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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/books/item_id/2216091-Divine-Nudges
Rated: E · Book · Inspirational · #2216091
The Lord doesn't always speak in an audible voice, but often in nudges, moving the heart.
The Lord is a gentleman. He is patient. He is longsuffering

He often remains silent, while we are speaking, but He will not remain silent forever.
He can be grieved and quenched when we refuse His message.

When nothing else works to get our attention,
then He may allow "...the pestilence that walketh in darkness;..."
to come into our lives to urge us to "...abide under the shadow of the Almighty."

When He gets our attention, and we begin to cry, "Daddy, save me," (Romans 8:15, KJV)
then "...I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him."

These selections come from Psalm 91. Many times my thoughts return to my childhood
with the reading of this psalm. When I was a little boy, I was wont to hide behind
my earthly daddy when dangerous or unfamiliar situations arose in my life.
My Daddy on earth was much bigger and much stronger than I was.

How much greater, today, as a grown man, that I can look to my Heavenly Father,
Who is infinitely bigger and stronger than my earthly father ever was.

As children, we were very good at "reading" our parents.
They gave us certain looks, which told us how to act without ever speaking words.
"You better not speak right now. I am so angry about what you have done."
"I love you, Dear One. Come here. Let me give you a hug."
Myriad were the looks in between these two extremes on the continuum.

The Lord in like manner says, "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go:
I will guide thee with mine eye.
" (Psalm 32:8, KJV)

Earthly parents would often touch us on the shoulder in public,
especially when we were "acting up." When our eyes met,
they would simply hold up one index finger, waving it back and forth.
This meant, "Stop! Think about what you are doing!
Change your behavior before the hand of judgment falls on the seat of knowledge!
"

Of course, at other times a big, strong, gentle arm would wrap slowly around our chests,
drawing us back to them in a warm embrace, simply meaning, "I love you,...just because."

The Lord in His inimitable ways gives us His Own Divine Nudges.
Previous ... -1- 2 3 4 5 6 ... Next
July 31, 2020 at 11:37pm
July 31, 2020 at 11:37pm
#989621
August 1st, 2020, tomorrow, will make 34 years, that I have had to privilege to be married to my dear wife.

Considering the fact, that I look in the mirror every day, I consider it to be a gift beyond measure, the love she gives to me each day.

We've been through many challenges in this life together. Too often I've been a challenge. Therefore, I can't even quip about being "the better half."

God has been and continues to be good to us. He shows us mercy and grace because we could never deserve, either.

On August 1st, 1986 we were both still rather young. In many ways, we finished rearing each other. I was the first to have a strong job, but her chosen career path has surpassed that first job many times over.

I had just graduated from college. Shortly thereafter I was hired as a sixth-grade teacher in a Christian school in Tallahassee, Florida. The work was rewarding in terms of the people I helped, educationally, but as any teacher can tell you, it was not a lucrative career. Teachers by and large care more about their students than they care about money, but they do care enough about money to want to provide well for their families.

Just after our first anniversary, this dearest lady in my life decided to attend the local vocational school to learn how to be a hairstylist. Even while in school she gained some clients, that have become lifelong friends. It didn't take her long to transform into a highly sought-after hair sculptress. She built a pretty large clientele in Florida's capital city, but after about eight years we had to move because of a new ministry/career opportunity for me.

Ladies, please don't hate me, but I am sure you can sympathize with all of those clients, who had to be told they needed to find a new hairstylist. Her career "doesn't travel" because styling hair is not something, that can be done online. She had to "pull up roots" and start over from scratch building her clientele.

What a courageous, wonderful young lady she was and is!

Sadly, only a few months after we had moved our entire lives a few hundred miles into the Magnolia Midlands of Georgia. My job didn't pan out because I was not the right fit for the position.

I was mystified and heartbroken because she had given up so much for me. Since she was already starting to settle into her new place as a hairstylist and was starting to build a new clientele, I determined to stay and look for other opportunities in the new place.

A college friend approached me about helping him since he was starting a church in the area. I became his first "sound man," but the position was volunteer, not paying. Therefore, volunteer work opened up for me, first, although it was kind of a crossover position timewise since I started helping him with the new church before the career I had come for didn't work out.

I was determined not to uproot my wife twice in one year. So, I stayed and found a product merchandising job in Wal-Mart. Understand, I have never worked for Wal-Mart. I have worked for companies, that put their product in Wal-Mart to be sold.

The new career was probably the best-paying job I've had thus far, but the "wear & tear" on the car and on my body forced me to give up the job after four years.

All the while my wife's clientele base was burgeoning. She became one of the most sought-after hairstylists in town. Famous ladies sit in my wife's chair. The wives of famous men sit in my wife's chair. Small children and seasoned citizens alike sit in my wife's chair.

People LOVE my wife.
People embrace my wife as a great friend, confidant, and counselor.
People come to my wife as a hairstylist and stay for life.

I've seen her come home sad because she just got the news, that one of her dear clients had died from advancing years. She has been called upon to give the last hair service of one of these dear ones' lives, whether in a hospital ICU or at a funeral home.

My wife has such a Big Heart.
She gives so much of herself.
She is so committed to her clients, who have become such good friends.

We came to the land between Savannah and Atlanta in January 1995, and we've stayed because I can't comprehend uprooting her career, again. She is so well-loved here.

My career in this place looks like a patchwork quilt. So, about twelve years ago I turned to writing as a stabilizing force in my life. In many ways, it has become just that. I still can't compete with her careerwise, but I have become confident in my position as a strong supporter for a highly-gifted spouse.

The years continue to be good for our family. The quarantine this spring was as big a challenge for us as it was for any other family, but we are still together, and we love and respect each other. I am extremely grateful for that.

May the Lord bless each of you with a dear committed friend as the one he has blessed me with.

34 years! WOW! I can't imagine anyone else I'd rather spend the next 34 years with. *Smile*


by Jay O'Toole
on July 31st, 2020


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July 30, 2020 at 11:50pm
July 30, 2020 at 11:50pm
#989562
"Take Time to Breathe."

This admonition is easily just as much a Note to Self as it is an encouragement to all of my readers.

It surprises me greatly, that the months, following the mandatory quarantine from the COVID-19 virus have seen an increase in internal tension, not a decrease.

Why is this!
It's mystifying!

I feel as though I have been drained of faith on so many levels, but the writing of these blog posts have been restoring my own faith, little by little. When I take a step back and look at the big picture, I see the Lord wearing a different outfit. No longer is He the ethereal Ancient One with a long flowing beard in a flowing white robe. He has become the svelt, buff trainer in shorts and a singlet, who is exercising my faith to new heights of strength.

I mean no disrespect to the Lord or for the reader by giving such a mental picture. I simply wish to express the concept, that the Lord often does more in His silence, regarding the gift of Faith than he might do if He were to simply hand you or me an amount of faith without our ever exercising that faith on our part.

The following song by Michael Card underscores this wonderful theme about the questions of Life, giving great answers to our hearts by the Hands of the Lord.



In the days of "Why, God?" this is my anthem.

It seems I have done a Trainer's Version of Psalm 23 before, but since it would take too much time to locate, copy, and paste into this blog post, I think I will simply do the exercise of rewriting it, once again, right now. I'm quite sure the concept is not unique to me. Therefore, if my rendering of Psalm 23, Trainer's Version, looks a little like somebody else's, then please forgive me because as God is my witness, I am just about to look at the Scriptural text as I write this. I will not be looking at anyone else's post if you can trust me on that. Thanks, if you can. This rendering is certainly not a verse-by-verse exegesis of the text from the original manuscripts, but it is my statement of my comprehension of this passage as faithfully as I can express it for the Glory of the Lord.

"1 (A Psalm of David as envisioned by Jay O'Toole.) The LORD is my Trainer; I shall not be fat, or self-satisfied.

2 He makes me slow down and trust Him with the nourishment He provides for my body and for my spirit: He leads me to hydrate with plenty of water for my body and with the still waters of faith for my spirit.

3 He restores my soul, especially when my faith seems to have been vacuumed out of me: He leads me to the gym of living in rightness, that is so much like Who, He is, for the purpose of bringing Glory to His Name.

4 Amazingly enough, though I walk through the valley of the potential disaster of myriad dangers, that could cause me to die, like COVID-19, persecution, and nameless physical opposition of all kinds, I will fear no evil: (Psalm 91:6-11) for You stay with me, even though you may be silent to cause me to exercise my faith; Your rod of tough training and correction along with Your staff of encouragement and gentle course-corrections really do comfort me on so many levels.

