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1 new-life-event im-concerned-about-the-environment-feeling does-god-exist-feeling

The creation of heaven and earth

From the book of Genesis: chapter 1 and 2

The earth on which we work, live, have fun and sometimes feel sad didn’t emerge just like that. God created this earth, and everything that lives in it. A miracle that is described on the very first page of the Bible.
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In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
The earth was formless and empty, darkness lay over the
deep oceans, and God’s Spirit was moving over the surface of
the waters.
Then God spoke: “Let there be light!” And there was light.
God saw that the light was good. He divided the light from the
darkness. And so God named the light Day and the darkness
Night. There was evening and morning, the very first day.
And God said, “Let there be a space above the oceans, to
separate the heavens from the earth.” And it was so, and God
named this space Sky. There was evening and morning again,
and that was the second day.
And God said, “Let dry ground appear from the deep
waters.” And it was so. God named the dry ground Land and
the waters he named Seas. God looked at what he had made
and saw that it was good.
Then God said, “Let the land produce plants and crops and
fruit trees of every kind.” And it was so. There was evening and
morning, and that was the third day.
And God said, “Let there be lights in the sky to divide the
day from the night, marking the days, the seasons and the
turning of the years, and let the lights shine down on the
earth.” And it was so. God made the sun to shine in the day
and the moon to shine at night. Then God made the stars. And
God saw that all that he had made was good. So evening and
morning came again, and that was the fourth day.
God said, “Let the waters breed life and swarm with living
creatures, and let birds wing their way through the sky.” So
God created the huge sea-creatures and every living being that
glides through the waters and all species of fish, and he made
every kind of bird that flies through the air. And God saw that
all that he had made was good. He blessed the creatures and
said, “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the seas, fill the air!” So
evening and morning came again, and that was the fifth day.
And God said, “Let the earth produce every type of animal,
all species of living creatures, cattle and reptiles and wild beasts
of every kind.” And it was so. And God saw that it was good.
Then God said, “I shall make human beings in my image, in
my own likeness. Let them rule the animal kingdom and be
responsible for the whole earth.”
So God created human beings. He made them in his own
image, creating both male and female.
God blessed the human race and said, “Fill the earth with
your descendants and look after everything I have created.”
And God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. So
evening and morning came again, and that was the sixth day.
In this way, the heavens and the earth were completed in all
their magnificence.
By the seventh day, God had finished all his work of
creation, so he rested on that day. He blessed the seventh day,
because it was the special day of his rest.

Reprinted with permission of 'The Story'.
Murry Watts, Lion Hudson plc, 2006
2 there-is-hope-feeling disaster-has-struck-event im-starting-afresh-event

