Drinking from Christ’s Cup of Suffering


by Mike Ratliff

34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people, stood up in the Council and gave orders to put the men outside for a short time. 35 And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. 36 For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. But he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37 After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away some people after him; he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. 38 So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.”
40 They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. 41 So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. Acts 5:34-42 (NASB) 

I am sure you have heard some preacher somewhere at sometime say something like, “Come to Jesus so He can bless you and make your life better.” Every time I hear or read something like that, I want to grab them and ask them if they have ever seriously read their Bibles. Yes, a life in Christ is far superior to life outside of God’s grace; however, people who preach a gospel of health, wealth, and prosperity are guilty of misleading the gullible. The walk of a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ is one of self-denial, humility, obedience, and devotion to God’s glory. Continue reading

Tested By Fire


Beloved of the Lord, it seems that the more I write about the apostate American Church the more my personal circumstances descend into chaos. 🙂 The time that I normally have to research, pray, and write is continually being consumed by other “more urgent” things. This, of course, brings to mind that book The Tyranny of the Urgent that brings to light how the urgent things in our lives can consume all of our time so that we are pulled away from the best of things, which, of course, is spending time in the Word, praying and seeking our Lord’s face. I always thought that if I wrote and shed light into the darkness all around us that the attacks would be more of a physical nature. Instead, it seems that God is allowing the most frustrating of things to come into my life, even though they are important and somewhat urgent, to keep me in a mental and spiritual state of desperation. That desperation is one of deeply desiring to be God’s servant, to write and present cutting edge yet Biblically accurate posts that the Holy Spirit uses in the hearts of those reading them to bring glory to God foremost and to edify the reader. The crux of the problem is that my idea of doing that is one of solace, peace and plenty of time to research, pray and write. Instead, I have to desperately put together these posts by just asking God to speak through me as I write. I never seem to have the time to “do it right.” Of course, I’m sure you see that my idea of how it should be done is more of a self-edifying thing even perhaps an ego building thing. On the other hand, the way it has been going for the last several weeks, even months, is more of a hectic, last minute dash. Here is what I have ended up doing. I “listen” to my circumstances and relationships and my heart all day. Then when it’s time to get a post ready, I simply ask God to help me. Using the background of information I have been accumulating all day, I attempt to find a theme or passage in the scripture that addresses this. More often than not, I completely fail at this. In fact, I can’t remember one time that I have been able to write a post like this. What happens is that, as I read scripture, a passage will strike my heart somehow. I will then use reference material to find related passages. Then I pray for guidance. Then I start to write. Sometimes it works very smoothly from there, but usually I have to do more research. My desperation is finally ended as a post is put to bed, but then, of course, the next day dawns and it all begins again. What is so amazing to me is how God uses this despite me and my failings. It has become so hectic that I cannot imagine how I ever found the time to write four books. Oh well, I believe that God is using “Possessing the Treasure” in far greater ways than He has or ever will use my books. I often wonder why He had me write them, but then I see all of that research and time in prayer and Bible study it took to put those manuscripts together and then it all starts to make sense. I am no different than you. I am totally useless to God and the Kingdom in myself in my own inherent abilities. It is only as God uses me despite myself that it works. He puts me in the fires of desperation so that I will be forced to wait on Him and rely on Him to make it work. Praise be to God! – Mike Ratliff

by Martin Luther

Do not be surprised a the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:12-13)

Peter uses unusual imagery to remind us what Scripture says about suffering. Throughout the Bible, suffering is described as a hot, fiery oven. Elsewhere, Peter says that these trials test our faith just as fire refines gold (1 Peter 1:7). In the book of Isaiah, God says, “I have tested you in the furnace of affliction” (Isaiah 48:10). In Psalms, David says of God, “You probe my heart and examine me at night…you test me” (Psalm 17:3). And regarding Israel, the psalmist says, “We went through fire and water” (Psalm 66:12). So the Bible speaks of suffering as being engulfed in fire or tested by fire. Peter says we shouldn’t become upset or think it’s strange when we experience this fire. We are tested by fire just as gold is refined by fire.

When we begin to believe, God doesn’t abandon us but lays a holy cross upon our backs to strengthen our faith. The gospel is a powerful word, but it cannot do its work without trials. No one will discover its power unless they experience it. The gospel can show its power only where there is a cross and where there is suffering. Because it’s a word of life, it must exercise all its power in death. If dying and death are absent, then it can do nothing. No one would discover that it’s stronger than sin and death.

