My Sheep LISTEN to MY Voice!

My sheep listen to my voice, I recognize them, they follow me, and I give them eternal life. They will absolutely never be destroyed, and no one will snatch them from my hands. John 10:27-28 (JNT)

“Today most believers acknowledge that God speaks primarily through His written Word, yet the voice that dictated the Bible has not ceased. Through His Holy Spirit, the Lord still communicates to every Christian who takes the time to listen with an open and receptive heart.” Charles Stanley

“Most Christians don’t listen to God. They go to Him only to talk! Yet the Scriptures reveal that any person who was ever used of God learned to remain in His presence until hearing from Him.” David Wilkerson

“We can’t have an intimate relationship with God when we do all the talking!” Charles Stanley

“God desires to speak to you as if you were sitting down to dinner with him. He wants to converse with you, heart to heart, on any and all matters (Revelation 3:20).” David Wilkerson

When you tell people that you hear God talk to you, they look at you like you are crazy and often they want to begin to argue with you. They say, “God doesn’t do that anymore.” They even try and tell you, “The Bible days were special days with special people”. On the other hand, I have heard people say, the church needs to be more like the church in Acts. I agree. However, to do that, we need to believe that God spoke to the people in the first church! Yes, they had dreams and visions and most people go along with that. But they cannot seem to get it about God speaking to His people. Why, would God do part of what He did in the first church (dreams and visions) and not all of it with us? Did He change His mind? No! God does not change His mind! People believe God can still heal, they believe in prophetic words, they believe in the dreams and visions, but they say God does not talk to us individually! How sad is that?

The church talks about the Holy Spirit. They want to feel the Holy Spirit and they want to see the signs and wonders of the Holy Spirit. However, too much emphasis is put on feelings and impressions! We cannot go entirely on feelings and impressions and emotions! It is too dangerous! We can be deceived, and Satan is in the deceiving business! Our emotions can lie to us! Believe me when I say they can and do!

I hear about people in the church still putting out fleeces. Fleeces were put out in the time of the Old Testament. (see Judges 6:36-40 full chapter). As written in the Old Testament story Satan tried to fool them, remember? What amazes me is this, people are so quick to believe “sign and wonders” but, they do not want to allow the Spirit of the Living God to accomplish what Jesus said He was coming to Earth for! The purpose of the Holy Spirit is to teach us things, and to counsel us and convict us and comfort us! That means the Holy Spirit wants to talk to us!

Now, I understand that we can get a cringing of the Holy Spirit when something is wrong, or when we are under conviction for something or if God is attempting to get our attention regarding something! The Holy Spirit does cringe within us. Do not read into what I’m saying here, I’m not saying that we don’t feel the Holy Spirit. Nor am I saying that we should not pay attention to the feeling of the cringing of the Holy Spirit.

The point is this; Jesus said that the Holy Spirit was coming to walk with us! Jesus said the Holy Spirit was going to teach us, and counsel us? How can the Holy Spirit walk with us and counsel us, if we cannot hear His voice? How can someone counsel you if they cannot talk with you? How can they teach you if they cannot talk with you? How can they teach you if you cannot “hear” them? Why are we afraid to believe that God wants to communicate with us through His Precious Holy Spirit? What is it going to take for the body of Christ to understand that God wants to “speak” with us through His Holy Spirit? We are quick to say that Jesus can do this and He can do that. We are also quick to say that God can do anything! We even say, “God can do anything that He wants to!” Well then, should we not let Him out of the box we have Him in and let Him talk with us through His Holy Spirit like Jesus said He would?

"I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you. (NIV) John 16:12-15

The conclusion here is very plain; the scripture is not talking about the written Word! Jesus was talking about the Holy Spirit walking with us and talking with us! God wants to change us and teach us – He wants to transform us and grow us in godly ways of thinking and acting. Did He not say, “Be ye perfect?”

I want to share some information with you that I came across. So many prominent Christian people are beginning to talk about God “speaking” to us. The following is an article taken from the February 1996 issue of “Focus on the Family” with James C. Dobson. This excerpt is from Dr. Dobson’s column: Dr. Dobson Answers your Questions.

