Nevertheless I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant. (Ezekiel 16:60)
Notwithstanding our sins, the Lord is still faithful in His love to us. He looks back. See how He remembers those early days of ours when He took us into covenant with Himself, and we gave ourselves over to Him. Happy days those! The Lord does not twit us with them and charge us with being insincere. No, He looks rather to His covenant with us than to our covenant with Him. There was no hypocrisy in that sacred compact, on His part, at any rate. How gracious is the Lord thus to look back in love!
He looks forward also. He is resolved that the covenant shall not fail. If we do not stand to it, He does. He solemnly declares, “I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant.” He has no mind to draw back from His promises. Blessed be His name, He sees the sacred seal, “the blood of the everlasting covenant,” and He remembers our Surety, in whom He ratified that covenant, even His own dear Son; and therefore He rests in His covenant engagements. “He abideth faithful; he cannot deny himself.”
O Lord, lay this precious word upon my heart and help me to feed upon it all this day! – C.H. Spurgeon from Faith’s Checkbook
O FOUNTAIN OF ALL GOOD,
Destroy in me every lofty thought,
Break pride to pieces and scatter it to the winds,
Annihilate each clinging shred of self-righteousness,
Implant in me true lowliness of spirit,
Abase me to self-loathing and self-abhorrence,
Open in me a fount of penitential tears,
Break me, then bind me up;
Thus will my heart be a prepared dwelling for my God;
Then can the Father take up his abode in me,
Then can the blessed Jesus come with healing in his touch,
Then can the Holy Spirit descend in sanctifying grace;
O Holy Trinity, three Persons and one God,
inhabit me, a temple consecrated to thy glory.
When thou art present, evil cannot abide;
In thy fellowship is fullness of joy,
Beneath thy smile is peace of conscience,
By thy side no fears disturb,
no apprehensions banish rest of mind,
With thee my heart shall bloom with fragrance;
Make me meet, through repentance, for thine indwelling.
Nothing exceeds thy power,
Nothing is too great for thee to do,
Nothing too good for thee to give,
Infinite is thy might, boundless thy love,
limitless thy grace, glorious thy saving name.
Let angels sing for sinners repenting, prodigals restored,
backsliders reclaimed, Satan’s captives released,
blind eyes opened, broken hearts bound up,
the despondent cheered, the self-righteous stripped,
the formalist driven from a refuge of lies,
the ignorant enlightened,
and saints built up in their holy faith.
I ask great things of a great God.
From The Valley of Vision – A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions
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“There is no gospel worth thinking of, much less worth proclaiming, if Jesus be forgotten. We must have Jesus as Alpha and Omega in all our ministries.”
by Mike Ratliff
7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7 ESV)
I remember a preacher who filled in for ours once for some reason. I was about 15 or so at the time. He was an older gentleman with a big booming voice and a head full of white hair. He was so different from our preacher that I actually listened to what he said. I believe that the person from the Bible he was talking about was Isaac. I remember him commenting on the fact that he was timid or shy or fearful. In my mind I thought of that person as shy or bashful by the way he described him. Then he said something I will never forget. He said, “Folks, timidity is not of God.” He then preached a sermon on how God calls His people to be bold and to fear not. Those who are fearful are those of little faith who make decisions that reflect their fear instead of reflecting a trust of God through their faith. He said that those who walk in fear and timidity are actually not in obedience to God and are therefore operating from pride. Their fear was the product of their pride as it did all it could do to protect self. However, those who walk in boldness are the truly humble believers because they lay aside self-protection while obeying God for His glory. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. (Titus 1:15 ESV)
I am constantly amazed at the diversity I witness in the believers who interact with this ministry. This, of course, displays Christ’s power to bring together in unity dissimilar people from every place on this planet and from all walks of life. Part of our sanctification is dealing with our unredeemed flesh. God uses it to humble as well as teach us to fight the good fight. We will never be totally sinless as long as we have our flesh within us. Our enemy also works within our flesh to create division in an effort to split what God has unified. Much of the attack from him and his minions will be to foment conflict between mature believers and those who are not so mature. Also, he is always working in a effort to create self-confidence and self-righteousness in believers. He knows that when believers fall into that trap they are working from a base of pride rather than humility. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3 ESV)
While the most common accusation against my friends at CRN is that their expositions cause disunity amongst the brethren, the call from the Word of God is not unity at all costs, but unity within the Body of Christ in the Spirit in the bond of peace. The key to having unity among Christians is not that all claim to be Christians, but that the Holy Spirit bestows oneness within all true believers through which He creates a bond of peace that is godly love for one another. Continue reading
Possessing the Treasure is structured in such a way that it is highly visible to search engines such as Google. If you do not want your identity connected to a comment on this blog to be visible to the search engines on the Internet then I suggest that you either refrain from commenting or use a handle or alias instead of your real name. – Mike Ratliff
by Mike Ratliff
12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. 14 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:12-18 ESV)
When I wrote Walking the Walk by Faith in late 2004 and early 2005 I had a panel of advisors help me with the manuscript. We met at least once a week to go over what I had written and edited based upon our discussion. I was very new at writing, especially at that level. I struggled with how to express what my heart wanted to say. However, I had some people on that panel that helped me a great deal with the words I was straining to express. We were discussing a chapter I had written about Christlikeness and the methods God used to accomplish this in His people. I was not sure how to phrase one of the main sentences when one of my friends on that panel suggested that what we were really discussing was God reshaping our character. That was like a window or door being opened for me. I could now see what God had been doing in my own heart and in the hearts of those helping me write that book. God has His people involved in a process of character change.
“It is not possible that the man who denies the deity of Christ can be a Christian. He deliberately refuses the only way of escape from the wrath to come.”
