On the Verge of Victory

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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

 

 

 

Christmas–Avalanche or Snowfall?

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.

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Pastor Johnny R. Almond

Hull’s Memorial Baptist Church

Friends on a Journey of Faith

Thanks Living

 

Thanks Living

By Pastor Johnny R. Almond

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If you present your peace offering as a thanksgiving offering …

Leviticus 7:12 NLT

 

 

 

I give you faith. I charm you to Myself and I take great pleasure in lavishing kindness on you. Faith is the key that started My powerful grace engine in your life. I know your egocentricity, judgmentalism, pessimism, and impatience—yet I still love you unconditionally. With your first step of childlike faith, I made you everlastingly Mine. Be eternally grateful. Give Me credit for all the good in your life. Do more than give thanks—live thanks.

 

 

I give you Myself. I engineer circumstances in your best interest. You can count on My Invariable Presence. I am your Permanent Address and the Solution to your greatest needs. I am All You Ever Really Need in Life. Here is My formula for incomprehensible peace—pray about everything, tell Me your needs, say thanks for all I do; peace flooding your mind and heart, relax.

 

 

I give you family. To counteract loneliness, I give you a home. Husband, wife, son, daughter, mother, father, brother, sister—all are My idea. Unique personalities enrich life. Celebrate Love by loving.

 

 

I give you friends. Friends are two bodies with one soul; the church of Christ is composed of millions of individuals with one heart. Offer thanks by being loyal to teammates in fair and foul weather.

 

 

I give you joy. Marvel at beauty. Treasure My Eternal Word. Pay attention to human voices. Relish food. Dance to the rhythm of Life. Smell the wake-up call of coffee. Feel friendly hugs of love. Let My Holy Spirit control your instincts. Make heart music for My listening enjoyment. Sing grateful hymns for companions to hear. Enjoy!

 

 

 

I give you purpose to be here after. You are My work of art. Focus on honoring your Master, and experience life’s highest significance.

 

 

I set your table with daily bread. I give you all you need from day to day as you prioritize My kingdom. Bow your head—say grace.

 

 

I give you forever. The Power that raised Jesus from the grave guarantees your beautiful and bright destiny. No artist can paint heaven; no composer can write its lovely symphony. I give you hints of glory—sunrises, flowers, butterflies, and springs. If a dove feather-brushed Earth on round trips to the nearest star until the planet you call home wore away to nothing, eternity would just be dawning—so would your carol of praise.

 

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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 63 of Gentle Whispers from Eternity

 

 

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A Prayer for Election Day

 By Pastor Johnny Almond

 

Lord of the nations,

 

After a long and tiring presidential race with vicious contention, intense debate and sad divisiveness; with election day approaching in only a few hours —we approach You, Almighty God, with a heartfelt prayer for the nation we love, the country of our birth.

 

Wondering what turnaround it might take to restore peace and quiet, justice and kindness to our land, we recall a verse from a very old Book we’ve read and heard quoted countless times—If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways,then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and will heal their land. [2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV].

 

Could this if-then formula, conscientiously practiced by people of faith, make America great—and good—again?

 

Are these ancient words powerful enough to transform society by changing hearts submissive to your Holy Spirit?

 

Would widespread application of this verse help us be better neighbors, cancel selfishness with sacrifice,and make us stronger together by replacing the love of power with the power of love?

 

Lord Jesus Christ, we who are called by your name search our souls and ask ourselves some personal questions—Are we willing to humbly dismount our high horse of judgmentalism and realize we’re not God? Are we sincerely hoping for your will to be done in the results of this national election? Are we seeking your face, or just trying to save our own? Are we convicted of our own wrongdoing and shortcomings, and willing to repent of evil in our lives?

 

Heavenly Father, please hear our prayer and bless us by forgiving our sins and restoring our land to be a nation of citizens free from fear, free from want, free to speak our mind, and free to worship our God.

 

In the name of the One on whose shoulders rests the government of the universe, the Prince of Peace, Amen.

 

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/

 

 

 

 

Older — Bolder

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Moses was 120 years old when he died, yet his eyesight was clear, and he was as strong as ever.

Deuteronomy 34:7 NLT

 

The number of our years is increasing. Gray hairs are multiplying, and bodily aches humiliate more often. It is wise to pause now and then to deeply consider the meaning of our life. With heaven’s help, we can grow older gracefully.

 

Though our physical eyesight may deteriorate, our vision of eternal realities can grow more perceptive day by day. It is life’s noblest goal to know God more intimately—to develop closer familiarity with Christ, so our vigor will not weaken and our spiritual eyesight will not dim. We cannot see our Savior now, yet we love and trust him. His Presence in our life brings laughter and singing. Life is imperfectly focused now, but the day will come when we will see with perfect clarity. Until that glorious time of total redemption, we should pray to see the Lord more clearly with each passing day.

