Tag Archives: Kendra Graham

Kendra Graham Fall Bible Study: “Suddenly”

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

Suddenly

Acts 2:2-3

And SUDDENLY there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.

(3) And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each of them.

What Does it SAY?

Suddenly– came from heaven, a noise- rushing wind, filled the house where they were sitting, appeared to them as tongues of fire distributing, rested on each of them.

What Does it Mean?

  HOW many of us feel like it takes God FOREVER to act “SUDDENLY”.   I know I am feeling that right now.

 It is very uncomfortable to answer the questions, “Hey Kendra, what now? You quit all the jobs you got paid for and now what exactly are you doing?”

 Cue the awkward silence. (LOL! Right?) I do not like having the appearance of just sitting.  I have the temperament where “just sitting” is not ok.  I am a busy person.  I always have somewhere to go or somewhere I should have been five minutes ago.

 Recently, as the last box was unpacked, I found myself without a list of “to do’s” that would take 16 hours of time each day.  Then the question started, what now?  Ok God! I AM READY! GO!

Silence

A week or so ago I was reading Acts 2 again and I got stuck on that word… SUDDENLY.  What happened “suddenly”?  Well, suddenly the house was filled with the Holy Spirit and It rested upon each of them.  After the Holy Spirit came, things got pretty intense.  God started working all over Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the utter most part of the earth (Acts 1:8) SUDDENLY started to come to fruition.

How long did it take God to work suddenly?  Well, in this case it took 10 days.  In other cases it took generations.

“LOOK! I AM sending My messenger to clear the way before Me; and the LORD whom you seek, will SUDDENLY come to His Temple” Malachi 3:1. God promised He would come Himself, to mankind, back in Genesis, and then FINALLY – Luke 2:11, For unto us was born this day in the city of David, a Savior who is Christ the Lord.”

I want God to work faster.  I don’t want to feel awkward.  I want to understand why God has lead me here.  I have heard plenty of sermons encouraging  “in the meantime” just do something, anything.

Is that what I need to do?  Is that what the disciples did?  In the meantime- they had their orders to be fishers of men, and to testify to what they had seen and heard, and “feed My sheep” (Matthew 4:19, John 21:16, Acts 1:8). It’s not like the Great Commission was not given, right?  So they should just come up with a blueprint of their ideas, and flow chart their callings out, with present goals and future goals and what success looks like and then get after it? And along the way God is going to bless their goals, right?  In the meantime- so you don’t have to feel that awkward silence, stay busy?  Doing good things, for God, right?

Personally, I think that it is easy to become religious exhibitionists.  I think we TRULY want to do great things for God.  I think that is the heart of it, but somewhere we get the idea that we need to manipulate God in order to get Him to use us in the way and time that appeals most to us.  We end up getting busy in programs  we were never called to because we want the praise and approval of others, and we don’t want to look like we are, well, just sitting.  I know that is the direction my heart goes in anyway.  I just need God to hurry up and act SUDDENLY.  All these other things in my life happened suddenly, so what now? What next?

What did the disciples do?

Luke 24:52-53 gives us a little insight. They returned to Jerusalem with great joy, (53) and they were continually in the temple, praising God.

Acts 1:14 These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer… (NASB)

Jesus did tell them that they would receive power after the Holy Spirit came  upon them. Sure, but we know sitting was definitely not their strong suit.  In John 21 they fished while they waited.  Here in Acts, however, things change.  The disciples embrace the silence and fill it with anticipatory praise.  They fill their days with praise and prayer, while they are waiting for God Himself to lead, direct and empower them.

The thing about God’s calling on your life, is that it is a call that is absolutely impossible for you to do! Isn’t that GREAT?!?!!  Even today, we cannot do what God has called us to do without Him empowering us.  We are not clever enough, or brave enough, or powerful enough to do it on our own. We are dependent on God, not the other way around.

I love how the Holy Spirit came to all 120 followers of Jesus waiting in that house that day.  It was not just Peter or John, but the Holy Spirit was given to each person present, sitting in that house, in the presence of God as they DEVOTED themselves to prayer.  They knew the calling, but needed God to do the leading.  What if they were out and about busy doing important things for God in the meantime?  The verse says, those present, in HIS presence, in that house, received the Holy Spirit, the POWER to do that which they were called to do.