Noah’s Ark and the flood

From the book of Genesis: chapter 7 and 8

The earth is still young, but already people have managed to make a mess of it. God chooses Noah and his family to make a new start.
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In the centuries that followed the time of Cain and Abel, the
human race multiplied. Many followed the example of Cain
and turned to violence – so much so that when God looked
down upon the earth, he was filled with pain and sorrow.
“I should never have made humankind,” God said. “All they
can think about is doing terrible evil.” The whole world had
become corrupt and full of wicked people. God was angry at the
ruin of his creation and said, “I will remove the people from the
face of the earth – I will destroy this wickedness forever.”
But there was one man – one alone – who pleased God. His
name was Noah, and he lived an honest life. He was different
from everyone else. He walked with God each day on the
journey of his life, and this is how God decided to save Noah
and his family from the destruction of the world.
God spoke to Noah and said, “I am going to put an end to all
the people on earth because of their violence and hatred. You
must build an ark of cypress wood, a huge boat with many
rooms and a roof. Then you must seal the whole vessel with tar.”
Noah listened with great astonishment, for God was telling
him to build a boat a long way from the sea.
God told Noah exactly how to build the ark, saying, “Put a
great door in the side and build lower, middle and upper
decks.”
Noah nodded quietly. He would obey everything that God
told him, to the last detail.
Then God said, “I am going to flood the whole earth and
destroy every living creature. The waters will cover the world,
and everything that breathes will perish. But I will make my
promise to you, Noah, my covenant forever with you and your
family. You will go into the ark and you will be safe. The
floodwaters will not touch you.”
Noah stood up, in fear and awe of the judgment that God
was bringing on the earth. And God said, “You must take with
you two of every living creature, every kind of bird and every
kind of animal, males and females. Take them by pairs into the
ark. And take food for all the living creatures and for yourselves.
In this way, you must take my creation with you.”
So Noah did everything that God commanded him. He and
his sons – Shem, Ham and Japheth – began to build the ark in
the desert lands near where he lived. And Noah continued to
build, although many people mocked and jeered and said that
he was mad. At last, the massive floating box was ready, the
strangest vessel on earth. But still there was no rain.
The sun shone in a cloudless sky. People who had no respect
for God or for Noah continued to laugh. Although Noah warned
them, they took no notice, and when Noah began to gather
hundreds of animals, they were certain that he had gone mad.
But the animals came to Noah and his family eagerly. They
sensed thunder in the sky long before it sounded, and smelled
the floodwaters in the air. They hurried in their pairs towards
safety, and Noah welcomed them into the ark, where they were
fed and watered and housed in their stables, pens and hutches.
At last, when Noah and all his family – his wife, their three
sons and their wives – and all the animals were gathered in
the ark, God slammed the huge wooden door shut. And it
began to rain.
It rained for forty days and forty nights. The floodgates of
heaven opened, and the springs of the deep burst into the
desert, and streams and rivers swelled and burst their banks.
Rain pelted down like a cascading waterfall over the whole
earth. The storm was terrifying. The world was engulfed in an
endless darkness, and the wild seas rose to fantastic heights
and buried the tops of mountains, so every single being outside
the ark perished in the great flood. Only Noah, his family and
all the creatures in the ark survived.
For one hundred and fifty days after the rain had stopped,
the ark floated on the floodwaters that covered the earth, and
there was no dry land in sight. But God had not forgotten his
faithful servant Noah, and he sent a great wind which swept
the waters back. Slowly, the floods began to go down.
There was still no sight of land, but the darkness had rolled
away. The ark floated slowly on until suddenly Noah and his
family felt a shudder. They sprang to their feet as the boat made
a loud scraping sound, wobbled and then settled. The ark had
come to rest on the tip of Mount Ararat.
Noah opened the window in the ark and gazed across the huge
expanse of water. It gleamed like silver under the greyness of the
sky. He could see no sign of life, nor could he hear anything. So
he let out a raven to fly across the waters, to see if the bird could
find anywhere to settle, but the raven returned to the ark.
Then Noah took a dove and released the bird into the air to
see if she would find a place to perch. The dove circled in the
sky, then flew to the far horizon and back. After a long while she
returned. Noah held out his hand and brought her into safety.
He waited another seven days. Then he released the dove
again, and this time she returned the same evening, carrying an
olive leaf in her beak.
Noah knew that the waters were ebbing away from the earth
at last, so he let the dove go once more. She did not return, so
he released her mate. Then he opened the door and everyone
saw that the waters had flowed back into the rivers and the
seas, and all around them was dry land.
God said to him, “Come out of the ark, you and your wife,
and your sons and their wives! Bring out all the animals, every
living creature, and set them free on the earth. Be fruitful,
increase and fill the earth with all your offspring!”
So the animals ran, jumped, slithered and scuttled to
freedom, and the birds flew and swooped and dived in the sky,
singing and calling to each other, and Noah and all his family
knelt down to worship God on Mount Ararat.
Then God said, “I will make a promise to you and all your
descendants, and to every creature that was in the ark. This is
my promise: never again will I cover the earth with water, never
again will I devastate the world with a flood that overwhelms
every living creature. As long as the world lasts, so will the
times and seasons of the year. There will be sowing and
harvesting, there will be cold and heat, summer will turn into
winter, and night will follow day. You will know that my
promise is sure, because I will put my rainbow in the clouds.”
At that moment, the most beautiful rainbow in all its shining
array appeared and hung over the dark velvet of the sky. Noah
and his family gazed up in wonder, tiny figures beneath the
glorious arch of light.
“My rainbow,” said God, “will remind you of my promise to
you and every living creature. I will see it and I will remember
the everlasting bond that I have made between me and all life
on the earth.”
In the years to come, Noah gazed up at rainbows in the
heavens and remembered God’s promise. He served God all
the days of his very long life.
People gradually filled the earth again but, despite all that had
happened, once more a time came when the human race became
proud and did not remember or respect the power of God.

