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Devotional by Ray Stedman – Secrets Revealed – A daily devotion for January 8

Topic:Secrets Revealed
A daily devotion for January 8th

With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand.
Mark 4:33

Ray Stedman

This verse presents one great rule of revelation: God only reveals “as much as they could understand.” Jesus teaches people only as they can take it. This is the rule upon which God works with us. He does not show us everything at once. If He did, He would destroy us.

One man who attended a pastors’ seminar held at Peninsula Bible Church was a great big man. He was drinking in all that was given to him, and at our closing meeting it was amusing to watch him. He was like a child around a Christmas tree, so turned on by all he had discovered that he was just glowing, going around hugging everyone he met. He told me, “Oh, this has been so great! I’d like to go home and take my Bible and get into it and find so much more of this.” Then he stopped himself and said, “But I suppose if I did, it would kill me! I just couldn’t handle it.” And he was right; he could not have handled it. It would have been too much. And God knows that and does not show you any more than you are able to handle.

That is the glory and the wonder of the Scriptures. They are put together in such an amazing way that it takes both the Word and the Spirit to understand the Bible. You can read the Word, and if you are not ready for them and open to them, those words will not say a thing to you. But if you are open, you will learn something from them. The next time you can come back, read the same words, and learn something more. Each time you will learn something more. It never ceases to refresh your spirit and instruct your mind and to open and expand your capacity to receive from God. That is the way God teaches us truth–as we are able to bear it.

And this is true also of His revelation to us about ourselves. One of the things about Scripture is that it shows you who you are and who you have been all along. God is gracious to us that way. He does not just rip the veil off, and suddenly you see the whole ghastly thing. If He did, we would be wiped out. But He lifts it little by little. You shake and tremble and say, “Is that the way I’ve been?” You are aghast at the way you have been treating people, and you think, “Thank God that’s over!” The next week He lifts it a little higher. You shake and tremble and go through it again and say, “At last we got to the bottom!” Then God lifts it high enough for you to see more, and you are wiped out again. But you handle it, little by little. Because, along with the revelation of yourself, He also reveals Himself and His adequacy to handle your inadequacies.

Is it not wonderful that He understands us that way and deals with us like that? If He revealed the glories of heaven to us suddenly, everyone of us would be running out to jump into the ocean, to get there as fast as possible. But He lifts the veil only a little at a time, as we are able to bear it.

Open my eyes, Father, that I may see glimpses of truth you have for me. Help me to under stand what I read and to search out what I do not understand.

Life Application
Are we willing to accept God’s timing as He brings us to mature understanding of His will and ways? Are we perhaps pushing for instant maturity or avoiding the process?

Devotional by Ray Stedman – Debatable Issues – A daily devotion for November 17

Topic:Debatable Issues
A DAILY DEVOTION FOR NOVEMBER 17TH
READ THE SCRIPTURE: ROMANS 14:1-4

One person’s faith allows them to eat everything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.
Romans 14:2

Ray Stedman

This issue arises out of the background of the early church in which there was a real moral question about eating meat. Not only were there the Jewish restrictions against certain forms of meat — Jews did not eat pork, and even beef and lamb had to be kosher — but it had to be slain in a certain way. So a Jew, or even one raised as a Jew, after he became a Christian, always had great emotional difficulty in eating meat. There was also the problem in Rome and in other pagan cities about the matter of eating meat that had been offered to idols. Some Christians said that if you did that it was tantamount to worshipping that idol. Other Christians said, Oh, no. How can that be? Meat is meat. The fact that someone else thinks of it as offered to idols does not mean that I have to. So there was a real problem in the church.

As in every area of this type, there were two viewpoints. There was a liberal, broad viewpoint that said it was perfectly alright to do this, and a stricter, narrower viewpoint that said it was wrong to do this. You can put many of the modern problems that we have into this category. Should you drink wine and beer; should you go to the movies; should you dance; what about work on Sunday? Let us be very clear that there are areas that Scripture speaks about that are not debatable at all. It is always wrong to be drunk. It is always wrong to commit adultery or immorality. These things are clearly wrong. In both the Old and New Testaments, God has spoken, he has judged, in these areas. Christians are exhorted to rebuke and exhort and reprove one another, and, if necessary, even discipline one another according to patterns set out in the Scriptures. This is not judging each other in those areas.

But there are all those other areas that are left open, and the amazing thing to me is that Scripture always leaves those open. Paul will not give a yes or no answer about some of these things because God does not do so. There is an area, in other words, where God wants to leave it up to the individual as to what he or she does. He expects it to be based upon a deep conviction of that individual. But it is up to them.