5 You set my table of nourishment, both physically and spiritually, even when my enemies are nearby (apparently, I get to eat, and they get to watch): You anoint my head with the oil of favor; my cup of rejoicing, (especially in the area of restored faith) runs over because while You are pouring, You refuse to stop when the cup is full.

6 Surely goodness and mercy will attend me as I lift the daily weights of my responsibilities for the entirety of my life: and my everlasting reward will be glorious health and lasting residence in the house of the LORD."


by Jay O'Toole
on July 30th, 2020


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July 29, 2020 at 1:52pm
July 29, 2020 at 1:52pm
#989454
Prompt: "Which Bible version do you use? Are you a "strictly KJV" believer or do you believe all versions are okay?"

My personal standard for Bible study is always the King James Version, whether I'm looking at the words of the text or listening to the audio version by Alexander Scourby.

There is a very personal reason for this. I got saved at age six on the Thursday evening of the spring revival of 1967. One week later my Dad presented me with a child-sized KJV Bible with my entire name engraved on the front of this wonderful little Bible in the lower right-hand corner. (This Bible has an honored place, even today, in my fire-safe.)

When I started reading the Bible through from cover-to-cover, it was the King James Bible I was reading. Though a number of starts and stops prevented me from finishing the entire read-through of the Bible until I was about age 19, I kept the King James Bible with me every time (if not, nearly every time) I went to Church throughout my childhood and youth. (It was certainly the only version, that my Dad, the pastor, consistently countenanced.)

Though some Christians may consider my upbringing to border on abusive because I was forced to read the King James Version as such a small child, I consider it to be a great Blessing.

King James English is so different from contemporary English, that it is like learning a different language.

This skill helped me greatly when I was a junior high student in a Spanish class for the first time. Therefore, if anyone asks how many languages I speak, I can honestly say, "Three. Contemporary English, King James English, and Spanish." My auditory comprehension of Spanish is only about 30% - 40%, but my understanding of King James English is in every way on par with my understanding of contemporary English in the 90% - 100% range.

Honestly, at times I think I understand King James English better than I understand contemporary English because King James English is a standard, that doesn't change, whereas contemporary English changes often by the week or even by the day. There are expressions I used as a teenager, that I've used with contemporary teenagers garnering for me "crickets" and "deer-in-the-headlights" expressions.

However, I'm guessing, that any modern teenager, who reads and loves Shakespeare would be able to converse quite intelligently with me on the level of equal comprehension because Shakespeare and King James were contemporaries. After all, one of the greatest puns in Romeo and Juliet was said by Romeo's mortally-wounded friend, Mercutio, quoth these immortal words in a interchange with Romeo, after Romeo tried vainly to break up a fight between Mercutio and Benvolio in Act 3, Scene 1, Lines 94-97a,
"Romeo: 'Courage, man; the hurt cannot be much.'
Mercutio: 'No, 'tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church
door; but 'tis enough,'twill serve. Ask for me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave man.'"

This line is usually followed by at least some snickers because Mercutio was known for turning puns. In this case, the outcome is very serious, since he has just received his death-wound, and he knows that by this time tomorrow he will be not only "eternally serious," but also a man, whose new place is literally in a grave.

In recent years, I have perused other Bible versions for the consideration of contemporary usage.

The New International Version has some merits, but the readability doesn't fit my eyes as well as others, and a few translation word-choices have given me pause.

The New King James Version is my go-to when I want to maintain consistency with my own studies while helping more contemporary eyes to understand the concepts I have been studying. The fact, that at least one of the professors at my university served on the translation board for the NKJV, could have something to do with my preference for this more contemporary translation of the Holy Bible.

In the past decade the English Standard Version (ESV) has gained value in my heart as being consistent with the KJV in concept while increasing the readability of more modern English dialects.

However, surprisingly enough, even to me, the New Living Translation has become my contemporary translation of choice, especially as I post on my WDC blogs, and as I share with those, who have not had the joy of learning the esthetically glorious words of the King James Version. About 9 times out of 10 the NLT maintains the concepts of Holy Writ in an easily readable set of words. When there's any question of concept expressions, I will often post both versions (KJV & NLT) in my blog posts. If the NLT leaves out a phrase, that is vital to the text, then I will consistently opt for posting the KJV only.

Therefore, the King James Version of the Bible is my standard of Bible study and comprehension. I was given a 1611 KJV Bible a number of years ago in which all of the words and marking were rendered in 1611 text with "u" in the place of "v," and "f" in the place of "s." I realize on the one hand there is the potential for pride in being able to read such an ancient text, but there is on the other hand benefits contained in the skill of learning an ancient language in order to help with the comprehension of modern language from various people groups in the world.

In recent years I have had an increased interest in learning the Geneva Bible, which is the older brother of the KJV since the Geneva Bible was completed in 1560. This version of the Bible has an interesting claim to fame since it was more the standard of Bible study for the American colonists in the years, that led up to the Revolutionary War. Those colonists considered the KJV to be the modern translation or a "Johnny-come-lately."

Isn't perspective funny?

I have had some individuals ask me, "Why do you still read the King James Version? It's not the most accurate translation with regard to the original manuscripts." Be that as it may, the KJV is still the most consistently understandable version of the Word of God in my own heart.

The purpose of the Holy Bible is to drawn us into the right relationship with the Lord God of the Holy Bible. It doesn't really matter how much of the Bible we can read and understand in our "mother" language if we have no intention of living according to Its precepts for Time and for Eternity.

Years ago I bought a New Internation Version of the Bible for my wife to read, and she started reading the Bible more since she didn't understand the KJV. I inscribed her NIV Bible with these words. "An open NIV is better than a closed KJV."

I care very much about people having a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Far be it from me to quibble about aspects of a modern translation, if that version brought them to Christ.

By the same measure, please allow me the grace of being edified and blessed through the incorporation of the King James Version of the Holy Bible into my own daily life.

The Lord give you all his truest Blessing. (John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10,13; Philippians 2:13)


by Jay O'Toole
on July 29th, 2020


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July 28, 2020 at 10:34pm
July 28, 2020 at 10:34pm
#989403
"1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

2 And the earth was without form, and void;
and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
"
(Genesis 1:1-3, KJV"


In the beginning, there was a grayness that covered the Earth. There was no intelligible form to give meaning to Earth's existence. There was an emptiness, that was completely vacuous, useless, and meaningless.

As the grayness of meaninglessness remained, the Holy Spirit of God hovered, considered, and did whatever was necessary to cause the face of the waters to move, to begin to have a purpose, to have direction. Then, God spoke. "Light must be." Instantly the Light was on.

Light dispels darkness. (John 1:5)


Could it be, that at the end of the Day of the Gentiles when Good becomes bad, and bad becomes "good" when Light becomes darkness, and darkness becomes "light," that the grayness of a new beginning will finally be at hand? (Isaiah 5:20)

"If the foundations be destroyed,
what can the righteous do?
"
(Psalm 11:3, KJV)

Today's post is relatively short.
We need to ponder this point.


Since those, who do not believe in God are working tirelessly to try to remove everything, that has any hint of the belief in God from Society, is there anything left, that believers can do, until the Light of the World returns to take His Throne in Jerusalem?
(Revelation 19:11-21)

How fitting!
Gray beginnings at the beginning of Earth's Creation, and the potential for gray beginnings before the beginning of the new Heavens and the new Earth.

I feel like a little boy in the backseat of a car on a long trip, tapping my daddy on the shoulder every five minutes to ask him, "Are we there, yet?"

"35 Heaven and earth shall pass away,
but my words shall not pass away.

36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man,
no, not the angels of heaven,
but my Father only
.

37 But as the days of Noe were,
so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

38 For as in the days that were before the flood
they were eating and drinking,
marrying and giving in marriage,
until the day that Noe entered into the ark,

39 And knew not until the flood came,
and took them all away;
so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

40 Then shall two be in the field;
the one shall be taken, and the other left.

41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill;
the one shall be taken, and the other left.

42 Watch therefore:
for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.

43 But know this,
that if the goodman of the house
had known in what watch the thief would come,
he would have watched,
and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.

44 Therefore be ye also ready:
for in such an hour as ye think not
the Son of man cometh.

45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant,
whom his lord hath made ruler over his household,
to give them meat in due season?

