Reverse Evil — Live!

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Reverse evil—live!

 

Purge such evil from among you.

Deuteronomy 22:21 MLB

 

Our Heavenly Father knows us through and through. He is aware when we sincerely want to get rid of the evil in our life. He knows we struggle with addictions we would like to conquer and undesirable attitudes we would like to change.

 

If we are honest to God, we must admit that we brag sometimes, eat too much, sigh now and then, feel that we are a little better than others, get irritable when interrupted doing our thing, are impatient with people who do not quite measure up to our moral standard, choose selfishly, lack heartfelt compassion, and lose sleep worrying about contingencies.

 

God understands that we are imperfect. We really desire to do right, but in the course of pursuing perfection we are bombarded with wrong suggestions. Our sinful nature sabotages what we know is best. We are in a constant tug-of-war between the compelling desire God has given us to be Christlike and our inherited human nature to have it our way. We are never free from the civil war raging within between opposing forces of light and darkness. We tackle life’s noblest quest to be like our Savior, but miserable failures sidetrack us.

 

We sometimes grow weary of this life of contradictions—struggling with sin gets next to us. We should never give up. Though we are far from perfect, God does not condemn us—any friend of His Son is a friend of His. Trusting Jesus, the Father does not judge us. Instead He views us through eyes of mercy.

 

If we give in to sinful urges, we will self-destruct—if we yield to the Holy Spirit, we will be free of sin’s ravages.

If we allow our nature to be in charge, we will be agitated—if we let the Spirit control us, we will enjoy serenity.

If we get preoccupied with trinket gods, we will be dissatisfied—if we focus on eternal treasures, we will be content.

If we strut in our accomplishments, we will fall—if we glory in Christ’s cross, He will promote us to a glorious destiny.

If we go off on our own, we will ruin our life—if we nestle near God’s loving heart, we can rest assured.

If we rely on our power to win over sin, we will fail—if we rely on supernatural power, we will celebrate vitality.

 

In light of these contrasting consequences, it is the highest wisdom to let God execute sinful desires lurking within us and run for all we’re worth from sin.

 

Here’s heaven’s challenge—reverse evil and live!

 

 

Pastor Johnny R. Almond

Hull’s Memorial Baptist Church

Friends on a Journey of Faith

 

Cross Shadows

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If someone has committed a crime worthy of death and is executed and then hanged on a tree,the body must never remain on the tree overnight. You must bury the body that same day, for anyone hanging on a tree is cursed of God.  Deuteronomy 21:22–23 NLT

 

Rereading this ancient command thoughtfully and prayerfully, we detect shadows of Calvary. This Hebrew law gives a preview of Love.

 

Centuries later, a high priest rudely demanded that the Son of God answer spurious charges hurled against Him. On the verge of slaughter, Jesus remained silent. When the high priest misused God’s name to pressure Him to reveal whether He was the Messiah, Jesus replied, “Yes, I am. And what’s more, in the future the world will see Me majestically enthroned at God’s right hand and returning triumphantly on the clouds of heaven.” Horrified, the high priest tore his robe and ruled Jesus had committed blasphemy, a capital crime.

 

The Sanhedrin returned a guilty verdict, and innocent Jesus was deemed worthy of the death penalty. The flawless Lamb was sacrificed so you and I could be friends with God. His death in our place commends Him as worthy of our highest devotion.

 

When God’s dear Son was crucified, punctilious Jews did not want to see His body left on the cross the next day, since that was the Passover. So they requested that the Roman governor take the body down. The day of Jesus’ vicarious death was more critical than their “special Sabbath.” That dark day the Father’s obedient Son was wounded for humanity’s rebellion, flogged mercilessly so people could find mercy in relationship with God, and hurt to the depths of His soul so the spiritually sick could get well.

 

Jesus was mocked, so we could inherit a mansion. He was deserted, so we could delight in the pleasure of My company. He was spat upon, so we could be shielded from the effects of sin. He was bruised, so we could be blessed. He shouldered a heavy cross, so we could wear a crown. He was crucified, so we could be changed. He experienced agony, so we could experience ecstasy. He went to hell for a while, so we could go to heaven forever.

 

Hanging on a tree on Skull Hill, Jesus took upon Himself the insult for our wrongdoing. Others may curse the Savior, but He has transformed our life, so we show our love by blessing Him. Jesus offers us life’s greatest challenge—self-denial, cross bearing, and walking in His footsteps. To the world, this appears to be suicide; in reality, it is the only path to life.

