Whole Life Generosity

Acts 4.32
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.

Reflection: Whole Life Generosity
By John Tillman

Christian generosity is not merely passively giving a portion of our income as if we were being taxed by a government. Taxes push off our responsibility for others to an impersonal agency of government. Like Scrooge, we pay our taxes, pretending that it is our sole obligation. 

If we treat Christian generosity in this manner, we rob it of any spiritual power. No wonder we feel powerless. 

Francis Schaeffer rejects this concept, emphasizing that Christian generosity is not giving partially, but is a matter of sharing one’s whole life, irrevocably:

“In the Old Testament, the whole of life and culture was based upon the relationship of the people of God first to God and then to each other. It was not just a religious life, but the whole culture. It was a total cultural relationship, and through the New Testament no longer sees the people of God as a state, nevertheless there is still an emphasis upon the fact that the whole culture and way of life is involved in the vital diversity of love and communication. There is to be no platonic dichotomy between the “spiritual” and other things of life. Indeed, we read in Acts 4:31, 32: 

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.

The Bible makes plain here that this is not a communism of law or external pressure. In fact, Peter, speaking to Ananias about his property, stressed: “While it remaineth was it not your own and after it was sold, was it not in thy power?” (Acts 5:4). 

This sharing is not law, but true love and true communication of the whole man to whole man, across the whole spectrum of what humanity is. The same thing happened further abroad. Gentile Christians gave money to Paul to carry to Christian Jews. Why? So that there would be a sharing of material possessions. 

This is ten thousand times removed from the dead, cold giving of most Christians. This is not a cold, impersonal act as a bare duty, but a sharing of the whole man with the whole man. True Christian giving is in love and communication across the whole framework of the interplay between whole men.”


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

Prayer: The Small Verse
My soul has a desire and longing for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God. — Psalm 84.1

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

Today’s Readings
Joshua 24 (Listen – 5:49)
Acts 4 (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. 

Readers’ Choice Submissions

It is once again time for us to seek out the voices of our readers and hear from you about posts from the past eleven months that have challenged and comforted you and helped you find new meaning in the scriptures.

Readers’ Choice posts will be republished during the month of August and periodically throughout the Fall.

Follow the link to fill out the form. Feel free to fill out the form multiple times for multiple submissions. Please limit your submissions to posts published this calendar year, between September of 2018 and today.

For any questions about The Park Forum, or to make suggestions of posts via email, contact John Tillman at john@theparkforum.org

Read more about God Shivering on Concrete
Our God humbles nations addicted to greed—including His own.

Read more about A Cry to God for the Poor from Zimbabwe
We are overwhelmed by the breadth and depth of the wasteful exploitation of your creation.

Waiting at the Beautiful Gate

Acts 3.6-8
Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.

Reflection: Waiting at the Beautiful Gate
By John Tillman

The man Peter and John heal in this passage is a man who waited. 

We do not know the full extent of his deformity, only that he was lame from birth and that its severity was such that he had to be carried to the Temple. We know that he was over forty years old and was such a fixture at the Temple that everyone recognized him. It seems likely that he had been there for most of his life

It is possible this man was present, begging outside the Temple, during Jesus’ first visit when Christ, as a twelve-year-old stunned the teachers with his questions and answers. Not that the man would have heard the debate, being excluded from entering or worshiping at the Temple.

Doubtless, Peter and John had walked by this lame man before in the presence of Jesus. Perhaps they had not noticed the man then. Maybe they were engrossed in theological debate or maybe looking in wonder at the massive stones of the Temple that Jesus then prophesied would soon be thrown down.

Living in Jerusalem, this man certainly knew about Jesus. He may have even seen Jesus. But Jesus had passed him by.

Jesus did not “miss” this man. He left him for Peter and John. This man was waiting to be healed, not by Christ, but by his disciples—by his church.

Jesus has left his church work to do in this world. There are people left out of the kingdom. There are people injured and hurt by the religious and by the irreligious. There are men and women lamed and abandoned by the world. There are unwanted masses that yearn to be free.

They are waiting for us at the Beautiful Gate. We are their miracle. 

The suffering children? They are waiting for us.
The unwanted refugees? They are waiting for us.
The diseased and uneducated? They are waiting for us.
The condemned and shunned? They are waiting for us.

Not for the Democrats. Not for the Republicans. For the church.

Jesus didn’t give us the Holy Spirit for warm, fuzzy feelings in our sanctuaries. The Holy Spirit is given to us to heal those too scarred, scared, deformed, and broken to dare enter the sanctuary. 

When we act in healing ways through the Spirit’s power, the formerly broken will leap, run, and skip into God’s presence as the lame man leaped through the gates of the Temple, praising the name of God.

Prayer: The Small Verse
My soul has a desire and longing for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God. — Psalm 84.1

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

Today’s Readings
Joshua 23 (Listen – 2:31)
Acts 3 (Listen – 3:33

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. 

Readers’ Choice Submissions

It is once again time for us to seek out the voices of our readers and hear from you about posts from the past eleven months that have challenged and comforted you and helped you find new meaning in the scriptures.

Readers’ Choice posts will be republished during the month of August and periodically throughout the Fall.

