“Can the rush grow up without mire?”-Job 8:11
The rush is spongy and hollow, and even so is a hypocrite; there is no substance or stability in him. It is shaken to and fro in every wind just as formalists yield to every influence; for this reason the rush is not broken by the tempest, neither are hypocrites troubled with persecution. I would not willingly be a deceiver or be deceived; perhaps the text for this day may help me to try myself whether I be a hypocrite or no. The rush by nature lives in water, and owes its very existence to the mire and moisture wherein it has taken root; let the mire become dry, and the rush withers very quickly. Its greenness is absolutely dependent upon circumstances, a present abundance of water makes it flourish, and a drought destroys it at once. Is this my case? Do I only serve God when I am in good company, or when religion is profitable and respectable? Do I love the Lord only when temporal comforts are received from His hands? If so I am a base hypocrite, and like the withering rush, I shall perish when death deprives me of outward joys. But can I honestly assert that when bodily comforts have been few, and my surroundings have been rather adverse to grace than at all helpful to it, I have still held fast my integrity? then have I hope that there is genuine vital godliness in me. The rush cannot grow without mire, but plants of the Lord’s right hand planting can and do flourish even in the year of drought. A godly man often grows best when his worldly circumstances decay. He who follows Christ for his bag is a Judas; they who follow for loaves and fishes are children of the devil; but they who attend Him out of love to Himself are His own beloved ones. Lord, let me find my life in Thee, and not in the mire of this world’s favour or gain.
From Spurgeon’s Morning by Morning devotional for December 27th.
My wife and I are preparing for three separate trips to visit family over the Christmas and New Years holidays. I will probably not be very consistent on posting to Possessing the Treasure during this time. God willing, we will fly home on January 10th and be back in the swing of things on Monday January 12th.
I pray that your focus this Christmas will be on God not the sentimentality of the season. I pray that your fulfillment will be found in Him alone not in materialism. I pray that your joy will be complete as you mediate on the Gospel and the miracle of your salvation.
Soli Deo Glora!
by Mike Ratliff
22 For j as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then k at his coming l those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers m the kingdom to God the Father after destroying n every rule and every authority and power. (1 Corinthians 15:22-24 ESV)
A few days ago, I posted an article about Hell. This was in response to a new push from the Emergent movement toward “Christian Universalism.” I used Sacred Scripture to show that Hell is eternal and those thrown into it will be there eternally. Those who have objected to this have used only an argument to state their point. That argument is that God would not send people to burn in Hell for eternity. What is their basis for this? They misquote passages such as the one I placed at the top of this post saying that “all’ and “all’ means all people. The basis for taking this stand is this, “I reject that God will send all unbelievers to burn in Hell eternally!” Really? On what are you basing that? It sure cannot be Sacred Scripture unless you are one who takes a little from here and a little from there and ignores context and the rest of it that states the very opposite. Continue reading
By Mike Ratliff
7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, b I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, c he will be saved and will go in and out and d find pasture. (John 10:7-9 ESV)
We spend quite a bit of time looking at doctrine, heresies, apostasy, et cetera, but not enough time looking at the incredible privileges Christians have and why they have them. We must obey our Lord in standing firm against the forces of darkness, but we should also take the time to reflect on who we really are in Christ. The mind of Christ includes this my brethren and we should not neglect it. Why? It is as we learn the truth of who we are in Christ that we also gain the right perspective of God and His sovereignty. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
11 Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you b to wake from sleep. c For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12 d The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us e cast off f the works of darkness and g put on the armor of light. 13 h Let us walk properly as in the daytime, i not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, j not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But k put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, l to gratify its desires. (Romans 13:11-14 ESV)
Genuine Christians are marked in this life by a spiritual journey that God uses to sanctify them. Sanctification is the process whereby God removes Christians from the pollution of the world and conforms them unto His holiness. I have had some emergents and neo-evangelicals attempt to deny this as true for all Christians. They claim that only God is Holy and there is no call by God for His people to repent and mortify their sins. Regardless of what these people say, the Word of God does contradict what they say. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
3 g Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! h According to his great mercy, i he has caused us to be born again to a living hope j through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to k an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and l unfading, m kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded n through faith for a salvation o ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by p various trials, 7 so that q the tested genuineness of your faith-more precious than gold that perishes r though it is tested by s fire-may be found to result in t praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:3-7 ESV)
When God saves a person, he or she is changed forever. However, they are not at the spiritual maturity level that God desires for His people. Therefore, from that point until they go home to be with their Lord all genuine Christians will go through a series of tests and trials that put pressure on their faith. This pressure is spiritual, but the circumstances applying it come from all directions and sources. The Apostle Paul had a thorn in the flesh that put his faith to test to the point that he implored the Lord to take it away. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me. Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. (Philippians 2:25-3:1 ESV)
God uses our circumstances to shape, prune, and purify our hearts. This is that part of our sanctification that can be quite stressful and even seem as if we are in the flames of God’s wrath at times. However, what is happening to God’s people whom He takes through sickness, painful circumstances, frustrations, or anything that seems at times that is bent on destroying us, is that they are being humbled and trained for service of the King. Only the humble are usable in the Kingdom, but people are naturally full of pride. Sometimes our tests and trials come upon us when we are actually serving God with our all. Think of Job and the great test God allowed in his life at Satan’s hand. A deep study of that book will reveal that troubles in our lives are not always the result of our disobedience. No, God can place us in the fire for any purpose, but it will always be for our best and His glory. Continue reading
by Charles Spurgeon
“My people shall dwell in quiet resting places.”-Isaiah 32:18
Peace and rest belong not to the unregenerate, they are the peculiar possession of the Lord’s people, and of them only. The God of Peace gives perfect peace to those whose hearts are stayed upon Him. When man was unfallen, his God gave him the flowery bowers of Eden as his quiet resting places; alas! how soon sin blighted the fair abode of innocence. In the day of universal wrath when the flood swept away a guilty race, the chosen family were quietly secured in the resting-place of the ark, which floated them from the old condemned world into the new earth of the rainbow and the covenant, herein typifying Jesus, the ark of our salvation. Israel rested safely beneath the blood-besprinkled habitations of Egypt when the destroying angel smote the first-born; and in the wilderness the shadow of the pillar of cloud, and the flowing rock, gave the weary pilgrims sweet repose. At this hour we rest in the promises of our faithful God, knowing that His words are full of truth and power; we rest in the doctrines of His word, which are consolation itself; we rest in the covenant of His grace, which is a haven of delight. More highly favoured are we than David in Adullam, or Jonah beneath his gourd, for none can invade or destroy our shelter. The person of Jesus is the quiet resting-place of His people, and when we draw near to Him in the breaking of the bread, in the hearing of the word, the searching of the Scriptures, prayer, or praise, we find any form of approach to Him to be the return of peace to our spirits.