Peter says painful trials come on us to test us. This fire or heat is the cross and suffering that make us burn. God inflicts this fire for no other reason except to test us, to see whether we’re depending on his Word. That’s why God imposes the cross on all believers. He wants us to experience and demonstrate God’s power.

From Faith Alone – A Daily Devotional – General Editor James C. Galvin

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After that ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you


This devotion is from Spurgeon’s Morning by Morning for July 11.

“After that ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”—1 Peter 5:10.

YOU have seen the arch of heaven as it spans the plain: glorious are its colours, and rare its hues. It is beautiful, but, alas, it passes away, and lo, it is not. The fair colours give way to the fleecy clouds, and the sky is no longer brilliant with the tints of heaven. It is not established. How can it be? A glorious show made up of transitory sun-beams and passing rain-drops, how can it abide? The graces of the Christian character must not resemble the rainbow in its transitory beauty, but, on the contrary, must be stablished, settled, abiding. Seek, O believer, that every good thing you have may be an abiding thing. May your character not be a writing upon the sand, but an inscription upon the rock! May your faith be no “baseless fabric of a vision,” but may it be builded of material able to endure that awful fire which shall consume the wood, hay, and stubble of the hypocrite. May you be rooted and grounded in love. May your convictions be deep, your love real, your desires earnest. May your whole life be so settled and established, that all the blasts of hell, and all the storms of earth shall never be able to remove you. But notice how this blessing of being “stablished in the faith” is gained. The apostle’s words point us to suffering as the means employed—“After that ye have suffered awhile.” It is of no use to hope that we shall be well rooted if no rough winds pass over us. Those old gnarlings on the root of the oak tree, and those strange twistings of the branches, all tell of the many storms that have swept over it, and they are also indicators of the depth into which the roots have forced their way. So the Christian is made strong, and firmly rooted by all the trials and storms of life. Shrink not then from the tempestuous winds of trial, but take comfort, believing that by their rough discipline God is fulfilling this benediction to you.

Joy in the Midst of Suffering


2 My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the LORD;
My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God. Psalms 84:2 (NASB) 

I am in the process of rereading John Bunyan’s Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners. I need the perspective change at times so that I quit listening to the wrangling nature of my flesh and, instead, crucify it, take up my own cross and follow my Lord. That means, I follow His example (1 Peter 2:18-23) instead. Also, this past Sunday, our pastor, Brian Mills, in his sermon, spent some time on the Summer Camp that our Church sends our youth to every Summer here in Oklahoma, which is called Falls Creek. He said something I will will never forget about the importance of the camp experience in the Spiritual growth of these youth. He said it is vital for all of us, in order to grow spiritually, that we starve our flesh and feed our Spirit and that is what happens at camp. I thought about that and realized that my own spiritual development has been along those very lines. I have got alone, denied myself, prayed as much as possible and fed myself from the Word through much Bible Study or Doctrinal studies or Bible translations from the NA28 Greek text to English.  I also spend time in the Word every morning before breakfast as well as reading devotionals and spending time in prayer. This is where God has me. What He has you doing may be different, but this what He has me doing. I also listen to sermons in the evening from several good pastors that I follow like Voddie Bacham and John MacArthur and I listen to lectures or teachings by friends like Alan Kurschner. When you do that, you feed your spirit not your flesh.  Continue reading

