What are the roots of bitterness and cynicism? 


by Mike Ratliff

29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. 30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:29-32 (NASB) 

Steel is made through the smelting of iron ore. Iron becomes steel as carbon is added while the iron is very hot. What makes steel much harder than iron was not really understood by the ancients who created it. All they knew was that at a certain point in the shaping of a sword they would lay the red hot blade into the coals for a few minutes then resume the process of hammering, cooling in water, re-heating, hammering, cooling in water, et cetera. The finished product was a sword that would not bend in battle and could be sharpened over and over. The blade was actually made up of many pieces of iron rods that were heated, flattened, and folded upon itself over and over. It was hard work, but that was what it took to create a fine, usable steel sword.

17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NASB) 

When we are born of the Spirit at regeneration we are new creations. However, that does not mean that we become instantly sinless. Nor does it mean that we are instantly mature and able to know the will of God in walking before Him for His glory alone. No, these attributes come over time and after much “smelting, hammering, cooling, re-heating of us in the fires of sanctification. When I was a young Christian I remember many times being on the verge of walking away from my faith. Why? It seemed that I was “in the fire” all the time. I am very glad that God preserved me, but I want to share with all of you reading this that God has not stopped this process in me. I have been a believer since 1986, but I am no where near complete and this is obvious as God has not relented in showing me how much I must suffer for the name of Christ. Continue reading

To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever


C.A. Spurgeon from his Morning by Morning devotional for October 10.

24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, 25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. Jude 1:24-25 (KJV) 

Revolve in your mind that wondrous word, “faultless!” We are far off from it now; but as our Lord never stops short of perfection in his work of love, we shall reach it one day.

The Saviour who will keep his people to the end, will also present them at last to himself, as “a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but holy and without blemish.” 1 All the jewels in the Saviour’s crown are of the first water and without a single flaw.

All the maids of honour who attend the Lamb’s wife are pure virgins without spot or stain. But how will Jesus make us faultless? He will wash us from our sins in his own blood until we are white and fair as God’s purest angel; and we shall be clothed in his righteousness, that righteousness which makes the saint who wears it positively faultless; yea, perfect in the sight of God.

We shall be unblameable and unreproveable even in his eyes. His law will not only have no charge against us, but it will be magnified in us. Moreover, the work of the Holy Spirit within us will be altogether complete.

He will make us so perfectly holy, that we shall have no lingering tendency to sin. Judgment, memory, will—every power and passion shall be emancipated from the thraldom of evil. We shall be holy even as God is holy, and in his presence we shall dwell forever.

Saints will not be out of place in heaven, their beauty will be as great as that of the place prepared for them. Oh the rapture of that hour when the everlasting doors shall be lifted up, and we, being made meet for the inheritance, shall dwell with the saints in light.

Sin gone, Satan shut out, temptation past forever, and ourselves “faultless” before God, this will be heaven indeed! Let us be joyful now as we rehearse the song of eternal praise so soon to roll forth in full chorus from all the blood-washed host; let us copy David’s exultings before the ark as a prelude to our ecstasies before the throne.

1Ephesians 5:27

All shall be Thine, Thine only, O Jesus, our Beloved!


C. H. Spurgeon from his Morning by Morning devotional for October 1

“Pleasant fruits, new and old, which I have laid up for thee, O my beloved.”—Song of Solomon 7:13.
THE spouse desires to give to Jesus all that she produces. Our heart has “all manner of pleasant fruits,” both “old and new,” and they are laid up for our Beloved. At this rich autumnal season of fruit, let us survey our stores. We have new fruits. We desire to feel new life, new joy, new gratitude; we wish to make new resolves and carry them out by new labours; our heart blossoms with new prayers, and our soul is pledging herself to new efforts. But we have some old fruits too. There is our first love: a choice fruit that! and Jesus delights in it. There is our first faith: that simple faith by which, having nothing, we became possessors of all things. There is our joy when first we knew the Lord: let us revive it. We have our old remembrances of the promises. How faithful has God been! In sickness, how softly did He make our bed! In deep waters, how placidly did He buoy us up! In the flaming furnace, how graciously did He deliver us. Old fruits, indeed! We have many of them, for His mercies have been more than the hairs of our head. Old sins we must regret, but then we have had repentances which He has given us, by which we have wept our way to the cross, and learned the merit of His blood. We have fruits, this morning, both new and old; but here is the point—they are all laid up for Jesus. Truly, those are the best and most acceptable services in which Jesus is the solitary aim of the soul, and His glory, without any admixture whatever, the end of all our efforts. Let our many fruits be laid up only for our Beloved; let us display them when He is with us, and not hold them up before the gaze of men. Jesus, we will turn the key in our garden door, and none shall enter to rob Thee of one good fruit from the soil which Thou hast watered with Thy bloody sweat. Our all shall be Thine, Thine only, O Jesus, our Beloved!

