Summary: In John 10:27 Jesus said, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me." If we're his sheep, we'll be able to recognize when he's speaking to us. We will know him, listen to him and follow him. Let's look at this subject and see what we can learn.
MY SHEEP LISTEN TO MY VOICE
In March I did a sermon on Ps. 23 about the Lord being our Shepherd. I used some verses from John 10 where Jesus said that he is the good shepherd. In vs. 27 Jesus said, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me." If we are his sheep, we will be able to recognize when he's speaking to us. We will know him, listen to him and follow him. Let's take a look at this subject and see what we can learn that may help us to do that.
1) The sheep listen to the Shepherd.
John 10:1-4, “I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and 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 gives an analogy of something familiar to the people-sheep herding. He states that the one who's up to no good doesn't enter the gate, he sneaks over the fence. If he tried to enter through the gate he'd be detected by the watchman. Plus, the gate would make noise when it was opened so he'd be detected that way too. Jesus states the reason why someone would not enter through the gate is to steal the sheep. Jesus contrasts that by saying the legitimate one will only come in through the gate.
A sheep has poor eyesight; they rely more on their sense of hearing. So, they would be listening for the gate to open. Once the sound of the gate got their attention, they would stop what they're doing and listen for the shepherd to call them to come out of the pen.
Notice they don't come at the sound of the gate, they come at the sound of the shepherd's voice. The watchman opens the gate but the sheep don't move until they hear the shepherd call them. The sound of the gate means stop, pay attention and listen for the master's voice to call you out.
God may give us a signal for us to stop what we're doing because he's getting ready to say something. When we're busy and he gives us a signal, we need to stop and give him our undivided attention so we can hear clearly what he's about to say.
And notice it says he calls them by name. The shepherd wants to identify his sheep. When you get a pet, you give him a name. When the pet knows his name, he will come when you call him. The shepherd does the same thing. This also shows a sense of intimacy with the sheep. They're not just a bunch of sheep; they're looked at as individuals.
God knows us by name. There were times in scripture when God would say someone's name to get their attention. He called out to Abraham by name when he wanted to stop him from sacrificing Isaac. When Mary didn't recognize Jesus after his resurrection, Jesus spoke her name and then she immediately knew it was Jesus. Has God ever called you by name?
Like the sound of the gate for the sheep, God will do things to get our attention so we will listen to him. If we're distracted by something else, we're not going to be good listeners. This can happen when we pray. Trying to pray when there are distractions around is not good. It might be okay for a quick prayer; especially when it's an emergency or you can't get away to a quiet place.
But when we can remove the distractions when the Lord moves us to pray, it will be most helpful. It's not only a show of respect for God; it's also so you can hear his voice. There are times when I'll be listening to the car radio and the Lord will move me to pray. Sometimes I've started to pray and he will stop me and tell me to turn the radio off. I need to focus on what I need to say as well as listen for what he will say in response.
Prayer is a two-way conversation although sometimes we don't treat it like that. We treat it more like a monologue than a dialogue. If we don't take the time to listen for God's response, we're going to miss something important.
It would be like going to the doctor and telling her all the things going on with me and after expressing my concerns I say, "thanks for listening" and head out the door. That would be silly. What good does it do to tell the doctor what's wrong and not listen for her response? Likewise, as we approach the throne of God with everything that's on our mind we need to listen for his response.