Monday, April 22, 2013

April 22, 2013 … Hearing His Voice

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 112

  Passage of the Day: John 8: 47 [NLT] … [The Good Shepherd teaches]
  47Anyone whose Father is God listens gladly to the words of God. Since you don’t, it proves you aren’t God’s children.” 

 Passage of the Day#2: John 10: 1-5 [NLT] … [Again, ... Jesus teaching] 
  1 “I assure you, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! 2 For a shepherd enters through the gate. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they recognize his voice. 5 They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t recognize his voice.” 

Contextual Study of today’s passage: John, Chapter 8 [NLT] … Go to this link
Contextual Study of today’s passage #2: John, Chapter 10 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

 Reference Passage #1: Isaiah 53: 6 : [God describes His people as being like sheep.] …[NKJV] 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. 

Reference Passage #2: 1st Peter 5: 8 : [The enemy will do all he can to keep God’s flock in disarray so that they will have trouble hearing the Good Shepherd’s voice.] …[NKJV] …  
8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

My Journal for Today: I’ve always been drawn to the word picture of Christ as the “Good Shepherd,” … the One who guides, protects, and leads His flock, … the Church. And God’s Spirit, through Isaiah, played into that image, writing about God’s flock as being “like sheep” in Isaiah 53: 6, so often going astray. Today’s two highlight passages from John 8 and 10 use this imagery to describe our Shepherd, Christ, calling out to His flock to follow Him.

And isn’t that so true about us Christians. Though we have a Good Shepherd in our lives, we do have a tendency, as the sheep in Christ’s flock, to wander and to wane from hearing His voice. And certainly, Peter, in his description of the our enemy in 1st Peter 5: 8, word-painted our enemy as being like the lion who is hunting God’s flock, roaring to confuse the flock and make it difficult to hear the voice of the “Good Shepherd,” Who is continually calling out to the sheep to lead them on His path of providence and protection.

So how do we sheep put ourselves in a place where we, as God’s Flock, can hear our Shepherd more clearly and not be so vulnerable to the roaring lion who seeks to devour us (see John 10: 10a)? Certainly there are many ploys used by the enemy to distract us and to turn our spiritual “ears” away from the Shepherd’s voice. There is the noisiness of the world, with information flooding our lives. There are the temptations to the flesh, which are like sirens, luring us with pleasure, … like the plague of internet pornography. There is the “tyranny of the urgent,” which calls us to do so many distracting tasks, many of which are good things, but not necessarily what God is calling us to do.

And all of these things, and other ploys of the enemy, make it difficult to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd, don’t they? So, how do we in God’s flock put ourselves in a place where we can clearly hear and follow the Good Shepherd? Well, the first thing is to stay as close to our Shepherd as we can; and we do that by maintaining the disciplines of the faith; … having a daily, devotional time, as I am right now, … getting alone with God and delving into God’s word, praying, and possibly even fasting occasionally, … doing all we can to stay as close as possible to the Good Shepherd EACH DAY (and even every moment) so that God’s voice comes through more clearly and without the distractions of Satan and the world.

And there are other intentional strategies to stay tuned in closely in hearing God’s voice calling and leading us. Prayerfully we hear from God’s Shepherd speaking through clarion sermons from our earthly sub-shepherd, the Pastor of our the local body 0f Christ where we’re connected to the flock closely in the fellowship of believers, … a local, Bible believing/preaching church.

Other ways to hear more clearly from The Good Shepherd are to be involved intentionally in, what I call, “cohorts of connection,” where any in God’s flock can go to get closer to God’s voice of truth. Perhaps that might include a Godly mentor, who knows and lives by God’s word, leading the lesser mature lamb to a closer and more abiding relationship with the Shepherd. … Perhaps it means being closely connected with the Flock by being in a “Sunday School” class or a smaller group, like a Bible-Study or accountability group, where the Flock hear God’s word and its Spirit-led interpretation and can apply the truth to their lives. … Perhaps it’s following others in the flock into God-glorifying service, where the Flock is led by the Good Shepherd to serve Him, hearing His voice to follow where He leads. … And one final strategy to hear God more clearly may be partnering with another in God flock, perhaps one’s mentor, to memorize, contextualize, and internalize as much of God’s word as possible, … so that God’s clear and true voice can be heard more clearly whenever the enemy tries to drown out God’s truth with His roaring ploys.

All of these “cohorts of connection” help to keep us closer to the Good Shepherd so that we can do what He instructed in Luke 9: 23 (and I sure hope you have that one memorized by now if you follow me here as I quote it so often in my daily blogs). We’re only going to be able to hear the Good Shepherd clearly when we can deny ourselves, take up our crosses of life daily, and follow our Shepherd.

How will we hear Him clearly and follow Him today?

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I hear You calling to me – LOUDLY – this morning; and I follow You, Good Shepherd. … Amen

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