Main Point: The voice of God isn’t always easy to discern so we must focus intently on Him to know His will.
Discussion Starter: Listening Test
This is a fun little discussion starter that anybody can do. All you need are some sound effects and a way to play them for your group. Here’s what you do.
There are a number of websites that let you download sound effects for free. Visit any one of them and download some “every day,” “common,” “household” sound effects onto your laptop. Here is a list of ideas for you:
- Airplane passing overhead
Burp (no list is complete without it)
Dial up modem being accessed (extra points to anybody who gets that one right!)
Fart (see note on “burp”)
Page being turned
Popping open a can of soda
Sizzling frying pan
Slurping through a straw
Spinning a coin on a tabletop
Zipper being zipped
Now, just hook your computer up to a sound system (or external speaker) and play them for your group one at a time.
If you want to bump it up a notch, give students a pen and piece of paper, and have them write down their answers as if they were taking a test. Give the winner a cool prize. Give the loser (in a fun way) a box of Q-tips (ear cleaner).
OK, some of you guys did pretty well at this, but a few of us struggled. I’ll admit, I intentionally made this a little tricky; I picked a few things that sounded similar, for instance, a gunshot and a door being slammed. The rain kinda sounded like the frying pan sizzling, too. I just wanted to see how well you listened because often times in life, we don’t hear what we’re not listening for. The voice of God can be difficult to hear in our world, but hearing His voice is key to knowing His will. So, let’s spend some time talking about hearing God clearly.
Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.
CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: As we get started, let’s all take a second to share our names and how many we got right on the listening test.
- ASK A FEW: Which ones were the hardest for you to discern? Why?
- ASK A FEW: Which ones were the easiest for you? Why?
- ASK A FEW: How important is it to hear clearly in life?
- ASK A FEW: What do you think the voice of God sounds like?
- ASK A FEW: How can you tell when He’s speaking to you?
Read the following passage:
John 10:1-30 (NIV)
“I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. 3 The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them. 7 Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me– 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father– and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life– only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” 19 At these words the Jews were again divided. 20 Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?” 21 But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?” 22 Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. 24 The Jews gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
I think we’ve wisely spent our time talking about an incredibly important topic. Christians believe we have a “personal” God, but so many of us treat Him like a mute statue. We boast about having a relationship with Him, but it’s the quietest relationship we have in life. If we’re honest, most of us can’t even remember the last time God spoke to us.
That’s got to change.
I’d like to suggest a few simple ways to make sure you’re tuned in to what God has to say to you about your life and your relationship with Him. It’s pretty simple stuff, really, but too many Christians mess this up. I don’t want you to be like them.
The first thing you gotta do is get into a relationship with Him. Jesus makes it pretty clear in this passage that those who hear Him are also those that belong to Him. If we aren’t His sheep, we won’t hear Him. So, we gotta get into a relationship with Him. We do that by repenting of our sin, asking God to forgive us, and promising to follow Him the rest of our lives.
But it doesn’t end there. We need to ask Him to speak. If this sounds silly, let me help you make sense of this important step. If you’ve got a boyfriend or girlfriend, don’t you want them to talk to you? Don’t you call them up or swing by their science class to chat with them as much as you can? You tell them over and over again that you love the sound of their voice and that you enjoy talking to them. Why wouldn’t God feel the same way? He wants to know that you want Him to speak to you. He wants to know that you love the sound of His voice. By the way, He’s given His life for you! Why wouldn’t He want to speak with you about the new direction He has planned for you?
Finally, we need to live in such a way that makes it easy to hear Him. We wouldn’t say to a person in here, “Hey, let’s talk and catch up, but before you open your mouth, I’m gonna walk all the way across the room.” No, you’d stand right there with him or her and talk. The same is true in our relationship with God. If we want to hear Him clearly, we must stand close to Him. In other words, we can’t let sin get between us and Him. The closer we are to Him, the better we’ll hear Him. The better we hear Him, the better we’ll understand His will for our lives.
This isn’t always easy to do. Let me say that clearly. But it’s worth doing well. So if you need help with any of this, grab one of our adult leaders before you leave. You’ll be glad you did.
Close in Prayer
Written by David R Smith
Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Bullying Breakthrough; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on TheSource4YM.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.