46 Blessed is that servant,
whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.
"
(Matthew 24:35-46, KJV)

Being a servant is truly a good thing
if I am to serve in the House of the Lord.

Every human serves someone or something.
May the Lord give us wisdom, regarding the focus of our service.


by Jay O'Toole
on July 28th, 2020


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July 27, 2020 at 3:03pm
July 27, 2020 at 3:03pm
#989292
"1 I look up to the mountains—
does my help come from there?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth!

3 He will not let you stumble;
the one who watches over you will not slumber.
4 Indeed, he who watches over Israel
never slumbers or sleeps.

5 The Lord himself watches over you!
The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
6 The sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon at night.

7 The Lord keeps you from all harm
and watches over your life.
8 The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever.
"
(Psalm 121:1-8, NLT)


-------------------------------


"1 I look up to the mountains—
does my help come from there?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth!
"


"My help comes from the Lord.". No sentient being in the realms of Humanity or the spirit has the ability to help me the way the Lord can help me. Some may be able to provide food, clothing, and shelter, which are abilities they have by the strength given to them by the Lord. Some may be able to protect me from harm, both emotionally, and physically, but again, they have this ability as given to them by the Lord. Therefore, in one way or another, the help I need comes, ultimately, from the Lord.

If the Lord can make heaven and earth, keeping them going in working order from day to day to day, then surely the Lord has the ability and the determination to provide for me that which is best, especially if I am one, who belongs to Him and am committed to bringing Him everlasting Glory.

"3 He will not let you stumble;
the one who watches over you will not slumber.
4 Indeed, he who watches over Israel
never slumbers or sleeps.
"


The Lord protects His chosen people of Israel. If I am part of His chosen, by virtue of being grafted into the vine, then His protection necessarily extends to me, too. What a blessed human being I am! Though I was born to be nothing more than a "Gentile dog," I have been redeemed by the precious blood of The Lamb, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, through His death, burial, and resurrection, being given the same rights as the true blood heirs of the Covenant of Israel, through sonship granted me by the merits of the One, and Only One Son of God, Jesus, the Messiah. (John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10,13; I John 5:11-13)

As I pointed out in my last post, here, https://www.writing.com/main/books/entry_id/989133-Divine-Rest The Lord does not rest for the purpose of regaining lost strength, since He never loses strength. The Lord never sleeps because He never gets tired as underscored in today's verses, Psalm 121:3-4. This means the Lord is always "ON," regarding the needs of every one of His loved creations. We don't have to worry about stumbling on the path He has chosen for each of us to walk. Physical stumbling may happen from time to time, but stumbling off the path of His purpose for each of our lives is never a possibility. The Lord is the Greatest Chess Player, and no move ever escapes His notice. All of His moves are well-played.

Humans do not stumble from life's purpose because of the Sovereignty of the Lord.
The Lord does not sleep because He never lays down the responsibility of His Sovereignty for even a moment.

"5 The Lord himself watches over you!
The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
6 The sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon at night.
"

Though something unpleasant, disappointing, and even devastating, from the human point of view, may "get through the perimeter" of God's protective resources, that are marshaled for each of His chosen servants, nothing comes into that life apart from being created for the purpose of giving God Glory through the movement of His Sovereign Wisdom in the life of that believer.

The Lord is watching over you and me.
The Lord stands beside you and me.
The Lord is the protective shade for you and me.
Neither the sun nor the moon will harm either you or me.

These two verses, five and six of Psalm 121 are very similar to Psalm 91, verses one and two.

"1He that dwelleth
in the secret place
of the most High
shall abide
under the shadow
of the Almighty.

2 I will say of the LORD,
He is my refuge and my fortress:
my God;
in him will I trust.
"
(Psalm 91:1-2, KJV)


The Lord watches over us, and we live in Him.
He protects in more ways than we can comprehend,
drawing our focus to Him, continually.

"7 The Lord keeps you from all harm
and watches over your life.
8 The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever.
"


This psalm of protection ends in this fourth quatrain stanza, which underscores the Lord's protection for His chosen servants.

1. "The Lord keeps you from all harm." This is mystifying since Christians throughout the history of the Church has known sickness, poverty, and martyrdom. Yet, this life is merely a training ground for Eternity, and since no true believer, no Christian ever goes to Hell, the Lord keeps this promise.
2. "The Lord watches over your life." If we merely look from a temporal perspective, we may be tempted to call the Lord a "liar." We may spit back, "My loved one suffered and died. How did the Lord save this one I can never replace?"

The refrain of "God Leads Us Along" by G. A. Young, gives us the truth, that may simply be expressed, "Salvation from death, salvation through death."
"Refrain:
Some through the waters, some through the flood,
Some through the fire, but all through the blood;
Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song,
In the night season and all the day long.
"

The natural human's perspective is always temporal, earthly, and temporary.
The Lord's perspective is always eternal, heavenly, and everlasting.
The Spirit-filled Christian has his and her perspective brought into line with the Lord's.

May we each rest in the Lord's care, now and forever.


by Jay O'Toole
on July 27th, 2020


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July 25, 2020 at 7:34pm
July 25, 2020 at 7:34pm
#989133
"1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished,
and all the host of them.

2 And on the seventh day
God ended his work which he had made;
and he rested on the seventh day
from all his work which he had made.

3 And God blessed the seventh day,
and sanctified it:
because that in it
he had rested
from all his work
which God created and made.
"
(Genesis 2:1-3. KJV)


---------------------------------------


"1 So the creation of the heavens and the earth
and everything in them was completed.
2 On the seventh day
God had finished his work of creation,
so he rested from all his work.
3 And God blessed the seventh day
and declared it holy,
because it was the day
when he rested
from all his work of creation.
"
(Genesis 2:1-3, NLT)


------------------------------------------------------------


Why did GOD need to rest?


Is rest a concept, that does not essentially appertain to a required state of restoring strength in order to prevent the complete break-down of a person's ability to function?

Does rest mean a deliberate choice for the purpose of deliberation?

Is rest the cessation of hostilities as in the concept of "rest from war?"

Is rest the cessation of work because the person, who is working, has become tired and needs to rest?

Is rest a moment to pause and to consider one's artistic ventures and creative joy for the purpose of affixing the appropriate value upon the creation, that has been artfully made?

One thing is for sure.
GOD does not tire.
Therefore,
rest must mean something
other than the restoration
of strength,
that has been lost
through exertion
of some sort.


One of the exquisite gifts a superlative artist gives to himself or to herself is time to stand back to consider, to ponder, to weep over, and to properly value the art, that he or she has created at any moment in time.

Is GOD any less a superlative artist, that He should not take a full day to pause to consider, to ponder, to weep over, to congratulate Himself, while properly valuing the art, that He had just completed?

That GOD could properly evaluate the entirety of the physical universe in one 24-hour day is miracle enough in itself.

How long would it take any of us, average humans, to evaluate the entirety of the universe? It seems we have been trying for more than six thousand years already, and we haven't even scratched the surface.


by Jay O'Toole
on July 25th, 2020


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July 24, 2020 at 6:33pm
July 24, 2020 at 6:33pm
#989049
Prompt: "Why should we learn early church history?"

We could learn a great deal about the standards of the operation of the Church, worldwide, by paying a good amount of attention to the ways the early Christians lived their lives.

1. The early Christians lived their lives in daily contact.
2. The early Christians were unified in Heart much like the Trinity is United.
3. The early Christians worshiped the Lord in large groups and in small groups.
4. The early Christians lifted up their voices together to praise, to honor, and to worship the Lord.
5. The early Christians loved each other.
6. The early Christians were respected in their communities at the very beginning, although the world started to hate them because of their exclusive worship of One and Only One GOD.
7. The early Christians' love for each other and their united worship drew lost souls to be saved.

"46 And they, continuing daily
with one accord in the temple,
and breaking bread from house to house,
did eat their meat with gladness
and singleness of heart,

47 Praising God,
and having favour with all the people.
And the Lord added to the church daily
such as should be saved.
"
(Acts 2:46-47, KJV)

------------------------------

"46 They worshiped together
at the Temple each day,
met in homes for the Lord’s Supper,
and shared their meals
with great joy and generosity—
47 all the while praising God
and enjoying the goodwill of all the people.
And each day the Lord added to their fellowship
those who were being saved.
"
(Acts 2:46-47, NLT)

--------------------------------


Much of modern church life has the tint of modern living in general.
As a society, we tend to live in a hurry.
Church services and church meetings are often
very structured and limited by time constraints.

