Hearing precedes obeying
If one wants to hear “well done” on That Day we need to hear God today – so that we can obey.
If my children don’t hear me they can’t obey what I have asked of them.
Yet many, including myself, will testify that at times they battle to hear God’s voice.
Just the other day I sat with a man in my offfice who needed to hear God for a workplace decision, last weekend good friends needed to hear God’s guiding voice again to make a decision about their future and that of the church, just today a young woman I know asked for prayer that she’d be able to hear from God and that He would guide me in the direction He wants me…
And yet in John 10 Jesus has an expectation that those who are His will not only hear His voice but will know it, recognise it as His.
John 10:3-4 & 27 ESV
…The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. (4) When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice…(27)My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
So what do we do when our experience doesn’t line up with the clear reading & interpretation of Scripture?
Two options present themselves:
1) Alter our interpretation of Scripture to fit our experience or
2) Believe Scripture and so pray for our experience to change.
God does speak, I believe He’s speaking all the time, so why not start today by deciding in your heart that you are desiring to hear God your Father so that you can obey, why not start praying daily that you’d recognise His voice.
God speaks in many varied ways (creation, Scripture, other people, a peace or unease in our spirit or conscience, through something that happens or something we experience, through something written, sung, painted…) how exciting to go into every day with a sense of anticipation knowing your Father is speaking, you just need to discover & discern His voice!
Do you find your default, when you think you might have heard God, is to disbelieve that it was God?
If you believe God your Father wants to speak to you in everyday life, why not decide now to err on the side of belief rather than unbelief. Next time you feel like God’s speaking, why not believe that He is?
Hearing God, is essential for daily living, we need to get out of the bad habit of only seeking God, trying to hear God when facing big life decisions. If developed a practice of hearing God in the daily little things, we’d surely find it easier to recognise and therefore hear God’s voice in the big moments of life.
Join me in this adventure of hearing God & obeying what He says, not doing more than He told us to, not doing less but obeying quickly.
Imagine that life… It’s your inheritance as the child of God.
2 thoughts on “Hearing precedes obeying”
April 10, 2013 at 8:45 am
Interesting read on hearing God that I enjoyed. I think I differ somewhat from your point and here is why: Nowhere in the referenced text does it say we need to learn to hear Gods voice. It just states it as a fact: ‘My sheep hear my voice’. It goes further than that to say ‘they know his voice’. That means not only do we hear Gods voice, we know it too. That opens up more options to what could be going on when a Christian thinks that they aren’t hearing from God:
1) God isn’t speaking to them right now.
2) God has already spoken to them, they heard him and recognised his voice but didn’t want to do what he said so are looking for different guidance.
3) God wants them to make up their mind or use the spiritual gifts he has already given them to make a choice.
That’s just throwing a couple more in the mix, they are just possibilities. I think for the first one God often wants us to wait on him. We can spend too much time stressing about whether we will hear him or not and need to relax and wait for him to speak.
I don’t have a solid theological foundation for the third one, just wondering if it could be an option.
As you rightly say, and as I am working on, our part is to obey when we hear.
May 5, 2013 at 5:10 pm
Hearing God (5th May 2013 in Oasis Church)
Knowing who to listen to is a key life lesson isn’t it?
If you’re a parent, isn’t one of the life lessons you teach?
Helping your children to know who they should listen to, who’s voice they should trust?
Because listening to the wrong person can be really detrimental to your safety.
Maybe for you this is very real, maybe you listened to some “nice guy” once who promised you something…
You know we listen to people all the time…
We can’t help that, but who we listen to really matters.
Imagine you were about to get married, or you are married and just need some guidance. Would you really ask that 13yr old who has just changed their status on Facebook to “in a relationship” for their input?
Imagine you were about to embark on running the Comrades marathon, who’s training advice would you seek Bruce Fordyce’s or the coach potato who’s watched the Comrades before?
Everyone of us in this room, whether we already believe in Jesus, or whether we’re just currently investigating faith in Jesus, or whether we’re doubting, whether we’re young or old, single or married….
