Resources from 2016

April

Do You Have a Place On the Wall?
By Dr. Jack Graham | April 14, 2016

Then I said to them, “You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem that we may no longer be a reproach”… So they said, “Let us rise up and build.” Then they set their hands to do this good work.

—Nehemiah 2:17-18

As a servant of Jesus Christ, you have a purpose for living. And you can make a difference in your community, church, and world… especially when you work in partnership with others. 

When Nehemiah began rebuilding the wall, he knew he couldn’t do it alone, so he enlisted the help of others. All kinds of people were involved… priests, politicians, perfumers, clothiers, tradesmen, bachelors, women… there was a role for everyone. 

Yet in the midst of this great movement of service to the Lord, there were still those who chose not to be involved. Nehemiah 3:5 says certain nobles from Tekoa “would not stoop to serve their Lord.” 

It was forever recorded in God’s Word that when there was a job to be done for him, these people were absent. Imagine that! 

Never let it be said of you that when there was something great to do for God and his Kingdom, you weren’t involved. 

Some believers have the idea that when we come to Christ by grace through faith, we don’t need to serve and work hard. But Nehemiah and the believers of his day realized the charge to work hard and accomplished the impossible for God’s glory. 

I want to challenge you today: Do you have a place on the wall? Are you participating in building God’s Kingdom? 

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Are You Happy With What You Have?
By Dr. Jack Graham | April 13, 2016

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” 

—Exodus 20:17

The first nine commandments have to do with actions. But the Tenth Commandment, “You shall not covet,” has to do with your attitude. The first nine have to do with deeds, but the tenth has to do with desires.

Think about it this way. Most of the sins we commit are outward and visible. It’s pretty easy to spot stealing when you see it, and if you’re the subject of a lie, you see it up-front. But the sin of covetousness is inward and invisible. Others can’t see it. You can’t see it. Only God can see it.

That’s why the apostle Paul spoke in 1 Thessalonians of the cloak of covetousness. It’s a cover-up for a lot of other sins like selfishness, greed, cheating, and on and on and on.

Right now, our nation and really our world are paying a high price for our collective covetousness and greed. Its symptoms, to name just a few, are things like excessive credit card debt, bank failures, and corporate scandals. We are paying a price for the ungodly way we have handled our possessions!

And it’s not just Wall Street who’s to blame. We need to look in our own hearts too! Because if we think we’ll be happier by having more stuff or better stuff… if we buy the lie that our identity is found in the car we drive or the clothes we wear or the street we live on… we will always be disappointed.

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Are You Robbing God?
By Dr. Jack Graham | April 12, 2016

“You shall not steal.”

—Exodus 20:15

Today I simply want to ask the question, are you a giver or a taker? And I want you to think about that question in terms of your relationship with people and your relationship with God.

First, your relationship with people. When it comes to others, are you a giver or a taker? Think about the words you say. Does what you say build people up… or tear them down? Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Is your life marked by this verse?

Then think about your actions. Does what you do help people… or hurt people? Proverbs 3:27 says, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.” Are you letting this verse play itself out in your life?

Now I want you to think about your relationship with God. When it comes to him, are you a giver or a taker? Think about the life that he’s given you through Christ. Are you showing thankfulness to him by living a life serving him, loving him, and worshipping him? First Corinthians 6:20 says, “You were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

As followers of Christ, you and I have been bought and paid for by the blood of the Lord Jesus and who we are and what we have belongs to Him. We are purchased as His own possession!   

That means when we withhold our lives and gifts from Him… when we...

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Defeating Lust
By Dr. Jack Graham | April 11, 2016

“You shall not commit adultery.”
—Exodus 20:14

Talking about a subject like adultery is unpleasant. It’s unpleasant because in our hearts, we know how dire the consequences of this sin really are.  

What’s sad, though, is that as horrible as the consequences of adultery or sexual sin are, so many people… including Bible-believing, Christ-following people… continue to put themselves in a position to be tempted by the sin of adultery.  

