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Our Great Shepherd – 09/26/2021
We are so excited to kick-off the 2021 Global Day of Prayer Devotional series!
This year’s theme, “Our Great Shepherd”, will sound very familiar, even to those very recent in the Faith. Psalm 23 is a passage that many of us probably know by heart and have seen it hanging on our grandma’s living room, at church or other ordinary places.
We are living in times of uncertainty, exhaustion, anxiety, and frustration. When we think life will give us a break to breathe, there is a new variant to the pandemic. There’s a new catastrophe filling up our hearts with questions. News and fake news shake our sense of reality. We see the world polarized; it isn’t getting any better. Life is chaotic.
When we recognize the voice of our Shepherd and follow Him (John 10), we are reminded that nothing will separate us from His love (Romans 8:35-39). Reflecting on something as familiar as Psalm 23 this year, will remind us that we can calm our hearts down and rest assured we are on the right path no matter the circumstances.
*We are reminded that our Great Shepherd leads us towards things that make us more like Him. Sometimes this means learning to rest in green pastures. At other times, this means the comfort of walking with Him beside still waters. At other times it means following Him into the shadows. In all the different paths, our eternal good, his glory, and our Shepherd-likeness are the guiding principles. The valley of the shadow of death, even when it is more than shadows, leads directly to the Shepherd himself.
Please join us in studying and increasing your knowledge about our Great Shepherd’s character. To accompany your time of meditation, we have created the Spotify music list: “GDOP 2021”.
The next twelve devotionals will lead us up to this year’s GDOP on November 5th at 6:30AM Houston time. Save the date!
Contributed by ExxonMobil employee, Angelica Alberti
Our Great Shepherd is always present – 09/28/2021
By: John Piper
God is and will always be present in our lives. In Scripture, time and time again, we see God doing amazing, miraculous things in times of suffering and distress.
Not only may you see a tiny fraction of what God is doing in your life; the part you do see may make no sense to you. Let’s take a look at how the Bible shows God’s presence time and time again.
- You may find yourself in prison, and God may be advancing the gospel among the guards, and making the free brothers bold. (Philippians 1:12–14)
- You may find yourself with a painful thorn, and God may be making the power of Christ more beautiful in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:7–9)
- You may find yourself with a dead brother that Jesus could have healed, and God may be preparing to show his glory. (John 11:1–44)
- You may find yourself sold into slavery, accused falsely of sexual abuse, and forgotten in a prison cell, and God may be preparing you to rule a nation. (Genesis 37–50)
- You may wonder why a loved one is left in unbelief so long, and find that God is preparing a picture of his patience and a powerful missionary. (Galatians 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:12–16)
- You may live in all purity and humility and truth only to end rejected and killed, and God may be making a parable of His Son and an extension of His merciful sufferings in yours. (Isaiah 53:3; Mark 8:31; Colossians 1:24)
- You may walk through famine, be driven from your homeland, lose husband and sons, and be left desolate with one foreign daughter-in-law, and God may be making you an ancestor of a King. (Ruth 1–4)
- You may find the best counselor you’ve ever known giving foolish advice, and God may be preparing the destruction of your enemy. (2 Samuel 17:14)
- You may be a sexually pure single person and yet accused of immorality, and God may be preparing you as a virgin blessing in ways no one can dream. (Luke 1:35)
- You may not be able to sleep and look in a random book, and God may be preparing to shame your arrogant enemy and rescue a condemned people. (Esther 6:1–13)
- You may be shamed and hurt, and God may be confirming your standing as his child and purifying you for the highest inheritance. (Hebrews 12:5–11)
Therefore, no matter what you face this year, God will be doing 10,000 things in your life that you cannot see. Trust Him. Love Him. And they will all be good for you.
Contributed by ExxonMobil employee, George Michael Swift
Our Great Shepherd provides abundantly – 09/30/2021
God, our Great Shepherd, provides abundantly. Perhaps the most well-known Bible story about God’s provision is the feeding of the 5,000. After speaking about the Kingdom of God and healing the sick, Jesus fed 5,000 men, women, and children with a few loaves of bread and fishes. Through this miracle, Jesus demonstrated that God provides both physical and spiritual food and physical and spiritual healing for His people.
When Jesus walked the earth, bread was viewed as a symbol of God’s provision and was a common staple in the Jewish diet. Today, we remember how God cared for the Israelites when they ran out of food in the desert on their exodus from Egypt. God heard their cries of hunger and sent manna, bread, down from Heaven. We read in the New Testament that Jesus told His followers to pray that God would “give us our daily bread.” Today, we must bring all our prayers and petitions to God our Father who will provide for our physical and spiritual needs according to His will. God knows our wants and desires, but it is still necessary to voice them to show our belief in His care.
