knowing God's voice

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Knowing the Voice of God      John 10 1-6

Now doing Bible Class we talking about God’s strategy for total victory   and I gave some principles on how we should Expect total victory in our live    and the dominant theme was   we have to be obedient to God’s voice 

So the obvious question now is  How do we know the voice    what process must we employ to hear God’s voice    what strategy must we use in order to determine if we are hearing the voice of God

Are there distinguishable things about the voice of God that are different from other voices   if so   what are they

What’s the secret formula for hearing God’s voice        well I don’t think there is anything secretive  or mystical about it  but I do believe every Christian can and should know the Voice of God

And Jesus seems to bear this out in this little parable of our text today  and I want to eavesdrop in a conversation that Jesus is having     John 10 1-6


Write down this word     The Story

Jesus was a masterful story teller   He often used imagery and common things in order to highlight a higher truth    and here in this parabolic approach that He uses in this parable today     Jesus uses imagery that was common to His first century audience      he uses the imagery of a Sheppard and his relationship with His sheep  

The sights   the sounds and the smell of sheep were readily available  for from which Jesus could draw his imagery    perhaps its was at the end of the evening when the Sheppard’s were gathering there scattered flocks as was there custom in the Orient   to open to enclosures    which were known as sheepfolds  

Sheepfolds were open aired enclosures there were walled by stone or by thick brush  which was designed to protect the sheep from other preditorial animals and bandits

Sheepfolds had a door or an entrance that was guarded by a door keeper   who would only open the door for the Sheppard’s who would come to check on their sheep       to enter the sheepfold by any other means  other than the door would indicate that a person was a thief and a robber

Sheepfolds   also contained several flocks of sheep that were all co mingled together but at morning light when the Sheppard would come         they would call their sheep by name   by whistling   or by making some kind of noise  and each sheep would recognize and obey only the distinctive voice of its Sheppard

Perhaps  it was while watching this scene unfold     as Sheppard’s were gathering their scattered flock that Jesus gains the inspirations to tell the story of our text

Perhaps he saw Sheppard’s whose brows were sweaty    maybe the smell of sheep manure  was in the air  and the constant bleating of the sheep   made its own melodious music of the Palenstian countryside  

It was out of these sights  signs and smell   that perhaps Jesus gained the inspiration to tell this story as He and his audience  gazed through across from the courts of the temple across the neighboring field      that’s the story

But there is another movement in the text   it moves from the story to the symbolism 

As masterful of a story teller as Jesus was   he did not tell stories just for the sake of impressing his audience      no   the stories that Jesus told   contained symbolism

Let’s look at the symbolism        first of all we have the Sheppard

The Sheppard represents Jesus Himself       in fact if you read verse 11   he says  I am the good Sheppard     He is the only one that could use that definitely article      the good Sheppard       there may be Sheppard’s and under Sheppards   but Jesus said  He was the only one that can say  I’m the good Sheppard

2ndly   there’s the sheep           the sheep represent true believers      it represents the church  it represents true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ who listen to the voice of God

3rdly  there is the Thief and the Robber      this represents the scribes and the Pharisees    the religious leadership of Israel who cared nothing about the sheep   they were known as false Sheppard’s       they didn’t care about the sheep they just cared about the sheep carrying on the ritualism and the rules  and the regulation of their dead religious system

Then 4thly there is the doorkeeper       we don’t know who the doorkeeper represents   some say the Doorkeeper represents God   others say it represents John the Baptist  other says it represents pastors and preacher     we are not sure   but we do know this    that no every aspect of a parable is meant to be interpreted 

So there it is  we have the Story    We have the Symbolism    but I only have 1 more point   and I know you are saying    you mean to tell me    we are sitting here     done put on my clothes   drove to church this morning   for you to tell us  in this text there is a story here   and symbolism here    What else do you have to say

There is also the Significance

What is Jesus getting at    What is Jesus saying   How is this little parable      this illustration   this story relevant to our lives today

Well whenever you are interpreting a text   you should first of all Understand that there is something that we see

Number 1   The Primary Significance         whenever you preach or teach a parable  you should always find out  what the significance of the parable is within its context        because many times people preach parables   but they read into the parable more than the master really intended

Remember in school when we would read childhood stories an at the end of the stories we would hear these words      and the moral of the story is

That’s all you have to get at in a parable  what the moral of the story     what the primary significance     well the primary significance is   this

Jesus is saying  that Jehovah God is Israel’s Sheppard   and that as a representative of Jehovah    that He (Jesus) was functioning as the good or the true Sheppard of Israel and the scribes and Pharisee represent the false Sheppard’s and did not care about the people   but were only concerned that the people would follow the outward ceremonial practices of the Jewish religion     and what Jesus is saying   that only those that are true believers in Him  would here His voice and follow His voice as the good Sheppard and His flock would not follow the false Sheppard’s of  Israel       the scribes and Pharisees     and so Jesus is saying    that He had come to call people out of the fold of the dead religion of Judaism   into His sheepfold  which we call the Church of Jesus Christ

