The Next Gen in Danger?

Let’s step back in time …  
The nation of Israel had been freed from slavery in Egypt, had completed their ‘wandering’ in the desert, and had conquered the nations who had previously inhabited their Promised Land. With God’s help, each tribe took possession of its inheritance and the people served the Lord throughout their lifetime. Sounds great, right? 

However, just three verses later, we are told, “Eventually that entire generation died and was buried. Then another generation grew up that didn’t know anything of GOD or the work he had done for Israel. The People of Israel did evil in GOD’s sight; … they deserted GOD, the God of their parents.” (Judges 2:10-12).

Wait! How could they not have heard about how God had protected the Israelites during the ten plagues and how God had provided during their 40 years of travels in the desert? How could they not have been impacted by the defeat at Jericho and other battles where God clearly intervened and brought victory?

Step back to today … How are we doing?
Are we sharing with the next generations how God is working in our life, how He has met our needs, opened doors, and answered prayers? Testifying about God’s goodness and sharing the teachings of Jesus should be a natural part of our conversations.

After Israel received the Ten Commandments, they were instructed, “Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).

It is our responsibility to inform the next generation and if we live long enough, the next and the next. Besides our testimony and teachings from God’s Word, resources abound to help us with this assignment.

(The following information describes rhyming picture books written by this author, Teresa Joyelle Krager, and inspired by God’s Word.)

Before Your Birth Day (2020) celebrates life and traces the amazing development of preborn babies, a great gift for the expectant mom or for that child with a sibling on the way.
Adam Plus One (2021) portrays God’s incredible creation story and Adam’s search for a compatible companion.
Books can be purchased by contacting the author through her website: http://teresakrager.com. (See Contact under Menu.)

May you be inspired to encourage the next gen!

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I Need You, Lord!

Ever have one of those days? Recently, I turned to Phil Wickham’s “Battle Belongs” song for encouragement. In it, I found truth and hope because its message is grounded in Scripture. Let’s face it, I needed the Lord. I began to wonder if there is ever a time I don’t need Him and quickly concluded with a resounding NO!

I began reviewing my “Help Me, God” prayers:
Help me know what to say and do.
Help me know how to love, forgive, and reach out.
Help me know how and when to respond.
Help me be safe.
Help me understand and have wisdom.
Help me know how to give and how to spend.
Help me know when to ask questions and when to be still.
Help me feel better physically and emotionally.
Help me grow spiritually.
Help me be brave, strong, and courageous.
Help me know what to write and what to do with it.
Help me do Your will.
Help me … because You are the answer to all I need!

I recalled the chorus from the old hymn “I Need Thee Every Hour”:
I need Thee;
O, I need Thee;
Ev’ry hour I need Thee!
O bless me now, my Saviour,
I come to Thee.

Hebrew 4:16 says, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

God is near. God is listening. He’s only a prayer away and promises to help us in our time of need. Wow, I think that’s all we need.

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Raise the Bar

The 2021 Olympics are looming! Between July 23 and August 8, we will be awed by new world records, stories of overcomers, and testimonies of perseverance. We will watch and cheer wildly as athletes compete and attempt the ‘never been done before.’

Jesus exemplified that ‘never been done before’ in that He lived the perfect life, never giving in to the temptation of sin. Even His enemies admitted that Jesus was a “man of integrity.”

According to Siri, integrity is “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.” If we think about it, we hope that everyone we deal with, whether a banker or babysitter, mechanic or mail carrier, friend or family member, is a person of integrity.

In the book of Proverbs, righteousness and integrity seem to go hand in hand. “The integrity of the upright guides them” (11:3) and “Righteousness guards the man of integrity” (13:6).

God has set the bar high for believers. We are to be people of integrity and righteousness. The Apostle Paul wrote, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24).

Paul goes on in Ephesians 4 to give examples of righteousness. Speak truthfully and with wholesomeness, deal with anger issues, don’t steal, share with the needy, and get rid of bitterness, rage, brawling, slander, and malice. Instead, be kind, compassionate, and forgiving.

Looks like we have plenty to work on. May we aim high and with the help of Jesus, begin acting a little more like Jesus. May we practice and persevere.

