En Gedi: Finding rest in the wilderness!

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Archive for the ‘Ray Stedman-Devotional’ Category

Fit To Be Used by Ray C. Stedman

Posted by Scott on November 24, 2009

by Ray C. Stedman

2 Timothy 2:20-26

Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart (2 Timothy 2:22).

Those with pure hearts are not sinless saints; they are not holier-than-thous who have never done anything wrong. They are not the kind of people who look down their noses at everyone else who gets into trouble. No, the word pure would be better translated “cleansed,” past tense–those with a cleansed heart, those who have already known what it is to be where you are. They do not put you down; they encourage you. They say, “I know how you feel. I’ve been there too, but God picked me up. I know what it means to lay hold of His great, forgiving love.” So one of the necessities of being used of God is that you keep company with those who are aiming in the same direction.

I had an occasion to spend a day at Vacaville Penitentiary. I had not been there before. It was a most remarkable experience to see Christian friends working in the prison as salt within a corrupt society. It was a rainy day, and no one was out in the yard. Everyone was in the halls, so it was like going into a high school that had just been let out for lunch. Among the inmates of that overcrowded prison, a Christian group is maintaining a testimony that is keeping that prison away from violence, acting as salt to preserve it in the midst of a very explosive situation.

In the chapel I sat next to a man who had been a murderer–a murderer several times. He had been one of the roughest, fiercest convicts in the prison system. He had stabbed several people while he was in prison, and he was a member of the gang that tried to rule the prison, a vicious loner who would not hesitate to take a human life. Yet God had reached him. Now he is the most gentle-spirited, gracious fellow, a teacher of the other prisoners, instructing them in the truth of God.

I met with others who had been rapists, murderers, and child abusers, men whose lives were changed, who were now listening to and rejoicing in the Scriptures. I asked the leader of the group what it was that most disappointed him in his work. Without hesitating he said, “it is those who are so dramatically changed here but who lose all they have gained when they get out”. I asked why that happened. “Because they go back to the same old crowd,” he said. We are not made to live alone. We are made to live with others; we need the support of others. Those who surround themselves with a non-Christian view of life and non-Christian friends are almost certain to go back at last into that way of thinking and living. So if we want to be used of God, the apostle urges us to seek the companionship of those of like mind.

Lord, grant me the strength to say no to the things I must and yes to the things that I should, that You may find me usable in Your hand, a vessel fit for the Master’s use.

For the complete message by the late Ray C. Stedman go to Ray Stedman.

Scott Bailey 2009

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Ishmael Must Go!

Posted by Scott on June 21, 2008

by Ray C. Stedman

READ: Genesis 21:8-13

But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned” (Genesis 21:12).

If Isaac represents the gladsome fullness of the fruit of the Spirit, then Ishmael represents some pet manifestation of our self-life in which we find comfort and delight and that we do not want to surrender. Some place value on what they have long suspected is not what God would have but that they were reluctant to give up. Perhaps it is some long-standing habit that we have been defending. There can be habits or values in our lives that are really some form of self-indulgence. God may allow them for a while, but the time comes when He says, “Now, these have to go.”

God says that Ishmael could never share in the inheritance with Isaac. This is exactly what Jesus meant when He said, “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit” (John 3:6). When the time comes for us to stand before our Lord at the judgment seat of Christ, our lives will be classified into two areas: works of wood, hay, and straw, which are of the flesh; and those of gold, silver, and precious stones, which are of the Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 3:10-15). The Lord says to us as he says to Abraham, “Ishmael must go.” If you refuse to expose, examine, and remove that which is born of the flesh, even though God has said that it hurts you and He has shown you the peace, joy, and love that is the fruit of the Spirit, then you must face this choice as Abraham did.

Dr. Barnhouse once wrote, “Early in my ministry, I had the idea that I must strike out against all error wherever I saw it… if error was in some fundamental leader with whom I was in 95% agreement, I swung hard at the 5%.” This made Dr. Barnhouse a highly controversial figure, often unmercifully sharp and dogmatic. This zeal for truth became an Ishmael in his life. Then he tells how there came a time when the Spirit of God taught him to love, and he faced the choice—Ishmael had to go. He had to learn to be more understanding and more tolerant of some of the variant views of others.