For all of us, knowing who’s input, who’s advice to listen to, to trust
– is vitally important for our lives.
Have you ever been hurt, disadvantaged, lost something……..
…….because you listened to the wrong person, because you believed someone you thought could be trusted…..?
We all trust someone. It’s difficult to turn trust off actually…
Although some have tried to…
Some of us trust ourselves, maybe we trust ourselves too much?
You know, I don’t think you can make it through life without trusting, without listening to others along the way.
So, who we listen to really matters!
And this is my BIG IDEA – God speaks to us, His voice can be trusted, and you & I can hear His voice.**
Does that sound like make believe?
Does that sound strange when I say that God exists & He is alive & He speaks and we, you and I can hear Him?
May I say that I accept that it might sound unbelievable to you right now…
But I invite you to come with me for a while, just listen in as I speak to those who have already believed in Jesus….
And who knows YOU MIGHT HEAR GOD SPEAKING TO YOU TODAY.
Text: John 10:1-15 & 27-33**
This is a passage from the book of John in the bible, a book which has eye witness accounts of the words Jesus spoke. And in this passage Jesus is describing Himself and His relationship with people like you and I. Jesus is making the point I have been making, that not everyone has your best interests at heart, so you need to know who to listen to…
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens.
The sheep hear his (the shepherd’s) voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.
….. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.
This is a little weird, I hear you saying. Shepherds & sheep that know the Shepherds voice…. Can we bring this into the 21st century please?
I get that! What we have here is Jesus using a first century life scene, a well understood everyday picture of life – to describe a spiritual reality, to answer some spiritual questions which His listeners had and ones which you too might have….
What is God like? How can we describe the relationship between God and people?
Can you and I know God’s voice?
Can we know God? And if so, how?
What is God like?
Well Jesus calls Himself the good shepherd, shepherds are ones who care for, protect and provide for those they have in their care. That’s what God is like.
God is the One who speaks, calls out to His sheep by name
Jesus knows us all by name – he is not some distant disconnected “owner” but an involved shepherd who has a relationship, wants a relationship with each one of us; ‘I know them’ vs27
God is the One who’s purpose in life was not self-centred but YOU & I centred
This passage says that God is the One who lays his life down, gives up His life for His own
Who’s intention is that we have life and have it abundantly through a relationship with Him…
Maybe you’ve thought God takes…
But this passage reveals that God is the One who gives…
Who lives for the benefit of others
God is the One who came so that our lives would be abundant, full, fulfilled
That’s what people are looking for in life – aren’t they? Fulfilment.
God is the One who protects. There is danger in life. Two dangers in this passage, a thief & a wolf.
The good news is that God is not like some hired hand, some employee who will go running when there is danger. No, this passage describes God as the One who will put Himself in the way of danger to protect those who are His.
This passage says that God speaks ‘my sheep hear my voice…and they follow me’
God speaks today, God speaks so that we can hear His voice and follow Him out of danger and into His plan for our lives…
So, can you and I know God’s voice?
I know that not all of us have believed in Jesus yet, so if you haven’t yet put your faith in Jesus please allow me to speak for a moment to those who have already believed in Jesus – I invite you to listen in, hear what following Jesus is like…
If you have believed in Jesus the clear expectation of this passage is that:
We will know, we will recognise and we will hear God’s voice – “the sheep hear his voice” vs3 & “my sheep hear my voice” vs27
We will hear God personally not just generally – “he calls his own sheep by name” vs3
God will guide us through life – “(he)…leads them out” vs3 & “they follow me” vs27
Listening to God’s voice will cause you to be protected – sticking with the One who’s plans for you are good is good for you, sticking with the One who laid down His life for you on the cross already is the only way to keep being saved from danger both in this life and in eternity – “I give them eternal life. No one will snatch them out of my hand”! vs28
Promise – we will know, hear, recognise God’s voice…
Yet many, myself included, will testify that at times they battle to hear God’s voice!
