Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice” (John 10:27). Many Christians may think to themselves, “Why does God want me to hear His voice anyway? Isn’t reading my Bible good enough, isn’t that His voice? I’ve even memorized some scriptures; that’s more than most people have done.”
The Lord desires to have a personal relationship with each of us. When we get to know someone personally, we are able to recognize their voice and by recognizing their voice, we’re able to respond to their voice. When the Lord speaks to His body and it responds in obedience, it’s able to carry out His desire and purpose on the earth.
If we don’t have a heart for Him, we’ll never have His heart. If we don’t have ears for Him, we’ll never be a mouth for Him. The question for all of us is, can He prompt us at any time to do what He wants and we don’t ask questions, nor question ourselves but simply obey and do what He says? Time is of the essence; seconds count and sometimes split seconds.
Just shortly before I gave my heart to the Lord, I was on my way to work. I was driving a small sports car in a large metropolitan city. As I was about to follow a three-lane curve that merged with another freeway, I heard a voice saying, “Change lanes!”
There was a sense of urgency in the voice so I immediately changed into another lane that took me the wrong direction I had intended to go. At that split second moment, an 18-wheeler changed lanes into the lane I was just in and if I hadn’t changed lanes, the rear wheels of the truck would have run over the small sports car I was driving, likely killing me.
At this time I didn’t know the Lord but I knew that it must have been God’s voice that saved my life. It was not only His voice that saved my life but my immediate response in obedience that saved my life.
Our response to God’s voice not only can save our own life but can save the life of another. One time I stopped on my way home from work to get some groceries at a supermarket. As I stood at the checkout stand paying for my groceries, I heard the Lord speak to me to tell the person behind me He wanted deliver to him from alcohol. My first thought was, “Are you kidding me? The guy will probably punch me”, but I said, “Okay Lord, I’ll tell him.”
I turned to the man and said, “Ten years ago the Lord delivered me from alcohol and He wants me to tell you that He’ll do the same for you.” As I turned back to the cashier to continue to pay for my groceries, he tapped me on the shoulder. I wasn’t sure if I was going to get punched in my face if I turned around but I turned and he said, “Why did you just say that to me?” I said, “I just felt the Lord impress me to tell you that.” He responded, “Don’t leave; I want to talk with you.”
The man’s name was Gary and we went outside and sat down on a park bench in front of the store. He said, “A number of years ago the Lord delivered me from alcohol but ten years ago while on a business trip to Mexico, I drank two beers and have never been able to stop since that day.”
He said he was at a point of total despair. His wife had asked him to go to the store for her but once he arrived home he planned to go into his shop behind his house and kill himself.
Because of the words I said to him, he knew God had just intervened in his life to save him from killing himself. After we talked for a while, we prayed together and he rededicated his life to Jesus.
The most important point of knowing and recognizing the voice of the Holy Spirit goes beyond the salvation of one’s physical body; it’s the salvation of one’s soul. In both instances, a response to the voice of the Holy Spirit led to the salvation of a man’s soul.
If I hadn’t have responded to His voice in obedience to change lanes, I would have likely died without giving my heart to the Lord. The goodness of God led me to salvation. The Lord used that moment of my life being spared as evidence of his love for me and that put a hunger in my heart to get to know the voice of the One who saved my life.
If I hadn’t responded to the Lord’s voice in obedience and spoke those words to Gary, he likely would have ended his life that night, ending only his temporary misery. Instead he rededicated his life to the Lord.
The difference between knowing God’s word and knowing God’s voice is the difference between the “logos” of God and the “rhema” of God. These are the two Greek words that translate into English as “God’s word”. The “logos” is something said or what we read in the Bible and the “rhema” is something uttered, spoken, or revealed.
John 1:1 says the Word (“logos”) was God and John 1:14 says the Word (“logos”) was made flesh and dwelt among us. In John 8:47, Jesus the Logos said “He that is of God heareth God’s words.” The Greek for God’s “words” is God’s “rhema” meaning he that is of God hears God’s utterances or His voice substantiating John 10:27, “My sheep hear my voice”.
Jesus describes those that are his have the ability to hear His rhema. Knowing the logos gives one the ability to recognize the rhema. Knowing the rhema will give one the ability to follow the voice and instructions of the Logos.
A number of times, Jesus said to his audience, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear and gave a similar message to the seven churches in Revelation, He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. In other words, the Spirit is speaking, are we listening?
