In John’s gospel we read about the Good Shepherd and His sheep. “But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice” (John 10:2-4).
There is a very clear message in this passage. Jesus knows His sheep, He leads His sheep, and He speaks to His sheep. They know His voice and they follow Him. Jesus rarely speaks in an audible voice, but He does speak to His followers. He speaks most clearly through the inspired holy scriptures. The written word reveals to us the spoken word of the Living Word. In this way the Shepherd reveals His plan and purpose for the sheep. He directs, corrects and tells us of His love and care. In the words of the hymn, “He tells me I am His own.”
There is also the voice of the Lord that speaks through impressions and inner promptings. Let it be noted that these will never be contrary to the written word. As the sheep of the Lord’s pasture we need to be feeding on His word and stay attuned to the inner promptings from the Holy Spirit. Remember that God once spoke most powerfully to Elijah by a still, small voice.
Recently I drove past a place of ministry and felt that I should stop to discuss an issue that was common to both the director of that work and myself. I drove on past, but two blocks up the street the urge to go back prompted me to turn around. I went back and spent half an hour talking to this brother in Christ. He gave me helpful information that I was seeking. As we talked, he began to share how discouraging his work was at times. He asked me to pray for him. The experience reminded me of how important it is to respond to the voice of the Lord when He speaks to us in our every day experiences.