 

Time subtracts from physical stamina as our birthdays add up, but emotional muscles need not atrophy. Relying on God’s unlimited power reinforces us for future challenges. When we encounter aggravation, we should keep in mind that trying times are parentheses in the sentence of life. Adversity is God’s university—we should not withdraw. Time educates for eternity. Trouble is temporary. Heaven’s support is as certain as sunrise. God’s grace is more than enough to see us through the aging process.

 

God will be our Hiding Place, whatever the threat or trauma. He inspires nocturnal melodies, calms our anxious heart, and strengthens our weary arms when we feel like walking away from heavy responsibilities. When our natural strength is gone, supernatural strength is available. When hard times push us to our knees, we should pray harder. Holding God’s hand, we can walk with a spring in our step.

 

To live joyfully, we must open the eyes of our heart to see the beauties of the world and God’s loving Providence in our circumstances. To catch a glimpse of the bright tomorrow God has planned, we must let Light beyond light flood our inner being. To accomplish what God placed his hand on our shoulder to do, we must flex our spiritual muscles.

 

God gives us ambition to implement his commands. He gives us energy and ability to obey his orders. He raised Christ from the grave, and He is able to renew our resolve to please our Creator—never mind our age! As we grow older, with God’s help we can grow bolder.

 

Johnny R. Almond

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

Author, Gentle Whispers from Eternity — book available on Amazon

This devotional based on day 108 of Gentle Whispers from Eternity

Equilibrium Equation

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Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.

Deuteronomy 33:25 KJV

 

 

When everything in our world is falling to pieces, if we turn to God we can stay unshakably calm. Life can hurt. Circumstances are sometimes painfully difficult. On earth we will fight many battles—but we can take heart, because we share triumph with Jesus. We are not the first the world ever mistreated; it hated its Creator! We should not be surprised when skeptics misunderstand and ostracize us. In spite of scorn and abuse, we are challenged to remain Christ’s willing subject. The King of hearts reigns mercifully. God is our Eternal Refuge—all is well.

 

When situations unravel and we feel we’re about to come apart at the seams, we can turn to God and be unflaggingly courageous. Undergirding life’s chaos and confusion are the everlasting arms, so we can let all our worries evaporate in the sunlight of His love. Our Father encircles us with unfailing care, so we are safe and secure. Whatever happens, God will always hold you together.

 

When our days become a daze, and there are more projects and problems and puzzles than we can handle, we can turn to God and find unlimited capability to carry on. Our life’s highest quest it to walk in Jesus’ steps. Whatever shoes we need, God will provide. He gives running shoes for the faith race so we can keep on when we feel like dropping out, and outrun the tempter. He furnishes steel-toed shoes for heavy construction work to protect us in arduous challenges. He dresses us in dancing shoes so we can worship with exhilaration. He gives us combat boots for spiritual warfare to ensure victory. He outfits us with hiking shoes to climb “impossible” mountains. God works best through us when we sense our weakness. When we rely on him, we find that his grace is all we need.

 

When daily demands are a balancing act between job, family, exercise, others’ expectations, bill paying, car repairs, unknown future, unexpected emergencies, and a hundred details emerging from our to do list, we can turn to God and know unequaled cheer. Whatever demands and pressures life brings, He is our Strength, so there’s no need to let fear or frustration get the best of us. God gives us what we need right when we need it. We do not have to be overwhelmed by circumstances, when we revel in inner-stances.

 

Celebrating God’s Presence with every heartbeat—we prayerfully maintain an attitude of gratitude, refuse to extinguish the Spirit Flame, scrupulously avoid evil, learn to really live, and march in step with heaven’s drumbeat.

 

Counting on God’s guarantee of ultimate victory, we relax.

 

 

Johnny R. Almond

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

Author, Gentle Whispers from Eternity—book available on Amazon

This devotional based on day 107 of Gentle Whispers from Eternity

http://GentleWhispersFromEternity–ScripturePersonalized.com/

 

 

 

 

 

Crossing Tomorrow’s Threshold

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Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD is the one who goes before you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:8 NLT

 

We step into the future confidently, knowing there is no surprise to God. God is our Vanguard—so there’s no need to worry about the future. He is already there; He knows what is coming. When tomorrow arrives, He will be there for us.

