When All You Can Do Is Pray

Albrecht Durer
Praying Hands


In return for my friendship they denounce me, and all I can do is pray!
                                       PSALM 109:4 TNJB


I am the One and Only God—your Only Recourse in effective prayer.
     No matter how sweetly you treat some people, it does not change them.
     You would be kind, but they would kill.
     When all you can do is pray, seek My wisdom to know how.

I am the Omniscient God—able to execute retributive payback.
     You do not live under the old covenant, where vengeance ruled.
     You live under the new covenant, where getting even gives way to love.
     Pray for those out to get you—shine sunlight on the ill-intentioned.
     I alone will set the record straight—I alone am unerringly fair.
     When all you can do is pray, trust that I will make justice prevail.

I am the Omnipotent God—able to reinvigorate you with power.
     In My faithful love, I energize you to keep on keeping on.
     When you are broken-hearted, I heal your soul’s diseases.
     When you are weak-kneed, I encourage you for the hard tasks.
     People shake their heads at you; I smile on you, the apple of My eye.
     Others curse, but I bless—critics’ barbs will boomerang.
     I will mute opponents’ jeers by My everlasting joys.
     My supernatural might works best in your human weakness.
     You are never stronger than when you are relying on Me.
     You are never greater than when you are on your knees.
     When all you can do is pray, feel your weakness become strength.

I am the Omnipresent God—able to teach you how to sing for joy.
     Others may slander you, but I stand at your side.
     I am the Paraclete—forever faithful, called alongside to help you.
     I am your Greatest Friend, no matter how others mistreat you.
     However chaotic life gets, come to rest in My gentle grace.
     No matter what happens, find a reason to be thankful.
     Never, never, never stifle the Holy Spirit!
     To know the heartbeat and happiness of worship—keep praying.
     When all you can do is pray, believe that is enough.

                       (c) Pastor Johnny R. Almond

                Day 235, Gentle Whispers from Eternity

Staying Afloat

Rembrandt Jesus Calming the Storm

Nevertheless He regarded their distress when He heard their cry;
And He [earnestly] remembered for their sake His covenant
and relented their sentence of evil [comforting and easing Himself]
according to the abundance of His mercy and loving-kindness.

PSALM 106:44-45 THE AMPLIFIED BIBLE
 

Review your uncomplimentary history in honest confession.
     Sometimes you are a lot like the ancient Israelites—
          dull and slow to catch on—not seeing the light until you feel the heat!
          defiant and stubborn—rebelling against your own best interests!
          distracted and sidetracked—forgetting your Creator and Lord!
          dissatisfied and searching for more—desires running wild!
          demented and substituting lesser gods—worshiping counterfeits!
     When you realize you are in trouble, I hear your cries for help.
     The Master of the sea hears your despairing cry, lifts you from the waters,
          and keeps you safe
(James Rowe, “Love Lifted Me”).
     In My mercy, you are liberated and pardoned.
     In your sinful feelings, stay afloat by My grace.

Rejoice in the unparalleled happiness of My celebration.
     Think over the glorious miracles I have performed on your behalf.
     Pull out all the stops and praise Me—you cannot ever overdo it!
     Love will not let you go—rest your weary soul in Me.
     In My music, you are lyrical and peaceful.
     In your sad feelings, stay afloat by My gladness.

Rely on the unfailing hope of My covenant.
     My promise of a bright future is what keeps you from going under.
     Joy seeks you through pain, so do not close your heart to Me.
          Trace the rainbow through the rain, remembering morn will be tearless

          (George Matheson, “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go”).
     Life’s sea is wide, and your boat is small—but I will not let you drown.
     In My mind, you are loved and pitied.
     In your sinking feelings, stay afloat by My goodness.

Waves overwhelming? Wind ferocious? Frightened by high seas?
     Trust My unfailing love—and stay afloat.

                               (c) Pastor Johnny R. Almond
                      Day 234, Gentle Whispers from Eternity

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

Turnaround

When the Lord restored his exiles to Jerusalem it was like a dream!

We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy.

Psalm 126:1-2 NLT

I am the Lord of freedom.

When you are captivated by sin, only I can liberate you.

No other force can unshackle you from chains of unbreakable habits.

I am the Only One who can cure sin’s cruel, deceptive addiction.

Out of your bondage, sorrow, and night, come to Me …

Into My freedom, gladness and light, come to Me  (William Sleeper, “Jesus, I Come”).*

Only My Holy Spirit can cause a turnaround of purity.

I am the Lord of faith.

I am an oasis of refreshment in an arid desert of depression.

When pessimism seems to be the norm, I give you a different heart—

     daring to be optimistic about the future because of My promises.

While you may be tearful, you are also trusting.

Out of unrest and arrogant pride, come to Me …

Out of yourself to dwell in My love, out of despair to raptures above, come to Me.*

Only My Holy Spirit can cause a turnaround of perspective.

I am the Lord of fruitfulness.

Want to celebrate the harvest? Cry your heart out—then worship.

Out of the depths of ruin untold, into the peace of My sheltering fold …

Ever My glorious face to behold, come to Me.*

Only My Holy Spirit can cause a turnaround of productivity.

I am the Lord of festivity.

I transform the nightmare of sin into a dream come true.

I turn your sad exile in a land foreign to goodness

     into ecstasy in the promised land of joy and peace.