Be on guard and watch yourself


by Mike Ratliff

11 And do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. 12 The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. Romans 13:11-14 (LSB) 

Genuine Christians are marked in this life by a spiritual journey that God uses to sanctify them. Sanctification is the process whereby God removes Christians from the pollution of the world and conforms them unto His holiness. I have had some emergents and neo-evangelicals attempt to deny this as true for all Christians. They claim that only God is Holy and there is no call by God for His people to repent and mortify their sins. Regardless of what these people say, the Word of God does contradict what they say. Continue reading

Sanctification – Slaves to Righteousness


by Mike Ratliff

17 χάρις δὲ τῷ θεῷ ὅτι ἦτε δοῦλοι τῆς ἁμαρτίας ὑπηκούσατε δὲ ἐκ καρδίας εἰς ὃν παρεδόθητε τύπον διδαχῆς, 18 ἐλευθερωθέντες δὲ ἀπὸ τῆς ἁμαρτίας ἐδουλώθητε τῇ δικαιοσύνῃ. Romans 6:17-18 (NA28)

17Thanks but to God that you were slaves of sin, you obeyed and from the heart to which you were delivered a form of teaching; 18 having been freed and from sin, you were enslaved to righteousness. Romans 6:17-18 (translated from the NA28 Greek Text)

17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.Romans 6:17-18 (NASB) 

17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.Romans 6:17-18 (NASB) 

What does it mean that genuine Christians have been enslaved (εδουλωθητε) to righteousness (δικαιοσυνη)? So many professing Christians today have absolutely no concept of this. It would be safe to say that those professing Christians who are ignorant of this are the vast majority. Some of those ignorant of this have never been properly discipled so their concept of the correct way to walk before the face of God in this life, is based in some sentimental or “culturally relevant” standard instead of what God’s Word says. On the other hand, there are also some in this group who are not genuine Christians. They are not regenerate so they would be those who are still δουλοι της αμαρτιας. Continue reading

Sanctify them through Thy truth


This Devotional comes from Spurgeon’s Morning by Morning for July 4th.

“Sanctify them through Thy truth.”—John 17:17.
SANCTIFICATION begins in regeneration. The Spirit of God infuses into man that new living principle by which he becomes “a new creation”1 in Christ Jesus. This work, which begins in the new birth, is carried on in two ways—mortification, whereby the lusts of the flesh are subdued and kept under; and vivification, by which the life which God has put within us is made to be a well of water springing up unto everlasting life. This is carried on every day in what is called “perseverance,” by which the Christian is preserved and continued in a gracious state, and is made to abound in good works unto the praise and glory of God; and it culminates or comes to perfection, in “glory,” when the soul, being thoroughly purged, is caught up to dwell with holy beings at the right hand of the Majesty on high. But while the Spirit of God is thus the author of sanctification, yet there is a visible agency employed which must not be forgotten. “Sanctify them,” said Jesus, “through thy truth: thy word is truth.” The passages of Scripture which prove that the instrument of our sanctification is the Word of God are very many. The Spirit of God brings to our minds the precepts and doctrines of truth, and applies them with power. These are heard in the ear, and being received in the heart, they work in us to will and to do of God’s good pleasure. The truth is the sanctifier, and if we do not hear or read the truth, we shall not grow in sanctification. We only progress in sound living as we progress in sound understanding. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”2 Do not say of any error, “It is a mere matter of opinion.” No man indulges an error of judgment, without sooner or later tolerating an error in practice. Hold fast the truth, for by so holding the truth shall you be sanctified by the Spirit of God.

12 Corinthians 5:17
2Psalm 119:105

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!