Reprinted with permission of 'The Story'.
Murry Watts, Lion Hudson plc, 2006
3 im-feeling-guilty-feeling me-me-me-feeling im-in-trouble-event

Joseph and his brothers

From the book of Genesis: chapter 37

Joseph has many brothers. He isn’t very popular with them as he is his father’s favourite. He also tells them about his weird dreams in which he rules over his brothers. They don’t accept this and Joseph’s life appears to come to an end.
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On the way back to his homeland, Jacob’s beloved wife,
Rachel, died while giving birth to their younger son, Benjamin.
Jacob was heartbroken, and the two sons he had by Rachel
became very special to him. From then on, Joseph and little
Benjamin were always at his side.
When Joseph was seventeen, Jacob had a special coat made for
him. It had long sleeves and was richly decorated. Joseph’s elder
brothers were jealous. They hated Joseph because of his coat.
“Who does he think he is?” they asked. “A royal prince?”
One day, Joseph came to his elder brothers, breathless with
excitement. “Listen to this dream I’ve had!” he said.
When they heard the dream, they hated him even more.
“We were binding these sheaves of corn in the field,” said
Joseph, “when suddenly my sheaf rose up high above all the
others. Then your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed
down to it, and then –”
“So you want to be king over us, do you?” The brothers
moved towards him angrily. “You want to lord it over us? You!”
They were beside themselves with fury, but Joseph took no
notice. He was not boasting; he was simply telling them about
a dream.
Some while later, Joseph had another dream. He found it
impossible to keep silent and told his whole family this time,
“I’ve had an amazing dream!”
The brothers sneered at him. “Dreamer! What story has he
made up this time?”
But their father, Jacob, held out his hand. “Go on, my son.
Tell us about this dream.”
“I was standing in the fields,” said Joseph simply, “when the
sun, the moon and eleven stars in the sky…” He hesitated for a
moment. He realized that the dream sounded strange.
“Yes,” said Jacob curiously.
“The sun, the moon and eleven stars in the sky all began to
bow down to me.”
The meaning of the dream was clear to everyone.
Jacob was shocked. “Well, this is a fine dream to have!” He
began to scold Joseph. “So your whole family’s going to bow
down to you, is that it?” Jacob shook his head.
The brothers did not dare show their hatred of Joseph in
front of Jacob, but their rage grew darker. They waited until
they could get their revenge on Joseph.
Meanwhile, Jacob remembered Joseph’s dream and kept his
thoughts to himself.
Jacob had many flocks of sheep and many sons to look after
them. One day, Joseph’s brothers went to graze their father’s
flocks at Shechem, and Jacob called Joseph to him.
“My son,” he said, “find out how your brothers are doing
and see if they have found good pasture for the sheep.”
So Joseph went to Shechem. He saw his brothers camped in
the fields. He waved and ran towards them. His brothers
recognized him from a long way off. That long, splendid coat
was all too familiar. They hated the sign of their father’s love for
Joseph, and, as the brightly woven cloth gleamed in the
sunlight, it was as if the coat set fire to their hatred. Even
before he arrived, they were burning with jealousy. They began
to plot his death.
“Here comes the dreamer!” they said to each other.
“Come on,” said one, “let’s kill him and throw him down
one of these dried-up wells!”
“Yes,” said another, “we can say that he was eaten by wild
beasts. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.”
But Reuben, the eldest brother, was afraid.
“Wait!” he said. “Don’t take his life. There must be no
bloodshed!”
“No, no, kill the dreamer, the liar!” shouted one of them, his
hand clutching a dagger.
“No!” shouted Reuben. The angry mob of brothers glared at
him. He was risking trouble.
“All right,” said Reuben. “You can put him down this
dried-up well, but don’t lay a finger on him!”
Reuben was hoping to come back quietly and rescue Joseph,
so he walked away without a backward glance. He went off to
tend the sheep.
As soon as Reuben had left, the brothers seized Joseph,
stripped him of his robe and threw him down the dry well.
Joseph shouted and begged them to haul him out. They could
hear his shouts, rising from the darkness of the old well, echoing
around and around, but they just sat down to eat their meal.
While they were eating, some merchants from Gilead came
by. They were heading for Egypt, and their camels were laden
with spices and perfumes.
“Why kill Joseph?” said Judah. “We can get rid of him
without shedding any blood. Let’s sell him as a slave!”
They all agreed. So they pulled Joseph out of the well and
sold him to the traders for twenty silver shekels.
Later Reuben returned and shouted down the well, but there
was no answer. He let down a rope, but no hand grasped it.
“Joseph, Joseph!” he shouted. Suddenly he realized that the
boy was gone. He rushed to find his brothers. “What have you
done? What are we going to say to our father?”
The brothers decided to take Joseph’s coat, dip it in animal
blood and show it to Jacob. When they handed the torn and
bloodied cloth to the old man, he was horrified.
“Some wild animal has captured him and torn him to
pieces!” they said. Everyone gathered around Jacob, and all his
household tried to console him, but he pushed them away.
Jacob would not be comforted, saying, “Now I will live in
sorrow until I die.

