Thursday, May 24, 2018
John 10:2 – 5 2The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. 3The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”
Today’s devotional is a follow-up to yesterday, and answers the question so many have asked – ”How do I know it’s the Holy Spirit’s voice?”
When my first grandchild was born, I would sit with him on my lap and whisper softly into his ear. I would sing “Jesus Loves Me” to him and gently tell him I loved him. I continued to do that every time I would see him until he got old enough to begin choosing not to let me. When the second grandchild was born I did the same thing, but when she was old enough to choose not to let me do it, she still snuggled her ear up to my lips and let me talk and sing to her. I continue to do the same thing with my other grandchildren as they are born – 11 in all now. You see, I want them to know my voice, because as an infant that’s all they can recognize at first, and once they do, it is sealed forever in their hearts.
Yesterday we spoke about the weakness of our faith that demands a human explanation and experience to validate God’s Word. As our indwelling companion, comforter, and corrector, the Holy Spirit speaks the heart and mind of God to us moment by moment. But how can we distinguish His voice from all the other voices we hear? If you have asked that question as a true seeker of intimacy with God, then you are on the right path. The identification problem comes from the constant bombardment of the voices of pride, possessions, power, prestige, and people. It’s hard to clearly hear God in all that noise.
There is a very simple answer to the question of how to know it is the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking: learn to know His voice by letting Him whisper in your ear. When my 2-year old granddaughter would jump up into my arms and I would start to talk in my gentle and deep voice, she relaxed and placed her ear right over my lips. She became oblivious to anything else going on in the room. Every so often she would pick up her head, look into my eyes, and then place the other ear over my lips, and we would do it all again. It was a time of closeness and intimacy that produced abundant joy.
That’s what I want to be able to do with God. When I hear his still, small voice, I want to relax and symbolically place my ear right over His lips, becoming oblivious to everything else in my life at that moment. Every so often I will lift my head and gaze upon His face, and then turn my other ear to His lips and do it all again.
It is in this kind of quiet intimacy that we learn to identify the voice of God in the midst of all the other voices. Just watch a child when they are in a crowd of people, like at church on Sunday. Watch how, in the midst of all the voices, mom’s or dad’s voice is easily distinguished and heard. Watch the responses of the children to those voices. They are an indication of the intimacy level of the child with the parent. The same is true of our responses to the voice of God. They reflect our intimacy level with Him.
Identifying and hearing God’s voice is a result of time spent intimately with God. Obeying God’s voice is a response of a trusting heart. Or, to say it another way, listening is love, and following is faith. It is because of our love for God and His love for us that we are able to hear Him. It is because of our faith in Him that we choose to obey Him. Both hearing and obeying are indicators of intimacy. Take some time today to evaluate your level of intimacy with God. Learn to listen to the Holy Spirit, and then obey what He says. God is faithful, and His Word is a lamp for your feet and light for the path ahead.