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By Jennifer Gerelds, Aleksey Ivanov, Olga Ivanov
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2014 Thomas Nelson
All rights reserved.
His Love Makes Us Strong
We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him.
THE GARDEN OF EDEN WAS ONE PERFECT GARDEN. Out of absolutely nothing, God created the most amazing universe. Incredible animals and colors and sounds and smells. Everything was picture-perfect and ran right on time, in just the right way, exactly how I wish life would be.
But life isn't perfect anymore, is it? No matter how hard I try, I just can't get everything to work out like I planned! That's because sin entered God's perfect world. God created the world's first people, Adam and Eve, in His own image. They got to live in that beautiful garden and have a perfect relationship with God! But then Eve believed Satan instead of God and talked Adam into disobeying God too. Suddenly, it was like someone poured dark ink over the beautiful picture God had made. Life seemed ruined.
My little sister accidentally poured paint over one of my best paintings one time, so I can kind of imagine how God must have felt. But God had an awesome way of painting over Adam and Eve's sins with the perfect solution.
Before Eve entered the scene, God had already been busy. With His word, He made the universe burst into being. On the first day, He made day and night. On day two came the the sky. He zeroed in on the earth for day three and made oceans and mountains, forests and deserts. He filled the pastures with green grass and a rainbow of flowers. On the fourth day, the sun, moon, and stars first appeared in the sky.
And then came the creatures! On day five, birds were flying through the skies and fish were diving in the oceans. And on the sixth day, animals began crawling and running and leaping across the grass. But God had something even more amazing to make ... people! In His own image, God made Adam from the dirt of the ground and breathed life into him. God made Eve next, from Adam's own rib when he was in a deep sleep.
Imagine what Eve saw when her eyes first fluttered open. There was Adam, the first man God had made. Then she looked around and saw all the beauty in the garden of Eden. It must have been awesome. I bet it took her breath away!
Eve, the first woman ever created, was perfect—just like the creation around her. So what happened? Why isn't our world like God made it in the beginning?
Although the garden was filled with yummy fruit trees to eat from, God had warned Adam and Eve that they would die if they ate from one of the trees in the center of the garden, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God gave them the chance to make choices, good or bad.
Satan, God's enemy, decided that forbidden tree was the perfect place to trick Eve. So, in the form of a snake, Satan slithered to the tree and told Eve a lie. "You won't die like God said if you eat this," Satan said. "You'll just become smart like God."
This fruit does look really good, Eve thought. So she ate the forbidden fruit and gave some to Adam. Then everything changed. Immediately, she and Adam were ashamed they had no clothes on, so they sewed fig leaves together to cover up. Then they hid when they heard God coming. Not looking very brave at all, Eve was shaking, scared at what God would do when He saw the mess she had made.
Adam and Eve's disobedience had some big consequences. Death and sadness and pain entered the world, hurting all of creation. Adam and Eve had to leave the garden, and the perfect place wasn't perfect anymore.
The good thing is God didn't leave Adam and Eve—He loved them too much, and He had a plan. Many, many years later, God sent His own Son, Jesus, to earth. As God and man, Jesus would live the perfect life that no one else could. Then He would die to cover Eve's sins—and mine, and yours, and everyone else's who trusts Him! Better still, He would rise from the dead. He fought sin and won!
Faith says ...
Wow! I can't imagine what all Eve must have felt. I have a hard enough time when I lose my temper or say something mean to my sister. Sometimes I get so frustrated with myself that I don't want to try to do things right anymore.
I guess that's why I think Eve was so brave. She made a horrible decision that hurt her, Adam, and the rest of the world. But Eve kept going, and God helped her!
Eve reminds us that no sin or bad choice is too big for God to cover. His love outshines our not-so-good days, and even though we're not perfect, He promises us forgiveness through someone who is perfect—Jesus! I'm so glad we belong to a God like that.
Lord, help me have faith that You will always love me, forgive me, and take care of me. Amen.
The Life Saver
The Lord God helps me. So I will not be ashamed. I will be determined. I know I will not be disgraced.
I'M SURE IT WAS TOUGH FOR NOAH AND ALL. I mean, everybody around him was doing wrong things and making bad decisions. I bet nobody was like, "Hey, Noah, I think you're really smart for building a big boat on dry land with no water in sight." I bet the jokes got pretty old in the years it took to build that giant ark.
But I think it also had to be rough for Noah's wife. She had to trust that God was able to lead her through her husband, and she had to stand by Noah even when others thought he was nuts. And don't you know the ladies around town whispered when she walked down the street!
Some historians think Noah's wife might have been named Emzara, but the Bible doesn't let us know for sure. But we do know she was brave enough to ignore the God-haters around her and do what was right instead. She got in the boat without a raindrop in sight.
Imagine living in a place where you were scared to walk out your front door. That's how it was for Noah and his family. Everyone around them was doing horrible things. Violence was everywhere. I bet it was like what we hear in the news sometimes about people getting robbed and killed. But those days were worse—everyone's thoughts were filled with evil. Everyone, that is, except Noah and his family.
Now, I don't know why Noah was a good man when no one else was. But he decided to stick with God and stay away from everybody else. Boy, did God notice! God had enough of the violence and evil. He told Noah, "People have made the earth full of violence. So I will destroy all people on the earth."
But God had a very strange plan to save Noah and his family, along with every species of animal. He told Noah to build a boat—in the middle of a very dry land. Not a small boat that he could hide from everybody. God wanted a huge ark that could hold all those animals, their food, and Noah's family of eight (that would be Noah and his wife, their three sons, and their sons' wives).
The Bible stays quiet about what Noah's wife had to say about all this. But we do know she went right onto that ark with all those loud and smelly animals without a single recorded temper tantrum—I know I could not have done that. I'm sure I would've had a major fit!
Excerpted from Brave Girls by Jennifer Gerelds, Aleksey Ivanov, Olga Ivanov. Copyright © 2014 Thomas Nelson. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
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