The Commission of Truth

Leviticus 5.1
If anyone sins because they do not speak up when they hear a public charge to testify regarding something they have seen or learned about, they will be held responsible.

Matthew 25.45
Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.

Reflection: The Commission of Truth
By John Tillman

The first verse in Leviticus chapter five, identifies a unique kind of sin—the sin of not testifying to the truth when it is called for.

The implication in the text is a legal one. When authorities were investigating an event, they would call for those who had knowledge of the event to come forward with information. Those who neglect this duty are partly responsible for the crime because they are not standing up for the truth.

We are called to be a testifying people, testifying not only to the truth of the gospel, but to the truth about our workplaces, our houses of worship, our houses of government, and our schools.

When leaders or organizations are under investigation, or are being accused of wrongdoing, it is common for other similar stories to come to light.

But the tendency in our culture is to only support truth-tellers when they are telling a truth that is comfortable for us to hear. We defend quickly those who accuse our political enemies of wrongdoing, but are suspicious of those accusing people or institutions we support.

What if instead of considering those voices as opportunistic attention seekers, we saw them as people answering the biblical call of Leviticus 5.1 to testify?

In response to investigations of political and religious wrongdoing, Ed Stetzer has often spoken to the Christian community reminding us that, “Facts are our friends.” He is correct, but facts are more than our friends—they are our responsibility. And not only are facts our responsibility, truth is our identity.

As children of God, and followers of Jesus who called himself, “the Truth,” we are acting according to our nature and our calling when we help facts come to light and when we stand up for truth and for truth-tellers.

Whenever the call for truth goes out, may we join Jesus in answering it.
Whenever the light of truth shines, may we never join in trying to cover up or deny what is revealed.

“There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.” Luke 12.2-3

*Tomorrow we will look at how this command relates to scripture’s realistic expectation of false accusations.

Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
I will walk in the presence of the Lord in the land of the living. — Psalm 116.8

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

Today’s Readings
Leviticus 5 (Listen – 3:35) 
Psalm 3-4 (Listen – 1:56)

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 Worst Churches in the Bible
There are many strange and unfamiliar images in Revelation that we have no context for and do not easily understand. But one that has a very familiar ring is the description of scandal-filled churches.

Read more about Degrading Each Other
“You have done it unto me.” As the #MeToo movement sweeps around the world, Jesus stands with the victims, claiming their pain as his own, identifying with their feelings of powerlessness, of isolation, and of being silenced for so long.

Blessed is the One :: A Guided Prayer

Psalm 1.1
Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked

Reflection: Blessed is the One :: A Guided Prayer
By John Tillman

As we enter our annual reading of the Psalms, we begin in prayer. Using Psalm 1 as a framework for understanding the working of the gospel in our lives.

Blessed is the One:
May we be among those who bless your name, Lord.
May we walk with you through the cheering crowds
Guiding a humble donkey that carries our king,
And also through the narrow streets of suffering, 
Carrying our cross, stepping in your bloody footprints of sacrifice.

Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord

Lord, guide our walk, day to day 
Shape our steps, words, and actions
Differentiate our gait of faith from that of the world.
May our steps follow your grace.
May our words tell of your love.
May our actions emulate your servanthood and sacrifice.

Watch over our way, Lord, but we know that we stumble…

The Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked leads to destruction…
They are like chaff
    that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand

We are not blameless. We are not righteous.
When we honestly and humbly look in our hearts we find wickedness there.
Burn up our chaff with your breath
Separate us from sin so that we will not be separated from your presence.

Blessed is the one
    whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.

We aspire, Lord, to fulfill this psalmist’s prayer.
We aspire to delight in your law.
We aspire to meditate day and night.

But we rely, Lord, not on our striving, but on Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the Blessed One, who delights in your law.
Jesus is the Blessed One, whose leaf does not wither.
We are merely grafted in branches, partaking of his righteousness.
Our fruit, our flourishing, and our faith are drawn up from his roots.
It is he who makes us prosper, and spreads the seed of his gospel over the earth.

Prayer: The Request for Presence
Give me the joy of your saving help again and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit.  —  Psalm 51.13

Today’s Readings
Leviticus 4 (Listen – 5:17) 
Psalm 1-2 (Listen – 2:05)

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 In Praise of Christ’s Righteousness
Praise God we cannot be saved by the righteousness of humans. Imagine our difficulty finding one trustworthy enough.

