The Voice of Jesus
WHY IS THE VOICE OF JESUS SO OFTEN FAINT AND HARD TO HEAR?
In John 10:27, Jesus said “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:” If you are one of His, then Jesus said you can hear and know His voice from all the other voices and you will follow Him. In verses 3 and 4 Jesus said: “To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.” Do you hear Him calling you by name? The problem with most of us, though, is that His voice often seems faint and far away because we are too busy and we constantly have noise and commotion in our lives and constant activity and never take the time to “Be still. and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). In fact, many believers minds are so filled with the noise of this world that they have trouble hearing and distinguishing the Lord's voice on a consistent basis. There are specific reasons why this is so. As we go over a few of them, ask the Lord if any of these areas might apply to you.
First, we need to be absolutely sure that we are truly saved, born-again by the Spirit of God, and have fully repented of all wrong living and attitudes. This is the very basis of the Christian Life and you cannot know His voice if you do not truly know Him and you do not know Him unless you have been born of His spirit. The apostle Paul tells us in Hebrews 3:13,15: "Exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.... While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation." Also, the scriptures warn us to “quench not the Spirit” (1Thessalonians 5:19) and to “Grieve not the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 4:30). The Holy Spirit is a person and the scriptures refer to Him with words that are descriptive of His personality. When the Spirit deals with us about some sin or habit in our lives, and we ignore or quench that wooing and conviction, we harden our hearts and grieve the Spirit of God and His voice becomes more faint and harder to hear. The end result is that we will become less and less sensitive to His Spirit, until we can no longer hear or discern the voice of the Lord at all. We become “hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” In Genesis 6:3 God said: “My spirit shall not always strive with man.” If you don’t want God to deal with your sins, and you reject the working of the Spirit to correct you, then eventually He will leave you, for the Holy Spirit is gentle and doesn’t force any man to obey. God has offered Himself to those who want Him, He said, “whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17). God offers us His life and fellowship; “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20). God leads His people; but Satan pushes his. God’s true people are called the sheep of His pasture, the unsaved are called spiritual goats for the rebel against God and cannot be led for they are self-willed and self-seeking.
God desires for us to draw close to Him in fellowship and to become sensitive to His voice; so that when He speaks, we will listen and obey. God’s voice doesn’t come to us like a trumpet or the blast of a cannon. God’s voice is such that you have to be quiet and still before Him to hear His voice. Psalm 46:10 says: “Be still, and know that I am God:” 1 Kings 19:11-12 tells us that God’s voice wasn’t in the great wind, the earthquake or the fire, but in a “still small voice” God spoke to Elijah. If your life is full of noise and clamor, you will not be able to hear His voice. Isaiah 30:21 says “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” Do you hear that voice, leading and guiding you to that which is pleasing to the Father and keeping you from sin? Does He speak to you, “Don’t go that way little sheep,” “Be careful, little sheep,” “Watch you step, little sheep?”
For many years a radio broadcast called the "Voice of America" was sent across the iron curtain in Europe to speak to the communist captives in the East, truths concerning life in democratic countries in the West. Often, the local communist governments would broadcast gibberish on the same frequency to scramble the incoming messages. Whenever that happened, the people who relied on the VOA broadcasts for news, comfort and hope, would begin to despair.
The enemy does a very similar thing with believers. Whenever the voice of the Lord is coming in clear to a believer's heart, he will have strength, faith, courage and hope. The enemy hates this and so sets up temptations and diversions to scramble the Lord's words and keep us from hearing His voice. When you yield to the sins and lusts of the flesh, then the spiritual airwaves to your spirit are jammed. As a result, despair and hopelessness begin to crowd into your heart and mind. Then, only the blood of Jesus applied to a truly repentant heart can restore the broadcasts of freedom and hope that the Lord longs to send to that soul.
When you yield to sin, it's like throwing a brick into the calm waters of the soul. Everything becomes turbulent and disturbed. It often takes time for the waters to become peaceful once again. The apostle Peter knew this when he said, "I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul " (1 Peter 2:11).
