Day Two: Be in Awe of the Extent of His Love for You”

Read the following quotes from the Psalms that speak of the Lord as our shield: “You are a shield around me” (3.3), “You surround them with your favor as with a shield” (5.12), “my shield and the horn of my salvation” (18.2), “You make your saving help my shield” (18.35), “my strength and shield” (28.7), “our help and shield” (33.20), “a sun and shield” (84.11), “their help and shield” (115.9, 10, 11), “my refuge and my shield” (119.114), “my shield, in whom I take refuge” (144.2).

Take a look at this painting by Jonathan Shaw, “Jesus: Our Shield & Refuge”—

In the caption the artist writes, “Be in awe of the extent of His love for you.”

Take a moment to consider how much the Lord has been a shield to you and your loved ones. Think of moments in your life where the Lord was your shield… moments when he protected your family, spared you from pain, preserved your health, guarded your well-being. Many times we are not aware of the lengths God goes to protect us. May the Spirit reveal to you “the extent of His love for you.” Write them down and give thanks to the Lord.

Let’s sing “Peace Be Still” (Lauren Daigle):

Let’s pray: Lord, you surround us with your favor like a shield. You protect us even when we are not aware of the dangers around us. So many things could have happened to us… but you protected us. Thank you, Lord… my shield in whom I take refuge… thank you, Lord…

-JP

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Day One: May the Lord cause you to flourish!

“God is our shield” comes from one of the earliest revelations of who God says he is to his believers, and therefore foundational to our faith. God is our shield against things that can threaten our well-being. To place our trust in Him is to place ourselves solely under His protection when our well-being is at risk.

Take this moment to declare the truth of God’s word over your life, over your loved ones. As you proclaim that the Lord is your help and shield, may your trust in the Lord deepen.

“All you Israelites, trust in the Lord—

he is their help and shield.

House of Aaron, trust in the Lord—

      he is their help and shield.

You who fear him, trust in the Lord—

      he is their help and shield.

The Lord remembers us and will bless us…

      he will bless those who fear the Lord—

May the Lord cause you to flourish…

May you be blessed by the Lord,

      the Maker of heaven and earth.

It is not the dead who praise the Lord,

      those who go down to the place of silence;

it is we who extol the Lord,

      both now and forevermore.

Praise the Lord.” (Psalm 115.9-18)

“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Rm 8.16). This is flourishing! Let’s pray: Father, thank you for your protection, thank you for walking with us. Lord, think of us, and bless us today…

Let’s sing “Full Revelation” together:

-JP

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Day Five: More Sheep

John 10:16 (NLT) – I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd. 

 “Jesus says, there are ‘other sheep’ that do not come from this sheepfold…They too will recognize Jesus’ voice and follow him, so that there will be one flock and one shepherd. This is Jesus’ vision for the unity of the church….For the first time, Jesus is anticipating in detail the wider scope of his ministry to reach the world.” [Gary Burge, NIVAC, p. 292]

Let’s take time to thank God for inviting us to live with greater purpose than just ourselves. Although we are his sheep constantly in need of his protection and care, we are also invited to join with him in bringing “other sheep” into the fold. This is our ultimate calling in the Lord.

Prayer: “Lord, thank you for sharing your heart with us. Would you stretch our hearts to love others like you do? May your love be evident in us, as we seek to embody Christ in our cities, communities, workplaces, and campuses. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Let us worship to the song “Here and Now” by North Point Worship.

 

 

-GW

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Day Four: Hearing the Shepherd’s Voice

John 10:4b-5, 14-15a (NIV) – His sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice…I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.

“We have already learned that sheep ‘know’ the shepherds voice (10:4), but now we learn that this knowledge is mutual and exhaustive (10:14). Moreover, the model for this intimacy is the mutual knowledge shared between the Son and the Father – and here Jesus slips out of the parable and speaks directly of himself and God. His profound relationship with God characterizes the intimacy he seeks with his followers, as he and the Father share profound love, so too Jesus and his flock share this quality of love.”  [Gary Burge, NIVAC, 291]

Prayer: “Lord, thank you for the cross. Because you willingly laid your life down for us, we have access to the Father and can have an intimate relationship with you. Help us to hear your voice as you lead our churches, missional groups, and campuses. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Let us worship to the song “Cornerstone” by Jesus Culture.

 

-GW

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Day Three: Gathering the Scattered

Ezekiel 34:12 (NIV) – As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness.

“John’s picture of Jesus as the good shepherd has particular strong resonance with the depiction of God as shepherd of the people of Israel in Ezekiel 34. There God’s sheep are said to be scattered, becoming food for wild animals, because they had untrustworthy shepherds…God indicts these worthless shepherds for the failures, announcing that he himself will shepherd his people, gather them from the various lands to which they have scattered.” [Marianne Meye Thompson, New Testament Library: John, p. 58]

One of the primary tasks of a shepherd is to gather his sheep, especially if they have been scattered. At times, we may feel that our lives are scattered and in disarray as well. Instead of relying on ourselves, let’s turn to Christ and rely on the Spirit’s power to make us whole.

 Prayer: “Lord, I turn to you. Help me not depend on my self-sufficiency any longer. Thank you that you are our rescuer. Bring our scatters thoughts and lives back into order. We are unable without your breakthrough in our lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Let’s worship to “Where Would We Be” by Matt Redman.

 

-GW

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Day Two: Lacking Nothing

Psalm 23:1 (NLT) – The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.