And that He has come to give His believers life and that they may have it more abundantly    now that is the primary significance of the story   and yet you still look at me and says   well  Bishop    what does it have to say to me  

Well not only is there a Primary Significance    there is also some Practical Applications

What He is doing  here is   He is sharing some prerequisites to hearing the voice of God   through sharing this little parable

Verse 3-4   key verses  (read)   He’s trying to teach us  number 1  if you are taking notes  that in order to know the voice of God

1st of all   We must be open to God

Verse 3 says the sheep hear his voice    Hear means to listen to   it implies being open to hearing from the Sheppard   and the reason the Pharisees and the religious leaders rejected Jesus Christ   is because they expected Jesus to come one way but God sent Him in other way   

They expected Jesus to come to them as a military leader  or as a political leader who would lead them out of the bondage of Rome    but Jesus did not come as a Politian   or a military man    but he came as a suffering servant     so they had these theological boxes that they had already put God in   but when God showed up in another way other than what fit there theological box  they couldn’t accept Christ    and they were not open to Jesus Christ     and not open to God

And that’ is why some folks are not open to God today    they have super inscribed God to your own little theological box and you expect God to be the God that you want Him to be   but I’ve come to tell you that you cant put God in a box    because

No matter how big your box is   God is bigger than your box

Don’t put God in a Baptist box    He’ll break out of that    Don’t put Him in a Church of God in Christ box   He’ll break out of that    Don’t put Him in a Pentecostal box   He’ll break out of that    Don’t put Him in a Catholic Box    He’ll break out of that one too    Don’t put Him in a Methodist  box       He’ll break out of every box we try to put God in         

Tell somebody  He’s a God  outside of the box

So He came in a way  that they did not expect Him to come and they would not accept Him and they were not open to God

And right now  the reason some people don’t know the Voice of God  and will not hear the voice of God is because   they are not open to God

That if God came and told us to do something other than what we wanted to do we  wont receive  because they are not open to it

You came saying you have been praying for direction   praying for guidance  looking for God in your life   but you say God is not saying anything   so what you do   you go through the motion of praying  to make yourself feel better     the  problem is   not  that God is not speaking   He is speaking but you are not open  because you’ve already made up your mind what you are going to do

If that’s the way you approach God   you praying to God but you have already decided what you are going to do  you may has well get off your knees  because you are not open to God telling you anything different that what you have already decided to do

You came to  Misawa looking for a certain kind of church   certain kind of Pastor    like your church back home   but God is leading you hear      but you said  no  I’m just praying      but God isn’t saying nothing    yes    He is   you just not open

You say you want to get with him    or get with her   but you know they not saved   don’t go to church        but I’ve already preached to you   if they are not saved    marrying them  or getting with them  is not a mode of Evangelism      but you already made your mind up   why you praying about it        just go ahead and do it   because you are not open to God telling you anything differently than what you have already decided to do

You say   I’m not going to tithe   I’m not giving in the sacrificial offering   because that’s around Christmas time      and I don’t have anything       but you may like you praying    and you already saying what you not going to do   you not open to God

Its not that God is not speaking   the problem is  we are not open   to God telling us anything that we haven’t already decided that we want

You have to be open to God

That’s why folk don’t follow pastoral leadership           because they live in a world  of bottom line outcomes   and so you bring that bottom line outcome mentality to the church     and if the Pastor leads you into something  that you cant see the bottom line financial outcome   you cant follow it

But the man of God leads sometime in  direction    where you cant always see bottom line outcomes   where you have to have some faith          where you have to learn how to trust God    where you have to say  I don’t see how its going to happen but I’m going trust in the God that’s in you

9 years ago      we wasn’t looking at the bottom line    but God said move  and folks were open to the voice of God       and you are blessed because of it

Some of them  never saw this place    but we are here    because God said

That’s why folk don’t want to follow Pastoral leadership    its not because God is not speaking   but because you are not open to hearing the Voice of God

But then secondly  if you are going to Know the voice of God do you have to be open   but 2ndly you have to be  Develop Intimacy with God    you have to be Intimate with God

He says in verse 3     He calls His own sheep by name     the fact that He calls there name  says there is an intimate close relationship with Him

So close   that he knows every one of them   100 and something sheep but He knows them by name        it means they have spent some time together

He knows the weak one’s    he knows the strong ones    he knows healthy one   and the sick one and all of them are important to the Sheppard

