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Daily devotions and thoughts from Cypress Meadows

 

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Gate of the Sheep

Week 2 - Nov. 8-14

Day 1

Contributed by: Melissa Schultz, Cypress Elder

Opening Prayer

Jesus, as the door of Your sheep, open the doors for me that lead to Your will and purposes and to a life of peace and calm for me. Close those doors that lead me into temptations that contribute to life’s chaos for me and others.

Scripture

Therefore Jesus said again, “very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep…I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.  They will come in and go out, and find pasture.” John 10:7, 9 

Reading

“When Jesus refers to himself as the door or gate of the sheep, he’s using a familiar metaphor for his listeners.  It would’ve been commonplace to see shepherds and sheep wandering around.  Jesus draws his metaphor from the imagery of a sheep pen, which was an enclosure usually made of stone walls.  At night, the shepherds would bring the sheep in there to allow them to rest securely.  The sheep would enter one at a time, while the shepherd would stop each sheep with his rod and check each one out for wounds.  He would let them through one by one and drop his rod over the next one and when he had examined him, would let the sheep in.  Shepherds would even share a sheep pen and put all their animals in this enclosure.  All of the village sheep would be in one fold which was the place of protection.  Historians have found evidence that when these shepherds put the sheep in the pen at night, the shepherds would lie across the front of the pen and would act as a guard.  They were effectively a door or gate for the sheep pen.  This was not only to prevent predators getting in but to prevent sheep getting out. The shepherds would lay across and fall asleep there or stay watch.  The sheep would go in or out only with the shepherd’s care.” Robert Sang 

Reflection

I love this analogy because of the clarity it offers.  The only way into the pen is through the gate.  You can’t take a shortcut, or scale a wall, or dig for a hidden entrance.  The safety and security are only received in one way.  Just as our hope, our future, and our salvation are only received through Jesus Christ, our Lord. 

Blessing

Would the Lord be your Shepard, lead you to a life without lack brimming with safety, rest, strength, guidance and blessings. Where goodness and unfailing love will pursue you all the days of your life and you will live in the house of the Lord forever. -Psalm 23

Day 2

Contributed by: Taylor Fletcher, Worship Leader

Opening Prayer

Jesus, as the door of Your sheep, open the doors for me that lead to Your will and purposes and to a life of peace and calm for me. Close those doors that lead me into temptations that contribute to life’s chaos for me and others.

Scripture

Jesus told this simple story, but they had no idea what he was talking about. So he tried again. “I’ll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good—sheep rustlers, every one of them. But the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. John 10:6-9 MSG

 

And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. -John 17:3

Reading

“The bible was written for us but not to us” - John H. Walton

Reflection

“I’ll be explicit then”. Here is our great struggle with the bible. What was once plain or even explicitly easy to understand is now totally foreign to us. The bible was written for us but not to us. It isn’t a guide book, instruction manual or a love letter. It is a unified story that leads us to Jesus. God will bless your attempts to understand who he wrote it to so you can comprehend Himself and what He wants for you.

Blessing

Would the Lord be your Shepard, lead you to a life without lack brimming with safety, rest, strength, guidance and blessings. Where goodness and unfailing love will pursue you all the days of your life and you will live in the house of the Lord forever. -Psalm 23

Day 3

Contributed by: Jacque Poole, Cypress Tribe Member

Opening Prayer

Jesus, as the door of Your sheep, open the doors for me that lead to Your will and purposes and to a life of peace and calm for me. Close those doors that lead me into temptations that contribute to life’s chaos for me and others.

Scripture

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.  am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. John 10:7-9

Reading

When Jesus refers to himself as the door or gate of the sheep, he’s using a familiar metaphor for his listeners. It would’ve been commonplace to see shepherds and sheep wandering around.

 

Jesus draws his metaphor from the imagery of a sheep pen, which was an enclosure usually made of stone walls. At night, the shepherds would bring the sheep in there to allow them to rest securely. The sheep would enter one at a time, while the shepherd would stop each sheep with his rod and check each one out for wounds. 

 

Shepherds would even share a sheep pen and put all their animals in this enclosure. All of the village sheep would be in one fold which was the place of protection.