 

The Good Shepherd faithfully walks ahead—we listen for My voice and follow His lead. Jesus precedes us, so we can be certain that sunrise will bring strength for all of life’s challenges. He walks ahead of us and shows us the way, one step at a time. We give Christ control of each moment as it comes by deciding to obey Him. We rest in green meadows and by quiet streams by trusting Him unquestioningly even in dark valleys. Whatever the emergency coming our way, heaven is ready.

 

We step into the future capably, realizing there is no real success without God. God is our VitalityCenter of Gravity in all seasons, Song in sad times, Solid Rock when everything nailed down comes loose, Physician when we are sin-sick, Creator who perfectly understands us, and Almighty God who stands under us.

 

There’s no need to let shadows intimidate us or let fear unnerve us. Our Father’s eyes watch over sparrows and supervise our journey beyond the stars. In hope, we smile through our tears; by faith, we dance through our troubles.

 

We step into the future courageously, believing there is no superior force above God. God is our Valor—injecting adrenaline into our timid soul, encouraging us in our nagging doubt. Because of His Presence with us, we can live without terror, cowardice, flinching, dismay, or despondency. All the demons in hell cannot conquer our heart—it is sacred territory, God’s home. We can do all our Master orders through the invigorating power of Christ. We can defeat any spiritual enemy by the protective love of Jesus, our Shield. Hiding in Ultimate Reality, we sing eternity’s song even when we feel like crying. Focused on the cross, we keep running Faith Marathon even when tempted to drop out.

 

We step into the future cheerfully, understanding there is no song without God. God is our Vision—Sovereign holding tomorrow in His hands, Meaning behind life’s mysteries, and Highest Dream of our heart. He is the God of Abraham’s moving experiences, Isaac’s laughter, and Jacob’s struggles. He is our Stability in transition, Best Answer to prayer, and Truest Riches. Love blesses us with all we need today and all we will need tomorrow—counting on God’s promises coming true, we keep believing in a bright future.

 

 

Johnny R. Almond

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

Author, Gentle Whispers from Eternity – book available from Amazon

http://GentleWhispersFromEternity–ScripturePersonalized.com/

This devotional based on day 106 of Gentle Whispers from Eternity

 

 

 

A Matter of Life and Death

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Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, that you and your descendants might live! Choose to love the Lord your God and to obey him and commit yourself to him, for he is your life.  Deuteronomy 30:19-20 NLT

 

All the natural laws God instituted, in every part of the universe He created, preach the same sermon and reinforce the same truth—there are inevitable consequences for the personal choices we make. Death inevitably derives from disobedience. Curses accompany carnality. Blessings result from belief. Life cascades from love.

 

Moral decisions affect emotional, physical, and spiritual health. They impact our future and the welfare of our family. They are critical, not inconsequential. Time and eternity will be colored by what we choose day by day.

 

If we are obedient, we will choose the Way—walking with Christ in humility and habits. We are challenged to live a life of unselfish love—following Jesus’ example of sacrificial living, not trying to impress but meekly considering others better than us.

 

If we are wise, we will choose the Truth—walking with Christ in honesty and holiness. We are challenged to live with moral integrity, avoiding evil no matter how it is packaged.

 

If we are trusting, we will choose the Life—walking with Christ in hope and heaven. We are challenged to celebrate buoyant and eternal life in relationship to God’s Son—purposefully motivated, optimistically anticipating paradise restored, enthusiastically serving, singing the song of hope through long nights, and relying on supernatural strength to see us through every difficulty. Living this way, we do not just exist—we exult!

 

Is our mind genuinely open and receptive to the Holy Spirit? Are we willing to let the Lord cleanse our soul and teach us to love Him with all our personality and intellect? Can we clearly hear the message of ultimate truth echoing in our heart?

 

If we turn away from God, there is only bitterness and death. If we obey Him, life in all its fullness is ours.

 

God never twists our arm; but if we take His hand and hold on for dear life, He will teach us how to live life in all its fullness day after day, year after year—the choice is ours.

 

 

Johnny R. Almond

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

Author, Gentle Whispers from Eternity—Scripture Personalized

http://GentleWhispersFromEternity–ScripturePersonalized.com/

This devotional based on day 105 of Gentle Whispers from Eternity

A Soldier of the Cross

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He was 23 years old, married to a girl back in Ohio. He had been trained to become part of the elite battle-ready 82nd Airborne. He was ready for anything the war on terror might bring. From his observation post on a housetop in Baghdad, his sniper-sharp eyes scanned the streets for signs of the enemy.

 

Separated from his partner, he was ambushed by a squad of insurgents. He was helpless against their cruel, methodical shooting at him. Taking aim beginning from his feet, they slowly worked their way up his legs to his abdomen, approaching the threshold of murder.

