Make me know Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths


by Mike Ratliff

1 To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
2 O my God, in You I trust,
Do not let me be ashamed;
Do not let my enemies exult over me.
3 Indeed, none of those who wait for You will be ashamed;
Those who deal treacherously without cause will be ashamed.
4 Make me know Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
5 Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
For You I wait all the day. Psalms 25:1-5 (NASB)

Doubting God and His promises, worrying about things that are in God’s control are sins. Our enemy focuses primarily in his attacks on us on attempting to bring us to a place where we doubt God. This struggle comes to all who commit themselves to serving God with their lives. The closer they draw to God, the more Satan or his forces attempt to bring discouragement and despair to bear on these believers in an attempt to thwart their devotion to their Lord. Continue reading

Does prayer change things?


by Mike Ratliff

16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit. James 5:16-18 (NASB) 

I participate in many online and offline theological discussions. Some them have to do with today’s topic and for those whose faith is focused on the here and now rather than the eternal it is perplexing. However, just so we can address this issue, let us ponder it in the correct fashion. In light of the fact that God is sovereign over all and has ordained whatsoever comes to pass according to the good pleasure of His will (Ephesians 1:11), why should we pray? If God already knows what is going to happen and, indeed, if He has already determined what will happen, what is the point of praying at all? Continue reading

Be anxious for nothing


by Mike Ratliff

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7 (NASB) 

Where I work, we are having a great deal of turmoil with a lot of turnover with people departing including my boss. The person over all the technology departments has put one of my coworkers over our DBA group as a “team lead,” whatever that means.  She is quite a bit younger than me. She is competent as a DBA. I have been getting signals from her emails and phone calls over past several days and also from my fellow DBAs that she is really pushing the envelope hard to look like a competent manager and is asking for all sorts of reports and for us to do goal setting, etc. I am 67 years old and a few weeks ago had made up my mind to continue to work for a few more years in order to get some things paid off before I retire. However, these things are very frustrating. Last week I “pushed back” on a few of her requests telling her that it was something that was not what a DBA could ever do nor needs to do. We solve problems. We do installs. We don’t goal set. We don’t play management games. She told me I had to do it anyway. We’ll see. In any case, I no longer want to go to work. I no longer want to have anything to do with the company I work for. They have been very good to me since 2001, but this is too much. I am really not in the financial position to simply retire yet. So I started praying about it more and more. Continue reading

Genuine prayer is powerful


by Mike Ratliff

Why do we pray? Don’t we pray because we have been instructed to do so in the Bible? Sadly, most Christians probably aren’t praying in a way that honors God or builds faith. Martin Luther wrote much on prayer. In his chapter “Of Prayer” from Table Talk, we learn the Biblical concept of prayer rather than one from Man’s reason. The following lesson is numbered CCCXXVIII. Continue reading

Courage found to pray


by Mike Ratliff

27 For You, O Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have made a revelation to Your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house’; therefore Your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to You. 2 Samuel 7:27 (NASB) 

There is a difference between how a genuine believer should pray and how most professing Christians actually pray. Our perception is that we pray as we feel or desire or as the result of viewing both our needs and other’s needs. What we often overlook is that God is heavily involved in all aspects of our sanctification and that includes leading us in prayer. God loves those who are His and blessing them is part of His expression of that love. Continue reading

Pray at all times


by Mike Ratliff

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. Ephesians 6:17-20 (NASB) 

Ungodly focus is the focus that everyone has except for the Spirit-filled believer. This focus is oriented to self. Believers who are self-focused are either baby Christians or they have succumbed to Satan’s attacks against them. These attacks are designed specifically to render each believer powerless and without a Christlike testimony. He does this with temptations, fiery darts, that are designed to bring believers to be self-satisfied, self-sufficient, and spiritually arrogant. Of course, these are the marks of a Christian who is not humble, but whose pride is in control. Continue reading

The nature of hypocrisy


by Mike Ratliff

6 “I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go.
My heart does not reproach any of my days.
7 “May my enemy be as the wicked
And my opponent as the unjust.
8 “For what is the hope of the godless when he is cut off,
When God requires his life?
9 “Will God hear his cry
When distress comes upon him?
10 “Will he take delight in the Almighty?
Will he call on God at all times? Job 27:6-10 (NASB)

One of the easiest accusations that Christians can hurl at one another is the epitaph “Hypocrite!” I probably receive at least half a dozen emails or comments a week with that accusation firmly pointed at me. Most of those never make it through the spam process. What is a hypocrite? A hypocrite may be a very neat imitation of a Christian. He professes to know God, to converse with him, to be dedicated to his service, and to invoke his protection: he even practices prayer, or at least feigns it. Yet the cleverest counterfeit fails somewhere, and may be discovered by certain signs. The test is here: “Will he call on God at all times?Continue reading

Prayer that is powerful and effectual


by Mike Ratliff

16 ἐξομολογεῖσθε οὖν ἀλλήλοις τὰς ἁμαρτίας καὶ εὔχεσθε ὑπὲρ ἀλλήλων ὅπως ἰαθῆτε. Πολὺ ἰσχύει δέησις δικαίου ἐνεργουμένη. James 5:16 (NA28)

16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray on behalf of one another so that you may be cured. The petition of the righteous, being effective, has great power. James 5:16 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Prayer, to me, has always been a very personal thing. Yes, I have always admired those people who can pray those long eloquent prayers publicly, but I am not one of those. When I pray, I do so with a one-on-one between me and God. Of course, there is always Paul’s exhortation from 1 Thessalonians 5:17.

