Tag Archives: Kendra Graham

KENDRA GRAHAM: ONLINE BIBLE STUDY

God led the people around by the way of the wilderness.
(Exodus 13:18, NASB)

What Does it Say?

God led the people by way of wilderness

What Does it Mean?

This may seem like a weird topic for a blog at Christmas time, but this blog has been in the desert since last March!  I believe that together we are going to stay in this desert as long as God keeps us here.  Christmas in the desert may not be such a bad thing.

Surviving the Fire Swamp

Have you ever seen the movie, The Princess Bride?  It is one of my favorites. In the movie, Princess Buttercup is promised to marry Prince Humperdink, but Prince Humperdink is not her true love.  Buttercup’s true love is a poor farm boy named Wesley. As the heroic Wesley arrives to save Buttercup from the clutches of Humperdink, the Prince’s soldiers are in hot pursuit. Wesley takes Buttercup and runs towards the Fire Swamp, laughing as he looks back.

“Ha! Your pig fiancée is too late!” he says.  “We will soon be safe in the Fire Swamp!”

Alarmed at that statement, Buttercup replies, We will never survive!

To which Wesley responds, “Nonsense! You’re only saying that, because no one ever has before!”

The Egyptians and the Israelites viewed the wilderness like Buttercup viewed the Fire Swamp.  The wilderness was a place of chaos—a place of death, banishment and punishment. The wilderness was not a place of ease and safety, and it made no sense why God would lead His people into a place of hardship like this. Did He not know that for the Israelites the last hundred years or so in Egypt had been absolutely unbearable?  Didn’t He realize that this mass of people coming out of Egypt were hurting and broken?  Was God going to finish the job in a place of desolation so that there would be no trace of His people left on the face of the earth?  Why?

Changing Our Focus

I sometimes think that it’s easy for me to focus on the wilderness.  I mean the hardship there is staring me straight in the face.  Let’s not live in denial about this; let’s call it what it is.  I am not going to jump for joy when God says, “Kendra, for you I have a howling wasteland, a wilderness that you get to go and live in!” I am not cheering and saying, “Yay! HURRAH!”  I am probably saying, “Well, that figures.  God hates me.”  Look, I’m being honest; it’s just the truth of the matter.  I might as well not lie about it.  Just the word, “wilderness” seems barren, harsh, and like it goes on literally FOREVER. Wilderness? “Yippee….” (Eye roll emoji).

What if instead of focusing on the destination, we focused on the journey?  What if we focused on the first part of that verse?  “God led the people.

Well, I don’t like it.  I don’t like that God is leading me to a place to die. That almost makes it worse,  doesn’t it?

The Presence of the Shepherd

Does it really make things worse?  Or does it change everything?  God’s name is Jehovah Raah, which means “shepherd.”  A shepherd leads from the front, he doesn’t prod from behind.  A shepherd does not leave the sheep to be slaughtered or killed, but protects the sheep from all harm. The shepherd does not starve the sheep to death but finds enough food to provide the needed nourishment to continue. The shepherd does not leave the sheep, the shepherd leads the sheep. The Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep (John 10:11, NKJV).

You are not alone, even in the wilderness.  The presence of God Himself changes everything.  If all you have is God in the wilderness, and His name is Shepherd, Provider, Faithful, Deliverer, Conqueror and King, then nothing else is needed.  God is #ENOUGH.  Perhaps we have been led into the wilderness to learn this very thing.

He Keeps His Promises

Spurgeon told the story of an old saint who lay on her deathbed and declared that Jesus would never forsake her, because He promised to be with her wherever He led her. Someone asked her, “But suppose that He did not keep His promise and you were to be lost forever?”

She answered, “Then He would be the greater loser than I.  It is true I would lose my soul, but God would lose all His honor and glory if it were not true.”

If God went to such extremes to #deliver each and every one of us from the grip of Egypt, only to allow us to die as He led us into the wilderness, then God would lose His name, His character, and His perseverance in completing every work that He undertakes.

For the Sake of His Name

God leads you and me to where He is. This season of Christmas is not the easiest season for many of us. Many of us feel we have been led to the wilderness to die a slow death alone and abandoned. That is not true. Claim the name of God in the wilderness, in the midst of the barren and empty place you find yourself, and just see if the fact of the presence of God does not change everything. For the sake of His name, He will lead you through.

