Rest Area

 View of earth from the moon

It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to the Most High.
PSALM 92:1 NLT
 

You are so extremely busy! Stop awhile—and be refreshed.
     I rested on Saturday, after I finished the work of creation.
     Why do you not take a break on the day I designated for re-creation?
     I give you a one-day vacation each week—enjoy it!
     You are so driven! Take time to think and pray—listen for My voice.

Resign as General Manager of the universe.
     At dawn, celebrate My unfailing faithfulness through the dark night.
     At sunset, bow your head in gratitude for the victories I gave you.
     Enjoy peace of mind—rest in the constancy of My care.

Rejoice in My awesome power.
     Revel in the blessed peace and quiet of solitude.
     Sing, hum, whistle, dance for joy at what I have created.
     Enjoy a pause from life’s hectic treadmill—rest in creation’s beauty.

Relax in My care.
     Listen for My Spirit cadence—stay in step with heaven’s drumbeat.
     Do not feel totally responsible for everything—that is My job!
     Unwind in the hammock of My grace.
     Enjoy My Providence—rest in the perfect control of Christ.

Rely on My limitless resources.
     Star-gaze—you cannot name or keep track of all the stars, but I can.
     I empower the tired and weak—I rekindle the burned out.
     I teach the timid to soar like eagles high above mediocrity.
     I strengthen the embattled to run faster than temptation.
     I encourage the fainthearted to walk farther than lethargy.
     Count on Me being Enough—and infinitely more.
     Enjoy My lavish provision—rest in the courage of conviction.

Remain faithful in My service.
     Do not bemoan age as winter—celebrate harvest time.
     You are human; you make mistakes and regret them—repent.
     I am divine; I forgive you—doggedly blunder on toward heaven.
     Enjoy Spirit-inspired perseverance—rest in continuing consecration.

(c) Pastor Johnny R. Almond
Day 226, Gentle Whiispers from Eternity

Clock Wise


Teach us to count up the days that are ours,
and we shall come to the heart of wisdom.

PSALM 90:12 TNJB



Trustworthiness is the heart of My authenticity.
If you want to learn who I am, I would love to enlighten you.
Genuine philosophers find Ultimate Reality and Meaning in Me.
I reveal My true nature to all who search for Me wholeheartedly.
I am the God with a heart—I am kind to the heartbroken.
I am the Perfect Hiding Place—I shelter you in life’s storms.
I am your Home.


Transience is the heart of your awareness.
If you want to learn who you are, I would love to instruct you.
Mortality and realism go hand in hand—tempus fugit.
A millennium and a minute are no different in My mind.
Are seven or eight decades enough for you to learn your limits?
You are human.


Timelessness is the heart of My agelessness.
If you want to learn the proper response to Me, I would love to tell you.
From once upon a time to living happily ever after, I am God.
You cannot fathom My plan, but I have planted eternity in your heart.
I am the Only One Who Will Always Be Who I Have Always Been.
Let My transcendence move you to humility.


Transformation is the heart of attitude adjustment.
If you want to learn to live purposefully, I would love to guide you.
Pray as you go—live wisely in the light of eternity.
Complete submission to Me is the only path to happiness.


Teaching is the heart of My arithmetic.
If you want to learn the best use of life, I would love to teach you.
Like a coin, you can spend life any way you like—but only once.
Take the responsibilities I have given you seriously—carpe diem.
Take heaven’s wisdom to heart.
Time management is eternally important—be clock wise.

(c) Johnny R. Almond
Pastor, Hull’s Memorial Baptist Church
Author, Gentle Whispers from Eternity

An Encouraging Word

Sometimes we feel “where never is heard a discouraging word” is a Utopia existing only in dreams. Despair and pessimism are rampant. Bad news is all we ever hear. Futurists have little optimistic to predict.

When it seems discouraging words are all we hear, we can take a walk through the New Testament and revel in transforming truths.
 

