“Christ will be everything, or else he will be nothing. You must be saved wholly by mercy, or else not at all. There must not be even a trace of the fingers of self-righteousness on the acts and documents of divine grace.”
This devotional by Charles Spurgeon from his Faith’s Checkbook hits me square between the eyes. It knocks my self-reliance and self-assurance legs right out from under me. Why? Because I wait poorly. I am convinced that most of the stress in my life right now is due to God destroying these strongholds in my heart. When He is done I pray that I will be one who knows how to wait – Mike Ratliff
Know How to Wait
He that believeth shall not make haste. (Isaiah 28:16)
He shall make haste to keep the Lord’s commandments; but he shall not make haste in any impatient or improper sense.
He shall not haste to run away, for he shall not be overcome with the fear which causes panic. When others are flying hither and thither as if their wits had failed them, the believer shall be quiet, calm, and deliberate, and so shall be able to act wisely in the hour of trial.
He shall not haste in his expectations, craving his good things at once and on the spot, but he will wait God’s time. Some are in a desperate hurry to have the bird in the hand, for they regard the Lord’s promise as a bird in the bush, not likely to be theirs. Believers know how to wait.
He shall not haste by plunging into wrong or questionable action. Unbelief must be doing something, and thus it works its own undoing; but faith makes no more haste than good speed, and thus it is not forced to go back sorrowfully by the way which it followed heedlessly.
How is it with me? Am I believing, and am I therefore keeping to the believer’s pace, which is walking with God? Peace, fluttering spirit! Oh, rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him! Heart, see that thou do this at once!
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“You might as soon yoke a gnat with an archangel as think of your going in to help Christ save you. To join a filthy rag from off a dunghill with the golden garments of a king or a queen cannot be permitted.”
Doing what God Can Bless
The Lord shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto. (Deuteronomy 28:8)
If we obey the Lord our God He will bless that which He gives us. Riches are no curse when blessed of the Lord. When men have more than they require for their immediate need and begin to lay up in storehouses, the dry rot of covetousness or the blight of hard-heartedness is apt to follow the accumulation; but with God’s blessing it is not so. Prudence arranges the saving, liberality directs the spending, gratitude maintains consecration, and praise sweetens enjoyment. It is a great mercy to have God’s blessing in one’s iron safe and on one’s banking account.
What a favor is made ours by the last clause! "The Lord shall bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand unto." We would not put our hand to anything upon which we dare not ask God’s blessing, neither would we go about it without prayer and faith. But what a privilege to be able to look for the Lord’s help in every enterprise! Some talk of a lucky man: the blessing of the Lord is better than luck. The patronage of the great is nothing to the favor of God. Self-reliance is all very well; but the Lord’s blessing is infinitely more than all the fruit of talent, genius, or tact.
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by Mike Ratliff
15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. 17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. (Galatians 2:15-21 ESV)
Even though the passage above is near and dear to my heart, I must confess to all of you right now that I have been struggling deeply over the last few weeks as the Lord has been cleansing me of my “addiction” to works righteousness. Now, I never thought I was, but God has put me into a “churchless” situation right now. When this started, I replaced all my work in church with work in this blog, my web site, my other blog, and writing several books. Over the last several months I have had to taper off much of this due to being very busy at work and with family. As this “busy-ness” has calmed down I have found that I am very much out-of-sync with my devotion to my Lord. Normally, I would just get busy and “work” my way back into “fellowship” with Him. However, I have not been able to do this due to many constraints. This has been very frustrating for me. However, God knows what He is doing. What this seems to be doing in my heart is to draw me to Him and Him alone, but not by doing good works, but by humbling myself to all people as I humble myself before Him. Yes, that’s right. What has been missing in my devotion to my Lord and Saviour is genuine humility in my interaction with other people. This is what God is forcing me into right now. Conflicts abound. I don’t care how close the relationship is to me right now there is tension. Peace is impossible unless I humble myself in that relationship. There is no give from anyone else. God has shown me clearly that it is me who must humble self and serve everyone else as if I was their bondservant.
What is very painful in this is that I know I must submit to people even if they are very undeserving. Their spiritual relationship with God is not the point. This has been made very clear. God has done this to me in the past, but I was not mature enough to “get it” until just recently — I suppose. Now, I feel like one who cannot even raise my head in the presence of anyone. If I do then conflict storms in. This may seem cruel to some for God to do this to me, but as I read the passage above this morning in my morning quiet time and again this evening it started making sense. I feel as if I must ask the entire world to forgive me for how I have been reacting to this for the last few weeks. Yes, I know I was doing this right up to a point, and even wrote about it many times, but I believe God is taking me to another level. I ask that each of you reading this to please pray for me that I will obey God in this as He does His incredible work in my heart.
In Christ – Mike Ratliff
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I have decided to turn on Comment Moderation for Possessing the Treasure. I ask for your forgiveness if this offends you, but it has become necessary to do this in order to preserve the integrity of the message God has given me for the American Church. I will try to “process” all comments in a timely manner.
