The Lord is the Strength of His People

by Mike Ratliff

8 The Lord is the strength of his people;
he is the saving refuge of his anointed.
9 Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!
Be their shepherd and carry them forever. (Psalm 28:8-9 ESV)

The Genuine Christian walk is actually part of a war. Each believer’s walk is a battle or skirmish in that war. As we see in Ephesians 6:10-20, this war is not specifically against other people. Even if heretics or apostates rant and rave against us or terrorists from some pagan religion threaten our lives, our war is against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. The people who attack us are in some way controlled by these evil forces.

The list of ways these evil forces can attack us is beyond our conception. However, we must not become discouraged and withdrawn from the battle. Yes, we do need to spend time alone with our Lord for refreshing and rest (Matthew 11:28-10). However, we must fight the good fight, not allowing evil to have its way where God has led us to minister. How do can we stand and not fall away from the evil onslaught? We must have the Joy of the Lord. (John 15) Without Jesus with us, we can do nothing.

Praise and worship is a huge part of getting spiritually in place to stand and not fall. That is why the Psalms are so important to God’s people. Let’s look at Psalm 30. Verse 5 in this Psalm has been called one of the most worshipful testimonies from the scriptures. The principle in this passage is found also in Isaiah 54:7,8, John 16:20-22, and 2 Corinthians 4:17.

1 I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up
and have not let my foes rejoice over me. (Psalm 30:1 ESV)

The emergent people and the Purpose Driven people are constantly accusing us of divisiveness. Why? We point out the areas of their words which are contrary to the clear teaching from the Word of God. We must do this. This is mandated in scripture that we do not allow false teachers and false prophets to be proclaimed as valid when they aren’t. As a result, the wrath of these people is something to behold. Their attacks are personal. They seem to have homing devices in their war heads aiming right at our vulnerable areas. Sometimes these fellows say something very clever and their buddies all rejoice and pat each other on the back as if they have won a great victory, but it is an illusion. They say it’s wrong for professing Christians to be opposed. Unity is what is most important. However, this verse, Psalm 30:1, tells us that Christians do have foes. What is tragic is that the ones we seem to have to battle the most are other professing Christians who have infiltrated the Church.

2 O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
and you have healed me.
3 O Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol;
you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit. (Psalm 30:2-3 ESV)

When the attacks seem about to overwhelm us, who do we call? Shouldn’t we start by crying out to God for help? The attacks can seem to take our life away. The spiritual oppression can even make us ill. I am not a fearful person. I inherited part of my personal makeup from my Great Grandfather, Robert Ratliff. He was born in 1850 in Texas. He was 5’4” tall and not afraid of anyone or anything. My Grandfather, James, told my dad a story about a trip he made with his father in the 1880’s from Georgetown, Texas to the Great Salt Plains in what is now Oklahoma to get salt to sell to the cattle ranchers in Texas. They had two wagons. One was driven by Johnnie the eldest and the other by Robert. James rode with his older brother. On the way there they camped by the Washita river one night. They were cooking bacon over the camp fire. My grandfather told my dad that they started hearing Coyotes howling. The howling got closer and closer. Robert just stayed calm and kept the boys busy. Then they saw the Coyotes surrounding the campsite. They must have been starving because they even came into the light. The smell of the bacon was driving them crazy. They were gnashing their teeth at them, growling and snapping their jaws.

James told my dad that he was terrified. Johnnie was asking their dad what they should do. Robert calmly looked at the Coyotes then looked up at the night sky. Then the looked each of the boys in the face and said, “Well, I guess we’ll just have to sleep in the wagons tonight boys.” This man participated in one of the land runs in Oklahoma. That is how I came to be an Oklahoman I suppose. In any case, I inherited that character trait from my Great Grandfather Ratliff in that I am not fearful. I never panic. When the spiritual attacks come I do get concerned. Usually, I am very surprised. I react sometimes in anger, but never fear. However, I have found that I can only stand and NOT SIN if I start with God when the attacks come.

Last week when I wrote those posts on obedience the attacks from those emergent folks resembled those Coyotes. They seemed to be all around me. They seemed to be coming from every direction. At first I could not think of any reason for them to be so upset. I was not afraid of them. However, I was very afraid of saying the wrong thing and sinning. As I did my best to handle that situation the way God wanted me to I was amazed that the best reaction to their attacks was to simply not get involved in unfruitful discussions with them. Instead, I simply wrote the truth, as I prayed for wisdom and discernment. When I reacted calmly and did not feed their voracious appetites God gave me peace. My conscience was clear. I went from utter confusion when that started to calm assurance.

4 Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints,
and give thanks to his holy name.
5 For his anger is but for a moment,
and his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning. (Psalm 30:4-5 ESV)

Sometimes, God does allow things to happen to us that are hard or even hurtful. When I preached a couple of Sunday’s ago there was a man in that church who was paralyzed from the neck down. His place was right in the front of the church. As I preached, he was right in my line of sight in front of the pulpit. He was a prayer warrior. What a wonderful testimony this man had. When I started preaching on sanctification and how those horrible things we hate in our lives seem to be about to destroy us, but the Lord takes us through them and it end up being the best thing that ever happened to us. This man was like that. A tree branch fell on his head and broke his neck. However, since that day, he has become devoted to prayer. He prayed the whole time I preached. It was amazing. This life is short. Someday we will be with our Saviour and then our joy will be full and complete.

