A prayer of praise of God and reflection of the Christian’s relationship with Him


GOD AND MYSELF

LORD GOD ALMIGHTY,
Thy understanding is unsearchable and infinite,
Thy arm cannot be stayed,
Thy agency extends through limitless space,
All works hang on thy care,
With thee time is a present now.

Holy is  thy wisdom, power, mercy, ways, works,
How can I stand before thee
with my numberless and aggravated offences?

I have often loved darkness,
observed lying vanities,
forsaken thy given mercies,
trampled underfoot thy beloved Son,
mocked thy providences,
flattered thee with my lips,
broken thy covenant.

It is of thy compassion that I am not consumed.
Lead me to repentance, and save me from despair;
Let me come to thee renouncing, condemning, loathing myself,
but hoping in the grace that flows even to the chief of sinners.

At the cross may I contemplate the evil of sin, abhor it,
look on him whom I pierced,
as one slain from me, and by me.

May I never despise his death by fearing its efficacy for my salvation.

And whatever cross I am required to bear,
let me see him carrying a heavier.

Teach me in health to think of sickness,
in the brightest hours to be ready for darkness;
in life prepare me for death.

Thus may my soul rest in thee, O immortal and transcendent one,
revealed as thou art in the Person and work of thy Son,
the friend of sinners.

From The Valley of Vision – A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions by Arthur Bennett

I Am the Door


The following is from Charles Spurgeon’s Evening by Evening for December 17th.

“I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”-John 10:9

Jesus, the great I AM, is the entrance into the true church, and the way of access to God Himself. He gives to the man who comes to God by Him four choice privileges.

1. He shall be saved. The fugitive manslayer passed the gate of the city of refuge, and was safe. Noah entered the door of the ark, and was secure. None can be lost who take Jesus as the door of faith to their souls. Entrance through Jesus into peace is the guarantee of entrance by the same door into heaven. Jesus is the only door, an open door, a wide door, a safe door; and blessed is he who rests all his hope of admission to glory upon the crucified Redeemer.

2. He shall go in. He shall be privileged to go in among the divine family, sharing the children’s bread, and participating in all their honours and enjoyments. He shall go in to the chambers of communion, to the banquets of love, to the treasures of the covenant, to the storehouses of the promises. He shall go in unto the King of kings in the power of the Holy Spirit, and the secret of the Lord shall be with him.

3. He shall go out. This blessing is much forgotten. We go out into the world to labour and suffer, but what a mercy to go in the name and power of Jesus! We are called to bear witness to the truth, to cheer the disconsolate, to warn the careless, to win souls, and to glorify God; and as the angel said to Gideon, “Go in this thy might,” even thus the Lord would have us proceed as His messengers in His name and strength.

4. He shall find pasture. He who knows Jesus shall never want. Going in and out shall be alike helpful to him: in fellowship with God he shall grow, and in watering others he shall be watered. Having made Jesus his all, he shall find all in Jesus. His soul shall be as a watered garden, and as a well of water whose waters fail not.

Kept by God


Jehovah God,

Thou Creator, Upholder, Proprietor of all things, I cannot escape from thy presence or control, nor do I desire to do so. My privilege is to be under the agency of omnipotence, righteousness, wisdom, patience, mercy, grace. Thou art love with more than parental affection; I admire thy heart, adore thy wisdom, stand in awe of thy power, abase myself before thy purity. It is the discovery of thy goodness alone that can banish my fear, allure me into thy presence, help me to bewail and confess my sins. When I review my past guilt and am conscious of my present unworthiness I tremble to come to thee, I whose foundation is in the dust, I who have condemned thy goodness, defied thy power, trampled upon thy love, rendered myself worthy of eternal death.

