Use this devo as you are able, in whole or in part. Don’t feel compelled to read it all. Simply read and meditate upon whatever catches your attention. The goal is enjoying time with God through His Word and in prayer. Questions about the devotional elements?
Call to Prayer
The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy. (Psalm 65:8)
Prayer of Confession
Confession is formative. It trains us to recognize the ways our hearts have become de-formed and how Christ is at work bringing redemption in our lives. Pray with this in mind.
Lord, we confess our sin. Although You never fail us, in our moments of trial and testing, we quickly question your character and promises—forgetting your past faithfulness. Our wisdom, rather than your Word, has been our lens for judging what is real. Although you have given the supreme sacrifice for us in Jesus Christ, we doubt your love when you ask us to give things up. We have been weak in our trust and love. Please forgive us and heal us and deliver us by your mercy. Amen.
Take a moment to confess your sins, knowing that he hears you.
This reading plan will help you to develop the habit of being in God’s Word each morning and evening. Come to this time with expectation. Expect God to reveal himself to you. Expect that he delights in you being there, even when you’ve wandered away. Growing a spiritual habit is a slow, patient process. So be kind to yourself as you grow!
Readings are hyperlinked. Simply hover over the passage or click Morning/Evening Reading (email version).
Praying the Psalms: Read slowly. Take note of words and phrases. Bring them before the Lord in prayer and personalize the passage as you pray.
NT Context: Luke is a most vigorous champion of the outsider. An outsider himself, the only Gentile in an all-Jewish cast of New Testament writers, he shows how Jesus includes those who typically were treated as outsiders by the religious establishment of the day: women, common laborers (sheepherders), the racially different (Samaritans), the poor. He will not countenance religion as a club. As Luke tells the story, all of us who have found ourselves on the outside looking in on life with no hope of gaining entrance (and who of us hasn’t felt it?) now find the doors wide open, found and welcomed by God in Jesus. Meditate on the passage, noting a few words or a phrase that stood out. Take them to God in prayer.
OT Context: The Exodus is a powerful and dramatic and true story of God working salvation. The story has generated an extraordinary progeny through the centuries as it has reproduced itself in song and poem, drama and novel, politics and social justice, repentance and conversion, worship and holy living. It continues to capture the imagination of men and women, especially men and women in trouble. It is significant that God does not present us with salvation in the form of an abstract truth, or a precise definition or a catchy slogan, but as story. Reflect on the passage. Who was the original audience, and what was their situation? How is that relevant to you today?
This section of the Devo focuses on the passage(s) for Sunday’s sermon. Use it to reflect upon the ways Christ has been working in your life this week. Makes a great midday reflection, or group discussion guide. Follow along with our Parables Reading Plan + Study Guideas we all read the Parables every day this Fall.
Read: John 10:1-18 + Ezekiel 34:11-31
Shepherds and sheep are some of Scriptures favorite images for God and his people. We are the “people of his pasture” and “the sheep under his care” (Psalm 95:7; 100:3). Yahweh is the shepherd who can turn a deathly valley into a haven and cause his sheepdogs of mercy (hesed) and goodness pursue you all the days of your life.
It’s no wonder that Jesus chooses it as a favorite among his images for himself. More than this, though, Israel’s religious leaders were supposed to serve as shepherds, yet routinely failed to protect the flock in favor of protecting their own interests.
Ezekiel 34 describes the vocational negligence of Israel’s shepherds as feeding themselves rather than the sheep! Leaving the weak and sick to fend for themselves rather than strengthening and healing them. Letting the injured limp along and leaving the straying to their own devices (Ex. 34:1-5).
The situation hadn’t improved by Jesus’ day, thus their incredulity at Jesus eating and association with sinners. Our reading from John’s gospel finds Jesus continuing his discussion with the Jews after his controversial healing of the man born blind (John 9). He moves our senses from seeing to hearing the Kingdom of God, which the religious leaders still seem incapable of doing.
Michael Card describes the parable this way,
“The shepherd calls the sheep to follow him after leading them out. The only redeeming characteristic of the sheep in this extended allusion is the fact that they are able to recognize the shepherd’s voice and listen to him. Their principal safety comes in recognizing the stranger’s voice and refusing to follow him. The small clutch of Jewish followers who have only recently come to believe in Jesus would do well to see that he is helping them understand how important it is that they learn to stop listening to and even flee from the thieves, robbers and hired hands, who represent the Pharisees. But this is John’s Gospel, and Jesus has just spoken a spiritual image, so we can be certain they will not understand.”
They don’t understand in Luke’s gospel either, though some will later on after the resurrection, which is a miracle and mystery of mercy that should cause us worship God all the more because the gospel can make thieves, robbers, and hired hands into sons and daughters of God’s pasture, and sheep under his care!
Questions to Ponder: Picture yourself among the Pharisees after the resurrection. What do you think changed for those who did come to believe? How would you respond?
Evening Prayer of Examen
Where did you move with or feel close to Jesus today?
Where did you resist or feel far from Jesus today?
Where is Jesus leading you tomorrow? Ask for joy as you follow him.
May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice. (Psalm 141:2)