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.
|"1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me
in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever."
(Psalm 23:1-6, KJV)
The following is my paraphrase of Psalm 23 as well as the inclusion of an interpretation. I'm not sure my attempts will meet the level of the scholarly work, written by an actual shepherd,
(which you may find a link to that work, here, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/122981.A_Shepherd_Looks_at_Psalm_23)
but it is my honest rendering of my perspective, regarding the words used in this passage.
"Since I am a sheep, which means I don't really know how to take care of myself, the Lord is the One, Who leads me for the purpose of meeting my every need. Therefore, I will not have any lack, on any level, all the way down to the very core of my essential person.
"He gives me a comfortable place to sleep, like in soft, green pasture. He leads me to gentle, quiet, still waters, where I can drink to the full without any cause for fear, regarding danger of any kind.
"His puts my heart back together when life has ripped me to shreds. He leads me to live rightly and honorably in order to bring the Glory to His Name for which His Name is properly due.
"It is because of His Grace and Mercy, that while traversing the cold and desolate valley of Death's shadowy day, whether, for my own time of dying or the experience of losing a loved one to Death, I will not be afraid because the Lord Himself is with me. His rod of firm correction and His staff of gentle change both alike comfort me.
"You make me eat a meal in safety, while my enemies are forced to look on in shame with nothing given to them to fill their stomachs. You pour oil over my head for the purpose of proclaiming my established position of leadership in some aspect of Your Kingdom. You fill my cup of Blessing with the wine of Your Supply to the degree, that my cup overflows, and, no doubt, so does the saucer.
"The good gifts of my Lord and the greatness of His Mercy are essentially the train of my wedding garment throughout my days on Earth, leading me to the Wedding Supper of the Lamb, my marriage to the Son of God as a member of the Bride of Christ, and to finally live forever in His Home and His Presence as His Beloved Wife."
"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters."
Lord = shepherd This means everything a shepherd is, the Lord is also.
The shepherd is the sole reason, that a flock of sheep can survive from day to day.
1. Sheep are like very young toddlers.
2. Like a toddler, a sheep can lose its way in a heartbeat. The shepherd, like a good parent, must care for the sheep's safety.
3. Like a toddler, a sheep cannot find food and water for itself. The shepherd must provide nourishment for the sheep.
4. Because the Lord is like a good shepherd, I don't have to worry about my physical needs, including food, water, and safety because the Lord is looking after these things for me.
"He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."
Sheep are easily frightened.
Many Christians are easily frightened.
It would seem, that it is human nature to be easily frightened.
The Lord is like a good shepherd, who cares about the emotional makeup of his child and sheep. The Lord leads the sheep as gently as is necessary to get the proper response for the care and for the safety of the sheep. If the sheep moves in the direction desired by the Lord and Shepherd by the gentle urging of the shepherd's crook at the top of his staff, then that is what the Lord and Shepherd will use to guide the beloved sheep. If the sheep is stubborn, then the firmer movements of the rod may need to be employed. The whack of a "spanking" causes mild pain, that is intended to prevent the greater pain (or death,) accompanying the falling off of a cliff.
There are great causes for fear in this life for the Lord's child, the sheep. Some fears may seem like (or may even be) the final terror of death's end-of-life finality. It is at a moment like this, that the Lord shows His Protecting Arm, which removes every cause for fear.
"Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever."
1. Enemies are everpresent in the life of the sheep and the Lord's child. The Lord Jesus's words in the storm on the lake were, "Peace. Silence. Don't say a word! (aka Shalom.)". This caused the element of wind, and its cousin, the waves, to cease and desist immediately, coming to a standstill, that the disciples and the Lord could finish their journey without fear. Our enemies are forced to stand at attention in obedience to the Lord, looking on as He feeds His beloved children, without allowing the slightest morsel of food to be given to the enemy captives of war.
2. One may suppose, that the enemies must remain at attention as the Lord continues His ministrations to his child, like pouring oil as a sign of honor and a position of leadership,
and as he overflows my cup as a sign of unending provide for me, His beloved child.
3. Goodness and Mercy walk behind the Lord's child every day of his or her life as angel attendants, who carry out the Lord's Will on the dearly beloved child.
4. The Lord's child, His sheep, has an established place of residence forever in the Presence of the Lord. The Lord Jesus is the Door of the sheep. Any enemy must kill the Shepherd before the sheep can be harmed. Since Jesus has already died and risen again, never to die, again, then that's not going to happen,...EVER.
by Jay O'Toole
on August 17th, 2020
"1 Blessed is the man
that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly,
nor standeth in the way of sinners,
nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful."
Wisdom is known by what a person gives himself or herself to as well as by the activities of life, that they shun.
The believer, who is blessed (or greatly honored by the Lord) is known by three things he or she does not do.
1. That believer does not walk the road of the so-called "wisdom" of the ungodly, which is opposite to God's ways and wisdom.
2. That believer does not stand around discussing life with souls, whose choices of life always miss the mark (aka "sin") against God's Perfect Standard.
3. That believer does not sin down, getting cozy with the enemies of the Lord of Glory.
These three concepts of walking, standing, and sitting identify the progression of agreement with the belief systems of our close associations. (I must confess. This concept is not new with me. I heard it myriad times from the preachers of my youth.)
"2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord;
and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
3 And he shall be like a tree
planted by the rivers of water,
that bringeth forth his fruit in his season;
his leaf also shall not wither;
and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."
Wisdom is known in the individual, who sinks his roots down deeply into the purposes, insights, yea, the Wisdom of God Almighty.
This believer delights in the thoughts and the words of the Lord.
This believer thinks constantly (or at the very least, consistently) about the thoughts and the words of the Lord.
Spiritual roots sinking deeply into the refreshing water of the Word of God are like a strong tree, that wisely sinks its physical roots deeply into the soil next to a living river of water of life.
1. He or she is very fruitful in life and in ministry.
2. He or she has no attrition of strength.
3. He and she prosper in everything done for the Glory of the Lord.
"4 The ungodly are not so:
but are like the chaff
which the wind driveth away.
5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous."
Those, who live lives contrary to the Lord, Who made them, are ones, who are lighter than air with no roots in themselves, constantly blown about with every wind of change. This demonstrates the life of pragmatism. "A wet a finger and lift it to the sky. Find the direction of the winds of popular opinion and get in front of the crowd to lead the charge."
1. Chaff has no moral conviction. Chaff can be easily bought.
2. Chaff burns quickly in the fires of Divine Justice.
3. Chaff would never ruin their popular reputation by being seen in a group of people, who actually have convictions.
"6 For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous:
but the way of the ungodly shall perish."
(Psalm 1:1-6, KJV)
The Lord has the deeply personal knowing of trusted friendship with those believers, whose lives are lived consistently in agreement with Him.
"The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble,
and He knoweth them, that trust in Him."
(Nahum 1:7, KJV)
On the other hand, sadly, those, who oppose God will always know defeat.
Let this be a warning and an encouragement to those of us, who have come into fellowship with the Very One, Who made us. Salvation is in Jesus Alone. Blessed life, both now and forever, is lived in Him, too.
Trust Jesus as Savior and Lord, today, if never before.
(John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10,13; Philippians 2:13)
by Jay O'Toole
on August 15th, 2020
|(Psalm 91:1-16, KJV)
"1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler."
There is a great need for a safe place to hide these days. Physical distress, political uncertainties, and social unrest cause us all to wonder if protection is possible. Many questions tempt to be hopeless, but The One, who is the answer for all questions is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life." (John 14:6) All, who wish to be safe for Time and for Eternity will find all of their safety needs met in Jesus of Nazareth, HIStory's Only Messiah.
A - "the shadow of the Almighty" As the small child finds comfort and shelter in hiding behind his or her Daddy in times of uncertainty, the believer in YaHWeH (Jesus) can find life to be secure in hiding behind the Person of God Almighty in equally or more uncertain times.
B - "my refuge and my fortress" When a battle, that threatens our very lives, puts itself in array in the land, the people of the land find safety behind the walls of a fortified enclosure. "This world is not my home, I just a-passing through". Like the wayfarers, we are, in a foreign country, let us find our daily shelter in the merits of Jesus, our Christ, Whose death, burial, and resurrection secure salvation and daily life for every believer.
C - "cover with his feathers," "under his wings" Chicks find the world to be a very scary place. Sudden movement, sudden loud sounds, unfamiliar moving creatures on the ground, which may become food for them when they are older, are causes for scurrying about to find shelter in their earliest days on Earth. They find this place of shelter and security under the feathers and wings of the mother hen. Believers in the One True God may run to Him for protection in very much the same way. His strong arms are mightier than any potential threat to our lives.
D - "shield and buckler" Soldiers, who go to war, need protection in the heat of the battle. The shield is the larger piece of armor or the two. The shield is good protection for the whole body. It is usually affixed to the arm by a leather strap. The buckler, also, affixed to the arm by a leather strap, but this piece was smaller for the purpose of parrying against an opponent's sword or other offensive weapons. The small size of the buckler gave greater mobility to the soldier. If the Lord is the believer's "shield and buckler," then whatever the need, the Lord can hover about His precious child to take the blows of the enemy, protecting the believer wherever he or she is situated, or the Lord can go with the believer when it is time to move quickly, getting away from danger, all-the-while parrying the enemy blows from any direction they may come.