He wrote, “Some time ago, I published a New Year’s resolution expressing regret that I had had differences with men who are truly born again. The results of that resolution were astounding. In the years that followed its publication, my ministry has been transformed.” The closing years of his life show much of his mellowing and of the sweetness of the fruit of the Spirit in one who before had been so harsh, critical, and demanding.

I don’t know what form Ishmael may be taking in your life, but I know there are times when God says to us, simply, this must go. There can be no manifestation of the life of the Spirit any longer until this is dealt with. Abraham obeyed. Early in the morning, he got up and took bread and a skin of water and, though it cost him heartbreak to do it, sent Hagar and Ishmael out, so that he might have the fullness of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.

Lord, I ask that I would sincerely long to be a completely yielded vessel of Your joy and strength and peace. May I have the grace to cast out Ishmael and find the fullness and joy of Isaac.

This daily devotion was inspired by one of Ray’s sermons. Please read “Ishmael must Go! “ for more on this portion of scripture.

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Heresy Emerging!

Posted by Scott on May 9, 2008

by Ray C. Stedman

READ: 1 John 2:18-19

They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us (1 John 2:19a).

Notice that the mark of an antichrist is finally breaking away from New Testament Christianity. All such invariably do. And when they do, they will insist that they are the true mainstream of Christian truth and that we are living in the backwaters of Christian doctrine. John puts this very plainly. The mark of genuineness is continuity in the truth, continuance in true faith. What does he mean by “us”? Surely not Christendom in general. He means, as he makes clear in the context of this whole letter, those who love the Word of God and who possess the Spirit of God, those who seek to obey the Word in the power of the Spirit. The emphasis he has been making all along is on those who share the life of Christ by the Word of God in the power of the Spirit of God. Heretics will invariably cut themselves off from these people.

If you suggest studying the Scriptures to those who are involved in heresy, you will immediately feel their scorn of the Scriptures. If they read the Bible at all, they cull out certain portions, omitting the parts they do not like, and then they say, “Yes, we’ll study the Scriptures right along with you.” But if you read what they are studying, you find it to be emasculated of essential truth. We need not fear heresy if we find someone who wishes to study the Scriptures as they are. There are many people today who are utterly ignorant of the Scriptures and perhaps have very peculiar viewpoints about them, but they are quite willing to learn. Do not worry about the fact that they are way off about a lot of things now. Get them into the Scriptures. The Word of God has a marvelous ability to correct error and to channel interests into vital matters. They will soon be brought into line with the great, marvelous, glorious, all-pervasive truth of God, these tremendous themes that grip the hearts of men and women wherever they are set forth in power.

Through the centuries there have been cyclical outbreaks of heresy arising within Christian circles to twist, distort, and pervert the truth. We see the confluence of these in our own day. We will be disturbed and confused unless we view them in the light of the revelation of the truth of God. What a wonder this Word is, which has been given to us that we might understand what is happening to us, understand the world in which we live, and thus be made to know what is going on. We can thus realize that history is utterly in the control of God and is moving exactly the way He planned. Our own individual lives can be brought into line with this to produce not that which is transient and ephemeral, but to be engaged in that which abides, that which will end up at last fulfilling the purpose of God in history, moving to the last consummation that He has in view.

Father, my heart is moved anew as I see what is happening in my own day in the blazing light of these amazing Scriptures. God, grant that I might remain true to Your Word.

This daily devotion was inspired by one of Ray’s sermons. Please read “The Nature of Heresy” (or listen to the audio file  Listen to Ray) for more on this portion of scripture.

 

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Repentance! by Ray C. Stedman

Posted by Scott on April 16, 2008

by Ray C. Stedman

READ: Genesis 3:10-13

“Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and ate it. “Then the LORD God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:11b-13).

There is something very interesting here. God asks essentially the same question to both the man and the woman. He is saying to each, “Tell me, what is it that you did? Specifically, definitely, clearly what is it that you did?” But there is an exquisite touch of delicacy and grace here that we ought not to miss. He does not put the question in the same form to Adam and Eve. To the man, He is forthright and blunt: “Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” But to the woman He puts the question much more softly and gently.

It is comforting to me to realize how fully God understands women, so that He puts the question to her very gently. He says, “Tell me in your own way, now, what is this that you have done?” It is significant that in their answers, both Adam and Eve come out at the same place. Each blames someone else (we call this human nature, as it is such a widespread, universal response), but when they come to their final statement, they both use exactly the same words: “and I ate.”