 

Historians have found evidence that when these shepherds put the sheep in the pen at night, the shepherds would lie across the front of the pen and would act as a guard. They were effectively a door or gate for the sheep pen. This was not only to prevent predators getting in but to prevent sheep getting out. The shepherds would lay across and fall asleep there or stay watch. The sheep would go in or out only with the shepherd’s care. -Got Questions ministries

Reflection

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall lack nothing. -Psalm 23

Blessing

Would the Lord be your Shepard, lead you to a life without lack brimming with safety, rest, strength, guidance and blessings. Where goodness and unfailing love will pursue you all the days of your life and you will live in the house of the Lord forever. -Psalm 23

Day 4

Contributed by: Marq Caughell, Cypress Tribe Member

Opening Prayer

Jesus, as the door of Your sheep, open the doors for me that lead to Your will and purposes and to a life of peace and calm for me. Close those doors that lead me into temptations that contribute to life’s chaos for me and others.

Scripture

Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. - John 10:9 NLT

Reading

“They will not refuse the discipline of this temporal life, in which they are schooled for life eternal; nor will they lament their experience of it, for the good things of the earth they use as pilgrims who are not detained by them, and its ills either prove or improve them.” - from The City of God by St. Augustine

Reflection

I know that that gate I will need to pass through is narrow. Wide enough for my whole self, but nothing more. I need to put down all these self-made trinkets that are preventing me from walking through.

Blessing

Would the Lord be your Shepard, lead you to a life without lack brimming with safety, rest, strength, guidance and blessings. Where goodness and unfailing love will pursue you all the days of your life and you will live in the house of the Lord forever. -Psalm 23

Day 5

Contributed by: Keith Killen, Cypress Tribe Member

Opening Prayer

Jesus, as the door of Your sheep, open the doors for me that lead to Your will and purposes and to a life of peace and calm for me. Close those doors that lead me into temptations that contribute to life’s chaos for me and others.

Scripture

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber.” John 10:1 NASB

Reading

Isn’t that what Yeshua says in John 14:15: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments”? What if the “door” is about commandments, not saviors? The rest of the parable is about hearing the voice of the shepherd, but doesn’t that imply that the sheep who hear his voice do what he tells them to do. Isn’t the “good shepherd” the one who gives proper  instruction? Dr Skip Moen

Reflection

In Hebrew thinking, faith is not what I possess, but what I demonstrate in my daily walk. That is what James 2:20 is suggesting when he states, “…faith without works is useless.” (NASB). If we are following Jesus, He will give instructions like He did with His disciples. We can choose to follow them by passing through the doors that Jesus opens or we can choose to climb in places by other means and be “a thief and a robber.” Choosing other means than the doors Jesus opens may actually lead to wealth, power, and/or fame, but it never leads to the joy, peace and calm of abundant living.

Blessing

Would the Lord be your Shepard, lead you to a life without lack brimming with safety, rest, strength, guidance and blessings. Where goodness and unfailing love will pursue you all the days of your life and you will live in the house of the Lord forever. -Psalm 23

Day 6

Contributed by: Douglas Poole, Lead Pastor

Opening Prayer

Jesus, as the door of Your sheep, open the doors for me that lead to Your will and purposes and to a life of peace and calm for me. Close those doors that lead me into temptations that contribute to life’s chaos for me and others.

Scripture

I am the Gateway. To enter through me is to experience life, freedom, and satisfaction. - John 10:9 TPT

Reading

I stand by the door.

I neither go too far in, nor stay too far out,

The door is the most important door in the world-

It is the door through which men walk when they find God.

So many are still outside and they, as much as I,

Crave to know where the door is.

And all that so many ever find

Is only a wall where a door ought to be.

They creep along the wall like blind men,

With outstretched, groping hands,

Feeling for a door, knowing there must be a door,

Yet never find it…

So I stand by the door.

       -Samuel Moor Shoemaker

Reflection

Walls are designed to keep out. Doors, when unlocked and open, let you in. One of the things my Jacque and I tried to get into the souls of our children is that the door home is always, at any time, no matter what…open to them. Just come home to unconditional love and acceptance. No cleaning up, measuring up or paying up…just walk through the door. The door to God has a name…it is Jesus. Welcome home…the door is open.

Blessing

Would the Lord be your Shepard, lead you to a life without lack brimming with safety, rest, strength, guidance and blessings. Where goodness and unfailing love will pursue you all the days of your life and you will live in the house of the Lord forever. -Psalm 23

Resurrection and Life

Week 3 - Nov. 15 - 21

Day 1

Contributed by: Keith Killen, Cypress Tribe Member

Opening Prayer

Jesus, thank you for the hope we have through Your death and resurrection. May we share this good news with others.

