The Great Physician

I have written many posts in this blog, some books, and many comments about the subject of the subtlety of “works righteousness” and how it keeps Christians in bondage while fooling multitudes of Christian wannabees into thinking they are genuinely saved because of the good works they do. The Bible is very clear that genuine Christians will do good works, which are simply a product of their regenerate hearts. On the other hand those in bondage to “works righteousness” do so in an attempt to “earn” their salvation or to feel better about themselves. The following devotional by Martin Luther, I believe, succinctly explains this. Enjoy and be blessed. – Mike Ratliff

by Martin Luther

But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation. (Colossians 1:22)

A Christian is righteous and a sinner at the same time–both a friend and an enemy of God. The philosophers will not admit this paradox because they don’t accept the right way of becoming justified. That’s why they demand that people keep on doing good works until they don’t feel sin anymore. This teaching has caused many people to become very distraught, because they have strived as much as they could to become completely righteous but could never achieve it. Even among those who spread this godless teaching, countless numbers of them have fallen into despair in their hour of death. This would have happened to me if Christ hadn’t mercifully looked upon me and freed me from this error.

In contrast, we teach and comfort troubled sinners this way: Dear brothers and sisters, it’s impossible for you to become so righteous in this life that you won’t feel sin anymore.It’s impossible for your body to become as bright and spotless as the sun. Though you still have wrinkles and spots, in spite of this, you are holy. But you may wonder, “how can I be holy since I sin and feel sinful?” Recognizing and feeling your sin is good. Thank God, and don’t despair. It’s a step toward health whenever a sick person recognizes his disease. “But how can I be freed from sin?” you wonder. Run to Christ, the Physician who heals the broken-hearted (Psalm 147:3). He makes sinners holy.

From Faith Alone – A Daily Devotional James C. Galvin General Editor

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God and Myself


Thy understanding is unsearchable and infinite,

Thy arm cannot be stayed,

Thy agency extends through limitless space,

All works hang on thy care,

With thee time is a present now.

Holy is  thy wisdom, power, mercy, ways, works,

How can I stand before thee

with my numberless and aggravated offences?

I have often loved darkness,

observed lying vanities,

forsaken thy given mercies,

trampled underfoot thy beloved Son,

mocked thy providences,

flattered thee with my lips,

broken thy covenant.

It is of thy compassion that I am not consumed.

Lead me to repentance, and save me from despair;

Let me come to thee renouncing, condemning, loathing myself,

but hoping in the grace that flows even to the chief of sinners.

At the cross may I contemplate the evil of sin, abhor it,

look on him whom I pierced,

as one slain from me, and by me.

May I never despise his death by fearing its efficacy for my salvation.

And whatever cross I am required to bear,

let me see him carrying a heavier.

Teach me in health to think of sickness,

in the brightest hours to be ready for darkness;

in life prepare me for death.

Thus may my soul rest in thee, O immortal and transcendent one,

revealed as thou art in the Person and work of thy Son,

the friend of sinners.

From The Valley of Vision – A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions by Arthur Bennett

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Who has made Man’s mouth?

by Mike Ratliff

10 But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” 11 Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” 13 But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.” 14 Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses and he said, “Is there not Aaron, your brother, the Levite? I know that he can speak well. Behold, he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. 15 You shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth, and I will be with your mouth and with his mouth and will teach you both what to do. 16 He shall speak for you to the people, and he shall be your mouth, and you shall be as God to him. 17 And take in your hand this staff, with which you shall do the signs.” (Exodus 4:10-17 ESV)

I did not take “Speech” when I was in High School. Nearly everyone I knew at that time in my school took speech. However, I WOULD NOT. Why? It was for the same reason I would not get up in front of any group of people in church or Sunday School. I was terrified of it. When I went to college I made sure that whatever I majored in did not require any getting up in front of any class to speak. Why was I terrified of it? It wasn’t that I couldn’t do it. It was because I was terrified of being made fun of or laughed at. Based on what? I don’t really know. I think it sprung from when I was very little and I could not stand for anyone to laugh at me which happened quite a bit when my aunts and uncles would get together with our family. I was not very big for my age. I had pure white hair and a dark complexion. My aunts thought I was cute and my uncles thought I was shy because I shrunk from their comments about my appearance or anything about me personally. Continue reading

