October 11 – 16, 2021
Click on the day to expand the guide.
Monday, October 11
Read – John 10:1-5
Notice – Ezekiel was a Hebrew prophet during the Babylonian exile, said God promised to be a good shepherd who would seek out the lost, bring back the strays, bind up the wounded, and strengthen the weak” (Ezekiel 34:16). Jesus claimed this image and consistently reached out to those who weren’t sure of God’s love. He healed physical and mental wounds and specialized in calling the outcasts and the strugglers to follow him. Jesus’ shepherd image assumed a deep level of trust. Sheep can’t care for their own food and safety; they must trust their shepherd and know that the presence of the shepherd will keep them safe. How much of the hectic pace of your life grows from efforts to make sure you and those you love are safe and provided for? How can learning to trust that Jesus has already provided for the eternal security of all the people you love (including yourself) help you rest in him, to live less hectically and with greater peace?
Pray – Loving God, thank you for leading me every day. Even if I struggle to hear your voice, I trust that you’re there as the shepherd of my soul. Help me to find the path you’ve set before me. Amen.
Tuesday, October 12
Read – John 10:10-16
Notice – Psalm 23 and Jesus’ depiction as the ‘Good Shepherd’ has painted a rose colored image of shepherds in the ancient world. But in Jesus’ day, many people looked down on shepherds since they were nomadic, often poor, and smelled like their flock. In calling himself the good shepherd, Jesus shows us that a good shepherd always wants what is best for his sheep. Jesus came to offer us the best possible life, life “to the fullest.” Jesus said, “I have other sheep that don’t belong to this sheep pen” (John 10:16). By the time John wrote his gospel, there were likely many more Gentiles than people who shared John’s Jewish heritage among Christ followers. When have you been happily surprised to meet a believer from a “sheep pen” you didn’t realize Jesus loved as much as yours? Have you been able to uplift and bless people you’d have been uncomfortable with before you met Jesus? If you have yet to have an experience like that, how can you be present in the lives of others in such a way that you come to see them as Jesus does?
Pray – Jesus, I want to “live life to the fullest”—the way YOU define that phrase. Plant the seed of your word in my heart and grow it into a life that nourishes life in others. Amen.
Wednesday, October 13
Read – Matthew 28:16-20
Notice – This passage offers a command and a promise. Jesus gave the command to all his followers: “Go…make disciples of all nations…baptizing them…and teaching them…I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.” In what ways are you gifted to help be an influencer carrying out his commission and how does it help to know that Jesus is present with you? What does your faith teach others about following Jesus? The Greek word for baptizing means “immersed” or “submerged”. Think about the last time you felt immersed in a conversation. What was it about that time you shared with others that made it so special? How can we at Grace be more immersed in each other’s lives and in our life together as a the church?
Pray – Jesus, amazingly, I and your other followers are your strategic plan to reach the world. Grow me into a person who joyfully lives my role in following your marching orders. Amen.
Thursday, October 14
Read – 2 Timothy 1:5-8
Notice – Paul likely met Timothy’s mother and grandmother on his first visit to Lystra (Acts 14:6-20). Young Timothy had a strong faith heritage from those two women. When Paul returned to Lystra a few years later, he took Timothy with him on his second missionary journey (Acts 16:1-5). Unlike many converts in the ancient near east, Timothy didn’t have to unlearn ‘pagan’ habits of thought and worship. Even while they were apart, Paul sought to be present with Timothy through letters. In Paul’s day, the Roman emperors had begun to claim to be a god. Most Romans thought anyone who followed a different Lord (like Jesus) was not only a fool, early Christians were called both atheists and enemies of the state for not believing in Caesar as Lord. How does this change your understanding of verse 8 where Paul tells Timothy to not be ashamed of this testimony and faith. What is your testimony or story of faith? Are you ashamed or hesitant to share your faith with others?
Pray – Jesus, thank you for the people who have influenced me to take seriously your call on me to follow you. Grow my ability to be a positive influence on others. Amen
Friday, October 15
Read – Colossians 3:8-10
Notice – In this passage, Paul names anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language and lying as things to rid ourselves of as we seek to follow Christ. The reverse of malice and slander means that as followers of Jesus we should seek to be kind, patient, and honest. How easy or hard do you find it to set aside feelings of anger, rage or malice toward other people? How can you be kind even when in a situation when you might need to disappoint someone? If we are going to be present with one another, we also need to be honest with one another. It is easy to distort the truth and accusations of fake news are all around us. How can you try to put aside sweeping generalization or biased assumptions about other people and their inner motives? Have you ever had people make false judgments about you? How did that feel? Wouldn’t it have been better and more emotionally mature, to be upfront and honest with each other from the start?
Pray – Jesus, help me discard nurtured anger, with the other negative qualities Paul listed, as I would a dirty, worn-out shirt. Guide me as I follow you by putting on your new way of life. Amen.
Saturday, October 16
Read – Hebrews 11:39-12:3
Notice – The writer of Hebrews ended the list of great people of faith in chapter 11 by saying none of them had received the fullness of their eternal reward in this life. Then the letter used imagery from the marathon in the Greek Olympic Games to urge believers to run the entire race set before them with endurance. Jesus already ran the race of faith. As we run, we are following him, so we must fix our eyes on Jesus. Like a committed, trained runner, we must “throw off any extra baggage” and keep our inner focus always on Jesus. What ways have you found of “fixing your eyes on Jesus” amid all the demands of everyday life? What is one change you could make during the rest of 2021 that you believe would keep Jesus in clearer focus for you?
Pray – God, you’ve called me, not to one quick dash, but to what one writer called “a long obedience in the same direction.” Change my life priorities to focus more and more on following you. Amen.