It’s not about what I can do for God, it never has been, it’s about what He wants to do through me.  It’s about what He wants to do through you.

It’s HARD to sit and devote ourselves to prayer and just sitting in the presence of God.

Psalm 16:11, “You will show me the path of LIFE; in Your presence is fullness of joy.”

What Does it Mean to Me?

Do you know what God has called you to do?

Have you ever decided to go ahead of God and start the work instead of waiting for the Holy Spirit to come and empower?

What are you devoted to?

When has God worked suddenly?  How long did it take?

LIVE IT OUT

Lord, I have this tug on my heart of what I want to do! I want to do so much for You!  Help me to put all my notions aside, and instead just enjoy Your presence.  Open my eyes to see where You are suddenly working around me! May my “ACTs”, the movement in my life, be towards where YOU are.  AMEN and AMEN!


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 Garden. Click here for directions and operating hours. Tours are free.

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Kendra Graham Bible Studythecove.org

 

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

What Does it Say?

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

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

What Does it Mean?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Does it Mean to Me?

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

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

LIVE IT OUT

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


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

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

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

Follow us on social media. click map

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KENDRA GRAHAM BIBLE STUDY – WEEK 6 HANDOUT

Welcome to Kendra Graham’s online Bible study. Our prayer is that you grow deeper in the knowledge and understanding of God’s Word and His promises for you. Below is the handout for Kendra’s final week of evening Bible study, with a few homework questions at the end. 

*To view this final Bible study via Periscope, click here.

STEP ONE: Pray

STEP TWO: Read the Text.

Exodus 33:21-23 (NASB)

(21) Then the LORD said, “Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; (22) and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. (23) Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.

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

 In this step you need to list the outstanding facts of the passage. DON’T get caught up in the details; just list the facts. Do not paraphrase. Use the actual words of the passage. This is God’s Word; a lot of times this step seems tedious to some, but I urge you, as we read, and say and write God’s Word, it begins to sink deep into our hearts.  If you just pick one fact out of the verse, write it down and meditate on it.

(21)     The LORD: There is a place by Me…you shall stand…on rock

(22)     It will come…while My glory is passing I will put you in cleft of rock and cover you with MY hand until I have passed

(23)     THEN I will take My hand away and you shall see my back, but face shall not see

STEP FOUR:  WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
THE LESSONS

Look for a lesson to learn from each fact. What are the people doing that they should be doing? What are the people doing that they shouldn’t be doing?

Is there a command to follow? A promise to claim? A warning to heed? An example to follow?  Meditate on these. Ask God what lesson it is that He wants you to hear or learn.

(21)    If we want to see the glory of God first-hand, then we have to go where God is. To know “my God” will take effort and patience. God calls us to specific places because He wants to be personally known by us. He is often visible in our lives, but we don’t like the location, the effort demanded or the amount of faith that it will take to get there.

(22)    God tells Moses that He is going to show Moses His glory; then, when God gets there, He places Moses in a dark and hard place, only to then cover it with His hand and make it even darker. This is not the “glory” we were anticipating when we asked.  God trusts us with dark places for a reason. We need to hold on to His promise when we can’t see how it is going to work out and we surely don’t understand it. This dark, hard place would not be how I thought God would show me who He is. God’s promises are #ENOUGH to hold to in the dark.

(23)    When God takes His hand away, we will be able to see His glory on the backside. Once God passes, His presence changes everything and we can see all the places He has unmistakably touched here in the desert. His presence is #ENOUGH to make this dry, unforgiving place, a place of refuge, not a prison, a place of blessing not curses, a place of thankfulness not bitterness. His presence is #ENOUGH in our deserts, period.

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

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

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

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

(21)    Do you want to see God’s glory in your desert? What are you willing to do, and what are you not willing to do? Has God called you to come to a place near Him but it doesn’t make sense, and the journey will be uncertain? Maybe God is calling you to the desert, and that is not where you want to see God, so you stay put? Did you realize that there is effort required each day to come to where God is in His Word and listen?  When it comes down to it, do you really want to see God’s glory in your life on His terms or yours?

