Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tuesday, June 30, 2009 "Potential"

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath. He was eager to destroy the Lord's followers, so he went to the high priest. He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them - both men and women - back to Jerusalem in chains. As he was nearing Damascus on this mission, a brilliant light from heaven suddenly beamed down upon him! He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?" "Who are you, Sir?" Saul asked. And the voice replied, "I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you willl be told what you are to do." The men with Saul stood speechless with surprise, for they heard the sound of someone's voice but they saw no one! As Saul picked himself up off the ground, he found that he was blind. So his companions led him by the hand to Damascus. He remained there blind for three days. And all that time he went without food and water. Now there was a believer in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, calling, "Ananias!" "Yes, Lord! He replied..."
~ Acts 9 ~ New Living Translation

Potential. This is the word that kept springing up in my spirit and my mind last night and this morning. Potential. It had me really wondering what it truly meant, so I was driven to look up the definition. According to the Webster's Dictionary it is: existing in possibility: capable of being actual.

I was not thrilled with this definition, but then I looked up the antonym (opposite of) and it is actuality.

So then I pondered potential from God, inside of me. OK, I'm a deep thinker and it gets me in trouble sometimes, it literally sends me into an abyss as it overwhelms to think on the potential that God has inside of me that He wants to draw out of me. As I think about it, it is like thinking of eternity...there is a 'vanishing point' where my mind can not go there, the cliff of understanding throws me off. Does that make sense?

So I think of potential that was inside of Saul who became Paul. Wow! He was on his religious binge that he truly thought and believed what he was doing was honoring to God. Many of us know that he was truly a terrorist in that time. He terrorized, tormented, tortured and killed many Christians in the name of 'god'.

I believe as I was trying to place myself in that time frame and in that culture there had to be some Christians who truly prayed for his soul. I would have to believe that the very one's that were killed at Saul's command prayed for God's potential to rise up and out of him.

Many of us also know that as Saul was on the road to Damascus he was literally thrown off his 'vehicle' or his horse to see the demise of more Christians. He was not only thrown off by the glorious light of God, but he also became blind for three days. In this moment was the transformation of the counterfeit into the authentic of God's mighty plan for many as God impacted Saul's life to great change.

As God's authenticity rose up inside of Saul, he was forever changed. His name was changed to Paul, when he regained his sight he saw differently - now seeing through the eyes of God through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.

This potential became reality. As the potential became reality it effected so many lives forever even 'til this very day.

When God's potential rises up in us, it affects a change that is eternal and it makes an impact greater than an asteroid can make on any planet.

Let's just think on today what the potential God wants us to live in actuality. Let us realize that this potential is not for us to glory in and say, "Look what I have done." Instead we can say, "Look what He has been able to do through me." As we do this we will be reminded that through potential becoming a reality we are "vessels of honor, set apart and useful for the Master prepared for every good work" (2 Timothy 2:21).

The miracle of Saul's life becoming Paul is so amazing. Let us see the potential in others. Especially the one's that we say there is no hope...we can pray as many of those persecuted believers did. Prayerfully see the God given potential to rise up and out and touch many lives giving glory to God from where their help comes from.

God didn't give up on us; let's not give up on others or ourselves. With the potential He has placed within us; let us look to the One who is the Author of our lives. He knows our ending, may we not forecast our ending the opposite of what He has pre-ordained and declared over us. He declared those things over our lives before the foundations of the world were ever set.

May we be driven by God's potential with knowing the result is to touch many lives; more importantly blessing our God. Just as He gives us those 'God Kiss' moments, may we give him a kiss with our lives.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Monday, June 29, 2009 "Being Reminded"

"But when the Father sends the Counselor as My representative--and by the Counselor I mean the Holy Spirit--he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I myself have told you."
~ John 14:26 ~ New Living Translation

I am reminded of a spring evening as my daughter and I were taking a walk. I had one mission in mind; to get home. My daughter's mission however, was much different. I was taught a very valuable lesson that beautiful, spring evening. Her mission being different than mine, was to enjoy nature; to just go for a walk. Her cares had nothing to do with getting home 'right now' or to complete the next 'agenda' of life.

I realized in that moment that as adults we can be so 'To Do List' oriented that we do not enjoy what is before us; unless of course we 'plan' a day for enjoyment.

As we went for our walk, we hurried home. She shouted with excitement, "Mom! Look! A lady bug!" At first I must admit, I was annoyed as I had a goal in mind to get home. I thought, "Big deal." Then at that very moment I was convicted by the Holy Spirit to be intoxicated with this moment with my gift from God; my daughter.

I received a whole new outlook on this walk. I stopped and saw this beautiful lady bug, not just anywhere but on a beautiful green leaf blooming from the branch of a tree adorned with white flowers. Wanting to fully enjoy this moment with my daughter, I became as a child and with a shrill of excitement I said, "Let's go home and get the camera!" Her beautiful brown eyes framed with those gorgeous long lashes along with that excited smile said, "Yay! Let's go home." She jumped up and down with excitement and with laughter we ran home; about three blocks.

As we ran, I prayed, "Lord, I pray the lady bug will be there when we come back." We ran to the house, fumbled through my keys, finally unlocked the door, opened the door, ran inside closing the door behind me, ran up to the office, grabbed the camera, running back down the stairs as we informed my husband what we were about to do.

We were so excited as we hurried back outside to the spot where we were. However, when we had last seen the lady bug I did not realize how many trees were along the sidewalk, until this very moment. I became anxious as the 'get things done' itch started to rise up again, forgetting to enjoy the moment.

My daughter looked up at me. I looked down at her and said, "Do you remember which tree it was?" There were four trees lined up in a row full of beautiful white flower buds and green leaves. We started laughing with some disappointment as it seemed as though it would be like trying to find a needle in a haystack at that point in the search.

I half-heartedly prayed, "Lord, which tree is it?" Then, it was as though He brought it back to my memory the exact place where we stood when we had last seen the lady bug. I looked slowly through the flowers and leaves on the tree branches, but could not find the lady bug. At this point, I thought, "Well, I have the camera, and these flowers are beautiful, so I'm going to take a picture of the green leaves and this white flower."

I snapped a photograph with my little 'Kodak' camera of the small white flower and when I looked through the digital screen on my camera to see what the photograph looked like, with absolute awe I found that I had captured a picture of the lady bug! It was so awesome from the area where I stood. I had taken the photograph not knowing what was right before my lens. It was as though God had positioned me right where I needed to be to capture a moment that I had no idea what I was about to capture.

This moment was so beautiful. I learned so many lessons in those few moments. I felt I was the student being taught in the classroom of life. My lesson that day? The seemingly insignificant can be truly significant to God.

I was also greatly reminded of how our children can be great vessels to remind us to enjoy the life that God has given to us. No matter the difficulty of our life, we can still enjoy that moment that seems so small like the lady bug; yet the small lady bug adds beauty to Whom God takes pleasure in; just as He takes pleasure in you and I.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

June 27 & 28, 2009 "Let Brotherly Love Continue"

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"Let brotherly love continue."
~ Hebrews 13:1 ~

Receiving some feedback from yesterday's devotional brought me to tears. It is greatly obvious that God has a great love for his creation. Especially men and women who emulate His heart to serve others even unto death - whether they know Him yet or not.

My dad sent me an email in response to the devotional yesterday of a woman who is a manager that works at one of the 'Firestone Complete Auto Care' stores in Fort Hood, Texas. Her husband is a Colonel in Iraq and flies Apache Helicopters.

As I read her comment, I wept trying to comprehend the great love for country that these men and women possess. There is a 'vanshing point' of comprehension to try to realize the depth of love from the families that are left behind supporting the great love for country that the sons and daughters, husbands and wives, the fathers and mothers and families possess. I immediately think of the children who cry themselves to sleep keeping the faith that they will see their mommy or daddy again.

I truly don't understand this kind of sacrifice. Yet Jesus Christ my Savior does. He possessed this great love for God, for us and for the Kingdom of God. Of course He does not only possess this love; He IS this love.

I am led to the word 'agape'. I have heard it said that the greek word 'agape' came about as there was no such word to describe this peculiar love that people possessed for one another who called themselves lovers of Christ.

After Christ had died, resurrected and ascended to heaven and then as the Holy Spirit came revealing the Son of God, the people who were not yet followers of Christ could not believe the love that these people possessed for their fellow brothers and sisters as they worshipped this One True God revealed by Christ Jesus and now revealed by the Holy Spirit.

It brings me to another group of early Christians. During Nero's reign he ordered the execution of many Christians. The Christians were led to the Coliseum to be torn apart and killed by the lions. Nero had heard the most peculiar reports. He had heard that as the Christians were being led to their gruesome deaths they weren't doing anything but praising God. Nero was led down to the dead, mutilated bodies finding that there were smiles on the faces of these martyrs.

