Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sheep that hear

Jesus the Good Shepherd - Artist unknown
Jesus the Good Shepherd - Artist unknown
TODAY'S SPECIAL: John 10:7-30

TO CHEW ON: "My sheep hear My voice, and I know then, and they follow Me." John 10:27

I've thought a lot about what Jesus says here—that His sheep hear His voice. I've asked questions like, 'Is my thought God's voice or my own idea? When I make a decision on what I think is God's voice and things don't turn out as I had hoped they would, does that mean I wasn't hearing God's voice after all?'

Here are some of the things the Bible says about God's voice:
  • It strikes terror into the heart of sinners (Genesis 3:8), arrests them (Acts 9:3,4), and asks for entrance (Revelation 3:20).
  • Sometimes God's voice comes with power (Psalm 29:4).
  • Sometimes it is glorious (Isaiah 30:30).
  • And sometimes it is "still" and "small" (1 Kings 19:12).
  • It can be misunderstood (John 12:28,29).
  • It sifts people in relation to truth and falsehood (John 19:37).
  • In our reading it assures those who hear that when they follow Jesus, they follow a good shepherd who cares about their welfare.

There's another interesting verse about the voice of God that describes how He often works in my life. Isaiah 30:21 (NIV) says: "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, 'this is the way; walk in it.'"

I'm always wanting guidance—wanting to know what the next step is before I take it. Wanting to be sure I'm following the right voice. This verse is interesting in that it implies God sometimes guides from behind: "Your ears will hear a voice behind you..."? How does that work?

There are forks in the road. Do we go right or left? This verse seems to say we make a decision, take the steps, and listen for the 'voice behind us,' willing to make adjustments if that is what He says.

I've experienced this. Sometimes I've taken on writing assignments for the simple fact that I've finished the last project and this one came along at just that time. There were no prophetic words, voices or holy thrills—not even a scripture verse on which to hang my hat. Not uncommonly I'll question whether I've made the right decision, especially when the writing gets tough or the piece gets turned down. Later, much later sometimes, I'll get confirmation that the project was a 'God thing' (it finally gets accepted, I get an email or note from someone saying it blessed them, it wins a prize, gets republished).

As far as I can see, this hearing the voice of confirmation behind us is the way we often live the life of faith. Your thoughts?

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, help me to hear and recognize Your voice today.

MORE: More about voice recognition.

Researchers have discovered that mother goats recognize the voice of their kids shortly after birth and retain that memory for at least a year. I couldn't find any research that said the kids recognized the nanny goat's voice, or  about how sheep do in this department.

Want to read more about the spiritual implications of our focus verse? Check out "The Sheep and Their Shepherd a sermon by Charles Spurgeon.


The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. - Used with permission.
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1 comment:

  1. Violet, I hadn't thought about the still small voice behind us in this way, but it makes a lot of sense and experience bears it out. I'd expected the Shepherd to say "turn left/right" when I reached a choice, but as you say, that doesn't always happen.

    And look at Moses' call: God told him up front that the confirmation would come when they worshiped at the holy mountain -- after they'd left Egypt and reached the mountain. May we keep alert for our Shepherd's voice whenever He speaks, whatever He says.


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