Early Christians lived their lives together, working and worshiping together most days.
The Apostle Paul worked with Aquila and Priscilla as tentmakers, which was a profession, symbolizing their physical and spiritual tasks on Earth. They made tents for people to dwell in every day while preaching the Word of Truth to those, who needed Jesus to be their Savior and their place of everlasting dwelling.

I grew up hearing of one of my grandfathers, who farmed the land. His son, and my uncle, maintained the sign, which granddad had placed up on the peak of one of his barns. "Christianity is our business. We farm to pay expenses."

I love to see churches have a goodly selection of small groups, whereby we may slow down the pace of life, even if for only an hour or two.

Life in the twenty-first century has become too Big and unmanageable. Contemporary Christians would do well to learn from early Christians in order to remind ourselves what is most important for this life and for the next.

Blessings, All.


by Jay O'Toole
on July 24th, 2020


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July 23, 2020 at 10:00pm
July 23, 2020 at 10:00pm
#988993
Prompt: "People will make statements like 'The man upstairs' and 'The Big Guy.' Do you feel these references disrespect God? Why or why not?"

"When we make much of the Name of the Lord we are at the same time placing great value on His entire Creation. When we make light (or very little) of the Name of the Lord, then we are necessarily making light and very little of everything He has created, which necessarily includes ourselves." (A new expression, that I just coined. Jay O'Toole)

There are some schools of thought among Christians, that Jesus started His life on Earth as only human, yet He became GOD after His baptism and "the lighting of The Holy Spirit upon Him like a dove."

I want to say this as kindly and as graciously as I know how. I cannot embrace that belief because in my heart I know, that it minimizes Jesus' highly exalted place from Eternity. I could never believe, that Jesus started out as merely a human, who ascended to the place of being GOD. I wrote on this subject at length on July 15th, 2020 in the following post.
https://www.writing.com/main/books/entry_id/988254-The-Son-of-God-Jesus-Has-Alwa...)

My heart remains compassionate towards those, who do not believe as I do, but I do not believe, that the Lord gives me permission to compromise any of the beliefs He has placed into my heart, regarding what I profess to the world about the very Nature and the Dignity of the very Person of Who GOD is.

Therefore, I consider the two aforementioned expressions in today's prompt to be very demeaning to the Character and the Person of Almighty GOD. That being said, I do not feel at liberty to write them, again, in my blog post.

My background is Baptist, which means I got heavy doses of Bible doctrine when I was a child. I have taken away from those experiences an understanding of the Bigness of GOD, that is so BIG, I do not have adequate words to tell you how BIG He Is.

The Bigness of the Father demonstrates Structure to my understanding.
The Bigness of the Son demonstrates Creativity, which is amazingly placed on that Structure.
The Bigness of the Holy Spirit demonstrates the activity of the One, Who draws hearts to Salvation in order to be rightly related to this wonderful Trinity of GOD.

However, I must confess, that my attempts to express the Bigness of GOD fall woefully short of describing this One, Who is Elohim, El Elyon, El Shaddai, and every other Name given unto Mankind, which expresses some aspect of the Person of GOD. In addition, the qualities of Structure, Creativity, and conviction of sin and the drawing unto Salvation are all aspects of every member of the Godhead, meaning none of the qualities of GOD can be distinctive to only one Person of the Trinity, which excludes the other Two.

My recent experience as a Christian has been in Full-Gospel churches in which I have come to appreciate the Bigness of the Holy Spirit, and how He lifts up the Name of the Father and the Son while working in me to better communicate with All Three in ways that go beyond words. (Romans 8:26-27)

Now. Let's take some time to consider the words of The Bible's expressions of the very Nature, the very Character, the Bigness of the Person of GOD, and Who He declares to the world, that he really is.

"And God said unto Moses,
I Am That I Am:
and he said,
Thus shalt thou say
unto the children of Israel,
I Am hath sent me unto you.
"
(Exodus 3:14, KJV)

"I Am That I Am." GOD is the Self-Existent ONE. He didn't need anyone else, nor anything else to create Him because He has always existed, even though the concept of The Eternally Existent Person is terribly hard for the human brain to even attempt to comprehend. Let alone fully understand. Eternal Self-Existence is an idea, that remains forever in the realm of mystery and faith.

-------------------

"Thou shalt not take
the name of the Lord thy God in vain;
for the Lord will not hold him guiltless
that taketh his name in vain.
"
(Exodus 20:7, KJV)

Humans consistently seem to interpret this verse with the Southernism, "Y'all ought not to cuss.". However, speaking lightly of, vainly of, and with little value toward the Name of and, therefore, the Character of GOD is only part of the overarching meaning of this verse. The "taking of the Name of the Lord thy God in vain" includes the lightness of, the vanity of, and the little value of the lifestyle of the person, who calls himself or herself a Christian, but does not live as he or she has been commanded to live. If our words, if our conduct, and if our consistent way of life does not reflect the residence of The Holy Spirit in the life of the believer, then that believer stands guilty before the Lord in ways, that must be rectified before sweet fellowship with the Lord can be healed and restored.

-------------------

"39 See now that I, even I, am he,
and there is no god with me:
I kill, and I make alive;
I wound, and I heal:
neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.

40 For I lift up my hand to heaven,
and say, I live for ever."
(Deuteronomy 32:39-40, KJV)

The Old Southern saying goes like this, "It ain't braggin' if you can do it."

Bottom Line: GOD is eternally Self-Existent. He needs resources from no one outside of Himself, and no one can exist without the resources, that He provides.

One does not refer to the Lord as "My Big Buddy." It is true, that Jesus offers us friendship, but that cannot come first. GOD must be recognized as Sovereign LORD before He can be known as The Gracious Friend.

----------------------------

"1 In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.

2 The same was in the beginning with God.

3 All things were made by him;
and without him was not any thing made that was made.

4 In him was life;
and the life was the light of men. (John 14:6)

5 And the light shineth in darkness;
and the darkness comprehended it not."
(John 1:1-5, KJV)

All Light emanates from GOD.
Light cannot exist without the Existence of GOD.
The Logos (Word) of GOD is Jesus, Who is Self-Existent as a member of The Trinity.
The Logos (Word) of GOD, Jesus created all things, and He continues to create today.
The Logos (Word) of GOD, Jesus gives physical life to all souls, and spiritual life to those, who receive Him as the Gift of Salvation.
The Logos (Word) of GOD, Jesus emanates Light from Himself, shining this Light into the darkness, which must flee at His Presence because darkness cannot say, "Nay," to the Light.

---------------------------------------

In the book of John, which is the fourth Gospel, we find seven statements, that begin with the short two-word phrase, "I am."

I am the bread of life.” (John 6:35, 41, 48, 51)
I am the light of the world.” (John 8:12)
I am the door of the sheep.” (John 10:7,9)
I am the resurrection and the life.” (John 11:25)
I am the good shepherd.” (John 10:11, 14)
I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6)
I am the true vine.” (John 15:1, 5)

I would like to thank the Thomas Nelson Bible company website for putting this list together, succinctly for me at the following link.
https://www.thomasnelsonbibles.com/jesus-seven-i-am-statements/

Every time Jesus uses this expression, "I am," followed by one of His Characteristics, He is necessary claiming to be the Elohim (Almighty God) of Exodus 3:14. Jesus spoke to Moses through the burning bush. Jesus speaks to His people, today, through just as unique and mysterious means.

One does not speak of GOD in flippant terms.
'Twould be much more rational to play with a cobra without protective gear than to neglect to show proper reverence to Almighty GOD, who holds our very breath in His nostrils, and causes each of our hearts to beat by the massagings of His Hands.

May the Lord cause us to comprehend even the slightest amount of the honorable Justice of His very Nature in order for us to taste somewhat of the surpassing sweetness of His Dear Mercies. (Lamentations 3:22-26)


by Jay O'Toole
on July 23rd, 2020


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July 22, 2020 at 3:22pm
July 22, 2020 at 3:22pm
#988879
Prompt: "What is our purpose? Why do you think God created us?"


The bottom line of the creation of every human being is the choice of GOD. GOD chose to create human beings. The ultimate "Why?" of the creation of Humanity is wrapped up in the mysterious heart of GOD. No human being will ever fully know everything about the heart of GOD for there is wisdom in this strongest of All Individuals keeping His deepest intimacies hidden and secure for only those, Who are the most trustworthy, such as The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit.

