Choose to Hope in the Cross—Readers’ Choice

Selected by reader, GT, Dallas
This post came out shortly after we started working from home this year and not only work restrictions, but ministry restrictions were tightened. I read, and was reminded, that in all times, through all things, our Hope is in Christ. I forwarded this on to some missionaries I work with to help encourage them. To this time they have continued to follow His leading and have continued wonderful ministry in the midst of it all because of Christ. Thanks!

Originally published, March 19, 2020, based on readings from Proverbs 6 & Galatians 5.

Scripture Focus: Galatians 5.5-6
For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope…The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

Luke 23.42
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

From John: The very thing the disciples despaired at, became the source of hope amidst any despair—the cross. In this time when many are despairing, our source of hope is still the cross. Those who have ears to hear, let them hear, that hope is hidden in the despair of the cross. 

Reflection: Choose to Hope in the Cross—Readers’ Choice
By Matt Tullos

Hope: When we look toward the constructs of eternity and find our true selves apart from our feeble flesh.

The two thieves represent two choices. One thief demands proof. The other pleads for hope. One looks to escape and the other looks to eternity. These choices stand as constant reminders that the cross of Christ demands a response.

Hope is personal. Very personal. Whether through worship, adversity, desperation or pain, we collide into the reality that our only hope is Jesus.

We can’t hope eternally in friends. Friends will fail us.

We can’t hope in institutions. Institutions over the course of eternity will evaporate like the ephemeral mist of the morning dew.

We can’t hope in hidden treasures. All treasures, short of grace, are water through our fingers.
We can’t hope in flowery platitudes because there will be a day when they will all wilt upon the parched, unforgiving soil of our brokenness.

Our hope is in the One who suffers next to us and says, “Today, you will be with me in paradise.” This glimpse of the cross reflects the absolute power of grace to snatch anyone from the jaws of destruction.

Was there anything the thief could do? Absolutely nothing. He couldn’t start a small group, feed the poor, go to the synagogue or study the scriptures. He found himself at the end of his life and the only thing he could do was to confess his sin and cry out to Jesus.

“Hope is the word which God has written on the brow of every man.”
— Victor Hugo

Hope was born on the cross.
Because hope was born we don’t have to be ashamed because he bore our shame.
Because hope was born we don’t have to constantly obsess about whether we could be good enough because He is our righteousness.
Because hope was born we are free.
Because hope was born we have purpose.
Because hope was born we are going to be okay.
And that’s worth celebrating!

Celebrate this scene of the darkest day! Grace rules even when we have no more time. Grace ruled the day then and now.

Have you ever felt like God has forgotten you?
What do you hope God will restore in your family, your heart, your church or your life?
Where is your hope waning?

*From a series Matt Tullos wrote called 39 Words. A few of these posts are available in audio form via Soundcloud.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Let not those who hope in you  be put to shame through me, Lord God of hosts; let not those who seek you be disgraced because of me O God of Israel. — Psalm 69.7– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Lamentations 5 (Listen – 2:03)
Psalm 36 (Listen – 1:29)

This Weekends’s Readings

Ezekiel 1 (Listen – 4:47), Psalm 37 (Listen – 4:21)
Ezekiel 2  (Listen – 1:38), Psalm 38 (Listen – 2:14)

Read more about Supporting our Work
The Park Forum is grateful to our donors who enable us to provide short, smart, engaging, biblical content to people across the world for free with no ads.

Read more about Peace in Crisis
Acting with prudent caution, we can fearlessly engage to aid our cities and communities, loving and serving with abandon.

Seeking Silence—Readers’ Choice

Selected by reader, Jon Polk, Hong Kong
In our hectic lives today, silence is rare. Can you remember the last time you sat for 15 minutes in silence to listen to the voice of God as this article suggests? I’m not sure I can either. This sad reality is to our detriment. We all need this reminder to put down the phone, turn off the news, shut down the browser and rediscover the spiritual discipline of silence. Not an empty silence, of course, but a silence that enables us to tune our hearts to listening close to the still, small voice of God.

Originally published, March 5, 2020, based on readings from Job 34 & 2 Corinthians 4.

Scripture Focus: 2 Corinthians 4.18
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Reflection: Seeking Silence—Readers’ Choice
By Matt Tullos

The sole cause of man’s unhappiness is he does not know how to stay quietly in his room. — Blaise Pascal

My wife and kids were away the night a violent thunderstorm hit our town and the electricity went out. At that moment I was watching a football game, scanning twitter, and listening to music.