Scripture

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope, 1 Timothy 1:1  NASB

Reading

It seems to me that Paul sees Yeshua (Jesus) as 1) the first fruit of acceptability before God for all who will follow, and 2) the guarantee that there is something after death, something real as evidenced by the risen Messiah. What’s new is that this man came back from the grave to proclaim the victory of God over death itself.  What’s new is that there really is a reason to push on; that this life is not the end.  What’s new is the flesh and blood evidence of vindication, justice and resurrection. Because he lived this life in obedience, YHWH (GOD) raised him to be the final authority in this realm, and as his followers we have hope that we will participate in his eternal kingdom. Dr Skip Moen

Reflection

Yeshua (Jesus) is the ultimate example of what it is to live in harmony with God. Because of His model and teachings, we know what is required of us. My time on this earth should be spent in getting the truth and healing I need to live a similar life. I don’t think there is enough time for me to get all the truth and healing I truly need, but that does not mean I should give up. It is a journey, not an event.

Blessing

May Jesus help you to receive the truth and healing you need to continue on the journey and give you the hope of life eternal.

Day 2

Contributed by: Taylor Fletcher, Worship Leader

Opening Prayer

Jesus, thank you for the hope we have through Your death and resurrection. May we share this good news with others.

Scripture

“Martha,” Jesus said, “You don’t have to wait until then. I am the Resurrection, and I am Life Eternal. Anyone who clings to me in faith, even though he dies, will live forever. - John 11:25 TPT

 

From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” - Matthew 4:17

Reading

“The good news, that whoever you are wherever you are, you can be involved in what Christ is doing in this world. The gospel is about each moment. If you want to go to heaven now is the time.” - Dallas Willard

Reflection

We need the Resurrection and the Life right now. We need to be practicing eternity. Then, when we are confronted with the pain of mortality and the beauty of God we’ll be ready. Jesus offered it to Martha, Lazarus and now to you. Which kingdom will you live in today?

Blessing

May Jesus help you to receive the truth and healing you need to continue on the journey and give you the hope of life eternal.

Day 3

Contributed by: Marq Caughell, Cypress Tribe Member

Opening Prayer

Jesus, thank you for the hope we have through Your death and resurrection. May we share this good news with others.

Scripture

Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. - John 11:25

Reading

“And thus it is written, “The just lives by faith,” for we do not as yet see our good, and must therefore live by faith; neither have we in ourselves power to live rightly, but can do so only if He who has given us faith to believe in His help do help us when we believe and pray.” - from The City of God by St. Augustine

Reflection

I am a child of God. I was created in His image and he asks me to call Him my Father. That must mean there is real goodness inside me, inside all of us. Even if we can’t see it in ourselves or others at the moment. Please help me to remember to act like the child of a King and to treat others as equal siblings.

Blessing

May Jesus help you to receive the truth and healing you need to continue on the journey and give you the hope of life eternal.

Day 4

Contributed by: Jacque Poole, Cypress Tribe Member

Opening Prayer

Jesus, thank you for the hope we have through Your death and resurrection. May we share this good news with others.

Scripture

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”-John 11:25-26

Reading

Outside Bethany, Lazarus’s sister Martha went out to meet Jesus. “If you had been here,” she said, “my brother would not have died.” Such was her faith in Jesus’ power to heal. Jesus replied by assuring Martha that her brother would rise again. Martha responded again in faith: “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” At this point, Jesus makes His fifth “I Am” statement in John’s gospel, “I am the resurrection and the life,” and He follows it with a call to faith: “He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:21-24). Jesus’ statement that He is the resurrection and the life provides a godly perspective on several spiritual matters. Martha believed that the resurrection is an event; Jesus showed her (and us) that the resurrection is a Person. Martha’s knowledge of eternal life was an abstract idea; Jesus proved that knowledge of eternal life is a personal relationship. Martha thought victory over death was a future expectation; Jesus corrects her, showing that victory is a present reality.-Got Questions Ministries

Reflection

As a 13 year old who had just lost her 42 year old dad to a heart attack, I did not have the faith of Martha. I gave up my faith and decided God didn’t exist, so I could avoid any thoughts of hell. Jesus’s statement, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die…” fills me with hope. Hope for today, hope for tomorrow. Hope for my dad and hope for so many others. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought death to many of us. The losses leave gaps in our hearts and in our souls. For me, I am thankful that Jesus is the resurrection and the life...and that it is a present reality. Today remind yourself that you have hope. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life…”

Blessing

May Jesus help you to receive the truth and healing you need to continue on the journey and give you the hope of life eternal.

