It is important to take a few moments to see the history of the power of the spoken word, and how it all got started. Let's go back to the beginning in Genesis 1.
God said on the first day, "Let there be light," and there was light (Genesis 1:3). (There it is — the first spoken word!)
God said on the third day, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear" (Genesis 1:9).
Then on the sixth day God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness ..." (Genesis 1:26).
Take note! The first thing God did with Adam and Eve was to speak a blessing upon them: "God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it' " (Genesis 1:28).
What an amazing time it must have been for Adam and Eve to enjoy God's presence in the perfect world of the Garden of Eden. They were completely free from fear and they could talk face-to-face with God. Not one bad word was spoken until ...
"Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, 'Did God really say, "You must not eat from any tree in the garden"?' " (Genesis 3:1, emphasis added).
Satan, by his words, twisted God's instructions and created doubt in the mind of Eve. He tempted both Adam and Eve to sin. However, even though they were ushered out of God's perfect environment, God didn't stop communicating with mankind. You might remember a few examples:
- He spoke to Noah regarding building the ark in Genesis 6.
- He spoke to and through Moses to establish the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20.
- He spoke through the prophets of the Old Testament and John the Baptist in the New Testament.
- Most importantly, God sent Jesus to fulfill His Word: "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us" (John 1:14).
Throughout Jesus' ministry, words were a powerful part of His effect on the world. Yes, we can quickly recall His amazing miracles and His death and resurrection, but what He said during those times has powerfully influenced the lives of millions of people for more than two thousand years! A few examples of this can be found in the following Bible verses:
- Jesus said to His disciples, "Let the little children come to me! Never send them away! For the Kingdom of God belongs to men who have hearts as trusting as these little children's" (Luke 18:16, TLB).
- When He was on the cross He said: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34).
- Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away" (Luke 21:33).
- In His ascension, "While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven" (Luke 24:51).
I would love to know what words of blessing Jesus spoke over His disciples that day of ascension. Scripture says they returned with great joy to Jerusalem, so I can just imagine what He must have said!
God's written Word reminds us how much God wants to bless us, as well as how we are called to bless others: "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing" (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
Blessings Lead to Celebration
Webster's Online Thesaurus lists these related terms to "keep" or to "celebrate": honor, praise, bless, revere or consecrate. (Can you believe it? Blessing and celebration are synonymous!)http://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/keep) As I [Doreen] was researching the word celebration in the Bible, I recognized that all celebration started with and comes from the heart of God. It is evident that our Heavenly Father loves to celebrate and bless His children.
As mentioned earlier, when God created Adam and Eve, He blessed them. He celebrated what He had made and wanted many more people to bless, as His blessing was "to be fruitful and multiply." This brings to mind how people experience the joy of newborn babies. We celebrate what has been made in our image, and from that point on, we begin to bless them!
When God brought His people out of Egypt, the first thing He called them to do was to celebrate. And in Exodus 23:14–16, God commanded that His people should keep three celebrations in His honor:
- The first is the Feast of Unleavened Bread — today this is called the Passover. The Passover is still celebrated yearly as a reminder in the Jewish community of their rite of passage. God took them from slavery in Egypt, through the parted waters of the Red Sea and into the Desert of Shur (freedom).
- The second is the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits at the beginning of the harvest.
- The third is the Feast of Ingathering, celebrating the bounty gathered at the end of the harvest.
God's heart of celebration is a reminder that we truly must be created In His image, because we, like God, love to party! Isn't it interesting how, between the U.S. government and Hallmark Corporation, they have created many days for us to celebrate?
January: New Year's Day (It is truly a rite of passage celebrating the step from the old year into the new one.) and Martin Luther King Jr. Day
February: Presidents Day and Valentine's Day
March: St. Patrick's Day
April: Easter (This is another passage — from death to life!)
May: Mother's Day, Memorial Day and the National Day of Prayer
June: Father's Day
July: Fourth of July (Another passage — from bondage to freedom!)
September: Labor Day
October: Halloween (or Harvest Parties) and Boss's Day
November: Veterans Day and Thanksgiving
With a quick search on the Internet, one can find more than three million opportunities to celebrate something. Doesn't it seem much more logical to celebrate personal moments in a powerful way that can breathe life into a young person's heart and future? As you grew up, did your cheerleaders in life (family, friends, teachers and coaches) remember your significant moments with celebration?
A new year, a graduation, a birthday or an anniversary — all such events mark a rite of passage.
Think back in your own life. What word of encouragement or affirmation spoke life and hope into your heart? Was it a comment from your mother? A high-five or "Way to go!" from your dad? A hug and kind whisper from your grandmother or grandfather? Perhaps a teacher or a coach complimented your character or talent? Maybe it was a pastor or youth worker who took the time to give words of encouragement?
Take a moment to jot down 10 nice things that you remember an adult saying to you when you were between the ages of 10 and 21.
If you could list 10, you are fortunate, and you will likely want to repeat the gift of words in the life of a young woman (or women) in your world. If you cannot list 10, you may even more strongly sense the need to be an encouraging adult in the life of a young woman. You can offer words of affirmation and set up opportunities for others to give her powerful, life-giving words of encouragement, too.
In addition, for many young women, the first prom serves as a pseudo-rite of passage, and we relegate this vital duty to a 14- to 18-year-old boy who may or may not have the best interest of the "princess" in mind. How much more valuable it is to celebrate a young woman's life through a rite-of-passage experience and celebration ceremony in the company of adults, leaders and friends speaking truth and encouragement to her.
We believe it is in the nature of every culture to celebrate significant moments in life. A ceremony defines a moment and helps a young woman embrace her family, church and friends who will come alongside her as she ventures into her future. A ceremony also solidifies her decisions and requires accountability — both are key in holding her to her commitment to live as a daughter of the King.