Recentering on Christ

Psalm 104.1
Praise the Lord, my soul.
Lord my God, you are very great;
    you are clothed with splendor and majesty.

Reflection: Recentering on Christ
By John Tillman

The psalms are more than instructions and more than inspiration. They are not dry diaries or droning histories, but the living, breathing faith of those interacting with the Holy Spirit. 

Their artistry allows us to enter the prayer room and experience both sides of a holy conversation between human artists and the creator of all. Their art is most practical for those who are seeking God in a world connected by technology. Work, news, and ephemera, now know no boundaries and pop into our hand-held devices unbidden.  

Jonathan Edwards, when in difficulty at work, made use of the scripture, of intercession, and of community to recenter himself on Christ. He describes the experience in the following journal entry:

“In the morning my desires seemed to rise, and ascend up freely to God. Was busy most of the day in translating prayers into the language of the Delaware Indians; met with great difficulty… But though I was much discouraged with the extreme difficulty of that work, God supported me; and especially in the evening gave me sweet refreshment.

In prayer my soul was enlarged, and my faith drawn into sensible exercise; was enabled to cry to God for [them]; and though the work of their conversion appeared impossible with man, yet with God I saw all things were possible.

My faith was much strengthened, by observing the wonderful assistance God afforded his servants Nehemiah and Ezra, in reforming his people, and re-establishing his ancient church.

I was much assisted in prayer for dear Christian friends, and for others that I apprehended to be Christ-less… [I] was enabled to be instant in prayer for them; and hoped that God would bow the heavens and come down for their salvation. It seemed to me there could be no impediment sufficient to obstruct that glorious work, seeing the living God, as I strongly hoped, was engaged for it.

I continued in a solemn frame, lifting up my heart to God for assistance and grace, that I might be more mortified to this present world, that my whole soul might be taken up continually in concern for the advancement of Christ’s kingdom: longed that God would purge me more, that I might be as a chosen vessel to bear his name among the heathens. Continued in this frame until I dropped asleep.”


Prayer: The Greeting
My lips will sing with joy when I play to you, and so will my soul, which you have redeemed. — Psalm 71.23

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

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 17 (Listen – 3:24) 
Psalm 104 (Listen – 3:37) 

Thank You!
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Read more about The Success of Redemption
Thus the gospel-sun which had lately risen on the Jews, now rose upon, and began to enlighten, the heathen world, after they had continued in gross heathenish darkness for so many ages.

Read more about The Beginning of Holiness
Holiness in man is but the image of God’s holiness. Surely there are not more virtues belonging to the image than are in the original.

The Father of Fathers

Psalm 103.13-14
As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust.

Reflection: The Father of Fathers :: Guided Prayer
By John Tillman

We pray together today, using words from today’s Psalm, seeking the face of the Father who loves us and knows us as his children.

The Father of Fathers
Lord Jesus, you taught us to call God our Father.
We praise you, Lord, today as the Father who loves us and lifts us up.

You are the Father all fathers should be.
Gentle. Caring. Loving. Righteous. Just.

Your justice, our Father, is not destructive and violent.
You “work” righteousness, O Lord. 
You repair. You set right. You maintain.

“The Lord works righteousness
    and justice for all the oppressed.”

You hear the cries of all children.
You see the cruelty of those who abuse.
You see the callousness of those who abandon.
You see the selfishness of those who allow harm to children to benefit themselves.
You cry out for the children of this world, “Let them come to me.”

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
    slow to anger, abounding in love.
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.”

Our nation and our culture profane the name of “father.”
We do not deserve love and mercy from you, God our Father.
But you provide it through your Son, Jesus.

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

North and South meet at the poles.
They are separated by a finite distance.
One can only travel so far North before traveling South.
But East and West never meet.
They are separated by an infinite distance.
Thank you Father for removing our sins an infinite distance from us!

“As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust.
But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
    and his righteousness with their children’s children.”

Though we are but dust, Lord, you care for us.
You promise your presence not only to us,
But to generations afterward.