(22)    How many times do we have more questions than answers about where God has placed us? When have we questioned God’s methods in our lives?  Are we trying to get out of this hard, dry place on our own before God’s glory passes by? What causes us to bug-out early and forget His promises to us? IN this dark, hard, dry place, will we hold to the hope that God has not forgotten or forsaken us here? What promises are you holding to in the dark of your situation?

(23)    Has God been working in this desert and you have missed it? Are you willing to look back and see all the places that God led you, held you, and protected you in your suffering? Has God ever flipped a dark place around for you, where you hated every minute of the struggle, but when you got to the end, and you looked back you saw God in unmistakable ways? Will you allow God to make this desert a place of refuge for you?  Will you trust that God is #ENOUGH for you? Will your faith be forged or forgotten in this place?

STEP SIX:  LIVE IT OUT.

Look over all your facts, lessons and applications for a given passage.

Is there a main theme to them? Does one verse stand out over the rest for some reason?

Hold yourself accountable to LIVE OUT in your daily life that which God impresses upon your heart. Write it out, sign it, date it and claim the transforming power of God’s Word and His presence in your life.

God’s presence is Available and is #ENOUGH

…Focus my feet to come.

God’s presence is #ENOUGH in the dark

…Focus my heart to hold on to His promise.

God’s presence is #ENOUGH to see me through

…Focus my eyes to look and see what He has done
and where He has been in my life.

Jehovah—who is highly exalted above all gods—wants to be known personally by you.

I pray that 2019 is the year in which God’s people allow Him to teach us and test us, even in the desert, and show us how to do more than preach the Message with our lips, but BE the Message with our lives.

Shalom and blessing to you

Shema Israel!

                                                            Adonai Eluhanu

                                                            Adonai Echad

I know the journey is hard and unbearable at times; hold to the promise of who Jehovah is, and we will find that I AM that I AM is more than, #ENOUGH

God bless you all!

–Kendra Graham


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

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

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

Follow us on social media. click map

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Kendra Graham Bible Study: Week 5 Handout

Welcome to Kendra Graham’s online Bible study. Our prayer is that you grow deeper in the knowledge and understanding of God’s Word and His promises for you. Below is the handout for the fifth week of the Bible study with a few homework questions at the end. 

I AM
#ENOUGH
TO BE YOUR BANNER IN THE BATTLE

 

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

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

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

In this step you need to list the outstanding facts of the passage. DON’T get caught up in the details, just list the facts. Do not paraphrase. Use the actual words of the passage. This is God’s Word; a lot of times this step seems tedious to some, but I urge you, as we read, and say and write God’s Word, it begins to sink deep into our hearts. If you just pick one fact out of the verse, write it down and meditate on it.

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

  • STEP FOUR: WHAT DOES IT MEAN? THE LESSONS

Look for a lesson to learn from each fact. What are the people doing that they should be doing? What are the people doing that they shouldn’t be doing?

Is there a command to follow? A promise to claim? A warning to heed? An example to follow? Meditate on these. Ask God what lesson it is that He wants you to hear or learn.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • STEP SIX: LIVE IT OUT.

Look over all your facts, lessons and applications for a given passage.
Is there a main theme to them? Does one verse stand out over the rest for some reason??
Hold yourself accountable to LIVE OUT in your daily life that which God impresses upon your heart. Write it out, sign it, date it and claim the transforming power of God’s Word and His presence in your life.

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

Watch the Bible Study online! Click here.

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

Get stuck? www.annegrahamlotz.com


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

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

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

Follow us on social media. click map

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Pinterest

KENDRA GRAHAM BIBLE STUDY: WEEK 4 HANDOUT

Welcome to Kendra Graham’s online Bible study. Our prayer is that you grow deeper in the knowledge and understanding of God’s Word and His promises for you. Below is the handout for the fourth week of the Bible study with a few homework questions at the end. 

AM
#ENOUGH
to Quench Your Thirst…

STEP ONE: Pray

STEP TWO:  Read the Text.