“Depend on it, my hearer, you never will go to heaven unless you are prepared to worship Jesus Christ as God.”
by Mike Ratliff
4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. (Galatians 5:4-6 ESV)
“Holiness is the demonstration of faith working by love. It is wholly supernatural in the sense of being God’s gracious achievement within us and wholly natural in the sense of being our own true humanness, lost through sin, misconceived through ignorance and through listening too hard to current culture-but now in process of restoration through the redirecting and reintegrating energy of new creation in Christ through the Holy Spirit. Oswald Chambers called holiness “our brilliant heritage.” The phrase was well chosen. Brilliant-bright, shining, precious, glorious-is the word that fits.” From Rediscovering Holiness, p32 by J.I. Packer
I know that many may be suddenly struck by a sense of guilt or inadequacy when they read or hear that it is God’s will that His people be Holy, however, that does not change the fact that genuine Christians will be both saved eternally and are changed temporally by the working of the Holy Spirit in them. God regenerated them at salvation so they are new creations. Are they automatically in sinless perfection then? No! That is why we should not become discouraged from this walk simply because we struggle with sin. All Christians sin. That is why God gave us 1 John 1:5-10. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:41-44 ESV)
One of the aspects of our Christian faith that we lose sight of sometimes, and it gets us in trouble when we do, is how vital it is that we remain totally amazed that we ever got saved at all. We make a huge error when we forget this because that path leads to self-righteousness, self-absorption, and an ungrateful heart towards God. Even though we may not be fully aware that we are in that place of self-focus, we cannot be Spirit-led when we are full of self. Continue reading
“Paul Washer shares powerfully the principle of ‘God’s Man’ being a man that is set apart and cares only for the glory of God’s name. So many people are involved in ministry and yet not in it for “God alone.” May God continue to call out those that are living and serving God for God’s glory and that alone.” (Click here to listen to this awesome message.)
by Mike Ratliff
18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” (1 Corinthians 1:18-19 ESV)
Genuine humility is found only in genuine believers. What the world sees as humility is often just self-deprecation, which is pride in reverse masquerading as humility. Then genuinely humble believer is the one who sees their true position before God. God’s ways are not our ways. The way people conceive of things naturally is not the way God does. For instance, when the Jews conceived of their Messiah coming they envisioned a conquering hero on a white horse defeating the Romans and setting up His capital in Jerusalem. However, what they got was a baby born in stable who had only a feeding trough for a bed. He did not come into the world at the head of an army to live in palaces. Instead our Saviour came as a man who lived a perfect sinless life, preached the truth, healed the sick, raised the dead then laid His life down as a perfect sacrifice, the Lamb of God, to take away the sins of His people. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
1 To you I lift up my eyes,
O you who are enthroned in the heavens!
2 Behold, as the eyes of servants
look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a maidservant
to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the Lord our God,
till he has mercy upon us.
3 Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
for we have had more than enough of contempt.
4 Our soul has had more than enough
of the scorn of those who are at ease,
of the contempt of the proud. (Psalm 123 ESV)
The vast majority of people on planet Earth want nothing to do with the real Jesus. Many love and hold dear another Jesus, but he is one made up by people who don’t know the one who is real. Tragically, the numbers of professing Christians are growing continually who are also following another Jesus who does not resemble in least the one found in scripture. Those who hold dear the real Jesus are those who are entirely reliant upon the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Undoubtedly there are baby Christians who are not spiritually mature and whose faith is not strong. However, there are also huge numbers of “religious” Christians who live as if their “decision for Christ” many years ago is their fire insurance. Some of these are quite religious while others are simply calling themselves Christian as if it is some sort of family trait. Those who are completely reliant upon God, whose focus is His glory in all things are those who know the real Jesus and are known by Him. These are the believers whose eyes look to the Lord our God. They look unto God because this brings them knowledge of His countenance. Christians know God by interacting with Him in prayer, Bible Study, obedience and repentance. They are able to do these things with Him as they look unto Him, fully trusting Him to work out the details for His glory. Continue reading
“If you cannot say, ‘Jesus is precious to me,’ I do not care to what church you belong or what creed you are ready to die for. You do not know the truth of God unless the person of Christ is dear to you.”
by Mike Ratliff
1 The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. 2 And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. 3 And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.”(Ezekiel 37:1-3 ESV)
As Christians walk through their days that turn into weeks that turn into months that turn into years that turn into decades that turn into the length and breadth of their lives, they are continually put into circumstances where they must either believe and obey God or disbelieve and disobey Him. Most believers I know have a horrible habit of limiting God by their lack of faith. Tragically, these decisions can result in walls of spiritual blindness to become erected in their hearts. With this spiritual blindness can come apathy or, worse, apostasy. Their decision to limit God with their lack of bold brokenness is based in idolatry. This idolatry consists of self-protection that, at least in the beginning, seems to alleviate the fear that comes from their timidity that keeps them from believing God and obeying Him. Timidity is a product of pride that masquerades as humility. The world sees a timid person and believes he or she is humble when, in fact, they are full of pride and will not take risks that could involve them to suffer from some perceived threat if they obey God.
by Mike Ratliff
9 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 ESV)
Back when I was a Dispensationalist I remember listening to Hal Lindsey or some of the teachers at the church I was going to at that time teach on these things, but I never quite sunk my teeth into it. I remember never being fully convinced about the Eschatology or that the Church would be secretly Raptured away and miss the Tribulation. I heard a comment by R.C. Sproul the other day say that he isn’t sure which Eschatological view is correct, but he did know of two that he was totally convinced were not correct and were in fact terrible error. The two he spoke of that he was sure that were wrong was Full Preterism and any view that incorporated Dispensationalism. He was fine with Partial Preterism, Postmillenialism, and Amillenialism. Why? Each is Biblically based rather than based in what people want to hear. Continue reading