Follow My Voice

When you need to hear the voice of God, go to the Word and pray – then, listen.

Scripture: John 10:4-5


Alright, thank you very much. And hello again radio friends, how in the world are you? You doing alright today? Oh, I’m fine, thank you. Everything’s great, praise the Lord, no complaints. I found out that most of the difficulties I have are my own fault. [chuckle] Can’t complain about that, can you? Well, I’m back with you once again, your good friend, Bob Cook, that’s me. I should say for you English teachers, that is I, right? And we’re going to share from the 10th chapter of John’s Gospel; just to wrap up a couple of thoughts in verses 4 and 5 and then go on. It says, “When he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. They hear his voice, they know his voice, they follow his voice.” Have you ever been out on a countryside in the dark?

Or have you been out fishing on a lake in the dark? And you were all alone. You could never feel so alone as you feel in a small boat on a big lake, in the dark, and you don’t know which way is home. Have you been in that situation? I think some of you may have. And then, all of a sudden, you hear a voice coming across the waves, and you know you recognize that voice, it’s the voice of a loved one, wife, or husband, or someone whom you recognize. And you steer toward that voice, and before you know it, you see the twinkling light of a flashlight, illuminating the dock where you tie up the boat and you get out, and you say, “Boy, am I glad to be back. Thanks for hollering, I didn’t know which way to turn.” [chuckle] The voice; follow the voice.

Now, what is the voice of God to us today? It’s in His Word, the inerrant, infallible, inspired Word of God; The Bible. We take as our very first presupposition at the college that the Bible is, not just contains, the Word of God. We start with God and with His Word. “If you wanna hear God’s voice, you go to His Word, to the law, and to the testimony,” said Isaiah, “For if they speak not according to this word it is because there is no light in them.” How do you follow the voice? You go to the Bible, you read it, you pray over it, then you listen. After you’ve prayed, after you’ve read and prayed, and meditated, and laid out your case before God, then you listen to what the blessed Holy Spirit who indwells the believer may say to your heart.

The world calls it a hunch. You and I know it as the voice of the Spirit of God speaking in your heart. It’s always well to listen as in addition to the counsel of wise and mature Christians. I was, at one time, considering five separate job options, five offers. And I didn’t know really which one to take, but there was one that interested me greatly. For one thing, it offered a very comfortable salary, more than I was then making. Another thing, I wouldn’t have to move, I could stay right where I was living. And another thing was I could preach when I wanted to. Well, that seemed like having your cake and eating it too, and it attracted me. But I didn’t feel comfortable with it somehow or other. And then there were other job options. There was a sales manager job, and there was a pastor of a church, and so on, and so on. Five different job options and I was praying about them. And I went to see Dr. Culbertson. William Culbertson; we called him the bishop because he was bishop in the reformed Episcopal Church during the years that he served as a pastor in that denomination. So we always called him the bishop.

And I came to see him one day there at the Moody Bible Institute, from which I, myself, had graduated back in the early Middle Ages; 1930 I graduated, can you believe it? [chuckle] Well, I started early; 16 years old when I started, so you can figure it out. And I went to see him, and I said, “Bishop, I need some help.” And I told him my story. Laid out the whole matter before him. And I told him which one of these job options attracted me. The one that paid well, and that wouldn’t make me move, and that would let me preach now and then. It was, as a matter fact, a quasi-political sort of a thing. I was supposed to be having an influence on the grassroots, the precinct level of voters, that sort of a thing. And he looked at me, and he said, “Well,” he said, “I know Bob Cook pretty well and I just can’t imagine Bob Cook in that kind of a job.” That’s all he said. But you know that turned the tables there for me. I sort of lost the hankering for that job when I found that one of my dearest friends, Dr. William Culbertson, would say quietly, “I can’t imagine you in that kind of a job.” [chuckle]