When I heard about this from Roger last Sunday as he taught at church, I thought to myself, "I want this love for God." I realize that this love for God is attainable. It is not attainable through my human comprehension of love but by God's great Helper, His Spirit, the Holy Spirit.

The soldiers defending our rights across many oceans; even in our own country their service reveals a glimpse of the great and awesome love of God! I must say, "Thank you!" I say this with great ferver and passion to all of you great soldiers! I say this to the spouses and children left behind, mothers and fathers, grandparents, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins, and friends who represent these awesome people!

I want to end this devotional today on a side note about an experience my husband had flying on Southwest Airlines a couple of weeks ago. It is in regards to this airline carrier who showed forth their patriotism as they honored our brave soldiers.

My husband who gets emotional over very few things was choked up as he shared this story with me. As people were seated on the plane getting ready for 'take off' the flight attendant spoke over the intercom with the following announcement and said something like this: "Good Morning! Thank you for choosing Southwest Airlines. Before we take off today we would like to honor our military as we are able to fly some of our soldiers today on this flight. Let's make sure they know our gratefulness as they serve our country with great sacrifice." Choked up, Tim said immediately following the announcement the plane roared with a wholehearted applause and whistles of gratefulness.

To hear this one story from someone who had experienced it left me in tears to realize how much more we must honor our soldiers especially their families who are left behind.

For those of you who serve our country whether you wear the uniform or you represent one who has or still does; I honor you.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday, June 26, 2009 "God Uses Prayer To Change Things"

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"The LORD [is] their strength, And He [is] the saving refuge of His anointed."
~ Psalm 28:8 ~

The stars and the moon illuminate the dark sky. The wind softly blowing as the sand moves effortlessly in the wind.

The men and women move with caution as their feet are dressed in black combat boots. Their heavy boots sink into the deep sandy ground as they advanced towards the enemy. Suddenly the leader of the group signals to the rest of his men and women who see through their night vision goggles to stop.

At this very moment halfway around the world, an intercessor awakes from her sleep as she is immediately led to pray. The words uttered out of her mouth flow like a river out of her belly. This is a moment she will never forget. Her mind cannot comprehend what she is praying for. The only thing she is sure of is that the Lord has awoke her to pray for the soldiers that serve her country.

As she prays, on the other side of the globe the men and women who advance towards the enemy territory are realizing with harsh reality that they are about to be ambushed. Suddenly at that very moment they watch in disbelief as the enemies run the opposite direction in absolute horror. Our soldiers watch as their enemies run for their lives. It was as though they had seen something that frightened them to the point their hearts almost failed them.

Running for their lives, the woman who awoke with the leading to pray was released to go back to bed. She had no idea why she was led to pray and had no idea why she suddenly stopped, however, she had great peace that she had done what she was led to do and that was to pray.

God in His great infinite power can release His warring angels on their behalf, as they heed God's word.

As I imagine this scenario, I am pressed by the reminder from Poppa C.O. Farmer to pray for our soldiers that serve our country. We cannot forget them nor shall we forget their families. We also must not forget the ones who gave their lives for the liberty and freedom that we should not misuse for our own intentions. I am also reminded to be grateful to the ones who are still living yet have lost limbs, an outward reminder to us of what they lost we gained.

May we pray to God through Jesus Christ protection over our men and women. For peace to surpass all understanding over them and their families that they leave behind. We pray for the parents who release their young men and women into harms way. We pray peace to replace anxiety and fear. We pray for wives who miss their husband's and husband's who miss their wives beyond what we could ever imagine. We pray for the children who dream of the day they get to see their mommy or daddy again.

I think of the mother, Dora Johnston who recently released her son, Jake to the Marine Corp. This devotional is dedicated to you and all the families that are in your similar situation. I pray you know the God who is your refuge in time of trouble. I pray you know His great strength in the midst of feeling the weakest and most helpless. Our hearts go out to you and we are honored and privileged to pray for you all.

May we know the power of prayer and truly remember that it is not 'just' prayer that changes things..it is the God of prayer who changes things through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thursday, June 25, 2009 "Sandpaper People"

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"Let love for your fellow believers continue and be a fixed practice with you [never let it fail]."
~ Hebrews 12:1 ~

Have you been around someone that didn't like you? It isn't that they go out of their way to tell you with words they don't like you. It is their actions that "tell on themselves". I would be more ok with it if it wasn't someone that I knew, but being that it is someone I know, I really struggle.

I have gone to the Lord about a situation I am walking through right now. You have no idea how badly I wanted to allow the flesh to rise up and just confront the issue 'head on'. By nature, I am not a confrontational person, however, I have been tempted to get to that point.

Surprisingly today, through this situation as I was going to God with my hurts and questions, I was challenged by His love. I was challenged to look within my own heart. Even though I had 'justifiable' reasons to point out the issues in this particular person. In this mode I saw through 'justifying' eyes why people don't like to be around this person.

However, the challenge from the Lord today as I looked into my heart I saw things I had rather not seen. Yet, to get over this feeling of inadequacy when I'm around this person I knew I had to deal with what God was highlighting in my heart.

This is what I discovered, I have an issue with wanting to please people. I have the 'please approve of me' syndrome. I realized today that this is another root attached to pride. The reason it is pride is because I am concerned about ME and how I feel when I please people. It has nothing to do with wanting to truly please them; it's about how I feel in the process of the pleasing. It is another 'point' for me in the game and in the process of the game that person might benefit, but truly it had nothing to do with them (It is embarassing to even reveal that)...LOL!

Through this hard lesson that I have learned today from the Lord is that my purpose is to please Him. In this process, it may not be received by some, just like when I try to please others, it still won't be received by everyone. However, it is getting to that point that when I place my pleasing attitude onto God then it won't matter in the long run to me if someone else was 'pleased' by my actions, for my concern is only on the Lord.

I heard this quote a few years ago from my dear friend Sue as she was led by the Holy Spirit. She said to me, "Teresa, when you 'try' to please others they won't take pleasure in what you do. However, when you please God, many will take pleasure in what you do." I sort of got it then when she said it, however, it rings more true today as I am reminded of what was said.

This is difficult for someone like me. However, God has revealed a tiny glimpse that being around 'sandpaper' people will smooth off the 'splintered' areas of my own heart. However, this will only happen when I allow God to show me what I need to change in my own heart. Looking at 'them' and being focused on what needs to be changed in their heart is not going to cause change in my own heart.

I cannot be concerned for that person's heart by focusing on them and their weaknesses. I have to rise up and out and pray for these type of people, releasing the way I feel around them to the Lord. I learned today that what I need to change in my own life is to please Him more.

I am finding at this moment as I write that what pleases Him most is when I direct my praises to Him. I need to quit rehearsing what that person did or how I felt as I am around them. Rehearsing those things only praises it. I don't want to praise that situation or feeling in any way.

I must re-focus. My focus must be on the Lord. The Lord is Love, He not only HAS love but more importantly HE IS LOVE! I am reminded at this moment that "love covers all sins" ~ Proverbs 10:12.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

June 23, 2009 "The Opposite"

"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."
~ Matthew 5:13-16 ~

I was watching the informative video for the Segway Tours in Austin. It was funny to watch and see that the normal way we move and function is the opposite of what we are required to do to operate the Segway machine.

As I thought about that, I was reminded of how we are called to do the opposite of how the world operates. We are part of the world but we are not to be conformed to it's way of doing things and thinking. It is amazing when you truly think about it, living in the world is a world of habits that we do not want to pick up, yet I have many that remind me of this.

I am reminded today that I want to live with power so that what I do as I operate through the power of the Holy Spirit it excites and causes people around me in the world to ask the question, "What is different?" And I can say, "I'm glad you asked..."

We are not of the world, but we are called to go into the world. We are not to separate ourselves from the world, but we are called to separate our way of thinking, and doing from the world. The question that is in the forefront of my mind this morning? How will they know I'm not 'of this world' if I'm just like them? They never will know.

I am encouraged this morning to know that we have great power on our side. It is now my job to allow the Holy Spirit to work through me. Will I allow the Spirit of God shine His light on the hurting, and struggling?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

June 23, 2009 "Trust and Obey"

"And we will receive whatever we request because we obey him and do the things that please him."
~ I John 3:22 ~

Obedience and trust is what we are called to place on and towards God, to please Him..

Do I truly trust God? Do I trust that when difficulty comes against me, do I truly believe that He will not leave me nor forsake me? Do I believe that He is God who is the Provider? Do I believe He is the Only True Source? Do I believe that He is my Strength and My Refuge in times of trouble?

If I believe those things about Him, do I trust Him? If I trust Him, obedience should automatically follow. It is difficult isn't it? But why? It's not because of God, it's because of my own selfish thinking. Many times I think about the right now. We very rarely think of down the road. There are many times that I don't think about the long term rewards of being obedient now.

