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the women's DEVOTIONAL guide to the BibleA One-Year Plan for Studying, Praying, and Responding to God's Word
By Jean E. Syswerda
Nelson BooksCopyright © 2007 Jean E. Syswerda
All right reserved.
Chapter OneWeek One
An Incredible Beginning
Monday Reading the Word Genesis 1-3
With miraculous and spectacular action, God created, separating light and darkness, land and sea, earth and sky. No one watched. No one applauded. Only God knew what He had done and what was to come. With simple words and a creative energy that could only come from Almighty God, planets, sun, moon, animals, plants, birds, and fish appeared. Then on the sixth day, God's final creative plan unfolded as He formed a man, Adam, and then later a woman, Eve. Each day as God surveyed His work, He nodded His head in approval and said, It is good. For six days God worked, then on the seventh day He took a rest.
Soft breezes blew over rich soil and lush meadow. Luxuriant trees and plants grew with abandon as the sun shown down by day and the moon by night. In their private garden, Adam and Eve lived a life of perfection and intimacy with God, a life filled with pleasure and satisfaction.
Then, in the midst of that beauty and goodness, came an interloper-a liar who shattered peace and harmony by tempting Eve and then Adam to disobey God. And all was lost-or was it?
This all-powerful God, who created your earthly home, is also all-loving. He recognized the sin of Adam and Eve, but He responded with loving action and careful punishment rather than heavy-handed vengeance.
THE MAIN POINT
Genesis 1-3 is the beginning, the story of firsts. The first chapters of the Bible record the first days of Creation, the first human beings, the first relationship between God and humans, the first husband-wife team, the first encounter with Satan and ensuing sin, and the first punishment for sin.
Genesis 1-For centuries, scholars have debated whether God created the world in seven literal, twenty-four-hour days. Or are the days figurative for longer periods of time? The debate rages, with both sides making good points. Whatever your position on the issue may be, you can praise God today for making the miraculous, creative, and beautiful world in which you live.
Genesis 3:7-Have you ever given any thought to the sad words of Genesis 3:7? "They knew that they were naked" (NKJV). With the entrance of sin into the world came also the entrance of shame. Before they sinned, Adam and Eve were sweetly and totally unaware of themselves and their bodies as objects of embarrassment or indignity.
Tuesday Reflecting on the Word Genesis 1:27
You were created in the image of God. You were created to "look" like God. What good news that is! You weren't created to be the imperfect, bumbling, fumbling sinner that you know as yourself.
You are the only creature that bears God's image, the only one with spiritual as well as physical features. You are the only creature with a conscience, with a fully developed personality and will, the only one designed to live forever. Even more significant, you are the only creature God made to be in communion with Him. No other creature has a longing for God within, a vacuum that only God can fill.
Though you may feel like a poor imitation of God rather than a creature that fully bears His image, you are the only creature who can demonstrate godlike characteristics: God is just and calls you to be the same (Isaiah 30:18); He is holy and wants you to be holy (Leviticus 11:44-45); He is a righteous God (Psalm 111:3) and calls you to righteousness (Psalm 5:12).
The business of living the Christian life and growing in maturity as a believer is all about becoming more like God, more like Him than you were last year, last week, yesterday. Paul described in Colossians 3:1-17 what this looks like, what your part in this process is. And the apostle John wrote about that one characteristic of God that most fully describes Him and can be your highest goal in 1 John 4:16-17 NKJV: "We have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world." That is, you were made, and live this day, in His image.
Wednesday Studying the Word Genesis 3
Reread Genesis 3, the story that describes the pathos of the human condition: the fall into sin and the need for a Redeemer. Alone or with several friends, answer these questions.
1. Satan, that sneaky snake, approached Eve with sort of a Groucho Marx shifty eyebrow aside and asked her something she quickly identified as a lie (Genesis 3:1-2). Why do you think he began this way?
2. Has the devil changed any since Eve's day? What sorts of tricks does he use to tempt people today?
3. Satan told Eve that if she ate the fruit she would "be like God" (Genesis 3:5 NKJV), a worthy desire. But how was he deceiving Eve this time? Who should she have spent time with if she actually wished to become more like God?
4. A big oops in verse 6. What did Eve turn toward instead of away from? Why was this a fatal mistake?
5. OK, Adam and Eve have both eaten what God had forbidden. What was the result (Genesis 3:7)? What did they see about themselves that they had not seen before?
6. In Genesis 3:14-15, Satan is now cursed. How does God reveal, even in this cursing, that all is not lost?
7. Compare husband/wife relationships before sin (Genesis 2:23-24) and after (Genesis 3:16). What has changed and how has it affected husband/wife relationships throughout history?
Thursday Responding to the Word Genesis 2:18
Many women-whether married or unmarried-read Genesis 2:18 with a shudder, finding difficulty with the word helper. Did God really mean helper the way most people think of the word, that women are somehow subservient and not quite up to par with men?
The Hebrew word here, ezerl, is used twenty-two times in the Bible. It is usually translated as help or helper. However, it is used to speak of God's power in Psalm 89:9, and three times the word is used to refer to God as a helper (Exodus 18:4; Deuteronomy 33:29; Hosea 13:9), all of which provide a clue to the fact that God does not intend a woman's position to be degrading or weak.
The woman who is a helper to her husband is not just at his side, she is on his side. She has her own distinct personality and gifts, her own abilities, her own interests. But above all, in the servant role so beautifully modeled by Christ, she is her husband's greatest advocate. Being his helper doesn't mean she follows behind him, picking up his dirty clothes and serving his every whim. It means she stands next to him as his equal, and they lovingly serve each other, with the full knowledge that at times serving might take the form of picking up those dirty clothes.
Reread Genesis 2:21-24, then take a little time to honestly assess yourself as a woman and, if you're married, as a wife. Are there aspects about being a woman that you find difficult? You can talk to God about it. He'll help you in those areas where you need to grow and change. If you're married, ask God to help you know what it means to be your husband's helper: his advocate, his lover, his friend, his servant, his most intimate companion. Whether you're married or unmarried, God can lovingly guide you in those areas where you relate to the men in your life-to your husband, to family members, to friends, to coworkers. Ask Him to help you to become the best you can be, a beautiful model of God's handiwork in a woman's life.
Friday Praying the Word Genesis 1:27
If possible, spend your prayer time outside today in order to enjoy the beauty of the world God created. Looking around you, praise God for specific parts of His creation: the trees, grass, water, flowers, mountains, and so forth.
Although you have inherited Adam and Eve's sinful nature, God has provided a way for you to become right with Him through His Son, Jesus. Bring to His loving attention any unconfessed sin.
Thank Him for the ways He has created you in His image as a unique female, with your own strengths, dreams, abilities, and potential.
Close your time of prayer by praying Genesis 1:27 back to God.
Creator God, You made me to be like You! How wonderful that is! And how much I fall short of Your image. Work in me day by day, Lord, to make me more like You so that I reflect the beauty of Your image to those around me.
Excerpted from the women's DEVOTIONAL guide to the Bible by Jean E. Syswerda Copyright © 2007 by Jean E. Syswerda. Excerpted by permission.
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