Captivity to sin fills your mouth with lamentation and lips with sighing.

The Savior’s charm fills your mouth with laughs and lips with singing.

Out of earth’s sorrows into My balm, out of life’s storms into My calm,

Out of distress to jubilant psalm, come to Me.*

Only My Holy Spirit can cause a turnaround of peace.

© Pastor Johnny R. Almond—Day 243 Gentle Whispers from Eternity

The Laughter of the Redeemed

 

The Laughter of the Redeemed

By Pastor Johnny R. Almond

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ …

because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead.

So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead.

1 Peter 1:3, 6 NLT

 

During WWII, an 18-year-old German named Jurgen Moltmann was drafted to serve in Hitler’s army. Assigned to an anti-aircraft battery, he saw the horror of fellow soldiers incinerated in fire bombings. After surrendering to the British, he spent three years in prison camps. There he saw how other prisoners “collapsed inwardly”, gave up all hope, sickened for lack of it, and some died.

 

Jurgen Moltmann had not grown up as a Christian. An American chaplain gave him an Army-issue New Testament and Psalms, signed by President Roosevelt. He read the Psalms and found something he desperately needed—hope. He became convinced that God was with him, even behind the barbed wire.  Transferred to a camp run by the YMCA, he learned Christian beliefs and experienced accepting love, being treated better than by the German army.

 

Moltmann found new life in the Gospel of Christ, after seeing only death in WWII. And there’s more to his story—the risen Christ was leading him into an unexpected future. After the war, he became a Christian theologian and focused on two ideas coming out of the story of Jesus and his personal story—God is with us in our suffering; and God is leading us to a better future.

 

“Easter Sunday”, this theologian wrote, “is the beginning of the laughter of the redeemed.” Expressing the significance of Good Friday and Easter Sunday, he wrote “God weeps with us so that we may someday laugh with him. Easter is God’s protest against death. God is not satisfied with the way the world is today, and he intends to make all things new.”

 

While I was serving as a chaplain at Arlington National Cemetery,  I read an anonymous poem on the cover of Guideposts I will forever remember—

 

Lift up your hearts, ye sorrowing ones;

And be ye glad at heart.

For Calvary and Easter Day—

Earth’s saddest day and gladdest day,

Were just three days apart.

american_flag_and_christian_cross_fascism_poster-p228576374643359694tdcp_400

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

duerer_praying_hands

 

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

Easter – The Day That Changes Everything

easter

 

“Thou art the Sun of other days, They shine by giving back thy rays.”   (John Keble: The Christian Year)

 

“’Dear woman, why are you crying?’ Jesus asked her. ‘Who are you looking for?’ ‘Mary!’ Jesus said. She turned to him and cried out, ‘Rabboni!’ (which is Hebrew for ‘Teacher’). Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, ‘I have seen the Lord!’   (John 20:15, 16, 18 NLT)

 

The sight of the stone rolled away from the tomb entrance, the folded linen cloth, the absence of the corpse—none of these moved Mary to thoughts of resurrection. The riddle of Jesus’ disappearance remained unsolved.

 

“They have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid him.” Her logic is faultless. Dead bodies do not just disappear—someone has to move them. We live by laws of motion and mechanics. Science, reasoning, and perception are based upon the familiar and predictable; only what has happened before can happen now—or so we think.

 

Then Mary hears the One who had been certified as dead call her by name. Like the voice that shatters glass, the voice of Jesus shattered her world—calling her forward to new possibility and a new future.

 

“Rabboni!” (my very own Teacher) she cries out to Jesus. Then she communicated this too-good-to-keep-to-herself good news to the world. She did not shout, “I have seen the empty tomb and that proves Jesus is alive” The empty tomb never proved anything. The greatest argument for the Resurrection is personal encounter with the living Lord.

 

If something very real had not occurred on that strange, confused morning, there would have been no church, Christianity, or New Testament. Some still attempt to reduce Jesus’ resurrection to the coming of spring bringing life to the dead earth, or the rebirth of hope in the despairing soul. Some suggest these are the miracles that the Resurrection is all about, but they are not. In some way these things are miracles, but they are not this miracle—the central miracle on which the entire Christian faith pivots.

 

Konrad Adenaur, post WWII chancellor of West Germany, remarked, “If Jesus Christ is not alive, then I see no hope for the world.”  Because He is alive, we are filled with hope that our living Lord will one day solve intractable problems politicians, scientists, philosophers, economists, and warriors have for generations been unable to deal with.

 

Have you seen the Lord with heart sight? Have you heard him call your name? Have you fell at his feet and called him Rabboni?  Is Jesus your very own Teacher—leading you to see timeless truth. Is Jesus your Defense Counsel—defending you from guilt? Is Jesus your greatest Friend—letting you enjoy the pleasure of his company? Have you received his blessing, “Peace be with you”?

 

“There in the ground His body lay, Light of the world by darkness slain: Then bursting forth in glorious day Up from the grave He rose again! And as He stands in victory Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me, For I am His and He is mine – Bought with the precious blood of Christ. No guilt in life, no fear in death, This is the power of Christ in me; From life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny. No power of hell, no scheme of man, Can ever pluck me from His hand: Till He returns or calls me home, Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.” (“In Christ Alone” by Stuart Townend & Keith Getty)

 

Johnny R. Almond

Pastor, Hull’s Memorial Baptist Church; Fredericksburg, Virginia