Follow the link to fill out the form. Feel free to fill out the form multiple times for multiple submissions. Please limit your submissions to posts published this calendar year, between September of 2018 and today.

For any questions about The Park Forum, or to make suggestions of posts via email, contact John Tillman at john@theparkforum.org

Read more The Context of The Widow’s Mite
We should praise the widow’s faith, as Jesus did, but taken in context, this scripture has more to say about unscrupulous religious leaders than about generous poor people. It tells us that judgment is coming on leaders who take advantage of the poor.

Read more about Take Up Your Mat
When we take up our mat and walk, we are just beginning to follow him in faith. Pick up your mat and walk. Then take up your cross and follow him.

Too Much to Hold

Acts 2.24
But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.

Reflection: Too Much to Hold
By John Tillman

Jesus is more than death can hold. It tried. Death can hold worlds, countries, massive unnumbered masses. But Christ could not be contained or held back. It was his purpose to defeat death, the last enemy, and to bring forth in freedom death’s hostages, and restore back to us what the great monster has taken.

Death for the Christian is similar to death for Christ. It is painful. It is the worst of suffering imaginable. It is unjust. It is to be mourned. It is to be wept for.

But it is not permanent.

Even a “good death,” the kind we wish for because we would prefer not to face death’s reality, is an event of great sorrow and injustice. Death is not truly softened by its circumstances. He is still a thief, our enemy. But for the Christian, there is one who comes to reclaim and restore what is stolen. 

Too Much To Hold
In Adam, we are sold and chained
To sin and death were given
Our bodies made to walk with God
Betray us and decay, short of Heaven

More than victims of this crime
But perpetrators too
The sin of Adam in our line
We aptly join his queue

Sin is the sting of death’s attack
The poison in his bite
It paralyzes, terrorizes,
As we sink beyond the light

Like Jonah sunk, beneath the earth
A dark and hopeless pit
Into that pit our savior slides
His mission to open it

Death’s jaws, snake-like, can swallow worlds
But cannot contain their maker
Christ is too sweet to see decay
The monster gets no supper

In Christ, we are made to be like him
Too much for Death to hold
Grasped by him a moment
But he cannot hold our souls

Our defeated flesh will be restored
It will not stay enslaved
Transformed and made eternal
Not abandoned in the grave

Adam sold his unborn kin to death
Turned creation over to sin
Second Adam brings the children back
Eve’s seed, crushing death, freedom wins

Prayer: The Morning Psalm
For with you is the well of life, and in your light we see light. — Psalm 36.9

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

Today’s Readings
Joshua 22 (Listen – 6:16)
Acts 2 (Listen – 6:35

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. 

Readers’ Choice Submissions

It is once again time for us to seek out the voices of our readers and hear from you about posts from the past eleven months that have challenged and comforted you and helped you find new meaning in the scriptures.

Readers’ Choice posts will be republished during the month of August and periodically throughout the Fall.

Follow the link to fill out the form. Feel free to fill out the form multiple times for multiple submissions. Please limit your submissions to posts published this calendar year, between September of 2018 and today.

For any questions about The Park Forum, or to make suggestions of posts via email, contact John Tillman at john@theparkforum.org

Read more about Stealing Death’s Sting
God is glorified through Christ’s sacrifice. Sin is defeated by his death, and death is defeated in his resurrection. Christ conquers sin, stealing death’s sting and the grave’s victory.

Read more about He Stoops to Raise
He sinks, He digs, He slides, Prostrates. Below our sin…Below Hell’s gates
And then he lifts…

Creator of Worlds :: Worldwide Prayer

Psalm 148.1-4
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
    praise him in the heights above.
Praise him, all his angels;
    praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
Praise him, sun and moon;
    praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise him, you highest heavens
    and you waters above the skies.

Reflection: Creator of Worlds :: Worldwide Prayer
By John Tillman

Scripture tells us that creation groans to be released from sin. If the beauty and wonder of creation is what shines through despite its being shackled with sin, how much more beautiful may it be when all has been restored?

And…if creation is still capable of beauty and wonder through its groaning and pain, so much the more are we. We are not mere rocks that cry out, but God’s children whose mouths are filled with ordained praise. 

We are not trees that clap our hands with the breeze but God’s own family who celebrate the grace of God our Father even with our faces set firmly against a blowing gale.

With joy, we join this prayer from Christian brothers and sisters in Jamaica, praising and calling on the Almighty God, creator of all worlds!

Creator of Worlds
Prayer for the preservation of creation from Jamaica

Almighty God: Creator of all worlds!

We honor you for the marvels of your creation, and thank you for that part of it which is our home— the mountains, the green fields, and the sea— the abundance and energy of life in us and around us.

We confess that we have often forgotten that the world is yours and so we have misused and abused your gifts, causing distress and pain to others and to ourselves.

Out of your forgiving grace—hear us now as we pray for healing in our world.

Remember those who behold but cannot appreciate your wonderful world and those who abuse and deface its beauty—that they may discover the joy of tending the garden of the Lord.

Remember those who squander and waste resources you have entrusted to them, but are not concerned that others are starving.

