My First Sermon

by Mike Ratliff

I preached my first sermon this morning. It was at First Baptist Church in Lathrop, MO. I was contacted by some leaders in that church to preach one Sunday out of three Sundays in which their pastor would be recovering from hip replacement surgery. I had never done anything like that before, but I agreed to do it after my wife and I prayed about it. I told them that I was primarily a writer and teacher, not a preacher, but they wanted me to come anyway. I preached two sermons today (the same one twice) 🙂 I was exhausted afterwards. 🙂 My wife, daughter and son-in-law were present. I got a lot of positive feedback from the people in the church as well as my family. I know that the reason it did go well was that I was not alone on that platform. God is good! In any case, my sermon notes are below. I pray that the Lord will bless you as you read them. Continue reading

A New and Different Person

Much of the controversy in the Church these days centers around the New Birth and what actually happens to those who believe. Some teach that a simple prayer of faith and baptism are all it takes. Some teach that all we have to do is let Jesus come into our lives and we are saved. However, the Bible is very clear that no one sees the Kingdom of God unless they are Born Again. Also, it is this "regeneration" that is the New Birth that changes a person from a Natural Man into a genuine Christian. This New Birth is what enables a person to believe and be saved. The person is a New Creation old things are past away, behold, the new has come. This means that the light from the life of God in them will be manifest in a life that is growing in Grace. They are working in cooperation with God in their sanctification. This is not what justifies them in God’s eyes. Instead, He justified them when they repented and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. – Mike Ratliff

The following devotional by Martin Luther is from Faith Alone.

A New and Different Person

by Martin Luther

You should not be surprised at my saying, "You must be born again." (John 3:7)

This new birth shows itself most clearly when trials and death draw near. Then it becomes clear whether or not a person has experienced the new birth. At that time, human reason–the old light–twists and wrestles, refusing to let go of its own thinking. It doesn’t want to give up and turn to the gospel. Reason simply won’t let go of its own light. But those who are born anew, or who are being born anew, surrender and follow God. They give up their old light, life, possessions, honor, and whatever else they have. They trust what John records in his gospel and cling to it. As true children of God, they will receive their eternal inheritance.

If your old, arrogant light of reason grows dark, becomes dead, and is replaced by a new light, then your entire life will be transformed. For when your reason is changed, your will follows soon after. And when your will is changed, what you love and desire changes as well. In order to become new, you must crawl into the gospel with your whole self. You must shed off the old skin, as a snake does. When its skin becomes old, a snake looks for a narrow hole in the rock. It crawls through it and sheds its skin, leaving it outside in front of the hole. Similarly, you also must go into the gospel and God’s Word. You must confidently believe its promise that God does not lie. So you shed off your old skin, leaving behind your old light, arrogance, will, love, desires, and what you say and do. You become a new and different person who views everything differently than before.

Powered by Qumana

Charles Spurgeon Quote on Holiness

The Charles Spurgeon quotes I post here on Possessing the Treasure are dear to me. I find that his insight and understanding of God and His ways is a target that we should all shoot for. We don’t worship the man. We don’t elevate his words to that of scripture, but we do desire to know God as he did. Spurgeon, of course, desired to emulate the Apostle Paul. That is also something we should each seek in our Corem Deo, our walk before the face of God. – Mike Ratliff

“To me the greatest privilege in all the world would be perfect holiness. If I had my choice of all the blessings I can conceive of, I would choose perfect conformity to the Lord Jesus, or, in one word, holiness.” – Charles Spurgeon

Powered by Qumana

The Lord is My Strength and My Shield

by Mike Ratliff

1 I love you, O Lord, my strength.
2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Psalm 18:1-2 ESV)

This walk before the face of God, our Coram Deo, is according to the ways of God not according the ways of men. God’s good work in our hearts to grow us unto Christlikeness resembles the work of of a good diamond cutter who shapes an uncut, rough gemstone from something that is not worth much in its raw state into a polished, faceted, and extremely valuable diamond that appears to have a brilliant fire within with innumerable facets reflecting that light in every direction. The various planes and facets are cut to perfection. That internal fire is actually the result of the diamond’s form as a many faceted prism. The light comes from outside the diamond, but it appears to be within. Continue reading

The Verdict

I have been part of a 12 person jury over the last three days in a criminal case. We deliberated all day yesterday and had to take the night off then get back to it today. However, the trial ended today. We left the court yesterday all tired and burnt-out on the whole thing. None of us wanted to make a rash or quick decision just to get it over with. The judge allowed it. We came back in to the court this morning then the Judge sent us to the jury room. We deliberated for about 30 minutes and had a unanimous decision on all three counts to convict. Was it easy? No! Was I completely at peace with being part of a jury that sent a man back to jail? No! Continue reading