It is also clear that he calls the liberal party strong in the faith, while the narrow party is weak in the faith. Therefore, the mark of understanding truth is freedom. That is why Paul calls the person who understands truth clearly one who is strong in the faith, while those who do not understand it clearly are weak in the faith. They are weak in the faith because they have not yet discovered the meaning of Christian freedom; they see Christianity as a thing of rules and regulations. Also, they have not yet liberated himself from a belief in the efficacy of works. In their heart they believe that they can gain God’s favor by doing certain things and abstaining from doing others. Basically, they are still trying to earn a right relationship with God, and have not yet accepted the way of grace.

That is the problem here. It is the problem of a Christian who is not yet understanding fully the freedom that Christ has brought him, who struggles with these kinds of things, and who feels limited in his ability to indulge or to use some of these things — while others feel free to do so. One is strong in the faith; the other is called weak in the faith. Every church has these groups. Paul puts his finger precisely on the natural attitudes which each group would have toward each other that must be avoided if we are going to accept one another as he says.

Father, teach me to accept and love my brothers and sisters in Christ and refrain from judging in debatable matters.

Life Application
Are we honoring the privilege of choosing to our fellow believers when their opinions differ from ours? How does God use our choices to teach and train us?

Devotional by Ray Stedman – Our Great and Glorious God – A daily devotion for November 8

Topic:Our Great and Glorious God
A DAILY DEVOTION FOR NOVEMBER 8TH
READ THE SCRIPTURE: ROMANS 11:33-36

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them? For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.
Romans 11:33-36

Ray Stedman

This reminder of the strange ways God works awakens within Paul a tremendous outburst for God’s inscrutable wisdom and his ways with men. You can see certain things that have amazed the apostle: There are the deep riches, as Paul calls them, the deep riches of God’s wisdom and of his ways. They are beyond human exploration. There is no way we can finally fathom God.

There are those who struggle to put God in a box where they can get hold of him and analyze him. But if they succeed in that, they have only reduced God to the size of a man. God is greater than man. He is beyond us. Our minds cannot grasp the greatness of God! We can understand what he tells us about himself, but even beyond that, there is much more that we cannot know. There are depths of riches. That is why we are always being surprised by God if we trust him. He is always enriching us in ways that we don’t anticipate. Then Paul speaks of God’s unsearchable judgments.

For instance, it is clear from Scripture that nothing God ever planned interferes with human responsibility. We are free to make choices. We know it. We feel ourselves free to decide to do this or that, to do good or bad. And yet the amazing thing is that nothing humans ever do can frustrate God’s sovereign plan. Isn’t that amazing? No matter what we do, whether we choose this or that with the freedom of choice we have, ultimately it all works out to accomplish what God has determined shall be done. That is the kind of God we have.

Paul is not only impressed with God’s inscrutable wisdom and ways, but he contrasts it with the impotence of man. He asks three very searching questions. His first one is, Who has known the mind of the Lord? What he is asking is, Who has ever anticipated what God is going to do? Have you? Have you ever been able to figure out how God is going to handle the situations you get into? We all try, but it never turns out quite the way we think it will. There is a little twist to it that we never could have guessed.

Paul’s second question is, Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever suggested something that God has never thought of? Have you ever tried that? I have sometimes looked at a situation, have seen a way to work it out, and have suggested to God how he could do it, thinking I was being helpful. But it turned out that he knew things I didn’t know and was working at things that I never saw and couldn’t have seen. God’s solution was right, and mine would have been wrong.

Paul’s last question is, Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him? That is, Who has ever given God something that he didn’t already have? Paul says, Everything we are and have comes from him. He gives to us; we don’t give to him. He concludes with this great outburst: For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. God is the originator of all things; all things come from him. He is the sustainer of all things; they all depend on him. As C. S. Lewis puts it, To argue with God is to argue with the very power that makes it possible to argue at all! He is the end purpose. All things will find their culmination in God. He is why all things exist. Therefore, to him be the glory forever! Amen.

Thank you, Father, for this look at something of the wonder of your Being. How far beyond my stumbling words your greatness is! How mighty and vast you are, Lord, how powerful among the nations of earth.

Life Application

What significant changes in attitude and action would result if this grand and glorious Doxology were the basic, day-by-day guideline in our lives? Worship? Humility? Trust? Joyful surrender to God’s will?