That’s why I want you to think about your day-to-day life. Think about the people you work with, the people you email with, or even the people you might Facebook with each day.  

Is every relationship you have… whether it’s online or offline… aboveboard? Are your motives in each relationship pure?  

First Corinthians chapter 10 tells us with any temptation, God provides a way of escape. And one way of escape he has given us is his Word. This is why I’m such a strong advocate of memorizing Scripture!  

Because just trying to not think lustful thoughts really doesn’t do you any good. You and I have to replace bad thoughts with good thoughts. And the best thoughts you can put in your mind are God’s words.

So today, I want to help you start winning the battle against lust and sexual sin in your life by giving you a verse you can memorize. It’s 2 Corinthians 10:5, which says, “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

So write that down. Second Corinthians 10:5. Learn it and memorize it. And the next time you’re tempted to lust… the next time you’re...

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The Redeeming Power of Christ
By Dr. Jack Graham | April 8, 2016

“You shall not murder.”

—Exodus 20:13

The Sixth Commandment isn’t one that a lot of people think they need to pay much attention to these days. But when we dig a little deeper into what those four words really mean and imply, we see that they do apply to each and every one of us!

Because the word murder doesn’t just mean homicide. The Scripture teaches that you can murder someone by gossiping about them or by harboring hateful thoughts about them. Jesus made it very clear that these are murderous actions just as much as the actual taking of an innocent life is.

But here’s the great news about the grace of the Lord Jesus. It covers every sin, including the physical or mental act of murder. And it doesn’t just cover the sin, it redeems the sinner.

Think about Moses. Or David. Or the apostle Paul. In the world’s eyes, each of these men was a murderer.  

Yet because of God’s forgiveness, Moses wasn’t a murderer… he was a liberator. Because of God’s forgiveness, David wasn’t a killer… he was a man after God’s own heart. And because of God’s forgiveness, Paul wasn’t a persecutor… he was a missionary.

And the same is true for you! If you’re a follower of Christ, God’s grace and forgiveness cover your sin—past, present, and future. And his grace and forgiveness not only cover your sin, they redeem your life as a sinner! As David himself proclaimed, “He redeems your life from the pit”!

So let me ask you today. Are you in need of the redeeming power of Christ in your life? Perhaps your past is marked by an abortion, and...

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It’s All About Grace
By Dr. Jack Graham | April 7, 2016

Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.”

—Zechariah 3:3-4

Joshua was not a wicked man. This was the best religion had to offer… the high priest! And yet, as Joshua stood in the presence of God, he was viewed as wearing filthy clothes. He needed God’s forgiveness just as much as you and me.  

It’s important to remember that you are saved and sustained by grace alone. At times you may feel like you’re doing okay in your Christian life. You may serve, witness, give, perform acts of kindness, and have admirable character. 

But don’t be mistaken. You’re not saved by any of that! And to the degree that you’re clinging to your self-righteousness or any merit that you have, you’re missing the blessing of grace.

You’re not saved by grace and works… but by grace alone. Grace is not God making up the difference in your shortfall. It does not mean that you pay a little bit and then God pays the rest. That’s not grace!

The grace of God means that you and I come without anything to offer. We come into the Kingdom helpless and hopeless and empty. And he invites us there, not on the basis of our merit or money, but on the basis of his grace. 

So today, remember that your salvation is a gift of grace through and through. It doesn’t depend on what you do… it’s based entirely on what Jesus...

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What’s the Focus of Your prayers?
By Dr. Jack Graham | April 6, 2016

“You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.”

—Nehemiah 9:6

So much of our prayer life can be shallow, weak, and self-centered. But when you read the great prayers of the Bible, you discover that they are God-centered.  

A fascinating example is the prayer in the book of Nehemiah chapter 9. It’s the longest recorded prayer in the Bible, and so much of it focuses on the nature and acts of God throughout history. 

In the book of Psalms, you can see this pattern in the prayers of David also. Even in times of danger or need when David was greatly burdened, he would spend time praising God for who he is, and recounting the good things God had done in the past. 

This is an important key to breathing life into your prayers!