That being said, "The perfect knowledge of GOD is precluded," there are myriad things human beings can know, regarding the Person of GOD, simply by embracing the very things GOD has said and has caused to be written down about Himself for the purpose of comprehending His Person.

"Then God said,
'Let us make human beings in our image,
to be like us...

So God created human beings in his own image.
In the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.'
"
(Genesis 1:26a, 27, NLT)


1. GOD created us to be like Him. (Genesis 1:26-27) If we begin to see the characteristics and traits of GOD, then we can begin to see what Adam and Eve were in their creation of innocence as well as what we are intended to be, and what we will be when GOD's original perfect creation has been restored.

2. GOD is Social. GOD is comprised of Three Divine Persons, who are so socially unified in Purpose, that They Three act with One Mind throughout all Eternity, throughout the Creation, and throughout the daily maintenance of everything They have created, without ever having to deal with even one disagreement. Their Unity (or Trinity) is so unbreakable as to be incomprehensible to sinful human beings, that their status of being distinctly Three Individuals, Who are Each God, while at the same time being Only One GOD, is consistently thought to be a major Lie by all, who do not accept the Three-in-One as the ultimate of a mysterious TRUTH, which requires faith, which goes beyond knowledge.

3. Since GOD created us to be like Him, and since GOD is Social, then human beings are social by the very nature of their creation at the Hands of Jesus Christ. (John 1:1-4) Since Society and Social are at the very Core of what it means to be GOD, we may logically infer, that the Coronavirus was originally devised in the pits of Hell, being created in malevolence by the very one, who wishes human beings to be socially-distanced as an attack on the very Nature of GOD.

4. GOD created human beings to demonstrate His desire to have the Society of His Home to be increased by creating us for everlasting fellowship, (aka Society and Social) with the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Ultimately, there will be no distance between the members of the Body of Christ, and Jesus, the Son. Forever "we will know even as we are also known." (I Corinthians 13:12, KJV) "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."

"Social-distancing" is simply something we do by virtue of the fact, that we are sinful and flawed creatures, condemned by Original Sin to be forever imperfect, except we receive Salvation in The Lord Jesus Christ to the restoration of His Original, Perfect Creation. Even Christians groan under the weight of living as a newly-restored spirit, (aka the "new creature in Christ Jesus,") who must continue to live in the flawed soul, that must be disciplined every day to be brought into greater and greater degrees of agreement with the Lord Jesus Christ, and which often falls back into lesser levels of agreement with Him and obedience to Him and the completely flawed body, which can never be redeemed in this life, (Romans 8:22-23) but which must ultimately be vacated when the Lord's purpose for our days of this Earthly sojourn are at end, and then the body will be redeemed/restored in His Presence.

5. GOD created human beings to maintain order in His Created Universe (aka show Justice,) while at the same time extending Mercy when it better serves the best Justice of the maintenance of Society in the Restoration of Fellowship. Individuals, who are wantonly self-willed, are consistently better served through incarceration to the breaking of the independent heart, which can ultimately be transformed into a contributing member of Society, who is right with others and right with GOD Himself through redemption in Christ Jesus. Individuals, who have had their self-will broken through the trials and tests of life, are often better served by Merciful Forgiveness, which gives that repentant soul the tools necessary to contribute better as a member of Society, who is right with others and right with GOD Himself.

The call for the defunding of law enforcement is a concept, which has, also, been spawned in the pits of Hell, since Hell itself is the place of Justice created by GOD for the eternally unrepentant individuals, who will forever be self-willed, and socially-isolated since friendships do not exist in Hell.

We police Society in Justice because this is in agreement with the very Nature of GOD. We show Mercy to whatever degree is ultimately best for Society, based on the degree to which a heart has been changed, and made pliable to the Hand and to the Heart of GOD Himself.

6. GOD is Creative. Since GOD created us to be like Him, and since GOD is Creative, then human beings are creative by the very nature of their creation at the Hands of Jesus Christ. I feel grief when I hear someone tell me, "I'm not creative" because I know I am in the presence of someone, who was shamed by another valued human being, either a parent, a teacher or even a peer when that individual was very young. If you want to see a demonstration of the Truth, "All humans are creative," then visit a Kindergarten because all of us were painting, making, and creating things in Kindergarten. "I'm not creative" is merely the devilish thought expressed through one human to another when a human standard of creativity has not been met. ALL humans meet the standard of creativity as expressed by the heart of GOD, and by virtue of His intended level and area of creativity fashioned uniquely into every human heart.

7. The earthly life of every human being is not the ultimate life of every human being. Just as the nine months of gestation constitute the time in which a living human being is transformed from two single-celled contributions from one mother and one father into a baby, who can be held in the arms of that mother and that father, the ninety to one hundred years of Eternity's gestation period, which is, also, called "the life on Earth," constitutes the time in which the same living human being transforms from baby to a living person, who is inside of a body, which is woefully in need of his or her second birth (aka "death") into the ultimate and final state of life, called Eternity.

What is our purpose? Why did God create us?

GOD created us to LOVE.
GOD created us to LOVE Him.
GOD created us to LOVE others.


Sad individuals often leave all of their loved ones to go out on their own to "find themselves." However, no one has ever found himself or herself in aloneness away from others. One can only find oneself and truly be found when the self is completely known, comprehended, understood, and made complete in Community with the Lord and with those, who are in agreement with Him.

GOD's LOVE is Agapé.
Agapé is LOVE
,
that finds its truest fulfillment in GOD
and in others
for Whom He came
to provide Redemption.


by Jay O'Toole
on July 22nd, 2020


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July 21, 2020 at 11:50pm
July 21, 2020 at 11:50pm
#988826
Prompt: "Give a testimony of a miracle Jesus has worked in your life."

When we pulled into our carport this evening after a short vacation, we noticed our daughter's bicycle helmet on the concrete, turned upside down. Then, I asked the question, "Where's the bike?"

When I parked the car,
we got out,
looked everywhere we could think to look.
No bike.


At that point, I walked the gift to the next-door neighbor's house to thank him for locking up our hen every night we were away for this vacation because we lost a hen last year (about this same time) to a fox. While there, I, also, mentioned, that I couldn't find my bicycle, which is a rather nice one, worth about $400.

Since he and his wife are both retired police officers, they strongly recommended, that I "call it in," using the non-emergency number. I did, and an officer arrived a few minutes later to "take my report."

He and I had a good conversation,
walking the back yard
to search for the bike
in every possible place.
No bike.


His initial thoughts were, that it sounded like the work of a young person making some mischief because nothing else was taken, like computers we might have inside.

He was right about that.

Our miracle entailed one stolen bicycle,
but everything else on our property
was exactly where we left them
the last time we saw them.


Obviously, I need to spend time tomorrow walking the property to consider how to improve our security measures, but in 22+ years of homeownership, this is the first time we've had to file a theft report with the local police department.

Things could have been so much worse.
No attempts to get into the house have yet been found.
There were more bicycles in the shed area.
We have highly-valued plants all over the yard.
We had to leave all four cats outside the house, while we were gone.
We have the hen, who has become a dear friend.


All of these things,
including the fur and feather babies
were still their wonderful selves
when we arrived back at our home.


The neighbors on both sides of our property were home, while we were away, during this vacation. No doubt, the Lord used that fact to our advantage, meaning the "unwelcome guest" could have become startled by a neighbor coming into view, or making nearby sounds of some sort. Of course, the Lord's angels are more than capable of making noises as well as physically appearing in some way, creating a consistently effective perimeter. This violation was a breach of that perimeter, which meant the incident has become as much an educational tool for my own life as anything else.

To review,
our miracle was the fact,
that one item (and one item only,)
a bicycle,
was taken,
but nothing else was disturbed.


Though my first reflex was to "kick myself" for not doing a better job of protecting the bike, that was taken, my wife was quick to encourage me for doing a great job of protecting our home and property for such a long period of time. More than 22 years in the same place without any theft, until this week.

I'm sure the Lord and His angels
are worthy of much more credit
,
regarding that feat,
than I will ever be.

Again, I'm, also, quite sure
the Lord was sending me a message
in allowing this one breach of the perimeter.

I'm expecting Him
to teach me
a number of new things
in the next few days,
regarding my responsibilities
for securing my little corner of the world,
both physically and spiritually.


