I love this illustration Jesus gave of Himself as the great Shepherd. It brings me such comfort to know that He is constantly watching over me. Our world today is in such mayhem and people are running to and fro like sheep gone astray, lost and afraid. But those who've given their lives to the Shepherd needn't fear or worry because He watches over us.
However, I'm struck by the phrase "for they know his voice". It makes me wonder how many of His sheep actually know His voice? How do you get to know someone's voice? When my husband or one of my kids call me from somewhere else in the house, I don't have to guess who it is. I can tell from their voice. Why? Because I've spent countless hours with them. I know them. I would go so far as to say that I could tell from a text message who was speaking to me, just from the words used, the content, the way it was phrased. This familiarity comes from hours on end of spending time with someone.
Yet, I wonder how many of us truly hear the voice of God? I'm not talking about reading your Bible, though that is immensely important. I'm talking about the living Word of God that bubbles up within your spirit and is meant just for you, those intimate directions, comforts, the wisdom given for a certain task, the Words of love needed when you're feeling down. Do you know that you should be hearing from God daily?
In Luke 4:4, Jesus said “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’”
The Greek meaning of the word "Word" here is Rhema, which means the active spoken word of God, not the written word. In other words.... it seems to me that Jesus is saying that hearing from God daily should be as crucial as our need to eat food. And it should be as frequent as our need to eat. But how do we actually hear God's voice? I know I don't hear Him as often as I'd like. I believe God speaks to us all day long, giving us directions and comforts and wisdom and encouragement. But most of us never hear Him.
We live in a culture that is afraid of silence. At any moment, most of us are listening to or paying attention to multiple distractions: TV, Radio, MP3s, CDs, DVD, IPhone, IPad, etc... We are plugged in, plugged to, and plugged up! We are terrified to just sit in the quiet and reflect. Afraid of what we might have to face or learn about ourselves. Yet, I guarantee you, that's the only way you will hear God. Stop doing and sit still. Meditate on Him and learn how to open your spiritual ears. It takes practice, it takes time, but oh, what a reward!! To hear from God Almighty Himself!
Why is this important? For a number of reasons.
- To get direction/guidance
- To learn who God is, His character, His faithfulness, His goodness... and that you can trust Him
- To feel His love for you and feel your love for Him grow
- To receive a promise
- To receive comfort and hope
- To protect against deception
The last benefit most people don't think about but it is extremely important for the days we are living in. Here what Jesus says:
"Yet (my sheep) they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” John 10:5
Jesus warned us that many false prophets and false saviors and messiahs would arise in the end times, performing signs and wonders,
For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. Mathew 24:24
This deception will be so great, the entire world will fall for it, including, I believe, many Christians. That's why it's so important that you know the voice of God. Because when you do, you will never follow another voice!