Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Thursday, April 30, 2009, "Being Obedient When It Is Most Difficult"

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

"Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves..."
~ Matthew 10:16 ~


As I was praying for the families that have lost loved one's to the 'swine flu', I wanted to not just look at it as just a couple of people dying, but truly wanting to see the people, and in the process this is what was played in my mind:

I sadly imagine a mother desperately holding onto her daughter who has passed on; rocking back and forth in anguish.

A few days prior her daughter was beautifully spinning and dancing around in the house, humming and singing her favorite song. Many times during the days on this earth she with great energy would jump up and down with excitement as she with many words would describe the exciting day in school and how she anticipated an upcoming birthday party that she was planning to attend. As a matter of fact, she had just talked about the outfit that she was going to wear and how much her friend was going to love the gift she picked out for her.

Suddenly! Today with no warning, death came to snatch her little life. I imagine seeing the mother wailing over the body of her child. The guilty questions, "I wish I would have spent more time with you..." The laughter and smile of her daughter is the one thing that brings her to her knees in desperation of wanting to hear her sound of laughter one more time. So badly wanting to bandage up the 'boo-boo' on her knee one more time, wanting that moment again as she would smell the scent of her daughter's hair as she bent down to hug and kiss her. The one more time scenario's she rehearses in her mind over and over again.

As the scene is interrupted, I ponder the world we live in. Especially the 'Christian' world. Political correctness has taken over many churches and pulpits. What happened? How did it sneak in so subtly? It must have started in our own lives. I am guilty of forgetting for whom I am to ultimately live for. This life I live is so real, but it is just the beginning of life eternally.

Many times I take for granted common sense and forsake the godly wisdom for the wisdom of man and the world, because it may seem more cunning or eloquent in speech.

As I take a step back, seeing how we are annihilated with unemployment, financial stresses beyond what could have been imagined. Yet, there were people warning us, like Lindsey Williams and Steve Quayle on the alternative news and many others. Because it wasn't coming from the mainstream media, we called it, 'conspiratal'. It's amazing how these people have surrounded and saturated themselves in the Word of God. Face down on their knees being 'downloaded' with what to do and as they walked in faith getting understanding on how to do it, even 'divinely' knowing and having the ears and mouths of 'inside people' so that they could help others now and along the way. We weren't listening, we were like the people in the days of Noah...making fun, going about our 'business' as usual with the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches.

I am guilty of becoming so misguided by my feelings and driven by today and not eternity. The things I've heard from someone else and call it the 'gospel truth' when I haven't taken it to the Lord and researched it out myself to verify if it is truth.

For instance when I hear the reports on what my husband would call the "Tell-a-lie-a-vision", how do we know what we are hearing is truth? It is amazing as we have gone to the Lord in prayer for protection in our own lives, as we pray over situations and such things as the 'swine flu', He has faithfully provided protection as He leads us in Truth through unlikely sources; such as the alternative media.

We must 'rise up' and truly "be wise as serpents and harmless as doves" as Jesus said. It takes work to protect and guard those things, however, I realize that I must also trust God in the process when He leads us in truth of what to do and we will gain understanding on how to do it.

I am reminded that when He protects us He can do it in ways we would unlikely suspect. He wants to protect us, will we be like Noah or will be like the one's in his day who make fun and say, "We are the greatest nation ever, that can't happen to us, it's never 'rained' before." Are we going to help build the ark of protection? Or are we going to slip away in our 'political correctness' and 'drown' with the rest of the world?

I need to also remember that the unlikely men and women, the 'watchmen on the wall' throughout history and even now, were often ignored. I don't want to be the one who is guilty of ignoring them anymore. We have got to be, it is a must that we are the generation that rises up and have ears to hear. We must be prepared in every realm.

Look around us, in our church; we aren't prepared, we aren't ready, many of us are twiddling our thumbs, listening to the 'encouraging' messages to make us feel better and blessed for the day. We are to rise up and call HIM blessed. Yet we are divided in what kind of music we'd rather listen to in church, or ridicule the pastor for preaching that particular message. We are a generation into ourselves. Lord, forgive me for being one that has sat there in the 'pew' of life with my mouth opened so plump spiritually and saying, "Feed me, feed me more." We have to activate our faith in God. With faith and action power is ignited. If we truly do this, I believe that the pattern of selfishness will be destroyed and a new pattern will take place as we truly listen and heed to His voice.

This devotional is hard for me to write in particular, because I love to encourage and I don't like to step on people's toes and maybe cause offense. However, I am slowly coming to a place in my life where I can't care what others think when it comes to the truth. My love for the Lord has to be bigger than the care and concern of what people may think of me.

It doesn't mean it won't bother me, but I have to know that if I am finding the things I am finding out, no matter how 'crazy' it sounds, I have learned it for a reason...as Mordecai said to Esther (Esther 4:14), "you have been elevated to the palace for such a time as this."

This is the time to be so sensitive to the voice of God. Not to be led by fear of emotions, but to be led by faith in Him even in the midst of fear.

I must confess that I have been captivated by the world and it's deceit moreso than the Kingdom of God. One day when we reign with Jesus, I am sure that we will say shaking our heads, "We were concerned with that?"

I want to be vigilant for the glory of God as Esther and Noah. I may not see instant gratification in doing the right thing, however I will see that it can be as an act of worship unto the Lord as we are obedient, even when it is most difficult.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009, "Hem the Scene of Hope in God"

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

"Then the angel of the Lord came and sat beneath the oak tree at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash of the clan of Abiezer. Gideon son of Joash had been threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites. The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, "Mighty man of valor, the Lord is with you!"
~ Judges 6:11 & 12 ~

As I walked into the kitchen, the beautiful picturesque window beheld such beauty. The golf course surrounded by beautiful trees, leading down a hill as if I could see for miles. The light of the sun peered through the windows as something caught my attention. The light of the sun reflecting photographs on the breakfast table. Curiosity brought me closer to the photographs. Looking closer I realized that the faces in the photographs were family. The faces of my sisters and their families, my family, dad and mom and others with her fingerprints as evidence that she had touched each face over and over again. Next to her Bible and the photographs was a coffee cup which reads a quote that has been 'tweeked', "Hem your day with prayer so that the day does not go unraveled."~ Anonymous.