Day 5

Contributed by: Douglas Poole, Lead Pastor

Opening Prayer

Jesus, thank you for the hope we have through Your death and resurrection. May we share this good news with others.

Scripture

“You don’t have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this?” -John 11:25 MSG

Reading

Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die to get there. -Joe Lewis

Reflection

150 funerals. That is how many funerals I have officiated in my 40 years of being a Pastor. One of the things I have said in these moments of grief over words that were yet to be said, memories left unmade, and a chair that will sit unoccupied is this: “It doesn’t end here”. “It ends in the presence of the Heavenly Father where we will see our Jesus and reunite with those who put their faith in Him. And we will dance and dazzle through the ages in that bright eternal city where death can never, never come”. We Christians call this our hope, our blessed hope.

Blessing

May Jesus help you to receive the truth and healing you need to continue on the journey and give you the hope of life eternal.

Day 6

Contributed by: Melissa Schultz, Cypress Elder

Opening Prayer

Jesus, thank you for the hope we have through Your death and resurrection. May we share this good news with others.

Scripture

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.  The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;” John 11:25 

Reading

“The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison, but apple pie.  It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven, but the endless nibbling at the table of the world….The greatest adversary of love to God is not in his enemies but his gifts.  And the most deadly appetites are not for the poison of evil, but for the simple pleasures of earth.  For when these replace an appetite for God himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable, and almost incurable. ” John Piper 

Reflection

Isn’t it true that the very gifts from God, simple pleasures from the earth, are often what distract us from our relationship with Him?  When we have enough or live in abundance, we must take extra caution to ensure our hunger for God isn’t being satisfied by the trivial.  How do we live joyfully, and in appreciation of, our many blessings while remaining focused on living for Him? 

Blessing

May Jesus help you to receive the truth and healing you need to continue on the journey and give you the hope of life eternal.

Good Shepherd

Week 4 - Nov. 22-28

Day 1

Contributed by: Douglas Poole, Lead Pastor

Opening Prayer

Good Shepherd, thank you for knowing and loving me. Now help me to know and love you, to listen for your voice, and to follow in obedience that my life may have hope and purpose.

Scripture

I am the Good Shepherd who lays down my life as a sacrifice for the sheep. But the worker who serves only for wages is not a real shepherd. Because he has no heart for the sheep he will run away and abandon them when he sees the wolf coming. And then the wolf mauls the sheep, drags them off, and scatters them. “I alone am the Good Shepherd, and I know those whose hearts are mine, for they recognize me and know me – John 10:11-14 TPT

Reading

A true shepherd leads the way, he does not merely point the way. -Leonard Ravenhill

Reflection

My grandfather modeled and taught me the art of “animal husbandry”. How to manage, care for, protect, and provide for livestock. He took pride in it. When it was time to call the cows in from the pasture all he had to do was call out “come boss” and the herd would follow him as he walked them to the barn. They knew and trusted his voice and they knew they were safe to go where he led them. Those cows taught me a bit about following Jesus, the good shepherd…knowing who you are following is more important than having to know where you are going.

Blessing

May your understanding of just how much the Good Shepherd loves you grow. And may you learn to give praise and to be thankful for all circumstances even when you don’t understand.

Day 2

Contributed by: Marq Caughell, Cypress Tribe Member

Opening Prayer

Good Shepherd, thank you for knowing and loving me. Now help me to know and love you, to listen for your voice, and to follow in obedience that my life may have hope and purpose.

Scripture

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. - John 10:11

Reading

“This is our concern, that every man be able to increase his wealth so as to supply his daily prodigalities, and so that the powerful may subject the weak for their own purposes. Let the poor court the rich for a living, and that under their protection they may enjoy a sluggish tranquility; and let the rich abuse the poor as their dependents, to minister to their pride. Let the people applaud not those who protect their interests, but those who provide them with pleasure.” – St Augustine

Reflection

If its pleasurable, it does not mean it is wrong. But it is wrong to seek only pleasure. Pleasure seeking is an accurate phrase - no human can find lasting pleasure in man-made devices or activities. It becomes more scarce the more you seek it and what once was pleasure becomes poison.