Devotions by Ray Stedman – The Mystery of the Jewish People – A daily devotion for November 7

Topic:The Mystery of the Jewish People
A DAILY DEVOTION FOR NOVEMBER 7TH
READ THE SCRIPTURE: ROMANS 11:25-32

I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way all Israel will be saved.
Romans 11:25-26

Ray Stedman

Perhaps the striking thing about this passage is that Paul calls the Jews’ present resistance to the gospel a mystery. He doesn’t mean that it is obscure and difficult to understand. When Paul calls this a mystery he means that it is a supernatural phenomenon that has to be revealed to us. You can’t explain it by the normal reasons for resistance to the gospel. I do not know if you have had any occasion to try to witness to a Jewish person. If you have, perhaps you have run up against what seemed to be a rock wall of indifference and resistance to what you were trying to say. If so, you may well have been experiencing what Paul is talking about here, a strange hardening toward the gospel by Jewish people. It is not because the Jews are inferior in intelligence — they are among the most intelligent of people. It is not because they don’t want God; they are among the most religious of all people. Ordinarily you would think they would be open to hearing the good news of how God, in grace, is ready to reach men and change them and indwell them and enrich their lives. And yet those who go among the Jews often find this strange resistance, this anger that is awakened because of the preaching of the gospel.

Paul says three things about this hardness: First, it is a hardening in part. That is, not all Jews are afflicted this way. We are not told here what portion of Israel is going to be hardened — whether 10% or 90%. All we are told is that there are going to be some Jews who simply will not hear, who will not receive the gospel. I have been to Israel five times, and I am always amazed at how resistant the Jews there seem to be to the claims of the Lord Jesus. And Paul tells us that this hardening is not only in part, but it is also limited in time. It is not going to go on forever. A hardening of the heart has happened until the full number of the Gentiles come in. So this is not something that they are bound to experience forever. What does the full number of the Gentiles mean?

When Paul uses this phrase the fullness of the Gentiles, he is talking about a Gentile church which is going to become so rich and full in its spiritual riches that it will awaken again the envy of Israel. God turns to the Gentiles so that he may arouse the Jews to envy. Anyone who reads church history knows that there hasn’t been a great deal in Gentile churches that would awaken the Jews to envy! Often, the Jews have been oppressed and persecuted and terribly treated — all in the name of Jesus Christ — by those who profess to be Christians. But this is still a very hopeful thing for us. It means that a day is coming when the Gentile churches are going to be enriched with such spiritual blessing that the Jewish people will say, We want that! And they will be open, as never before, to the gospel of the grace of God.

You may be treated as an enemy, but remember also that the Jewish people are loved by an unchanging God. God loves every Jewish person, without exception. No matter how stubborn or resistant they may be, he has set his love upon them. The nations of the world had better not forget it that God still has chosen the Jews.

Lord, I thank you for the love you have bestowed on all nations across centuries, which is a great reminder of how no matter the difference in beliefs, both Jews and Gentiles, will fully understand and be open to the gospel of the grace of God.

Life Application

Has God repudiated His investment in Israel? Can we recognize both God’s kindness and His severity in their ongoing saga? Can we also see how our redemption is entwined with theirs?

Devotions by Ray Stedman – Kindness and Sternness – A daily devotion for November 6

Topic:Kindness and Sternness
A DAILY DEVOTION FOR NOVEMBER 6TH
READ THE SCRIPTURE: ROMANS 11:1-24

Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.
Romans 11:22

Ray Stedman

Paul speaks of the kindness and the sternness of God. If you come to God needy and repentant and acknowledging that you need help, you will always find him to be loving, gracious, open-armed, ready to help you, ready to forgive you, ready to give you all that you need. But if you come to God complaining, excusing yourself, justifying what you’ve been doing and trying to make it look good in his sight, you will always find that God is as hard as iron, and as merciless as fire, as stern as a judge. God will always turn that face toward those who come in self-pride and justification in their own strength.

This is the secret of the mystery of Israel and its blindness today. As long as the Jews come to God in that manner, they will always find a hard, iron-willed, stern God. But when they come in repentance, and, as Zechariah the prophet describes, when Jesus appears and they look at him whom they had pierced and they ask him Where did you get these wounds in your hands? he will say, These are those which I received in the house of my friends, (Zechariah 13:6). Then they will mourn for him as one mourns for any only child, and the mourning of Israel that day will be like the mourning for King Joash in the battle of Jezreal. The whole nation will mourn. Then God will take that nation, and they will replenish the earth. This is what Paul looks forward to.