  Exodus 17:1-3 (NASB)

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

Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water that we may drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?”

But the people thirsted there for water; and they grumbled against Moses and said, “Why now, have you brought us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”

 

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

 In this step you need to list the outstanding facts of the passage. DON’T get caught up in the details, just list the facts. Do not paraphrase. Use the actual words of the passage. This is God’s Word; a lot of times this step seems tedious to some, but I urge you, as we read and say and write God’s Word, it begins to sink deep into our hearts. If you just pick one fact out of the verse, write it down and meditate on it.

1:    All the sons of Israel journeyed according to the command of the LORD and camped at Rephidim. There was no water to drink

2:    The people quarreled with Moses “Give us water” Moses: “Why do you test the LORD?”

3:    The people thirsted for water, they grumbled “Why now have you brought us from Egypt to kill us, our children and livestock with thirst?”

 

STEP FOUR:  WHAT DOES IT MEAN? THE LESSONS

Look for a lesson to learn from each fact. What are the people doing that they should be doing? What are the people doing that they shouldn’t be doing?

 Is there a command to follow? A promise to claim? A warning to heed? An example to follow? Meditate on these. Ask God what lesson it is that He wants you to hear or learn.

1:   It is easy sometimes to get into a performance trap. We have done everything God requires, like go to church, follow His commands, memorize the Word, help people, do what is right even when it’s easier not to…. and where has following God gotten us? To a place of urgent desperate need. I don’t like that. God leads us to places that require a dependent faith on Him.

2:   God has let me down, so I am not moving until He shows up and fixes this. The people “tested” God. We often get tired of God being the One to give the tests, well, it’s my turn. Prove who You are, and I will believe. God says, believe who I AM and see how my name is proven. We don’t like that. We demand God lead us to a place of excess… it looks empty. The thing is… this is a place where God provides in excess… to overflow! We just need to know where to look.

3:   It is here, when we are hurting, thirsty, and full of more questions than answers that we literally cannot remember a single blessing the freedom God gives us. It is at times like this, when Sinai is literally in view, that we quit. Slavery was easier. It is here, when we can’t go another step, that we throw our faith away. Our hearts are tired and we hurt…. so we will leave God before He leaves us. He may be faithful to you, but He will not be faithful to me. God is not #enough. If we leave now… we will miss the miracle.

 

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

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

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

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

 1:   When have you tried to control God with your good works, church attendance, Bible study teaching, and amazing ability to follow…? When was a time where you know God led you to a certain place, only to find that when you got there, or were in the process of getting there, you found lack rather than abundance? Did you question whether you heard God correctly or not? (Honesty is REALLY hard here….)

2:   When was a time where you got tired of all of God’s tests and you felt like it was your turn to refuse to move until you received an explanation? How hard is it to live on promises and not explanations? What promise of God are you currently trusting God to come through on?

3:   If you were to make a list of your blessings from God vs your grievances, which list would be easier to compile? Do you really believe I AM that I AM is more than #ENOUGH? Why or why not? What part of your desert journey caused you to question everything about God? Did you quit or press in? If you quit, what obstacles were in the way of turning back and pressing to Sinai? What promises do you need God to come through on? If you pressed in, then in what way did you see God that you would have missed otherwise?

STEP SIX:  LIVE IT OUT.

Look over all your facts, lessons and applications for a given passage. 

Is there a main theme to them? Does one verse stand out over the rest for some reason?

 Hold yourself accountable to live out in your daily life that which God impresses upon your heart. Write it out, sign it, date it and claim the transforming power of God’s Word and His presence in your life.

 

Write down the name of God, who He promises to be to me…

            Call on His name, hold to His name

                        Look for His name to be evident today… even if it is not                                                  evident in the way I demand.

                                    I AM THAT I AM IS MORE THAN #ENOUGH.

                                                Shout that out throughout today… then tomorrow.

                                                                        Help my unbelief.

Watch this weeks Bible Study: Click here.

