Category Archives: Ray Stedman

September 3 Suppressing the Truth

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Romans 1:18-20

Here we see the cause of the wrath of God. The apostle explains that it is “the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness” that causes God’s wrath. The tragic aspect of life is caused by the attitudes men have and the subsequent actions that follow. Notice the order of this — godlessness and then wickedness. It is the godless attitude that produces the wicked actions, and that is why the wrath of God is being revealed constantly from heaven against man. What is godlessness? Godlessness isn’t necessarily atheism, the belief that God doesn’t exist. Godlessness is acting as though he doesn’t exist. It doesn’t necessarily deny that there is a God, but it never takes any account of him; it doesn’t expect him to be active.

As a result of godlessness, there is unrighteousness or wickedness, selfish and hurtful acts of men toward one another. Why do we act selfishly? Why do we hurt each other? Because we disregard God, and expect there will be no consequences. That is Paul’s analysis. By means of these hurtful and selfish acts, the truth is suppressed.

Here we are in a world in which truth from God is breaking out all around us, but we are busy covering it up, hiding it, suppressing it, keeping it from being prominent and dominant in our thinking. The reason life has turned tragic in so many cases is because the world is deprived of the truth that is necessary for life and liberty and freedom and godliness, and it is hidden by men and suppressed by them. The nature of the truth that is suppressed is the existence of a God of eternal power and majesty.

How has God made truth plain? The Scripture says that God has revealed himself to man. Truth is not a vague, invisible, difficult thing to comprehend; it is clearly seen. God himself has insured that. How? The Scriptures say, “It is seen in that which is made,” i.e., creation. From the creation of the world it is visible; i.e., it has been always and everywhere present. There is no one who is left out — all can read this revelation of God if they want to do so. This argument from creation’s design and order has never been rebutted. Those who disregard God cannot explain it because truth about God is breaking out everywhere around us.

Thus, says the Scripture, people are without excuse. No one who really wants to find God need miss him.

Father, help me not to suppress the truth, but to bow before you as both my Creator and Redeemer.

Life Application

Blatant suppression of Truth in the public square is undeniable. What about our lives? Are we suppressing God’s Truth by neglecting to know and obey the revelation of Truth in His Word?

Source: Suppressing the Truth

August 5 Do You Remember?

The word of the Lord came to me: Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem: This is what the Lord says: I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the wilderness, through a land not sown. Israel was holy to the Lord, the firstfruits of his harvest; all who devoured her were held guilty, and disaster overtook them, declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 2:1-3

This is part of the first message of Jeremiah to the nation of Judah. It highlights for us what God has to say to someone who has begun to drift away from him. Have you ever had that problem? I find there are times in my life when, without even realizing it, I have begun to lose some of the fervor and the joy and the peace which marks the presence of God in my life, flowing through my life as it ought.

The tragic thing about that condition, as so exemplified in the nation of Judah, is that this can happen, but nobody knows what is wrong. That was happening to Judah. They really blamed God for the whole thing. That is what most of us do, too. Judah said it was God’s fault, that he did not keep his promises, did not deliver them when he ought to, did not keep them from their enemies as he promised. They were charging God with gross misconduct and with inability to keep his promises.

So God has something to say to this nation. What does he say? The first thing he says is call them to look back and reflect on what life was like when you first began a love relationship. God says, I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me. In marital counseling I have dealt with couples who have been married twenty-five or thirty years but who are having difficulties. They are tense, angry, upset, and sometimes they will not even speak to one another. I have had to sit down with couples like that and try to find a way to begin a healing process. Long ago I learned the best way is simply to say, You know, before we start, I need to get acquainted with you a little bit. Tell me something about yourselves. How did you meet, and where? You can feel the atmosphere soften, and their hearts begin to expand a bit, as they think back to the days when they were not angry or upset, but were in love, and as they remember what that meant. Half the battle is won when you can get couples thinking back to what it was like when they first knew each other.

Do you remember those first days in the relationship between you and the Lord — the wonder of love, and the joy of it? What the prophet is bringing out here is that at such a time, the loved one is the chief priority of life. No other relationship is more important than yours with him, or his with you. He is preeminent in your affection. This is what God is wanting you to recall. This is the first thing God says to a heart which has begun to drift — Remember, remember — what it was like when you were secure in my affections, separate unto me, like Israel, holy to The Lord and exclusively his. Remember that you are the first fruits of his harvest. Remember that you are safe — I protect you. Do you remember your first days?

Thank you, Father, for the way you call me back to my first love with you.

Life Application

‘The bride eyes not her garments but her dear Bridegroom’s face.’ Have we become so self-consumed we have lost our focus on our Bridegroom? Do we need to return to our first-love?

The Way Back


Source: Listen to Ray

June 12 In My name

“And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:13-14)

“Whatever … anything … I will do it.” We sense immediately that this is too wide. If we take this as absolutely unlimited, a sort of magical Aladdin’s lamp that we can rub and ask for any possible thing in the world, certainly we have missed the true point of this passage. It is too wide to take unreservedly. We sense also that it is too contradictory if taken without limit. We can see problems arising. What if a Christian athlete is praying for clear weather and a Christian farmer is praying for rain? Which one wins?

No, this promise cannot be limitless. There is a condition here. Our Lord means exactly what he says but we must understand what he says. This is a magnificent promise of vast scope, of tremendous encompassment, but what he says is “if you ask in my name.” This is the condition.