God’s provision does not end on this earth, but extends to the afterlife for all believers. God, who provides so plentifully for the living, has provided a Heavenly home for His people. This home is our final destination where all our tears will be wiped away and want will be no more. God’s earthly provision simply cannot compare to His Heavenly provision. God sent His very son to save us from our sinfulness and show us the path to Heaven – all we have to do is follow Him. As John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Contributed by ExxonMobil employee, Meghan Wittmer
Our Great Shepherd anoints and cleanses – 10/05/2021
Finish the following sentence: Because of my faith in Jesus I am ________. What was the first thing that came to your mind? Saved? Forgiven? A child of God? What about anointed? Of the many words and phrases that fit into that sentence, anointed is not one of the first that pops into my head. It may be because the concept of anointing is not very common in modern, western society. Most of us probably have never seen, or even heard of someone who has been anointed.
Meredith Nyberg notes of anointing, “In the ancient Near East, the ritual of ceremonially covering a person or object with scented oil or another liquid symbolized a transfer of sanctity from a deity to that person or object; it was thus considered a sacramental or consecrating act.” This Near East practice is widely seen in the Bible, with Nyberg highlighting, “People in the Bible are often anointed in recognition of the Lord’s divine calling upon their lives; the anointing was a physical recognition of their particular role (or office), such as king, prophet, or priest.” Several key individuals are specifically identified in scripture as having been anointed including Isaiah, David, Jesus, etc. However the list does not end there; scripture says that YOU, Christian, have been anointed.
What does that mean, and when did this occur? I am not a king, or prophet; I am not a priest, so how should I respond to this truth? Charles Ryrie explains: “New Testament believers’ anointing concerns a relationship that enables us to understand truth…believers’ anointing is akin to the indwelling of the Spirit…it abides on all believers today…whether or not we feel it, God the Holy Spirit lives within our beings constantly.”
When we believe in Jesus, we become permanently indwelled with the Holy Spirit. God lives in us, providing us with everything we need for a relationship with Him. He guides us, He reveals truths to us, and He never forsakes us. Furthermore, through our anointing by the Spirit, we are declared righteous and forgiven. In Jesus, we become part of God’s royal family; invited to one day rule in God’s Kingdom with the King of Kings, and to be a priestly messenger to the lost on earth now. How amazing is that! By grace, through faith in Jesus, God Our Great Shepherd Anoints us by His Spirit, cleansing us of our unrighteousness, and adopting us into His royal family forever. I am not only eternally grateful for this unmerited favor, but it also makes me want to live out my life as an ambassador for Jesus to the world. I feel appointed to an important job, with the full weight and power of God’s Kingdom behind me. It excites me to say: Because of my faith in Jesus I am anointed by God.
Contributed by ExxonMobil employee, John Dillon
Our Great Shepherd comforts – 10/07/2021
God of All Comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
By: Amanda Idleman, from Crosswalk.com
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. – 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Our God is with us when we experience pain, loss, regret, sadness, and all manner of pain. He is not only with us but promises to bring us the comfort we need when we face troubles. He is with us through all things.
“God of Comfort” can also be translated as “God of Compassion.” To have compassion is to have concern for the sufferings of others. This first shows us that God recognizes our need to be seen, to receive the empathy and care of others. God is interested in what we are going through. He does not dismiss our current circumstances or minimize our daily stressors as insignificant. He cares about and is there for each and every up and down that we face.
It’s easy for many of us to think our heartbreak doesn’t count because others have gone through worse. While we should realize the ways we are blessed, that does not mean God doesn’t see your pain as “minimal” compared to others. Compassion and comfort from Jesus are available whenever we need them! God’s grace is not reserved for our hardest moments; it’s available to us on a day-by-day and even moment-by-moment basis!
We can call on God’s powerful Holy Spirit when we need comfort because we are having trouble resolving a conflict with those closest to us, when plans have to be scrapped due to unforeseen circumstances, or when disappointment attempts to steal our joy. God comforts us when we face job losses, unmet goals, loneliness, grief, illness, separation, depression, anxiety, relational strife; whatever we face we must remember that we can have confidence in the power of God to help us through the trials in our lives.
The beautiful thing is that God offers us His peace not just to carry us through our own circumstances but so we can also “comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” In God’s economy, nothing is wasted! His power is multiplied through us. His grace overflows from our lives and spills into the lives of those around us.
