Friends have invited you to a gathering where there would be many you have never met before. If you are not an extrovert, this experience can intimidate you as you hear chattering voices all around but none familiar to you. Then, from across the room, you hear a familiar voice calling out your name. Without hesitancy, you make your way toward the person taking a sigh of relief that you are not alone in a crowded room
Jesus told the crowd in John 10:3-4 that the shepherd calls his 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. I realized as I meditated on this that Jesus as our Good Shepherd calls us by our name because we are His, we belong to Him. This speaks of a personal and most intimate relationship that we have with the Lord our Good Shepherd. Jesus stated that He goes before His sheep and they follow Him, for they know His voice. By nature, the sheep will not follow the voice of a stranger but we who have come to faith in Jesus will follow Him because we know His voice.
Today, there are many voices beckoning our attention. Unfortunately, some of these threaten to lead us astray from the truth. Therefore, we must guard what and to whom we bend our ears. There is only one voice we need to know and hear above all others - God’s voice. We can hear His voice each time we open His word as we listen to what He wants to reveal to us. It is sad to see, there are many who claim to live a Christian life but are unfamiliar with the word of God. It is a harsh reality to see how many are Biblically illiterate in our churches. They may be familiar with a few stories or certain phrases from the Bible but lack knowledge of its fundamental truths. Of the group, there are some who, as a result, have suffered shipwrecks and have walked away from the Lord. Others have allowed the things of the world and the deceitfulness of riches to take precedence over the seed of God's word that had been implanted in the soil of their hearts. It choked out the word, and they have become unfruitful (Matthew 13:22).
The apostle Paul warned that the time will come when people will no longer listen to sound teaching. Instead, they will follow their own desires and look for teachers who will say what their itching ears want to hear. (2 Timothy 4:3-4 - NIV and NLT). They no longer want to hear the truth of God’s word, for it pierces and reveals the motive of their hearts. God does this in order to transform and renew their minds. God’s word reveals the true condition of our hearts to keep us from moving further away from Him. We must guard against apathy and a lack of response to the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. Sadly, many are no longer willing to hear His voice or follow Him.
Living in today’s culture, we need to know God’s word so we can be able to recognize anything that is contrary to His truth. We do not need to become more familiar with false teaching to know the differences; we need to know more of God’s word to detect errors. The sheep will not follow a strange voice, and neither should we. However, when we are no longer in the word of God, we will not know or recognize God’s voice. We will then fall prey to every wind of doctrine crafted by deceitful, false teachers. We must be familiar with His truth to guard against being deceived by teachings that contradict God's word.
In Acts 17:11, Paul commended the believers in Berea, for with eagerness they daily searched the Scriptures for themselves to find out whether the things taught by Paul were true. As we hear God’s teaching each week, we should search it out for ourselves, for the Holy Spirit promises to teach and guide us into all truth. Please let me encourage you to stay receptive to the word of God. With great diligence, seek to hear Him and follow wherever He leads you.
Perhaps you feel that God’s word is irrelevant and no longer applicable to you, if so, ask God to change your heart on this matter. Read and hear the word of God, for there is much He wants to reveal to you that you do not know. With His help, daily seek to apply it in your life as you choose to follow Him. The more you read and commit to careful searching of the Scripture, the more you will know His voice as He reveals more of Himself to you and His plan for your life.