Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord. Proverbs 8:33-35 (ESV)
I think we forget that our most important role as followers of Christ is listening.
Well, let me rephrase that. We do a lot of listening. We just don’t recognize our need to quiet ourselves and listen to Jesus.
We seek His favor. We seek the abundant life He offers. But we usually ignore the means.
Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord.
Listening to Jesus is how you will find your way into His abundant life and favor.
You’ve probably heard Jesus described as the Good Shepherd. He actually gave Himself the name in John 10:11, just before He revealed what He had come to earth to do.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
Let’s take a look at how Jesus describes His relationship with His sheep.
“But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” John 10:2-5
Verse 5 always pierces my heart. For many of us, Jesus’ voice is the stranger we never follow. We hardly recognize it. We’re so used to listening to the call of the world, we can’t hear the voice of the Shepherd beckoning us to safety and abundant life.
But when we choose to seek it, verse 3 makes an amazing promise. The sheep hear the voice of the Shepherd.
Do you ever wonder if God still speaks? There’s your answer, dear one. Jesus’ sheep hear His voice. Period. Not some of them. Not the special ones. All His sheep have the ability to hear Him. And we need to learn to recognize His voice if we want to follow Him to life.
Verse 4 reveals the intimacy Jesus desires with each one of us. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. Then He promises to go before to set the path. But only the sheep who know His voice will be able to follow Him.
Do you know it, dear one? Have you learned to recognize it by spending time alone with Him in His Word?
If that hasn’t been a priority for you, perhaps this gem from verse 3 will get you thinking.
To him the gatekeeper opens.
I can’t tell you how many times I skipped over this seemingly insignificant piece of information. But when I asked God to teach me about prayer, this verse leapt from the page.
Notice something with me.
The Shepherd doesn’t open the gate for Himself. He waits for the gatekeeper—or watchman, depending on your translation— to open it for Him.
What does that mean for you and me?
We often imagine that Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, simply does as He pleases on this earth. After all, He’s a sovereign God, working His sovereign plan. But we forget that God in His sovereignty chose to work in agreement with man when He gave man dominion.
Beloved, Jesus waits to be invited through prayer before He intervenes.
That’s what the watchman does, dear one. His prayer shuts the door on the enemy—the current prince of this world—and opens the door to Jesus—the rightful King— to enter in.
You see, unlike the enemy of our souls, Jesus never forces His will upon us. 2 Peter 3:9 makes it clear that He desires for none to perish.
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
Yet many will perish, because they choose not to hear the truth He proclaims.
But even knowing that they will reject Him, Jesus still knocks at the gate.
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20
The prayer of repentance responding to the call of God opens the door for Jesus to enter in and alter the outcome of a life through salvation. Once we’re saved, Jesus continues to call out at the gate, seeking vessels who will hear His voice and come into agreement with Him through prayer to see His divine power intervene in the circumstances of life.
Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors.
Even now, He knocks at the door of your heart, dear one, seeking to manifest His power. Will you be the watchman who opens the gate?