God gives purpose to our hard places. Genesis 50:20 says, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” From the beginning, God has re-written the stories of people’s lives for His glory. Joseph, who utters the words from Genesis about God’s grace over this life, endured many hardships that began when His brothers sold Him into slavery due to jealousy. Rather than letting bitterness steal His future, He relied on God’s comforting strength to help change the narrative of his life. There is no circumstance that God can’t heal and then use as a blessing to others.
While we suffer God comforts. As we heal God mercifully uses our lives to bless others who need a listening ear, wise counsel, or a love-filled embrace. Praise our God for He is a God of all Comfort!
Contributed by ExxonMobil employee, Shwu Hoon Ong
Our Great Shepherd is eternal – 10/12/2021
“Before the mountains were born, before you gave birth to the earth and the world, from beginning to end, you are God.” -Psalm 90:2 NLT
God has always been, always is, and always will be. There was no beginning to God, and there will be no end. Think about that – We serve the Creator of all creation. The One that exceeds the boundaries of time. It’s a difficult thing for our earthly minds to comprehend, but when we realize and believe that God is eternal, it brings peace and purpose to our own lives here on earth. Because God is eternal, we can have eternal life through Him, and because of His amazing grace and love for us, He offers that freely to anyone and everyone who believes in Him (Romans 10:9-10 & Romans 6:23).
1 Peter 5:10 tells us, “In His kindness God called you to share in His eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation.” Knowing that God gives us the opportunity to share in His eternal glory can give us peace and hope when troubles come, as we can be confident that they’re only temporary, and our perfect and everlasting home is with Jesus. “So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever” (2 Corinthians 4:18).
God’s eternal nature and our future with Him also gives us purpose in our earthly journey to our forever home. Before Jesus ascended back into Heaven, after conquering sin and death, He left us with the Great Commission, which is our purpose: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Our mission on Earth is to bring others to share in this eternal glory of Jesus that we look forward to. Whether it’s showing kindness to a stranger, hope to a friend, love to an adversary, we are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our daily lives, which can have eternal impacts on other people’s souls. There is no greater purpose than this.
Recommended Podcast: God is Eternal – Deeper Christian
Contributed by ExxonMobil employee, Kylee Pittman
Our Great Shepherd is mine – 10/14/2021
Source: Our Daily Bread
The prophet Isaiah reminded God’s people of His unfailing love and concern for them, even though they had often turned away from Him. The Lord said, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1).
In the 23rd Psalm, David wrote, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley [the valley of the shadow of death], I will fear no evil, for you are with me . . . . Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (v. 4, 6).
God never forgets us. No matter where we are or whatever our situation, He knows our names and holds us fast in His unfailing love.
Source: John Piper
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them.” (John 10:27)
Jesus knows those who are His. What is this knowledge?
John 10:3 is a close parallel to John 10:27. It says, “The sheep hear His voice, and He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out.”
So, when Jesus says, “I know them,” this means at least that He knows them by name; that is, He knows them individually and intimately. They are not anonymous, lost in the flock.
John 10:14–15 provides another insight: “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.”
There is a real similarity between the way Jesus knows His Father in heaven and the way He knows His sheep. Jesus sees Himself in the Father, and he sees Himself in His disciples.
To some degree Jesus recognizes His own character in His disciples. He sees His own brand mark on the sheep. This endears them to Him.
He is like a husband waiting for his wife at the airport, watching as each person disembarks from the plane. When she appears, He knows her, He recognizes her features, He sees in her eyes a happy reflection of his own love. He delights in her. She is the only one He embraces.
The apostle Paul puts it like this: “God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are His’” (2 Timothy 2:19).
It is hard to overemphasize what a tremendous privilege it is to be known personally, intimately, lovingly by the Son of God. It is a precious gift to all His sheep, and it contains within it profound, personal fellowship and affection and the promise of eternal life.
Contributed by ExxonMobil employee, George Michael Swift
Our Great Shepherd is sovereign – 10/19/2021
By: John Piper
Defining the Term
Well, I like to make every effort to keep things clear and simple, and I think one of the reasons we don’t speak with much clarity sometimes is that we don’t start with definitions. That’s where I like to start on almost every conversation I have.
“God is powerful and authoritative to the extent of being able to override all other powers and authorities.”
Let’s make sure we know what we’re talking about. Let me propose some definitions, and then we’ll test them with the Bible. Then we’ll end with maybe what he’s asking: “What are some of the big issues surrounding it?”
When we say God is sovereign, we mean He is powerful and authoritative to the extent of being able to override all other powers and authorities. That’s my effort at a definition. Nothing can successfully stop any act or any event or design or purpose that God intends to certainly bring about. That’s my definition.