“I hear the words of love, I gaze upon the blood,
I see the mighty sacrifice, and I have peace with God.
‘Tis everlasting peace, sure as Jehovah’s name,
‘Tis stable as His steadfast throne, for evermore the same:
The clouds may go and come, and storms may sweep my sky,
This blood-sealed friendship changes not, the cross is ever nigh.”
From Spurgeon’s Evening by Evening Devotional for December 9th.
by Mike Ratliff
I thought I was pretty smart leaving work about 30 minutes early today. It began snowing here about mid-morning and snowed all day. As far as snows go it wasn’t much, but with the heavy rains last night and the slushy condition of the roads as the temperatures dropped all day I knew that they would be slick. That was an understatement. The first 5 miles of my commute were at the blazing speed of 10mph. There were cars on both shoulders in various conditions with the ever-present State Trooper cars with their warning lights flashing. I remember praying as I started my commute that I would arrive home safely and that I would not be the cause of any one else having an accident. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet’? If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions. (Matthew 22:41-46 ESV)
Many Psalms, written a thousand years before Christ’s birth, contain many references to Him that are wholly inapplicable to any other person in history. Even many references to David surpass him in scope, strength and duration – often pointing to a Son of David who would reign eternally. Let us look at one of these Psalms that our Lord cited in Matthew 22:41-46, which is Psalm 110. Our Lord tells us that this Psalm speaks of Him. In it we will see that it also very succinctly shows us the result of our Lord’s incarnation, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension in what has been called the ‘Church Age.’ It also shows us what will transpire when He returns at the end of this age. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed–God is witness. (1 Thessalonians 2:1-5 ESV)
The rebellion against God is alive and well…for now. This rebellion began before the fall of Man into sin (Genesis 3). It began when Lucifer attempted to overthrow God and ascend to the throne himself. Because of this, he lost his place in Heaven and became Satan. When he deceived Eve in the Garden and Adam followed her into sin, they actually became recruits in his continual war against God. All of their descendents were born into this army as children of wrath. After God interceded after the fall, He prophesied that there would be a seed of the woman who would be bruised by the serpent, but He would, in turn, crush his head. Continue reading
By Mike Ratliff
Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:25-30 ESV)
God is Sovereign. That sovereignty is not partial. It is not subject to any conditions or forces outside of God. He has never nor will He ever relinquish any portion of His sovereignty. What He sets out to do, He does. What Men believe or refuse to believe about these truths changes nothing. Just because professing Christians cling to the fallacy that they are saved because they exercised their Free Will does not in any way diminish the truth from God’s Word that tells us the very opposite.
Man is fallen. All born of Adam are children of God’s wrath. No one seeks after God because none are righteous (Romans 3:10-18). God’s people are part of our Lord’s flock. Those of His flock believe God, seek God, and know the Lord’s voice. The Lord gives them eternal life. Notice that the veracity of their eternal life is not subject to them or their behavior. No, the Son holds them and no one can snatch them out of His hand.
by Mike Ratliff
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. (John 10:14-16 ESV)
When those of us who came from an Arminian or Free Will background come to grips with the reality of God’s Sovereignty, it is amazing how we struggle with letting go of the responsibility to “earn” our salvation. Of course, part of that struggle is rooted in the misconception that “election” happens at salvation. Ephesians 1 makes it clear, however, that God chose His elect before the foundation of the world. An honest reading of that wonderful letter by the Apostle Paul shows us that God’s people are His in completion even though many of them have not yet believed and repented. They are our Lord’s sheep. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me–practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9 ESV)
We live in an evil day. When “cultural relevance” carries more weight within the leadership of a church than conformity to the revealed Word of God then it should grieve those who know the Lord and are known by Him. I read an article today written about a post on a blog belonging to a youth pastor at Saddleback Church. The poster was questioning whether it would be okay to teach a series to the youth there about the evils of stealing. This is just another sad example of the visible Church being something other than The Church. As we have said many times here at Possessing the Treasure, there are only two religions in the whole world. There is genuine Christianity, which is based entirely in God’s Sovereignty and consists of those whom He elected, called, justified, sanctified, adopted, and glorified. Then there are all other religions, which are based entirely in the sovereignty of Man’s Free Will. Continue reading