May the Lord keep us all safe.
May He teach us many things,
even from the apparent failures of life.


by Jay O'Toole
on July 21st, 2020


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July 20, 2020 at 11:04pm
July 20, 2020 at 11:04pm
#988732
"Prompt: Psalm 15:2-5 says 'Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking truth from sincere hearts, those who refuse to gossip, or harm their neighbors, or speak evil of their friends. Those who despise flagrant sinners, and honor the faithful followers of the Lord, and keep their promises even when it hurts, Those who lend money without charging interest, and who cannot be bribed to lie about the innocent. Such people will stand firm forever.

Can anybody do these things? If so how? If not, why not?'"

--------------------------------

Let's review. What's at stake here?

1. "Lead blameless lives,"
2. "Do what is right,"
3. "Speak the truth, sincerely,"
4. "Refuse to gossip,"
5. "Refuse to harm neighbors,"
6. "Refuse to speak evil of friends,"
7. "Despise flagrant sinners,"
8. "Honor faithful followers of the Lord,"
9. "Keep promises, even when it hurts,"
10. "Lend money without charging interest,"
11. "Won't lie about the innocent for any price."

"These are true people, who stand, no matter what, and no matter how long."

The strength to stand forever comes from a consistent lifestyle. Christians are not required to be perfect, but it should be obvious, that we are Christians, who desire to be in agreement with "Jesus, the Author, and Finisher of our faith." Jesus Himself said, "By their fruit, you shall know them." Fruit trees create fruit, but every year the fruit is unique to the year. Some years there is an abundance of quality fruit. Other years the fruit is minimal or even sickly, but it is the fruit, that can be recognized as belonging to that particular tree. Apples denote apple trees. Oranges denote orange trees. Pears denote pear tree, and so on. The fruit of a Christian (Galatians 5:22-23) denotes the existence of a Christian.

"People, who stand firm forever" care about their actions, and how their actions reflect on their profession of being followers of Jesus Christ. This is found in numbers 1, 2, 5, and 9 in the list above. Though every honest Christian will admit to being terribly imperfect, having moments in life when blame was a shameful reality to their existence, that same Christian will, also, admit to desiring to make every one of these faults right, again, for the preserving of their testimony and the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

In other words, "people, who stand firm forever," can't stand sin, and do not stand in sin for any length of time, without trying to restore an innocent standing before the Lord and before the world, when and where he or she can. Again, a true Christian readily admits, that his or her right standing before the Lord and before the world is based on the merits of Another, the very Living Son of God, not on their own merits. "Leading blameless lives," lives in tandem with the confessing of sins and rejecting those very sins, as a way of life.

"People, who stand firm forever" care about their tongues, and how their tongues reflect on their profession of being followers of Jesus Christ. This is found in numbers 3, 4, 6, and 11 in the list above. Though every honest Christian will admit to being terribly imperfect, regarding the words, that come out of their mouths, and that they have moments in life when their tongues have shamefully lit fires, that have destroyed friendships, losing relationships, that are now seemingly unfixable, that same Christian will, also, admit to desiring to make every one of these "slips-of-the-tongue" right, again, for the preserving of their testimony and for preserving the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

"People, who stand firm forever" care about their associations, and how their associations reflect on their profession of being followers of Jesus Christ. This is found in numbers 7, and 8 in the list above. Though every honest Christian will admit to being terribly imperfect, having moments in life when he or she has been unwise in the choice of his or her friendships, that same Christian will, also, admit to desiring to improve their friendships, for the preserving of their testimony and for the preserving the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

"People, who stand firm forever" care about the they treat others, especially those, who come to them for help, and how their treatment of others reflects on their profession of being followers of Jesus Christ. This is found in number 10 in the list above. Though every honest Christian will admit to being terribly imperfect, having moments in life when he or she has not treated others well, that same Christian will, also, admit to desiring to improve the consistency of their treatment of others, for the preserving of their testimony and for the preserving the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

Can anybody do these things? If so how? If not, why not?'"

The Bottom Line Answer is "No" at the most basic level since only Jesus Himself can live perfectly, doing every one of the things in this list without every having, even one mess-up. However, the Christian is not recognized by his or her perfection in living according to the standards of Christ, but according to his or his desire to live in agreement with Christ, and by noting how that the true Christian lives in a manner, that is more and more like Christ throughout his or her lifetime.

The transformation of the heart of a believer is seen in the transformation of its desires and the honest admission of faults as much as in the good deeds, that come from the transformation of these core characteristics. (Ephesians 2:8-10). "Saved by grace through faith, both of which are the Gift of God, and created unto good works."

An apple tree does not produce apples in order to become an apple tree. An apple tree produces apples because it IS an apple tree.

A Christian does not produce good works in order to become a Christian. A Christian produces good works because that person IS a Christian.


by Jay O'Toole
on July 20th, 2020


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July 18, 2020 at 5:53pm
July 18, 2020 at 5:53pm
#988519
Prompt: "Psalm 1:1-3 says "Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or stand in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on His law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither - whatever they do prospers." NIV

In what sense does a righteous person prosper?"


Prosperity for the righteous individual has much to do with perspective,
that is trained on the perspective of the Lord of Glory Himself.


Even Henry David Thoreau got this one right in his book, Walden, originally published in 1854. "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away."
https://www.bartleby.com/73/905.html

Can the Lord show a prophecy through the pen
of a secular writer when He so chooses?
Most definitely.


The Christian prospers in righteous living because he hears the drumbeat of Heaven. The Everlasting Drummer has tuned the Christian's heart to hear this heartbeat of the Lord. (Philippians 2:13)

Prospering in righteous living is similar to the workings of a dog whistle. We, humans, blow the whistle, but we hear nothing since our ears do not have the capacity to hear pitches, that high. Yet, dogs for miles around will come in our direction, barking.

In a similar way,
bats fly in the dark
with pinpoint accuracy,
using sonar.
In actuality,
they "see" with their ears.


Cats hunt at night with deadly ability
because their eyes were created to see
in the lowest amounts of light.


Christians do not prosper in this life because everything in life seems to be going their way from a human perspective. Christians prosper in this life because they see their actions and life choices as they apply the perfect world the Lord has created to exist forever.

That's why it may be asserted, that Watchman Nee, the great evangelist, prospered in righteous living, even though he lived his last 27 years of life in a Chinese prison, dying as an inmate.

That's why we may say, that Richard Wurmbrand could spend 14 years in a Romanian Communist prison, prospering in righteous living.

Many are the martyrs for Christ, (some, who have already died for Christ, and some, who continue to live for Him to this very day,) who give all, and who are unknown to most of the world's population, but who are living prosperously in righteousness because no matter how long we may live on this Earth, the bulk of our existence is always ahead of us in Eternity, either in JOY with Christ or in a disastrous existence without Him.

May you become a righteous person this very day,
if never before,
beginning to prosper in the life,
that is undeterred by the grave.

Rest in Him, today!




by Jay O'Toole
on July 18th, 2020


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July 17, 2020 at 3:40pm
July 17, 2020 at 3:40pm
#988423
"It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
(This is the last sentence of President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.)


They gave their last, that the best be ours.
Devotion gave they all.
Their lives remain as lofty towers.
"Live for us!" their call.

They fought to make us truly free.
Their families missed them sore.
Is life today, Yes, all we see,
worth what they gave and bore?

We read the text, "It is for us
to dedicate our lives
to live the task left in our trust,
whose blood before us cries.
"

We read it more, "These honored dead
have charged us all to stand,
devotion for devotion bled,
resolve we to this Plan.
"

"These dead shall not have died in vain.
This nation newly birthed
shall be in Freedom, right as rain
as once again in worth.
"

We live our best unto the last.
"Our Government by Plan
made of and by and for our people.
It shall forever stand.
"

But when we see them face-to-face
will those, who gave, yet, smile?
Will Joy we have in that fair Place
or live we in denial?

Will the "honored dead" then honor our lives
for how we've kept their trust?
Would they be glad, again, to strive
to give us hope, that's just?

We struggle now upon this sod
as surely as they did.
Our Hope still rests within our God,
results unknown amid.

But one Day soon a shore we'll see
from which we'll ne'er depart.
This Kingdom's led by the Just One, He,
Who bled to save each heart.


by Jay O'Toole
on July 17th, 2020


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July 16, 2020 at 2:31pm
July 16, 2020 at 2:31pm
#988327
One of my favorite Christian singers in the 1980s was Carman Licciardello. His stage name was simply, "Carman" for obvious reasons.

