John 10:27 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
I like the way the Japanese expresses this verse. “My sheep distinguish my voice.” I’m preaching this morning on discernment, so this is very relevant. I think every Christian has experienced hearing things that just didn’t sound right. The devil is a master deceiver, but when we are committed to Christ in loving obedience, he can’t fool us long. When that falls apart it is almost always because of pride. We are never more in danger of falling than when we think we can stand on our own! (1 Corinthians 10:12) “Practice makes perfect” in a lot of things, and listening to God is no exception. I think the first step is to become familiar with the Bible, because God is never going to contradict Himself. That’s the easiest way to recognize lying voices. It’s just like bankers don’t study counterfeit bills to be able to recognize them, they study real bills to be able to discern deviations immediately. When we think we’re hearing God, the thing to do is to obey immediately. Sometimes it may seem like a little thing, or even a silly thing, but God trains us with such things so that we will have assurance when He tells us big things. The point is to follow Jesus in everything, because He will lead us to green pastures and beside still waters. (Psalm 23)
This is what I tell others all the time, but I’ve got to keep watch over myself, lest I think that because I know and can teach this truth I’m always living it out. That can be a major snare for teachers! God has used various little things to train me to listen to Him. Lane changes when driving are a case in point. When I am humbly listening to Him, He will tell me when to change lanes for a minimum of frustration and delay. When I try to figure out which lane is moving faster and adjust to things on my own, whichever lane I change to promptly encounters such things as cross-lane turners. Just yesterday I was considering changing lanes, from the outside to the inside, and I felt a check in my soul, so I stayed in the outside lane. In no time the inside lane had a cross-traffic turner, and stopped completely. I could not have seen or predicted that on my own, but God knew what was going to happen, and He let me know. Right now I have a friend in terminal condition in ICU, and I had to call an ambulance at 2:00 this morning for my wife, who was having severe back pain, probably generated by her Parkinson’s Disease. In both situations I have to listen to the Lord, just as I do for this morning’s worship service. The glorious thing is that God’s got it covered, so all I have to do is seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and listen obediently.
Father, thank You for Your grace. Thank You that the diagnosis at the hospital this morning was muscle pain, rather than anything more life-threatening. I do ask You for complete relief from that pain, and I ask for wisdom in how we cooperate with Your health for us both, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!