Tag Archives: Ray Stedman daily

Devotional by Ray Stedman – Who is Jesus? – A daily devotion for January 1

Topic:Who is Jesus?

He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
John 1:2-3

Ray Stedman

John says without any doubt that Jesus is God. He declares that Jesus is the Creator of all things. This accounts for Jesus’ strange and remarkable personality. He is the originator of all things. Eight times in the opening chapter of Genesis it says. And God said. God said, Let there be light, and there was light. God said, Let there be a firmament between the heavens and the earth and there was. God said, Let the earth bring forth trees and vegetation, and these sprang into being. The Son of God, was speaking into being what the Father had designed in that amazing mind of his.

Any scientist who studies in the natural realm is always astonished when he comes to see the complexity of life, the marvelous symmetry of things, what lies behind all visible matter, the molecules, the atom, the make-up of a flower or of a star. The obvious order, design and symmetry of everything is astonishing.

We have all wondered at what we have seen through some of the discoveries of science. All of that was in the thought of God, but it never would have been expressed until the Son said it; he spoke and these things came into being. So this amazing Man, Jesus of Nazareth, in the mystery of his being, was not only a human being here on earth with us, John says, but was the One who in the beginning spoke the universe into existence. He understands it; he knows how it functions; he is able to direct it, guard it and guide it. He spoke it into being.

Furthermore, John says, Jesus sustains it: Without him was not anything made that was made. He is essential to it; he is what keeps it going and holds it in existence. I have always been fascinated by the great linear accelerator that runs out into the mountains in back of Stanford University. This linear accelerator is a great atom-smasher, which takes energy that is developed at the beginning of that great tunnel and increases its speed constantly until it approaches the speed of light so that the energy particles smash into a target of an atom. Why does it take so much power to break loose what is in an atom so that scientists might investigate the electrons, the protons and other particles that make up that atom? Science has long asked that question, but has failed to come up with an answer to it. There is a force that they cannot describe or understand that holds all things together.

The Apostle Paul tells us Jesus is that force: He holds all things together (Colossians 1:17). Hebrews says, He is upholding the universe by the word of his power (Hebrews 1:3). That is why we cannot forget Jesus: we are held together here today by his word and his power. That is why we do not fall apart and blast into smithereens. Something holds us together, and that is from him.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you created all things and you sustain all things. I praise you for your power, wisdom and creativity.

Life Application
When the world and our lives seem to be falling apart, do we find sanctuary in the One who holds it together?

Devotional by Ray Stedman – A Willing Spirit – A daily devotion for October 24

Topic:A Willing Spirit

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Psalm 51:12

Ray Stedman

Several years ago, while I was preparing to preach a sermon on this psalm, I received an anonymous letter from someone in my congregation saying that he was a Christian but was involved in a very serious and continuing moral failure. The letter was an attempt to be honest and tell me the trouble in his life. I didn’t know if that person would be in the service the next Sunday or not, but I hoped he would be.

I decided to refer to the letter in my sermon for two reasons: first, because it was anonymous, and I could do it without betraying a confidence; and second, because the problem was of such a serious nature that I wanted to help the person if I could.

The writer had acknowledged that he knew the action was wrong but finally excused himself on the basis that God had not yet given him the power to break away from it. That was self-deception. The truth is that God has given us the power to break away from these things. Peter clearly declares: His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). The very possession of the life of Jesus Christ in us is the power that it takes to break away from habits of sin. No one will ever be free from the awful grip of evil upon their lives until they understand that they already have from God all that it takes to be free, if they will but step out upon it.

David is also asking for help. Lord, give me this willing spirit, he says, and God immediately gives it. Then it must be acted on. That is the point. Do not wait for a feeling to come that you are forgiven. God has said you are forgiven. Do not wait for a feeling of power to possess you. God has declared He has already given you the power. As you believe Him (and that is what faith is), you can do what you need to do and what God wants you to do.

That is what happened with David, and that is what happened with the anonymous letter writer. After preaching that sermon, I found out the person had been in that service, because he later wrote a second anonymous letter. This time he shared how God had used that message to deliver him from the grip of the evil relationship he had described before.

