A Voice in the Crowd

“The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep.  The watchman 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.”  
John 10:2-5 (NIV)

How often have you witnessed or experienced someone saying, “I would recognize that voice anywhere!”  Most of us have people in our lives that could be talking in the midst of a crowd and not even knowing they were there, we would immediately recognize their voice and know who is talking.  That type of recognition doesn’t happen overnight.  It requires much time spent conversing and listening so that we not only know the sound of the voice, we also know the character of the content of what will be spoken.

It is fairly easy to find people who want to hear from God.  Hold a class or teaching series on knowing God’s will and people are quick to sign up.  Change one word in the title and focus the class or teaching series on doing God’s will and all of a sudden participants are nowhere to be found.  Is it possible that many within our modern Christian culture have such a difficult time hearing God’s voice because we have consistently failed to listen to the things we know He has said?

Rarely a day goes by but what I hear or read the statement, “My God would never ____________” with the blank being filled in by something that even a casual reading of scripture would show God has in fact done or said.  I find it interesting that these statements are always “My God would never” and not simply “God would never”.  We have indeed created God in our own image and often define Him in ways that make us feel comfortable and safe.  In the midst of such a culture, it is no wonder we struggle with hearing and knowing the voice of our Shepherd.

It is in our quiet times with God and His Word that we become familiar with His voice and begin to recognize the things that He would say by understanding the things that He has already said.  The quiet times are necessary so that we are prepared to hear our Shepherd’s voice even in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  Scripture teaches us that Jesus would often withdraw to “lonely places” to spend time with His Father, but as you read about the life of Jesus it should be clear that He recognized and obeyed the voice of His Father even in the midst of the crowds.  God expects and wants us to listen, to recognize His voice and to follow it, each moment that we live — whether in quiet times or in times surrounded by the crowds of this world.

Jesus says that His sheep will know His voice and they will follow Him.  When you and I struggle with questions about hearing God, perhaps we need to seriously examine if the problem is really in the hearing or in the following.  I pray that you and I are not only hearers of the Word, but doers of the Word as well.

In prayer,
Tom

Hearing God

How do you hear God,
      and how do you know?
What He wants of you,
      and where you should go?
Or have you decided
      it’s impossible.
Your life is all planned
      and it’s already full.
Knowing what God wants
      is just for the few.
I’ll never get there,
      I don’t know about you.

Sometimes I think that
      our search about God.
Seeks an adventure
      or something quite odd.
God’s will must be hidden,
      at least from my sight.
I’ve had no great request
      by day or by night.
I read in the Bible
      and watch on the news.
It seems it’s the great ones
      that God would still choose.

No one is greater
      than he that serves all.
To humble our self
      is the Master’s first call.
Look back in the Bible,
      and here’s what I see.
A lot of great people
      who started like me!
From humble beginnings
      with nothing unique.
But a heart that was open
      to a God they did seek.

To him who is faithful
      with the little things.
God will work with your mouth,
      you may speak before kings!
God’s will shouldn’t scare you,
      or be thought of as hard.
It’s much more deliberate
      than the draw of a card.
He wants us to love Him,
      to serve all mankind.
To walk in His ways,
      with our heart, soul, and mind.

So when you’re discouraged,
      thinking you’ve been left out.
Seek God’s face humbly,
      He’ll remove all the doubt.
Be joyful in hard times
      and pray without end.
Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus,
      He calls you His friend.
Rest in His goodness,
      be filled with His love.
Be faithful in all things,
     ‘til He calls you above.

The big things get noticed
      because they are large.
Don’t worry about them,
      unless you are in charge.
Go to your neighbor
      and those who have need.
Get rid of your pride,
      remove all your greed.
As you empty yourself,
      God has room to fill.
When He lives within you,
      you’ll walk in His will.
©

I was resting in my office in the midst of a busy day.  When I awoke from a short nap, this poem was in my mind.  I suppose part of it God had put there through time I spent preparing prayer guides for the next two weeks that will focus on God’s Will.  I pray that God would fill us with a greater understanding of being faithful in the little things that we know He wants us to do.

In prayer,
Tom