Joy in The Way of the Cross :: Throwback Thursday

Luke 14.27
Whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

Reflection: Joy in The Way of the Cross :: Throwback Thursday
By Amy Carmichael (1867-1951)

Don’t be surprised if you are set at nought. It is part of the way of the Cross.

Mark 9.12 says, “He must suffer many things, and (as if this had to be mentioned very specially) be set at nought.”

If we follow in the way he went, we also must be set at nought. You will find this truer every year as you go on. And anything is easier. Scourging is easier.

Have you ever gone through your New Testament marking the places where the iron of suffering in one form or another is mentioned? It’s wonderfully enlightening.

The book is full of joy, I know, but it is also full of pain, and pain is taken for granted. “Think it not strange. Count it all joy.” We are meant to follow his steps, not avoid them. What if the suffering is caused by those whom we love? Was his not caused by those whom he loved?

Oh, what a book the Bible is! If only we steep our souls in its mighty comfort we can’t go far wrong—we shall never lose heart. 1 Peter 2.21: “For hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that ye should follow his steps.”

You will find the joy of the Lord comes as you go on in the way of the Cross. It was one who had nobody all his own on earth who said, “If I am offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice.” (Philippians 2.17)

It is no small gift of his love, this opportunity to be offered upon the sacrifice and service; something you would not naturally choose, something that asks for more than you would naturally give. That’s the proof of his love. So rejoice! You are giving him what he asks you to give him: the chance to show you what he can do.

*Edited for length and language updated from Candles in the Dark.

Prayer: A Reading
Jesus said: “Now the hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified In al ltruth I tell you, unless a wheat grain falls on earth and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest” — John 12.23-24

Today’s Readings
Exodus 11-12:21 (Listen – 9:08)
Luke 14 (Listen – 4:36)

Thank You!
Thank you for reading and a huge thank you to those who donate to our ministry, keeping The Park Forum ad-free and enabling us to continue to produce fresh content. Every year our donors help us produce over 100,000 words of free devotionals. Follow this link to support our readers.

Read more about A Fight Won with Quietness :: Throwback Thursday
The fight to which we have been called is not an easy fight. We are touching the very center of the devil’s power and kingdom, and he hates us intensely and fights hard against us.

Read more about The Sign of Jonah and The Cross
We can bring our doubts, but we must be willing to take up our cross. There is no other way to follow him.

Suffering and Sin

Luke 13.2-5
“Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

Reflection: Suffering and Sin
By John Tillman

Jesus taught his disciples that they were wrong about tragedy and wrong about sin. His words don’t at first seem comforting. 

“Repent or perish,” he says. It’s not that “they” were sinful, it is that “all” are sinful.

We don’t suffer for sins. We suffer in sin.

The disciples had a hard time letting go of the cultural idea that people who suffered were suffering because of their own sin. So do we. 

We cling to this idea today because we feel less responsible for problems in the world when we can believe that only the lazy are poor, only the promiscuous are in danger of sexual assault or disease, only hedonists become addicts, and only nihilists suffer depression or have suicidal thoughts.

Our culture prefers to explain sin and suffering by pointing the finger at individuals. We prefer to believe that people are basically good and that evil is an aberration. Scripture offers a more realistic truth—that there is no one righteous. No not one. 

Our culture also is ill equipped to deal with suffering or death. When the only joys one acknowledges are limited to this life, anything that shortens life or even makes life less comfortable is evil. 

But Jesus wasn’t threatening earthly death or suffering. Earthly suffering or death holds no terror for those holding on to Christ and his cross. Our fear of death and suffering is directly related to how tightly we are clinging to things of this world for our hope.

When it comes to sin, we like to picture ourselves occasionally getting splashed with it as if we were on the shore of the ocean. But a better analogy is that we are drowning, forty fathoms deep in sin. Every part of us is soaked and our lungs are being crushed by the pressure of sin’s weight.

Our hope is not that others more sinful than us will attract God’s wrath and allow us to live comfortably in this life. Rather, there is a sinless one who chose to suffer on our behalf and who grants us his righteousness. He lifts us from the depths and no matter our sufferings in this life, offers us a new and restored life in him. 

Whatever tragedies we face, we can do so with a partner in Christ, setting our face toward our Jerusalem of suffering, knowing that Christ will walk with us every step.

