Cultivating Daily Bread

Luke 11.11-12
Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?

Reflection: Cultivating Daily Bread
By John Tillman

What we think of as “daily bread” in affluent cultures is wealth beyond imagining in much of the world. Our lust for affluence has only grown more sharp-fanged since Richard Foster wrote about it in Celebration of Discipline in 1978:

“The lust for affluence in contemporary society is psychotic…because it has completely lost touch with reality. We crave things we neither need nor enjoy…Where planned obsolescence leaves off, psychological obsolescence takes over. We are made to feel ashamed to wear clothes or drive cars until they are worn out. The mass media have convinced us that to be out of step with fashion is to be out of step with reality.”

Our disenchantment with prayer is not that we ask our Heavenly Father for daily bread, or a fish, or an egg, and he reneges. Our problem is that we ask our Heavenly Father for snakes and scorpions and then are upset when we don’t receive them.

Daily bread does include that which is required to sustain our lives. But daily bread is about more than sustaining our physical life. It is about sustaining our spiritual life. Daily bread refers to a daily need for God and purposely highlights the need for spiritual disciplines that are required for us to grow in faith. 

Bread was a common symbol in Jewish culture of God’s Word and of spiritual nourishment and spiritual health. The purpose of food is growth and healthful energy. Our health and spiritual energy will be affected by our spiritual diet.

When it comes to our spiritual diet, we too often rely on packaged and processed foods eaten with little thought or art in preparation. In many ways, our spiritual health will benefit if we live less as spiritual content consumers and more as spiritual subsistence farmers—eating out of our own garden. 

What maintains our spiritual health? The spiritual food we eat.
What are we eating? We eat what we have reaped.
What are we reaping? We reap what we have sowed.
What are we sowing?  We are sowing the seeds we cultivate.

We pray that you will use the reflections we bring you each day to plant, tend, and cultivate God’s Word in your life.

Prayer: The Greeting
Therefore my heart sings to you without ceasing; O Lord my God, I will give your thanks for ever.

Today’s Readings
Exodus 8 (Listen – 5:07) 
Luke 11 (Listen – 7:33)

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 Cultivation Means Tending
The gospel is a seed from the first garden, the garden of Eden. The seed of the woman, Jesus himself, is our salvation and we plant this seed in our own hearts.

Read more about Cultivation Is Supernatural
Harvest implies cultivation, but when it comes to faith, too many of us are hunter-gatherers.

An Amazed Faith :: Worldwide Prayer

Luke 8.25
“Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.
In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”

Reflection: An Amazed Faith :: Worldwide Prayer
By John Tillman

We can become complacent about Christ’s nature. The disciples did. Being so close to him—seeing him sweat, and eat, and wearily lie down to sleep in the back of the boat—they often saw only the man. But in the storm, they see him for who he is.

Seeing Jesus truly is always shocking. No matter how great a grasp of the incarnation we think we have, our intellectualism has a hard time grappling with Jesus rebuking the wind and waves. 

A Jesus this powerful is frightening. If he rebukes the wind and waves what about us? 

He might ask us to do…anything. He might send us to save…anyone. He might ask us to give…everything.

This prayer of redemption confesses our position, and expresses wonder and thankfulness that Christ, despite our weak faith, works his redemptive power in our lives.

Prayer for Redemption from Ukraine

God Almighty,

When my mind rejects earthly vanity
And when I raise my soul to you
I tremble and feel joyous.
I see you in awakening nature,
In the stream’s murmur and the mighty ocean’s waves.
You rule all the universe, everything is created by you and is subject to you.

Nobody, nothing can resist you.
Every creature who breaks your laws perishes.
And me? How dare I not obey you,
To seek something of my own.
I sinned, but you loved me, looked for me, found me, forgave me, and adopted me as your child.

I cannot comprehend the depth of your love!
How could you for the sake of someone like me,
Send your son, Jesus Christ?
How could it be that despite my weak faith
Jesus suffered and died and
Gave me the right to unite with you 
And be yours for all eternity?

