As we walked through Nazareth Village, the had a shepherd there feeding his small flock. The sheep were just about ready to be trimmed so the village could make yarn. I walked around the side and took this photo of the sheep eating. While I was doing that, our guide said something I had never thought of. He said, “Did you know that goats have ears?” I thought, “Of course they do!” Then he said, “Both sheep and goats can hear, but only sheep listen for their master’s voice and obey it. The goats hear his voice and do their own thing.” That’s why sheep have shepherds and goats have herders.
I believe we all can hear God’s voice, but are we listening for it? Hearing is a passive thing that happens just by having ears. Listening is something that is done intentionally. We’ve all be in conversations where we are barely listening to the other person, then we realize we missed the important part. We have to either pretend that we listened to what they said or we have to ask them to repeat it. When the King of King speaks to us, we should be giving Him our undivided attention. If we are merely passively hearing His voice, it calls to question whether He is shepherding us or is herding us.
In John 10:27 Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (NLT). The only way to know Jesus and to follow Him is to listen to His voice. He is constantly speaking to us, so we need to be constantly listening to Him. Ive found that the best way to listen is to be quiet. It sounds so simple, yet many of us are afraid of the silence of sitting in His presence. Today practice being still in His presence and listening for His voice. Be obedient to whatever He tells you to do. Don’t just be someone who hears His voice, be a listener of it.
My son loves the LEGO Architecture series. We’ve built several of them as a family. Normally they take a night or two for us to complete because we’ve purchased small ones. However, recently he wanted one that was about 1,700 pieces. When I opened the box and saw all those pieces, I wondered, “What were we thinking?” Then I saw the book. It was seriously a book of how to put it together. Do you know what the first step was? Putting two pieces together. When we put them together, I jokingly said, “Hey! Only 1,698 pieces to go.”
In Zechariah, God used the prophet to speak to Zerubbabel to begin rebuilding the Temple. It was about 90 feet long and 20 stories high. As he set the first stone in place, people walking by started making fun of him. He began to get discouraged because other people couldn’t see what God has called him to, and they didn’t believe it could be done. Then the Lord spoke to him in Zechariah 4:10, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand” (NLT).
It’s easy to look at large projects like that and get overwhelmed. It’s even easier to look at what God has called us to and want to never start. But just like the LEGO’s, it starts with a small step, and that is followed by another one. God enjoys seeing us begin to do the work He called us to because He loves obedience. He knows that if He can trust us to be faithful in the small steps of obedience, He can stretch us to take the larger ones. It just takes us to be willing to get past the size of the thing God has asked us to do, and to simply begin.
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To me, one of the greatest acts of obedience in the Bible was done by Peter. He and his coworkers had fished all night and caught nothing. They were cleaning their nets when Jesus walked up and asked to use his boat for a pulpit to preach from. After the sermon, Jesus asked Peter to go further out to a deep spot and put his freshly cleaned nets back into the water. None of it made sense, but Luke 5:5 says, “‘Master,’ Simon answered, ‘we worked hard all night long and caught nothing. But if you say so, I will let down the nets’” (GNT).
Peter was tired from fishing all night. He had then cleaned and prepared his nets for the next night, and he was ready to go home to sleep. Putting the nets back into the water meant he would have to clean them again. Also, it was proven that you catch more fish at night in shallow areas. Everything Jesus was asking was different than his lifetime had taught him. His way had not worked, but because of what He had seen Jesus do, He was willing to try it. The result was the catch of a lifetime.
If you’ve tried things your way and it’s gotten you nowhere, listen to what God is asking you to do. It probably won’t make sense in the natural, but obedience activates the supernatural. When you’ve tried everything on your own and come up empty handed, try it God’s way. It may not make sense, but if you do it, your miracle will be waiting on the other side of your obedience. You may be exhausted and emotionally spent from doing things your way. You may feel like you’re at the end of your rope. Despite all that, do what God asks anyway and you’ll see Him answer like never before.
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