Christianity 201

June 16, 2020

The Power of Words

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:33 pm
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We return today to David Kitz at I Love the Psalms. David has served as an ordained minister with the Foursquare Gospel Church of Canada. For several years now, he toured across Canada and into the US with a variety of one man plays for both children and adults. For further information visit:

Today’s article is part one of a three part series based on Psalm 33. I’ve linked parts two and three at the end of this piece. If you click the title below, you’ll also see some of David’s photography. These articles are publishing in book form later in the year. Follow his blog for details.

Made by the Word of the LORD

Reading: Psalm 33
(Verses 6-9)
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
He gathers the waters of the sea into jars;
he puts the deep into storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the L
let all the people of the world revere him.
For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm

Have you ever considered the creative power of words? Words change the world. They bring order out of chaos. Words shine the light of day into the darkness of this world. From the very beginning words have been imbued with divine power. The psalmist reminds us, By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.”

But it’s not only God’s words that have this vast power. Our words—human words, whether spoken written or thought have enormous power too. Adam’s first job assignment was to speak words—to name the animals. Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals (Genesis 2: 19-20).

Strangely, God didn’t do what every parent does. He didn’t tell Adam what the animals were called. Adam told God their names. By so doing, God vested mankind with the power of language. Life is what we call it. Our words describe the world and give meaning to it.

Through our words we bring order and make sense of the world around us. As a writer I am continually processing and attempting to make sense of this chaotic thing called life. I do it with words. From the beginning of time, by divine command that’s what we are called to do. We are to speak order into chaos— speak accuracy and clarity into this world’s muddled reality.

With our words we shine the light of truth onto a situation. With words we write laws, administer justice and design government. With words we woo and romance and vow our love to one another. Our words create imaginary realms into which we can travel—words that transport. With our words we have the power to elevate the human spirit, or crush someone to the point of suicide.

Finally, there is something innately prophetic about our words. What we think, speak and write is potent. It has within in it the latent ability to become reality. Therefore, we need to guard our lips. See James 3:1-12. The psalmist reminds us not only of the power of the word of the LORD, but also our own words. For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.

Response: LORD God, help me give careful consideration to my words. Today, may my words, whether written or spoken, be a creative force for good in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Your Turn: How has God used your words for good lately? Are your words bringing life and order out of chaos?

* New International Version, Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

This post by award-winning author David Kitz will be published in book format later in 2020 by Elk Lake Publishing under the title 365 Days through the Psalms.

January 16, 2017

On Speaking Things into Existence

As I grow older, one of the striking things about the distinctions between denominations is not the doctrinal beliefs per se, but rather the terminology used which differs from church to church. For many of you as well, the phrase speaking things into existence probably sounds like something you would hear in a Charismatic or Pentecostal context. The implied message in these congregations is that this is something we can do.

The origin of the phrase begins in Romans 4:17

As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed–the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not. (NIV)

On a forum at Biblical Hermenuetics the challenge is spelled out:

Rom 4:16-17:

That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring — not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations” — in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. (ESV)

This last part reads, in NA-28:

καλοῦντος τὰ μὴ ὄντα ὡς ὄντα

I’m having a hard time arriving at the English given above (which is consistent with most translations [but see below]), which seems to entail a reference to creation ex nihilo. The phrase is literally something like:

calling that which is not being as being

Unclear to me are both the meaning of καλέω (to call) is this context and the meaning of the ὡς + participle construction, which seems most often to indicate “as [if] being/doing X”.2 Interestingly, the KJV gives:

and calleth those things which be not as though they were.

While this English isn’t exceptionally clear, I at least understand how it relates to the Greek…

I decided to investigate this verse in various commentaries.