Is it biblical? That’s the question. Because what I think really doesn’t matter. If it’s a reflection of what the Bible says, it matters a lot.
Continue to read or listen to the audible version of this devotional by clicking here.
Contributed by ExxonMobil employee, Shwu Hoon Ong
Our Great Shepherd restores – 10/21/2021
(Adapted from Compelling Truth and Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)
It is likely that Psalm 23 comes to mind when one reads this devotion title. Psalm 23:3 says, “He restores my soul.”
What does this mean?
According to Barnes – literally, “He causes my life to return“; “He quickens me,” or causes me to live. The word soul” here means life, or spirit, and not the soul in the strict sense in which the term is now used. It refers to the spirit when exhausted, weary, or sad; and the meaning is, that God quickens or vivifies the spirit when thus exhausted. The reference is not to the soul as wandering or backsliding from God, but to the life or spirit as exhausted, wearied, troubled, anxious, worn down with care and toil. The heart, thus exhausted, He re-animates. He brings back its vigor. He encourages it; excites it to new effort; fills it with new joy.
How then can our souls be restored?
The focus is on God’s work in our lives. We cannot restore ourselves, but must be restored by God. The context of Psalm 23 is one in which David recognizes God as his shepherd or caretaker. Because God watches over him, he does not find himself in need of anything. All of his needs are met. A look at the entire Psalm provides three principles for “restoring my soul.” These include rest, reflection, and replenishment.
Firstly, David appears to be at rest when he composed this Psalm. This was not a song to prepare for battle or celebrate a holy day, but rather to enjoy a time of relaxation in God’s presence.
Second, restoration involved reflection. His soul was restored as he looked at life from God’s perspective. He felt protected, safe, and secure under the leadership of God.
Third, his restoration included replenishment. Both rest and reflection led to a renewed vigor to live for God. This replenishment includes the reading of His Word, as well as an anticipation to be with God forever in the future (ref. Psalm 23:6).
With this perspective on life, David could live with a restored soul, prepared for the problems of the day. He knew God was with him, cared for him, and would never leave his side. There was no battle too big for him to face with God in his life. The same is true in our own lives. If we wish to see God restore our soul, we need to make time to rest, reflect, and replenish. We cannot expect to live with a fresh sense of God’s presence in our lives if we constantly rush from one issue to the next. To be restored takes time – focus on God and His greatness, to renew us with hope and joy regarding this life and anticipation for eternity.
Contributed by ExxonMobil employee, KY Wong
Our Great Shepherd is merciful – 10/26/2021
I have often struggled to understand the difference between mercy and grace. At first glance, the words appear to be interchangeable, but a closer review yields a subtle but profound difference. Philip Wijaya helps differentiate the two as follows: “mercy is the act of withholding deserved punishment, while grace is the act of endowing unmerited favor. In His mercy, God does not give us punishment we deserve, namely hell; while in His grace, God gives us the gift we do not deserve, namely heaven.”
Walter Elwell and Barry Beitzel identify mercy as, “One of the most essential qualities of God.” It is an indispensable aspect of God’s nature, and one which is constantly called upon throughout scripture. The Old Testament shows us countless examples of God extending His mercy on Israel, despite their repeated rebellion against His Word.
Perhaps the most vivid example of God’s mercy can be seen in the work of Jesus on the cross. God is a just God and He cannot ignore sin. Sin has consequences and the problem of sin that plagues mankind needed to be dealt with. Therefore, God offered a solution. Through grace, God offered His Son to receive the consequence of man’s sin. This was a free gift, an undeserved gift, a gracious gift. Unlike the blood of goats and rams used by Israel in the past, which required continuing sacrifices to atone for sins, this blood, Jesus’s blood, is so valuable and pure that it is able to fully pay for the sins of all mankind past and future. Through this gracious offer, those who accept it also experience the mercy of God, avoiding the punishment which we deserve. The close relationship between mercy and grace leads Wijaya to proclaim, “Mercy and grace are two sides of a coin – and the coin is love.”
God has shown us mercy, and because of His mercy, we should also show mercy to others. We have the opportunity to reflect God’s character when we freely forgive others even when we have been unduly wronged. We even have the opportunity to do this in the workplace! When someone on our team makes an honest mistake, how do we react? When someone makes an unflattering comment in a meeting about us, how do we respond? When a key contributor to a project misses a deadline, how do we proceed? Sure, we should conduct ourselves, and our business with balance and fairness, but when given the opportunity, we can show mercy to others because God, Our Great Shepherd is Merciful.
