for Him, or do you have a list of reasons why you are too injured, too weak, too hurt, too ignorant to be used by God?

10: What keeps you in bed and prevents you from showing up daily to the battle? What causes you to think that your presence is inconsequential in the grand scheme of things?

11: Are you panicking about all your eyes see? All your heart feels? The immensity of the battle? The reality of the battle? Will you decide today to pray over that battle each and every morning, even before you get out of bed each day? Will you take that step forward today…come out of hiding, reach your arms to heaven, and pray and look to Jehovah who wants to be your Nissi, your banner? How would it look today for you to walk out in strength keeping your eyes UP, UP, UP all day? It will take determination….

12: What are you weary of praying about? When, in your weariness, have you seen victory? Will you share that and encourage another weary soul with it?

  • 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.

Today I will show up to the battle… in my role… Today I will pray for the heart Jehovah needs me to have Today I will pray… pray… and pray… not ignoring the fight Today I will KNOW…. I AM THAT I AM IS MORE THAN #ENOUGH in my battle Shout that out throughout today, then tomorrow Help my unbelief.

Watch the Bible Study online! Click here.

HOMEWORK:
Do the Three Questions on: Exodus 33:17-23 Read: Exodus 32 and 33

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.

Follow us on social media. click map

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Pinterest

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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KENDRA GRAHAM: ONLINE BIBLE STUDY

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

What Does it Say?

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

What Does it Mean?

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Brings Down the Walls

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

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

Simple Tasks, Unconventional Strategy

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

Is any part of that task list difficult?  No.

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

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

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

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

All for God’s Glory

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

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

Closing the Faith Gap

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

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

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

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

What Does it Mean to Me?

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

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

Live it Out:

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


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

Are you a Christian church or non-profit ministry looking for a place to hold your conference, retreat or ministry event?  Click here for more information on holding your event at The Cove.

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

 

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KENDRA GRAHAM: ONLINE BIBLE STUDY

#Enough for the Next Step

 

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

 What Does it Say?

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

What Does it Mean?

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

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

The Medic Without a Gun

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

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

The Prophet Praying to Die

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

The Journey to Where God Is

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

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

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

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

 

The God Who Is Enough

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

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

What Does it Mean to Me?

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

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

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

LIVE IT OUT

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

 



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

Are you a Christian church or non-profit ministry looking for a place to hold your conference, retreat or ministry event?  Click here for more information on holding your event at The Cove.

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

 

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KENDRA GRAHAM- UNBROKEN: PATH TO REDEMPTION

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

(Exodus 6:6-7, NASB)

What Does it Say?

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

What Does it Mean?

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


(Picture of Louis and “The Bird”)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Does it Mean to Me?

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

LIVE IT OUT

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

Watch the trailer here. 


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

Are you a Christian church or non-profit ministry looking for a place to hold your conference, retreat or ministry event?  Click here for more information on holding your event at The Cove.

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KENDRA GRAHAM: ONLINE BIBLE STUDY

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

 What Does it Say?

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

What Does it Mean?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Does it Mean to me?

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

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

Live it out:

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

“Zion”
Aaron Shust


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

Are you a Christian church or non-profit ministry looking for a place to hold your conference, retreat or ministry event?  Click here for more information on holding your event at The Cove.

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

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

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

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

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

What Does it Say?

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

What Does it Mean?

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

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

(CJ’s Senior Graduation Pic)

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

My heart is an absolute conflicted mess.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Does it Mean to Me?

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

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

How can your faith be described?

LIVE IT OUT:

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


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