In 2017, you must tune your ear more than ever before to the voice of the Lord. For in greater and greater ways, in tones clear and distinct, He is speaking to His people.
Of course, the Lord is forever speaking to us. But there are times when His speaking carries such weight and importance that we dare not miss a word. You and I are living in such times. The voice of the Lord is going forth, preparing the way for His coming. It is as Isaiah 40 says:
A voice of one who cries: Prepare in the wilderness the way of the Lord [clear away the obstacles]; make straight and smooth in the desert a highway for our God! Every valley shall be lifted and filled up, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the crooked and uneven shall be made straight and level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory (majesty and splendor) of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it. (verses 3-5 Amp.)
God’s Voice Brings Change
To understand those verses, you must realize that in Isaiah’s day, when a king decided to go on a journey, he would send servants ahead of him to prepare his way. They would travel the very road he planned to take, and as they went, they would fill in those places where the road had been washed away. They’d find the bumps and make them level so the king’s journey would be smooth and pleasant.
The coming of the King of Kings requires the same kinds of preparations. So God is sending His voice ahead of Him to make ready His highway. He is speaking divine words to the hearts of His people, and those words are be-coming like shovels and axes in our hands. As we believe them, speak them, and act on them, they are clearing a pathway for the Lord.
My how we’ve underestimated the power of God’s voice. We’ve thought that because it often comes to us as only a gentle prompting, a still, small word inside our heart, it has little effect. But that is not the case.
The voice of the Lord removes obstacles from our lives, obstacles that have hindered the flow of His Spirit through us. It tears down prideful attitudes in us that have caused us to be self-confident and self-sufficient instead of confident in God and in His sufficiency. It builds up the low places within us; it lifts us out of the pit of unworthiness and makes real to us the fact that in Christ Jesus we are the righteousness of God.
The Word of the Lord when spoken through our lips in prayer changes people, circumstances, even nations. Psalm 29 says:
The voice of the Lord is upon the waters; the God of glory thunders; the Lord is upon the many (great) waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty. The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; yes, the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon… The voice of the Lord splits and flashes forth forked lightning. The voice of the Lord makes the wilderness tremble…The voice of the Lord makes the hinds bring forth their young, and His voice strips bare the forests, while in His temple everyone is saying, Glory… The Lord will give [unyielding and impenetrable] strength to His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace. (verses 3-5, 7-9, 11 Amp.)
Notice that last verse. It says God will give us strength and peace. How? By His voice!
When we hear the voice of the Lord, it changes us inside. It dispels our fears and causes faith to arise in our hearts (Romans 10:17). The voice of the Lord also changes us on the outside. It causes us to talk differently and act differently.
If you read through the Bible and note the times it says God spoke or the Lord said, you’ll find that when God speaks, it sets men in motion.
Take the life of Noah, for example. Hebrews 11:7 says that “Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house.” When Noah heard the voice of the Lord, he didn’t just sit around saying, “Wow, isn’t that wonderful? I heard God!” No, he got moving. He started building the ark.
The same thing will be true for us this year. The voice of the Lord is going to set us in motion. It’s going to cause us to change—inside and out! It’s going to prepare us for the coming of the Lord!
In Quietness and Resting
For the voice of the Lord to do all those things for us, however, we must be able to hear it! And for us to hear it, we must make ourselves available to Him. We must take some time each day and give Him our undivided attention.
I know Christians who think they’re too busy to do that. They might say, “Well, I’m in ministry. I’m helping people day and night. The Lord just has to talk to me as I go.”
God addressed that kind of attitude in Isaiah 30 when He said to the Is-raelites:
For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: in returning [to Me] and resting [in Me] you shall be saved; in quietness and in [trusting] confidence shall be your strength. But you would not, And you said, No! We will speed [our own course] on horses! Therefore you will speed [in flight from your enemies]! You said, We will ride upon swift steeds [doing our own way!] Therefore will they who pursue you be swift…Blessed…are all those who [earnestly] wait for the Lord… (Isaiah 30:15-16, 18 Amp.)
Over the years, I’ve noticed that those who don’t take time to wait on the Lord aren’t able to hear His voice very distinctly. And, as a result, they make mistakes and Satan takes advantage of them.
Don’t let that happen to you this year. If you find you’re not clearly discerning the voice of the Lord, clear your schedule somewhat. Cancel some appointments, set aside the busyness of life and spend some time just focusing on the Lord. Spend time not just talking to Him—but listening to Him and waiting upon Him.
I have a book called All the Prayers of the Bible and there is a notation in it that says, “Very interesting how much God talks and man doesn’t.” If you’ll study the Scriptures, you’ll see that is true. You’ll see that the praying people in the Bible listened to God more than they spoke to Him, and that is why they enjoyed such great power in their lives.
Don’t Look for a Burning Bush
Recently, a great prophet of God said to me, “There is a talking with God. There is a fellowshipping with God. And there is a waiting on God. We’ve just barely done those things, so we’ve just barely gotten results.”
One of the reasons why we’ve just barely done those things is that we’ve been too impatient. We’ve been like those Israelites who wanted to speed along on their horses. We’ve wanted God to hurry up and give us our answer so we can get on with our plans.
But these days, we must have a dawning upon our soul. We must realize that God is not like this age. He is not like a computer that gives us a readout every time we punch in the code!
No, He speaks to us in His time and in His way. He speaks to us when we reverence Him enough to wait on Him. He speaks to us in that quiet resting place. And even then, He doesn’t usually speak like we want Him to. He doesn’t write on the wall or speak through a burning bush or a bolt of lightning.
He speaks quietly, in the stillness of our heart; and most often, He just gives us a simple word—short and to the point. Oh, but that word will make all the difference.
You can see that in the life of Peter. When he wanted to walk on the water, Jesus simply said to him, “Come” (Matthew 14:29). Jesus didn’t say, “Okay, Peter, if you’re going to walk, you’ll have to get the five-tape series on water walking. You’ll have to read all these confession sheets and then you’ll be ready.”
No, he said, “Come.”
And with that command came the faith Peter needed to fulfill it. With Jesus’ word came the power to respond.
Remember this, when God speaks to you, His word carries within it the power and the anointing you need to act on that word. But for you to receive that anointing, you must hear and respond to the voice of the Lord.
So determine now that no matter how busy you may be this year, no matter how many good activities you have planned, you will not allow them to crowd out the quiet times you spend with God.
Determine that, above all else, in the days and months to come, you will find that spiritual resting place and tune your heart to the voice of God’s Spirit.
If you do, I assure you, you will hear Him, for He is crying out now as never before. He is speaking to the hearts of His people and saying, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.”