God’s Gift

“The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” Genesis 2:25

In previous generations, some people believed women were not supposed to enjoy sex. Even today some Christians still feel that sex between marital partners is somehow sinful or “dirty.”

But there’s nothing biblical about either viewpoint. The Lord created us as sexual beings and gave us the gift of physical intimacy as a means for expressing love between husband and wife. In the biblical account of the Garden of Eden, we are told that “a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” The Bible says that before sin entered the picture, the first husband and wife were unashamed of their nakedness (Genesis 2:24–25).

Scripture also uses sexual symbolism to describe the relationship between God and man. (Look, for example, at Isaiah 62:5; Jeremiah 7:9 and 23:10; Ezekiel 16; Hosea; Ephesians 5; and Revelation 19:6–7.) In addition, Solomon’s Song of Songs clearly celebrates sexual pleasure between married lovers. We suggest that you set time aside to read that book together.

As designed by God, sexual desire in marriage is more than an afterthought or a means to guarantee procreation. That’s why we can wholeheartedly say, “Let’s ‘make love’ the way our God intended!”

Just between us…

  • While growing up, did you receive positive or negative messages about sex?
  • How do you think this has affected our love life?
  • Do you think of sex as a gift from God? Is there anything about our love life that you’d like to tell me?

Dear God, thank You for making Your wonderful intentions for married sex so clear in Scripture. Where we have trampled on this gift, forgive us. We want so much to “make love” Your way. Amen.

  • From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Bible Gateway

View today’s reading at Bible Gateway

View today’s reading at Bible Gateway

Proverbs 3-5

Wisdom Bestows Well-Being

My son, do not forget my teaching,
but keep my commands in your heart,
for they will prolong your life many years
and bring you peace and prosperity.

Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
Then you will win favor and a good name
in the sight of God and man.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.

Honor the Lord with your wealth,
with the firstfruits of all your crops;
10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
and your vats will brim over with new wine.

11 My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline,
and do not resent his rebuke,
12 because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
as a father the son he delights in.

13 Blessed are those who find wisdom,
those who gain understanding,
14 for she is more profitable than silver
and yields better returns than gold.
15 She is more precious than rubies;
nothing you desire can compare with her.
16 Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.
17 Her ways are pleasant ways,
and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her;
those who hold her fast will be blessed.

19 By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations,
by understanding he set the heavens in place;
20 by his knowledge the watery depths were divided,
and the clouds let drop the dew.

21 My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight,
preserve sound judgment and discretion;
22 they will be life for you,
an ornament to grace your neck.
23 Then you will go on your way in safety,
and your foot will not stumble.
24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
25 Have no fear of sudden disaster
or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked,
26 for the Lord will be at your side
and will keep your foot from being snared.

27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
when it is in your power to act.
28 Do not say to your neighbor,
“Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”—
when you already have it with you.
29 Do not plot harm against your neighbor,
who lives trustfully near you.
30 Do not accuse anyone for no reason—
when they have done you no harm.

31 Do not envy the violent
or choose any of their ways.

32 For the Lord detests the perverse
but takes the upright into his confidence.
33 The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked,
but he blesses the home of the righteous.
34 He mocks proud mockers
but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.
35 The wise inherit honor,
but fools get only shame.

Get Wisdom at Any Cost

Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction;
pay attention and gain understanding.
I give you sound learning,
so do not forsake my teaching.
For I too was a son to my father,
still tender, and cherished by my mother.
Then he taught me, and he said to me,
“Take hold of my words with all your heart;
keep my commands, and you will live.
Get wisdom, get understanding;
do not forget my words or turn away from them.
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
love her, and she will watch over you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
Cherish her, and she will exalt you;
embrace her, and she will honor you.
She will give you a garland to grace your head
and present you with a glorious crown.”