Trust and obedience go together so beautifully. It is like a pair of scissors. It is effective only when the two sharp pieces of metal work together in unison cutting through things that need to be cut and formed.

When I trust and obey in the Lord there will be a cutting away of the excess and a forming into what God wants me to become for His glory.

The words to this old hymn, 'Trust and Obey' comes to my mind:

1. When we walk with the Lord in the light of his word, what a glory he sheds on our way! While we do his good will, he abides with us still, and with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey,
for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus,
but to trust and obey.

2. Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
but our toil he doth richly repay; not a grief or a loss,
not a frown or a cross, but is blest if we trust and obey.

3. But we never can prove the delights of his love until all on the altar we lay; for the favor he shows, for the joy he bestows, are for them who will trust and obey.

4. Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at his feet, or we'll walk by his side in the way; what he says we will do, where he sends we will go; never fear, only trust and obey.

Monday, June 22, 2009

June 22, 2009 "The Past Just Happened"

"Jesus said to him, " 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'"
~ Matthew 22:37-39 ~

Think about the past for a moment. That sentence I just wrote...it is now the past. That sentence too. Wait! And that one too! O my goodness, it's mind blowing to actually experience the past just a second ago. It's now gone. It is here, and now it is gone before I even finish this sentence.

I know this sounds crazy. Yet, if you think about the past, it's just that - crazy! The present a second later is the past.

I'm overwhelmed by this thought. It truly brings me to living my life in this present moment on purpose for God's purpose. There is a point where my mind experiences the 'vanishing point' of comprehending such a thought.

I am lovingly reminded that The One True God desires for my desires to line up with His. What are His desires? One that has been coming up over and over in my heart and mind is to love Him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I desire to love Him this way. How is this possible? Is this humanly possible? We definitely cannot love God who is LOVE on our own strength or our own ability. So how do we do this? We must do this by relying on God who is Love to Love Him this amazing way.

I love that - in order to love Him like He commands us to is by relying on Him. This is another overwhelming provoking thought too. Isn't it?

As we ponder the present as in just a second it will become the past; let's be intentional and purposeful to rely on Him for what we are called to do for His glory and honor. We are called to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. As we do this, we can then love our neighbors as ourselves.

Jesus came to fulfill the law, He did not come to destroy it. The ten commandments from the Old Testament and Old Covenant are literally wrapped up in these two commandments that Jesus commanded us to walk in. If we love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, we will automatically be able to love others no matter what.

When we love God like this we can do the following with no issues...
We won't have any other gods before Him,
Nor will we have any graven images
Nor will we take the Lord's name in vain
We will remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy
We will honor our father and mother which is the first commandment with a promise
We won't murder
We won't commit adultery
We won't bear false witness against our neighbor and
We won't covet our neighbor's house, spouse, etc.

I would have to say that my 'litmus test' to find out where my heart is on loving God it would be on a moment by moment basis seeing if any of these commandments are being broken. If so, then I know I need to rely on God even more, for I know He will grant me the ability to love Him the way He calls me to.

May our God be loved by us; as He is honored and glorified.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

June 20 & 21, 2009 "Entrust"

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him: He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and] so shall your plans be established and succeed."
~ Proverbs 16:3 ~

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths."
~ Proverbs 3:5-6 ~

What does commit mean when we are to commit everything to the Lord? According to 'Webster's New Explorer Dictionary' it is the following first definition:
To put into charge or trust; ENTRUST

In other words, when we commit what we do, say and have to the Lord we must put Him in charge, we must Trust in Him and ENTRUST it to Him.

What is the definition of trust? According to 'Webster's New Explorer Dictionary' it is the following definitions (noun):
1. Assured reliance on the character, strength, or truth of someone or something
2. A basis of reliance, faith, or hope
3. Confident hope
A few synonyms to trust: confidence, dependence, faith, reliance

The verb to trust (action):
1. To place confidence: DEPEND
2. To be confident: HOPE
5. To rely on or on the truth of: BELIEVE

These definitions are eye opening for me.
I need to place my confidence on God.
I need to be confident in Who He Is; not only in what He does.
I must Hope in Him.
I must ENTRUST all things to Him.
I must rely on the truth of Who He Is, by believing in HIM.

No matter what my circumstance, body, report, or people say I must believe that God is Who He Says He Is. I must TRUST only in Him.

God reminds me today of Proverbs 3:5-6. When we trust in the Lord with ALL our hearts like He says to do, there is no room to place trust in anyone or anything else - especially ourselves. When trusting Him with ALL our hearts, there is no room for disappointment in others or things, because it will bring us to the realization that ALL things work together for good to those who are called according to HIS purpose.

There are many things we learn throughout the day when we allow the Lord to teach us. So many times we misplace our trust in our spouses, children, friends, jobs, etc. However we will all fail each other. I believe that we can have confidence in each other's integrity, however God has not called us to trust in anything or anyone but HIM. For He knows how idolatry can sneak right in, without us even knowing.

"Father God, I want to trust You Lord with all my heart and I don't want to lean on my own logic or understanding. Thank you for your reminders to trust in You at all times. I realize again, the more we learn about Who You the more I realize I know nothing at all, for You are so AWESOME and ETERNAL. Thank you that you are the Author and the Finisher of our Faith. You will see to it that our Faith in You is complete. I love you Lord. In Jesus Mighty Name, Amen!"

Happy Father's Day to the BEST FATHER of all FATHERS!! Almighty God!!!! Secondly, Happy Father's Day to my awesome Dad, Jerry Stevens and to my amazing husband, Tim! Of course Happy Father's Day to and all the other fathers out there!

Friday, June 19, 2009

June 19, 2009 "Boasting About Tomorrow"

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"Do not boast of [yourself and] tomorrow, for you know not what a day may bring forth."
~ Proverbs 27:1 ~

The media reminds us daily of a tiny glimpse of why we cannot boast about tomorrow.

I am led to ask, "Lord, why am I motivated by wants of today?" I want you to be the Lord of my life; yet I have a 'Dictator of Wants' (I got this one from my 'mom-in-love), that I have allowed to become the 'ruler' of my life. The only Ruler of my life should be My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The funny thing I realize is that I don't have the finances to support the wants that tell me, "You'll look better Teresa if you have that." "If you have that car, Wow! That car is so you!" Or how about this one? "They'll think you are important if you have that designer bag." The list goes on and on, of the voices from that 'Dictator of Wants'.

How do we go about our lives not boasting about tomorrow? I believe it could be through dedicating that day we wake up and commit our day to the Lord. Realizing and thanking Him that He has allowed us another day on His beautiful calendar of life. Also realizing that as we thank Him for another day it is made evident that if He has allowed us another day then we need to live that day for Him. When we finally realize the need to live for Him, the want for other things will diminish. The deep roots of insecurity must be rooted out that we feel we 'deserve' to have that or this.

Obviously, I don't stop living and don't stop taking care of myself and my family. However, I switch my concerns over to the concerns of the Lord. I want my desires to change over and allow the desires of the Lord to be in me. What a lesson today as I have many desires that don't line up with His.

What a great reminder knowing that He truly loves me when He highlights another area of my life that needs to be worked out and removed so He can replace it with something of Him. If we only could see that what He wants to replace in and over us so much more than we could ever hope, imagine or dream of.

I thank you Lord that your mercies are new every morning. You provide a new slate every day for us, Lord, I thank you for your beautiful love and mercy.

As I ponder these thoughts, it is so awesome how we can be free from boasting about tomorrow and ourselves and truly begin to boast in God!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

June 18, 2009 "Getting Through"

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for peace and not for evil, to give you a future and hope."
~ Jeremiah 29:11 ~

Sorrow, oppression, depression annihilates her. She sees her husband who not so long ago was strong, and full of mobility. His ability to provide for his family was something she had never witnessed before. She is now haunted by the reminder of death as this man she loves and adores withers away in a frail, sick, cancer stricken body. She is reminded of death and forgets life as he is stricken by a death sentence of cancer from the reports of his doctors.

Hopelessness, the will to live, fades as a young father who is newly divorced, has three children in which he has sole custody. He has lost his job of many years, his home has gone into foreclosure and the sheriff has removed him and his children from this place that he once called home. He awakes to thoughts of failure. As he awakes from little sleep as he sleeps in his car with his children, he stares at them as they are his everything, and the thoughts of, "What if I lose them too?" He tries to hold back the tears as he knows he has to be strong. He looks for another job...anything at this point is better than nothing. His children are his motivator to keep going to not give up hope in Christ.

A woman haunted by her past, yet her present is just that-a gift. She has children a great husband and even knows Jesus Christ as her Savior. Yet, bondage of the past she allows to hold her back. The chains that Jesus Christ freed her from, she now places back on willingly, yet unintentionally. She entertains and unknowingly glorifies what she use to do, as it condemns her and says, "How can God truly use you? She justifies her inability to progress by blaming her upbringing. Yet Christ has already provided His way...the way to freedom, through His Word.