Respond With Gentleness

by Martin Luther

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. (1 Peter 3:15)

When you’re challenged or asked about your faith, you shouldn’t respond arrogantly. You shouldn’t be defiant or forceful, as if you were tearing trees out of the ground. Rather, you should respond with fear and humility, as if you were standing before God and answering him. If you were summoned before kings and princes and had prepared yourself well in advance with Scripture, you might think, "Just wait; I’ll answer correctly." But the devil will grab the sword out of your hands and give you a shove. You will be disgraced and find out you put your armor on in vain. He can even take your best verses from your hands so that you can’t use them, even though you have them memorized. God allows this to happen to subdue your arrogance and make you humble.

So if you don’t want this to happen, you must stand in fear and not rely on your own power. Rely instead on what Christ promised: "But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you" (Matthew 10:19-20). When you have to give an answer, you ought to arm yourself with Scripture. But don’t pound it home with a proud spirit. Otherwise, God will tear the verse from your mouth and from your memory, even if you were armed with all the verses beforehand. Therefore, caution is needed here. But if you are prepared, you can answer princes, leaders, and even the devil himself. Just make sure you aren’t speaking insignificant human words but the Word of God.

From Faith Alone – A Daily Devotional – James C. Galvin General Editor

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Whitewashed Tombs

by Mike Ratliff

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23:27-28 ESV)

Last week on Friday morning, as I was preparing to drive to work, I was attempting to put my coffee mug and computer bag into my pickup via the passenger door, which I had already opened. I had not yet scraped the frost from the windows. I did not have my gloves on because I needed some dexterity to use my keys while holding my coffee mug in my right hand and my computer bag in my left. Also, I was standing on about 2 1/2 inches of very slick, uneven ice. I had managed to insert the key into the lock and open the door, but as I leaned into the pickup to put my stuff inside, I felt my feet going out from under me. It happened very quickly. I don’t remember much about the fall, but I do remember the landing. My computer bag landed on my right leg. My coffee mug and keys exited in opposite directions from my right hand as it struck the edge of my pickup door then the ice covered concrete. My right hand took the brunt of the fall. I didn’t know it at the time, but I had two cuts on my right hand with a whole section of skin missing measuring about 1/2 inch by 1/4 inch. The pain I felt was mostly in my right elbow and right knee. I grabbed my keys and pulled myself up. I found my computer bag and carefully put in the floorboard of my pickup. My coffee mug, being a very solid and well made stainless steel beauty ended up under my Spirea bushes in one of my flower beds. I retrieved it, put it in the pickup, then gingerly walked around to the driver’s side of my pickup. I put my gloves on as I held onto anything I could grasp to keep from falling again as I got my door open. I started the engine, turned on the defroster and began to scrape frost from the windows. I did the best I could do then got into the cab. I put my seat belt on, shut the door then turned on the windshield wipers in order to run some washer fluid/anti-freeze stuff on it so it would finish the job. The wipers started, went as far as they could vertically, then I heard a popping sound. The wipers quit. They were stuck in the vertical position. I think I got the message. Continue reading

Joy in the Fellowship of God

by Mike Ratliff

1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. 3 Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. 4 So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. 5 My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; 7 for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. 8 My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. 9 But those who seek to destroy my life shall go down into the depths of the earth; 10 they shall be given over to the power of the sword; they shall be a portion for jackals. 11 But the king shall rejoice in God; all who swear by him shall exult, for the mouths of liars will be stopped. (Psalm 63:1-11 ESV)

