Tag Archives: Kendra Graham Bible Study

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.

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

“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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click map

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

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

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

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

What Does it Say?

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

What Does it Mean?

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

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

(CJ’s Senior Graduation Pic)

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

My heart is an absolute conflicted mess.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Does it Mean to Me?

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

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

How can your faith be described?

LIVE IT OUT:

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


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

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

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

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KENDRA GRAHAM: ONLINE BIBLE STUDY

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

What Does it Say?

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

What Does it Mean?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LIVE IT OUT

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


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

Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9, NASB)

What Does it Say?

Have I not commanded YOU? BE strong, courageous; do not tremble or be dismayed. The LORD your GOD is with you wherever you go

What does it Mean?

I recently had the rare opportunity to go to Scotland with my husband, Will. Among the places Will was privileged to preach was the historic town of Falkirk—the town in which William Wallace, the hero of Scotland’s history of freedom, was betrayed by his own countrymen and then dragged to Edinburgh where he was put to death. As you may know by now, I love history. I wish I’d loved it when I was in school! Although dates and battles continue to confuse me, I’m often inspired by the life stories of people from different time periods.

 John Knox (photo: Getty)

The Scottish people have a long history of courage, and among the most courageous individuals in the annuls of Scottish history stands the towering figure of John Knox.  Born somewhere around 1572 (no one knows the exact date), Knox became a tutor to nobles—a decent, respectable, and safe job to have. Yet the safe and secure life of John Knox was forever changed when he heard the Gospel preached by George Wishart. Embracing that Gospel, Knox bent his knee to the King of kings and decided to live his life for Jesus with passion and courage. Yet that courage soon melted away from Knox as he watched his mentor and evangelist George Wishart strangled, beaten and burned in the courtyard of St Andrews Cathedral by Cardinal Beaton.

Not long after the martyrdom of George Wishart, the church gave the nod to John Knox to carry forth the message of the Gospel to all parts of Scotland. The people were bound by the government and church of the day, but the Gospel would set them free! That evening when John Knox received the call to preach, he ran home, got into his Scottish cupboard (closet) and cried, petrified and frozen by fear.  At that moment not an ounce of courage could be found in him.  Knox could not preach.

A fearful John Knox left the country and found himself in the presence of John Calvin, where for the next 18 months he studied the Word of God. I love that God did this, don’t you? Isn’t it so encouraging to know that even the great men of God were afraid? God understands that we are afraid, so He meets us in it and teaches us through it, so that we can, with His strength, rise above it!

John Knox did return to Scotland under the rein of the wicked Mary, Queen of Scots.  As Knox boldly proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus to his fellow countrymen, it sparked a nationwide revival. The monarchy and the ruling church of the day hated Knox for what he was doing, but the people of the country loved him and turned to God. Queen Mary of Scots was forced spare Knox’s life, since the monarchy feared a rebellion and total upheaval if Knox were to be killed.

As it turned out, John Knox died of old age, preaching the Gospel with boldness and courage to any and all who would listen.  When he died, the nation of Scotland mourned—so much so that Knox’s body and grave ended up being decimated. A stone courtyard (now used for parking) was erected directly above his burial plot. The country refused to forget the light of  the Gospel that Knox brought to a dark and dreary land on the verge of hopelessness.  Today, the site of John Knox’s grave may indeed be a parking space (space 23, to be precise), but his impact will never be forgotten.

John Knox once said that all he had to offer the Lord was his mighty weakness.  God used the mighty weakness of John Knox in a powerful way.  This mighty man of weakness was quoted as saying, “Lord, give me Scotland or I die!”  God honored that.

What if we were courageous enough to give God our weaknesses?  Forget about all the strengths you have. It is usually our weaknesses that prevent us from embracing the purpose that God has set apart for us, isn’t it?  John Knox boldly preached his first message in Scotland on June 11, 1546 at St Andrews Cathedral, the location where he had seen his dear friend George Wishart killed. The very place that took his fear is the place that God used to spark a powerful revival in his land. I cannot even process it all.  I stand in awe of God.

It was humbling to be standing in the ruins of that very St Andrews Cathedral on June 11, 2018, with my husband, Wil Graham, who with his Scottish heritage was there in the great country of Scotland to once again see God work in a mighty, mighty way. I was privileged to be able to watch and witness the hand of God moving across the country from Peterhead, to Aberdeen, from Banf to Fraserburgh to Grangemouth, Stirling and Falkirk.  The remnant of Scotland is just as strong and courageous as they were in 1546.