10 Listen, my son, accept what I say,
and the years of your life will be many.
11 I instruct you in the way of wisdom
and lead you along straight paths.
12 When you walk, your steps will not be hampered;
when you run, you will not stumble.
13 Hold on to instruction, do not let it go;
guard it well, for it is your life.
14 Do not set foot on the path of the wicked
or walk in the way of evildoers.
15 Avoid it, do not travel on it;
turn from it and go on your way.
16 For they cannot rest until they do evil;
they are robbed of sleep till they make someone stumble.
17 They eat the bread of wickedness
and drink the wine of violence.

18 The path of the righteous is like the morning sun,
shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
19 But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
they do not know what makes them stumble.

20 My son, pay attention to what I say;
turn your ear to my words.
21 Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
22 for they are life to those who find them
and health to one’s whole body.
23 Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
24 Keep your mouth free of perversity;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.
27 Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.

Warning Against Adultery

My son, pay attention to my wisdom,
turn your ear to my words of insight,
that you may maintain discretion
and your lips may preserve knowledge.
For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey,
and her speech is smoother than oil;
but in the end she is bitter as gall,
sharp as a double-edged sword.
Her feet go down to death;
her steps lead straight to the grave.
She gives no thought to the way of life;
her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it.

Now then, my sons, listen to me;
do not turn aside from what I say.
Keep to a path far from her,
do not go near the door of her house,
lest you lose your honor to others
and your dignity to one who is cruel,
10 lest strangers feast on your wealth
and your toil enrich the house of another.
11 At the end of your life you will groan,
when your flesh and body are spent.
12 You will say, “How I hated discipline!
How my heart spurned correction!
13 I would not obey my teachers
or turn my ear to my instructors.
14 And I was soon in serious trouble
in the assembly of God’s people.”

15 Drink water from your own cistern,
running water from your own well.
16 Should your springs overflow in the streets,
your streams of water in the public squares?
17 Let them be yours alone,
never to be shared with strangers.
18 May your fountain be blessed,
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
19 A loving doe, a graceful deer—
may her breasts satisfy you always,
may you ever be intoxicated with her love.
20 Why, my son, be intoxicated with another man’s wife?
Why embrace the bosom of a wayward woman?

21 For your ways are in full view of the Lord,
and he examines all your paths.
22 The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them;
the cords of their sins hold them fast.
23 For lack of discipline they will die,
led astray by their own great folly.

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

2 Corinthians 1

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

To the church of God in Corinth, together with all his holy people throughout Achaia:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Praise to the God of All Comfort

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

Paul’s Change of Plans

12 Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace. 13 For we do not write you anything you cannot read or understand. And I hope that, 14 as you have understood us in part, you will come to understand fully that you can boast of us just as we will boast of you in the day of the Lord Jesus.

15 Because I was confident of this, I wanted to visit you first so that you might benefit twice. 16 I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia and to come back to you from Macedonia, and then to have you send me on my way to Judea. 17 Was I fickle when I intended to do this? Or do I make my plans in a worldly manner so that in the same breath I say both “Yes, yes” and “No, no”?

18 But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No.” 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silas and Timothy—was not “Yes” and “No,” but in him it has always been “Yes.” 20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

23 I call God as my witness—and I stake my life on it—that it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth. 24 Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm.

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Listen to The Billy Graham Channel on SiriusXM for Free Through Sept. 10

By    •   August 29, 2018

Anyone can listen to SiriusXM’s new Billy Graham Channel online for free through Sept. 10.

>> Listen to The Billy Graham Channel now.

The channel launched last week, six months after Mr. Graham went to be with the Lord.

SiriusXM subscribers have been listening on channel 460 and online. Now non-subscribers have a chance to hear Mr. Graham’s classic messages of salvation over Labor Day weekend and into the first part of September.

The Billy Graham Channel debuted as a temporary station last November in honor of Mr. Graham’s 99th birthday. It returned for several more runs in the following months, always prompting an influx of calls and messages from listeners asking for the channel to be given a permanent home on satellite radio.

>> 5 short stories of how God has used The Billy Graham Channel

“What an answer to prayer!” Dianna Lanzer wrote after hearing about the new station. “So, so, so thankful The Billy Graham channel will become permanent on SiriusXM!”

