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Wednesday, March 30 2016

“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


Posted by: Pastor Almond AT 05:09 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, March 23 2016

“Caleb tried to encourage the people as they stood before Moses. ‘Let’s go at once to take the land. We can certainly conquer it!’” (Numbers 13:30 NLT)

“They can conquer who believe they can.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Poise is rare. Very few people remain calm in chaos. The poisonous majority report caused panic. Reconnaissance revealed a rich, fertile soil. A team transported a cluster of grapes from the milk-and-honey land, but cowards kept shaking because of phantom giants. Intimidated by walled cities, would-be warriors became grasshoppers.

Bad press discourages people. Chasing possibilities, they wonder—“How will it all turn out? Will we survive?” When a formidable situation makes your heart pound, take a deep breath—God’s Spirit will soothe your jangled nerves. When you are worried, the Lord is your Comforter. When you are paralyzed by fears, He is your Encourager. When you vacillate with uncertainty, He is your Counselor. He repairs frayed outlooks and heals hypertension. Even if stormy waters lie ahead on your voyage, you can sail through troubled seas on an even keel because He is at the helm.

“What is the use?” skeptics question. “Why try to do what is right? It does not pay to be good.” But defeatist thinking is a downward spiral of moral rottenness and spiritual ruin. You cannot speak for everyone, but make the personal choice of courage—take “the road less traveled.”

Christlikeness is the Christian’s promised land. We still have a long way to go to fulfill heaven’s dream for our life—to be like God’s Son. We are not totally mature, but we are in the process of growing up. We are not pure gold, but we are in His crucible.

Positivism is a by-product of faith in God. Doing “the impossible” is His everyday work. A “can-do” attitude tackles tasks the incredulous would never dare. With Christ’s help, we are strong enough for everything He assigns. His cross is a plus sign. His company is the secret to surviving any situation.

Without God, we cannot win; with God, we cannot lose. Faith flourishes the Holy Spirit sword and slays giants of defeatism. Faith uses God’s infinite power as a battering ram to demolish walls of pessimism. We do not fight alone—God is with us on the front line! We trust the Living Lord, the Victor over sin and death—so we can relax, assured we will ultimately share Christ’s victory. “Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark” (Rabindranath Tagore).

By faith, we rejoice in our eternal partnership with the risen Lord. In joy, we re-voice our Spirit-inspired optimism!


Johnny R. Almond

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


This devotion based on Day 83 of Gentle Whispers from Eternity

Posted by: Pastor Almond AT 10:18 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, March 17 2016

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less." (C. S. Lewis) 

There are no easy steps to humility, but here are ten hard ones—

  1. Respect God.  Observe the canopy of constellations He whispered into being and ask yourself, “Who am I that God should care about me?”

  1. Submit to God’s sovereignty. Life built without God is a sand-castle that washes away in the overpowering tide of circumstances. One infinitely greater than you existed eons before your birth. Remember God is God and you are not.

  1. Practice downward mobility. You have a choice to make in life—humiliation or humility. Haughtiness invariably bursts your balloon. Meekness under the authority of Earth’s CEO trains you to reign with Him.

  1. Relax in God’s Presence. Do not feel totally, eternally, irrevocably responsible for everything—that’s God’s job, a position far beyond your pay grade.

  1. Conduct a realistic assessment of your gifts. Whatever skills and talents you have are blessings from heaven. So you should not get struck on yourself.

  1. Exercise self-discipline. To prevent doing something you would regret for years, you need to control your impulses and thoughts. You must crucify your ego if Christ’s holy nature is to shape your life.  

  1. Take advice. Listen to the quiet voice of timeless wisdom. Pride breeds arguments; people open to counsel calm storms of stress.

  1. Do not project your character flaws on others. When you arrogantly judge, you are reflexively critical. When inspecting people use a mirror, not a microscope.

  1. Watch your motives. Treat others with as much kindness and respect as you do yourself—then your service to God will be acceptable.

