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Devotional by Ray Stedman – The heights and the depths – A daily devotion for April 6

Topic:The heights and the depths

God said: “Let the waters produce living things, and birds that fly on the earth, in the firmament of the heavens.”
Genesis 1:20

Ray Stedman devotion
Ray Stedman

When people observe the ocean around them and the sky on high, they see what is essentially an alien atmosphere.

The ocean, of itself, is hostile to human life. We can swim in the ocean, but not for long. If suddenly they threw us in the middle of the ocean without any kind of support, we would not last long. It is absolutely alien to us. The air at the top, although it provides what we breathe to sustain life, is an alien environment in terms of transportation.

Greek mythology tells the story of Icarus, a young man who dreamed of flying like the gods. Both he and his father were prisoners, and to escape from prison, his father made feathered and waxed wings. Although he warned him not to fly too close to the sun, Icarus did not listen, and when flying high in the sky the wings melted, and he fell into the sea and died. People have been dreaming of flying for centuries, but have never been able to do so, apart from technology. So there are two areas in the natural world in which humans can not operate effectively.

The oceans are an image of a sterile humanity that has not been redeemed, the world without Christ, the world of organized society with its value systems, its power structures and its methods of operation. As Christians, you and I well know that if individual believers try to live in that kind of world with their own resources, they are lost. It will not be long before your spiritual life is stifled and you are unable to live spiritually. If they try to do it for themselves, they are lost and they will drown.

On the other hand, the atmosphere is an image of the spiritual life, the place where we live in the realm of divine reality, a life that is pleasing to God. Here again, if individual believers try to operate in this area by their own resources, they will not die, but they will not get anything. Trying to live the Christian life in the energies of the flesh, in a dedicated and sincere effort to do what is pleasing to God, apart from the dependence on the life of the Spirit of God within us, always ends in frustration and confusion. This is what Christians discover when they go on: they are not facts for this area; they can not operate in themselves. They find themselves like a person trying to fly through the sky using their own arms: frustrated, confused, impotent and unable to operate.



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But here is an image of the fifth day: by an impartation of the divine life, from which humanity learns to depend, a believer can live in the hostile environment of the world as a fish lives within the sea: elegantly, powerfully and abundantly. People can learn to operate in this area and live in a hostile atmosphere effectively. Likewise, in that rarefied atmosphere of the spiritual life, where a fall would be fatal, a believer, depending on the life of God in himself, can fly like a bird.

Teach me, Lord, to wait on You so that I can “raise wings like eagles” (Isaiah 40:31).

Application to life
How do the skies and oceans present an image of where we can not survive or be effective? How is it possible to live in the hostile environment of the world with adequate grace and power?

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