Summary: What does God word actually do to us? It reveals God, It changes us, it brings fear, it brings hope, it brings grace, and other answers from this psalm.
The following is a full set of notes, including background information and quotes I used whilst preparing my sermon entitled, "The Reviving Power of God’s Word," which was preached at Jubilee Church on the 11th of March 2006. This sermon was the third part of a series on Revival. The earlier messages, "Revival" and "Reviving Prayer" are also available.
Much of this material was never designed to form part of the sermon — instead it is, if you like, part of the "iceberg" that lies beneath the surface supporting what I actually said. You can download the audio from
There is a series of adverts on TV that arrests me every time I see them. You see someone crying, hugging a loved one. Your heart goes out to them, even before you begin to hear the words of the commentary. But then the commentary starts, and if you are a big softie like me, you feel like you are about to cry — even if you have seen it before. The person says "when I was diagnosed with cancer . . ." For the first few seconds you hear about the terrible impact those words had on the individual. You can picture them in the doctor’s room. Then, the voice says, "Today I was told I have my life back." You suddenly realize that the person is crying for joy, not anguish, and in their tears a smile appears. You see the impact that a single sentence from a doctor can have.
We sometimes talk about “MERE words,” and yet SOME words mean everything — they can literally bring life and death. Words are powerful. They can steal away hope, and they can give it back again.
Words affect us all the time. I remember when I asked Andrée to marry me. I had shocked her by turning up earlier than she expected with a bunch of roses and a ring that I had designed. As I was kneeling there for what seemed like an eternity, first she laughed, then she cried, then she said, "No . . ." Fortunately, she meant this in disbelief rather than as a rejection! I just wanted to hear one word. That was all, one word. And if that word had been “no” and not “yes” I would have been a very different man!
If our words can feel like they take away life and give it back again, is it any wonder that God’s Words can do the same? It’s no wonder that Ravi Zacharias made the astute observation: "In the beginning was the Word, not video."
I love the following quote: ". . . in OT times the word was regarded as being alive, and so was portrayed as being sent out of the heart (mind/brain/mouth) of a living person, to leap to the goal at which it was directed. Then, when it arrived, it did the work of the speaker who had sent it forth, for it conveyed the power of the speaker to change the heart or the mind of the hearer of the word." 
We as Christians are a people who value words, although we live in a world that values image. Last week,at our joint celebration,we heard about how the image of God is actually described as the Word of God. It is hard to think of a stronger way that God could express Hs high view of “words” than that. The Bible — so-called "mere words" written down on a page — is what God has left us by which to know Him. The Bible is not God — we don’t worship it. But, as we read it, as we listen to it, the God of the Bible leaps off the page at us. These words shape us. They can save us. They teach us how to live, but more than that, they give us life.