Read more about Steeped In Sin
We are radioactive with sin. It vibrates out of us in ways that damage and harm us and anyone we come near.

Reflecting the Unity of Christ :: Worldwide Prayer

Exodus 40.15
Their anointing will be to a priesthood that will continue throughout their generations.

John 19.15
“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.

From John:
We close this week of Lent with a prayer for unity and harmony that comes from the country of Lebanon. The book of prayers this was taken from was published in 1998, in conjunction with a worship conference in Berlin at which I was privileged to minister and attend. At that time, Lebanon was struggling with the effects of a civil war that started with sectarian violence, the effects of which are still felt today. The prayers for unity and peace coming from our brothers and sisters worshiping in places where violence is as common as bad traffic, are especially to be emulated and repeated by us, and treasured by our Heavenly Father.

Reflection: Reflecting the Unity of Christ :: Worldwide Prayer
Prayer for harmony from Lebanon

My Lord and Heavenly Father, I thank you for the opportunity of worship with members of the worldwide Christian family, across barriers of every kind that separate people and keep them apart. This reflects our unity in Christ.

Lord, when we worship together it is a revival of Pentecost, as your Holy Spirit elevates our prayers before your Holy Throne, while also making us aware of each others’ pain and suffering. Dear Lord, mold us into that perfect image that reflects the beauty of Christ in a broken world.

Bless us in our worship to feel your presence, to open our hearts and minds, to be really in touch with you. Help us not to wander away from your presence.

May each one of us really feel your powerful love so that we can share it with others. Help us to share the blessings of knowing you with others and be at peace with you and with each other.

In Jesus’ Holy name we lift our voices of praise with thankfulness.

*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 Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Let not those who hope in your 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

Today’s Readings
Exodus 40 (Listen – 4:07)
John 19 (Listen – 6:23)

This Weekend’s Readings
Leviticus 1 (Listen – 2:37) John 20 (Listen – 4:17)
Leviticus 2-3 (Listen – 4:43) John 21 (Listen – 3:58)

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 Blossoming of Joy in Adversity
We find examples of joy under persecution and difficulty in Jesus, Peter, John, Paul, and many others in scripture. But examples are also blossoming amidst persecution around the world.

Read more about The Wrong Fear
Christian thought has always been extremist thought. It is a revolutionary rejection of the world’s power structure. Jesus was crucified for extremist thought. It was Christian extremist thought that brought down slavery.

What Is Persecution? :: Throwback Thursday

John 18.23

“If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?”

From John:
Richard Baxter knew a thing or two about persecution—especially persecution of Christians by other Christians. As a moderate during the English Civil war he found himself persecuted by both extremes, including being barred from preaching (he preached anyway) and being imprisoned in 1665 for 18 months.

As we have pointed out earlier, many of the tenets of religious liberty so cherished in Western Democracy came about from the great need for Christians to be protected from persecution by other Christians. Whenever we consider issues of persecution and religious liberty, we need to reflect that it is, in great part, the sins of the church that have made religious liberty so important.

“In necessary things, unity; in doubtful things, liberty; in all things, charity.”  — Richard Baxter

Reflection: What Is Persecution? :: Throwback Thursday
By Richard Baxter (1615-1691)

Three things then go to make up persecution.

1. That it be the hurting of another, in his body, liberty, relations, estate, or reputation.

2. That it be done injuriously, to one undeserving.

3. That it be for the cause of religion or of righteousness, that is, for the truth of God which we hold or utter; or for the worship of God which we perform; or for obedience to the will of God revealed in his laws.

There are divers sorts of persecutions.

There is a persecution which is openly professed to be for the cause of religion, and there is a hypocritical persecution when the pretended cause is some odious crime, but the real cause is religion, or obedience to God. This is the common persecution, which nominal Christians exercise on serious Christians, or on one another.

It is a sign of great uncharitableness and cruelty, when men can find in their hearts to persecute others for little things; and it is a sign of a heart that is true to God, and very sincere, when we would rather suffer any thing from man, than renounce the smallest truth of God, or commit the smallest sin against him, or omit the smallest duty, when it is a duty.

Persecution is a far more heinous sin in a professed Christian, than in a non-believer. For they do it according to the darkness of their education, and the interest of their party, and the principles of their own beliefs. But for a Christian to persecute Christianity, and one that professes to believe the gospel, to persecute the preachers and serious followers of the doctrine of the gospel; this is so near that sin which is commonly said to be the unpardonable sin against the Holy Ghost, that it is not easy to perceive a difference. If I did consent to that description of the unpardonable sin, I should have little hope of the conversion of any one of these. They make up such a mixture of hypocrisy, and impiety, and cruelty, as shows them to exceed all ordinary sinners, in malignity and misery.

