by Jay O'Toole
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.
Daily live, that smile He does.
It takes not much to do.
Just honor Him and all He loves,
‘til earthly life is through.
The Smiling God has a heart for Man,
but He winks not at Sin.
Salvation is His first great Plan,
but He forces none to Him.
The Smiles of God are daily seen
by those, who love His Ways.
The Hope of God we daily glean,
communing as we pray.
The Joy-filled God would rather smile,
and thus He calls, "Receive.
The Gift is yours for the taking, while
the lost ones all deceive."
"Repent of Sin and find your heart
anew and holy now.
The days of Joy know their blest start,
transformed with just one bow."
The frowning God is always seen
by those rejecting Truth.
His Countenance is dark and mean
to all unholy youth.
But circumspect ones all submit
to God, Who rules us all.
The heart, that will its all commit,
responds to this great call.
The giving up to God Most High
brings riches evermore.
Submit for this lone God is nigh
with smiles through ev'ry door.
At first, submission seems a loss
for Self is grasping much,
but losing Self's a worthy cost
as seen in Jesus' Touch.
To see the cost in all I am,
released to all He is,
The Smiling Face of the Great I Am,
will last as His Word says.
by Jay O'Toole
on September 12th, 2020
As near as your breath His Mercy waits.
As near as your breath He comes.
As near as your heartbeat through all dates,
He gives in parts and sums.
As near as your breath His "Peace. Be still."
As near as your breath, just rest.
As near as your heartbeat, He can fill
each challenge and each test.
As near as your breath the work is done.
As near as your breath, it's through.
As near as your heart, He saves each one,
who trusts what Christ did do.
As near as your breath, He goes before.
As near as your breath, He's there.
As near as each heartbeat, strong and sure,
He carries ev'ry care.
by Jay O'Toole
on September 11th, 2020
|Meditation seems to have so many different meanings these days. The best I can glean from various sources defines meditation as the "cutting off of the mind's anchor and letting it drift into whatever seas of thought the currents of the spirit realm may take it."
Please forgive me, but this sort of meditation has more in common with jellyfish living than with the life of a salmon, which is more accurate to the original meaning of the word.
Let me wrap up this introduction by saying, that "jellyfish" meditation appears to me to be something akin to watching a movie in the spirit realm. The activity level is passive. However, "salmon" meditation is the active practice of swimming upstream against the currents of thought to really understand the Truth as God presents it to us from His Word. This is a work-out in the spirit realm for the spirit of a human.
This is consistent with the term, "premeditate" as expressed in first-degree murder cases. The criminal actively thinks about every aspect of the crime, that he or she plans to commit. That is the reason why a heavier punishment is pronounced in such cases. The criminal meditated (or "actively thought about") the crime ahead of time before the crime was carried out.
"37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me;
and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
44 No man can come to me,
except the Father which hath sent me draw him:
and I will raise him up at the last day."
(John 6:37,44, KJV)
As we meditate on these two verses the first contrary current, which requires strong thought, is the order of the verses. Verse 37 seems to be the promised reception to Himself, that Jesus is making to everyone, who has an invitation in hand. Verse 44 seems to be the way the invitation is originally presented to the human. That seems to be backwards, regarding the order of events.
This may simply have to do with the fact, that God is the Original Eternal Person. When He speaks ideas, which are past, present, or future to the human perspective, all three of these concepts coexist at one moment in Eternity in the heart of God, since He exists in the Eternal Present.
Let's be clear. Too often I have heard these words from some over-confident human being. "I can be saved anytime to want to be saved.". In reality, that is an egregious error, which emanates from a pride-filled human mind. In John 6:44, the Lord clearly states, "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him." I would paraphrase it as "No one gets to choose when he or she will be saved. The Father issues an urgent invitation to that human at the moment of His Choosing." The drawing call appears to have the overtones of "Come now or never, Dear One."
This definitive statement made by the Lord, that He holds every aspect of salvation in His Hands Alone, may seem rather unfair to the human mind, but there is great comfort in this revelation, which is similar to the revelation, that the Lord is in control of every aspect of every interworking of the physical Universe.
There are gods, which may try to challenge the Lord's operation of everything physical, but they have no power to overrule His Authority, which means He maintains the proper working of the Universe while keeping His enemies at bay at the same time.
At the same level of control, the Lord calls a human to Salvation at the time of His Own Choosing, drawing and enlivening that human to be saved at the very moment chosen. This is the "U" of the T.U.L.I.P. of Calvinism. "Unconditional Election" means the Lord chooses, who will be saved as well as when and where. "Irresistible Grace" plays into this equation as well, meaning, that when the Lord is ready to save that dear one, that very human will be saved at the moment of the Lord's Own Choosing.
Again, from the human's perspective, this may seem capricious on the Lord's part, but when properly understood, it gives great assurance to the believer. "If I can't choose when to be saved, then I can't ever lose it when I am saved."
John 6:37 was given to me as an encouragement at the end of my teens by one of my uncles, who was a great evangelist. The thought of this verse goes hand-in-hand with Philippians 2:13, which has become one of my favorite verses, regarding assurance, in the past few years.
"All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." (John 6:37, KJV) "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13, KJV)
According to John 6:44, God Himself is the One issuing the invitation to be saved, applying the magnetic pull to insure, that Salvation occurs. According to John 6:37, Anyone being drawn to Salvation by God, the Father, arrives as an already "done deal" (John 6:37a) with the adjoining assurance ahead of time, that anyone showing up in the Presence of Jesus, the Saving Christ, with the duly notarized invitation to Salvation from the Father Himself will hear, that he or she will "No, Not Never be turned away" from the event, the relationship, the Gift of Salvation at the Hands of Jesus, the Christ, Who purchased the same with His Own Precious Blood on the Cross of Calvary, which was sealed through His Resurrection on the Third Day.
Some may be tempted to assert, "Well, if I can't be saved whenever I want to be saved because God is going to save me at the moment of His Own Choosing, then I may as well live however I want to live because the Lord is going to do whatever the Lord's going to do. I don't get a choice in the matter.". That does seem pretty logical from the human perspective of things, but the human viewpoint is always quite limited, and sadly it is always skewed.
Philippians 2:13 comes into play here. "God works in my will and in my actions to see to it, that everything pans out just the way He wants it to pan out."
Does the Lord choose me to be saved? Yes.
Do I have the responsibility to receive His Salvation? Yes.
How can these two concepts be wisely married? Let us illustrate it by the handicraft of the piano-tuner. The piano strings are compliant to the movements of the piano-tuner. The tuner tightens a string, and the string is taut. The tuner loosens a string, and the string is more relaxed. The tuning fork is struck, and the sound is in the tuner's ear. The string is adjusted to sound like the tone of the tuning fork in the tuner's ear. The piano is in tune when the tuning fork and the piano's string resonate on the same tone. In other words, they say the same thing.
Does it change anything for the Lord to say, "I choose you for Salvation," while the believer says, "I receive Your Salvation?" No. They twain are in agreement. Is either part more important? No. They are of equal importance.
Jesus is "the Lamb slain from the Foundation of the World." (Revelation 13:8, KJV) In the realm of foreknowledge, each believer is a child saved from the Foundation of the World.
Salvation is similar to the relationship between the pitcher and the catcher on a baseball team. The pitcher initiates the play (aka Salvation) with the pitching of the ball, while the catcher receives the ball. Thus, ending the transaction, but more than that. Jesus is the perfect pitcher in that He can be in two places at the same time. He pitches from the pitcher's mound while standing behind the catcher to insure, that the ball will be securely received into the catcher's mitt.
Does Jesus want me to be saved? Of course.
Do I want to be saved? Of course.
What's more, Jesus initiates the invitation to be saved, insuring that I will have the ability to receive the Salvation once offered.
Ephesians 2:8-10, KJV,
"8 For by grace are ye saved through faith;
and that not of yourselves:
it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works,
lest any man should boast.
10 For we are his workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus unto good works,
which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."
Grace is the "gasoline," which ignites the dead "car" of the human to fully innervated life, while Faith is the conduit through which the gasoline of Grace flows into the gas tank of the stillborn "car." Jesus is the driver, Who turns the ignition to start the car into the fullest expression of life.
In these verses, both Grace and Faith are recognized as being Gifts from the Lord. I need Grace to be saved. I need Faith to receive the Grace. He gives both of these parts to me. He enlivens me to act upon both.
Finally, the Lord operates upon my heart.
Ezekiel 36:26-27, KJV, says,
"26 A new heart also will I give you,
and a new spirit will I put within you:
and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh,
and I will give you an heart of flesh.
27 And I will put my spirit within you,
and cause you to walk in my statutes,
and ye shall keep my judgments,
and do them."
My old "stony heart" has no feelings.
The Lord gives me a fleshy heart, that cares for the thing He cares for.
My old spirt can't breathe of spiritual things.
The Lord gives me a new spirit, that can know and explore this realm.
In all of these areas, I am but a spirit corpse, before the Lord breathes life into me. Once He breathes life into me, I can receive the things of His Dear Holy Spirit because I now have the new desires, that His Dear Holy Spirit gives to me.
I can't become alive as a spiritual person with any greater probability than a man can physically get up out of his own grave. The Lord Jesus is the Life-Giver, but once He gives me life, then I love to live, and my love of spiritual living proves, that I am "a new creature in Christ Jesus" (II Corinthians 5:17) by virtue of Jesus's work in me and my exulting in that work.
by Jay O'Toole
on September 10th, 2020
|Prompt: "How is your church handling the pandemic?"
The pandemic caused a large number of adjustments in the way we worship, but the worship never stopped.
As a community, we were sent home for "sheltering in place." This was comparable to all communities around the world. My wife's business was shut down for six weeks, but on Wednesday evening after the "shelter-in-place" order or recommendation, depending on your perspective, a small group of believers met in our church auditorium to videotape the Sunday morning worship service, which was to be broadcast on the following Sunday morning.