Nevertheless He saved them for the sake of His name,
that He might make His power known.
(Psalm 106:8, NASB)

 For the sake of You name, O LORD, revive me.
In Your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble
.
(Psalm 143:11, NASB)

“For My own sake, for my own sake, I will act;
For how can My name be profaned?
And My glory I will not give to another.”
(Isaiah 48:11, NASB)

What Does it Mean to Me?

Why has God led you to where you are?

When were you in a wilderness and saw God’s presence provided in a very real and tangible way?

If you are in the wilderness now, how will you seek to see the name of God proven today?  Are you even willing to look for His presence?

God promises in Jeremiah 29:13 that if we seek Him with our whole hearts we will find Him. What have you given the power to hold you back from seeking God in your wilderness?  Anger? Bitterness? Frustration? Depression? Despair?

LIVE IT OUT

Today, Oh LORD, give me the strength and desire to seek You, and the perseverance to continue to seek until I find Your presence and Your glory, here in this place.

God’s presence changes everything!

Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study: Isaiah 41

 

Isaiah 41:17-20 (NASB)

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst.  I, the LORD, will answer them Myself, as the God of Israel, I will not forsake them. (18)  I will open rivers on the bare heights, and springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land fountains of water.  (19) I will put the cedar in the wilderness, the acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert together with the box tree and the cypress, (20) that they may see and recognize and consider and gain insight as well, that the hand of the LORD has done this…”

WHAT DOES IT SAY?

The afflicted and needy seek water, tongue parched. I the LORD will answer Myself, I will not forsake them.  I will open rivers in heights, spring in valleys, make the wilderness a pool and dry land fountains. I will put cedar, acacia, myrtle, olive in wilderness, juniper, box tree cypress in desert, that they may see, recognize, consider and gain insight that the hand of the LORD has done this.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

Life is hard.  I find myself telling my kids that all the time.  I wish life were a bowl of cherries every day and adversity stayed at bay, but that is just not realistic.  Who can identify with an adversity-free life?  If you have never had an ounce of adversity, I praise God for that, I truly do; but it would be hard for me to even have coffee with you, because it would be difficult to relate.  It has been said that all of us have either just been through a time of adversity, are in a time of adversity, or are getting ready to go through a time of adversity.  Adversity happens— it’s life.

My most recent blog posts have been wrapped around the image of the desert.  The winter was long, hard and cold; and this spring has been filled with rain and dreariness for days on end. This is the kind of weather that I struggle with.  Winter and spring have been my desert in a sense—maybe more of a frozen tundra—and it has created a longing in me to return to the literal desert of Tucson, Arizona, where I grew up, so that I can dry out and thaw out.  This is what led me to study actual desert habitats, to see how things survive in places where there is little or no water or food.

I am so drawn to these verses in Isaiah 41; they paint such a picture of desperation.  The afflicted and needy are seeking water and sustenance yet find none.  When we’re afflicted and hurting, we seek to alleviate the pain. That is not a bad thing—it’s a human thing.  We have needs, and we need them met. The quote, “Necessity (desperation) the mother of invention” has been attributed to Plato. We seek and we seek…we problem solve, and we collaborate, and when we finish with all that, we end up parched.  We look for answers and relief where there is none to be found.  We try to move, to get out and fix it all.  In this world, our human ingenuity will always leave us lacking—wanting more, and never fulfilled.  Awesome. This blog is truly shaping up to be an encouragement! 

To give us a lift, let’s consider the mountain goat: The mountain goats in the desert are amazing! These goats are sure-footed (or sure-“hooved,” I guess).  With hooves much wider and sturdier than the farm goat or countryside goats we’re used to seeing in petting zoos and on farms, a mountain goat will jump over rocks and ravines and can scale the craziest ledges.  According to Encyclopedia Britannica, these goats actually prefer to sleep on steep, rocky ledges and hillsides.  Who in the world would prefer to live on a rocky ledge overlooking a life-ending drop?  That is crazy!  Another truly awe inspiring fact about these goats (and also about the mule deer of the desert) is that these animals can smell water beneath the surface of the desert floor to about two feet.  The animals will use their hooves to dig up water that is hidden to the naked eye.

(Above Pic: Mountain Goat in En Gedi)

Another type of wild mountain goat, called the Ibex, can be found in Israel at a place called En Gedi. Located by the Dead Sea in the middle of the wilderness, En Gedi is the place where David went to hide after he had given King Saul a minor robe-trimming.  David was in En Gedi when he wrote the words, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You” (Psalm 42:1, NASB).  The name En Gedi means literally “The spring of the goat.” Who knows? David may have been watching that wild mountain goat called the Ibex when God inspired him to write that psalm. (The Ibex still reside at the En Gedi preserve today.)

