by Sheri Schofield
Winter storms have covered Montana with snow. In many places, it is so deep that the cattle cannot paw through to reach the grass beneath it. If it were not for the rancher who owns them, the cattle would starve.
Every day, the rancher brings a big roll of hay to the field and spreads it out on top of the snow. When the cattle hear the sound of the familiar tractor, they all head toward the gate, eager for the food. If another truck or car drives by during the day, the cattle will ignore it. They only respond to that one tractor’s engine, for it represents their lifeline through the long winter months.
Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me … [The shepherd] goes ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice” (John 10:14, 4 NIV).
Many new believers in Jesus wonder how they can recognize Jesus’ voice. While Jesus is no longer on earth, He has sent us the Holy Spirit to give us instructions. The Holy Spirit speaks the words of our Shepherd to our hearts, for He lives inside each person who belongs to Jesus. But how do we know when the thoughts we have are from the Holy Spirit and not from our own emotions?
I have found that memorizing Bible verses, sometimes entire passages, has helped me learn to discern the source of my thoughts, for the Holy Spirit will never tell me to do anything that is not in agreement with the Bible. It is God’s love letter to us that tells how He has communicated and dealt with mankind from the beginning.
I have learned to recognize my Shepherd’s voice very well! It is as different from my own thought patterns as apple juice is from lemonade. It is distinctive, instructive and holy. Many times, when I am busy with my life, a thought will come to me that is not like my own thoughts. It will feel like it comes from another source. It is my Shepherd.
I was recently depositing some money at the bank, and my Shepherd said, “Tell this young teller about your book for children on salvation.” I did. The young man turned out to be a Christian who had fifteen nieces and nephews, and he immediately wanted some of these books for them. So I gave him a book for each separate family, and one for himself. He began sharing the book with others at the bank, and they wanted the books, too. With that one brief conversation, I was able to reach multiple hearts for Jesus.
Once I was talking on the phone to a friend when my Shepherd said, in no uncertain terms, “GO TO KAREN!” It was so powerful that it overwhelmed all my other senses. I excused myself and went to Karen* immediately. She had recently lost her husband, and a known, New Age witch was at her house, trying to influence her while she was vulnerable. My timely intervention amazed Karen and put her on guard spiritually.
When we learn to listen to the Lord’s voice and obey Him, He will speak to us more and more, for He knows He can accomplish His goals through us, goals that bring life and healing to a lost and dying world. The joy that Jesus gives us when we hear and follow His commands is unequaled! It is living water that satisfies our deepest thirst.
On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. John 7:37-39 NIV
* Not her real name.
About the author: Sheri Schofield is an award-winning children’s author-illustrator and children’s ministry veteran of 40 years. Sheri was named Writer of the Year in 2018 at the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids, can be followed on her blog at her website, http://www.sherischofield.com. Questions welcomed!
Sheri’s book, The Prince And The Plan, is a beautifully illustrated, interactive picture book, written for children ages 4-8, that helps parents lead their children into a lasting, saving relationship with Jesus. It explains abstract concepts through words and interactive, multi-sensory activities. Useful for children’s ministry as well.
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