Just the other day I sat with a man in my office who needed to hear God for a workplace decision,
The other day good friends needed to hear God’s guiding voice again to make a decision about their future and that of the church they lead
Just a few weeks ago a young woman in this room today asked for prayer because wanted to hear from God for His guidance me in the direction she should go…
Does that describe your experience? What’s happening here then?
The way I see how a number of things can be happening:
1) Maybe God isn’t speaking right now.
What do you think shepherd’s are more like?
A politician or A chilled surfer dude?
Jesus described Himself as a shepherd not a politician or horse race commentator!
Maybe the simplest explanation for you not hearing God right now is – God isn’t speaking!
Shepherd’s don’t call out all day long. There are times they gather the sheep, to move them to new pasture, to stop them from straying or in times of danger….
But then there are many hours of quiet munching in the meadow He has put them in surely, as long as they stay within the boundaries of the safe space He has provided for them He might be silent…
I think there is a lot in life that God wants us to use what we know of God’s will (Scripture) and is happy for us to make up our own minds to make a choice.
I did not ask God what to wear today (as you can see!)
You don’t need to ask God which parking to park in
Or whether you should love your children, your wife or be committed to church…
Whether you should use the 9-iron or the pitch wedge on the golf course…
And you don’t need God’s voice to know that you’d be crazy not to sign up for a CONNECT GROUP! “-)
I believe that there are many situations in which we have enough information about God’s general will and within that will of God we get to make decisions, are free to make decisions knowing that God will speak if we start wandering outside of His will for us…
Don’t be like the Christian who is immobilised waiting for constant instruction on every detail of life and so doesn’t do very much and or seems rather super-spiritual to everyone else!
Or maybe the reason you’re battling to hear God is that….
2) Maybe God has already spoken to you…
You heard God but didn’t like what He said. Maybe you don’t want to do what he said so are looking for different guidance? But God’s not like that.
Maybe He’s waiting for you to come back to what He already said to you?
Is that you today?
3) Maybe somehow you’ve become unfamiliar with His voice
I think if we have not practised listening to God, or we have been listening to other voices or have too much “noise” in our lives – we might be described as having become unfamiliar with our Shepherd’s voice…
But I want you to see today that Scripture does not say SOME CHRISTIANS will know, recognise and hear their Shepherd’s voice! It assumes that we will…
What do we do when our experience doesn’t line up with the clear reading of Scripture?
Well the way I see it, two options present themselves:
Either we alter our interpretation of Scripture to fit our experience or we choose to believe Scripture and so pray for our experience to change.
God does speak, so why not start today by deciding in your heart that you are desiring to hear God your Father so that you can obey, why not start praying daily that you’d recognise His voice again.
God speaks in many varied ways:
Other people (encouragement or prophecy…)
An “inner voice” “inner sense” that lines up with Scripture’s general revelation
A peace or unease in our spirit or conscience
Through something that happens or something we experience
Through something written, sung, painted…
Through dreams (how we got here in Oasis – Nadine’s dream)
How exciting to go into every day with a sense of anticipation knowing God does speak, you will hear Him when you need to, you just need to believe and & discern His voice!
Do you find your default, when you think you might have heard God, is to disbelieve that it was God?
Why not decide now to err on the side of belief rather than unbelief.
Next time you feel like God’s speaking, why not believe that He is?
And obey. Follow Him. It will always be the best for you…
I invite you to join me in this adventure of hearing God & obeying what He says, not doing more than He told us to, not doing less but obeying quickly.
Imagine that life… It’s your inheritance as the believer, the follow of Jesus.
God speaks to us, His voice can be trusted, and you & I can hear His voice.
Who are you listening to?
We’re all listening, all trusting someone.
Who do you listen to?
Who do you trust?
Jesus said “I AM THE DOOR” If anyone enters by me, he/she will be saved…!
I am the good shepherd.
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly
I give my sheep eternal life and they will never perish and no one will snatch them from me!
Maybe you need to walk through the door today
Maybe you need to believe today, put your faith in Jesus today?
You will never regret trusting in, listening to Jesus!