 

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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/

This devotional based on day 102 of Gentle Whispers from Eternity

Love Always

beutiful temple

 

Always love the LORD your God and walk in his ways.  Deuteronomy 19:9 NLT

 

 

We have composed many heart letters to God, signing them “love always.” We meant what we wrote at the time; however, our love has waned now and then. Is it our true intention to love the Lord with undying love?

 

 

God’s mercy saved us from the penalty of sin—rescuing us from eternal death. God’s grace saves us from sin’s power—morally resurrecting us from the corruption of an unbelieving society to a better life. God’s power will ultimately rescue us from the very presence of sin—sculpting us into His Son’s likeness, escorting us into paradise. God has always loved us and He always will—His faithful love endures forever. We should see that we never outlive love for God, that we allow no condition dissuade us from heartfelt devotion to our Creator, Protector, Redeemer, and Friend.

 

 

We should always love God in our worship. Every moment we can enjoy His constant Presence and rejoice in His unfailing friendship. Whatever happens, we can depend on His sustaining grace and trust His loving Providence. No matter how discouraging current events get, we can anticipate fulfillment of His bright promises. Worship involves being grateful for God’s’ lavish blessings, hiding behind faith’s indomitable shield, yielding to heaven’s perfect will,  running from spiritual adultery, and reverently entering the throne room to enjoy the privilege of conversation with our Father.

 

 

We should always love God in our lifestyle. Obedience proves authentic love—only the obedient genuinely love God. Christ’s true friends stand out from those who are not because they follow His orders—they love each other in the same way Jesus loves them; they are busy making disciples and teaching them to carry out His commands; they are telling people about Him everywhere they go; they give as freely as they have received from Him. Real affection is expressed in actions, not only in love letters. We should not just talk about loving Jesus—we should walk with Him.

 

 

We should always love God—at all times. At sunrise, we can thank God for giving us a new beginning. At sunset, we can bless God for getting us through the day. When we feel stressed out, God is right beside us, and promises to stay. His love never quits—ours should not either.

 

 

We should always love God—in all our ways. God opens heaven’s windows and pours out blessings we do not have enough room to store. We can say thanks through preaching the good news from the pulpit of our personality and loving God with all our intelligence and energy. If we always give God first place in our heart, God will always give us first place in His.

 

 

 

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 101 of Gentle Whispers from Eternity

 

 

 

Mind Gate

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Be on your guard not to let the base thought get the upper hand in your heart.  DEUTERONOMY 15:9 MLB

 

As we read God’s Word, we should pay attention to waving red flags repeatedly warning us to be careful as we make our way through life. God cautions us to beware of falling into the evil one’s clever trap of compromise and idolatry. Over and over Scripture counsels discretion—telling us to avoid faddish foolishness and seek timeless wisdom.

 

At all costs, we must never give in to mindlessness. We would not think of swimming in shark-infested waters—then why live recklessly in a world ruled by invisible forces of the dark side? Wisdom stays on the alert spiritually!

 

We are not what we think we are; but what we think, we are. We are the product of our thoughts; so we should be careful what we permit to enter our mind. What we put into our mind may eventually come out in words and actions. It’s a good idea to occasionally review what we are feeding our mind through television, movies, magazines, and the Internet. It’s certainly a good idea never to consume moral garbage! Most importantly, we should daily read heaven’s Textbook for Living.

 

Over the course of our lifetime, we can learn to focus our mind on what is good, and make it a habit to fix our thoughts on wholesome ideas. It takes practice to change how we think, but faith makes it possible. Guarding our mind, we can fill it with the beautiful, not the ugly. Programming our mental computer with true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, kind, lofty, and worthy thoughts—we make this formula for excellence the charter for our thought life.

 

We should never tell our self that our thoughts are hidden from God. Our inner life is transparent to the One who perfectly understands human nature. Our Creator understands us better than we know our self. This being the case, it is best for us to be open and honest with the Lord.

 

To ensure that vulgar and low ideas do not predominate our mind, we can overcome the deadly poison of evil with the antidote of goodness. With God’s help, we can cancel dishonesty with truth, self-centeredness with sacrificial love, perversion with purity, obscenity with decency, criticism with compliments, and mean-spiritedness with generosity. Above all, we should give God first place—running from false gods of the mind threatening to steal loyalty we owe him.

 

Letting God be our Best Thought day and night is the best way to conscientiously guard our mind gate.

