Day 29 (March 25), John 10:21-30

John 10:21-30

Context:  The Feast of Dedication mentioned here is commonly called Hanukkah: an 8-day celebration in December of the rededication of the Jewish Temple in 164 B.C. after it was desecrated by Antiochus Epiphanes several years earlier.  The actions of Antiochus are actually a portend of the things that are prophesied in Daniel and Revelation regarding the ‘abomination of desolation’ in the Temple during the Great Tribulation.  Jesus himself refers to it during his Olivet discourse in the final week leading up to the Crucifixion.  In John 10 Jesus teaches openly in Solomon’s Colonnade and reiterates that His works and the testimony of the Father substantiate he is God in human form.  He takes the entire progression one step father by boldly asserting, ‘I and the Father are one.’     

Observations:  Why did Jesus capitalize so much on the Jewish festivals to spread his teaching and engage in the form of Jewish dialogue and debate?  Note his continued thread of the sheep motif, including ‘my sheep hear my voice; but you are not among my sheep.’

Application:  Remember a time when God ‘spoke to you.’  What was happening externally or internally for you to be ‘aware of His voice’?  How significantly does Scripture enter into our ability to hear (and respond) to the voice of Jesus?  Practice humility throughout the day (which is not the same as passivity).

Prayer:  Ask God to ‘speak to you’ in an area where you have been stubborn, blind, resistant to change.  Be aware of different avenues the Shepherd is trying to get your attention:  the Bible, other Christians, especially those in your local church body, communicators and teachers of the Scriptures, circumstances, criticisms and praises from others.  God often uses trials to make us more receptive to His voice … how is He wanting to use our current pandemic and its practical implications in your life right now?  Our collective life as a church?

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Day 28 (March 24), John 10:7-20

John 10:7-20

Context:  Jesus further explains the differences between ‘the good shepherd’ and the hired hand, especially when danger (a wolf) is approaching.  Jesus also points out the very distinct differences in motivation: the hired hand ‘cares nothing about the sheep,’ the good shepherd ‘lays his life down’ for the sheep.  Jesus also states he has other sheep that are not in this fold, but he must bring them in to hear his voice.  Lastly, he teaches that he lays his life down on his own volition.  

Observations:  Who do you think Jesus is referring to when he uses the term ‘the hired hand’?  Is it possible he is referring to the Gentiles who will hear Jesus’ voice and be brought ‘into the fold’ with believing Israel?  Or some other people?  Why is it significant Jesus lays down his life ‘on his own initiative'?  What reasons did people give at the end of Chapter 10 for believing in Jesus, or for dismissing him?  How does that relate to today?

Application:  Read Psalm 23 today, if possible.  Note the similarities and do two things.  First, demonstrate and express your trust in the Shepherd in a tangible way (casting your anxiety, remembering his presence, believing he will overcome your enemies, etc.).  Second, take several moments throughout the day today (it will be difficult) to actually sense the presence of Jesus in the middle of your circumstances (good, bad or in-between).  The shepherd comes alongside his sheep and does NOT abandon them!!

Prayer:  Thank God for his provision in your life.  Ask that he provide for something very specific.  Intercede on Evergreen’s behalf for a place of our own for 24/7 ministry.  Note: as I drove by the old DMV building this week I was reminded of John 1 where the Word became man and ‘dwelt among us’ or, as The Message paraphrases it, ‘moved into the neighborhood.’  That moved me to pray we as a Body could move into the neighborhood surrounding the buiding.

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