But my recovery cannot spring from any cause in me, I can destroy but cannot save myself. Yet thou hast laid help on One that is mighty, for there is mercy with thee, and exceeding riches in thy kindness through Jesus. May I always feel my need of him. Let thy restored joy be my strength; May it keep me from lusting after the world, bear up heart and mind in loss of comforts, enliven me in the valley of death, work in me the image of the heavenly, and give me to enjoy the first fruits of spirituality, such as angels and departed saints know. – from The Valley of Vision A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions edited by Arthur Bennett


Satan Hinders Us


“Satan hindered us.”-1 Thessalonians 2:18

Since the first hour in which goodness came into conflict with evil, it has never ceased to be true in spiritual experience, that Satan hinders us. From all points of the compass, all along the line of battle, in the vanguard and in the rear, at the dawn of day and in the midnight hour, Satan hinders us. If we toil in the field, he seeks to break the ploughshare; if we build the wall, he labours to cast down the stones; if we would serve God in suffering or in conflict-everywhere Satan hinders us. He hinders us when we are first coming to Jesus Christ. Fierce conflicts we had with Satan when we first looked to the cross and lived. Now that we are saved, he endeavours to hinder the completeness of our personal character. You may be congratulating yourself, “I have hitherto walked consistently; no man can challenge my integrity.” Beware of boasting, for your virtue will yet be tried; Satan will direct his engines against that very virtue for which you are the most famous. If you have been hitherto a firm believer, your faith will ere long be attacked; if you have been meek as Moses, expect to be tempted to speak unadvisedly with your lips. The birds will peck at your ripest fruit, and the wild boar will dash his tusks at your choicest vines. Satan is sure to hinder us when we are earnest in prayer. He checks our importunity, and weakens our faith in order that, if possible, we may miss the blessing. Nor is Satan less vigilant in obstructing Christian effort. There was never a revival of religion without a revival of his opposition. As soon as Ezra and Nehemiah begin to labour, Sanballat and Tobiah are stirred up to hinder them. What then? We are not alarmed because Satan hindereth us, for it is a proof that we are on the Lord’s side, and are doing the Lord’s work, and in His strength we shall win the victory, and triumph over our adversary. – C.H. Spurgeon from Spurgeon’s Evening by Evening devotional.

A Bundle of Myrrh is my Well-Beloved Unto me


“A bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved unto me.”-Song of Solomon 1:13

Myrrh may well be chosen as the type of Jesus on account of its preciousness, its perfume, its pleasantness, its healing, preserving, disinfecting qualities, and its connection with sacrifice. But why is He compared to “a bundle of myrrh”? First, for plenty. He is not a drop of it, He is a casket full. He is not a sprig or flower of it, but a whole bundle. There is enough in Christ for all my necessities; let me not be slow to avail myself of Him. Our well-beloved is compared to a “bundle” again, for variety: for there is in Christ not only the one thing needful, but in “Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,” everything needful is in Him. Take Jesus in His different characters, and you will see a marvellous variety-Prophet, Priest, King, Husband, Friend, Shepherd. Consider Him in His life, death, resurrection, ascension, second advent; view Him in His virtue, gentleness, courage, self-denial, love, faithfulness, truth, righteousness-everywhere He is a bundle of preciousness. He is a “bundle of myrrh” for preservation-not loose myrrh tied up, myrrh to be stored in a casket. We must value Him as our best treasure; we must prize His words and His ordinances; and we must keep our thoughts of Him and knowledge of Him as under lock and key, lest the devil should steal anything from us. Moreover, Jesus is a “bundle of myrrh” for speciality. The emblem suggests the idea of distinguishing, discriminating grace. From before the foundation of the world, He was set apart for His people; and He gives forth His perfume only to those who understand how to enter into communion with Him, to have close dealings with Him. Oh! blessed people whom the Lord hath admitted into His secrets, and for whom He sets Himself apart. Oh! choice and happy who are thus made to say, “A bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved unto me.” – C.H. Spurgeon

God and Myself


LORD GOD ALMIGHTY,

Thy understanding is unsearchable and infinite,

Thy arm cannot be stayed,

Thy agency extends through limitless space,

All works hang on thy care,

With thee time is a present now.

