Let’s Take a Walk

Scripture Focus: 2 Corinthians 5.6-7
Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

Reflection: Let’s Take a Walk
By Jon Polk

The classic KJV translation of 2 Corinthians 5:7 is frequently quoted, cross-stitched and memorized: “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

Jews used this word walk as an idiom relating to how you live your life. We utilize a similar idea when we talk about our “Christian walk” or our “walk with God.” Our lives ought to be dependent on our faith, not on what we can see or comprehend.

Contrary to the popular phrase, faith is not about taking a “blind leap” but rather making steps towards God, following the path he lays out before us. Paul refers to confidence twice in this passage, implying that faith is not blind hope but is grounded in our trust in God.

Faith is confident movement towards the path that God has ahead for us. We may not see the path, but we have faith that the path exists. We may not see beyond the first step, but we take the first step in faith. We may not see all the reasons behind what God is calling us to do, but we have faith that he leads us as he does for a purpose.

On his first journey to China, the great British missionary Hudson Taylor traveled aboard a sailing vessel. As the ship neared the coast of New Guinea, the winds died out for a number of weeks. The ship began to drift dangerously towards the shore, at risk of running aground on the coral reefs leaving the crew to the mercy of the natives rumored to be cannibals.

The captain came to Taylor in desperation, asking him to pray for God to send wind. So Taylor and a few other men began to pray for a breeze. As they prayed, he went up on deck and asked the second mate to ready the mainsail. Initially, the mate resisted, not wanting to appear foolish in front of the crew, but Taylor insisted and he finally agreed. In the ensuing moments, a strong wind indeed came upon the ship and sailors scrambled all over the deck as the wind kicked in.

When you raise the sails in your life before you can even see the wind, you’re walking by faith.

So go take a walk. Not a walk based on what we can see in this earthly life but a walk by faith into the adventurous life God has for us.

Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Jesus taught the crowds, saying: “The light will be with you only a little longer now. Go on your way while you have the light, or darkness will overtake you, and nobody who walks in the dark knows where he is going. While you still have the light, believe in the light so that you may become the children of light.” Having said this, Jesus left them and was hidden from their sight. — John 12.35-36

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
2 Samuel 16 (Listen – 4:03)
2 Corinthians 5 (Listen – 3:14)

Thank You!
Thank you to our donors who support our readers by making it possible to continue The Park Forum devotionals. This year, The Park Forum audiences opened 200,000 free, and ad-free, devotional content. Follow this link to join our donors with a one-time or a monthly gift.

Read more from Jon Polk: Faith of the Flawed
The purpose of this passage is to demonstrate how ordinary people overcame difficult situations through their faith in God.

Read more about Light for the Next Step :: Readers’ Choice
God’s word, most of the time, provides one-step-at-a-time light. A lamp for our feet forces us to engage with where we are, not look only at distant destinations.

A Christian Response to Offense

Scripture Focus:  2 Corinthians 2.7-8
Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.

Reflection: A Christian Response to Offense
By John Tillman

There is nothing in the Christian faith more strangely counter-cultural, and more practically difficult to live out, than how the New Testament instructs us to deal with offenses and with offenders. 

In today’s culture, the concept of free-speech has been weighed, it has been tested, and it has been found wanting. Words, ideas, beliefs, and pronouns can all cause great offense in today’s dialogue. 

Our culture is unable to bear offense and simultaneously unable to bear forgiveness. A typical response to offenders is to block or unfriend them or to tell them to, “delete your account.” Telling someone to delete their account expresses a belief that the person does not deserve to exist on the same platform, or live in the same world, as the persons he or she offended. It is akin to wishing someone dead.

In response, some grumble about the world being “too sensitive.” These people say we need to “toughen up.” Those who, through ignorance or insensitivity, brandish words that hurt others are like the irresponsible archer of Proverbs, firing flaming arrows as a joke. When we refuse to consider others’ feelings we are burning down the world for our own amusement and ease. “Can’t they take a joke?” is not a biblical defense Christians can lean on. 

Christ did not come to make our hearts tough but tender. When Christ instructed us to turn the other cheek to offense, it was not intended as a show of toughness. Christians not only must be considerate in avoiding offense when possible, we uniquely seek to reconcile offenders as we have been reconciled to God. 

Paul instructed the Corinthians to “reinstate the account” of the offender. Paul knows what he is talking about and knows the difficulty of what he is asking us to do. Paul was an offender who went beyond unkind words. He constantly breathed out murderous threats and acted on them by falsely imprisoning families and putting Christians to death. 

Only through Christ can we bring back into fellowship those who humble themselves regarding their offenses. (Without humility, one cannot be reintegrated.)
May we soften our hearts and our words rather than harden them, avoiding avoidable offense
May the only offensive words we speak be the “foolish” and offensive message of the gospel.
May we practice responsible restoration as described by Paul*, marked by sorrow, humility, repentance, and reintegration.