Q-How can we determine God’s will for our lives? He does not speak to us in an audible voice. Do we just have to guess at what He wants?

A-That is a particularly important question. You cannot obey God if you are hazy about what He wants you to do. But most people lack a clear idea of how to discern His voice. They depend on feelings and impressions to interpret His will, which is unreliable and dangerous. What they feel is highly subjective. It is influenced by what they want, what is going on in their lives and even how much sleep they got last night. Some terrible mistakes have been made by believers who thought they had heard the voice of the Lord.

I knew a college student who was awakened from a dream in the middle of the night with the strong impression that he should marry a certain young lady. They had only dated once or twice and hardly knew each other-yet “God” had assured him that “she is the one!”

The next morning, he called the coed and told her of his impression. The girl felt no such impulse but did not want to oppose a message directly from the Lord. The couple were married shortly thereafter and suffered through the agonies of an unsuccessful and stormy marriage.

I could tell you similar stories about people who misunderstood what seemed to have been the will of the Lord. Remember that Satan comes “as angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14), which means he counterfeits the voice of God. If he can get you to accept your impressions uncritically and impulsively, then he can confuse and disillusion you.

Q-If you cannot trust what you feel, how can you know what is right?

A-There are at least five ways you can discern the will of the Lord. First, the apostle Paul wrote in the book of Ephesians, “And this is my prayer. That...the God of our Lord Jesus Christ and the all-glorious Father will give you spiritual wisdom and the insight to know more of Him” (Ephesians 1:16, Phillips).

He would not have said that unless it was possible through prayer to gain spiritual wisdom and insight. Therefore, the search for God’s will beginsn your knees. He will meet you there. Remember, that Jesus promised, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).

Second, you should examine the Scriptures for principles that relate to the issue at hand. The Lord will never ask you to do anything that is morally wrong or in contradiction to His Word. If what you are considering violates a concept you find in the Word, you can forget it.

Third, it is helpful to seek advice from those who are spiritually mature and solid in their faith. A godly counselor or pastor can assist you in avoiding the common mistakes that confuse many people.

Fourth, you should pay close attention to what is known as “providential circumstances.” The Lord often speaks through doors that open or close. When you begin to be blocked on all sides in a particular pursuit, you might consider the possibility that God has other plans for you I’m not suggesting that you give up at the first sign of obstacles but that you attempt to “read” the events in your life for evidence of divine influence.

“Fifth and finally, do nothing impulsively. Give God an opportunity to “SPEAK!”. Until He does, stall for time and concentrate on the first four approaches.” Dr. James C. Dobson

We cannot “rely” on feeling and impressions or emotions when it comes to situations and decisions in our lives. That can be extremely dangerous. I was happy to see Dr. Dobson step out and say what he knows to be true. We need to step out and let God be God! He has so much to say to us. We cannot just totally look to the written Word for all the answers. What we hear from God, should line up with the written Word. However, we need to get to know the author of “The Book”!

I felt led the other day to go through Jack Deere’s book, “Surprised by the Voice of God.” A few things jumped out at me that I agree with. Here is a man who was assistant professor of Old Testament Theology at Dallas Theological Seminary. He openly admits that he read the written Word like a Pharisee. I feel led to quote what Mr. Deere said in his book:

“The Pharisees read, studied and memorized the Bible more than most churchgoing people today will ever do, but unlike Moses and the other Old Testament heroes, they could not hear God’s voice. Jesus said the Pharisees never heard his Father’s voice at any time (John 5:37). The Pharisees claimed to be looking for the coming Messiah, but they never really expected the Old Testament examples of supernatural phenomena to be repeated in their lifetime. They had a theoretical belief in the supernatural-they believed in angels and the resurrection of the body-but expected nothing supernatural in their lives. They did not listen for God’s voice apart from the Scriptures and they never heard His voice in scriptures.”