17 ἀδιαλείπτως προσεύχεσθε, 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NA28)

17 unceasingly pray, 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

That exhortation is talking about how we walk through each day, that is, with our focus being eternal rather than temporal. I, for one, believe that this is more important for me to do than learning how to pray long eloquent prayers in public. In any case, prayer is important and it is far more important to pray as James described, don’t you think?
Continue reading

Enjoying Christ’s fullness as mine


by Mike Ratliff

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ ”
16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. John 1:14-16 (NKJV) 

There is a certain hysteria currently amongst many of our 21st Century Puritans. While I gladly count myself as a Puritan, I also know that our enemy desires to shackle and nullify our witness and divert our focus, by feeding our heightened perceptions as to what is godly and what is false with misleading and derogatory information that cause us to turn on one another. Having experienced this against my own ministry since its inception I can say that it is very frustrating and eye opening. Continue reading

Pray without ceasing


by Mike Ratliff

17 pray without ceasing; 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NASB) 

Of all of the commands from 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22 I am sure that the one from v17, which I placed above, has caused the most consternation and possibly the most bad theology of all the others combined. What does Paul mean that we should “pray without ceasing?”  Is this even possible without becoming a monk in some monastery locked up in a cell to spend the rest of your days praying and doing nothing else? Some have actually taught that and tried to put it into practice just like I described. Let us take a closer look.

Continue reading

The prayer of God’s people


by Mike Ratliff

27 For You, O Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have made a revelation to Your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house’; therefore Your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to You. 2 Samuel 7:27 (NASB) 

Is there a difference between how a genuine believer should pray and how most professing Christians actually pray? Our perception is that we pray as we feel or desire or as the result of viewing both our needs and other’s needs. What we often overlook is that God is heavily involved in all aspects of our sanctification and that includes leading us in prayer. God loves those who are His and blessing them is part of His expression of that love. Continue reading

What is strange fire unto the Lord?


by Mike Ratliff

1 Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. Leviticus 10:1-2 (NASB) 

9 But you are A chosen race, A royal priesthood, A holy nation, A people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-10 (NASB) 

Until 2004 I could not stand to read some Old Testament books such as Leviticus and Job. I would read them only to find my mind wandering off in all directions. It was frustrating. However, something wonderful happened after God changed me over a period of about 8 months from January through August. I don’t know exactly what He did or how He did it, but I do know that until that time I was very religious, but very self-focused. I loved the Lord, and served in many capacities in church. I was a Bible teacher. However, the rest of the time I was totally self-focused. I was fleshly. I was focused on my own desires. However, at the same time, I was very frustrated with my lack of self-control. I desperately wanted victory over these things. Continue reading

The root of a godly focused life


by Mike Ratliff

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. Ephesians 6:17-20 (NASB) 

Ungodly focus is the focus that everyone has except for the Spirit-filled believer. This focus is oriented to self. Believers who are self-focused are either baby Christians or they have succumbed to Satan’s attacks against them. These attacks are designed specifically to render each believer powerless and without a Christlike testimony. He does this with temptations, fiery darts, that are designed to bring believers to be self-satisfied, self-sufficient, and spiritually arrogant. Of course, these are the marks of a Christian who is not humble, but whose pride is in control. Continue reading

Justified


by Mike Ratliff

23 πάντες γὰρ ἥμαρτον καὶ ὑστεροῦνται τῆς δόξης τοῦ θεοῦ 24 δικαιούμενοι δωρεὰν τῇ αὐτοῦ χάριτι διὰ τῆς ἀπολυτρώσεως τῆς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ· 25 ὃν προέθετο ὁ θεὸς ἱλαστήριον διὰ [τῆς] πίστεως ἐν τῷ αὐτοῦ αἵματι εἰς ἔνδειξιν τῆς δικαιοσύνης αὐτοῦ διὰ τὴν πάρεσιν τῶν προγεγονότων ἁμαρτημάτων 26 ἐν τῇ ἀνοχῇ τοῦ θεοῦ, πρὸς τὴν ἔνδειξιν τῆς δικαιοσύνης αὐτοῦ ἐν τῷ νῦν καιρῷ, εἰς τὸ εἶναι αὐτὸν δίκαιον καὶ δικαιοῦντα τὸν ἐκ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ. Romans 3:23-26 (NA28)

23 for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption of Christ Jesus, 25 whom God displayed as a propitiation by his blood received through faith. This was in order to display his righteousness because in his divine forbearance, he passed over previously occurred sins. 26 This was to display his righteousness in the present time, for him to be just and the justifier of the one having faith in Jesus. Romans 3:23-26 (translated from the NA28 Greek text) 

In my mornings before work or before anything else if it is the weekend or a holiday I spend some time in prayer as the coffee brews. I write down what I pray as this helps me focus. There is nothing legalistic in this. There is nothing mystical about it. This just helps me pray. It also gives me a record of what I pray, which is pretty cool when God answers one of those requests. Part of all of my prayer contain something similar to this,“…I pray for your glory in and through me this day. I pray for your kingdom to come into fulfillment soon. I pray for you to be glorified in my worship of you this day in church and in my walk and service. Use me as you will. I pray for wisdom and discernment…” There is alway more of course. Some days are better than others, but on those days when God’s Word really speaks to me and as I pray I do indeed worship. It is on those days that I have a deep sense of the magnitude of our Election, the Atonement, and our Justification. On those days, I worship, Oh yes, I worship our Lord and Saviour!  Continue reading