There are so many other different, difficult scenarios that are taking place in people's lives at this very moment. Please know that God is the lifter of your head. You are loved and he wants to saturate you with His overwhelming peace, provision, grace and love; as Perfect Love casts out fear (I John 4:18).

Just as he said to Jeremiah the prophet, I know He says to each of us when we allow Christ to become our Savior that He has a hope and a future for you.

The reality of difficulty you live in right now, does not have to determine your end result. Just as in Psalm 23, Yea, though I walk through (The key is walking through, we don't have to stay there) the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.

Though the 'shadow' of death tries to remind you of where you are going, run to the Shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91) and He will show you where He wants to lead you.

This is an encouragement to me today, and I pray that it encourages you as well. This promise is for those who have a covenant relationship with God through Jesus Christ. If you do, keep your faith in and on Him as if He is for you, who can truly be against you (Romans 8:31)? Praise God, no one!!!!

This is my declaration (To broadcast) over myself today only because of Christ Jesus:
"I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. I am not righteous because of what I have done, but because of what Christ has done. I am free because I know the TRUTH. Who is Truth? Jesus Christ. Because I know Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord I am made free. Greater is He is that is in me than he that is in this world. If God be for me, who can be against me? Thank you Lord for your Word that I can declare and echo back to You what You say of me. You have called me worthy because of Jesus Christ. Thank you Lord that I am free in you. Everything I lay my hand to do I shall prosper for your glory. I will not allow my present difficult circumstances to tell me where I am headed. I will not take my eyes off of you. I am declaring that I am MORE than an overcomer because of what Christ has done for me!"

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

June 17, 2009 "Sorrow with Repentance"

"For God can use sorrow in our lives to help us turn away from sin and seek salvation. We will never regret that kind of sorrow. But sorrow without repentance is the kind that results in death."
~ II Corinthians 7:10 ~

His shoulders shook as sorrow annihilated him. Sitting in his chair, his head bent down as his large hands grasped his chair trying to hold back the tears. Hopelessness seemed to overshadow his life as he knew it. He couldn't see clearly anymore, nothing made sense. He was the one who for years took care of his family, worked long hours as this is how he showed his love for his wife and family.

Regret and remorse had overtaken his thoughts. The thoughts of "If only..." "What if?" Shaking his head back and forth, regretting the 'lack of living' he lived the past 25 years or more of his life. Time had gone right through him and his family. It was like having great wealth which represented his family and time was the money spent. He had nothing to show for it.

"I had all this time, and a beautiful family to enjoy. I chose to show my love as I felt I was being greatly responsible versus truly loving and living my life with them. O, how I wish I could savor that time spent just one more time."

He thought of the years that had past when his daughter on a daily basis when she was young would beg him to smell the flowers with her. Yet, getting the task done for the day was priority over something that seemed so insignificant. More thoughts of regret, "If I could go back to those days. If I could have picked her up, ran with her in my arms and smelled those flowers until I couldn't smell anymore."

As I imagine someone going through a similar scenario in some way; maybe even more great than this, I want to offer you the encouragement from God. Those moments we forget to live are usually in the smallest acts. It might just be choosing to go for a walk with your spouse or child and literally smelling the flowers and intentionally hearing the birds sing and the dogs bark.

This scenario that I was led to imagine reminds me of my abuse of time that God has blessed me with. I am reminded of the times my daughter has begged me to go do something so little. What she asks of me does not require a financial dime. I am reminded that the cost of my time is nothing in comparison to the cost of regret, which is like a lingering debt that is owed to the one's who should have received it.

I am reminded that 'my' time, is not 'my time'. It is God's time that He allows me to manage. I am only a steward of that time, it is not mine to hoard.

I am also reminded that as this man who has lost everything; God can still redeem and restore that which he has lost. Regret can be the greatest enemy to progress or it can be a great motivator to progress.

If we are human, there are regrets that try to haunt us. Regret is for sure "nothing new under the sun" as Solomon would say.

God is for you not against you. Remind yourself of this. To the degree regret tries to press you; is to the degree that we must remind ourselves to press into God enjoying Him and the gifts that He has so richly blessed us with.

"1-2-3...PRESS IN!!!!!!!!"

June 16, 2009, "Triumphant Victorious Reminder's Photograph"

Testimony of the Photograph for Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"But when the Father sends the Counselor as My representative--and by the Counselor I mean the Holy Spirit--he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I myself have told you."
~ John 14:26 ~ New Living Translation

I am reminded of that beautiful spring, early evening as my daughter and I were taking a walk. I had one mission in mind; to get home. My daughter's mission however, was much different. I was taught a very valuable lesson that beautiful, memorable evening. Her mission being different than mine, was to enjoy nature; to simply go for a walk. Her cares had nothing to do with getting home 'right now' or to complete the next 'agenda' of life.

I realized in that moment that as adults we can be so 'To Do List' oriented that we do not enjoy what is before us; unless of course we 'plan' a day for enjoyment.

As we went for our walk, I was in an unnecessary hurry to get home. My daughter lagged behind when suddenly she shouted with excitement, "Mom! Look! A lady bug!" At first I must admit, I was a bit annoyed, focused on my destination. At first, I thought, "Big deal." Then at that very moment I was convicted by the Holy Spirit to be intoxicated with this moment with my gift from God; my daughter. In that moment as I hesitantly stopped, I received a whole new outlook on this walk. I stopped and saw this beautiful lady bug, wanting to share in the excitement that my daughter expressed with such livliness. This small lady bug was not just anywhere but on a beautiful green leaf blooming from the branch of a tree adorned with white flowers. Wanting to fully enjoy this moment with my daughter, I became as a child and with a shrill of excitement I said, "Let's go home and get the camera!" Her beautiful brown eyes framed with those gorgeous long lashes along with that excited smile said, "Yay! Let's go home." She jumped up and down with excitement and with laughter we ran home; about three blocks.

As we ran, I prayed, "Lord, I pray the lady bug will be there when we come back." We ran to the house, fumbled through my keys, finally unlocked the door, opened the door, ran inside closing the door behind me, ran up to the office, grabbed the camera, running back down the stairs as we informed my husband what we were about to do.

We were so excited as we hurried back outside running to the spot where we were just moments ago. However, when we had last seen the lady bug I did not realize how many trees were along the sidewalk. I became anxious as the 'get things done' itch started to rise up again, forgetting to enjoy the moment.

My daughter looked up at me with some concern. I looked down at her and said, "Do you remember which tree it was?" She shook her head. Now, I must tell you that when we left the scene, I only remember there being one tree...not four! Yes, there were four trees lined up in a row full of beautiful white flower buds and green leaves. We started laughing with some disappointment as it seemed as though it would be like trying to find a needle in a haystack at that point in the search.

I half-heartedly prayed, "Lord, which tree is it?" Then, it was as though my steps were being ordered by Him. As I moved, I was now planted in one spot. I looked slowly through the flowers and leaves on the tree branches, but could not find this lady bug. At this point, I thought, "Well, I have the camera, and these flowers are beautiful, so I'll take a picture."

I snapped a photograph with my little 'Kodak' camera of the small white flower and when I looked through the digital screen to my surprise, I was in absolute awe! I found that I had unknowingly captured a picture of the lady bug! It was so awesome from the area where I stood! I had taken the photograph not knowing what was right before my lens. It was as though God had positioned me right where I needed to be. The undeniable moment of beauty and awe in something that seemed so small.

O goodness. This moment was so beautiful and beyond memorable. I learned so many lessons in those few moments. I felt I was the student being taught in the classroom of life, the teacher being my daughter led by the Spirit of God. My lesson that day? The seemingly insignificant are truly significant to God.

I was also greatly reminded of how our children are great vessels to remind us to enjoy the life pleasures that God has given to us. No matter the difficulty of our life that attempts to steal our focus, we can still enjoy that moment that seems so small like the lady bug; for we must know that He takes pleasure in what He has created.

June 16, 2009 "Senses"

"Now the Angel of the Lord came and sat under the oak at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, and his son Gideon was beating wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. And the Angel of the Lord appeard to him and said to him, 'The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor."
~ Judges 6:11-12 ~

Do you become frustrated when you don't see results you expect in your life? What about in the lives of others?

Many of us possess our five senses. The one I truly appreciate, yet take for granted is the sense of sight. To be able to see things through my eyes when I take a moment to appreciate it, it is quite amazing, isn't it?

However, with that sense of sight, I am hindered by what I MUST see; through the eyes of faith as it needs to be on God and what He sees. This thought leads me to one of my favorite men in the Bible. His name? Gideon.

I imagine there was great distress during this time in history as the Midianites and Amalekites oppressed the Israelites in many ways. Wherever the Israelites sowed seed for their crops; the enemies would come in and destroy their crops and would leave nothing for them. If you have ever seen the movie, 'A Bug's Life', I imagine that is to a small degree what it may have looked like.

