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Wednesday, December 21 2016

Why Heaven Visited Earth

By Pastor Johnny R. Almond

The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

LUKE 19:10 MLB

I could have saved Myself a lot of trouble, if I had stayed by My Father’s side; instead, I made Myself nothing, donned the garb of a slave, and died a criminal’s death on a Roman cross. Skull Hill was a long way from glory. I went to hell so you would not have to. I became a servant so you could avoid self-destructiveness. I was crucified so you could be changed for the better. I was deserted so you could enjoy the pleasure of My company. I became the Son of Man so you could become a child of God. I died in your place so you could live in Mine. I came to the world not just to challenge you to seek higher goals—I came to offer you My forgiveness and mercy and grace.

I could have saved Myself from physical death had I descended the cross; instead, I saved believers from spiritual death by staying on the cross. I condescended to save you from sin’s penalty, power, and presence. Heartfelt faith in the Savior and public confession of allegiance to Me sets you on the road to heaven. If you have taken this first step of trust in Me, you are free of guilt—no longer on death row, no more condemned to torment! When your old life of sin is buried with Christ, you live a new, free life. One day you will be like Me—this is My dream and your destiny. Salvation is a process I began in your heart—I intend to complete it.

I did not leave heaven to seek smug legalists and self-righteous snobs—but sinners who are painfully aware of their moral failure. If I had saved Myself from humiliation, you could not be saved from hell. My heart goes out to all people—I died for the sins of the entire world. Religionists who think they are good enough have no interest in Me. Humble souls understand My purpose—smart-alecks are clueless.

Glory will fill your soul when you know why heaven visited earth.

Johnny R. Almond

Pastor, Hull’s Memorial Baptist Church - Friends on a Journey of Faith

Author, Gentle Whispers from Eternity—book available on Amazon

http://GentleWhispersFromEternity--ScripturePersonalized.com/

This devotional based on day 318 of Gentle Whispers from Eternity

Posted by: AT 12:50 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, December 15 2016

Abraham named the place “The Lord Will Provide.”

Genesis 22:14 NLT

     In Life University, some examinations are harder than others. Some of My tests are so demanding that you may despair of even making a passing grade. I probe your deep emotions to see if you really love Me. I use adversity to get your attention—not because I want you hurt, but because I want you holy.I refine your character through the crucible of difficult circumstances, skimming off evil impurities until your Christlike heart reflects My holy face. You learn, in the process of relying on Me, I always take very good care of you.

     My optimistic friend told his servants that he and Isaac would return after they had worshiped. He did not deny the possibility that his son of laughter might cry or that he could die. Nevertheless, he assumed that if his beloved son did die, I would resuscitate him. This patriarch was no Pollyanna. He just implicitly trusted Me.

     How is your outlook? In trying times do you say, “The Lord might provide?” Do you tentatively edge out on the limb, taking a chance on My goodness? Do you think, “The Lord could provide” reasoning I will help you if I should choose to? Do you exercise faith’s radical optimism—”The Lord will provide” no matter what may happen!?

     If death occurs, there is resurrection. If nothing works out like you would wish, I will strengthen your character and teach you to sing for joy. If hard times should come along, you will still be able to find reasons for gratitude. Struggling? I will be your Hiding Place.

     You have reason to be optimistic because of who I am—My infinite power sustains, and My unfailing love comforts. You can be optimistic because of My reliable promises—goodness will prevail when eternity dawns. I already know how everything will turn out. After the long, dark night of the soul, there will be a golden sunrise. I look on the bright side, and believe Me, it is far brighter than you can imagine from your limited perspective! I am the quintessential Eternal Optimist.

     The cross is a plus sign—changing negativism into positivism, checkmating death by life, canceling transgression by forgiveness, conquering hate by love, eclipsing crucifixion through resurrection, converting skeptics into believers. Whatever you need between now and not yet, I will provide. After you have passed My finals, what will you name your place?

Johnny R. Almond

Pastor, Hull's Memorial Baptist Church

Author, Gentle Whispers from Eternity

Posted by: Pastor Almond AT 03:47 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, December 15 2016

You, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village in Judah.
Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past.
He will be highly honored all around the world. And he will be the source of our peace.
MICAH 5:2, 4, 5a


He was born in a little town, yet He never began.
     Before mountains were sculpted, He existed—in fact, He made them.
     Before the planet you call home hung in space, He was your Home.
     You cannot understand this, but you can believe it.


He entered earth in a dark barn, yet He will enlighten new Jerusalem.
     His light illumines seeking minds—His life comforts desperate hearts.
     He spoke first light into being—that light shines on, inextinguishable.
     You cannot explain this, but you can enjoy it.


He was marked by a star, yet He made all the stars.
     Heaven’s GPS pointed out His location to those who wanted to know.
     I still use circumstances, events, and people to direct people to Jesus.
     You cannot figure out what I am up to, but you can follow.

He was a helpless baby on earth, yet He is the Sovereign of Heaven.
     He enjoyed prerogatives of power and glory, but He gave it up for you.
     Rather than demand His rights, He humbly gave His life to redeem you.
     You cannot earn this, but you can receive it.