Lastly, remember that Christ takes all that is done by persecutors against his servants for his cause, to be done as to himself, and will accordingly in judgment charge it on them. Remember, that it is Christ, whom they hate, deride, and persecute.

*Edited for length and language updated. A Sum of Practical Theology and Cases of Conscience, Richard Baxter

Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
The Lord has pleasure in those who fear him, in those who await his gracious favor.  — Psalm 147.12

Today’s Readings
Exodus 39 (Listen – 5:24)
John 18 (Listen – 5:16)

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 Richard Baxter: Lament the Effects of Hard-Heartedness
Take notice of the doleful effects of hard-heartedness in the world. This fills the world with wickedness and confusion, with wars and bloodshed; and leaves it under that lamentable desertion and delusion, which we see in the majority of the earth.

Read more from Richard Baxter: Theology is Like a Watch
Baxter refers to theology as an intricate watch—meaningless unless all the parts are in proper order: “…you must see that every part is in its proper place, or else it will not go.”

Mirrors and Sanctification

Exodus 38.8
They made the bronze basin and its bronze stand from the mirrors of the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting.

Reflection: Mirrors and Sanctification
By John Tillman

The first observation from today’s reading is that the women serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting gave up valuable hand-held devices, polished brass mirrors, to create a basin for ceremonial cleansing used by priests entering the tent of meeting. The modern analogy is obvious.

Can we be persuaded to give up, even for a short period of time, the valuable hand-held devices that reflect back to ourselves so much about us?

We pour our identity into our devices, and they give us back a river of reflective content. They show us an irresistible, aspirational self-portrait—just click “add to cart.” They sing us a song composed by an algorithm that knows us better than ourselves through granular data culled from our wants, lusts, and preferences.

Narcissus never faced such a captivating image. Sailors never heard such siren songs. No wonder we find it hard to turn away. No wonder we steer inexorably closer to shore.

It is appropriate that mirrors were transformed and used for ceremonial cleansing. Confession is self-reflective. May we follow the example of these women to transform our use of technology for spiritual purposes. May our devices cease to be vehicles of vanity or vain pursuits, but basins of reflective repentance and redemption.

The second observation today, is that the women who gave these gifts served in a special position at the entrance to the tent of meeting. Some, unwilling to admit that these women have a legitimate role in the tabernacle, translate the Hebrew tsaba’ as “assembled” rather than “served.” But even when tsaba’ is translated as assembled in other places, it is still in the context of official service, usually conscripted military service as in Jeremiah 52.25. Tsaba’s most common translation is to fight or defend.

Regardless of what their exact duties were, these women were not randomly gathering around the entrance. They were assembled for a purpose. Tsaba’ implies that they served in an official capacity and were conscripted in a manner similar to Levites or soldiers.

No one is exempt from being conscripted to serve, calling our communities to enter in and meet with Christ. Being sanctified through the washing of the Word, as with the water of the basin, is a prerequisite to our ministry.

Sanctify and transform your technology in ways that deliver the word of God to you. Our devotionals are just one part of that. Seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance to transform your interactions with all the technology you encounter.

Prayer: The Request for Presence
Send out your light and your truth, that they may lead me, and bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling;
That I may go to the altar of God, to the God of my joy and gladness; and on the harp I will give thanks to you, O God my God.  — Psalm 43.3-4

Today’s Readings
Exodus 38 (Listen – 4:23)
John 17 (Listen – 3:40)

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 from Where Judgment Falls
Eli’s sons were corrupt in the extreme. They stole from the offerings of the people, committing financial sins and threatening violence toward those who objected. They used their spiritual positions of power to manipulate and pressure women at the tabernacle for sexual favors.

Read more about Further up, Further in
In Christ, there is no priestly barrier—all are priests with him as our high priest. There is no genealogical barrier, for we are made sons and daughters in Christ. In Christ, there is not male or female, but we are one in him. In Christ there is no abled or disabled, for our weaknesses are transformed in his glory. In Christ racial barriers are destroyed and the division of Babel is reversed. In Christ nationalism is meaningless for we serve a King of Kings and have citizenship in a higher kingdom.