Jesus Christ is our Travel Companion.  (Matthew 28:20)

Earth’s saddest day and gladdest day were just three days apart.  (Mark 16:6)

The gospel story captivates us and cheers us on.  (Luke 1:31-33)

The Holy Spirit brings peace in pandemonium.  (John 14:16, 27)

Christ’s return gives reason for living until paradise is restored.  (Acts 1:8-11)

In the darkness, dawn approaches.  (Romans 13)

Believers are victors, not victims.  (1 Corinthians 15)

We enjoy freedom, not shackles.   (2 Corinthians 1:19-20;  3:17;  10:3-5)

Our Heavenly Father cares for us, His children.  (Galatians 3:26)

Prayer opens the window to infinite resources.  (Ephesians 3: 20)

Christ unlocks the secret to surviving every situation.  (Philippians 4:13)

Unimaginable glory is waiting just around the corner.  (Colossians 3:4)

God is the Eternal Optimist—we can be too.  (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18)

The Prince of Peace brings peace at all times and in all situations.
(2 Thessalonians 2)

Jesus came to earth to solve our biggest problem—guilt.  (1 Timothy 1:15)

God gives power to live, love to relate, and self-discipline to mature.
(2 Timothy 1:7)

Christ is our Blessed Hope.  (Titus 2:13)

Active sharing of faith’s perspective helps us grow up in Christ.  (Philemon 1:6)

At the throne of prayer, we find mercy for sins and grace for struggles.
(Hebrews 4)

A humble attitude ensures help from the Almighty.  (James 4:10)

Trust causes joy beyond words.  (1 Peter 1:8)

Internalizing God’s Word purifies us from moral filth. (2 Peter 1:4)

In Jesus, there is certainty in all circumstances.  (1 John 1:4, 5)

We can count on Unchanging Truth.  (2 John 1:2)

Life’s greatest blessing is enjoying the pleasure of God’s company.  (3 John)

God is our Source of eternal security.  (Jude 1:24, 25)

The United Kingdom is on the way.  (Revelation 11:15;  22:21)
 

When we take this walk, God’s encouraging Word always lifts our spirit.

©  Johnny R. Almond

Pastor, Hull’s Memorial Baptist Church

Author, Gentle Whispers from Eternity

Built to Last

You have said: love is built to last for ever;
you have fixed your constancy firm in the heavens.

PSALM 89:2 TNJB

Governments do not last, but My promise does.
The future is as bright as My Word, which I fully intend to keep.
My plan for eternity centers on My Son—Christ will reign forever.
His throne will never be toppled by earthly powers.
His justice will make all things right and unite the unsettled nations.
I decided eons ago to solve the world’s problems through Christ.
You can count on My covenant.
The firm law of yesterday is built to last.

Gadgets do not last, but My power does.
My awesomeness is written clearly across every page of the universe.
The cosmos marches in step to My orders.
Myriads of angels sing My praises.
You can count on My creation.
The festive language of Yes is built to last.

Games do not last, but My praise does.
People pay for entertainment that eventually loses its appeal.
Even those with the most toys eventually die.
The cross of Christ towers over the wrecks of time—glory in it.
Outgrow mortal toys—reach for immortal joys.
You can count on My celebration.
My forever loyalty through all the years is built to last.

Glamour does not last, but My Presence does.
Depend on My almighty power—hold My hand and be strong.
Hide in My grace—enjoy the shelter of My heart.
Rest in My faithfulness—relax in My perfect care.
You can count on My constancy.
The faithful love of Yahweh is built to last.

(c) Pastor Johnny R. Almond
Day 223, Gentle Whispers from Eternity

Victory Dance

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:55-57 KJV

Sunday’s Washington Post recounted the story of Ghana’s dancing pallbearers. Dancing is a fixture at funerals there—upbeat performers wearing black suits, sunglasses and patent leather shoes, grooving to a tech-no beat while carrying a coffin. This unusual ritual is intended to make mourners grin through grief. Now, with the coronavirus pandemic raging, these comedic grim reapers are being edited into footage of risky behavior as a warning to stay at home or die. Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, millions of clicks on their videos have created an international fan base for the dancing pallbearers.

The Post article comments “At a time when mortality is on everyone’s minds, morbid humor seems to be a popular coping mechanism.”

Death is no laughing matter. It is a serious matter—we might even say, a life and death matter. No one will get out of this world alive, so how do we handle the fear that fact can bring?

