Jesus, Good Shepherd

Jesus, Good Shepherd

(Devotion compiled by Ros McDonald)

Prayer:

God our Father, we have long known you to be the shepherd of Israel, but in Jesus we know you know us. He has spoken and speaks now through the Spirit words of nourishment and guidance in the Scriptures, and in words of friendship and counsel by his sisters and brothers with us. He has bound us together uniquely to be his family in the world, loving and serving others as he has loved and aided us. Holy and Blessed is our Lord Jesus Christ forever.

(Ron Gordon in Dad and Daughter)

Read:

John 10:11-15 (NIV)

Read this 3 times, each time asking God’s help and thinking about those words or phrases that leap out at you.

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

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.

Thought for the day:

… - will you hear

the shepherd’s voice?

he calls, he cares, enfolds you

in his snares of love

he holds you, like a newborn child

then whispers; ‘this is what I give’

and lays his life down

so that you might live

(Jennie Gordon in Dad and Daughter)

Image: near Sille, Turkey, Ros McDonald

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Jesus, gate for the sheep

Jesus, gate for the sheep

(Devotion by Ros McDonald)

Prayer: Gate for the sheep

Lord Jesus, gate for the sheep,

we thank you for the security we find in you and in you alone.

We ask your forgiveness for those times

when we have hidden away safely behind the walls of the sheep-pen

instead of walking the world in your name.

Lord Jesus, gate for the sheep,

we thank you for the fullness of life that you offer.

Forgive us when we settle for half measures or less,

thinking that eternal life is for the hereafter

rather than here and now.

Lord Jesus, gate for the sheep,

we pray for those who feel that they are not so much living as existing

and for those who feel vulnerable and alone at this time.

May they find the fullness of life and the eternal security that you offer to all.

(VirtualMethodistBlogspot)

Read:

John 10:6-10 (NIV)

Read this 3 times, each time asking God’s help and thinking about those words or phrases that leap out at you.

Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them. Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Thought for the day:

Slow down your reading and your breathing. Imagine a gate that separates an enclosed space from an open space. Jesus is standing at the gateway. In the enclosed space you are safe, for Jesus is close. When you are ready, go through the gateway and enjoy the freedom of the open space. Whenever you become unsure or frightened, you can return to the safety of the enclosed space. Know in the depths of your being that Jesus’ invitation is for you to have life and to have it to the full.

Finish by asking Jesus to watch over you this day.

Image: Sheepyard, Turkey, Wayne McDonald

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Jesus, Light of the world

Jesus, Light of the world

(Devotion compiled by Ros McDonald)

Prayer: Light of the World

Light of the World,

you dispel the dark shadows

which we fear in our lives,

and unmask what we conceal

and would rather ignore.

We founder on reefs of our own making

only because we choose not to journey

in the light of your truth.

Light of the World, you reveal new paths to us.

Light of the World, beacon of Calvary,

with burning hearts, we praise you.

(Jeff Shrowder, Scattered Seeds)

Read:

John 1:1-5 (NIV)

Read this 3 times, each time asking God’s help and thinking about those words or phrases that leap out at you.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Thought for the day:

Light in darkness is one of the most ancient and profound religious symbols. God as light is one of the most apt metaphors we have (with the added advantage of being non-gender specific). We are bodily creatures, living in this physical world, and we need concrete things like bread and wine, light and water, to remind us of God in all God’s extraordinary depth, beauty and unexpectedness. For Christians, prayer, with or without candles, is a practice grounded in the belief expressed in the prologue to John’s Gospel, ‘the light (of Christ) shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out’.

Sourced from Clare Boyd-Macrae’s blog http://www.clareboyd-macrae.com/

Clare works for the Uniting Church VicTas Synod.

Image: Photographed in Jerusalem by Chirag k on Unsplash

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Psalm 15 Living Close to god

Psalm 15 Living Close to god

(Devotion by Graeme Harrison)

PRAYER: Prayer after receiving Holy Communion

Grant, O Lord Jesus,

that the ears which have heard the voice of your songs

may be closed to the voice of dispute;

that the eyes which have seen your great love

may also behold your blessed hope;

that the tongues which have sung your praise

may speak the truth in love;

that the feet which have walked in your courts

may walk in the region of light;

and that the bodies which have received your living body

may be restored in newness of life.

Glory to you for your inexpressible gift. Amen.

Liturgy of Malabar, 5th century

Read:

Psalm 15. Read this 3 times, each time asking God’s help and thinking about those words or phrases that leap out at you.

A psalm of David.

1Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?

Who may live on your holy mountain?

2The one whose walk is blameless,

who does what is righteous,

who speaks the truth from their heart;

3whose tongue utters no slander,

who does no wrong to a neighbour,

and casts no slur on others;

4who despises a vile person;

who keeps an oath even when it hurts,

and does not change their mind;

5who lends money to the poor without interest;

who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.

Whoever does these things

will never be shaken.

(Psalm 15 NIV)

Thought for the Day:

David uses poetic language to express deep things. Of course, no-one could live in God’s Tabernacle/Tent; it was considered too holy for that. So what is David trying to express? He is imagining an ideal faithful follower of God who is so pure that God wouldn’t mind their company in the Holy of Holies. David is trying to imagine what this person looks like in their behaviour and attitudes. His list of behaviours is not meant to be exhaustive but it does reflect what he considered were key qualities in his culture and time.

