Live For The Rest Of The Time In The Flesh No Longer For Human Passions But For The Will Of God

by Mike Ratliff

1 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. (1 Peter 4:1-2 ESV)

When our Lord went to the cross, he also endured torture and suffering. When we celebrate our Lord’s resurrection on “Easter Sunday” or Resurrection Day, we should do so with much do so with much joy, praise and worship. Why? Without our Lord’s resurrection our faith is empty and worthless. Those of us in Christ have the promise of our own resurrection at some point in the future. But, let’s not forget that before He was resurrected He had to die and before He died He suffered.

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Finishing Well

by Mike Ratliff

3 Εὐλογητὸς ὁ θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ὁ κατὰ τὸ πολὺ αὐτοῦ ἔλεος ἀναγεννήσας ἡμᾶς εἰς ἐλπίδα ζῶσαν δι’ ἀναστάσεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐκ νεκρῶν, 4 εἰς κληρονομίαν ἄφθαρτον καὶ ἀμίαντον καὶ ἀμάραντον τετηρημένην ἐν οὐρανοῖς εἰς ὑμᾶς 5 τοὺς ἐν δυνάμει θεοῦ φρουρουμένους διὰ πίστεως εἰς σωτηρίαν ἑτοίμην ἀποκαλυφθῆναι ἐν καιρῷ ἐσχάτῳ 6 ἐν ᾧ ἀγαλλιᾶσθε ὀλίγον ἄρτι, εἰ δέον ἐστίν, λυπηθέντας ἐν ποικίλοις πειρασμοῖς, 7 ἵνα τὸ δοκίμιον ὑμῶν τῆς πίστεως πολυτιμότερον χρυσίου τοῦ ἀπολλυμένου, διὰ πυρὸς δὲ δοκιμαζομένου εὑρεθῇ εἰς ἔπαινον καὶ δόξαν καὶ τιμὴν ἐν ἀποκαλύψει Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ (1 Peter 1:3-7 NA28)

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the one according to his great mercy has regenerated us to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an imperishable inheritance that is undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if it is necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith-more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire-may be found to bring praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:3-7 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

I left on a trip early in the morning of August 19th for a scheduled two week meeting in the Kansas City area dealing with restructuring much of how we do our Database Management at our company. However, I knew going into this that there was the possibility that I could receive a message or call or email from my sister that the time in hospice care was drawing to an end for my nephew Travis who has been battling brain cancer for about 6 years or so. In fact, on Wednesday last week I got an email from her saying that the hospice care nurses were saying he had only a matter of hours or days left so we had better be prepared. I called her that night and she confirmed that and I could also sense a deepening dread in her perhaps some weariness. In any case the very next  evening after after my wife drove up to KC from our home in the OKC area to spend the weekend with me, we received the message from her that Travis had died. I made all the arrangements to depart the meetings and head home the next day so we could then drive to Houston to be with family and attend Travis’ funeral, which was on Monday this week. We arrived in Houston with our daughter Sunday afternoon in time to attend the “Viewing” at the funeral home. This was the first time I had seen my sister in several weeks, perhaps months. What a difference! It was a like a massive load had been removed from her. We visited with my brother-in-law, Travis’ brother and sister, and his wife Jennifer and it was amazing how, yes, they were in mourning, but there was also a great release and joy present knowing that the one they loved was no longer suffering and was now in the presence of our Lord.  Continue reading

Isn’t it About Time That We Grow Up?

by Mike Ratliff

11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. (1 Corinthians 13:11 NASB)

When the Lord circumcised my heart in August 2004, I was truly amazed at the level of spiritual discernment that came with that blessing. Leading up to this, God had drawn me ever deeper into our relationship. I had been in a deep, close, intimate walk with Him over a period of several weeks. I was fasting from anything that distracted me from my devotion to Him. I was praying, worshipping, studying my Bible, and researching doctrine, all in obedience to His drawing me to Him. Just a few days before Labor Day in 2004 I woke up one morning and knew that everything had changed. It was probably the most joyous and humbling experience I have ever had. I realized right then that I no longer cared for anything except to do His will. His glory was paramount. For someone who was had been in bondage to self-focused, flesh oriented, desperate pursuits for self-gratification for over 50 years, this was a genuinely miraculous thing.
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Always Maintaining a Blameless Conscience Before God and Men