Then verse 4 says     they know His voice  

That word Know    means more than a casual knowledge     but knowledge based on experience       it’s a knowledge based on the fact that you’ve spent some quality time in each others presence  

In law enforcement   they have what is called a electronic voice detector    it measures the sound waves of a person’s voice  and compares those sound waves with other recorded instances of that person speaking      so without being in the room    by just tapping the phone   they know who is talking  because the machine can recognize whose voice it is 

Well long before they came up with that technology   Jesus said   that a dumb unsophisticated sheep  knows the voice of its Sheppard  and if a dumb unsophisticated sheep knows his Sheppard’s voice    how much more should you and I know the voice of our Sheppard

A mother recognize her babies cry   when they are hungry    when they are wet    because the mother and the baby have been intimately close to one another and the reason why some of us don’t know the voice of God   is because we haven’t spent any quality time in the presence of God

And if you don’t spend anytime in each others presence there cannot be any intimacy and real close knowledge of one another

There is no shortcut of intimacy with God    that’s why  I strongly encourage you to get your own bible out    get on your own knees   spend some time with God    don’t just come to church    and let the preacher read the bible for you   and pray for you   you’ve got to learn how to read for yourself   pray for yourself   minister to yourself   spend some time in the presence of God

That’s why we don’t know His voice   because we haven’t been intimate      we get up in the morning   in such a hurry to go to work      and we don’t spend any time on our knees in devotion     reading the word  praying to God  and we wonder why we cant figure out what God is up to in our life

Its not that God is not speaking   its that we are not intimate    we don’t spend time with Him   and then we end up drifting in our work with God

Drifting further   and further and further away from God

You know how sheep gets lost   they get lost by nibbling          just nibbling not looking up   nibbling eating grass and before they know it  they have nibbled himself/herself  away from the Sheppard

Somebody right now  you drifting away from the Sheppard because you nibbling     you have gotten to the point  where it started out as a sip    then a sip went to a swallow   and a swallow to a glass  and a glass to a 5th  and now you are an alcoholic   nibbling

You started out it was just and email   now you chatting    now you calling    now you think you in love   nibbling

You were going to church every Sunday   then it went to every other Sunday    then it went to every other month    then its every now and then     nibbling

You keep nibbling  and dibbling and dabbling in the world    and before you know it  you have drifted away from God  

Am I talking to you Man   am I talking to you Woman   I’m I talking to you Brother    am I talking to you Sister  

Have you nibbled away from your intimacy from God    you used to go to church     use to be involved     you have nibbled away from you intimacy with God

But the good news is   God is trying to call somebody back to a closer relationship with Him

You have maintain intimacy with God    but wait  there is another practical application

We must be willing to God where God is taking

He says  verse 3    He leads them    verse 4   he goes before them and they follow Him

Notice  the Sheppard doesn’t have to drive them   the Sheppard doesn’t have to force them    Sheppard doesn’t have to make them follow    they follow because they trust Him  and they know He loves them

Knowing the voice of God  means you have to be willing to go wherever God is taking you life   you may have made your plans  on where you want to go in life  what you want to be in life    but I’m come to ask you a question

Does God have veto power in your life      when you have decided you want to go one way in you life    does God have the right to take you another way

You decided its this career but God says no  its something else     you decided its him  but God says  no  its someone else         does God have veto power

Its not that God is not speaking     he speaks all the time    He is speaking right now   even as I preach this message   He is speaking right now

But you have got to be willing to go wherever God is trying to take your life   and you have got to allow God the right to change your plans      remember sometimes God wont lead you in the easy way   God will take you through the difficult way in order to get you to your destination

Remember the same Sheppard  that makes them to lie down in green pastures   leads them beside still waters    is also the Sheppard that goes with them  through the valley of the shadow of death

This Sheppard not only has the right to lead you in green pastures  and by still waters   this Sheppard’s has the right to take you through the valley     where life hits you and you are still hurting  in order to bring you into your destiny         You’ve got to be willing to go wherever the Sheppard is trying to take your life

One more little thing     the practical application of this little story      last thing is  We must filter out the Distractions      filter out the distractions

Remember in the story   it’s a sheepfold   and in the sheepfold    several flocks are in one sheepfold    100 of sheet co-mingled together    and at morning light the Sheppard’s would all come   whistle   make there noises and every sheep had to listen for the distinct voice of its Sheppard

It must have been noisy in the sheepfold   it must have been chaotic and busy in the sheepfold    but when the Sheppard called          they would distinguish which voice was its Sheppard    and in order to do it   they had to filter out all the distractions   because the sheep says   I’m waiting   I’m listening for the voice of my Sheppard  

If I could do some sheep talk    I bet one sheep said    that’s your Sheppard   that aint mine      you got to go where your Sheppard telling you to go    but I’m waiting to hear from my Sheppard      I’m waiting to hear   that voice that I know when my Sheppard is talking to me       

