“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…”
The image of a shepherd is widely used in the language and illustrations of the Bible, and is one that was well understood by the people of that day. The life of a shepherd was difficult at best, at times dangerous, and he was never off duty. In addition to being helpless on their own, his sheep were prey to wolves, bears, lions, thieves, robbers, the elements, and the rugged terrain. The shepherd in Bible times was vigilant, fearless, patient, and caring, living for the well-being of his flock. It is no wonder that Jesus used the image of a shepherd as a type of self-sacrifice to convey the message of the Gospel and of who He is.
As I think about Jesus as my shepherd, I am comforted that he knows me personally and filled with gratitude by realizing that there is nothing he will not do to protect me because of his love for me. He is not just a good shepherd, but my good shepherd. As a sheep protected and cared for by my shepherd, how can I know him more? As I live my life, I want to hear his voice more clearly through reflecting on scripture and by listening in my prayer time.
There are many people in my life that don’t know Jesus, in my family, at work, and those that I run into from time to time. I want to be a person who can share my faith with others and be confident in the beliefs I have. I want others to be comforted and filled with joy knowing that we have a shepherd who laid down his life for us. Lord, help me to spend time with you daily in your Word and in prayer so that I can know you more and share you with others.
Get to a place where you can focus and read the daily Scripture passage several times. From the passage of Scripture you read, highlight one or two verses that stick out. Write them down, and even consider rewriting the verse(s) in your own words.
Make some basic observations about the scripture you just read by asking these questions:
- Why was this written?
- To whom was it originally written?
- What is the author trying to communicate?
- What does the Scripture passage teach me about God and humanity?
After taking some time explaining the highlighted scriptures, begin to think about how they apply to your life. Ask yourself these questions and spend some time writing down your thoughts:
- What do these verses mean today?
- What does this verse(s) mean for my life?
- How does this verse challenge my thinking and actions?
- What changes do I need to make in my life as a result of this passage of Scripture?
Your response to the passage may take on many forms. You may write a call to action. You may describe how you will be different because of what God has said to you through the Bible verses. You may indicate what you are going to do because of what you learned. You may respond by writing out a prayer to God. For example, you may ask God to help you to be more loving, or to give you a desire to be more generous in your giving. Keep in mind that this is your response to what you have just read.