Prayer: A Reading
He was telling them, “The Son of man will be delivered into the power of men; they will put him to death; and three days after he has been put to death he will rise again.” But they did not understand what he said and were afraid to ask him. — Mark 9.30-32

Today’s Readings
Exodus10 (Listen – 4:44) 
Luke 13 (Listen – 5:02)

Thank You!
Thank you for reading and a huge thank you to those who donate to our ministry, keeping The Park Forum ad-free and enabling us to continue to produce fresh content. Every year our donors help us produce over 100,000 words of free devotionals. Follow this link to support our readers.

Read more about Meaning In Suffering
In secular culture the meaning of life is to be free to choose what makes you happy in this life. Suffering destroys that meaning. — Tim Keller

Read more about Light and Dark and Joy :: Joy of Advent
When the disciples and religious leaders saw the man born blind, they saw only sin. Jesus saw God’s glory.

Daily Bread for Others :: Worldwide Prayer

Luke 12.42-43
Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns.

Reflection: Daily Bread for Others :: Worldwide Prayer
By John Tillman

We looked yesterday at our need to recognize that praying for daily bread includes an acknowledgment of our need for intentional connection with God and cultivation of his Word into our lives.

Today’s prayer from Kenya, begins with thankfulness for our ability to have communion with God and moves into a prayer of intercession for those for whom “daily bread’ is a distressing physical need.

As demonstrated in this prayer, communion with God in thankfulness for our blessings sets our feet on path that leads us to have compassion for others and continues to lead us to a place of action, through God’s work in us, on behalf of others in need.

Whether the needs around us are informational and relational or physical and financial, may God make us instruments of his grace on behalf of our communities. As this prayer says, wherever Jesus went, he did good. We cannot truly be his followers without joining in the work he does.

Prayer of Thanksgiving from Kenya

Almighty God, Maker of heaven and earth, Creator of all that we can see and all that we cannot see, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ our Savior, we give you honour and praise.

You created us in your image so that we can have communion with you, so that we can learn. Be in us so that we can become all that you would want us to be.

We thank and praise you for your provision which comes to us daily without which we could not stay alive. We thank and praise you for your presence within us which casts out fear and doubt from our lives and helps us to tackle daily problems with courage and confidence.

We pray for people throughout the world who suffer either from hunger, disease, war, or other calamities, that they may find relief in you, because, wherever you went Jesus, you did good.

We thank you Almighty God because you hear us.

We thank and praise you in Jesus’ Name.

*Prayer from Hallowed be Your Name: A collection of prayers from around the world, Dr. Tony Cupit, Editor.

Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Our days are like the grass; we flourish like a flower of the field; When the wind goes over it, it is gone, and its place shall know it know more.  — Psalm 103.15-16

Today’s Readings
Exodus 9 (Listen – 5:31) 
Luke 12 (Listen – 7:42)

Thank You!
Thank you for reading and a huge thank you to those who donate to our ministry, keeping The Park Forum ad-free and enabling us to continue to produce fresh content. Every year our donors help us produce over 100,000 words of free devotionals. Follow this link to support our readers.

Read more about Grace that Makes Us :: Worldwide Prayer
Renew our faith in you, expect us to “bear fruit” and make us willing to share with people around us.

Read more about Truth Unwanted :: A Guided Prayer
Justice will come as Malachi testifies: “I will come to put you on trial…those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty.”

Cultivating Daily Bread

Luke 11.11-12
Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?

Reflection: Cultivating Daily Bread
By John Tillman

What we think of as “daily bread” in affluent cultures is wealth beyond imagining in much of the world. Our lust for affluence has only grown more sharp-fanged since Richard Foster wrote about it in Celebration of Discipline in 1978:

“The lust for affluence in contemporary society is psychotic…because it has completely lost touch with reality. We crave things we neither need nor enjoy…Where planned obsolescence leaves off, psychological obsolescence takes over. We are made to feel ashamed to wear clothes or drive cars until they are worn out. The mass media have convinced us that to be out of step with fashion is to be out of step with reality.”

Our disenchantment with prayer is not that we ask our Heavenly Father for daily bread, or a fish, or an egg, and he reneges. Our problem is that we ask our Heavenly Father for snakes and scorpions and then are upset when we don’t receive them.

Daily bread does include that which is required to sustain our lives. But daily bread is about more than sustaining our physical life. It is about sustaining our spiritual life. Daily bread refers to a daily need for God and purposely highlights the need for spiritual disciplines that are required for us to grow in faith. 

Bread was a common symbol in Jewish culture of God’s Word and of spiritual nourishment and spiritual health. The purpose of food is growth and healthful energy. Our health and spiritual energy will be affected by our spiritual diet.

