Dellas Linaman – Hearing the Voice – Pretoria, South Africa – 2003

When I thought of this meeting, this convention, I just thought, “What are we here for? What are we waiting for or what is going to happen?” It just came to me that it is hearing the voice. We can believe in God and not hear the voice. We can go to meetings and not hear the voice. We can read our Bibles and not hear the voice. We can pray and not hear the voice. To continually hear the voice, we need to respond to it and that’s what brings the change, that’s what is going to keep us from conforming to the world, that is what is going to help us to have the marks that will identify us with God, with His family, His country, His kingdom. We often sing, “O’er and o’er a voice is borne to me from the homeland of eternity.” Where did that voice come from? Eternity. It’s to prepare us for eternity and if we don’t hear it and respond to it, we will lose out. We want to hear that voice, “Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the kingdom prepared for you.” That’s what we want to hear – there are voices that are here now and it is good if we hear it and respond to it.


I heard once that the parents and teachers were very concerned about this certain boy’s hearing, something wrong with his hearing. They took him to the doctor and found out that there was something wrong with his LISTENING. I realise that so often I just fail to comprehend. Comprehension is very important. When we are trying to learn a language, we have these tests. We hear a story and listen to it and then afterwards there are these questions. Did you comprehend it? No, I didn’t. Do we comprehend what we are listening to, what we are reading? Sometimes we have a problem with our listening.


God spoke in the Old Testament. Those of you who like to read the Old Testament, you have read about the cherubims, beaten from one piece of gold – two of them, the same height. I like to think of that as the two and two ministry, both of them the same height standing on the mercy seat and facing one another. Then God said, “From BETWEEN them I will speak to My people.” From between them. It’s a wonderful thing when they are the same height. I had a new companion and we just had 5 months together and oh, I looked to him, I could learn from him. Good to be at the same height, same level. He had the spirit of a baby, he had it. Two workers were together in California and someone said to them, “Who is the older one?” Their reply was, “I don’t know, we hadn’t thought of it yet.” The same height. Sometimes it’s culture, ways of thinking, tribal differences, age differences and they sometimes don’t meet at the same height. I just wonder sometimes if when it is not the same height that the Lord is hindered from speaking from between them. I like to learn to be at the same height, the sameness.


In the New Testament, it is Jesus that is speaking. He said, “I must go and I’ll send the Comforter, the Spirit, and the Spirit will call to remembrance the things that I have said.” Now it is the voice of the Spirit – the Spirit speaking. We read that it says, “Grieve not the Holy Spirit.” Grieve it not. Then there is the other one that says, “Quench not the Spirit.” Quench not. In other words don’t eradicate the promptings of the Holy Spirit. That could be my rule for the day, the promptings of the Spirit of God. If we quench the Spirit, we can no longer fight the good fight of faith. We can no longer have fellowship with Our Father. We’ve quenched it. If we quench the promptings of the Holy Spirit, then we have lost the conformity of being conformed to His image. Oh, it is so easy to quench it – easy to quench the Spirit. How do you quench the promptings of the Holy Spirit? How do you quench it? “Oh, that’s not necessary!” Quenched it. “Well, others aren’t doing it and they have been professing for 25 years and they’re not doing it, so why should I do it?” Quenched! “Tomorrow, not now, it’s not convenient today.” Quenched! What actually are you quenching? You’re quenching your contact with eternity. You’re quenching the prompting that has come from eternity. It’s for the good of your soul. Your soul’s at stake. Don’t quench it! If we quench it, we become a drifter. Do you know where that leads to?


Anyway, Jesus said to His Disciples, “Blessed are your ears for they hear and your eyes for they see.” Your ears for they hear. “Many righteous men and Prophets have desired to hear and see the things you see and hear but they didn’t.” Remember there in Matthew 13, He speaks about the children of Israel that their hearts were waxed gross. I don’t know what that means but in the Chinese it says their hearts are “oily.” You try to pour water on something that is oily. Jesus speaks about His living words as water. He that thirsts, let him come unto Me. Water. Here, people have their hearts all oiled up with something and NOTHING goes in there. Their ears were so that they were not hearing, dull of hearing. Sad to miss that great provision that God has made.


