Butting In

Somewhere … in the back of her mind, she vaguely recalled there was a plan, but now that plan seemed absolutely inappropriate and impossible! What difference would it make if she had an idea to make her dream and God’s promise come true now? Well … sort of. With a little finagling, she could make it happen.

Sarah thought she had it all figured out. God had promised her and Abraham a child, but now at age 75/76, it apparently was time for her to intervene. Surely, God had forgotten His promise or they had misunderstood what He meant. God must need her help!

Many times, we have the same attitude. We think we know better than God, that His timing and way of doing things are wrong. We demand our way, interfering to control people and/or circumstances to change an outcome, timing, or both. Personally, I have found that butting in usually backfires in my face. Like Sarah, we make the situation worse and must suffer consequences.

Sarah’s answer was to give her maidservant to her husband Abraham (an ancient custom). Her foolish intervention would be a source of hostility for all generations once Sarah gave birth to her own promised son, Isaac, at age 90. (Genesis 16:1-18:15; 21:1-21)

Thank God for His mercy, grace, and forgiveness when we foolishly butt in. BUT may we learn from Sarah’s mistake and patiently wait on the Lord, surrender to His plan, and trust that He knows best and is working even when we are unaware.

“Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands” (Deuteronomy 7:9).

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No Fair!

Parental favoritism, sibling conflict and jealousy, rejection and betrayal by family members, false accusations and imprisonment, forgotten by friends, and faced with the challenge of world hunger. Poor Joseph! These were completely unfair and easily overwhelming situations that he was confronted with. (His story is recorded in Genesis 37, 39-47.)

So, what was God doing during Joseph’s turmoil? As a slave in Egypt, we find “The LORD was with Joseph and he prospered … When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes” (Gen. 39:2-4a). While in prison, “the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden” (Gen 39:21). God also gave Joseph the ability to interpret dreams, which came in handy when Pharaoh had disturbing ones. Pharaoh noted that Joseph had the spirit of God, discernment, and wisdom, and therefore, put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt. Joseph, with the Lord’s help, was able to plan and prepare for the predicted famine. And, he eventually provided for his own family who had betrayed him.

Adversity, struggles, and suffering truly test our faith. Waiting for the Lord to intervene on our behalf is difficult at best. While this part of Joseph’s life is described in a few short chapters, it actually covers thirteen years as a slave and prisoner with God by his side working out the details, providing, and blessing in the midst of unfair treatment. If Joseph can do it, we can too, for we remember that “You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more” (Psalm 10:17-18).

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Three Words for Everyone

A really amazing thing about the Bible is that you can find yourself in there. The Old Testament stories provide examples we can follow or avoid. The Psalms are heart expressions that often relate what we are feeling or experiencing. Proverbs give advice that might be just what we need in a particular decision or situation.

And when we read of Jesus’ interactions with people during His short time here on earth as the physical incarnation of God, we see His heart and ways on display, teaching us what God is really like. There are many examples in the Gospels of Him teaching, healing, delivering from spiritual darkness, encouraging, and overall just genuinely caring for people. People just like us, with issues very similar to ours.

One thing we notice, however, is that He did not force Himself on anyone. Jesus helped those who came to Him or were brought to Him. Notice what He says in John 6:37. “The one who comes to me I will never drive away (or cast out)”. He accepts and helps us when we come, and does not add a list of pre-qualifications or requirements. So, wherever we are today, doing well or not too great, whatever we are wrestling with, whether we are coming to Him for help the first time or after many times, or coming back to Him after whatever, Jesus has three words for us: “Come to me” (Matthew 11:28a).  He won’t turn us away.

(Special thanks to my husband for writing today’s “Wednesday Whisper.”)

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Respond with Kindness

When driving down the freeway last week, an aggressive, apparently angry driver zoomed around me, braked in front of me, then, continued to slow far below the speed limit. When I changed lanes to pass him, he sped up to prevent me. I decided then, I was not about to play his ‘game.’

Our responses matter. Life is not a game with a goal to ‘beat’ our ‘opponent.’ Believers answer to a higher calling. The apostle Paul wrote, “Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else” (1 Thessalonians 5:15).

Pride and egos need set aside. Our response may require us to simply bow out of an antagonistic situation or humbly answer with a word of kindness. “And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful” (2 Timothy 2:24) whether driving, sharing on social media, or conversing in public or our own home. Instead of answering ‘in kind,’ may we respond with kindness.

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An Offering of Praise

Almighty
Breath of life
Counselor
my Delight
Everlasting
Father
Glorious light
He is Holy
Invisible
Jehovah
our King
Lord of lords
Mighty One
Name above all things
One and Only
Prince of Peace
Quiet
Redeemer
Son of God, Savior of the world
Truth to all believers
Unchangeable
Victorious
Wonderful way
eXalted
Yahweh
Zealous for His name

May we daily bring an offering of praise to honor, glorify, and magnify our Lord, our Creator, our Savior … because life is NOT ‘all about me.’
Praise hands“(T)o the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen” (Jude 25).

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Friends Forever

Last night as I lay down to sleep, I was suddenly struck with the sadness of a changing relationship. My illustrator whom I had become very close with was now moving on to her next project and so was I. A picture book by Cori Doerrfeld quickly came to mind called Goodbye, Friend! Hello, Friend! It reminded me that saying ‘good-bye’ to one person or thing meant saying ‘hello’ to someone or something else.

I was also encouraged in that since my illustrator friend is a sister in Christ, I know we will always have a special connection. We may not share or chat on a regular basis anymore, but the bond we have will remain.