When darkness arrived in a split second I realized that the battery on my iPhone was almost gone. A brief moment of panic ensued. I realized that in a matter of minutes I would be thrust into the lifestyle millions of people enjoyed in the 1800s!

The silence and lack of media connection was unnerving at first. It was then that I sensed the presence of God speaking to me about my addiction to noise. After 15 minutes I had rediscovered the beauty of silence.

These days, silence is something we must fight to achieve, but it is definitely worth the fight. The National Center of Biotechnology stated in a study that two minutes of silence is more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music, based on changes in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain.

However, this is not new knowledge for people of the Book. The Bible urges us to experience silence as a spiritual discipline.

Every day we are faced with the choice of constant communication, noise and blather or intentional, Jesus-focused silence.

Don’t wait for a power outage in order to spend time in silence. God might be trying to tell you something but all the ambient noise and entertainment leaves you deaf to His voice.
I believe we would be astounded by all God wants to say to us and yet He never gets a chance because of our preoccupation with news, messages, conversations and entertainment. Silence isn’t just golden, it is godly.

Ask yourself, “How am I seeking silence in my day?” and “Why is constant communication and auditory stimulation so addictive?”

Take time to spend 15 minutes in silence today. Allow God to speak into your soul.

Editor’s Note: Fasts of many different kinds are common during the Lenten season. In our modern world a fast from certain aspects of technology might be as important as any other type of fasting.

We pray that our fasting would not be merely self-improvement or self-fulfillment, but instead, a process of self-denial, seeking of God, and blessing of others. — John

Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting
The Lord lives! Blessed is my Rock! Exalted is the God of my salvation! — Psalm 18.46

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Lamentations 4 (Listen – 3:42)
Psalm 35 (Listen – 3:21)

Read more about Supporting our Work
The Park Forum is grateful to our donors who enable us to provide short, smart, engaging, biblical content to people across the world for free with no ads.

Read more about From Silence, Peace
The God who turned his back, came back. He came to speak peace to the people who had chosen death instead of life.

A Tale of Two Kings—Readers’ Choice

Selected by reader, Michelle Perez, NYC
This devotional hit me (and several of my friends) squarely in the face because we were all guilty of gathering all the day’s negative information and then trying to “fix our own problems” by incessant complaining to each other making us all feel worse than before. We were taking much of God’s to-do list and putting it on our own lists. This devotional directly and lovingly addressed what we are to do in these times: we are to humble ourselves and ask God for help and comfort.  We are to invite Him to take on our burdens and rest in Him. Simply, we are to trust Him. The inclusion of the link “A liturgy for those flooded by too much information” found in the body of the devotional was an added blessing. 

Originally published, June 5, 2020, based on readings from Isaiah 37 & Revelation 7.

Scripture Focus: Isaiah 37:14-20
14 Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord. 15 And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord:16 “Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 17 Give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see; listen to all the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God.

18 “It is true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste all these peoples and their lands.19 They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. 20 Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, Lord, are the only God.”

Reflection: A Tale of Two Kings—Readers’ Choice
By Joshua B. Fikkert

What is the first thing you do when you are in a crisis? 

If you are like me, your first instinct is to seek a solution on your own, and you exhaust yourself thinking through every possible solution, plan, or contingency to fix the problem. This stubborn desire to fix our own problems is rooted in our chief sin of pride, our desire to be like God (Genesis 3:5-6).

The book of Isaiah brilliantly demonstrates the destructive nature of pride and the power of humility in the stories of King Ahaz and of his son, King Hezekiah. Ahaz’s pride created a generational catastrophe, which Hezekiah was forced to deal with. 

When faced with the threat of foreign invasion, Ahaz looked for a tangible solution of his own making. In spite of Isaiah’s insistence that God would save Judah, Ahaz begged for help from Assyria to deliver them. (Isaiah 7:10-12).

The result of Ahaz’s pride was devastating. Instead of helping Ahaz, Assyria defeated Judah’s enemies and then turned on Judah, forcing them into servitude (2 Kings 16:10-18). 

After Ahaz’s death, Hezekiah was left to handle the crisis created by his father’s pride. The Assyrian army surrounded Jerusalem, and destruction was certain. But unlike Ahaz, Hezekiah did not seek a solution of his own making. He humbled himself and sought divine aid. He asked for Isaiah to pray on his behalf (Isaiah 37:2), he sought the presence of God in the temple, and he came before the Lord in prayer. 

