What we become as men and women depends pretty much on the voices we listen to --- I mean the voices we really listen to.


As for you, son of man, your people who talk together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, say to one another, each to his brother, "Come, and hear what the word is that comes forth from the Lord."  And they come to you as people come, and they sit before you as my people, and they hear what you say but they will not do it; for with their lips they show much love, but their heart is set on their gain. And, lo, you are to them like one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument, for they hear what you say, but they will not do it.        (Ezekiel 33)


These people weren't really listening to Ezekiel. They heard what he said, but they didn't take it to heart. But even these people were listening to a voice. Their lives were being molded and shaped by that voice.


It wasn't Ezekiel's voice.


- Ezekiel was just their entertainment.

- Ezekiel inspired their religious sensibilities.


But, their wills, their hearts, their inmost lives were being spoken to by another voice. A voice that forever puts thoughts of God in doubt, calls God into question.


A voice that plants suspicions concerning God's goodness.


A voice that lies.


He said to the woman, "Did God say, 'You shall not eat of any tree of the garden?'" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die'". But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil". So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate. (Genesis 3)


Adam and Eve knew what God had said. Yet they chose to listen to this other voice. And on the day they did that, they died. They ceased to exist as God's son and daughter and became Satan's slaves.


From that day, the big voice on the planet Earth has been the voice of the devil. Not only among those who are openly immoral and lawless, but also among the religious people.


- People who come around to hear what Ezekiel has to say but never repent.


- People who gather around Jesus of Nazareth to listen to Him teach but reject with their lives everything Jesus says.


The eighth chapter of the gospel of John is a conver­sation between Jesus and these religious people who draw near to Jesus to hear Him but never listen. All they do is argue, and protest, and split hairs.


Why don't they shut up and listen to what Jesus is saying to them? Because they are listening to

another voice. And it is impossible to listen to the voice of Jesus and this other voice at the same time.


So Jesus says to them:


"Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks accord­ing to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But, because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? He who is of God hears the words of God; the reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God."    (John 8)


Whose voice are we really listening to?


We come together week after week to worship - that's beautiful.


- We read our Bibles - that's beautiful.


- The name of Jesus is frequently on our lips - that's beautiful.


But are we listening to Jesus? Really hearing what He is saying to us? Is it getting into our hearts?


Is it affecting the way we live?


The apostles were recognized by the authorities as men who had been with Jesus. Their lives had been shaped by being with Jesus. It had nothing to do with physical proximity. Judas was physically near Jesus and he didn't change. The apostles changed because they listened to Jesus, they drank His words into their hearts so that Jesus' words became spirit and life to them.


Jesus is still speaking.


- His voice is going out across the field.

              All the sheep hear, but only His sheep follow.


- His voice is going out through all the earth. All people are beginning to hear, but only   

  His people follow.


Those who have the slightest God-hunger,


Those who have the slightest thirst for righteousness recognize that Voice, no matter who they are or what their past has been.


Perhaps someone is saying,


"But Jesus never speaks to me. He speaks to others apparently, but not to me."


If there was ever a time when people could say that, my friend, that time is past.


"The voice of the Lord is upon the waters." Which means, the voice of the Lord is being heard by multitudes.


- The Lord is upon many waters.

- The voice of the Lord is powerful.

- The voice of the Lord is full of majesty.

- The voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars.

- The voice of the Lord divideth the flames of fire.

- The voice of the Lord shaketh the wilderness.

                                                Psalm 29


There is no place where the voice of the Lord is not going forth.


God the Son is causing His voice to be heard on this planet as never before. Everywhere men turn they are hearing the voice of the Incarnate Word.


They are hearing it on the street corners.

They are hearing it in their closets.

They are hearing it in the wilderness.


The Lord is causing His glorious voice to be heard, causing His gospel of the Kingdom to be preached throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations before the End.


But, while all this is going on, that other voice is busy too. Trying to distract us,

trying to get us to do anything but listen to our Shepherd.