  • The NIV Study Bible reminds us that the context in Romans 4 is Abraham, and notes that the birth of Isaac is an example of God creating out of nothing.
  • The Evangelical Commentary on the Bible (p. 934) continues this theme. Paul “introduces the historical fact that God in his mysterious providence and testing kept Abraham and Sarah waiting for the fulfillment of the promise of a son until long after human conception and birth was physical possibility, thereby heightening the miracle of the event and the absolute necessity of faith. It was Abraham’s trust in God as true to his word in spite of appearances and the fact that he “was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God.”
  • The Eerdman’s Bible Commentary (p. 1024) notes that the speaking things into existence is a divine attribute and that actually two are listed, the other being giving life to the dead. Clearly, this isn’t necessarily something we can do.
  • The International Bible Commentary (p. 1325) reminds us that God “can both renew life and issue his creative call.” There is a reference to Isaiah 41:4 “Who has performed and accomplished it, Calling forth the generations from the beginning? ‘I, the LORD, am the first, and with the last. I am He.'” (NASB)
  • The Wycliffe Bible Commentary (p. 1125) spends a little longer with this verse: “This is the Lord’s power to create. It could also easily be translated: God calls into being what does not exist as (easily as he calls) that which does exist. No mortal can comprehend the divine creative power. The bringing of animate and inanimate objects into existence and their maintenance is God’s activity . The nature of the objects may be discussed — mind, matter, energy — but the why and how of their existence can be known accurately only to the extent that the Lord reveals them.

At the website Heartland, we’re presented with a much longer Bible study on the subject of God speaking things into existence which focuses on three examples:

  1. Creation
  2. Sin (an interesting concept to consider; I had to read this one twice)
  3. Salvation

…So can we speak things into existence?

I started out by saying this verse gives birth to certain phrases commonly in use in certain types of churches. Please don’t get me wrong, I believe we are to ask God to increase our faith. I believe we are to pray in faith. I believe in a God of miracles. But I’m not sure its right to import particular words or expressions into situations they were never meant to address. It certainly sounds spiritual to speak of “speaking it into existence” but it might be misappropriation of that particular verse.

In a sermon this fall, Willow Creek Discipleship Director Rick Shurtz said, “If you have to speak it into existence you’re not trusting God, you’re playing God.”





































March 19, 2013

A Good Name

Filed under: Uncategorized — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:23 pm
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18-20 Walking along the beach of Lake Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers: Simon (later called Peter) and Andrew. They were fishing, throwing their nets into the lake. It was their regular work. Jesus said to them, “Come with me. I’ll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass.” They didn’t ask questions, but simply dropped their nets and followed.

Matthew 16:18 (NLT)

18 Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.

38 And Peter answered them, Repent (change your views and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it) and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of and release from your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Sticks and stones will break your bones… but a good name will build you up and strengthen you.  Today’s study on the life of Peter first appeared in January at the blog Backseat Writer.  Here’s the link to read at source.

It started with a name change.  A holy name change.

Well, actually, it started before that, maybe we should start at the beginning, in Matthew 4:18-20.  It says, “As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.  ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.”

Simon called Peter?  Who called Simon, “Peter”?  Why does the gospel writer Matthew, the ex-tax collector, make this distinction about his fellow disciple?

Simon was also known as Peter.  In fact, he was probably only known by his nickname “Peter” or “Petros” to the Jewish audience in which the Gospel of Matthew is directed.  Matthew is saying, “You know Peter?  Well, he wasn’t always called, ‘Peter.’”  But we’ll get to that later…

After Jesus called Simon, Andrew and some other guys to His ragtag gang, He healed a multitude of sick people.  Jesus then preached what became known as the “Sermon on the Mount,” which includes the “Lord’s Prayer” that we say every week in church.  As Jesus spoke and taught and loved and healed, Simon watched.

Simon’s own mother-in-law was healed from a fever, two demon-possessed men’s minds and bodies were freed from their oppression.  When their tiny boat was tossed on an angry sea, Simon wondered, marveled really, at who Jesus was—that even the wind and waves obeyed Him.  I’m sure this particularly interested the Simon the former fisherman, who was used to the wiles of the sea.