When it comes to our spiritual diet, we too often rely on packaged and processed foods eaten with little thought or art in preparation. In many ways, our spiritual health will benefit if we live less as spiritual content consumers and more as spiritual subsistence farmers—eating out of our own garden. 

What maintains our spiritual health? The spiritual food we eat.
What are we eating? We eat what we have reaped.
What are we reaping? We reap what we have sowed.
What are we sowing?  We are sowing the seeds we cultivate.

We pray that you will use the reflections we bring you each day to plant, tend, and cultivate God’s Word in your life.

Prayer: The Greeting
Therefore my heart sings to you without ceasing; O Lord my God, I will give your thanks for ever.

Today’s Readings
Exodus 8 (Listen – 5:07) 
Luke 11 (Listen – 7:33)

Thank You!
Thank you for reading and a huge thank you to those who donate to our ministry, keeping The Park Forum ad-free and enabling us to continue to produce fresh content. Every year our donors help us produce over 100,000 words of free devotionals. Follow this link to support our readers.

Read more from Cultivation Means Tending
The gospel is a seed from the first garden, the garden of Eden. The seed of the woman, Jesus himself, is our salvation and we plant this seed in our own hearts.

Read more about Cultivation Is Supernatural
Harvest implies cultivation, but when it comes to faith, too many of us are hunter-gatherers.

An Amazed Faith :: Worldwide Prayer

Luke 8.25
“Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.
In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”

Reflection: An Amazed Faith :: Worldwide Prayer
By John Tillman

We can become complacent about Christ’s nature. The disciples did. Being so close to him—seeing him sweat, and eat, and wearily lie down to sleep in the back of the boat—they often saw only the man. But in the storm, they see him for who he is.

Seeing Jesus truly is always shocking. No matter how great a grasp of the incarnation we think we have, our intellectualism has a hard time grappling with Jesus rebuking the wind and waves. 

A Jesus this powerful is frightening. If he rebukes the wind and waves what about us? 

He might ask us to do…anything. He might send us to save…anyone. He might ask us to give…everything.

This prayer of redemption confesses our position, and expresses wonder and thankfulness that Christ, despite our weak faith, works his redemptive power in our lives.

Prayer for Redemption from Ukraine

God Almighty,

When my mind rejects earthly vanity
And when I raise my soul to you
I tremble and feel joyous.
I see you in awakening nature,
In the stream’s murmur and the mighty ocean’s waves.
You rule all the universe, everything is created by you and is subject to you.

Nobody, nothing can resist you.
Every creature who breaks your laws perishes.
And me? How dare I not obey you,
To seek something of my own.
I sinned, but you loved me, looked for me, found me, forgave me, and adopted me as your child.

I cannot comprehend the depth of your love!
How could you for the sake of someone like me,
Send your son, Jesus Christ?
How could it be that despite my weak faith
Jesus suffered and died and
Gave me the right to unite with you 
And be yours for all eternity?

My precious Jesus,
What a great joy it is to rely on you,
To confide in you,
To love you and to wait for you every day!

Help me, my Lord, to always carry in my body
Your death, so that your life may be revealed
In me daily till we meet with you in Heaven!

*Prayer from Hallowed be Thy Name, L. A. (Tony) Cupit, ed., Hallowed be Your Name: A collection of prayers from around the world

Prayer: The Greeting
You have rescued my soul from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living. — Psalm 56.11-12

Today’s Readings
Exodus 5 (Listen – 3:15) 
Luke 8 (Listen – 8:09)

This Weekend’s Readings
Exodus 6 (Listen – 3:56), Luke 9 (Listen – 8:05)
Exodus 7 (Listen – 3:29), Luke 10 (Listen – 5:40)

Thank You!
Thank you for reading and a huge thank you to those who donate to our ministry, keeping The Park Forum ad-free and enabling us to continue to produce fresh content. Every year our donors help us produce over 100,000 words of free devotionals. Follow this link to support our readers.

Read more about Fear in the Boat :: Readers’ Choice :: TBT
This devotion spoke to me in a moment where I almost forgot where I was. The words reminded me of the faithfulness of Jesus. I pictured myself in that ‘boat’, and Christ showing me who he is, I was on the Rock. — Azikiwe Calhoun

Read more about Faith After the Storm
Jesus asleep on the pillow is a punching bag for our emotions. Asleep, he cannot hear or dispute our complaints, our fears, our version of events. But Jesus standing and rebuking the storm rebukes us as well. “Quiet. Be still.”

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