(Above Pic: Water in En Gedi)

I wonder if the prophet Isaiah had En Gedi mind while he was penning those verses in Isaiah 41: a tremendous spring, situated right in the middle of the wilderness. In contrast to En Gedi, the nearby Dead Sea (also located in the desert of Judea) is so salty that no life can reside in it.  The Dead Sea is… well…dead! It doesn’t really speak of “life.”  Almost everything in this desert wilderness speaks of adversity, hardship and desperate need…. but then there is En Gedi.

In the middle of the desert, where sojourners are faced with the very true reality of dehydration and death, there is this unexplainable, life-giving spring. En Gedi is just that—a spring of life.  Coming out of the rocks in this mountainous and difficult place is fresh water, not salt water!  Bursting forth in the middle of the desert, although hidden among a difficult path, is refreshment—and not just refreshment, but shelter. There are broom trees and acacia trees that shelter and feed the goats, as well as a fresh spring easily traversed by these animals in residence.  En Gedi is a literal oasis, brought forth out of nothing.

Visualizing En Gedi while reading Isaiah 41 brings me such hope and confidence in the God who loves me (41:8), who chose me (41:9) and who is with me and refuses to leave me (41:10,13,14,17).  I pray you will take hold of this same confidence. God is not ignorant of your needs nor of the fact that the mountainous path is hard, rocky, and dangerous; He has made provision for that, and that provision is Himself.  God will make water flow from desert rocks and will produce shelter and food from a rocky, hard land if that is where you are.  God will do what is necessary in order to provide for His people.  There is nothing too difficult for God, and no person is too small to escape His eye.  These verses don’t say God “may” help you, or “may eventually remember your adversity.”  God says He is there, He will provide, and He will not leave you.

I love when David speaks of the deer panting for water in the desert. He likens it to how he pants for God and His Word in these dry, hard and weary places.  David never said that the deer wished for an easier path that was more scalable.  David realized the provision God had given these mountain roamers, and he asked for the same.

It’s easy to lose sight of God in the reality of desert adversity, but what if we really took the time to look around?  Would we see a spring that came out of the rocks at just the right time? Would we discover shelter from a broom tree, (link to broom tree study) just as we were about to collapse from heat exhaustion? Would we find food from the leaves of an acacia (link to acacia study) to ease our gnawing hunger?  Sure, it’s not the provision we’d prefer or the green pastures we’d hoped for, but it is a miracle of God’s provision, grace and presence nonetheless.  It is because life has adversities and we are utterly desperate that we even look to God at all.  Often, it is not until we have explored every avenue of self-provision that we finally call out to God and find He answers us, Himself.  I love that.  He doesn’t send an email through a secretary, but He answers us personally Himself.  What verses of hope! What an amazing oasis in the middle of the desert!

Lord, give us eyes to see and hearts to receive.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO ME?

When has God provided an oasis in the desert for you?  What did your oasis look like?  A promise to hold on to?  A person who dropped by?  A meal that you may or may not have even liked that provided sustenance?

Have we been praying for God to change the path of adversity before us, instead of making our hooves sure-footed as we climb the terrain?

LIVE IT OUT:

Today, LORD God, give me eyes to see Your overwhelming provision, and a heart to accept it.


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.

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: Mark 15:39

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

KENDRA GRAHAM NOTES FROM Mark 15:39

A Triumphal Entry

And when the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him saw the way He breathed His last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

What Does it Say:
The Centurion standing right in front of Him saw the way He breathed His last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God”

What Does it Mean:
The book of Mark goes through the narrative of the crucifixion in a unique way.  Recently I was reading, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Roman Empire by Nigel Rodgers and was pretty amazed by what I read.

Romans had what was called a “Triumph”.  A triumph started probably back in the days of the Greeks, but Octavian, Caesar Augustus made the honor of triumphs for emperors of Rome only.  When Rome would win a major battle, there would be a huge parade, celebration in the street which would parade the captives of that particular battle in front as proof of his accomplishment and then the emperor, “humbly” behind.