Contributed by ExxonMobil employee, John Dillon
Our Great Shepherd leads – 10/28/2021
He leads me beside still waters: The shepherd, our God, our Lord, knows when the sheep needs green pastures, and knows when the sheep needs the still waters. The images are rich with the sense of comfort, care, and rest. Rest comes because the shepherd has dealt with fear, friction, flies and famine.
He leads me: The shepherd is a guide. The sheep does not need to know where the green pastures or still waters are, all he needs to know is where the shepherd is. The shepherd guides the sheep to what he needs (not what he wants).
In the paths of righteousness: The leadership of the shepherd does not only comfort and restore the sheep; He also guides him into righteousness. God’s guidance of David had a moral aspect. “They are henceforth led in ‘the path of righteousness’: in the way of holy obedience. Obstructions are removed; they are strengthened, to walk and in the paths of God’s commandments.”
For His name’s sake: The shepherd guides the sheep with an overarching view to the credit and glory of the shepherd’s own name; “To display the glory of His grace, and not on account of any merit in me. God’s motives of conduct towards the children of men are derived from the perfections and goodness of His own nature.”
Commentary from Enduring Words by David Guzik
As I reflect upon God’s leadership, these are the attributes that touch my heart:
- He knows me intimately
- He guides me wisely
- He teaches me to do the right things
- He provides for me
- He is always there for me
- He helps me
- He wants the best for me, which is to glorify Him
At workplace, how does His leadership guide us? Do we know our team members well? Do we guide them with wisdom? Do we inspire them to do the right things? Are we there for our team members regardless of our busy schedules? Do we do everything to glorify our Lord or to glorify ourselves?
Contributed by ExxonMobil employee, Tze San Koh
Our Great Shepherd Protects – 11/02/2021
Even though we are each unique, humans face similar fears. Will my kids be safe from peer pressure? Do I have enough money for retirement? Does my spouse love me? Will I always be alone? Will I get covid? Will my job provide for me and my family? Why is it raining each day in rush hour?
It is normal for us to feel weak or inadequate from time to time. We can be assured that Jesus will be there to protect us through the dark times. He will stand up to Satan and fight for us.
The Bible tells us all we have to do is love our Lord and Savior and acknowledge His name and He will protect us. The next time you or a loved one face a fear, big or small, call on the name of Jesus! Don’t delay. Call now.
14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.
15 With long life will I satisfy him
And show him my salvation.”
Psalm 91: 14-16
When facing a trying time where your fears are great, I encourage you to read Psalm 91 aloud each day.
For additional resources about this topic, please click the links below.
Contributed by ExxonMobil employee, Cindy Whitmarsh
Our Great Shepherd Loves – 11/04/2021
For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
John 3:16 NIV
a. For God so loved the world: John 3:16 has long been celebrated as a powerful, succinct, declaration of the gospel.
b. He gave His only begotten Son: This describes both the expression and the gift of God’s love. God’s love didn’t just feel for the plight of a fallen world. God did something about it, and He gave the most precious thing to give: His only begotten Son.
c. Whoever believes in Him: This describes the recipient of God’s love. God loves the world, but the world does not receive or benefit from that love until it believes in Jesus, the gift that the Father gave. Believes in means much more than intellectual awareness or agreement. It means to trust in, to rely on, and to cling to.
d. Should not perish: This describes the intention of God’s love. God’s love actually saves man from eternal destruction. God looks at fallen humanity, does not want it to perish, and so in His love He extends the gift of salvation in Jesus Christ.
e. Everlasting life: This describes the duration of God’s love. The love we receive among people may fade or turn, but God’s love will never change. He will never stop loving His people, even unto the furthest distance of eternity.
There are Seven Wonders in John 3:16.
|God||The Almighty Authority|
|So loved the world||The Mightiest Motive|
|That He gave His only begotten Son||The Greatest Gift|
|That whoever||The Widest Welcome|
|Believes in Him||The Easiest Escape|
|Should not perish||The Divine Deliverance|
|But have everlasting life||The Priceless Possession|
Commentary from Enduring Words by David Guzik
In current turbulent times, how many of us see families, colleagues and friends, who live in constant fear and anxiety? I know sometimes, I worry too but I trust in my loving God, who is my ever present help in times of troubles. He has given me His only son, Jesus so that I will have eternal life. This promise and His amazing provisions comfort me.
Let’s pray that our mighty Lord give us courage and love to share our faith boldly so that more can enjoy His peace, His care and His love forever.
Contributed by ExxonMobil employee, Tze San Koh
 Philip Wijaya, “What is the Difference Between Grace and Mercy?,” christianity.com (July 8, 2019), https://www.christianity.com/wiki/christian-terms/what-is-the-difference-between-grace-and-mercy.html (accessed August 15, 2021).