 

 

Johnny R. Almond

Pastor, Hull’s Memorial Baptist Church

Author, Gentle Whispers from Eternity

Devotion based on day 100

 

 

God’s Tests

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The Lord your God is testing you to see if you love him with all your heart and soul. De u t e r o n o my 13:3 NLT

 

Christianity is not just a mind game played for entertainment—Higher Education is serious business! Life is a battery of tests designed to bring out our true colors.

 

God’s intelligence test determines our spiritual IQ; it indicates whether we are wise or just smart. As we learn his way, we become a new person from the inside out.

 

God’s practical test reveals how far we will go in obeying him. To make a passing grade, we must do more than ponder his Word—we must translate it into action in everyday relationships.

 

God’s authenticity test checks the sincerity of our love for him. To prove our love, we must devote our self to God 24/7. This essay question will take a long time to answer—in fact, it will take the entire course of our life. To give evidence of our genuine love—we must follow God closely, seek to bring other people to him, carry our cross daily, value friendship with God above all things, and keep our mind in tune with Truth.

 

God’s cross-examination demands the ultimate in introspection. Looking within, we can verify the authenticity of our faith. If Christ lives in us, we pass heaven’s most critical test. This is a true/false question—it demands an either/or response. Either we have Christ in our soul, or we do not. The final answer demands total honesty.

 

God’s daily quiz tests our motives. If we do what we should, we will enjoy the fulfillment of doing quality work for the right reason. There is no need to compare our work with others; it is only imperative that we follow Christ’s example and do our best for him. At the end of the day, that is all that matters.

 

God’s endurance test gauges perseverance through severity. Time educates for eternity by strengthening character. We are running in the Faith Marathon—we should not even think of quitting. We are students in Adversity University—we should never disenroll. Ignoring sideline distractions and focusing on Jesus is the wisest way to live. Start to finish, we can rely on the Spirit Wind for adrenaline. Holding on to the Lord for dear life, we will ultimately celebrate victory.

 

God’s final exam will inspect our life’s building materials. Fiery judgment will incinerate inferior work. Quality construction will shine brightly forever. We should do more than merely aim to survive—we should live so we will graduate with honors!

 

 

 

Pastor Johnny R. Almond

Hull’s Memorial Baptist Church

Friends on a Journey of Faith

 

One Nation Under Repair

2016-07-09 one nation under repair

 

“It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.”  (Mark 7:20-23 NLT)

 

The picture above was taken last week by our youngest son, Brandon. His caption “One Nation Under Repair” is apt, in light of recent tragic events in our country. The flag at half-staff reminds us of grief at the loss of innocent lives. The scaffolding is part of the process of cleaning and repairing damage on the outside, but what happens INSIDE needs even more repair.

 

The shootings in Saint Paul, Baton Rouge, and Dallas have prompted the repeated statement that violence is not the answer to brutality and murder. Such generalizations do not address the source of evil. For that we must turn to the Master.

 

Jesus summarizes 13 actions and vices that defile a person, and teaches that they all emanate from the heart. He does not paint a pretty picture of human nature—depravity, unchastity, stealing, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, double-dealing, unrestrained sexual drive, envy, malicious misrepresentation, arrogance, senselessness. These bad habits of the heart corrupt and spoil life.

 

The condition of the heart is so important to God, that the word heart is mentioned nearly 1,000 times in the Bible. Our physical hearts are very important to us—our lives depend on our hearts, so we want to avoid heart disease. It stands to reason that we should be just as interested in avoiding the diseases of the spiritual heart.

 

During his time in the Gulag, Solzhenitsyn wrote: “The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties, but right through every human heart. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. Even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained; and even in the best of all hearts, there remains a small corner of evil. If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

 

We should humbly recognize that our hearts are in daily need of repair. Repentance is the path to a clean heart. In the holy land of the broken heart—there is joy never felt in sin’s garbage dump; there is light never seen in dark, dingy places; there is peace never experienced in dens of iniquity; there are songs never sung in rebellious hearts.

 

We are all by nature sinful. The human heart, Jeremiah reminds us, is the most deceitful of all things and desperately wicked. In fact, no one really knows how bad it is. Billy Graham said, “The heart of every problem is the problem of the human heart. That is why Jesus said we must be born again.”

 

It is obvious, to any thoughtful person, that force or legislation cannot change the inner condition of the heart. Only Christ, the Sovereign of the human heart, can transform us.

 

Our nation is in need of repair—one heart at a time.