The photographs belong to my mom. She has pictures of her children, our spouses, her grandchildren, dad, herself and others. It's amazing to see the pictures of what I would call my beginning. It started with my parents, who begat 3 daughters and each daughter married and they altogether begat 7 children.

It is amazing that she prays for three generations every day and prays for the generations after her grandchildren. She touches each face as she lifts each person to the Lord and covers them in prayer by faith calling forth those things of God upon each of our lives. It is amazing to know the steadfastness, love and investment she makes over her family on a daily basis in prayer. It blesses me to know that we are covered, saturated and drenched in the prayers of my mother unto Jesus Christ who is at the right hand of the Father.

As she prays over three generations it leads me to a smile as those passages in the Bible that are many times so frustrating to read. Such as Genesis 5, Numbers 1-3, and I Chronicles 1-9. Attempting to read all the names that I have no idea how to say. I have even said to myself admitting this to God, "Who cares....", yet through those 'boring' scriptures it reveals that God is so into the generations. I heard it said once by a well known pastor, "When God looks at us, He not only see us, but He sees the generations after us." It is a WOW and aweing thought to try to comprehend.

This leads me to see that without faith it is impossible to please God. Why? Well, first of all because God is Faith, and He also utilizes faith on our behalf. We in faith have to remember that there are people connected to us that are not born at this moment. Maybe future children, future grandchildren. Nonetheless, God knows them at this moment, before they have been formed in their mother's womb (Psalm 139).

Think about this for a moment...when God saw Gideon (Judges 6) trying to hide the wheat in the threshing floor to keep that wheat from the enemies; the Midianites that were taking all of their resources, an angel comes to him and said, "The Lord says of you Gideon that you are a mighty man of valor."

I have to confess that when I have read that, I laugh. The reason is because where he was at in that moment was FAR from a mighty man of valor. Yet it is so powerful to see God speak in faith over Gideon what He was to become. He didn't speak over Him what He saw in that moment, He spoke over Him what he was to become.

Can you imagine if God spoke over us what He saw at this present time? We would be doomed. He is Eternal God, of course He knows what is to come before it happens, however to know that He calls us to do things that He has already done, is really cool. More than anything He has the provision to lead us as He has already led by His own example of faith as He sowed His life into us knowing what He would reap.

This is a great reminder to me that the decisions I make today, I need to ask myself, "How will my decision effect the generations after me?" When I choose not to make bad decisions because it's easier to deal with at this moment, I need to reconsider my decision based on the faces of tomorrow.

Just as my mom has the faces that she has 'begat' before her and her precious fingerprints are on each of our faces, I need to hold close to my heart and pray for the faces that one day will be living out what she has prayed.

"Hem the 'scene' of hope in God today so that the 'scene' of hope in God tomorrow does not unravel."

Monday, April 27, 2009

Tuesday, April 28, 2009, "Faith"

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

"And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you would say unto this sycamine tree, Be plucked up by the root, and be thrown into the sea; and it will obey you. "
~ Luke 17:6 ~


I was sitting at the table mesmerized as Kim spoke. The parable of the faith as a grain of mustard seed I had heard many times before, but this time it was different, when I heard about the sycamine tree this passage became SO real.

You may be saying, "Ok, so it's a tree Teresa, what is the big deal?" O but no, it's not just any tree, it happens to be one that Jesus pointed out as an example in his parable. We know that Jesus did nothing by accident nor was the example he used just a 'fluke'.

As Kim taught the bible study she taught us that the sycamine tree (This tree is named the sycamine in the King James Version Bible, the other versions will call it a 'Mulberry Tree') can grow up to 30 feet. This robust tree grows best in dry weather conditions as its roots are deep in the ground. Because it can grow in dry weather conditions it was the preferred wood for making coffins and caskets. The tree bears fruit that is very bitter; so bitter that it is unbearable to eat. And guess what it is pollinated by? Wasps. Another interesting fact is when a sycamine tree is planted near cement, the roots will destroy the cement; this is how powerful it is.

This truly represents how unforgiveness, bitterness and grudges can grow in an environment where it doesn't need maintenance of any sort. It takes deep root in our hearts. There is power to unforgiveness, bitterness and grudges; however there is even more power in faith. How much faith would it take to destroy the sycamine tree? The size of a mustard seed. Where do we place that faith? In God.

As Kim taught I was overwhelmed of the similarities. When my heart is like the fertile soil, being maintained daily, moment by moment, not just once a week, once a month or once a year, but moment by moment the things planted so beautifully in my heart are evident. However, if I don't maintain the ground or soil of my heart, those things that need no maintenance or care take over almost immediately and then suddenly if I'm not careful I will see no evidence of beauty or LIFE that once my heart had revealed.

Have faith in God through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit the size of the mustard seed and you can watch the sycamine tree be uprooted as you speak to it and watch it be cast out as the 'soil' of the heart receives the Seed of the Word of God.

Now I see a little more clearly the example in Mark 11:25, after Jesus taught about having faith in God and speaking to those 'things' or 'mountains' in our life, he emphatically stated, "but when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too."

I don't need or want to have a sycamine tree growing in my heart. However, I do need and want the Seed which is the Word of God to take root in my heart and pray that my heart is like the fertile soil as Jesus mentioned in Matthew 13.

When we pray, let's forgive those even when the world may say we have a right to stay in unforgiveness. It is our privledge and a command by Him to forgive as He forgave us all our sins.
I must have an inkling of why He commands it of us, so that we can be healthy in our bodies, mind and spirit.

I don't want to be a 'preferred' source for someone's coffin, but the 'preferred' source of someone's celebration of Life through Jesus Christ.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009, "Just Taking A Walk"

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

"And Enoch walked [habitual fellowship] with God after the birth of Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Enoch were 365 years. And Enoch walked [habitual fellowship] with God; and he was not, for God took him [home with Him]."
~ Genesis 5:22-24 ~

As I listened intently to the message at church; the analogy that our Pastor Stephen gave was genius, yet simple.

