There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness


by Mike Ratliff

6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; 8 in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. 2 Timothy 4:6-8 (NASB) 

In the passage above some may say that Paul’s crown of righteousness would be based upon how well he fought the good fight and finished the course while keeping the faith. However if you read down to end of v8 it is clear that the same award will be for all who have loved His appearing. Is that you? I know what my life was like before God had mercy on me. I know what it was like to be blind to His truth and see Christianity as just another religion. However, I remember clearly that day when the Spirit took over and regenerated me and I saw the truth with a heart that was alive instead of one that was stone cold dead. That was 36 years ago this month, but I can remember the details of how things happened that day just a vividly as it if was just a few days ago. As I have grown and matured as a disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ since then I have learned that we are accepted by our dear heavenly Father because of the work of our Lord Jesus Christ, not because of our religiosity or good works. We are saints because of His work not ours as we saw in last night’s post Saints. Since this is true then how should we look at what awaits us in Heaven? Continue reading

Comfort for Troubling Times


My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

We must all be honest and admit that we are in very troubling times. I am not speaking of the political situations all across this globe, but am referring to the growing apostasy in the visible church. It seems that for every pocket of genuine believers I run across who are standing on the promises of God and not compromising their faith by buying into pragmatism or mysticism or outright heresy there is another “Christian leader” falling into the ranks of the apostate. Our error is allowing this to drive us to despair and doubt. When we do this we have lost focus. We are looking at the situation rather than keeping our eyes on our saviour. I pray that the following devotional from Martin Luther will encourage you and help you to not allow our enemy to distract you from the truth. – Mike Ratliff Continue reading

Talkative


by Mike Ratliff

One of my favorite books is The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. This book was published in 1678 after Bunyan had been in prison from 1661 to 1672 then again for six months in 1677. He worked on the manuscript for The Pilgrim’s Progress during the second half of his first imprisonment and finished it during his second imprisonment. Why was he in jail? He was a non-conformist Baptist preacher. He would not submit to the Church of England. He could have been freed after the first three months of his first imprisonment if he would agree to stop preaching. However, he would not do so.

This book has had a huge impact on Christians all over the world. It has been in print constantly since it was first published. It’s success and impact are directly related to the suffering of Bunyan, which leaks through every page of this book. His suffering authenticates the message. Continue reading

The Lord’s portion is His people


by Mike Ratliff

8 “When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance,
When He separated the sons of man,
He set the boundaries of the peoples
According to the number of the sons of Israel.
9 “For the LORD’S portion is His people;
Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance. Deuteronomy 32:8-9 (NASB)

Over the years I have been part of and have witnessed many debates and discussions about our salvation and what parts God and we play in it. I have heard more than a few times professing Christians protest against the truth of passages such as John 6:44 and Ephesians 1 & 2 saying things like, “Whatever Jesus or Paul meant there, it couldn’t mean that!” Or, “I can’t see how you could have any assurance if that is true!” The “that” they were referring to, of course, was our salvation is 100% God’s work from beginning to end. It is that we are saved by Grace through Faith and that not of ourselves, it is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9). To be honest, I am baffled by that reaction because I know for certain that unless God did everything to save me, I would still be lost. However, I am His and I worship Him daily praising Him for His grace and mercy from a grateful heart knowing full well that this sinner deserves nothing but His wrath for my sin, but He has forgiven me and cleansed me of all that, regenerated me unto a new creation and I am now one of His people. This is possible because of the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin. Now, if you are in Christ, like me, then you are also one of His people, the Lord’s portion.

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The Staggering Question


by Mike Ratliff

1 The hand of the LORD was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones. 2 He caused me to pass among them round about, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley; and lo, they were very dry. 3 He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord GOD, You know.” Ezekiel 37:1-3 (NASB) 

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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All for Christ and Straining Toward the Goal


By Mike Ratliff

3 I also was with you in weakness and fear, and in great trembling, 4 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of mankind, but on the power of God.
6 Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; 7 but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; 1 Corinthians 2:3-7 (NASB 2020) 

When we observe those “Christian Leaders” espousing the social justice of Wokeism, which is rooted in Marxism, it should make us wonder at what motivates them. Why would these people seek to create a new religion for what they are espousing is not Christianity at all? Instead of preaching the Law and Gospel these preachers attempt to placate the “feelings” of their adherents about their sins while pointing the finger of accusation at those of us who call sin what it is, telling those offended that we are guilty of being judgmental and divisive. If you have discernment just listen to their sermons and it won’t take long to see what is wrong. They are soft on sin and steer their followers away from the Word of God as being absolute truth. The call is for social justice not to repent of your sins and obey the Gospel. This is apostasy.

