EQUIPPING TIME   9:00
FELLOWSHIP CONNECTION   9:30
WORSHIP SERVICE 10:00

GET ACQUAINTED: What is your favorite “comfort” food?

SCRIPTURE: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:1-4 emphasis added)

GET IT: This weeks’ study is meant to help your Life Group members fully understand why Jesus describes Himself as the Good Shepherd; for if we choose to follow Him, Jesus leads us in the right path; but if we get confused and wander off, He finds us and brings us back.

OBSERVATION: Psalm 23 is probably the most compact portrait we have of God’s goodness, motivating us to want to know Him better. Because the rod and the staff are some of mankind’s oldest tools, they are universal symbols of protection and guidance. These symbols are used frequently in the Bible to depict how God cares for His people, whom Jesus calls His “sheep” and His “flock”. Actual sheep are defenseless, needing lots of protection and guidance from the shepherd. In this discussion, we’ll consider how Jesus describes Himself as a shepherd, look at how He leads us in the right direction, if we choose to follow Him, and how He finds us and brings us back if we get confused and wander off.

Open your gathering with prayer. This is only a guide.
1. “Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant …” (Hebrews 13:20 emphasis added). Considering the meaning of the metaphors for the rod and staff, why do you think Jesus is the Great Shepherd for us?

2. “He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. (Psalm 23:3 emphasis added). After you decided to follow Jesus, how has the path of your life become different than it was before coming to Christ?

3. “For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness.” (Psalm 26:3 ). Children who feel deeply loved by their parents are guided on the right path; likewise, relying on God’s steadfast love keeps us from going astray. How can we remind ourselves of God’s constant love so we can always be on the right path?

4. “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray?” (Matthew 18:12 ). God values each of us as if we were His only sheep. Was there a time when you felt lost and God showed you He was with you? Share it with your group.

5. “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10 ). Give an example of how you helped someone who felt lost turn to Christ.

6. “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.” (Psalm 119:67 ). Share a time when you realized why God was disciplining you and then discovered that following His ways would improve your life.

Digging Deeper (optional questions)
1. Discipline is not punishment but rather training for the future, motivated by love. Explain how God never punishes His children but only disciplines them by giving examples from your own life or from the Bible.

2. “His divine power has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” (2 Peter 1:3 ). If we trust Jesus to save us, He keeps us saved. What is the difference between “knowing Jesus” in 2 Peter 1:3 and “knowing about Jesus”?

3. Jesus tells us that no one can steal us from the Father’s hand, yet we often feel vulnerable in this life. How might our lives be easier if we truly trusted in His constant protection and didn’t doubt it?

Prayer:
Jesus, you are the Good Shepherd who never gives up on me. Help me to remember You will always show me compassion when I bring my hurts to You. Thank You that Your rod guards and protects me with Your power and
authority, even when I fall or fail. Thank You that Your staff guides and directs me with Your love and compassion, especially when I am lost or confused. Lord, help me to trust and believe that You keep me saved regardless of my
past, present, or future sins because You paid the penalty for me on the Cross once and for all. Amen!