It’s Time for God’s People to Turn Their Hearts Back to Him

by Mike Ratliff

16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” (Luke 1:16-17 ESV)

When I was working on my first book back in 2004 I had a lot of misgivings about writing it at all. After all, who am I? I’m no preacher or theologian. I’ve never been to Seminary. I am just a person madly in love with my Lord. When I began to look for a way to have that book published, I found out that my misgivings seemed to be right. It is very difficult to become published if you aren’t already published. But, I get ahead of myself. During those days of working on the outline of Walking the Walk by Faith I was also learning much about prayer and listening as I read the Word of God and paid attention to my circumstances, etc. In late 2004 I was through with the outline and had begun to write the Introduction. Believe it or not, it took me longer to write it than any other chapter in the book. As I wrote and rewrote it over a period of two weeks or so, I was continually asking God to show me the purpose of doing this.

One evening during this time I was reading in Luke prior to working on the outline. I had prayed just prior to that that God would show me why I was to write this book or be a writer at all. Then I read the passage I placed at the top of this post. Now I know that I am no John the Baptist, but I knew right then that God wanted me to continue to obey Him by writing along with teaching and preaching to all whom he sent to me. I was simply to obey and never shirk from speaking or writing the truth. The result would be that He would use my ministry to turn those people’s hearts back to Him. I also knew at that time that I wasn’t alone. There were, and are, countless others being drawn from darkness to light to be used by God for His purpose in this battle for His people’s hearts.

I naively thought that my book was the the tool God was going to use for this. Well, that isn’t exactly what happened. Instead, my publisher wanted me to start a web site to promote the book and myself. I did that, but the more I worked on it, the more I made it into a ministry. I pushed the author and book information to the back pages and concentrated on using the site to minister to those God sent me. At this point, I was finishing up my second book while researching my third and fourth. The research led me to many people’s blogs. I decided to create one on Blogger. It was called “Walking the Walk by Faith.” This was late 2005 and early 2006. It was during this time that I started publishing my own articles on that blog along with things I learned from my research. I did this for several months. Then I found WordPress. I created “Possessing the Treasure” there, fully intending to keep both blogs up and independent. However, the time constraints to do that were impossible. So, I migrated all of my articles from my old blog to my new blog and that began the ministry you are participating in right now.

Instead of trying to find a publisher for the books I had completed (The Pilgrim’s Heart, Let us Reason Together, Judge Not!) I decided to publish them online one chapter at a time except for Judge Not! I thought it was good enough to be published so I sent copies to some friends for advice.. This ended up getting it linked to from ministries such as Reformation Theology.com. This resulted in it being linked to by Slice of Laodicea. It was from this exposure that eventually led to me becoming part of Christian Research Network. Whew! Now, enough about me. Who did all that? I mean who lead me to each of those things that eventually led to my writing having this sort of exposure? It sure wasn’t me.

When people make comments about how what they read here has touched their heart I am always taken back to that day in 2004 where God gave me that jolt when I read Luke 1:16:17. Who is doing this? I just research and write. God is doing this. As I visit other blogs and sites all over the internet I find other brothers and sisters in Christ whom God is using the same way. Why is God doing this? Why is this so important?

There is a huge problem in the 21st Century Church. The vast majority of Christians in our Churches are in bondage to their flesh. They have never been truly discipled. Very few of them would even qualify to be a member of a Puritan Church from the 17th Century. Because of their lack of spiritual maturity, they are very susceptible to false teachers, false preachers, false prophets, and outright deceivers. This is my burden, which God has given me. I write from the insight He has given me so He can shine His light of truth into those hearts so they can start their own walks of repentance and learn how to spot the counterfeit. How else are they ever going to know that they are called to be Christians for HIS Purposes not theirs or their pastor’s or anyone else. Therefore, I and all others God has called to this ministry, are to obey God, tell the truth, disciple and minister to everyone God gives us.

This work is serious business. We are in a war. We fight skirmishes and battles in this war every time we minister. The toll can be very heavy if we get our focus on ourselves or on God’s enemies. We must not do either. Instead, we must remain diligent with total devotion to the glory of God. This takes strength and courage for our enemies seem to be helped by deceiving spirits who know how to instill fear and despair in our hearts if we become distracted. The following passage from the book of Joshua has been very helpful to me in this war.

6 Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:6-9 ESV)

If we are obedient to God then we can claim this promise as well. If we are doing what we are called to do then we must do it the same way Joshua performed his ministry of leading the invasion and possession of the Promised Land. If we devote ourselves to His glory, become Spirit-led by obeying Him, reading and studying His Word, and submitting to everyone He commands we submit to, then we will have good success wherever we go. If we do this then when the apostates and heretics rant and rave and attack us, we will be able to rebuke them in the Name of our Lord and continue our ministries of restoration and revival. We can do this because we know that the Lord our God is with us wherever we go.

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11 thoughts on “It’s Time for God’s People to Turn Their Hearts Back to Him

  1. I know a lot of people don’t agree with Pentecostals, however during our service last week, we received a message in tongues with the interpretation and it was that exact verse from the book of Joshua! I personally did not know what verse it was from, yet I felt the presense of the Lord very strongly that Lords day as did everyone else that almost the entire congregation went to the altar. The moving of the Holy Spirit is so beautiful and I feel so happy that His presence is felt in our services! Mike when I read your posts I can feel the presence of the Lord and that lets me know that A. You love the Lord and B. You are in the Lords perfect will in your life. I can imagine how imperfect and insignificant you might feel sometimes knowing where you came from as I certainly do, however you have touched my heart and edified my walk with God. Dear Brother in Christ keep the faith!
    In Christ,
    Alexandria Collier

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  2. This takes strength and courage for our enemies seem to be helped by deceiving spirits who know how to instill fear and despair in our hearts if we become distracted.