>> Listen to The Billy Graham Channel for free online through Sept. 10.

>> Read more about The Billy Graham Channel, including frequently asked questions.

>> Explore the message of hope Billy Graham spent his life proclaiming.

 

Billy Graham Be Honest with God

By    •   September 8   •   Topics: 

The greatest blessing of giving is not on the financial side of the ledger but on the spiritual side. You receive a sense of being honest with God. You receive a consciousness that you are in partnership with God—that you are doing something constructive—that you are working with Him to reach the world for Jesus Christ. You are also enabled to hold on to this world’s goods loosely because the eternal values are always in view. How do you give? Is it liberally and cheerfully? Or is it sparingly and grudgingly? If you have been giving God the leftovers of your substance and your life, you have been missing the true joy and blessing of Christian giving and living.

Read Billy Graham’s answer to one person who asks if giving is necessary when money is tight.

Prayer for the day

Forgive me, almighty God, for so often giving You the leftovers. In my heart I know I can never outgive You.

Billy Graham Are You Ready to Meet God

Billy Graham

The Greater New York Billy Graham Crusade, in June 2005, was Billy Graham’s final Crusade, although he preached later at two Franklin Graham Festivals (New Orleans and Baltimore). The following sermon, preached on the final night of the New York Crusade, carried the same message that Mr. Graham proclaimed throughout his nearly 80 years of ministry: We are all sinners, but God loves us and will forgive us when we turn from our sin and by faith put our trust in Jesus Christ.

Almost everyone today understands that we are approaching a climactic moment in history. The world is going to come to an end.

In the New Testament the new birth is mentioned nine times. Repentance is mentioned 70 times. Baptism is mentioned 20 times. The coming again of Christ is mentioned hundreds of times. Jesus Christ said that as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.

When the situation in the world becomes the way it was in Noah’s day, you can know that Jesus’ return is near. In Noah’s day the world was filled with wickedness, corruption, violence—every imagination of man’s thought was evil. It was a world in which marriage was abused and violence prevailed.

Think of the headlines of our papers today. All of that is happening today, and I believe that today God is warning us.

Noah was a good man. The Bible says he walked with God. He was a man of moral integrity. He worshiped God. The Bible says by faith Noah, being warned by God of things not yet seen, moved with fear. People ask, “Is it legitimate for a person to come to Christ out of fear?” Absolutely. Many people in the Bible came to God because of fear.

But God is a God of love. The primary message about Jesus in the New Testament is that God loves you. Some of you feel unloved. Some of you feel depressed, or you feel you don’t have purpose and meaning in your life. God is there to rescue you from that situation. If you repent, He will forgive your sins, because when Jesus died on the cross God laid on Him the sins of all of us.

It would be great if you could go home tonight and know that you’re different, that you have a new strength with God, by faith in Christ.

When I read the news today, the only bright spot I see on the horizon is the return of Christ. I believe He is coming back. In the New Testament there are so many passages about the coming again of Christ. I could spend all afternoon reading them. Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3). If I died right now—and that’s a possibility—I’d go straight into Heaven and see Jesus.

Most of the interviews that I’ve had here in New York have asked the same questions about death—“What happens when you die? Are you looking forward to death?” Yes. I’m looking forward to death.

We are going to die. We’re all under judgment. War does not increase death. Did you know that? Think about it. Some may go a little quicker than others. Thousands of people were killed when the Allies invaded Europe in 1945 at Normandy. And thousands of people have died in Iraq, Vietnam, Korea and many other places. But that does not increase death, because we are all going to die; we’re going to join them in death.

But when we die, we’re going to be divided. Some will be eternally lost and some eternally saved. We are saved through Jesus, if we put our faith in Him.

Jesus loves us, and He went to prepare a place for us. When Christ was ascending into Heaven following His death and resurrection, the angels asked His disciples, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).