Holy is  thy wisdom, power, mercy, ways, works,

How can I stand before thee

with my numberless and aggravated offences?

I have often loved darkness,

observed lying vanities,

forsaken thy given mercies,

trampled underfoot thy beloved Son,

mocked thy providences,

flattered thee with my lips,

broken thy covenant.

It is of thy compassion that I am not consumed.

Lead me to repentance, and save me from despair;

Let me come to thee renouncing, condemning, loathing myself,

but hoping in the grace that flows even to the chief of sinners.

At the cross may I contemplate the evil of sin, abhor it,

look on him whom I pierced,

as one slain from me, and by me.

May I never despise his death by fearing its efficacy for my salvation.

And whatever cross I am required to bear,

let me see him carrying a heavier.

Teach me in health to think of sickness,

in the brightest hours to be ready for darkness;

in life prepare me for death.

Thus may my soul rest in thee, O immortal and transcendent one,

revealed as thou art in the Person and work of thy Son,

the friend of sinners.

From The Valley of Vision – A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions by Arthur Bennett

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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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Lying in a Manger


by Martin Luther

She gave birth too her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:7)

All of us should use the gospel to evaluate ourselves. How near or far are we from Christ? How are we doing in faith and love? Many become inflamed with dreamy devotion when they hear about how impoverished Christ was when he was born. They grow furious at the people of Bethlehem and criticize their blindness and ingratitude. They think that if they had been there, they would have served the Lord and his mother. They wouldn’t have allowed them to be so miserable. But these people don’t even notice their own neighbors who are nearby and need their help. They ignore them and leave them as they are. Who on earth doesn’t have miserable, sick, blundering, or sinful people around them? Why don’t they show their love to these people? Why don’t they do for their neighbors what Christ did for them?

Don’t deceive yourself by thinking you would have treated Christ well when you don’t presently do anything for your neighbors. If you had been at Bethlehem, you would have paid just as little attention to him as everyone else did. You only want to serve him because you know who his is. Let’s say that he were to come, lie in a manger, and let you know that he is the one you now know so much about. Of course you would want to do something to help. but before that, you wouldn’t have done anything.

Similarly, if you could see your neighbors now as they will be in the future, and if they were lying in front of you, then you certainly would take care of them. But because you only see them for what they are now, you ignore them. You fail to recognize Christ in your neighbors.

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

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Faith’s Checkbook by C.H. Spurgeon – Tuesday December 19, 2006


Afflictions, But No Broken Bones

He keepeth all his bones; not one of them is broken. (Psalm 34:20)

This promise by the context is referred to the much afflicted righteous man: "Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth him out of them all." He may suffer skin wounds and flesh wounds, but no great harm shall be done; "not a bone of him shall be broken."

This is great comfort to a tried child of God, and comfort which I dare accept; for up to this hour I have suffered no real damage from my many afflictions. I have neither lost faith, nor hope, nor love. Nay so far from losing these bones of character, they have gained in strength and energy. I have more knowledge, more experience, more patience, more stability than I had before the trials came. Not even my joy has been destroyed. Many a bruise have I had by sickness, bereavement, depression, slander, and opposition; but the bruise has healed, and there has been no compound fracture of a bone, not even a simple one. The reason is not far to seek. If we trust in the Lord, He keeps all our bones; and if He keeps them, we may be sure that not one of them is broken.

Come, my heart, do not sorrow. Thou art smarting, but there are no bones broken. Endure hardness and bid defiance to fear.

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For those suffering right now


I decided to post this over the top of last night’s post, The Apostate Church, because I felt led to do so by the Spirit. There are many believers suffering through tribulations right now and it may seem that there is no end in sight. Please read the following devotional from Charles Spurgeon’s Faith Checkbook. It was exactly what I needed to hear today. 🙂 Also, I received the following quote this morning from my friend Mark Kettler and I think it fits very well here.