Blessing

May your understanding of just how much the Good Shepherd loves you grow. And may you learn to give praise and to be thankful for all circumstances even when you don’t understand.

Day 3

Contributed by: Jacque Poole, Cypress Tribe Member

Opening Prayer

Good Shepherd, thank you for knowing and loving me. Now help me to know and love you, to listen for your voice, and to follow in obedience that my life may have hope and purpose.

Scripture

“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 – John 10:11-14

Reading

“It should be understood that Jesus is “the” good shepherd, not simply “a” good shepherd, as others may be, but He is unique in character (Psalm 23; Zechariah 13:7; Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 2:25; 1 Peter 5:4). The Greek word kalos, translated “good,” describes that which is noble, wholesome, good, and beautiful, in contrast to that which is wicked, mean, foul, and unlovely. It signifies not only that which is good inwardly—character—but also that which is attractive outwardly. It is an innate goodness. Therefore, in using the phrase “the good shepherd,” Jesus is referencing His inherent goodness, His righteousness, and His beauty. As shepherd of the sheep, He is the one who protects, guides, and nurtures His flock.”-Got Questions Ministries

Reflection

The good shepherd... He is with you and me protecting, guiding and nurturing. Whatever the day holds, Jesus, the good shepherd, is with you and me. He is noble, wholesome, good, and beautiful. The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23

Blessing

May your understanding of just how much the Good Shepherd loves you grow. And may you learn to give praise and to be thankful for all circumstances even when you don’t understand.

Day 4

Contributed by: Keith Killen, Cypress Tribe Member

Opening Prayer

Good Shepherd, thank you for knowing and loving me. Now help me to know and love you, to listen for your voice, and to follow in obedience that my life may have hope and purpose.

Scripture

Abraham called the name of that place The Lord will provide, as it is said to this day, “In the mount of the LORD it will be provided.” Genesis 22:14

Reading

God does not peer down upon the world as the heavenly policeman. He is not watching every move you make in order to catch you in some sin and apply the heavenly hammer. God sees in order to save. His sight is the precursor to His provision of sacrifice for our redemption. God watches over us like the Good Shepherd, exhibiting His care in His dying for us. Instead of cowering under His judgmental eyes, we are blessed under His watchful care. Abraham experienced God’s sight. His son was redeemed. But it did not stop there. God appeared to us in the same redemptive vision. His Son spared us. We serve the God who sees. Dr Skip Moen

Reflection

In my youth, the image of my God was a judge waiting to deliver punishment for my every misdeed. Thanks to my patient heavenly Father and Teacher, I’m learning better just how much He loves me. His every act in my behalf is aimed at my redemption and restoration. I will never fully understand all that He has and is doing for me, but I am learning to be thankful for His watchful care even when I do not fully understand what and why things are as they are.

Blessing

May your understanding of just how much the Good Shepherd loves you grow. And may you learn to give praise and to be thankful for all circumstances even when you don’t understand.

Day 5

Contributed by: Taylor Fletcher, Worship Leader

Opening Prayer

Good Shepherd, thank you for knowing and loving me. Now help me to know and love you, to listen for your voice, and to follow in obedience that my life may have hope and purpose.

Scripture

“I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own sheep and my own sheep know me. In the same way, the Father knows me and I know the Father. I put the sheep before myself, sacrificing myself if necessary. You need to know that I have other sheep in addition to those in this pen. I need to gather and bring them, too. They’ll also recognize my voice. Then it will be one flock, one Shepherd – John 10:14 -16 MSG

Reading

And he walks with me and he talks with me

And he tells me I am his own

And the joy we share as we tarry there

None other has ever known – In the Garden

Reflection

Jesus’ capacity for loving relationships is astounding. He knows and loves the Father, the perfect creator being, while also loving us a sinful and fallen creation. He understands each identity perfectly, inhabits both and allows God and man to be in union. What a good Shepherd. Who can you try to understand and love better today?

Blessing

May your understanding of just how much the Good Shepherd loves you grow. And may you learn to give praise and to be thankful for all circumstances even when you don’t understand.

Day 6

Contributed by: Melissa Schultz, Cypress Elder

Opening Prayer

Good Shepherd, thank you for knowing and loving me. Now help me to know and love you, to listen for your voice, and to follow in obedience that my life may have hope and purpose.

