I will strengthen thee


by Mike Ratliff

10 ‘Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ Isaiah 41:10 (NASB) 

I saw an Christian encouragement meme a few days ago that went something like this, “When you see a Christian who is at peace in the midst of chaos what you are witnessing is a mature believer who has been through the fire and has learned where their strength comes from and in whom to trust.” Of course the source of their strength is the Lord and the one in whom they trust is also Him. Our enemy has his puppets in power seemingly everywhere right now. What is their message continually? Be afraid! Worry! Doom and gloom! This affects everything. Yes, we are in Christ, but we also must make our way through this fallen world on the way to the Celestial City. That means we have to make a living, prepare for retirement, somehow have the right medical care and insurance, etc. In other countries those things I mentioned aren’t even options. People are just after their next meal and struggle to provide for their families. This world is fallen and Satan has been allowed by God to be the ruler of those in darkness. Continue reading

Cast your burden upon the Lord


by Mike Ratliff

33 The lot is cast into the lap,
But its every decision is from the LORD. Proverbs 16:33 (NASB) 

30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. Matthew 10:30-31 (NASB) 

33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33 (NASB) 

22 Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you;
He will never allow the righteous to be shaken. Psalms 55:22 (NASB) 

I was not part of the discussion. All I did was put my “like” on the original statement, which showed the contrast between the fallacy of Easy-believes/Works-Righteousness and genuine salvation that is based in the Biblically sound teaching of the sovereignty of God. My heart rejoiced in doing that. Why? I once was confused about how I actually came to Christ. However, as I studied the sovereignty of God in the context of our salvation I joyfully came to the understanding that God did it all. However, as I read some of the comments below the original statement I was very disappointed in some of them. I saw some who actually denied that they were “saved” because they were first drawn to Christ by God. This actually denies what our Lord said in John 6:44. Now that does not mean they weren’t first drawn to Christ, it just means they could have just been more confused than I was before God enlightened me. However, the purpose of this post, while being about the sovereignty and grace of God, is not about how Christians are “saved.” No, it is how we are to live after we are called, regenerated, and justified. Continue reading

God is Sovereign man is not


by Mike Ratliff

9 And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; 10 for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city.” Acts 18:9-10 (NASB) 

As many of you know if you have been following me for awhile, I am preparing to retire. My wife and I are really going through the wringer getting ready for this. Both of us are 70 year old. The way this Medicare and Medicare and insurance stuff is going along with getting my medical stuff moved over to the VA and my wife’s coverage moved over to Medicare is like a very bad dream at times. In any case, I am getting a real look at the gritty side of reality and I am positive God is allowing this for a reason. That is how he works with me so that I can learn what He wants me to learn so I can pass that on to you. I am also friends with many very good theologians who are right on the edge right now with current events and how what is going on points to God’s coming judgment. Here is a video I watched today that one of those friends linked to on Twitter. That is what is going on in Australia. I just came back from Washington, DC where my son lives. Everywhere we went we had to wear masks. I had to wear my mask in both airports and on the plane for the entire flights both ways. It was such a relief to get back to OKC and put that thing away. What is my point? Who is sovereign? What should we as Christians be about no matter what is going on all around us? Continue reading

The Lord’s portion is His people


by Mike Ratliff

8 “When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance,
When He separated the sons of man,
He set the boundaries of the peoples
According to the number of the sons of Israel.
9 “For the LORD’S portion is His people;
Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance. Deuteronomy 32:8-9 (NASB)

Over the years I have been part of and have witnessed many debates and discussions about our salvation and what parts God and we play in it. I have heard more than a few times professing Christians protest against the truth of passages such as John 6:44 and Ephesians 1 & 2 saying things like, “Whatever Jesus or Paul meant there, it couldn’t mean that!” Or, “I can’t see how you could have any assurance if that is true!” The “that” they were referring to, of course, was our salvation is 100% God’s work from beginning to end. It is that we are saved by Grace through Faith and that not of ourselves, it is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9). To be honest, I am baffled by that reaction because I know for certain that unless God did everything to save me, I would still be lost. However, I am His and I worship Him daily praising Him for His grace and mercy from a grateful heart knowing full well that this sinner deserves nothing but His wrath for my sin, but He has forgiven me and cleansed me of all that, regenerated me unto a new creation and I am now one of His people. This is possible because of the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin. Now, if you are in Christ, like me, then you are also one of His people, the Lord’s portion.