God is on the move!

What does it Mean to me?

What weakness is keeping you controlled by fear instead of faith?

When has God asked to use the mighty weakness in your life?

LIVE IT OUT

Today I will ask God to give me the courage demanded for what He has called me to do.

“A man with God is always in the majority”  –John Knox


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: How Deep Are Your Roots?

 

Matthew 13:5, 20-21 (NASB)

Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil.

The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the Word and immediately receives it with joy; (21) yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the Word, immediately he falls away.

 What Does it Say?

Others fell on rocky places, not much soil, immediately sprang up, no depth of soil. This is the man who hears the Word and immediately receives it, yet has no firm root; when affliction arises, immediately he falls.

What Does it Mean?

Desert survival has been my focus the last few weeks.  This year, the freezing cold winter has been a desert of sorts to me.  I have learned that God is my shade; He has provided for me in the midst of my struggle (link to broom tree).  I have learned that sometimes God wants to grow me in an unforgiving land to allow me to be a shade to others, as He has been to me (link to acacia).  In light of this, my question for this blog changed a bit.  Instead of studying trees and plants that can survive in the desert, I asked the question, “What trees or plants don’t survive”?

I’ve become obsessed with studying the root systems of desert vegetation!  Both the broom tree and the acacia have root systems that drive deep into the earth to find water where seemingly none exists.  Some  acacia trees have been found to have roots 200 feet below the surface; and with the smallest amount of water they can stay fertile and green, producing fruit in a landscape that is unforgiving and brutally hot.  Not every desert tree has this root system.

On August 11, 2017, my home town of Tucson, Arizona, experienced a microburst– a rain storm that comes up quickly, dumping a lot of water in the desert in a very short amount of time.  In just an hour and half, the skies dumped about a half-inch of water on the hard packed earth of the desert, and this water was accompanied by heavy wind gusts.  Eucalyptus trees on the east side of Tucson fell in such dramatic fashion that reports from locals called it a “war zone.”  I decided to research a bit about this tree that I grew up seeing peppered throughout my city.

The eucalyptus grows incredibly fast and can grow up to 60 feet in height and 25 feet wide.  It’s not uncommon for an eight-year-old Eucalyptus to reach over 18 feet (what a difference from the acacia tree, which takes 20-30 years to grow).  The eucalyptus depends on intentional watering, but can survive on minimal hydration.  This tree will give a luscious, thick-shaded canopy for those desert travelers looking for relief.

A Eucalyptus tree is an impressive sight in the desert: it is more lush than an acacia, and it provides a great deal more shade and cover than a broom tree.  The scented oils from Eucalyptus leaves are quite fragrant.  Who would not be drawn to this tree? Who would not want to be the tall eucalyptus tree that everyone can see for miles and ooh and awe over?

Do not be deceived.  The eucalyptus tree has hidden dangers.  The thick foliage, although beautiful and fragrant, is not just a luxury for the weary traveler. Bee colonies often hide among the greenery and branches, where they thrive and are drawn to make the tree their permanent residence.

The eucalyptus tree has a very shallow root system.  In fact, 90% of the roots of this stately looking tree are found in just the top 12 inches of the rocky desert soil.  Eucalyptus should not be planted near homes or businesses, because the root systems are invasive and can drive into foundations, septic systems and water pipelines. The Eucalyptus tree does what it has to in order to survive; and if that means destroying your family’s incoming water supply or outgoing sewage pipeline, then so be it.

Outwardly, the eucalyptus appears strong as an oak; however, if you look deeper into this tree that shoots up with relative ease in the desert, you’ll come to find that just a half-inch of rain is enough to  topple this huge tree, which can do some pretty severe damage to nearby people and structures on its way down.  (One planned community in Tucson planted Eucalyptus trees because they were fast growing, lush and made the sub-division look like an oasis in the desert; but after just a few years and thousands of dollars in foundation and septic system damage, the residents paid almost a million dollars in eucalyptus tree removal!) Wise landscapers know that Eucalyptus should be planted far away from homes and buildings because of the potential damage it can bring.