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That You May Know


by Mike Ratliff

13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. 1 John 5:13 (NASB) 

As the scandals within the SBC have gotten worse and worse along with the continual pressures from those who are demanding that we all become “Woke” I have come under conviction that I should point out those corruptions as warnings, but focus primarily to true believers that our real battle as we remain in this hostile environment is against discouragement and to remain focused on personal holiness as we walk by faith.  Continue reading

The Lord is the Strength of His People


by Mike Ratliff

8 The LORD is their strength,
And He is a saving defense to His anointed.
9 Save Your people and bless Your inheritance;
Be their shepherd also, and carry them forever. Psalms 28:8-9 (NASB) 

The Genuine Christian walk is actually part of a war. Each believer’s walk is a battle or skirmish in that war. As we see in Ephesians 6:10-20, this war is not specifically against other people. Even if heretics or apostates rant and rave against us or terrorists from some pagan religion threaten our lives, our war is against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. The people who attack us are in some way controlled by these evil forces. Continue reading

Abiding in Christ


by Mike Ratliff

1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. John 15:1-4 (NASB) 

When My dad was still with us he loved to garden. One of his passions was to grow tomatoes. When I was a teenager we were living in a suburb of Oklahoma City called Yukon. Our backyard wasn’t small, but it wasn’t big either. One day in early spring he came home from work and informed me we were going to dig up and turn over the dirt in a square at the back side of our yard. He told me he was sick to death of store-bought tomatoes. I really didn’t understand what he meant by that, but I did help him break up that ground. Continue reading

The Steadfast Love of God Endures


by Mike Ratliff

No matter how far away from the light the Church drifts into apostasy and darkness, we must remain faithful and understand that God is sovereign. Those God gives over to their idolatry are spiritually blind. They cannot see that while they believe they are serving God they are actually walking in rebellion. It seems that at this time God is placing me in a position of reflection on His grace and His love and that neither of them will ever fail. We must pray for those in darkness and never stop telling them the truth. Perhaps God will have mercy on them and call them to come out of the Scarlet Woman, from darkness into the light.

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Do Not Be Anxious


by Mike Ratliff

22 And He said to His disciples, “For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! 25 And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? 26 If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. 30 For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. 31 But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. 32 Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.
33 “Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:22-34 (NASB)

As this year, 2020, continues doesn’t it seem that the pressure is continually increasing from every direction to make us fearful? If we are not watchful, that is, careful and circumspect then we could very easily become angry and full of fear about what is going on. However, in doing this are we being faithful disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ or are we returning to our former lives in the darkness? If we fall into fear instead of being faithful then we will look at all the circumstances around us and start to believe the lie that everything is out of control. It may seem to some that is the case, but is it?

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How to Know if One is Abiding in Christ


by Mike Ratliff

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. 9 Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. John 15:4-10 (NASB) 

For the first 20 or so years of this walk I was in a very immature spiritual state. I was utterly convinced during that time that my worth as a disciple depended upon my performance, my learning, my obedience. With that mind-set it was a very horrible experience at times since I was on a roller coaster ride of obedience and backsliding. What amazed me during that period was that I was looked at as one of the more mature believers at our church. I knew better. That all changed in 2004 and 2005 as God drew me into the light and drastically changed that ‘mind-set.’ It was as I learned and held to the truth that our salvation is all according to God’s will not ours that I began to have peace and freedom. He chose us according to the good pleasure of His will, not according to our abilities or any other inherent attribute we may have. With this remaking of my mind-set came the ending of that cycle of obedience and backsliding. It was as if it had been put to death. Continue reading

Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit


by Mike Ratliff

28 “Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30 because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.” Mark 3:28-30 (NASB) 

I am sure most of those reading this have at one time or another become concerned to some degree that they had committed the unpardonable sin. Several people who I have witnessed to have told me that they couldn’t be saved because they had blasphemed against the Holy Spirit. What is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? Let’s look at the passage from the book of Matthew that parallels the one I placed at the top of this post.

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The Disowned


by Mike Ratliff

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:21-23 (NASB) 

The best test of everything is not how it appears here and now. Unlike those preachers who draw throngs of people to hear their, “Have your best life now!” sermons, those with real godly wisdom know that the best tests of everything is how it will appear in the moment of death, in the morning of resurrection, and at the day of judgment. Thankfully, the Word of God does give us the truth about these things. Let’s take a long slow look at Matthew 7:21-23 where our Lord lays it out very clearly about people who will find that what they believed to be true about their eternal state is nothing more than the product of self-deception.

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