Still, Carman has an important impact on our world, even today. For this reason, he has my continued respect.

Carman's style is so creative stylistically, moving easily between Jewish musical stylings, Elvis-impersonations, and his native Italian speaking and singing genres.

Of all the music, that Carman created, my personal favorites are his story songs, like (8:01) "Sunday's on the Way," (19:52) "God Don't Care" and (34:06) "Temptation Boogie" from the album, Sunday's on the Way, produced in 1983. (The numbers are the time-stamps of where to find the song on the YouTube video of the album.)



Carman rendered some great story songs in Rock-a-Billy style on his first few albums. One of my favorites of that genre is "Bethlehem," a Christmas song, and the first cut from the following album, Some-o-dat, from 1982.



Some days it's not about writing.
Some days it's about singing.
Some days the clouds color the thoughts with gray.
Some days the sun petulantly hides behind the clouds,
daring me to dig through to win the game of Hide & Seek.

Some days the Lord Himself seems distant,
toying with my emotions,
daring me to believe in Him,
apparently trying to shake my faith into nothingness.

Oswald Chambers had the classic answer to days like this.

"'There are times,' says Jesus, 'when God cannot lift the darkness from you, but trust Him. God will appear like an unkind friend, but He is not; He will appear like an unnatural Father, but He is not; He will appear like an unjust judge, but He is not. Keep the notion of the mind of God behind all things, strong and growing. Nothing happens in any particular unless God's Will is behind it, therefore you can rest in perfect confidence in Him.'"


by Jay O'Toole
on July 16th, 2020


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July 15, 2020 at 2:22pm
July 15, 2020 at 2:22pm
#988254
Prompt: Additional Christology vs. Incarnate Christology

That Jesus has always existed as Jesus is no stretch of the imagination to me. I cannot comprehend the Triune God as ever being anything other than the Triune God. Duality at the beginning of Eternity, which in all reality has no beginning, nor ending, becoming triality after the Incarnation of Jesus in the manger of Bethlehem has never made logical good sense to me.

"In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God."

(John 1:1, KJV)

In this verse "the Word" always means "Jesus," Who is the Logos (aka The Word of God.) I do not have the ability to read this verse without seeing Jesus and the Word of God as being interchangeable, and concurrent.

This understanding of John 1:1 requires that Jesus is seen as being present in Genesis 1:1, and even more than present in Genesis 1:1, Jesus is, in reality, The Creator. This is why my favorite rendering of the Creation Account is found in The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis, who, I believe, has my same understanding of the Person of Jesus Christ.

In The Last Battle Aslan, (the representation of Jesus Himself) is seen to be singing the Creation into existence. Jesus is the Word of God and as the Word of God, He is the musician, who creates by speaking, by singing, by expressing the Truth of Who He is since all of Creation flows out of His very Existence. Those, who do not believe in the Existence of God, do not believe in the existence of themselves, for as all painting flows from the heart and the mind of the painter, all Creation flows from the heart and the mind and the very Being of the Creator.

The Word of God, Jesus, is all over the Torah, the Talmud, and the Writings, which all comprise The Old Testament.

Look for the Angel of Yahweh. There, you will find Jesus.
Look for Melchizedek, the King of Salem. There, you will find Jesus. (Three verses in Genesis become three chapters in the Book of the Hebrews.)
Look for the Great I AM in Exodus 3:14. There, you will find Jesus.

I am inclined to believe, that even Joshua met Jesus once in one of His pre-Incarnate states.

"13 And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho,
that he lifted up his eyes and looked,
and, behold, there stood a man over against him
with his sword drawn in his hand:
and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him,
Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?

14 And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come.
And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship,
and said unto him, What saith my Lord unto his servant?

15 And the captain of the Lord's host said unto Joshua,
Loose thy shoe from off thy foot;
for the place whereon thou standest is holy.

And Joshua did so.
"
(Joshua 5:13-15, KJV)


The state of being "shoeless" demonstrates reverence and worship, which is something an angel could not allow as seen in Revelation 22:8-9, KJV.

"8And I John saw these things, and heard them.
And when I had heard and seen,
I fell down to worship
before the feet of the angel
which shewed me these things.
9Then saith he unto me,
See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant,
and of thy brethren the prophets,
and of them which keep the sayings of this book:
worship God.
"


This means, that the angel Joshua met was requiring worship.
Angels do not allow themselves to be worshipped.
God, the Father, and God, the Holy Spirit do not ever show themselves in corporeal fashion throughout the whole of the Scriptures, even though the case for corporeal presentation could be made with The Holy Spirit lighting on Jesus "as a dove" after His baptism in the Jordan River, and when The Father let Moses see His "back parts" from the clift of the rock, during His forty days on the mount in the Book of Exodus 33:17-23, KJV.

"17 And the Lord said unto Moses,
I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken:
for thou hast found grace in my sight,
and I know thee by name.

18 And he said,
I beseech thee,
shew me thy glory.

19 And he said,
I will make all my goodness pass before thee,
and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee;
and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious,
and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.

20 And he said,
Thou canst not see my face:
for there shall no man see me, and live.

21 And the Lord said,
Behold, there is a place by me,
and thou shalt stand upon a rock:

22 And it shall come to pass,
while my glory passeth by,
that I will put thee in a clift of the rock,
and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by:

23 And I will take away mine hand,
and thou shalt see my back parts:
but my face shall not be seen.
"


I see Jesus all over The Holy Bible. This is so true in my heart, that in at least one of my Bibles many years ago I wrote these words, "The Biography of Jesus Christ," underneath the words, The Holy Bible, on the title page.

If you want to see God, then look for Jesus Christ.


The fact, that The Bible is the biography of Jesus Christ is all summed up in the words of John 14:6-11, KJV.

"6 Jesus saith unto him,
I am the way,
the truth,
and the life:
no man cometh unto the Father,
but by me.

7 If ye had known me,
ye should have known my Father also:
and from henceforth ye know him,
and have seen him.

8 Philip saith unto him,
Lord, show us the Father,
and it sufficeth us.

9 Jesus saith unto him,
Have I been so long time with you,
and yet hast thou not known me, Philip?
he that hath seen me hath seen the Father;
and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?

10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father,
and the Father in me?
the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself:
but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.

11 Believe me that I am in the Father,
and the Father in me:
or else believe me for the very works' sake.
"


Jesus Christ of Nazareth is the most Unique Person to ever live in Time and in Eternity. Jesus has always been 100% God from the very core of Eternity. When Jesus created a body for Himself from one of Mary's eggs and was placed into her womb through the gracious work of The Holy Spirit, Jesus became, and continues to exist, as 100% Human, while continuing to be 100% God.

No other Person in all of Eternal Existence can claim to be completely God and completely Man, concurrently, with the scientific evidence of His Very Being. This scientific evidence remains a mystery to human beings, who today do not have advanced equipment, which can prove Jesus's very REAL Existence, but when Jesus reveals Himself at the time chosen by His Father, then the scientific evidence will be experienced by all at once. No testing for proof will be required, nor will it even be desired.

"It is a fearful thing
to fall into the hands
of the living God.
"
(Hebrews 10:31, KJV)

How much better it is to bow the knee,
while Salvation is still being offered.
"9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus,
and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead,
thou shalt be saved.

10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness;
and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

11 For the scripture saith,
Whosoever believeth on him
shall not be ashamed.

12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek:
for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.

13 For whosoever shall
call upon the name of the Lord
shall be saved.
"
(Romans 10:9-13, KJV)

"And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken:
but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.
"
(Matthew 21:44, KJV)

"(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted,
and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee:
behold, now is the accepted time;
behold, now is the day of salvation.)
"
(II Corinthians 6:2, KJV)

"For God says,
At just the right time, I heard you.
On the day of salvation, I helped you.”
Indeed, the 'right time' is now.
Today is the day of salvation.
"
(II Corinthians 6:2, NLT)


Jesus remains the Sweet Savior of the Resurrection to this very day. He offers His gracious Gift to all, who will look for redemption to "the serpent on the pole.". (Number 21:8)

However, recent events have mixed the fragrances of His concurrent Personality Traits. The hot breath of His Justice is being felt throughout these days of the Coronavirus, while the perfume of His sweet Grace can still be distinguished in the words, "Pay attention. Your Redemption draweth nigh, but only those, who receive My Redemption will be saved."