During the following week our pastor put in a great deal of effort, expense, and new equipment to create a weekly Livestream from our church auditorium to any home in the world with internet capability.
The CDC "recommendation" of "groups no larger than ten people" caused the body of believers to remain home, watching the Livestream, but worship continued, anyway throughout the mandatory quarantine, which ran from mid-March through the bulk of April. I seem to recall being back in the auditorium on the last Sunday of April this year to worship, wearing a facemask and not shaking hands, but we worshipped anyway.
Amazingly enough, the reason I returned to church services on the church property was not only because I believe in the importance of worshipping together with the Body of Christ, but because I have had a regular ministry most of the time, since joining the church on the first week of June 2019. Believing in the Ministry of Hospitality, I prepare the coffee for worship services, which has included every worship service, since the return from the Quarantine, except for the Sunday my family was on vacation.
Every Sunday we worship.
Every Sunday we bring our mask.
Every Sunday we often bump fists, but for a few courageous souls, we shake hands.
Every Sunday we social-distance in a still sparsely-filled auditorium, but the crowd grows larger every week because as the pastor has told me, personally, "We don't force anyone to come." We're just open and available when they decide they're ready to return.
There is a local mandate, requiring people to wearing masks when they enter a business, but the mandate is liberally-enforced, meaning that enforcement is left up to each individual business. Our church has a notice at the doors, saying something like, "We don't require masks, but we strongly encourage their use."
The Lord has allowed the disruption of the life we have known for many years, but He has provided us the opportunity to worship anyway.
I think the Lord would paraphrase our church's policy to be in agreement for worship. "We don't require worship, but we strongly encourage its use, both corporately and privately."
When everything is going well in life, Worship.
When everything is life is being disrupted, Worship Anyway.
When you feel like it, Worship.
When you don't feel like it, Worship Anyway.
When Joy reigns supreme in your heart, Worship.
When Joy has taken a long journey from your heart, Worship Anyway.
When you are able to come together with the Body of Christ, Worship.
When you are alone, unable to contact anyone else, but the Lord, Worship Anyway.
The days may be challenging, but Jesus is still the King of kings and Lord of lords.
He may be required by the Character of His Own Good Name to send Judgment on the nations, but He knows how to take care of His chosen people.
"Preach the word;
be instant in season, out of season;
reprove, rebuke, exhort
with all long suffering and doctrine."
(II Timothy 4:2, KJV)
The expression, "in season, out of season" means to do your preaching "by life and by lip," which includes your worship, "when it's convenient and when it's not."
May our hearts repent, daily before the Lord for the conditions in our country, that caused Him to send the Wake-Up Call of the pandemic. We need real revival. That starts at the house of God.
by Jay O'Toole
on September 9th, 2020
|Prompt: "What are some similarities between God's descent to Mt. Sinai and the giving of the Law and the Holy Spirit's descent on Pentecost and the start of the church? See Exodus 19 and Acts 2."
There were some very important similarities as well as some differences between these two occasions of the condescension of God to speak with His chosen humans, who accepted His Word at face-value in true belief.
1. On both occasions, humans went to a certain place with the purpose of meeting the LORD. Moses went up into Mount Sinai. Then, God told Moses to leave Mount Sinai, preparing the Children of Israel for His visitation in three days. The Lord told the saints to tarry in Jerusalem in the upper room (Luke 24:49.) This instruction came, during Jesus' earthly ministry, and that's why the saints were faithfully there in Acts 2.
2. At Mount Sinai, the Jews were a mixed multitude. Some believed the Word of the Lord. Some did not. They were all in attendance, culturally, not spiritually, before Mount Sinai as ordered, based on their physical relationship as children of Israel. The Jews in the upper room, who waited for the Holy Spirit, were all believing Jews, who agreed with what the Lord wanted to do in their lives.
3. The Lord revealed Himself directly to the congregation of Israel in Exodus 19 and 20 in thunderings and with His actual voice, but the Children of Israel were afraid of the voice of the Lord. (Exodus 20:19) Whereas the believing Jews of Acts 2 were waiting for the Presence of the Lord. Their hearts were already receptive to the Lord. His Holy Spirit rested upon the believers, and they began to speak for Him. (Acts 2:4)
4. Mount Sinai (Exodus 19-20) is the presentation of the Ten Commandments, which is The Lord's Legal Case against Mankind, wrapping up their iron-clad Guilt in these Ten Indictments of capital crimes, personally committed by all humans against the Godhead. This case was eternally punished to the fullest extent on the Cross of Calvary in the Person of Jesus Christ, God's Son, Persona Substitutus, for the benefit of all, who would hereafter believe as well as for the benefit of all, who believed beforehand by way of a Promissory Note in the spirit. The Presentation of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 was at that time, and ever since, extant in believers because the Ten Commandments (aka the Ten Indictments) had been fully punished in the Body Jesus, the Christ with the case forever closed by virtue of the death of the Testator, Jesus, transforming our code of condemnation, (the Ten Commandments) into the Standard of Double Jeopardy found gloriously in Romans 8:1, KJV, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
Bottom Line: The crux of HIStory is the Cross of Calvary. (Interestingly enough, "crux" means "cross.") Until Jesus died on the Cross of Calvary, the Ten Commandments (or the Ten Indictments) reigned unhindered from the human perspective of HIStory. Albeit from God's Perspective, Jesus was "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." (Revelation 13:8, KJV). Jesus, the Perfect, Eternal Son of God was able to pay the Eternal Sin-Debt of Past, Present, and Future Time at the one moment of Time during the Resurrection Weekend in the first century, A.D., effectively covering every sin from the Original Sin of Adam and Eve and every sin of every one of their children throughout the entirety of the days of HIStory, until He calls, "Game Over," and Eternity is forever the Eternal Day. At that point, Time is no more. Eternity Alone will exist.
In Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1-4, Jesus shows Himself to be the Creator.
In Exodus 19-20, Jesus shows Himself to be the Law-Giver.
In the Gospels, Jesus shows Himself to be the eternally obedient Son of God, Who Personally paid the violation of the Law, that He had Personally given.
In Acts 2, Jesus shows himself to be the One, Who lives in His chosen ones in His Holy Spirit, providing, that at the death of the believing Christian, the dear one is "absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord," (II Corinthians 5:8, KJV) since the Lord has always been present with the believer, since the moment of that believer's Salvation.
Therefore, we find that Exodus 19-20 was the time the Lord forced His Glory upon a group of people to show them, that they were not ready for His Presence, since they were still in their sins. However, Acts 2 was the time the Lord gave His Glory to a group of people, who were ready and waiting for His Presence because their hearts had been transformed by the Gift He had created throughout the weekend of the Cross of Calvary, the Garden Tomb, and the Unequaled Resurrection.
by Jay O'Toole
on September 8th, 2020
|Prompt: "In what ways can we prepare ourselves for God's presence and leading this week?"
The Lord is Glorious.
The Lord rules over all things, including every human.
The Lord causes Creation to keep functioning, properly.
The Lord is King.
The Lord is worthy to be obeyed.
From the womb, I am a sinner.
From the womb, I am selfish.
From the womb, I am disobedient.
From the womb, I am on the road, that leads to destruction.
From the womb, I am broken.
On the Day of Salvation, the chasm is bridged.
On the Day of Salvation, I see my poverty and I see His riches.
On the Day of Salvation, I see clearly my sin,
and I see clearly His Perfect Worthiness.
On the Day of Salvation,
I ask the Lord Jesus to pay my sin-debt by His sacrificial payment.
On the Day of Salvation,
I stand silently as the Lord Jesus clothes me in His righteousness.
Each day and each week after salvation,
I thank the Lord Jesus from standing in my place.
Each day and each week after salvation,
I become more aware, of the subtle ways He speaks.
Each day and each week after salvation,
I ask the Lord Jesus to guide me from moment to moment.
Each day and each week after salvation,
I give my talents, my emotions, my whole being to Him.
Each day and each week after salvation,
I begin with what I know, until He helps me to grow.
I am Sin. Jesus is Salvation.
I have no goodness. Jesus has all goodness.
I can't save myself. Jesus Alone can save me.
I am worthy of Hell. Jesus is worthy of Heaven.
Jesus endured my Hell one weekend a little over 2000 years ago.
Jesus made me worthy of Heaven by paying my sin-debt in Hell at a moment in time.
Jesus is my rich benefactor. Forever I am grateful He paid the debt I could not pay.
My preparation for His Presence and His Leading
is to see clearly, once again, who I am and Who He is.
I was abject. He is always Glorious.
I am forgiven. He is Joyful over this Fact.
I am made righteous. He is my righteousness.
I am made worthy of Heaven. He bought my ticket to Heaven.
Though I am still imperfect, His Perfection covers every daily fault.
Though I don't obey Him perfectly, He is quick to forgive every infraction. (I John 1:9)
In me, I see no good thing of my own making.
In me, I good things of His gifting.
In me, I see cause for tears and unworthiness.
In me, I find worth, that He has placed there.
In Christ Jesus, I see the ground for full restoration to the Father.
In Christ Jesus, I see Hope for today and Hope for the future.
In Christ Jesus, I see Love for all He made me and all He remade me to be.
In Christ Jesus, I can rest in the Shelter of His Wings.
Perspective is everything.
Know the Truth and the Truth will set you free.
My debt, His Payment,
my imperfection, His Perfection,
my lostness, He is the Way,
my hopelessness, He is All Hope.
(John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10,13; Philippians 2:13)
See Self. See Jesus. Be with Him every step of the Way.
Be Blessed, Everyone, Now and Forever.
by Jay O'Toole
on September 7th, 2020
"I will both lay me down in peace,
for thou, Lord,
only makest me dwell in safety."
(Psalm 4:8, KJV)
A good night's rest
is such a gift from the Lord.
Resting in the Lord
shows the ability to trust Him
for sweet sleep.
