The Spoken Word


"The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary."

                                                                                    Isaiah 50:4


Most of us believe, at least in theory, that every follower of Jesus is given a ministry as soon as they begin to follow him.


Before Peter had any conception of what salvation was, he was already given a ministry. All Peter knew about himself, at the beginning, was that he was a sinful man.

Jesus doesn't say, "Ok, Peter, first of all, we have to get you born again and take you through the seven steps to salvation.. He simply says to Peter, "Don't be afraid, from now on you're going to be catching men."


All of us  who are serious about following Jesus, in spite of our hang-ups and our problems and all our unanswered questions, are given some kind of work.  We are called into His ministry.

Jesus never called us to simply sit in a pew.  He called us to come and get under His yoke, and work by His side.


But what does that mean?


We know that we are to make disciples, proclaim the gospel, reap a harvest, proclaim the kingdom of God. But specifically, what does that boil down to in our day after day living?


"The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him that is weary."


In a world where words are cheap, glib, and more often than not, false, we are sent out to bring people from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God by the power of the sheer spoken word.


... and there was given to him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found where it was written, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me


 to preach good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives,

and recovering of sight to the blind,

to set at liberty those who are oppressed,

to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord."           Luke 4: 17-19


All this was to be accomplished by means of speaking.


Jesus speaks, and the blind receive their sight, the captives are set free, the oppressed are given liberty.


Jesus' words had life in themselves, they burned with fire; they made things happen.


And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the Sabbath; and they were astonished at his teaching, because his word was with authority. And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon; and he cried out with a loud voice, "Ah! What do you have to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God." But Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be silent, and come out of him!" And when the demon had thrown him down in the midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. And they were all amazed and said to one another, "What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out."                                                                                                                           Luke 4: 31-36

Jesus speaks, things happen.


If He said to a person who was just beaten down with guilt, "Your sins are forgiven"then the stain of guilt disappeared.


If He said to a lame man, "Get up and walk," the lame man obeyed, with awe.


To the leper,"Be clean," and the leprosy is gone.


To the wind, "Be still," and it obeys.


To a man who had been unstable all his life Jesus says, "Now I'm going to call you Peter, the Rock," and from that instant, Peter took on the nature of a rock.


The Father had taught Him "to speak as one who is taught so that He might sustain with a word him who is weary."


His Word was Spirit – it was life.      


He spoke and the desert of the human heart began to flourish.


To this same ministry, we are called.


Down through the centuries the ministry of the spoken word has been reserved, too often for the "clergy," the 'professionals," the "ordained priesthood."  And there it has languished, so often,   in weakness, dullness and spiritual death.


The clergy would often site scriptures such as in Acts 6 where the apostles ordered 7 deacons to be chosen to look after the distribution of food.   "That we may devote ourselves to the ministry of the word and to prayer."


And so it sounds logical – "This is our job – we preach, and you guys take care of the food."


But look what happened to the people who looked after the distribution of the food:


Deacon Stephen was the first one to be stoned to death.                 

                        Why was he stoned to death?


                        ... For looking after food? No! For preaching!


Deacon Philip goes up to Samaria and preaches the word.  He goes down into the Gaza Strip and proclaims to an Ethiopian eunuch.


And he is not only called Deacon Philip, he is called Philip the Evangelist.


The ministry of proclaiming the word belongs to us all.


"And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the Word of God with boldness"



"These signs shall follow them who believe: In my name they shall cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues...


The indication that a person has received a heart of flesh for a heart of stone is that that person, man or woman, speaks with a new tongue –they now have the power "to sustain with a word him who is weary."


Notice, it's not just the power to quote scripture.


            The Pharisees could quote scripture too.


            The devil can quote scripture.


Nor is it eloquence: Some of the most deceitful and treacherous men and women on earth are eloquent.


Nor is it giving sympathy.


Nor is it uttering sentimentality.


Rather, the power to speak a word that brings somebody who is down back up into the light of God.


Once, when you were down, somebody spoke a word, which they themselves may not even remember; abut this word was like water refreshing the desert of your heart. It was like a five-ton load lifted off your back--- by the sheer power of the spoken word.


One evening a woman staggered into our Bible Study, sat down and sobbed like a broken-hearted child.  She was at the end of her endurance, and is seemed to her that the only thing left  for her was  to drive a knife into her heart and end her misery.  \


Now nobody walked up to her and gave her a thousand dollars.


            Nobody proposed marriage.


And yet, before the evening was over, this woman found the strength to make a new start.


People simply talked to her!


What they said to her quickened her hope.... gave her life ... sustained her.


This kind of redemptive power should be moving beyond the walls of our churches. 


We ought to be going out there with a word that is able to raise people our of their darkness, flood them with healing light, and give them hope


There are many people who will say: "Now you are going too far:……


That kind of powerful spoken word was reserved for the Son of God.