"13 Enter ye in at the strait gate:
for wide is the gate, and broad is the way,
that leadeth to destruction,
and many there be which go in thereat:

14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way,
which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
"
(Matthew 7:13-14, KJV)

"13 “You can enter God’s Kingdom
only through the narrow gate.
The highway to hell is broad,
and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way.
14 But the gateway to life is very narrow
and the road is difficult,
and only a few ever find it.
"
(Matthew 7:13-14, NLT)


by Jay O'Toole
on July 15th, 2020


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July 14, 2020 at 11:35pm
July 14, 2020 at 11:35pm
#988196
"'And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments: this is the commandment just as you heard it from the beginning-you must walk in it.' 2 John 6

Prompt: What then is love?"


Love is God's Gift to us to see as He sees, to value as He values, and to sacrifice for the betterment of others, who would be our enemies as well as our friends.

I call LOVE, "God's Gift" because no human heart, that has been damaged by Original Sin has the ability to LOVE at all in his or her own strength. This Agapé LOVE, which can only originate in the Heart of the Lord of Glory, God Himself, is so foreign to human nature, that any attempt at trying to speak it is like learning a second language until the spirit of the human has been redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb.

We're all familiar with The Love Chapter in I Corinthians 13. The characteristics of Love as found in verses 4 through 7 would be a good meditation, today, as we consider the subject of Love. The following is from the New Living Translation.

"4 Love is patient and kind.
Love is not jealous
or boastful
or proud
5 or rude.
It does not demand its own way.
It is not irritable,
and it keeps no record of being wronged.
6 It does not rejoice about injustice
but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
7 Love never gives up,
never loses faith,
is always hopeful,
and endures through every circumstance.
"


by Jay O'Toole
on July 14th, 2020


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July 13, 2020 at 7:39pm
July 13, 2020 at 7:39pm
#988081
"Prompt: Philippians 2:21, paraphrased, 'I will seek your interests, Christ Jesus, rather than my own.'. In today's dog eat dog world, how do we do that?"

Seeking the interests of the Lord Jesus indicates the Presence of the Holy Spirit in one's heart, mind, and life. The answer to today's question comes from an earlier verse in the same chapter.

"For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."
(Philippians 2:13, KJV) This verse I consider to be The Bible's "tuning fork." Piano tuners have gifted ears. They can strike a tuning fork on a solid object, putting it close to the ear to get the frequency firmly ensconced in the mind. Then, he or she will pluck the piano string to identify if the current string frequency is sharper or flatter than the frequency of the tuning fork. The process of striking the tuning fork, listening, and then tightening or loosening the bolt, that holds the piano string, followed by plucking and listening, the whole cycle continues, until the frequency of the tuning fork and the piano string are exactly the same.

In the pre-work of Salvation, the Holy Spirit tugs on the unbelieving heart until the once-unwilling heart becomes willing to have the Holy Spirit in residence within, resurrecting the long-dead spirit to become a new spirit, which is in agreement with the Lord Jesus.

Now, the living spirit inside of the human, who has become a Christian, is the Temple of the Holy Spirit. (I Corinthians 3:16-17)

In so many ways the human's newly-resurrected spirit is like a piano, which was created but put into storage, until the day of Salvation. Pianos are meant to be played. Lack of use creates dust on the keys and strings, looseness in the strings, and a general state of disrepair. The Holy Spirit has the responsibility of setting the new Christian in order for the Master's use throughout Time and Eternity.

The living "piano" must be dusted, cleaned, and the strings have need of tuning before the sound of the performance meets the exquisite Ear of the Lord of Glory. As the heartstrings of the living "piano" are tightened to be brought in tune by The Holy Spirit of God the line between the will of the Christian and the will of the Lord becomes blurred.

Ask a devoted believer if the choice of some decision in life is the Christian's will or the Lord's Will, and the answer will be notably, "Yes!" because the truth is, that it has become both the Lord's Will and my will.


by Jay O'Toole
on July 13th, 2020


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July 11, 2020 at 5:44pm
July 11, 2020 at 5:44pm
#987855
"Prompt: What do you do to prepare for worship service or for that matter, your day to day activities? How do you invite Jesus into your activities?"

(1 Thessalonians 5:17, KJV)
"Pray without ceasing."


Recent days have become so challenging on so many levels, that I am drawn to cry out to the Lord for help, repeatedly.

During the early thoughts of my day, I meditate on the word, "Shalom," asking the Lord to let His Shalom rest upon the various aspects of my life and my world.

Reading God's Word is important to me, but I've realized as I've gotten older, that nourishment from the Word of God usually comes more consistently through the ear gate rather than through the eye gate. Therefore, I have regular YouTube videos to which I listen as I start my day. I listen to the reading of Psalms 23, 27 & 91, the Beatitudes, and whatever daily passage of Scripture I paused at yesterday. (Today, I finished the Book of the Revelation. Tomorrow, I plan to start, again, with Genesis. Alexander Scourby reading the King James Version of the Bible is my go-to on a daily basis. The dramatic version may help some, but his voice and his alone actually sounds like the Word of God, even though his pronunciation of certain words makes me chuckle a bit, since it is different from the pronunciations, that I was reared with.)

I'm learning to speak wise words to myself throughout the day, which makes me know The Holy Spirit is gaining a clearly path to the ears of my heart because I'm listening more.

"Let the words of my mouth,
and the meditation of my heart,
be acceptable in thy sight,
O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.
"
(Psalm 19:14, KJV)


by Jay O'Toole
on July 11th, 2020


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July 10, 2020 at 11:47pm
July 10, 2020 at 11:47pm
#987786
Stand, adjure you. Stand, and wait
beneath the vaulted ceiling tiles
of clouds in skylight temple state,
whose founding slab flows miles and miles.

Stand, adjure you. Stand, and see
the concrete Word of God it floats
upon th'expanse of air so free,
that wears his Glory like a coat.

Stand, adjure you. Stand, then bow
before the Word, that formed the Earth.
Know the One, Who's ever NOW,
Who offers thee His Blest New Birth.

Stand before the Word as read
to show great honor for Its Truth.
Stand before the Lamb, Who bled,
Who bought redemption in His youth.

Stand, adjure you. Never sit
before the One, Whose living Word
bequeaths you life when preaching It,
receiving Christ, the living Lord.

Stand, adjure you, evermore
as the Word of Christ fills Nature's house,
though limbs grow weak and Strength's own store
may fail to stand before thy Spouse.

Stand, adjure you. Stand with heart.
Stand with spirit. Stand to the core.
Stand when the days of aging start
to cause thee hope from the Final Door.

Stand and pledge allegiance. Faith
will cause thee reverence the Best.
Stand, the Word of God thus saith
"Thy Lord is He, Who beat the test."

Stand, adjure thee. Stand and speak
the word of God, thy weapon real.
Stand before the greatest Meek.
Returns He soon in great Reveal.

Stand before this Word made bone,
Who sits upon His Kingly Throne.
He spoke the Heavens by His Voice,
and made us His by His Own Choice,
the deed, that makes His Realm rejoice
by making His Name known.

Stand, adjure you. Stand so still
the gleam of Earth's own waters shine
to lighten valleys, blaze each hill
by the spoken Word to lives refine.

Stand, adjure you. Read at will,
the Word of God so purely spoke
will captivate each ear to thrill
these burdened ones, the Earthly folk.

Stand adjured and testify,
"The Word of God redeems thy state.
He died, was buried, there to lie,
until the Sunrise very great!
"

Stand, adjure you, ever stand
before the King, whose Word of Love
doth show His everlasting Plan
to fit thee for His Home Above.


by Jay O'Toole
on July 10th, 2020


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July 9, 2020 at 11:56pm
July 9, 2020 at 11:56pm
#987702
When a shoulder is the need
wiping tears and souls, that bleed,
give your help in fewer words.
Boundaries need not be blurred.

When the Savior raised His Voice,
"Lazarus, come forth," His choice.
Take His Wisdom as your own.
Here relationships have grown.

Mostly friends need ears, that hear.
That's when counseling is clear.
Have great hope, that you're enough
when your words are few and stuffed.

When your friend needs a guide that's true
more words will be asked of you.
When your friend needs a heart that's blest,
you'll be there in quiet rest.
(Psalm 91:1-2)


by Jay O'Toole
on July 9th, 2020


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