Jesus is going to come back. Are you ready? Now when is that going to happen? When Jesus and the disciples met together, the disciples asked, “‘Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ And He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority’” (Acts 1:6-7). He also said, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (Matthew 24:36).

But the Scripture says, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). There’s going to come a day when you’ll hear a gigantic noise from Heaven, a shout, and then the archangel is going to speak. At that moment, those who have died—your fathers, your mothers, your relatives, your friends who are dead in Christ—are going to rise from the dead.

For years, every time I would come to New York, I would pass a graveyard on the way to Times Square. I don’t know the name of it, but there are graveyards all over New York. And those graves are going to be opened, if they are people who knew Christ as their Lord and Savior. And we’re going to join them. Those of us who are left here, who are still living, are going to join them in the air on our way to Heaven.

Then the Bible teaches us that there’s going to be a great coronation, with millions of angels. Thousands of people who have followed Christ in their life here on earth are going to have a gigantic banquet called the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Jesus is the Lamb. He’s going to be crowned King of kings and Lord of lords, and what a glorious moment that will be.

I’m looking forward to that. In fact, George Beverly Shea, whom you just heard sing “How Great Thou Art,” is 96, and I’m 86, on my way to 87. I know that it won’t be long before both of us are going to be in Heaven.

Jesus said, “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 24:44). The Bible says, “Prepare to meet your God” (Amos 4:12). Are you prepared? Have you opened your heart to Jesus? Have you repented of your sins?

You ask, “What is repentance?” Repentance means that you say to God, “I am a sinner, I’m sorry for my sins, I’m willing to turn from my sins. But Lord, You have to help me to turn. I’ve tried so many times to give up things I know that are wrong, and I just can’t do it.’”

Then, by faith, receive Jesus, who died on the cross for you. Open your heart and say, “Yes, Lord Jesus, come in. I’m ready to follow You.”  ©2005 BGEA

Open your heart to Jesus today. 

 

Billy Graham: The Love of God

Billy Graham preaching to troops
Billy Graham preaches to troops during the Korean War in 1952.

The following is adapted from the message Billy Graham preached June 3, 1973, to some 1.1 million at Yoido Plaza in Seoul, South Korea.

In 1952, I was here in Korea. It was at Christmastime, and it was very cold. I’ve never been so cold in all my life, and I toured along what is now the DMZ. I was at Heartbreak Ridge, and on Heartbreak Ridge there were 12 soldiers who were huddled together. An enemy sneaked through the line. He threw a hand grenade into the middle of them. It was going to go off in three seconds.

A soldier saw it and jumped on top of it. He grabbed it, held it to his heart, and it exploded. He died, but his buddies were saved. They took what remained of his body back to the United States, and when they held the memorial service for that soldier, the source of the sermon was the same text that I want to use today: John 15:13.

It says, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” Jesus said this just before He was going to go to the cross to die for the sins of the world. He was having His last meeting with His disciples. And He said, “I have one commandment to leave with you. Love one another” (Cf. John 15:12).

Billy Graham preaching
Billy Graham in 1970 at Shea Stadium in Flushing, Queens, N.Y.

A big tornado hit not far from where I live. It destroyed many houses. One man was in the basement of his house, and he had two little boys. He heard the storm coming. He heard the house falling down. He grabbed his two little boys and put himself on top of them. People found them later. He was dead, but his two sons were alive. He had given his life for his sons.

The Bible says that God loves you. I want us to think about God for a moment. Do you believe in God? The Bible tells us what kind of a God He is. He is the creator of the whole universe. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1), the Bible says. God is not only the creator, but God is a spirit, the Bible says. God does not have a body like yours. And because God is a spirit, He can be everywhere at the same time. When I am here in Seoul, I cannot be in New York at the same time because I am limited by a body. But God is a spirit.

The Bible also tells us that God never changes. The Bible says, “I am the Lord, I do not change” (Malachi 3:6). The Bible teaches that God is a holy God. And because God is righteous and holy, He is also a God of judgment. There is a Judgment Day coming.