*Abusive leaders are disqualified from reinstatement to positional authority, such as being pastors, elders, or deacons. But reintegration into the community, based on humility and repentance is vital.

Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Jesus taught us, saying: “Watch yourselves, or your hearts will be coarsened by debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life, and that day will come upon you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come down on all those living on the face of the earth. Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen, and to hold your ground before the Son of man.” — Luke 21.34-36

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
2 Samuel 8=9 (Listen – 3:51)
2 Corinthians 2 (Listen – 2:13)

This Weekend’s Readings
2 Samuel 10 (Listen – 3:19), 2 Corinthians 3 (Listen – 2:25)
2 Samuel 11 (Listen – 4:25), 2 Corinthians 4 (Listen – 3:02)

Thank You!
Thank you to our donors who support our readers by making it possible to continue The Park Forum devotionals. This year, The Park Forum audiences opened 200,000 free, and ad-free, devotional content. Follow this link to join our donors with a one-time or a monthly gift.

Read more about Avoiding Avoidable Offense
The gospel is offensive and counter-cultural in its nature, but Paul strives to avoid avoidable offense. 

Read more about Crucified, By Nature
It is hard for us to grasp how foolish, offensive and shameful crucifixion was in the ancient world.

The House God Desires

Scripture Focus: 2 Samuel 7.12-14
I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands.

2 Corinthians 1.20
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.

Reflection: The House God Desires
By John Tillman

Building a “house” for God can be interpreted as an immature understanding of God. Through the prophet Isaiah, God says:

“Heaven is my throne,
    and the earth is my footstool.
Where is the house you will build for me?
    Where will my resting place be?”


However, God often bears with our immaturity and limited understandings. God accepts the immature like children and leads toward growth and maturity those who will listen. He led immature slaves across the desert. He used imperfect and flawed leaders to guide an imperfect and flawed people. 

At the time of David’s request to build a house for the Lord, God is bearing with the immaturity of a nation that refused to be led by God and yearned for a king to be placed over them. Saul was a king in their own image. He was selfish, driven by anger and jealousy, unspiritual, untruthful, and ignorant of how to follow God.

Nathan’s prophecy in response to David’s proposal to build a “house for God” is multifaceted. It touches the immediate future and our future in eternity with Christ simultaneously. The son Nathan refers to is not only Solomon, but all the kings of Israel ending ultimately with the King of Kings, Christ himself. 

Despite Israel’s weakness, God chose to show his strength in them.
Despite rebellious immaturity, God chose to set over them (and us) a better king—one in his image.
Despite childish thoughts of God needing a house, God stooped to enter Solomon’s Temple.
Despite the sinfulness of David’s line of descendants, Christ lowered himself to be born the Son of David.

It is in Christ, Paul tells us, that all of God’s promises are, “Yes” and “Amen.” We, like Israel and David, are loved and used by God despite our immaturity and are called toward growth and development of greater faith.

The house we must build for God is in our own hearts.
We build it in hope, with humility and obedience, with repentance and faith.
He stands at the door and knocks.
When we make room for God in our hearts and lives, he will enter.
And when our lives are over, we will awake in the house of God.

For Christ, the true son of David, is building the house that God desires—a house with rooms for all his children. And he has prepared a place for us.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Truly, his salvation is very near to those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land. — Psalm 85.9

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
2 Samuel 7 (Listen – 4:26)
2 Corinthians 1 (Listen – 3:52)

Thank You!
Thank you to our donors who support our readers by making it possible to continue The Park Forum devotionals. This year, The Park Forum audiences opened 200,000 free, and ad-free, devotional content. Follow this link to join our donors with a one-time or a monthly gift.

Read more about Slavery to Maturity
Paul describes a liberated nation of Israel who gained political freedom, yet were morally and spiritually fragile.

Read more about Christ: Temple, River, and City
Just because God’s city and temple have only been seen by visionaries and prophets, doesn’t mean they aren’t real or accessible to us today.

Undignified Weeping and Dancing

Scripture Focus: 1 Samuel 6.21-22
I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.

“As long as you notice, and have to count the steps, you are not yet dancing but only learning to dance.” — C.S. Lewis

Reflection: Undignified Weeping and Dancing
By John Tillman

There are places in the Bible in which we see people rightly critique the worship practices of others. In our recent readings of 1 Corinthians, Paul critiqued the way the Corinthians exuberance and lack of discipline or order was harming church members rather than helping them.

But there are other, less pure and less nobly intended worship critiques. Two, which bear similarities to each other, are of the weeping of Hannah and the dancing of David.

Whenever we begin to feel our spirit desire to critique a fellow worshiper for their response to the presence of God, we need to pause and investigate our hearts, motives, and prejudices. Otherwise, we may follow in the path of Eli and in the path of Michal.