The humble prayer of Hezekiah proved powerful and effective. God answered his prayer, and Judah was spared by a mighty act of divine grace (Isaiah 37:36-37). 

When we face trials of various kinds, we must resist the temptation to take matters into our own hands. We must resist the allure of pride, which tells us we can fix our problems on our own. 

We know we have a God who answers and who delivers his people from trouble. We have a God who saves. Therefore, our first response, no matter what the crisis is, should be to call on the name of the Lord. Petitioning for God’s help is not our last resort. It is the first one. 

Let us cast “the burdens of this world upon the strong shoulders of the one who alone is able to bear them up” (Douglas McKelvey, “A Liturgy For Those Flooded By Too Much Information”).

*We will forgo the Divine Hours prayer today, replacing it with a quote from the prayer by Douglas McKelvey quoted above.

“…remind us that we are but small
and finite creatures, never designed to carry
the vast abstractions of great burdens,
for our arms are too short and our strength
is too small. Justice and mercy, healing and
redemption, are your great labors.”

Today’s Readings
Jeremiah 35 (Listen – 3:43)
Psalms 7-8 (Listen – 2:58)

This Weekend’s Readings
Jeremiah 36 (Listen – 5:54) Psalms 9 (Listen – 2:21)
Jeremiah 37 (Listen – 3:25) Psalms 10 (Listen – 2:13)

Read more about The Losers Who Write History
Scripture, especially when it comes to the prophets, passes the microphone to the losers of history.

#ReadersChoice is time for you to share favorite Park Forum posts from the year.
What post helped you pray more frequently?

The Hope of Lament

Today’s is the last post in this year’s Student Writers Month series. Please let us know how you have enjoyed the Student Writers Month devotionals and what month in 2021 you would like to see us repeat this program. Email us with “Student Writers Month Feedback” in the subject line at

Student Writers Month has been a program welcoming ministry-focused college and seminary students from around the country and overseas to write for The Park Forum. Students who participated are pursuing a career in ministry and received free coaching on their writing as a part of the program. For more information about the program and a profile of each of our student writers, visit our Student Writers Month page.

Today’s student writer is Philip Cox, a student at Charles Sturt University.

Scripture Focus: Isaiah 63:11-13, 16-17
11 Then he remembered the days of old,
of Moses and his people.
Where is he who brought them up out of the sea
with the shepherds of his flock?
Where is he who put in the midst of them
his Holy Spirit,
12 who caused his glorious arm
to go at the right hand of Moses,
who divided the waters before them
to make for himself an everlasting name,
13 who led them through the depths?

16 For you are our Father,
though Abraham does not know us,
and Israel does not acknowledge us;
you, O LORD, are our Father,
our Redeemer from of old is your name.
17 O LORD, why do you make us wander from your ways
and harden our heart, so that we fear you not?
Return for the sake of your servants,
the tribes of your heritage.

Reflection: The Hope of Lament
By Philip Cox

Even in times of unrest, pain, and brokenness, for many modern Christians, the practice of corporate lament might seem overly emotional, depressing, or even inappropriate. Statements of doubt or despair are often seen as a deficiency in our faith. However, Isaiah, as in many other passages (cf. Pss. 44, 74, 80, 83, 90, 94; Lam 5), shows quite the opposite. 

After the triumphant opening of Isaiah 63, verses 7-19 take an abrupt turn and begin Isaiah’s intercessory prayer and lament over Israel’s long cycle of rebellious actions and apostasy. As Isaiah takes up the role of the “watchman” from 62:6, it is precisely his faith-filled remembrance of Israel’s deliverance which gives him the boldness to now question “Where is God?” (vv. 11-14).  

Lament not only reveals a deep trust in God but, as scholar N.T. Wright explored recently in TIME Magazine, connects us with the very heart of God, who also laments over the fractured state of His creation. 

Multiple times Isaiah exclaims, “You are our father” (63:7-64:12). His use of “father” and “holy habitation” together (v.15) echoes the psalmist who calls YHWH the “Father of orphans and protector of widows…in his holy habitation” (Ps. 68:5-6). Isaiah poetically describes Israel as orphans, a people disowned and forgotten by their forefathers, Abraham, and Israel (v.15-16). Isaiah petitions God to remember His responsibility as the caretaker for the weak and vulnerable. 

These 2500-year-old words still ring out urgently and prophetically for us today. 

Biblical lament is not expressing a gripe or complaint. Complaining arises from a mindset of scarcity that believes God is withholding his goodness. In contrast, lament is anchored in the confidence of God’s abundant goodness (Ps. 23:1). Therefore, lament holds to account what is chaotic and fractured in our world while maintaining hope in God’s commitment to redeem all things (Eph 7-10; Col. 1:19-20; Rev. 21:4-6). 