My precious Jesus,
What a great joy it is to rely on you,
To confide in you,
To love you and to wait for you every day!

Help me, my Lord, to always carry in my body
Your death, so that your life may be revealed
In me daily till we meet with you in Heaven!

*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 Greeting
You have rescued my soul from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living. — Psalm 56.11-12

Today’s Readings
Exodus 5 (Listen – 3:15) 
Luke 8 (Listen – 8:09)

This Weekend’s Readings
Exodus 6 (Listen – 3:56), Luke 9 (Listen – 8:05)
Exodus 7 (Listen – 3:29), Luke 10 (Listen – 5:40)

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 about Fear in the Boat :: Readers’ Choice :: TBT
This devotion spoke to me in a moment where I almost forgot where I was. The words reminded me of the faithfulness of Jesus. I pictured myself in that ‘boat’, and Christ showing me who he is, I was on the Rock. — Azikiwe Calhoun

Read more about Faith After the Storm
Jesus asleep on the pillow is a punching bag for our emotions. Asleep, he cannot hear or dispute our complaints, our fears, our version of events. But Jesus standing and rebuking the storm rebukes us as well. “Quiet. Be still.”

A Fight Won with Quietness :: Throwback Thursday

Luke 7.22
Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.

From John:
In this letter, Amy Carmichael encourages a young Christian worker in the spiritual disciplines needed to endure the spiritual opposition that each of us will face when we embrace Jesus as not just a kindly, dead philosopher, but a living savior and Lord who walks with us.

When we learn to walk aware of Christ’s presence, we begin to notice what he wants us to notice, to see what he wants us to see.

Reflection: A Fight Won with Quietness :: Throwback Thursday
By Amy Carmichael (1867-1951)

The fight to which we have been called is not an easy fight. We are touching the very center of the devil’s power and kingdom, and he hates us intensely and fights hard against us. We have no chance at all of winning in this fight unless we are disciplined soldiers, utterly out-and-out and uncompromising, and men and women of prayer.

So first, give much time to quietness. We have to get our help for the most part direct from our God. We are here to help, not to be helped, and we must each one of us learn to walk with God alone and feed on his Word so as to be nourished. Don’t only read and pray—listen. And don’t evade the slightest whisper of guidance that comes. God make you very sensitive, and very obedient.

Fill up the crevices of time with the things that matter most. This will cost something, but it is worth it. “My heart says of you, ‘Seek his face!’ Your face, Lord, I will seek.”

No one is of much use who does not truly want to learn what it means to pray and listen and definitely choose the life that is hid with Christ in God.

Keep close, keep close. If you are close you will be keen. Your heart will be set on the things that abide. You will drink of his Spirit and you will thirst for souls even as he thirsts. You will not be attracted by the world that crucified him, but you will love the people in that world who have never seen his beauty and are losing so much more than they know. You will live to share your joy in Him, Nothing else will count for much.

All this will be, if you walk with Him as with a visible companion, from dawn through all the hours till you go to sleep at night.

Prayer: The Greeting
You are my hiding place…you surround me with shouts of deliverance. — Psalm 32.8

Today’s Readings
Exodus 4 (Listen – 4:17) 
Luke 7 (Listen – 7:14)

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 Light for the Next Step
A lamp for our feet forces us to engage with where we are, not look only at distant destinations.

Read more about Occupation of Meditation
As Carmichael implies, meditation is more than just privately “thinking” about God’s word. It is occupation—something that implies action.

Blessing and Woes :: A Guided Prayer

Luke 6.18-19
Those troubled by impure spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.

Reflection: Blessing and Woes :: A Guided Prayer
By John Tillman

Luke’s version of the Beatitudes strike a sharper tone than their setting in Matthew because Luke pairs them with a mirrored set of woes. Where Matthew mentions that we are like the prophets of old when we are treated poorly, Luke adds the woeful warning that when we are treated well, we are like the false prophets of old.

Pray Luke’s Beatitudes through the rest of this week. Hear God speaking to you in both parts of the prayer.

