Godly Men Listen

Complimentary Story
January 2023

   I had a friend who went blind after a surgical procedure. He has since passed away. He loved the outdoors and even though blind, he continued to hunt and fish with the aid of other people that helped him. He could hear things that most folks never hear or think to. Through him I learned to listen to the sounds birds and other wildlife make. With practice, I now can identify many birds, not only by the sound of their voice but also the by sound of their wings. It’s been a fun practice to do whenever I am outside. I wonder though, am I that good at hearing God’s voice?

   Do you ever wonder why Jesus referred to people as sheep? Sheep are really not that bright. They need a lot of help just to make it through the day. I listened to a man tell of sheep in his home country of Spain. He grew up seeing shepherds leading or herding sheep nearly every day. He watched, one day, as a train interrupted the herding of a flock of sheep. Most were across the tracks but a helper set an injured sheep, that he had been carrying, down to keep a larger group away from the passing train. He turned back to see the injured sheep hobble right under the wheels of the train. The roaring sound of train wheels on steel tracks and the blasting of whistles were no deterrent to the sheep’s deadly path. It would have been more distinguished, for us Christ followers, to be referred to as mighty lions, tigers or bears, but they are not the animals of our comparison, it is sheep. Sheep are very dependent on the leading, guiding, and protection of a shepherd as sheep tend to wander and get lost.

  The routine of a shepherd appears to be that of calling to his sheep in the morning and leading them, by voice, out to pasturage. Any missing sheep was hunted for until found and the guidance through difficult and dangerous terrain was skillfully carried out by the shepherd’s voice and staff. From food to water, the shepherd guides his flock, through the day, until they are led back the protective fold for the night, where each sheep was again accounted for and any missing found. The work of a shepherd required great watchfulness, particularly at night and tenderness toward the young and feeble. The shepherd would lay down his life to protect his sheep from thieves, predators or any other danger. The flock of sheep were totally dependent on their shepherd. 

  Now if we, as believers, are the sheep and Jesus is the shepherd; does our relationship look like the one between the animal, sheep, and their shepherd? I think sometimes we resist being sheep and prefer being the shepherd. We want to do the leading and guiding. Before we can lead or guide anyone else, we must first learn to be a sheep and remain totally dependent on the shepherding of Jesus. We need to confess our own helplessness and need of a shepherd’s care and our totally lost undone condition until we are found by the Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ. For Jesus to be our shepherd, we must always remember that we are sheep and we need Jesus’ protection and guidance through each day and His skillful hand at finding us when we have wandered and gotten lost. But to do this, as the animal sheep know their shepherd’s voice and will not follow a different voice, we as human sheep need to know the sound of Jesus’ voice and not follow another. A man I know uses the phrase “God told me,” quite a lot. He moves frequently and changes jobs often. He is kind of all over the place. He always states that God told him to do what he is doing. I wonder; why does God seem to change His mind so often? I do believe that God can and does get into our mind and direct our thoughts and we should know the sound of His voice when He does, but I believe there is a more sure and consistent voice of God that we need to be listening to. If we don’t, we can easily fall prey to the evil one that also gets into our mind and thoughts. Dressed as an angel of light, we can easily be deceived and find out too late that the voice we were following was the wolf, in sheep’s clothing. The voice we need to train ourself to hear is the written voice, the Word of God. 

   I firmly believe followers of Jesus Christ need to be regularly reading the words of God and frequently memorizing verses and sections of Scripture. I like to practice listening to God’s voice by reading in my Bible and watching for a verse that just stands out to me. Most times that verse, upon reflection, is applicable to change a character defect in my life. Another step in the progression of being transformed by the renewing of my mind. I believe when we come across a verse like that, we should memorize it, contemplate it and begin to practice it. I do not believe there is any “automatic” transformation of our life to be like Christ. It takes effort to change our thoughts and behaviors.