Blessed Lord Jesus,
No human mind could conceive or invent the gospel.
Acting in eternal grace, thou art both its messenger and its message,
lived out on earth through infinite compassion,
applying thy life to insult, injury, death,
that I might be redeemed, ransomed, freed.
Blessed be thou, O Father, for contriving this way,
Eternal thanks to thee, O Lamb of God, for opening this way,
Praise everlasting to thee, O Holy Spirit,
for applying this way to my heart.
Glorious Trinity, impress the gospel on my soul,
until its virtue diffuses every faculty;
Let it be heard, acknowledged, professed, felt.
Teach me to secure this mighty blessing;
Help me to give up every darling lust,
to submit heart and life to its command,
to have it in my will,
controlling my affections,
moulding my understanding;
to adhere strictly to the rules of true religion,
not departing from them in any instance,
nor fro any advantage in order to escape evil,
inconvenience or danger.
Take me to the cross to seek glory from its infamy;
Strip me of every pleasing pretence of righteousness by my own doings.
O gracious redeemer,
I have neglected thee too long,
often crucified thee,
crucified thee afresh my my impenitence,
thee to open shame.
I thank thee for the patience that has borne with me so long,
and for the grace that now makes me willing to be thine.
O unite me to thyself with inseparable bonds,
that nothing my ever draw me back from thee, my Lord, my Saviour.
From The Valley of Vision – A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions – by Arthur Bennett
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“Suppose that God saved men on account of their merits. Where would you drunkards be? Where would you swearers be? You who have been unclean and unchaste, and you whose hearts have cursed God, and who even now do not love him, where would you be? But when it is all of grace, then all your past life, however black and filthy it may be, need not keep you from coming to Jesus.”
Weapons Doomed to Fail
No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. (Isaiah 54:17)
There is great clatter in the forges and smithies of the enemy. They are making weapons wherewith to smite the saints. They could not even do as much as this if the Lord of saints did not allow them; for He has created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire. But see how busily they labor! How many swords and spears they fashion! It matters nothing, for on the blade of every weapon you may read this inscription: It shall not Prosper.
But now listen to another noise: it is the strife of tongues. Tongues are more terrible instruments than can be made with hammers and anvils, and the evil which they inflict cuts deeper and spreads wider. What will become of us now? Slander, falsehood, insinuation, ridicule-these are poisoned arrows; how can we meet them? The Lord God promises us that, if we cannot silence them, we shall, at least, escape from being ruined by them. They condemn us for the moment, but we shall condemn them at last and forever. The mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped, and their falsehoods shall be turned to the honor of those good men who suffered by them.
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“Avoid a sugared gospel as you would shun sugar of lead. Seek that gospel which rips up and tears and cuts and wounds and hacks and even kills, for that is the gospel that makes alive again. And when you have found it, give good heed to it. Let it enter into your inmost being. As the rain soaks into the ground, so pray the Lord to let his gospel soak into your soul.”
O MY SAVIOUR,
I am so slow to learn, so prone to forget, so weak to climb;
I am in the foothills when I should be on the heights;
I am pained by my graceless heart,
my prayerless days,
my poverty of love,
my sloth in the heavenly race,
my sullied conscience,
my wasted hours,
my unspent opportunities.
I am blind while light shines around me:
take the scales from my eyes,
grind to dust the evil heart of unbelief.
Make it my chiefest joy to study thee,
meditate on thee,
gaze on thee,
sit like Mary at thy feet,
lean like John on thy breast,
appeal like Peter to thy love,
count like Paul all things dung.
Give me increase and progress in grace so that there may be
more decision in my character,
more vigour in my purposes,
more elevation in my life,
more fervour in my devotions,
more constancy in my zeal.
As I have a position in the world,
keep me from making the world my position;
May I never seek in the creature
what can be found only in the creator;
Let no faith cease from seeking thee until it vanishes into sight.
Ride forth in me, thou king of kings and lord of lords,
that I may live victoriously, and in victory attain my end.
From The Valley of Vision – A collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions by Arthur Bennett
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"Let this be to you the mark of true gospel preaching–where Christ is everything, and the creature is nothing; where it is salvation all of grace, through the work of the Holy Spirit applying to the soul the precious blood of Jesus."
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The following post is from a newsletter that I subscribe to by Brent Riggs called “Serious Faith.” This post on our wicked times is right on and, as you will see, it is completely scriptural. Continue reading
November 5, 2006
By John Piper
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. Such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
I recall talking to a wise leader of a large missions organization about doctrinal faithfulness. He said something to this effect, “It’s crucial. And so is unity. Some people emphasize one, and some the other. Our organization is made of two kinds of people: purity boys and unity boys.” The unity boys naturally emphasize the preciousness of personal relationships and tend to neglect an emphasis on truth. The purity boys naturally emphasize the preciousness of truth and tend to neglect the nurture of personal relationships. Continue reading