Lord, thank You for giving me all that I need for both forgiveness and power through the Lord Jesus.

Life Application
We can choose to be helpless victims of ruinous habits, but God provides an alternative. Are we willing to be set free by Christ’s divine power?

Devotions by Ray Stedman for September 4 – God Gave Them Over

  • Topic:God Gave Them Over
    READ THE SCRIPTURE: ROMANS 1:24-32

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts, to sexual impurity, for the degrading of their bodies with one another.
Romans 1:24

Ray Stedman

The wickedness at work among human beings follows a process which is identified in this passage by the thrice-repeated phrase, God gave them over. This phrase identifies what is going on in our culture. The first mark of wickedness in a godless society is widespread sexual immorality — the degrading, or the dishonoring, of the body. Many people think this account describes all the evil things men do, and then says that God washes his hands of evil people because they are so filthy and dirty. That is not what this says. But because men run after other gods and refuse the testimony of their own hearts and do not glorify or thank the true God, God removes his restraints from society so that what is done in secret is allowed to break out into openness and acceptability. That is the mark of the wrath of God at work. The first sign of wickedness in a civilization is that sexual immorality becomes widely accepted.

You may ask, Why is it that sex always seems to be singled out as the sign of God’s judgment Many Christians have wrongly concluded that sexual sins are the worst kinds of sin. But that is not true. This passage in Romans bears it out. It begins with sexual impurity and proceeds to sexual perversity. But, the final result is not sexual sins, but sins of the spirit. Widespread animosity, hatred of the heart — these are the worst sins. There is good reason why God allows sexual practices to come to the surface. He allows it to show us what is going on in our spiritual lives. It highlights the fact that sex is linked with worship. Sex is a desire to possess another body and to be possessed by another. It is a deep-seated craving inherent in every human being.

We have all heard the statement, Girls give sex in order to get love; boys give love in order to get sex. This is true, superficially. But what both are really after is not sex at all; they are after worship. They really want to worship and to be worshipped. They really want a sense of total fulfillment, a oneness, an identity. Only God can give that fulfillment. Only God can satisfy that deep sense of longing for complete identity and unity with another person. That is what we call worship. When we worship, we are longing to be possessed of God, and to possess him fully. That is why the highest description of the relationship with God possible to a believer is found in the words of Jesus in John 14-15, You in me, and I in you (John 14:20). When people think that they are going to find that fulfillment in sex, God says to them, Look, it won’t work. But you won’t believe that until you try it out. So he removes the restraints and allows immoral sexual practices to become widely accepted, understanding that men indulging in these things will finally find themselves just as dissatisfied, empty and hopeless as they were when they started. Thus they will learn that worshipping God is the only way by which people find fulfillment.

Father, I see how accurately these words describe our own times. Thank you that you have not forsaken this world, and that the message of truth and light is still as available as ever.

Life Application
Do we react to the prevalent cultural immorality with self-righteous condemnation? Does it increase our awe and gratitude for God’s grace to us, and therefore our compassionate care for others

Devotions by Ray Stedman for August 29 – The True Sabbath Rest

Topic:The True Sabbath Rest
READ THE SCRIPTURE: NEHEMIAH 13:15-22

In those days I saw men in Judah treading winepresses on the Sabbath and bringing in grain and loading it on donkeys, together with wine, grapes, figs and all other kinds of loads. And they were bringing all this into Jerusalem on the Sabbath, Therefore I warned them against selling food on that day.
Nehemiah 13:15

Ray Stedman

Nehemiah was concerned by this disregard for the Law. He is trying to correct the difficulties that had caused problems for Israel in the past. So he orders the gates to be closed at sunset on Friday. He requires the Levites to cleanse themselves and to guard the gates so that no one violates the Sabbath.

Should we also keep the Sabbath by refraining from work and travel? As we have seen throughout this book, these regulations imposed upon Israel were what the New Testament calls shadows, pictures of something even more important that God wants observed. You observe the Sabbath when you fulfill what the Sabbath portrays.