Mr. Deere goes on to say. “A word of caution here: Please do not make the mistake of thinking that since the Pharisees were not Christians, you and I can’t repeat their sins today. Any Christian can fall into sin. The Pharisees are the New Testament’s monumental warning of what can happen to religious people when they become proud. There is no more effective way to drown out the voice of God than through the noise of pride. And, no believer is exempt from the sin of religious pride.“

“There are a number of examples from the New Testament that show us that God still speaks today in ways other than the Bible-examples from the lives of Jesus, the apostles and others. It would be easy to discount these examples by saying these were special people living in special times. But this would be a very “unbiblical” way of reading the Bible. A more biblical way is to think of Jesus as our supreme example of both how to live and how to minister.”

“Think of the apostles as James said to think of Elijah, “As men like us who prayed earnestly.” Consider the possibility of angelic visitations as suggested in Hebrews 13:2. Remember what Paul said of the miracle and judgments that happened to the Israelites in the wilderness, “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.” (1 Cor. 10:11). The miracles of the Bible are still examples and warning for contemporary Christians.”

“Most of my life I’ve read the Bible more like a Pharisee than a New Testament Christian. Most of my life I have made the mistake of believing God for too little. For the rest of my life, if I have to make a mistake, it’s going to be believing God for too much. But how can you believe an omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent God for too much, especially when He himself says, “Everything is possible for Him who believes” (Mark 9:23)?”

I am not in any way promoting Jack Deere’s book, or anyone else’s. What I am sharing with you, is what jumped out at me as I was reading. Mr. Deere has come to learn many of the things that so many others (including myself) across Christendom are coming to understand. God wants to talk to His people through His precious Holy Spirit!

At this point I am including the scripture Mr. Deere was referring to in his book. He referred to this particular scripture many times throughout his book.

"I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to “come to me” to have life. (NIV) John 5:36-40

One last quote from Mr. Deere’s book:

“Evidently, Jesus thought that the voice of God and the Bible were not the same, that it is possible to read the Bible and never hear the voice of God. Studying the Bible without hearing the voice of God led the Pharisees into a realm of knowledge devoid of godliness. It was the kind of knowledge that reinforced their prejudice and increased their religious pride. If we allow ourselves to be satisfied with religious activity that has no presence of God, in the activity, we too will find our pride growing and our prejudices strengthened.”

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. (NIV) John 10:27

“But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you. (KJV) Jeremiah 7:23

“When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the LORD thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice; (KJV) Deuteronomy 4:30

Deuteronomy appeared to have the most, I wanted to know why. I went to the Spirit Filled Bible and this is what Jack W. Hayford, General Editor had to say in his preface to the book of Deuteronomy.

“Deuteronomy is characterized by a strong sense of urgency. Even to the contemporary reader the challenge is decisive: I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live” (30:19). The decision is ours.

Deuteronomy teaches that the relation of God to His people is far more than law. The indispensable conditions of our covenant relationship with God are obedience and loyalty. Our love, affection, and devotion to the Lord must be the true foundation of all our actions. Loyalty to God is the essence of true piety and holiness. Success, victory, prosperity, and happiness all depend upon or obedience to the Father. The book is a plea for our obedience to God based the motives of love and fear. “What does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes: (10:12, 13).

Moses was the first to prophesy the coming of the Messiah, a Prophet like Moses himself (18:15). Notably, Moses is the only person with whom Jesus ever compared Himself. “For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My ‘words’?” (John 5:46, 47).” (Jack W. Hayford)

In the scripture that Mr. Hayford quoted the use of the word, words is Strong’s 4487 meaning, “the rhema, the spoken word, not logos”. We are told to obey the “voice of the Lord” in the Old Testament and Yeshua (Jesus) came to reinforce that command in a big way!

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. (NIV) Matthew 5:17-20

The more that I search the scriptures and listen to God, it amazes me how so many of us take what we say about God and confess about God so lightly. I have done it, so I am not pointing a finger at anyone. We have all stood in church and praised the Lord by singing songs with the following words, “what a friend we have in Jesus”. When was the last time we listened to what our friend has to say?

There is another song that is one of my all-time favorites, in fact I used to sing it over and over and over to my children when I rocked them to sleep, or when they were sick I would hold them and sing this song. It must be embedded in their memories. The words in this song the church has been singing for generations to God! So, I ask those of us who have sung this song, how many times did we really sing this song and not pay careful attention to the words.

