Robin J Johnson
A few days into this new year my phone rang. “Hi Robin do you know who this is?” I had no idea. However, it soon turned out to be a very pleasant surprise, a call from an old friend who I had lost contact with and not spoken to, for far too many years to remember. After the usual greetings and pleasantries he asked me a question. “What is the Lord saying for 2024?”
Trying to think quickly of something specific in that moment I simply answered, “To be honest I don’t know.”
Yes, I know that doesn’t sound very spiritual, nevertheless, it was the truth and I’m comfortable with that. However, we did have a laugh and then talked about some of what it might be. This provoked me to think about what it is that the Lord’s saying and to consider if I am listening and hearing Him.
Though I am always asking Holy Spirit to lead me into all He has purposed for us, it also made consider and ask the question, “Do I actually need to hear something new from the Lord for 2024?” Is what we are presently pursuing sufficient, do I need to hear something different or simply conformation to stay on the course we are following along with an expectation for further growth?
These days it is not uncommon for some to emphasise certain things at the beginning of the new year. It maybe a prophetic word or a particular theme, etc, which is well and good. This helps set the tone for the year so to speak, especially if it’s a particular theme that one may wish to focus on.
Whether it is a theme for the year or a prophetic word to be guided by, importantly it is our constant and consistent daily pursuit of Jesus, throughout the year, when our ears remain tuned to hear what the Spirit is saying.
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; John 10:27 (NASB)
Early in the month I heard at least three different words for the year ahead from various sources. I noticed that each one was different. I suspect there are further ‘words’ ‘prophecies’ and ‘predictions’ out there; it’s a year of this and a year of that and so on. If a particular word speaks to you, then embrace it and let it be the motivation to spur you on to greater things in the days to come.
Though the words I came across varied, each one did not necessarily contradict the others. I am not saying any of them were wrong, but are they for me? There were aspects of each, which one could be encouraged with. Also we need to consider that the words were probably most relevant in the context and environment in which they were first delivered and to who they were spoken.
Recently someone enthusiastically shared a particular word that they felt was from the Lord and though I didn’t disagree or find anything wrong with what he said, neither did it particularly speak to me. However, in the context he presently ministers, raising and building up young people, what he said was very appropriate.
So I continued to ponder, “What’s the Lord saying for 2024?” Is there something specific? Is it personal or ministry related or something for the global church of Jesus Christ? There is a good possibility that there is something for all three areas. However, no matter what it is we should remind ourselves of one key and crucial element — When Holy Spirit speaks, the Lord’s expectation, without exception is, that we do something about what He says. (Hebrews 3:7-8; 15 & 4:7)
So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, Hebrews 3:7 (NIV)
Change is the Goal
When the Lord speaks it is always to bring about change, in one way or another, for our benefit and growth. To simply state, “I have heard from the Lord” then do nothing about it and not follow through by faith with obedient actions, is of no value at all. In fact it could be said, “To reason falsely.” Whether we are hearing from the Lord though His written word (Logos) or it is a specific word (Rhema) we must act.
But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. James 1:22 (NASB)
When there is a specific word that one believes is from the Lord, the hope is it will bless, encourage, edify and build up. For those who feel it speaks to them personally, then take it to heart, respond accordingly, seek change and grow as a result of following through by faith in His Word.
As The Passion Translation says,
“…So always let his Word become like poetry written and fulfilled by your life!”
The Holy Spirit is speaking to His church; we must have our ears tuned to hear His voice. We definitely must not shut down the prophetic, though I suspect in a number of local churches it is no longer prevalent or a priority as it once was.
Never restrain or put out the fire of the Holy Spirit. 20 And don’t be one who scorns prophecies, 21 but be faithful to examine them by putting them to the test, and afterward hold tightly to what has proven to be right. 22 Avoid every appearance of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 (TPT)
It is good that you are enthusiastic and passionate about spiritual gifts, especially prophecy. 1 Corinthians 14:1 (TPT)
An Unfolding Revelation
When I thought more about what the Lord was saying there was a sense that, for me, it has been unfolding over a period of time. In November last year there was a growing awareness that the Lord was speaking of new things to come in the days ahead, that there is a new sound arising; one of prayer, praise and worship, which will usher in and accompany a fresh new outpouring of His Spirit across the nations. It is time for strongholds to be broken! As it says in a portion of the song ‘Praise’ — “My praise is a weapon, it’s more than a sound. My praise is the shout that brings Jericho down.” (Elevation Music)
The apostle James spoke of the rebuilding of the ‘Tabernacle of David’ (Acts 15:15-18) and without doubt that continues. In our day it is time to see an increase, a new intensity in power evangelism riding on the crest of the wave of praise and worship to our God, exalting Jesus and magnifying His name.
