What can we learn from sheep about being led by the Spirit? Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me (John 10:27). Of course, this voice that we’re following comes from the Holy Spirit in union with our human spirit.
This post is a continuation of my thoughts on being led by the Spirit. You can read the other posts here.
When I was in Israel I enjoyed seeing the Bedouin shepherds tending their sheep along the roadside, just like shepherds have done for thousands of years in this part of the world.
This brings me to a remarkable story you might’ve heard before. A pastor named Griffiths Thomas was in Israel on a study leave and was taken to a watering hole for sheep to witness something truly amazing about these creatures. He saw two shepherds, coming from different directions, bringing their flocks to this great watering hole. In the process, the sheep got all mixed together and you couldn’t tell which sheep belonged to which shepherd. Thomas wondered how these sheep would ever get sorted out when it was time to go since there were no identifying markings on them. But when the two shepherds went their separate ways, something miraculous took place:
From one great seething mob, individual sheep began crossing paths and heading out in the direction from which they had come, following the shepherd who was calling them. (read whole story here)
This remarkable story brings us back to Jesus’ words in John 10:4-5:
And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”
Jesus considered hearing His voice and following Him “normal” Christian living. The obvious question is, how do we do this? How do we know we’re following Jesus and not the voice of another? I think sheep can help us here.
I will share five practical ways that sheep can help us learn how to hear our Shepherd’s voice and follow Him. We will look at the first one in this post.
1. Daily living in personal relationship. Sheep know their shepherd because they live out every day with him. After all, how well would you know someone if you only heard about him or her from other people for an hour once or maybe twice a week? We’re designed by God to have a daily, moment-by-moment, relationship with Him. His life is our life (Gal.2:20; Col.3:3).
The key is in finding practical ways to stay connected with God throughout your day. Proverbs tells us to “acknowledge Him in ALL our ways” (Prov.3:6). Here are just a few that have helped me stay connected over the years. Some require dedicated time, others can be done quite well while you’re engaged in your busy schedule.
- Daily Bible reading. For this, NO commentaries or study helps! Just you and the Holy Spirit (Let the Living Word study you!) You can do this mornings, evenings, during lunch breaks.
- Journal. Keep a notebook to record your conversations with the Lord (See Hab.2:2). I have daily journals from the last 15 years and I can go back to just about any date and tell you what God was speaking to me then. These personal archives are your heavenly treasure trove!
- Praying in the Spirit. You can do this anytime, anywhere. You don’t even have to know what you’re praying! Let your spirit do the driving! This is your secret weapon of mass edification! (1 Cor.14:2, 4; Jude 20).
- Soaking worship – in your car while stuck in traffic, at home, anywhere! Turn off the news and tune into heaven! Find out more about this type of worship here.
- Ten-minute timer. You can use your phone for the timer. I’ve done this a lot over the last couple of years–during business meetings and in practically every situation (put alarm on vibrate!) It’s awesome! You can watch Carol Arnott explain how to do it here.
- Get out into nature, take long walks away from the “noise” of your daily life. Let Him speak in the silence and wonder of His creation.
- Spend time during the week with other fired-up believers, over coffee, any informal gatherings.
- Use the technology: get daily words of encouragement from ministries that post daily blogs, tweets, YouTube videos, and through other social media. Hey, you’re already on your phone way too much anyway; just use that time now to connect with God! 🙂
You don’t have do all of these things everyday. The point is becoming more aware of God’s presence and being engaged with Him in all you do. Find out which tools help you get into the flow and enjoy your communion with God! The fact is, you’re already seated in heavenly places with Him right now, all the time (Eph.2:6). You’re just learning how to connect your heavenly spirit man with your earth-bound mind and body. No one else can do it for you but you’re not alone!
I will share the other four next time.