James 4:8 “Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you…”
When I was sixteen years old, I met who would become my first girlfriend. She happened to be an identical twin. She didn’t tell me at first. When I went to pick her up for our first date, her twin sister came to the door leading me to believe she was my date. We got into the car and started to drive away. She kept chuckling and I asked her what was so funny. She told me she wasn’t who I thought she was and laughingly told me the truth. I was in shock. In the beginning, I could not tell them apart and was slightly concerned every time I went to pick her up, that I might be driving away with her sister.
After about six months, there was no fooling me anymore. Even though the majority of people that knew them struggled to tell them apart, I didn’t. To me, she no longer looked the same. I could tell the difference in many little ways that others would not have noticed. Even though they were identical twins, they were two different people. Because we had become close caring friends, the differences become apparent.
For some people, it would be almost as if God and the devil were twins. I know that almost sounds sacrilegious but at the same time, it’s understandable. I say that because since we can’t physically see either, it is their voices that remain that we hear. I am continually told by people that they have trouble discerning if the voice they hear – “Is God or the devil they are hearing?”
The reason I could eventually tell the difference between my girlfriend and her twin sister was because of intimacy. No, I am not meaning sexually. It is because we “fell in love.” It was because over the period of three years, we came to the place as young boyfriends and girlfriends do, where we talked through everything. I knew her heart, her dreams, her struggles, her insecurities, what made her laugh, what made her feel special, and what she was sensitive to. I knew her. We were the best of friends and we cared for each other. This is the place where you truly know someone and in that place you know their voice.
When Jesus was teaching His disciples about Himself, He called Himself “the good shepherd.” John 10:4-5 “After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they recognize his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from the stranger because they don’t recognize his voice.”
Please understand when Jesus is talking about His sheep recognizing His voice – He isn’t just talking about the sound of a voice or voice patterns. It is through a voice that you get to the heart of a person. It’s where you discover their purpose, their character, who they are and what they believe. You get to know their manner – how they conduct themselves – what they would and would not ever do. This is all a part of “recognizing His voice.” That only happens between any two human beings through true intimacy.
We live in the day of tabloids and “star mania.” People seem to crave reading and hearing about movie stars and singers and famous people. They read magazine after magazine and watch television show after television show about these people. After a while, they begin to think they know them. You can read all day every day but you will not truly know them. That only happens through true personal intimacy between two people.
Many Christians are casual at best reading their Bible, If we could play back the video tape of one’s life, we might see ten to a hundred times more time spent reading and watching stars compared to reading their Bible. And then, even if you do read your Bible all the time, that alone won’t produce the ability to distinguish between God and the devil’s voice. Why? Because again, reading about someone – even Jesus, does not produce intimacy. The theological halls of seminaries are filled with those that have studied Jesus but don’t know Him.
Jesus has given those that would draw close to Him the most phenomenal gift – the ability to have an intimate relationship with Him and to learn His voice and follow Him.
Jesus disciples followed, learned from, and did what Jesus asked them to. They knew what His voice sounded like, but more importantly, they knew Him. The Pharisees, the Sadducees, and religious leaders of Jesus day also followed Him around. They were continually trying to catch Him violating the law working to prove He was a false Christ. They knew His voice but they surely didn’t know Him. They confused Him with the devil and accused Him of being Satan’s aide. It turned into a divisive issue amongst them. Why? Because some knew the true signs of God and knew the devil and God don’t mix. Others were blinded by their own bias and jealousy. John 10:19-21 “At these words the Jews were again divided. Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?” “But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
So how do we learn to discern between Satan speaking to us trying to deceive us or God trying to lead us? Why is that such a struggle? We’ll work through that tomorrow but for today; know that it’s not the physical voice Jesus wanted you to follow. It was Who He was, What He was, and What He wanted for us that He wanted you to know. In that you would come to know His voice which really represents His. That is why James wrote today’s Fresh Manna verse, “Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you…”
In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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