Hope, Healing & Freedom Podcast : Ep 47
Our key verse for today is found in John 10:27, which says:
“My sheep hear my voice, I know them and they follow me.”John 10:27
Have you ever been in a noisy crowd of people and you hear the cry of a child? The mother of the child abruptly ends their conversation to respond to the cry of their child? Or maybe you’re in an airport bombarded by a cacophony of sounds and yet when your loved one calls your name you hear it in the midst of everything? How does the mother know it’s her child? How do you know that your loved one is calling you? It’s really quite simple. You know their voice. Even in the midst of chaos you can hear the voice of the one you love because you KNOW their voice well.
Recently we were in Israel where there are lots of sheep on the hillsides. I imagine that those sheep knew the voice of the shepherd. Why? Because they spent time with him. He’s the one that led them to green pastures. He made sure that they had water to drink. He cared for their every need. When the shepherd gave certain sounds the sheep would respond.
John 10:27 “My sheep hear my voice, I know them and they follow me.” This verse doesn’t say some sheep hear my voice or only Pastors hear my voice. It implies ALL of us hear his voice.
Hearing from the Lord is life-giving and vital in our walk with God. One of the things that we love about RTF ministry is watching people encounter the Lord throughout the ministry sessions. It’s so amazing how many people struggle with hearing from the Lord. Pastors and leaders often confess that they don’t feel that they hear God’s voice. In each session there is an opportunity for encounter and to hear the voice of God. It may be Jesus speaking, or Father God or Holy Spirit nevertheless He is speaking and they are hearing!
Recently in a ministry session we were explaining to the man that we were going to cut off the curses and then he would ask God for a blessing to replace the curse. He quickly said, I don’t hear from God. We told him that we believed that he would. As we went through the ministry process he cut off the curses and he asked Father God for a blessing. He heard over and over from Father God. He was amazed. We hadn’t done anything special other than encourage him and believe that he would hear. Sometimes we deal with the word curse “I can’t hear from God.” But in this case our belief accompanied by his willingness was enough. He came back the next day saying God kept talking to me all night long! All week long he heard from God and his life was radically changed.
Sometimes we are taught that God only speaks certain ways. In some traditions only the pastor or leader is said to hear from God. Maybe you’ve been taught that God only speaks through His word. The word of God is powerful and He definitely speaks through the word but that isn’t the only way he speaks.
A few years ago I decided to test God. I set out to hear him every day in the ordinary things of life. At the time we lived in North Carolina and I would walk the hill where we lived. God spoke to me through the beauty of a spider web. Although it was beautiful He spoke to me about how sin can look beautiful and seemingly harmless only to lead to an intricate plan of the enemy.
Another day I was cleaning my kitchen floor. I had just swept an area of the floor but when the sun shone on that section I saw all that I had missed. He showed me that when I try to clean up my life on my own I leave behind all of the unseen residue. Neither of those examples are in the Bible. However, we see many ways throughout scripture that God speaks. He speaks to us in a language that we understand. It’s personal to us. He has spoken to my husband through sports stuff. I doubt he’ll ever speak to me through a sports analogy. However, he speaks to me through songs, impressions, billboards, through his Word and many other ways.
The rainbow continues to remind us today of the promise that God wouldn’t destroy the earth again by water. He spoke through something that happened in nature. When the Brook Cherith dried up Elijah prayed and God impressed on him to go to the widow’s house. His need for provision and her need were met that day as they both obeyed the impression from the Lord. God warned Paul not to go a certain direction. He warned Joseph in a dream. He spoke through dreams, visions, impressions, angels, circumstances and other ways. He is not limited in the way he speaks to get our attention. We are often the ones that have put him in a box.
A few years ago Lee and I had set aside a particular time to seek the Lord separately. We were looking for direction. The Lord spoke to us individually the exact same words, “It’s time to get out of the boat.” We knew what it meant. Lee knew that it meant he was to leave the ministry that he had been leading for several years. I knew that I was also supposed to leave the paid church staff position that I was in. However, my faith wavered at getting out of the boat all the way. Instead of totally leaving that position I only cut my hours in half. You see I knew that if I left completely we wouldn’t have any reliable income. I also had a false sense of responsibility to our pastor. I didn’t fully trust God that he would meet our needs. The following year I was complaining to God about our situation. I heard him say, it wasn’t audible but it was clear, “So, how do you like having one foot in the boat and one foot out of the boat?
I realized that my own disobedience is what had caused my frustration with our situation. I knew I had to get all the way out of the boat. I still was concerned about telling our Pastor. I prayed about how to tell him and God gave me the exact phrase that I needed to use. I knew it was from him because it wasn’t something I would normally say. I told him that I didn’t have the “emotional energy” needed for both jobs. That phrase resonated with him and as I shared about getting all the way out of the boat he understood and gave me his blessing.
One of my favorite times of hearing the Lord was on a trip to Israel. It was in the late 1990’s and I was traveling with a group from our church. We had one day in the Old City of Jerusalem to sightsee and to shop. Our trip had been wonderfully full and we’d had no opportunities to get gifts for our children. This was our only chance as we were flying home the next day. I remember our leader impressing on us to stay together in small groups. I went into a jewelry store to buy a necklace for our daughter. I wanted her name in Hebrew. Two friends came into the store with me. I was busy interacting with the store owner with my purchase. When I came out of the store everyone was gone. No one in our group was anywhere to be found.