“I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses, and the voice I hear falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses. And, He walks with me and He talks with me and He tells me I AM His own. And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known”.

What about this? Have we been singing something all these years that we did not mean, or believe? Were we mouthing words to God that held no truth to us?

You know we need to be incredibly careful what we sing and what we pray. We need to be careful what we say to and say about God. What we say and sing to God, He takes seriously. We are held accountable to God for what we speak and SING to Him. The written Word tells us that. Words are eternal, and we are held accountable for every word we speak. We often lift to God in praise service, words that we are not even really thinking about. Why? Because our minds are on other things during that time, how we feel, what so and so is wearing, what we are going to have for lunch. If we say it, God takes it very seriously and to sing it to God is to say it to Him! He is listening to what we are saying - are we?

Main Point

The purpose for what I have said in this teaching is to get to the main point. We need to be sitting with God and allowing Him to speak with us. We need to get down to business; God has things that He needs to tell us.

God is not going to come into your house and take the remote control from your hand and turn off the TV and say - let us talk. He is not going to do that anymore than He would have busted into the door of your heart and forced you to get “saved”. God just does not work like that; He will not go against your choices. God has given us our own free will, and with that free will, we can make our own choices. If He were going to work like that in your life, He would have zoomed in and stopped Eve from taking the bite of the fruit. He certainly saw what she was about to do! The choice Eve made was her own! God had nothing to do with it! Plus, He certainly was totally against it! All I am saying here is this, we have our own free will and what we choose, we choose. God will not stop you – if He did, He would have to take back the Divine Right He gave to man – which was the giving to us of our own free will. When we make a wrong choice, which is against God’s will in our life – God takes a step back and gives us the freedom to choose what we want to do. He knows there will be consequences! Because God does not honor our wrong choices, when God honors something, it brings glory to Him. Our wrong choices do not bring glory to God. Do not think that I am saying here that, God has a permissive will, He does not! Something is either God’s will or it is not! If someone is choosing to watch TV instead of spending time with God, is that God’s permissive will? No! Therefore, the intention of the heart in this case would be selfishness. I want to do what I want to do! Pay close attention to the intentions of your heart. They will tell you a great many things! God does not force Himself on us, He wants our love and devotion and obedience, because we want to give it to Him, not because we must!

Look at it this way, our time is God’s time, each one of our days are God’s days. Each moment of our day is on loan from God. Don’t you think God wants to have a “say” in each one of our days?

We want to be mature in the Lord, but maturity with the Lord depends on how much time you spend with Him and how close you walk with Him in your life.

When you sit down with God make sure your attitude and reason for wanting to hear God is to give God victory in your day. Make sure it is not just to get God to answer questions or to solve problems you encounter. That comes along with the territory, because God loves us and wants to do that for us, but that should not be our focus.

When you listen to God there are going to be times, when God wants to talk to you about a serious or intimate issue. Do not attempt to be doing something else, while you are talking with God. That is not to say you cannot talk with Him anytime. What I am saying is this: when you are talking with God and He is trying to discuss something of great priority to Him, sit down and listen. Give Him your full attention. Give Him the respect that He is due! We can talk with God while we are driving, doing dishes, or working on the car. Just make sure that God has the time that He needs to get through to you in the way He needs to. Be available to God!

God is waiting to talk with you! Would you like His telephone number? It is extremely easy to get a hold of Him; your direction is in the book of Jeremiah 33:2-3.

"This is what the LORD says, he who made the earth, the LORD who formed it and established it -- the LORD is his name: ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.' (NIV) Jeremiah 33:2-3

Give Him a call, WILL YOU?

“We don’t spend enough time near the Master’s mouth! We want to feel His hand but, we don’t want to hear what He has to say to us!” Pastor Herman Knapp

“Living in the Spirit is a life of discipline and begins with listening to His Voice! Jesus did not have bibles with him – He did not have any written material. He spoke to them – He was living in the Spirit and full of the Holy Spirit! The early church didn’t have bibles – the Holy Spirit spoke to them!” (Pastor Jack Hayford)

(sw-h)
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