Tag Archives: Ray stedman

Devotional by Ray Stedman – God’s Compassion And Mercy – A daily devotion for December 29

Topic:God’s Compassion And Mercy

 READ THE SCRIPTURE: JOB 42:12-13

The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first.Job 42:12a

This is what James calls in the Revised Standard Version the purpose of the Lord (James 5:11), revealing God to be compassionate and merciful. God did not suddenly become compassionate and merciful to Job; He had been that way all along. God’s character, unchanging, is compassion and mercy. He is love. Though He puts us through times of trials and pressures and hardships, it is not because He is angry and upset; it is because He is compassionate and merciful. If we wait, He will bring us to the place where we will see that as plainly and clearly as Job did. So the purpose of the Lord is to reveal His own heart of compassion and mercy to this dear old man.

There is a beautiful passage in Jeremiah’s Lamentations that I think we must always remember when we are going through trials and afflictions. I would urge you to memorize it as you face a new year: For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men (Lamentations 3:31-33).

Isn’t that encouraging? He does not willingly afflict or grieve the sons of men. He will bring grief because He loves us and we need it, but He does not do it lightly. He feels our pain with us. As a good parent with His children, He hurts worse than we do at times. He does not willingly do it. I think we need to recall that when we are put through times of pressure and danger.

God moves Job’s relatives and friends to bring him gifts of silver and gold. But perhaps these gifts of silver and gold that friends and relatives brought were God’s way of providing a foundation of the wealth that He will bring Job. At any rate, Job ended up with double everything that he had before.

Well, you say, God doubled everything but his sons and daughters. He ended up with seven sons and three daughters, just like he had at the beginning. No. You forget he has seven sons and three daughters in heaven, and seven sons and three daughters more on earth, so God indeed gave Job double everything that he had to start with. That is the mercy of God. He does not willingly afflict or grieve the sons of men but longs to give them blessing when they come to the place where they can handle the blessing that He wants to give.

Help us to accept Your tender mercies, Lord, and to see behind them Your loving, compassionate heart. Help us, out of our understanding to bring praise to the glory of our great God.

Life Application

Trials are graduate courses where we can learn to trust the immutable purpose of our Father. Do we see him as our kind Father whose desire is always to bless his child?

Devotional by Ray Stedman – A Cry For Mercy – A daily devotion for October 23

Topic:A Cry For Mercy

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
Psalm 51:1-2

Ray Stedman

What a marvelous understanding of the nature of sin and the character of God’s forgiveness is found in these verses! There are three things David asks for. First, he understands that sin is like a crime. If criminals are to be delivered from the effects of their crime, they do not need justice but mercy. Sin is an illegal act, a violation of justice, and an act of lawlessness and rebellion and therefore requires mercy.

Then he says, Blot out my transgressions, and thereby he reveals that he understands sin is like a debt. It is something owed, an account that has accumulated and needs to be erased.

Finally he cries, Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. He understands that sin is like an ugly stain, a defilement upon the soul. Even though the act fades into the past, the dirty defiling stain remains a stigma upon the heart. So he cries out and asks to be delivered from these things.

Notice that David understands well the basis for forgiveness. He asks on the basis of two things: first, according to your unfailing love. He understands that he himself deserves nothing from God, that God is not bound to forgive him. Some people are never able to realize forgiveness because they think they deserve it, that God owes it to them. But David knows better. He realizes that only because of God’s love may he even approach God to ask. On the basis of that unqualified acceptance, that marvelous continuing love-that-will-not-let-me-go, he says to God, I am coming to you and asking now for this.

Second, as David appeals to God according to your great compassion, he again indicates his understanding of the character of God. God is not a penny pincher; He does not dole out bits of mercy, drop by drop. No, He pours it out. His are abundant mercies. When God forgives, He forgives beyond our utmost imaginings. Two figures of speech that are used in the Old Testament depict the forgiveness of God. As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:12). How far is that? Well, how far do you have to go east before you start going west? You never come to west. Then God says He will hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19). Someone has added that he puts up a sign that reads NO FISHING. Do not go down there and try to fish old sins out once God has dealt with them. What relief comes when we begin to understand this fullness of God’s forgiveness.

Father, thank You that I can come to You with my sin and cry out for mercy and love. Your love is steadfast; your mercy is abundant. I trust that You are always willing to forgive.

Life Application
The Word of God teaches the true nature of sin, and the astounding basis for God’s forgiveness. Are we learning to live in these liberating truths?

