TRIUMPHANT VICTORIOUS REMINDERS
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
Written by: Teresa Criswell
"Dear children, let us stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions. It is by our actions that we know we are living in the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before the Lord, even if our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything."
~ I John 3:18-20 ~
I am enamored by the love of God shown through the letters of the Apostle John. It is assumed that the Gospel of John, as well as First, Second and Third John were written by him because of the similar styles of writing. He addresses the people in his writings as 'children'. You can almost hear his loving voice through his writings that he had an endearing love for God that was transferred over to the people.
He writes and encourages the people to not only with our words but with our actions reveal the truth that God so graciously has placed within us because of Christ Jesus. Though our hearts may condemn us for sinning, we can know that we have the Truth so powerfully living within us knowing that He quickly forgives as we confess with our mouths and repent by turning away with our actions.
I remember in 2006 I was working for a well known restaurant in Michigan. I had not worked outside the home for about eight years and was blessed to be a housewife and 'stay at home' mom. We had experienced financial hard times in which I was unable to find a job anywhere. The only place that would hire me was this particular restaurant.
I remember before going into work each day, I would literally on purpose get 'filled up' with praise music and the Word of God. This boldness would rise up as I would get that 'unction' to declare that light of Christ within me would show forth in the marketplace. I could feel the fighting and warring against the spirit and the flesh on a daily basis when I walked into work. I remember one of the declarations over myself was for the "Joy of the Lord to saturate me and those around me." God is so faithful, because He did it everytime beyond my wildest imaginations.
I remember wanting so badly to 'broadcast' that I was a 'Christ-follower', yet I knew I wasn't suppose to. I guess one of the reasons was because I was a little 'wimpy' about the crude jokes and the lifestyles being 'proudly' spoken about. I even remember saying to the Lord, "Uh, this just isn't for me God." How sad is that?
This memory was like yesterday. A server that I worked with; a sweet girl with beautiful natural curly hair. Her face framed with small wire glasses and her sweet voice said to me with curiosity, "Why are you always so happy?" I remember the words of my dad going through my head, "Teresa, actions speak louder than words." This truth he spoke came to 'life' for me that day. I looked at her with surprise and said, "Well, I'm glad you asked..." I was able to share with her that it was Jesus and His joy that was within me. From that day on, any chance she got she would want to come and talk to me. It was not because of who I was, but because of the Holy Spirit's power revealing Christ in me.
After this had happened, it got around fast that "Teresa was a 'goody two shoe' Christian". That wasn't what I wanted to be known as, but that was my label. The server staff were so sweet and very careful and even apologetic about cursing, yet so powerfully the love of Christ overrode my religious way of thinking and God would reveal through me that they were loved no matter what.
Well, after all this great breakthrough from the Lord, a few weeks had passed. One particular busy day, I heard one of the waiters as he was walking back into the kitchen literally shouting profanities as he was livid. This was not like him at all. He looked at me with great anger and said, "What's up with all you Christians?" He very sharply extended his arm and hand out and shouted, "Look what they gave me as a TIP!" He opened up his hand and it was there I saw a crinkled fake one hundred dollar bill that was a 'gospel track'. I remember so vividly what he said, "If these Christians can't go out to eat and give a decent tip don't come to a restaurant where we rely on tips as our income and then tell me that your God loves me!" I remember I was so embarassed and I said, "Please know that not all Christians do this." I truly knew that this was not true, however, he looked at me with eyes filled with anger and said another few choice profanities and then with disgust walked away. I was so embarassed, the only thing these particular Christians left behind was a fake one hundred dollar bill 'gospel track'.
I went to God and I said, "Lord, I am finding that some of the most generous patrons that I have seen yet are the one's who smoke and drink." I then thought carelessly to myself, "No wonder Jesus liked being around the sinners who knew they were sinners. Many of them had no agendas, they just wanted someone to accept them. As Jesus accepted them for where they were, they couldn't help but be changed and transformed in ways they could never imagine. (A few examples: Matthew, the tax collector. The woman with the alabaster box as she washed his feet with his hair. The adulterous women almost stoned to death. The woman at the well who had been married four times and was living with another man).
As I am reminded of this story, I realize that as we have every awesome gift of God within us shown forth by the Holy Spirit, we also must be obedient to reveal those gifts within us. Our actions must speak more often than our 'lip service' (As my mom would say).
I know I have been reminded of this today to allow the Lord to reveal His love through me, even when I don't feel like it. "To much is given, much is required." We have been given much! We have been given an awesome life from Jesus Christ. I am not to hoard it for my own benefit, but I am to let it flow out of my lips, hands, feet and actions to reveal God's glorious love.