Reprinted with permission of 'The Story'.
Murry Watts, Lion Hudson plc, 2006
4 im-scared-feeling i-cant-see-a-way-out-event there-is-hope-feeling

A baby among the reeds

From the book of Exodus: chapter 1 and 2

A harsh pharaoh on the throne in Egypt issues a terrible command: kill all Jewish baby boys. One of them escapes in a little basket, floating on the river. That boy is Moses, who is facing a double life as the adopted son of the Egyptian princess.
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Many years after Joseph’s family settled in Egypt, a new
pharaoh came to the throne. When he saw the vast number of
Israelites, the descendants of Jacob who were living in his
kingdom, he grew afraid of war.
“Look at these Israelites,” he said. “One day they will rise up
against me, join with my enemies and escape from Egypt!”
So he forced the people into slavery and put cruel
taskmasters over them. The Israelite men were made to drag
huge stones for the building of cities and make bricks out of
mud, while the slave-drivers whipped them into obedience.
They suffered terribly, but Pharaoh was not satisfied.
First he asked the Israelite midwives to kill all the boy
children at birth, but they refused. Then he ordered his own
soldiers to seize every newborn baby boy and hurl it into the
River Nile.
In the middle of this great terror, one woman gave birth to a
beautiful boy and immediately hid him from the prowling
soldiers. When he was three months old, she could no longer
hide him safely, so she took a basket of reeds and coated it
with tar to make it waterproof. Then she wrapped up her baby
tightly and put him in the basket. She set him afloat among the
reeds and bulrushes by the river bank.
The little basket bobbed around for a long time, while the
boy’s sister, Miriam, watched from a distance. She was amazed
to see an Egyptian princess, Pharaoh’s daughter, wading into
the Nile to bathe. Her maidservants were standing on the bank
when the princess saw the mysterious basket.
“Fetch it here,” she called, and one of her servants waded
into the river and pulled it onto the bank. The princess sat
down beside the basket, opened the cover and immediately
found the crying child. “Oh,” she said, “this must be one of
the little Israelite babies!” And she picked him out and cradled
him and held him close against her face.
When Miriam saw the royal princess holding her baby
brother so tenderly, she guessed that the princess wanted to
keep the baby for herself. So she walked towards her timidly
and said, “Shall I fetch an Israelite nurse for my Lady, so she
can look after the baby for you?”
“Oh yes!” said the princess, delighted. So Miriam went and
fetched her own mother.
“Take this baby and nurse him for me,” said the princess.
And she agreed to pay the woman to care for him.
The princess named the baby Moses, which sounds like “drawn
out” in Hebrew, because she had saved him from the river. So the
boy’s mother looked after him until he was old enough to go to
the palace. Then Moses lived with the princess as her own son.

Reprinted with permission of 'The Story'.
Murry Watts, Lion Hudson plc, 2006
5 im-getting-older-event new-life-event feeling-16

Ruth, the foreigner

From the book Ruth: chapter 1-4

The young widow Ruth accompanies her mother-in-law to a country that she doesn’t know and where she will be a foreigner. But because of her sweet character and her trust in God everything slowly becomes a bit better. The family history will not end here!
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In the days when the judges ruled Israel, there was a famine.
The harvest was so bad that a man named Elimelech left the
town of Bethlehem in search of food. He settled in the plains of
Moab with his wife, Naomi, and their two sons.
They were just starting their new life when Elimelech died
suddenly. Naomi was grief-stricken, but her two sons
comforted her. Soon, the sons married Moabite girls, Orpah
and Ruth, and Naomi began to look forward to grandchildren.
But there were no children, and then tragedy struck again.
Both her sons fell sick and died, so Naomi was left alone in a
foreign country, desperately poor and broken-hearted.
Orpah and Ruth loved their mother-in-law dearly and tried
to console her, but Naomi just shook her head. She felt that
God had dealt with her very harshly, and she would weep and
sit alone and stare into the distance.
“There is nothing for me here,” Naomi said. “I must return
to my own people in Bethlehem.”
The two young women followed her down the road, but she
stopped and said, “Go back, daughters! You must find new
husbands – perhaps the Lord will show kindness to you for all
that you have done for me.” Then she turned away and
walked on, but Orpah and Ruth burst out crying and ran after
her. “No, no,” she pleaded with them. “Go home! I’m too old
to marry again and have sons for you!”
So Orpah kissed Naomi gently and turned back towards
Moab. But Ruth clung to her.