The title of the message, 'Just Taking A Walk'...

He indicated that 'The Cambridge Community Development'
http://www.cambridgema.gov/cdd/et/ped/ped_hlth.html did a study on the 'Health Benefits of Walking', the benefits included:

"Walking is good for your heart. A recent Harvard study shows that walking at a moderate pace (3 mph) for up to 3 hours a week—or 30 minutes a day--can cut the risk of heart disease in women by as much as 40%. This is the same benefit you would get from aerobics, jogging, or other vigorous exercise. The benefits to men are comparable.

Along with its benefits to the heart, walking:
-improves circulation
-helps breathing
-combats depression
-bolsters the immune system
-helps prevent osteoporosis
-helps prevent and control diabetes
-helps control weight (see below)

Studies have also shown that people are most likely to stick to exercise when it is part of their daily lives..."

Did you notice what that last statment just said? "People are most likely to stick to exercise when it is part of their DAILY LIVES..."

Our pastor simply stated that just as the maintenance of walking is proven most effective when it is part of the daily life, so it is when we are 'walking' daily with the Lord through the power of the Holy Spirit. I truly appreciated his 'tying together' the physical and spiritual similarities...they go hand in hand.

When we walk daily with the Lord we become more aware of the things we speak, do, and how we interact with our family, friends and strangers. We are able to 'fight the good fight of faith', especially when it is most difficult. When do we 'fight the good fight of faith' most? When there is great opposition.

I need to be walking daily with the Deliverer, our God so that I will never be the same from one day so that I may be able to help others along the way for His glory. Our healing is not just for our benefit so that we can say we are healed, it's so that we can be a blessing to someone else on this earth for His magnificient purpose.

I want to walk daily with Him and watch my circulation improve with His compassion brewing and flowing forth.
I want to walk daily with Him and watch my breathing become different as I breathe in His Word and Breathe Out Life.
I want to walk daily with Him and watch how it combats depression as I see evidence of His Joy manifesting in my life in place of my mourning and sadness.

When I get tempted to believe my circumstances more than what God says of my situation, I know I need to go on my 'walk' with God to remind myself of what I need to do...humble myself. God said to 'humble ourselves'....He didn't say to "Ask God to help humble you." It's something we do on our own. As we humble ourselves, we become a 'was not' as Enoch did. He walked daily with God and he 'was not', as Pastor Stephen plainly 'put' it. Not only in the literal sense, but also in how God was truly magnified in Enoch's life in ways I could never imagine.

It is truly amazing when we walk daily with Him, we humble ourselves before Him, automatically our perception of who we are increases greatly.

Our 'esteem' of who we are increases as our pride decreases in humbleness.

Let's go walk with Him today and experience the glorious benefits of His presence.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Saturday and Sunday, April 25 & 26, 2009, "Teaching Sunday School"

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

"And let us not be weary in doing well: for in due season we shall reap,
if we do not faint (give up)."
~ Galatians 6:9 ~

"But you, brothers and sisters, be not weary in doing well."
~ II Thessalonians 3:13


James stands in the classroom in dismay. His wife, Jennifer sits on the ground as tears well up in her eyes.

An eager little boy who wants to share his favorite song. He extends his right arm so high as if he were to raise it any higher he just might pull something. Wearing a white polo shirt, beige 'docker like' pants and hair spiked, Jennifer said, "Yes, share with us your favorite song."

The little boy looks around to make sure his audience of 22 is ready when suddenly with all his heart he belts out in his sweet, southern drawl, "TW'A'NKLE, TW'A'NKLE, LITTLE STAR, HOW I WONDER WHERE YOU ARE..." As he finished with a huge smile on his face as I would have to assume he thought to himself, "I nailed it." His audience claps for him.

As most precious children, the others want to share their favorite songs too. Another little boy raised his hand so eagerly. As he extended his arm upward and his little hand waving violently back and forth, Jennifer called on him and she said, "What is your favorite song?" He proudly says, "Spiderman". After he sang his song, another child, a little girl, or I should say a 'princess' accessorized in pink, with her 'bling bling' purse filled with little toy make up. She stood up knowing who she was...a princess. As she sings her favorite song she twirls up on her tip toes as her arms extend above her head like a ballerina.

Jennifer and James realize as some time has passed that they are the only adults. There is no teacher, they have no lesson planned, Jennifer asks herself, "What do we do now?" So she says to the class let's sing a song about Jesus. As she sings with the class her quiet husband who would never place himself in this situation looks frantically for a book to teach the kids about Jesus.

Sweating profusely he is stunned as he thinks with great irritability, "How did she talk me into helping out in the four year old class at church?" Suddenly his question was interrupted as he hears a sweet little girls voice. He looks down to see a beautiful little girl with flowing blonde naturally curly hair. He said, "Yes." The little girl desperately says, "Teacher, I need help! I have a snake stuck in my hair." Puzzled he said, "What? A snake?" He realizes the entanglement is going to have to consist of scissors. He shakes his head again saying to himself, "Never again."

He carefully pieces out each hair as he lovingly glares at his beautiful wife. He finally gets to a few last strands as he has to break the news to the little girl. "You have a choice, I'm going to either have to cut your hair or your snake." She starts to cry and almost screams, "No! Don't cut my snake." So he calmly said, "It's ok, we will just cut your hair in this one place."

Sweating even more profusely he hears his wife say, "Who loves you all so much that He died on the cross and rose again?" They all shout simultaneously, "JESUS"!

A few moments later, James finds a book filled with Bible lessons for the children. He opened it up and realized all the helpful activities to coincide with the lesson for the children.

Of course in his mind he thinks, "I found it a little late." A few more minutes passed by and it was time for the parents to pick up their children. It felt like chaos at this point. James and Jennifer just wanted to make it out alive.