Second, for those believers who have truly confessed and repented of their sins, the most common reason why most do not hear or discern the voice of the Lord is a lack of disciplined "quiet time". We quoted Psalm 46:10 above. Here is where a lack of faithfulness will greatly affect the believers’ closeness in fellowship with the Lord, and cause him to have a lack of sensitivity to His Spirit. It is absolutely imperative that the believer come aside from all the hustle and bustle of today’s fast paced life and the things which constantly keep us so busy and preoccupied that we don’t take time to be with the Lord, to meditate upon His Word, to speak to Him and to listen for His voice as He communes with us. It shouldn’t be a surprise for you as a believer, to know that if you don't get still before the Lord, you’ll find it quite hard to hear His still, small voice, when He speaks to you. The world is filled with so much noise, that it is distracting for the believer. Most people, believers and unbelievers alike, surround their lives with noise, noise, and more noise: television with it’s mindless chatter, and blaring radios, entertainment, amusement and mouths that can’t stop talking. Some of the most popular radio programs are talk shows, that just waste the believers’ time, and fill their minds with things which are empty, vain, and useless for any good purpose. I have found that most people, especially unbelievers and carnal Christians can’t stand silence. They can’t stand to be alone with themselves and God. They can’t stand to be alone and quiet with their conscience. Usually it is because it would make them aware that their life is empty, unfulfilled, void of meaning and reality and not in right relationship and fellowship with the Lord. We need to remember the admonition of Philippians 4:9: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Does this describe the things you fill your mind with and think about? Many say that they only listen to “Christian radio.” I tell you that if you spend all your time listening even to that, your mind will be full of clutter and confusion. Radio cannot replace personal fellowship and communion with the Lord through His Spirit, and listening to radio music cannot take the place of personal praise, worship and thanksgiving to the Lord. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes there are good programs and music that will encourage, edify and uplift you. But even if all the programs on the radio, on “Christian” channels, were good, it keeps your mind and thoughts occupied and will keep you from hearing the voice of the Lord speaking to you personally. You can learn from other men’s preaching, but it is not sufficient to maintain your walk and relationship with the Lord. God wants you to be still and learn to hear His gentle wooings deep in your spirit. And this cannot happen while your spirit and mind are being constantly occupied and filled with other voices, no matter whose they are. It reminds me of when I was in Bible College. What they were teaching rarely had anything to do with where I was, my life’s circumstances and needs. It was book learning, and did not bring experiential knowledge. It requires the school of the Holy Ghost to give you the Word relevant to your life in any particular situation. That’s why we need God to speak to us personally, regularly, so we will receive the ministry of the spirit that deals with where we are, that is useful and applicable to our daily life and circumstances to help us walk in His victory and overcome in all things. This only comes through the ‘school of the Holy Spirit.’ We have to LEARN HIM! Learn of Him, learn His ways, learn His spirit, learn His voice, learn His life, learn how He works and that will only come by experiential knowledge as we walk with Him and learn of Him. Matthew 11:28-29 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” The only way to learn of Him, it to take His yoke, His authority over your life and allow Him to lead and guide and direct your life, as Lord. You must come to surrendering to His Lordship to have His headship and then you will hear His voice.
Many believers are caught up in the "serving-the-Lord syndrome" of non-stop busyness. Jesus knew that spending time with Him would be an effort. He said that the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. The question He asked Peter in Matthew 26:40-41, He could just as well ask us: "Could you not watch with me one hour? "
A daily devotional time is absolutely essential if you hope to find quiet places in your soul to hear His voice. Also, if that devotional time is early in the morning, it'll change the spiritual outlook of your whole day. The Bible tells us that Christ got up early inthe morning to spend time with His Father. The Bible is full of men who rose early to seek the Lord: Abraham, Job, Moses, Joshua, Elijah, David, Daniel, etc. Even the children of Israel had to rise early to pick up their day's ration of manna. If they slept late, they would go hungry because the sun would melt the manna into the grass. During Jesus’ ministry, He not only went early to the temple, but those who came to hear Him, rose early; Luke 21:38 “And all the people came early in the morning to him in the temple, for to hear him.” John 8:2 “And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.” When you take time to start your day with the Lord, you are more likely to hear His voice speaking to you through His Word and for that which you hear from Him to be a part of your life for that day .
Until you win the "battle of the bed," you'll never really know much victory in your walk with the Lord nor in the things of the Spirit and you will never become sensitive to His voice. There are about thirteen references to sleeping in the book of Proverbs, and twelve of them imply that you shouldn't do it too much. The Lord said, "Those that seek me early shall find me" (Proverbs 8:17). Have you learned this secret to the overcoming Christian life? Even Adam and Eve apparently rose early in the morning, for it says that they had fellowship with God "in the cool of the day."