   In the recovery world, a person who stops drinking but does not do the work of doing a moral inventory, changing character defects or any of the other steps that all require effort; they are referred to as a “dry drunk.”  The alcohol is gone, but the dysfunctional personality is still there. A person who says the sinner’s prayer and then does not train themselves to hear God’s voice will continue on in many of the same thoughts and behaviors they always had. A “dry Christian?” Humm. 1 Timothy 4:7 tells us to train ourselves to be Godly. Jesus said “everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher” Luke 6:40. The Hebrews context around 5:14 instructs believers to move beyond the elementary teachings to mature instruction “who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish between good and evil.” 2 Timothy 13-16 tells us, “The Scriptures make us wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, that all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the person of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Remember, we are the sheep. The teaching, rebuking, correcting and training isn’t intended to be directed at someone else, it is first to be directed at equipping ourselves. 

   When we read, study and train ourself in God’s Word, we open ourselves up for the indwelling Holy Spirit, within us, to recall and remind us of God’s words. The Holy Spirit becomes the voice in our mind and we know it to be His voice because it will never contradict or be different than the written voice of God, recorded in the Scriptures. The more we train ourself to the written voice of God, the more we experience the powerful shepherding of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit in our life. For me, this training brought the divine power of God into my life and is the reason why my stronghold, 28-year addiction to pornography ended and for my past 30 years of freedom from that bondage. All praise to God! 

   At the start of my recovery/repentance from sexual addiction it was a battle to get the images of porn out of my head. I memorized Psalm  119:10-11, Luke 16:13 and 2 Timothy 1:7 to start. If I were to picture it, in words; every time a thought or an image of porn would come to my mind, the Holy Spirit would remind me of Luke 16:13 and I would speak it in my mind and sometimes out loud, changing the word “money” to “porn” or “sexual thoughts.” Only the Holy Spirit would know how many times he reminded me to quote that verse. He would remind me of the other two verses that the Word of God would keep me from sinning against Him and it would empower me to have self-discipline. Eventually, over years, the thoughts and images were erased from my mind and memory. It is as though Satan gave up his attacks because he couldn’t get through God’s Word. This is the exact thing Jesus did when Satan tempted Him. God’s Word is the only power we have over the evil one. At Ephesians 6:16 the shield of faith, is our firm conviction in God’s Word, and when we hold it up, we can defeat all the power of the evil one. God’s Word has awesome power!

   Don’t ever forget, as Christ followers, we are sheep. We have the tendency to wander off and get lost. The evil one craftily draws us off. If he is defeated in one area, he comes at us in a different area with the sole purpose of destroying us. If we are continuing to train ourself in God’s written words, we have the great promise that as we begin to wander, the Great Shepherd comes to find us and soon we hear His voice within our mind recalling God’s word and upon hearing His voice we turn back to follow Him, armed with the power of the word of God. This is a continuing process. I have memorized many Scripture verses over the years and have many victories over the evil one, but he never seems to give up his attempts to get at me. Those attempts are less and farther apart but none the less, he tries to fool me by disguising his voice. The great thing is, I have a really watchful shepherd who comes looking, gets me to hear His voice and leads me back to safety. 

  Sometimes I wish I wasn’t such a dumb sheep. But I don’t think there are any really intelligent sheep. There are only dumb sheep in the Christian fold. Thank God we have a really awesome Shepherd. He will guide us through each day, directing our steps and if we wander, He comes to find us, bringing us back to safety. Our Great Shepherd has laid down His life to protect His sheep and continues to protect us sheep from thieves, predators and all other dangers. As for me, a dumb sheep, I am and will remain, totally dependent on my Lord and Shepherd, Jesus, and I will continue to practice listening to hear His voice. I hope you will too.

  Lynn Fredrick is the author of Stand Firm,” a guide for using the divine power of God to transform your life.

Lynn Fredrick 
 W8756 Townline Road
Ladysmith, WI  54848

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