Shepherds play a significant role in the Bible. They were the first to hear about Jesus being born, Jesus calls Himself the Good Shepherd, and before he became the second king of Israel, David served as a shepherd. At first, this may seem confusing since shepherds were included in the lowest class when the Bible was written. But in reading Psalm 23, it’s not hard to see the reason God chooses to highlight shepherds – the way they care for their sheep is a direct picture of how God responds to us with gentleness.
MEMORY VERSE: “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowances for each other's faults because of your love." Ephesians 4:2 (NIV)
In John 10:11, Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices His life for the sheep.” We are the sheep that Jesus sacrificed His life for! Years before Jesus called Himself the Good Shepherd, David called God our shepherd. In Psalm 23, David wrote about how God is our shepherd and how He provides for us. Super cool because David was a shepherd himself, before God made him king. This month we are learning about gentleness, responding in a kind and careful way. Psalm 23 tells us how God responds to us with gentleness. He lets us rest, leads us beside peaceful streams, and renews our strength. It tells us about how He is close beside us when we are in dark valleys (hard times) and how His goodness and unfailing love will chase after us (chase us in a good way!) all the days of our lives. Praise God that He responds to us with gentleness, even when we may not recognize it!
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Read Psalm 23. What do you think the role of a shepherd is? What things do they do to care for their sheep? What does a good shepherd do if one of the sheep wanders off and gets lost or hurt? (He goes out and finds the missing sheep, takes care of its injuries or disciplines it so it learns how to follow the shepherd.) Hundreds of years after David wrote Psalm 23, Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” (John 10:11) Why is the sacrifice of our Good Shepherd so important? What difference does it make? How can we get to live in the house of the Lord forever? (PARENTS: take this opportunity to share the Gospel with your kids. For example: The Good Shepherd sacrificed His life to make a way for our sins to be forgive and for us, who choose to believe and have a relationship with him, to get to live in the house of the Lord forever!)
Write each word from this month’s memory verse (Ephesians 4:2 NLT) on a sticky note. Post the notes on the inside of your car…on the dashboard, backs of the seat, etc. As you drive around, practice saying the verse. Each time you come to a stop light, remove one of the sticky notes and see if you can still say the verse. You could also mix the sticky notes up and have your sibling unscramble them before you get to the next light!
Read Psalm 23:4. What are some dark valleys or hard times you, or someone you know, has had to walk through? Take some time to pray for that person (or yourself) and ask God to help them see how He is with them, even in the hard times.
For the next six weeks, January 7 – February 11, we will be working on memorizing six verses from Romans. These verses make up what we call the Romans Road, and they are a great tool for sharing the gospel with others! This week, work on memorizing Romans 6:23. Click HERE for flash cards to print out and use to help you learn! Don’t forget to check out Join the Journey as we go through the book of Romans this year!
Thank God for being gentle and kind to us. Thank Him for being our Shepherd and for taking care of us and coming after us when we stray.
Next week, we will be continuing in the month of January with GENTLENESS. We are going to learn how to respond gently to the world in need!
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