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 14 -The Need To Belong

Topic:The Need To Belong
READ THE SCRIPTURE: NEHEMIAH 7

So my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles, the officials and the common people for registration by families.
Nehemiah 7:5a

Ray Stedman

It was necessary to ensure that only true Israelites lived within Jerusalem. There follows a list of names of all the families of those who came back from Persia to Jerusalem under the leadership of Ezra, some thirty years before the time of Nehemiah. These were among the ones who helped him build the wall. He is not only giving credit to them but is also recognizing that they will be responsible to carry on what he has begun. So having appointed leaders who would succeed him–men of integrity, courage, and faithfulness–he now sees to it that their followers are also true Israelites.

The spiritual application is that we need to know that we really belong to God. You will never be a successful servant of Christ nor ever faithfully work for Him and serve Him until you are assured that you know Him and belong to Him. This is not only necessary for leaders but for the common people as well. We all need to know our spiritual pedigree; otherwise, our service will be weak and largely ineffective.

Verse 61 lists some who could not prove their ancestry and were therefore not permitted to live in the city of Jerusalem. Certain ones among the priests were denied the right to minister because they could not prove their ancestry. Many try to minister in the church of God today who are uncertain that they belong to God. Sometimes pastors, seminary professors, and leaders in the Christian community do not themselves know that they are true Christians. These always wreak havoc in the churches they seek to serve.

The reference to the Urim and Thummim is interesting (Nehemiah 7:65). These were two stones (their names mean lights and perfections) that the high priest wore on his garment by which he could discern the mind of God. No one really knows how they worked. Nehemiah says these suspect priests were not allowed to minister until a high priest arrives who has the Urim and Thummim. I think this is a hidden reference to our Lord Jesus. In the book of Hebrews, Jesus is said to be a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 6:20), meaning one who lives forever and who fully knows the mind of God. He can restore suspect priests to a place of assurance in their ministry and give them back their office. He can bring them the assurance that they belong.

Father, thank You that I can rely on the promise of Your Word that I do belong. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12).

Life Application
How does truly knowing Jesus and why we belong to God make our good deeds fruitful and effective? Do our acts of service stem from a response to God?

Devotions by Ray Stedman for August 10 -Internal Strife

Topic:Internal Strife
READ THE SCRIPTURE: NEHEMIAH 5

Now the men and their wives raised a great outcry against their Jewish brothers.
Nehemiah 5:1

Ray Stedman

In chapter 5, the Unseen Enemy tries yet another approach. Nehemiah has successfully handled the threatened attack from without, but now he runs into a problem from within his own ranks. You may experience that too in your struggle to recover some area of your life. You may run into family problems, pressures, and problems with those who work with you, perhaps even from other brothers and sisters in the Lord. In this case it was a clash between the workers and the officials, the laborers and the overseers who were working on this project.

To a great degree these were justified complaints. Nehemiah deals with them earnestly and forthrightly. He could not change the conditions, but he reveals the real problem–usury. Usury is charging interest for money that has been loaned–a common practice in our day. The Jews were allowed to do this with other races, but Moses said that when Jews lent money to other Jews, they were not to charge any interest. Nehemiah is upset by this usury and demands that they stop. This was more than a demand to end the practice of usury. He was insisting on restitution as well. They must give back their unjust gains. Their reaction was surprising. They were stricken by conscience because they knew from the Scriptures that what they were doing was wrong.

Believers ought to be very careful about taking advantage of others, especially other Christians, and getting rich at their expense. Scripture condemns this practice as uncaring and heedless of the poor testimony it presents to others.

Nehemiah is encouraged by their promise that they will not do this. He has first uncovered the real cause. He shows that it is simple greed that is the problem. He confronts the overseers with it, rebuking them and showing them it is wrong. There is a place and time for forthright, blunt confrontation in our relationships with others. Sometimes we need to point out to people that what they are doing is wrong and help them to see what needs to be done. That is what Nehemiah does.

Father, strengthen us to act like Nehemiah of old and be willing to confront the greed in our own lives. Help us to be men and women who visibly live according to what we profess.

Life Application
Are we honestly confronting greed in all areas of our lives? Are we able to honestly, even bluntly, confront those we are in relationship with to help them?

Devotions by Ray Stedman for August 7 -The Need For Each Other

Topic:The Need For Each Other
READ THE SCRIPTURE: NEHEMIAH 3:28-32

Next to them, Zadok son of Immer made repairs opposite his house. Next to him, Shemaiah son of Shecaniah, the guard at the East Gate, made repairs.
Nehemiah 3:29

Ray Stedman

One commentator has said, God is a great believer in putting names down. That is true. There are many chapters like this in the Scriptures. But that should really encourage us. It means that God has not forgotten our names either. He loves to record the names of obscure people.