Jury Deliberation

Today I returned to the courthouse in the county in which I live. I am a member of a 12 person jury which is in the process of determining whether to convict or acquit a person on three separate counts brought by the county District Attorney. Yesterday, we heard evidence and testimonies. All of the evidence is circumstantial. The charges are all based on suppositions that the person charged “intended” to break the law. So, instead of actually trying a person for being caught committing a crime, we are to determine guilt or innocence that that person intended to break the law. All physical evidence was in a place other than this person’s physical possession, but the state is arguing that it was still in his control. The “intent” we are to agree or disagree with is based upon some evidence found on this person that is in no way illegal to own or possess. Continue reading

Jury Duty

Several weeks ago I received a summons to appear at the courthouse in the county I live in for possible jury duty. I reported this morning. There were between 40 and 50 potential jurors in our pool. We were questioned during the jury selection process, which took about three hours. Then I found that I had been selected as one of the twelve jurors to decide a criminal case. We had recess then we entered the courtroom to hear the opening arguments. By then it was nearly noon so we recessed until 1pm. When we came back into the courtroom after lunch, we heard the evidence from both sides. Both sides rested their cases around 4pm. The judge then called a recess for the day and ordered us back at 9am tomorrow for closing arguments, legal instructions from him then deliberation. Continue reading

The Son of Man Came to Seek and to Save the Lost

by Mike Ratliff

9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:9-10 ESV)

If you listen to the vast majority of “gospel” preaching these days, the statement by our Saviour in the passage I place at the top of this post will appear to be somewhat backward. The reality that is preached from those pulpits is that salvation is a product of Human reason after hearing a sermon that shows the wonderful benefits of allowing Jesus to come into the hearer’s life. It is all Man’s choice or decision based solely upon a person’s own ability to reason. Continue reading

Are Birds Nesting in your Hair?

by Mike Ratliff

1 I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away!— 2 I beg of you that when I am present I may not have to show boldness with such confidence as I count on showing against some who suspect us of walking according to the flesh. 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. (2 Corinthians 10:1-6 ESV)

I have learned to view my own struggles, my circumstances, my failures, and my frustrations as God showing me not only what is wrong in my heart that is in dire need of His cleansing grace, but also as learning experiences from which to teach. Over the last few days I have become disconsolate borne from impatience with nearly everyone. I have gone from the mountaintop a few days ago to some serious frustration and impatience. It seems the more I want to write these posts the less time I have to do so. The time pressures on my window of opportunity to research, pray, and write has shrunk it to half the size I have become used to. As a result, I have found myself becoming very angry. This anger has simmered to the point that it has caused me to show some signs of growing bitterness. That really got my attention. Why was this happening? What is God showing me? What is it that I have missed in this walk that would keep this from happening.? Continue reading

Watch out for Selfish Ambition

The focus of the posts on Possessing the Treasure over the last couple of months have been primarily on the dire need for Christians to become free from bondage to their own flesh. There is a deadly trap hoping to snare those who are on the path to becoming free from their evil fleshly taskmaster. That trap is energized by our pride. Our sin nature wants only to be fed from our flesh. It demands it. It’s appitite for self-gratification is insatiable. When we start the move away from that by denying ourselves and bcoming Spirit-led, our pride tries to manipulate our walk in such a way that it will still feed our ego. This is false humility. The following devotional by Martin Luther is from Faith Alone. I pray that the Lord will make these truths clear and convicting in all our hearts. – Mike Ratliff Continue reading

Walk in the Light as He is in the Light

by Mike Ratliff

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5 ESV)

I am sure I am not the only one who has tried and failed to walk through their own home without the benefit of light. For whatever reason the lights may be off, it is amazing to find ourselves in a landscape that is starkly different than we remember it being when we last viewed it with light reflecting off of every surface back to our eyes. We take the ability to see for granted. The way we maneuver through our homes with light is often done on automatic pilot. We don’t even think about avoiding ramming our feet into objects such as furniture and doorjambs. However, it is a very different story when we suddenly find ourselves in darkness and we must move through a room barefoot and there are objects in our way that seem to be way out of place. We ram our toes into the leg of a coffee table or run our knee into chair. We can actually get hurt doing this. Continue reading

God will not Forsake His Saints

by Mike Ratliff

34 Wait for the Lord and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off. (Psalm 37:34)

The upcoming movie on The Discovery Channel supposedly showing a grave from an archaeological dig in Israel that contained the bones of Jesus, Mary, and other members of that family has caused many interesting responses from people. I read responses that I agreed completely with which were obviously based from the foundation of faith. I mean either we believe God or we believe men. However, I read responses from some professing Christians who were distraught about this “news” as if it would somehow destroy Christianity. I pitied them. Their faith seemed to be based entirely on sight. Continue reading