Monday, July 21, 2008
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I grew up on the south side of Chicago, and honestly we did not have a lot of sheep running around. So I listened with fascination the other day when I heard my father-in-law tell about being the shepherd for his family's flock of sheep. He was just a boy, the only child, and Mom and Dad left the sheep pretty much with him, and he was with them a lot. One day he and his parents were watching the flock and he said, "Would you like me to call one of them out?" Right, kid. Like one sheep is going to know it's him you want? So Mom and Dad kind of laughed. The little shepherd asked them to pick a sheep they wanted called out, and then he made a little bleating sound and the selected sheep proceeded to leave the flock and come right to him. Mom and Dad were still skeptical. So he said, "OK, pick another sheep. " And they did. Another bleat, and Mr. Sheep answered the call. And no one else could get that kind of response. That little exercise was repeated several times, until there was no denying the amazing fact: those sheep had such a personal relationship with their shepherd that his was the only voice they followed.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about "That Voice."
Our word for today from the Word of God is John 10:3. It says, "The watchman opens the gate for the shepherd and the sheep listen to His voice. He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out." Here's a fundamental that you need to remember every day. "You sheep ... Him Shepherd." And Jesus describes this incredibly personal relationship that you as a sheep have with Him as your Shepherd.
Oh yeah, there's a big Christian flock. Sure, sometimes you feel like just another church attender or just an anonymous blur in the huge family of God. But Jesus doesn't see a flock. Just like my father-in-law as a boy. He didn't see a bunch of sheep. He saw Woolly and Fluffy and Blackie, and Hoofer. Whatever you call sheep. He had an individual relationship with each sheep in that flock. That's how Jesus sees you. Others may see a flock of a hundred Christians or a thousand Christians, but Jesus sees a thousand ones. He knows you by name. He loves you as you.
The sheep know there is only one voice they can trust; the voice of the One who really loves them. My father-in-law's sheep had decided which voice they would follow and who would decide which way they went. That's what it's supposed to be like between you and Jesus right now. Is it? The only one voice that you will follow - Jesus. Only one person deciding which direction you'll go - Jesus.
But maybe there's another voice that's been drowning out your shepherd's voice lately. Maybe you're hearing the voice of your family or your friends; maybe someone you're dating, maybe the voice of your company, or even of a religious leader. But the voice you've been tending to follow lately may be taking you a direction that your Shepherd would never take you.
See, there is only one voice you can trust - the Shepherd who laid down His life for you. Jesus said in John 10, "I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep." It's time to decide again that the voice of Jesus is the only voice you'll follow. All those other voices will lead you where you'll only end up lost. Your Good Shepherd will never lead you wrong. He's the One who loves you most. And He says He puts His sheep out and He goes ahead of them. Everywhere He'll send you, He'll get there first. You'll be safe. You can un-complicate your life from the confusion of following so many different voices.
That voice of Jesus may be speaking inside your heart right now. It may feel just like a strange spiritual tug. But the fact is, the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for you, his wandering sheep, is trying to bring you into a relationship with Him. That is the tug you feel; that is the voice of the Shepherd calling you to belong to Him. You may have believed in Him, but never really belonged to Him. You've never really given Him your whole life. You can do that this very day. I'd love to be a part of helping you with that, if you'll just go to our website. It's yoursforlife.net. We'll help you in how to get started with Him, and be sure you have Him.
You are the deeply loved treasure of your Shepherd, Jesus. Choose one voice to be the only voice you follow; the voice you are hearing in your heart this very day. Choose Jesus.