Let's ask the Lord every day
for His angelic attendants
to guard us as we sleep.
Rest well, Everyone.
May the Lord give you peaceful sleep.
by Jay O'Toole
on September 5th, 2020
|The idea of finishing well is wrapped up in the concept of living well every day.
"23 His lord said unto him,
Well done, good and faithful servant;
thou hast been faithful over a few things,
I will make thee ruler over many things:
enter thou into the joy of thy lord."
(Matthew 25:21,23, KJV)
Hearing the Lord pronounce these words over our lives can never be a matter of "cramming for the final" or throwing a few good deeds in the Lord's direction over the last few days of one's life.
However, if a few days is all, that one has left after salvation from a life of debauchery or self-motivated living for most of one's earthly days, then, of course, the new convert can still hear the Lord's "Well done, good and faithful servant."
The thoughts well up from within the soul, "What does it mean to live well? What does it mean to be a 'good and faithful servant?'"
Let's review a parable the Lord told a group of people, during His earthly sojourn.
"1 For the kingdom of heaven
is like unto a man that is an householder,
which went out early in the morning
to hire labourers into his vineyard.
2 And when he had agreed
with the labourers for a penny a day,
he sent them into his vineyard.
3 And he went out about the third hour,
and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
4 And said unto them;
Go ye also into the vineyard,
and whatsoever is right I will give you.
And they went their way.
5 Again he went out
about the sixth and ninth hour,
and did likewise.
6 And about the eleventh hour he went out,
and found others standing idle,
and saith unto them,
Why stand ye here all the day idle?
7 They say unto him,
Because no man hath hired us.
He saith unto them,
Go ye also into the vineyard;
and whatsoever is right,
that shall ye receive.
8 So when even was come,
the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward,
Call the labourers,
and give them their hire,
beginning from the last unto the first.
9 And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour,
they received every man a penny.
10 But when the first came,
they supposed that they should have received more;
and they likewise received every man a penny.
11 And when they had received it,
they murmured against the goodman of the house,
12 Saying, These last have wrought but one hour,
and thou hast made them equal unto us,
which have borne the burden and heat of the day.
13 But he answered one of them, and said,
Friend, I do thee no wrong:
didst not thou agree with me for a penny?
14 Take that thine is, and go thy way:
I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.
15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?
Is thine eye evil, because I am good?
("Do you have the right to be upset because I'm generous to some
while keeping my agreement with you?" My paraphrase)
16 So the last shall be first,
and the first last:
for many be called, but few chosen."
(Matthew 20:1-16, KJV)
The life of the Christian is all about Mercy and Grace. No human being will ever deserve to be in Heaven, except for Jesus, the Christ, HIStory's Only Messiah. It is upon His merits Alone, that any of us can be saved.
Jesus of Nazareth lived the perfect life of creation beyond the pleasure of a human male, of overcoming temptation on a, no doubt, daily basis for more than 33 years of earthly life, of obedience to the shame of brutality and the death of the cross, and of the fulfillment of all of the prophecies about Him, including His resurrection of the third day after His crucifixion.
On the 40th day after the resurrection, Jesus ascended back to Heaven, leaving His work for His disciples to do, through the power of His Holy Spirit, Who descended upon His disciples on the 50th day or Pentecost.
This means, that any reward or congratulations we may receive for the duration of our lives on Earth, lived as Christians are merited on the same basis as our salvation (or being made Christians by the power of the Holy Spirit.) Everything is received with regard to the merits of Jesus on the basis of Grace.
We deserve eternal punishment in Hell, based on the commission of just one sin. Think of how many times we have sinned beyond, that first damning sin, which was committed by our first parents, Adam and Eve.
I am completely filthy because I am a sinner by birth and by choice every day.
This is the debt I cannot pay.
I have absolutely no ability to live the pure and sinless life required for entrance into Heaven. I have only meager resources to offer God for the paying of my debt. Therefore, I can't even put a respectable dent into my debt owed to God Almighty.
I am damned on every level, according to my own accountability.
But Jesus, the Almighty God, saw my plight, lived the life I could not live, died the death of repayment, that I could not die, and rose, again, to the undie-able life, that I could never imagine how to create for myself.
I am the worst sinner.
Jesus is the best Savior.
My debt was paid fully by Jesus.
His Perfection was placed upon me as a royal robe.
I can do nothing.
He can do everything.
Having been saved as a six-year-old boy, I am like those, who were hired at the first by the wealthy vineyard owner. My ability to labor in His vineyard is a matter of Grace. Any "payment" I may receive is, again, a matter of Grace. Everything I have is on the credit and merits of Jesus Christ. Think of it. I, an abject sinner, who is only worthy of Hell, have been saved by Grace on the merits of Jesus Christ, have been given the privilege to serve Him every day of my earthly life, since the day of Salvation, and at the end of my earthly life, I have been promised the privilege of living eternally with and serving in love the One, Who created me, and Who recreated me by His Own Choice, based on His Inestimable LOVE.
How dare I be offended at this gracious Lord, Who gives the same undeserved eternal life to that last dear soul, who will likewise receive Jesus' Gift of Salvation on the final cusp of the Day of Grace.
I can NEVER deserve to be saved. I can NEVER deserve eternal life.
The last person, who will be saved, can NEVER deserve to be saved. That person can NEVER deserve eternal life.
The "penny" promised by the vineyard owner is Everlasting Life with Him in Heaven.
If I work for the Lord for most of a hundred years, and then I receive the promised eternal life in Heaven with Jesus, this is more than I could ever earn. Therefore, it is no longer a labor-wage relationship. (Romans 6:23, KJV) It is the privilege of service related to the privilege of the everlasting relationship with the One, Who saved me in the first place.
If the last person to be saved, serves the Lord less than a day, and then receives the promised eternal life in Heaven with Jesus, this is, once again, more than that person could ever earn.
Serving the Lord for a minute or for a lifetime is a Grace, a privilege.
Being the Lord's eternal child is a Grace, a privilege.
Christians are equal.
No Christian gets a better deal than any other Christian.
No Christian gets a worse deal than any other Christian.
"Jesus paid it all.
All to Him I owe.
Sin had left a crimson stain.
He washed it white as snow."
There are so many parables in the New Testament,
that bring us to the same conclusion.
No one deserves to be saved.
The Glorious God saves us on the merits of Another.
Everything God offers us is Grace.
We deserve nothing.
Goodness is ALL Grace.
by Jay O'Toole
on September 4th, 2020
Prompt: "Is there any way of changing a hard heart and a hardhead? What can we do to help people see the light?"
Before we try to answer this question, it would probably be wise to ask ourselves another question. "Am I 100% sure I am in the right?" Ask it another way, and the question becomes, "Is their head hard or is mine?"
I've had to ask myself, "Is the wearing of a mask the most effective deterrent for preventing the spread of this disease?" Apparently, the COVID-19 virus is so small, that nothing can really prevent its transmission from one person to the next. This is at least true, according to some sources with which I am familiar. However, other sources swear by the effectiveness of the use of masks.
The voices are so varied, that the use of face masks to prevent the spread of this most recent virus a "disputable matter."
The Apostle Paul covered the subject of "disputable matters" quite effectively in I Corinthians 8. The subject under discussion for Paul was "meat offered to idols."
What can we learn from Paul?
"8 But meat commendeth us not to God:
for neither, if we eat, are we the better;
neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.
9 But take heed lest by any means
this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock
to them that are weak.
10 For if any man see thee which hast knowledge
sit at meat in the idol's temple,
shall not the conscience of him which is weak
be emboldened to eat those things
which are offered to idols;
11 And through thy knowledge
shall the weak brother perish,
for whom Christ died?"
(I Corinthians 8:8-11, KJV)
What would it be like, if we rewrote the aforementioned verses to incorporate the current debate under discussion?
"8 But wearing a mask doesn't make us right with God:
for neither, if we wear a mask, are we the better;
neither, if we don't wear a mask, are we the worse.
9 But take heed lest by any means
this liberty of ours for not wearing a mask
become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.
10 For if any man see thee which hast knowledge
sit in a public building without your mask on your face,
shall not the conscience of him, which is weak,
be emboldened to take off his mask in a public building?
11 And through thy knowledge
shall the weak brother die from the virus;
after all, Christ died for him, too?"
(I Corinthians 8:8-11, COVID-19 Paraphrase)
As a rule, I wear my neck gaiter in public buildings, unless I have permission not to, especially when eating or drinking, and after I arrive at a designated personal space, like a restaurant table. Most of my "mask-wearing" is socially-motivated, included the local law of a $25 fine should we neglect to wear our masks.
Bottom Line: Though I am great at debate, I can't remember one time in which I have changed another person's position on some subject because I defeated him or her in a war of words. My best advice as to how to deal with others, regarding "disputable matters" is to be an excellent example of how to live, and to do that consistently. Then, pray for the dear, Holy Spirit to touch that deal person's heart. After all, only the Lord can change a heart.
by Jay O'Toole
on September 3rd, 2020
|Though there are, indeed, many challenges, surrounding COVID-19, I would like to focus our thoughts, today, on the potentially unintended, but positive consequences of this silent and unseen interloper.
Though the thoughts, herein, may not be totally original with me, I am writing about the things, that are important to me and in the order in which they pop into my head.
First of all, the quarantine told me to go home to ”flatten the curve.” Honestly, in many regards this was a great gift, since being at home has always been a great blessing to me. I think I’m a unique male in that regard. I’ve always been a homebody.
When I was nineteen I had already spent a year in college, but I became confused about my direction in life. I worked a few days a week at a local gas station, but the rest of the time I was allowed to stay home to read my Bible, to pray, and to seek the Lord’s Will for the rest of my life.
At the end of the twelve months, I enrolled in Bible college, and have been serving the Lord in some capacity ever since.
Self-quarantine is not a punishment. It is a gift.