This is a reminder to our own hearts of the faithfulness of God. His promises will not fail. God’s purposes will never be shortchanged. God is going to accomplish all that he says he will do. Though it may be a long way around, and though it may lead through many trials and temptations and hurts and heartaches, what God has said he will do, he will carry through. On that basis we can enter each day with a deep awareness of the faithfulness of our God.

Thank you, Holy Father, for your faithfulness. Thank you that you are the God of glory and the God of mercy. I do stand amazed at both the kindness and the sternness of God. Lord, teach me that you are not someone I can manipulate. Help me to bow before you in humble adoration at the grace that reaches out to me when I am ready to admit my need and come before you trembling and contrite.

Life Application

Kindness and sternness are both integral qualities of God’s character, each necessary to the full expression of His love. What are the appropriate responses to His kindness, and to His needed sternness?

Devotions by Ray Stedman – How To Be Saved – A daily devotion for November 5

Topic:How To Be Saved
A DAILY DEVOTION FOR NOVEMBER 5TH
READ THE SCRIPTURE: ROMANS 10:5-11

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.
Romans 10:10-11

Ray Stedman

That is the clearest statement in the Word of God on how to be saved. Paul makes it very simple. He says that it begins with the confession of the mouth: Jesus is Lord. Don’t twist those words to mean that you have to stand up in public somewhere and announce that you believe Jesus is Lord before you are saved. Paul does not mean it that way, although it does not exclude that. He means that the mouth is the symbol of the conscious acknowledgment to ourselves of what we believe. It means that we have come to the place where we recognize that Jesus has the right to lordship in our lives. Prior to this point we have been lord of our lives, and we have run our own affairs. We have decided we have the right to make our own decisions according to what we want. But there comes a time, as God’s Spirit works in us, that we see the reality of life as God has made it to be, and we realize Jesus is Lord.

He is Lord of our past, to forgive us of our sins; He is Lord of our present, to dwell within us, and to guide and direct and control every area of our life; He is Lord of our future, to lead us into glory at last; He is Lord of life, Lord of death, he is Lord over all things. He is in control of history. He is running all human events. He stands at the end of every path on which men go, and he is the ultimate one we all must reckon with. That is why Peter says in Acts 4:12: Salvation is found in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.

You cannot read the book of Acts without recognizing that the basic creed of the early Christians was: Jesus is Lord. These are days when you hear a lot about mantras, words that you are supposed to repeat when you meditate. I suggest you adopt this as a mantra: Jesus is Lord. Say it repeatedly, wherever you are, to remind yourself of this great truth. When Peter stood up to speak on the day of Pentecost, this was his theme, Jesus is Lord.

Paul tells us here that Jesus is Lord, and when God has led you to the place where you are ready to say to yourself, Jesus is my Lord, He then acts conclusively. Through that confession God does something. No man can do it, but God can. He immediately brings about all that is wrapped up in this word, saved. Your sins are forgiven. God imparts to you a standing of righteous worth in his sight. He gives you the Holy Spirit to live within you. He makes you a child in his family. He gives you an inheritance for eternity. You are joined to the body of Christ as members of the family of God. You are given Jesus himself to live within you, and you will live a life entirely different than you lived before. That is what happens when you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead.

Father, I am grateful for these clear words from Paul. Today I reaffirm by confession that, Jesus is Lord.

Life Application

Is our verbal confession congruent with our acceptance of Jesus as Lord? Do we need to review the radical implications of our inheritance as Christ’s disciples? Is Jesus in reality Lord of our body, soul and spirit?

Ray Stedman Bible Studies – Rejoice! A daily devotion March 17th

Ray Stedman Bible Studies

TOPIC- Rejoice! A daily devotion March 17th By Ray Stedman

Read the Scripture: Philippians 3:1

Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! Phil 3:1a
Ray Stedman Bible Studies

 

I suppose if you wanted to sum up Christianity in four words this would be the best possible phrase you could use: rejoice in the Lord. This is the mark of spiritual life, of a truly spiritual Christian. It is the distinctive sign of a victorious Christian. It is the one attitude that invariably brings peace and contentment to the heart. Therefore, it is the one thing Paul repeats over and over and over again: rejoice in the Lord. He knows he has said this many times before, and he will say it two more times before he ends this letter. But it is so important, he says, that he doesn’t mind saying it as many times as necessary, and it’s safe for them to hear it.
Ray Stedman Bible Studies

As we saw earlier in this letter, Paul pointed out the opposite as well. The sign of unbelief in the Christian life is always grumbling and disputing. Do all things, he says, without grumbling and questioning, because that is the sign of an unbelieving believer, who doesn’t believe what God is telling him. The mark of one who has learned to believe is rejoicing. Remember that definition of a Christian we have given from time to time: one who is completely fearless, continually cheerful, and constantly in trouble. It is the continual rejoicing in the midst of trouble that marks the Christian life.