    This is a key point which is often overlooked – sometimes intentionally I think – by otherwise well intentioned believers; namely that when countering the forces of darkness we are engaged against demonic powers and principalities, particularly when countering the occult.

    For the life of me I can’t understand why believers will so often write this simple truth off has “hocus pocus” or some other type of silly nonsense. The Lord of Glory certainly took demonic oppression quite seriously as did his apostles, so I can’t understand why it’s so little understood or addressed in the modern church. Is it fear of man? Is it too “unintellectual”? What is the cause for the seeming aversion to this basic teaching?

    I often wonder, are we too modern and “enlightened” for our own good? Were those “strange events” chronicled in scripture merely the product of an ignorant age steeped in silly myths and old wive’s tales? Have we as “civilized” men and women outgrown these childhood stories? God forbid! As you’ve pointed out in several recent posts, Mike, according to scripture the battle we are in is spiritual in nature, and is still raging today. The eternal souls of men and women are at stake! Our faith is a spiritual faith, not carnal and our God is a Spirit who spoke the entire created order into existence! THIS physical world is the secondary world, the spirit world is the primary!

    There are those who would at this point piously point to the Bible and say “Well yes, but the spiritual battle was won at the cross!” Yes, surely Christ’s victory over death and His sacrifice was once for all, but take a look around and you’ll notice a sin sick and dying world that is in desperate need of the Gospel! This is the essence of the Great Commission! Jesus didn’t return victorious over death and say “Okay guys, it’s over and I’ve won, now live your lives out the best way you know how based on all the things I’ve taught you and I’ll see you on the other side, good luck!”

    Oh that we who are called by His name would simply be obedient to His commands and call ourselves unprofitable servants since obedience is but the bare minimum requirement: “So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do. (Luke 17:10)

    (1 Peter 4:17)
    For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

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  3. Mike:
    Thank you so much for the encouragement. I’ve really been struggling to stand firm and fight on…It seems to be getting harder every day. I found the passage you quoted from Joshua to be particularly providential and am grateful for that reminder. I pray for all of you at Christian Research Network and other bloggers who are contending for the faith. It’s not easy! Grateful for His Grace, Wendy

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  4. Alxxndria,

    We are in a spiritual war. We see the physical results of that war, but since, at least right now, the physical war seems to be mostly words, as we read or hear their attacks or their false teachings, those of us with discernment can actually see that there are evil spirits behind them. For whatever reason, the forces of darkness are empowering our enemies who have infliltrated the Church top to bottom.

    I thank you for your kind and encourging words. Please pray that God will continue to use me for His glory alone. I pray that God will continue to bless you and draw you closer and closer to Him.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  5. Coram Deo,

    Well said brother. If the spiritual battles are over then why did Paul tell us to take on the full armor of God? I think that the spiritual realities are very much part of the personal restoration and revivals God has and is doing right now. Mine sure was.

    As you pointed out, the key to this is our obedience. This call to obey our Lord is what is most vocifisorially attacked by our Lord’s enemies. I believe that that is a marker the Lord has given us so we can spot those in rebellion who only pretend to be genuine, like the emergents and the PDC folks. They hate the teaching that all in Christ obey Him.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  6. Wendy,

    Good to hear from you again. Thank you for your prayers. I pray that God will protect you and use you for HIs glory. There are no step-chidlren n the Kingdom of God. God loves us all the same. Be strong and courageous and obedient then watch as God uses you in ways you could never imagine.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  7. The comments are so in the same spirit as your post. Your blog continues to be a source of strength and conviction in my own life. God has been able to speak through you, Mike, on the wings of your humility.

    One penny of humility buys more anointing than a million dollars of rhetoric.

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  8. Rick,

    Brother, your wisdom is discernment are always welcome here. I have learned much from you and I pray that you will continue in your obedience in Him.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  9. Mike – Great post. I would affirm that you being one “who is madly in love with the Lord” is qualification enough to be a mouthpiece of His truth. I’m sure you recognize that. 🙂

    I agree that the Western church today (including myself) is in bondage to the flesh. The dangerous doctrine of sloppy grace, which translates in real lives often as licensciousness, has much to do with this. I believe the renewing of the mind is crucial in the battle between flesh and spirit. As you said, being Spirit-led and obedient to God is a vital part of winning this battle.

    I think it is important to recognize the importance of both works and faith. You hit on that in a roundabout way and I appreciate it. Some focus too much on works and become dead in religion and other focus to much on faith and never go on to maturity because they don’t outwork their faith through works. Both are needed, but neither can be accomplished seperate from the other.

    You are an excellent writer and communicator. Kudos.

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  10. Molly,

    Yes, you are right. We must be obedient and ACT, but that is by faith. I know so many who are all intellect in their “Christianity.” Any talk of spirituality with them is fruitless. Also, when I encounter those who are all spirit and no works, it is very frustrating because they want to focus on demons doing this and that. All we have to do is be obedient as we are Spirit-filled. If we do this, we will find ourselves doing things that suprises everyone. Those who meet me or know me already are dumbfounded that I write what I write and preach sermons, etc. Why? I’m nothing, I’m a nobody, but I am willing and I try to be obedient. Any good that comes from this is by Him through His grace – not sloppy grace. 🙂

    Thank you for the ecouragement.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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