The triumphator, the emperor, would be taken into the place of the palace called the Praetorium, where the Praetorium guard of Rome would be.  The elite soldiers would take a special sash called a toga picta, which symbolized, and drew the connection between the emperor and one of their Roman gods, like Zeus, Mars or Jupiter.  The emperors since Octavian were known as the “sons of the gods” and these triumphs would remind the people of that very thing.  The Praetorian Guard was the closest thing to the emperor so they would of course know the deity of the emperor more intimately than anyone, so for them to dress the emperor was a very important part of the triumphal process.  The emperors would often pay off the Praetorian Guard, so that they would really make a convincing show of this whole process.  The soldiers would place a crown of laurel upon the head of the emperor.  The emperor would begin the processional in the field of Mars  (Campus Martinus) and proceed down the sacred way to Capitoline Hill (the place of the skull where tradition has it that as the Romans were building their city, a full in tact human head was found here).  At Capitoline Hill the captives were either killed or they were set free depending on the rule of the emperor.  The Roman guard would go before the emperor on this journey and would exclaim to the crowd, “HAIL! The son of god!  HAIL, the son of god!”  The crowd would cheer and bow as the emperor passed. Lastly the emperor would ascend up the steps of the temple of Saturn with one man on either side.   One man would tell him that he is the son of god and the other would remind him that he is mortal.  The emperor at the top of the steps would be offered a goblet of wine, which he would pour out on the ground as an offering to the gods and to Rome signifying that the emperor would give his life blood for the gods and Rome. The crowd would cheer.  An animal would be sacrificed there, at that place to satisfy the payment to the gods in thanks in adoration for the victory and power that Rome enjoyed.  The city would feast the rest of the day.


(Picture:  Golgotha, where Jesus was crucified)

Now, read Mark chapter 15.  How would the disciples explain to the Roman world the triumph of the Savior, Jesus, to a pagan world who did not know the Word of God and were not looking for a Messiah?  Through the triumphal procession of Jesus.  The similarities cannot be ignored.  Mark 15:16, the soldiers took Him, Jesus into the Praetorium and dressed him in a fine kingly toga picta of purple and fashioned for Him a crown, not of laurel but of thorns.  They put it on Him.  The guard went before him on a procession (Mark 15:18) and exclaimed, “Hail! King of the Jews!” They led Him out of the palace and through the city, to crucify Him.  They brought Him to a place called , Golgotha, translated “The place of the skull” (Mark 15:22).  Jesus wound through the city along the way called the “Via dolorosa” which means the way of suffering and is seen today as “the sacred way” as many this Easter will make their pilgrimage down the same way.  The soldiers offered Jesus wine mixed with myrrh, Mark 15:23, but He would not drink it.  The guards continued their mocking and jeering in the face of the son of God who was not just symbolizing that He would pour His life blood out for His people the Jews and the world, but He was doing it (John 10:17-18).   He was crucified between two thieves.  One thief proclaimed, (Luke 23:39) “Are You not the Christ save yourself and us!” The other thief asked Jesus to “Remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42).


(Picture: Golgotha, where Jesus was crucified)

All this was taken in by the Roman Praetorian Guard in Jerusalem.  This particular centurion soldier at the cross saw Jesus as the undeniable Son of God.  How many times had that soldier been a part of Roman triumphs?  How many times was he forced to bend his knee to the emperor exclaiming that the emperor was the son of god?  How often had he been paid off by the Roman authorities to pronounce the deity of the Roman leader?  Yet here, in front of the cross, this man proclaimed without payment or force, “Truly this man was the Son of God”.  He had seen so many imposters, that here, at the cross, the Truth of Jesus was seen.  Even the Roman world would be able to see, understand and believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God (Matthew 16:16).

Do you see similarities to that of a Roman triumph?  Truly this was the ultimate triumph.  The triumph once and for all for sin.  Jesus triumphed at the place of the skull.  Jesus triumphed over sin at the cross and three days later rose again and triumphed over death at the grave.  The cross is not a defeat, but the greatest triumph that the world will ever see.

Many of us have seen failures of men who claim to be next to God.  We have seen failures of leaders who preach the Word the God.  We have seen failures of godly men and women who have fallen to adversity in this world.  We have seen failures of the church.  We have seen failures in Christian schools and universities.  We have seen failures in Christian organizations.  It is so easy to focus on all those who have fallen, but truly isn’t that just proof of the reason and desperate need of the world for Jesus?  This Easter, let’s join the centurion at the cross standing in front of Jesus alone.  As we look to Jesus this Easter may our words ring ever so similar to that centurion as we proclaim, “Truly, this is the Son of God!”.

What does it Mean to me?

Who do you say Jesus is?  Everyone must decide about Jesus.  This Easter will you make that choice to cry out to Jesus who alone is able to forgive and redeem your sin? (Acts 16:31, Romans 3:23, Romans 6:33, Romans 5:8, I Corinthians 15:3-4)

When have you truly taken the time to see Jesus for who He has proven Himself to be?

