Outward-Focused Rhythms

Psalm 90.14
Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
   that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

Reflection: Outward-Focused Rhythms
By John Tillman

Morning routines are important and are shaped by the culture surrounding us. Londoners take, on average, 90 minutes to go from waking to walking out the door, while in Shanghai, the average person spends only 9 minutes grooming in the morning.

How we spend our first 59 waking minutes affects the rest of our day. Whether we start with a shower, or a workout, or reading, or a snooze button, the way we start our morning is important.

Our culture desires to maximize this time in monetizable ways. We often look to design habits that make our lives more productive and therefore profitable, but we don’t often design habits that make life more meaningful and therefore more satisfying. One of the reasons we may find our morning routines unfulfilling is that they typically center on ourselves.

Instead of focusing mostly on activities that are forms of self-investment, practicing daily rhythms that are rooted in Christ can take us beyond ourselves.

One way to open ourselves up is by praying for those few may be praying for—the unlovable, the unnoticed, the hurting, the hated. We lean into the love of Christ to supply ourselves with love for the unlovable and the hated. We draw up living water from the well of Christ, to pass on in Jesus’ name, to the hurting. We take hold of Christ’s light of truth, directing its caring spotlight on the unnoticed.

Jesus promised his followers a “rich and satisfying life.” This life only comes, however, to the sheep who learn the voice of Christ, the Good Shepherd. The abundant joy and fulfillment Jesus provides transcends the good days and bad days of life, by helping us transcend our fixation with ourselves.

The psalmists are also focused on being satisfied in God. Psalm 90, a psalm of Moses, pleads with God to “satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love.”

Spiritual rhythms don’t have to be practiced in the morning to be effective. (In fact, we recommend integrating spiritual practices throughout your day.) But spiritual practices flourish when connected to actions that go beyond ourselves.

Scripture reading, prayer, and reflection on the character and nature of God each morning is time well invested. Especially when the actions growing from our faith flow outward, into our community.

Prayer: Refrain for the Morning Lessons
My heart is firmly fixed, O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and make melody. — Psalm 57:7

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

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

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 Thoughts and Prayers
The kind of prayer that Paul engages in is fruitful in creating action—good desires and the deeds that follow.

Read more about Occupation of Meditation
The results of true prayer are tangible actions on our part, empowered by God to make a difference in our world.

Generational Faith Transfer

Deuteronomy 4.9
Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.

Deuteronomy 6.6-9
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Reflection: Generational Faith Transfer
By John Tillman

Moses, as he commissioned the Israelites to move in and begin to establish the nation, could see that the failure or success of the nation would depend on intergenerational transfer. In 1986, John Paul II, said, “As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live.” I would, echo that in a smaller way. As the family goes, so goes the church in which we worship.

Whether you are a parent or not, a part of every Christian’s faithfulness is to ensure that intergenerational transfer is enabled and supported by the church.

The following tips are condensed from a blog by Jason Tilley that was written specifically to be shared with parents:

Take Your Own Faith Seriously
You cannot expect your kids to see the effects of the gospel in your life if you are not pursuing God in everything you do. Spend time in God’s word, make prayer an active part of your life. Apply what you are learning to your life. Talk about God and how he influences everything in your life often and out in the open. Your kids can tell if you believe what you say you do.

Have a Plan For Your Child
Be intentional with your child’s spiritual development. Set aside time during the day to engage your child. It could be Bible reading in the morning, prayers before bedtime, a weekly walk where you talk about how God made the world, how he loves us, how he gave his son for us. Make a plan and follow it through.

Make Church Participation A Priority
Active involvement in the church is a powerful force for shaping your child’s spiritual growth. So is not participating. Your child values what you value, so if soccer practice or lazy Sunday mornings always win over going to church, don’t be surprised when they value sports over God. Between the ages of 4 and 14 what a child learns, informs their thinking for the rest of their life.

Participation involves connecting with the living body (read: the people of the church) on a regular basis. This includes (in no particular order) attending services and other programs, serving somewhere in the church, spending time with other believers, and being generous.

*For Jason’s full post see the link above the condensed section. Jason is one of our ministry partners and board members and we work with him to aid and support children’s ministers and parents. You can find more information about Jason and Ministry Accelerator at Ministry Accelerator.org.

Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Everyone will stand in awe and declare God’s deeds; they will recognize his works. — Psalm 64.9

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

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 4 (Listen – 4:33) 
Psalm 86-87 (Listen – 2:26)

This Weekend’s Readings
Deuteronomy 5 (Listen – 4:25) Psalm 88 (Listen – 1:58)
Deuteronomy 6 (Listen – 3:13) Psalm 89 (Listen – 5:29)

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 Cultivation Must Be Learned
Spiritual wisdom and knowledge, like agricultural knowledge, must be passed on, with its seeds, from one generation to the next.

Read more about A Generational Lament
For many Millennials and those in Gen Z, prior generations of prosperity and ease have melted into a constant fear of scarcity.

The Cultivating Life

Psalm 85.11-12
Faithfulness springs forth from the earth,
   and righteousness looks down from heaven.
The Lord will indeed give what is good,
   and our land will yield its harvest.

Reflection: The Cultivating Life
By John Tillman

The Lord is seeking a harvest of faithfulness from the earth. When we partner with him and cultivate the soil of our hearts, we ensure that Christ’s power will take root in us and bring forth a harvest of the fruit of the spirit.

We have written before, “cultivation is supernatural,” but the simple actions of cultivating faith are not ethereal or fanciful. They are the practical, steady doings of the farmer.

Water the ground with prayer
Praying is like watering the soil of your heart so that it doesn’t become hard and dusty and so that the things God plants there can grow.

Jesus taught his followers to pray to God as our father. It is easy to forget to converse with God like a trusted friend or a parent. Praying is also listening, so when we pray, listen—the Holy Spirit is trying to tell us something.

The Good Seed of the Bible
The Bible, the Word of God, is the good seed that God plants in us, his fields.

It is a false dichotomy to attempt to set The Holy Spirit (or Jesus) against the Bible as if we could cancel the one with the other. If Satan’s kingdom would fall when divided against itself, how much more Christ’s?

The Bible is the writing of—the very breath of—the Holy Spirit, given to the men and women who wrote the Bible. So, to hear from the Holy Spirit, the most direct method is to pick up a Bible and read.

Nourish the soil and Pollinate through corporate Worship
Many plants growing near one another will share water and nutrients with one another. Other plants, when they detect a closely related plant will put out less extensive roots, so as not to soak up all the resources for themselves.

When we gather to worship we are helping others to experience the fruit of the Spirit and to share our physical and spiritual resources.

The cultivating life is not an out of the box, pre-prepared spiritual solution. But when we keep worshiping God with others and planting the right seeds of what we learn about the Bible, and we keep watering the soil of our hearts with prayer, “faithfulness will spring up from the earth,” and “our land will yield its harvest.”

Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Sing to the Lord and bless his Name; proclaim the good news of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations and his wonders among all peoples.
For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised; he is more to be feared than all gods. — Psalm 96.2-4

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

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 3 (Listen – 4:33) 
Psalm 85 (Listen – 1:25)

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 Cultivation Is Supernatural
Truly abundant harvests aren’t accomplished by merely planting a seed. Harvest implies cultivation…Cultivation is not natural. It is supernatural.

Read more about For Sustainable Cultivation :: A Guided Prayer
A growing faith that produces a sustainable harvest is one that is cultivated. Faith that produces harvest is supernatural.

Worship and Politics

Psalm 83.17-18
May they ever be ashamed and dismayed;
   may they perish in disgrace.
Let them know that you, whose name is the Lord—
   that you alone are the Most High over all the earth.

Reflection: Worship and Politics
By John Tillman

People often complain that preachers, Christian leaders, or Christian musicians should, “stay out of politics.” This seems to only be expressed by those whose politics have been challenged on a biblical basis. I have never heard anyone say that a politically tinged sermon which agreed with their politics was “too political.”

Here, Charles Spurgeon analyzes Asaph’s Psalm 82 (which we read yesterday) but his analysis could be applied to any of Asaph’s twelve Psalms, including the ones we read today. Asaph often addresses himself to national concerns and the shortcomings of rulers. In his commentary, Spurgeon rejects the notion that “worship” must be divorced from criticizing political leaders or advocating for political causes.

