Not So Random Acts of Kindness

Scripture Focus: 2 Samuel 9:8
8 Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?” 

Reflection: Not So Random Acts of Kindness
By Erin Newton

I enjoy looking at posts tagged #RAOK. Random Acts of Kindness. It has become popular to capture these moments and highlight the goodness of humanity. For most, these actions are seen as going above and beyond what is required in social interactions. As Christians, extreme kindness should be part of our everyday life.

When David settled into his role as the king of Israel, he turned his attention to honoring the friendship he had with Jonathan. The conflict between the house of David and the house of Saul nearly wiped out an entire extended family. David asked to find any living heir of Saul. The sole survivor was Mephibosheth, a son of Jonathan who was now lame because of the conflict.

The disabled community suffered greatly in the ancient world, often expelled as outcasts. Lameness required the disabled person to rely entirely upon fellow citizens. Mephibosheth, the heir of a former king, was one of these minorities. His lineage threatened David’s claim to the throne, but David did not treat him as an enemy. David was focused on creating peace and showing kindness.

Mephibosheth knew his limitations and came to David with humility. David did not have divine power to cure the man’s lameness, but he had the power to bring stability, security, and an inheritance to the son of Jonathan. Eating at the king’s table, Mephibosheth was treated as an equal to David’s sons.

Jesus is a greater king than David, never failing to minister to those in need. He did more than honor the outcast, he cured their disease. He did more than honor his fallen friends, he resurrected them. Jesus brought former enemies to his table as friends. Even today, he grants eternal security, everlasting peace, and an inheritance as a son or daughter of God. 

Our lives should reflect the work and person of Jesus Christ. He was never slow to cross the boundaries of social norms to meet the needs of the outcasts. Even when the worst of his enemies were abusing him, he prayed for their forgiveness. Loving our former enemies should not be conditional. We must do whatever we can to love our neighbors. “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.” Proverbs 3:27 


Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting

Be exalted, O Lord, in your might; we will sing and praise your power. — Psalm 21.14

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

Today’s Readings
2 Samuel 8-9 (Listen – 4:52)
2 Corinthians 2 (Listen -2:13)

Read more about Praying Priestly Blessings — Readers’ Choice
One of the primary purposes of humanity, upheld throughout the entirety of scripture, is being a blessing to others.

Read more about Loving God by Loving Others — Guided Prayer
When we act in God’s name to show love to others, we are also loving God by bringing glory to his name.

Conflict’s Aftermath

Scripture Focus:  2 Samuel 2:26
Abner called out to Joab, “Must the sword devour forever? Don’t you realize that this will end in bitterness? How long before you order your men to stop pursuing their fellow Israelites?”

Reflection: Conflict’s Aftermath
By Erin Newton

Polarized. This word is the constant summary of our life lately. Every area seems to be weighted down in conflict.  When we reflect on the darker parts of our history, we like to think they are moments in time, isolated and spontaneous. There is a failure to see the slow progression of change from good to bad. And the even slower progress back to peace.

If Israel’s monarchy was portrayed on a TV episode, the death of Saul would be followed by a short commercial break and the reign of David would begin triumphantly. David was anointed in Hebron but his reign as the king of Israel was slow and filled with more turmoil. The conflict between Saul and David personally had ended but the ramifications continued. More hate, more blood. The house of David and the house of Saul were eager to carry out vengeance and retribution in the name of the lords they served. David was the rightful king and Saul was no longer a threat. The conflict should have ended.

Often there are rippling effects and continual consequences to mindsets that are hardened through a prolonged conflict. Racial discrimination, political rivalry, gender inequality, denominational intolerances, and the suspicion of public healthcare measures are areas that can fester conflict and hatred deep into a soul. Even when bridges are mended briefly, there are those who will continue to seek the destruction of perceived opponents. This can happen through what we say or what we encourage. It can be through our actions to cause pain or the turning of our eyes from someone in pain.

Still, some conflicts have found no lasting resolution. In these times, believers can look to the moment we shifted our allegiance from this world to Christ. This should alter how we function among those who are constantly at war. When did we forget he is the Prince of Peace? Let us ask God to replace the festering anger in our hearts with love. 

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
For one day in your courts is better than a thousand in my own room, and to stand at the threshold of the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of the wicked. — Psalm 84.9

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

Today’s Readings
2 Samuel 2 (Listen – 5:07) 
1 Corinthians 13 (Listen – 2:23)

Read more about Blocking the Way of Wickedness
We don’t always have a choice about working with or living among wicked people, but we can choose how we respond.

Read more about The Best We Can Do
The best we can do—in our strength and wisdom—may not be God’s best for us.

Chastened Towards Freedom

Scripture Focus: 1 Corinthians 11.31-32
But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.

Reflection: Chastened Towards Freedom
By John Tillman

Does Paul teach perfectionism? Must we attain holiness by our self-will? In his book, True Spirituality, Francis Schaeffer addresses this confusion:

“If I lay hold upon the blood of Christ in faith, reality rests here: not in trying to live as though the Bible teaches perfectionism. That is no basis for reality; that is only a basis either for subterfuge or despair. But there is a reality here: the reality of sins forgiven…This is the reality of restored relationship.”

Schaeffer uses the word “chastening” in his writing, taking it from the New King James translation from which he taught:

“The chastening of a child of God does not have a penal aspect. That was finished on the cross. There is no double jeopardy when the holy God is the Judge. Our guilt is gone, once and forever. Therefore if we judge ourselves, we are not chastened.”

There are multiple words here. The way we are to “judge” ourselves is diakrinō, meaning to separate, to make a distinction, or to discern. The “judgment” (krinō) which believers may avoid is that which means to be sentenced or punished. Instead, we are “chastened” (paidĕuō), which means trained, educated, or disciplined.

We are not taught perfectionism in Paul, but rather confession and submission to the Holy Spirit:

“This is what Paul was urging upon us. It is overwhelmingly better not to sin. But is it not wonderful that when we do sin, we can hurry to the place of restoration?”

Sin does more than separate us from God. We are isolated, marooned and abandoned by our selfishness.

“Man is first of all separated from God, then from himself, and finally from his fellow men and from nature. The blood of the Lord Jesus Christ will give an absolute and perfect restoration of all these things when Jesus comes. But in the present life, there is to be a substantial healing, including the results of the separation between a man and himself. This is the first step towards freedom in the present life from the results of the bonds of sin.”

May we “judge” ourselves with sober judgment, knowing our Judge is Christ, and yearning to yield to any chastening of his Spirit that may come.
May the Spirit chasten us towards freedom.

*Quotations from, True Spirituality by Francis A. Schaeffer.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick…And indeed I did not come to call the virtuous but sinners. — Matthew 9.12-13

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

Today’s Readings
1 Samuel 31 (Listen – 2:03) 
1 Corinthians 11 (Listen – 4:20)

This Weekend’s Readings
2 Samuel 1 (Listen – 3:54), 1 Corinthians 12 (Listen – 4:25)
2 Samuel 2 (Listen – 5:07), 1 Corinthians 13 (Listen – 2:23)

Thank You!
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Read more about Prayer for Older Brothers
One son was humiliated by his own scandalous behavior.
One son was humiliated by his father’s scandalous grace.

Read more about We Confess
The gospel is better served by time spent confessing our own sins than time spent accusing the world of theirs.

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