LIVE IT OUT.

Dear God, I am a sinner and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that you raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do your will. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.”

Daily read the Word of God and get to know the love this God has for you since before time began.


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Kendra Graham’s Bible Online Bible Study – Acts 16:23-25

Kendra Blog Title

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

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

Kendra Graham notes from Acts 16:23-25

“When they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely;  (24) and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. (25) But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:23-25

Step 1

THE FACTS:
(Verse23) struck with many blows, threw into prison, (verse 24) fastened feet in stock, (verse 25) Paul and Silas were praying and singing to God, prisoners were listening.

Step 2

THE LESSONS:
Recently, some of the information about what happened behind closed doors to Saeed Abidini has come out in interviews in the media. I had the honor of spending a day with the Abidini family not so long ago. It overwhelms me when I hear the horrible atrocities that Saeed had to endure. Saeed was beaten so badly one day that he was unable to sleep for 20 hours, he was in so much pain. What did Saeed do? He prayed for his captures, his family, the other prisoners and praised God. This blows my mind. How is this humanly possible? Answer, it isn’t.

How often do we read these stories, especially the one of Paul and Silas in prison, and we tell it with such gusto each and every VBS season, how God shook the prison and set the captives free, and they sang in prison and it was great! It is great… but when you hear of a beating first hand, of someone you know, and you look in their eyes, and you see the scars, and you hear of the torture… it is almost something you don’t want your children to hear or ever know about.

It’s sobering. It’s frightening.

At least it is to me. Perhaps you have a greater faith than me and would step up with gusto to endure such cruelty. I tend to have an easier time bringing questions to God about the whole situation. I did not listen to Saeed’s story and break out with a hymn of praise as he was describing the beatings. Tears were welling up in my eyes and my heart was heavy. That was me, don’t get that confused with how Saeed was.

Saeed had the most peaceful look upon his face, as if he was remembering those moments in the dark with Jesus. Saeed is not bitter or angry, instead he is grateful that God entrusted him with such a story of grace. There were others in the prison who needed to hear Saeed’s prayer and praise. There were others, an American, who needed his encouragement. There were prison guards who needed to know that Jesus saves, and gives strength to the weak.

Saeed said that while in prison, the presence of God was so permeated that you could not miss it if you tried. God was so close to him, and His presence so real to him in this time that he could not help but praise His name. Saeed was pressured to turn his face away from Jesus, but he said he couldn’t… not even if he tried. Then he praised even more. God trusted Saeed with a difficult testimony.

It takes so much less for me to run from God and shake my little dust fist in the air and tell God that He got all this difficulty wrong in my life. God needed Paul and Silas to press in here, in this prison, because there was a jailer and captives that He loved more than anything. Paul and Silas had been in the streets for days preaching about the Gospel to the Philippians, but alas, it would not be the testimony preached from the rooftops that would reach these particular people… it would be the testimony lived out in prison that would finally capture the heart of the jailer.

God was trusting Paul and Silas with suffering, they had to be in the innermost cell… they had to have a jailer employed to keep them in… the lengths God will go to for one person, a jailer no less… but through it all, the presence of God would so drench that place, that even when the foundations of the prison would shake, the captives would refuse to leave.

This is what the presence of God does.

We were created to experience His presence, and in His presence, joy is inevitable even when your feet are in stocks. It wasn’t the fact that Saeed, Paul and Silas were delivered from the pit that gave them joy, the fact of joy was the presence of God in the pit.

“Freedom in Christ is not a matter of location, but a matter of the heart” -Casper Ten Boom (when he was captured and placed in a concentration camp in World War 2.)

Step 3

APPLY IT:

What about you? Perhaps today you find yourself in a pit, in a place of struggle and everywhere you look is darkness and frustration, and you are questioning where God is in this???

Today, will you ask Him to focus your eyes on Him, and even in this place of bondage, give you freedom? Where is it that you need to press in to, and grab a hold of that testimony God wants to forge in your life? “When God leads us down hard paths, He gives us strong shoes.”- Corrie Ten Boom from The Hiding Place.

3

LIVE IT OUT: Today Lord, open my eyes to see where You are working. Give me strength to walk where You lead.
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What Scripture are you studying now? What have you learned? How has the Lord spoke to you? Share with us in the comments section.
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To see more of Kendra’s Bible Studies, click here.

 

Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study – Mark 5:28

ONLINE BIBLE STUDY-1

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” in the upper left hand corner of our blog. It’s free and you’ll receive these post straight into your email inbox.