"3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
9 Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling."
The psalmist lists a myriad of ways, that life issues can harm us. He, also, lists the myriad of ways, that the Lord will protect us from these harmful life issues. Troubles come. This is true, but they never take God by surprise. The same things we consider to be problems, during this earthly sojourn, the Lord considers to be opportunities to gain Glory for Himself, while at the same time anointing His children with the Oil of the Holy Spirit to give us great honor in His service.
A - "The snare of the fowler" & "the noisome pestilence" comes. The Lord responds by delivering us.
B - "night terrors" & "day arrows" & "dark pestilence" & "noonday destruction" will all tempt us to fear. The Lord assures us, that we will not be afraid.
(Verses 5 and 6 compromise an example of the teaching tool, called "Hebrew parallelism." Look at both verses. The first half of each is an example of a nighttime fear. The second half of each verse is an example of a daytime fear.)
C - "Evil befall thee" or "plague come nigh thy dwelling" are the ever-present foes, but the Lord assures the believer, that neither will be allowed to cross the hedge of protection the Lord has placed around that life because that person made the Lord his or her choice of Place of safety, refuge, and habitation.
(Verse 9 and 10 comprise an example of cause and effect in the Hebrew Scriptures. Verse 9 shows the believer's wise choice of the Lord as his or her life's Hope. For that cause, the Lord's hedge of protection will preclude any evil or plague coming into their lives, especially the place where that believer lives. In an earlier post, I recounted how this verse protected us just this week. From Monday to Wednesday we were concerned, that COVID-19 might become a reality in our lives. During these days I reminded the Lord of Psalm 91, that "(no) plague would come nigh thy dwelling." I keep saying, "Lord, you promised us in Your Word to protect us. Please, honor my faith. Please, build me up in the faith.". He did both. On Wednesday the results came back, "Negative." Praise the Lord!)
"7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone."
The Lord's angels have been my dearest friends and co-laborers in the Lord's service throughout my entire life. Obviously, as a small child, I didn't know the angels were there to help me serve the Lord, but they protected me nonetheless. When I got saved at age six, I think I became to understand the purpose of the angels in my life. (Sadly, I don't have any memories of how the angels helped me in those early years, but that never stopped them from being the Lord's faithful servants in my life. I don't have any recollection of seeing my angels, but I have no doubt, that they were there, whether visible or invisible, at every turn and at every moment of need.)
One of the greatest examples of angelic help in my life was the time I was nearly killed by a stray golf ball, which flew at me on a football practice field when I was in junior high school. Seeing the dangerous golf ball headed my way, lifting up on my tiptoes, seeing the ball fly under my outstretched arms, and then realizing the miraculous protection were all fluid as though someone lifted me up at just the right moment to get me out of harm's way.
I wonder if we're allowed to hug angels in Heaven because I really do want to express my gratitude in some tangible way. We don't worship them, but I, for one, am so grateful for their abiding friendship.
"8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet."
The enemy tries so often and in so many ways throughout our lives on Earth to harm us in any and in every way. Just as the Lord's faithful angels have the security job of protecting His chosen people, the fallen angels (aka the demons) have but one focus, "to steal, to kill, and to destroy." (John 10:10a)
The Blessed Hope of the believer has the positive focus of being forever in the Presence of the Lord to serve and to honor Him, giving Him all of the Glory, but another aspect of the Blessed Hope is the fact, that one Day, we will see the Lord set right all of the things, that have been done wrong to us in this life. As verse 8 says, we will "see the reward of the wicked." "The lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon" (more Hebrew parallelism) will be placed irrevocably under our feet, which obviously means those villains will never have the ability to harm us, again, forever.
"14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
16 With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation."
This last set of verses in Psalm 91 is one of the ways, that the Lord expresses "Well done, good and faithful servant." (Matthew 25:23, KJV). Here, again, we see Cause and Effect in the Hebrew Scriptures.
The first and last phrases of verse 14 comprise the cause, "Because he hath set his love upon me," & "because he hath known my name" are the two parallel expressions of this selfsame cause. The Lord wooed the believer to Himself, the blessed human received the Lord's great Salvation and the heart of this dearly beloved believer fixed on the Lord (aka "set his love upon me.")
Any heart, that has become so focused on the Lord as Blessed Love, Dear Friend, Great Hope, Trusted Protector, and one's everlasting Reason for existing, will find this wonderful list of eight things bequeathed on him or her by the Lord.
"Therefore" is the conjunction that begins the list of effects from that initial cause.
1. "will I deliver him:" - This is not a question. It is the strongest of the statements of the Will of the Lord. Deliverance is sure. No ultimate harm will come to the beloved Bride of the great Lord of Glory.
2. "I will set him on high," - The believer will be given the greatest place of honor. That believer (he or she) will be seated on the Lord's Right Hand as His eternally beloved Bride.
3. "He shall call upon me, and I will answer him:" - Every time the believer asks the Lord for help, the Lord has promised to respond. He doesn't always appear to respond because we are still learning how to know His Voice, during our earthly sojourn, but "the Lord is not a man, that He should lie." (Numbers 23:19) When He promises to answer our call for help, then he will answer in some way, shape, form, or fashion.
4. "I will be with him in trouble;" - This is where we often wish the Lord would operate differently. He didn't promise to take us out of trouble with the phrase. He promised to be with us in trouble. "All things work together for good to them, that are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28, KJV) "All things are (not) good," but "all things work together for good."
5. "I will deliver him," - This is the second time the word, "deliver" has been used in this list. Repetition is important to note in the Scriptures. When something is stated twice, that refers to a witness. This means, "The word is established. This thing WILL happen."
6. "and honour him" - This is another example of repetition, but this time it is a parallel repetition. In verse 14 the Lord promised, "I will set him on high," and now He says, "and honour him." As I wrote in #2 of this list "to set someone on high" means to give that person "honour." Mentioned twice in parallel gives a witness, "The word is established. This thing WILL happen."
7. "With long life will I satisfy him," - The believer will be blessed with days, that are both long and satisfying. Not all believers live the same number of days and years on Earth, but all believers live the number of days, that meet the Lord's purpose for that believer, and in the process the believer experiences a life, that is sufficiently long, purposeful, and satisfying, that when he or she lays down this earthly dwelling, they will feel sure, that their life has become complete.
8. "and shew him my salvation" - Like deliverance, the life of the believer is full of the knowledge of the Lord to save him or her from sin, and everlasting destruction, saving that soul to everlasting goodness in the Presence of the Lord of Glory Himself. The Lord has ways of getting His message across to humans. First, He draws a human to salvation, and then He spends the rest of that believer's earthly life showing him or her just what a precious Gift it is, that He has given to that precious one.
by Jay O'Toole
on August 14th, 2020
|Prompt: "How do we continue to trust God during times as these?
How can we learn to continue praising him?"
There is a great need to stay connected to other members of the Body of Christ. The isolation created by the enemy and his fallen angel forces leaves each of us vulnerable to the Accuser of the Brethren.
I wrote another post as today's blog entry. It was on another subject, and I wrote for hours, but at the end of writing it, I had a check in my spirit. I've decided to table the matter and pray about how to proceed since the words we use to present a message of Truth are every bit as important as the content of what we have to say.
However, even as I took a step back, the Accuser jabbed me in the gut. "If you wait, you'll be denying the Lord by not speaking your message!" At this point, I really need a brother to read over my post to give me feedback to help me see any blind spots I may have missed. Have I been faithful to the Lord in speaking His mind? Have I expressed myself in a way that is not harsher or in-your-face than it needs to be?
Do I have the ability to walk this Christian road as a good representative of the Lord? In many ways I do, but the increased pressure I have felt in my spirit, since the start of quarantine in March, has led me to repeatedly admit, I can't do this life alone.
Social-distancing feels like spirit-distancing, which is really harsh, causing the inner man to feel like shriveling up to die. As someone, who has been created to need relationships, that are deep and nourishing, the "new normal" of social standards has made me cherish every friend and Christian brother or sister, who can give me a few minutes of their time.
"How do we continue to trust God?" Trust is a discipline. Trusting God is interwoven with loving God. It's like the discipline of loving other humans. Love is not primarily a feeling. Love is a choice to consistently do good for another, whether or not it is convenient for me to do good to that dear one. Trusting God is consistently "not convenient" because He often leads us down paths we would not choose for ourselves.
Our current situation of life in the "new normal" was not even a choice we consciously made. It is an environment into which the Lord has allowed the consequences of living in a fallen world to thrust us. Will we trust the Lord? By God's Grace and with His strength working in us, we will.
"How can we learn to continue praising Him?" Again, it is a choice, and it is a choice, that is not always easy for me to make in the affirmative. It is a sacrifice, something we obediently give to the Lord, that costs us greatly.