Hannah carried the weight of her grief to God’s presence and broke open her heart with shameless weeping. She was so physically incapacitated by her grief that Eli falsely accused her of drunkenness.

David was lifted by the wings of gratefulness and joy in God’s presence and broke into shameless, exuberant dancing. He was so physically swept up in celebration that Mical falsely accused him of lustfully showing off to attract the attention of younger women. 

David’s audience was not in the crowd of other worshipers. His joy was given to the Lord in humility.
Hannah was not drowning her sorrows in alcohol, but draining them into the palms of a waiting and loving God who heard her cries.

When we witness undignified worship, we would be wise to train our hearts to see and expect the best possible motives from others rather than the worst. 

Scripture tells us that Mical had no children following her condemnation of David. But it is silent as to the cause.

Scripture does tell us that Eli, after his initial error heard Hannah’s prayer and prayed for her. This made Eli able to take part in the fruit of this blessing as he trained and raised Hannah’s son, Samuel—a redemption for his failed effort to raise his own sons. 

May we not be barren critics of others’ exuberance or sorrow. May we, instead, learn from our prejudices how to pray with others.
May we be so undignified as to worship God, uncaring of what others might think.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
For one day in your courts is better than a thousand in my own room, and to stand at the threshold of the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of the wicked. — Psalm 84.9

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
2 Samuel 6 (Listen – 3:34)
1 Corinthians 16 (Listen – 2:54)

Thank You!
Thank you to our donors who support our readers by making it possible to continue The Park Forum devotionals. This year, The Park Forum audiences opened 200,000 free, and ad-free, devotional content. Follow this link to join our donors with a one-time or a monthly gift.

Read more about Room For Hannah
At times, we do a better job of accepting the exuberant dancing of King David than the distraught expressions of Hannah.

Read more about Prayers of Woe and Weeping
If prayer is relationship then when God weeps, we should join. What friend would weep, whom we would not join in weeping?

Pie In The Sky and Strange Fruit

Scripture Focus: 1 Corinthians 15.19
If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

Reflection: Pie In The Sky and Strange Fruit
By John Tillman

The hope of the resurrection is not just for some far off “Day of the Lord.” It is also for the here and now.

The Corinthians struggled with false teachings regarding Heaven and resurrection. Prevailing Greek philosophy taught that bodies were evil and spirit was the ultimate existence. With this belief, bodily resurrection seemed like a punishment, rather than freedom. 

Confusion about the resurrection and about Heaven are nothing new. 

There have been times when those in power misused theology about the resurrection and Heaven. Preachers at times described Heaven as a pie-in-the-sky compensation for starving masses while they themselves sat with the powerful at supper, gorging on pie in the here and now. Some pastors partnered with the powerful, holding Heaven like a carrot in front of the mules, while cruel masters wielded a whip behind. 

This kind of pie-in-the-sky teaching relied on the same un-Christian philosophies about spirit and body that Paul worked to debunk. It told the oppressed that the suffering of their bodies was acceptable, even desirable so that their souls could be saved. This twists Paul’s words in order to theologically defend keeping people in bondage and ignoring cries for justice. 

Christ enters our sufferings with us. But our suffering is not salvific and our hope is not just for after this life.

It is by Christ’s stripes we are healed, not our own. It is by Christ’s lynching, being hung on a tree, that we are saved, not our own. Christ hung on the cross is “strange fruit” from which comes the seed of the gospel

Paul teaches us that the resurrection steals the sting of earthly death and suffering. Amen. All will ultimately be set right. Amen. Righteousness will flow like a mighty stream. Amen. The trees in the kingdom of God will bear fruit that heals the nation, redeeming the “strange fruit” of oppression and hate.

But the existence of ultimate justice does not allow us to ignore calls for justice now. In every community he visited and worked in, Paul encouraged the church to work for the good of their community and to spread the gospel. Nowhere did he counsel them to sit idly to wait on the heavenly city.

The power that raised Christ from the grave is available to us through the Holy Spirit. Seeking his guidance, may we act as representatives of God’s justice, and distribute the crop of healing for the nations.

*Strange Fruit – the story behind “The Song of the Century”, by The Salt Project and WFYI

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
For who is God, but the Lord? Who is the Rock, except our God: — Psalm 18.32

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
2 Samuel 4-5 (Listen – 6:10)
1 Corinthians 15 (Listen – 8:06)

Thank You!
Thank you to our donors who support our readers by making it possible to continue The Park Forum devotionals. This year, The Park Forum audiences opened 200,000 free, and ad-free, devotional content. Follow this link to join our donors with a one-time or a monthly gift.

Read more about Chastened Towards Freedom
Christ will give an absolute and perfect restoration of all these things when Jesus comes. But in the present life, there is to be a substantial healing.

Read more about The Importance of Resurrection
If there is no resurrection, neither is there any God nor Providence, but all things are driven and borne along of themselves.

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