“Your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods,”
said Naomi. “Go back with her.”
“Never!” said Ruth, and she looked at Naomi, her eyes full
of tears. “Never! I will never leave you! Where you go, I will go,
and where you live, I will live. Your people will be my people
and your God will be my God. Nothing but death shall ever
separate me from you.”
Naomi looked at Ruth, astonished at her great love and her
loyalty. She shook her head, knowing that she had nothing but
poverty and sadness to offer her. But Ruth continued to walk
beside her.
When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her,
she stopped protesting. So the two women walked on to
Bethlehem.

When Naomi and Ruth arrived in Bethlehem, the people said,
“Can this be Naomi who left with her husband and two sons?”
They could not believe that the poor, frail woman full of grief
was the same person. And they were surprised to see her
daughter-in-law, Ruth, with her. Why had she left the land of
Moab to come here?
Naomi and Ruth settled in Naomi’s old house. It was
covered in dust and weeds and half-ruined, but Ruth cleaned it
up and made it as comfortable as possible.
The barley harvest was just beginning. In those days, het
poor people of Israel had the right to follow the harvesters and
pick up any grain that fell on the ground, so Ruth went out to
the fields. That evening, they would be able to make bread with
the grain she had gleaned.

Ruth found a field and gleaned all day. Later on, the owner
of the field, a man named Boaz, noticed her.
“Who’s that young woman?” he asked. She was different
from all the other gleaners, dark and beautiful, although
dressed very poorly. Boaz could see that she was a stranger.
“It’s the young woman from Moab,” the gleaners said, “the
daughter-in-law of Naomi.”
“Naomi?” Boaz was curious. He was related to Naomi by
marriage, and he had heard of the wonderful love which Ruth
had shown to her widowed mother-in-law.
Boaz said to Ruth, “You are very welcome to come each day
to this field.” And he told her that he knew how much she had
done for Naomi. “May the Lord repay you for what you have
done!” he said to Ruth. “May you be richly rewarded by the
Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have sought
shelter!”
The way he spoke so tenderly to her made Ruth cry. She
brushed her tears away. “O sir,” she said, “you have given me so
much comfort, speaking like that, although I am much less
important than your own serving girls.”
Boaz made sure that Ruth had plenty of grain, almost more
than she could carry, and when she returned home, Naomi
asked in amazement, “Where did you glean today? Blessed is
the man who gave you all this!”
“I worked in the field of a man named Boaz,” Ruth said.
“Do you know who he is?” said Naomi. “He is one of our
closest relatives.” Now it was Naomi’s turn to cry for joy,
because God had guided Ruth to someone who could help
save them from their misfortune.

Naomi could see that Ruth was impressed by Boaz, and she
realized that Boaz was showing more and more kindness to
Ruth. One day, she said to Ruth, “It’s time for you to find your
own home now.”
“What do you mean?” asked Ruth. Naomi smiled and said,
“Just do what I say. Tonight, all the workers will sleep in the
open to guard the grain. Wash yourself, put on perfume and
your best clothes, and go secretly to the threshing floor. Wait
till Boaz comes away from the feasting and lies down to sleep
under the stars. Then, very quietly, settle down at his feet until
he wakes up.”
It was a strange instruction, but Ruth obeyed Naomi without
question. She knew it had to do with an ancient custom, but
she did not know what would happen, or if Boaz would be
angry with her.
Sure enough, Boaz woke up in the middle of the night to
find a young woman lying at his feet.
“Who is it?” he said, alarmed.
“It’s Ruth, my Lord.”
“Ruth? But…”
“You are one of my closest relatives, sir,” she said. “You have
the responsibility of looking after me and my family.” Ruth,
a woman from Moab, wanted to live by the laws of the God of
Israel. These said that if a man died, his closest relative should
marry his widow so that the family line would not die out.
Boaz was amazed and deeply moved by her courage and her
love.
“You could have gone after any other man,” he said to her,
“but because of your love for Naomi, you have come to me.”
There was another close relative also, but Boaz went and
settled his right to take over all the property of Elimelech,
Naomi’s dead husband, and so claim Ruth as his wife.

Ruth and Boaz were happily married, and the people rejoiced.
They prayed for God’s blessing on Ruth, and before long she gave
birth to a son. The little boy was named Obed. He became the
father of Jesse, and Jesse became the father of the great king David.

Reprinted with permission of 'The Story'.
Murry Watts, Lion Hudson plc, 2006
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