Back, then Forward


Nevertheless I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant. (Ezekiel 16:60)

Notwithstanding our sins, the Lord is still faithful in His love to us. He looks back. See how He remembers those early days of ours when He took us into covenant with Himself, and we gave ourselves over to Him. Happy days those! The Lord does not twit us with them and charge us with being insincere. No, He looks rather to His covenant with us than to our covenant with Him. There was no hypocrisy in that sacred compact, on His part, at any rate. How gracious is the Lord thus to look back in love!

He looks forward also. He is resolved that the covenant shall not fail. If we do not stand to it, He does. He solemnly declares, “I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant.” He has no mind to draw back from His promises. Blessed be His name, He sees the sacred seal, “the blood of the everlasting covenant,” and He remembers our Surety, in whom He ratified that covenant, even His own dear Son; and therefore He rests in His covenant engagements. “He abideth faithful; he cannot deny himself.”

O Lord, lay this precious word upon my heart and help me to feed upon it all this day! – C.H. Spurgeon from Faith’s Checkbook

The Great God


O FOUNTAIN OF ALL GOOD,
Destroy in me every lofty thought,
Break pride to pieces and scatter it to the winds,
Annihilate each clinging shred of self-righteousness,
Implant in me true lowliness of spirit,
Abase me to self-loathing and self-abhorrence,
Open in me a fount of penitential tears,
Break me, then bind me up;
Thus will my heart be a prepared dwelling for my God;
             Then can the Father take up his abode in me,
             Then can the blessed Jesus come with healing in his touch,
             Then can the Holy Spirit descend in sanctifying grace;
O Holy Trinity, three Persons and one God,
             inhabit me, a temple consecrated to thy glory.
When thou art present, evil cannot abide;
In thy fellowship is fullness of joy,
Beneath thy smile is peace of conscience,
By thy side no fears disturb,
                   no apprehensions banish rest of mind,
With thee my heart shall bloom with fragrance;
Make me meet, through repentance, for thine indwelling.
Nothing exceeds thy power,
Nothing is too great for thee to do,
Nothing too good for thee to give,
             Infinite is thy might, boundless thy love,
             limitless thy grace, glorious thy saving name.
Let angels sing for sinners repenting, prodigals restored,
             backsliders reclaimed, Satan’s captives released,
             blind eyes opened, broken hearts bound up,
             the despondent cheered, the self-righteous stripped,
             the formalist driven from a refuge of lies,
             the ignorant enlightened,
             and saints built up in their holy faith.

I ask great things of a great God.

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

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God Wills for His People to be Christlike


by Mike Ratliff

12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. 14 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:12-18 ESV)

When I wrote Walking the Walk by Faith in late 2004 and early 2005 I had a panel of advisors help me with the manuscript. We met at least once a week to go over what I had written and edited based upon our discussion. I was very new at writing, especially at that level. I struggled with how to express what my heart wanted to say. However, I had some people on that panel that helped me a great deal with the words I was straining to express. We were discussing a chapter I had written about Christlikeness and the methods God used to accomplish this in His people. I was not sure how to phrase one of the main sentences when one of my friends on that panel suggested that what we were really discussing was God reshaping our character. That was like a window or door being opened for me. I could now see what God had been doing in my own heart and in the hearts of those helping me write that book. God has His people involved in a process of character change.

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Charles Spurgeon Quote


“It is not possible that the man who denies the deity of Christ can be a Christian. He deliberately refuses the only way of escape from the wrath to come.”

“Depend on it, my hearer, you never will go to heaven unless you are prepared to worship Jesus Christ as God.”

God Wills for His People to be Holy


by Mike Ratliff

4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. (Galatians 5:4-6 ESV)

“Holiness is the demonstration of faith working by love. It is wholly supernatural in the sense of being God’s gracious achievement within us and wholly natural in the sense of being our own true humanness, lost through sin, misconceived through ignorance and through listening too hard to current culture-but now in process of restoration through the redirecting and reintegrating energy of new creation in Christ through the Holy Spirit. Oswald Chambers called holiness “our brilliant heritage.” The phrase was well chosen. Brilliant-bright, shining, precious, glorious-is the word that fits.” From Rediscovering Holiness, p32 by J.I. Packer

I know that many may be suddenly struck by a sense of guilt or inadequacy when they read or hear that it is God’s will that His people be Holy, however, that does not change the fact that genuine Christians will be both saved eternally and are changed temporally by the working of the Holy Spirit in them. God regenerated them at salvation so they are new creations. Are they automatically in sinless perfection then? No! That is why we should not become discouraged from this walk simply because we struggle with sin. All Christians sin. That is why God gave us 1 John 1:5-10. Continue reading

God’s Grace Draws us to Christ


by Mike Ratliff

41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:41-44 ESV)

