Distinguishing Voices

“Mom, where are you?” I knew exactly which child this was because I recognized their voice. Both boys were home over Christmas and it was so funny to be back in my bathroom and hear my name being called. Before I even saw Brewer appear around the corner, I knew it was him and not Thomas.

When I am in the kitchen and one of the three kids comes down the stairs…before even seeing them, I know which one is coming. I know the distinct sound of their walk and stride as they come down. I can’t read their minds but many times, from knowing them soooo well, I can predict their response or actions. I KNOW OUR KIDS. Sometimes they surprise me. Now that they live away from home, having become young adults, there are things I am not certain of….but I still know them pretty darn well.

At 52…I can honestly say…God has become that familiar to me. Thank goodness. I am enjoying knowing Him in some of the same ways I know our kids. I am relishing in the DEPTH and the INTIMACY. It hasn’t always been that way. I know I write about it often but my desire is to ENCOURAGE people to build what I have been building!

A closeness….that is described in John 10:3-5,”The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, 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. Buy they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Later, in John, Jesus explains to the pharisees that He is the “good shepherd” and the “gatekeeper”. He also refers to the stranger as the “thief” who is also referred to as satan in Scripture.

Distinguishing the “voices” we hear in our heads is of EXTREME importance for each of us. If you are a Christian, you possess the Holy Spirit. But unless you grow as a Christian, seeking God, abiding in Him as Scripture teaches us to by “seeking him with ALL your heart” (see Psalm 119:2)…..then even a Christian can struggle to “distinguish” the Shepherd’s voice from the thief.

The “thief,” in Scripture, is described as a “wolf” in sheep’s clothing. The thief is in “disguise” and often we are “tricked,” fooled on purpose. Our goal is not only to recognize and distinguish the “voice,” but when we know it is the “stranger, the thief…Satan,” we are to RUN!

For years….I wasn’t good at distinguishing the difference. Looking back now, the result makes me sick! Seriously, I wish I could turn back the clock but I am “pressing on” and “running my race”. Part of running my race now includes “shouting” through writing and speaking, alerting others to the utter importance of the intimacy in knowing God’s voice. He speaks often and willingly. We just have to develop the “ears to hear!” How have I learned to do this?

First, I had to give God the FIRST FRUIT OF MY DAY! Today, I can’t believe I was so naive to NOT understand spending time with God first, before anything else, and seeking Him first would completely and 100% change the course of my day, my weeks, months and now, my years!

Second, I had to learn to “BE still!” (see Psalm 46:10). It is hard to hear anyone, especially God, if our attention is divided. The thief/satan loves it when he can fool us into thinking we can multi-task in our quiet time…NOT. Intimacy is NEVER created with a third party a.k.a. cell phone, social media, another person, random thoughts. It has to be just you and God. ONLY TWO…….you/me and the HOLY ONE!

Third, reading God’s Word is for absolute SURE, 100% of the time, a way God speaks to us and teaches us. The intimacy of being able to distinguish His voice from the thief comes through reading and studying the Bible. It is a guarantee. There are not many guarantees in life but this is one of them. Also, just note, reading Scripture teaches and warns us about the tactics of the thief. It gives us safeguards for life in recognizing the “Shepherd and the thief” and distinguishing between the two.

Fourth, from the study of Scripture I have found, when a voice speaks inside your head, one way to know if it is the Shepherd or the thief speaking is this–the Shepherd will never tell you to go against or act against what His Word says!

Scripture teaches…”The thief comes ONLY to steal, kill and destroy…” and lie (see John 10:10). His best technique is to trick us. I don’t want that for anyone. I can give personal testimony that several years ago I was believing a “dressed-up, well-disguised lie of the enemy!” It hindered me. It took me to a dark and dreary place.

Thank God that I knew what I was supposed to do. I had a personal friend and strong woman of God to encourage me to step out and obey in the face of fear (fear can be a huge chain and deception of the thief). Trusting God and His use of my Godly friend, I stepped out and, boom, one by one the chains “fell off”. I felt like Peter when he was in prison in Acts 12:7, “Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. ‘Quick, get up!’ he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.”

If you adopt the above steps…YOU will see God. YOU will distinguish HIS voice. And if by chance there is an invisible chain in your life, God will break the chain! I am not an exception. The “Gatekeeper” is here for all believers…not just Sherry Bradshaw…I am just a sheep…who KNOWS HIS VOICE!

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