He was adored by wise men from a foreign land,
     and He will be worshiped by ransomed saints from all lands.
     No one else is worthy of universal praise—He alone is the Savior.
     You cannot imagine this, but you can experience it.

He became human in time, yet He is the Ruler of Eternity.
     You cannot see Him now, but in the distant future you will.
     Storm clouds veil stars, but dawn will reveal the rhapsody of peace.
     You cannot envision this, but you can anticipate it.

His star led magi to Him, and the Bright Morning Star guides you.
     All wisdom centers on Him—all truth connects to Him.
     Wise men traveled a long way to find Him—yet it was worth the trip.
     You cannot know it all, but you can know the One who does.

Johnny R. Almond

Pastor, Hull's Memorial Baptist Church - "Friends on a Journey of Faith"

Author, Gentle Whispers from Eternity - Book available on Amazon

Posted by: Pastor Almond AT 03:24 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, December 15 2016

Why Heaven Visited Earth

The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

Luke 19:10 MLB

I could have saved Myself a lot of trouble, if I had stayed by My Father’s side;

   instead, I made Myself nothing, donned the garb of a slave,

   and died a criminal’s death on a Roman cross.

   Skull Hill was a long way from glory.

   I went to hell so you would not have to.

   I became a servant so you could avoid self-destructiveness.

   I was crucified so you could be changed for the better.

   I was deserted so you could enjoy the pleasure of My company.

   I became the Son of Man so you could become a child of God.

   I died in your place so you could live in Mine.

   I came to the world not just to challenge you to seek higher goals—

        I came to offer you My forgiveness and mercy and grace.

I condescended to save you from sin’s penalty, power, and presence.

   Heartfelt faith in the Savior and public confession of allegiance to Me

        sets you on the road to heaven.

   If you have taken this first step of trust in Me, you are free of guilt—

        no longer on death row, no more condemned to torment!

   When your old life of sin is buried with Christ, you live a new, free life.

   One day you will be like Me—this is My dream and your destiny.

     Salvation is a process I began in your heart—I intend to complete it.

I could have saved Myself from physical death had I descended the cross;

   instead, I saved believers from spiritual death by staying on the cross.

   If I had saved Myself from humiliation, you could not be saved from hell.

   My heart goes out to all people—I died for the sins of all the world.

I did not leave heaven to seek smug legalists and self-righteous snobs—

   but sinners who are painfully aware of their moral failure.

   Religionists who think they are good enough have no interest in Me.

   Humble souls understand My purpose—smart-alecks are clueless.

   Glory will fill your soul when you know why heaven visited earth.

Day 318 Gentle Whispers from Eternity © 2013 by Johnny R. Almond

Book available on Amazon

Posted by: Pastor Almond AT 03:16 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, December 12 2016

Marching orders

Then he gave orders to the people:

“March around the city, and the armed men will lead the way in front of the Ark of the Lord.”

JOSHUA 6:7 NLT

You sometimes feel like finding an easy chair. The last thing in the world you want is to get involved in a battle with Satan. You are not burned out, but you are getting warm. If you were totally honest with Me, you would admit more than anything you would just like a little R & R.

At other times you are inclined to retreat far from the front line. That can upset you and make you feel guilty. You are afraid of conflict with evil powers. You are frustrated with pressures of too many irons in the fire and mountains of responsibility. You are not quite ready to give up, but you would like to hide in a cave somewhere and be an Essene for a while. Qumran is not far from Jericho.

You cannot be on perpetual vacation and cannot quit the struggle—I have My hand on your shoulder. I commissioned you to serve Me. I am your Commander in Chief, so you must advance. Here are My marching orders for you—Take the message of My love to your world; tell everyone who will listen that Jesus has paid the penalty for sin, and all those who will believe in Him can be forgiven and live fully and forever.

Let My resurrection power keep your faith in motion. Do not rely on personal skill or resolve to do heaven’s serious business—depend on My infinite strength. I give opportunities to share the Good News. This is no time for a nap. Obedience is your job. Results are Mine.

Soldiering is never easy. Combat is no picnic. But I will encourage you day after day. Don My armor to counteract Satan’s strategies. Wear the truth belt in a dishonest, conniving world. Lace up running shoes of eagerness to tell Love’s never-ending story. Raise the faith shield to extinguish fiery arrows of temptation. Keep your mind occupied with My constant saving work in your life. Wield My Spirit Sword to slay evil wherever it rears its ugly head. In every battle, pray as you go.

When your courage disappears, My compassion will sustain you. When you are exhausted, I will reinforce you for the fray. Run confidently in the Hope Marathon. Walk consistently in your daily routines. Fly high courageously in life’s great challenges. The world’s king and his hordes are no match for the King of kings. Before you fight him, claim My power. Then you can celebrate victory even before the battle.

Forward, march!

Johnny R. Almond

Pastor, Hull’s Memorial Baptist Church - Friends on a Journey of Faith

Author, Gentle Whispers from Eternity—book available on Amazon

http://GentleWhispersFromEternity--ScripturePersonalized.com/

This devotional based on day 112 of Gentle Whispers from Eternity

Posted by: Pastor Almond AT 12:52 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, December 05 2016

As Joshua approached the city of Jericho, he looked up and saw a man facing him with sword in hand.

Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you friend or foe?” “Neither one,” he replied. “I am commander of the Lord’s army.”

JOSHUA 5:13-14 NLT

I am the Omniscient GodI know everything about tomorrow. Nothing is hidden from My eyes. You have no idea what will happen next. You may be on the brink of a vicious conflict. For all you know, you may face a ferocious battle with satanic forces in the hours that are directly ahead of you. Basking in the success of crossing the Jordan, you may not realize that Jericho is your next “impossible” challenge. You are in suspense. Satan would love to defeat you. He is a roaring lion, on the prowl for an unsuspecting victim to shred with his malicious claws. Look around and carefully stay alert for potential combat with evil.

I am the Omnipotent GodI can do everything. Nothing can withstand My power. By My Spirit Sword, I am able to slay every enemy. Open your eyes to see My protective chariots of fire encircling you. Let Me sensitize your conscience to teach you to rely on My Truth. Be encouraged by knowledge that spiritual warriors on the side of right outnumber evil forces on the dark side. When it begins to look like there is no way you can ever win against sin, remember the Holy Spirit reigning in you is greater than the hellacious spirit ruining the world. I am your only hope of conquering evil, but I am enough. I can calm your anxious spirit, quiet your restless heart, and help you placidly navigate the noisy world—if you will just let Me. Be conscientious, not careless. Trust, do not tremble. Be courageous, not cowardly. Sing, do not sigh. Soar, do not sink. Be victorious, not victimized. The time will come when I will stomp Satan under My feet. Let the vision of perfect peace invigorate your heart. Your Savior will conquer sin. Look up and cheerfully be sure of My unlimited power.

I am the Omnipresent GodI am everywhere. I am here. I am for you. I orchestrate every situation for your good. I chose you eons before your birth to ultimately become like My Son. I charmed you to My side and made you Mine forever. Glory will dawn, I promise. Look ahead and confidently anticipate triumph over wrong. I am on your side, so you are on the verge of victory.

Johnny R. Almond

Pastor, Hull’s Memorial Baptist Church - Friends on a Journey of Faith

Author, Gentle Whispers from Eternity—book available on Amazon

http://GentleWhispersFromEternity--ScripturePersonalized.com/

This devotional based on day 111 of Gentle Whispers from Eternity

Posted by: Pastor Almond AT 03:01 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, December 01 2016

Christmas comes like an avalanche—we’re overwhelmed with a calendar crammed with social events, a long shopping list for family and friends, and a feeling that there’s no way we can get everything done in time. Why does this seem to happen every year? Could it be that we’ve let our American culture’s materialistic focus replace a heartfelt celebration of joy at the thought of God sending us a Savior?

By the time we reach the Christmas Eve candlelight service and sing “all is calm…”, nothing is. Frenetic hectivity has stolen the shalom God offers us. We’re buried under cold impersonal commercialism that focuses on gift-giving without much consideration of giving ourselves. We’re paralyzed by icy individualism that insists we get what we want for Christmas, without much thought at all of what Jesus might want for Christmas.

I don’t mean to come across as a cantankerous Scrooge or a bad-tempered killjoy. I just hope we don’t miss Christmas. If we’re not careful, we can get so busy that that the season passes over us like a plane at night or in the clouds, heard but not really seen. 

Christmas is a season of hope—pointing to the Savior able to give us the contentment we need, sweeter than Santa Claus’ promise to bring us more things we want that will later be tossed in a dumpster. Merchants have practically stolen the season by their message of “Buy, buy, buy”. Even so, this season is about God, who sent His Son into this world so that the world through him might be saved.

We naturally think of this time as a season of receiving. Think of what we can receive from God—salvation from our sins, a sense of belonging to Jesus, a grand purpose that makes life an adventure, and work to do in His Kingdom. All of this is part of the hope that is ours from our relationship with Christ.

We also think of this season as a time of giving. What can we give to God this year to express our faith and obedience? What can we give His church to spread the message about Christ and His love? What about giving our hearts to Christ—better than a shepherd’s lamb or a wise man’s part? In the near future we’ll be purchasing a new church sign to inform drivers of more than 9,000 vehicles driving by this building every day what we’re about as the Lord’s people. Maybe you’d like to make a donation to help raise money for this special project.

Let’s celebrate Christmas God’s way this year—thanking heaven for eternal hope, expressing love to our friends on this journey of faith, and giving sincere praise to God.  Paul’s prayer in Romans 15:3 is my prayer for you—I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. 

If we celebrate Christmas properly, it will not feel like an avalanche, but a gentle snowfall—reflecting hope from beyond the stars, echoing peace we have from our relationship with Jesus, and sparkling joy like the pleasure of the company of Christ, the perfect gift.

Image result for free snowfall pictures

Pastor Johnny R. Almond

Hull's Memorial Baptist Church

Friends on a Journey of Faith

Posted by: Pastor Almond AT 04:02 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email

    Hull's Memorial Baptist Church
    420 Enon Road | Fredericksburg, VA 22406 | PH: 540.371.4124