“The bold confession, ‘I AM is my shepherd,’ establishes an intimate I-Thou relationship between I AM and the individual Israelite; asserts the individual’s total dependence upon God’s goodness and kindness to care for him; and entails that his relationship is based on loving trust.” [Bruce Waltke, The Psalms as Christian Worship: A Historical Commentary, p. 437]

Are you restless, tired, or in want? Do you feel like you if you just had X, things would be better? The truth is that God is our shepherd. Because of this, we are covered. We have everything that we need. We lack absolutely nothing. Even more, our relationship with God is built on loving trust. When we put all our trust in him, he leads us to peaceful streams and our cups overflow! Today, God invites us again to experience satisfaction in his presence. Let’s find contentment in Christ and Christ alone.

Prayer: “Lord, you are my shepherd. I have everything that I need. Help me to fix my eyes on you and to trust your ways. You have blessed me so much, and in more ways than I can count. May I be fully satisfied in you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Let’s worship to “Psalm 23 (Surely Goodness, Surely Mercy)” by Shane & Shane.

 

 

-GW

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Day One: Jesus is Devoted to Us

John 10:11 (NIV) – I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

“The most important feature of Jesus’ role as shepherd is that he lays down his life for the sheep. Of course, his intention is to live and protect them. But the point here is that he cares for them so much that he is willing to come between his flock and danger. He is willing to die for them…Therefore Jesus is pointing to the depth of his love for the flock of God and his commitment to die for them in obedience to God’s will.” [Gary Burge, NIVAC, p. 291]

Let’s take a moment and let this reality sink in. Jesus, our good shepherd, is entirely devoted to us. He not only loves us, cares for us, and protects us, but Jesus is deeply committed to us no matter what.  Even when we feel abandoned or alone, Jesus is with us, sacrificing himself so that we might have the best and most abundant life.

Prayer: “Lord Jesus, help me to live in the truth that you are the good shepherd. May your love, protection, healing, and devotion to me soften my heart. Draw me close to you and help me step into the abundant life you have prepared for me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Let’s worship to “God, You’re So Good” by Passion.

 

-GW

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Day Five: The Lord Carries Me, Carries You

Isaiah 46:3-4 (NLT) – “Listen to me, descendants of Jacob, all you who remain in Israel. I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born. I will be your God throughout your lifetime—until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.

“Hasn’t it already been so good? Being carried by God all these years. We’ve gotten to see over three decades worth of one another’s lives…We have gotten to see three decades worth of life stories amongst us…where we can point back at one another’s lives and both laugh and cry again and say, ‘God carried me, God carried you, God carried us through those times.’ Because each and every time we turned away from other passions, other pursuits and honored God as our first love – the one we place our trust in, the one who is worth our all…did he not draw near, pick us up and carry us once again on the path he has set for us?” [from Anne Kim’s message]

Spend a moment in thankfulness to the Lord, remembering how he has carried you in his faithful love.

Prayer: “Lord, we thank you that it is by your grace that we have been able to turn away from other passions and other pursuits and honored you as our first love. Jesus you are our greatest and first love!  We thank you that we have experienced, are experiencing and will continue to experience your faithful ‘carrying’ in our lives!” In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Let’s close in worship with “The Blessing” by Kari Jobe/Elevation Worship. Let’s sing this over our lives as we prayerfully remember one another in the church and also, pray that others will be brought into being carried by our Father in Heaven.

– EK

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Day Four: Being Carried…Finding Rest

Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT) – Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

“Few people know how to rest these days. Even on vacation, many people rush to cram in as much as they can before returning to their jobs, where they spend twice as much energy catching up on the work and mail that piled up in their absence. Many of us need vacations just to rest from our vacations! Perhaps, we have been looking for rest in the wrong places. Jesus said, “Come to Me . . . and I will give you rest.” Like peace, rest and contentment can be found only in one place, from one source, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus gives us the ultimate rest, the confidence we need, to escape the frustration and chaos of the world around us. Rest in Him and don’t worry about what lies ahead. Jesus Christ has already taken care of tomorrow.” [Billy Graham, Hope for Each Day Morning and Evening Devotions, p. 42]

Daily, let’s turn away from the idols that hinder us and instead, come to the Lord, in full surrender and dependence on him.

Prayer: “Lord, I look to you and come to you in full surrender and dependence. Let me live restfully in your presence today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Let’s worship to “Power of Your Love” sung by Darlene Zschech (Hillsong).

– EK

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Day Three: No Fail Living

Isaiah 46:1-4 (NIV) – Bel bows down, Nebo stoops low; their idols are borne by beasts of burden. The images that are carried about are burdensome, a burden for the weary. They stoop and bow down together; unable to rescue the burden, they themselves go off into captivity. “Listen to me, you descendants of Jacob, all the remnant of the people of Israel, you whom I have upheld since your birth, and have carried since you were born. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you.I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.

Here, it is very clear that God is the one who delivers us, and idols fail us. As we reflect on this truth, let’s remember Lien Briggs’ testimony: “…but realized how I had fixed my life all around my job security and being sure I wouldn’t lose it, because I felt like it was the only thing that allowed me to be sure…Thankfully we had Sunday worship the next day, God met me and I was able to repent of prideful and selfish thinking. I came to the Lord with all my burdens and concerns that I felt that I was supposed to take care of, when in fact I just had to lay them at his feet. I realized that I was living as if I was living without the Lord in this area of my life, and that I was not trusting in the Lord but, rather, taking things into my own hands…I felt a big weight lifted off my shoulders and knew that God would take care of my career and my future much better than I could.”

Prayer: “Lord, I repent of my pride and selfish ways that have hindered me in fully depending on you. I surrender all the burdens, cares and worries I have today and lay them at your feet, because, you, Lord, never fail as you promise in your word of how you will carry me through all of life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Let’s close in worship to “How Great Is Your Love” by Kristian Stanfill (Passion).

– EK

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