Memory Verse: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. Psalm 23:1
This week we continue to look at the Good Shepherd and examine discipleship from the viewpoint of the Shepherd’s care of His sheep. We recently focused on the disciplines in our lives that strengthen our relationship with our shepherd. (Bible reading, memorization, meditation, etc….) Continue to work on those disciplines as this week we take a deeper look at the bond between a shepherd (our Good Shepherd) and his sheep (us, as Christians).
Monday: Reading God’s Word (Psalm 23)
Most people have heard of the 23rd Psalm. It is quoted in music, spoken of in our worship services, read at funeral services. There are many Psalms that come to mind when we need them most. They inspire us, comfort us, and correct us. Let’s begin this week by reading through the 23rd Psalm. Since it’s such a short read, let’s also read through some other popular Psalms.
Tuesday: Memorizing God’s Word (Psalm 23)
This week, commit to memorizing part or all of the 23rd Psalm. Scripture memorization is important as it helps us to recall important words that give us comfort, led us in instruction and correction, minister to others, and praise God with His inspired Word. A great app that was shared in my Sunday School class to help with this is Scripture Typer.
Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday: Meditating on God’s Word, studying God’s Word, and integrating God’s Word into our lives. (Psalm 23)
Read back through the chapter. Meditate on its words. Seek wisdom, through prayer, on how God would have you interpret its words.
Example: For verse 23:1, look up John 10:11 and I Peter 2:25
For verse 23:4 Look up Psalm 27:1 and 107:14
For verse 23:5 Look up Psalm 16:5 and 92:10
For verse 23:6 Look up Psalm 25:6, 7, 10
End the week by writing a summary of Psalm 23 and also writing a prayer of thanksgiving. Continue to memorize these words and test what you’ve learned by writing out the Psalm without having to peek at your Bible.
This Week’s Memory Verse:
Characteristics of a Shepherd
Read 1 Peter 5:2-5
Peter describes several characteristics of good leaders in the church:
Praying For Our Shepherds
Read Jeremiah 3:15
God promised to give His people shepherds who would follow him, filled with knowledge and understanding. God saw Israel's lack of direction, so He promised to provide the right kind of leadership. We look to and trust our leaders for guidance and direction. But if they do not follow God, they will lead us astray. How often do we complain about those in leadership positions? How can we be of help to them so that they may stay on track as they provide leadership? We must uplift them and hold them accountable while accepting their guidance. Pray for God-honoring leaders in our nations, communities, and churches-those who will be good examples and bring us God's wisdom.
A Shepherd’s Authority
Read 1 Peter 5:1,2
Peter, one of Jesus' 12 disciples, was one of the three who saw Christ's glory at the Transfiguration. Often the spokesman for the apostles, Peter witnessed Jesus' death and resurrection, preached at Pentecost, and became a pillar of the Jerusalem church. But writing to the elders, he identified himself as a fellow elder, not a superior. He asked them to "shepherd the flock of God," exactly what Jesus had told him to do. Peter was taking his own advice as he worked along with the other elders in caring for God's faithful people. His identification with the elders is a powerful example of Christian leadership, where authority is based on service, not power.
The Ultimate Shepherd
Read Psalm 23
In describing the Lord as a Shepherd, David wrote out of his own experience because he had spent his early years caring for sheep. Sheep are completely dependent on the shepherd for provision guidance and protection. The New Testament calls Jesus the Good Shepherd, the Great Shepherd, and the Chief Shepherd. As the Lord is the Good Shepherd, so we are his sheep – not frightened, passive animals, but obedient followers wise enough to follow one who will lead us in the right places and in the right way. This Psalm does not focus on the animal-like qualities of sheep but on the discipleship qualities of those who follow.
Look up John 10:11, 1 Peter 5:4, and Hebrews 13:20
Which scripture describes Jesus as the good shepherd, great shepherd, and chief shepherd?
This week we learned about the role of scripture in our lives. We learned about the disciplines of reading, memorizing, meditating, integrating, and studying God’s word. Over the next five days, we will put those disciplines into practice.
Monday: Reading God’s Word
Today we will set up a reading plan which we will follow for the remainder of the week. Choose any book of the Bible and divide the number of chapters in that book by five. This will tell you how many chapters you need to read each day to complete the book by Friday. Ask God to help you commit and set aside time each day.
Tuesday: Memorizing God’s Word
It is important to memorize God’s Word. Knowing God’s commandment helps us know how to live our lives in a way that is acceptable to God. Memorizing Scripture also helps us to be ready to witness to others. Read Psalm 119:11. I memorizing God’s word to heart, we can better keep ourselves in check, thus setting a greater example to others.