Is humor the best way—dancing at funerals? Charlie Chaplin said “You’ll find that life is still worthwhile, if you’ll just smile.” In a silent movie Chaplin portrayed a prisoner on board a slave ship. After shipwreck, he made his way to the beach by holding on to a board. Shackles still chafing his ankles, he tried humor to be rid of them—walking the length of the chain, he fell. Then he tried philosophy—again, he only made it as far as the chain allowed. Next he tried denial, saying this wasn’t happening to him—with the same result of failure. Finally, the film depicts him looking heavenward hopefully—realizing if he is ever to be free, he’ll need outside help.

People still attempt similar ways to deal with death—laughter, philosophy, denial. Our only hope is the Lord Jesus Christ, who “died to break the power of death and set us free from living our lives in the fear of dying.” (Hebrews 2:14-15)

Trusting our Savior, we can face death confidently, even joyfully—a far better way than joking, trying to think our way out of it, or denying its reality. A beautiful prayer confesses our faith:

Give rest, O Christ, to your servant with your saints, 
     where sorrow and pain are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting.
You only are immortal, the creator and maker of humankind;
     and we are mortal, formed of the earth, and to earth shall we return.
For so did you ordain when you created me, saying, “You are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”
All of us go down to the dust; yet even at the grave we make our song:
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.     
    – Book of Common Prayer

The last Old Testament prophet wrote that the Sun of Righteousness frees us to “leap with joy like calves let out to pasture” (Malachi 4:2). David praised God for turning his mourning into joyful dancing (Psalm 30:11). Our victorious Savior can do the same for us.

Michael Kelly Blanchard wrote lilting lyrics in The Bonnie Breath of God

I see the sorrow that has left your heart almost paralyzed frozen in the frost of fear.
Real forgiveness falls like a rain from heaven sent to free us from the dreads we feel.
God’s been dancing two thousand years ever since Jesus showed up around here.
I know everything you’ve ever been through, and I’ve got some very, very good news.
I love ya so much I wanna dance with you.

The living Lord invites us to join him in his victory dance—replacing our blues with the jig of joy. Rubem Alves, American theologian, said “Hope is hearing the melody of the future; faith is dancing to that melody here and now.” If we spend more time listening to that melody, we’ll learn some new dance steps.

© Johnny R. Almond

Pastor, Hull’s Memorial Baptist Church

Author, Gentle Whispers from Eternity

Traveling Music

Strike up the music, beat the tambourine, play the melodious harp and the lyre;
blow the trumpet for the new month, for the full moon, for our feast day!

PSALM 81:2-3 TNJB

I am your Vital Strength.
     When you feel like giving up, I give persevering courage—
          so you can keep on keeping on.
     O to grace how great a debtor daily you’re constrained to be
(Robert Robinson, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”).*
     I am your Power.
     Outsoar mediocrity—outrun temptation—outwalk lethargy.

I am your Victorious Success.
     When you’re on the verge of losing the battle with sin—
          I inspire you to purify your heart.
     I am your Purity.
     You are prone to wander from the God you love.
     Let My goodness, like a fetter, bind your wandering heart to Me.
*

I am your Visiting Support.
     When you’re burdened by taxing cares of life—
          I invite you to trade your struggle for My serenity.
     I am your Peace.
     Praise My name—you are fixed upon it, Name of My redeeming love.*

I am your Vision in the Storm.
     When you think nobody is listening, and you’re frazzled by stress—
          My theophany sets your heart at rest.
     I am your Paraclete.
     I am the Fount of every blessing—I tune your heart to sing My praise.*

I am your Veritable Supply.
     When you’re afraid you are about to run out of critical necessities—
          I reassure you by supplying everything you need through Christ.
     Give Me your heart, let Me seal it for My courts above.*
     I am your Provision.
     Meditate on My generosity—let music and gladness fill your soul.

I am your Vivacious Song.
     When you’re down-in-the-mouth for no particular reason—
          I give you a melody that puts a spring in your step.
     Streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.*
     I am your Praise.
     On your journey toward heaven, I am your Traveling Music.

