Morning Rhythms

June3

Psalm 90.14
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. 

recent study reveals it takes 90 minutes for the average Londoner to transition from bed to walking out the door each morning. The average resident of Shanghai invests just 9 minutes grooming for the day, while two thirds of Parisian women apply makeup and perfume each day.

On the other hand, only fifty six percent of New Yorkers shower each day (rush hour subway, anyone?). For those who do, showering and grooming averages 30 minutes each morning.

Few people practice ideal morning rhythms. Looking at New Yorkers alone, 59% say it’s important to exercise in the morning — just 16% do. For those with children, 77% say morning playtime is important — only 21% engage in it. 

The number one place for New Yorkers to self-reflect is the shower (let’s face it, it’s the only place we’re consistently alone), but stress, problem solving, and scheduling too easily consume reflection time. If we’re honest it’s far too easy to invest a disproportionate amount of time in the morning focusing only on ourselves.

Psalm 90.14 records a simple and beautiful prayer, “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love.” The Psalmist longed for a joy that would be present in the good and bad of life. He knew this kind of transcendent joy could be found in one source alone: satisfaction in the love of God — every morning. 

Scripture reading, prayer, and reflection on the character and nature of God each morning is time well invested. Morning rhythms rooted in Christ move us beyond ourselves opening up time to pray for people who may not have anyone else praying for them, and centering our lives on the only source that delivers what we need most.

Prayer
God, satisfy us with your love — let us long for nothing else, as you are what we need the most each day; may everything in our life be what you want. Provide what we truly need today. Give us your wonderful grace and allow us to extend that grace to those who hurt us. Lead us in your ways, God, and remove evil from our heart, mind, and life.

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 7 (Listen – 4:13)
Psalm 90 (Listen – 2:03)

Investing With Your Life
Part 3 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org

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The Gospel Is Lasting, Not Fleeting

June2

Psalm 89.1
I will sing of the steadfast love of the LORD, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations. 

Ina Drew invested over $350 billion throughout the course of her career as the Chief Investment Officer at JPMorgan Chase. She is remembered, in the New York Times Magazine’s words, as “the public face attached to a $6 billion mistake, a trading loss so startling in size that it dominated the business press, put [CEO Jamie] Dimon on the defensive and cost Drew her job.”

One headhunter noted that her fall is just part of the process: “That’s what they pay you so much money for. To take the fall when things go wrong.” Careers and incomes are fleeting. We can hold the economic lever for a major bank one day and take the fall for its loss a few months later. 

Although God has not promised to make us C-level executives, He has promised — through David — to make us co-heirs with Christ, who sits on the throne forever.

Psalm 89 celebrates God’s covenant with David and begs Him to apply that covenant to David’s descendants: “You have said, ‘I have made a covenant with my chosen one; I have sworn to David my servant: ‘I will establish your offspring forever, and build your throne for all generations.’” 

Since David was already dead when the psalmist wrote this psalm, we know that he himself was claiming that the covenantal promises made to David applied to him, too: “Lord, where is your steadfast love of old, which by your faithfulness you swore to David?”

The gospel is not merely that Jesus lived and died; it is also that he was resurrected from the dead and glorified. Today, he sits at the right hand of the Father, where he lives to intercede for us. This is the gospel, and it is lasting.

Prayer
Lord, the circumstances of our lives are constantly changing. Yet we do not react to our uncertainties with fear, hoarding our resources and being timid about the gospel. Instead, we react with faith, knowing that we have the unchanging covenantal love that you made to David and kept in Christ. Therefore, we claim your promises – that goodness and mercy will follow us all our days and that you will make us co-heirs in Christ to that covenant promise to David if we seek our satisfaction in you. Amen.

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 6 (Listen – 3:13)
Psalm 89 (Listen – 5:29)

Investing With Your Life
Part 2 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org

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Where We Turn in Times of Crisis

June1

Psalm 88.1
O LORD, God of my salvation; I cry out day and night before you. 

Halfway through the winter of 2009 construction crews worked to dig a parking garage under a 13 story apartment building in Shanghai. The workers, mostly untrained migrants, had dumped tons of excavated dirt on the bank of a nearby creek. What happened next was was likely a result of unfavorable winds, soft soil from unseasonably high amounts of rain, and the creek bank collapsing under the weight of the dirt.

Photos from the site are arresting. A nearly intact 13 story building lays on its side — as if a toddler had knocked over her dollhouse. Fortunately, because construction was incomplete, there were no tenants in the building and only one person lost their life in the tragedy — a remarkably low number based off the size of the building.

Weak foundations lead to catastrophic events.

Psalm 88 is a desperate cry to God in the midst of catastrophic events. Charles Spurgeon called it “the darkest of psalms.” The psalmist pleads with God, “Let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry!”

Spurgeon continues, “It is a sorrowful wail, and it comes to a close when you do not expect it to finish. It really has no finish to it, as when men wind up their songs with proper finales; but it is broken off, like a lily snapped at the stalk.”