Let us consider Hebrews 13:15-16 in the King James Version.
"15 By him therefore let us
offer the sacrifice of praise
to God continually,
that is, the fruit of our lips
giving thanks to his name.
16 But to do good
and to communicate
for with such sacrifices
God is well pleased."
Today as never before in our lifetimes, we can join the Apostle Paul in his prayer request to the Ephesians,
"18 Praying always with all prayer
and supplication in the Spirit,
and watching thereunto
with all perseverance
and supplication for all saints;
19 And for me,
that utterance may be given unto me,
that I may open my mouth boldly,
to make known the mystery of the gospel,
20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds:
that therein I may speak boldly,
as I ought to speak."
I recently heard a prophet mention the phrase, "a Day of Reckoning."
This is an expression I have not heard consistently, since my childhood.
My Dad used it often to alert me to the fact,
that I had done something wrong and needed to be punished.
Well, as a nation we've done many things wrong before the Lord,
and His tether of Grace is wearing very thin in the hot breath of His approaching Justice.
May the Lord be pleased to congregate His children in the land of Goshen as the plagues of modern days come upon the pharaohs of our contemporary world to humble them to obedience before this great Lord of Glory.
Mutual prayer and mutual encouragement in the Body of Christ are absolutely essential now as we anticipate both the historical epochs of the end of the Church Age as well as the end of the Days of the Gentiles.
The Gift of Salvation is the Living Spring of Water, that will sustain everyone, who names the Name of Christ Jesus as we traverse uncertain days, which are prophesied to be very dark before The Lord Himself finally sets everything right, once again.
"22 Let us draw near with a true heart
in full assurance of faith,
having our hearts sprinkled
from an evil conscience,
and our bodies washed with pure water.
23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith
without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
24 And let us consider one another
to provoke unto love and to good works:
25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together,
as the manner of some is;
but exhorting one another:
and so much the more,
as ye see the day approaching."
(Hebrews 10:22-25, KJV)
The Lord's richest Blessing be to all of my dear readers.
(John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10,13; Philippians 2:13)
by Jay O'Toole
on August 13th, 2020
|Prompt: "In what ways have you experienced God as a shelter, shadow, refuge, or fortress?"
Last Wednesday I was walking my regular route of 2 1/2 to 3 miles, while my daughter was in Youth group at our church. At the beginning of the route, I heard thunder. I spoke out loud, telling the clouds to "Go around in the Name of the Lord Jesus of Nazareth to provide me a pathway of safety to walk through." I, also, asked the Lord to support my words to make them happen.
The thunder continued to grumble at me, like a pit bulldog on a chain, but no rain fell on my head throughout the bulk of my walk, and what's more, cool breezes started to comfort me on the otherwise hot day.
Making it over to the closest shopping center, which was my usual turn-around point, I stopped it at the local Books-a-Million, I had hoped to buy a bottle of water at their Joe Muggs bistro/coffee shop. Sadly, they had no water bottle to sell me, but one of the clerks said, "I can get you a glass of water." I said, "That would be great. How much do I owe you?" "Nothing. I can just give it to you." "Thank you so much." I was humbled and grateful on so many levels, walking out to continue my walk with a rather cold plastic glass of water, which was already starting to "sweat," complete with a plastic cap and a plastic straw.
Walking down to the other end of the mall, I took a quick respite through my favorite store, Hobby Lobby, even with the neck gaiter, (which I was required to wear in both of the stores,) to enjoy the Christmas products, that were already on the shelves. While there, the Lord nudged me, once more, with the thought, "You might want to cut this visit short, today, Son. It's time to get back."
Taking Him seriously, I walked out into dark cloud cover, that had the appearance of a roof over my head. Picking up the pace, I headed for the entrance to the Greenway, our local version of a rails-to-trails walking/running/biking track.
Halfway down the trail, I saw a long streak of lightning split the break in the trees dead ahead of me. I wasn't worried, that the lightning had hit the trail on which I was walking. I could tell it was far beyond the end of the trail. I did, however, immediately turn to prayer, since my situation was precarious at best.
"Lord, I'm hemmed in. I've got trees on both sides of me. The mall's a good distance behind me. The church is a long way in front of me. You'll just have to protect me from the lightning if You want me to continue to live this life for You."
At that very moment, I received another nudge from the Lord. "It's kind of like the end of life, don't you think, Son? You're hemmed in. If I don't take you to Heaven, you can't get there because you don't know the way, but I am The Way. (John 14:6) Let the lightning be an illustration of my salvation for the rest of your life on Earth. You must trust me because you have no other option."
I finished the walk without even a close call from the lightning, and the rain didn't start until I was safely back on the church's property.
Our family didn't realize, until this past Monday, that lightning had, indeed, struck, euphemistically, right next to Jade Amber Jewel , my daughter. Monday was when she got a text from one of the girls, who had been sitting next to her at Youth group last Wednesday evening. "I've tested positive for COVID-19," she wrote. Jade was unequivocal. She urged her Mom to take her to have herself tested within the hour.
This morning the results were texted back to us. "Negative."
The Lord confirmed my faith in Him. "There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling." (Psalm 91:10, KJV)
We've experienced adverse circumstances of our own during our days on Earth, but through this past week the Lord has given us the Gift of Himself as "a shelter, shadow, refuge, (and) fortress."
I pray it will be His Will throughout our years on Earth to Gift us in this way rather than in any other way. May He cause that to be true in your life, too.
by Jay O'Toole
on August 12th, 2020
The need is great. We can't deny.
Our Sin has left us raw,
but through the Savior's grand supply,
transformed, we're left in awe.
"Please, tell me true. How can I be
quite saved from Hellish flames?"
"In Hellish flames for you and me
He endured our souls to claim."
"I can't be perfect. I'm so scared
I'll slip forever lost."
"Yet, His Perfection for you cared.
He paid the farthest cost."
"How will I know His Gift's received
within my faltering heart?"
"His drawing Spirit thus relieved
you of the strength to start.
"For God Alone, Whose Saving Grace
can give you faith to hold
Salvation's Gift to make your face,
now, newly strong and bold."
"I want this Lord. None else will do.
I give the last of me,
and when transformed His work is through,
thus bound for aye I'm free."
"His Truth at work, I see it now
within your heart made new.
For Self, dethroned, doth kneel to bow
before the Lord of you."
"We thank, Thee, Lord, that Your Blest Grace
doth save these wretches, we.
For now the merits of Your Face
the world in us will see."
I John 1:8-10;
by Jay O'Toole
on August 11th, 2020
|Prompt: "Do you feel it is okay to be proud of our accomplishments for the Lord, or is pride something we should avoid altogether?"
As long as the admiration of our accomplishments is like the seventh day (aka Sabbath) of the Creation Week, then I believe it is both acceptable and encouraged.
"1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished,
and all the host of them.
2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made;
and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it:
because that in it he had rested from all his work
which God created and made."
(Genesis 2:1-3, KJV)
To admire what God has created is worthy of Worship in every regard.
To admire what God has created through us is, also, a worthy expenditure of time and of effort because we are praising the Lord for the things He has accomplished in and through us, since no ability is extant in the heart of any man, that God Almighty did not place there, first.
To brag on oneself as though "I did it all on my own strength" is to indulge in sinful pride.
To glorify God by expressing joy over what He has "helped me to do" shows the proper perspective, regarding one's talents, entrusted to us for service to the Lord.
For example, I was one of the two co-valedictorians to graduate with my high school senior class in 1978 with a 4.0 (Straight A) average. That and my John Philip Sousa Senior Bandsman Award were my claims to fame that year, but neither of those accolades would have been possible had the Lord not given me the intelligence and musical skills needed to accomplish those levels of excellence.
Humility is to confess the thoughts of the Lord on any given subject, including human giftedness. Pride is to focus on the self to the extreme. "I'm great!" and "I'm nothing!" are two different forms of the same level of pride. To boast is to think too much of oneself. To be self-deprecating is to think too little of oneself. To be humble is to think rightly about oneself in agreement with the Lord's Perspective, regarding who He created each of us to be.
by Jay O'Toole
on August 10th, 2020
|August 1st, 2020, tomorrow, will make 34 years, that I have had to privilege to be married to my dear wife.
Considering the fact, that I look in the mirror every day, I consider it to be a gift beyond measure, the love she gives to me each day.
We've been through many challenges in this life together. Too often I've been a challenge. Therefore, I can't even quip about being "the better half."
God has been and continues to be good to us. He shows us mercy and grace because we could never deserve, either.
On August 1st, 1986 we were both still rather young. In many ways, we finished rearing each other. I was the first to have a strong job, but her chosen career path has surpassed that first job many times over.
I had just graduated from college. Shortly thereafter I was hired as a sixth-grade teacher in a Christian school in Tallahassee, Florida. The work was rewarding in terms of the people I helped, educationally, but as any teacher can tell you, it was not a lucrative career. Teachers by and large care more about their students than they care about money, but they do care enough about money to want to provide well for their families.