Kendra Graham notes from Mark 5:28

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.

FACTS: If I just touch HIS garments I WILL get well.

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?

LESSONS: ​I was recently asked a question which has kind of stuck in my mind, and I’ve thought on it for the past few days.  I have been to Kenya, Paupa New Guinea, and countless stateside places to be with Wil as he ministers; so what do the women have in common from West Virginia to Paupa New Guinea?  The one thing that stuck in my my heart immediately is “brokenness.” Not to be a sapper of joy this Thanksgiving, focused on the worst things of life, but brokenness is a fact of life.  I am NOT thankful for brokenness…. but then on the same hand, I am.  It is in my brokenness and my desperateness that I saw my incredible need for a loving and gracious Savior.  It is also in my brokenness that in my pride and my anger… oh, and bitterness too, that I refused to come to a Savior.

We have all been there…some of us are there right now… desperate and in need.  What we do with that desperateness is of utmost importance.  This verse here, states it all… if this woman who has been in great need, extreme issues for 12 years, would just come to Jesus… she would be healed, she would be whole.  Isn’t that great… and not great at the same time?  If we go to Jesus to get healed… well, then, we will be healed! That means we will not have anything to hold over anyone anymore… that means that those rotten people who did this stuff to me won’t be reminded every time they see me, because I won’t be suffering anymore.

I will be healed, and better… Then… those people won’t know how badly they hurt me… So we stay away, willing to bleed out, because that will show them.  Truly, this is hard, because I know for me, I stayed in my situation, bleeding out, hurting, because I liked the excuses my situation afforded me.  I really didn’t want to be healed.

But then… the day came, when my pride no longer mattered more than my pain, and I went to Jesus–head low, hurting, and messy… and I was healed.  The worst/ best time of my life that I talk about constantly, because the grace of God was freely given to me.  I wasn’t judged or condemned.  I wasn’t scolded for taking so long.  It was as if Jesus would have waited a lifetime, just for me to come.  I am so thankful for the relentless love of a gracious Savior who just wants you to come as you are, and be healed.  What you choose matters.  Jesus takes broken things and makes them beautiful, oh that you would let Him.

 

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?

​What is a testimony of brokenness that you are thankful for since it drove you to Jesus?  Are you currently broken, knowing if you just come to Jesus you will be healed, and instead of this being great news, that is the problem?  Do you really want to be well?  Will you grab the testimony that is just in your grasp or will you hold on to the misery of brokenness?


LIVE IT OUT!
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.

Come to Jesus today.  Lay your burdens down, speak them out, yell them out, cry them out, write them out… to Jesus… He has waited for you and loves you more than anything!  Today, I am thanking God for healing me and taking my broken mess and painting a portrait I can’t not share.

Homework: Pick a verse or a few verses and use the three-question method to see what the lessons are, how they apply to your life, and how you can live it out.

Get stuck? www.annegrahamlotz.com and Anne will walk through the Three Questions with you and help you along!

JOIN US FOR OUR FREE WOMEN’S BIBLE STUDY AT THE COVE, BEGINNING JANUARY 12, 2016.

If you can attend in-person, we’d love to see you. Click on one of the links below to register.

If you’d like to register for Kendra’s Tuesday evening study (January 12 – February 16, 2016), click here.
NOTE: If you are unable to attend in person, we will continue the online study as well, using lessons shared during the LIVE study.

Register for Kendra’s Tuesday evening study here or by calling 1-800-950-2092..

If you’d like to register for Jane Derrick’s Tuesday morning study (January 12 – February 23, 2016), click here.

2016 Women’s Bible Study Registration is Open

Womens Bible Study 2016

Ladies, we are excited to share with you what Jane and Kendra have planned for their Bible studies this winter!

They have both filmed videos to give you an idea of what you can expect for their Winter 2016 Women’s Bible studies.

Click here to view Jane’s video if it doesn’t show up in your browser.

Register for Jane’s Tuesday morning study here or by calling 1-800-950-2092.

Click here to view Kendra’s video if it doesn’t show up in your browser.

Register for Kendra’s Tuesday evening study here or by calling 1-800-950-2092..

Please share this post with your church and your circle of women friends and family.

See you in January!

Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study – 2 Corinthians 12:10

ONLINE BIBLE STUDY-1

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” in the upper left hand corner of our blog. It’s free and you’ll receive these post straight into your email inbox.

Kendra Graham notes from 2 Corinthians 12:10.

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.