Jesus said, “Every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment” (Matthew 12:36). The Apostle Paul said God has appointed a day on which He will judge the world (see Acts 17:31). You will have to give an account of every word you ever said, everything you ever did, every thought that you ever had.

But the Bible also teaches that God is a God of love.

The reason God created the human race in the first place was because He loved. He wanted some other creatures in the universe to love. So He created man and woman and put them in a beautiful garden. God said, “You can have all the fruit in the garden except one tree. There is one tree in the garden that you’re not to touch. If you touch it you will die” (see Genesis 3:2-3). And Eve looked at it, and then the devil came and whispered in her ear, “Take some of it. It will make you very wise, and it will make you like God, and when God said you would die if you eat it, He didn’t mean it.”

Eve could stand the temptation no longer. She picked up the fruit and started eating. She got sick. Then the man ate it, too, and he got sick. And every person since then has been sick with a disease called sin. It wasn’t the fruit that made them sick. It was the fact that they had disobeyed God and broken God’s law. And the whole human race has that disease. We read the newspapers. We watch the television. We know that something is wrong with the human race. What is it?

The Bible says “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

The Bible teaches that there are three kinds of death. There is the death of your body. All of you are going to die. We know that, but you can also be alive and your soul dead. Today there are many people whose body is alive but whose soul is dead toward God. And you don’t have peace, you don’t have joy, you don’t have happiness, you don’t have assurance that you’re going to Heaven. It is your soul that’s dead, and your soul needs God.

The third kind of death is when your body dies but your soul lives on, separated from God. And the Bible says for that soul, the future life becomes one of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. The Bible has many words to describe the future of the lost soul. The Bible uses the word perish. The Bible uses the word condemn. The Bible uses the word punishment. The Bible uses the words everlasting fire. The Bible uses the word hell.

Whatever word is used, this death is a terrible thing: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36).

But the Bible tells us that God sent His Son to rescue the world in spite of our rebellion, in spite of our sins. God said, “I love you. I love the human race; I want to forgive them of their sins.”

But how could He do it? He said, “If you rebel against Me, you’re going to die.” He had to keep His word, or He would have been a liar. So, what did He do? His Son, Jesus Christ, volunteered to come and live among us.

He made the blind to see and the deaf to hear. But the real reason He came was not to heal. The real reason that He came was not to teach. He came to die. Because on the cross, He took your sins, your death, your judgment, your hell.

They took his clothes off Him. They took long leather whips with steel pellets on the end and beat Him until his back was bleeding. They put a crown of thorns on His brow until His face was bleeding. They put spikes in His hands and hung Him between Heaven and earth. And while on that cross Jesus prayed, “Forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34).

He loves you so much that if you had been the only person in the world, He would have died for you. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). You’re a friend of Jesus. He laid down His life for you.

And then something else happened. On the third day, He rose again. He is alive! And some day, the Bible says, He is coming back. Someday we will look up, and riding on a white horse will be the King of kings and Lord of lords, our Lord Jesus Christ. And those of you who know Christ, those of you who have given your life to Him, you are going to reign with Him. What a glorious future we have, those of us who love Jesus Christ!

Now, what does He want you to do?

First, He wants you to repent of your sins. The Scripture says, “God … now commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). If we are to be saved, if our sins are to be forgiven, we have to repent. Repentance means that you confess you are a sinner and are willing to turn from your sins.

Second, receive Christ into your heart by faith. The Bible says, “Without faith it is impossible to please him.” You come by faith. You cannot buy your way. You cannot work your way. You come by simple, childlike faith—like a little child would come to his or her father.

Third, openly confess Christ. All the people Jesus called, He called publicly. You must be willing to take a public stand for Christ. Would you do that today?

Let Him come and change your life. He will give you a new love for everyone. You will be concerned about your neighbor. It will make you a new father, a new mother, a new boy or a new girl. I am going to ask you today to receive Christ. Say today, “I am willing to turn from my sins; I want Jesus in my heart.”  ©1973 BGEA

Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version.

Give your life to the One who loves perfectly.