HOMEWORK:

Do the Three Questions on:

 Exodus 17:9-16

Get stuck?  www.annegrahamlotz.com


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

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

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

 

Follow us on social media. click map

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Kendra Graham Bible Study: Week Two Handout

Welcome to Kendra Graham’s online Bible study. Our prayer is that you grow deeper in the knowledge and understanding of God’s Word and His promises for you. Below is the handout for the second week of the Bible study with a few homework questions at the end. 

AM
#ENOUGH
to LEAD you…

STEP ONE: Pray

STEP TWO:  Read the Text. 

Exodus 13:17-22

(17) Now when Pharaoh had let the people go, God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, even though it was near, for God said, “The people might change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.”

(18) Hence God led the people around by the way of the wilderness to the Red Sea; and the sons of Israel went up in martial array from the land of Egypt.

(19) Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, “God shall surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones from here with you.”

(20) Then they set out from Succoth and camped in Etham on the edge of
the wilderness.

(21) The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way and a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and night.

(22) He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.

STEP THREE    WHAT DOES IT SAY?  THE FACTS ONLY PLEASE

 In this step you need to list the outstanding facts of the passage.  DON’T get caught up in the details, just list the facts.  Do not paraphrase.  Use the actual words of the passage.  This is God’s Word, a lot of times this step seems tedious to some, but I urge you, as we read, and say and write God’s Word, it begins to sink deep into our hearts.  If you just pick one fact out of the verse, write it down and meditate on it. 

17:    God did not lead them by land of Philistines, even though near; God said, “The people might change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt”

18:    God led by way of wilderness to Red Sea; Israel in martial array

19:    Moses took bones of Joseph; he made Israel promise, “God shall surely take care of you.”

20:    They set out on edge of wilderness

21:    The LORD was going before them in pillar of cloud by day and fire by night that they may travel day/night

22:    He did not take away pillar of cloud/fire from before the people

STEP FOUR:  WHAT DOES IT MEAN? THE LESSONS

Look for a lesson to learn from each fact. What are the people doing that they should be doing?  What are the people doing that they shouldn’t be doing?

 Is there a command to follow? A promise to claim? A warning to heed? An example to follow? Meditate on these. Ask God what lesson it is that He wants you to hear or learn.

 17:    God leads us by His way for His reasons. God knows us, and He knows how easy it is for us to bail when things get tough. 

18:    God’s ways are not our ways; that is probably why we struggle to follow Him. When it comes down to it, we want to control God and His direction, not let God control us and our direction.  Following the Good Shepherd will always take faith on our part.  KNOW that I AM is #ENOUGH to personally lead me.  *martial array– often we think we can handle “battles” because we look the part… but God knew the people were broken and He ALONE, the GOOD SHEPHERD, would have to do all the fighting this time on their behalf.  It is important to know we do nothing in the battle for our souls, we just receive the salvation offered.

19:    Joseph died BELIEVING that GOD would LEAD them out.  Sometimes we need to borrow the faith of others to make it though the desert.  Seeing Joseph’s bones would also be a reminder that Egypt was not their home and the Egyptian gods were not their gods, I AM knows the way out and will fulfill HIS promises even if we forget them or don’t believe them.  God’s faithfulness to HIS WORD does not depend on us and/or our belief or lack thereof.

20:    God brings us to the edge… so that we can make our own personal choice… we can follow Him to the wilderness, or we can follow Egypt.  God will not force us to follow, but bids us to come to Him and trust Him—even to this hard place between the Sea and the wilderness.

21:    The LORD, “I AM that I AM,” was leading them. His presence was visible
and present, yet they did not know Him. Faith will be needed to follow every time.

22:    God refused to take His visible presence away from His people, even though the people would constantly question that presence and whether or not it was trustworthy.  I AM knew He is #ENOUGH to lead His people and would daily show and teach His people that very thing.  God promises to never leave nor forsake us.  His presence today is found in His Word, His promises are #ENOUGH to follow and trust.

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

17:    When have you followed God when it made no sense at all? How did God show up?  Has there been a time when you sensed you should have followed God but did not like the direction or destination, so you refused?

18:    When have you put conditions on where God is allowed to lead you? When and how has following God taken faith on your part?  How have you tried to help God with all your “expertise”?  When have you humbly accepted salvation from God, knowing you had done nothing to deserve it or make it happen?

