Near my house there is a field of sheep, and whenever I pass by with my dog it seems to cause them some alarm. The ewes start calling to their lambs to come to them, warning them of potential danger, and the little ones respond by bleating back and running to their mums for safety. They all sound the same to me, and yet each lamb recognises the voice of its mother, and the mother that of her lamb.
The Bible uses the analogy of sheep quite frequently. Jesus refers to Himself as the Good Shepherd and God’s people as His sheep. He says in today’s verse that His sheep hear His voice and know it, but I wonder how easily some of us do recognise His voice.
We have three sons, and when they phone me, they just start the conversation with, “Hi, Mum!” They don’t say who they are, because I know their voices well enough to recognise immediately which son it is. It should be like this for us with the Lord – knowing Him intimately through our relationship with Him, and recognising His voice immediately. For this to happen, we need to become accustomed to listening to Him, not just praying and doing all the talking ourselves!
There are many occasions when God tells His people to listen to Him. “Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live” (Isaiah 55:2-3). In order to listen, we need to first quieten ourselves and turn our minds away from all the distractions we may have. In Psalm 46:10 He tells us to “Be still, and know that I am God.”
When the Lord called to the boy Samuel in the temple, Samuel did not know it was the Lord and thought it must be Eli. Eli realised who it was and told Samuel that the next time he should say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:9). Perhaps we should do the same – being still and expectant, asking God to speak, listening and learning to recognise His voice.
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