It can be easy to become focused on your problems. But when you pray, put your cares aside for a moment and let your mind focus on the Person to whom you are speaking. Remind yourself of who he is and how much he has done for you.

Remember how the Lord’s Prayer begins: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…” (Matt 6:9).  

Of course, the Lord wants you to bring your cares to him—he tells you to in his Word. But when you pray, let your very first words, and the attitude of your heart, be to bring him praise and glory.  

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Start Saying Yes To God!
By Dr. Jack Graham | April 5, 2016

“Nevertheless in your great mercies you did not make an end of them or forsake them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.” 

—Nehemiah 9:31

The book of Nehemiah contains the longest recorded prayer in the Bible. In that prayer, we see what kind of God we serve and how his people responded.

Nehemiah 9:16 says, “But they and our fathers acted presumptuously and stiffened their necks and did not obey your commandments.”

Isn’t that amazing? They had a God who had given them so much… a faithful, loving, merciful, forgiving, and patient God. You would expect that the people responded in obedience to Him. But rather, the children of Israel ran off to serve other gods!

But, you know, this really is a picture of all of us. Because in spite of God’s love and manifold mercies, we all have rebelled and broken His commandments.

Every one of us has a personal history. And when you look at your past before Christ, and maybe even after you came to Christ, you may wonder, “How can God love and care about me when my life is checkered with failure, sin, and rebellion?”

God has every right to toss you and me aside and say, “That’s it! No more rebellion! I’m finished with you!”

But in his mercy, God keeps on offering his love and forgiveness. He hasn’t forsaken you. Even when you have not been faithful, he remains faithful!

God offers you complete forgiveness today, if only you will come to Him in brokenness and humility, and simply ask Him. 

IF YOU’VE BEEN SAYING NO TO GOD, IT’S TIME TO MAKE A CHANGE. 

ACCEPT...

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March

Salt and Light
By Dr. Jack Graham | March 23, 2016

History bears testimony to an ebb-and-flow relationship between man and God, which impacts not just the human heart, but also entire communities, churches, cities, countries, and even continents. For instance, there was a time when Europe was an utterly pagan place. But then a wave of missionaries and evangelists brought with them the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the message of grace and acceptance and love, and Christianity swept beautifully across the land. Over time, however, the people fell away from the faith that had saved them, the culture digressed, and an entire continent fell headlong into secularism—society without any use for God.  As I say, ebb, then flow, then ebb.

This same trend can be seen when we look at the United States of America: what was once a nation founded on Judeo-Christian principles has now become a secular society, a people who have little use for God.

While Jesus ministered here on earth, in the midst of real society facing real challenges, He told His followers that they were like "sheep among wolves” (Matthew 10:16). In order to survive, He continued, we would have to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves; we would need to keep in mind that while we are to refrain at every turn from harming others, we live in a world that doesn’t necessarily share that lack of ill-intent. We must be suspicious while somehow remaining sweet, because we’re living among wolves. And wolves seek to devour.

Romans 1 aptly describes what a wolf-riddled culture looks like: "The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For...

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Marriage by the Book
By Dr. Jack Graham | March 23, 2016

Marriage by the Book

By Jack Graham

 

Marriage is under attack these days, of course in our courts, but more importantly in our homes. Satan is out to steal, kill and destroy any marriage, especially a Christian marriage.  If we want a love that lasts a lifetime, we have to get back to the fundamentals.   

If you know me, you know I love sports, so I’ll talk in sports terminology.  If Satan is coaching against your marriage, he will find your weaknesses and attack them.   That is why having a marriage (game) plan is so important.   What is your marriage game plan?  What are your marriage fundamentals that keep you moving in a positive direction?  Do you make half time adjustments?  Do you need a timeout to discuss your relationship and reignite your romance?  What are you doing to intentionally build your marriage up and grow up together, so you can grow old together?   