Scripture

“I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11

 

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—” John 10:14

Reading

“If you have the Shepherd, you have grace for every sin, direction for every turn, a candle for every corner and an anchor for every storm.  You have everything you need.” Max Lucado

 

“Jesus not only gathers each of us as individuals, He gathers us together as a flock.  Jesus does not save us individually, one-by-one.  He saves us together.  He comes to give us life together.  He not only relates to each of us personally, He is also in the midst of us, uniting us as one, bringing us together, and leading us forward together.  Life in abundance is not just each of us enjoying him or herself in the comfort of his or her own solitude.  Life in abundance is not just being left unbothered by my neighbor.  Life in abundance means coming together as brothers and sisters.  It means sharing with others the life that we receive.  It means rejoicing in one another.  It means seeing each other as a gift.  It is taking the time to encounter one another, even in little ways.  Taking a moment for an unexpected conversation instead of wishing you were left undisturbed.  Smiling at someone who looks down.  Writing to a family member or friend.  Volunteering to help people in need.  All of these bring us together as a flock.  All of these show us that we are not alone.  Even through simple gestures, we can show others that they are not alone either.” Julian Paparella

Reflection

As we move into this holiday season, I want to live a life in alignment with the values of our Shepherd…inclusion, belonging, community, and connection.  Though filled with much joy and celebration, this season can be difficult for many.  Grief, loss, depression, strained family relationships, among other challenges, can weigh heavier this season.  Just as He guides us, and leads us, and seeks us out when lost; I want to intentionally mirror His light in the world.  I want to really see others, to sit with the hurting and broken, to work to remind all I come in contact with, that they are not alone.

Blessing

May your understanding of just how much the Good Shepherd loves you grow. And may you learn to give praise and to be thankful for all circumstances even when you don’t understand.

The Way The Truth The Life

Week 5 - Nov. 29-Dec. 5

Day 1

Contributed by: Keith Killen, Cypress Tribe Member

Opening Prayer

Lord, if I truly believe you are “the way, the truth, and the life,” shouldn’t I be willing to submit to your will and purpose for my life. Help me to understand you always have my best interest at heart thus submitting to you is always the best for everyone involved.

Scripture

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7

Reading

True submission begins with a change of heart, not a change in behavior. True submission says, “Yes, I see that I will have to put aside what I wanted, but I love this other person, and because of my love I want to do all I can help the other’s desire become reality. It is worth putting aside what I wanted. I am ready and willing to do so.” Dr Skip Moen

Reflection

As I write this devotion, I realize I’m not always willing to submit. Often, I trust my own beliefs and understanding more than I trust God and thus choose unwisely. You would think after all these years, I would understand that Gods ways always have the best outcome for everyone involved. Hopefully by seeing and admitting it, I will be more careful in my decision to submit.

Blessing

May your confidence and trust in God grow to where you willingly submit to His will and purpose for your life and may you truly believe He has your best interest at heart.

Day 2

Contributed by: Marq Caughell, Cypress Tribe Member

Opening Prayer

Lord, if I truly believe you are “the way, the truth, and the life,” shouldn’t I be willing to submit to your will and purpose for my life. Help me to understand you always have my best interest at heart thus submitting to you is always the best for everyone involved.

Scripture

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” - John 14:6

Reading

“When the will abandons what is above itself and turns to what is lower, it becomes evil—not because that is evil to which it turns, but because the turning itself is wicked. Therefore it is not an inferior thing which has made the will evil, but it is itself which has become so by wickedly and inordinately desiring an inferior thing.” - from The City of God by St. Augustine

Reflection

What a waste of potential! You are a child of the most-high King and you spurn that gift, instead choosing to live in filth. You were shown the path to the Kingdom and you became distracted by the mud pits along the way.

Blessing

May your confidence and trust in God grow to where you willingly submit to His will and purpose for your life and may you truly believe He has your best interest at heart.

Day 3

Contributed by: Douglas Poole, Lead Pastor

Opening Prayer

Lord, if I truly believe you are “the way, the truth, and the life,” shouldn’t I be willing to submit to your will and purpose for my life. Help me to understand you always have my best interest at heart thus submitting to you is always the best for everyone involved.

Scripture

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. – John 14:6

Reading

Every name tells a story – and I want mine to give a more complete picture of who I am. -Ben Boulos (formerly Ben Bland)

Reflection

As a kid, fear had a name: Mike…the school bully. Meet Mike and hello fear. I also discovered that laughter had a name: Uncle LaVern. Follow laughter through the house and you’d find LaVern. And friendship had a name as well: Tim. Look up ‘friend’ in my dictionary and you’d see his face. Each was the personification of an emotion or attribute. The path with God has a name, as does truth, and life. That name…Jesus. What a beautiful name!