He is still asking the same question to us today. Are we listening or even care to listen? Can we hear the rhema of God? Only ears can hear the rhema of God? Jesus never said, “He that hath eyes to read the logos of God, let him see.”
The response of a person to hearing His voice is critical to the future condition of that person’s heart. There is a danger to those who hear His voice but respond in disobedience. Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith, Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts (Hebrews 3:15). The danger of disobeying His voice is that our hearts become hardened. When our hearts get hardened, our ears get deafened. Only through repentance will this process reverse, our hearts again soften and our ears open.
Opportunities to obey are like the wind that passes by. If we don’t capture the moment, the moment is gone. Imagine obedience as an intersection of time and place, an arrival at a destination at the appropriate time like two lines intersecting to form an X. Obedience is the X on the map. That is where God’s treasure for our lives is located. Only the obedient will find it. Without obedience, the treasure will remain hidden, hidden under blinded eyes of disobedience.
Jesus spoke of the parable of the sower of the seed and explained the seed was the word (logos) of God but because the logos never turned into rhema, the enemy stole it from their heart and kept them from being converted. Here are two examples…
Luke 8:10-12, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.
In Matthew 13:15, Jesus made a clear connection to a man’s heart and his ears ability to hear and understand. For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
Then in verse 19 a clear connection between a man’s heart and his ability to comprehend or understand is made. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. In verse 23, a distinction is made when the logos is received into a good heart. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
Jesus said Matthew 4:4, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every (rhema) word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God and in John 6:63 He said, the (rhema) words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.
God speaks to us through the Bible, the inspired logos of God, but the revelation of the logos by the Holy Spirit becomes rhema of God to us. Knowing the logos of God allows us to recognize the rhema of God.
Of those who read God’s word and consider the Bible as God’s voice in their lives today, are they obedient to the words they read? If someone won’t obey His words spoken in the past, why would they obey His words spoken in the present?
Just as in Jesus’ day, those today who don’t obey His word, won’t obey His voice either.
The Pharisees might have known God’s word but they didn’t recognize His voice. They spent a lifetime reading and even memorizing God’s word but there was a problem because they didn’t recognize His voice.
Even though the Pharisees were standing in God’s presence and their ears could hear His words, their heart that was out of range of His voice. Instead of being humbled and broken knowing God’s word, their hearts were filled with pride and arrogance.
In this prideful state, they were convinced that being a child of Abraham made them a “child of God”. They were convinced that the sacrifice made for their sin put them in such a position that not even God himself could judge them. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient (Titus 1:16).
So let’s compare those who considered themselves “unjudgeable” back then to those who consider themselves “unjudgeable” today. Does reading the Bible or going to church put us in such a position?
Jesus said, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). Jesus was speaking to his handpicked disciples when He said this. Have we become so arrogant that we think this scripture doesn’t apply to us as well?
For us to think that claiming to be God’s child will somehow give us protection from any sort of judgment, will in reality do just the opposite. God’s people will actually be put first in line to be judged, not exempt from judgment. He expects more from those who know more.
In Ezekiel 9:6, God gave orders to those carrying out the judgment “Begin at my sanctuary.” 1Peter 4:17 states: For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
A number of years ago the Lord spoke these words to me, “I’m only as far away as your heart.” If you desire to hear the Lord’s voice, He’s only as far away as your heart. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you (James 4:8). The initiation begins with us. If we draw nigh to Him, He will draw nigh to us.
Our hearing Him is a result of our heart being close to Him. A broken heart and contrite spirit opens our heart to receive and gives us ears to hear his voice. If our heart is far from Him, His voice is out of range.
If you desire to hear Him speak to you with a desire to please Him by obeying, He will speak to you. You might think you’re speaking to yourself but you’ll hear words or have thoughts you wouldn’t normally say or think to yourself. Words like He spoke to me just after I gave my heart to Him, “If you’ll live in Me, I’ll live in you.”
He wants to live in us but the question is do we want to live in Him. John 6:37, All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. If we come to Him in brokenness and humility through a repentant heart, He will not reject us.
God wants an intimate relationship with each of us where we can speak to Him and He can speak to us. For many of us He’s been calling for a long time but there’s been a reception problem.
The Lord is saying, “It’s not my reception that has a problem. Your heart has been out of range.”
“Can you hear me now?”