When Jesus tells the Parable of the Soils in Matthew 13, He speaks about a shoot that goes up quickly (Matthew 13: 5, 20-21).  As you read these verses, can you see the eucalyptus tree in that description?  We need to be careful about who we are attracted to in the desert, and we need to be careful about who we ourselves settle on becoming.  The eucalyptus trees in the desert look full and beautiful.  Many people are attracted to them for the fine scent they bring and the full shade they provide, but the hidden dangers have to be taken into consideration.  I think it is so profound that in addition to a shallow root system, there can be hidden colonies of bees in a Eucalyptus tree.  (When the trees fell after the microburst in Tucson, the firefighters could not go near some of the trees until the bees had dispersed.) Even when help arrives for those injured by a fallen Eucalyptus, it can be delayed. 

I get it! I want easy.  I want accessible water.  I don’t want to drive down 200 feet into the hard  soil to find the ounce of water I need to survive in the desert, but it is that driving deep for the Living Water of the Word of God that will shore up my roots and give me stability when the wind and rain do come with extreme unrelenting force.  We desire for pastors and churches to feed us so we are not wanting a single thing, but perhaps God desires more.  Perhaps God desires for each of us to go deeper, personally depending on Him and His Word–not solely on what others feed us.  Is that a bad thing?  The eucalyptus tree may give a more complete shade, but is it a safe tree to run to?  Will the eucalyptus tree still stand in the storm?  Sometimes looks are deceiving.

Adversity will come. God allows adversity so that we can see that His Word is true as we hold on through it.  The acacia tree thrives in the water of a flash flood when a foot or more of water rushes through the desert canyons, yet the eucalyptus tree falls with just a half-inch of rain.  Will we stand through the storm and become a shelter for others, or will we fall and damage those around us?  Drive your roots into the Word of God.  Do not be so quick to shake your fist and walk away from a God who loves you and gave His life for you (John 3:16).

Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is who says to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you Living Water” John 4:10 (NASB).

 If you are thirsty in this dry and weary land, Jesus beckons you to ask HIM for the Living Water.  Keep driving deep into His Word, so that the roots you have will last through the storm and allow you to be a shelter for others, not a hazard.

What does it mean to me?

What tree describes you?  An acacia or a eucalyptus tree?

Have you ever had the outward appearance of being a tree of strong faith, while your root system was only surface-deep?

How deeply are your roots planted in the Word of God?  Did you start well but fall away when adversity came?  How will you begin today to replant and drive your roots deeper?

LIVE IT OUT

Today I will seek out the Living Water in the Truth of God’s Word.  From now on, I will not settle for having a shallow root system. I will dive deep into God’s Word, and, with His strength, hold on to Him through the storm.


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 – Jeremiah

 

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose hope is in the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes. But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit. (Jeremiah 17:7-8, NASB)

 What does it say?

Blessed is the man who trusts the LORD and in the LORD

He shall be like a tree planted by water that extends roots by a stream, will NOT fear heat, its leaves green, not anxious in drought nor cease to yield fruit.

What Does it Mean?

The desert is a hard, unforgiving place. God seems to have a pattern of leading His people to the desert: from Moses to King David, to Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, John the Baptist, the Apostle Paul, Jesus, and many others. All these individuals had been driven to the desert to experience God. The desert is a place of thirst, with brutal temperature changes from unbearably hot during the day to freezing cold at night.  And if the desert climate doesn’t do you in, there is danger from wildlife and deadly insects—AWESOME, right?  So why would God lead His people to the desert? To kill them? To torture them?

The desert places in the Bible were not locations where God led His people to drive them off a cliff.  The desert was a place where God brought His people to the point of total dependence, and then provided for them in extraordinary ways. These desert places were transformed from a place of danger and dread to a place of refuge and provision. The desert became the place where God taught His people to walk with Him—a place where God came and lived among the people He so loved. The desert became a place of intimacy with God, where the Word of God did not dehydrate and dissipate; in the desert the Word of God came to life.

I shared a little bit in my last post about my journey which lately seems like a desert place (link to previous).  There have been days in which I struggled in the morning just to put my feet on the ground and start the day and then struggled to continue the day through to the end.  How do I walk with God in the desert?  I have felt alone, left to decompose by the elements that have been beating down with relentless force. I recently began to study the desert’s vegetation and animals. The desert is actually home to me, so I went back in the recesses of my mind to Tucson, AZ, where in high school we took a class called “Desert Survival.”  I know that if God has led me to this place, then He will provide for me here.  Yet to be honest, I don’t like God’s provision in the desert because I don’t like the fact that I’m here at all.