Just after our first anniversary, this dearest lady in my life decided to attend the local vocational school to learn how to be a hairstylist. Even while in school she gained some clients, that have become lifelong friends. It didn't take her long to transform into a highly sought-after hair sculptress. She built a pretty large clientele in Florida's capital city, but after about eight years we had to move because of a new ministry/career opportunity for me.
Ladies, please don't hate me, but I am sure you can sympathize with all of those clients, who had to be told they needed to find a new hairstylist. Her career "doesn't travel" because styling hair is not something, that can be done online. She had to "pull up roots" and start over from scratch building her clientele.
What a courageous, wonderful young lady she was and is!
Sadly, only a few months after we had moved our entire lives a few hundred miles into the Magnolia Midlands of Georgia. My job didn't pan out because I was not the right fit for the position.
I was mystified and heartbroken because she had given up so much for me. Since she was already starting to settle into her new place as a hairstylist and was starting to build a new clientele, I determined to stay and look for other opportunities in the new place.
A college friend approached me about helping him since he was starting a church in the area. I became his first "sound man," but the position was volunteer, not paying. Therefore, volunteer work opened up for me, first, although it was kind of a crossover position timewise since I started helping him with the new church before the career I had come for didn't work out.
I was determined not to uproot my wife twice in one year. So, I stayed and found a product merchandising job in Wal-Mart. Understand, I have never worked for Wal-Mart. I have worked for companies, that put their product in Wal-Mart to be sold.
The new career was probably the best-paying job I've had thus far, but the "wear & tear" on the car and on my body forced me to give up the job after four years.
All the while my wife's clientele base was burgeoning. She became one of the most sought-after hairstylists in town. Famous ladies sit in my wife's chair. The wives of famous men sit in my wife's chair. Small children and seasoned citizens alike sit in my wife's chair.
People LOVE my wife.
People embrace my wife as a great friend, confidant, and counselor.
People come to my wife as a hairstylist and stay for life.
I've seen her come home sad because she just got the news, that one of her dear clients had died from advancing years. She has been called upon to give the last hair service of one of these dear ones' lives, whether in a hospital ICU or at a funeral home.
My wife has such a Big Heart.
She gives so much of herself.
She is so committed to her clients, who have become such good friends.
We came to the land between Savannah and Atlanta in January 1995, and we've stayed because I can't comprehend uprooting her career, again. She is so well-loved here.
My career in this place looks like a patchwork quilt. So, about twelve years ago I turned to writing as a stabilizing force in my life. In many ways, it has become just that. I still can't compete with her careerwise, but I have become confident in my position as a strong supporter for a highly-gifted spouse.
The years continue to be good for our family. The quarantine this spring was as big a challenge for us as it was for any other family, but we are still together, and we love and respect each other. I am extremely grateful for that.
May the Lord bless each of you with a dear committed friend as the one he has blessed me with.
34 years! WOW! I can't imagine anyone else I'd rather spend the next 34 years with.
by Jay O'Toole
on July 31st, 2020
|"Take Time to Breathe."
This admonition is easily just as much a Note to Self as it is an encouragement to all of my readers.
It surprises me greatly, that the months, following the mandatory quarantine from the COVID-19 virus have seen an increase in internal tension, not a decrease.
Why is this!
I feel as though I have been drained of faith on so many levels, but the writing of these blog posts have been restoring my own faith, little by little. When I take a step back and look at the big picture, I see the Lord wearing a different outfit. No longer is He the ethereal Ancient One with a long flowing beard in a flowing white robe. He has become the svelt, buff trainer in shorts and a singlet, who is exercising my faith to new heights of strength.
I mean no disrespect to the Lord or for the reader by giving such a mental picture. I simply wish to express the concept, that the Lord often does more in His silence, regarding the gift of Faith than he might do if He were to simply hand you or me an amount of faith without our ever exercising that faith on our part.
The following song by Michael Card underscores this wonderful theme about the questions of Life, giving great answers to our hearts by the Hands of the Lord.
In the days of "Why, God?" this is my anthem.
It seems I have done a Trainer's Version of Psalm 23 before, but since it would take too much time to locate, copy, and paste into this blog post, I think I will simply do the exercise of rewriting it, once again, right now. I'm quite sure the concept is not unique to me. Therefore, if my rendering of Psalm 23, Trainer's Version, looks a little like somebody else's, then please forgive me because as God is my witness, I am just about to look at the Scriptural text as I write this. I will not be looking at anyone else's post if you can trust me on that. Thanks, if you can. This rendering is certainly not a verse-by-verse exegesis of the text from the original manuscripts, but it is my statement of my comprehension of this passage as faithfully as I can express it for the Glory of the Lord.
"1 (A Psalm of David as envisioned by Jay O'Toole.) The LORD is my Trainer; I shall not be fat, or self-satisfied.
2 He makes me slow down and trust Him with the nourishment He provides for my body and for my spirit: He leads me to hydrate with plenty of water for my body and with the still waters of faith for my spirit.
3 He restores my soul, especially when my faith seems to have been vacuumed out of me: He leads me to the gym of living in rightness, that is so much like Who, He is, for the purpose of bringing Glory to His Name.
4 Amazingly enough, though I walk through the valley of the potential disaster of myriad dangers, that could cause me to die, like COVID-19, persecution, and nameless physical opposition of all kinds, I will fear no evil: (Psalm 91:6-11) for You stay with me, even though you may be silent to cause me to exercise my faith; Your rod of tough training and correction along with Your staff of encouragement and gentle course-corrections really do comfort me on so many levels.
5 You set my table of nourishment, both physically and spiritually, even when my enemies are nearby (apparently, I get to eat, and they get to watch): You anoint my head with the oil of favor; my cup of rejoicing, (especially in the area of restored faith) runs over because while You are pouring, You refuse to stop when the cup is full.
6 Surely goodness and mercy will attend me as I lift the daily weights of my responsibilities for the entirety of my life: and my everlasting reward will be glorious health and lasting residence in the house of the LORD."
by Jay O'Toole
on July 30th, 2020
|Prompt: "Which Bible version do you use? Are you a "strictly KJV" believer or do you believe all versions are okay?"
My personal standard for Bible study is always the King James Version, whether I'm looking at the words of the text or listening to the audio version by Alexander Scourby.
There is a very personal reason for this. I got saved at age six on the Thursday evening of the spring revival of 1967. One week later my Dad presented me with a child-sized KJV Bible with my entire name engraved on the front of this wonderful little Bible in the lower right-hand corner. (This Bible has an honored place, even today, in my fire-safe.)
When I started reading the Bible through from cover-to-cover, it was the King James Bible I was reading. Though a number of starts and stops prevented me from finishing the entire read-through of the Bible until I was about age 19, I kept the King James Bible with me every time (if not, nearly every time) I went to Church throughout my childhood and youth. (It was certainly the only version, that my Dad, the pastor, consistently countenanced.)
Though some Christians may consider my upbringing to border on abusive because I was forced to read the King James Version as such a small child, I consider it to be a great Blessing.
King James English is so different from contemporary English, that it is like learning a different language.
This skill helped me greatly when I was a junior high student in a Spanish class for the first time. Therefore, if anyone asks how many languages I speak, I can honestly say, "Three. Contemporary English, King James English, and Spanish." My auditory comprehension of Spanish is only about 30% - 40%, but my understanding of King James English is in every way on par with my understanding of contemporary English in the 90% - 100% range.
Honestly, at times I think I understand King James English better than I understand contemporary English because King James English is a standard, that doesn't change, whereas contemporary English changes often by the week or even by the day. There are expressions I used as a teenager, that I've used with contemporary teenagers garnering for me "crickets" and "deer-in-the-headlights" expressions.
However, I'm guessing, that any modern teenager, who reads and loves Shakespeare would be able to converse quite intelligently with me on the level of equal comprehension because Shakespeare and King James were contemporaries. After all, one of the greatest puns in Romeo and Juliet was said by Romeo's mortally-wounded friend, Mercutio, quoth these immortal words in a interchange with Romeo, after Romeo tried vainly to break up a fight between Mercutio and Benvolio in Act 3, Scene 1, Lines 94-97a,
"Romeo: 'Courage, man; the hurt cannot be much.'
Mercutio: 'No, 'tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church
door; but 'tis enough,'twill serve. Ask for me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave man.'"
This line is usually followed by at least some snickers because Mercutio was known for turning puns. In this case, the outcome is very serious, since he has just received his death-wound, and he knows that by this time tomorrow he will be not only "eternally serious," but also a man, whose new place is literally in a grave.
In recent years, I have perused other Bible versions for the consideration of contemporary usage.
The New International Version has some merits, but the readability doesn't fit my eyes as well as others, and a few translation word-choices have given me pause.
The New King James Version is my go-to when I want to maintain consistency with my own studies while helping more contemporary eyes to understand the concepts I have been studying. The fact, that at least one of the professors at my university served on the translation board for the NKJV, could have something to do with my preference for this more contemporary translation of the Holy Bible.
In the past decade the English Standard Version (ESV) has gained value in my heart as being consistent with the KJV in concept while increasing the readability of more modern English dialects.