At the heart of the Sabbath is the word rest. The Sabbath is intended for people, that they may learn to rest. The Sabbath is God’s stress management program! It is how to prevent burnout—how to recover from too much pressure and catch up with yourself. It is how to gather yourself together and become able to handle the work you must do.

There are two reasons given in the Scripture for the Sabbath. The first one is found in Exodus 20:11. There we are told that because God finished creation in six days and then rested on the seventh day, He asked His people to rest after six days of labor. Why did God rest? He accomplished His objective. People too must recognize a limit to their work. There is a need to stop, to allow the body, mind, and spirit to recognize their limitations.

The second reason the Sabbath was given is often ignored. God said to Israel, Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day (Deuteronomy 5:15). They were to rest in order to reflect on God’s ability to work beyond the labors they had already completed.

So there are two aspects of the Sabbath—creation and redemption. There is a rest of cessation; a ceasing from our own works. But then there is the rest of rejoicing in the mighty delivering power of God.

Father, in the midst of the hustle and bustle of my life, teach me that I need to enter into the rest of creation and redemption, always remembering that Your work comes before my work.

Life Application
Are we at rest because of the work God has done and is doing in us? Are we relying on our own strength rather than understanding His power as the source?

Devotions by Ray Stedman for August 28 – Are You Faithful?

Topic:Are You Faithful?
READ THE SCRIPTURE: NEHEMIAH 13:10-14

I put Shelemiah the priest, Zadok the scribe, and a Levite named Pedaiah in charge of the storerooms and made Hanan son of Zaccur, the son of Mattaniah, their assistant, because these men were considered trustworthy.
Nehemiah 13:13a

Ray Stedman

Notice how representative this group is that he chooses. There is a priest, a scribe, a Levite, and a layman. All four represent various aspects of the life of Israel and share one great quality. He tells us, these men were considered trustworthy (Nehemiah 13:13b). They were faithful men. I have discovered that today faithfulness is a quality not highly esteemed, although we often pay lip service to it. It is disheartening to me at times to see how few people take seriously the responsibility to carry through faithfully what they have undertaken.

Faithfulness is the quality that God admires. Paul says in 1 Corinthians of those who minister in the church: Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful (1 Corinthians 4:2). That is the primary thing God looks for: the ability to hang in with an assignment until you are through; the willingness to fulfill responsibility year after year, not needing to be praised or thanked or publicly encouraged in order to do so; to work unto the Lord; to show up on time and to not leave until the work is done.

I have learned through the years to look for four qualities in leaders, whether they are men or women. I look first for a searching mind: a person who is mentally alert, who has curiosity about life, who wants to learn all the time. Such a person is always reading, always listening, always thinking about what he or she hears, and trying to reason out what is behind it.

Second, I look for a humble heart–someone whose ego is not on the line all the time, who must be praised and honored and encouraged in order to get him to do anything at all; who gets disgruntled and turned off if she does not get recognized. I look for someone who understands that service is a privilege; that power is not conferred upon a person by an office but by serving people.

Third, I look for an evident gift: God’s people are gifted people. There is not one of the members of the body of Christ who has not been equipped by the Holy Spirit with a special ability to do something. When Christians know what it is, they always enjoy doing it. It is not a burden any more than wings are a burden to a bird. It is a delight to them. I look for people who have the gift for what we are asking them to do because they will stay with it and enjoy it to the end.

And then, fourth, undergirding all the others and making them possible, is a faithful spirit–someone who will not quit; someone who sees her work as a ministry of service to the Lord Himself; who has undertaken it out of gratitude in his own life and heart, and no matter how tough it gets, will not quit.

God looks for these kind of people to change the age in which they live. That is what we are called to do today. We are all included in this calling, not just the obvious, visible leaders. What is required are faithful men and women who are willing to carry this through to the end.

Father, I ask that You would develop in me a spirit of faithfulness. Help me to stick with the responsibilities You give to the end.

Life Application
In a culture where unfaithfulness is rampant, are we thoughtfully alert, humbly motivated, and faithfully committed to be counter-cultural?