FACTS :
“When I am weak, I am strong.” 
(2 Corinthians 12:10)

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?

LESSONS:
My dear friend had the worst weekend… and now it’s Monday, and she has a huge task set in front of her.  Her boss has said no, twice already, yet today, she has to ask again.  God has moved her heart to do so.  She has no more energy to be winsome, no more power of persuasion; no strength to even get out of the car actually…. it’s perfect timing for God’s power to be displayed in her life, because she is a canvas of weakness.

A friend calls her en route to work… and prays that in her weakness God will go before her and that the hand of God will be seen, and His glory will be revealed to her, no matter the outcome.   When the two finished praying, in her weakness a strength welled up in her soul, as the burden of her work shifted to the shoulders of God… and…GOD WORKED in an unmistakable way she may have missed… not because of her strength but in her weakness.  When she was emptied of herself, God flipped the switch.  Through it all, miracles were accomplished right before her eyes.  The hearts of everyone, changed in a moment;  when she was weak, then she was strong.  This testimony of my friend, encouraged me, and really described to me, the essence of this verse.

The Apostle Paul wrote this verse in 2 Corinthians, and honestly, I don’t like to be weak! In 2 Corinthians 12:9 Paul states that God’s power is “made perfect in weakness”.  This is so contradictory in society today, isn’t it?  Power and strength through weakness?

A mark of a disciple of Jesus, is faith and trust in Him.  We love when God finally decides to use the “strength” of our “natural talents” for Him, don’t we? When God uses what we think He should use how we think it should be used, it is easy, it’s a natural outflow of what we want to do for Him, and… it is something we are familiar with, so the amount of faith and dependence on Christ is…minimal.

BUT GOD…wants to increase our faith and dependence on Him to show us how much He loves us, and what He wants to do right in front of our eyes… SO God… in His grace, mercy and love… brings us to a point of weakness so that we have nothing left to do, but trust that He’s got us.

God was pressing Paul to have confidence in His strength through the fact of his weakness.   The weaker we are… the more dependent we become.  God wants us to depend on Him, so He will bring us to the point of that dependence, not because He hates us, but because He loves us and wants to show us what He can and will do for us.  The power of God is put on display, when we get ourselves out of the way.  It’s often not until we are desperate that we see the mighty hand of God work in unspeakable amazing ways!

I want to see God work, but I don’t want to be weak and desperate.  If I refuse to allow myself to be broken and bread and poured out wine in the hands of Jesus, then I am choosing to settle to hear of all the testimonies of those who will.  I will miss the miracles and testimony that God has for me.  Jesus was broken bread and poured out wine in the hands of His Father.  The Apostle Paul here, is broken bread and poured out wine in the hands of Jesus.  A loaf of bread will never feed someone, it’s pretty to look at in its state of perfection, but useless, unless it’s broken into bite size pieces; then those pieces can feed a crowd.  A grape never satisfied the thirst of a single person, yet a crushed grape can make the finest wine after it is squeezed.  Trust God in your weakness.

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?

If God’s power becomes more evident in your weakness, then are you looking for God to work in BIG ways when He seemingly has gone out of His way to bring you to your knees?

When has God brought you to a state of total dependence on Him so you could see His glory, love, grace or mercy displayed more fully?

Will you walk away from a God who is relentless for you because in your pride you refuse to be weak and desperate so you choose to be angry and bitter?

LIVE IT OUT!

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.

It’s in the things that drive us to our knees, those moments of weakness that God allows, in our lives to show us His power.  We run from all things that make us out to be weak, but what if today, in your weakness you pressed into it, and asked God to make you strong in Him? Today, run to God in your desperate state today, fighting the crowds of your feelings, frustration and hurt just to touch the hem of His garment and rest in the strength of His arms.

How has God used your weakness to display His strength in your life?  Will you encourage someone today with the testimony above?

*Please note: Kendra will no longer assign specific homework for this study. She will still use the Three-Question approach and recommends you do the same. Kendra would love to hear what Scripture is speaking to you at this season in your life. Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Get stuck? www.annegrahamlotz.com and Anne will walk through the Three Questions with you and help you along!

Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study – Philippians 2:13

ONLINE BIBLE STUDY-1

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” in the upper left hand corner of our blog. It’s free and you’ll receive these post straight into your email inbox.

Kendra Graham notes from Philippians 2:13.

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.

FACTS :
“God is at work, in you, for His pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)

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?

