I am driving on the expressway and a voice tells me to get into one of the two left lanes. I am driving 75 MPH (yes, I know the speed limit is 65) but without hesitation I obey. This sound that attempts to emulate the human voice is coming from my GPS. Nevertheless, I comply with its directions.

As I relax in my recliner at home the voices on the television tell me that I can erase the aging spots, grow my hair back (do I want to?) or at least recover my youthful look by coloring it, or gain boundless energy from one small container of liquid. And I believe them and buy their products.

A voice comes over the intercom and says: “This is your pilot. Just relax and enjoy the ride. The crew and I will get you safely to your destination.” So I relax and read a book, listen to music, watch a movie, or enjoy the scenery out the tiny little window. Just like I am supposed to.

My financial adviser recommends how to manage my (limited) resources or suggests a good investment and I follow the counsel.

A friend says, “Try it. You’ll like it.” and with little if any thought I sample something new. I see others engaged in some activity that appears to be fun and I am invited to join them. So I plunge right in.

A situation occurs and I am about to do something or say something and an inner voice suggests I should act differently or temper my language. Call it what you will- conscience, intuition, common sense- when this occurs I often debate and argue with that voice from inside me. I question whether this is wise counsel or good advice.

In my daily devotions or when I read the Bible, the words of the prophet or the Apostle Paul or Jesus are often so contrary to rational thinking or contemporary societal standards. I am challenged by the words they are speaking to me but I cannot immediately embrace and follow them.

Many “voices” that we hear create confusion and can lead us astray. Others offer wise counsel and solid advice. How do we discern which ones to follow and which to ignore?

The Bible tells us that Jesus is the Good Shepherd. If we are among His “sheep” and follow Him, we will recognize and listen to His voice. His instructions will guide us and guard in our living (John 10:26-28). His voice comes to us in many ways but if we are living in close relationship with Jesus, we can distinguish His voice from all others.

Jesus said He would not leave us to fend for ourselves. He promised to send One to be with us- an Advocate, a friend, a Counselor, a Helper- to lead us in the right way (John 14:15-18).

The hymn, In the Garden, reminds us that God is always available to walk with us and talk with us. Charles Austin Miles wrote the lyrics to that song in 1912. They simply affirm what the Scriptures tell us. And they are still true today.

Lord, help us to listen to your voice and turn a deaf ear to the voices that would lead astray.

Jamie Jenkins