“We have here a clear proof that all psalms and hymns need not be direct expressions of praise to God…the sweet singer was not forsaking his profession as a musician for the Lord, but rather was…praising God when he rebuked the sin which dishonored him, and if he was not making music, he was hushing discord when he bade rulers dispense justice with impartiality.”

The great preacher is particularly concerned with the way the government, specifically judges, should treat the poor.

“Judges shall be judged, and to justices, justice shall be meted out…Their harsh decisions…are made in the presence of him who…is the champion of the poor and needy…Look not to the interests of the wealthy whose hands proffer you bribes, but protect the rights of the needy…do not hunt down the peasant for gathering a few sticks, and allow the gentlemanly swindler to break through the meshes of the law.

Break the nets of the man-catchers…the bonds, the securities, with which cunning men capture and continue to hold in bondage the poor and the embarrassed. It is a brave thing when a judge can liberate a victim like a fly from the spider’s web, and a horrible case when magistrate and plunderer are in league. Law has too often been an instrument for vengeance in the hand of unscrupulous men, an instrument as deadly as poison or the dagger. It is for the judge to prevent such villainy.”

There is no topic outside the scope of scripture and each dominant party’s platform is anti-biblical in one area or the other. May our preachers, leaders, and singers boldly confront injustice no matter the rulers responsible.

Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Gracious and upright is the Lord; therefore he teaches sinners in his way. — Psalm 25.7

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

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 2 (Listen – 5:06) 
Psalm 83-84 (Listen – 3:20)

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 Celebrating Earthly Kingdoms
Patriotism based on national pride is an easy idol to fall victim to. So is anti-patriotism. This is true whether anti-patriotism is based on national cynicism or idolatry of party instead of nation. Christians must avoid all of these.

Read more about Who is Your King?
When God sets out to make things new, he eschews governments. He starts a family. He lifts up the outcast. He frees the slave. He gathers a community. The privilege of God’s people is not to be used, but to be loved, to love each other, and serve others with, and lead others to, that love.

Honey and Grace

Psalm 81.16
But he would feed you with the finest of the wheat,
   and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.

Reflection: Honey and Grace
By John Tillman

The honey from the rock in Psalm 81 is an image of God’s provision. Asaph is making reference to similar imagery in the Song of Moses recorded in Deuteronomy. This is the song Moses sings to the people right before his death as he passes leadership to Joshua. In the Psalm, Moses uses the image of honey from the rock to describe God’s provision for Jacob and metaphorically for Israel in their desert journey which has come to an end.

In Charles Spurgeon’s commentary on Psalm 81, he notes that, “God extracts honey out of the rock—the sweetest springs and pleasures from the hardness of afflictions; from mount Calvary and the cross, the blessings that give greatest delight; whereas the world makes from the fountains of pleasure stones and rocks of torment.”

Puritan pastor, Thomas Wilcox, also takes the image of Christ the Rock and combines it with the imagery in Psalm 81:

“If ever you saw Christ, you saw him as a Rock, higher than self-righteousness, Satan, and sin, and this Rock follows you; and there will be continual dropping of honey and grace out of that Rock to satisfy you. Examine if ever you have beheld Christ as the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. Be sure you have come to Christ, that you stand upon the Rock of Ages, and have answered His call to your soul, and have closed with Him for justification.”

The rock implies our suffering and our sojourn, but it also implies a sure foundation of Christ on which we may stand. Honey from the rock is an image of extravagance brought out of scarcity. Honey is a treat, an extra. It provides energy and health, but it, chiefly, is pleasurable and even indulgent.

The grace and mercy that we receive through the gospel of Christ is honey from the rock. It goes beyond satisfying some need or law or rule. Christ pours out, upon those who follow him, extravagant grace that goes beyond a dry court ruling of “not guilty.” It is the passionate, running embrace of a father receiving back a son from the dead.

Seek for Jesus in your pain, in your desert, in your struggle, for it is only from him that you can receive, not just sustenance, but honey from the rock.

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 Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 1 (Listen – 6:27) 
Psalm 81-82 (Listen – 2:36)

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 The Path of the Cross :: A Guided Prayer
God’s way in the world leads to the cross and through the cross to life. — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Read more about Too Good Not to Be True
Frederick Buechner challenges preachers not to shy away from the fantastic and the miraculous, but to tell the truth in all its childishness.

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