However, surprisingly enough, even to me, the New Living Translation has become my contemporary translation of choice, especially as I post on my WDC blogs, and as I share with those, who have not had the joy of learning the esthetically glorious words of the King James Version. About 9 times out of 10 the NLT maintains the concepts of Holy Writ in an easily readable set of words. When there's any question of concept expressions, I will often post both versions (KJV & NLT) in my blog posts. If the NLT leaves out a phrase, that is vital to the text, then I will consistently opt for posting the KJV only.
Therefore, the King James Version of the Bible is my standard of Bible study and comprehension. I was given a 1611 KJV Bible a number of years ago in which all of the words and marking were rendered in 1611 text with "u" in the place of "v," and "f" in the place of "s." I realize on the one hand there is the potential for pride in being able to read such an ancient text, but there is on the other hand benefits contained in the skill of learning an ancient language in order to help with the comprehension of modern language from various people groups in the world.
In recent years I have had an increased interest in learning the Geneva Bible, which is the older brother of the KJV since the Geneva Bible was completed in 1560. This version of the Bible has an interesting claim to fame since it was more the standard of Bible study for the American colonists in the years, that led up to the Revolutionary War. Those colonists considered the KJV to be the modern translation or a "Johnny-come-lately."
Isn't perspective funny?
I have had some individuals ask me, "Why do you still read the King James Version? It's not the most accurate translation with regard to the original manuscripts." Be that as it may, the KJV is still the most consistently understandable version of the Word of God in my own heart.
The purpose of the Holy Bible is to drawn us into the right relationship with the Lord God of the Holy Bible. It doesn't really matter how much of the Bible we can read and understand in our "mother" language if we have no intention of living according to Its precepts for Time and for Eternity.
Years ago I bought a New Internation Version of the Bible for my wife to read, and she started reading the Bible more since she didn't understand the KJV. I inscribed her NIV Bible with these words. "An open NIV is better than a closed KJV."
I care very much about people having a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Far be it from me to quibble about aspects of a modern translation, if that version brought them to Christ.
By the same measure, please allow me the grace of being edified and blessed through the incorporation of the King James Version of the Holy Bible into my own daily life.
The Lord give you all his truest Blessing. (John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10,13; Philippians 2:13)
by Jay O'Toole
on July 29th, 2020
"1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
2 And the earth was without form, and void;
and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light."
(Genesis 1:1-3, KJV"
In the beginning, there was a grayness that covered the Earth. There was no intelligible form to give meaning to Earth's existence. There was an emptiness, that was completely vacuous, useless, and meaningless.
As the grayness of meaninglessness remained, the Holy Spirit of God hovered, considered, and did whatever was necessary to cause the face of the waters to move, to begin to have a purpose, to have direction. Then, God spoke. "Light must be." Instantly the Light was on.
Light dispels darkness. (John 1:5)
Could it be, that at the end of the Day of the Gentiles when Good becomes bad, and bad becomes "good" when Light becomes darkness, and darkness becomes "light," that the grayness of a new beginning will finally be at hand? (Isaiah 5:20)
"If the foundations be destroyed,
what can the righteous do?"
(Psalm 11:3, KJV)
Today's post is relatively short.
We need to ponder this point.
Since those, who do not believe in God are working tirelessly to try to remove everything, that has any hint of the belief in God from Society, is there anything left, that believers can do, until the Light of the World returns to take His Throne in Jerusalem?
Gray beginnings at the beginning of Earth's Creation, and the potential for gray beginnings before the beginning of the new Heavens and the new Earth.
I feel like a little boy in the backseat of a car on a long trip, tapping my daddy on the shoulder every five minutes to ask him, "Are we there, yet?"
"35 Heaven and earth shall pass away,
but my words shall not pass away.
36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man,
no, not the angels of heaven,
but my Father only.
37 But as the days of Noe were,
so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
38 For as in the days that were before the flood
they were eating and drinking,
marrying and giving in marriage,
until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
39 And knew not until the flood came,
and took them all away;
so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
40 Then shall two be in the field;
the one shall be taken, and the other left.
41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill;
the one shall be taken, and the other left.
42 Watch therefore:
for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
43 But know this,
that if the goodman of the house
had known in what watch the thief would come,
he would have watched,
and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.
44 Therefore be ye also ready:
for in such an hour as ye think not
the Son of man cometh.
45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant,
whom his lord hath made ruler over his household,
to give them meat in due season?
46 Blessed is that servant,
whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing."
(Matthew 24:35-46, KJV)
Being a servant is truly a good thing
if I am to serve in the House of the Lord.
Every human serves someone or something.
May the Lord give us wisdom, regarding the focus of our service.
by Jay O'Toole
on July 28th, 2020
"1 I look up to the mountains—
does my help come from there?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth!
3 He will not let you stumble;
the one who watches over you will not slumber.
4 Indeed, he who watches over Israel
never slumbers or sleeps.
5 The Lord himself watches over you!
The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
6 The sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon at night.
7 The Lord keeps you from all harm
and watches over your life.
8 The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever."
(Psalm 121:1-8, NLT)
"1 I look up to the mountains—
does my help come from there?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth!"
"My help comes from the Lord.". No sentient being in the realms of Humanity or the spirit has the ability to help me the way the Lord can help me. Some may be able to provide food, clothing, and shelter, which are abilities they have by the strength given to them by the Lord. Some may be able to protect me from harm, both emotionally, and physically, but again, they have this ability as given to them by the Lord. Therefore, in one way or another, the help I need comes, ultimately, from the Lord.
If the Lord can make heaven and earth, keeping them going in working order from day to day to day, then surely the Lord has the ability and the determination to provide for me that which is best, especially if I am one, who belongs to Him and am committed to bringing Him everlasting Glory.
"3 He will not let you stumble;
the one who watches over you will not slumber.
4 Indeed, he who watches over Israel
never slumbers or sleeps."
The Lord protects His chosen people of Israel. If I am part of His chosen, by virtue of being grafted into the vine, then His protection necessarily extends to me, too. What a blessed human being I am! Though I was born to be nothing more than a "Gentile dog," I have been redeemed by the precious blood of The Lamb, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, through His death, burial, and resurrection, being given the same rights as the true blood heirs of the Covenant of Israel, through sonship granted me by the merits of the One, and Only One Son of God, Jesus, the Messiah. (John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10,13; I John 5:11-13)
As I pointed out in my last post, here, https://www.writing.com/main/books/entry_id/989133-Divine-Rest The Lord does not rest for the purpose of regaining lost strength, since He never loses strength. The Lord never sleeps because He never gets tired as underscored in today's verses, Psalm 121:3-4. This means the Lord is always "ON," regarding the needs of every one of His loved creations. We don't have to worry about stumbling on the path He has chosen for each of us to walk. Physical stumbling may happen from time to time, but stumbling off the path of His purpose for each of our lives is never a possibility. The Lord is the Greatest Chess Player, and no move ever escapes His notice. All of His moves are well-played.
Humans do not stumble from life's purpose because of the Sovereignty of the Lord.
The Lord does not sleep because He never lays down the responsibility of His Sovereignty for even a moment.
"5 The Lord himself watches over you!
The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
6 The sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon at night."
Though something unpleasant, disappointing, and even devastating, from the human point of view, may "get through the perimeter" of God's protective resources, that are marshaled for each of His chosen servants, nothing comes into that life apart from being created for the purpose of giving God Glory through the movement of His Sovereign Wisdom in the life of that believer.
The Lord is watching over you and me.
The Lord stands beside you and me.
The Lord is the protective shade for you and me.
Neither the sun nor the moon will harm either you or me.
These two verses, five and six of Psalm 121 are very similar to Psalm 91, verses one and two.
"1He that dwelleth
in the secret place
of the most High
under the shadow
of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the LORD,
He is my refuge and my fortress:
in him will I trust."
(Psalm 91:1-2, KJV)
The Lord watches over us, and we live in Him.
He protects in more ways than we can comprehend,
drawing our focus to Him, continually.
"7 The Lord keeps you from all harm
and watches over your life.
8 The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever."
This psalm of protection ends in this fourth quatrain stanza, which underscores the Lord's protection for His chosen servants.
1. "The Lord keeps you from all harm." This is mystifying since Christians throughout the history of the Church has known sickness, poverty, and martyrdom. Yet, this life is merely a training ground for Eternity, and since no true believer, no Christian ever goes to Hell, the Lord keeps this promise.
2. "The Lord watches over your life." If we merely look from a temporal perspective, we may be tempted to call the Lord a "liar." We may spit back, "My loved one suffered and died. How did the Lord save this one I can never replace?"
The refrain of "God Leads Us Along" by G. A. Young, gives us the truth, that may simply be expressed, "Salvation from death, salvation through death."
Some through the waters, some through the flood,
Some through the fire, but all through the blood;
Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song,
In the night season and all the day long."
The natural human's perspective is always temporal, earthly, and temporary.
The Lord's perspective is always eternal, heavenly, and everlasting.
The Spirit-filled Christian has his and her perspective brought into line with the Lord's.