(c) Pastor Johnny R. Almond
Day 221, Gentle Whispers from Eternity

Good Grief

It is my grief that the right hand of the Most High has changed.
PSALM 77:10 NRSV


Crying to a Good Source is a sincere quest.
     Hold nothing back—let your tears flow freely in My Presence.
     When you are in deep trouble, reach for the Most High God.
     Pray all night long, if you feel the need—I bless desperation.
     You need My Presence more than sleep—only in Me can you rest.
     I hear your problems.
     Urgent faith consoles you in life’s search.

Contemplating a grievous situation raises serious questions.
     The difference between your sad now and your happy then hurts.
     The good old days seem to never repeat themselves.
     Your heart aches pondering the apparent absence of My love.
     Heavy questions bother your mind and burden your soul.
     Never forget—the Comforter will not leave you.
     Never doubt—the Encourager will not orphan you.
     Never fear—the Advocate will not forget you.
     Never worry—the Sovereign will not fail to take good care of you.
     I heal your pain.
     Ultimate focus changes life’s sufferings.

Considering a Great Savior results in serene quietness.
     Preoccupying your mind with My love tranquilizes panic.
     I am the Good Shepherd—follow Me to heavenly peace and quiet.
     “No pain, no gain” encapsulates more truth than you can imagine.
     There are no rainbows without rain.
     You could not appreciate calm without weathering storms.
     You would not celebrate spring if you did not shiver thru winter.
     You would never know the thrill of dawn without lonely nights.
     There could not have been a resurrection without a crucifixion.
     You couldn’t walk gold streets if Jesus hadn’t walked Via Dolorosa.
     Hard times strengthen character—tears cleanse the soul.
     Coal under pressure makes diamonds—trouble purifies the heart.
     I give you historical perspective and hopeful prospects.
     Unseen footprints carry you through life’s storms.

(c) Pastor Johnny R. Almond, Day 220 Gentle Whispers from Eternity

A Creed for Troublesome Times


My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.

PSALM 73:26 NLT

    
Life is difficult, but you can depend on Me whatever happens. Circumstances may depress, but inner-stances delight if you trust Me. In a quicksand world, I am the Solid Rock—your Firm and Faithful Friend. Never give up—though your body is dying, your inner being is being renewed day by day. Your troubles are small potatoes compared to the glory of paradise. Hard times are temporary—heaven is forever.

     Believe I am real—trust My perfect wisdom, power, and love. Let these realities become your unflinching confession of faith. Opinions are carried around like a suitcase and just as easily dropped. But convictions carry you around and are your driving motivation—they are more than ideas in your mind; they possess your mind.

     Believe I am righteous—be good for something, My smile. Life’s unfair conundrum is the Job problem—a question of justice. Wicked people get away with murder; you cannot get away with anything. They think I do not realize what is going on, or that I am powerless to do anything about it. You attempt to understand why the rebellious succeed while the righteous suffer—it is puzzling to you. When bad things happen to good people, you wonder if you are being good for nothing. At the end of the day, the world will feel the heat and see the Light.

     Believe I am redemptive—let the Good Shepherd tend your life. The universal church is the circle of My children around the world who implicitly depend on Me and worship Me with all their heart. Believe I am Ruler—bow your knee at the mention of My Name. The inevitable consequences of ignoring Me will be crystal clear at the crash site of sin’s slippery slope. Rebels will have hell to pay! Defectors will face court martial before the Judge of the universe.

     I am your Counselor giving you a creed for troublesome times. I am your Travel Companion on the journey, Guide through life’s maze, Center of Gravity in a topsy-turvy world, Designer of your mansion, Guardian of your heart, Sustaining Breath, and Perfect Storm Shelter.

     Believe I am reliable—lean your whole weight on the Rock of Ages. Every other staff you lean on breaks and pierces your hand and heart—I am the Only Completely Reliable Spot in the universe. Whatever fails, rest assured the Almighty never will disappoint you—you can trust Me.

(c) Pastor Johnny R. Almond
Day 219, Gentle Whispers from Eternity

In God’s Time

I’ve lost it; I’m wasted. God – quickly, quickly!
Quick to my side, quick to my rescue! GOD, don’t lose a minute.

