Posted by: Philip Rushton | September 9, 2013

Learning the Good Shepherd’s Tune: A guide for daily scripture reading

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly . . .” Colossians 4:16

During my sermon last week we explored the text in John 10 where Jesus likens himself to a Good Shepherd that protects his sheep. I began by telling a story that is recounted in Gary Burge’s commentary on John. Burge writes,

“During the Palestinian uprising in the late 1980s the Israeli army decided to punish a village near Bethlehem for not paying its taxes (which, the village claimed, simply financed their occupation). The officer in command rounded up all of the village animals and placed them in a large barbed-wire pen. Later in the week he was approached by a woman who begged him to release her flock, arguing that since her husband was dead the animals were her only source of livelihood. He pointed to the pen containing hundreds of animals and humorously quipped that it was impossible because he couldn’t find her animals. She asked that if she could in fact separate them herself, would he be willing to let her take them? He agreed. A soldier opened the gate and the woman’s son produced a small reed flute. He played a simple tune again and again-and soon sheep heads began popping up across the pen. The young boy continued his music and walked home, followed by his flock of twenty-five sheep.”

This story captures for us the central image in John 10. Jesus uses the imagery of sheep and shepherds to describe our relationship to him. Just like the sheep in the story, we can easily find ourselves cut off from our Shepherd. We are vulnerable creatures. Vulnerable to a whole host of ideas and influences that seek to separate us from God. However, John 10 points us to the promise of a good shepherd. A shepherd that seeks us out, finds us and calls us back.

Julie was up north with James a couple of weeks ago. I called her and she put me on speaker phone. James was in the background and as I started talking I could hear his little voice call out “dada.” It was such a beautiful thing. Already at 1 and a half James has learned to pick out my voice from others. Though he could not see me, he could hear “dada” over the phone. This was only possible because he hears my voice everyday. By sheer proximity and time together he can pick out my voice.

In the same way, I want to encourage you to spend time in the presence of God this fall so that you might be able to pick out his voice from all the other noises in our world. We can learn the tune of the Good Shepherd, I believe, by making it a priority to spend time in the word of God.

To facilitate this process I have put together a reading schedule that leads you through the New Testament over the course of the school year. This is a manageable reading schedule that leads you from Matthew to Revelation over the next 10 months. This involves reading 6 short chapters of scripture a week and schedules in a catch-up day every week in case you fall behind. As you read we would encourage you to keep a journal of insights, applications and prayers that come out of your reading.

You can access the full schedule by clicking on the link below. If you would rather have a print copy there will be some available at the back of the church on the information desk next Sunday again. The schedule this week is Matthew 1-6.

New Testament Reading Through Schedule 2013 copy

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