Paul tells us in Philippians 2:12 to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”  I believe what is true concerning our salvation is also true of our marriage.  Marriage is God’s gift to you.  And now, as you work it out by spending the energy and effort that is required to build a strong marriage, that’s your gift back to God.  Let the refining fire of this relationship grow you into the man and women God has called you to be.  This means we have to swim against the tide of our culture.   Put your earplugs in and your blinders on, and get to work with God and your spouse.  

As a pastor, I have observed that most marriages are abandoned for no...

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Jesus is Your Rest
By Dr. Jack Graham | March 23, 2016

Jesus is your Rest, your Rock, and your Refuge

By Jack Graham

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never felt darkness pervading our world like I have in the past few years. At times it can feel hopeless, can’t it?

In 1861, in the midst of the gruesome American Civil War, Julia Ward Howe felt the darkness closing in and wrote the great “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” I love the lyric she penned:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. / He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored. / He has loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword, / His truth is marching on. / Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! / Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! / Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! / His truth is marching on.

Howe wrote this song to encourage the Union troops. She sensed they needed to be encouraged… to be reminded that when all hope seems lost… their victory through Christ was certain. I’m betting you might need that same encouragement today!

No matter what may come, no matter what battles you’re fighting… your temptations, your tests, and your trials… your victory is certain. It doesn’t depend on you, but on the One who perseveres in you. He will get you through every battle. He will sustain you in the storm. And when the smoke clears, you will still be standing.

Consider King David’s words in Psalm 62:5-8… 

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he...

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Every Man's Battle and How to Win It
By Dr. Jack Graham | March 23, 2016

It has been my experience through four decades in pastoral ministry that every community is only as strong as its men – as strong as their faith, their ingenuity, their confidence, their resolve, their commitment to walking in the ways and will of God. 

 

I praise God for dynamic women in our communities, our churches, in our families, in our businesses, and in our homes, but there is a marvelous effect in any community when its men, specifically, are leading well.

 

It has also been my experience that no man can lead well who is not practicing sexual purity in his life.

 

Temptation is every man’s battle, and every woman’s as well. We all face temptations of pride and greed and rebellion, of unbelief and unkindness and unfaithfulness in our lives. But most men I have met throughout my life would readily admit that the number one temptation they face, day in and day out, centers on remaining sexually pure. 

 

We’re bombarded with TV ads, magazine ads, movies that leave too little to the imagination, Internet sites that find us, regardless of how strong our filters are, and what we’re left with is an overly sexualized culture, just looking to take us down.

 

Certainly, this isn’t a new problem. We read of ancient men – prophets and kings, military leaders and shepherds, all who had wandering eyes. But I like to think our challenge is still greater today, with technology enabling instant access to smut. It’s in our face 24/7, and if we’re not careful, we’ll dumb down our spiritual life, settling for far less than holiness requires.

 

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The Wise and Godly Woman
By Dr. Jack Graham | March 23, 2016

I am grateful for God’s Word and how Scripture elevates and edifies the role of a woman—godly and committed to Him. Our God has elevated the position of womanhood and given every woman a place of honor, a place of respect, and near reverence in the Christian home.  

 

In our society, there remain mixed signals regarding the place and the priority of a woman.  

 

A female professor of sociology at a northeast university gave this advice about two decades ago: “In 20 years, mothers will be a mere specialty group in the United States like plumbers, auto workers, or engineers. We need to demand that the ancient occupation of motherhood fall into disrepute and that women commit themselves to other occupations. Women must be liberated to enjoy the fruit of other occupations, whether they want to or not.” 

 

The feminist agenda attacks the value of the Christian home and biblical home, and certainly the whole idea of the value of a mother. The value of a woman is denigrated by such unbelievable and inconceivable ideas. This professor went on to write: “The idea of woman’s emancipation is based upon a profound enmity between the sexes—upon envy and imitation.” 

 

Our relationship as men and women is not based in the Bible upon envy or imitation, but rather in recognition that our roles and responsibilities in life are different but of equal value. And when God created the man and the woman, He created them distinctly and uniquely, personably wonderful. Everybody knows that a woman is far superior to a man ...  at being a woman. And that a man is far superior to a woman ... at...

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