Secondly, wearing a mask when in public buildings increases the potential for using wise words. Since it is difficult to speak plainly through a mask, it behooves us to use fewer words, making each word count.
Maybe, when the virus has run its course, we should self-impose the Mask Rule for our conversations.
“Can it be said plainly through a Coronavirus mask? If not, then maybe it shouldn’t be said at all.”
Third, vacations and travel have started taking on the COVID-19 “filter.” “Can I see myself going there with the added restrictions of face coverings and social-distancing?” If not, then I’ll probably choose another form of relaxation, that doesn’t mask the beauty of the experience.
Some landscapes don't look the same when “Keep six feet apart” signs litter the ground, thus distracting the view. We may find, that the hills and dales of our own properties take on grander glory when the blessing of "No Masks" presents us with unobstructed views of God's Creation.
Fourth, mask-wearing and social-distancing gets rid of that pesky little issue of dealing with other human beings. Keeping our distance absolves us from having to check on the spiritual health of our friends and neighbors. Who cares about their eternal destinations? We've got to keep our distance.
Really? We care more about our own physical health than the spiritual health of others? How did that play into the decision of Mother Teresa to spend the bulk of her life caring for people infirmed with leprosy? She held them. She dressed their rotting flesh. She loved them as Christ would love them.
The Apostle Paul traveled all over the known world of his day, urging souls to make Jesus their Lord. He experienced shipwreck, a poisonous snake bite, misunderstanding, and raucous mobs, who were ready to take his life on the spot.
The Lord Jesus Himself was beaten with 39 lashes from a "cat-of-nine-tails," a brutal tool of torture for the Romans, that was so intense in the pain and blood-letting of the experience, that many prisoners didn't survive the beating long enough to be crucified. Jesus lasted through the beating, and He lasted long enough on the cross to accomplish everything, that was prophesied He would do before He died. He died at the moment of His own choosing when the work of His pre-death Earthly life was "finished."
Ministry requires, that we die to self. So what, if we catch a virus and die, we're dead to self already. Besides, the same One, Who lasted on the cross, until He chose to die, is the very One, Who is in charge of every one of His servants' lives, meaning that not one of these precious souls will die, until their work on Earth is finished, and He calls us Home to be with Him.
Finally, COVID-19 has put life into perspective for every son or daughter, who names the Name of Christ. The work's not finished until we use every means possible, including writing, in the pursuit of bringing souls to Christ before it is everlastingly TOO LATE.
The glorious thing about COVID-19 is the creation of live streaming feeds for so many churches, like my own, through whom the Lord shows His Grace and Mercy throughout the world, meaning that at the end of the Days of the Gentiles no person on Earth will have any excuse for not trusting Christ as his or her own personal Savior.
COVID-19 is just another harbinger of Divine Justice, but great ministry is springing up in these dark days. Often Revival starts in prayer closets in some of the darkest days of HIStory when the only Hope to be found is received by looking up.
May the Lord give us a great harvest of souls,
during these days of great need,
and, no doubt, the experience of great fear.
by Jay O'Toole
on September 2nd, 2020
Prompt: "Read Psalm 51. What does this psalm say to you?"
Well, let's look at what it says for itself.
"1 (To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David,
when Nathan the prophet came unto him,
after he had gone in to Bathsheba.)
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness:
according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I acknowledge my transgressions:
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned,
and done this evil in thy sight:
that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest,
and be clear when thou judgest.
5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity;
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts:
and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean:
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Make me to hear joy and gladness;
that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
9 Hide thy face from my sins,
and blot out all mine iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God;
and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from thy presence;
and take not thy holy spirit from me.
12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation;
and uphold me with thy free spirit.
13 Then will I teach transgressors thy ways;
and sinners shall be converted unto thee.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
thou God of my salvation:
and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.
15 O Lord, open thou my lips;
and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.
16 For thou desirest not sacrifice;
else would I give it:
thou delightest not in burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit:
a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
18 Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion:
build thou the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness,
with burnt offering and whole burnt offering:
then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar."
(Psalm 51:1-19, KJV)
David wrote this psalm in the abject poverty of brokenness over his adulterous sin with Bathsheba, Uriah's wife. Uriah was one of David's committed soldiers, who died for this very man, who betrayed everything Uriah stood for.
This psalm is a great gift to all sinners. It shows, that God, Who is Lord of all Holiness and the Most Glorious Person of all Existence can and does forgive the most grievous sins when we humbly fall down before Him, confessing (aka "saying the same thing") our sins. We don't cover our sins. We say the same thing God says about our sins. Our "sins are filthy," but our sins were paid for by Jesus, the Christ, on the cross of Calvary.
"If we confess our sins,
he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins,
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
(I John 1:9, KJV)
Verses 1-5 are heavy on Confession. "Lord, You've got my number. I'm guilty. I wish I could go back and undo all, that I did for the first reason I've been caught 'red-handed.' The shame is almost more than I can bear, but since Your Character is trustworthy, I'd rather com clean, now, with You. So, I declare for the whole world to hear. I AM GUILTY!"
Verses 6-9 are heavy on Mercy. "In my shame and disgrace, I want to be forgiven and cleansed. Dear Lord, please, save me, and take away my bloodguiltiness from before Your face and mine."
Verses 10-12 are heavy on Grace. "Please, Dear Lord, restore me to my place of honor in Your Presence. Please, restore my good name. Make me, once again, to know Joy in Your Salvation, and the daily sweet fellowship of the Presence of Your Holy Spirit."
Verses 13-15 are heavy on Testimony. "Dear Lord, please restore me, not only for my good pleasure and peace, but for the purpose, that I might be able to bring others to You as I show them what You have done for me."
Verses 16-19 are heavy on the Restoration of True Worship. "Oh, Lord, You don't want to be worshipped until I have been broken before You, but as a broken vessel, I can bring You the Highest Praise and the Highest Worship, making Your Kingdom known for Worship, that is complete and Pure."
Every human is a sinner. The sooner we each confess that fact, the sooner we can be made right with the Lord for His honor, glory, and worship, throughout the rest of Time and Eternity.
Make me right with You, Lord Jesus, every time I sin, which is based on the same Gift of Salvation, that was given to me when I was first saved at age six.
Bless everyone who reads these words,
drawing each of them into a right relationship with You.
Thank you for that, Dear Lord.
by Jay O'Toole
on September 1st, 2020
"Jesus saith unto him,
I am the way,
and the life:
no man cometh
unto the Father,
but by me."
(John 14:6, KJV)
"'1 Is anyone thirsty?
Come and drink—
even if you have no money!
Come, take your choice of wine or milk—
it’s all free!
2 Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength?
Why pay for food that does you no good?
Listen to me, and you will eat what is good.
You will enjoy the finest food.
3 “Come to me with your ears wide open.
Listen, and you will find life.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you.
I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David."
(Isaiah 55:1-3, NLT)
The days of life are always meager
when the human is its all.
The sh'mitah lives in ev'ry figure
saving rest for those He calls.
To pay the Lord with all you are
begins His rest on ev'ry side.
Salvation you can no whit mar,
admitting destitution, pride.
The Rest of God is His great Joy
to gift to all, who see their loss.
Shalom restored without employ
by laying all at His Blest Cross.
The man without a penny savings
saves his life without his deeds.
The hungry man of awful cravings
eats because of One, Who bleeds.
The man of crimes in God's great debt,
unshackled by the saving Lord.
As free as none on Earth can get,
believing Truth of God's great Word.
A soul, who's lost on Earth's best roadway
finds the Only Road Above
in Christ, the Lord, the lasting Hope-Stay,
giving peace, Whose power is Love.
"I am the Way," the Master's calling.
"I'm the Truth," He bids you hear.
"I am the Life." He keeps from falling
ev'ry soul, whose days are fear.
"My Father's House is everlasting.
None can find it. Just through me.
If you do try through prayer and fasting
from flames of Hell you'll ne'er be free."
"The man of thirst can drink his fill
without a copper farthing tossed.
Have wine or milk. Drink all your will.
Your needs are never foiled by loss."
"No money spent on useless food.
Why pay for mouthfuls empty space?
Just hear me out. You'll eat the good.
My diner is the finest place."
"Oh, come to me. Your ears full bore
will listen, finding life that's Blest.
My covenant forevermore,
unfailing love for ev'ry test."
The days of life are full, abundant
when the Lord is ever near.
The saving Lord will ne'er abandon
coming hearts, forsaking fear.
"You mean the Lord will save me, freely,
rotten, though my core may be?"
"Great Mercy He prefers. Yes, really.
He will run, your life to free."
"Oh, what have I to bring Him. Nothing!"
"All He wants is all you are."
"Now, surely you are kidding, bluffing."
"No, my friend. Your sins be far
away from Him, no more disgusting.
Shines He through you like a star."
"This life of love, how do I start?"
"Just trust His Word, that it is true."
"What word should I bring to my heart?"
"The children's mem'ry verse for you."
"For God so loved the world of men
He gave His One and Only Son.
Whoever takes His Word within
won't die for life for him is won."
"For God so loved the world,
that he gave his only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in him
should not perish,
but have everlasting life."
(John 3:16, KJV)
by Jay O'Toole
on August 31st, 2020
|Prompt: "Paul tells us, 'Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us,' Philippians 3:17.
Do you think it is okay to have spiritual mentors? Why or why not?"
The Lord entrusts important truths to each one of His children. As we age we have the responsibility of entrusting these same truths to younger believers as we prepare to leave the picture of HIStory on Earth.
Do we all mature in the realm of the spirit? Not everyone.
Do we all mature as quickly as all others in the realm of the spirit? Hardly.
Do we all become mentor material for younger Christians? Sadly, no.
However, some Christians have learned from the mistakes of their youth. Some Christians have repented before the Lord, and have sought help from Him to reestablish a strong and vital relationship between the Lord Jesus and the Christian.
