Taking the High Road

You are Yahweh, Most High over all the earth, far transcending all gods.
PSALM 97:9 TNJB


I am Most High over earth—exalt Me above all false gods of the heart.
     Idols are low-life—I am the Infinite High God.
     Idols are deaf—I pay attention to every prayerful word.
     Idols are heartless and insensitive—I care deeply about you.
     Idols are blind—I am aware of every agony, attitude, and action.
     Take the high road of eminent domain, not the low road of idolatry.
     Surrender to My Transcendent Highness!

I am Most High over everything—understand that idolatry is insanity.
     Decisions built on atheism construct a dead-end road.
     Take the high road of enthusiastic devotion,
not the low road of irreverence.
     Submit in thoughtful homage!

I am Most High over ethics—live as a child of the Light.
     Avoid shadows—do not scurry like a cockroach in dark corners.
     Stay close to My heart and make Me the Tour Guide on your journey,
          then you will not be down-in-the-mouth for fear of being found out.
     Take the high road of excellent determination,
not the low road of iniquity.
     Struggle on in My transforming holiness!

I am Most High over eternity—feel for people who are joyless.
     Let your heart go out to those who do not worship Me—
          people who will one day sadly experience My wrath firsthand.
     The other side of mercy’s coin has a cutting edge—there is hell to pay!
     Take the high road of expectant deliverance,
not the low road of incredulity.
     See the terrifying hereafter!

I am Most High over ecstasy—celebrate My reign as King of the cosmos.
     I am Lord of the universe—so all will ultimately be right with the world.
     With very little to celebrate in your unbalanced world,
          here is a great reason to rejoice—I am redeeming you from sin.
     Someday it will become crystal clear that I am absolutely right—
          and that I am earth’s Rightful Ruler.
     Take the high road of exultant delight,
not the low road of indifference.
     Sing in triumphant happiness!

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

Call to Worship

Come, let us worship and bow down,
Let us kneel before the LORD our maker.
PSALM 95:6 NLT
 

In a quicksand world, I am your Rock.
     Without My foundation, you would crumble.
     Rely on Me—steady as you go.

In a sad world, I am your Joy.
     In My Presence, shout a thousand hallelujahs.
     Think more and thank more—sing My praises.

In a rebellious world, I am your King.
     I am the Creator stronger than creation.
     Surrender to the Sovereign—be subject to change.

In an impersonal world, I am your Friend.
     In perfect storms, I quiet high seas and calm palpitating hearts.
     Relax in My Presence—trust the Lord of your rocking boat.

In an irreverent world, I am your God.
     You are not self-made, you know—I am your Maker.
     Humble your heart before Me—submit to My powerful love.

In a sinful world, I am your Redeemer.
     Without Me, you’d be a lost sheep; with Me, a liberated saint.
     Near My heart, you experience true freedom—stay close.

In an apathetic world, I am your Inspiration.
    
You are My work of art—heaven’s masterpiece.
     Work diligently for Me using inexhaustible infinite power.
     You are born from above—by grace, survive the turmoil.

In a hectic world, I am your Home.
    
Trade your impossibly crazy schedule for My sweet rest.
     Exchange your egocentric madness for My gentle caring.
     Give up your obsessive compulsiveness for My serenity.
     Settle down and make yourself at home—worship Me.

(c) Pastor Johnny R. Almond
Day 229, Gentle Whispers from Eternity

Turning the Tide

Giants Causeway, Ireland

Judgment will again become saving justice,
and in its wake all upright hearts will follow.

PSALM 94:15 TNJB


The ebb and flow of life’s forces may sometimes seem out of control—
     against the right and righteous, opposed to My purpose and people.
Have faith in Me—believe I can turn the tide.

I am the God of Vengeance.
     At times it appears to you the score is “Evil 29, Good 0.”
     Look beyond the size of the opponent and scoreboard numbers,
          and hopelessness will be overshadowed by the Light.
     The battle is not over.
          Jesus who died shall be satisfied, and earth and heaven be one.
          (Maltbie Babcock, “This is My Father’s World”)
     I will turn the tide of infidelity—in its wake judgment will prevail.
     Calm down.

I am the God of Vision.
     Through My revelation, you are revitalized.
     Through My moral teaching, you are transformed.
     Through My law, you learn how to live.
     I turn the tide of ignorance—in its wake spiritual progress prevails.
     Wise up.

I am the God of Vitality.
     When you think you are about to go under, I under stand you.
     When question marks fill your mind, I quiet your heart.
     When you stagger, I am your Strength.
     When perplexity crowds your innermost self, I cheer your soul.
     I turn the tide of infirmity—in its wake joy prevails.
     Cheer up.

I am the God of Victory.
     I am earth’s Just Judge—My turn of events will be the right turn.
     I am Sovereign of nations, Savior of what is next—I guarantee triumph.
     I will turn the tide of injustice—in its wake justice will prevail.
     Rest assured.

(c) Pastor Johnny R. Almond
Day 228, Gentle Whispers from Eternity

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