In John 10, I noticed afresh in the 3rd verse it says, “To him the doorkeeper opens and the sheep hear His voice. He calls His own sheep by name and He leads them out. He goes before them and the sheep follow Him for they know His voice.” Then it says, “They do not know the voice of strangers.” Then it says in the 15th verse, “Other sheep I have that are not of this fold, them also I must bring and they will hear My voice and there will be one flock and one shepherd.” Then it says, “My sheep hear My voice and they know Me and they follow Me.” There’s the response. “And I give them eternal life.” That’s the result. “They shall never perish neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” That’s what we are hearing Him for. If you listen to the voice of a stranger, he will lead you into strange places and you will hear strange voices. There are many voices out in the world – many voices. We need to be able to identify the voices. Some people listen to the voices of their relatives. That’s not the voice of God. Jesus at 12 years old was in tune with another voice, the voice of His heavenly Father.


There was a time when Peter, as a very close one, said, “Save yourself.” Oh no, He was hearing another voice – “Give yourself.” You can see all through that Jesus kept in tune with His Father’s voice and it led Him, and it guided Him and it kept Him. So then, it says that they hear His voice and He leads them out and they shall find pasture. Following His voice, His leading He has to lead us out so as to lead us – into something. Sometimes just that leading out, “Oh, I can’t….my friends…my dogs…I can’t do that.” It says that He leads them into pastures. It’s His leading that takes us to pastures, that enables us to know His pastures. What is it that makes the sheep content? Green pastures. Contented sheep in green pastures. Green pastures and quiet waters. Contented sheep. Something that’s contented is something that’s durable. Contented people, contented children. Sometimes you go into a home and those children are always whining and complaining. Why this and what is that? Contentment is wonderful and it comes as a result of feeding in His pasture. It comes as a result of being led. It comes as a result of following. It is something that is only provided by Him. You can’t be content in the world. Paul said that he had learned to be content, “I have learned in whatsoever state I am to be content. I know how to be abased,” and so on and in the midst of it all…content. The other way is discontent. Good if we could just remember that God wants a contented people and God’s true people are contented. Whether I am content or not content can just be a gauge to me of how much of God or how much of what is of Christ, the fullness of God, how much of this do I have in my life?


Then again, I was in a lovely home, a young couple with three little kids running around there. Nice home and the man said, “Aren’t we privileged to have all of this!” This was in Canada. I said, “That’s not the question. Are you content?” Paul said to Timothy to be content with food and raiment. If you can’t be content with those two things, how in the world are you going to be content with three things, or four or five things or ten things? You can’t. Paul says, “I have LEARNED.” Being discontent leads to temptation. Being discontent is being a covetous person. Covetous. You know where covetousness will take you? Just being covetous – I WANT. It was covetousness that took the prodigal son out of the home. “I want,” and away he went. It’s such a lethal thing. Being content isn’t popular. Being discontent and being covetous is popular. When people get together what are they talking about? Things that they want. The devil wants you to see what you don’t have and God wants you to see what you do have.


Sometimes we used to find it and I don’t know if it is any more now but in Taiwan, I haven’t seen it but in the States I have – a store with a sign “Closed for inventory” – finding out what they have. There was a man one time, very discontent, unhappy with his lot. What am I going to do? Get going? So he called in an assessor to find out what he had. They went from one thing to the other and recorded how much it was worth. Then at the end, he said, “Oh, I never knew I had so much.” Take an inventory. If ever one is discontent, maybe it would be a good thing to take an inventory and count your spiritual blessings. Find out what you’ve got. Do anything that will create contentment.


I heard this a long time ago that the way to have true satisfaction is to get rid of the desire and then you’ll have true satisfaction. If a person is content, they are not missing anything and a person that is not content doesn’t know what he is missing. In Hebrews 13:5, it says something about not being covetous and it says to be content with such things as you have for the Lord has said, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” There is the source, there is the key, there is the whole substance of the thing we need – the presence of God. I read one time that there is no greater crime than not being satisfied. There is no disaster greater than being discontent and there is no misfortune greater than being covetous. When we are content, we will always have enough. Avarice always accumulates things but contentment creates wealth. That’s what comes as a result of hearing the voice and being led – being led to green pastures and quiet waters. What more would a sheep desire? Nothing more. Jesus said, “Pray in My name for whatever you want and you’ll get it.” Well, if you’re a sheep, what are you going to pray for? You’ll get it if you hear His voice.


