Hear His Voice

February 9, 2014   John 10: 7 – 18    Hear and Listen 

  

      In John 10 verse 3 the gatekeeper opens the gate for him and the sheep listen to his voice.   He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.    When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.    But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”  Verse 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.   Verse 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.   My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  As a quick aside here I want to comment that some people say that if you are not hearing Jesus voice and not following him you are not his sheep – in other words you are lost and not saved.   That does not take into account back sliding.   There have been times in my life when I was not listening and following the Lord and I certainly was not lost or unsaved.  

     God speaks today.   Jesus said the Holy Spirit will guide us and that means that the Holy Spirit will speak to us.   Jesus made it plain that he speaks and his sheep will hear his voice.     Are we open for God to speak to us in different ways?    Spouses speak to each other in different ways.   It can be a touch, a gift, and/or with words.    How has God communicated to different people through the scripture?    God spoke with angels or with Jesus in Genesis 16 and several other times in various passages.   God spoke with visions in Genesis 15.  God spoke with a dream in Genesis 28 with Jacob at Bethel and in Acts with Paul in Acts 16 Come to Macedonia and help us.    God spoke with a gentle whisper to Elijah in 1 Kings 19.   In a sense God spoke through miraculous signs in Exodus 8 as God prepared the Egyptians to let his people go.     God spoke to Moses through a burning bush in Exodus 3.  God spoke to Balaam a way ward man through a donkey in Numbers 22.   God led the Children of Israel through a cloud and a pillar of fire in Numbers 9.   God communicated with the Magi in Matthew with a dream and a star leading them to Jesus and going back after they saw Jesus.    God certainly spoke through his prophets and the disciples in the New Testament.     He can still speak anyway he wants to.   Psalm 19 the heavens declare the glory of God.   Creation speaks of Him.  Proverbs says wisdom cries from the streets.   He has certainly spoken through his word and I believe he speaks through tongues, dreams, visions and prophecy.  Generally God does not speak out loud today but His spirit can speak to us.   How can he lead and guide us unless he speaks to us?     

      It is to our advantage to listen to God.    The November/December 2005 Discipleship Journal had the following story.  One night in a dream, my wife saw the mangled body of one of our children. She tried to help, but nothing worked. She was helpless, desperate, and terrified. After waking, she agonized about her dream. She called me at the office and asked, “Roc, do you think this is God telling us to prepare for the death of our child?”   I listened and reasoned a bit. After all, the Bible gives examples of God telling people they are going to die.  Then I thought about the nature of the dream (gruesome carnage and helpless despair) and the impact of the dream (fear and grief).    I told Bev I was confident that this was not God speaking.   It’s not like him to frighten us for no reason.   This sounded more like a message from her heart, which wrestled regularly with fears of losing a child, or a message from Satan, who is well known for lies and terror.   Years have passed, and none of our children have died in a gruesome manner.    We can have dreams that are not from God.   In Jeremiah God says let the prophet who has a dream recount the dream, but let the one who has my word speak it faithfully. For what has straw to do with grain?” declares the Lord. 29 “Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?   That dream could have just been a warning to pray. 

    Dreams can be from God.    A similar “message,” on the other hand, had a very different feel. While on vacation, my daughter Bethany was speeding down a California freeway with three teenage friends. One of them, Jody, said she had dreamed the night before that they were in a serious wreck and that she, the only one with a fastened seat belt on, had survived.    Hearing that, everyone fastened their seat belts.   Later, their car swerved into the grass median and rolled.   The investigating officer looked at the car and said, “If you hadn’t had your seat belts on, the outcome would have been a lot different.”   Where did Jody’s dream come from?   Consider the message: a warning of a danger that turned out to be very real.   Consider the tone: an urging to do something that was right and reasonable, something that traveling teens often neglect. Consider the effect: saved lives. We know it is a loving Father who speaks that way.   From Roc Bottomly,      

      We can have very selective hearing.  Children have selective hearing.   A parent can say son please pick up and clean your room.   There may not even be a response to that.   I suspect the following would get a faster response.   Son it is really hot lets go and get an ice cream cone.   We can be selective in our hearing from God.    Are we open For God to speak to us in different ways?   We need to live with the expectation that God is going to speak to us every day.   I just read a book by Steve Sampson You Can Hear the Voice of God and he said that when we seek or ask God something that God quickly even immediately begins to speak to us.  We need to live in expectation of God speaking and God’s presence and blessing.  We pray looking for an increase.  We can connect with God.  Yes His thoughts are higher than our thoughts but scripture also tells us that we have the mind of Jesus and that in Jesus we have wisdom.   Jesus said the Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth.   We can trust the Holy Spirit – He will not lie nor lead us astray.   The world seeks to lead us astray.  People may seek to lead us astray and certainly the devil will seek to lead us astray but not the Holy Spirit.  