It was a different season in Israel then than now. On our most recent trip in 2023 the city streets were full of tourists. On that trip we were the only tourists that we saw. There had been several acts of violence in the weeks leading up to us going and many tours had been canceled.
So, I was alone. It was pre-cell phone days and I had no way to contact my friends. What was I to do? I stopped and prayed. Father, what do I do? This is the only day I have to find gifts for our kids. Do I go back to the hotel or do I shop? I heard (impression) very clearly, “If you’ll listen to me I will lead you through the city.” So, that’s exactly what I did. I had been to the Old City of Jerusalem before so I knew it was like a maze. I would walk down the street, which is really more like an alley lined with shops on both sides. My heart was tuned to listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit. As I would start down another street I would either have peace or I would sense not to go that way.
As the day wore on I found the gifts for our kids and I stopped to eat lunch. I was literally the only tourist anywhere around. It’s not the situation you’d likely choose to be in but I felt totally safe. After I ate my lunch I told the shopkeeper that I needed to get back to David’s Gate, and asked if he could give me directions? He called over his 8-9 year old son. Speaking in Hebrew he told him about my need. I followed his son through the streets of the Old City back to the entrance that I needed to get to our hotel. I tried to give the young boy some money but he wouldn’t take it. God provided a boy to lead me home.
I often wonder how many times God is speaking but we’re just not listening? My grandfather wore hearing aids. My grandmother talked incessantly and often she was complaining. At times my grandfather would turn his hearing aids off so he couldn’t hear her. I think we sometimes tune God out. We’re so busy with life that we forget to take time to listen. I’ve found that God doesn’t always answer my questions or inquiries immediately. It may be hours or days or even weeks later. The answer may come in an unconventional way and not at a time that I’m specifically sitting waiting for him to speak. He’s spoken to me through the words of a song, through a billboard on the side of the road, through the message plastered on the side of an 18-wheeler. The truth is; God is speaking, we are just not always listening!
I don’t consider myself to be super spiritual. I’m just like you. I have days that I’m listening and others that I’m not. It seems though that we have complicated things when it comes to hearing God. The enemy has convinced us through his lies that we don’t or we can’t hear from God. We begin to believe those lies and we get what we believe!
Going back to our scripture: John 10:27 “My sheep hear my voice, I know them and they follow me.” Earlier in this parable Jesus says in John 10:4-5 “and the sheep recognize the voice of the true shepherd, for he calls his own by name and leads them out, for they belong to him. And when he brings out all of the sheep, he walks ahead of them and they follow Him because they are familiar with His voice.” Why did he use this parable? He was speaking to the Pharisees in ways that they could relate. Sheep and shepherds are common in Israel. The Pharisees would have been able to picture in their minds what Jesus described. What they missed was the real meaning. Their minds were not open to the idea that Jesus was the shepherd and that they were the sheep. The sheep learned overtime to recognize the voice of their shepherd. It’s the same with us. As we walk with the Lord we learn to recognize the difference between his voice and the voice of the enemy. We learn that we can trust him to speak to us, to lead us in the way we should go. However, if our belief system is “I can’t hear from God” or how about “God speaks to others but not to me.” If we believe those lies, or ungodly beliefs, then we won’t hear from him.
Would you try something with me right now? Let’s first start with coming out of agreement with the lies of the enemy. Just say this after me. I confess my sin of believing the lie that …I can’t hear from God or God doesn’t speak to me…or God only speaks to my Pastor or leader. Whichever one is real to you, fill in the blank. After confession of the sin, let’s break the power of the lie.
1. “I confess my sin of believing the lie that ____________________”
2. “I ask you to forgive me Lord for believing the lie and for giving it a place in my life.”
3. “I break agreement with the lie and cancel all of its effects in my life.”
4. Now, ask; “Father, what is the truth that you want me to know?” Take time to listen, then write down what He says to you.
5. Make a declaration out of the words he spoke to YOU!
If by chance you don’t feel that you hear anything, give it time. Also, ask Father God if there is anything else getting in the way? The stronghold of unbelief that is rooted in other lies may be holding you back. Be intentional. Be diligent. Don’t give up. The truth is found in John 10:27. As a child of God, you are one of his sheep and you hear his voice. I would make it a declaration that says, “I am one of His sheep. He knows me. I hear his voice and I follow him”. As you declare that daily AND as you begin to intentionally listen you will hear him. I have great faith to declare that! We have ministered with hundreds of people that came believing that they don’t hear from God and they leave with pages of notes of what God spoke to them through their personal encounter during their RTF ministry.
Father God, I thank you that you are a good, good Father. You know your children. You know how to speak to me in a language that I understand. Thank you Lord that you don’t give up on me and that you continually are speaking to me. Father, reveal to me anything that might be getting in the way of hearing from you. Give me the grace to deal with any lies that I’m believing and to dismantle any strongholds that are hindering my relationship with you.
I believe and declare that you are speaking to me every day and I am listening!