Follow Me: Hearing the Only Voice That Matters

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Hearing the Only Voice That Matters

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The Grand Canyon in Arizona is a remarkable sight. Whether in person or seeing a photograph, people contemplate how multiple forces of sun, wind, rain, snow and river formed such a spectacle. It’s a defining portrait of cause and effect.

Likewise, we are molded by elements that steadily create indelible impressions that, like this famous natural wonder, are on full display for those who experience us, from God above to those here below.

Unlike the Grand Canyon’s ongoing existence subject to nature’s elements, we as disciples of Jesus Christ have a choice upon accepting His call of “Follow Me” (Matthew 4:19 Matthew 4:19And he said to them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
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; 16:24) as to what ultimately shapes our minds—even as forces continually press to erode our time and shape us differently.

One unrelenting force God wants us to consider is that of “voices” coming at us every day throughout our lives. These voices have incredible impact on us, just as much as sun, wind and rain on the Grand Canyon. They affect us from “womb to tomb” and sculpt our view of God, of ourselves and of what God is performing in others.

Voices matter! The patriarch Job, when being chiseled away by his friends’ accusatory conclusions, cried out, “How long will you torment my soul, and break me in pieces with words?” (Job 19:2 Job 19:2How long will you vex my soul, and break me in pieces with words?
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My question to you is this: To what voices are you listening? Only one voice really matters, and we must hear that voice loud and clear.

The Shepherd’s sheep know His voice

There is a “prince of the power of the air,” Satan himself (Ephesians 2:2 Ephesians 2:2Wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience:
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), who seeks to ensnare us in his self-seeking and self-destructive image. To use familiar jargon of today, it’s time to cut the cable and disconnect from him.

Unlike with the Grand Canyon, Psalms 90:10-12 Psalms 90:10-12 [10] The days of our years are three score years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. [11] Who knows the power of your anger? even according to your fear, so is your wrath. [12] So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.
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(take a look!) tells us we do not have ages to be molded into the ultimate spiritual new creation our Heavenly Father intends that we become. The prophet Isaiah declares the ultimate voice that matters in molding us, praying, “You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand” (Isaiah 64:8 Isaiah 64:8But now, O LORD, you are our father; we are the clay, and you our potter; and we all are the work of your hand.
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And Hebrews 13:20 Hebrews 13:20Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
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tells us that our Heavenly Father has appointed Jesus Christ to be the “great Shepherd of the sheep.” He earlier declared of Himself: “But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice” (John 10:2-4 John 10:2-4 [2] But he that enters in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. [3] To him the porter opens; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out. [4] And when he puts forth his own sheep, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
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Jesus based this metaphor on a reality regarding shepherding in the Middle East. Flocks would intermingle as two shepherds shared time to break their occupational loneliness. When it came time to separate, each would summon their sheep by their unique vocal call or whistle, and the flocks would separate and follow their particular shepherd.

But such responsiveness doesn’t happen overnight. Newborn sheep instinctively follow the flock around them. It’s only later, by the steady attention of a loving shepherd and response by a maturing lamb, that the bond to a singular and caring voice develops.

David, who had served as a shepherd, referred to this reality in his personal claim: “The Lord is My shepherd . . .” (Psalms 23:1 Psalms 23:1The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
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). All that follows in this beloved psalm—the Shepherd’s guidance and steadfast presence through green pastures, still waters, paths of righteousness, shadowy valleys of dark times, and dwelling in the house of the Lord forever—is conditionally predicated on 1) the sheep hearing the voice of his particular Shepherd and 2) responding to His call above all other voices.

Resist the serpent by the still small voice of God

But be advised: The same voice of the serpent that spoke to Eve in the Garden of Eden remains alive and active.

In 2 Corinthians 4:4 2 Corinthians 4:4In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine to them.
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, the apostle Paul identifies the serpent (Satan) with his barrage of voices coming our way as “the god of this age”—this culture, this society. As we saw, he is further called “the prince of the power of the air.” He continues to seep into any provided crack to deter your focus from the only voice that matters.

We cannot stop Satan’s attempted intrusion coming at us in many venues, but we do have the choice to reject it and to listen and respond to the Shepherd’s voice. Psychologist Viktor Frankl, a World War II concentration camp survivor faced with a barrage of negative voices every day, is credited with having said: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

One challenge faced by Jesus’ followers is that in the moment we too often figuratively stand by a disheartened Elijah who is trembling at the voice of Queen Jezebel, who threatened to kill him. He flees to Mt. Sinai, hoping to hear God’s voice in the passing wind, earthquake or fire, waiting for some kind of thunderous interruption by God rather than what he finally hears—“a still small voice.” God asks him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (see 1 Kings 19:8-13 1 Kings 19:8-13 [8] And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God. [9] And he came thither to a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said to him, What do you here, Elijah? [10] And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and slain your prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. [11] And he said, Go forth, and stand on the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: [12] And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. [13] And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice to him, and said, What do you here, Elijah?
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). And He asks us the same. Why are we listening to other voices, including our own?

But make no mistake, our Heavenly Father through Christ does interrupt us today as much as in yesteryear. The risen Christ in His messages to the seven churches of Revelation concludes: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20 Revelation 3:20Behold, 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.
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But to hear His knock and voice, we have to cut the cable of other voices, pushing out the noise that hinders our ability to fully engage in responding to the awesome invitation of “Follow Me.”

Being filled with God’s Word

However, it’s not enough to just cut the cable! We need to replace it, connecting with the only voice that matters. Why? Empty spaces by nature fill up one way or another. Satan loves to operate in a vacuum and fill it in his time and way. Romans 12:21 Romans 12:21Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
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tell us, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Christ, the living Word, may be knocking on the door of your heart right now, the same voice that long ago taught us how to pray, saying in part, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11 Matthew 6:11Give us this day our daily bread.
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). Was Jesus speaking to something greater than sustenance for our physical well-being?

Author Bo Stern addresses this in her book Beautiful Battlefields in chapter 3, titled “Catching Manna.” I’ll summarize here with some additional thoughts. As Israel wandered in the wilderness, God provided manna to eat each day to fill their needs for survival in a hostile environment—with each Friday’s portion carrying over to the next-day Sabbath (Exodus 16). The Master Teacher was realigning their mindset. The God of the universe did not give them what they needed for weeks or months all at once. They had to rely on Him in faith that they would be supplied their “daily bread” for each day alone and extra for the Sabbath. Day by day, they had to return in total reliance on their God to shepherd them through the wilderness.

We should consider that God was effectively weaning them—cutting the cable!—of their dependence on Egypt and its alluring voices to go back, and instead helping them to connect to Him and develop total reliance on Him to meet their needs. Rather than offering them stockpiles of sustenance up front, He chose to feed them day by day, presenting before them each day for 40 years the need to trust in His loving provision. He showed that His guiding voice alone was worthy, loving and reliable.

Jesus, the living Word of God, the same “I Am” who led Israel through the Sinai wilderness (see 1 Corinthians 10:4 1 Corinthians 10:4And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
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), cut the cable from the tempting voice of Satan in His own wilderness experience in Matthew 4 by proclaiming, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (verse 4). He was quoting Scripture (here from Deuteronomy 8:3 Deuteronomy 8:3And he humbled you, and suffered you to hunger, and fed you with manna, which you knew not, neither did your fathers know; that he might make you know that man does not live by bread only, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD does man live.
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), which guided and nourished Him in time of need.

God’s Word will never direct us to something that goes against His nature or character. So although learning to discern and listen to His voice is a lifelong journey, you can count on this fact: The more you know God, the more clearly you can hear Him!