     Jesus said my sheep hear my voice.   People could be likened to 3 kinds of sheep.  The one kind love Jesus and are eager to be obedient.   They are looking for God to speak to them and tell them what to do.  And there are others that want nothing to do with Jesus.  Some of them are agnostics or atheists.  Some are into eastern religions or new age.   And there are many who like the Lord but they want to run their own life.  They do not want to follow closely to what God says in the bible.    Jesus is not Lord of everything that they do.    Some of them are just growing in the Lord and growing in Lordship of Christ.   They are really not eager to hear God speak to them.  Actually for some of them the thought of God speaking is a pretty scary idea.   They are not used to listening and hearing God speak.   These folks are loosely connected to Jesus.   I suspect that there are a number of church people are like that.   Lord bless me and bless my family but they have not yet learned to listen to God and to seek God with all their heart.   There is a growth process in our walk with Jesus.    George Orwell once observed: "On the whole human beings want to be good, but not too good, and not quite all the time."  That makes sense.
      Jesus said in this passage my sheep hear my voice.  God speaks through his word but he speaks in more ways than that.   The Holy Spirit speaks.   He gives us a sense of things.   We can sense peace and we can sense danger   If God spoke to you today what do you think He would have to say?    Would he encourage you?   Would He warn you?    Would He tell you of his love?    If God spoke to you would it over whelm you?    Would it blow you away?    I think most of the time God has words of encouragement and instruction for us.    God desires to help you day by day with your life.     God wants us to walk and talk with him.   Think of the Garden of Eden and how God and Adam walked and talked with each other.  God desired to be with Adam and to communicate with him.    God is not too busy for you in spite of how some people portray him.   God invites us to cast everything on Him and to pray about everything.   God is not bored with details.  I get bored with details sometimes but not God.   Man has never found 2 identical snowflakes.  What a creative God we have. 

     I think if we love Jesus we want him to speak.    Some of us may think well God never speaks to me.    That may not be true.   We may not be listening.   But maybe we hear from him and do not realize it.   We may sense his Spirit saying no to us or making us uneasy about something.   We may sense his love or forgiveness from reading or from his spirit. .   I would say that can be God speaking to you.     Have you heard Him speak?   Well maybe he is speaking more than you think.   Have you been prompted to pray for someone this week?    Where did that come from?  Were you prompted to serve someone this week?  We just need to grow more and more into these things.   We can sense God leading or blessing our work.   It's so important to spend time in prayer.   The only way you will be able to hear the voice of God is if you spend time together.  We need to connect with God.   Hearing God is also a matter of faith.   God thank you that you want to speak to me.  God you will speak to me.  I will listen.    But sometimes we need to see by faith before we experience it or get it.    In the book you can hear the voice of God Steve writes about a fast of the mind.   Not a food fast but a fast of the mind.   Slow the mind down so we can hear Him speak.  Be still and know that I am God.  That is an invitation from God in the Psalms for you and me. 

    The sound of our beloved is a good sound.    In his devotional book, "My Utmost For His Highest" Oswald Chambers writes, "Get into the habit of saying, 'Speak, Lord,' and life will become a romance.  Wouldn’t it be nice to live in romance?     Every time circumstances press in on you say, 'Speak, Lord,' and make time to listen. Chastening is more than a means of discipline--it is meant to bring me to the point of saying, 'Speak, Lord.'   Think back to a time when God spoke to you.   Do you remember what he said?   As we listen, our ears become more sensitive, and like Jesus, we will hear God all the time."  Jesus clearly heard the Father all the time.  That is certainly one powerful reason he had such a fruitful life and why he always was one step up and ahead of those that tried to trap him.  Jesus was attuned to the father.   There was life and authority in his teaching.   People’s lives were changed because Jesus listened to the father.  

           I hope that the voice of God is sweet and welcomed to you.    I hope your life is incomplete if you are not hearing from the spirit of the living God and sensing God’s leading in your life when you read the scripture and have your morning devotionals.      I hope you dive into scripture so that God may make his words alive to you and refresh you and renew you.    God wants to bless you to from the top of your head to your feet.    I think God longs to speak to us.    Jesus said in this passage my sheep hear my voice.    The people that belong to me Jesus said hear me speak to them.   A key way that God leads us and guides us is by the use of words.    The sweetest thing you and I can hear is the voice of God telling us that He loves us.     As we grow in Him the Lord’s voice becomes a very treasured and precious to us.    We learn to recognize his voice over all other voices that come to us.   He will tell us things that we have never heard before.   Embrace His voice.   Invite God to speak to you in new ways.  Let the beauty of creation speak to you about the kind of God that he is.    

   William P. Farley said I wanted a deeper relationship with God, and I thought Isaiah 66:2 was speaking to me in the words “This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.” But I didn’t understand the connection between humility and trembling before God’s Word. So I prayed, “Lord, please make this verse real to me.” Five days later, my wife and I were driving down the Oregon coast. I was meditating on 1 Corinthians 13:12, which say: “Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” I prayed, “God, please open my eyes to this evil in my heart.”   As we followed Highway 101 south, I sensed a connection between Isaiah 66:2 and 1 Corinthians 13:12. So I prayed, “God, show me the connection between these verses.”  A few minutes later, my wife began talking about a movie she liked.   Irritated by the intrusion of such a trivial topic, I belittled her opinion.   Instantly, three life-changing words knifed into my consciousness: There it is!   What was that? I wondered.  Then I realized God had spoken.  So I asked, “What is it?” An overwhelming sense of moral ugliness — my arrogance and pride — washed over me.   For the first time I saw those sins in God’s light.  My next sensation was the profound conviction that God had loved me for forty-five years despite these besetting sins.   It was painful to see my pride as God saw it.   Yet I was glad for that glimpse. I wept for my sin, and I wept because of God’s indescribable love.  It is neat that we can grow in God.