Devotions by Ray Stedman for August 25 – How To Celebra

Topic:How To Celebrate
READ THE SCRIPTURE: NEHEMIAH 12:27-43

At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the Levites were sought out from where they lived and were brought to Jerusalem to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps and lyres.
Nehemiah 12:27

Ray Stedman

It is proper to dedicate. And it is proper also to celebrate when God has brought us to a place of achievement. The Holy Spirit has been careful to include in this account the three aspects that make up true celebration. One of the primary elements of true celebration is the expression of joy. It is amazing to me how many Christians never appear to be joyful. They are always gloomy and grim. I am reminded of what a little girl said upon seeing a mule for the first time: I don’t know what you are, but you must be a Christian because you look just like Grandpa! There are a lot of long-faced Christians around. There are times of sorrow and sadness, of course, but Christians ought frequently to exude a sense of joy because they have something to be joyful about. Joy is not the same as happiness. Happiness is liking the present moment because it pleases us. But joy is much deeper and more long-range. Joy appreciates the past, the present, and the future, not because the circumstances are pleasing, but because the heart is right with God. These people were happy because the wall was finished. But they were joyful because God had helped them to finish it. Aware of God’s love and acceptance, they therefore were joyful.

There is another clue hidden in this paragraph that tells us what celebration should be based on. Verse 30 tells us that purification is necessary to celebrate. You cannot do it with a hypocritical heart. It becomes a festival of empty words. Many people seem to be afraid of this word purity. They think it describes a self-righteous kind of person. But purification in the Christian life stems from the same philosophy that motivates us when we wash dishes. You do not set your table with dirty dishes, do you? God does not do His work with dirty vessels! We need a periodic cleansing of our lives and hearts. In the New Testament, it is a simple process. It is not by ritual but by confessing our faults and believing that God has forgiven them. Confess your sins. Then believe that God cleanses you, that He forgives you, that He has restored you to His favor. This is what fills the heart with joy.

There is still a third element in this that is found in verse 31. Thankfulness is always part of true celebration. These people were thankful. Are we properly thankful? Do we give thanks every day to God for the blessings we are enjoying at the moment? We are so trained by the media to grumble and complain, to insist on something we do not have, to focus on that instead of on all we do have. One of the first signs of a growing, maturing spirit in young Christians is that they begin to give thanks to God for what He has poured into their life; for the opportunities that are before them; and for the present blessings and liberties that they do enjoy. So there are the elements that make up celebration: joyfulness, purity, and thanksgiving.

Lord, forgive me for so often forgetting all that I have to celebrate. Teach me to celebrate all You have done for me with joy, purity, and thanksgiving.


How do we distinguish joy from happiness? What are three elements in celebrating life as God intended? Do our lives reflect these three elements?

Devotions by Ray Stedman for August 24 – Real Heroes And Real Life

Topic:Real Heroes And Real Life
READ THE SCRIPTURE: NEHEMIAH 12:1-26

These were the priests and Levites who returned with Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and with Jeshua
Nehemiah 12:1a

Ray Stedman

This takes us back to the heroes of the past. Zerubbabel led the first return from Babylonian captivity to Jerusalem in 538 BC, almost one hundred years earlier than Nehemiah’s day. Nehemiah is looking back at these men who led that procession. Zerubbabel was a priest, and Jeshua was a Levite. They led a company of Israelites back to the city of Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. Verse 7 says that they were the leaders of the priests and their associates in the days of Jeshua.

Verses 22-26 give the chronological time when the records that we have just looked at were recorded. The passage does not sound very interesting, but we are told that for the first group, the family heads of the Levites… were recorded in the reign of Darius the Persian. That meant that there was a time when their names were kept as temple records, but they were not actually recorded permanently until the days of Darius the Second. This would put that record somewhere between 423 and 404 BC, somewhat later than Nehemiah. Evidently some later hand added this so that we might know when it was written.

Then there is another mention in verse 23 of the book of the annals, meaning the annals of the kings of Judah. One of them is especially mentioned in the reference to David, the man of God. What a remarkable influence David had! F. B. Meyer says, How long the influence of David has lingered over the world, like the afterglow of a sunset. Yet David had a terrible record of evil in his life. He fell into adultery with Bathsheba and was involved in the murder of her husband. Because his heart was set on God, however, and he took advantage of God’s provision for forgiveness, David is known to history as the man after God’s own heart.