This is why many of us are just like those Hebrews in Babylon who went to Ezekiel for their Jerusalem travel talk, but their hearts were chained to Babylon.


We come to Jesus to get our religious feelings pumped up, but our hearts are still firmly planted in this world, because it is the spirit of this world that we're listen­ing to.


If we're going to break out of this sham and really live as sons and daughters of God, we have to choose between the voice of our Shepherd and the voice of Satan. We have to recognize this other voice for what it is, even when it comes to us dolled up in the sheep's clothing of religion,

- even when it speaks beautiful, half-truths, - especially when it starts offering' us short cuts to glory.


If it's not the voice of Jesus Christ and Him crucified never mind how "spiritual" it sounds, or how many signs and wonders attend it, you know that it's not of God.


Sometimes it comes as smooth words offering you an easy way instead of a narrow gate and a narrow road and a cross.


Sometimes this voice comes as flattery.


"Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and

care for no man."                                          Mark 12:14


Jesus recognized that voice of flattery and called them hypocrites.


Sometimes it's the voice of suspicion against God.


"Where is your God now?", it will say when you're sitting there bewildered by cir­cumstances.


Sometimes it's the voice of dire threats.


"Get out of here. Herod wants to kill you."

"You'd better ease off, you might just get hurt."


Sometimes an accusing voice.


- "You're no good!

- You're hopeless!

- Your brothers are laughing at you behind your back!

- God can't even stand you anymore!"


And behind that voice is the same lying spirit that spoke to our flesh parents Adam and Eve.


All it wants is to drive a wedge between us and our Master. And if we listen to it, that's exactly what happens.


Recognize that other voice for what it is.


- It's not the voice of a friend.

- It's not the super-policeman of the universe condemning you to Hell.


It's the voice of the defeated prince of this world who lost his claim on your soul when Jesus died on that cross.  All this voice can ever do is lie.


The voice of our Shepherd is very different, our Shepherd has already laid down His life for us.

When He speaks it's a voice that cares about us,


a voice that is always true,

a voice that never condemns - even when he gives us stern rebukes,

a voice that always offers hope, always gives comfort.


"Come follow me. Trust me.   I'll help you. I'll instruct you and teach you in the way that you should go. I'll guide you with my eye."


Jesus never tells you that you're no good. He never offers false hopes, shortcuts, cheap comfort, or flattery.


Every word He speaks to us is spirit and life. Every command He gives is power.


- If Jesus tells you to move a mountain, you can move it!


- If Jesus tells you to do something which you've tried a thousand-times before to do and failed, believe Him, now you can do it!


But we have to open our hearts and really listen to Him.


"My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me."


"They don't just sit there and rave about the beautiful words they heard. They get up and follow.

They obey. They do what I say.


If I tell them to forgive, they forgive.

If I tell them to pray, they pray.

If I tell them to love, they love.

If I tell them to forsake all, they do it."


To listen to Jesus means to do, to act, to yield your heart constantly moment-by-moment, hour-by-hour, day-by-day, to Him.


God knows, and you know, whether you have been listening to the voice of your Shepherd this week.


God knows, and you know, whether coming to this fellowship is just another spiritual concert for you, or whether you are really listening to the voice of your Shepherd.


One thing is sure - the Shepherd is speaking. He is speaking to each of us in infinite love.


"Come unto me all ye who labor and are heavy-laden and I will give you rest.

If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink."


He is calling each of us to some specific act of faith.


- To believe something we haven't really believed.

- To do something we haven't been doing.

- To be at peace about something that has had us all wrought up.

- To quit something we've been doing against His will.

- To make right some wrong.

- To begin some discipline.

- Or, to repent.


Jesus is speaking. He is making it clear. And in what we do about His word to us, we show whether we belong to Him or whether we don't.


"My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow me.

And I give them eternal life and they shall never perish.

And no one shall snatch them out of my hand."