That certainly means a great deal more than a magical formula to tack on to the end of our prayers. There is nothing quite as pagan, or silly, as this meaningless phrase, “this we ask in Jesus’ name,” added to our prayers without any understanding if the prayer is actually being asked in Jesus’ name. We do this because it is traditionally acceptable, and we do not understand what “in his name” means. “In Christ’s name” means in his authority and on the basis of his character.

All of us are familiar with the phrase, “In the name of the law.” Policemen do their business “in the name of the law.” Suppose a policeman goes into a cheap slum area of the city at three o’clock in the afternoon. He is called there because of some murderous activity that is going on, and he comes up to the address that has been given him, and knocks at the door, and says, “Open in the name of the law.” No one opens the door, so after he knocks again and requests that it be opened in the name of the law and there still is no answer, he breaks it down and goes in. But what if that same policeman is drunk? He is out in a residential area and for some reason on his own, in his drunken stupor, he stumbles up the steps of a house, and knocks on the door, and says, “Open in the name of the law.” Those within hear the thick voice and recognize that it is a drunk and refuse to open. So the policeman breaks down the door, and when he does, he is arrested and taken to jail himself.

Why? It is the same action, and exactly the same man. What is the difference? One was truly done in the name of the law, the other was done outside the law, even though the same words were used. One was authorized activity, the other was unauthorized. That is what Jesus means. When we ask in Jesus’ name we are to ask within the realm and scope of his work and his character. Whatever he is interested in having done on earth, then we, as the instruments of his activity, are involved in accomplishing it. “Whatever you need,” he says, “ask for it and it shall be done.” Whatever! Anything! If it is a need within this limit, you can ask for it and it shall be done, without failure.

Lord, search my heart and save me from talking truth and not living it, of echoing orthodoxy but refusing to submit in practical ways. Keep me from this, that I may know the fulness of the glory of these promises fulfilled in my life.

Life Application

Have we been naively tacking the name of Jesus onto our prayers? Is this equivalent to using his name in vain — a manipulative gimmick? How can we truly honor the name of our Lord Jesus in our prayers?

Related Message

For more on this portion of Scripture read the message:

The Holy Spirit and Prayer

Source: https://www.raystedman.org/daily-devotions/prayer/in-my-name

June 10 Ask, Seek, Knock

So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Luke 11:9-10)

Take careful note of what Jesus says, for he suggests that there are three levels of prayer: ask, seek, and knock. You can remember them, incidentally, if you will take note of the fact that the initial letters spell the word “ask,” “a” ask, “s” seek, “k” knock. There you have a little formula for prayer. Now mark these three different levels. The circumstances of each are vastly different, but the answer is the same.

The simplest and easiest level, of course, is ask. What he means is that there are certain needs which require a mere asking to be immediately and invariably met, and the range of these needs is far wider than we usually give credit for. For instance, reading through the New Testament, it becomes clear that our need for Christlike attributes lies in this category. If we need love, courage, wisdom, power, patience, they all lie in this realm. Simply ask, that is all, ask, and immediately the answer is given. Is that not what James says, “If any man lack wisdom.” What? “Let him ask of God who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not,” (James 1:5 KJV). And what? “It shall be given.” That is all, it shall be given. Let him ask and it shall be given.

A second level of prayer is denoted by this word “seek.” You cannot think of what it means to seek without seeing that our Lord injects here an element of time. Seeking is not a simple act, it is a process, a series of acts. Jesus says there are areas of life that require more than asking; there must be seeking, searching. Something is lost, hidden from us, and prayer then becomes a search, a plea for insight, for understanding, for an unraveling of the mystery with which we are confronted. Again, the answer is absolutely certain. Seek, and you will find!

There is still a third level which involves knocking. Here, both time and repetition are involved. A knock is not a single rap, it is a series of raps. It is a request for admittance, repeated if necessary, and it suggests situations where we seek an entrance, or an opportunity. Someone has perhaps erected a barrier against our witness or against our friendship and we are seeking to surmount that, to get behind the wall of resistance and to have an opportunity freely and openly to speak, or to share, or to enter into a life. That requires knocking. Perhaps we have an unshakable desire to begin a certain type of work or ministry from which we are now excluded. We long to move into that area, we feel God leading us, calling us, to be this or do that. That requires knocking. We hunger, perhaps, after knowledge or friendship or as the Word of God says, “Hungering and thirsting after righteousness” (Matthew 5:6). We are looking for an opportunity, seeking an entrance into an area that is now restricted from us. This requires knocking. We come before God and boldly and repeatedly ask, each time making an endeavor to enter in, for we are resting on the solid assurance that what Jesus says here is true, “Knock, and it shall be opened.”

Lord Jesus, I ask that these words may come with fresh and vital meaning to my heart; that there are things I need to ask for and take immediately from your hand, others that I need to seek for, still others for which I need to knock and wait, and knock again, knowing that in every case without exception your word is sure.

Life Application

Are we carefully noting the three aspects or stages of prayer given us by Jesus? Are we observing these as we make our requests of our Father? Do we have not because we are not even asking Him?

Related Message

For more on this portion of Scripture read the message:

Prayer’s Certainties

Source: https://www.raystedman.org/daily-devotions/prayer/ask-seek-knock