Blessing

May your confidence and trust in God grow to where you willingly submit to His will and purpose for your life and may you truly believe He has your best interest at heart.

Day 4

Contributed by: Jacque Poole, Cypress Tribe Member

Opening Prayer

Lord, if I truly believe you are “the way, the truth, and the life,” shouldn’t I be willing to submit to your will and purpose for my life. Help me to understand you always have my best interest at heart thus submitting to you is always the best for everyone involved.

Scripture

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. -John 14:5-6

Reading

“In these words, Jesus was declaring Himself the great “I Am,” the only path to heaven, the only true measure of righteousness, and the source of both physical and spiritual life. He was staking His claim as the very God of Creation, the Lord who blessed Abraham, and the Holy One who inhabits eternity. He did this so the disciples would be able to face the dark days ahead and carry on the mission of declaring the gospel to the world. Of course, we know from Scripture that they still didn’t understand, and it took several visits from their risen Lord to shake them out of their disbelief. Once they understood the truth of His words, they became changed people, and the world has never been the same.”-Got Questions Ministries

Reflection

Like Thomas, I like to know where I am going, how I am going to get there and what I will find when I get there. Jesus provides answers for people like me. I am the Way. That is the map that I need. I am the truth. That is the way I can get there. I am the life. That is what I have found. What a beautiful gift. Jesus is in the business of changing people and our world. Let’s get busy.

Blessing

May your confidence and trust in God grow to where you willingly submit to His will and purpose for your life and may you truly believe He has your best interest at heart.

Day 5

Contributed by: Melissa Schultz, Cypress Elder

Opening Prayer

Lord, if I truly believe you are “the way, the truth, and the life,” shouldn’t I be willing to submit to your will and purpose for my life. Help me to understand you always have my best interest at heart thus submitting to you is always the best for everyone involved.

Scripture

Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me” John 14:6

Reading

“We live in a pluralistic age that bristles against definitive statements and objective truth.  If I’m bold enough to say, “Salvation can only be obtained through Jesus Christ,” I may receive some pushback from those who don’t agree, or those who don’t appreciate the exclusive nature of that claim.  That’s part of what makes me appreciate what Jesus states in John 14:6-7 even more.  He doesn’t mince words.  He doesn’t give a “qualified” answer.  He states facts plainly, and makes it clear that He alone is three things, the way, the truth, and the life…Jesus satisfies the deepest longings of our hearts.  Our hearts long for direction, and He is the way.  Our hearts long for honesty, and He is the truth.  Our hearts long for eternity, and He is the life.” -John Stange

Reflection

There are so many days when my world feels shaky.  Days when I question my path, my direction, my next steps…days when I lack the confidence to make the difficult decisions or follow the way less traveled.  And although I’m uncertain based on my own “knowing”, I can have complete confidence in Him.  If I can create space from the outside noise, His way and His truth will guide me.  Step by step, day by day, week by week, month by month, and year by year.  His way and His truth are objective.  His path is clear.  And these things lead to life everlasting.

Blessing

May your confidence and trust in God grow to where you willingly submit to His will and purpose for your life and may you truly believe He has your best interest at heart.

Day 6

Contributed by: Taylor Fletcher, Worship Leader

Opening Prayer

Lord, if I truly believe you are “the way, the truth, and the life,” shouldn’t I be willing to submit to your will and purpose for my life. Help me to understand you always have my best interest at heart thus submitting to you is always the best for everyone involved.

Scripture

Jesus said, “I’ll come back and get you so you can live where I live. And you already know the road I’m taking.”  Thomas said, “Master, we have no idea where you’re going. How do you expect us to know the road?” Jesus said, “I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life. No one gets to the Father apart from me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well.” -John 14:4-7

Reading

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. -Lao Tzu

Reflection

Thomas, like us, knows the road Jesus is taking even though he didn’t realize it. Most of us already know a step or two we can take will lead us to the Way, the Truth and the Life. Whether it’s a leap or a small step take action today and trust God for the results.

Blessing

May your confidence and trust in God grow to where you willingly submit to His will and purpose for your life and may you truly believe He has your best interest at heart.