 

Seconds from death, he was rescued by his buddies. Then he was evacuated from the combat zone to a military hospital in Germany, and eventually to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in D.C., where both of his legs were amputated. A double prosthesis did not cancel his will to walk again. Searing pain did not stop his desire to achieve. Self-pity did not even seem to enter the picture

 

Observing this authentic patriot and American hero, now part of the Warrior Transition Brigade, I saw an object lesson in endurance and the personification of perseverance. Not only was he daily placing cones and agonizingly stepping over them, he had chosen to live in a third-floor apartment, because he liked the challenge and wanted to get strong again—so he could return to the front.

 

I thought to myself—here is a man “who more than self his country loves.” I wondered where there might be found that kind of unflinching courage and devotion in Christian soldiers “who more than self their Savior love”—believers willing to die with their boots on, facing the enemy.

 

Marveling at his dogged determination to fight again. I wondered how followers of Christ find the tenacity to fight on when self-pity threatens to quench the fire of our resolve.

 

Then I remembered the Scripture—We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.  2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 16-18 NLT

 

With these truths cascading through my heart, I recalled the lyrics of an old Isaac Watts hymn—Am I a soldier of the cross, a follower of the Lamb? And shall I fear to own His cause or blush to speak His name? Sure I must fight if I would reign; Increase my courage, Lord! I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain, supported by Thy Word. 

 

High-sounding words indeed—but If you and I are truly honest, we must admit there have been times we’ve been tempted to quit the fight of faith. Gazing at the figure of the One on the cross dying in our place sends us back to our tasks again.

 

I believe that if we ask Jesus to help us, He will (Philippians 4:13). Music historians say many Bach manuscripts have J.J. at the beginning—Jesu juva (Jesus, help me), and at the end of the manuscript S.D.G.—Soli Deo Gloria (To God alone be the glory). In between are found some of the most uplifting music phrases and compositions ever heard by human ears. If you and I are ever going to “make music for our Lord to hear,” we’re going to have to live life like Bach composed music. If  we’re going to soldier on for God’s glory, we need Jesus’ help.

 

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Johnny R. Almond

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

Author, Gentle Whispers from Eternity—Scripture Personalized

http://GentleWhispersFromEternity–ScripturePersonalized.com/

 

 

Awesome Name

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Fear the glorious and awesome name of the Lord your God.

Deuteronomy 28:58 NLT

 

My Awe-inspiring Name reflects My ability to meet every need.

I am the Becoming One—becoming whatever you need.

 

I am God, Absolute Goodness—the One and Only.

I am the Prince of Peace—enabling you to sail through troubled seas on an even keel.

I am the Mighty God—carrying you whenever you cannot carry on.

I am the Wonderful Counselor—unerringly giving right advice.

I am the Everlasting Father—Rock of Ages in a quicksand world.

I am the Holy One—the Sole Source of righteousness.

I am the Lamb—the Vicarious Sacrifice for your transgressions.

I am the Prince of life—satisfying your search for significance.

I am King of kings—orchestrating order out of chaos.

I am the Lion of Judah—the Ultimate Solution to earth’s problems.

I am the Author and Finisher of your faith—Center of Gravity of your life.

I am the Advocate—your Perfect, Understanding Defense Counsel.

I am the Dayspring—changing midnight crying into sunrise joy.

I am Jesus—the Heartbeat of your salvation.

I am Christ—King of hearts, Sovereign of the future.

I am the Way—the One Way to heaven, the Highway of holiness.

I am the Truth—the Quintessence of reality.

I am the Life—Fountainhead of exuberance and eternity.

I am the Light of the World—Window to health, hope, and joy.

I am the Door—the Only Access to paradise.

I am the Bread of Life—Rich Nourishment for your heart’s hunger.

I am the Good Shepherd—caring for you in your sheepishness.

I am the Resurrection—making possible real life before and after death.

I am El Shaddai—All-Sufficient One, the One Who Is Enough.

I am Lord God Almighty—absolutely nothing is too difficult for Me.

I am the Great Physician—healing the sick and your soul’s diseases.

I am the Creator—I made people to begin with; I am making you like Me.

I am Alpha and Omega—Holy Alphabet of unsurpassed wisdom.

 

I Am the One Who Will Always Be Who I Have Always Been.

Reverence My Name—live in holy awe, hate evil, and trust Me forever!

 

Johnny R. Almond

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

Author, Gentle Whispers from Eternity—Scripture Personalized

http://GentleWhispersFromEternity–ScripturePersonalized.com/

This devotional is Day 104 of Gentle Whispers from Eternity