That is the greatest reason for having a mentor. An older Christian, who looks like Jesus with the humility to admit he has no reason for leading another Christian without the strength, that he or she receives from the Lord Jesus Alone, is the very type of individual, who has been made able to mentor.
That's the Bottom Line. Only Christians, who have a track record of following hard after God, are the ones, who are worthy of mentoring others in the faith. Older growing Christians, who grieve over their own frailties, knowing that confession is a daily part of walking the Christian life, are the very ones, who have the right to offer their gifts in the service of mentoring others toward Christlikeness, preparing for Eternal service to the Lord by practicing to greater and greater levels of skillful service to the Lord upon this Terran sod.
Do I wish to be a mentor for younger Christians? Yes, I do.
Do I feel worthy to be a mentor for younger Christians? No, I don't.
What qualifies me as a mentor for younger Christians? My own innate sense of unworthiness qualifies me because a sense of worthiness placed in myself would disqualify me from the role of a mentor because only the Lord Jesus of Nazareth is worthy to mentor anyone. Death to self, and focus on Jesus as the only worthy One, qualifies me to mentor anyone because it is mentoring based, not on my goodness, but on the Lord's.
In I Timothy 1:2, Paul addresses Timothy as "my son in the faith." Paul was the aged Christian. Timothy was the much younger Christian of mixed blood heritage of Jew and Gentile. (His mother was a Jewess. His father was a Greek.) This piece of trivia alone heightens the importance of the message. In the early days of the Church pretty much all Christians were Messianic Jews. Paul certainly was. Paul lists his credentials earlier in the aforementioned chapter. Philippians 3:5, "Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;" However, Paul "thought outside of the box." Acts 16:1 shows that Paul cared about the salvation of peoples of all backgrounds. "Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek."
Paul wrote the bulk of the New Testament as a devout Jew, whose life had been transformed by Yeshua Meshiach, Jesus, the Jewish Messiah. Yet this individual, who was so wholly Jewish in every aspect of life mentored a young man, who was not completely Jewish in physical descent, but who had been engrafted into the vine, spiritually-speaking. This fact gives hope to all of us, who have become believers in Jesus, the Jewish Messiah.
Though I have no Jewish blood in me, physically, I am Jewish by virtue of the Sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, and through His burial and His resurrection. I am now considered to be Jewish, having the same right to mentor others in the faith, that the Apostle Paul had in the first century, A.D.
We've come full circle.
Paul gives advice to those of us,
who wish to mentor younger believers.
"7 But what things were gain to me,
those I counted loss for Christ.
8 Yea doubtless,
and I count all things but loss
for the excellency of the knowledge
of Christ Jesus my Lord:
for whom I have suffered the loss of all things,
and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
9 And be found in him,
not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law,
but that which is through the faith of Christ,
the righteousness which is of God by faith:
10 That I may know him,
and the power of his resurrection,
and the fellowship of his sufferings,
being made conformable unto his death;
11 If by any means I might attain
unto the resurrection of the dead.
12 Not as though I had already attained,
either were already perfect:
but I follow after, if that I may apprehend
that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended:
but this one thing I do,
forgetting those things which are behind,
and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
14 I press toward the mark
for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded:
and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded,
God shall reveal even this unto you.
16 Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained,
let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.
17 Brethren, be followers together of me,
and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample."
(Philippians 3:7-17, KJV)
"7 I once thought these things were valuable,
but now I consider them worthless
because of what Christ has done.
8 Yes, everything else is worthless
when compared with the infinite value
of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
For his sake I have discarded everything else,
counting it all as garbage,
so that I could gain Christ and become one with him.
I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law;
rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ.
For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.
10 I want to know Christ
and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead.
I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death,
11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!
12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things
or that I have already reached perfection.
But I press on to possess that perfection
for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.
13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it,
but I focus on this one thing:
Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,
14 I press on to reach the end of the race
and receive the heavenly prize for which God,
through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
15 Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things.
If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you.
16 But we must hold on to the progress we have already made.
17 Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine,
and learn from those who follow our example."
(Philippians 3:7-17, NLT)
1. Righteousness is of Jesus. Follow Him wholly.
2. Christians, who follow Jesus, wholly, or at least consistently, are worthy
examples. Follow their lead.
3. Live for Jesus, the Messiah, and urge everyone possible, to live for Him, too.
Be truly blessed, Everyone, as you give yourselves, wholly, to God's One and Only One Messiah. The trumpet will blast soon and the Upper Taker will seat us at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. We will find ourselves to be clothed in His Righteousness for only those so properly adorned will be allowed to sup with the Master, Now and Forever.
Be clothed by the Lord this very day, responding receptively to His Gift of Salvation. (John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10,13; Philippians 2:13)
by Jay O'Toole
on August 29th, 2020
|Everything the Lord created was made
to be perfectly connected to His Mind and Purpose.
Before the original sin, everything the Lord created
was perfectly connected to His Mind and Purpose.
All human desires, appetites, and needs were created to be holy before the Lord. This includes breathing, heartbeats, eating, smelling, seeing, tasting, touching, hearing, and sexual intercourse to name a few.
Original Sin corrupted every aspect of the Lord's Perfect Creation. Visually, this is like the breaking of a mirror. "Seven years of bad luck?" Hardly. The rest of HIStory is full of the sin (aka "missing the mark") of broken fellowship with God. Auditorially, this is like playing on a badly-out-of-tune piano without the necessary tools, which are required for tuning that selfsame piano. Life became a soft-focus photograph and a phone call with a bad connection.
What is the purpose for human sexuality? Throughout the years my understanding has grown to see, that the Lord created human sexuality as the physical illustration of the eternal relationship between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Covenant marriage is the joining of one man and one woman to the heart of God for the entirety of the humans' mutual lives together. Sexual intercourse is eternally valued by the Lord, only within the bonds of holy matrimony. Every expression of sex outside of this God-ordained union is by definition, sin, which requires confession (aka "agreeing with the Word of God,") repentance (aka "turning away from that sin",) and forsaking of the same in order to be restored to a right relationship with the God, Who created us.
Jesus of Nazareth did, in fact, address the subject of the definition of covenant marriage during His earthly sojourn, which is recorded in the words of the New Testament Books, called The Gospels.
"4 And he answered and said unto them,
Have ye not read,
that he which made them at the beginning
made them male and female,
5 And said,
For this cause shall a man leave father and mother,
and shall cleave to his wife:
and they twain shall be one flesh?
6 Wherefore they are no more twain,
but one flesh.
What therefore God hath joined together,
let not man put asunder."
(Matthew 19:4-6, KJV)
Sexual intercourse is the covenantal representation of the high priest entering the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur. This intercourse between husband and wife is the only acceptable intercourse in all of HIStory, and it represents the restoration of fellowship between God and Man, which is only possible on the basis of holiness imputed on a human by the merits of Another, Who IS Jesus, the Christ.
Sexual intercourse was never intended to be a mere instance of human entertainment with two humans giving pleasure to each other, whereby pleasure is an end in itself. Remember, the Lord killed two of Aaron’s sons on-the-spot for entering the Holy-of-Holies with “strange fire.” All sexual intercourse or some form of sexual pleasuring outside of covenant marriage can arguably be defined as “strange fire.”
This writer, in no way, claims to have been obedient with regard to the honoring of the holiness of sex, especially in his youth. I had a great deal of "strange fire" from which to be forgiven, especially since I was introduced to impure magazines on a drugstore magazine rack when I was about fifteen. After all, sex with oneself is no better, morally, than sex with another outside of covenant marriage.
Why do I disagree with same-sex relationships being called, "valid?" This choice changes sex to a need to be fulfilled, like eating and drinking, rather than the holy responsibility, that it is, to be a representation before the world of the relationship of the Three Unique Individuals in the Trinity of God.
Humans were created in the image of God.
"26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."
(Genesis 1:26-27, KJV)
God made a distinction between the creation of Man and the creation of animals, and God expressed a connection between the creation of Man and the eternal existence of God.
The uniqueness of God leads us to the best understanding of the honorable function of sexual intercourse. God is described as Three in One. These are Three Distinct Individuals in such a corporate Unity, that it may be asserted, that love and fellowship requires the not-knowing-but-trusting of an interpersonal expression of love, which is the highest form of honorable love.
This is very difficult to write when contemplating the inner workings of the Godhead, which no human can fully know, and the interpersonal relationships between humans, which we know to a greater degree.
Is there anything that God does not know? I can't imagine anything.
How does the interrelationship between each Member of the Godhead express the not-knowing-but-trusting aspect of the highest level of honorable love? This is obviously hard for me to express, but I believe it can be better understood by contemplating Philippians 2:5-7, KJV.
"5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery (i.e. 'something to be held onto') to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:"
If the Lord Jesus could reduce the expression of His Divinity in order to become the God-Man in the virgin Mary's womb, living 33 1/3 years on Earth in flesh-that-could-die, then couldn't He and the other Members of the Godhead refuse Omniscience in the interpersonal relationships with themselves in order to trust each Other as to the way Each is pleased to be loved rather than relying on what Each knows individually, and applying that to what is probably going to cause the Others to feel loved?
Let me turn our attention to the human interactions of expressed love, which will probably be a little easier to comprehend. I believe the Lord helped me to understand this truth a few years ago when I was trying to explain why the truths of Leviticus and Romans 1 were written in the Bible, regarding the expression of sex. Many of the Lord's prohibition laws have some very logical health and relational components at the core of the expression, "Thou shalt not."
Bottom Line: Sexual love is not, primarily, for the purpose of giving and receiving pleasure. Sexual love is for the purpose of honoring the one loved. The honor comes in the not-knowing-but-trusting of giving pleasure to my wife when I have no way of knowing what gives her pleasure, but when I do that which gives her pleasure because I trust her directions, regarding pleasure. The same is reciprocal from her to me.
However, in same-sex interactions, the giver has a pretty good idea of what brings pleasure to the partner because the giver knows what brings pleasure to the self.