 

 

Pastor Johnny R. Almond

Hull’s Memorial Baptist Church

Friends on a Journey of Faith

 

The Choice

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Today I am giving you the choice between a blessing and a curse!    De u t e r o n o my 11:26 NLT

 
The sun is rising–bringing choices about the road we will travel. Decisions are incredibly accurate boomerangs. We are at a crossroads. So which will it be today—a dark alley or a magnificent boulevard?

 

Prayer or presumption? Faith in Almighty God or self-reliance? Zero accomplishment in our strength or unlimited capability in God’s?

 

Care or egomania? A lifestyle of sacrifice or of selfishness? Love in our heart was not put there to stay; love is not love until we give it away.

 

Purity or carnality? Will we fill our mind with heaven’s truth and loveliness or pollute it with hell’s garbage? Will we focus on ennobling excellence or imbecilic filth?

 

Understanding or criticism? Will we fret because we cannot shape others up morally, overlooking the fact we cannot change ourselves? Or will we wish the best for every person, hating only our own latent evil?

 

Composure or impatience? When we feel everyone passing us is an idiot, and those going slower are morons, we are out of line! God’s timing is perfect–wisdom slows down and obeys heaven’s speed limit.

 

Attention or preoccupation? Will we permit the Holy Spirit to conquer our inner space and teach us to love people who wander through our days? The surest sign of love is listening–how is our hearing?

 

Intentionality or wandering? Jesus went around doing good, but we often just go around. It’s high time we wrote our mission statement, and lived it.

 

Serenity or agitation? On high seas, the Master can still calm the waves. He will if we let Him.

 

Sensitivity or rudeness? Everyone has a silent struggle, unknown agony, unresolved dilemma, or unvoiced pain. To the extent we’re like Christ, we will be kind.

 

Self-control or profligacy? Addiction or liberation? There is no need to shuffle in chains–Jesus is the Key to thorough-going freedom.

 

It is a joy to catch boomerangs of thoughtful, wise decisions; it is a pain to nurse a bruised skull from foolish ones, made without thinking! If we make the right decisions, then sunset’s benediction will conclude a happy day.

 

 

Johnny R. Almond, Pastor

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

Devotional based on Day 97 of Gentle Whispers from Eternity

A Prayer for America

american_flag_and_christian_cross_fascism_poster-p228576374643359694tdcp_400God of the nations,

How easy it is for us to decry downward spiraling moral trends in America. The majority ignores your commandments and lives by their own rules. Many worship their work, work at their play, and play at their worship. Most people in our country appear self-centered, pleasure-seeking, materialistic, and proud of possessions. Still known in the world as a superpower, Americans sometimes forget that “all the nations of the world are only a drop in the bucket, nothing more than dust on the scales” (Isaiah 40:15).

 

God of holiness,

How difficult it for us to be completely honest in admitting our personal shortcomings. We criticize other people for sinning in ways that we don’t. We harshly judge others for bad habits different from ours. We rarely take time to ponder the condition of our own inner being

 

God of justice and mercy,

Remind us again of your promise. If – a little word with big repercussions, the hinge on the door of blessing. My people – not unbelieving society, but your children by sincere faith in your Son. Called by My name – honoring your authority, pledging allegiance to the cross. Humble themselves – coming down where we belong,  acknowledging your Sovereignty. Pray – pouring our heart out to our Creator, Redeemer and Guide. Seek My face – yearning for your Presence more than the comfort of noise. Turn from their wicked ways – repenting of our evil, quitting our sins. I will hear from heaven – granting us an audience with the living God. I will forgive their sins – cleansing our hearts of iniquity. I will heal their land – curing the epidemic of individualism with the rewards of community, curing the disease of restlessness with tranquility, curing the sickness of rebellion with commitment to righteous living, curing the illness of fear of terrorism with trust in Your protection, curing the malady of anxiety with confidence in Your bright future, curing the disorder of chaos with calming assurance all will be well.

 

God our help in ages past, our hope for years to come,

Though it sometimes feels everything nailed down in this world is coming loose, we believe You are the One who holds everything, including us, together.

Though we often sense our weakness, we trust your power to enable us to walk the high road.

Though nations are unsettled – European Union fragmenting, the Middle East torn apart by war, our country divided politically – we believe You will unite the world when the King of kings reigns from the new Jerusalem.

Though we’re aware of America’s goodness, we also acknowledge her flaws. Privileged to live in a great country, we look forward to your promise of a better country to come, a heavenly one.