19:    When have you had to borrow the faith of someone else to make it through a certain situation?  Have you known anyone who died believing the promises of God even though they did not see those promises fulfilled in their lifetime?

20:    When have you made a physical choice to follow God, only to end up pinned in between the sea and the wilderness?  When did it seem easier and more sensible to bail out from where God was leading than to continue?  What did you do? Bail or continue?

21:    When has it taken faith for you to follow where God was leading? Has following God taken faith just one time, or does it seem to take more faith every time?

22:    When have you had to claim the promises of who God IS in His Word?  When have you felt as though God has left you, even though His Word says He won’t?  How and when has God’s presence led you, although you battled with doubt along the way?  When you looked back, were you able to see where God had been?  When has God been true to HIS Word, even when you were not true to Him?

STEP SIX:  LIVE IT OUT.

Look over all your facts, lessons and applications for a given passage. 

 

Is there a main theme to them?  Does one verse stand out over the rest for
some reason?

 

Hold yourself accountable to LIVE OUT in your daily life that which God impresses upon your heart.  Write it out, sign it, date it and claim the transforming power of God’s Word and His presence in your life.

  Be in the Word of God; know who God IS, not who I demand Him to be.

            Know Jehovah Raah as MY SHEPHERD as I decide to follow Him

 

HOMEWORK:

Do the Three Questions on: Exodus 16 – any verses

Get stuck?  www.annegrahamlotz.com

I AM #ENOUGH
To LEAD as SHEPHERD

1.  #ENOUGH in Places of DESPERATION

Exodus 13:17-22

2. #ENOUGH in Places of DECISION

Exodus 14:18-31

3. #ENOUGH in places of DESTITUTION

 Exodus 15:22-27


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


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

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

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

Follow us on social media. click map

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Pinterest

KENDRA GRAHAM ONLINE BIBLE STUDY

Exodus 3:7-8 (NASB)

(7) The LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings.

(8) So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite.

WHAT DOES IT SAY?

  1. The LORD said I have SURELY seen the affliction of MY people

I Have given heed to their cry because of taskmasters

I AM AWARE of their sufferings

  1. SO I HAVE COME to deliver from the Egyptians

to bring them to a spacious land flowing with milk and honey

to the place of Canaanite, Hittite, Amorite, Perizzite, Hivite

What Does it Mean?

Suffering and affliction: these are two words we do not jump up and down about, but they’re words we can all relate to.  Here in Exodus chapter 3, God has heard the cries of His people in Egypt, and so He has come to Moses to inform him of what is going on in Egypt.

Moses’ face is in the dirt; he is not speaking, God is speaking.  I think that’s something, don’t you?  Moses obviously has an opinion about what’s been happening to the Hebrews in Egypt, don’t you think?  I mean, the reason Moses finds himself there in the desert at all is because he has seen an Egyptian beating a Hebrew slave to death and he has subsequently murdered the Egyptian in a heated outburst of anger.  The treatment of the slaves bothers Moses so much, it has led him to commit murder.

Don’t you wonder if Moses had heard about this “God of the Hebrews” and questioned whether He had any real power at all?  Why hadn’t God intervened?  Why hadn’t He stopped all these atrocities from happening?  I think Moses legitimately thought he knew the depth of it all. Being a prince of Egypt, he’d had a “behind the scenes” view and had actually come to a place where he had  refused to be called the son of the Pharaoh’s daughter (see Hebrews 11:24).  Yet even at this point Moses still doesn’t know the depth of the brokenness of the Hebrews in Egypt, so God informs him.

The word for affliction is “oiny” which means much more than just physical abuse.  God is informing Moses that His people have suffered tremendous physical, emotional and mental abuse at the hands of the Egyptians and are crying out from the depths of their souls to be #delivered from Egypt. The word aware is, “Ra’ah,” which means God more than knows what the affliction is; it is as if it had been done to Him.

God sees the injustices.  God sees the pain; He walks with us in it, because He understands what it takes to have victory in it. I don’t like that.  I want God to protect me from it, not walk with me in it.