The Israelites had done evil before the Lord, and the Lord gave them into the hand of their enemies, according to Judges 6.

I imagine Gideon, his pants rolled up high past his knees, sweating profusely as I imagine he had these thoughts going through his head:
"They are coming! What am I going to do? How am I going to hide all this wheat? If they see that I'm trying to hide this crop, I will surely die." Gideon's thoughts of fear overtaking him as he was in the winepress stomping the wheat with all his might.

Looking at Gideon through natural eyes I would say, "Poor guy, he doesn't have a chance!" Yet, an angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon and said, "The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor and courage."

What? Gideon a mighty man of valor and courage? Come on! This is the last guy I would think would ever be called and described with those two words; valor and courage?

This is when I got a tiny glimpse into FAITH. This is Who God IS...He is FAITH and HE operates in FAITH! He called forth the potential that He saw in Gideon by speaking forth over Gideon what he was to become. This is key! God didn't speak over Gideon what his current state was; HE spoke over Gideon what He was to become by God's power.

I love this! When condemnation rises up against you and 'speaks' to you by reminding you of your past sins, current sins, failures, mishaps, misfortunes...God speaks forth over your life! He speaks what you are to become for His glory! Now the important part is that we believe what He has called us to be. We also have to remember that becoming what He sees in us and created us for is not going to happen because of our own strength. Our strength will run out, however, His great ability is eternal and never runs out.

God created you and formed you and knew you before the foundations of the world were ever set. He has mighty plans for you! However, that plan is not for your glory, but for His!

As we are a RESULTS NOW people; we see ourselves and others for right where they are. This is so backwards to God! We have got to see a glimpse of what God sees. If we don't - we will destroy our lives and others by speaking forth what we already see, and many times what we see right in front of us, is not very hopeful.

Where you and I are at this moment in our lives; does not have be to the 'end' result; it is our process as God is molding us as He has declared before we were even formed in our mother's womb the purpose that is to be maximized in and through us for His glory to benefit others.

When you see dismay and hopelessness; echo back what God sees and that is Victory and Freedom! Our words are tools to either tear down or build up! Let's use the tools that God gives us freely...tools to build up!

The demolition ball and the building tools are right before us...which will we choose?

Remember what you can declare over our life and others, "I am (He/She is) a vessel of honor; set apart and useful for the Master prepared for every good work!"

I can not worry about what I don't see. I must confess it every day, and one day I will see the plans on paper become a reality! As parents, spouses, friends, and neighbors we have a great hope when we look through the plans of God!

Monday, June 15, 2009

June 15, 2009 "Where Does My Help Come From?"

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"I will lift up my eyes to the hills...from where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth..."
~ Psalm 121 ~

Is there a struggle today? Are you being hard pressed at this very moment? Is the struggle you are going through, something you never thought would happen to you? How are you trying to relieve that struggle and pressure?

I am reminded of the scripture in Psalm 121, "From where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord."

When I continue to read throughout this Psalm, I found that the writer of this Psalm reminds himself who his help truly is. Yet, he does not stop there. He continues on by encouraging himself as he reminds himself who his Helper truly is, "The creator of heaven and earth."

After he reminds himself of who his Helper is, he then reminds himself who sustains him. As he reminds himself who sustains him, he then reminds himself that His Helper and Sustainer does not sleep nor does he slumber. I am so blessed by this very promise.

God's encouragement to you and I today through Jesus Christ as we are being pressed by a deadline, a relationship, health issues, job loss, a struggle with a child, the loss of life; may we be reminded and remind ourselves that the Lord of heaven and earth is the lifter of our head. He is our only hope in a hopeless situation.

The greatest reminder to me today is that He is not moved by any of my circumstances. Our circumstances are moved by who He is, whether it wants to be or not.

He is desperate for us to know who He is so that when pressures come against us, we can stand up in His unlimited strength pressing forward following Him as we have our spiritual feet 'clothed' in the 'shoes' of the gospel of peace. He brings us through and into His great plan and destiny for our lives for His glory.

As He is not moved by our circumstances; may we remember that our circumstances are moved by His MIGHTY power. They may not go away right away, but as we remind ourselves who He is, may we also remind our circumstances that we will not serve it in fear, but we will serve God having faith in Him; knowing that He works all things together for the good that are called according to His purpose. We must also remind ourselves that God has not given us the spirit of fear; but power, love and a sound mind.

I am reminded even more so today, the quote I heard sometime ago, "The more I learn about God, the more I learn I know nothing at all."

Let us only be moved by the Word of God, which is our Sustainer.

The italicized are the referenced scripture:
Numbers 6:25-26
Ephesians 6:10-18
Jeremiah 29:11
Romans 8:28
II Timothy 1:7

June 13 & 14, 2009 "Desperation"

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"And behold, a woman who had suffered from a flow of blood for twelve years came up behind Him and touched the hem of His garment; for she kept saying to herself, 'If I only touch His garment, I shall be restored to health."
~ Matthew 9:20 & 21 ~

The doctor said with great remorse, "I'm sorry but there is nothing that can be done."
Tears rolled down the patient's cheeks as her voice shook, "Doctor, are you sure?"
The doctor could not look at her as he could not bare to see the desperation in her eyes. Looking down he said, "I'm truly sorry. There is nothing we can do for you, we have the best of the best and even in that there is nothing we can do."

She walked away with her head down; another disappointing report. Yet even in that moment she did not give up hope that she would be healed. Many told her in their subtle ways that it was useless to even hope anymore.

She became desperate. She went to see the doctors of every background. She didn't care anymore. She would not live like this any longer.

With great frustration she thought to herself, "For twleve years I have been stared at, considered an outcast because of my infirmity. I have to be free from this." As she was walking away from the building where her doctor was, she felt weak and tired.

She leaned against the wall of the building and collapsed as she wept. Hope was fading. She no longer wanted to fight for herself. She fought for all these years, and maybe they were right. I just have to learn how to live this way.

Suddenly she heard a passer by say with excitement to someone else, "Did you hear? Jesus is coming through our town to heal a ruler's daughter? He'll be coming through our town. He's the one who does those miracles! We have to see if He is for real."

Suddenly, hope that once faded grew inside this woman like she had never hoped before. "I have to meet Him!" "I have to!" Running to and fro not knowing where she should go, she started to see a crowd gather. Immediately she just knew that they were gathering around this famous man, this man named Jesus.

With great vigor she ran even though her body was growing tired and weak. She had to run to Him. The crowd was growing by leaps and bounds as doubt started to grow trying to steal her hope as she thought, "There is no way I am going to get to Him. What if I get trampled?"

Suddenly, she saw a gap between some of the people and with determination pressed through. She pressed through as they stepped on her hands. The pain of them stepping on her didn't phase her. She was going to do everything in her strength to get to Him. As she looked up through the limbs of many people, she saw His face. She knew it was Him. With everything she had as she closed her eyes as her last effort of hope was before her, she reached out her bruised hands and touched the hem of His garment.

At that moment, Jesus felt the power leave His body and He said, "Who touched me?" Of course, the crowd grew quiet as the disciples I would imagine said, "Jesus, how can we determine who touched you? Look at all of these people who have touched you." The woman embarassed looked up at Him and said, "Jesus, I touched You. I just had to, I just knew that if I only touched your garment I would be restored to health." Then Jesus seeing her, "He said Take courage, daughter! Your faith has made you well. And at once the woman was restored to health."

As I imagine this scene being played out I want to stand up and cheer for this woman. She pressed through in every aspect of her life. I would have to imagine her desperation caused her to do things and go to people that maybe she should not have, however, she was determined to live the way she knew she should.

Finally with determination as she pressed through one final time she was led to the One who she needed to be desperate for. Her focus was on that One person, Jesus Christ. It was no longer in magic, witch doctors and whomever else she was desperate to see, she was now determined to see Jesus.

I pray that no matter what I am going through, or having to persevere through that I will not give up my hope in Christ Jesus.

Whatever you may be believing for, switch your belief over to God. Have faith in God over your situation. Many times I have had faith for a situation to change, yet my faith was misplaced. It was to be set on God and Him alone. So no matter what the result for that situtation, my faith would remain on Him knowing He will lead me through and to where I am destined to go for His glory.

Like the woman who was victoriously restored from the issue of blood, may our focus be touching Him no matter what the cost or pain, knowing that He will look at us and say, "Daughter! Son! Take courage for I Am with you."