Continue reading

Underneath are the everlasting arms


by Mike Ratliff

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms
by A.J. Showalter
What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
Refrain:
Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.
O how sweet to walk, In this pilgrim way,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
O how bright the path grows from day to day,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
Refrain
What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
Refrain

Growing up in Southern Baptist churches in Oklahoma in the 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s I learned to love some, but not all, of those old hymns we sung. Even to this day I can still hear those voices in our church sing in those tones that were not loud or harsh or meant to entertain, but were directed to the throne in Heaven in praise. When my mother grew older and could no longer attend church because she was in an assisted living center I used to love to pick her up and take her to church, however, I could tell she would rather hear those old hymns than some of the newer stuff that our churches seem to be in love with these days. I am pretty much the same way. Give me real worship music and hymns with meaning and sermons rooted deep in solid Biblical doctrine and my soul is well pleased. I believe they call that edification. Continue reading

The Good Shepherd


by Mike Ratliff

11 Ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ποιμὴν ὁ καλός. ὁ ποιμὴν ὁ καλὸς τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ τίθησιν ὑπὲρ τῶν προβάτων· John 10:11 (NA28)

11 I am the Good Shepherd. The good one lays down his life for the sheep. John 10:11 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In our post from February 28th, The Son of Man is the Good Shepherd, we looked closely at John 9 and the Lord’s healing of the man born blind. This caused a large confrontation with the Jewish religious leaders who could not refute the healing, but refused to believe that Jesus was from God because He healed the man on the Sabbath. Jesus absolutely refused to conform to their religious expectations in any way. There was not one iota of compromise in His method of ministry in order to be as “inclusive” as possible. No, after the fact, after these men had cast the man whom Jesus had healed out of the Synagogue, Jesus found and as we see in John 9:35-41,  this man believed and worshiped our Lord, but those who refused to believe, our Lord confronted further saying that they had no excuse for their unbelief since they claimed to believe the Law and the Prophets, which our Lord was fulfilling with His life and ministry. Then in John 10:1-6 He makes it very clear that all leaders like them are false shepherds of the people. He makes it clear that the true sheep hear the voice of the true shepherd and follow Him, referring to Himself. Now we come to John 10:7-21.  Continue reading

Let Down Your Nets For A Catch


by Mike Ratliff

4 When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Luke 5:4 (NASB) 

The builder and sustainer of the Church, the Body of Christ, is the Lord Jesus not any man (Matthew 16:18). The building of the true Church is accomplished as God works through the foolishness of preaching to draw people from the darkness into the light and life that is found in Christ alone. It is built up in Christ through the means of grace, which are ordained by God not men. While we see that it is God who actually is doing the building, He has chosen to work through His servants to accomplish that which will bring Him glory. These servants that He uses as fishers of men are symbolically like the fishermen in their boats on the Sea of Galilee who cast their nets to catch fish to sell as their business. Let us make some comparisons.  Continue reading

Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns


by Mike Ratliff

5 And a voice came from the throne, saying,
“Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great.” 6 Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying,
“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Revelation 19:5-6 (NASB)

What a joy it was to meet in our Small Group last night. We ate together. We prayed. We had a Bible Study. We then had prayer requests then prayer time. During our Bible Study we did discuss what we are commanded to do in God’s Word to become mature believers and how those teachings are neglected in many churches. Some came from other churches where there was no emphasis on discipleship. Some of us are more mature than others because we were discipled. At the center of being a branch abiding the vine, who is Christ (John 15), is submitting to Him as Lord not only as we believed and were saved, but also on a daily basis as we walk through this life. We do this as we present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy, acceptable to God which is our reasonable service (Romans 12:1). Then we walk through our days not being conformed to this world, but being transformed by the renewing of our minds, that we may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2). So, what happens when we walk through our days this way as we encounter the obstacles placed in the way by our enemy? What about our trials and tribulations we all must deal with? Continue reading