A Prayer of Blessings and Woes

Lord help us press onward through the blessing of being poor, of being hungry, of weeping, of being hated, excluded, insulted, and rejected. There is blessing in the pain of the journey and surpassing joy on the other side.

Blessed are you who are poor,
    for yours is the kingdom of God.

Blessed are you who hunger now,
    for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
    for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you,
    when they exclude you and insult you
    and reject your name as evil,
        because of the Son of Man.

“Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.

May we take heed of the woes we are subject to. May we not deny that we are rich, that we are comfortable, that we are well-fed, that we laugh, and are spoken well of. There is comfort now in acclaim, and acceptance, but there is woe and destruction if we turn away from the path of Christ.

But woe to you who are rich,
    for you have already received your comfort.
Woe to you who are well fed now,
    for you will go hungry.

Woe to you who laugh now,
    for you will mourn and weep.
Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
    for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.

Prayer: A Reading
Jesus said: “In all truth I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave. Now a slave has no permanent standing in the household, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will indeed be free.”  —  John 8.34-36

Today’s Readings
Exodus 3 (Listen – 3:59) 
Luke 6 (Listen – 6:46)

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 In The Face of Wonder :: A Guided Prayer
“He has filled the hungry with good things
   but has sent the rich away empty.”
Your power, Holy Spirit, working on behalf of the outcasts and the downtrodden is the beat that our boots must march to.

A Bad Day Fishing

Luke 5.8, 10
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.”

Reflection: A Bad Day Fishing
By John Tillman

The Bible describes Peter as a fisherman. But every time we see him fishing in the scriptures he is failing at it. Peter never catches a fish without Christ’s help.

We are not meant to assume from this that Peter was a bad fisherman. Quite the opposite. We are meant to assume that Peter was a good fisherman. These days are recorded because of their uniqueness, not their normalcy. This means that we see Peter fishing on the worst days of his career. 

You learn a lot about people on their worst days. The days when nothing seems to work…when the project loses funding…when despite our best efforts, we came up empty.

Imagine for a moment that all Jesus was there for on his worst day was to solve Peter’s problem. Imagine if Jesus granted him a windfall of a miracle catch, then left Peter there to continue as usual, but now flush with operating capital flopping around on the beach. If we are honest that’s the kind of miracle we want from God. “Just bless what I’m already doing, God. Don’t ask me to change!” 

Peter’s first recorded words to Jesus in response the miracle are “go away.” Peter seems to believe that his sins disqualify him from the financial blessing he has just received and certainly from being a follower of Jesus.

But Jesus didn’t come to bless Peter’s business, he came to change it. Jesus didn’t ask for Peter to tithe a portion of the fish to his ministry, he asked Peter to offer his entire self, business and all to “fish for men.”

Peter is fascinating. He seems prideful at times, yet humble at others. He is outspoken yet hides when confronted. He does lacks the ambition of the Zebedees. But he often takes the initiative, leading other disciples and even attempting to lead Jesus.

Yet he never seems to seek directly for power or control. Perhaps this is precisely why Jesus specifically calls him to strengthen his brothers and places him in a position of leadership. Jesus, instead of solving Peter’s earthly problem made him part of Heaven’s solution to the world’s problem. He wants to do the same with us.

Jesus will show up on our worst days. He is calling us to fish. Peter never catches a fish without Christ’s help. And neither will we. 

Follow him today. Find out how he will direct you to fish.

Prayer: The Request for Presence
Open my eyes, that I may see the wonders of your law.  —  Psalm 119.18

Today’s Readings
Exodus 2 (Listen – 3:18) 
Luke 5 (Listen – 5:04)

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 In the Face of Grief
Peter’s experience on the shore with Jesus after returning to fishing for fish instead of men showed the raw and sensitive reality of his emotional state.

Read more about God of the Weak and Doubtful
Christ did not allow Peter to sink in the waves when his faith was too weak. He will extend his loving hand to you as well. Thank God, that he is the God of the weak and the doubtful.

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