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Devotional by Ray Stedman for November 18- Reading Hearts

Topic:Reading Hearts

One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
Romans 14:5-8

Ray Stedman devotion
Ray Stedman

What Paul is saying is that God can read hearts and you cannot. These distinctions and differences of viewpoint arise out of honest conviction which God sees, even though you cannot. Therefore, the individual is not simply being difficult because he does not agree with you. He is acting based on the basis of what he feels is right, so trust him on that. Believe that he is as intent on being real before God and true to him as you are, and if he feels able to indulge in some of these things you think are not right, then at least see him as doing so because he really feels that God is not displeased with him on that basis. Or, if he does feel limited and he feels he should not do certain things, do not get upset with him because he has not moved into freedom yet. Remember that he really feels that God would be displeased if he did those things. The apostle makes clear here that every person should have that kind of a conviction: “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own heart,” (Romans 14:4b KJV).

Paul says that God sees both of these people and both of these viewpoints as honoring him. The one who thinks Sunday is a special day that ought to be kept different from all other days is doing so as unto the Lord, therefore honor that, respect that viewpoint. The one who says, “No. When we are in Christ, days do not mean anything. They are not set aside for any special purpose. Therefore, I feel every day is alike, and I want to honor the Lord on every day.” Okay, do not feel upset at that. He is doing so out of a deep conviction of his heart.

The one who drinks wine gives thanks to God for the the taste of it, and it is perfectly proper that he does so. The one who says, “No. I cannot drink wine, but I can drink coffee,” gives thanks for the coffee. The coffee may do as much physical harm as the wine, but, in either case, it is not a moral question. It is a question of what the heart is doing in the eyes of God.

I heard some time ago of a girl who was a converted nightclub singer, a fresh, new Christian, who was asked to sing at a church meeting. She wanted to do her very best for the Lord whom she had come to love, and so she dressed up the best way she knew how and she sang a song that she thought was expressive of her faith. She did it in the style of the nightclub singer. Somebody came up to her afterwards and ripped into her and said, “How can you sing a song like that and claim to be a Christian? God could never be happy with a Christian who dresses the way you do, and to sing in a nightclub style must be offensive to him.” The poor girl was so taken back, she just stood there for a minute, and she broke into tears, and turned and ran. That was a wrong and hurtful thing to do to her. Granted, later on she might have changed her style, but God has the right to change her, not you. Her heart was right and God saw the heart and honored it. That was something he was pleased with.



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Father, help me to see where I have been usurping your place. Help me to stop that, and to begin to answer only for myself before your throne, and upholding and praying for my brother or sister if I feel they need it. Grant to me, Lord, that illuminating understanding of truth that sets me free.

Life Application

Are we qualified to change others’ hearts? Shall we consider it off limits for us to judge their motivations or conclusions? What is our recourse when we see what we deem erroneous choices?

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