Friday, June 12, 2009

June 12, 2009 "Ruin to Restoration"

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"A woman came up to Him with an alabaster flask of very precious perfume and she poured it on His head as He reclined at the table. And when the disciples saw it they were indignant saying, 'For what purpose is all this waste? For this perfume might have been sold for a large sum and the money given to the poor.' But Jesus, fully aware of this said to them, 'Why do you bother the woman? She has done a noble (praiseworthy and beautiful) thing to Me. For you always have the poor among you but you will not always have Me. In pouring this perfume on my body she has done something to prepare Me for My burial. Truly I tell you, where this good news (the Gospel), is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will be told also, in memory of her.'"
~ Matthew 26:7-13 ~
Amplified Version

"I must see Jesus!" "What shall I wear?" "What could I bring to Him to show Him my love for Him?" Her face blushed as she realized what she was premeditating.

Suddenly, she saw something through her peripheral vision. She turned to find an alabaster box and with excitement her eyes twinkled with a provoking thought, "I can offer to Him what is inside the alabaster box."

Her thoughts became a battlefield of doubt and reasoning as the conversation in her mind took place,
"No, the box filled with perfume is too expensive, that will be a waste."
"No! But wait, He is worth more to me that even this alabaster box filled with fine perfume."
"What if His disciples turn me away and don't allow me to see Him?"
"They have been known to embarass people by trying to 'shoo' them away. With my dark past, this will be a perfect opportunity for them to shame me."
"I don't care, I must see Him and I must do this, He must know my love for Him."

As I imagine this scene of the woman with the alabaster box. This unforgettable woman who came to Jesus, washing Him with the fine perfume from the broken alabaster box, it is a glimpse of her own life of brokenness revealing her hopes of restoration and dreams of being made whole again.

No matter what her dark past consisted of, she knew that He would restore her. She assuredly knew His compassion, love and mercy that He had shown all the times before upon the thousands of people that He encountered would take place upon her life.

I imagine that as she pre-meditated this meeting with Him that her fears of many things would try to stop her from meeting her Destiny Maker; Jesus Christ. Soon after this encounter with this woman, Jesus would face His destiny to do His Father's will which was to die for the sins of the world; past, present and future so that Father God would have His family restored back to Him.

I imagine that at that moment as He was getting ready to face death, hell and the grave; this woman unknowingly as her heart was filled with love for Him was preparing for His death and burial.

I love how just as she was preparing for this; in turn He would put to death and bury her shame and new life would resurrect upon hers.

Please know that the Lover of your soul is waiting for you to come to Him. He doesn't want you to wait until you have it all figured out, or until you straighten your life...no matter how together or unraveled your life is, you and I will never figure it all out.

Jesus is the lifter of our head. He is! You are not the lifter of your own head and no one else, but Him. Don't try to fix the brokenness with outside sources, when He wants to fix the inside problem like only He can; for He is the Source of all resources.

Allow Him to put to death and bury your shame, failures and condemnation and watch Him resurrect you into beauty, significance and loving conviction.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

June 11, 2009 "Vessel of Honor"

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"But in a great house there are only vessels of gold and silver but also [utensils] of wood and earthenware, and some for honorable and notable [use] and some for menial and ignoble [use]. So whoever cleanses himself [from what is ignoble and unclean, who separates himself from contact with contaminating and corrupting influences] will [then himself] be a vessel set apart and useful for honorable and noble purposes, consecrated and profitable to the Master, fit and ready for any good work."
~ I Timothy 2:20-21 ~

Definition from online dictionary:
Ignoble~ Not noble in quality, character or purpose; base or mean
Synonym~ Dishonourable

Have you ever tried to use another 'tool' to hammer a nail in? I have. Using the plastic part of a screwdriver, the end of scissors, or a shoe. You name it, I have probably tried it. There have been times where it even did the job I needed it to; however, not to the potential that an actual hammer could.

We are to be vessels of honor, set apart and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. Being that this is the case, we can also be vessels of dishonor. Whether it be utilizing our mouthpiece as a tool of discouragement or allowing jealousy to tell on ourselves as my girlfriend Carine has said. Whatever it may be, we are to utilize ourselves as tools for His glory.

Many of us would love to speak before people and have a platform that way. However, for many of us what if our platform is towards our family to minister grace to?

Maybe the platform is your workplace with other co-workers and customers.

Another platform is ministering to your spouse and children, which I believe is the most important. Extended family is important too, such as parents, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, however, do not take away from where you are called at that moment and that is with your spouse. I made a covenant vow with my spouse, not my extended family or friends.

Whatever season of our life we are in, let us be the vessels that God has divinely called us to live. Again, this is difficult, yet it is great to be aware of.

Again, we can definitely be vessels of dishonor. It will get the job done that it was meant to do, and that is to hurt and destroy. However, the potential as a vessel of honor gets the job done that the vessel was designed to do.

I want to get the 'job' done for God's purpose for His glory and honor. I can either be a vessel of honor or dishonor. Which one will I choose moment by moment?

June 10, 2009 "The Confessions of Our Mouth"

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"For I have said, Mercy and loving-kindness shall be built up forever; Your faithfulness will you establish the very heavens [unchangeable and perpetual]."
~ Psalm 89:2 ~

I have been lovingly convicted of this question: "What are you 'confessing' or 'declaring' over your life?" Many times the question that God asks is the very issue He wants to free me from or highlight so that He can 'prune' it out.

It leads me to a thought. Would I ever say to someone to their face, "You are stupid!" "You are worthless!" "You are an idiot!" "You are ugly!" "You have no value!" "You are so insecure, you can't speak!" "You don't have the right background for God to use you." "You a such a mess that even God can't help you!" Just to type such declarations are a bit disturbing.

I was profoundly shaken when I realized these comments had been made by me to me! These comments were directed towards a very valuable creation whether I believe it or not, and that is me.

What has given us this so-called 'right' right to speak such things over ourselves? Why? We justify by saying, "It's just me, it's no big deal." I realize today that when I have made these comments, declaring such things over my life with the spoken word, it takes form and it becomes a belief system that turns into a habit that turns into second nature, and then it becomes a normal way of living.

When we speak over our lives and others who are we echoing? Are we echoing what the enemy, Satan has said over us? Or are we echoing back what God has said.

Here is the difference in how I attempt to speak now over myself and others. It is very difficult, however progression is better than standing still and it is much better than regression. I thank the Lord that He knows we are works in progress. Our progress can be accelerated however when we are thinking of Him in the process of our daily life, every moment of the day. It is possible!

Here is the difference in my declaration now...before I echoed the following:
"Teresa you have no value, look at all the times you have messed up."
"Teresa you are ugly!"
"Teresa there is no hope for you as a good mother."
"Teresa give it up on trying to be a good wife."
"Teresa you are a hinderance."

Now the declaration over my life WHETHER I SEE IT OR NOT, I ECHO BACK WHAT MY FATHER SAYS:
"I am valued and I was bought with a price and Jesus says that I am His, because I accepted His gift of salvation. No matter how much I have messed up and sinned I thank the Lord that His mercies are new every morning. As His mercies are new I do not want to hurt Him or cause Him pain, so every decision I make I must be mindful of Him."

"I am beautiful in Him, for He is enthralled by my beauty. He gave me His beauty as I gave Him my ashes!"

"I have a hope and a future not only as a mother, but as a daughter of the King!"

"I am a wife that can be trusted by her husband, I am a crown to my husband's head, I am the weaker vessel in the sense that my husband guards me and holds me to high esteem as a treasure that He sought for far and wide."

"I am an encourager, I am a lover of others as I am led by God's love and compassion."

Who will I echo? I pray I echo the creative, powerful words of my God. Jesus is the Word made flesh! As I speak forth the Words of God, I speak forth the glorious power of Christ over my life! I can echo back what He says because of the Holy Spirit! For Jesus Christ revealed the Father God, He only did what His Father did! As Jesus left the earth, He did not abandon us, but He provided The Great Comforter by sending the Holy Spirit who reveals Jesus Christ the Son of God!

Today be intentional on your confession. It will feel awkward the first few days, however, the more you do it, the more it will become second nature. No man can tame the tongue! But you know who can? The Holy Spirit, IF we allow Him!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

June 9, 2009 "Acronym for Encouragement"

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"Now may the God Who gives the power of patient endurance (steadfastness) and Who supplies encouragement, grant you to live in such mutual harmony and such full sympathy with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus."
~ Romans 15:5 ~ Amplified Version

"Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the needs and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace to those who hear it."
~ Ephesians 4:29 ~ Amplified version

I do believe that this is important even to encourage ourselves. Especially when we are battling sickness, disease, depression, unforgiveness, etc. We have the tool that God has equipped us with to encourage even ourselves with our mouths...the spoken word. We also have this power from the Lord to do so over our children battling sickness, or anything that attempts to hinder them. Our bodies are to be in submission to the authority of Christ Jesus, so let us take authority over it and I believe our bodies will be encouraged as well as it is our vehicle to get us to where we need to go so we can touch other lives to ultimately glorify our Father God.