It is so funny to hear this story from their mouths. James' and Jennifer's experience thrust into what they thought was to help and assist the teacher ended up that they were going to be alone with 20 children.

It left a lasting 'memory bank moment' (as my daughter and I say often). It also showed that as they have committed to their church to serve in this area, even as they don't 'feel' gifted in that area...they see that they got through it....by the grace of God! LOL!

Just like their experience many times we aren't prepared to take the 'curve balls' of life. We see how we can be driven by needing to know what the 'lesson plan' is. Just as James was desperately looking for a lesson plan to teach the children, we need to become desperate for the Plan that God has for us. Not running to our own plans that will only lead us to more frustration and dead end roads. The road may last for a while, not knowing that there is a dead end, notice the word 'dead'...unlike with God's plan, He leads us to paths of righteousness and LIFE.

Choices are constantly being made. We will have to ask ourselves, "Which one do I need to cut out?" When we run to God daily for HIS PLAN, we must realize as Jeremiah 29:11 says, "'For I know the thoughts that I think toward you', says the Lord, 'thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end' (a future and a hope)." Many times as we run to Him, it sometimes sadly becomes our 'last' choice when it needs and must be our first choice. It's difficult isn't it?

God is so faithful and He redeems our paths of unrighteousness. He makes our crooked paths straight (Isaiah 42:16). It doesn't mean that we won't go through hard times because of our choices. However, God is there to assist us through that hard time. As we do things that we know are righteous and for the glory of God; the last option, which shall not be an option is to give up as you do well.

We may never see the impact in doing what is right and well before the Lord, yet we just might. No matter what, whether you see the impact or not...just know that someone will experience the 'God thing' because of your obedience and not giving up hope in HIM.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Friday, April 24, 2009, "Book Fair Offers a Reminder"

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

"Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."
~ I Thessalonians 5:16-18 ~

The doors burst open as two little boys walked through the corridor, their eyes filled with wonder; they gasped for air in utter awe. As they exhaled they both ran with gigantic smiles, filling the room with laughter as they ran towards the books.

At a book fair, in their hands, held $5 gift certificates to purchase anything they wanted under $5. That is a bit difficult to do, especially considering how prices have gone up considerably, yet it was cool that they were able to receive a gift certificate from the school.

These boys did not care what the amount of their certificate was; they were just excited that they would be able to purchase something at the book fair.

You see this week our school is celebrating 'Literacy Week'. There were 35 kids in the school who were selected due to financial situations. These select children walked into the book fair with wonder and gratitude as they knew this was an uncommon treat.

There was one little boy who I noticed would walk towards a book that he was interested in, he'd flip the book over and look for the price and then put it down. He did this about 4 times. There was a leading in a particular woman's heart to purchase a book he was interested in without him knowing.

Somehow as he was waiting with the little erasers and pencils in his hand to 'pay' for his selection of pencils and erasers, he realized that the book up on the table was for him. He quietly went back to the place where he had found the pencils and erasers and was putting them back. I said, "What are you doing, why are you putting it back?" He slowly said, "Well I don't have enough money for these and the book. I want the book, so I'm putting these back." I told him, "O no sweetie, this book is for you, it's a gift to you." His eyes lit up as he ran back towards the erasers and pencils and picked them up eagerly awaiting to get back to his classroom to show his classmates what he had just received.

I told him, "You know this is actually God revealing His love for you through another person." He looked up at me with those soft brown eyes and said very humbly, "Thank you very much." He then said something that 'blew' me away, he was probably 9 or 10 years old as he said, "I'm so glad I'm a Christian, I don't know what I would do if I wasn't." I stood there in awe as my eyes welled up with tears, including the other woman (who had gifted another child with a book that he really wanted) who was also volunteering. We were utterly amazed by what was said out of the mouth of this child.

Just as this child who appreciated and was grateful beyond description for the book that was given to him and more importantly he received. I am 'reminded' that I want to have that special gratitude towards my Heavenly Father. He has those unimaginable blessings He wants to give us...are we willing to reach out our hands in gratefulness and receive them? He has already done His part...now what will we do?

I am so humbled as I saw this child 'remind' me to be grateful to the Lord. Just when we think we are only permitted so much of God's grace, He gives us more than we could ever imagine.

I pray that as I wake up in the morning and 'burst' open the doors to a new day that the Lord has made, that I will gasp for air as I'm in awe of what He has created and planned...to bless someone else for His glory.

Be in awe and wonder of His powerful, majestic, glorious LOVE.

Thursday, April 23, 2009, "Effectual Praying"

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

"...the earnest prayer of a righteous person (made righteous through Jesus Christ) has great power and wonderful results."
~ James 5:16 (NLT) ~

Have you ever really listened to the way we pray many times?

We have been equipped to pray the Word of God, yet many of us do not know the power that God has given us through His Word. No wonder that people perish for lack of knowledge. Many times I tend to think I have other options of what I call 'prayer'.I laugh as I shake my head in disbelief at my actions many times.

Here are some prayers you may find are not really prayers but more of selfish, get my way 'prayers'; we define as praying, but are sadly mistaken.

Many times I approach our God who is HOLY, JUST and RIGHTEOUS this way. He is KING of kings and LORD of lords. Sometimes I forget that He is not only my Friend but He is my FATHER, HE is KING whether I say He is or not, but is my King? HE is LORD, however have I made Him my Lord? He is whether I make Him My King and My Lord. He is Who He is whether I choose to believe it or not.

More than anything HE has equipped us to pray effectively...HOW? THROUGH AND BY HIS WORD. We must keep in mind that the angels only listen to HIS WORD.

Here are some examples of how we can pray at times:
Unintentional Prayer of Manipulation...Let's get this one out of the way...God does NOT manipulate so I must know that this type of so-called 'prayer' is not effective.
Example: "O God please make them feel bad about what they have done..."

Instead I must pray:
"Father God, in the name of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit we thank you that Your Word does not return to You void. As I am reminded of this I thank you Father that as Your Word says that your goodness is the 'tool' that leads man to repentance, turning away from the old and possessing the newness of You..."
~ Isaiah 55:11, Romans 2:1-4, II Corinthians 5:17 ~

Prayer of Begging and Bartering...
Example: "O God if you just please give me one more chance I will never do it again..."