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Who Qualifies?

The 2021 Summer Olympics are looming and nations around the world are deciding who qualifies to participate in this elite event.

I got to thinking … if I were to compete in the Olympics, what sport would I pursue? I did a little gymnastics in junior high, ran some track in high school, and participated in football when college dorm halls competed. (Okay, it was flag football.) Let’s face it, I could never qualify for the Olympics.

So, if this earthly quest is attained by only a few, how does one ever qualify for living in heaven for eternity? How can we be a part of the kingdom of God?

We know we are all sinners, but Jesus received the ‘perfect score.’ He lived and died without ever sinning. The best part is, when we choose to believe in Him, God sees us with Jesus’s perfect score. God actually sees us as righteous! “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:22-23).

All are welcome and encouraged to join God’s team. All qualify as righteous just by believing in Jesus. The Apostle Paul continues, “That if you confess with our mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

We do not ‘qualify’ by anything we do. And we are not disqualified by anything we have done. Jesus qualified and paid the debt for us all by His death on the cross. So, I pray you are already on God’s team. If not, I pray you will choose to join the winning team. Your ‘entry’ has already been paid. All you need to do to ‘qualify’ is believe. Then, I’ll meet you on the streets of gold!

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Well-Chosen Words

This week you are receiving my 100th “Wednesday Whisper”! My aim is to keep ‘the whisper’ brief, sending a word of encouraging Scripture with practical application and a smattering of smiles.

Focusing on the theme of brevity, I was reminded of the monumental confrontation on Mt. Carmel between the prophet Elijah and the 950 false prophets assembled by wicked King Ahab (1 Kings 18). After the false prophets cried out to their gods all day long without receiving a trace of their existence, Elijah stepped forward and prayed for God to reveal Himself.

How long do you think His prayer was? How long did it last? Two verses. That’s it. And the fire of God burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, the soil, and the water that saturated it all! Wow!

Whether we are praying or sharing a word, a lot can be said in a few short comments. Sprinkles of well-chosen, spirit-led messages can bless, teach, correct, inspire, and give hope.

Perhaps that’s partly what Jesus meant when He said we should be the salt of the earth. (Note:  When our grandkids over-salted the popcorn recently, the treat was not pleasant or even edible. We all learned that sometimes a sprinkle is enough.)

The Apostle Paul also reminds us, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:6). Like planting a few small seeds or sprinkling water on wilting plants, may our well-chosen words have a powerful impact and make a difference to those around us.

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Do You See It?

The book of Esther is unique in that it contains no religious concepts or vocabulary. God is not named or alluded to, but does that mean He was not present?

The melodramatic, true story of Queen Esther is wrought with intrigue, justice, and humor, and God is found throughout, working behind the scenes, responsible for each ‘coincidence.’ Nothing else could explain a young Jewish girl becoming the queen of a vast Persian Empire. Or, the timing of Esther’s cousin overhearing the plot to kill the king. Or, Esther receiving special favor and pardon. Or, the scheme to annihilate all Jews in Persia completely backfiring. (You’ll have to read the short story to learn what happened to the villain and the holiday that ensued the Jews’ victory.)

Clearly, the absence of God’s name cannot be interpreted as the absence of God’s Presence. Isaiah 64:4 says, “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.”

Look around. Where is God working in your life? Is He opening and/or closing doors of opportunity and protection? Do you see His favor upon you as you walk in obedience? Do you experience His guiding and providing in unique ways … just in the nick of time? 

The challenge this week is to ‘see’ His work in our life. Believe me, He is a God of action, longing to do more than we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

May we acknowledge and give thanks for God’s Presence and His acts on our behalf.

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Draw Swords

At church camp many years ago, we played a game called Draw Swords. As a Scripture verse was given, kids frantically flipped Bible pages. The first to find the text would stand and read it.

God’s Word, AKA our sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17), is our greatest offensive weapon against sin. Matthew and Luke describe Jesus being tempted in the wilderness and how He faced each challenge. Jesus quoted Scripture to Satan. He didn’t call a timeout to go to the temple and search for a verse on a sacred scroll and He didn’t have a cell phone with a Bible app. Jesus had committed to memory the very words of God.