6 As for me, I said in my prosperity,
“I shall never be moved.”
7 By your favor, O Lord,
you made my mountain stand strong;
you hid your face;
I was dismayed.
8 To you, O Lord, I cry,
and to the Lord I plead for mercy:
9 “What profit is there in my death,
if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it tell of your faithfulness?
10 Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me!
O Lord, be my helper!”
11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
you have loosed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness,
12 that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever! (Psalm 30:6-12 ESV)

We are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. God does allow things to happen to us that seem to about to destroy us at times. Despair seems to be awaiting us at each turn. If we looked at all the heresy and apostasy that is passing for Christianity these days without being empowered by the Grace of God, we would indeed be like David here pleading for mercy and deliverance. However, when we are Spirit-led, we have eyes that can see that God is Sovereign and He will never stop building His Church. We must simply obey Him in all things fully trusting that He will work this out for good.

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10 thoughts on “The Lord is the Strength of His People

  1. Mike,

    Wow! What a blessing!

    As God reminded me in this Chambers devotional this morning…we need to pray!

    HEEDFULNESS V. HYPOCRISY IN OURSELVES

    “If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and He shall give him Life for them that sin not unto death.” 1 John 5:16

    If we are not heedful of the way the Spirit of God works in us, we will become spiritual hypocrites. We see where other folks are failing, and we turn our discernment into the gibe of criticism instead of into intercession on their behalf. The revelation is made to us not through the acuteness of our minds, but by the direct penetration of the Spirit of God, and if we are not heedful of the source of the revelation, we will become criticizing centres and forget that God says – “. . . he shall ask, and He shall give him life for them that sin not unto death.” Take care lest you play the hypocrite by spending all your time trying to get others right before you worship God yourself.

    One of the subtlest burdens God ever puts on us as saints is this burden of discernment concerning other souls. He reveals things in order that we may take the burden of these souls before Him and form the mind of Christ about them, and as we intercede on His line, God says He will give us “life for them that sin not unto death.” It is not that we bring God into touch with our minds, but that we rouse ourselves until God is able to convey His mind to us about the one for whom we intercede.

    Is Jesus Christ seeing of the travail of His soul in us? He cannot unless we are so identified with Himself that we are roused up to get His view about the people for whom we pray. May we learn to intercede so whole-heartedly that Jesus Christ will be abundantly satisfied with us as intercessors.

    In Christ,
    Sherry

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  2. The battle must be in love, however fervent. Time with the General is the only source of power and strength. And like Tokyo Rose in WW II, we must attempt to minimize listening to the attacks because they come from well entrenched victims who are not seeking Biblical truth.

    Your ministry (and mine) is actually not to reply to them but to warn the faithful and strengthen their faith. Pride is our enemy and humility our clothes. Remember, the battle is the Lord’s which began way before we arrived on the scene.

    Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. Your writings, Mike, are always a source of edification and honor to the real Author!

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  3. Sherry,

    Thanks for that devotional from Oswald Chambers. That man had insight and discernement that comes only to those who spend a lot of time with their Saviour.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  4. Rick,

    Yes, we are simply to point God’s people to Him. Whatever insight or wisdom that I have is His. I weep for God’s people because they are starving for truth. They are focused on themselves and seek fulfillment via the flesh because they don’t know any better. You and I must never stop pointing them to the narrow way which is not only the way unto life, it is the way of abundant life NOW!

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  5. Amen, Mike. I’m going to have to re-read this tomorrow when I am more awake to get more out of it.

    It is amazing how much anger these people have.

    I have just experienced, in attempting to obey the Lord, in dealing with a pro-PDL person , a certain fear in that I wanted to please the Lord in all I said, yet I also had a deep peace as I said what I felt needed to be said. I bathed it all in much prayer, and the Lord knows how much I hate strife, want people to like me, and yet much more deeply, how I want to please Him. As I went forward in obedience the fear lessened. I don’t know what the end result of this communication will be.

    It is indeed a comfort to know that God is Sovereign!

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  6. Karen,

    Their anger is very hard to comprehend, but since they have not the peace of God nor the Joy of Lord they respond via their feelings. We use the Truth from the Word of God. Unless God breaks their hearts they will never repent. They are blinded by deceiving spirits. Our part is to speak the truth in love from the firm foundation of our peace with God. Never argue. Never try to win for sake of winning. Just speak the truth and obey what God tells you. You did fine Karen, I’m sure of that.

    Yes, God is Sovereign. Halleluiah!

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  7. Mike,

    I’m not a particularly emotional man, and like you my general character, flawed as it may be, is strikingly similar to that of my grandfather on my mother’s side. Grandpa was a hard man who lived through the Great Depression and fought nobly in WWII. He was certainly made of the stuff that defined “the greatest generation” and while I’d dare not reproach his memory by claiming that I meet the measure of a man he represented, I can say in truth that he was my childhood hero and the man whom I most tried to emulate.