I wonder if you were creating a short list of ideal behaviours for our time and culture what you would you write for your Psalm. Try writing your contemporary version of Psalm 15.

Ps What David could never imagine is what we now take for granted; that we do live in the presence of God’s Spirit within us 24/7 because of Christ.

Photo by [Jon Tyson](https://unsplash.com/@jontyson?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText) on [Unsplash](https://unsplash.com/s/photos/jesus?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText)

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Psalm 3: Help

Psalm 3: Help!

(Devotion by Graeme Harrison)

PRAYER: For Divine assistance

We beg you, Lord,

to help and defend us.

Deliver the oppressed,

pity the insignificant, raise the fallen;

show yourself to the needy, heal the sick,

bring back those of your people

who have gone astray;

feed the hungry, lift up the weak,

and take off the prisoners’ chains.

May every nation come to know

that you alone are God,

that Jesus Christ is your Child,

that we are your people

and the sheep of your pasture. Amen.

St Clement of Rome, 1st century

Read:

Psalm 3. Read this 3 times, each time asking God’s help and thinking about those words or phrases that leap out at you.

A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.

1Lord

, how many are my foes!

How many rise up against me!

2Many are saying of me,

“God will not deliver him.”

3But you, Lord, are a shield around me,

my glory, the One who lifts my head high.

4I call out to the Lord,

and he answers me from his holy mountain.

5I lie down and sleep;

sustains me.

6I will not fear though tens of thousands

assail me on every side.

7Arise, Lord!

Deliver me, my God!

Strike all my enemies on the jaw;

break the teeth of the wicked.

8From the Lord comes deliverance.

May your blessing be on your people.

(Psalm 3 NIV)

Thought for the Day:

What a blunt unrefined Psalm this is. “Strike them on the jaw and break the teeth of the wicked”? But it is this very quality that should give us encouragement. God does not need our prayers to be fully worked out or even sound spiritual. Just tell it like it is and let the Holy Spirit sort out the theology.

King David is fleeing his adult son, Absalom who has staged a military coup because David would not punish Absalom’s half brother when he raped Absalom’s sister. Such injustice! But David was muddle headed when it came to family matters; not his strength. David’s cause is hardly innocent but nor is Absalom’s military solution. That often characterises family disputes and as a result often muddies our thinking when we try to pray. But our Psalm encourages us to just give it to God right at the outset while it is still muddy and urgent.

Photo by [Chris Sabor](https://unsplash.com/@chrissabor?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText) on [Unsplash](https://unsplash.com/s/photos/fight?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText)

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Jesus, Living Water

Jesus, Living Water

(Devotion by Ros McDonald)

Image: Yosemite National Park, USA, Wayne McDonald

Prayer: Sea Tides

Let the love tide swelling

Surround me and my dwelling.

Let the power of the mighty sea

Flow in, Lord, and strengthen me.

Tide of Christ covering my shore

That I may live for evermore.

Whatever the tide

The Lord at my side,

In storm or in calm

To keep me from harm,

In good or in ill

He’s with me still.

(David Adam, Tides and Seasons, Prayers in the Celtic Tradition)

Read:

John 4:7-15 (NIV)

Read this 3 times, each time asking God’s help and thinking about those words or phrases that leap out at you.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

Thought for the day:

Jesus and the woman are playing with the word “water” – sometimes meaning physical water, and sometimes what Jesus calls “living water”. What images and metaphors of water are most meaningful for you?

Like this unnamed marginalised woman, we say “Jesus, give me this living water.”

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Proverbs: The Beginning of Wisdom

Proverbs: The Beginning of Wisdom

(Devotion by Graeme Harrison)

PRAYER: The love of God’s name

Lord of all power and might,

the author and giver of all good things:

graft in our hearts the love of your name,

increase in us true religion,

nourish us with all goodness,

and in your great mercy keep us in the same;

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer, 1662

Read:

Proverbs 9:7-10. Read this 3 times, each time asking God’s help and thinking about those words or phrases that leap out at you.

7Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults;

whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse.

8Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you;

rebuke the wise and they will love you.

9Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still;

teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.

10The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,

and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

(Proverbs 9:7-10 NIV)

Thought for the Day:

I can still remember the story of The Rainbow Fish. The Rainbow Fish loved his beautiful scales and wanted to be admired above all else. Unfortunately, he couldn’t make friends because the other fish detected his narcissism straight away. He was stumped and sad. How to proceed? So he went out in search of wisdom. Fortunately, someone knew someone and he found his wise woman. Sharing was the missing insight that led to a fuller life.

Proverbs knows where to find wisdom and begins with “fear” of the Lord. This strikes us as odd because we have discovered the centrality of the love of God through Jesus. What is there to fear? The original author did mean fear in the same way that you give some respect to a mother bear with cubs; not dangerous until you threaten someone she loves. Then justice and protection for the oppressed are found in the once hidden claws, teeth, and powerful muscles. Show some respect!

In the same way, the creator of the universe is not some Santa Claus in the sky but is powerful beyond our understanding. Does God not require respect and awe as well as love?

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