  1. Imitate Christ’s example. Relinquish personal rights, and you will have Christ’s attitude. He is gentle with you, so you should be gentle with others. 

Taking these steps may prove difficult; but if you climb this heavenly-designed staircase, you will get nearer God’s heart and experience quiet joy too wonderful for words.

“He that is down, needs fear no fall; He that is low, no pride; He that is humble ever shall have God to be his guide.” (John Bunyan)   


Johnny R. Almond

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


This devotion based on Day 82 of Gentle Whispers from Eternity

Posted by: Pastor Almond AT 03:13 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, March 09 2016

“No person is in true health who cannot stand in the free air of heaven, with feet on God’s free turf, and thank the Creator for the simple luxury of physical existence.” (T. W. Higginson, 1823-1911, American clergyman and writer)

“A single grateful thought toward heaven is the most nearly perfect prayer.” (Gotthold Lessing, 1729-1781, German dramatist)

When the Lord overheard His chosen people griping, His wrath blazed up (Numbers 11:1). Dissatisfied, they wailed. Unappreciative of all He was doing for them—liberating them from slavery, transforming them into a new nation, guiding them to the Promised Land—they were greedy for more. To put it mildly, God did not like all that bellyaching. And God still does not like whining.

We can take one of two basic attitudes toward life—we can be grumbly hateful or humbly grateful. Do we appreciate God’s rich provision? Do we trust Him to reinforce us to bear our burdens? Do we rely on His infinite power to solve our “impossible” difficulties? If we’re satisfied with what God gives us, we’ll be truly rich. Our thankful heart will fill our mouth with praise songs.

When life becomes a bitter pill, we should resist the urge to give in to the common human response of complain, complain, complain. If we bring our heartache to the Lord, His wounds will speak to ours and provide solace. The cure for chronic griping is to be thankful for every heartbeat, every breath, and every day God gives us.  

When sour notes make our days a dirge, God’s love can tune our heart to sing His grace.

When we wonder if God cares, if we lean on Him we will be reenergized to soar like an eagle high above the complaining world below.

No matter what happens, we can always keep thankfulness alive in our heart. Being humbly grateful paves the path to contentment—the greatest blessing we can enjoy this side of heaven. 

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness to each generation.” (Psalm 100:4-5 NLT)


Johnny R. Almond

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


This devotion based on Day 81 of Gentle Whispers from Eternity

Posted by: Pastor Almond AT 10:19 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, March 02 2016

“Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ.

He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us.”

(Ephesians 5:2 NLT)

Unrung bells have not shown their purpose. Unsung songs have not blessed human ears. Love hoarded within a human heart has not proved its authenticity. Love is not really love until we give it away.

Not just once in a while or when the mood strikes us, but every day we should give ourselves away. Our entire life—hopes, possessions, attitudes, personality, and dreams—can become an offering honoring our Creator. The best way to begin every day is to surrender to God the most important gift we can ever give—our heart.

When we remember Jesus’ words, “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” we’ll be prompted to mirror His generous nature. Love will motivate us to give our best effort, deepest thoughts, kindest deeds, and greatest wealth. In Christ’s name we’ll love unselfishly, as He did.

Being a giving person exhibits our dedication to the Master of our heart. God loved the world so much He gave His Son. God is Love—the Giver of life, breath, and every perfect present. It is God’s nature to love—to the degree we are like God, it will be ours too.

What has God given us? He paid our ransom price from sin’s penalty with Christ’s precious blood. He gave us His Holy Spirit as our Coach. He is the Bread satisfying our soul’s deepest hunger. He paves boulevards of heaven with gold. He answers prayers sincerely directed to His throne. His Son suffered excruciating pain so we could be friends with our Father. The Lover of our soul continually gives us everything we need.

When we give more, we live more.  If we are not giving, we are not living.


Johnny R. Almond

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


This devotion based on Day 80 of Gentle Whispers from Eternity

Posted by: Pastor Almond AT 01:01 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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    Hull's Memorial Baptist Church
    420 Enon Road | Fredericksburg, VA 22406 | PH: 540.371.4124