The disciples traveled on a boat when another storm happened upon them.  Then they saw Jesus walking on the water!  Instead of staying in the boat, Simon jumped out walked on the water with Jesus.  His faith faltered and he started to drown.  This won’t be the first time we see Simon Peter’s disbelief, and it won’t be the last time we see Jesus’ great mercy in saving Simon.

On dry land, Simon witnessed Jesus raise a girl from the dead and helped hand out a few dry fish and loaves of bread to over 10,000 people.  Not just one, but twice.

He saw his rabbi–his teacher–questioned again and again by the Pharisees.  He saw followers come and go.  Along with the other disciples, Simon heard, saw, tasted, smelled, and experienced much.

So when we come to Matthew, chapter 16, and Jesus asked his disciples in verse 13, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” we know the disciples should have a good answer.

“Some say John the Baptist,” answered one.  (By this time, John the Baptist had been beheaded by Herod Antipas because John made his girlfriend angry.)

“Elijah,” quipped another.

“I heard Jeremiah!” offered a third.

“Actually, any one of the prophets,” mused the fourth.

Here is where I imagine Jesus looked intently at each one of these twelve men.  He asked, “But, you, who do you say that I am?”

Simon said, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God!”

I think Jesus smiled as he said this part, verse 18 in The Message translation, “Blessed are you, Simon! And now I’m going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock. This is the rock on which I will [build] my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out.”

Peter in Greek is “Petros” which means “detached rock” or “single rock,” while “petra” which you may also hear means “bed of rock.” (Petra is also the name of an 80’s/90’s Christian rock band.  I know some of you were thinking that!)

What happens to “The Rock” after this?

In the next section, Peter told Jesus the Messiah to stop teaching about His death and resurrection because it will never happen.  Peter was upset that the Messiah would die, which is not part of Peter’s plan.  He wanted the Messiah to redeem the Jews from Roman oppression, but we know that Jesus had a much bigger plan—to redeem all mankind.

Peter also saw more miracles, more healing, more wonders, and it all came to a climax with Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, which we celebrate as “Palm Sunday.” We know what’s coming.

We know that Jesus washed Peter’s feet and we know that Peter cut off a soldier’s ear while attempting to protect Jesus from being arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Much to Peter’s chagrin, Jesus healed the soldier’s ear and still, Jesus is taken away.

There were two mock trials, and then there was Peter’s bitter betrayal—his refusal to be counted as one of Jesus’ followers, even though he spoke like a country boy with his Galilean accent and even though he was seen with Jesus.  “No, I don’t know the man,” he yelled and then the rooster crowed.  Scripture says Jesus looked right at Peter.  I believe Jesus looked right through him.

Some “rock”!  Then again you can’t exactly be the rock of the New Testament church with a dead messiah…that is, unless Jesus’ teaching about dying and coming back in three days was true.

We all know what happens, don’t we?  Jesus’ resurrection and Peter’s later restoration.

Then in Acts 2, we see a new man—an emboldened Peter talked in front of thousands on the day of Pentecost, after Jesus’ ascension into Heaven.  The Holy Spirit had just come upon the disciples and they preached in various language.

Peter calmed the crowd and then delivered this stunning testimony, in verses 22-24, “Fellow Israelites, listen carefully to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man thoroughly accredited by God to you—the miracles and wonders and signs that God did through him are common knowledge—this Jesus, following the deliberate and well-thought-out plan of God, was betrayed by men who took the law into their own hands, and was handed over to you. And you pinned him to a cross and killed him. But God untied the death ropes and raised him up. Death was no match for him.”

In verse 41 we learn the results of Peter’s bold teaching, “Those who accepted his [Peter’s] message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.”

Simon.  Petros.  The Rock.

The name says it all.  Jesus saw Simon’s potential, his calling and with ONE WORD—Petros—Jesus told Simon Peter who he could be, what he would become—the rock on which New Testament church was founded.  A single rock testifying about Jesus, the Solid Rock.

From simple fisherman to bold preacher, it started with one word—a name given to Simon from the mouth of God.

Amy Sondova