That is where God wants to bring them. That is what the Bible calls repentance. It is a candid statement of the facts with no attempt now to evade them, color them, or clothe them in any other form. It is a simple, factual statement to which they are both reduced: “and I ate.”

Notice how these questions have followed a designed course. God has made them first admit, “We’re not where we ought to be—we know that. We ought not to be hidden in the garden. We ought not to be lost. We ought not to require a question like this: “Where are you?” God has made them see that something has happened within them. They have seen that they are where they are because of what they are, and all of this has happened because they disobeyed, because they ate the forbidden food, they sinned. God has led them graciously, and yet unerringly, to the place where each of them, in their own way, has said, “Yes, Lord, I sinned; I ate.”

That is as far as people can ever go in correcting evil. They can do no more than that. But that immediately provides the ground for God to act. This is where He constantly seeks to bring us, because it provides Him with the only ground upon which He can act. You can see this throughout the whole Bible, in the Old and New Testament alike. When God is dealing with people, He seeks to bring them to the place where they acknowledge what is wrong.

This is what God wants to do with us. He finds us in our failure, our estrangement, our guilt, our sense of nakedness and loss, and immediately He moves to bring us to repentance. We misunderstand His moving. We think He is dragging us before some tribunal in order to chastise us or punish us, but He is not. He is simply trying to get us to face the facts as they are. That is what He does here with Adam and Eve.

Thank you, Lord, for the way in which You bring me to this place of repentance. Help me not to hide, but to bring my sin to light that I might experience your grace and mercy.

This daily devotion was inspired by one of Ray’s sermons. Please read “God At Work” (or listen to the audio file  Listen to Ray) for more on this portion of scripture.

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Be Godlike!

Posted by Scott on March 21, 2008

Ray C. Stedman

READ: Ephesians 5:1-2

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children… (Ephesians 5:1).

Paul puts it flatly, bluntly, openly: “Be imitators of God.” That is a great declaration. The word for imitators is the Greek word that means “to mimic.” Mimics are those who follow the pattern or the example of God. If you want to put it simply, you can say it this way: “Be godlike.” That is the goal of Christianity. It is to produce men and women, boys and girls, who are godlike in the midst of an ungodlike world. That is what it is all about.

Notice that it does not say, “Be gods.” That is the lie of the devil. He distorts the truth and makes it come out as a promise to us that if we follow our own desires, throw overboard all restrictions, cast aside the bonds of authority, and do what we want to do, we can be gods. For, after all, isn’t that what God does? He does what He wants; He is sovereign; He does what He likes. But that is a lie. This is not what the Christian faith says. It says rather, “be godlike,” meaning, “reflect the one true and holy God.” There is only one God. There can be only one God. By definition, God is a supreme being. How many supreme beings can you have? Only one.

Therefore, the Christian message is to be like the one true God. Reflect Him in your humanity. Be a godlike man. Be a godlike woman. From this we get our English word godly. After all, this word godly, which makes many of us cringe and feel uncomfortable, is simply a shortened from of the word godlike. It originally came from the word godlikeness. Godlikeness is godliness; godliness is godlikeness.

What will you be like if you are godlike? Will you be strong? Yes, of course. There is no strength like God’s strength. Will you be filled with power if you are godlike? Oh yes, but be careful. It is a different kind of power than the world desires. It is quieter, less apparent, but far mightier. Will you be happy if you are godlike? Oh yes, but a different kind of happiness than the world is seeking after. Will you be wise and kind? Of course, wiser and kinder than you have ever been before, because that is what God is.

We can sum all this up in two words. Despite all the works of God that are evident around us, both in the natural world and in the world of thought and ideas, there are really only two things that God ever does in human history: God creates and He redeems. Those are the two things. Everything in the whole universe gathers about these two. God creates and God redeems. God makes things live, and God heals that which is broken. It is because God is life and God is love. He is therefore our Maker and our Healer. And that is what you will be if you become godly. You will learn how to live to the fullest capacity of your humanity. And you will learn how to love and to heal, to restore and bring together instead of to scatter and fragment and break apart. For that is godlikeness. It is desirable, isn’t it? Who does not want to be like this?

Father, this is what I have always wanted to be like. Teach me to listen that there might break out in our lonely, bewildered, confused age the wonder of godlikeness.

