Plod On, Dear Brothers and Sisters

Scripture Focus: Acts 23:11
11 The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” 

Reflection: Plod On, Dear Brothers and Sisters
By Jane Schaible

Paul was determined to go to Rome, despite the suffering he knew that awaited him (Acts 9.16; 20.23). Paul had told the Ephesians that he had to go to Rome via Jerusalem (Act 19.21), and he was in a great hurry to be there (Acts 20.16; 21.11-15). He didn’t actually make it until chapter 28, but this was the long path of obedience for him, the path he kept plodding along on. 

Paul’s determination to proclaim the gospel in Rome takes up at least nine chapters. Nine chapters of foils, risks, warnings, persecutions. Nine chapters of grieving and hospitable brothers and sisters. Nine chapters of actions and words proclaiming the Lord’s salvation. 

Though continually empowered by God, there are just a few verses where we get to read his words of encouragement to Paul. 

In the quiet safety of the barracks, when the uproar before the Sanhedrin faded, the Lord reassured him. “Take courage!” Jesus reminded Paul that Jerusalem won’t be the end of his story. He will make it to Rome.

At a time when perhaps this journey seemed to be taking forever, when maybe it didn’t seem certain how he’d escape the bloody plots of the people, the Lord “stood near Paul.” He came close, he spoke. He reminded Paul that he wasn’t alone, that his goal was still before him, that he was on the right path. “Keep plodding, Paul.”

There are seasons in our lives where we feel like life is taking forever. We may be trying to evade obstacles. We may be plodding along the path of obedience. Days like these can feel unending. What do we do when we aren’t feeling sure of the call?

Paul plodded on. This is what he’d tell us to do: “Follow my example.” Yet, in the same breath he calls us to follow another. “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11.1). We keep plodding because Christ kept plodding. He stayed on the long, slow-going, forever-taking road. He kept walking the path through suffering to glory, so that we might share in his glory (Romans 8.17). 

Plod on, dear brothers and sisters. Your Lord is near you. He has plodded the path before you, and he has promised that he is always with you (Matthew 28.20).

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
I will meditate on your commandments and give attention to your ways. — Psalm 119.15

Today’s Readings

Isaiah 65 (Listen -5:00)
Acts 23 (Listen – 5:15)

This Weekend’s Readings
Isaiah 66 (Listen -5:20)Acts 24 (Listen – 4:11)
Jeremiah 1 (Listen -2:01)Acts 25 (Listen – 4:40)

Read more about Peace of Endurance
Believers are called upon to accept the hard paths they are on, even to captivity or death.

Meditation in Spiritual Rhythm :: Readers’ Choice

Selected by reader, Jennifer K, Brooklyn, NY
“Meditation is not new to Christianity, but it has often been forgotten on the shelf,” what a beautiful statement to read as a Christian and daily meditator. Prayer and meditation go hand in hand with my spiritual practice, truly a spiritual rhythm. Thank you for this edition that speaks volumes to my soul!

Scripture Focus: Psalm 88.1-2
Lord, you are the God who saves me;
day and night I cry out to you.
May my prayer come before you;
turn your ear to my cry.

Reflection: Meditation in Spiritual Rhythm :: Readers’ Choice
Originally published October 4th, 2018
By John Tillman

As Thomas Merton poetically wrote about humanity, “He is the saddest animal. He drives a big red car called anxiety.”

Meditation is a breathing apparatus to help us survive in a poisonous atmosphere polluted by anxiety and fear.

Meditation is not new age, but old. However, in the modern age, it has often been forgotten on the shelf as many Christians and Christian leaders followed our culture into frenetic clamor instead of leading our culture from a place of peace and rest.

Today we look back a few hundred years or so, to a collection of thoughts on meditation that were not considered radical or strange in their time, but simply a prudent, practical, and effective Christian discipline.

George Müller (1805-1898)
Now what is food for the inner man? Not prayer, but the Word of God; and here again, not the simple reading of the Word of God, so that it only passes through our minds, just as water passes through a pipe, but considering what we read, pondering over it and applying it to our hearts.

This exercise of the soul can be most effectively performed after the inner man has been nourished by meditation on the Word of God, where we find our Father speaking to us, to encourage us, to comfort us, to instruct us, to humble us, to reprove us. We may therefore profitably meditate with God’s blessing though we are ever so weak spiritually; nay, the weaker we are the more we need meditation for the strengthening of our inner man.

Richard Baxter (1615-1691)
Nor should we imagine it will be as well to take up with prayer alone, and lay aside meditation; for they are distinct duties, and must both of them be performed. We need the one as well as the other, and therefore we shall wrong ourselves by neglecting either. Besides, the mixture of them, like music, will be more engaging; as the one serves to put life into the other. And our speaking to ourselves in meditation, should go before our speaking to God in prayer.

William Bridge (1600-1670)
Begin with reading or hearing. Go on with meditation; end in prayer…Reading without meditation is unfruitful; meditation without reading is hurtful; to meditate and to read without prayer upon both, is without blessing.

From these writings and ones like them, we draw a pattern, a spiritual rhythm, that we want to promote for all our readers: Read, reflect, pray…repeat.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Let the Name of the Lord be blessed, from this time forth for evermore.
From the rising of the sun to its going down let the Name of the Lord be praised. — Psalm 113.2-3

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

Today’s Readings
Judges 19 (Listen – 4:52) 
Acts 23 (Listen – 5:15)

Thank You!
Thank you to our donors who support our readers by making it possible to continue The Park Forum devotionals. This year, The Park Forum audiences opened 200,000 free, and ad-free, devotional content. Follow this link to join our donors with a one-time or a monthly gift.

Submit a Readers’ Choice
Let our community hear about your faith. What post refreshed your relationship with God?

Read more about The Practice of Meditation :: Tea
Christian meditation does not seek emptiness, but fullness. We do not seek unconscious, impersonal revelation, but personal revelation from a conscious and communicative God.