The psalmist pours his pain and frustration before God in prayer. “Prayer is always best when it rises to pleading,” Spurgeon concludes. “The man who understands the sacred art of prayer becomes a special pleader with God.”

Even in the seconds before the building in Shanghai fell over it would have looked no different from the other two buildings on site. The outside architecture was nearly complete. The paint color naturally complemented existing structures. And the view of the city from the top floors would have been wonderful. 

The foundation was built on shifting sands.

We can attempt to solve life’s disappointments and crises with emotional strength or shear will. But it’s in our relationship with God through Christ’s sacrifice, our prayer and worship, the community of believers, and the scriptures that we find the foundation which can sufficiently support a thriving life.

Prayer
Father though this world will fail us, you have proven your steadfast ever-pursuing love. Help us to invest our lives in you — our great hope, our joy, our freedom and our life.

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 5 (Listen – 4:25)
Psalm 88 (Listen – 1:58)

Investing With Your Life
Part 1 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org

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Why Hell Persists

May29

Psalm 83.1
Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Selah 

In The Problem of Pain C.S. Lewis says he would pay any price to remove the doctrine of hell because of its difficulty — to teach, understand, and grasp as reality. A few pages later he reveals the startling reality about hell that is often overlooked:

“I said glibly a moment ago that I would ‘pay any price’ to remove this doctrine. I lied. I could not pay one-thousandth part of the price that God has already paid to remove the fact. And here is the real problem:

“So much mercy, yet still there is hell.”

Heaven and hell, for Lewis, were destinations for courses set in this lifetime. Good people aren’t simply people who are morally superior, but people who have found their life in Christ. Bad people are those who have rejected their greatest good — the love of God.

“Both processes begin even before death,” Lewis said of heaven and hell in The Great Divorce. “The good man’s past begins to change so that his forgiven sins and remembered sorrows take on the quality of Heaven: the bad man’s past already conforms to his badness and is filled only with dreariness.

“And that is why, at the end of all things, when the sun rises here and the twilight turns to blackness down there, the Blessed will say, ‘We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven,’ and the Lost, ‘We were always in Hell.’ And both will speak truly.”

It’s difficult to embrace the reality that present choices have effects that extend beyond our present world. This is one of the chief reasons we need God’s grace every moment of every day.

The cruciform life — of laying down our selfish desires, self-interest, and pride as we follow in humble obedience — requires extraordinary grace and rigorous discipline.

“If Christianity was something we were making up, of course, we could make it easier. But it is not,” Lewis concludes in Mere Christianity. “We cannot compete, in simplicity, with people who are inventing religions. How could we? We are dealing with Fact. Of course anyone can be simple if he has no facts to bother about.”

Prayer

Father, we pray for your grace on our lives and the lives of those who reject you. Show us your mercy. Use us as instruments of your love so that those around us experience you in profound, even if simple, ways. 

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 2 (Listen – 5:05)
Psalms 83-84 (Listen – 3:20)

Life and Death Apart from God
Part 5 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org

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This Weekend’s Readings
Saturday: Deuteronomy 3 (Listen – 4:33); Psalm 85 (Listen – 1:25)
Sunday: Deuteronomy 4 (Listen – 7:22); Psalms 86-87 (Listen – 2:16)

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Fearless in Judgment

May28

Psalm 82.1
God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment: 

TBT: Fearless in Judgment | by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

First, let us consider the assurance that there is a moral government. There is a Judge over the race of men: we are not as the locusts, of whom Solomon says that they have no king.

That being announced, we have to go on to say that there will be a day of final account. I need not stop to quote the numerous passages of Scripture which assert that every one of us must give an account of himself before God, for “we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.”

All reasonable persons will conclude that there must be a judgment, if they will only consider the character of God. Being the ruler of the world, he must do justice. We should count any man who was made a king but a miserable counterfeit of a monarch if he never administered justice at all. 

There will come a day in which he will judge the acts of men, because his character is not such that he could or would trifle with evil. “Be not deceived, God is not mocked; whatsoever a man sow, that shall he shall also reap.” He will “render to every man according to his deeds.”

And O, my brothers and sisters, you all know how quickening this doctrine is to Christians. We do not fear the day of judgment; we do not dread the thought of standing before our Lord Jesus, because we have a plea which we know will answer every purpose. 

Our plea is this: we have been tried, condemned, and punished already. Behold, in your hands the nail-prints which are the witnesses that you bore our sins in your own body on the tree. Behold, at your side you wear the ruby gem which tells how thine own heart made expiation for the guilt of all that trust in thee. 

We are not afraid, for there is no judgment for him who is judged already, no punishment for him who is punished already in a Substitute whom God has accepted. Yet this expectation of judgment quickens us to holy duty; we feel that since the Master comes we would be as men that look for their Lord, and stand with our loins girded, doing service, expecting to hear his footstep at any moment.

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 1 (Listen – 6:27)
Psalms 81-82 (Listen – 1:42)

Life and Death Apart from God
Part 4 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org

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