May we each rest in the Lord's care, now and forever.
by Jay O'Toole
on July 27th, 2020
"1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished,
and all the host of them.
2 And on the seventh day
God ended his work which he had made;
and he rested on the seventh day
from all his work which he had made.
3 And God blessed the seventh day,
and sanctified it:
because that in it
he had rested
from all his work
which God created and made."
(Genesis 2:1-3. KJV)
"1 So the creation of the heavens and the earth
and everything in them was completed.
2 On the seventh day
God had finished his work of creation,
so he rested from all his work.
3 And God blessed the seventh day
and declared it holy,
because it was the day
when he rested
from all his work of creation."
(Genesis 2:1-3, NLT)
Why did GOD need to rest?
Is rest a concept, that does not essentially appertain to a required state of restoring strength in order to prevent the complete break-down of a person's ability to function?
Does rest mean a deliberate choice for the purpose of deliberation?
Is rest the cessation of hostilities as in the concept of "rest from war?"
Is rest the cessation of work because the person, who is working, has become tired and needs to rest?
Is rest a moment to pause and to consider one's artistic ventures and creative joy for the purpose of affixing the appropriate value upon the creation, that has been artfully made?
One thing is for sure.
GOD does not tire.
rest must mean something
other than the restoration
that has been lost
of some sort.
One of the exquisite gifts a superlative artist gives to himself or to herself is time to stand back to consider, to ponder, to weep over, and to properly value the art, that he or she has created at any moment in time.
Is GOD any less a superlative artist, that He should not take a full day to pause to consider, to ponder, to weep over, to congratulate Himself, while properly valuing the art, that He had just completed?
That GOD could properly evaluate the entirety of the physical universe in one 24-hour day is miracle enough in itself.
How long would it take any of us, average humans, to evaluate the entirety of the universe? It seems we have been trying for more than six thousand years already, and we haven't even scratched the surface.
by Jay O'Toole
on July 25th, 2020
|Prompt: "Why should we learn early church history?"
We could learn a great deal about the standards of the operation of the Church, worldwide, by paying a good amount of attention to the ways the early Christians lived their lives.
1. The early Christians lived their lives in daily contact.
2. The early Christians were unified in Heart much like the Trinity is United.
3. The early Christians worshiped the Lord in large groups and in small groups.
4. The early Christians lifted up their voices together to praise, to honor, and to worship the Lord.
5. The early Christians loved each other.
6. The early Christians were respected in their communities at the very beginning, although the world started to hate them because of their exclusive worship of One and Only One GOD.
7. The early Christians' love for each other and their united worship drew lost souls to be saved.
"46 And they, continuing daily
with one accord in the temple,
and breaking bread from house to house,
did eat their meat with gladness
and singleness of heart,
47 Praising God,
and having favour with all the people.
And the Lord added to the church daily
such as should be saved."
(Acts 2:46-47, KJV)
"46 They worshiped together
at the Temple each day,
met in homes for the Lord’s Supper,
and shared their meals
with great joy and generosity—
47 all the while praising God
and enjoying the goodwill of all the people.
And each day the Lord added to their fellowship
those who were being saved."
(Acts 2:46-47, NLT)
Much of modern church life has the tint of modern living in general.
As a society, we tend to live in a hurry.
Church services and church meetings are often
very structured and limited by time constraints.
Early Christians lived their lives together, working and worshiping together most days.
The Apostle Paul worked with Aquila and Priscilla as tentmakers, which was a profession, symbolizing their physical and spiritual tasks on Earth. They made tents for people to dwell in every day while preaching the Word of Truth to those, who needed Jesus to be their Savior and their place of everlasting dwelling.
I grew up hearing of one of my grandfathers, who farmed the land. His son, and my uncle, maintained the sign, which granddad had placed up on the peak of one of his barns. "Christianity is our business. We farm to pay expenses."
I love to see churches have a goodly selection of small groups, whereby we may slow down the pace of life, even if for only an hour or two.
Life in the twenty-first century has become too Big and unmanageable. Contemporary Christians would do well to learn from early Christians in order to remind ourselves what is most important for this life and for the next.
by Jay O'Toole
on July 24th, 2020
|Prompt: "People will make statements like 'The man upstairs' and 'The Big Guy.' Do you feel these references disrespect God? Why or why not?"
"When we make much of the Name of the Lord we are at the same time placing great value on His entire Creation. When we make light (or very little) of the Name of the Lord, then we are necessarily making light and very little of everything He has created, which necessarily includes ourselves." (A new expression, that I just coined. Jay O'Toole)
There are some schools of thought among Christians, that Jesus started His life on Earth as only human, yet He became GOD after His baptism and "the lighting of The Holy Spirit upon Him like a dove."
I want to say this as kindly and as graciously as I know how. I cannot embrace that belief because in my heart I know, that it minimizes Jesus' highly exalted place from Eternity. I could never believe, that Jesus started out as merely a human, who ascended to the place of being GOD. I wrote on this subject at length on July 15th, 2020 in the following post.
My heart remains compassionate towards those, who do not believe as I do, but I do not believe, that the Lord gives me permission to compromise any of the beliefs He has placed into my heart, regarding what I profess to the world about the very Nature and the Dignity of the very Person of Who GOD is.
Therefore, I consider the two aforementioned expressions in today's prompt to be very demeaning to the Character and the Person of Almighty GOD. That being said, I do not feel at liberty to write them, again, in my blog post.
My background is Baptist, which means I got heavy doses of Bible doctrine when I was a child. I have taken away from those experiences an understanding of the Bigness of GOD, that is so BIG, I do not have adequate words to tell you how BIG He Is.
The Bigness of the Father demonstrates Structure to my understanding.
The Bigness of the Son demonstrates Creativity, which is amazingly placed on that Structure.
The Bigness of the Holy Spirit demonstrates the activity of the One, Who draws hearts to Salvation in order to be rightly related to this wonderful Trinity of GOD.
However, I must confess, that my attempts to express the Bigness of GOD fall woefully short of describing this One, Who is Elohim, El Elyon, El Shaddai, and every other Name given unto Mankind, which expresses some aspect of the Person of GOD. In addition, the qualities of Structure, Creativity, and conviction of sin and the drawing unto Salvation are all aspects of every member of the Godhead, meaning none of the qualities of GOD can be distinctive to only one Person of the Trinity, which excludes the other Two.
My recent experience as a Christian has been in Full-Gospel churches in which I have come to appreciate the Bigness of the Holy Spirit, and how He lifts up the Name of the Father and the Son while working in me to better communicate with All Three in ways that go beyond words. (Romans 8:26-27)
Now. Let's take some time to consider the words of The Bible's expressions of the very Nature, the very Character, the Bigness of the Person of GOD, and Who He declares to the world, that he really is.
"And God said unto Moses,
I Am That I Am:
and he said,
Thus shalt thou say
unto the children of Israel,
I Am hath sent me unto you."
(Exodus 3:14, KJV)
"I Am That I Am." GOD is the Self-Existent ONE. He didn't need anyone else, nor anything else to create Him because He has always existed, even though the concept of The Eternally Existent Person is terribly hard for the human brain to even attempt to comprehend. Let alone fully understand. Eternal Self-Existence is an idea, that remains forever in the realm of mystery and faith.
"Thou shalt not take
the name of the Lord thy God in vain;
for the Lord will not hold him guiltless
that taketh his name in vain."
(Exodus 20:7, KJV)
Humans consistently seem to interpret this verse with the Southernism, "Y'all ought not to cuss.". However, speaking lightly of, vainly of, and with little value toward the Name of and, therefore, the Character of GOD is only part of the overarching meaning of this verse. The "taking of the Name of the Lord thy God in vain" includes the lightness of, the vanity of, and the little value of the lifestyle of the person, who calls himself or herself a Christian, but does not live as he or she has been commanded to live. If our words, if our conduct, and if our consistent way of life does not reflect the residence of The Holy Spirit in the life of the believer, then that believer stands guilty before the Lord in ways, that must be rectified before sweet fellowship with the Lord can be healed and restored.
"39 See now that I, even I, am he,
and there is no god with me:
I kill, and I make alive;
I wound, and I heal:
neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.
40 For I lift up my hand to heaven,
and say, I live for ever."
(Deuteronomy 32:39-40, KJV)
The Old Southern saying goes like this, "It ain't braggin' if you can do it."
Bottom Line: GOD is eternally Self-Existent. He needs resources from no one outside of Himself, and no one can exist without the resources, that He provides.
One does not refer to the Lord as "My Big Buddy." It is true, that Jesus offers us friendship, but that cannot come first. GOD must be recognized as Sovereign LORD before He can be known as The Gracious Friend.
"1 In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made by him;
and without him was not any thing made that was made.
4 In him was life;
and the life was the light of men. (John 14:6)
5 And the light shineth in darkness;
and the darkness comprehended it not."
(John 1:1-5, KJV)
All Light emanates from GOD.
Light cannot exist without the Existence of GOD.
The Logos (Word) of GOD is Jesus, Who is Self-Existent as a member of The Trinity.
