My son is in the process of moving from the city in which he went to Medical School to Washington D.C. for his residency in Emergency Medicine. I have been out of pocket for the last couple of days helping him get moved. I apologize for the spotty coverage I have been giving to comments and email for the last few days. Tomorrow we will be sending him off with his U-Haul for the 1200+ mile trip to D.C. Thank you for your patience and I ask that you pray for his safe arrival there. – Mike Ratliff
by John Piper
This weekend is the first anniversary of 9/11 that has occurred on the Lord’s day, Sunday. Therefore it seemed good to us to step back and pose the question again about the meaning of the supremacy of Christ in an age of terror. Continue reading
“What a hopeful sign it would be even if people were excited against religion! Really, I would sooner that they intelligently hated it than that they were stolidly indifferent to it.”
“Trifle not with God, who can cast you into hell forever.”
by Mike Ratliff
16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. 19 When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. (Matthew 10:16-19 ESV)
If we listen to the common message from the vast majority of “Christian” leaders these days we will not receive one of eternal focus, power, or value. Instead, if we believe the message, we know that God desires for all of His people to have it their way, to have their best life now, to live any way they choose all the while seeing that the point of Christianity is to be blessed here and now. If we suffer then we must have sin in our lives that we have not confessed. Is the point of Christianity the believer’s health, wealth and prosperity? Is the focus of our faith primarily on this life now? Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
13 “For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters,
And hewn themselves cisterns-broken cisterns that can hold no water.
In John Bunyan’s classic The Pilgrim’s Progress, we learn of the vast difference between worldly wisdom and the truth through a character named Mr. Worldly Wisdom. Pilgrim is on his way to the little wicket gate as instructed by Evangelist when he meets up with this character. He tells Pilgrim that the truth that the Evangelist told him would only bring sorrow and grief to his life. If he would follow his advice instead then he would find that his life would go much easier. In our time, the Church has believed this lie and focused on the temporal more than the eternal. This has come from drinking from broken cisterns instead of the fountain of living waters. Continue reading
Jonathan Edwards sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” is an example of a sermon that few preachers these days would ever preach from their pulpits. Listen to this audio for a modern day exposition of God’s Righteous Anger and Wrath. Why do we not preach this then? Isn’t it that we don’t want to offend? Folks, God’s wrath is coming, we must be about warning everyone who will listen to flee to the only escape from it that God has provided.
Also, when we do this we will be standing in a most holy place. It will cause people to hate us and persecute us. We must not flinch from it, but obey our Lord in telling the Truth. George Whitefield did this. Did he suffer for it? Look at the painting below of him preaching in England. (Click on it to enlarge it) Look at how people are trying to attack him and distract people from hearing him. Let’s get serious about our obedience in this world so we won’t be ashamed in the next.
by Mike Ratliff
20 Daniel answered and said:
“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
to whom belong wisdom and might.
21 He changes times and seasons;
he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those who have understanding;
22 he reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what is in the darkness,
and the light dwells with him.
23 To you, O God of my fathers,
I give thanks and praise,
for you have given me wisdom and might,
and have now made known to me what we asked of you,
for you have made known to us the king’s matter.” (Daniel 2:20-23 ESV)
Over time, Daniel became a very important person in the Kingdom of Babylon. However, as we look at Chapter 2 we find Daniel still a young man among the King’s counselors. The events in this chapter take place shortly after the promotion of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah from the ranks of the trainees that we looked at in yesterday’s post. In this chapter God uses a pagan King and a faithful servant to give us a prophetic picture of world kingdoms and a glimpse into the coming Kingdom of God. Continue reading
There are times when the things we see going on in this world and in our lives from a platform of flesh. At those times it can seem to overwhelm us even to the point of despair. However, when we come to terms with God’s Sovereignty, we find a rock, a platform that will not move nor change. Follow this link to a poem that describes that process of coming into the light better than my poor words ever could.
by Mike Ratliff
1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god. 3 Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, 4 youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. 5 The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. 6 Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. 7 And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego. (Daniel 1:1-7 ESV)
Perhaps before we jumped heavily into Revelation we should have started with the Book of Daniel. We have reached a crucial point of contention in our study of Eschatology. Every time I think I have come to an understanding of the various views on the end times I find that someone else has a totally different view of how things will be worked out by our God in Heaven. If nothing else, I have learned that I must approach those who hold these various views in all humility. Who am I? However, my approach to this study is to let the scripture interpret itself. I pray that all reading this will let God speak to their hearts from this wonderful book that God gave Daniel over a period covering 605-536BC. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
5 “Thus says the Lord:
We have heard a cry of panic,
of terror, and no peace.
6 Ask now, and see,
can a man bear a child?
Why then do I see every man
with his hands on his stomach like a woman in labor?
Why has every face turned pale?
7 Alas! That day is so great
there is none like it;
it is a time of distress for Jacob;
yet he shall be saved out of it. (Jeremiah 30:5-7 ESV)
As we move through our study on Eschatology I have become very burdened with an overwhelming sense that I must not carelessly exegete any scripture. In fact, I do not feel comfortable writing anything about it without much prayer and research. I deeply desire to get it right. My commitment has been to do this study by looking at scripture alone. Also, a major point of contentions, so far, in our discussions has been whether the “Church” has replaced Israel as God’s covenant people. There is no doubt that all who are in Christ were saved by Faith through Grace thereby making them part of Abraham’s offspring. God justified him because He believed Him. All who follow Him in believing become branches in the Vine who is Christ. However, is God through with Israel and has He given all of the promises to Abraham’s offspring to the Church. Continue reading
“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. “You shall not murder. “You shall not commit adultery. “You shall not steal. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.” (Exodus 20:2-20 ESV)
by John Piper
We pastors are being killed by the professionalizing of the pastoral ministry. The mentality of the professional is not the mentality of the prophet. It is not the mentality of the slave of Christ. Professionalism has nothing to do with the essence and heart of the Christian ministry. The more professional we long to be, the more spiritual death we will leave in our wake. For there is no professional childlikeness (Matt. 18:3); there is no professional tenderheartedness (Eph. 4:32); there is no professional panting after God (Ps. 42:1). Continue reading