Instead I must pray...
"Father God, I come to you in the Name of Jesus boldly by the power of the Holy Spirit and I thank You that Your Word says when I confess my sins You are faithful and just to forgive me of my sin and cleanse me and wash me from ALL unrighteousness. Lord, I thank you that your mercies are new every morning. I do not take for granted your goodness and mercy that follow me all the days of my life as I walk in obedience. Father, I know your grace is more than sufficient to help me and deliver me from this temptation, you make a way out that I will be able to bear getting through and past the temptation. I thank you that you make a way through the mess I have made and you turn it into your message of grace and hope..."
I John 1:9, Lamentations 3:23, Psalm 23:6, II Corinthians 12:9, Matthew 6:13,
I Corinthians 10:13

Prayer of Doubt...
Example: "If it's your will for him to be healed, please heal him..."

Instead I must pray...
"Father God, I come to you in the Name of Jesus revealed by the Holy Spirit and I thank you for Your sacrifice that You were brutally beaten and whipped, tortured and hung on a rugged, cross as You were obedient to God. You went to the cross to take on every sin, every sickness, every grief and every sorrow as Isaiah the prophet prophesied of your coming and declared that by your 'stripes' we are and were healed. I rejoice in that redemption, that we are to receive your healing that you have provided and reject the sickness that is not of or from you. For all Your promises are 'Yes' and unto the glory of God we who receive it say, 'Amen'. Lord, your Will of healing is revealed in Your Word. So I know it's not 'if' you will heal' but knowing that you will heal and I pray that your gift of healing be manifest upon his physical body in the name of Jesus..."
~ Isaiah 53:3-5, I Peter 2:24, I Corinthians 1:20 ~

I have struggled with this, yet when I put my faith in God and realized not only is He able but He is willing to heal, it changed my thought process, which eventually changed my heart. I get to see the Word activated in my life when I believe.

Many times I say the 'glorious' cliche, "God is in control..." and use it as an excuse to not fight with faith. Yes, He is in control, however, He has given us the keys through Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. So I must do something...I must take hold of what HE has provided and activate my faith in God and His Word. I cannot waver...I must believe and have faith in God.

If I have the tools to build a house, I have the provision to build the house and I even have the workers who are willing to build the house, yet, I don't utilize any of them...am I going to see my house built? Of course not.

We must look at the provision of God's faithful provision over our lives. He wants us to live victorious lives...for HE is VICTORIOUS! It doesn't mean we don't go through trials and tribulations of life, but we go THROUGH it with HIS POWER, AND STRENGTH DELIVERING US FROM AND INTO! It's revealed by His Joy and Peace that surpass all of our understanding.

Believing is not just a thought process but it is also an action. I not only speak forth but I also walk out what I believe, whether it is of God or not. That belief system is revealed through my life. I am so humbled by His Living, Powerful Word. I get so caught up in what I see with my physical eyes and how I feel in my physical body that I give up before I even start sometimes. I pray strength through the Joy of the Lord...why? Because His Word says it! Wooooohoooooo!!!

*****I want to be very sensitive to many of you who may be going through a trial of sickness or disease in your body...please know that we who are not going through it will stand in the gap for you and believe the Word of God for your healing on your behalf.

It's so difficult to have faith in an area where you are right in the midst of it. It's like being in a forest filled with trees and you can't find your way out. But there are times where your family in the Lord have the 'ariel' view and can see more clearly and God will guide you out into His glorious light.

It is important that we go to our brothers and sisters who believe the Word as Truth and when we need faith in an area of our body, we call on the Almighty Physician as He is faithful to send forth those believers who can encourage us to increase our faith in an area where we need it most.

God will manifest the process of healing that needs to take place, I believe, to the measure of your faith. Many times, when people have died and gone on to be with the Lord, and they died believing that they were already healed, whether they saw it or not on this earth, I know that their healing was made manifest in heaven.*****

If you have any prayer requests:
Please send them to:
wmcip@yahoo.com

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wednesday, April 22, 2009, "True Compassion"

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

"...But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he (A man badly beaten) was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him..."
~ Luke 10:30-37 ~

Inside the house, next to the slightly opened door, a woman kneels, leaning as the right side of her head is supported by the wall, slumped over as if to say, "I give up."

The circumstances that surround her are beyond overwhelming. She hears the voices shouting as her circumstance has just been life changing all she can hear is, "YOUR LIFE IS OVER!"She clasps her hands over her ears, and desperately weeps as her body shakes effortlessly.

She is a devoted wife, and mother, memories of holding her son as she first met him the day he entered the world. It seemed as it were yesterday. Her mind travels from memory to memory of him when she is brought back to the harsh reality of what took place the night before. Just another evening, she had just finished cleaning the kitchen awaiting for her son's arrival. He was to be home at any moment. That is when she heard the knock at the door. She thought, "That's odd, he has a key to get in." As she opened the door, it would be the opening of a door that will forever change her life. It was not her son standing there, however it was a sheriff with his hat in his right hand holding it against his chest. His saddened countenance said everything as he thought, "How do I utter such words." His deep, crackling voice interrupted the silence as though time seemed to stop for her. "Ma'am, I am very sorry to inform you that we have identified your son that was killed tonight in a roll over accident..." His voice seemed to disappear as her mind and ears seemed to only hear echoes of sound. Like slow motion her knees gave out as she falls to the ground in total despair. This could not be happening, all the plans he had for himself, no, tomorrow was the award's banquet. He was to be receiving his MVP award as he played baseball. All she could do was scream as her whole body wept out everything inside of her.