On New Year’s Eve the Lord reminded me of a prophetic word from 1995, which spoke of things to come and a fresh wind of the Spirit blowing across the nations. It felt like Holy Spirit was using that to remind me of a new season, to observe and prepare for what is coming. There is a real sense of something on the horizon and in places it has already begun with individual churches grabbing hold of God with renewed vigour, entering in and letting this fresh wind of the Holy Spirit impact them.
Now is the Time
This is not the time to hold back or to be complacent or staying with what’s comfortable. There needs to be an intentional running into and taking hold of everything that the Lord is offering. These are not days for a token gesture, but an urgent cry to God for the rain of the Holy Spirit to fall afresh on us. Let it rain!
LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, LORD. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy. Habakkuk 3:2 (NIV)
Across the world it is obvious there are the signs of an increase in the shaking of nations, yet there is no need to be dismayed for our God is in control and His purpose will not be thwarted by any of the enemy’s plans. The devil is always trying disrupt and shut down the divine agenda. Our eyes and focus needs to be on the Lord. It feels like, once again, we are on the verge of another great move of the Spirit, a wave of glory sweeping across the world, awakening His church again and calling us to intentionally participate in the end time harvest.
He (Jesus) released them with these instructions: “The harvest is huge and ripe. But there are not enough harvesters to bring it all in. As you go, plead with the Owner of the Harvest to drive out into his harvest fields many more workers. Luke 10:2 (TPT)
Respond with Purpose
When a Word comes from the Lord it requires a response from us. We are not meant to remain stuck with the familiar, doing the same old things over and over, but we need to build on that which has gone before. We ought to be truely thankful for what has been and intensely hungry for the more to come. Our present is the stepping-stone into the new and receiving the more the Lord has planned for us. This will probably mean change, letting go of old patterns and structures, which are now hindering us to fully pursue and enter into the new. Let us encourage ourselves in the Lord, seek to be led by the Holy Spirit, be empowered by His fullness, step out by faith in serving Him and committed to seeing His purpose unfold and worked out in this world.
His destiny-plan for the earth stands sure. His forever-plan remains in place and will never fail. Psalms 33:11 (TPT)
Intentionally Involved in the Eternal Purpose
The central focus has not changed and our participation must always involve being entwined with the eternal purpose of the Kingdom of God. The words, the year’s theme etc may all be good and well intentioned, but they must never conflict with or contradict the eternal purpose of God. They must support and serve the eternal vision. Heaven’s priority remains unchanged — world evangelisation. The unreached must be reached! Church planting is still the most appropriate response and the task we all should be involved with.
During 2023 a united voice echoed around the world that launched a DECADE OF HARVEST.
“That every person on earth would have an authentic encounter with Jesus Christ through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, by Pentecost 2033.” (https://empowered21.com/)
This initiative driven by a collective voice of Spirit filled leaders from all over the world, is clearly an inspired partnership with the Holy Spirit, reminding us that it is still harvest time and the Lord’s priority to seek and save the lost has not diminished and neither should our commitment be any less. Whether corporately or personally, evangelism must be our first priority!
I refuse to be ashamed of sharing the wonderful message of God’s liberating power unleashed in us through Christ! For I am thrilled to preach that everyone who believes is saved—the Jew first, and then people everywhere! Romans 1:16 (TPT)
The apostle Paul’s declaration written to his generation is no less true for us today, as it was when written 2000 years ago.
Behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION” 2 Corinthians 6:2
The proclamation of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God must remain the priority of the Church of Jesus Christ. In a world of increasing conflict, man made wars, economic and political mismanagement, hunger and suffering, tyrannical leaders, and natural disasters, the Good News of Jesus Christ must be the prominent, clearest and the loudest sound coming out of every local church throughout the nations.
This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14