Discontent might not be fatal but it is sure going to lead you somewhere where you won’t want to be. I like to think of Jesus saying, “Blessed are your eyes for they see and your ears for they hear.” Then we read that verse that says that Jesus is the same today, yesterday, and forever. So what Jesus said then is just what He is going to say now. What He said then, the Spirit is going to echo into your life today. The more that we read about the words of Jesus, the better we are going to be able to recognise the voice of Jesus, the voice of the Lord, or the voice of the Spirit. Then too the easier it is going to be to just follow Him. Jesus said, “I have told you these things that you might have joy.” That’s where the contentment comes from.


This certain thing that Jesus said makes us very happy. “Neither do I condemn you.” Your sins are forgiven! Then He says, “Come ye apart and rest awhile.” “Oh, I don’t have time for that!” That’s His voice that calls us. He says that. He tells us. Get out of your comfort zone. That is something you may be hearing in the convention. “Do you love me more than these?” Am I willing for that? We had a boy that was thinking about the work. He was working for a doctor for 10 years. His brother-in-law was building a new clinic and he wanted him to work under his license. I don’t know how legal that is and it doesn’t sound legal to me. So, he called him in where he was building this clinic and said, “Now where do you want your table and where do you want this or where do you want that?” So, he told him where he wanted it. I don’t know if it was the next week or two weeks after but it was very close and we had a convention. At the last hymn, we asked that if anyone wants to make their choice they can stand up and so forth. Then, too, on the last verse, “If there is anyone thinking about the work, will you stand up?” This boy grabbed his seat to hold himself down. Unfortunately, it was one of these seats that fold up, and up he went! Weeping. So much so, that being the last hymn, his dad was there and he couldn’t understand what was going on. He rushed over and thought he had committed some terrible sin and said, “God will forgive you.” He was trying to comfort him. The man that he was working for was there too and he said, “Don’t let them brainwash you.” I would like to think that that young man heard the voice, “Do you love Me more than these?” What’s wrong with being a doctor? Nothing. There’s a future there, something stable there BUT Jesus didn’t just say, “Do you love Me?” No He didn’t ask that question. He said, “Do you love Me MORE THAN THESE?” Maybe right here in this gathering these four days, there might be some young men or women that that voice will ring in their ears. “Do you love Me more than these?” And it is up to them to decide. The responsibility is theirs.


The voice that we will all hear many times will say, “Follow Me.” What should I do? “Follow Me.” How do I deal with this problem? “Follow Me.” There’s the example. One can just go on and on.


Then I thought of Peter. Remember the time when Jesus told Peter what was going to happen and Peter said, “Oh, no.” Then Jesus said, “You’re savouring the things of man – of the world. Get behind Me.” I have thought of this as Peter dwelling on the border of the kingdom. This Kingdom of God has borders and those borders are to be respected. This continent has many countries and there are borders. God’s Kingdom has borders, too. Where do you dwell? Are you on the border? Are you on this side of the border or on that side of the border? Or do you leave no question in the mind of anyone that you’re well inside the Kingdom? It’s dangerous to dwell on the border. That’s where a lot of trouble is. Look at India and Pakistan – fighting for years. Why? Trouble on the border. Are you living on the borders of this world – sometimes in the Kingdom and sometimes out? Temptations are on the border. The language isn’t pure on the borders. You have an accent if you’re on the border it is easily seen if you’re not well inside the kingdom of God. Get inside. If we’re following the voice, it leads us IN. Satan says, “You’re far enough, go out.” You can buy things at the border that you can’t buy inside.


Every time I get to a border, I get nervous. Do you know why? Because there is someone there that says, “You can’t go in.” It happened once I needed a seal in my passport. My companion went on but I couldn’t go. I had a seat. I had a place on the train but I couldn’t go. “No, you can’t go in.” Oh, make SURE that everything is all right BEFORE you get to that final border.