by Mike Ratliff

9 συνεπέθεντο δὲ καὶ οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι φάσκοντες ταῦτα οὕτως ἔχειν. 10 Ἀπεκρίθη τε ὁ Παῦλος νεύσαντος αὐτῷ τοῦ ἡγεμόνος λέγειν· ἐκ πολλῶν ἐτῶν ὄντα σε κριτὴν τῷ ἔθνει τούτῳ ἐπιστάμενος εὐθύμως τὰ περὶ ἐμαυτοῦ ἀπολογοῦμαι, 11 δυναμένου σου ἐπιγνῶναι ὅτι οὐ πλείους εἰσίν μοι ἡμέραι δώδεκα ἀφ’ ἧς ἀνέβην προσκυνήσων εἰς Ἰερουσαλήμ. 12 καὶ οὔτε ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ εὗρόν με πρός τινα διαλεγόμενον ἢ ἐπίστασιν ποιοῦντα ὄχλου οὔτε ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς οὔτε κατὰ τὴν πόλιν, 13 οὐδὲ παραστῆσαι δύνανταί σοι περὶ ὧν νυνὶ κατηγοροῦσίν μου. 14 ὁμολογῶ δὲ τοῦτό σοι ὅτι κατὰ τὴν ὁδὸν ἣν λέγουσιν αἵρεσιν, οὕτως λατρεύω τῷ πατρῴῳ θεῷ πιστεύων πᾶσιν τοῖς κατὰ τὸν νόμον καὶ τοῖς ἐν τοῖς προφήταις γεγραμμένοις, 15 ἐλπίδα ἔχων εἰς τὸν θεὸν ἣν καὶ αὐτοὶ οὗτοι προσδέχονται, ἀνάστασιν μέλλειν ἔσεσθαι δικαίων τε καὶ ἀδίκων. 16 ἐν τούτῳ καὶ αὐτὸς ἀσκῶ ἀπρόσκοπον συνείδησιν ἔχειν πρὸς τὸν θεὸν καὶ τοὺς ἀνθρώπους διὰ παντός. (Acts 24:9-16 NA28)

9 The Jews also jointed in the attack saying these things to be so. 10 And Paul answered as the Governor nodded to him to speak: “Knowing that for many years you have been judge to this nation, I cheerfully make my defense concerning these things, 11 since you can take note that not more than twelve days ago I went up to Jerusalem to worship. 12 Neither in the temple did they find me conversing with anyone or stirring up the crowds in either the synagogues or in the city itself. 13 Nor are they able to prove to you the things that they are now accusing me. 14 But I confess this to you that according to The Way which they call a sect, thus I serve the God of our fathers, believing in all the things according to the Law and the things written in the Prophets; 15 having hope toward God, which also these men anticipate, a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous. 16 By this I also do my best to always have a blameless conscience toward God and men.” (Acts 24:9-16 a personal translation from the NA28 Greek text)

In our last post, Fumbling the Ball, we looked at some disturbing examples of some very visible professing Christians and Christian leaders who have set an example of compromise. We discussed how this “fear of man” that causes Christians to compromise infects us all. What is that God-given mechanism that he put in each of us that works as the Soul’s warning system? It is, of course, the conscience, which allows humans to contemplate their motives and actions and make moral evaluations of what is right and wrong. However, in order for the conscience to work correctly as God designed it, it must be informed to the highest moral and spiritual level and best standard. This means that we must submit it to the Holy Spirit through God’s Word (Romans 12:1,2; 1 Timothy 1:19; 2 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 10:22). In the passage above Paul is telling us that the proper Christian walk is one that is fully enlightened this way and that plus abiding in Christ, walking as a living sacrifice, submitted to Christ as Lord over all, that is, bearing one’s own cross as we follow him throughout each day is how one get’s to the point where we too can make that claim that we are doing our best to always have a blameless conscience toward God and men.  Continue reading

What it Means to be God’s People

I am sure that most of you have not heard of Scottish preacher Eric J. Alexander who is former senior pastor of St. George’s-Tron parish church in Glasgow, Scotland. He is the author of Prayer: A Biblical Perspective. 

The following 5 sermons on 1 Peter are one of the best expositions on what it means to be God’s people that I have ever heard.

1 Peter 1 & 2 part 1

1 Peter 1 & 2 part 2

1 Peter 1 & 2 part 3

1 Peter 1 & 2 part 4

1 Peter 5 postscript to 1 Peter 1 & 2

If you have trouble linking to those files go here.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Christian Maturity and How it Relates to Discernment

by Mike Ratliff

Not that I have already received or have been completed, I press on that, if possible, to apprehend it because Christ Jesus has apprehended me. (a personal translation of Philippians 3:12)

There is no small ruckus going on right now online within the “discernment” ministries because of Dan Kimball’s reaction to the interview done with him by our brother Chris Rosebrough followed up by many comments by other members of the CRN team. Kimball has suggested that those of us who minister in these areas to turn our discernment inward for a change. His charge is, of course, that he does not consider what we do of any value to the Kingdom of God. Of course, I have seen some who claim to do what we do who really shouldn’t and in that I agree with him, but then again, that is no different than those apostates whom we expose almost daily by comparing what they do, say, write, preach, and teach against the only standard that counts, the Word of God. You see, that is why not everyone should attempt to do this. I have seen so many with good intentions get gobbled up as soon as they have gone head to head with some determined apostate who knew how to manipulate the English language and intimidate people. Sigh… In any case, I digress… Let’s look at a short passage from the book of Philippians not usually associated with “discernment,” but more with growing in Christian maturity.  Continue reading