I interrupt this scene as I ask myself the following questions: Did I just pass her by in the parking lot of the grocery store? Did I pass her by in the grocery store aisle? Is she behind me or in front of me as I wait to check out impatiently at the store? Is she the one who is assisting me at the store? Is she my neighbor? Is she... I could ask question after question as I am convicted this morning, do I wear the compassion of God? We all have it within us if we know Jesus Christ as we are filled with the Holy Spirit, however, we must 'tap' into that rushing river within us, so that it may flow to benefit others for the glory of God. I can only imagine one of these tragic life stories, let alone the range of struggles throughout life.

So many people wear their hurt in many ways. Lord, I want to love with your love. I want to encourage with Your encouragement, I want to be a vessel that shows that there is hope to the hopeless. I want to show forth that your lovingkindness is better than life itself and because of that my lips cannot help but praise you. I can praise you as I encourage others, showing forth Your unconditional compassion in a world that is filled with conditional compassion.

I am 'reminded' of a quote that our guest speaker said a few Sunday's ago: "When the priest and the Levite approached a dying man, badly beaten by thieves on the side of the road they chose to pass him by as they asked themselves, 'If I help him this man, what will happen to me?' However when the Good Samaritan approached the badly beaten man, he asked himself, 'If I don't help this man what will happen to him?'" True compassion is revealed in the way we question a situation. Am I more concerned about how I will be looked at, or is my concern simply for another human being and asking, "If I don't help, what will happen to her or him?"

Just like that man badly beaten, left for dead, many of our circumstances leave people badly beaten and left for dead. By default this is the world of sin we live in. However, we can see the Greatness of God prevail. What will we choose to do today?

As I think on this, I pray you are encouraged as you flow in God's compassion today, as He has shown forth His compassion on us in ways we could never imagine.

*The story told in the beginning is not based on an actual event that is known to me personally. As I prayed this morning to know what to write, I imagined this scene of despair being played out before me.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009, "Holy Fire!"

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

"Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me."
~ Psalm 51:10
~

She sat on the side of a curb, the sky darkening as the sun seemed to be disappearing right before her eyes. Her belly reminding her that it was dinner time, she looked up at the vast dark sky awaiting for her father to arrive as she ran out of the house not wanting to be beat again by her mother. She was intoxicated with the vastness of the moonlit sky as she had a knowing that Someone was watching over her.

The little girl I describe is my mom. There are no words to describe her love for the Lord God. I never understood her passion for us as her daughters and her love for our dad. It was misunderstood by me as strictness beyond imagination. However, as I look back I realize it was plain passionate love for us mixed with deep cultural Korean roots unto the Lord. She has told me often that as she lacked the love from her earthly father as a little girl, she knows that God gifted her with her husband, my sweet, gentle daddy.

Her own father was a good man, but made choices to make alcohol his priority. In doing so, the family never knew what man would come home from evening to evening. Sometimes he was nice, and many other times he would have anger fits so raging that he would chase his family with knives, as he was a knife collector. Due to these experiences, she has told me that like us girls, my dad has helped her see a glimpse of God as a Father that she could never have imagined.

My dad has a great strength in kindness and mercy. The miracle in this was my dad's father showed his love by working hard for his wife and nine children. Along with some of the other siblings they only saw the stern, mean, disciplinarian, bitter side of their father.I have a dad that truly made a conscience effort that he would not 'father' like his dad to his own children. After dad surrendered his life to the Lord in 1976, forsaking 'religion' and being captured by a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, his journey of walking in love toward his family was something that Father God graced my dad with.

I believe it is because my dad was and continues to be willing and obedient (When he reads this, he will only credit the Holy Spirit, which is truly where the credit is due). However, he was willing and obedient.

He has never, never, never unfairly disciplined us. He was just and ALWAYS talked with us in love before we saw the immediate consequence of our actions. I did not have to see my dad ever have to apologize for losing his temper with us, because he didn't lose his temper. The result of that led to him never having to justify unfair behavior because of his earthly father. My dad emulates the love of God. It is so powerful. I believe that this is truly an element that has driven my mom's love for the Lord.I have told her often that her passion for God is a beautiful remnant as a rare garment from the Asian culture. I am choked up when I see a beautiful person of the Asian culture who loves the Lord Jesus Christ. They have this firey passion for God. They may be small in stature, but mighty in their passion for God.

This group of people are so grateful as many of them are on their faces before God Almighty. They have a beautiful fear for the Lord that is to be envied. They have a knowing that is truly amazing that many of them have died and have been persecuted for the cause of Christ. I am choked up pondering the thought of it now.

There is a song by 'Newsboys' called, 'He Reigns'. The first verse of the song is as the following:"
It’s the song of the redeemed
Rising from the African plain
It’s the song of the forgiven
Drowning out the Amazon rain
The song of Asian believers
Filled with God’s holy fire
It’s every tribe, every tongue, every nation
A love song born of a grateful choir"

Whenever I hear the part of that song, "The song of Asian believers filled with God's holy fire" I receive that as my own, because of my heritage. That holy fire will never go out! The fire induced by emotions will go out, but not that HOLY FIRE!

I am honored to have parents like I do. More than anything I am honored to serve Mighty God, the ONLY GOD above ALL gods. There is NO ONE ELSE like Him. Hallelujah (On a side note my mom was raised Buddhist, however something in her new that it wasn't right. She remembers when they would go to the temple to bring food to the Buddah statue that inside of her, even though she didn't know Jesus yet, that 'something' inside of her knew not to bow to it. Of course, she was known as the 'rebel' in everything she did. Praise God to know she rebelled against evil. I'm amazed everytime I hear that. It shows me that our spirit within us knows who the One True God. As it says in Psalms 139, He knew us before we were formed in the womb. God knew our spirit before we were formed. If He knew us, that must mean that we knew Him)!

My parents lives declare the glory of God. I want to do the same. How? I would have to believe that it is by being willing and obedient. Sometimes the willingness comes after the obedience. However, when I stand back and am in awe of the God I get to serve it is truly amazing the firey passion that comes forth through compassion for others on His glorious behalf.I know many times these devotionals can be lengthy, however, I appreciate many of you who read my love of God's encouragement in my own life. My heart is to encourage myself in the Lord, so that I can be a vessel for His glory. I pray in the process of this that it encourages you in who you are and are becoming in the Lord.

I want to be known by God who longs to be renewed by Him and nothing else.

It's awesome to be reminded how my parents love God yet how beautifully they display their love differently. God didn't change their personality in the process, however he changed their hearts.

"Giggles With the Tickles"

Giggling with the 'tickles' as I heard my friend and her husband tell me of their experience as it was their moment to teach the four year old class at church.



You have to know this couple to truly appreciate this story; however, James is very quiet and doesn't get shaken up and Jennifer is so sweet, along with a sweet, tender soft-spoken, southern voice. They were waiting for the teacher, however, the teacher did not show.



They got to be with the four year olds with no plan. I have to picture that after a few minutes of class starting that James and Jennifer looked at each other puzzled; giving each other the 'look' that speaks words the mouth is unable to utter. I would have to imagine that as they realized they were alone, on their own with over twenty children at the age of four years old, that hour must have been very interesting to say the least.



As they are sharing the story it was plain hilarious. One of the stories was when Jennifer asked the class, "Who can sing their favorite song?" A little boy she described as having a white button up shirt, tan 'docker' like pants and his hair styled so cute, he raised his hand so high. He told her in his southern accent, "I can sing, 'Twankle, twankle Little Star". She said, "As I heard his voice and the way he formed the words as he sang, I teared up to hear him sing that song with all his heart." She told me about another boy who stood up and said, "My favorite song is 'Spiderman'" He sang it with passion as he believed 'in' Spiderman. A little girl from head to toe along with being adorned in 'princess' accessories stood up and twirled and said her favorite song was, "Princess". She sang, danced and twirled as she knew that she was singing about herself.



We were laughing so hard as we were just so tickled to hear about these little one's who were so eager to share their favorite songs. It was funny as Jennifer was hoping that they would sing some songs about Jesus. I laughed so hard and said, "Their parents are going to ask their kids, 'So Honey, what did you learn in Sunday School today?"" I thought to myself this scenario, "Well, mommy and daddy I learned about Twankle Twankle Little Star, Spiderman and Princess." Jennifer laughed so hard and said, "I don't know what they will say, but I did ask them if they knew who loved them and they all said in unison, "Jesus"!" I told her, "Well, then they got a confirmation of what they already know...Jesus loves them." That's a cool sunday school lesson!



These children so free possessing GREAT FAITH! They have NO doubts as they believe that Jesus loves them. Many children have a sense of great worth, value and love for God. They can't see Him but they know He is there. I envy this faith. I envy the heart of a child. They have a knowing in their knower that God is God. Their imagination is not tainted with voices of discouragement. Have you unintentionally discouraged a young one? Many times they are adamant about what they know. They don't care about our past experiences of why we stopped believing, they just know they still believe no matter what.



Do you know that Jesus loves you? Raise your hand if the answer is Yes! If you know, then let's act like it! When stuff happens, it squeezes us to reveal what is inside us. Many times I realize that fear is inside of me when I get squeezed.

Monday, April 20, 2009, "Shut the Freezer Door"

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

"O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together. I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears."
~ Psalm 34:3 & 4 ~

I opened the freezer door, slid the drawer open as I was looking for an ice pack to place in the cooler with meat pies. I couldn't find an ice pack when suddenly I heard a 'clunk' sound. I ignored the sound as I was trying to rush out the door to make it to church on time. As I was running I shut the door, but as I hurriedly turned around I could hear that it didn't shut. I turned back with frustration trying to shut the freezer door, with my purse, notebook and Bible in hand. Wanting to curse the door; actually I did curse the door as I found myself unsuccessful in shutting it.

With great irritation, I put my belongings down, examined the freezer door as I could feel anxiety come over me as I was running late for church. It didn't seem as though there was anything obstructing the door. I tried shutting it again. At this point, as I was in a race against time. I confess, I was truly tempted to leave that freezer door opened.

Finally, as I confessed my sin of cursing the door and feeling this poor attitude try to take over; I was convicted of the devotionals I have been led to write in praising God especially in the midst of frustration. Taking a deep breath I was able to speak forth praises out loud to the Lord. It was amazing, peace replaced that anxiousness as this happened, I assessed the freezer again and realized the bottom drawer was sticking out further than it was suppose to, which was hindering the door shutting. So as I tried pushing it in I could hear and sense that something was behind the drawer, hence the 'clunk' sound.

I squatted down as I could feel my pants falling down and was gracing a sideways 'smile' for my daughter to see and of course she commented how gross it was as I'm trying to get this unknown object out from behind the drawer. I didn't care what I looked like at this point; it was time to fix the issue at hand, so I could go.I realized as I was doing so that the drawer was not going to come out of the freezer. I was literally going to have to take all the frozen dinners and chicken thighs off the shelf above, remove the rack, slide the drawer open and reach my arm behind the drawer in great discomfort as my face was contorted. As I reached back, my hand felt something, I grabbed the foreign object realizing it was a frozen can of orange juice.

Having to put everything back into the freezer, knowing that I was going to be about 20 minutes late to church, I realized I could have ignored it and just let the freezer door stay slightly opened or I could do a little extra work to ensure that the freezer door would shut and retrieve that thing that was obstructing the drawer. Getting the source of the problem out of the way.

The issues of life are like that can of orange juice. I can face them head on as I unintentionally glorify the problem by agreeing with it as the curses flow out of my mouth. It doesn't have to necessarily be 'cuss' words, but just 'praising' the problem. Or I can face those issues of life with my faith that God has lovingly provided as I choose intentionally, on purpose to glorify Him in the midst of frustration and praise Him versus praising 'it'. I need to truly observe what will be demagnified and Who will be magnified!

The can of frozen orange juice reminded me of what I get to do daily. That daily walk is intentionally making a choice to praise God, asking Him specifically for guidance, discernment and His wisdom and His understanding to know how to walk in that wisdom that He has provided, or making a choice to agree with what has taken place, that 'stuck' thing, in turn glorifying the problem.