I love how in Exodus 3:8 God tells Moses, “SO I HAVE COME to deliver” (emphasis added).  God is not asking Moses to use his contacts in Egyptian politics or to use his power as a son of the Pharaoh’s daughter.  God is telling Moses, I AM is going to deliver them.  Moses, with his face in the dirt, probably feels more useless than ever: his relevance in Egyptian culture has long passed, he is wanted on a murder charge for which he is guilty, and he has no idea how to even begin to help a people that are that broken and hurting.  What could Moses say? What could he do?  Moses can do nothing.  All he brings to the table is his ability to bend his knee in the dirt to the I AM who will do the #delivering.

God came Himself.  God did not trust the Hebrews to anyone else.  Likewise, God did not trust you to anyone else.  He came Himself.  God Himself came in the form of a man: His name is Jesus.  Jesus lived a perfect life and then paid the debt that a holy God requires.  Jesus was stricken for us (see Isaiah 53).  Jesus died a horrible, horrific and painful death on the cross so that He could walk us through the pain and suffering of this world.  We pray to a God who understands all sides of the hurt.

God never acts on our time table or in the way we think is best, but when we cry out to Him, God hears, He answers, and He comes Himself.

What Does it Mean to Me?

When have you felt abandoned by God? What injustices has God          seemed to have missed or not cared about in your life? In what              area of your life is it time to claim that God is “the God Who                    Sees”? (Jehovah Roi)

When have you cried out to God with true intensity?  When have you seen God act on your behalf.

What causes you to doubt that the depth of your pain matters to an Almighty God?  When has anyone really understood your pain?

Who are you looking to, to deliver you?  How many people have let you down or left you disappointed?

LIVE IT OUT

Today, instead of just crying out to a friend,  or my mom,  or a boss, I will cry out to GOD, whose name is Jehovah Roi, the God who sees.  Lord, give me ears today to hear Your Word, a heart to believe Your Word and eyes to see You walk with me in this world.


Join Kendra Graham  for a free Women’s Bible Study at The Cove, Tuesday evenings through February 26. The study will also be live-streamed through social media. To view a snippet of the study entitled #I Am Enough, click here. 

To register for this study, please visit this link.

To watch the first session, visit this link. 


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

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

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

Follow us on social media.click map

 

KENDRA GRAHAM: ONLINE BIBLE STUDY

“For unto you is born this day, in the City of David, a Savior which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; you shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”  (Luke 2:11-12, KJV)

What Does it Say?

TO YOU is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. This a sign to YOU; YOU shall find the babe in swaddling clothes, in a manger.

What Does it Mean?

Last week I received an invitation to the White House Christmas party. It was super exciting, the chance of a lifetime! I had never been in the White House! I had been by it, I had taken pictures of it, and I had even gone to the “White House Gift Shop” across the street from it…. but never inside!

How does one get a chance to attend the White House Christmas Party?  First of all, I needed to be invited (odds are this is the only and last time I will be invited)…  Second, I needed to accept the invitation and go through the list with the social secretary in the White House of what to bring, how to dress, and what not to bring.  I needed to know my arrival and departure time as well as parking information and what entrance I should walk through.

Once I arrived at the White House, I had to produce two forms of ID.  I went through three checkpoints. I went through a metal detector.  My bag was x-rayed twice.  If I exited, I would not be allowed back inside.  WOW.  What a process!  When GOD came to earth, should He not at the very least have done what the president does to stay safe? Shouldn’t God have had a screening process?

This is why I LOVE these verses so much!

First of all… Christ’s birth issued an invitation:

For unto YOU…

The gift is for you, and the gift is also offered for me. It’s personal.  God has always been personal, from the first day, when He walked with Adam in the cool of the evening (see Genesis 3), to when God’s presence was in the pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night (see Exodus 13:21), to when Jesus was born in Bethlehem and walked the shores of Galilee and taught, to today as He lives in the hearts and souls of men and women. His Word is just as alive and active (see Hebrews 4:12) today as always.

The name of God, Jehovah, means the All-Existent One (the One who has always been) but more intimately it connotes the meaning, the One Who Wants to be Known.  God wants to be known by us, personally, so He came and lived among us, with skin on, and His name is Jesus.