Remember those who respect not life, your precious gift, in themselves and in others, and who from greed, or anger, or malice destroy human life without pity or fear.

Remember those who bear rule in communities and nations, acting with arrogance and without wisdom—that they may know that power is a trust for which they must give an account to you the only Absolute Ruler. May they in humility exercise the stewardship you have allotted them. May their labors promote peace and prosperity among the peoples of our troubled lands.

Oh Lord, help us all to be good stewards of this beautiful universe your mighty hand has brought into being.

In Jesus’ great name.

*Prayer from Hallowed be Your Name: A collection of prayers from around the world, Dr. Tony Cupit, Editor.


Prayer: The Greeting
For your Name’s sake, O Lord, forgive my sin, for it is great. — Psalm 25.10

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

Today’s Readings
Joshua 16-17 (Listen – 5:13)
Psalm 148 (Listen – 1:28)

This Weekend’s Readings
Joshua 18-19 (Listen – 9:59), Psalm 149-150 (Listen – 1:36)
Joshua 20-21 (Listen – 6:58), Acts 1 (Listen – 3:58)

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. 

Readers’ Choice Submissions

It is once again time for us to seek out the voices of our readers and hear from you about posts from the past eleven months that have challenged and comforted you and helped you find new meaning in the scriptures.

Readers’ Choice posts will be republished during the month of August and periodically throughout the Fall.

Follow the link to fill out the form. Feel free to fill out the form multiple times for multiple submissions. Please limit your submissions to posts published this calendar year, between September of 2018 and today.

For any questions about The Park Forum, or to make suggestions of posts via email, contact John Tillman at john@theparkforum.org

Read more about Overgrown by the Gospel
May the gospel make ruins of our pride and selfishness. May we be overgrown by the gospel.

Read more about 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.

Resurrecting Goodness :: Readers’ Choice

Selected by reader, Matt Tullos from Alexandria, LA
I loved the grit of this meditation and scripture. Great insight into the humanity and intimacy of our connection with Jesus. It was a reminder to me that he is incarnate in the present. Our connection isn’t hidden in the future. It’s now. I love the concept of a God with dirty hands restoring everything to himself.

Originally posted April 23, 2018, based on readings from Ecclesiastes 10 and Titus 2.

In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us. — Titus 2.7-8

Reflection: Resurrecting Goodness :: Readers’ Choice
By John Tillman

It would be easy to misread the second chapter of Paul’s letter to Titus as a legalistic list of behaviors to enforce—complete with injunctions against addictions and stealing and including commendations of moral purity and of showing respect for masters and for husbands.

But these actions are not requirements of the gospel as much as they are results of it. They are differentiators—showing the evidence of God at work among the Christian community.

Nearly every religion promises transcendent joy and peace in the hereafter. Christianity describes a God willing to get his hands dirty fixing things in the here and now.

Our God is not a distant observer, merely passing judgement. He is a present participant, showing the dignity of work by engaging in it himself. He works on us as Paul says, he, “gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”

Even Christ’s resurrection wasn’t about his cosmic survival, it was about us. Christ didn’t stick around after his resurrection to “prove” he was alive. If he cared about incontrovertible proof, Christ would simply have leapt off of the top of the Temple as he was tempted to do at the beginning of his ministry.

Christ invested time between his resurrection and his ascension preparing his followers for the coming of the Holy Spirit and getting them ready to do the work the Holy Spirit would prompt them to do.

It is a uniquely Christian claim that God is invested in our present, not just our future. His Holy Spirit is our present down payment on the future eternity we will one day inherit. And right now, in each moment, the Holy Spirit inhabits us giving us the connection, the power, and the ability to resurrect goodness into the world.

During the season of Easter, we transition from a Christ who walked around in a body like ours, doing good in the ancient world of the past, to a Christ whose Spirit walks around in our bodies prompting us to do good in our world right now.

When we engage in the gospel that Paul describes to Titus, the natural result will be a connection to the Spirit that makes us “eager” to do good.

May we connect with the Spirit of Christ and resurrect goodness of speech, goodness in teaching, and goodness in action for those in our communities.

Prayer: The Greeting
O Lord, what are we that you should care for us? Mere mortals that you should think of us?
We are like a puff of wind; our days are like a passing shadow. — Psalm 144.3-4

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

Prayers from The Divine Hours available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Jeremiah 29 (Listen – 5:44)
Mark 15 (Listen – 5:16)

Additional Reading
Read More about Present Glory
Thus God’s glory among men is his goodness, his mercy, his justice, his truth.

Read More about Rhythms of Grace and Discipline
Spiritual disciplines, practiced well, are not contradictory to grace, but extensions of it.

Readers’ Choice
We still have room for you to suggest your favorite posts of the year. Submit a Readers Choice post.
Tell us about a post and what it meant to you.

Support our Work
Over 4,000 people every week read an email devotional from The Park Forum. Support our work with a monthly or a one time donation.

Spur a spiritual rhythm of refreshment right in your inbox
By joining this email list you are giving us permission to send you devotional emails each weekday and to communicate occasionally regarding other aspects of the ministry.
100% Privacy. We don't spam.