True Love is about not-knowing-but-trusting, just as trusting the Lord is about "faith, not sight." Love is always about relational trust. Love is never about self-serving pleasure.
The relationships of God's own making are about "faith, not sight."
If you can live in a relationship based on experience rather than on trust, then your relationship is arguably very self-centered, very mechanical, and not very honorable.
If we live life, based upon preference and orientation, then we would be very inconsistent, regarding what is acceptable in life and what is not acceptable.
For instance, I lived a long period of time without a strong sense of smell, meaning that smoke was one of the few smells I could distinguish. This is why, even today, I am oriented to cigar smoke. I smoked cigars in my earlier years, and the aroma and the adjoining relaxation, which cigars brought to me created a very pleasant experience. However, since becoming a parent, I have given up indulging in the pleasure of smoking cigars, which is better for my child's health, and which has probably kept me around to share life with her for many years.
Why do the same people, who frown upon my expressions of concern over same-sex relationships, have no regard for my love of smoking cigars, which is merely about personal pleasure?
If humans feel justified in telling other humans, that they should not do something because it is bad for their physical health, then why do these same humans tell God to "Get off!" because He tells them they should not do something because it bad for both their physical and spiritual health?
Now back to the subject of sex itself. That which is acceptable, according to modern mores has to deal with violations of political correctness, regarding ageism.
I have been married these 34 years to a lady, who is six or seven years younger than me, depending on the month of the year. At 60 and 53, that's not a big deal, morally, by societal standards. However, if I had met her when is was 18 years old, then any attraction I might have had toward her would have been frowned upon at best, and would have been the source of great outrage at worst.
As it was, on our first date I was 24 and she was 17 which was only slightly better in the eyes of Society, but it caused my heart to skip a beat when she told me how young she was. Under my breath, I exclaimed, "Dear Lord Jesus, what have I done?"
Again, Society has no problem telling us, that sex is to be reserved for two adults. With this, I heartily agree, but on the subject of same-sex liaisons, Society tells me I have no right to be anything, but accepting.
Frankly, I feel as though I am being harmed, personally, in the realm of fairness. I believe the Day of Reckoning will express, fully, the Lord's Disgust, regarding human unfairness and inconstancy in all areas, and for the specific purposes of this article in the realm of sexual expression for which the Lord has very specific commands.
I leave you with Romans 1 the last half of the chapter from 16 through 32, but I will focus on verses 17 through 22.
"17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,"
If the Lord calls every form of sexual attraction and interaction outside of covenant marriage to be sin, standing in violation of His Holy Law, then I have no right to call it acceptable, no matter how much social pressure may require me to say that.
The Lord is longsuffering, but He will not suffer fools forever, and Humanity has just about reached the end of its tether. Only the Lord knows what He will do, but I can't imagine it will be very good, since this once-God-fearing nation has left the God of its youth.
This has not been an easy article for me to write because I'm like anyone else, I like being liked by others, but ultimately I have only One, Whose agreement, love, joy, and respect is my highest desire. Jesus of Nazareth is Messiah, Lord of all lords, King of all kings, and the Everlasting Lord of Glory. Please, give your life to Him, today, if never before.. (John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10,13; Philippians 2:13)
May the Lord be merciful to us, and may He allow His faithful followers to live in the land of Goshen when Judgment falls on Egypt.
by Jay O'Toole
on August 26th, 2020
"18And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying,
All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19Go ye therefore, and teach all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20Teaching them to observe all things
whatsoever I have commanded you:
and, lo, I am with you alway,
even unto the end of the world. Amen."
(Matthew 28:18-20, KJV)
It has always amazed me the extent to which the Lord Jesus is not in a hurry to install Himself as Sovereign Lord and King over all of Time and Eternity, even though "Ruler" has been His fitting title, since before the world was founded.
Humans have mocked Jesus from the days of His earthly sojourn. "You are the Messiah? No, you're not. You're Joseph's kid."
More contemporary individuals tend to exclude Him from the conversation when the Truth is being discussed. Most world religions are accepted under the heading of Inclusive, but Jesus is dismissed, especially in the face of those of us, who consider Him to be "The way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father, except by (Him)."
Bottom Line: When Jesus is ready to set up His Kingdom on Earth, no one will be able to say Him, "Nay." He came the first time as an infant to live the perfect life, to die the substitutionary death, and to raise as the unstoppable King. When He returns, the unstoppable King will be the forever Lord, and "every knee will bow." (Philippians 2:5-11, KJV)
May every reader know Jesus as Lord, now, in preparation for the world's best future.
|This is the first day in my lifetime, that my age has been the same as the year of my birth. Just like me, anybody, who was born in '60 (aka 1960) is turning the age of 60 this year. However, for the geeks in the crowd, I have just completed my sixtieth year, and I am now starting on my sixty-first year.
This, also, means, that the numeral purists in our midst would affirm, that I am now beginning the last year of my sixth decade of life. This means I will not officially begin my seventh decade, until my next birthday.
Now, after presenting all of the minutiae, what does all of this mean, if anything? It means I have lived a goodly number of years. It means, that since the average sleep cycle is eight hours per day or 1/3 of life, then I have been asleep for approximately 20 years up to this point.
What does 60 mean with regard to an individual's lifetime on Earth? Well, if we consider, that 20 years is looked upon as one generation, then three generations have grown up in the time that it took me to get here.
The first set of twenty years of life (0-20) are considered to be the growing up years.
The second set of twenty years of life (21-40) are the career-building years.
The third set of twenty years of life (41-60) are the career-waning years, unless you're in good health. In that case the third twenty years of life would be the career plateau.
The fourth set of twenty years of life (61-80) could either be the years of the growing sage or the career-waning years or both.
The fifth set of twenty years of life (81-100) is reserved for those extreme sages, who break all of the molds, living long enough to complete an entire century.
Of course, none of the assertions are etched in stone. They are merely the observations of one man codified to help him grasp where he finds himself on the timeline of Life.
I have met teens and twenty-somethings, who have wisdom far beyond their years. On the other hand, I have met people in my age bracket, that make you scratch your head as to how their parents ever turned them loose to live out in the world of relatively grown-up individuals.
Humanity is a mixed bag.
Some souls live the entire set of life stages in relatively few years, leaving behind a strong impact, that affects the world for years and decades after their apparently premature passing away from HIStory.
Others live to a ripe old age, doing the same thing, leaving behind a strong impact, that affects the world for years and decades to come after they live their lives as saints and sages.
These thoughts are written as much to encourage my own heart as they are to encourage the dear readers of this page. I have been told, that my devotional thoughts are good. I am so grateful for these assessments. I, also, know the importance of vigilance, regarding my life's work and writing, that I hope to leave one day for ages to come.
My consistent prayer is "Lord, let me finish well" because I want to hear His promised words of praise, "Well done, good and faithful servant."
It's time to redouble my efforts to exercise my body, that I may finish strong in my senior years. It's time to redouble my efforts to protect every word, that leaves my mouth or leaves my fingers on the keyboard, that they may be wise, and never foolish.
"It takes a lifetime to build a reputation, but only by keeping my eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ can I prevent its loss in a moment." This is my paraphrase of the famous concept saying, that was originally coined by individuals, like Warren Buffett, Will Rogers, Benjamin Franklin, and George Washington.
I leave you with one final quote by legendary basketball coach, John Wooden. "Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are." - John Wooden
May the Lord keep us faithful to Him, from the heart, for only God knows, who we really are, even better than we know ourselves. (JOT)
Life on Earth has always been a challenge.
From the day our first parents sinned the Original Sin,
God's Perfect Creation has been broken,
and we are broken along with it.
Sadly, it feels like Society moves faster
toward the gratification of the Self,
and running headlong to the filling of the void,
that we created when we broke the King's Perfect Creation.
Breathlessly, I try to keep up,
but Society is running away from God,
while I want to be near Him.
I see the many ways in which Society
is crying out for "peace,"
while running away from the very One,
Who can give them the peace they seek,
How I want to shout in the attempt to reach their ears.
"Wait here with me, while I wait upon the Lord.
He may not answer as quickly as we might want Him to answer,
but it's for certain, that the answer we need
will come to us from nowhere else."
The Holy Spirit whispers,
Know that I am God.
Find in me,
We run so fast in search of peace,
but we slow down too slowly.
If we could slow down quickly enough,
peace would, no doubt,
light upon each shoulder,
like the butterfly it is,
causing us to forget things that don't matter,
finding rest in The One, Who does matter.
by Jay O'Toole
on August 25th, 2020
|"1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah."
"God is our strong high fortress.". This mirrors Nahum 1:7. "The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.". The term, "stronghold" probably includes the entirety of a castle, when it is shut up tight and fortified.
However, I must confess, that when I read or heart the word, "stronghold," the image, coming to my mind is a tower on the upper roofline of the castle, that is used by an armed guard for the protection of the whole structure and enclosure.
In this case the Lord is the Protector of those, who trust Him as Savior and Lord, making the expression, "a very present help in trouble" to show the concept, "He's always at the ready."
In verse #2 we see, that fear is removed, even before the Earth is removed by mountains becoming unhinged and thrown into the sea.
Verse #3 sounds like the social unrest of 2020. "Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled." In the Bible "waters" often indicate a "mass of Humanity." If this mass of humanity is roaring and troubled, then what reason do we have for not asserting, that this picture is just like the global unrest seen in the news in general, and the local pockets of intense unrest found in places, like Washington state. The statues in many places of our country would comprise a mountain if all were piled together, and the raucous crowds have provided an unsettling force at the base of this "mountain of statues," just like floodwaters can cause a great throwing down effect to physical mountains, that are otherwise quite strong in appearance.
This Scriptural section (or thought) ends in verse #3 with the word, "Selah." I have often been told, that there is no exact translation for this word, but it's usage seems to suggest, that the psalmist urges "Reader, pause for a moment, consider, and reflect on the passage of Scripture, that has just been read."
