MONDAY, AUGUST 22
Connect: John 10
- What difference did Jesus describe between a shepherd and a thief?
- In this illustration, what is represented by the sheep, the shepherd, and the thieves?
- What happens when the shepherd calls his sheep?
- What happens when a stranger calls the sheep?
- In the Good Shepherd Discourse, Jesus presents himself as the legitimate shepherd of God’s people, casting the religious leadership as illegitimate. Jesus is both the door and the shepherd. The door represents salvation. Anyone desiring abundant life must enter the fold through Jesus. At the same time, Jesus is the good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep. By contrast, other would-be religious leaders are likened to thieves, robbers, and hired hands who desert the flock in times of danger. Jesus’ vision of one flock and one shepherd alludes to prophetic passages in Ezekial and Isaiah. Jesus promises that all who hear his voice as the good shepherd and come to him will be saved and protected in his fold. His sheep hear his voice and follow. Ask the Lord to let you hear his voice clearly.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 23
Connect: Ezekiel 34
- Who are the shepherds of Israel?
- What were the shepherds not doing?
- What is the difference between the fat and the lean sheep?
- Who is the shepherd established over God’s people?
- Who would be the God of the people?
- Ezekiel condemns the leaders of Judah for not caring for their flock. Instead of teaching the pure word of God, these shepherds were enriching themselves at the expense of the sheep, probably giving comfort to people in their sin instead of encouraging them to repent. False prophets taught according to what would help them succeed rather than professing the truth. In answer to this, we see hints of the incarnation in the description of the Davidic king (Jesus) as shepherd of Israel. God himself would come in human flesh to redeem the lost sheep of Israel. This has been accomplished in Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, who will never lead us astray as we seek to follow him.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 24
Connect: Hebrews 13
- What does 13:8 teach about Jesus?
- Where else are similar ideas taught?
- What warning does the author give in 13:9?
- Why does verse 9 follow verse 8?
- Knowing that Jesus is unchanging has immense practical ramifications for us. One reason we find it difficult to trust others is that we know that people change. We routinely find our affections and our views on matters both trivial and significant changing over time. This is not so when it comes to Jesus. Because he does not change, we have no reason to fear that he will ever stop loving us. His unchanging nature gives us a fixed anchor. He cannot be defeated and he can never tell us anything but the truth.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 25
Connect: 1 Peter 2
- What passage is quoted in 2:6, and in what sense is Jesus like a cornerstone?
- Who were the builders, how did they reject Jesus, and how did He still become the cornerstone?
- To whom should we submit according to – 2:13,14?
- Who is the best leader you have ever had outside of your family?
- Why is knowing your flock so important to a leader?
- How can you tell if a leader is sacrificing for you or using you for his benefit?
- Identify one thing a leader is doing to make your life better?
FRIDAY, AUGUST 26
Connect: 1 Peter 3
- When and how should we give answers to those who question us – 3:15?
- What benefit will a good conscience accomplish – 3:16?
- For what should we suffer, and for what should we not suffer – 3:17?
- That we must bless those who persecute us shows us that we are not always to endure suffering in silence. Today’s passage confirms this, calling us to give a gentle and reasonable answer to those who ask about our living hope. Therefore, we must all become apologists. We must equip ourselves to defend the faith. Are you equipped to be a defender of the faith? Have you studied things such as the historical background of Scriptureand the evidence for Christ’s resurrection so that you can answer the critics of the faith? Take some time to review some of the evidence for the truth of the Christian faith.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 27
Connect: 1 Peter 4
- What effect should Jesus’ suffering for us have on our lives?
- How should the life of a Christian differ from his past life?
- What were some of the sins people “walked in” ?
- First Peter 4 calls us again to look to Christ as our example in suffering. We read that since he suffered in the flesh, we must arm ourselves with the same way of thinking. As the second Adam, Jesus had to break decisively with sin for the sake of his people. By suffering for the sake of God’s will, Jesus made this break with sin. He ceased from sin on our behalf, not by renouncing his own sin for he was sinless, but by standing firm in the midst of temptation. Instead of abandoning the cross, he fulfilled God’s will that he die to save his people. We too must cease from sin by being so willing to do God’s will that we would suffer at the hands of the civil authority and society rather than disobey his will in order to avoid pain. Make every effort to arm yourself with Christ’s way of thinking so that you would be willing to suffer rather than do evil.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 28
Connect: Philippians 1
- What outcome did Paul have confidence would result from his circumstances – 1:25?
- How would this benefit the Philippians?
- Whether or not Paul saw them again, what kind of life did he urge them to lead?
- How does he describe their need for unity?
- We can not overestimate our need for the Christian community for our own faithfulness to our Savior in this world. All of the greatest leaders in church history had the support of fellow believers whereby they were able to stand firm for the gospel in one spirit and one mind. We are setting ourselves up for disaster if we believe we can walk out the Christian faith alone so let us work hard for our unity with the other believers in the gospel.