Well, as it happened those things didn’t materialize and God brought another one before me, which involved being president of the college, and I moved into that situation in March of 1962 and spent 23 glorious years as president of that institution. But what I was saying is, sometimes when you want the voice of God, you go to the Word and you pray, and you listen, but then look up a mature, Christian friend, somebody who’s been on the way for a while, and knows when to speak, and when to keep silent. And just see what counsel you may get from experienced Spirit-filled people. That’s been very helpful to me. As a matter of fact, one of the older writers, who was it? FB Meyer, I guess, wrote about the Will of God; he said, “The cast of circumstances is something you wanna pay attention to.” What is happening in your life? What is God doing? It may be that He’s trying to speak to you by what He’s doing. That has often, of course, been true in sacred history.

Jonah is a case in point. Jonah refused to obey God’s command to go to Nineveh, went the other way, went down and took a ship going in the opposite direction, and steadfastly refusing to hearken to God’s call. So God sent the storm and in the midst of the storm Jonah realized that he was it. [chuckle] He said to the sailors, “You better toss me overboard, cause I’m the reason for the storm.” And then God had sent the great fish to swallow him up, gave him three days of subterranean prayer conference, and when he came out on dry land. You know a backslidden preacher’s enough to make even a fish sick. Said the fish vomited him up. [chuckle] And when he came out on dry land, you may be sure that he was a strange looking object with his complexion now bleached with the gastric juices of that fish. But now, he’s willing to obey God and he goes and preaches to Nineveh and there’s a great revival of all those people as they sought the living God and repented of their sins in sackcloth and ashes. God was talking to him through the storm.

So you look at the cast of circumstances, what’s happening here in my life? What is God trying to do in my life? Look around you and think.

Small thought here. Beware of impulsive knee-jerk reaction decisions when you’re seeking the Will of God and listening for God’s voice. God is never in a hurry. And you don’t have to say, “No, I feel this way, it’s now 10:30 in the morning, I have to do something right now.” No. If you’re not sure, don’t do anything. I think it’s Norman Grubb that said, “The Christian soldier has the right to wait at headquarters until he gets his marching orders. Then, he can go out into the field.” Oh, go to the Word. Pray. Listen for the indwelling Holy Spirit to speak to you based on the Word. Listen to the counsel of mature, Christian Spirit-filled friends. Look at the cast of circumstances, and then, just take your time and God will lead you. Do you know how I know? “In all thy ways acknowledge Him,” says the Word of God, “and He shall,” not maybe, “He shall direct thy paths. The steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord and He delighteth in his way.” Yes, you can be in the will of God and know it.

“The sheep know His voice.” “The obverse side of that truth is a stranger,” this is verse 5, “A stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him.” There are certain times to run away. Paul said to Timothy, “Flee, also, youthful lusts.” There are times, buddy, when instead of a prayer meeting, you better get on out of there. Flee fornication. Flee these things. There are times to run away and there are times to follow. He says, “A stranger, they’ll flee from him, for they know not the voice of strangers.” Don’t put yourself in the position of being in a situation where you’re apt to be taken advantage of by the wolves and hirelings around you. Learn to run away from things and situations, yes, and people who are not true to God. Don’t trust your heartstrings, buddy, daughter, with people who don’t know the Savior. And don’t trust your destiny with situations that aren’t right.

Time magazine mentioned that, when it was doing a write-up some time ago about situational ethics, Time magazine had a quote, something like this, it said, “It’s pretty hard to determine what is right and wrong on the basis of situational ethics when you’re sitting in the back seat of a car with a pretty girl.” Now, that’s a secular magazine, they weren’t being religious. They were just being realistic. Don’t put yourself in situations where you’re going to be pressured and possibly fall. Instead, learn to run away from things that don’t honor your Lord. Back off from that which dishonors Him. Pretty good idea. Jesus said it. “They will flee”, it said, “from Him.” We’ll get at this chapter again the next time we get together.

Father God, today, may we hear the voice of the Shepherd and follow it. I ask in Jesus name, Amen.

Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!

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