LESSONS:
God is at work.  I love the C.S. Lewis books about Narnia  that my kids and I are listening to AGAIN for the 100th time in the car.  The phrase that always gets me is when the books states,
“Aslan is on the move!”  The question would be raised, “How do you know such things?” and the reply would be something along the lines of, “Look around, you can’t miss the signs! They are everywhere in everything!” Oh, to be as astute as the characters in those books!  I am so slow to learn, slow to obey, and quick to ask questions.  I wanted to see God on the move after listening to the excitement of how Aslan was working in those books.  Silly, I’m sure.  It was a simple prayer, “Lord, open my eyes, today, to see where you are on the move.”

I gassed-up the car and met the student driver who would be driving to get the rest of her hours required for her license, then jumped in the car with my eldest and her friend who we would be taking on a 2-1/2 hour journey to a soccer game.

We made it to the game, without incident, and then we began to work our way back up the mountain.  The girls weren’t hungry yet, so we decided to drive on for 30 minutes; by then, my eldest was going to to “die of hunger!” I asked where they would like to stop.  “Zaxbys!” was the reply of my child.  My eyes got wide, and my brain began to spin… “Zaxbys?”  This may not sound like a strange request, but my daughter has NEVER had that request!  When she was 5, she had a meal from there and threw up for the next 2 days.  I don’t think the restaurant had anything to do with it, I think the stomach bug that hit the kindergarten class did.  It has been 10 years.  I made sure of her request, because there was a Cookout in the same parking lot.  The final choice was Zaxbys.  I bought the girls dinner, everyone ate like they were famished and then we got up to leave to go to Cookout for milk shakes.

On our way out, a Zaxby employee stopped us and the girl asked a question, “If you were with a friend, and your friend was hungry and all they wanted was a milkshake from Cookout, would you buy them one?”  I was taken back.  My head was spinning; “Is this girl asking me for money?”  I was confused, I am a slow processor. The girl explained again how she and her friend had gone on break; she didn’t have any money with her, but her friend did.  “Don’t friends help each other once in a while?”  I told her she was right–they do. Often friends give to one another when they can.  Satisfied with my explanation, the girl returned to work.

There was a stirring in my heart, “Aslan is on the move, here!” I was taken by surprise.  I spoke up from somewhere–who knows where–and asked, “Excuse me, what kind of shake at Cookout is so delicious that it has strained your friendship?” She replied, “Oreo, of course!” I smiled and walked out with the girls.  Again, my heart stirred.  I was going to buy that exact  milkshake for myself; I had already decided long before that moment, but the Oreo shake was not to be consumed by me, I was to give it to the girl at Zaxbys. I talked it over with the girls in my company, and they all agreed we should do it.

Soon we arrived back at Zaxbys; the girls were so excited to give this shake to this girl they didn’t even know.  It was awesome to watch.  They found the girl, asked her to turn around, and gave her the Oreo shake.  The girl was visibly shaken.  She held the cup with the delicious ice cream and crumbled cookies in absolute disbelief.  The girl said thank you, and that she never would have imagined
someone would do something like that for her, and she didn ’t understand why.

She tried to give it back.  We told her that she was worth it.  The girl then put the cup down, and turned her back to us, wiping the tears that had formed so quickly.  She could not look at us again.

We turned and left. I have thought of that girl often in the last week, and prayed for her.  I don’t know what is really going on in her life, but God is on the move.  He’s on the move in her life, and He works through us, not because He is incapable of making an Oreo shake appear, but because He wants to show us just how much He loves His handmade creation…. individually.  Crazy as you may think I am, that Zaxbys visit was Providential.  God had something to show me, a student driver, two soccer players and a few Zaxbys employees.  I will never know the impact He made in that employee’s life, but it made a difference in mine.

God is indeed on the move, because  we are His pleasure, and He gave everything He had to prove it.  “For God SO LOVED the world (the individuals in it) that He gave His only Son (Jesus), that whoever believes in Him (Jesus), will not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Oh, that we may see the love of God come to life and work right in front of our eyes!

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?

God is always at work. What would happen if we, who claim to be His church, watched where He was at work and joined Him, everyday, not just once in a while?  What testimony of the love of God would we have to share?

LIVE IT OUT!

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, as I go about my day, Lord God, will you open my eyes to where You are on the move, then give me the strength to join You.

*Please note: Kendra will no longer assign specific homework for this study. She will still use the Three-Question approach and recommends you do the same. Kendra would love to hear what Scripture is speaking to you at this season in your life. Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Get stuck? www.annegrahamlotz.com and Anne will walk through the Three Questions with you and help you along!