While driving down Route 63 in Maple Glen, Pa., I saw a church with a sign out front that said, "TAKE CAPTIVE EVERY THOUGHT TO OBEDIENCE TO CHRIST." I liked that. The Spirit resonated with my spirit, and it stuck with me all day.
A church in Oreland, Pa., had this sign: "WE LIVE BY FAITH NOT BY SIGHT." It was from God's mouth to my ears, prompting an instantaneous self-check for vague feelings of anxiety that indicated I had slipped away again from my resting place in Christ.
I am happy when churches make the most of their real estate that way. God's Word does not return to Him empty but always changes the heart, one way or another. Whether on a billboard or a bumper sticker, it can do a mighty work. I have noticed that if I speak a word of Truth to my daughter, even if it is not welcomed at the moment, it works on her. I can tell. And so I speak with confidence. This does not mean necessarily that everyone who hears the Word of God accepts it. But the person will not walk away unchanged.
I will go even further. When we say to a person sincerely, "God bless you," or "Have a blessed day," I believe that those words also carry a spiritual power. As they are released into the ether, they hasten to accomplish their end in a way analogous to God's own fiat, as in "Let there be light." This power we have to call down blessings on others is, I think, part of that "binding and loosing" privilege we were bequeathed when at our conversion we were transported from the realm of the common to the realm "in Christ."
And so, the Apostle Paul does not begin his letters idly when he says to the churches, "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 1:3). We must resist the temptation of our de-spiritualized culture to see that salutation as being on the same level with other common worldly greetings. The Christian's words, partaking of the divine nature as we are (2 Peter 1:4), run forth to accomplish "grace and peace." This peace is such a real commodity in the spiritual realm (and not the hollow and ineffectual wish we moderns think it to be) that Jesus even told His disciples they could take it back if the intended recipients proved unworthy (Luke 10:5-6)!
In our day we are so used to meaning-deflation that it may strike us at first as a fanatical idea that words should have such potency. Even some people with greater appreciation for the power of words-who know that they can wound every bit as much as "sticks and stones"-tend to see this power only in the natural, not in the supernatural.
And yet the Bible is full of proof of the supernatural dimension of spoken words. Zechariah told Israel to notice how the words of the old prophets had finally "overtaken" them (Zechariah 1:6). The Apostle John posts a solemn blessing at the front door of his Revelation for all who enter in good faith: "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy" (1:3). "Ah, but only prophets wield such powerful words," someone will object. True, but now we are the prophets (Revelation 19:10).
God loves the sound of His own Word so much that He blesses it when He hears it on our lips. The very presence of God in a specific situation is directly related to the practice of worship and the speaking of His Word. Oh the resources He is ready to release, and the glory He is waiting to manifest, when we enthrone Him in our conversation! Let's have more signs like that on our church lawns. A far better choice than announcements of Bingo and a Flea Market.