Edifying, uplifting in your words
Nurturing through your actions
Celebrating the gift from God within the one you get to encourage as an
Overcoming 'spirit' rises up within them because of Jesus Christ who
Unifies their heart with His Who
Restores their life in ways they could never imagine, realizing they are
Anointed to
Glorify God!
Excellence will flow forth from the encouraged as the
Majesty of God is Revealed! The
Encouraging word and action is
Necessary as they see they are
Triumphant so that they are equipped to encourage others!

Monday, June 8, 2009

June 8, 2009 "There's Pride and then there's Humbleness"

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"A man's pride will bring him low, but he who is of a humble spirit will obtain honor."
~ Proverbs 29:23 ~

Pastor Kim was teaching last night as we were wrapping up our last bible study on praying the Word of God. As she taught, I heard or 'saw' a word continually in my mind when she said the word, 'yeast'. As I wrote it down it took me back for a moment. The word I wrote down was 'lukewarm'. As I have made bread and remember our son saying something about the temperature of the water when stirring the yeast before placing it in the flour, I realized how the yeast is activated. It is activated by lukewarm water.

It was a quickening 'word'; a litmus test so to speak. I realized when pride comes in it is many times activated by being in a lukewarm spiritual state, many times revealed in legalism or 'religiosity'. It then brought me to the words of the Lord Jesus when He said as recorded in Revelation 3:16, "So, because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth!"

The 'lukewarm' life creates or activates the 'yeast' or pride in our life which God hates. I can see why He hates it...for it takes us out of the area where He can bless us. He so desires to bless us, yet many times we remove ourselves from the blessing.

It only takes a small amount of yeast to see the flour raise. I believe when we become lukewarm, it is when our focus is no longer on God but on ourselves and our circumstances that subtly takes us from the HOT to the lukewarm 'state' of living.

How do we maintain being Hot? By being as our Pastor Stephen says, "To be impressed with God...Where God can impact He can make an impression...As we are impressed by Him, it brings change."

Just imagine as we are continually impressed by Him moment by moment, He changes us and as He changes us He is making an impact. As He makes an impact, who are we able to impact by our being impressed by Him?

Have we all drank lukewarm water before? It isn't the most delightful way to quench our thirst.

It brings me to the verse in Proverbs 16:18, which says, "Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall."

Isn't it interesting that as yeast which describes sin or pride, it raises itself up. However, as we humble ourselves, keep in mind it's not God humbling us, for He tells us to humble ourselves (James 4:10), He will raise us up. At the end of the 'day' as yeast is raised it falls sooner or later, and in humbleness as it seems low, God raises it up.

I love how God doesn't have us do what He has called us to do that have 'logical' results. I believe I can safely say that in EVERY situation it is the opposite.

Lord, I see a greater revelation in Isaiah 55:8 when You said, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord."

May we continue to be HOT in our passion for the Lord as we stay impressed by Him. How do we stay out of pride? As my friend Judith in Michigan once told me as I was concerned with living in pride. She said, "Teresa, if you aren't fighting pride then you're living in it."

Let us be aware of our temperature moment by moment. I need this litmus test continually. Woooooo! What freedom to know that we don't have to be swept away by pride as it results in destruction.

Friday, June 5, 2009

June 5, 2009 "Seasons"

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"To everything there is a season, and
a time for every matter or purpose under heaven:
A time to be born and
a time to die,
A time to plant and
a time to pluck up what is planted,
A time to kill and
a time to heal,
A time to break down and
a time to build up,
A time to weep and
a time to laugh,
A time to mourn and
a time to dance,
A time to cast away stones and
a time to gather stones together,
a time to embrace and
a time to refrain from embracing,
A time to get and
a time to lose,
a time to to keep and
a time to cast away,
A time to rend and
a time to sew,
a time to keep silence and
a time to speak,
A time to hate,
a time of war and
a time for peace.
What profit remains for the worker from his toil? I have seen the painful labor and exertion and miserable business which God has given to the son of men with which to exercise and busy themselves. HE has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also planted eternity in men's hearts and minds [a divinely planted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but GOD alone can satisfy] yet so that men cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end..."
~ Ecclesiastes 3 ~

As I embraced my daughter as she wept for the end of her third grade year; it finally phased her that today was her last day. She said with crying hiccups and tears streaming down her beautiful face, "Mom third grade was the best year of my life. I remember my first day when we were little and now we've gotten older. Mom, I'm not going to see Mrs. Masi as my teacher every day in fourth grade. What about the visulazations? What if my fourth grade teacher doesn't do the visualizations? Mom, please do the visualizations with me." She continued crying as I continued to embrace her.

It brings me to the scripture written so eloquently by King Solomon. Our daughter's third grade year is wrapping up today. This season of her life is over. I started to think about the patterns in her behavior when something has ended. She does not like it at all. Well, come to think of it, when something is great, I don't like it to end either.

The beautiful reminder in which God has placed eternity in our hearts and minds, I can see how when things 'end' it is difficult. For God is eternal. There is no end to Him. He is the 'Beginning and the End' (Revelation1:8 21:6, & 22:13). This morning to even write that brings me to the 'vanishing point' of my thought process in trying to grasp such a thing.

I want to be mindful of the eternal things. I want to be mindful of the things I am called to do for God's purpose as those things will not end. Those treasures and seasons of life that I cherish here on earth will one day be 'moth eaten', become rusty and fade away.

Experiencing a chapter in our life of beginning or ending, whether it be with a job, seeing your child graduate, or you may even be graduating, maybe you have had to say, "Goodbye" to someone who has sadly died or you may have welcomed a new life into the world, whatever the situation; may we constantly look to the One who is the 'Beginning and the End' (Revelation 1:8, 21:6, & 22:13). He is our Hope as there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 3:15).

I want to hold fast onto His Eternal Purpose and let go of my own.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

June 4, 2009 "In Awe"

Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"O Lord, my Lord how excellent (majestic and glorious) is Your name in all the earth! You have set your glory on [or above] the heavens."
~ Psalm 8:1 ~ Amplified Version

"And the effect of righteousness will be peace [internal and external], and the result of righteousness will be quietness and confident trust forever."
~ Isaiah 32:17 ~ Amplified Version

Sitting under the shade of an oak tree; I looked ahead at the rippling waters that glistened from the rays of the sun, reflecting the beautiful movement of the water.

I looked across the lake and saw patches of land decorated by tall wild grass. Framed with white wildflowers surrounding the wild grass like a ring. Straight ahead as though I were staring at a painting come to life, I saw a tree in the middle of a small island of yellow flowers and wild grass that surrounded the tree like a beautiful skirt in the water.

Just yonder there was a pier connected to a large covered gazebo. The wind blew gently as it caressed my hair behind my shoulders. At that moment I imagined God by His Spirit carressing my hair knowing that whatever tried to come against me I could look back on this sweet experience of feeling His presence so beautifully. As the wind blew I saw a beautiful crane glide across the lake into his nest within the wild grass. It was his refuge place.

Beyond the waters a wall made up of rock that stretched for mile; edged the whole side of the lake dressed with beautiful trees clustered so beautifully together. The wind blew a little harder as I saw two ducks to my right one standing resting his eyes watching his feathers being gently ruffled in the wind, and the other tucked her neck and head behind her.

The duck and geese had come over to me earlier hoping that I had some food. However, I had come under the shade of the tree to study the Word of God for a bible study that Pastor Kim is leading.

Most of the geese and ducks waddled away getting back into the body of water, when about 15 minutes later, as I was reading the Word of God aloud one of the most wonderful experiences happened as the ducks and geese headed back towards me. Some bravely waddled closer than arms length to me. I continued to read aloud and a few minutes later realized that behind me I was surrounded in the form of a semi-circle by both ducks and geese.

Turning slowly around a little fearful I may get attacked, to my surprise they were all resting. It was such a beautiful sight, I truly wish I had my camera to capture such an amazing moment. I realized that God's righteousness manifested the effect of peace that I would have to believe these ducks and geese had to 'feed' on. From this beautiful experience I saw how excellent God's Word and Name is in all the earth.

I was taken back that the earth does not deny giving forth the glory to God; yet man has tried. I want to declare the glory of the Lord as the heavens do. I want to lift up my arms to the Lord in praise to Him and not care what others think just as the tree branches lift high their limbs towards the heavens. I want to have joy and blessings flow out of my mouth as the birds use their voices to sing praises to the Lord. I want to bow down like the billowing waves of the sea before Mighty God. The earth and the universe reveal the glorious, Majesty of God; the question I ask myself, "Do I?"

Lord, I thank you that You are Almighty God. Your loving kindness is better than life itself. Lord, I want to praise you in everything, not for everything, but IN everything. Thank you for the Holy Spirit who helps me walk in compassion and thank you for the desire to feed on your Truth and thirst for You. As the crane flew into his refuge place, may I hide in You as You are my refuge, my hiding place.

Just as stated in yesterday's devotion to the Lord, let us be reminded that God does not slumber nor sleep. He is more than worthy to be praised!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

June 3, 2009 "I Need Help!"