The central teaching of a chapter like this is that in putting lives back together, we need and must seek help from each other. This is a great chapter about cooperation. It illustrates the New Testament truth concerning the body of Christ. First Corinthians 12, Romans 12, and other chapters teach that believers in Christ are part of a worldwide body made up of many members. We belong to each other, and so we are to help one another and bear one another’s burdens. This is portrayed in a very dramatic way throughout this chapter.

We learn from the New Testament that there are two things you cannot say any longer when you become a Christian. The first is, You do not need me. Everyone in the body of Christ needs everyone else. The second thing is, I do not need you. You do need others! It is the awareness of that truth that makes a church a living, warm, vital, loving fellowship.

In the summoning of the people of Jerusalem to rebuild their walls and their gates, we learn that all the people were involved in the project. That portrays for us an important principle of the New Testament: that the ministry of the church belongs to everyone in the congregation. Often people think that only the pastor and the hired staff are to do the work of evangelizing, teaching, counseling, healing the hurts of others, and serving the needy. Because we have followed that practice far too long, the church is in trouble all over the world. But the ministry belongs to the whole congregation. I do not know any truth more important for the accomplishing of God’s work than that. Yet in church after church, it is difficult to get people to understand that. You have the great privilege of reaching out in your own neighborhood and doing the work of the ministry there. Where churches do not understand that, one finds a very distorted condition. People have no ministry of their own and, therefore, little excitement or interest in life.

Lord, thank You for those You have placed around me for support and encouragement. Teach me that not only do I need You, but I need others if I am to have the impact You want me to have.

Life Application
Where is it wonderful to seek help from others instead of trying to be independent of them? Which people does the ministry of the Church belong to?

Devotional by Ray Stedman – No Faith – A daily devotion for January 9

Topic:No Faith
A daily devotion for January 9th

Do you still have no faith?
Mark 4:40c

Ray Stedman

This is why people become afraid–because they lose faith. Faith is the answer to fear. Faith is always the answer to our fears, regardless of what they are. Jesus put His finger right on it: “Do you still have no faith?”

Well, evidently they did not. They had forgotten all the things He said to them in the Sermon on the Mount about the extent of God’s care for them: “Are you not much more valuable than flowers and birds? God cares for them; will he not much more care for you, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:30). Here Jesus was in the boat with them; their fate would be His fate; and yet they had forgotten this.

How would these men have acted, do you think, if they had faith? Suppose their faith had been strong–their faith in Him and in God’s care and love–what would they have done? One thing is certain: they would not have wakened Him; they would have let Him rest. He was tired and needed the rest badly. They would have done so because their faith would have reminded them of two great facts: First, the boat will not sink; it cannot sink when the Master of ocean and earth and sky is in it. Second, the storm will not last forever.

A good friend of mine, a handsome young evangelist from another country, told me about all the troubles he and his wife were going through. He was dejected. She was struggling with severe physical problems, ill health arising from asthma and bronchitis, which constantly kept her down. They had gone through years of struggle with this condition of hers already, and it seemed to pull the bottom out of everything he attempted to do. Here they were planning to go back to their own country, and now she was sick again. He came to me discouraged.

I remember turning to this incident in Mark and reciting this story and saying to him, “Remember, the boat will not sink, and the storm will not last forever. That is having faith–to remember those facts.” He thanked me, we prayed together, and he left. I did not see him for a couple of months; then we ran into each other. I said, “How are things going? How is your wife?” He said, “Oh, not much better. She’s still having terrible struggles. She can’t breathe and can’t take care of the children or the house, and we have a hard time. But I do remember two things: the boat will not sink, and the storm will not last forever!” So I prayed with him again.

After a while I received a note from him. He and his family had gone back to their country, and there they had found the answer. A doctor discovered a minor deficiency in his wife’s diet that needed to be remedied. When that was done, the asthma and bronchitis disappeared, and she was in glorious, radiant health, and they were rejoicing together. At the bottom of the page he had written, “The boat will not sink, and the storm will not last forever.”

I thank You. Lord, that You are here with me to comfort and strengthen me, to reassure me, and to take me through whatever storms may come. I know You are not here to stop the storms from coming, but to take me through them.

Life Application
How would we respond to our fears if we acted on the basis of faith in God’s sovereignty? Today’s circumstances allow us to see our lives from His point of view.

