Thursday, September 12, 2013
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Let's talk about a goat. "You wouldn't kid us, would you Ron?" No, I'm serious, and that's terrible. It's not a goat I've ever met. I mean, I lived in the New York area most of my life. Where would I meet a goat? But there's this college student who told me about this goat that he met in Israel on a college-sponsored trip. Now, Bill and his buddies were hiking in this desert-like area that's between Jerusalem and Jericho. It's the area actually where Jesus said that man was attacked by thieves. You know the one who was helped by the Good Samaritan?
Well, these students saw some New Testament looking shepherds. I mean they're dressed in their robes that you might see like in a Christmas play at church. And they were herding their flock of goats across this wadi and up an embankment. Somehow one little goat strayed off and got left behind. Bill and his friends heard this goat bleating mournfully, so Bill went over and picked up the frightened animal, held him in his arms, and he talked to this kid and tried to settle it down. At that point, one of the shepherds appeared on top of the embankment and he was looking for his missing goat of course. And the shepherd just called out. The instant that animal heard that voice, he bolted out of Bill's arms and up the embankment to his shepherd.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Voice Majors."
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from John chapter 10. I'm going to begin reading at verse 3, "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. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice."
Well, obviously, these verses came to life for me in a new way when that college student told me his story. Frankly, I think I'd rather be a sheep than a goat symbolically,
but the principle is the same. They are so tuned in to their shepherd's voice, they run to follow him. Well now, that's how Jesus says our relationship with Him is supposed to be. One of the most haunting questions of the Christian experience is this, "How can I know what God's will is?" That's a valid concern. God does have a customized plan for your life, and you sure don't want to miss it.
When we're faced with a decision, we often struggle, don't we, with how we can know God's will? Well, the answer is by knowing His voice. My job as a disciple of Jesus isn't to figure out some cosmic jigsaw puzzle called God's Will. My job is to get good at listening to and responding to my Shepherd's voice; to be a God's will person. That means I can't just try to discern God's voice when I get to some macro decision I have to make. I'll never recognize His leading if I haven't been responding to Him every day in a lot of smaller decisions.
Here's how to become a God's will person. You begin your day with your Bible in your lap and you say, "Lord, I want to hear your voice. Speak to me about something for this day." Then you read with a listening heart, looking for a word that is just for you just for this day. So God will say, "I want to have A Word With You today about..." and there it is. And then you write it down in a journal whatever your heart heard your Master say, maybe in the form of a prayer back to Him. And then you talk to your Shepherd, reiterating what you heard Him say and then committing yourself to do it today. See, that's a micro will of God; a 24-hour will of God.
Then when it's time for a major life decision, you'll be the right person at the right place at the right time. But you got there by a thousand daily little obediences; listening to His voice. See, the macro will of God is the sum total of a thousand micro wills that you get on a daily basis. You'll walk into His will naturally. In a sense, you won't have to find God's will. God's will is going to find you.
Like that little goat, you just have to accumulate experience in hearing your Shepherd's voice in your heart, each day, all through the day. And then when He calls, you'll leap His direction, because all of us Shepherd-needing folks are trained by one vital skill. We all need to be voice majors; majoring in recognizing the voice of our Jesus.