This daily devotion was inspired by one of Ray’s sermons. Please read “The Call Of The Hour” (or listen to the audio file  Listen to Ray) for more on this portion of scripture.

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Out of the Darkness!

Posted by Scott on March 7, 2008

by Ray C. Stedman

READ: Ephesians 2:11-13

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ (Ephesians 2:13)

A South American Indian told the missionary who led him to Christ. “When I was living in the jungle, we never knew a day without fear. When we woke up in the morning, we were afraid. When we went out of our houses, we were afraid. When we walked along the river, we were afraid. We saw an evil spirit in every stone and tree and waterfall. And when night fell, fear came into our huts and slept with us all night long.” That is what paganism is. And this is what the world is returning to. All around us, as Christian truth begins to fade, this pagan darkness settles upon the land. How thankful it ought to make our hearts that God has called us out of such darkness!

Without the instruction of those who came to know God and then brought the message to us, we would have been nothing but pagans. Without any light in our darkness other than the natural light that came from our inner being, indicating that there is a God somewhere, we would be living like that still. But now, having once been far off, we have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

It isn’t merely the death of Christ. Paul says that it is the blood of Christ. It is significant that he uses that term. Death, of course, is not always bloody. You can die without losing your blood. The Scriptures sometimes speak of the death of Christ and more often of the cross of Christ. But still more often they speak of the blood of Christ. Many don’t like this today. They don’t like to think of the cross or of the death of Jesus as being bloody. But God emphasizes it because blood is always a sign of violence. You see, the death of Jesus was not just a simple passing away—dying of old age on a comfortable bed. No, it was a violent death, a bloody, gory, ugly, revolting scene—a man hanging torn and wretched upon a cross with blood streaming down His sides.

God wants us to remember that violent death, because violence is the ultimate result of paganism. It is the final expression of a godless society. Cruelty arises immediately when love and truth disappear from society. And God is reminding us that when humanity had done its worst, had sunk to its lowest, had vented its anger in the utter wretchedness and violence and blood of the cross, His love reached down to that very place and, utilizing that violent act, began to redeem, to call back those who were far off and bring them near—in the blood of Christ.

And in the blood of Jesus, all the advantages the Jews had were conferred upon the Gentiles. Ignorant, pagan, darkened, foolish, struggling, hopeless—nevertheless, they had just as much access to God in the blood of Christ as any Jew ever had with his temple, his law, his priesthood, and his sacrifice. By this the apostle is trying to emphasize to us the exceedingly amazing wonder of the grace of God, which laid all these liabilities aside and reached out to us and found us just as we were and brought us near by the blood of Jesus Christ our Lord. What a gift to give thanks for!

Father, I thank You that I have been delivered from the darkness and brought near to You by the precious blood of Your Son.

This daily devotion was inspired by one of Ray’s sermons. Please read “Strangers In Darkness” (or listen to the audio file  Listen to Ray) for more on this portion of scripture.

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On Display!

Posted by Scott on March 6, 2008

Ray C. Stedman

READ: Ephesians 2:7-10

For we are Gods workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).

Notice how carefully he puts “works” in the right place. You don’t obtain anything from God by working for it. You never deserve anything but judgment at His hand. If He gave us what we deserve, we would all end up in hell. No, we receive His grace, His mercy, His love. But these result in good works. That is the point. They are designed to produce good works. It is a marvelous manifestation of God’s ability.

The word workmanship is really the word poem. “We are his poem.” Perhaps it would be better rendered, “We are his masterpiece.” God is working out in our lives a tremendous exhibition of His wisdom, His power, His love, His life, His character, His peace, and His joy. He is teaching us, training us, bringing us along, applying the paint in exactly the right places, producing a marvelous masterpiece to be put on display. This is to result in good works: kindness, love, mercy, compassion, help to one another, meeting one another’s needs.

Paul says that God has prepared these works beforehand. I experienced an interesting illustration of this. One of our interns flew to Albuquerque with me. We decided, as the plane was landing, that we would have some prayer together. I hadn’t talked to him about this passage at all, but I was struck by the way he prayed. He said, “Father, thank You for the good works already prepared for us in Albuquerque, for the fact that they are waiting for us to step into them and experience them.” Sure enough, after we got to Albuquerque these began to unfold.