Jesus could do these things because he was the Son of God."


Jesus was the Son of God indeed. But remember Jesus had divested Himself of all His divine prerogatives – He had given them up – and had emptied Himself of all divine attributes and had come down and become a genuine human being.


He was not a docetic appearance – not just something that looked like a man, but was really God – He was God, but He was truly man.


There was nothing visible about Jesus that marked him as divine.


He was genuinely human, and every divine thing that he did, was done under the anointing of the same Spirit he has given us.


He spoke a word out of a human heart, through a human mouth with a human voice that raised the dead.  But he did it as a human being.


And the reason he was able to do these things as a human being was that as a human being, submissive to his Father in three areas:


First, he listened.

Jesus never spoke a single word that had not been given to him – he concentrated on speaking what his Father had to tell him.


Secondly, he prayed.

His ministry of the spoken word was sandwiched between times of intense prayer.

He did nothing without prayer.


Finally, , he concentrated on being a servant...

            Faithfully doing the cruddy jobs.

            Thirty years in despised Nazareth, building cabinets.

 Three and a half years speaking the word to Israel.


Jesus proclaimed the gospel to Israel, not as some "hotshot" celebrity, flying first class and eating in the best hotels.   Always  as one who was down at street level with the lowliest of men and women, ... a servant still.


If we are going to speak words that are going to bring healing to people, we need to concentrate on three things:


...listening ... praying ... and serving – down at the bottom level.


Firs, we have to learn to listen.


"The Lord has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I know how to sustain with a word him who is weary.

Morning by morning he wakens, he wakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. The Lord God has opened my ear and I was not rebellious..."


When you go to the scriptures, you go to the scriptures not to find a message for others, – you go to the scriptures for a word from God  for yourself.


Never ... never ... never read the scriptures with someone else in mind unless you are seriously interceding – otherwise you read the scriptures to hear something from God for yourself.

                        Lord, that's me.

                        Lord, I'm in that shape.

                        Lord, help me!


The scriptures are Mount Sinai, and you go up there to meet God.


The Bible is that hillside outside Capernaum – you go there to hear from Jesus.     


The Bible is Calvary – you go there to hear what the Lamb of God has to say.


We have to learn to truly, honestly, earnestly, consistently listen .


Secondly, if we are going to have a sustaining word on our tongue that is going to bring people up, bring them into the presence of God and heal them, we  have to learn to pray.


Who of us is truly satisfied that our prayer life is consistent, disciplined. focused?


Dwight Moody tells of a time when he kept crying out for the gift of the Holy Spirit.  One night, when he was in a New York hotel room the answer came.  The Spirit fell on him.  Moody found that, even when he spoke the identical message he had been delivering to the gatherings in the past, the word had an authority he had never experienced before.  And the response that came from the people astounded him.


Basically the baptism of the Holy Spirit is the baptism of prayer – the Spirit of God is the Spirit of prayer.  If the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you're not praying, then you have to ask if it's really the Holy Spirit.


Doubtless, what took place in Moody's life after that visitation was a discipline of prayer like he had never known.   Without a prayer life behind them, our words of witness have little power.


Finally, if we are going to have a word on our tongue that will sustain the weary, we need to learn to settle for the cruddy, low-profile, thankless jobs, and keep doing them all our lives.


Was Stephen "promoted" to preaching, as a reward for faithfully serving tables?   Who ever said that preaching is more important than serving tables!!   Who ever said that preaching is more significant that washing feet!!  


Serving, like prayer, is essential to the spoken word.  People who use their mouths "for the Lord" but never have time to wash their sister's feet, are useless the kingdom of God.


You can be sure that Stephen was faithfully serving tables right up to the day he was murdered. The message coming across his tongue had such power from God because he was a servant!


A dispute arose among them, which of them was to be regarded the greatest. And he said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them;  and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For which is greater, the one who sits at table, or the one who serves?  Is it not the one who sits at table? But I am among you as one who serves."                              Luke 22:24-27


There is a direct connection between the power of God on our tongues, and our willingness to do the dirty, thankless jobs thankfully.


...if you pour yourself out and satisfy the desire of the hungry and the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom shall be as noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your desire with good things, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.                                              Isaiah 58:10-11



"But my ministry is so important that I really don't have time to do those menial jobs that anyone can do. I need to be freed from them so I can do the things I've been gifted and equipped to do."


The minute any of us looks upon their ministry in that light, your ministry has become a bag of wind.  Until we are prepared to let our hands and feet become involved in labor, even to the point of getting them dirty, we will have nothing of value to offer from God's abundance..


The give of a new tongue belongs to those…


Who listen to the Master.

Who pray without ceasing.

Who are satisfied to remain simple servants.


"The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary."