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

Do not love the world or the things in the world; If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him


by Mike Ratliff

1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2 ESV)

One of the markers of genuineness in a Christian is separation from the World. This isn’t a physical removal from planet Earth or a disintegration of the body of a Christian. A genuine Christian’s character should be in a continual upgrade unto Christlikeness. That means that as he or she cooperates with God in their sanctification, working out their salvation with fear and trembling, their character will take on more and more of Christ’s character instead of being patterned after the world and its ways. They will love what He loves and hate what he hates. God is love, but He hates a certain type of love. Continue reading

And now, little children, abide in him


by Mike Ratliff

28 And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. 29 If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. (1 John 2:28-29 ESV)

There are two types of people in the world. There are God’s children (genuine Christians) and everyone else. One of the reasons I love to read the Gospel of John, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John and Revelation is that John, the disciple whom Jesus loved (John 21:7), wrote very profound words that have no gray areas. Of course he wrote as the Spirit breathed these words through him, but God used this man’s entire makeup in that process. John was very pastoral, but he was also a Christian apologist of the highest order. He was one the three Apostles who made up the inner circle closest to our Lord during His earthly ministry. Before Jesus called him to be his disciple, he was a disciple of John the Baptist along with Andrew, Peter’s brother. Jesus called him and his brother James, the Sons of Thunder. He had great faith, but like most of us, he could get full of himself and focus inward instead of humble and lined up with our Lord’s will alone. Continue reading

You cannot serve God and money


by Mike Ratliff

1 When you sit down to eat with a ruler, observe carefully what is before you, 2 and put a knife to your throat if you are given to appetite. 3 Do not desire his delicacies, for they are deceptive food. 4 Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. 5 When your eyes light on it, it is gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven. (Proverbs 23:1-5 ESV)

The god of the natural man is self. Worship of self revolves around self-gratification. This idolatry is enhanced in a consumer driven economy such as in the United States. The “visible church” is not immune. From pastors like Steven Furtick becoming so wealthy that he can build a huge 16,000 square foot mansion to Mark Driscoll and his elders forcing all of the leaders in his church to sign non-compete agreements that if they leave that church for whatever reason they cannot start a new church or even become part of an existing church within a certain square mile radius of any of the Mars Hills campuses. These things are the fruit of “ministries” that are focused primarily on the “bottom line.” If you keep these things in mind then you must understand that how these ministers and those like them “minister” to their “flocks” is all designed to keep the money flowing in.

Continue reading

The Compromised Church Part 1 – Humanism


by Mike Ratliff

But he is unchangeable, and who can turn him back? What he desires, that he does. (Job 23:13)

“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2)

For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods.
Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps. (Psalm 135:5-6)

What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:9-18)

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. (Proverbs 14:12)

Humanism: A system of thought that centers on humans and their values, capacities, and worth; the doctrine emphasizing a person’s capacity for self-realization through reason

Reformed Theology – the theological system which emphasizes the omnipotence of God and salvation by grace alone

If you haven’t done so already, please prayerfully read the scripture I have placed at the beginning of this chapter as well as the definitions for “Humanism” and “Reformed Theology.”

God is sovereign. He is omnipotent. He is perfect. He is Holy. He is Just. He is immutable. That means He does not change. He spoke His truth at the beginning of creation and that truth is still the truth now and will be for all eternity. God said in Isaiah 55:8-9 that His thoughts and ways are not as ours are. In fact His thoughts and ways are infinitely higher than ours. When I say “ours” I am speaking of all mankind. There are no exceptions. God said this to Isaiah and Isaiah wrote it down. It is given to us in the Bible which is the perfect Word of God. Continue reading

Repost of Do Not Love the World


The following was first posted on January 18th, 2007.

by Mike Ratliff

1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2 ESV)

One of the markers of genuineness in a Christian is Separation from the World. This isn’t a physical removal from planet Earth or a disintegration of the body of a Christian. A genuine Christian’s character should be in a continual upgrade unto Christlikeness. That means that as he or she cooperates with God in their sanctification, working out their salvation with fear and trembling, their character will take on more and more of Christ’s character. They will love what He loves and hate what he hates. God is love, but He hates a certain type of love. Continue reading

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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Wives and Husbands


Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:22-27 ESV)

This will be my last post this week. My wife and I are traveling from our home in the Kansas City area to Oklahoma City for a week. While there we will be renewing our vows. Our 25th wedding anniversary is the 19th. We will be having the ceremony at the chapel on the campus of the University from which I graduated in 1985. My children have arranged and set up everything. They have also got us two nights in a Victorian Bed and Breakfast in Guthrie, Oklahoma. I should be back home sometime next Monday the 23rd. I don’t think I will have time to write, post or moderate much for the next week, but I will try to check Possessing the Treasure to make sure everything is okay when I can.