If you have been reduced to God being your only hope, You are in a good place. – Jim Laffoon

In Christ

Mike Ratliff Continue reading

The Genuine Gospel


by Martin Luther

Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1 Peter 1:3)

The book of 1 Peter is a wonderful letter and a model for us. Peter begins by explaining who Christ is and what we have received through him. He says that God has given us a new birth to a living hope through Christ’s resurrection. Likewise, the Father out of pure mercy has given us everything, apart from our merit. These are genuinely evangelical words that must be preached.

May God help us. How little of this message we find in other books! Even among the best, such as those written by Jerome and Augustine, we find hardly anything. Therefore, we must preach about Jesus Christ, that he died and rose from the dead and why he died and was resurrected. We must preach so that the people will believe in him and through faith be saved.

This is what it means to preach the true gospel. Any preaching that is different than this is not the gospel, no matter who preaches it.

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Man a nothing


O LORD,

I am a shell full of dust,

    but animated with an invisible rational soul

    and made anew by an unseen power of grace;

Yet I am no rare object of valuable price,

    but one that has nothing and is nothing,

    although chosen of thee from eternity,

        given to Christ, and born again;

I am deeply convinced of the evil and misery of a sinful state,

    of the vanity of creatures,

    but also of the sufficiency of Christ.

When thou wouldst guide me I control myself,

When thou wouldst be sovereign I rule myself.

When thou wouldst take care of me I suffice myself.

When I should depend on thy providings I supply myself,

When I should submit to thy providence I follow my will,

When I should study, love, honour, trust thee, I serve myself;

I fault and correct thy laws to suit myself,

Instead of thee I look to man’s approbation,

    and am by nature an idolater.

Lord, it is my chief design to bring my heart back to thee.

Convince me that I cannot be my own god, or make myself happy,

    nor my own Christ to restore my joy,

    nor my own Spirit to teach, guide, rule me.

Help me to see that grace does this by providential affliction,

    for when my credit is god thou dost cast me lower,

    when riches are my idol thou dost wing them away,

    when pleasure is my all thou dost turn it into bitterness.

Take away my roving eye, curious ear, greedy appetite, lustful heart;

Show me that none of these things

    can heal a wounded conscience,

    or support a tottering frame,

    or uphold a departing spirit.

Then take me to the cross and leave me there.

From The Valley of Vision – A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions

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God’s Approval of Us


There is much confusion in American Christianity these days. Most of that is due to years upon years of humanistic preaching and teaching. Humanistic pollution of the Church is nothing new. Pelagianism, semi-Pelagiansim, and Arminianism are all tainted, if not based in, a man-based orientation. If we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that our natural state causes us to view God and Christianity from a humanistic viewpoint. At salvation God regenerates new believer’s hearts. This new birth is very dramatic. In it, the new believer’s heart is completly remade as God places His Word there. Unbelief is eroded. It may take many years for some Christians to completly let go of their humanistic “faith” while others grow in grace very quickly to become the Spirit-led believers who live for God’s glory alone.

Follow this link to a devotional by Martin Luther which contrasts the natural man’s view of God and His ways with that of a regenerate believer’s. Of course this contrast will by from God’s viewpoint not Man’s.

In Christ

Mike Ratliff

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A Flicker of Faith


As we have been studying the book of Job in the context of the Sovereignty of God in suffering of His people, a constant theme has emerged. Our faith is not only cleansed in the fires of tribulation, it is strengthened and deepened. The false gospel of easy believism ignores or suppresses these truths. As God draws His people into the light of His truth, He uses suffering, tests and trials to break through our self-protective layers of pride and false humility. This smashes and cuts through our spiriutal blindness. As we obediently remain in the fire, and as we emerge, we will have a clearer view of God and His ways and our position before Him. We will clearly see the lies that keep most Christians in the bondage of humanism. This devotional by Martin Luther clearly shows how our faith is strengthened by God’s grace in the fires of tribulation.

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