"4 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early."
The first section laid the foundation of fortresses, their purpose, and the protection provided by fortresses. This second section focuses on God Himself.
God dwells in "the City of God." In the City of God is the place of worship, "the Holy Place" and "the tabernacles of the most High." At my best understanding, the "river" and its "streams" refer to the Glory of God, which flows into and out of the Presence of the Lord. Much like the tight relationship of an atom, God and His Glory cannot be separated. Look at one part of an atom, and it may euphemistically pause in order for the brain to get a concept of what it is, but the supercharged and superfast parts of an atom, never stop for an instant. God is Glorious. The Glory of God emanates from His Person. We may try to separate the two for purposes of comprehension, but God is always Glorious, and without Glory, He would not be God.
The infinite continues without end.
God is central to the City of God. God is Security for His City and for His citizens. "And that right early" means He is never late, regarding the protection of His Dearly Beloved Bride.
Coronavirus has been devastating to our world, but the promise of Psalm 91:10, those, who are owned by the Lord and stay in agreement with His Purpose (Romans 8:28) are the ones most consistently kept from COVID-19. "There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling."
Does this mean, that it is impossible for a Christian to be completely shielded from the viruses? I wish I could say, "Yes," but the truth is, that the ways of the Lord are inscrutable. Christians may die of the Coronavirus, but never apart from the purposes of the Lord. Did the Christian have a secret sin, which negated the protection? Possibly, but since none of us can "throw the first stone," none of us need to go spelunking in that cave. Could the Lord have another purpose for taking a Christian Home early? Of course, but which of us have the ability or the right to grill the Lord of Glory about His dealings in the lives of other believers?
Bottom Line: The Lord can and does save His people in accordance with His Promises in His Word, without fail. What we may perceive to be a failure on God's part is always a lack of perspective on our part.
"6 The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted."
The humans on Earth seem to think, "We got this." They make a bunch of noise, and they try to work their own will among the nations of the world. However, the Lord has the final say. "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. For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever." (Deuteronomy 32:39-40, KJV) When the Lord thunders all across the sky, the peoples of the world lose heart.
"7 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah." Verses 1 & 7 are mirror verses, like the refrain of a song or the chorus of a hymn. Like verse one, verse seven declares, "The Lord of hosts is here. The God of Jacob is our protector." In a word, "God's got this."
There is "Selah," again. "Reader, pause for a moment, consider, and reflect on the passage of Scripture, that has just been read."
"8 Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth.
9 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire."
Isn't this interesting? Whether the Lord actively sent COVID-19 around the world or merely took His Hand of Protection off the situation, allowing us to blunder into the worst medical issue we've faced for many a year, the result is the same. We humans have to consider the activity of the virus when we participate in any activity outside of our homes.
It's like He's telling us to "Go to your rooms to think about the activities of your lives over the past 50 to 100 years. You want to fight each other. Be my guest, but I could let you infect each other with The Virus. Or you could stay at home and not fight. Your choice."
I just saw Rabbi Jonathan Cahn's prophecy video about the Coronavirus. According to Rabbi Cahn, Coronavirus is another harbinger of judgment. "As with ancient Israel, who sacrificed their children on idol altars, America has been sacrificing babies on the altar of convenience, using the euphemism of abortion. Abortion is an impossibility. When conception is complete it is not possible to restore the small human being once again into the egg and sperm cells. Ergo, after conception, there are only two options. "Choose life or choose death," which is the murder of a living human being. Life cannot be aborted (or stopped from beginning to live.) Life can only be killed. Americans have murdered millions of babies, since 1973, but since abortion stopped being illegal in 1970. "2020 is the Jubilee of abortion," says Rabbi Cahn. The Jubilee is the 50th year when homes, lands, and social status are required to be returned to the original owners in the land of Israel. Since "America is a modern type of the nation of Israel," again, according to Rabbi Cahn, then the Day of Reckoning has arrived. For these fifty years, babies have been murders for the needs of the parents. We caused death to the youngest of our population. Now, the Lord has sent (or at least Sovereignly allowed) Coronavirus to affect our world heavily. This time the oldest citizens are the most deeply affected in the category of deaths, due to COVID-19.
Paybacks have come due.
"10 Be still, and know that I am God:" In the shortest way possible the Lord states of massive Truth. "Shalom" (or "be still" and "be well") causes us to cease activity, beginning to think. "I am" is the Lord's statement of His Character to Moses in Exodus 3:14, and to the rest of us through the ages of Time.
"Be still, and know that I am God:" can be stated even more succinctly as "Shalom. I Am."
When I, finally, realize, that the Great I Am, the Lord of Glory, the God of All Creation, Jesus, Who is my Savior and my Lord is the greatest Person, and He is talking directly to me for the purpose of rooting out fear, replacing it with His Own Lasting Peace is there any reason not to rest (Hebrews 4:9) "in the shadow of His Wings?" (Psalm 91)
"I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth." This is the second half of verse #10. When we "get quiet and know He is the God of all gods," then and only then can we be at peace with what is going on in the world of Today.
The Lord's Exaltation is mandatory, whether a human is a believer or is a non-believing atheist. No one is exempt as witnessed by the two "I wills" of the Lord. This brings to mind, that passage in Philippians 2:5-11, KJV in which the Lord declares (with absolutely no need of human permission,)
"5 Let this mind be in you,
which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God,
thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation,
and took upon him the form of a servant,
and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man,
he humbled himself,
and became obedient unto death,
even the death of the cross.
9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him,
and given him a name which is above every name:
10 That at the name of Jesus
every knee should bow,
of things in heaven,
and things in earth,
and things under the earth;
11 And that every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father."
Everyone will speak the words, confess, agree with, and affirm, that "Jesus Christ is Lord." The purpose of this is to give God, the Father Glory. Psalm 46:10b has witnessed twice (aka established,) "I will be exalted." Where? "Among the heathen" and "in the Earth." Since we don't have the ability to live anywhere else, nor will we ever, then those two statements along with Philippians 2:5-11 cover everybody.
Though it is certainly not flippant like the auto mechanic commercial from years ago, the meaning is certainly accurate. "Pay me now or pay me later, but you will pay me."
We can pay the respect and honor due to the Lord Jesus as loving servants, loving children, and His Blessed Bride, now, or we can pay Him the respect and honor due to Him as conquered foes at the Judgment when it is impossible to change our everlasting verdict.
I urge all of my readers to trust Jesus as Savior and Lord this very day before it is everlastingly "TOO LATE!"
"11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah."
(Psalm 46:1-11, KJV)
This verse joins verses #1 & #7 as the refrain and chorus for this psalm.
What great bookends! Just think. We start and stop the hymn of praise with the Truth that God is Strong, God is with us, and God is the Place where we can forever be protected.
Rest in Him.
by Jay O'Toole
on August 24th, 2020
|I John 1:9, KJV, "If we confess our sins,
he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins,
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
To confess means to "agree with."
Putting this verse into the modern vernacular, we see that "If we agree with God about the dastardly sinfulness of our sins, then He can be expected to do what he has promised to do. His justice requires of Himself forgiveness for our sins because we agreed with Him, regarding the intensely dark nature of our sins. His faithful (unrelenting promise,) regarding our sins is furthermore, that He cannot allow Himself to leave us sitting in the filth of our sins, any more than a faithful parent would allow his or her infant child to continue to sit in the filth of a dirty diaper. The Lord's Gift of Salvation is ever-present every day for the redeemed child, removing the filth of sin, wiping clean every aspect of life affected by our sin, giving us the renewed status of faith, clean garments, that have no memory of our sin's filth, unpleasant smells, and shameful condition."
Having been reared in a home, that spoke quite often about the imperative Justice of God, but less often about the Grace of God, I have lived my entire lifetime seeing my sin at every turn, but not consistently able to experience the Lord's forgiveness as readily as I would like to experience it.
When I speak an ill-advised word, which is consistently not out of anger or vengeful intent, but out of ignorance of social mores, and then have it brought to my attention how badly my word was received, I apologize profusely in the presence of the offended party. When I'm finally alone, it is my temptation to berate myself to the point of emotionally bloody flagellations at my apparent stupidity.
Being taught right from wrong is, indeed, an important lesson for parents to teach their children, but for children, like myself, with the personality traits of the Blue, the Melancholy, and the High-C, it is ten times as important to teach that conscientious child how to receive forgiveness, and how to extend grace to themselves with just as much magnanimity as he or she is wont to show to others.
The personality of the Blue is wired to show hyper-Grace to all other humans, except the Self, while at the same time inflicting hyper-Justice on the Self with little or no Justice expressed toward others. Blues tend to be Life's Doormat, taking the refuse of others, seeing very little redeemable in themselves. Blues tend to see themselves as inferior to others, not wanting to be around others for fear of contaminating every other precious soul for whom Christ died.
Blues tend to feel safer at home since there are fewer opportunities for embarrassing themselves as the social misfits, they consistently consider themselves to be.
Perfectionism is the warm, comforting blanket of the Blue. "If I don't sin, then I don't have to feel bad, and say I'm sorry.". As a result, Blues tend to be the underachievers of Life, if they are allowed to live according to their natural tendencies. Blues need loving and PATIENT family members and friends to apply the Boot of Motivation to the Backside of Lack-of-Confidence, being ever-present with ample tissues to clean bloody noses from the many times of falling-on-face, until falling-on-face stops being a thing. When the Joy of Achievement fills the face of the Blue with Hope of "Maybe I Can Do This!" then the loving friend has accomplished a life-level event, that few have ever attempted for the Dearly-Loved Eeyores in their sphere of influence.
Why have I spent so much time describing the personality of the Blue, the Melancholy, the High-C, yay, the Eeyores of Life when the title of this post seems to be referring to I John 1:9? In the first place, it is because I am one, and I John 1:9 has been a nearly incomprehensible passage for my naturally self-berating ways.