In the mean time, I would just like to take this time to encourage each one reading this with Paul’s exhortation to husbands and wives from his Epistle to the Ephesians. None of us are perfect. The environment of a husband and wife living under the same roof is ripe for conflict. That is, it is if one or both of them are selfish, self-centered and looking out for number one. These things poison a marriage. My mom and dad are in their eighties and have been married since 1945. Probably the number one thing I learned from that marriage is that selflessness is vital to a healthy marriage. This is not selflessness by one party and selfishness by the other. If both seek the best for the other in all things, with a determination to love the other by choice, not feelings, then that marriage will be healthy. Notice, I did not say anything about money or possessions or children or a job. These are part of any marriage, but they are not what makes the marriage. Children are blessings from God, but they do not necessarily make a marriage healthy automatically. I love my children, but I love my wife more.

How can we do this? Having a deep personal relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ is key. Married Christians who are growing unto Christlikeness will also treat their spouses as Jesus would. I heard a pastor say once that he was counseling a woman who was complaining about her marriage because it was full of conflict. The pastor then asked this question, “Do you think your spouse would be in this conflict with Jesus?” She was stunned and replied, “No, of course not.” So, if we treat our spouses as Jesus would, will we struggle with hurt feelings, anger over harsh words, or worry about everything?

Finally, love the Lord your God with your whole mind, your whole heart and with your entire being. Give Him your all then watch how all of your relationships, including your marriage, become subject to Him.

In Christ

Mike Ratliff

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The Compromised Church Part 1 – Humanism


by Mike Ratliff

But he is unchangeable, and who can turn him back? What he desires, that he does. (Job 23:13)

“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2)

For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods.
Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps. (Psalm 135:5-6)

What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:9-18)

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. (Proverbs 14:12)

Humanism: A system of thought that centers on humans and their values, capacities, and worth; the doctrine emphasizing a person’s capacity for self-realization through reason

Reformed Theology – the theological system which emphasizes the omnipotence of God and salvation by grace alone

If you haven’t done so already, please prayerfully read the scripture I have placed at the beginning of this chapter as well as the definitions for “Humanism” and “Reformed Theology.”

God is sovereign. He is omnipotent. He is perfect. He is Holy. He is Just. He is immutable. That means He does not change. He spoke His truth at the beginning of creation and that truth is still the truth now and will be for all eternity. God said in Isaiah 55:8-9 that His thoughts and ways are not as ours are. In fact His thoughts and ways are infinitely higher than ours. When I say “ours” I am speaking of all mankind. There are no exceptions. God said this to Isaiah and Isaiah wrote it down. It is given to us in the Bible which is the perfect Word of God. Continue reading

Ten Shekels and a Shirt


The following sermon is one of my personal favorites. I am in full agreement with Brother Reidhead's assessment of "Pragmatism", "utilitarian religion", "Expediant Christianity" and Humanism. The spiritual bankruptcy of the church today is the product of the very things Brother Reidhead preached against here. However, primarily, this sermon is one of personal repentance. Prayerfully listen to or read this sermon or both at once :-).

In Christ

Mike Ratliff Continue reading

Live to Die


by Mike Ratliff

Lately the core messages of my writing and teaching ministry have been not only validated by some events and some reader’s comments, but they have also taken on a deeper and multi-faceted shape. God has given me the message that the majority of His people in the West, The United States and Canada especially, are living their lives for their own glory and tragically within false doctrines. They do not have a biblical view of Man or of God. They live for self-gratification for the most part. They can be quite religious, but their hearts are far from God.

A close reading of the Apostle Paul’s epistles reveals that his concept of the Christian walk was quite different than what we think it should be. We hate suffering and blame God when bad things happen to us. However in the book of Colossians Paul made an incredible statement.

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. (Colossians 1:24-26 ESV)

Pastor John Piper preached a sermon entitled “Live to Die” at a preacher’s conference hosted by John MacArthur. Here are the links to Part 1 and Part2 of that sermon. Prayerfully listen to this incredible exposition of this passage. Also, here is a link to an article I wrote on the same subject here

Odeo link to Part1: [odeo=http://www.odeo.com/audio/1307526/view ]

Odeo link to Part2: [odeo=http://www.odeo.com/audio/1307540/view]