Sometimes people try to smuggle things into the country. Are we guilty of trying to smuggle things into the Kingdom, into our homes? We have the TV covered up. We have it in the closet. The workers don’t know anything about it. God knows! A young man in Taiwan had professed not very long. He was going to control this TV thing. He said, “I want peace. I want quiet. I don’t want all this stuff.” You can’t have both, friend. He goes and gets his brother and he says, “You come with me.” Why? He picks up this new TV and he gives his brother the video thing and they go way down the river. He says to his brother, “You take a rock and bust it up.” “No,” he said, “It’s yours, you bust it up.” They busted it up. Something came into their home that wasn’t there before, something that adorned the Gospel.


We read about those in Titus – it said they adorned the doctrine in all things. Adorned. Adorn. People that adorn the Gospel help us to preach the gospel. We need you. We need that adornment. Not leaving questions in people’s minds, “Are you inside the border, on the border, outside the border or where do you stand?” We like to see a clear sign that you are well inside. I don’t like this thing of wondering, “Are they professing or are they not?” I don’t like that. I like to see things clearly.


I am glad for my mother’s convictions. She had convictions. Where do convictions come from? From hearing the voice. Hearing the voice of the Lord brings convictions. She professed. She had been seeking. She used to read the Bible and all the pamphlets and stuff that comes in. She tried to share things with us around the table – us kids and my dad. She was a troubled woman. The Gospel came. Great. Wonderful. Couldn’t be better. I never saw my dad and mother fight. Never. There were great differences in their natures but one of the first things my mother did. I can remember because I was 16. You know what she did? She took off her engagement ring and she said, “That is a jewel, an adornment that’s not necessary.” Oh, my dad had paid money for that. It meant something to him but it didn’t mean anything to my mother. She took it off. Many, many years later, she died and we were sorting out her stuff and we found that engagement ring. She hadn’t worn it for 20 years or more. There it was in a little box. Are we willing to pay the price? Is it in Peter where it says, “Do not let your adornment be merely outward, arranging of the hair, wearing of gold and putting on fine apparel.”


The fear of God helps us to respond to the voice. There are many different words in the Chinese language for the different kinds of fear. The English language doesn’t seem to have it. The fear of God is a highly respectful type of fear. Not afraid but a fear. A fear of God helps us to find our place before God and a love for God helps us to fill that place. Having this fear would help us to respond to that still small voice.


I remember being in Pakistan one time. Here I have to remind myself that I am not in Oregon or somewhere but there you don’t have to remind yourself that you’re in Pakistan. I never did like these Muslims, the way they look at you, these Arabs, it’s scary. Well, David said, “I have got some Pakistani clothes here – men’s, not women’s. Would you like to put them on and we’ll go up town?” I said, “Yes.” So we put them on and oh, how comfortable, how nice. No one paid any attention to you, you go in and about amongst those Muslims and the camels and what have you and they never even saw you! Comfortable. I wouldn’t feel comfortable in those things here. I wonder sometimes if that isn’t the way our clothes identify us? On which side of the border we are living. They do, you know. You get out in the world and wearing the worldly things and you’re comfortable there. Such hairdos, you’re comfortable there – those kinds of shoes and pants that make you comfortable there. We want to be comfortable the way we are in the Sunday Morning Meeting. That is the way we want to be comfortable on Monday, on Tuesday, and on Wednesday. That adorns the Gospel. That gives us a place amongst His own in His Kingdom.


Another thing is that parents have a great responsibility in establishing borders for their children. A professing boy one time said “When I am all by myself, I know where the border is.” He was 18 at the time. Why? Because when he was growing up his mother and his father had a “YES” and a “NO,” no “Maybe.” It’s good to be fixed, have the borders fixed.


I like this story. A father and his son were harvesting their grain and they just had a small patch left and black clouds were coming in from the west. It was a Wednesday night and Bible study was due. This son, he says to his dad, “Dad, what are you going to do? There’s meeting tonight and we’re not going to be able to finish this.” He replied, “Son, your mother and I made this decision a LONG time ago.” They went to the meeting and they lost that bit of their crop. They established the border line so that that son could use it for the rest of his journey in life. The border line that keeps the voice of God speaking to him so that that son could use it for the rest of his journey in life. The border line that keeps the voice of God speaking to your heart and keeps you walking and keeps contentment and joy in your heart.