It is a remarkable commentary on Christian unbelief that the mark the world usually associates with a Christian is not a smile but a long face. This being the case, it reveals how little we believe in the God we love. You remember that story of the little girl who first saw a mule in the countryside. She looked at it for quite a while, then she said, I don’t know what you are, but you must be a Christian. You look just like my grandfather. Unfortunately, the mark of a Christian has become a sober, solemn mien, casting gloom on every occasion. This isn’t real Christianity.

Ray Stedman Bible Studies

The mark of a true Christian is a smile of confidence, despite the circumstances. Not a screwed on smile, one that is forced, to appear something we are not, but a genuine smile, sometimes through tears, but a smile nevertheless. It comes as a result of acceptance of all events as ordered by the Lord. That’s the secret. It arises from a quiet trust in his indwelling adequacy to handle whatever comes. It is living out of adequacy. Living out of inadequacy is what puts the frown on people’s faces. It is trying to face the inrushing tumult of life with inadequate resource. This strain shows in the face. But if we genuinely believe what God tells us, that we have within us one who is completely competent to meet every situation through us, there is never any strain, for whatever comes we know he is adequate to meet it in and through us. We rest on that fact, and that is the quiet confidence that marks the Christian.

There is nothing new about this experience. It is the experience of the believer in any age. When we learn this secret we discover there are mysterious bridges flung over every abyss to which we come. An invisible strength is imparted to meet every stress life lays on us. No matter how long you have been a Christian, if you are still grumbling and complaining, griping and grouching about what life gives you, you need to be taught again what are the first principles, the ABC’s, of the gospel of Christ.

I rejoice in you, Lord. Thank you that you have put a smile in my heart because I know that you are Lord and I can trust you for even the most challenging aspects of my life.

Life Application: While the world seeks happiness, the Christian finds Joy in knowing and trusting the character of God. Are we missing out on that heritage because we fail to seek to know Him through His character revealed in His Word? Ray Stedman Bible Studies

Also – We hope you were blessed by this daily devotion,

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Daily Devotional with Ray Stedman Wednesday March 7th, 2018 – Citizens of Heaven

Daily Devotional with Ray Stedman Wednesday, March 7th

Topic: Citizens of Heaven A daily devotion for March 7th

Read the Scripture: Philippians 1:27
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Phil 1:27a

Daily Devotional with Ray Stedman Wednessday March 7th, 2018 – Citizens of Heaven

Paul uses an interesting word here, translated “conduct” in the NIV. It is a word from which we get our English word “politics,” or “politician.” The Greek word is politeuma, a word that means your conduct as a citizen or a colony. This is the first indication in this letter of a unique condition in the city of Philippi. Everyone in that city was aware that its citizens were citizens of Rome even though they were a thousand miles away. This was because of the great battle that had been won by the Roman Emperor, and in gratitude to the residents they were made citizens of Rome. Daily Devotional with Ray Stedman

Paul builds on this idea and says to them, in effect, you Christians in Philippi are members of another government. You cannot have the same attitude to the rest of the citizens of Philippi. You belong to a colony of heaven; therefore you must behave like citizens of heaven. You must let your manner of conduct be worthy of the government to which you belong, the kingdom of God and the gospel of Christ.

How should you live as a citizen of heaven? Paul mentions two essential things. First, “stand firm in one Spirit.” Never depart from complete dependency on the Spirit of God to do through you everything that needs to be done. The Christian life is lived by a totally different process than you lived before you came to Christ. It is God’s life through you. It is the indwelling Lord Jesus expressing Himself in terms of your human personality. Never depart from that. The second essential is to never let anything but serious heresy keep you from working side by side in the gospel. Daily Devotional with Ray Stedman

Now interestingly enough, all the wiles of the devil, all the thrust and power of his activity is aimed at these two things. To keep us from observing them, the enemy tests us first on one point, and if he can’t derail us there he goes to the other point. First, he tries to get you to depend upon yourself, not on the indwelling life of Christ, and to make you therefore fearful, worried, discouraged, impatient, or upset with something. Haven’t you felt this? This is the attack of the enemy, trying to budge you from your position in Christ which makes for victory.