In my last blog post on the desert broom tree, God showed me He has provided just enough shade in this desert place to decrease the intensity of the heat and make it bearable for me.  God is my shade at my right hand. I am not the only one in this desert place, but the vastness of the desert often makes me feel that way.  Recently, I found myself speaking praise out of one side of my mouth for the shade God provided, and out of the other side of my mouth curses for calling me here. I found myself asking WHY, as the frustration of this place rose within me.  Can anyone relate?

God showed me the acacia tree, so I want to show you as well. The acacia tree is a relatively slow-growing tree; it takes around 20- 30 years to mature.  According to Jewish plant experts, this tree will grow much taller than the broom tree: at full height an acacia will be six to nine feet tall.  The leaves of an acacia tree all come together at the top and cast an umbrella like shade across the desert floor. The welcome shade decreases the heat for groups of travelers as well as for their animals. Native to the Judean Negev desert, the acacia has evergreen leaves and is found only along dry river beds that are subject to flash flooding in the desert.  The roots of the tree drive deep into the earth, further than most desert plants, finding the smallest bits of water to survive. When the rains come and the floods rise, the packed earth of the desert floor cannot receive all this water; however, the acacia trees readily soak up the excess.

In addition to providing shade for desert animals and Bedouin travelers, its leaves produce food for camels. The pods (fruit) that the tree bears become food for deer and other desert animals and are also used for reproduction of the tree. The wood of the acacia tree is incredibly hard and difficult to chop down; acacia branches will burn long into the night to keep the Bedouin nomads warm and protected.  In periods of severe drought, the tree will go dormant; yet at the first sign of rain, the acacia will burst back to life and produce its fruit in season. The acacia is an incredible tree!

The prophet Jeremiah was often in the Judean desert, and the acacia is quite probably the tree he is speaking of here in chapter 17.  When we read this verse (and a similar passage in Psalm 1), we may think of a tall Oak tree planted by a rippling stream—a lush and beautiful source of complete shade towering above green grass, colorful flowers and cheery butterflies.  That is the picture we want—a soft place.  We sometimes believe that if we follow God, He will lead us to greenery and comfort 24/7.

Yet what if this acacia in the desert is the tree that Jeremiah speaks of?  What if he’s referring to this tree that survives in the harshest conditions in the Negev, giving shade, food, protection and care to others who are traveling through? This tree is planted by the dry river beds, with its roots extending deep into the empty riverbed, awaiting the waters that will rush in during monsoon season. The acacia will not fear when the heat comes; even with such little rainfall throughout the rest of the year, its leaves remain green. The acacia is not anxious in a drought because it will go dormant just waiting for that next drop of water which will bring it back to life and produce fruit.

What if this is what we are called to be?  What if God was our shade, our broom tree, at our right hand so that He could grow us into an acacia tree on the desert floor?  Oh, we don’t like it.  I don’t like it.  I would rather someone else be the acacia tree so that I can navigate through this place as fast as humanly possible… but what if God was our shade so that we could be the shade someone else needs in the same place?  The Word of God says we will be blessed in this desert place if we can trust in the LORD.  Psalm 1:2 tells us how we can be that tree firmly planted; it comes down to meditating on God’s Word day and night.  We have to be in God’s Word and know what God says.  We have to know what He promises and hold on to that promise in the times of flood, drought, rain and heat. Regardless of our current condition, God calls us to trust in that Word that He has given us. The only way to trust in His Word is to know what it says.

To be an acacia tree is a high calling where deep roots are required for survival.  Our desert survival depends completely on soaking our roots in the Truth of God’s Word.

What Does it Mean to Me?

How deep are your roots, and what are they soaking in?  Are you soaking in the ever-changing landscape of the world around us, or in the unchanging Truth of God’s Word and His promises?

When have you been called to be an acacia tree to someone else?  How was God your shade so that you could be shade to others?

Often we feel so alone and isolated in these desert places, which is why when you share your story of God’s provision, you become that oasis in the desert to someone else.

LIVE IT OUT

Today I will seek out that Living Water found in the God’s Word even in this desert place.  I will seek to be that acacia tree for someone else as they travel through the same desert, so that they know that they are not alone and that God is who He says He is and His promises are all yes and Amen in Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:20).  Oh, that we may rise out of the desert floor to become an oasis for others!