Left to my own devices, I tend to forget how much the Lord wants to forgive me from each and every sin, that I have ever committed, and He wants me to forget, that I have ever committed that sin because that is exactly what He chooses to do for my benefit. It's not like the Lord has actual amnesia. He has a perfect record of every breath and every heartbeat of every human, every animal, yay, He remembers every moment of every physical object throughout the entirety of the University throughout the entirety of HIStory.
How can I possibly know this? It is because Jesus gave a parable, that confirms this fact. It is the parable of the unforgiving servant. (Matthew 18:21-35). In a servant was forgiven a debt, that he could never pay with all of his paychecks for the rest of his life. (This is my paraphrase.) The master forgave him the entire debt. He walked out, thinking, "Whew! I'm glad that's over. I need a latte to celebrate but wait. I don't have any money. No worries. Matt owes me $10. I just go collect, and then go sit down with a good hot cup o' Joe, and forget my troubles." As soon as he found Matt, he forgets the niceties, and just lights into him, "Dude, remember that ten bucks you owe me? I really need it NOW!" "I'm a little short right now, but if you ask me tomorrow, then I'll be more than happy to pay you back." "NO! I want my money, NOW!" "I can't. I'm broke!" The first servant takes him by the neck and starts to bully him for the ten-dollar bill, that he could have with a smile if only he had 24-hours of patience. The situation doesn't end well. He throws Matt to the curb, and with a huff of "You're nothing, but a worthless bag of wind!" the unforgiving servant storms off.
Other servants, who saw the whole thing come to the aid of the wounded man, now sitting on a curb, trying to collect himself. "Are you okay? What can we do to help?" "Oh, nothing. Just please don't tell my wife I just got beat up. I don't think I could bear the shame of looking like a failure in her eyes." "NO! I'm going to do a little more than that. He can't treat you that way!"
The helper servant goes to the master's office and waits to be acknowledged. When he is invited in, he tells the master every sordid detail of the incident.
The master is livid. He has some of his most trusted security personnel go get the unforgiving servant and drag him into his office. Seeing the unforgiving servant, it must have cost him more than a few minutes to collect himself enough to be able to speak coherently. "I forgave you everything you owed me! How could you? I can't even! TAKE THIS FILTH FROM MY SIGHT & PUT HIM ON THE WORK DETAIL UNTIL HE HAS PAID BACK EVERY CENT HE OWES ME!"
The fact remains, that the Lord can remember what was done, but, judicially, He forgives and forgets the debt, never remembering it to your face, again. However, He is completely justified in expecting that you and I, the forgiven ones will forgive every debt owed to each of us for the rest of our earthly lives.
The Sin-Debt requires the payment of Eternity in Hell.
God has forgiven, that debt for us, due to the payment of Jesus Christ on our behalf.
Is there any earthly pain, hurtful word, or human distress, that can compare with that?
How can we neglect to forgive so little, since He has forgiven us so much?
This brings us full circle back to the original Bible verse of this study. I John 1:9, "If we agree with God about our sin, then He forgives us of that sin, cleansing every filthy part of that sin."
If the Lord Jesus Himself can forgive every sin of my entire life, then who am I to not forgive myself for even the slightest sin?
"Lord, I had a bunch of 'dirty diapers' in my relationships throughout my life. Please, forgive me." "Been there. Done that the first time you asked me. I refuse to live the sequel. Yes, you smelled to High Heaven. I, personally, wiped ever filthy thing from your bum. Every one of those incidents in ancient history. I've chosen to forgive you. I paid the debt. Now, would you please give it a rest? Even God has a limit to what He is willing to endure. It's nearly time for me to judge the world in righteous wrath. You're one of my chosen, redeemed ones. It's time for you to act like it. End of Discussion."
If God can forgive me, then how can I refuse to forgive myself? I don't think I'm better than God, do I? That is one question, that I had better never answer in the affirmative.
by Jay O'Toole
on August 22nd, 2020
|Prompt: "The study of eschatology is the study of the end times. There was a debate going on last night on social media about which would leave first sinners or Christians. Matthew 13 seems to indicate that the sinners will leave first followed by Christians. Other passages indicate otherwise. What is your opinion or does it even matter?"
"1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren,
ye have no need that I write unto you.
2 For yourselves know perfectly that
the day of the Lord so cometh
as a thief in the night.
3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety;
then sudden destruction cometh upon them,
as travail upon a woman with child;
and they shall not escape.
4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness,
that that day should overtake you as a thief.
5 Ye are all the children of light,
and the children of the day:
we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others;
but let us watch and be sober.
7 For they that sleep sleep in the night;
and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.
8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober,
putting on the breastplate of faith and love;
and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath,
but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep,
we should live together with him.
11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together,
and edify one another, even as also ye do."
(I Thessalonians 5:1-11, KJV)
There are so many variables in play, regarding the doctrine of Final Things (or eschatology,) that some may be tempted to throw up their hands, saying, "It's just too hard! I can't understand it!" On the other hand, those of us, who have been studying eschatology for more or less our entire lives can feel fairly certain of our position in the debate, yet realize that we are not omniscient, and can potentially be wrong in one or in many points of belief.
I heard about one old preacher, who decided to take an overarching position, which would cover all the positions in one grand summation. "I'm promillenial. I figure, if the Lord wants to have one, I'm all fer it!"
To quickly identify myself, I must confess, that I am Pre-Trib, Pre-Millenial, which means, I believe The Rapture (or catching away of the Church) will pre-date the Tribulation/Great Tribulation Period of HIStory in which the world will endure the Wrath of God much like Egypt endured the Ten Plagues before He delivered the Israelites with a High Hand in the Book of the Exodus. The Tribulation/Great Tribulation Period will pre-date the Millenial Reign of Christ from the Throne of David in Jerusalem in which I'm guessing the years of Methuselah (969 years) will be lived in relative peace, and the last approximately 31 years of that 1000 will endure the final deception when Satan will be released from the Pit for the Final Weeding Out of those, who are not true to the Lord before Death, Hell, and the Grave, Satan, and all of his fallen angel soldiers (aka demons), as well as the rest of Humanity, who are not faithful to the Lord, will all be thrown into the Lake of Fire, which is the Final Judgment of Eternal Separation from God.
At this point, the Everlasting Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ and His Wife, the Bride of Christ, will be entered. It is the Eternal Day in which the Earth will exist in its purified state of restoration to the original creation of the Lord. Heaven will either be the ultimate Throne of the Trinity or there will be a marriage of the two so that Heaven will finally come to Earth or Earth will be in Heaven or both. (It's like I've said before, "This finite mind will always be challenged to understand eternal concepts until I live in my eternal body.")
To answer the question in the prompt. It is my humble belief, that Christians will be taken out first because at the time that the Holy Spirit is removed from Planet Earth, Christians CAN'T stay around, since the Holy Spirit has a lasting abode in the saints by virtue of the New Birth. “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.” (II Thessalonians 2:7, KJV) In this older English rendering of the Greek, the term, "let" means to "prevent." It is the idea of holding everything together like the verse Colossians 1:17,19, "And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;". In verse #17, I understand the term, "consist" to mean roughly the same thing as "let." Even George Lucas saw this concept, placing it in his world of Stars Wars, using the term, The Force. However, it is my humble belief, that He got the concept badly wrong by deeming it to be an impersonal, and only scientifically cosmological stasis, that could be manipulated by humans and other alien beings. This willful manipulation of inconstant beings, such as ourselves, would have devastating ramifications for the continuation of Humanity's existence were the Force to be, in fact, a true concept. The actual Truth, which is covered in the term, "consist" of Colossians 1:17 requires that The Lord of Glory, Jesus Himself, controls every aspect of physical existence throughout the Universe and beyond in order for our existence to be kept functional in corporate stasis.
The expression in II Thessalonians 2:7, "only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way" is terrifying on so many levels. It is the concept, which describes one person, who is strapped to a bomb in a movie, like one of the Mission Impossible series, which this one individual holds the success or the demise of an entire building, city, or region in his or her hands because the button, that prevents detonation must be continually pressed down to prevent the bomb from fully expressing its power. The Lord is presently keeping the world from self-destruction, while He remains on Earth. When He leaves the Earth to its own devices, then "all Hell breaks loose."
Further proof of Christians being the first to leave the Earth when the Holy Spirit leaves the Earth is found in today's stated passage.
"For yourselves know perfectly that
the day of the Lord so cometh
as a thief in the night."
(I Thessalonians 5:2, KJV)
The Rapture will come without warning. Christians will be taken out of Earth's HIStory before anyone left has the opportunity to realize what happened.
Why do I believe, that Christians will be removed before the Tribulation/Great Tribulation Period of seven years? God has not appointed us (aka Christians) unto wrath.
"For God hath not appointed us to wrath,
but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,"
(I Thessalonians 5:9, KJV)
"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
(Romans 8:1, KJV)
Bottom Line: Things on Earth are starting to look rather grave (to borrow a pun from Mercutio in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.) However, no amount of puns can diminish the terrible nature of the Divine Judgment, which is on the horizon of Earth's HIStory. However, the very moment, that God removes Christians from Earth's HIStorical timeline will be the Beginning, Not the End. It will, of course, be the beginning of the end of the days of the Gentiles' dominance on Earth. It will be the End of the Church Age on Earth. It will be the beginning of the Day of Reckoning in which all of these humans, who think they know how to "save the Earth," will be proved to be totally unwise since not one of them will be able to save themselves. It causes me great pain to realize, that humans, who fight against the Lord of Glory are in fact fighting against themselves since the very causes they care about will be fixed instantaneously when the Lord Jesus starts to rule and reign on His rightful Throne of King David in Jerusalem.
May the Lord give us eyes to see His Truth,
hearts to obey His Truth,
and desire to give Him all the Glory
by bringing others into His Kingdom,
being snatched out of the kingdom of darkness.
by Jay O'Toole
on August 21st, 2020