We are beckoned through Isaiah’s communal lament to look toward God and our hurting world and say as the family of God, “We have sinned!” We, as God’s image-bearers, have a divine task to act as God’s representatives in the world. This begins by cultivating an environment of shalom through protecting those trampled by the empires and systems of this world. 

As we expectantly lament the age-old question “Where is God?”, God comes to us as He did to Adam asking, “Where are you?”. 

Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Jesus said: (to Martha) “‘I am the resurrection. Anyone who believes in me, even though that person dies, will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ she said. ‘I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world.’” — John 11.25-27

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Isaiah 63 (Listen – 3:25)
Matthew 11 (Listen – 4:06)

Read more about Lamenting With Job :: Guided Prayer
Lament is a powerful prayer that connects us to God…lament can swallow up complaining in our lives.

Read more about A Generational Lament
Prayers of lament and complaint are a healthy and fulfilling spiritual practice that can be entered into by individuals and communities.

Lovingly Named

We are happy to welcome ministry-focused college and seminary students from around the country and overseas to write in June of 2020 for The Park Forum. Each of them is pursuing a career in ministry and received free coaching on their writing as a part of the program. For more information about the program and a profile of each of our student writers, visit our Student Writers Month page.

Today’s student writer is Carolyn Soto Jackson, a student at Truett Seminary.

Scripture Focus: Isaiah 62:3-5
3 You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand,
    a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
4 No longer will they call you Deserted,
    or name your land Desolate.
But you will be called Hephzibah,
    and your land Beulah;
for the Lord will take delight in you,
    and your land will be married.
5 As a young man marries a young woman,
    so will your Builder marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
    so will your God rejoice over you.

Reflection: Lovingly Named
By Carolyn Soto Jackson

Falling in love is often described as a feeling of euphoria with an entertaining sense of exhilaration and confusion all at the same time. We are swooped up into another individual’s life and we want nothing more than to spend every waking moment together. Loneliness and emptiness give way to affection and adoration. Passionate glances and charming pet names like “baby” and “sweetheart” make us blush. 

Yet, the Lord’s delight in us is so much more triumphant than our human pleasures. Christ’s love is immeasurable and unfathomable. Christ takes great pleasure in his Beloved and he calls us by a new name. Our joy cannot be contained when we relish God’s love for us. Our jubilant responses include knees buckling in worship, tear-filled eyes, singing praises of his name, and hearts filled with rapturous, unconditional love. 

This is a love many do not ever encounter. 

Unlike human love which diminishes when we fall into sin, our God declares us his Beloved and patiently woos us back. 

Oh, what great love he lavishes upon us. 

Since the beginning of time, God stated he would not be still or rest until glory, righteousness, and salvation were established in Israel. Our Lord promised to continue working on Israel’s restoration despite their sinful ways. He did not give up on them nor will he give up on us now.

Their land, which was once described as forsaken and deserted, God christened as “My Delight is in Her” and “Your Land Married”. These new alluring names, Beulah and Hephzibah were bestowed upon Zion as a bridegroom would speak to his bride on their wedding night. Unlike the romantic love we have here on earth, God’s raw and tender agape love creates a longing within us to hear those names fall from His lips. No pet name will ever compare to the desirous names given to us by God. 

Our loyal, generous God pulls back the veil of his bride and rejoices tenderly as a newly wedded husband would do. 

Our God is faithful, even when we are not. He restores even when we rebel. Day after day, he delights in you and he delights in me. 

God brought us all out of a desolate place, rescuing us from death and destruction. So make yourself ready, wear your finest and brightest linens, for the time of the wedding is near.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
Show your goodness, O Lord, to those who are good and to those who are true of heart. — Psalm 125.4

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Isaiah 62 (Listen – 2:09)
Matthew 10 (Listen – 5:10)

Read more about His Loving Presence
Jesus chooses messy companionship over perfect solitude. He is the God who risks pain and death to gain our fickle friendship and vacillating love.

Read more about Realizing the Power of Love
The selflessness of God’s love in us, and the actions that should flourish from it have the power, with the Holy Spirit, to change our world.

Spur a spiritual rhythm of refreshment right in your inbox
By joining this email list you are giving us permission to send you devotional emails each weekday and to communicate occasionally regarding other aspects of the ministry.
100% Privacy. We don't spam.