“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.”
Jesus calls His sheep both collectively and individually. To be effective the sheep concerned must be able to recognise his voice. They will then follow Him because they know that it is He who calls them to Himself.
Jesus does not only call us once. He will seek to guide and lead us at every stage of our journey with Him –individually, as His local ‘body’ and as His Church. For this to happen we need to be listening for Him so that we can listen to Him; we need to become experienced in the way that He communicates with us so that we can recognise His voice or communication (this would include asking Him for guidance and help); and we need to be faithful in our response to whatever it is that He is calling us to do. If we ignore His voice then He may stop trying to lead us until we realise that we need Him!
An important part of listening is to be found in our reading and study of Scripture as God’s Word. It furnishes us with a great deal of teaching and guidance which should become a part of our daily lives. It is also necessary because whatever other guidance the Lord may give to us will never be in conflict with what we have as His written Word. Frequently it will also be the way that God uses to lead us in our current situations.
There will be many situations in our individual, corporate and national lives where we will want and need assistance and direction from God – where we will need Him to call and lead us forward – because our human wisdom and understanding are inadequate.
Scripture has it right when it tells us,
- “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
- “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9)
The world in which we live is, generally speaking, not in a good place. As God’s people we need Him to show us, or remind us of, the way forward both individually and collectively. We need, increasingly, to be people who walk in His ways and not our own.
Practice listening for God in your daily life – in reading the Bible, when you pray and when you are faced with a challenge.
Father, You have promised that You will ‘instruct you and teach you in the way you should go.’ (Psalm 32:8). Please help me to seek Your face, to listen for You and to hear You when you talk to me. Amen.