There was a missionary there from the Amazon region of South America who was discouraged and terribly upset, ready to quit the ministry. Through the ministry we had there he came alive and began to see again what God could do. He came to us with a light on his face and said, “I’m going back to my field completely revolutionized in my approach. Now I’ve learned how God operates.”

A young pastor was facing dissension in his church. He wanted some counsel on how to handle it. God enabled the Scriptures to speak to that situation and give him wisdom and guidance for it. All these good works had been prepared beforehand. All we did was step into them.

Do you have any idea how many good works God has prepared for you? They are waiting for you to enter into as you walk in faith and trust and dependence upon Christ. The situations are there, ready and waiting for you to step into. This is what God has called you to. As you do so, you become a vivid display of the greatness and the glory of God.

Thank You, Father, that You have prepared beforehand good works for me to walk in. Grant that I might see these opportunities and take full advantage of them in the power of your Spirit.

This daily devotion was inspired by one of Ray’s sermons. Please read “The Human Dilemma” (or listen to the audio file  Listen to Ray) for more on this portion of scripture.

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The Need for the Truth!

Posted by Scott on February 28, 2008

by Ray C. Stedman

READ: Ecclesiastes 12:9-12

The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one Shepherd (Ecclesiastes 12:11).

Solomon describes the value of Scripture: it is like a “goad.” It makes you go where you would not ordinarily go; it delivers you by prodding you along.

I remember a man who was in the grip of a terrible depression for more than a year. But he was delivered by daily meditating on a simple statement he found in Scripture, the words of Jesus, “Not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Meditating on that day after day goaded him and urged him to think about his life in those terms. He was brought out of his depression within a relatively short time and never returned to it again.

Scripture is also a “firmly embedded nail.” You can hang onto it in times of danger and temptation. Once in my own life when I was severely troubled of heart, one phrase from Jesus came into my mind again and again. It was where Jesus said to His disciples, “Let not your hearts be troubled” (John 14:1a RSV). I was especially gripped by those two words, “Let not.” They said to me that a troubled heart in the believer is subject to the will of that believer. He can let his heart be troubled, or he can let it not be troubled. The ground for letting it not be troubled is in the words that immediately follow: Jesus said, “Believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14:lb RSV). When the realization struck me that my living Lord was there, with wisdom and power to handle the situation, I felt the lifting of my heart’s load. That is the power of Scripture.

Why does it have this unique power? The reason, according to verse 11, is because “their collected sayings… [are] given by one Shepherd.” These are inspired, God-breathed words. The heart of God is the heart of a shepherd; He sees us as wandering sheep in need of a shepherd’s care. The fact that the Lord is our shepherd is probably the reason the shepherds of Bethlehem were chosen to be the first men to hear the wonderful words of the angels: “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). But in the hope that was awakened on that Christmas morning, there was the realization that the One who was born in the manger was the One of whom it was said, “the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6b).

“Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to [the words of the wise],” the Searcher says (Ecclesiastes 12:11). This is the word of wisdom to searchers for knowledge: “Of making many books there is no end” (Ecclesiastes 12:12). It is right to read and search and know and learn. But beware of letting this take you beyond the simple fact that this book so clearly declares, that God is the answer to the reason for existence. Until we discover Him, study and books will never be of any continuing value to us.

Thank You for Your Word, dear Lord. May I allow it to function in my life as a goad that prods me towards You, as a firmly fixed nail I can hang onto, given by You, the Great Shepherd.

This daily devotion was inspired by one of Ray’s sermons. Please read “Before It’s Too Late” (or listen to the audio file  Listen to Ray) for more on this portion of scripture.

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The Dangers of Digging Pits!

Posted by Scott on February 23, 2008

by Ray C. Stedman

READ: Ecclesiastes 10:1-15

Whoever digs a pit may fall into it; whoever breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake. Whoever quarries stones may be injured by them; whoever splits logs may be endangered by them (Ecclesiastes 10:8-9).

In the next section, the Searcher returns to wisdom to describe the kinds of insights that wisdom will embrace. First, there is a section on avoiding dangers, understanding that certain situations have inherent dangers.

