1“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber.2The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.3The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.4When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.5But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”6Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them. 7Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep.8All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them.9I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.a They will come in and go out, and find pasture.10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full John 10:1-10, NIV
The other day I was having a conversation with someone about how times have changed. We were reminiscing about our childhood and how our parents did not have to send us to expensive day or summer camps because the “camp” was the neighborhood. All of the children would come out and play during those hot summer months to play baseball, kick ball, jump rope, hopscotch, hide and go seek, tether ball, “jacks…” you get the picture. If we were thirsty we might run in the house and get some Koolaide. If we were hungry, we might run in and get a hotdog or baloney sandwich, peanut butter and jelly, cream cheese and jelly or whatever happened to be available! The ice cream truck would play its music, rambling down the street and kids from everywhere would run to go and get a Popsicle or an ice cream sandwich.
If we wanted candy, we might run in the house and ask momma or daddy for a penny, nickel, dime or if we were a “big spender” a quarter. We’d run off to the corner candy store a few blocks away and come back with a bag full of candy that we might share or we might keep all for ourselves.
We did these things everyday from early in the morning until the street lights came on. At that point, you knew it was time to go home! But every now and then, we might get so caught up in whatever fun we were having that we ignored the street lights. Then all of the parents came out on their porches and started calling….Eric, John, Shan, Chrissy, it’s time to come home!
It didn’t matter how many voices were yelling at the same time, all of the children knew their parent’s voice. There was something distinct about their parent’s voice. So they jumped up and got to running! They knew the voice of their parents.
Now let me bring this concept up to 2015. For better or for worse, I am now a part of the “Facebook Family!” On Facebook, people can post just about anything. However, in general, people post things that most reflect who they are – pictures, quotes, good news, interesting articles and in the faith community, prayer requests. There is a general pattern to what a person does and does not “post.” However, in this highly technological age, from time to time, there are those who have developed skills that enable them to “break into” another individual’s account. Those wicked persons seek to impersonate the real account holder and to give the impression that the real account holder is sending messages, when in fact it is an imposter.
Well, recently I was the victim of a hacker. Some strange person, through their technological wicked, but ingenious skills was able to crack my secret code/password, break into my FB account and begin to impersonate me. They sent messages to my family and friends. They tried to give them the impression that it was me. But there was one problem. They did not know me well enough to trick my friends! Because I have a certain pattern, character, persona, delivery style etc., a style that they did not study or consider, they thought that they could fool my family and friends but could not!
My family and friends knew that I would not invite them to join a crazy pyramid scheme that would ask them for money to so that they could enter a sweep stake to win a million dollars! My friends and family know that I am a writer and an author and work hard at using the King’s English with verbiage, spelling, content and context. Immediately, I started getting messages from my friends and family, alerting me to the fact that I’d been hacked. They all said, “We knew that was not you!”
Over 2000 years ago, Jesus did not have a Facebook account! But the message remains the same. My sheep hear, know, discern, recognize my voice and they will not follow a stranger, a hacker, an imposter, a personality hijacker! Jesus said the “thief” who is the devil, satan, comes only to steal, to kill and to destroy, but I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly!
The devil is an imposter. In other words, the devil pretends to care about you, pretends to have your best interest at heart, pretends to know you, to love you, to be concerned about you. Otherwise, he could not attract unsuspecting souls. He tells the young person, “Do all that you want to do. Lie, cheat, have sex before marriage, try some drugs, quit school, hang out with some ‘bad’ guys etc. You can always get yourself together later in life.” But what they don’t understand is that death is waiting at the door to snatch them. They don’t understand that the prison is waiting to get them looped into a system that is almost impossible to escape once involved. They don’t understand the hardships of single parent hood and poverty.
But we cannot spend our time trying to figure out all of the tricks and the traps of the thief. There are too many schemes for us to comprehend. We have to spend time getting to know the Shepherd. I once heard that those government officials who are trained to recognize counterfeit money are not focused upon counterfeits. There are too many scenarios! Instead, they spend time training them how to see, recognize the pattern of the real thing. They study the real so that they know it so well, when a fake comes along, it is readily recognizable.
How well do you know God? In an article entitled, "Transformed by Knowing God,"
a Discipleship Journal writer made this statement:
“We often think of knowing God as learning facts about Him. Yet the Bible reveals that knowing God isn’t a matter of collecting and believing information. Rather, when we know God, who we are and how we act is fundamentally changed.” End quoteIn other words, when we know God, something within us is transformed. Our behavior, our attitude, our deportment, our character all begin to change as we seek to know God better and prayerfully seek to develop the mind of Christ.
How does this happen? How do we get to know God? How do we get to know His voice, His character, His movement? His Spirit? How do we discern the difference between God and the voice of the devil?
We must develop and intimate prayer life with God. In other words, daily we must seek the face of the Lord through prayer. Jesus gave us a wonderful pattern for prayer in the Model Prayer. We have used the acronym, “ACTS:” Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication.”
Adore God: Praise Him for his mighty acts and His excellent greatness!
Confess: Ask the Lord to forgive you of sin, search you, try you see if there be any wicked way in you and lead you in the way everlasting
Thank Him: Thank the Lord for all that He has done…
Supplication: Pray for yourself and others
As you practice this pattern of prayer, your heart will begin more and more to be open to the things of God, the purposes of God, the ways of God.
Study God’s Holy Word. You will learn and understand more about the Love of God, the Mercy of God, the Will of God, the Judgment of God, the Forgiveness of God, the Warnings of God, the Grace of God and Salvation offered by God when you spend time in God’s Holy Word. Individual study and cooperate study are necessary for the child of God to grow. The Bible is the child of God’s instruction manual about how the Lord wants us to live the abundant or fulfilling life.
Obey the voice of the Holy Spirit. When you accept Jesus as your personal savior, He fills you with His precious Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our guide, our helper, our counselor, our intercessor. He speaks to us and convicts our hearts when we are looking to go in the wrong direction. You know His voice. However, if you choose to ignore His voice, the imposter will trick you.
When you will not listen and obey, when you will not study and yield, when you will not follow the ways of the Lord, you open the door for the imposter. Disobedience brings about confusion. My sheep hear my voice and a stranger they will not follow.
How well do you know God? By faith, make a decision to get to know the Shepherd’s voice better today!
Post a comment or send me an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com
Until Next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,