In yesterday’s post, “The Calves of Jeroboam,” I revealed my besetting sin of despondency, melancholia, and depression as I grew up which continued until God saved me in my mid thirties. Even after He saved me, I fell into despair for short periods of time as I struggled in the fires of sanctification. My depression was an expression of dissatisfaction with my circumstances. The root of bitterness was growing in me and resentment was continually present as I dealt with the ups and downs of life. These are symptoms of a heart in bondage to pride. After I was saved I heard a sermon once where the preacher stated, “Depression is nothing more than an internal temper tantrum.” That really got my attention. Over the first several months after God saved me, I was battling my tendency to express resentment when things were not going to suit me. The difference between then and how I was when I was lost was amazing. Before, I almost relished my right to be depressed or cast down. However, after God touched my heart, I knew it was wrong. After I heard that sermon, the Holy Spirit cemented that knowledge to my consciousness so that when I started going down the path of least resistance into resentment, anger, despondency, depression or melancholia I would realize that I was being self-absorbed and committing a great sin of idolatry of the heart. Continue reading

Faith’s Checkbook by C.H. Spurgeon for Friday January 5, 2007

A Wonderful Guarantee

I will strengthen thee. (Isaiah 41:10)

When called to serve or to suffer, we take stock of our strength, and we find it to be less than we thought and less than we need. But let not our heart sink within us while we have such a word as this to fall back upon, for it guarantees us all that we can possibly need. God has strength omnipotent; that strength He can communicate to us; and His promise is that He will do so. He will be the food of our souls and the health of our hearts; and thus He will give us strength. There is no telling how much power God can put into a man. When divine strength comes, human weakness is no more a hindrance.

Do we not remember seasons of labor and trial in which we received such special strength that we wondered at ourselves? In the midst of danger we were calm, under bereavement we were resigned, in slander we were self-contained, and in sickness we were patient. The fact is that God gives unexpected strength when unusual trials come upon us, We rise out of our feeble selves. Cowards play the man, foolish ones have wisdom given them, and the silent receive in the selfsame hour what they shall speak. My own weakness makes me shrink, but God’s promise makes me brave. Lord, strengthen me “according to thy word.”

Brought before Kings

I believe that we are where we are and associated with those around us specifically to be used by God to affect His will and message to them. We are to give testimony of Christ and be ready to give the Gospel message to all. This message is so radical and exclusive that the world hates it. Any who claim to be adherents of it, but suppress its message are false. Bob DeWaay has written this piece that compares the authentic disciple of Christ with the example of Rick Warren. Prayfully read it and I pray that God will move in your heart to show you the truth. – Mike Ratliff

Charles Spurgeon Quote

“Whence came our carnality, covetousness, pride, sloth, and unbelief? Are they not all to be traced to the corruption of our hearts? When the hands of a clock move in an irregular manner, and when the bell strikes the wrong hour, be assured there is something wrong within. Oh, how needful that the mainspring of our motives be in proper order, and the wheels in a right condition.”

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Faith’s Checkbook by C.H. Spurgeon for Wednesday January 3, 2007

Rest on a Promise

The land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it. (Genesis 28:13)

No promise is of private interpretation: it belongs not to one saint but to all believers. If, my brother, thou canst in faith lie down upon a promise and take thy rest thereon, it is thine. Where Jacob "lighted" and tarried and rested, there he took possession. Stretching his weary length upon the ground, with the stones of that place for his pillows, he little fancied that he was thus entering into ownership of the land; yet so it was. He saw in his dream that wondrous ladder which for all true believers unites earth and heaven, and surely where the foot of the ladder stood he must have a right to the soil, for other wise he could not reach the divine stairway. All the promises of God are "Yea" and "Amen" in Christ Jesus, and as He is ours, every promise is ours if we will but lie down upon it in restful faith.

Come, weary one, use thy Lord’s words as thy pillows. Lie down in peace. Dream only of Him. Jesus is thy ladder of light. See the angels coming and going upon Him between thy soul and thy God, and be sure that the promise is thine own God-given portion and that it will not be robbery for thee to take it to thyself, as spoken specially to thee.

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Fullness in Christ

by Mike Ratliff

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. (John 1:14-16 ESV)

There is a certain hysteria currently amongst many of our 21st Century Puritans. While I gladly count myself as a Puritan, I also know that our enemy desires to shackle and nullify our witness and divert our focus, by feeding our heightened perceptions as to what is godly and what is false with misleading and derogatory information that cause us to turn on one another. Having experienced this against my own ministry over the last few months I can say that it is very frustrating and eye opening. Continue reading