Another reason why God’s people do not hear His voice is a lack of love for the truth. Jesus said, “Everyone that is of the truth hears my voice.” (John 18:37). Whenever you embrace something that is not true, you limit your ability to hear the voice of Jesus. The enemy is constantly seeking to pour lies into your mind concerning yourself, and others in your life, God and the devil. For instance, concerning yourself: the enemy would like to cripple you with guilt and shame in the areas of your weaknesses and sin. He loves to remind you of your past and use that to keep you from God’s best in the present. Paul wrote in Philippians 3:13; “Forgetting those things which are behind...” We must rise above the past, by faith in God. Concerning others: Satan is always seeking ways to turn believers against each other through confusion, bitterness, pride and judgmental, condemning attitudes full of spiritual pride. There is no greater pride than “pride of grace.” It is a stench to the nostrils of God. Satan knows that he can conquer God’s people by dividing them one from the other. Our strength is in unity as we stand together in faith and love. We must learn to stand, side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder and face-to-face. Then we will not easily be taken, deceived or fall into sin when we are standing with and beside one another in the love of God. Concerning God: the devil will try to convince you that God is angry with you and rejects you because of your past failures. His favorite lie is that God won’t forgive you because you have sinned too many times, or sinned too much, to be forgiven. The truth is, God is always willing and desirous to forgive and restore. And concerning himself: Satan wants people to fear him and his power. Yet his only real power is the power of deception. He only gains power over us, if we believe his lies. Ironically, the devil is very afraid of believers who stand against him and his lies with the truth of God’s Word.
God wants you to learn to love the truth about yourself, even if it hurts. When you develop a passion for the truth and are willing to allow God to speak truth to you through His Spirit, His Word, and through your brothers and sisters in the Lord, then the power of His Spirit will set you free from deep-rooted deceptions and bondage’s.
Furthermore, Satan is constantly trying to confuse you with ‘the facts’, but you must decide that it doesn’t matter what you think, what you feel, what the doctor or some man tells you; that regardless of the natural facts of the situation, as they seem on the surface, you are going to believe God and go forward on faith in His Word alone. This is a walk of faith. And the key to having and maintaining faith in God and His Word in any situation, is maintaining your “first love” for the Lord. When you loose that first love, you will loose the faith that goes with it. Why? Because, “faith …works by love” (Galatians 5:6). If you have no true love for God, then you will have no true faith “in” God and His promises. But God has given us His precious promises, that through them we might become “partakers of His divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). When you lay hold of the promises of God by faith, you are partaking of and receiving something of Him. This is an important part of our trusting and depending upon God, which has the utmost to do with our fellowship with Him. If we are dependant upon Him for everything, and entrust our lives to Him, then we will be in constant communion with Him, submitting every situation and need to Him, making no decision of importance without His leading and direction. If we have that kind of walk with the Lord, and look to Him for and in everything, for leading, guidance, wisdom and direction for our lives and decisions in life, then we will know and hear His voice when He speaks to us. Why? Because we are practicing being in the presence of God, and maintaining a constant communion with Him. Then, when things go wrong, we don’t have to “pray through” first to hear God’s voice and know what we should do.
The reality of our walk with God and the resulting revelation of Him, His ways and His will follows this pattern: first we listen for His voice and learn to hear Him when He speaks to us, then we obey and do what He tells us to do, and then we come to know Him and His ways; then He reveals Himself to us in a personal way. It is of no value trying to know Him without first learning to hear and do what He tells us to do. It is when we hear and obey His voice that we come to the reality of sharing our life with Him and have a real experience with God and not an emotional religious experience or times of feeling exhilarated. Emotional highs do not constitute a deep walk with God or provide one with a knowledge of the Holy or an intimate knowledge of Him. We actually come to know Him more and become united to Him and learn of His ways when we are faithful when going through hard times, trials and testing. It is in these trying times that we learn His love, care and faithfulness to us, and get a personal revelation of who He is as our Lord and Savior.
Jesus said; “If you love me you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (John 15:14). This is the only valid test of our love: obedience! Obedience in hard times, in times of temptations, in times when it would be a whole lot easier to compromise, just a little. When the Lord shows you something in your life that you are doing that is contrary to His Word, that is not pleasing to Him, your obedience in no longer doing that thing, in stopping that act of sin, rebellion, or disobedience that is displeasing to Him, is the way to begin to learn of God and know Him, by learning of His nature and character. We come to learn God experientially. Hebrews 5:14 says that we must have our “senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” It is through experiences with God, as we “work out” our “salvation with fear and trembling” that we come to understand His ways. It is by practicing obedience that we become more sensitive to His Spirit and His Voice. “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (John 14:21). Do you want the Lord to manifest Himself to you? Then the order is: hear His voice, obey it, then you will come to know Him intimately by receiving a personal revelation that He only gives to those who show their love through their obedience to His voice.
To walk the spiritual path that will lead to a knowledge of the Holy one, you must begin by daily spending time with Him in prayer and meditation upon His Word.
In Revelation 14 we are given a picture of the redeemed, singing a new song before the throne of God. This is God’s testimony concerning them in verse 4: These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb....” How can you follow the Lord if you aren’t hearing Him speak to you? This takes us back to where we started, in John 10:3-4 and verse 27.
May the Lord bless this word to your hearing, so that you will truly have ears to hear, and a heart to begin practicing the presence of God that will lead to a wonderful life of communion and fellowship with Him, and a true revelation of your loving Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
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