PSALM 70:5 THE MESSAGE


Through all time and eternity, rest assured I will encircle you.
     In your panic, you wish I would hurry.
     Opponents think they have got you, but they do not—I have you.
     Enemies of your soul will be disgraced, but you will not be.
     Do not let the sense of being targeted and wished ill overwhelm you.
     Unfailing Love encompasses you—death’s terror, life’s trouble,
          demons’ distractions, today’s fears, tomorrow’s worries—
          none of these things come between us, because we are inseparable.

In My gracious time, rest assured I will educate you.
     In your praise, do your best to honor Me.
     I engineer life’s circumstances for the good of those who love Me.
     Time educates for eternity—you are enrolled in Adversity University.
     Friction polishes the gem—hurt can help you grow in holiness.
     Unforgettable lessons instruct you—be sure you learn them well.

In My own good time, rest assured I will enrich you.
     In your poverty, count on My compassionate help.
     The One who died for you lives for you—and He is praying for you.
     In My time, I will replace sin’s ugliness with heaven on earth.
     Unimaginable lavishness is preparing a mansion with your name on it. 

In My glorious time, rest assured you will exult in Me.
     Glory will make you forget gloom—paradise will eradicate pain.
     All creation will one day celebrate total freedom—and so will you.
     Do not let winter freeze your hope—spring is just around the corner.
     Wait patiently and confidently—heaven is sure as sunrise.
     I orchestrate life’s every detail for the good of those who worship Me.
     When My New World Symphony is debuted,
          the universe will stand to its feet in thunderous applause.
     Unending Life encourages you—My promises brighten the future.

(c) Pastor Johnny R. Almond, Day 218 Gentle Whispers from Eternity

The Other Side of Fear

Whatever we’re afraid of, whatever we worry about, even death—the worst thing we think can happen, will not end our relationship with God.

The reality is that none of us will get out of this world alive. The ultimate statistic? One out of every one born will die. But we believe that our loving Heavenly Father will give us the grace we need to cross the Jordan, when our time comes—like Corrie ten Boom’s father gave her a ticket just before she boarded the train.  

Beyond death is eternal life. The most famous verse in the Bible reminds us of that. Sometimes at funerals I’ve challenged people to “do something radical—believe that Jesus Christ tells the truth!” Since He does, “The future is as bright as the promises of God.”

The Good Shepherd gave His life for us, defeating death. Because Jesus did this for us, we do not “live our lives as slaves to the fear of dying” (Hebrews 2:14-15). As Eugene Peterson put it in The Message, we don’t have to be “scared to death of death.”

In a silent movie, Charlie Chaplin portrayed a prisoner in chains aboard a ship that was wrecked and began to fall apart. Clinging to debris, he made it to shore. Desperately wanting to be free of his chains, he tried humor, denial, and philosophizing—but every time he tried to walk, he went the length of his fetters then fell down. The last scene shows him looking heavenward—finally realizing if he’s ever to be rid of his chains, he must have outside help.

Looking up is our only hope too. We cannot laugh, deny, or think our way out of the fear of dying—only Jesus can help us. His death has removed the sting of death, overturned the grave’s despair, and brought us eternal victory (1 Corinthians 15:55-57).   

Depending on our Shepherd, we find a better way to face forward than “perhaps” or “maybe.” God teaches us faith language, trust vocabulary. Then we can say with confidence “I will (not might) live in the house of the Lord forever.”  

We joyfully anticipate what God is about to do. Here’s what we can expect—death of death, burial of badness, resurrection to resplendence.

From where we sit, we may feel there’s plenty to be scared of. From where God sits, it has already been taken care of. God sees the bright side of gloomy clouds; one day we will see it too.

The other side of death is life. The other side of despair is solace. The other side of sin’s dirge is redemption’s dance. The other side of earth’s sad discord is the joyful symphony of paradise. The other side of fear is blessed relief.

Thunderstorms obscure stars. Clouds camouflage blue sky. Dark valleys threaten peace of mind. But we can take heart—Jesus walks beside us through shadows to His house. Nothing will ever terrorize the place our Savior is preparing for us on the other side of fear.

Johnny R. Almond

Pastor Hull’s Memorial Baptist Church

Author, Gentle Whispers from Eternity