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip or to be moved; He Who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep."
~ Psalm 121:2-4 ~

Laying out by the pool, catching some rays; getting an 'overdose' of Vitamin D something caught my attention.

I noticed a mom of two children trying to gather her belongings as she was holding her little boy who was no more than 4 years old. She had another little boy who was approximately 6 years old trying his best to gather things in his little arms to assist his mom.

She had a bag hanging from her left forearm, a little boy hanging on her right hip as his legs wrapped around her waist and her right arm tightly wrapped around him. She didn't have any arms left as she struggled trying to reach for the rest of her belongings that were on the ground. As I saw this, I got up from my chair and went over to try to assist her.

As I approached her, I said, "Is there anything I can help you with?" At first she was a little stand offish and then I felt awkward. However, I pushed through the awkard moment and said again, "Please, let me help you, I'm a mom too, it's ok to say yes if you need help." She very politely said, "No that's ok, I'll just make two trips." Then I heard her older son speak up like a little man, "Yes we could use your help." I giggled and said, "You know what? Mom's can be silly sometimes it's hard for us to say we need help." He giggled as though he knew exactly what I was talking about from experiencing it with his own mom.

After this real life scenario took place, I thought of how pride comes in so many different forms. In this scenario it was in the form of "I don't need help, when it was obvious she did." We need to get past the "Supermom", "Superwoman", "Superman" facade and just receive help sometimes. I realized also that she was going to reject my help if it wasn't for her son who received the help on her behalf. I was truly being robbed of being a blessing to her and in turn she was robbing herself from assistance.

(As a side note: I believe I also need to state the following: If you are someone who is constantly saying, "Yes" when sometimes you need to say, "No"; you have got to remember that you are not superwoman or superman...it's ok to say, "no". That could be your opportunity to pray for that person to have someone else assist them. I need help in this area BIG TIME too...just because I write these devotionals, does not mean I think I have it mastered, actually it's totally the opposite. I write to myself, I have to preach to myself everyday, moment by moment, if you could only see me at times you would think I was crazy. Well, ok I am crazy but you would think I was even crazier if that is possible)!

There are many people out there that need our help, we need help at times too. Let's not be fearful of rejection if we ask for help, or trying to assist someone else. More than anything, God wants to help us moment by moment with our lives. Are we going to allow Him to help us? Or will we do it on our own, only adding coals of frustration to our life?

Let us remember who wants to help us beyond our wildest dreams....God Almighty, the Creator of the heavens and the earth. That's an awesome thought that leads my mind to the 'vanishing point' where I can't even imagine because of how awesome He is.

June 2, 2009 "Can not Can't"

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
~ Philippians 4:13 ~

"I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner stregth into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ's sufficiency]."
~ Philippians 4:13 ~ Amplified Version

The following is the phrase I received yesterday during my cycling class which was extremely challenging, yet worth the challenge. The cycling instructor who was a 'mad man' shouted with passion, "'Can't' is not in your vocabulary, do you understand?" Of course I have heard this statement many times, however, this time the Lord used that statement to open my eyes a little more to HIS unimaginable Truth.

I wrote down the following, "God provides the "can" through Christ when the opportunity to say, "I can't" is readily available."

It brings me to this thought Lord. Why is it when many of us give our lives over to You and allow You to become the Master of our life through Jesus, enpowered by the Holy Spirit, it seems as though we unknowingly allow this 'religious' bondage to come onto us as we say, "I can't" do that.

Do any of these phrases sound familiar?
* I'm a Christian now; I can't drink.
* I'm a Christian now; I can't do drugs anymore.
* I'm a Christian now; I can't talk like that.
For those who are not married yet:
* I'm a Christian now; I can't go that far with my boyfriend or girlfriend or fiance.

Lord, help me to rephrase the way I speak. Even when it 'seems' like the right thing to say.
I want to say and reveal to others that are following You what we can say instead:

* I'm a Christ follower; I can be free from drinking as I now have the Joy of the Lord.
* I'm a Christ follower; I can be free of any drug as You have provided a way of escape for me.
* I'm a Christ follower; I can be free of speaking curses and I now get to speak blessings.
For those who are not married yet:
* I'm a Christ follower; I can go as far with my boyfriend, girlfriend or fiance as I would if my parents or pastor were in the room (With most you probably wouldn't even kiss...LOL! I got that one regarding 'How far is too far?' from the book, 'Kissed the Girls and Made them Cry' by Lisa Bevere).

Lord, I pray that we do not give You our bondage to take hold of the counterfeit which is that religious bondage. Lord, I thank you that you are our Refuge and Stronghold. Lord, I thank you that you have made a way to escape from temptation that we may be able to bear it. Thank you for equipping us with the "I can" through Christ Jesus Who is our Strength. Thank you for a freedom outlook on serving you versus a bondage outlook.

May we be strengthened today, by the "I can do all things through Christ (that are pleasing to Him) Who strengthens us."

Lord, I want to reveal freedom to show that I am bound to You versus being bound to religion. Religion hurts people; Relationship with God through Jesus Christ heals, and makes whole in all areas. Remember we are works in progress....just keep progressing, keep going.

Regression starts when progress stops.

Monday, June 1, 2009

June 1, 2009 "God's Compassion Revealed"

"When He (Jesus) went ashore and saw a great multitude of people. He had compassion (pity and deep sympathy) for them and cured their sick."
~ Matthew 14:14 ~ Amplified Version

"He has made His wonderful works to be remembered; the Lord is gracious, merciful, and full of loving compassion."
~ Psalm 111:4 ~ Amplified Version

Driving to see my mom to spend the day with her, I was listening to the radio. I heard the 'DJ' come on after a song was played as she answered a phone call. The caller was a woman who had a story regarding a monumental moment that had taken place at a Special Olympics event many years ago.

The caller's dad, who served on the police force for over thirty years, was a security guard at the event in Wichita, Kansas. The caller began to tell this inspirational story of what her dad and many others witnessed.

She said, "My dad was watching a race and the boy who was on his way to get first place realized that the boy running behind him who was going to take second suddenly fell".

As I continued to listen to the caller, enthralled by every word she spoke, I heard that the boy running for first as he realized his fellow athlete had fallen he did not hesitate as he slowed down, turned around and ran towards the young man. As he ran towards him the crowd was watching in disbelief as this boy with Down Syndrome had compassion oozing out of him as he stooped down, reached for his fellow athlete's arm, picked him up paused for a moment to make sure that his fellow athlete had his balance as they ran together towards the finish line.

The crowd was overwhelmed as she stated that this day her dad had witnessed in the stands that there was not a dry eye in that place. For they witnessed such beautiful compassion flow forth.

As I heard this story, tears flooded my whole being as they seeped out of my eyes, streaming down my face. I thought about it for a moment and said, "God you are so amazing to reveal your love and compassion through these beautiful people that are 'Down Syndrome'. They are such great teachers of your unconditional loving compassion.

I was amazed by this young man's courage and his lack of pride so that he did not prevent himself from helping a fallen 'brother'.

Through this powerful story I saw how compassion was displayed so simply through the eye's of love. I do not want to forget that as I run the race towards the finish line where Jesus stands bidding me and leading me through every obstacle that as I stay focused on Jesus,The Compassionate One will remind me to turn back for those that have fallen on the way with His great help through the Holy Spirit.

I do not want to allow 'religiousity' that flows in pride, to rob me from being a blessing to someone else. I want to ALWAYS be mindful and humble of Who I truly get to run the race for. As I am mindful of Who I truly live for, just as the boy who ran back for his fellow, fallen 'brother' during the race; so I pray I will turn back and help someone else. The process is so that we no longer run alone towards the finish line, but we run together, holding each other up and advancing.

Let us activate that which is already within us. Remember, we cannot do this on our own, it is not something that takes place just because of 'positive thinking' and 'positive speaking'. These are definitely principles that God has provided but ultimately with those in hand and you allow Jesus Christ and the Word of God to change your thinking and speaking, the power that will abound will be unimaginable.

Do you know Him as your Lord and Savior? If not, and you want this, call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved. Your spirit knows how to cry out for Him, just cry out to Him, say His powerful name, "Jesus"! He is waiting to see you put down pride of what you think of how you should believe; and receive humbleness as He will lift you up and rescue you from something you didn't even realize you needed to be rescued from.

He is the Author of Belief, do it His way, you will never be the same. It doesn't mean you won't still have struggles, but O how wonderful to know that you aren't going through the struggles on your own strength, which soon and it is guaranteed our own strength will fail us.

The key when you receive Him and you go through the struggles is to Look Up and Praise Him, no matter what you are going through. When you look up at Him and Praise Him your perception changes. Your problem may not change immediately but your perception through the problem will!

His promise is that He will never leave you and He will never forsake you as a covenant promise to those who believe in Him. He will never fail us. Who better to run the race with and towards than the One who already HAS the VICTORY!