Learn, dear reader, to glorify the Lord by leaving means untried


C. H. Spurgeon devotion from his Morning by Morning for September 24.

“For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek Him; but His power and His wrath is against all them that forsake Him.”—Ezra 8:22.

A convoy on many accounts would have been desirable for the pilgrim band, but a holy shame-facedness would not allow Ezra to seek one. He feared lest the heathen king should think his professions of faith in God to be mere hypocrisy, or imagine that the God of Israel was not able to preserve His own worshippers. He could not bring his mind to lean on an arm of flesh in a matter so evidently of the Lord, and therefore the caravan set out with no visible protection, guarded by Him who is the sword and shield of His people. It is to be feared that few believers feel this holy jealousy for God; even those who in a measure walk by faith, occasionally mar the lustre of their life by craving aid from man. It is a most blessed thing to have no props and no buttresses, but to stand upright on the Rock of Ages, upheld by the Lord alone. Would any believers seek state endowments for their Church, if they remembered that the Lord is dishonoured by their asking Caesar’s aid? as if the Lord could not supply the needs of His own cause! Should we run so hastily to friends and relations for assistance, if we remembered that the Lord is magnified by our implicit reliance upon His solitary arm? My soul, wait thou only upon God. “But,” says one, “are not means to be used?” Assuredly they are; but our fault seldom lies in their neglect: far more frequently it springs out of foolishly believing in them instead of believing in God. Few run too far in neglecting the creature’s arm; but very many sin greatly in making too much of it. Learn, dear reader, to glorify the Lord by leaving means untried, if by using them thou wouldst dishonour the name of the Lord.

 


Drinking Living Water


by Mike Ratliff

10 ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῇ· εἰ ᾔδεις τὴν δωρεὰν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τίς ἐστιν ὁ λέγων σοι· δός μοι πεῖν, σὺ ἂν ᾔτησας αὐτὸν καὶ ἔδωκεν ἄν σοι ὕδωρ ζῶν. John 4:10 (NA28)

10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me to drink,’ you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.”John 4:10 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Sacred Scripture clearly teaches us that those who are saved by God believe in the Lord Jesus, that is, they believe the Gospel or Good News. It is good news because it comes to those who realize they are helpless to justify themselves before God who is Holy, Righteous, and Just and also know for certain that their own righteousness is as filthy rags, that is, worthless. The good news is that someone else has paid their sin debt to God for them. They are no longer hopelessly in debt to God. Of course, this applies only to those who believe. The Apostle John used several images or analogies to vividly portray what it is to truly believe in Jesus. In John 6:56, 8:31, and 15:7 he used the physical image of believers abiding or remaining in Jesus and His Word. In John 8:12 and 12:35-36, he used the analogy of believers walking in and having the light. In John 6:53-56 he gives us our Lord’s hard preaching and His own standard of eating His flesh and drinking His blood. In John 6:35, 47-48, 50-51, and 53-58 he gives us our Lord’s image of real believers eating the bread of life. In John 4:10-14 and 7:37-38, we read of real believers drinking living water. In this post, we will look at John 4:1-42.  Continue reading

Jesus Deals With Unbelief


by Mike Ratliff

48 εἶπεν οὖν ὁ Ἰησοῦς πρὸς αὐτόν· ἐὰν μὴ σημεῖα καὶ τέρατα ἴδητε, οὐ μὴ πιστεύσητε. John 4:48 (NA28)

48 Therefore, Jesus said to him, “Except you see signs and wonders you never believe!” John 4:48 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

From September  2001 to December 2012 God had us residing in the Kansas City area. In that city is a “church” that calls itself “World Revival Church.” It is closely associated with another “church” that was sued by the corporation International House of Pancakes because it used the same logo, i.e. IHOP. In any case, the people behind these “churches” advertise heavily on the television during the evening news hour. The focus of their ads is not to come there to see God glorified or to come and learn about Jesus our Lord and Saviour. Nope, it is all about “feelings” and “being blessed” and “experiences.” I have written about them before. There are some very disturbing videos portraying “signs and wonders” on Youtube about them as well. In any case, what they promote is attending their church for the experience, to get something for self, all subjectively. Contrast that with our Lord’s own words from John 4:48 (above).  Continue reading