Why would God come to live among us?  God created man and woman with His hands, and gave each of us a soul designed to walk with God, know God and need God.  We don’t like to need God, but it is just a fact of creation.  We are created with a God-shaped soul. The problem occurs when we see that the character of God is holy and perfect and we are not (Romans 3:23).  God cannot refuse His own character; He cannot make any exceptions for unholy men and women to come into His presence, yet we were created to walk with, to know and to need God.

GOD so loved the world that He GAVE HIS only SON.
(John 3:16)

God was the only One who could fix the problem, so He came Himself, refusing to trust you and me to any other person, place or thing.  God would come with skin on and live that holy and perfect life, then pay the debt that unholiness demands—which is a blood debt—on the cross.  God Himself would pour out His wrath on His own Son, in order to spare you and me.  God Himself made it possible to invite us to walk with Him and know Him, because we are desperate and need Him (see Romans 5:9-10).

God came down to you and to me and was born in Bethlehem—in a barn, with no amenities, no cleanliness, no state of the art fetal monitoring system, no NICU doctor on standby, no nursing staff to make sure His Apgar score was reasonable, no one to clear His lungs and dry Him off according to hospital policy. Jesus came not to be flashy or to to wield His power over Caesar Augustus.  Jesus came to be found by everyone.

I love how the words that were spoken that night were to shepherds.  Shepherds who would not have had business or formal attire to wear to the celebration.

I love how God was so very clear with the shepherds… they were invited personally, and God was going to be clear about where to go to find Him.

God with us, Emmanuel, did not want to remain a mystery for eternity. His birth was not meant to confuse us or send us on some hypothetical goose chase.  God came to be found. He came to be found by each shepherd that night and by you and me today. The angels did not exclude any of the shepherds in that field; all were invited corporately, but the decision to come would be personal.  Tim could not go for James, and Nicholas could not go for Sam, each of them would have to decide whether or not to make that journey to the place where He could be found.

I love how the barn is not an intimidating place. The place that God with skin on could be found was accessible to each shepherd—no shower or change of clothes needed… and bring the sheep, too! Don’t delay! Come now, just as you are.

GOD refused to be out of reach of the very people He came to save.  The elite business man and owner of the barn could come to where Jesus was, as well as the outcast and the shepherd.  No one is forbidden to approach a manger. No one is out of place or under-dressed.  There is no secret service to escort you out if your two forms of ID are not acceptable.  You can stay as long as you like and come back as often as you can.

Jeremiah 23:13 is just as true today as it was before the birth of Jesus: “You will seek me and find Me when you seek with all your heart” (NIV)

An invitation to the White House is great, but an invitation to the very throne room and presence of the Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of peace… now that is really something!

Jesus is right here, within reach; we just need to come and accept His invitation. The invitation is for all, just as you are. No need to fix, clean or straighten up before you come, or you will never come.  The decision is personal. Will you accept this invitation, this Christmas, to know the One who gave up heaven so that you and I can begin to know Jehovah—the One who has always been, Who desires to be known by His handmade creation. The choice is yours.

What Does it Mean to Me?

What decision have you made about the invitation that is extended to you this day, a Savior which is Christ the Lord?

LIVE IT OUT

Today, I will take time to remember the true meaning of Christmas and reflect on that day that I accepted His invitation.

Today, if you have never accepted that personal invitation to come to Jesus, will you accept it now with a simple prayer?

Dear Lord Jesus,
You left heaven to come so that I can walk with You and know You, because I need You.  Your Word says “God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that whoever believes in Him, will have eternal life” (John 3:16). I am accepting Your invitation today, now. Come and be my Savior, this day. Teach me to walk with You from this moment on. Amen.

 Merry Christmas!


Kendra Graham is  offering a free Women’s Bible Study at The Cove starting Jan. 8th. The study will also be live-streamed through social media. To view a snippet of the study entitled #I Am Enough, click here. 

To register for this study, please visit this link.


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

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

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

Follow us on social media. click map

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Pinterest

KENDRA GRAHAM: 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.


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