Whenever we get discouraged we are depending on ourselves. We’re discouraged because we were expecting that we could do something and we failed. We’ve been self-confident, counting on ourselves, thinking we have all it takes to do the job. We think we don’t need any help from God. We then move from that position of dependency on God’s Spirit. We get worried, anxious, fearful, timid, impatient. We have yielded to the attack of the enemy and temporarily have shifted from that position of dependency.

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If that doesn’t work, and we stand firm, then the enemy tries another strategy. He tries to make a breach between us and those who labor with us. He tries to split us up, divide us, create suspicion, smoldering resentments and personality conflicts. He tries to get us to not talk with each other, have nothing to do with one another, look down on others, cut them off from our fellowship and conversation and contact. Daily Devotional with Ray Stedman

We often feel in spiritual warfare that every time we turn around we’re under attack, and we never know when he will strike next and we have to be constantly on guard. But that isn’t true. We have only two things to watch: that we stand firm in one Spirit, and that we strive side by side together in the gospel. That’s all. If we are careful to keep our eyes open to the power of God working within in these two areas, our conduct will become worthy of the gospel of Christ.

Thank you, Lord, that you have made me a citizen of heaven. Teach me to stand together, side by side, with my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Life Application: Daily Devotional with Ray Stedman

As Christians we are fellow citizens of the commonwealth of heaven, and Satan, the enemy, will use two main strategies in his attempt to divide and conquer us. How do we stand firm in one Spirit, behaving in a manner worthy of this high calling?
We hope you were blessed by this daily devotion.

Devotions by Ray Stedman for March 6th

Devotions by Ray Stedman for March 6th

Topic: To Live or Die? Devotions by Ray Stedman A daily devotion for March 6th

Read the Scripture: Philippians 1:19-26

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! Phil 1:21-22

Devotions by Ray Stedman To Live or Die?

The Christian view of death is given in just four words in this passage: “with Christ, far better.” That sums it up. But before we look closer at that, it’s important that we see what this man’s view of life is, because these are not the words of a man who is sighing after heaven but resigned to living on earth. This is not the utterance of someone who is fed up with living and couldn’t take life any longer so now the only hope is that heaven is close at hand. For Paul, to live is Christ, and that is exciting! Living, he says, means fruitful labor, in which I can take the greatest delight. The prospect of continuing to live is not an unwelcome prospect here, in fact he says “I hardly know which to choose”, both prospects are so enticing and inviting. The Christian is not so neurotically desirous of death that he no longer wants to live. We sometimes give the wrong impression. We sing these wonderful songs about the glory up there but sometimes, unfortunately, Christians leave the impression that this is really all they’re living for is what comes at the end. Devotions by Ray Stedman for March 6th

The Christian does not live with some unutterable longing to escape, to evade life, to run from it. No! Paul is not at all saying that! He says, “to live is Christ” — I love it! And evidently the Spirit of God tips the scale here in favor of life, so he goes on to say, “convinced of this I know that I shall remain, and continue with you all” — because you need me and I will have the joy of coming to you again. But facing the possibility of death does not mean he is tired of life, but that death can only mean a more wonderful and deeper companionship with Christ. That is what makes life worth living. He says, “to die is gain”, and you can only say that if you are prepared to say, “to live is Christ”!

What do you think is really living? What kind of circumstance do you have to have before you can say “Oh, now I’m really living”? What do you substitute for “Christ” in these words of Paul? “To me to live is money”? Then to die is to lose it all, isn’t it? “To me to live is fame”? To die is a name in the obituary in the paper and never have it there again. “To me to live is pleasure”? To die is to go out into an unknown. “To me to live is health”? To die is to lose my health. You see the only thing that makes sense in life is to say with the Apostle, “for me to live is Christ,” because then you can say “to die is gain.” The truth about the Christian faith is that heaven begins down here.

Father, thank you that you have given me a purpose for living. Teach me to be able to genuinely say, “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.” Devotions by Ray Stedman for March 6th

Life Application: Devotions by Ray Stedman for March 6th

Do we live out our Christian expectations as escapists? Are we rather choosing to be the planted seed that dies in order to experience abundant life? Are we experiencing the Joy of union with the Living Christ, whether we live with Him on earth or in heaven?
We hope you were blessed by this daily devotion.

We recomend – Daily Devotional Kenneth Copeland March 6, 2018 – Victorious Praise