Helping Fathers and the Fatherless

Psalm 109.9-12
May his children be fatherless
    and his wife a widow.
May his children be wandering beggars;
    may they be driven from their ruined homes.
May a creditor seize all he has;
    may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor.
May no one extend kindness to him
    or take pity on his fatherless children.

Reflection: Helping Fathers and the Fatherless
By John Tillman

People of David’s time understood that fatherlessness was a known cause of suffering for children and families. If children were fatherless, they were expected to be poor, wandering beggars. God’s people are commanded to be compassionate to widows and orphans precisely because God knew and cared for their hardship. 

What David may not have foreseen, however, is that today’s fatherless children would suffer not only the disinterest of society but the disinterest of their own fathers. Most of the fatherless children in David’s day knew that it was the horrors of war or exile or accident that had taken their fathers away unwillingly. Today’s fatherless often are left fatherless by choice not by catastrophe. They aren’t orphans of war, but of willful abandonment.

According to Vincent Dicaro at the National Fatherhood Initiative, fatherhood in the United States has made some gains in recent years, but not for everyone.

“While it is true that among middle-class families, father involvement is looking very good, it is also true that America has record levels of father absence, a crisis that mainly affects lower-income families. In fact, 24 million children, 1 out of every 3, lives in a home in which their biological father does not live. That rate is closer to 2 out of 3 in the African American community. And among those children living in father-absent homes, 1/3 have no contact with their dads, and another 1/3 have contact once per month or less.

So, the picture is actually quite bleak in too many communities across the country.” 


Fathers in our communities need the church’s help and support, not our judgment. The fatherless are in our communities not to suffer for the sins of their parents, but that we might have an opportunity to demonstrate the love of God, their true Father.

May we, along with introducing our communities to God the Father, introduce them to a definition and example of fatherhood that is based on the love that God has shown us.

May we work to ensure that the benefits of fatherhood and the resources needed to be a good father are spread to all levels of our communities.

May we lovingly bless the fatherless in our communities knowing that they are not there because of the sin of themselves or their parents, but that through them we might show the glory of God.

Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Come now and see the works of God, how wonderful he is in his doings toward all people. — Psalm 66.5

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

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 19 (Listen – 3:04) 
Psalm 106 (Listen – 4:52) 

This Weekend’s Readings
Deuteronomy 20 (Listen – 2:55), Psalm 107 (Listen – 4:12) 
Deuteronomy 21 (Listen – 3:33), Psalm 108-109 (Listen – 4:28) 

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 Fatherhood’s Collapse, Love’s Destruction
Our view of love is anemic because our view of fatherhood is so damaged. It is God’s fatherhood that gives the depth, intimacy, and love we desire most

Read more about The Father of Fathers
You are the Father all fathers should be.
Gentle. Caring. Loving. Righteous. Just.

Why Do We Need the Leading of the Spirit? :: Throwback Thursday

Psalm 105.1-4
Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
    make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
    tell of all his wonderful acts.
Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Look to the Lord and his strength;
    seek his face always.

Reflection:  Why Do We Need the Leading of the Spirit? :: Throwback Thursday
By Thomas Jacomb (1622–1687)

The leading of the Spirit—O, how highly necessary is it! Who can be without it?

What becomes of the poor blind man that has none to guide him? Of the weak child that has none to uphold it? Alas! the poor sinner, in both respects, does more need the Spirit’s leading inwardly, than either of these need external leading.

Such is our spiritual blindness—our aptness to wander, our ignorance of our way, our liableness to fall down. Without a divine hand to guide us, we are lost. Such, too, is our spiritual debility and weakness, as that, if the Spirit of God do not hold us up in our going, “taking us by our arms,” we fall immediately. How absolutely necessary, therefore, is the Spirit’s leading, both for direction and also for sustentation!

Christian prudence, caution, and circumspection, is our duty; but do we lay the stress of our confidence upon that? “The steps of our strength shall be straightened, and our own counsel shall cast us down.” So long as you think [that] you can go by yourself, the Spirit will not take you by the hand to lead you.

Would you have him to lead you? O, let your trust and reliance be upon him; and see that you renounce all confidences in yourselves. He who thinks he has wisdom or grace enough in himself to “order his conversation aright,” shall never find the Spirit to be a guide to him.

Pray much for this grace of the Spirit. How much was David in prayer to God for this!

“Lead me in thy truth, and teach me.”
“Lead me, O Lord, in thy righteousness; make thy way straight before my face.”
“For thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.”
“Lead me in the way everlasting.”
“Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy Spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.”
O, what a desirable mercy is this leading mercy! Will you not every day make this your request?

Prayer: The Request for Presence
Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. — Psalm 86.4

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

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 18 (Listen – 3:08) 
Psalm 105 (Listen – 4:02) 

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 Unfathomable Love
We must “honor the Son, even as we honor the Father;” and we must love the Father, as we love the Son.

Read more about The Necessity of The Spirit
We need the Spirit in our lives not because our skills, our wealth, and our influence cannot accomplish things of significance, but because what is truly significant is often hidden.

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!
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 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!
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 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.

Read more about Supporting our Work
We keep our site ad-free and produce over 100,000 words per year of free devotional content that is read across the world by 4,000 daily readers. We are tremendously thankful to God for using our community to bring God’s Word to people in cities around the world!

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.