And He would have to filter out all the distractions in order to hear and recognize the voice of the Sheppard        

And that’s what we have to do in this sheepfold called life   where there are so many distractions        so many things that vie for our time and our attention    and if you are not careful you will get so caught up in the busyness of life that you cant hear when the Sheppard is calling

You have to have a filter on your mind   so you can filter out all of the noises   so you can hear what God is trying to say in your life       because there are so many things that can drown out the voice of the Sheppard

Sin can drown out the voice of the Sheppard             what sin  Bishop     that sin that gets you every time       whatever that one is    if you want to embrace that sin that you don’t want to let go of   cause you like  it   its good   and its keeping you from hearing the voice of the Sheppard in your life

That’s why the writer said   Lay aside every weight and every sin that doth easily besets   run with patience the race that is set before us

But not only will sin do it   but materialism       will drown out the voice of the savior     you get so caught up in trying to be like everybody else    get so caught up in trying to have what everybody else has          nothing satisfies us    house is never big enough     car is not good enough     clothes you don’t have enough   and we get so caught up with keeping up with the Jones until is drowns out the voice of the Sheppard in our lives

Something else      Success can drown out the voice of the Sheppard     have you ever wondered why many wealthy     well do do folk don’t go to church   because they feel like they don’t need God        the more God blesses some of us   the more we act like we can make it without God       so we don’t get up and go to church on Sunday   because we say look at what I have    look at the money in bank account    what I look like going out there praying to a god    Success keeps us from hearing the voice of God      get  a promotion    get a raise on the job   then we go walking around with our nose in the air      acting like we are better than everybody else    Success keeps some of us from hearing the voice of God

Another thing   Unhealthy relationships  can keep you from hearing the voice of God     you know you don’t have any business being with him    being with her    you know you are running with the wrong crowd   you know some folk don’t mean you any good       you know you should be sending those emails     those texts   that’s why you can hear the Sheppard   you cant hear the voice  of God  because you are so in love with trying to fit in    trying to be accepted     trying to have people to love and like you

But you have got to learn how to filter out all of the distractions       

If He or she is keeping you from walking in your destiny  you don’t need them       if this person you are hanging with    is going in the wrong direction   you don’t need them

Because they will keep you from hearing the voice of the Sheppard    but I’ve made up mind   that I want to hear what the Sheppard has to say

In Homer’s  Odyssey  when Ulysses and the were sailing past the Island of the Sirens   and the legend was   that everybody that heard these women sing    they died  they crashed their ships

Ulysses  want to hear the song of the Siren    but he told to put wax in their ear    but as you row   I want you to keep rowing  but as you row   tie me to the mass of the ship   because I want to hear   what have the Siren’s sound like

As they passed by   the only thing that kept Ulysses  from going crazy  the only thing that kept him form jumping overboard  was he was tied to the mass

He was tied to the mass of a ship  and that’s what I’ve come to tell somebody  that there are so many voices  that are out here today

So many distractions that will destroy you if you are not careful  but I’ve come to tell you   if you are going to navigate through the distractions of life   you better make sure you are tied to the right thing

You have to be tied   not to a mass of a sheep     to you have to be tied to the cross of Jesus Christ    

That’s why we sing    Jesus keep me  near the cross   there’s a precious fountain

Free to all a healing stream   flows from Calvary’s mountain

I don’t know about you   but I made up my mind   that I want to follow the Sheppard 

I’d rather have the Sheppard   than to have anything this world has to offer

 Give me the Sheppard      keep your money    give me the Sheppard

Keep your Job     but give me Jesus    Keep your bottle   but give me Jesus

And as long    as I got Jesus    I don’t need nobody else     

I’d rather have Jesus   than to have the finest house   I’d rather have Jesus   than to have the finest car

Don’t give me a mansion   on top of a hill     don’t give Don't give me the world     with a shallow thrill  But just give me a savior    My life He can hold
I'd rather have Jesus than silver and gold

When He calls my name  I want to answer     when the Lord  says go I want to go

Where he leads me   I will follow     no turning back

Is there anybody   that has made up your mind     you are going to go where the Sheppard’s leads you

If He leads you  through to the mountain   I’m going with Jesus     If He leads me  to the valley   I’m going with Jesus       

As long as I know   He’s holding my hand    long as I know He’s walking with me   I know   I can make

I want Jesus to walk with me    I want Jesus to talk with me     all along this tedious journey    Jesus be a fence all around me    every day        Jesus I want you to protect me   while    I travel      while  I travel along    the way

I know you can   I believe you will    fight my battle   if I keep still 

Do you know the Sheppard 

I want to hear his voice            stay open to him       be intimate with him     go where he wants me to go     and eliminate distractions

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