In the world ye shall have tribulation


“In the world ye shall have tribulation.”
John 16:33

Art thou asking the reason of this, believer? Look upward to thy heavenly Father, and behold him pure and holy. Dost thou know that thou art one day to be like him? Wilt thou easily be conformed to his image? Wilt thou not require much refining in the furnace of affliction to purify thee? Will it be an easy thing to get rid of thy corruptions, and make thee perfect even as thy Father which is in heaven is perfect? Next, Christian, turn thine eye downward. Dost thou know what foes thou hast beneath thy feet? Thou wast once a servant of Satan, and no king will willingly lose his subjects. Dost thou think that Satan will let thee alone? No, he will be always at thee, for he “goeth about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” Expect trouble, therefore, Christian, when thou lookest beneath thee. Then look around thee. Where art thou? Thou art in an enemy’s country, a stranger and a sojourner. The world is not thy friend. If it be, then thou art not God’s friend, for he who is the friend of the world is the enemy of God. Be assured that thou shalt find foe-men everywhere. When thou sleepest, think that thou art resting on the battlefield; when thou walkest, suspect an ambush in every hedge. As mosquitoes are said to bite strangers more than natives, so will the trials of earth be sharpest to you. Lastly, look within thee, into thine own heart and observe what is there. Sin and self are still within. Ah! if thou hadst no devil to tempt thee, no enemies to fight thee, and no world to ensnare thee, thou wouldst still find in thyself evil enough to be a sore trouble to thee, for “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” Expect trouble then, but despond not on account of it, for God is with thee to help and to strengthen thee. He hath said, “I will be with thee in trouble; I will deliver thee and honour thee.”

Sanctification by Suffering


“Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered.”-Hebrews 5:8

We are told that the Captain of our salvation was made perfect through suffering, therefore we who are sinful, and who are far from being perfect, must not wonder if we are called to pass through suffering too. Shall the head be crowned with thorns, and shall the other members of the body be rocked upon the dainty lap of ease? Must Christ pass through seas of His own blood to win the crown, and are we to walk to heaven dryshod in silver slippers? No, our Master’s experience teaches us that suffering is necessary, and the true-born child of God must not, would not, escape it if he might. But there is one very comforting thought in the fact of Christ’s “being made perfect through suffering”-it is, that He can have complete sympathy with us. “He is not an high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.”1 In this sympathy of Christ we find a sustaining power. One of the early martyrs said, “I can bear it all, for Jesus suffered, and He suffers in me now; He sympathizes with me, and this makes me strong.”

Believer, lay hold of this thought in all times of agony. Let the thought of Jesus strengthen you as you follow in His steps. Find a sweet support in His sympathy; and remember that, to suffer is an honourable thing-to suffer for Christ is glory. The apostles rejoiced that they were counted worthy to do this. Just so far as the Lord shall give us grace to suffer for Christ, to suffer with Christ, just so far does He honour us. The jewels of a Christian are his afflictions. The regalia of the kings whom God hath anointed are their troubles, their sorrows, and their griefs. Let us not, therefore, shun being honoured. Let us not turn aside from being exalted. Griefs exalt us, and troubles lift us up. “If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him.”2

1Hebrews 4:15
22 Timothy 2:12

This devotional is from C.H. Spurgeon’s Morning by Morning for March 29.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Christ’s Suffering and Ours


by Mike Ratliff

1 Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose—because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin— 2 so as to no longer live the rest of the time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. (1 Peter 4:1–2 Legacy Standard Bible)

Resurrection Day or Easter this year is about 4 weeks from now as I write this.  I love to celebrate our Lord’s resurrection because without it our faith is empty and worthless. Those 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. Continue reading

Suffering as a Christian


by Mike Ratliff

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and unfading, having been kept in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:3–7 Legacy Standard Bible)

I was born in 1951. I guess to some people that makes be old and not worth listening to. Since I retired at the end of 2021 it is as if my wife and I have been thrown on the ash heap when it comes to things like medical care and insurance, etc. However, that is not even close to what I see as what it so wrong right now. For awhile I though it was the political agenda wrapped around Covid-19 and how it has changed our society in ways that are not positive at all. There is that, but then I have had friends and relatives who have suffered from very severe cases of Covid that resulted in them getting Pneumonia and coming close to death. One of the men who was part of our Small Group in our Church who left to start his own Small Group contracted Covid and had to be hospitalized. He died there. So, my own two infections of it plus my brother’s and my friends getting very severe cases tells me it is a very real disease. However, just as we looked as if we were getting past that then Putin invades Ukraine.
Continue reading

Filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions


by Mike Ratliff

 24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. 25 Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, 26 that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, 27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:24-27 (NASB)

In this post let us reexamine the role of persecution and suffering in the Gospel. Also, we must agree that God is very actively awakening His people who are in the Scarlet Woman. Persecution comes to Christians who are truly obedient to their Lord. When they obey Him they do not practice empty religion, but, instead, they pursue holiness, abide in Christ, and are Spirit-led, hence their lives are Christlike and this does three things. It brings the wrath of the enemy down on them in various forms of persecution. Their suffering glorifies God and it fills up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. Continue reading