One of the aspects of our Christian faith that we lose sight of sometimes, and it gets us in trouble when we do, is how vital it is that we remain totally amazed that we ever got saved at all. We make a huge error when we forget this because that path leads to self-righteousness, self-absorption, and an ungrateful heart towards God. Even though we may not be fully aware that we are in that place of self-focus, we cannot be Spirit-led when we are full of self. Continue reading

Christ the Wisdom and Power of God


by Mike Ratliff

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” (1 Corinthians 1:18-19 ESV)

Genuine humility is found only in genuine believers. What the world sees as humility is often just self-deprecation, which is pride in reverse masquerading as humility. Then genuinely humble believer is the one who sees their true position before God. God’s ways are not our ways. The way people conceive of things naturally is not the way God does. For instance, when the Jews conceived of their Messiah coming they envisioned a conquering hero on a white horse defeating the Romans and setting up His capital in Jerusalem. However, what they got was a baby born in stable who had only a feeding trough for a bed. He did not come into the world at the head of an army to live in palaces. Instead our Saviour came as a man who lived a perfect sinless life, preached the truth, healed the sick, raised the dead then laid His life down as a perfect sacrifice, the Lamb of God, to take away the sins of His people. Continue reading

The Staggering Question


by Mike Ratliff

1 The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. 2 And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. 3 And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.”(Ezekiel 37:1-3 ESV)

As Christians walk through their days that turn into weeks that turn into months that turn into years that turn into decades that turn into the length and breadth of their lives, they are continually put into circumstances where they must either believe and obey God or disbelieve and disobey Him. Most believers I know have a horrible habit of limiting God by their lack of faith. Tragically, these decisions can result in walls of spiritual blindness to become erected in their hearts. With this spiritual blindness can come apathy or, worse, apostasy. Their decision to limit God with their lack of bold brokenness is based in idolatry. This idolatry consists of self-protection that, at least in the beginning, seems to alleviate the fear that comes from their timidity that keeps them from believing God and obeying Him. Timidity is a product of pride that masquerades as humility. The world sees a timid person and believes he or she is humble when, in fact, they are full of pride and will not take risks that could involve them to suffer from some perceived threat if they obey God.

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What is the Great Delusion?


by Mike Ratliff

9 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 ESV)

Back when I was a Dispensationalist I remember listening to Hal Lindsey or some of the teachers at the church I was going to at that time teach on these things, but I never quite sunk my teeth into it. I remember never being fully convinced about the Eschatology or that the Church would be secretly Raptured away and miss the Tribulation. I heard a comment by R.C. Sproul the other day say that he isn’t sure which Eschatological view is correct, but he did know of two that he was totally convinced were not correct and were in fact terrible error. The two he spoke of that he was sure that were wrong was Full Preterism and any view that incorporated Dispensationalism. He was fine with Partial Preterism, Postmillenialism, and Amillenialism. Why? Each is Biblically based rather than based in what people want to hear. Continue reading

The Price of Vision


The Price of Vision

by Mike Ratliff

Without a doubt the believer whom God uses will not be understood by most professing believers. The sword of truth divides. It does bring together those who love the truth and seek only their Lord’s will, but it will divide those from them who do not love the truth unconditionally. The visible church is being eaten alive by lies that are believed by people who would prefer to have their own version of the truth instead of the pure unadulterated truth from God’s Word. The person proclaiming these truths will not be popular. Instead, the wrath of our enemy will come against him or her who will use those who appear godly, but who are tools of deceit whom he wields to cause despair and confusion. This person will find out that not every “Christian” wants to hear the truth. Instead they want what tickles the ears and conforms to their own version of it. Those who dedicate themselves to putting God first in all things, even over what they want, will pay a high price, but it is these Believers God will use to soften and harden hearts.

The following devotional by Oswald Chambers from My Utmost for His Highest is highly recommended. I pray that by reading and meditating on the truths in it you will be blessed.

The Price of Vision

By Oswald Chambers from My Utmost for His Highest

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord . . . -Isaiah 6:1

Our soul’s personal history with God is often an account of the death of our heroes. Over and over again God has to remove our friends to put Himself in their place, and that is when we falter, fail, and become discouraged. Let me think about this personally- when the person died who represented for me all that God was, did I give up on everything in life? Did I become ill or disheartened? Or did I do as Isaiah did and see the Lord?

My vision of God is dependent upon the condition of my character. My character determines whether or not truth can even be revealed to me. Before I can say, “I saw the Lord,” there must be something in my character that conforms to the likeness of God. Until I am born again and really begin to see the kingdom of God, I only see from the perspective of my own biases. What I need is God’s surgical procedure- His use of external circumstances to bring about internal purification.

Your priorities must be God first, God second, and God third, until your life is continually face to face with God and no one else is taken into account whatsoever. Your prayer will then be, “In all the world there is no one but You, dear God; there is no one but You.”

Keep paying the price. Let God see that you are willing to live up to the vision.

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