The passage teaches us that we must not forget past heroes, the men and women of fame and glory whom God has used in former days. I have been reading again the writings of some of my early spiritual heroes. I would urge you, on the basis of a passage like this, to read biography! It will bless you. It will challenge you and strengthen you to see how God has used men and women of the past to stand against the temptations and pressures of the world and accomplish much for His glory.

This passage also teaches us that the deeds of God are part of the record of history. That is one of the great advantages of Christianity over all the other religions of the world. Most of them are religious philosophies or simply the musings of men meditating upon various aspects of life. Many of them are a record of visions and dreams of dubious origin. But when you come to the record of the Bible, it is based upon facts. It is not legend, myth, or fiction. It is not a record of philosophies or the inventions of humans. It is made up of historic facts. God grounds these great events in the history of the world itself.

Lord thank You for the lessons I can learn from those who have served You in the past and for the very real facts of history, which teach me so much about You.

Life Application
Studying and remembering God-made history can be far more fruitful than dwelling on man-made philosophy. What lessons are we learning from the Bible each day?

Devotions by Ray Stedman for August 23 – Any Volunteers?

Topic:Any Volunteers?
READ THE SCRIPTURE: NEHEMIAH 11

Now the leaders of the people settled in Jerusalem, and the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of every ten to live in Jerusalem, the holy city, while the remaining nine were to stay in their own towns. The people commended all the men who volunteered to live in Jerusalem.
Nehemiah 11:1-2

Ray Stedman

The great principle to remember in reading the Old Testament is that what happens to Israel on a physical level pictures what is happening to us on the spiritual level. God too is a builder. The New Testament tells us that He is building a city with inhabitants called the New Jerusalem. It is not like the old one, made of bricks and mortar, but a new city built of spiritual stones–living stones, according to the New Testament (1 Peter 2:5). It is intended to be inhabited by redeemed people. If you draw that parallel, you will begin to see some of the teaching of this passage in Nehemiah.

Chapter 11 is the account of Nehemiah’s efforts to repopulate Jerusalem. Although the city wall had been rebuilt at this point, Nehemiah discovered that he had a problem. He had a fine, well-defended city–but without people! His solution was to draft families to move there, for a capital must be inhabited since it is the heart of the nation. As the governor, he simply issued an edict: One out of every ten people living in the suburbs must move to Jerusalem. He went through the towns and numbered the people, counting them off by tens, and then they threw a die with ten numbers on it. The man who had the same number that came up on the die was expected to move his family into Jerusalem.

If you read this carefully, it is apparent that when a man was chosen to move into Jerusalem, he was permitted to decline if he wanted to. That is because God wanted volunteers for this. So a man could be chosen but could decide against moving. Then the lot would be cast again and another name chosen. Sooner or later someone would be found who consented freely to go. According to the account, those who chose to go were commended by the people. They honored them because they volunteered to do what God called them to do.

The same principle applies in the church today. According to the New Testament, we are all called into the ministry–all of us! The ministry belongs to the saints! The minute you become a Christian, you are moved into God’s new Jerusalem. You are asked to take up labor there, to do work according to the spiritual gift God has given you. But you must also volunteer to do it. God does not force His people to do what they are asked to do. He gave us all spiritual gifts, but He does not force us to use them. Yet if you want to be respected or honored and commended at last by the Lord Himself and by all His people, then the wise thing is to volunteer to perform the realm of ministry He has opened up for you.

Lord I want to be a part of what You are building. Thank You for the gifts and talents You have given me. Show me how best to put them to use.

Life Application
God calls and equips His people to serve voluntarily. Will we miss the grandeur of His calling to minister both in the Church and the world, by default?

Devotions by Ray Stedman for August 19 -Time After Time

Topic:Time After Time
READ THE SCRIPTURE: NEHEMIAH 9:16-37

But as soon as they were at rest, they again did what was evil in your sight. Then you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies so that they ruled over them. And when they cried out to you again, you heard from heaven, and in your compassion you delivered them time after time.
Nehemiah 9:28

Ray Stedman

What a marvelous picture of the patience of God! He lets us taste the results of our evil. He gets our attention sometimes by letting disaster strike. But it is only in order that we might hear what He is saying and be delivered. He warns us in order to keep us free.