It’s All About Me


by Mike Ratliff

3 “ Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:3-16 (NASB) 

I have often written on this blog and elsewhere about the spiritual awakening that God took me through in 2004. I remember vividly, however, being very confused about some things as I went through that. Several years earlier, I had been deeply involved in several men’s studies at a former church that were built around the teachings of Henry Blackaby. I had been through once and led several times the study called “Experiencing God.” One thing that always puzzled me in that study was how cool it was and how “deep” it was in the beginning and then so wrapped up in spiritual or mystical disciplines toward the end because to progress past the initial seeking where God is working then get involved stage, which was always quite exciting for everyone, it got into those parts of self-discipline that most of the men simply shrugged off and didn’t come back. In any case, I used the context of those studies to evaluate or try to understand what God was doing in my life in August 2004. Things just did not jibe together as I thought they should.  Continue reading

My Soul Waits for the Lord


by Mike Ratliff

1 Hear my prayer, O LORD,
Give ear to my supplications!
Answer me in Your faithfulness, in Your righteousness!
2 And do not enter into judgment with Your servant,
For in Your sight no man living is righteous. Psalms 143:1-2 (NASB) 

3 “ Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:3-4 (NASB) 

24 “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I have hope in Him.”
25 The LORD is good to those who wait for Him,
To the person who seeks Him.
26 It is good that he waits silently
For the salvation of the LORD. Lamentations 3:24-26 (NASB) 

Despite the prevalent “Christian” teachings in our time that suffering is never God’s will for His people, a close, sober, and honest study of scripture reveals that the fires of tribulation are used by God to form and refine His people. The view that God desires of each Christian to always be healthy and prosperous is based on many false assumptions. One false assumption is that salvation is somehow deserved and those who profess faith can claim anything they want from a god who is bound to meet all their requests. Another false assumption moves the focus of salvation from God’s glory to the person’s glory and their “having their best life now.” Sin is seen as simple mistakes that God overlooks because He is all love. Continue reading

Do Not Grow Weary


by Mike Ratliff

28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 (NASB) 

When things appear dark and perhaps the bottom just fell out of a major part of our lives, we may fall into doubt about God’s sustaining grace. However, God is faithful. He is also Sovereign and never taken by surprise by the good and bad events in the lives of His people.

On April 19, 1995 I was at work at Bank of Oklahoma in my office at the BOk Plaza in Oklahoma City, which is just a block South of where the Murrah Federal Building used to be. I was preparing to walk outside into the elevator lobby to go up to the main plaza level to help a person who was having network problems on her PC. I had made an appointment with her for 9:00am. It was about two or three minutes before the hour so I stood up to tell my coworkers where I was headed.

My phone rang so I went back to my desk to answer it. The call lasted until just after 9:00am. I was going to be late for my appointment, so I did all I could do to get through the call, hang up, and head for the door. When I hung up I stood up then turned to tell everyone where I was going and before I could get halfway to the door the strangest sound moved through the ceiling over our heads. It was the shock wave from a massive explosion just up the street, but we didn’t know that at the time. One of my coworkers was sure an elevator had crashed into the basement. Another one said it sounded like a plane or helicopter had crashed nearby. Continue reading

Suffering and God’s Will


by Mike Ratliff

8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. 10 After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. 1 Peter 5:8-10 (NASB) 

Many years ago in a much younger season in my life, I worked with a fellow whose theology was quite different than mine. I had small children at that time and whatever diseases they brought home from school, my wife and I always contracted them. I would come to work suffering from the plague given to me by my children causing my coworker to admonish me for having sin in my life, which, according to him, was the cause of my misery. His theology was that God’s will for His children was that they be healthy, wealthy, and prosperous instead of disease ridden, living within humble means, and not always “winning.” Continue reading

Keeping Watch Against The Coming Tyranny


by Mike Ratliff

 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 Just as it is written,
“FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG;
WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.”
37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 8:31-39 (NASB)

If you look at the links on this blog you will find one to The Sacred Sandwich. Keeping things in context with my last few posts such as The Spirit of Fear, I am linking to a fine essay by C.R. Carmichael from September 1 of this year. He is a fine essayist and I believe he nails this topic succinctly. As I read this essay I kept confirming what he was saying with affirmations and comparisons to the very things me and many of you have been saying for past several months. Continue reading