The Logos (Word) of GOD, Jesus created all things, and He continues to create today.
The Logos (Word) of GOD, Jesus gives physical life to all souls, and spiritual life to those, who receive Him as the Gift of Salvation.
The Logos (Word) of GOD, Jesus emanates Light from Himself, shining this Light into the darkness, which must flee at His Presence because darkness cannot say, "Nay," to the Light.
In the book of John, which is the fourth Gospel, we find seven statements, that begin with the short two-word phrase, "I am."
“I am the bread of life.” (John 6:35, 41, 48, 51)
“I am the light of the world.” (John 8:12)
“I am the door of the sheep.” (John 10:7,9)
“I am the resurrection and the life.” (John 11:25)
“I am the good shepherd.” (John 10:11, 14)
“I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6)
“I am the true vine.” (John 15:1, 5)
I would like to thank the Thomas Nelson Bible company website for putting this list together, succinctly for me at the following link.
Every time Jesus uses this expression, "I am," followed by one of His Characteristics, He is necessary claiming to be the Elohim (Almighty God) of Exodus 3:14. Jesus spoke to Moses through the burning bush. Jesus speaks to His people, today, through just as unique and mysterious means.
One does not speak of GOD in flippant terms.
'Twould be much more rational to play with a cobra without protective gear than to neglect to show proper reverence to Almighty GOD, who holds our very breath in His nostrils, and causes each of our hearts to beat by the massagings of His Hands.
May the Lord cause us to comprehend even the slightest amount of the honorable Justice of His very Nature in order for us to taste somewhat of the surpassing sweetness of His Dear Mercies. (Lamentations 3:22-26)
by Jay O'Toole
on July 23rd, 2020
Prompt: "What is our purpose? Why do you think God created us?"
The bottom line of the creation of every human being is the choice of GOD. GOD chose to create human beings. The ultimate "Why?" of the creation of Humanity is wrapped up in the mysterious heart of GOD. No human being will ever fully know everything about the heart of GOD for there is wisdom in this strongest of All Individuals keeping His deepest intimacies hidden and secure for only those, Who are the most trustworthy, such as The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit.
That being said, "The perfect knowledge of GOD is precluded," there are myriad things human beings can know, regarding the Person of GOD, simply by embracing the very things GOD has said and has caused to be written down about Himself for the purpose of comprehending His Person.
"Then God said,
'Let us make human beings in our image,
to be like us...
So God created human beings in his own image.
In the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.'"
(Genesis 1:26a, 27, NLT)
1. GOD created us to be like Him. (Genesis 1:26-27) If we begin to see the characteristics and traits of GOD, then we can begin to see what Adam and Eve were in their creation of innocence as well as what we are intended to be, and what we will be when GOD's original perfect creation has been restored.
2. GOD is Social. GOD is comprised of Three Divine Persons, who are so socially unified in Purpose, that They Three act with One Mind throughout all Eternity, throughout the Creation, and throughout the daily maintenance of everything They have created, without ever having to deal with even one disagreement. Their Unity (or Trinity) is so unbreakable as to be incomprehensible to sinful human beings, that their status of being distinctly Three Individuals, Who are Each God, while at the same time being Only One GOD, is consistently thought to be a major Lie by all, who do not accept the Three-in-One as the ultimate of a mysterious TRUTH, which requires faith, which goes beyond knowledge.
3. Since GOD created us to be like Him, and since GOD is Social, then human beings are social by the very nature of their creation at the Hands of Jesus Christ. (John 1:1-4) Since Society and Social are at the very Core of what it means to be GOD, we may logically infer, that the Coronavirus was originally devised in the pits of Hell, being created in malevolence by the very one, who wishes human beings to be socially-distanced as an attack on the very Nature of GOD.
4. GOD created human beings to demonstrate His desire to have the Society of His Home to be increased by creating us for everlasting fellowship, (aka Society and Social) with the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Ultimately, there will be no distance between the members of the Body of Christ, and Jesus, the Son. Forever "we will know even as we are also known." (I Corinthians 13:12, KJV) "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."
"Social-distancing" is simply something we do by virtue of the fact, that we are sinful and flawed creatures, condemned by Original Sin to be forever imperfect, except we receive Salvation in The Lord Jesus Christ to the restoration of His Original, Perfect Creation. Even Christians groan under the weight of living as a newly-restored spirit, (aka the "new creature in Christ Jesus,") who must continue to live in the flawed soul, that must be disciplined every day to be brought into greater and greater degrees of agreement with the Lord Jesus Christ, and which often falls back into lesser levels of agreement with Him and obedience to Him and the completely flawed body, which can never be redeemed in this life, (Romans 8:22-23) but which must ultimately be vacated when the Lord's purpose for our days of this Earthly sojourn are at end, and then the body will be redeemed/restored in His Presence.
5. GOD created human beings to maintain order in His Created Universe (aka show Justice,) while at the same time extending Mercy when it better serves the best Justice of the maintenance of Society in the Restoration of Fellowship. Individuals, who are wantonly self-willed, are consistently better served through incarceration to the breaking of the independent heart, which can ultimately be transformed into a contributing member of Society, who is right with others and right with GOD Himself through redemption in Christ Jesus. Individuals, who have had their self-will broken through the trials and tests of life, are often better served by Merciful Forgiveness, which gives that repentant soul the tools necessary to contribute better as a member of Society, who is right with others and right with GOD Himself.
The call for the defunding of law enforcement is a concept, which has, also, been spawned in the pits of Hell, since Hell itself is the place of Justice created by GOD for the eternally unrepentant individuals, who will forever be self-willed, and socially-isolated since friendships do not exist in Hell.
We police Society in Justice because this is in agreement with the very Nature of GOD. We show Mercy to whatever degree is ultimately best for Society, based on the degree to which a heart has been changed, and made pliable to the Hand and to the Heart of GOD Himself.
6. GOD is Creative. Since GOD created us to be like Him, and since GOD is Creative, then human beings are creative by the very nature of their creation at the Hands of Jesus Christ. I feel grief when I hear someone tell me, "I'm not creative" because I know I am in the presence of someone, who was shamed by another valued human being, either a parent, a teacher or even a peer when that individual was very young. If you want to see a demonstration of the Truth, "All humans are creative," then visit a Kindergarten because all of us were painting, making, and creating things in Kindergarten. "I'm not creative" is merely the devilish thought expressed through one human to another when a human standard of creativity has not been met. ALL humans meet the standard of creativity as expressed by the heart of GOD, and by virtue of His intended level and area of creativity fashioned uniquely into every human heart.
7. The earthly life of every human being is not the ultimate life of every human being. Just as the nine months of gestation constitute the time in which a living human being is transformed from two single-celled contributions from one mother and one father into a baby, who can be held in the arms of that mother and that father, the ninety to one hundred years of Eternity's gestation period, which is, also, called "the life on Earth," constitutes the time in which the same living human being transforms from baby to a living person, who is inside of a body, which is woefully in need of his or her second birth (aka "death") into the ultimate and final state of life, called Eternity.
What is our purpose? Why did God create us?
GOD created us to LOVE.
GOD created us to LOVE Him.
GOD created us to LOVE others.
Sad individuals often leave all of their loved ones to go out on their own to "find themselves." However, no one has ever found himself or herself in aloneness away from others. One can only find oneself and truly be found when the self is completely known, comprehended, understood, and made complete in Community with the Lord and with those, who are in agreement with Him.
GOD's LOVE is Agapé.
Agapé is LOVE,
that finds its truest fulfillment in GOD
and in others
for Whom He came
to provide Redemption.
by Jay O'Toole
on July 22nd, 2020
|Prompt: "Give a testimony of a miracle Jesus has worked in your life."
When we pulled into our carport this evening after a short vacation, we noticed our daughter's bicycle helmet on the concrete, turned upside down. Then, I asked the question, "Where's the bike?"
When I parked the car,
we got out,
looked everywhere we could think to look.
At that point, I walked the gift to the next-door neighbor's house to thank him for locking up our hen every night we were away for this vacation because we lost a hen last year (about this same time) to a fox. While there, I, also, mentioned, that I couldn't find my bicycle, which is a rather nice one, worth about $400.
Since he and his wife are both retired police officers, they strongly recommended, that I "call it in," using the non-emergency number. I did, and an officer arrived a few minutes later to "take my report."
He and I had a good conversation,
walking the back yard
to search for the bike
in every possible place.
His initial thoughts were, that it sounded like the work of a young person making some mischief because nothing else was taken, like computers we might have inside.
He was right about that.
Our miracle entailed one stolen bicycle,
but everything else on our property
was exactly where we left them
the last time we saw them.
Obviously, I need to spend time tomorrow walking the property to consider how to improve our security measures, but in 22+ years of homeownership, this is the first time we've had to file a theft report with the local police department.
Things could have been so much worse.
No attempts to get into the house have yet been found.
There were more bicycles in the shed area.
We have highly-valued plants all over the yard.
We had to leave all four cats outside the house, while we were gone.
We have the hen, who has become a dear friend.
