Spring used to be one of my favorite seasons until my husband joined the local volunteer fire department. Spring is now spent on my knees in prayer over him. Last year, we had several large fires that burned a combined total of 457,000 acres in a matter of days. The first one that burned 400,000 acres started in Oklahoma and made a path well into Kansas, causing hot spots for weeks after. They were caused by small sparks on windy days, which carried the destruction. These fires caused my husband to miss several days of work, and sleep. He would head home after being relieved only to receive a call that another fire had started somewhere else. After hearing what caused these fires, I remember thinking, “That small spark caused that big fire?”
“The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell” (James 3:6, NIV). Which tells us our tongues are like the spark that caused that big fire.Our tongues steer the course of our life and can cause the outcome of our future. With our mouths we prophesy life or death, blessing or cursing. In James 3:9:10, we are told that our tongues are rather double-minded. We bless and curse. As children of God, the only thing that should come out of our mouths is blessing. Blessing is speaking increase, success, and life.
We are given many examples in James 3 about bits controlling horses and rudders controlling ships. Our tongues control our bodies; we go in the direction of our words. “Do our words matter that much?” one might ask.
Proverbs 18:20-21 tell us the importance of our words:
“From the fruit of his mouth a man’s stomach is filled; with the harvest from his lips he is satisfied. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
This verse tells us that our words hold the power of life and death. What we speak, we eat the fruit of. Notice that it says “with the harvest of his lips…” A harvest is always increase, it is never decrease. You have more at the end of your harvest than you planted with.
One afternoon, my husband and I received a call that there were cows out. We hopped into the pickup and took off. A few miles out of town, he began to pull off the road. When I asked what he was doing, he said he had lost his steering, he thought maybe he jumped a belt. In that moment, I knew I had two choices—I could either speak life over the situation, or I could speak death. I began praising God for His protection and His provision. I thanked Him that He supplies all of our needs.
We called a friend of ours who is a mechanic and he headed our way. While we were waiting, we continued to praise Him. Our friend had discovered that the pulley system had busted and our belts jumped off. He told us to have it towed to his shop, so we called another friend who owned a towing company and they came to tow the truck to the shop. We called the insurance company to let them know what was going on and found out that my husband’s pickup has roadside coverage, so the cost of the tow would be covered. On top of that, the truck was done by 5:30PM that same day.
Had I chosen to speak death, the rest of my day would have been set. No matter what would happen, my previous prophecy of death would have carried me through the rest of the day. Instead of thinking and assuming I knew what was going to happen, I chose to thank God that He knew what was wrong and it would be fixed.
Brother Keith Moore from Faith Life Church in Branson, MO has a saying concerning our words:
“If you say so, it’ll be so.”
If I would have said ‘this is not going to be fixed easily, and it’s probably going to cost an arm and a leg. Right now, we don’t have that arm and a leg.” I bet that would have been the case.
“The enemy desires us to speak death over our lives because it gives him the access he needs to wreak havoc in our lives.”1
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…” (John 10:10).
The enemy can only steal, kill and destroy when we give him access. Brother Moore brings up an example found in Psalm 12:1-4. He then goes on to say the following:
“If He is not Lord of your tongue, He is not Lord over your life. Moving from death to life begins with a submitted tongue.”2
“That if you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
God desires us to speak words of life so that He has the access to bring to pass the blessings of His promises. “But does God really listen to our conversation? I know He hears our prayers, but surely He is too busy to listen to our conversations.”
Psalm 94:9 says the following, “Does He who implanted the ear not hear? Does He who formed the eye not see?”
And Isaiah 59:1,“Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear.”
We are given an example of the Israelites in Numbers 13. We read about 12 Israelite spies who were sent to check out the land they were to inherit. In verse 27, they came back with an account:
“They gave Moses this account: ‘We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit” (Numbers 13:27).
However, the next verse indicates what they are going to speak about the situation before them.
“But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there” (Numbers 13:28).
The first word out of their mouth was filled with fear and doubt. They talked about their enemies and exalted their strength above the abilities of the the Israelites. Even after Caleb encouraged them by saying,
“We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it” (Numbers 13:30).
They were still intimidated by their enemies, and to make matters worse, they began to speak negatively about their size, saying that they seemed like grasshoppers in their own eyes and to the eyes of the enemy (Numbers 13:33).
In the words of Brother Moore: “If you say so”.
The negative words of the spies set the course for the rest of the day. In Numbers 14, the people began to complain and grumble, saying that they should just go back to Egypt. I’m sure the thought of the Lord hearing their words were far from their minds. Here’s the interesting and convicting part: they didn’t get to possess their promised land.
“The Lord replied, ‘I have forgiven them, as you asked. Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the Lord fills the whole earth, not one of the men who saw my glory and the miraculous signs I performed in Egypt and in the desert but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times— not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their forefathers. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it” (Numbers 14:20-23).
The Israelites didn’t get to possess their Promised Land because they complained and grumbled, disobeyed and showed contempt for the Lord. There are many times, as I move into a new season, that I spend more time complaining and grumbling because of what I have to endure, instead of praising and preparing to conquer the land before me. Caleb and Joshua, however, were the two who got to lead another generation of Israelites into the Promised Land, because they spoke life over the situation before them.
“For, whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech” (1 Peter 3:10).
If our words hold the power of life and death, and we’ve been raised to a new life in Christ Jesus (Colossians 2:12), our focus should be on speaking words that edify, words of life. Each time we speak, we prophesy over our lives. Not only that, but over others and their situations, too. To prophesy means to declare what will happen in the future. In the book of Ezekiel, we see the powerful words of prophetic life over a valley of dry bones. As the word of the Lord came to Ezekiel, he would prophesy over the valley of bones. As a result, there arose a great army for the Lord (Ezekiel 36 and Ezekiel 37).
I grew up with a negative mindset, believing that everything I did would fail. I struggled in some classes and I let some teachers define me by that grade. It made me determined to prove them wrong, but I didn’t know how to go about it; so I settled with believing them and speaking what they spoke over me.
As I grew and began to excel in other areas of schooling, I carried with me the decrees of failure from my grade school teachers. When people tried to compliment me, when they spoke words of life, I would make excuses as to why they were wrong. It wasn’t until my mom said to me: “You are discrediting their word, making them out to be a liar. All you have to do is say thank you.” From that moment on, I did just that, even though I didn’t believe I was worth something. However, it opened the door to life being spoken over me, and the prophetic declarations of life came to pass. When you speak words of death, you slam the door to life.
It is as simple as changing one word. Brother Moore says that “when you speak one negative word, you are making plans to receive it, you’re extending faith for death.”3
An example of changing a word in conversation could include something like:
“I’ve never been any good at math.” (death)
“In the past, I was not good at math.” (life)
You are changing your words from prophesying death over your future, to putting it in the past where it belongs. You have the mind of Christ, who says that you can’t learn math and be better at it than you were before? Our words steer the course of our life and change the outcome in many circumstances. When we choose to speak words of death, we choose to speak the language of the enemy and allow him access into our life. As a result, we don’t possess the Promised Land. However, when we choose to speak words of life and say what He says, we activate the Lord working in our lives and begin to step forward into possessing our Promised Land.
[1Keith Moore, The Power of the Tongue (Branson, MO: Faith Life Church, December 2010).