One evening the president of the Gay People’s Union of a university was invited to come and speak to a church’s group of young people on what the Bible says about homosexuality. The group gave him the opportunity to defend the position that the Bible endorses homosexuality as an alternate lifestyle. Although this man was the president of his university’s debating club, he struggled as he tried to present his case. He went all through the Bible trying to prove his cause, but he floundered and could not get anything together.

The group leader made an agreement with him that when he finished, one of the church’s pastors would speak on the same subject. The pastor graciously opened the Scriptures and pointed out that when God forbids something it is not because He wants to limit us or narrow our lives. It is because He is protecting us from something that we cannot handle, something so devastating it will ruin us. He demonstrated from the Word how homosexuality destroys human beings and turns them into something God never intended them to be. Eventually those embracing a homosexual lifestyle would be locked into pain, hurt, misery, loneliness, and death.

Out of that episode came opportunity for members of this church to reach out to those who were struggling with homosexual tendencies. A great number of these people were delivered by the mercy and grace of God. That is what this passage describes–the tough love of God, who will not let ruin overtake us without adequate warning.

The closing paragraph, beginning with verse 32, connects the history of earlier generations with the present generation. Here we find a change of pronouns from they and them to we and our as the Israelites begin to look at their own generation.

This is where we find ourselves today. Our cities are torn with violence and strife of such intensity that people hardly dare to go outside their homes. The only recovery is to do as these people did–confess our wrongdoing to God and praise Him for His compassionate mercy.

Notice how specific the Israelites are. You have acted faithfully, but we did wrong. There is no if in true confession. You say, Lord, I did it. I walked in my own willful way. Then God hears, forgives, and restores.

Lord, thank You for Your promise that as I confess my sin, You are faithful and righteous to forgive and restore.

Life Application
How do we respond to God’s tough love in others’ lives as well as our own? Are we able to recognize and be thankful for the tough love of God?

Devotions by Ray Stedman for August 13 -The Power And Peril Of A Witness

Topic:The Power And Peril Of A Witness
READ THE SCRIPTURE: NEHEMIAH 6:15-19

So the wall was completed… When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.
Nehemiah 6:15-16

Ray Stedman

Even their enemies had to admit that God was at work in His people’s lives. He was what accounted for their amazing success. This entire project was finished in just fifty-two days! Nehemiah had left Persia in April, and it took him several months to journey to Jerusalem. Yet on October 2 in the year 445 BC, the wall was completed. They finished the work in fifty-two days because they put their minds and shoulders to the task and looked to God for wisdom and power to achieve. When our enemies heard about this, they lost their self-confidence and they realized that they were battling against God himself, says Nehemiah. What a beautiful picture of the power of Christian witness in a community! Even their enemies must agree that God is at work among them.

But the enemies are still not through. Notice how they continue their tactics of opposition. Tobiah had intermarried with the Israelites. Taking advantage of that relationship, he was seeking to undermine Nehemiah’s influence by nothing more than mere gossip.

The devil never quits. He is never going to give up while we are still alive. Even those Christians who have lived over seventy years will tell you the battle is just as intense, sometimes more so, than it ever was. Christians cannot expect the battle to end until the Lord calls them to glory, because that is the nature of life.

God has wonderful blessings and much encouragement and joy for us along the way, but we must never cease battling against the world, the flesh, and the devil until we get home. Do not expect your retirement days to be without difficulty or struggle. That is what the world seeks, and that is a confused and distorted view of life. But it is not ours. The enemies will never quit. If they cannot undermine us with fear and flattery, they will try gossip and false rumors. This is what Nehemiah demonstrates for us.

Teach me, Father to be grateful for victories won, but never to become complacent as if the battle were over.

Life Application
In our present circumstance, can we expect opposition from the world, our old habits, and the devil to cease? How does faith in Jesus enable victory?