Bless our lives that we may build a faith that endures past our lifetimes.
When we lay down our lives as seed, may generations yet unknown take root in you.

“Praise the Lord, my soul.”

Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
From now onwards all generations will call me blessed, for the Almighty has done great things for me. — Luke 1.48

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

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 16 (Listen – 3:25) 
Psalm 103 (Listen – 2:07) 

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 Spirit of Adoption
Because of Christ’s work we can rest in the rights, status, and inheritance of our adoptive family.

Read more about His Blessings, Our Curse :: A Guided Prayer
May we hear in God’s Word, always the tender love of our father who wants blessings for us.

Christ, the True Hero

Psalm 101.8
Every morning I will put to silence
   all the wicked in the land;
I will cut off every evildoer
   from the city of the Lord.

Luke 12.48b
From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

Reflection: Christ, the True Hero
By John Tillman

Superhero origin stories often contain a moment of dedication defining the hero’s identity, mission, and philosophy. The simplest, and perhaps most resonant with truth, is the six-word proverb that guides the moral compass of Peter Parker’s universe: “With great power comes great responsibility.” This is a stripped-down, modern rephrase of Luke 12:48.

Superheroes aren’t new. (In terms of culture and Christendom, the 1960s are still new.) Spider-man, Batman, and other heroes are throwbacks in both style and purpose to the tales of flawed, human-like Greco-Roman gods, intended to inspire stoicism and virtue as well as entertain.

Though this lens, we often see biblical figures as superheroes. In that vein, Psalm 101 (from yesterday’s readings) reads as if it is David’s superhero oath.

Charles Spurgeon called this Psalm a, “Psalm of Pious Resolutions.” Some scholars, including Spurgeon, believe this Psalm may have been written by David just prior to or just after being made the king of Israel.

Our cultural “superhero” lens can cause us to see ourselves as the “hero” in biblical accounts. However, imagining that God might use us to defeat a giant as David did isn’t much more life-changing than imagining that we might be able to lift a bus or fly through the air. It’s just moralism dressed in a super-suit.

The deeper truth of Spider-man’s proverb is that the powerful are seldom responsible. Most of the villains in Spidey’s universe are men or women with great power, who start as Peter’s friends and turn to evil. Even Peter fails to live up to his own beliefs.

We cannot live up to oaths such as Psalm 101. Neither could David. David would eventually bring corruption, rape, murder, and the ravages of civil war to the city which in this Psalm he pledges to protect.

It is not that we cannot be used by God in miraculous (or super) ways. Rather that, as Christians, it is more important that we realize that we need a hero than that we pledge to be one. It is Christ, the Son of David, who ultimately will fulfill David’s pledge in this Psalm.

When we pray prayers like this Psalm, we are praying that Christ, the true hero, will fulfill these actions in us. We are not the saviors, but the ones in need of saving. It is Christ, not us, who is the hero of our cities and our world.

Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Your strengthen me more and more; you enfold me and comfort me. — Psalm 71.21

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

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 15 (Listen – 3:20) 
Psalm 102 (Listen – 2:45) 

Thank You!
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Read more about Who is this King of Glory?
May we let go of our heroic versions of kings and watch the lamb of God, ride his borrowed donkey, straight to his borrowed tomb.

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His Blessings, Our Curse :: A Guided Prayer

Deuteronomy 11.26-28
See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse—the blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.

Reflection: His Blessings, Our Curse :: A Guided Prayer
By John Tillman

The blessings and curses of the law were a consistent theme of Moses’s final messages to the people of Israel. Moses gave instructions for a gigantic visual demonstration as a community learning event that was eventually carried out by Joshua.

Half the tribes would stand on Mount Gerazim and half on Mount Ebal. The tribes on Gerazim would pronounce the blessings that could be theirs if they obeyed. The tribes on Ebal would pronounce the curses if they failed to follow the laws that Moses was leaving them.

May we hear in God’s Word, always the tender love of our father who wants blessings for us.