To Abide You Must First Believe


by Mike Ratliff

καὶ τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἔχετε ἐν ὑμῖν μένοντα, ὅτι ὃν ἀπέστειλεν ἐκεῖνος, τούτῳ ὑμεῖς οὐ πιστεύετε. (John 5:38 NA27)

“And His Word you do not have abiding in you because He whom He sent, this one you do not believe.” (a personal translation of John 5:38 from the NA27 Greek text)

In John 5:30-47 the apostle gives us several witnesses to establish the truthfulness and genuiness of Jesus Christ and His ministry. Our Lord Jesus presented these witnesses who testified to His identity as the Son to those who opposed Him. The first witness given is John the Baptist in vv32-35. The second witness is our Lord’s own words in vv 35, 36. The third witness is the Father in vv 37, 38. The fourth witness is the Old Testament Scriptures in vv 39-47. However, as is the case from this point to the end of John, those who most vehemently opposed our Lord and His ministry, refused to believe.  Continue reading

What does it mean that Jesus has overcome the world?


by Mike Ratliff

33 ταῦτα λελάληκα ὑμῖν ἵνα ἐν ἐμοὶ εἰρήνην ἔχητε. ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ θλῖψιν ἔχετε· ἀλλὰ θαρσεῖτε, ἐγὼ νενίκηκα τὸν κόσμον. (John 16:33 NA28)

33 These things I have spoken to you that in Me you have peace. In the world you have affliction, but be cheerful, I have overcome the world. (John 16:33 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

God is Sovereign and Jesus Christ, the son of man, is the Son of God. Our Lord came to reveal the Father and through His perfect life become the propitiation for those He came to save. Through His death, as He willingly laid His life down, He purchased a people for Himself who are all those who believe the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These are justified by grace through faith alone as a gift from God. These are given to the Son by God the Father. Those of us who remain alive in this world who are part of His Church often wonder why we were left here in this evil place. Sadly, many professing Christians are quite at home here.  Continue reading

The Plots to Kill Jesus and Lazarus


by Mike Ratliff

9 Ἔγνω οὖν [ὁ] ὄχλος πολὺς ἐκ τῶν Ἰουδαίων ὅτι ἐκεῖ ἐστιν καὶ ἦλθον οὐ διὰ τὸν Ἰησοῦν μόνον, ἀλλʼ ἵνα καὶ τὸν Λάζαρον ἴδωσιν ὃν ἤγειρεν ἐκ νεκρῶν. 10 ἐβουλεύσαντο δὲ οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς ἵνα καὶ τὸν Λάζαρον ἀποκτείνωσιν, 11 ὅτι πολλοὶ διʼ αὐτὸν ὑπῆγον τῶν Ἰουδαίων καὶ ἐπίστευον εἰς τὸν Ἰησοῦν. John 12:9-11 (NA28)

9 Therefore, when the great crowd of Jews knew that Jesus was there, they came not because of Him only, but also because of Lazarus that they may see whom He raised from the dead. 10 But the Chief Priests took counsel that they might kill Lazarus also 11 because of him, many were going away and believing in Jesus. John 12:9-11 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The hard heart that is in the darkness of unbelief simply will not believe even when given irrefutable evidence. That is what the earthly ministry of our Lord was. He fulfilled those prophecies exactly of the Messiah that were given by those Old Testament prophets that the fathers of these very men also persecuted and killed. John made it clear in the dialogues and the examples of miracles by our Lord in the face of the opposition by these men that they were without excuse. The same is true today. Christianity is not a religion based on feelings or liver shivers or whatever. No, it is based on clear, irrefutable historical evidence of what our Lord did and said. Those who hated Him killed Him, but He was resurrected on the third day and Ascended into Heaven 10 days before Pentecost. All of this was witnessed by multitudes of people and no one has ever been able to prove any of it wrong. The evidences of the truth were all from eyewitnesses. The evidences of naysayers are all from people who hate the truth who were not even there. In any case, in this post we will look at some of the events that took place in the last few days before our Lord’s arrest and crucifixion as recorded in John 11:45-12:11.  Continue reading