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 – PSALMS

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

KENDRA GRAHAM NOTES FROM PSALM 121

“The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade on your right hand.”  (Psalm 121:5)

 What Does it Say?

The LORD is your keeper, your shade at your right hand

What Does it Mean?

Have you ever felt like you were in a wilderness? Struggling just to make it another step?  I am going to be honest here: This winter and spring have been HARD. We all go through times of struggle and dryness, and it’s easy to feel left alone and beaten down by the elements.

I grew up in the desert of Tucson, Arizona, where the sun beat down relentlessly day after day—in the summer the temperature could rise as high as 115 degrees Fahrenheit.  (It was a dry heat, but 115 degrees is still 115 degrees!)

When you think of the desert, you may envision nothing but sand for miles and miles; yet in reality the desert is not just a vast expanse of sand—there are mountains, cliffs, and even vegetation. One particular plant called the “desert broom tree” can be found in the desert and in other rocky places all throughout the landscape of my old stomping grounds. Not a tall tree by any means, the broom tree is more like an overgrown weed/shrub; and although I can’t really say the plant is beautiful, in the fall it does produce some pretty flowers. The humble broom tree does have its uses, though. It can be food for rabbits, and Native Americans have a history of using its leaves in tea for medicinal purposes.

The roots of a broom tree will grow deep down into the desert floor, finding the most minute bits of moisture which enable it to not only survive the elements, but to become a hearty plant—so hearty, in fact, that it can be a difficult plant to eradicate from the landscape.

As kids, we used the shrub for shade. We would play for hours outside; then, to cool ourselves from the intense heat we would sit under the broom trees and re-hydrate.  Believe it or not, it made a remarkable difference—under that overgrown weed bush the temperature would be 15 degrees cooler. The desert broom brought the welcome relief of shade, and the bushes were plentiful enough for all of us kids to sit underneath our own personal shrub.

Do you recall someone else who else rested under a broom tree in the desert?  In I Kings 19, Elijah—who was running from rotten King Ahab and wicked Queen Jezebel—rested under a broom tree.  God preserved the exhausted prophet’s life in the middle of the wilderness by feeding him and providing for him a shady resting place under the big shrub.

The more I thought about God’s shade and the broom tree, I noticed something I really didn’t like:  The broom tree does not block out all the sun. When I want God to give me shade from the elements that are relentlessly beating down, I want complete and total shade and refreshment. I want a majestic Oak, surround by nicely trimmed and mowed Kentucky bluegrass, at the banks of a clean, refreshing stream of mountain water. (I don’t ask for much, do I?)

When God provides a broom tree in the wilderness, sometimes I find myself complaining—deciding just to die on the desert floor rather than accept the shade He is offering.

The shade God offers is just enough.  Sometimes it may be the big oak; but more often than not, it’s simply a filtered shade that decreases the temperature to a bearable degree. Thinking about the shade at His right hand tells me that God’s shade is never further away than the length to which I can stretch my own right hand. His shade is always close. God takes the brunt of the sun so that I can be in His shade, and yet I still find fault with it.

These past months have been difficult. Sometimes the “strong” (maybe more accurately termed  “stubborn”) person I tend to be strives to keep going forward… whether in rain, snow, wind or sun.  As I read these verses and remember those days of playing in the desert of home, I realize God may be simply telling me to rest awhile. “Come; sit, under this broom tree, Kendra. All the elements that are distressing you will not be taken away; but under here, under My shade, it’s cooler. Here, in My shade, I will give you not only rest but the strength you need.”

What Does it Mean to Me?

When has God been that filtered shade in the middle of the wilderness of life for you?  Was it a friend who dropped by to encourage you? Was it a single ray of sunlight in the middle of a long, cold, dark and dreary winter?  Was it a phone call, a text or an email?  Take time to thank God for sending that broom tree; and if you don’t have eyes to see His shade, will you pray that today you feel that shade your soul is so in need of?

LIVE IT OUT

Stretch out your right hand as far as it will go, and say with passion and belief, “You, oh God are MY shade at my right hand!”  Say this every minute of the day if you have to. Every time you use your right hand today, remember God is your shade…. your broom tree.  Hold to it.