All of these things,
including the fur and feather babies
were still their wonderful selves
when we arrived back at our home.
The neighbors on both sides of our property were home, while we were away, during this vacation. No doubt, the Lord used that fact to our advantage, meaning the "unwelcome guest" could have become startled by a neighbor coming into view, or making nearby sounds of some sort. Of course, the Lord's angels are more than capable of making noises as well as physically appearing in some way, creating a consistently effective perimeter. This violation was a breach of that perimeter, which meant the incident has become as much an educational tool for my own life as anything else.
our miracle was the fact,
that one item (and one item only,)
but nothing else was disturbed.
Though my first reflex was to "kick myself" for not doing a better job of protecting the bike, that was taken, my wife was quick to encourage me for doing a great job of protecting our home and property for such a long period of time. More than 22 years in the same place without any theft, until this week.
I'm sure the Lord and His angels
are worthy of much more credit,
regarding that feat,
than I will ever be.
Again, I'm, also, quite sure
the Lord was sending me a message
in allowing this one breach of the perimeter.
I'm expecting Him
to teach me
a number of new things
in the next few days,
regarding my responsibilities
for securing my little corner of the world,
both physically and spiritually.
May the Lord keep us all safe.
May He teach us many things,
even from the apparent failures of life.
by Jay O'Toole
on July 21st, 2020
|"Prompt: Psalm 15:2-5 says 'Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking truth from sincere hearts, those who refuse to gossip, or harm their neighbors, or speak evil of their friends. Those who despise flagrant sinners, and honor the faithful followers of the Lord, and keep their promises even when it hurts, Those who lend money without charging interest, and who cannot be bribed to lie about the innocent. Such people will stand firm forever.
Can anybody do these things? If so how? If not, why not?'"
Let's review. What's at stake here?
1. "Lead blameless lives,"
2. "Do what is right,"
3. "Speak the truth, sincerely,"
4. "Refuse to gossip,"
5. "Refuse to harm neighbors,"
6. "Refuse to speak evil of friends,"
7. "Despise flagrant sinners,"
8. "Honor faithful followers of the Lord,"
9. "Keep promises, even when it hurts,"
10. "Lend money without charging interest,"
11. "Won't lie about the innocent for any price."
"These are true people, who stand, no matter what, and no matter how long."
The strength to stand forever comes from a consistent lifestyle. Christians are not required to be perfect, but it should be obvious, that we are Christians, who desire to be in agreement with "Jesus, the Author, and Finisher of our faith." Jesus Himself said, "By their fruit, you shall know them." Fruit trees create fruit, but every year the fruit is unique to the year. Some years there is an abundance of quality fruit. Other years the fruit is minimal or even sickly, but it is the fruit, that can be recognized as belonging to that particular tree. Apples denote apple trees. Oranges denote orange trees. Pears denote pear tree, and so on. The fruit of a Christian (Galatians 5:22-23) denotes the existence of a Christian.
"People, who stand firm forever" care about their actions, and how their actions reflect on their profession of being followers of Jesus Christ. This is found in numbers 1, 2, 5, and 9 in the list above. Though every honest Christian will admit to being terribly imperfect, having moments in life when blame was a shameful reality to their existence, that same Christian will, also, admit to desiring to make every one of these faults right, again, for the preserving of their testimony and the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
In other words, "people, who stand firm forever," can't stand sin, and do not stand in sin for any length of time, without trying to restore an innocent standing before the Lord and before the world, when and where he or she can. Again, a true Christian readily admits, that his or her right standing before the Lord and before the world is based on the merits of Another, the very Living Son of God, not on their own merits. "Leading blameless lives," lives in tandem with the confessing of sins and rejecting those very sins, as a way of life.
"People, who stand firm forever" care about their tongues, and how their tongues reflect on their profession of being followers of Jesus Christ. This is found in numbers 3, 4, 6, and 11 in the list above. Though every honest Christian will admit to being terribly imperfect, regarding the words, that come out of their mouths, and that they have moments in life when their tongues have shamefully lit fires, that have destroyed friendships, losing relationships, that are now seemingly unfixable, that same Christian will, also, admit to desiring to make every one of these "slips-of-the-tongue" right, again, for the preserving of their testimony and for preserving the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
"People, who stand firm forever" care about their associations, and how their associations reflect on their profession of being followers of Jesus Christ. This is found in numbers 7, and 8 in the list above. Though every honest Christian will admit to being terribly imperfect, having moments in life when he or she has been unwise in the choice of his or her friendships, that same Christian will, also, admit to desiring to improve their friendships, for the preserving of their testimony and for the preserving the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
"People, who stand firm forever" care about the they treat others, especially those, who come to them for help, and how their treatment of others reflects on their profession of being followers of Jesus Christ. This is found in number 10 in the list above. Though every honest Christian will admit to being terribly imperfect, having moments in life when he or she has not treated others well, that same Christian will, also, admit to desiring to improve the consistency of their treatment of others, for the preserving of their testimony and for the preserving the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
Can anybody do these things? If so how? If not, why not?'"
The Bottom Line Answer is "No" at the most basic level since only Jesus Himself can live perfectly, doing every one of the things in this list without every having, even one mess-up. However, the Christian is not recognized by his or her perfection in living according to the standards of Christ, but according to his or his desire to live in agreement with Christ, and by noting how that the true Christian lives in a manner, that is more and more like Christ throughout his or her lifetime.
The transformation of the heart of a believer is seen in the transformation of its desires and the honest admission of faults as much as in the good deeds, that come from the transformation of these core characteristics. (Ephesians 2:8-10). "Saved by grace through faith, both of which are the Gift of God, and created unto good works."
An apple tree does not produce apples in order to become an apple tree. An apple tree produces apples because it IS an apple tree.
A Christian does not produce good works in order to become a Christian. A Christian produces good works because that person IS a Christian.
by Jay O'Toole
on July 20th, 2020
|Prompt: "Psalm 1:1-3 says "Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or stand in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on His law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither - whatever they do prospers." NIV
In what sense does a righteous person prosper?"
Prosperity for the righteous individual has much to do with perspective,
that is trained on the perspective of the Lord of Glory Himself.
Even Henry David Thoreau got this one right in his book, Walden, originally published in 1854. "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away."
Can the Lord show a prophecy through the pen
of a secular writer when He so chooses?
The Christian prospers in righteous living because he hears the drumbeat of Heaven. The Everlasting Drummer has tuned the Christian's heart to hear this heartbeat of the Lord. (Philippians 2:13)
Prospering in righteous living is similar to the workings of a dog whistle. We, humans, blow the whistle, but we hear nothing since our ears do not have the capacity to hear pitches, that high. Yet, dogs for miles around will come in our direction, barking.
In a similar way,
bats fly in the dark
with pinpoint accuracy,
they "see" with their ears.
Cats hunt at night with deadly ability
because their eyes were created to see
in the lowest amounts of light.
Christians do not prosper in this life because everything in life seems to be going their way from a human perspective. Christians prosper in this life because they see their actions and life choices as they apply the perfect world the Lord has created to exist forever.
That's why it may be asserted, that Watchman Nee, the great evangelist, prospered in righteous living, even though he lived his last 27 years of life in a Chinese prison, dying as an inmate.
That's why we may say, that Richard Wurmbrand could spend 14 years in a Romanian Communist prison, prospering in righteous living.
Many are the martyrs for Christ, (some, who have already died for Christ, and some, who continue to live for Him to this very day,) who give all, and who are unknown to most of the world's population, but who are living prosperously in righteousness because no matter how long we may live on this Earth, the bulk of our existence is always ahead of us in Eternity, either in JOY with Christ or in a disastrous existence without Him.
May you become a righteous person this very day,
if never before,
beginning to prosper in the life,
that is undeterred by the grave.
Rest in Him, today!
by Jay O'Toole
on July 18th, 2020
|"It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
(This is the last sentence of President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.)
They gave their last, that the best be ours.
Devotion gave they all.
Their lives remain as lofty towers.
"Live for us!" their call.
They fought to make us truly free.
Their families missed them sore.
Is life today, Yes, all we see,
worth what they gave and bore?
We read the text, "It is for us
to dedicate our lives
to live the task left in our trust,
whose blood before us cries."
We read it more, "These honored dead
have charged us all to stand,
devotion for devotion bled,
resolve we to this Plan."
"These dead shall not have died in vain.
This nation newly birthed
shall be in Freedom, right as rain
as once again in worth."
We live our best unto the last.
"Our Government by Plan
made of and by and for our people.
It shall forever stand."
But when we see them face-to-face
will those, who gave, yet, smile?
Will Joy we have in that fair Place
or live we in denial?
Will the "honored dead" then honor our lives
for how we've kept their trust?
Would they be glad, again, to strive
to give us hope, that's just?
We struggle now upon this sod
as surely as they did.
Our Hope still rests within our God,
results unknown amid.
But one Day soon a shore we'll see
from which we'll ne'er depart.
This Kingdom's led by the Just One, He,
Who bled to save each heart.
by Jay O'Toole
on July 17th, 2020