Betraying Jesus


by Mike Ratliff

21 Ταῦτα εἰπὼν [ὁ] Ἰησοῦς ἐταράχθη τῷ πνεύματι καὶ ἐμαρτύρησεν καὶ εἶπεν· ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι εἷς ἐξ ὑμῶν παραδώσει με. John 13:21 (NA28)

21Having said these things, Jesus was troubled in His Spirit and He testified and said, “Amen, amen I say to you that one of you will betray me.” John 13:21 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In our last post, Lord Do You Wash My Feet?, our Lord revealed that one of the twelve disciples was “not clean” in John 13:10 and then in 13:18 He revealed that this would fulfill Old Testament prophecies about an insider betraying Him. Now, we enter that part of John’s account of our Lord’s last Passover Feast in which His betrayer is sent away to do his deed. In contrast, our Lord reveals that those who truly belong to Him follow the commandment from God to love one another. Then He reveals to Peter, even though Peter declares that he would rather die than leave the Lord, he will deny that he even knows Jesus three times this very night. Let us take a closer look.  Continue reading

Lord Do You Wash My Feet?


by Mike Ratliff

6 ἔρχεται οὖν πρὸς Σίμωνα Πέτρον· λέγει αὐτῷ · κύριε, σύ μου νίπτεις τοὺς πόδας; 7 ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ὃ ἐγὼ ποιῶ σὺ οὐκ οἶδας ἄρτι, γνώσῃ δὲ μετὰ ταῦτα. 8 λέγει αὐτῷ Πέτρος· οὐ μὴ νίψῃς μου τοὺς πόδας εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα. ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς αὐτῷ· ἐὰν μὴ νίψω σε, οὐκ ἔχεις μέρος μετʼ ἐμοῦ. John 13:6-8 (NA28)

6 Then He came to Simon Peter who said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered and said to Him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will understand after these things.” 8 Peter said to Him, “Never will you wash my feet even into the age.” Jesus answered him, “Unless I wash you, you do not have a share with me.” John 13:6-8 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

As I write this and work on this translation of John 13:1-19 I am listening to a CD from Sovereign Grace music titled “No Greater Love.” Right now, my favorite song on that CD is playing which is titled “Know You.” Why am I sharing this? The heart that knows the Lord is so because the Lord knows that person by and through the power of the Cross. Those who are loved by the Lord through the work of the Gospel want deeply to know their Lord, to be with Him and they can never get enough of Him. That is what is expressed in that song and all through this CD. Now, remember what I have shared continually through this series, Christianity is true not because of feelings or by any esoteric values that I was attempting to describe above.  Continue reading

Jesus is the Way the Truth and the Life


by Mike Ratliff

6 λέγει αὐτῷ [ὁ] Ἰησοῦς· ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ ὁδὸς καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια καὶ ἡ ζωή· οὐδεὶς ἔρχεται πρὸς τὸν πατέρα εἰ μὴ διʼ ἐμοῦ.John 14:6 (NA28)

 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and life; no one come to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

We continue with the time our Lord spent with His disciples in preparation for His separation for them as He was arrested, tried, crucified, died, and laid in a tomb. In John 13 He has told them that He is about to be betrayed by one of their number and that Peter this very night will deny that he ever knew the Lord at all. All of these are extreme jolts and tests of their faith therefore our Lord encourages them greatly. In this post we will look how He begins this by exegeting John 14:1-14.  Continue reading

Christian Boldness


by Mike Ratliff

1 Why do the nations rage
And the peoples meditate on a vain thing?
2 The kings of the earth take their stand
And the rulers take counsel together
Against Yahweh and against His Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us tear their fetters apart
And cast away their cords from us!”