Friendships are treasures to be cherished. Consider taking time today to thank God for your friends or perhaps check in on a friend. Scripture says this about friends: “Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel. Do not forsake your friend…” (Proverbs 27:9-10a).

Yes, friendships may change but that does not mean they end. I imagine many friendships will be renewed and strengthened in heaven and there will be endless opportunities for new ‘hellos!’ This week, while we are out and about, let’s smile and be pleasant (even with a mask). Who knows? It may lead to a new friendship.

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Mission: Possible

“Your mission, Dan/Jim, should you choose to accept it …
As always, should you … be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. This tape/disc will self-destruct in five/ten seconds. Good luck.” Ha! If these missions had been ignored, there would not have been a TV or movie series.

The amazing thing is, God has also given each of His children a mission. Before Jesus’ arrest, He prayed for His followers saying, “In the same way you gave me a mission in the world, I give them a mission in the world” (John 17:18). And similar to Mr. Phelps (or Dan or Jim), we decide whether to take on our assignment.

Our broad mission of sharing God’s love and plan of salvation can be accomplished in a plethora of ways. For me, I try to encourage you in your walk with Jesus in the “Wednesday Whisper.” Another part of my ‘mission’ includes writing for children. I feel especially blessed to share with you that my debut picture book, Before Your Birth Day, has just been released!

Now it’s your turn. What is your passion? What are your gifts and talents? How could God blend those with your willing spirit to help accomplish the mission He’s assigned you? Listen to where He is calling you. Step into the light He is shining in front of you. Most of the people in the Bible could not have guessed the future God had in store when they stepped forward in faith and said yes. When “all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27b), there is no ‘Mission: Impossible.’

MARKETINGBeforeYourBirthDayRGB72

Graced with delicate illustrations, Before Your Birth Day is a rhyming celebration of life that traces the miraculous development of preborn babies from conception to birth. It is a perfect gift for moms-to-be or for those with a sibling on the way.
Now available on Amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/1649490119/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_5XHkFb5G3M6FT

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To Speak or Not To Speak

As an aspiring author, I thought it would be ideal to remain anonymous and use a cool pseudonym. After attending a writers’ conference, I learned publishers were not so keen on that idea. Apparently, they want as many people as possible to know the author’s name, and having an online presence, including social media, was where the author should start.

Adult at ComputerNow that I’ve entered the once frightening Facebook world, I’ve found I need an extra dose of wisdom to know when to speak and when to keep silent. Many ‘behind-the-screen’ commenters quickly turn vicious and combative, especially when we take a stand for godly principles. Hmm … what to do?

By watching Jesus in the gospels, we observe remarkable self-control. He was able to remain still or respond calmly to insults, snide questions, and false accusations. Other times He returned a brutal volley with an appropriate, strong rebuke, setting the record straight.

Our dilemma is knowing when to speak, and if we do, what to say. We need discernment and wisdom that only come from the Lord. We must pause, being cautious not to spew a knee-jerk reaction. We need to pray, taking time to listen with an open heart. And then, if led to respond, do so with a respectful tone.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven” … “a time to be silent and a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7b). “The (person) of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a (person) of understanding is even-tempered” (Proverbs 17:27). So, as we continue to ‘socialize’ online, may our mouths speak, or our fingers type, messages that are pleasing to the Lord or not ‘say’ anything at all.

Finally, to those of you who follow me on my anonymous blog at www.pointingtheway.live, “Surprise! I am Teresa J. Krager. 😉 It’s nice to finally meet/greet you! If you wish to learn more about me, visit www.teresakrager.com.

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Hidden Treasure

Arizona is rich with legends regarding the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, generally thought to be in the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix. One story claims a German immigrant discovered the mine in the 1800s and kept the exact location secret. Each year, treasure hunters search in vain for the vein of gold and many have died in the desert heat in hot pursuit of the elusive treasure.Superstition Mtns

But there is a greater treasure available to all sincere seekers, treasure that God promises to be more valuable than gold. Colossians 2:3 explains that in Christ are “hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Throughout God’s Word and through the Holy Spirit, God reveals to us nuggets of truth and eye-opening revelations. He promises wisdom to those who earnestly seek Him.

James provides this encouragement with a warning, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt (James 1:5-6a). Proverbs 4:7 challenges us with, “Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” And “for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her” (Proverbs 8:11). As you read God’s Word, ask Him to speak to your heart and open your ears to what He has to say specifically to you each day.

God has also blessed many speakers, authors, and preachers who share the wisdom and understanding God has given them. In addition to your Bible reading, prayerfully consider seeking out resources, teachings, and sermons that are available on TV, internet, and bookstores, making sure they are scripturally sound.

Be blessed as you seek and find the treasures God has waiting for you!

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Set Plans

Blake had his plan. He had saved and patiently sought out the best deal available. He was finally going to own a boat. It had been a difficult endeavor. Every time he was ready to seal a deal, the door slammed shut. Someone else beat him to it, his truck had a flat, or one of his kids had an event. After he purchased the boat, it had one problem after another. He was sunk! What was happening?!

Sailboat

Sometimes we are so set on our plan, we forget to seek God’s will for our life. Whether we are flat out on the wrong path or going the wrong direction, God may be trying to get our attention. I am not saying we should not own a boat or that every problem is evidence that we have done something wrong. Many times, trials are simply opportunities for spiritual growth. But, when we feel like we’re being swamped by a surge of continuous whitecaps, we may want to stop and re-evaluate our decisions and plans. Continuing to sail onward in stubbornness causes us to miss out on God’s peace and blessings.

Sailboat in Storm

Instead, we should go to the ultimate Planner. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart’” (Jeremiah 29:11-13).  And, remember to, “… seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). Hmm, may we plan on seeking His plan.

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