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 – Seed Thoughts – A daily devotion for January 7

Topic:Seed Thoughts
A daily devotion for January 7th

He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.”
Mark 4:26-27

Ray Stedman

This is a secret of the kingdom of God, and to me it is one of the most encouraging of all the parables Jesus ever uttered. He is speaking of how this rule of God increases, how it grows in a life. He explains it as a coming to harvest by a patient expectation that God will work. The key of this whole passage is, “the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.” That is, there are forces at work that will be faithful to perform their work—whether a farmer stews and frets about it or not. Farmers do what they can do, what is expected of them. But then God must work. And God will work. And in the confidence of that, this farmer rests secure. As Jesus draws the picture this farmer goes out to sow. It is hard work as he sows the field, but this is what he can do. But then he goes home and goes to bed. He does not sit up all night biting his fingernails, wondering if the seed fell in the right places or whether it will take root. Nor does he rise the next morning and go out and dig it up to see whether or not it has sprouted yet. He rests secure in the fact that God is at work, that He has a part in this process, and He must do it; no one can do it for Him. But he will faithfully perform it. So the farmer rests secure, knowing that as the seed grows there are stages that are observable: “first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.” It is only as the grain is ripe that he is called into action again. When the harvest is ready, then he is to act once more.

This is exactly what Paul describes for us in that passage in 1 Corinthians 3:9a: “For we are God’s fellow workers.” This is the way we ought to expect Him to work. It involves a witness first, perhaps a word of teaching or exhortation to someone—or to ourselves. And then an inevitable process begins, one that takes time and patience and allows God to work. One of the most destructive forces at work in the church today is our insistent demand for instant results. We want to have immediate conversions, immediate responses every time we speak. We tend not to allow time for the Word to take root and grow and come to harvest.

I have watched a boy in Peninsula Bible Church (PBC) growing up since grade school. I watched him come into adolescence and enter into a period of deep and bitter rebellion against God. I watched his parents, hurt and crushed by his attitudes, yet nevertheless praying for him—saying what they could to him—but above all holding him up in prayer. I watched the whole process as the seed that had been sown in his heart took root and began to grow. There were tiny observable signs of change occurring. Gradually he came back to the Lord. And as an adult young man, he asked me to fill out a reference for him to go to seminary. That is the Word growing secretly. The sower knows not how it happens but can rest secure in this.

Our Lord is teaching us the fantastic truth that God is at work. It does not all depend on us!

Thank You, Lord that I can trust that as I do my part and sow the seed of Your Word wherever I can, You will do the rest.

Life Application
We have the privilege of sowing the fertile seed of the gospel. Do we trust the sovereign work of the Spirit to produce a harvest, or rely on our own effectiveness?

Devotional by Ray Stedman – The Perils Of Popularity – A daily devotion for January 6

Topic:The Perils Of Popularity
A daily devotion for January 6th

Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. When they heard all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon.
Mark 3:7-8

Ray Stedman

We have difficulty grasping the size of this crowd. This was not just a few people, or even a few thousand. There were literally tens of thousands of people, undoubtedly, in this crowd. They came from all over this country and beyond. They flocked out from all the cities to hear this amazing prophet who has risen in Galilee and was saying such startling things.

You can see how Mark traces the emphasis upon the crowd throughout this division. In verse 20 he says, “and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat.” Then, in verse 32: “a crowd was sitting around him.” And in chapter 4, verse 1: “Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the Lake…” And then, in verse 36, Mark says, “Leaving the crowd,” they went across to the other side of the lake. In chapter 5, verse 21: “When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake.” And in verse 24: “A large crowd followed and pressed around him.” So this is the period when Jesus is pressed by the great masses of people, the period of His greatest popularity.

For many, this has been the measure of Jesus’ success, as it would often be in evaluating a successful person today. Anybody who can achieve a great crowd-following is regarded as a success. Today we call these people “stars”—there are star actors, star athletes, star singers, star politicians—various people who have attained what in our day is a mark of success. No wonder the title of one of today’s most popular musicals is Jesus Christ, Superstar. He is the one who drew all these great multitudes out from the cities of His day.

But as you read this account through, you see that Mark’s intention is to underscore the weakness of popularity; the empty, hollow worthlessness of being popular; and how much damage and danger popularity produced in our Lord’s ministry. One of the worst things that can happen to us, as this account makes clear, is to become caught up in a popular movement. False forces arise out of it. That is the whole thrust of this section. Mis-emphases easily spring into being—and wrongful attitudes arise readily in a popular movement. Popularity, therefore, ought to be watched carefully. And when a movement is popular, as Christianity is popular in many places today, we must be careful that we are listening to the voice and the Spirit of God.

Father, thank You for the truth as it is in Jesus. Help me to beware of the perils of popularity.

Life Application
Do we evaluate success by our audience’s size and applause? What can we learn from our Lord’s own life and death about the shallowness and peril of popularity?