4 He who sits in the heavens laughs,
The Lord mocks them.
5 Then He speaks to them in His anger
And terrifies them in His fury, saying,
6 “But as for Me, I have installed My King
Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”

7 “I will surely tell of the decree of Yahweh:
He said to Me, ‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
8 ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth as Your possession.
9 ‘You shall break them with a rod of iron,
You shall shatter them like a potter’s vessel.’”

10 So now, O kings, show insight;
Take warning, O judges of the earth.
11 Serve Yahweh with fear
And rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son, lest He become angry, and you perish in the way,
For His wrath may soon be kindled.
How blessed are all who take refuge in Him! (Psalm 2:1–12 Legacy Standard Bible)

Christians should not be surprised when they are the minority in the world. They should not become discouraged when worldly philosophies such as Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality become predominate in the social and educational structures where they live. However, we should take a stand when these evil philosophies invade our churches, denominations, seminaries, and Christian schools just as Charles Spurgeon did in the 19th Century when the Baptist Union churches in England began going Liberal. He refused to be part of it and it cost him. He ended up removing the church he pastored from the Baptist Union and was then censured by them. He died just a few years after that, but in our time who do we remember? Who’s books are still studied and who’s sermons are still read? I still read his daily devotionals. On the other hand if you go to the Baptist Union’s website you will find a denomination that stands for nothing.

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Many Are Called But Few Are Chosen


by Mike Ratliff

13 “These have one purpose, and they give their power and authority to the beast. 14 “These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and elect and faithful.” (Revelation 17:13–14 Legacy Standard Bible)

In this post we will look our Lord’s parable of the Wedding Feast from Matthew 22:1-14. I was told by some one who disagreed with my post Who Is Responsible For A Believer’s Salvation?, that those of us who held a “Calvinist” viewpoint” did so because we misinterpreted this parable. His contention was that we were taking v14 out of context. Let us look at the entire context. Continue reading

Religiosity and Unbelief


by Mike Ratliff

43 Μετὰ δὲ τὰς δύο ἡμέρας ἐξῆλθεν ἐκεῖθεν εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν· 44 αὐτὸς γὰρ Ἰησοῦς ἐμαρτύρησεν ὅτι προφήτης ἐν τῇ ἰδίᾳ πατρίδι τιμὴν οὐκ ἔχει. 45 ὅτε οὖν ἦλθεν εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν, ἐδέξαντο αὐτὸν οἱ Γαλιλαῖοι πάντα ἑωρακότες ὅσα ἐποίησεν ἐν Ἱεροσολύμοις ἐν τῇ ἑορτῇ, καὶ αὐτοὶ γὰρ ἦλθον εἰς τὴν ἑορτήν. John 4:43-45 (NA28)

43 And after the two days, He went from there into Galilee 44 (for Jesus Himself testified that a prophet in His own country does not have honor.)  45 Therefore, when He came into Galilee, The Galileans received Him having seen all things that He did in Jerusalem during the Feast for they also went to the Feast.  John 4:43-45 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The “after the two days” refers to the two days Jesus and His disciples spent in Sychar of Samaria ministering to the people there. The statement by our Lord about a prophet not having honor in his own country contrasts the believing response of the Samaritans with the unbelief of our Lord’s own people in Galilee and Judea. The Jews reticent faith depended on our Lord’s performance of miracles much as they did in John 6 after he fed the 5,000 from five barley loaves and two fish. This, of course, led to his hard preaching in John 6:22-65 leading to “many of his disciples turning back an no longer walking with him.” In contrast, all He did in Samaria was preach the truth. The Samaritans responded, but the Jews were not open to Him, but more often than not, exhibited reluctance and hardness. In my translation, the verb “received” from v45 is ἐδέξαντο the 3rd person, Aorist tense, Indicative mood, Middle voice case of δέχομαι (dechomai), “essentially means to receive something, but it can also mean to welcome someone.” As v45 is in context with v44 and v48, this reception was likely one of curiosity seekers whose appetite centered more on seeing miracles than believing in Jesus as Messiah, therefore, John probably meant these words as irony. 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?”

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