Few of us are ever going to be involved extensively in digging pits, breaking down walls, quarrying stones, or splitting logs. But Solomon is not talking only about actual physical situations; these are also descriptive, symbolic of the things we do to each other. Did you ever dig a pit for somebody, laying a trap to embarrass, injure, or make that person look bad in some way, only to find that you yourself were trapped by the situation you had designed? Wisdom understands that when you dig a pit, you too are in danger; you may fall into it yourself.

Wisdom understands that when you try to break down some wall of obstruction that keeps you from getting at someone or something, you are in danger, for hidden in that wall is a serpent that will bite you. Many have discovered that in heavy-handedly trying to break down somebody’s resistance, they have triggered a serpent within themselves that flashes up in anger and leads to hurtful, dangerous things. They themselves have been bitten.

“Whoever quarries stones,” who attempts to remove something of value, to dig out something that will be of great personal use and profit, has to remember that he or she can be hurt by that. Those who “quarry” may get what they want, but it will be the worst thing that could happen to them. Psalm 106 says of the Israelites in the wilderness, “He gave them what they asked for, but sent a wasting disease upon them” (Psalm 106:15). “Whoever splits logs may be endangered by them.” Here is the same principle. The idea is that care must be exercised in all these attempts to do things that may endanger you as well.

Then there are two verses on how wisdom enlists help in time: “If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed but skill will bring success” (Ecclesiastes 10:10). If you do not think through what you are going to do and sharpen the edge of your approaches, considering carefully how you are going to go about something, you will only expend a lot of effort and find yourself worn out in the process. But wise people, understanding the need for sharpness and clarity, will whet the edge of their thought before they attempt something, and thus succeed.

How many times, Father, have I tried to do something in my own strength and been injured in the process? In all my endeavors, may I rely on Your wisdom.

This daily devotion was inspired by one of Ray’s sermons. Please read “The Only Way To Go” (or listen to the audio file  Listen to Ray) for more on this portion of scripture.

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Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life!

Posted by Scott on February 21, 2008

by Ray Stedman!

READ: Ecclesiastes 8:16-9:6

No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all his efforts to search it out man cannot discover its meaning. Even if a wise man claims he knows, he cannot really comprehend it (Ecclesiastes 8:17b).

The Searcher’s claim is quite clear: life is too complicated, too vast, too filled with conflicting elements for any one of us to figure out all the answers. Though we stay up all night and day, trying to think through and understand the complicated events that bring to pass the circumstances of our lives, we will never fully understand.

The Bible attaches no stigma to trying to understand life. Rather, the pursuit of knowledge is everywhere encouraged in Scripture. We must never adopt the attitude of anti-intellectualism that characterizes some segments of Christianity today. We are to reason and think about what God is doing and what life gives us. But we must always remember that no matter how much we try to think about life, mysteries will still remain. We do not have enough data, nor do we have enough ability to see life in its totality to answer all the questions. We must be content with some degree of mystery.

Though the wisest man of the ancient world wrote these words, he admits that humans cannot know all the answers. He even says that diligence in labor will not unravel life’s mysteries: “Despite all his efforts to search it out, man cannot discover its meaning.” We will still be left knitting our brows, scratching our heads, asking the eternal “Why?”

Even when people claim to know the answers behind what happens to us, they are really only deceiving themselves. Many people are unwilling to accept the truth of Scripture until they can understand everything in it. But if you are waiting for that, you will never make it. Although this book was written almost 2,500 years ago, it is still true, even in our age of advanced knowledge, that no one can find all the answers.

When you think about your own life, about how many of the things that have happened to you have been determined by events over which you had no control—events that had to fall together in a certain pattern before they could ever come to pass—you can see how true these words are. No one can find out all the answers. Luis Palau has often remarked about the many events that had to come together for him and me ever to have met in a city in northern Argentina. We met in a rather simple way, yet that event changed both of our lives. That meeting eventually launched him into a worldwide evangelistic ministry, and thousands upon thousands have come to Christ as a result of it. How could that happen? As far as Luis was concerned, it all hung upon a simple decision to go or not to go to a meeting one evening. How can we understand that strange merging of simplicity and complexity? The Searcher argues that life is too complicated for us ever to answer all the questions.

Lord, teach me to cry out with the apostle Paul, “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing (Romans 11:33)!

This daily devotion was inspired by one of Ray’s sermons. Please read “Ah, Sweet Mystery Of Life” (or listen to the audio file  Listen to Ray) for more on this portion of scripture.

-Scott Bailey 2008

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