Who is Responsible for a Believer’s Salvation?


by Mike Ratliff

30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 1 Corinthians 1:30 (ESV) 

There are so many who want to attack the teachings I post with their extra-biblical arguments, which are mostly based in tradition. There are many topics where the numbers of those doing this drop drastically, but when it comes to the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and how it relates to what is hot in the visible church “right now” my spam bucket seems to fill up fast.  Continue reading

It is not of yourself


by Mike Ratliff

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 (NASB 2020) 

I have learned to never be surprised when I teach a group of believers about our Justification that no matter how mature most of them are, there is still various misunderstandings about it. I used to be surprised, but have come to understand that the famine of solid discipleship has been neglected in our churches for a very long time. Even in those churches that are very solid when it comes to preaching the gospel the emphasis has been heavy on evangelism and light on discipleship. I have heard way too many younger preachers say to their congregations that focus on “doctrine” can cause division so they will just preach the Word. Well, how do you do that? Continue reading

The Lord is the Strength of His People


by Mike Ratliff

8 The LORD is their strength,
And He is a saving defense to His anointed.
9 Save Your people and bless Your inheritance;
Be their shepherd also, and carry them forever. Psalms 28:8-9 (NASB) 

The Genuine Christian walk is actually part of a war. Each believer’s walk is a battle or skirmish in that war. As we see in Ephesians 6:10-20, this war is not specifically against other people. Even if heretics or apostates rant and rave against us or terrorists from some pagan religion threaten our lives, our war is against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. The people who attack us are in some way controlled by these evil forces. Continue reading

God will not Forsake His Saints


by Mike Ratliff

34 Wait for the LORD and keep His way,
And He will exalt you to inherit the land;
When the wicked are cut off, you will see it. Psalms 37:34 (NASB) 

Several years ago The Discovery Channel released a movie that supposedly showed a grave from an archaeological dig in Israel that contained the bones of Jesus, Mary, and other members of that family. Before people actually saw it the hype certainly caused many interesting responses from people. I remember reading responses that I agreed completely with which were obviously based from the foundation of faith. I mean either we believe God or we believe men. However, I read responses from some professing Christians who were distraught about this “news” as if it would somehow destroy Christianity. I pitied them. Their faith seemed to be based entirely on sight. Now here we are in 2021 and the unbelieving Main Stream Media still does this sort of thing it seems annually. Their goal seems to be an attempt to destroy our faith. Of course, they never get anything right about our Lord Jesus because they don’t know Him because they are ignorant of the Truth. Those professing believers who have angst about these things show that their faith is not genuine by how they react to the lies.  Continue reading

I and the Father Are One


by Mike Ratliff

9 I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours; 10 and all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them. 11 I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. 12 While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled. John 17:9-12 (NASB) 

In this post we will look at the sovereignty of God through the exposition of John 10:22-42. There is much here. In this passage, we not only have our Saviour’s claim of deity and equality with God, but that He also assumed His complete sovereignty over all things. This is why I find it so strange when professing Christians have a mindset similar to that of the Jews of the 1st Century, that what they believed, did, did not do, et cetera, determined everything. I have actually had more than a few fellows tell me plainly that it did not matter how clear I showed them the truth, they did not believe it so that settled it. From that I backed away and like our Lord in Mark 6:6, I marveled at their unbelief.  Continue reading

Those Who Love Jesus Keep His Commandments


by Mike Ratliff

15 Ἐὰν ἀγαπᾶτέ με, τὰς ἐντολὰς τὰς ἐμὰς τηρήσετε· John 14:15 (NA28)

15 “If you love Me, you will keep my commandments;” John 14:15 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In this post we will look at John 14:15-31, which is last part of the dialogue between our Lord and His disciples in the upper room after the Passover Feast just prior to His arrest in the garden on the other side of the Kidron Valley from Jerusalem (John 18). Never forget my brethren, our Lord did not come to bring all people together. His message was one of division. That was what He said. Also, His ministry was to reveal the Father (John 1:14, 18), to bring glory to Him. In this post we will see that our Lord even further defines who are truly His. Continue reading