Resting without Regressing

Scripture Focus: Joshua 23.1-2, 11
1After a long time had passed and the Lord had given Israel rest from all their enemies around them, Joshua, by then a very old man, 2 summoned all Israel—their elders, leaders, judges and officials—and said to them . . . 11 “So be very careful to love the Lord your God.” 

Student Writers Month:

This month, The Park Forum welcomes college and seminary student writers pursuing ministry careers. For more info about our yearly Student Writer program, see our website.

Reflection: Resting without Regressing
By João Moraes 

Rest is precisely what we need at the end of a hard season. That is what the people of Israel receive from God after long years of battles and turmoil. At the end of his life, Joshua tells the people that it’s time to look back and see “all that the Lord your God has done” for their sake (v. 3). Joshua then moves sharply from encouragements to warnings.

In verse 11, Joshua exhorts them to “attentively guard [their] heart to love the LORD” (my translation). In this season of rest, Joshua is concerned that the people will turn away from the Lord. Now that the battles have stopped, he is afraid that Israel will be influenced by the survivors of the defeated nations and end up trapped.

Seasons of rest lack the sense of urgency that comes with times of crisis. As they expose our vulnerability, crises often force us to an extreme choice. We can either despair or cling hopefully to something. When that ‘something’ is God, our faith is strengthened beyond measure as we hold steadfastly to the Lord and trust His provision. By contrast, in seasons of rest we don’t feel pushed either way, we can relax. But if relaxation means abandoning sanctification, we are passively turning away from God. This makes us vulnerable to traps from the Enemy. When we are not actively seeking the Lord, we are open to all the gods of our era: fame, lust, success, money, etc.

Mid-2021 feels like a time of rest in many places around the world. After more than a year of uncertainties, isolation, and constant deaths as we battled COVID-19, the vaccine finally made its way to a significant number of people. As we remember, empathize, and pray for the several places that are still struggling, we may sigh in relief as we rest from this battle. But Joshua reminds us to question ourselves and stay attentive.

What will I do now that life is going back to normal? How will I continue the practices of prayer and meditation that I developed during isolation? How will I make sure that this season of rest is an opportunity for growth and not a snare for stumbling?

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Gracious is the Lord and righteous; our God is full of compassion. — Psalm 116.4

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


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

This Weekend’s Readings
Joshua 24 (Listen– 5:39)Acts 4 (Listen – 5:15)
Judges 1 (Listen – 5:08), Acts 5 (Listen – 6:49)

Read More about Readers’ Choice 2021
It is time to hear from you about the posts from the past eleven months (September 2020 – July 2021) that have challenged, comforted, and helped you find new meaning in the scriptures.

https://forms.gle/ozM13qvW9ouSWhJS7

Read more about Hearts God Moves
May God move in our hearts…making his dwelling place with us and shining brightly through us…


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.

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.