We should do likewise. Temptation and sin will be easier and quicker to defeat if we have a verse ready in our heart and on our tongue. While working on a verse, our mind meditates and mulls over the words, transforming our thought patterns and eventually changing our actions.

God’s Word is powerful. Its truth gives us courage and strength to fight against evil, but we can’t have victory in a battle against temptation and sin without our weapon, our sword of the Spirit.

If you’ve never memorized Scripture, why not begin today? Ask God to guide you to a verse that speaks to your circumstances. If you have, perhaps it’s time to add another to your arsenal. Today I’m adding, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).

May we ready our sword.

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Rest and Recovery

Tired? Feeling weighed down with life’s burdens?

Jesus offers us these encouraging words. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Let’s break down these few verses to find hope and help.

  • First, Jesus promises us rest. Do we take a day each week to rest and get refueled? God clearly gave us the example and command to rest, creating a day faithfully set aside for Him, but which is greatly for our benefit. (Exodus 20:8-11)
  • Second, let’s make sure we are carrying the load that is ours and doing the work or assignment God has specifically given us. (1 Corinthians 3:5)
  • Third, are we making time regularly to learn from Jesus? Through worship, Bible reading, and prayer, we can bring our burdens to Him and receive wisdom, guidance, and instruction. (John 14:26)
  • Fourth, can we break it down? The burden probably doesn’t need to be picked up all at once. Instead, focus on what needs dealt with today. (Matthew 6:34)
  • Finally, as a member of the church, the body of Christ, we can look to fellow believers. Burdens are always lighter when shared. Become active in a group that prays for, helps, and encourages one another. (Galatians 6:2; James 5:16; 1 Corinthians 12:25; 1 Thessalonians 5:11)

The Message Bible translates Jesus’s words this way:  “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (Matthew 11:28-30).

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Overwhelmed No More

After writing last week’s blog, an amazing thing happened. I should not have been surprised, after all, I had just written about how sometimes God fights our battles when we are feeling overwhelmed. But when you experience it personally and immediately, it gets your attention.

I wasn’t facing a vast army like last week’s Jehoshaphat. I was facing a major ‘box’ store who was refusing to accept or apply my discount card for a new pair of glasses. The week before, when I ordered the glasses, I simply accepted the gal’s statement that in the six years she’d been employed there, they had never given a discount. Battle over, right? Surrender.

Before I picked up my glasses, I decided to do a little research. I called the number, you know, the microscopic one on the back of those cards. Suddenly, someone else took up my case. This woman, who spoke with authority, would call the vision center at the ‘box’ store immediately, and contact their headquarters if needed.

A few minutes later, the vision center gal called to inform me that they had a gift card for me since they owed me my discount. Wow! Did God fight that battle or what? I just stood there, like, what happened? I showed up to take a stand, barely, and God did the rest.

God was not only active in the Old Testament and New Testament times. He is active in our lives today! Watch and see!

Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” And so is God, the great I AM!

Praising and thanking the Lord for His interceding for us! I would love to hear your stories.

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Overwhelmed?

Can you say Jehoshaphat? Nice. Now, who was he and what did he do?

Jehoshaphat was one of the kings of Judah who, in his troubles, cried out for God’s help. Smart man. When he learned that armies from three nations were coming to wage war, he decided to inquire of the LORD. As he prayed with the people of Judah, he admitted, “For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you” (2 Chron. 20:12).

I’m sure we can relate to Jehoshaphat here. Received bad news? Felt overwhelmed and powerless? Like our only hope is in the Lord?

God’s answer for Jehoshaphat was this: “Do not be afraid or discouraged…For the battle is not yours, but God’s….You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you…Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you” (2 Chron. 20:15-17).

Notice, Jehoshaphat had to still go and stand, but the Lord ambushed the enemy.

God is our Deliverer. He is with us and will answer us when we seek Him. He is on our side and gives us courage and power to stand for good and do His work. May we put our faith in God. Then we, just like the people of Judah, will have good reason to bow down to worship and praise the LORD.

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