One of our key goals as Canadian Baptist Women of Ontario and Quebec is that each of us could grow in genuine experience of God. Wouldn’t we all like to be like Moses whom God talked to “as a friend talks to a friend” (Exodus 33:11)?
Many of us first accepted Christ because we wanted a personal relationship with God but over the years we can drift into trying to please God rather than relate to Him. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Think about how salvation works. We often use Revelation 3:20 to describe it. Jesus says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with them, and they with me.”
There are two tasks in that verse: we hear and we open ourselves up to him. Jesus’ promise is that he will respond. He comes in and communes with us.
John 5:24 is similar. Here Jesus says, “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”
We hear and believe, and he creates spiritual life in us. I think this grace-filled pattern of hearing and responding with a faith-based openness is meant to continue throughout life.
Let’s look at John 10, the passage where Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and they know me” (verse 14). Notice how many times Jesus links our relationship with him to hearing his voice. John 10: 3b says, “the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”
If we want to know God’s will for our lives, we need to be able to hear his leading. And his leading is so personal: He calls each one of us by name. No exceptions. Remember Revelation 3:20 says anyone can hear and open the door. We don’t need to measure up somehow in order to receive this. We are saved by grace from first to last.
Jesus points out that his sheep distinguish his voice from other voices. He says, “they do not recognize a stranger’s voice” (John 10:5) and, “All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them” (verse 8). It’s through day-by-day listening and following that the sheep learn to recognize their shepherd’s voice.
This is his desire for us! Yes, we need to be wise so we are not led astray. However, let’s not refuse to listen for fear of making a mistake. Let’s trust our shepherd to lead us.
In verses 11 —13, Jesus goes on to emphasize that he cares for us so much that he was willing to die. He’s not going to abandon us now. If you worry that perhaps this no longer applies to our generation, look at verse 16. In this verse Jesus talks about needing to bring other sheep—people beyond the ones he reached in his lifetime. We are part of that group! He says, “They too will listen to my voice.”
What an incredible privilege. Jesus, says, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me”(v 14). We aren’t limited to just knowing about God; we can actually know God. Personally. Intimately. Let’s listen for his voice.
Watch for our upcoming No Varnish Video Blog for stories and practical ideas on how to grow in our ability to recognize God’s voice.
Dallas Willard, Hearing God, InterVarsity Press, 2012
Ruth Haley Barton, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, InterVarsity Press, 2008
Ole Hallesby, Prayer, Augsburg Press, 1994
Henry Blackaby, Experiencing God, Broadman & Holman, 1998
All Scripture references: Today’s New International Version (TNIV)