 

God of our hearts,

Help us to be patriotic – loving our country and doing our best to improve her character.

Help us keep in mind we are citizens of heaven—investing in eternal treasures, keeping our eyes on the bright Morning Star.

Amen.

 

 

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/

 

 

 

Victory Formula

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It is not at all because you are such righteous, upright people that you are about to occupy their land. The Lord your God will drive these nations out ahead of you only because of their wickedness, and to fulfill the oath he had sworn to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  DEUTERONOMY 9:5 NLT

 

Despite countless warnings against self-righteousness, we still sometimes have the nerve to take personal credit for spiritual conquests. Human egocentric arrogance is unbelievable. When we sense we’re making moral progress and we’re reveling in overcoming temptation, we may begin to feel we have reason to congratulate our self for what we have accomplished. I doubt if we have any idea how ridiculous we look when we strut with pride.

 

We should have learned by now that ego trips invariably end in crashes. Pride paves the road of self-destruction. A haughty spirit is black ice causing moral catastrophe.

 

The true reason for winning is not our righteousness, but Christ’s. Spiritual victory happens not because we are ever good, but because God is always God. We are not saved based on our labor, but our Savior’s love. God’s heart is filled with compassion for us, so He deals with us mercifully. Unfailing Love shelters us. God said He would always love us, and He will stand by His word. The cause of triumph is not our integrity, but God’s intervention; not our resolve, but God’s fidelity; not our strength, but God’s Spirit; not our smartness, but God’s wisdom; not our plans, but God’s Providence.

 

The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob blessed them as they pulled up stakes, worshipfully obeyed, and dreamily struggled. God is also our God—blessing us in our moving experiences, joyful maturing, and visionary hoping.

 

Praise God publicly for His guidance and strength that enable us to live victoriously and win our battles with the evil one. We can depend on God to conquer adversaries occupying our promised land. Our Commander in Chief is on the front line battling for us. Without divine help, there is no way we could win. With heaven’s assistance, we cannot lose.

 

It is the highest wisdom to factor God into the equation of every situation we face in our life—“impossible” circumstances, “unsolvable” problems, and “endless” struggles. Here’s a good formula for celebration—Jesus + Any Problem = Victory.

 

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 96 of Gentle Whispers from Eternity

Book available at Amazon.com

A Christian Response to Violence

“This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.” (Leonard Bernstein)

 

With yesterday’s awful news of the worst mass killing in American history saddening our hearts, my wife and I joined others in St. Paul’s Adult Masterworks Chorus in King George, Virginia, to rehearse the beautiful St. Cecelia Mass by Gounod. As we lined up to process into the sanctuary, I noticed this quote by Bernstein on a bulletin board. It struck me as a poignant reminder of eternal love, encouraging hope, and transforming faith.

 

In the shadow of hate, we can choose to sing the music of love. The killer was filled with hate and expressed it in an unspeakably horrible act of violence. Christians believe in the God who is love. We follow His Son’s example in “living a life filled with love” (Ephesians 5:2). There is no room for hate toward anyone. Love should guide our actions in relationship to every human being. God loves everyone—so should we.

 

In the valley of despair, we can choose to sing the music of hope. Recurring news of a killer attacking with an assault rifle has inclined some people to expect more of the same. Christians believe God has a plan—to bring heaven to earth in the return and reign of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. We never lose hope because we believe “the future is as bright as the promises of God.”

 

In the downward spiral of cynicism, we can choose to sing the music of faith. Skeptics and pessimists view current events as a preview of terrorist acts making bloody headlines. Christians believe that one day, in God’s time, unsettled nations will be united under the sovereign rule of the Messiah. Christ is our peace in pandemonium, our calm in chaos, our courage in a dangerous world, and our confidence that at the end of life’s little day all will be well. We refuse to give in to cynicism, despite many signs that planet earth is the insane asylum of the solar system—because we believe the new Jerusalem will be deathless, painless, sinless, and tearless.

 

“My life goes on in endless song above earth’s lamentations; I hear the real, though far off, hymn, that hails a new creation.Through all the tumult and the strife I hear its music ringing. It sounds an echo in my soul. How can I keep from singing?”

 

Whatever happens in this crazy world, may God’s grace enable us to keep joyful music in our life—with intense love, beautiful hope, and devoted faith—until that glorious day we join the chorus of millions of the redeemed singing praises to the Prince of Peace.

 

 

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/

Book available on Amazon