Statement of faith

2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (NIV)

"The Spirit of God uses the Word of God to make us like the Son of God. To become like Jesus, we must fill our lives with his Word.
- Warren


Monday, February 7, 2011

Quiet-Time Reflections

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pmcrawford1@gmail.com
Week of: Feb. 7, 2011
Sharing by:  Pam Crawford

                                                 John 10:1-5
“I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 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.”

SOUND DIRECTION

Have you ever questioned whether you can really distinguish God’s voice? I can assure you by the authority of God’s Word that you can. If you have surrendered your life to Jesus Christ, you are a member of a new flock.  And, although you may not hear God’s voice as an audible sound, you can hear the distinctive direction He provides if you listen attentively.

Let’s explore this concept of hearing God’s voice with the example of parental responsibility. If you don’t have children yet, just substitute being responsible for someone you wouldn’t want to lose. Imagine for a moment, you’re with a young child in a crowded mall. One moment you have your eye on them, the next they’re gone. When you realize what has happened, you quickly cry out to them in what is generally a loud voice that echoes above the crowd. In most cases, the child recognizes your voice and comes running back toward you.  

Jesus tells us in John 10:27 that His voice can be distinguished above the crowd too. “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” As indicated by the context of this verse, Jesus is the Sheppard and believers are His sheep. According to an Oct. 26, 2007 article written in Church Growth, the Shepherd and the sheep have specific characteristics. It might be helpful for us to understand what they are. Pay close attention to the characteristics of the sheep.  

Characteristics of a Shepherd
“In the culture that Jesus lived in, shepherding was an important task. A good shepherd always knew the habits and characteristics of his sheep and could predict their behavior and understand their peculiarities. The shepherd knew the characteristics of his sheep so well that he was never surprised or caught off guard by their actions. A good shepherd was always at ease with his sheep, comfortable with their company, and enjoyed the responsibility of taking care of them. But, the life of the shepherd was extremely hard; never off duty and never any time off from his shepherd responsibilities.”

Does that sound anything like a parent? Just as our children can distinguish our voice, we too have the ability to hear the voice of our Shepherd. 

Characteristics of Sheep                                                                                          
“Unlike goats, casual observation reveals that sheep seem to need each other. The flock, “their community," is their identity. Not only do sheep need each other, they also need a shepherd they can depend on. Goats don't need a shepherd to watch out for them; they are independent to the point of being "head-strong". The shepherd is the main-stay in the sheep's lives. Without his attention and care they would quickly find themselves in trouble.”

Does that sound like it represents the description of children?  The illustration explains the danger of going it our own way. 

Could it be that God’s children cannot distinguish His voice because there are too many self-inflicted obstacles in the way?  Dr. Charles Stanley of In Touch Ministries writes, “Have you ever noticed the way some children pretend not to hear their parents so they won't have to obey? Sometimes we can be like that--we might fail to recognize the heavenly Father's direction because of our own self-centeredness. We intently focus on what we want and ignore any opposing instruction.”

Let’s think about what Dr. Stanley is saying for a moment. You want to do something, but you know without a doubt that it’s not right. For example, you’re married, but you’ve become attracted to someone you work with. Or maybe you’re single and you’ve become attracted to someone who is married. You wrestle with it a bit, but the temptation overtakes you. They are hot! You begin to convince yourself that a little flirting, or maybe just one drink after work won’t hurt anyone. Maybe you’ve even gone as far as to set up imaginary boundary lines for your protection. The problem with these boundary lines is that most often we underestimate  the power of the heated moment.  And, let us not forget that deceitful voice of opposition; the voice that would love nothing more than to see you cross that line. The devil can’t make you do it, but he is more than willing to lay out that sweet bait trail before you.  

If you’re hearing the voice of God, you will reject the temptation to engage the relationship at all. You will high tail it back to the safety of the Sheppard. There He can remind you that lusting after the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21) and coming in between a union of marriage (Matthew 19:6) is sin.  If you give into your flesh you can be pretty confident that you are not listening to the right voice. We can call this obstacle what it is – disobedience! 

Another obstacle to hearing God voice is ones impatient nature. If you’re anything like me, I like having answers yesterday. And, I usually prefer them to be answered my way.  When I operate like this I tend to jump ahead of God and I run the risk of listening to the wrong voice. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way. It is only when I have surrendered to waiting upon God that I have received the best results.  We can call this obstacle what it is – disobedience!

We tend to get ourselves into trouble when we’re not willing to invest the time it takes to know how to be an obedient member of the Good Sheppard’s flock. When we’re willing to read, study, pray, meditate and obey, we will have the help we need to hear God’s voice above the crowd every time. It’s really that simple.

The Word indicates that light and darkness cannot co-exist in the Kingdom of God (John 1:4-5). If we choose sin, we’re merely goats who have no need of a Sheppard. This choice will find us grazing outside of God’s Kingdom (Rev. 20:11-15).  Let us chose wisely the blessing of having our names written in the right book (Rev. 21:27b).

Today’s prayer:  Father, if today we should hear your voice in any part of this message, may our heart be softened to obeying your instructions.  In Your Son’s precious name we pray and ask for your guidance all the days of our lives.  Amen.  

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