May we also give thanks for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who became a curse for us. He died to release the curse’s hold on us, then he rose to bring to us the full blessings of life that overflows with good things.

Praise and thank him this week using the prayer below that is based on our readings for today:

His Blessings, Our Curse
Oh, Lord, we are your people.
We are the sheep of your pasture and we need your provision.

Your care for us Lord goes deeper than
The superficial service of hired help.
You are our Good Shepherd who lays down his life for us.
You became a curse for us.
You became sin for us.

We have your blessings today, Lord,
Because you took our curse!
We stand on Gerazim and you stand on Ebal.

If only we would hear your voice today, Lord.
If only we would walk your path of service.
If only we would walk your path of grace.

May we proclaim your salvation day after day and
May we never cease telling of your wonderful deeds.

Let the heavens, the seas, the fields, and the trees resound with praise
As you come to judge the world with equity!

As Israel was to be your instrument in the world, Lord, make us instruments of your grace and truth to others.

Amen!

Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Bless our God, you peoples; make the voice of his praise to be heart;
Who holds our souls in life, and will not allow our feet to slip. — Psalm 66.7-8

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

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 11 (Listen – 4:38) 
Psalm 95-96 (Listen – 2:37) 

This Weekend’s Readings
Deuteronomy 12 (Listen – 5:11) Psalm 97-98 (Listen – 2:19) 
Deuteronomy 13 (Listen – 3:05) Psalm 99-101 (Listen – 2:48) 

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 Balaam’s Success
No matter what sins or idols we are tempted with, may we approach God humbly, seeking repentance and redemption through Christ.

Read more about The Value of Words
Our purpose at The Park Forum is to produce words that are filled with life, not death.
Words that spur, but do not abuse.
Words that challenge, but lovingly guide.
Words that bless and do not curse.

Thoughtful Trust :: Throwback Thursday

Psalm 94.19
When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.

This Bible is a great honeycomb, and it drips with honey. Come and taste its virgin sweetness, O ye whose mouths are full of bitterness ― Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Reflection: Thoughtful Trust :: Throwback Thursday
By Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)

Godly people are thoughtful people. Indeed it is often a sign of the beginning of grace in a man when he begins to consider. Believing is not the death of thinking, it is the sanctification of it.

Gracious men take much account of their thoughts, and make a conscience of them. Other men are scarcely alarmed in conscience by their actions, unless they happen to commit some glaring crime, but the saint has lost his heart of stone, and his heart of flesh is conscious of God’s displeasure, and trembles at it, when an impure thought has defiled his soul.

Regenerate men have sensitive minds, so that a word wrongly spoken grieves them sorely; and if it should never go so far as a word, and only an evil thought like an unclean bird flits through their mind, they are troubled lest they should have invited or secretly entertained so foul a lodger.

We must, then, look well to our thoughts, and keep our heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life. We must watch thought, think upon thought, and pray about thought, and happy shall we be if we can say, in the language of the text, “In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.”

In times when many thoughts assail us, the attributes of God are each one of them the delight of our soul. The gist of the whole matter is this: the way to comfort is the way where God is to be found. Christian, the way for sustenance, strength, hope, and consolation is the way which leads thee to thy God. Trust ye in the Lord forever, for in the Lord Jehovah there is everlasting strength.

And oh, poor sinner, the same way is open to you. Do not look within for comfort, for you will find none. As well go to the Arctic regions and pierce icebergs to discover warmth, as look to yourselves for consolation. Away, away, away, away from your own thoughts to God’s thoughts; away from your own judgings and weighings, and computations, and speculations, and expectations to the firm promises of a God that cannot lie.

*Excerpt from Medicine For The Distracted by Charles Spurgeon.

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 Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 10 (Listen – 3:12) 
Psalm 94 (Listen – 2:08) 

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 Prayer for Enemies
Prayer is never lost. If it bless not those for whom intercession is made, it shall bless the intercessors. — Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read more about Greed and Envy
The psalmist, is thrown into doubt and pushed to the limits of his understanding by the inequality he sees in the world.

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