Consider memorizing some of the Scriptures that you are reading during your reading plan this week.
Wednesday: Meditating on God’s Word
Read Philippians 4:8
Here Paul says to think about these things. He is telling us to ponder and reflect. Meditating will mean different things for different people. For some it is simply pondering Scripture quietly for deeper meaning. For others it may mean speaking the Scriptures aloud and having a conversation about them with God as a means to attain understanding.
Plan to spend your reading time today in a quiet place. Meditate on God’s words.
Thursday: Integrating God’s Word into our lives
Before focusing on today’s reading plan, pray and ask God to show you as you study His word, how it can be applied to your life. A great way to start is to personalize the Scriptures you’re reading by putting your name into each verse. If you like to journal, consider writing what you’ve learned and making a plan to apply it to your life. The more Scripture that we put into our lives, the more our lives will reflect the Scripture that we read.
Friday: Studying God’s Word
It is important for us to study the instructions and stories that God has given to us. 2 Timothy 3:16 – 17 says that Scripture is profitable for teaching, correcting, training, and equipping.
"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11
Start this week by reading 2 Peter 1:3, 5-8.
Peter tells us that God has provided us with all that we need and it is our responsibility to put forth effort to grow. We can grow in our faith using a variety of spiritual disciplines. These will help us to be productive and effective as individuals and as a church family. We will look at a few of these disciplines this week.
Prayer is commanded in the Bible. The discipline of prayer is a way to be obedient to this commandment. Prayer requires concentration and focus. Teaching our cells to concentrate is one of the reasons we close our eyes to pray. We also need to close our ears and mind as well to the many distractions around us.
Prayer harvests humility, dependence on God, and compassion for others. Prayer should include, among other things, praise for God's greatness, gratitude for God's gifts, petitions for you and others, confession of your struggles and sins, and whatever the spirit brings to your mind.
Sometimes when we feel stuck or without words we can turn to the Bible to find prayers. Look up the following prayers and keep them close by.
Worship is more than an activity: it is an attitude- an attitude of awe and gratitude, of humble submission to God's greatness and grace, of obedience and love.
The spiritual discipline of worship is not limited to the activities we do on Sundays. Every activity and every relationship in our daily life can be a way to worship God. Sunday worship is the best initial training ground for this discipline. As we continue developing this habit of worshiping God, we will see Sunday worship as the beginning of our worship, rather than as the only worship time.
Look up the following verses which give the biblical basis and examples of worship. Pay attention to how we can incorporate this into our daily lives.
Fasting is not a spiritual discipline that you hear much about. Many times it is dismissed as an old practice. However, fasting is an important opportunity for meaningful spiritual growth.
So, what is fasting and how do I do it?
Fasting fosters humility, reliance on God, compassion, gratitude, and self control. Fasting is not simply giving up something but rather giving up the time that something would fill and dedicating that time to God through prayer and Biblical reflection. Fasting from food is a good way to practice fasting. However, there are other things which you could abstain from that may be more effective. Television and social media often consumes much of our lives. When we fast from these things, as well as other things, we are reminded that our dependence on God is sufficient. In the Bible, we can see how fasting was often a way of seeking God's favor or guidance. Look up the following verses and spend time in prayer asking God what area of your life would benefit most from a time of fasting.
Evangelism is an important spiritual discipline. Evangelism is a command that is given to Christian but sharing one's faith with others doesn't always come natural. Studying the scriptures helps us to become more confident which will in turn help us evangelize. The more we know about God and His plan, the better we can share it. Prayer is also a helpful tool in preparing for evangelism. The closer we are to God, the more likely we are to share with others. It is important that we train ourselves instruments used by God.
Read about Jesus’ command to his people to spread the gospel in Matthew 28:19-20
Look up 1st Peter 3:15. Peter is telling believers that they must be ready to give an answer concerning the hope they have. Are you ready to give an answer?
Friday: Wrap up
Spiritual disciplines should be....
Practices that permeate every area of our lives. Ones that help us focus on God as well as building up other believers. Disciplines help us to realize our dependence on God and give us the desire to follow His will.
Spiritual disciplines should not be....
Impossible or unrealistic. They should not be used as a benchmark to judge other people spiritual maturity. And they should not be used as an outward way to cover up inward sin.
Be sure to spend time focusing on what disciplines you already have in place in your life and how you can improve those practices. Reach out to God and ask Him what discipline you are missing and be open to the changes He will make in your life.
Riverview Family Devotion Guides
Family devotion guides are provided to help reinforce the "Big Idea" that is studied in Sunday School and presented in the Pastor's message each week.