by Mike Ratliff
1 I will give You thanks with all my heart;
I will sing praises to You before the gods.
2 I will bow down toward Your holy temple
And give thanks to Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth;
For You have magnified Your word according to all Your name.
3 On the day I called, You answered me;
You made me bold with strength in my soul.
4 All the kings of the earth will give thanks to You, O LORD,
When they have heard the words of Your mouth.
5 And they will sing of the ways of the LORD,
For great is the glory of the LORD.
6 For though the LORD is exalted,
Yet He regards the lowly,
But the haughty He knows from afar.
7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me;
You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
And Your right hand will save me.
8 The LORD will accomplish what concerns me;
Your lovingkindness, O LORD, is everlasting;
Do not forsake the works of Your hands. Psalms 138 (NASB)
I remember the day the Lord called me to Himself very well. I grew up going to church. Some of my earliest memories are of being in church or Sunday school. I was one of those church kids that learned how to play the game. You know, I had heard all the Bible stories. I knew what good kids did and what they did not do. I fit in. I did all I could do to not draw attention to myself and my rebellion. What I did not understand back then and what I have become convinced that all unbelievers do not understand is that the unregenerate person cannot know God nor can they obey Him nor do they really want to. Of course these lost people are in various degrees of rebellion. Some are religious like I was. Some hate religion. Some hate God. I was never like that. Going to church was not my favorite thing to do, but I tolerated it. Then one Sunday in January 1986 everything changed.
I know I have shared this before, but I want to again because we discussed this last night in our Small Group. Our testimony can be a way to reach some people who refuse to listen to a gospel presentation. Our testimony is not the gospel, but it can be a way to get lost people to listen. In any case, back in 1985-1986 we were living in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. I was working at Bank of Oklahoma and working on an MBA at Oklahoma State University at the same time. My children were small and becoming hard for me to deal with, especially my very intelligent and very active son. We decided to start attending a local SBC church in Tulsa that was pastored by a friend of mine from High School. That was in 1985. We attended several months. This really helped with our kids, however, I found myself reverting back to my old ways of just tolerating church and just trying to be invisible.
Then in January 1986 after my 1st semester at OSU we went to church that very cold Sunday morning. I took my son to his Sunday school class. My wife took our daughter to her class. We met in our class room which was actually the choir room. It had several levels of seats with the teacher at the bottom looking up at us. I found my usual seat at the top and tried to be invisible. Just as the seat of my pants hit that seat I was overcome with the knowledge that I was lost. I really cannot explain it, but it was overwhelming. I could not think of anything else. I don’t remember anything about the lesson that morning or the sermon that morning. I don’t remember anything about who played in the NFL playoffs that day. However, that evening as we drove down our street to head back to church for the evening services everything changed.
We stopped at the stop sign at the end of our street and I knew at the moment that I was the Lord’s. I knew right then who my Savior was and that He had saved me from my sins. I was redeemed. I was justified. Now I didn’t know much about some of those doctrines back then like I do now, but I knew right then that I was a new person and everything had changed. I repented and turned to Jesus as my Lord and Savior right then. After our pastor’s sermon I went down and talked with him and he had me pray with my Sunday school teacher. I was baptized a week later. Nothing has been the same since. Below is a devotional from Charles Spurgeon’s Morning by Morning for February 1st about this very thing!
C. H. Spurgeon
“They shall sing in the ways of the Lord.”—Psalm 138:5.
THE time when Christians begin to sing in the ways of the Lord is when they first lose their burden at the foot of the Cross. Not even the songs of the angels seem so sweet as the first song of rapture which gushes from the inmost soul of the forgiven child of God. You know how John Bunyan describes it. He says when poor Pilgrim lost his burden at the Cross, he gave three great leaps, and went on his way singing—
“Blest Cross! blest Sepulchre! blest rather be
The Man that there was put to shame for me!”
Believer, do you recollect the day when your fetters fell off? Do you remember the place when Jesus met you, and said, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love; I have blotted out as a cloud thy transgressions, and as a thick cloud thy sins; they shall not be mentioned against thee any more for ever.” Oh! what a sweet season is that when Jesus takes away the pain of sin. When the Lord first pardoned my sin, I was so joyous that I could scarce refrain from dancing. I thought on my road home from the house where I had been set at liberty, that I must tell the stones in the street the story of my deliverance. So full was my soul of joy, that I wanted to tell every snow-flake that was falling from heaven of the wondrous love of Jesus, who had blotted out the sins of one of the chief of rebels. But it is not only at the commencement of the Christian life that believers have reason for song; as long as they live they discover cause to sing in the ways of the Lord, and their experience of His constant lovingkindness leads them to say, “I will bless the Lord at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” See to it, brother, that thou magnifiest the Lord this day.
“Long as we tread this desert land,
New mercies shall new songs demand.”
Soli Deo Gloria!