You shall be holy for I am holy


By Mike Ratliff

44 For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. And you shall not make yourselves unclean with any of the swarming things that swarm on the earth. 45 For I am the LORD who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God; thus you shall be holy, for I am holy.’” Leviticus 11:44-45 (NASB) 

Much of the writing and exposing that we do in this battle against the growing apostasy in the Church is, unfortunately, simply about symptoms of a much deeper problem. Several years ago I had lunch with a pastor of a church that my wife and I had been visiting for several Sundays. We talked about many things as we ate our pizza. One question he asked me really stood out though. He asked me what I considered the main problem in our churches. It would have been very easy to point fingers at Rick Warren and others, but I stopped and thought a moment then said, “I believe that one of the main problems was that most professing believers are enslaved to their flesh.” He wholeheartedly agreed with me. 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

Our Heavenly Dwelling and the Ministry of Reconciliation


by Mike Ratliff

1 For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, 3 inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. 4 For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. 2 Corinthians 5:1-4 (NASB) 

As I shared in another post, I tested positive for Covid-19. I retested about a week later when my symptoms seemed to be abating and it was again positive. My symptoms worsened. Then last week I retested again and it still came up as positive. I contacted my son who is an M.D. He had recently gone through the same thing, but was back at work. He told me to quit retesting as I will continue to test positive for about 90 days. This caused me to look back at how long these “symptoms” had been plaguing me. It started the same day I retired which was Christmas Eve. It was also the day that all of our family members came in for the holidays. We had a houseful. That’s when it started. My symptoms have been bad, then almost went away only to come back again and again. So, counting back to Christmas Eve I think I have another month of this up and down stuff. When the symptoms are raging I feel awful. When they abate it is like nothing at all is wrong. While this was all going on my brother had to be hospitalized because he got Pneumonia from the Covid infection he had. That started in December and even though he is home now, he is still on oxygen. I am very thankful that I have not had to go through that. So, as believers we have to ask, “What is God doing through all this?”

Continue reading

Cynicism Bitterness and Sacrifice


by Mike Ratliff

29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. 30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:29-32 (NASB) 

Steel is made through the smelting of iron ore. Iron becomes steel as carbon is added while the iron is very hot. What makes steel much harder than iron was not really understood by the ancients who created it. All they knew was that at a certain point in the shaping of a sword they would lay the red hot blade into the coals for a few minutes then resume the process of hammering, cooling in water, re-heating, hammering, cooling in water, et cetera. The finished product was a sword that would not bend in battle and could be sharpened over and over. The blade was actually made up of many pieces of iron rods that were heated, flattened, and folded upon itself over and over. It was hard work, but that was what it took to create a fine, usable steel sword.

17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NASB) 

When we are born of the Spirit at regeneration we are new creations. However, that does not mean that we become instantly sinless. Nor does it mean that we are instantly mature and able to know the will of God in walking before Him for His glory alone. No, these attributes come over time and after much “smelting, hammering, cooling, re-heating of us in the fires of sanctification. When I was a young Christian I remember many times being on the verge of walking away from my faith. Why? It seemed that I was “in the fire” all the time. I am very glad that God preserved me, but I want to share with all of you reading this that God has not stopped this process in me. I have been a believer since 1986, but I am no where near complete and this is obvious as God has not relented in showing me how much I must suffer for the name of Christ. 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

The Effect of the God-Centered Gospel


by Mike Ratliff

1 What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life— 2 and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete. 1 John 1:1-4 (NASB) 

Most, if not all, of the contention that I have experienced in this ministry has to do with people’s demand to be “justified” on their own terms. For instance, one fellow angrily told me that the genuine gospel was to do good works, to feed the hungry and minister to the homeless. Another one insists that all he has to do is love God and love everyone and that is how he experiences “salvation.” Are these valid forms of the Gospel? Continue reading

Christians Should Bear Their Crosses With Patience


by Mike Ratliff

33 These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NASB) 

The natural man in each of us wants to paint God as a combination of a spiritual Santa Claus and the Genie from Aladdin’s Lamp. We tie our good works into how well our lives go. If we do good things then God will surely see to it that we don’t lose our jobs or we get a great raise each year or our health is good. Equity or fairness is our cry. Just look at our society. Even though it isn’t a reality everyone seems to demand that no one be offended or that everyone be treated fairly. This has bled over into the Church in the 21st Century.

Christians who are driven by their flesh are very superstitious. These folks are the suckers that the hucksters of the Word Faith movement prey upon. These folks give their money away to evangelists and faith healers hoping to be blessed. I remember when I lived in Tulsa in the mid-1980s that Oral and Richard Roberts were preaching “seed-faith” theology. That meant they asked people to send in their money to show their faith and in return God would bless them by multiplying their seed. In other words, send in some money and we guarantee you that God will give back to you even more. Continue reading