This message is part of our “Did God Really Say?” series, that shows us how to wisely use discernment. We’ve looked at why you can trust the Bible. We’re in the the middle of looking at why you can trust the Spirit by discussing how to know what the Spirit does and how to know how the Spirit speaks. In the future we’ll examine why you can trust the body. The Word, the Spirit and the Body are the three tools God has given His church to discern.
“I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”
Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant, so he explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.
“I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.
“The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.”
When he said these things, the people were again divided in their opinions about him. Some said, “He’s demon possessed and out of his mind. Why listen to a man like that?” Others said, “This doesn’t sound like a man possessed by a demon! Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
You are his sheep, you know His voice. How can we hear what the Spirit is saying? I have four tips to get you started. I’m going to use my own experience as examples…I’m sorry I don’t go into great details of these stories. You can ask me about them and I’ll tell them. (Disclaimer: Don’t think I’m saying the Spirit will speak you the same way He’s spoken to me….)
1. Be open to hearing His voice.
Matthew 13 – parable of the sower.
Often taught in terms of someone coming to salvation. Actually it’s the good news of the Kingdom, not the good news of salvation. This parable is applicable every time we have the possibility of hearing the voice of God.
My story… how I sense a God-moment.
How can you be open to hearing His voice?
What do you fill your mind with?
What space do you give him in your day?
Instead of being offended at something that might be from God, figure out why your offended.
2. Learn to recognize His voice.
After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice…I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. John 10:4; 11
My story…hearing the audible voice of God
How you can learn to recognize His voice…
Does it line up with Scripture?
Do trustworthy and Godly people agree with you?
There are always baby steps before a leap of faith.
3. Understand His speech.
It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter. Proverbs 25:2 (NASB)
God will speak differently to you at different times in your life.
My story…when automation didn’t work.
Is there a time in your life you once heard God clearly, but now it’s not the same?
It might be because He’s trusting you with more.
Learn to listen in other ways… maybe it’s finding a spiritual mother or father, maybe it’s journalling, maybe it’s spending time in silence. Maybe you need to go back and do what you did at first.
Don’t think Christianity is “How To”. It is a dance. We need to learn the unforced rhythms of grace (Matthew 11:28-30 – The Message). Some of you just knowing that God changes the way He speaks to us is all the permission you need to start listening to Him again.
4. Respond to what He says…
The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers.
1 Peter 3:12
Sometimes we will not hear God clearly until we obey what He tells us.
My Story – getting into web development.
Have you obeyed what God has been saying to you?
If you haven’t sensed Him speaking to you lately – like you have in the past – ask the Spirit to remind you of the last thing He said to you. Have you obeyed it?
What can we do to hear the Spirit
Be open to hearing His voice.
Learn to recognize His voice.
Understand His speech. Respond to what He says.