Bible Reading: John 10:1-21
Does God speak to us? Can we actually hear Him? Yes. In fact, Jesus says that hearing His voice is a very natural thing for those that know Him.
Thoughts about God for My Grandkids:
I attended Seminary in Ft. Worth, TX. For a while, Grandma and I lived in a house that was located next to a large pasture that had sheep in it. The man who owned the pasture had built his home and barn right in the middle of it. Many times I watched as this man would walk out of his home and give a loud whistle. Immediately, every one of those sheep turned their heads toward him and then started trotting in his direction. When he whistled, they knew it was him. Every time. Sometimes I would walk over to the fence and watch the sheep grazing in the distance. It was very calm and beautiful. I remember watching those sheep and thinking, “I’ll bet that I can whistle just like that guy and those sheep will come running to me.” So, I let go with a loud whistle. It sounded just like the man. Nothing. I mean, nothing. Those sheep didn’t even stop chewing. Chomp, chomp, chomp. Nothing. I knew that it sounded just like the man so I whistled, again. Chomp, chomp, chomp. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how much I thought it sounded just like the man…those sheep knew it wasn’t him. They didn’t even turn their heads to look in my direction. Chomp, chomp, chomp.
Jesus told the people that He was like a shepherd to them. He gave several comparisons between Himself and a shepherd…
- As a shepherd, He calls and His sheep recognize His voice and follow Him (they also recognize when someone is trying to deceive them to follow them…and they won’t do it).
- As a shepherd, He provides for His sheep so that they will live abundantly.
- As a shepherd, He has some sheep in this pasture and some sheep in another pasture…but they are all His sheep.
- As a shepherd, He protects His sheep…even to the point of giving His life to save them.
Everything was probably going okay with this teaching until He came to that last part. Jesus said that He would lay down his life (that means to die) for His sheep. However, He would also take up His life (that means that He will come back to life) for His sheep. Once again, because we do not live in that day and time…and because most of us have never worked as a shepherd…we may not immediately catch on to what Jesus was talking about. You see, it was one thing for a shepherd to give his life protecting his sheep. There were probably stories about shepherd’s who had done so that were told around the campfires at night. But, and this is very important…how in the world would a shepherd who had died…be able to come back to life? And, not only that…Jesus had said that He would bring Himself back to life…suggesting that He had power over both life and death…and we all know that only God has that power. Those words from Jesus really threw the Jewish leaders into a frenzy and caused them to become divided about Jesus. Some of them said that He was crazy and was probably demon possessed. They couldn’t believe that people would continue to listen to such a nut case. But others said that a man who was demon possessed would not have the power of God to give sight to blind people. What Jesus did (His miracles) substantiated what Jesus said (His teachings about Himself). And they said that He was exactly the kind of man that people should listen to.
Jesus anticipated this division. In fact, He had told them that His sheep would hear His voice, know Who He was, and follow Him. He knew that not everybody would do so. Notice this, Jesus said that He calls His sheep by “name”. In other words, He isn’t just drawing a crowd to watch Him…but, He is calling individuals to follow Him. He is calling you and me, by “name”…that means that He knows you personally, in an individual relationship. Jesus is the shepherd who provides for you and protects you.
So, how do you know His voice? How do you hear His voice? Shouldn’t we be a little worried when someone says that they can hear God talk? No, not at all. At least, not if it is according to what the Bible has to say. Let me explain. First of all, you will know and hear God’s voice as you read the Bible. There, Jesus will speak clearly to you. The more you read the Bible…the more often you will hear Him speak. It’s just that simple. Everything in the Bible is correct. Everything in the Bible is true. Everything in the Bible has meaning for you. So many times people tell me that they are struggling with this, or with that, and honestly…I think to myself, “Well, that tells me one thing for sure. You don’t read your Bible very often. Because that issue is directly addressed in the Bible and if you had read it…you would know the answer.” A second way that you hear His voice is when you pray. But here is the problem. When you pray…you do all of the talking. You just tell God what you’ve got to say…throw in an “amen” for good measure…and you think that you’re done. Just about the time that God starts to speak…you’re gone. If you’re going to hear God speak to you during your prayer…then you need to stop talking…and listen. What will you hear? You’ll hear a voice that sounds like thunder and resonates throughout the room…and there will be lightning…and maybe some angels will appear…and…NOT! More often than not…here is how I hear God. I’ve been reading the Bible and then I spend time praying. I’m praying about some specific issue…asking God for direction, or wisdom. I’m remembering what God has already said about that issue in the Bible…and suddenly, I begin to understand the answer, I begin to know what to do, I begin to have a sense of peace…that was God. Did you hear Him? I did. His voice was so clear that I couldn’t miss it. How do I know it was Him? Well, for one thing…it was in keeping with what the Bible teaches. Second, the answer that I received was far to good, far to wonderful, to have come from me. It had insight into the situation and certainty about the action to take…that just couldn’t have come from me. Did you hear God speak? I did. I heard the voice of my Shepherd. I know His voice. I know what it sounds like. I’ve been with Him so much…that He’s impossible to miss.
Now, you do the same. Read your Bible today…every day. Then, spend some time in prayer. And remember…stop and listen. Wait…did you hear that? I think that God is speaking to you.
Love you more than bunches and bunches,