    Sadly for all his hardy craft and manly attributes grandpa didn’t live the Christian life. I witnessed to him in his waning years and he’d speak of “the Man upstairs” and would assure me that he had gotten things in order with his Maker. I certainly hope this was true.

    If I learned anything from grandpa it was about how to stand tall in the midst of tribulation and to maintain a sense of proper perspective in even in the direst of circumstances.

    I’ve said all this to say that one thing I’ve learned in the Lord it is to not lean unto my own understanding. His thoughts are higher than my thoughts and His ways are higher than my ways. When the assaults of the enemy arrive – and if you are a true Christian they always will – we are to lift up our eyes to heaven in prayer and know they hated Him before they hated us. True Christians are strangers in a strange land, sojourners passing through hostile enemy territory moving inexorably toward an eternal abode not built with hands.

    When persecution comes – and if you are a true Christian it always will – we are to remember they persecuted Him before they persecuted us. Yet it is especially painful when those who seem to possess the sharpest and most venomous tongues are also those who claim to be our brothers and sisters in Christ.

    Sadly the professing church is filled to the brim with the deceived. They are false converts who said a few words, did some “churchy” things, which go on mission trips, and sing songs about a God they’ve never known and a heaven they’ll never see. These are they who will hear those awful words “depart from me, ye who work iniquity, I never knew ye!”

    Oh, the terror, the horror, the shame! Oh, that these blind followers of the blind might hearken to the truth of the One True Living God and be saved! How will they escape the wrath to come?

    As I said at the beginning of this comment, Mike; I’m not a particularly emotional man, but my eyes well up and my heart throbs in my chest when I consider the untold myriads of sheep who have hearkened to the voice of a different shepherd and as a result are being led astray! This is perhaps the greatest tragedy; that so many wolves in sheep’s clothing have been allowed to slither into the church and lead vast swaths of the flock into gross error. The most sneering atheist with his scientific “facts” – so called – and worldly intellectualism is not nearly so deadly an enemy as one false teacher from within! A little leaven leavens the whole loaf!

    In addition to the anguish I feel for those deceived souls there is also a righteous anger and holy wrath that wells up in my spirit when the deceivers twist scripture like a wax nose as a means to justify their ends. These spiritual harlots dare to come at the Word with the sole intent of taking verses out of context in order to bolster their humanistic agendas as opposed to humbly and prayerfully preaching the whole counsel of God within its intended context, and leaving the Holy Spirit to do His work!

    This isn’t a simple matter of doctrinal purity or preferences regarding non-essentials of the faith, but rather it’s nothing less than the life and death struggle for the eternal souls of men! The apostates are militant. The apostates have a satanically inspired vision. The apostates are evangelizing at an astonishing rate. The apostates are on the move and when they make a convert they make him twice the son of hell than themselves!

    In the final analysis our God is sovereign and He is unfolding the scroll of history in precisely the manner He wills. But may we who are called by His name never use that truth as an excuse to stand idly by as the devourer rends Christ’s little flock with his perverse message of self-esteem and a false temporal unity. Let those who are called by His name stand bold as a lion and harmless as a dove ever pointing to the cross of Christ and the immutable, absolute truth of the Holy Writ.

    Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Ephesians 6:13)

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  8. Coram Deo,

    After I wrote this piece last night, I was really puzzled what God was really telling me through this other than the main message. He always works thorugh these things multiple ways. When I read your comment, I think I see it now.

    In Joshua 1 we read God’s command to Joshua to be “Strong and courageous. Do not be freightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” We are entering some very trying times for the Remnant. Our visible leaders in the Compromised Church are, for the most part, useless in this battle. In fact, they are compromised. It is for those God has placed His hand on to speak the truth, stand and not fall, and fight the good fight.

    What will it be then? Who then is committed to this level of obedience? I have often thought that those in seminary and those educated beyond that should be those who will lead this fight, but I am beginning to get the picture that the vast majority of them are too much in the world. Let’s pray for wisdom, discernement and direction from our Lord.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  9. We are entering some very trying times for the Remnant. Our visible leaders in the Compromised Church are, for the most part, useless in this battle. In fact, they are compromised. It is for those God has placed His hand on to speak the truth, stand and not fall, and fight the good fight.

    Amen, Mike! I for one brother am about building a wall and I’m not interested in pulling down the bulwarks of righteousness that separate the true Church from the doctrines of demons.

    Surely the enemy will call to those of us who are wall builders and tell us to come down and reason with him. As for me, I’ll just hold my sword in one hand and my trowel in the other and keep obeying the Lord.

    16And it came to pass from that time forth, that the half of my servants wrought in the work, and the other half of them held both the spears, the shields, and the bows, and the habergeons; and the rulers were behind all the house of Judah. 17They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon. 18For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded. And he that sounded the trumpet was by me. 19And I said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, The work is great and large, and we are separated upon the wall, one far from another. 20In what place therefore ye hear the sound of the trumpet, resort ye thither unto us: our God shall fight for us. (Nehemiah 4:16-20)

    30″I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none. 31So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign LORD.” (Ezek 22:30-31)

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