I was reminded through this silly frustration how I must meditate on this scripture from Psalm 34:3 & 4. When I magnify the Lord as we praise Him, it leads us to seek Him. As we seek Him, He delivers us from all of our fears.

If that is the case; just imagine when I magnify the problems; as I praise the problems, it leads me to follow the problem leading to other problems. What will happen then? It delivers me into all of my fears.

I want to do the latter, by magnifying the Lord. How about you?

Be blessed as you magnify Him and in turn everything else is demagnified...those issues may not go away for a while, but God is magnified through the process, delivering you from all your fears!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Saturday and Sunday, April 18th and 19th, 2009

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

"...But I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,"
~ Philippians 3:13 ~

The excitement of the 'Accessory Exchange Party' was beyond what I could have imagined. Last night I got to be a part of a new trend that truly brings encouragement to other women, especially in the midst of this unstable economy.

My new found friend and neighbor Rachel, a few doors down, invited me and some women from her church to experience this new trend. We brought our purses, belts, jewelry, scarves that we don't wear anymore and we placed it on the tables. All organized by the same type of accessories (i.e. sunglasses, belts, purses, watches, earrings, scarves, rings, bracelets, etc.).

The concept? You don't spend any money and the amount of accessories you bring is the amount you get to exchange. The "buzz" in the atmoshphere was pure joy, and laughter during the whole process. We fellowshipped, acted like little girls trying on our mom's accessories.

Can you see the picture of a little girl with her mom's hat on her head, fur boa draped around her neck, clip earrings adorning her ears, clothes draped over her body, scarves hanging out from wherever she pleases and her feet in those high heels? Can you see her about to topple over in pure joy as she looks into the mirror and sees beauty like she has never captured before? Well, picture that with adult women ranging in ages from mid twenties to fifties. It was so awesome and hilarious to be a part of.

When we found our purse, or other accessory, you should have seen us. There was no way that we were going to put it back down. It was claimed and we wearing it, no matter what we looked like. I wish I would have had pictures of all us. It was as though all of us became little girls again. We had the purses we each grabbed draped on our arms as though our arm became a 'purse hanger'. We had our necklaces on, even if they didn't match our outfit. Fingers accessorized with rings. Some of the women had belts around their waste and one lady brought brand new bras as some of her accessories to trade (Still had tags). The lady who picked it up as her new 'accessory' had the bra on the outside of her shirt...it was a hilarious sight and she even allowed her photo taken.

As I think back on this party. It was free, there was no money involved and the pressures of the economy were the last of our thoughts. Hilariously thinking back of last night and remembering that each of us did not put that new accessory down. We held it close to us so that no one could take it from us. That brings me to when I truly surrendered my life to Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit.

I remember holding everything that I learned from the Lord so dear to my heart. No discouragement was going to hinder my walk. No condemnation from my past was going to hinder me. My faith in the Lord was unbelievable, something I had not experienced before. My life filled with joy. It wasn't just happiness, it was pure joy.

When those discouraging times come, which they will, it is guaranteed; how will each of us handle it? Will we allow the hope in Christ become like an old accessory and trade it for something that will only hinder our walk with Christ? Will we remain stedfast in not letting go of our hope in Christ, no matter what other people think of us or what our circumstances say.

As I have that vivid picture in my mind of all of us grown women with accessories on practically every limb of our bodies, we didn't care how 'peculiar' we looked; no one was taking those things we found from us. More than anything, we rejoiced in one another.

A testimony of one of the women I met last night showed God's faithfulness and His handiwork. An adorable wife and mom of a 3 year old, a wedding photographer full of spunk and style. Looking at her you would never have thought that the economy had effected her. As she is telling us with tears in her eyes, her new 'Nine West' sunglasses on her head, her new watch on her wrist, her 'D & G' inspired bag on her shoulder she realized that everything she had on was something that she either needed or wanted, but because finances are tight she didn't want to irresponsibly buy things she knew were not a 'need'. Yet look how God provided for her. I was reminded of His great faithfulness, even at an 'Accessory Exchange Party'. I know it seems insignificant, yet to see how significant it was to her was something that declared the glory of the Lord over her life.

More than anything, I must remember that Christ is not an 'accessory' to my life. He is the reason why we live beyond this life. He is to be my everything not just my 'something'.

Saturday and Sunday, April 18 & 19th, 2009

I received this from a friend who is a reader of Triumphant Victorious Reminders. I wanted to share with you this weekend, what was shared with me. Very encouraging!

Love in Christ...Teresa

Bad Day - Joyful Morning!
by Rebekah Faubion

"Bad Day. Joyful Morning!

Sometimes you have a day where everything is wrong, a day where the only thing that really goes right is that the sun rises in the east, and then perhaps you miss that because it is cloudy. A day where moments seem harsh and strange events cause changes in one's self made plan. That was my day yesterday!

I drove through and got chicken nuggets out of desperation for food (since being pregnant has meant reluctantly including meat in my diet). Hungry, worn-out, and hoping for an easy meal, I asked for honey mustard sauce for my nuggets. After parking so I could scarf my food before continuing on, I pulled out the container and tried to open it. Nothing. The container wouldn't open. As I sat there, tugging at the foil, the picture of my day fell into place. This day was like futilely trying to open something that refused to budge. I dropped the honey mustard sauce in my lap and stared through my windshield, the events of my day washing over me like a wave of sand: Suffocating! Grainy! Unnatural!

The compulsion towards self pity is so strong, that often, it feels impossible to overcome. There is an ease in sinking into your own misery and fears. There is a magnetism that pulls out every thought you have been keeping at bay in these moments. And if you sit there long enough, you will forget that God uses days like this to prepare us for days that will be more difficult.

In my defeat, I continued. I dug in the bag for a napkin so I could eat my naked nuggets, only to find another honey mustard sauce container. I pulled it out, and, unlike the first, this one opened easily. Most of the time life feels like that first container. You tug, pull, and try to force things to open up. Most of the time, in the midst of our strivings we are left with: "Well, that did not work out!" But then, without even asking, you find the other container, the one that opens without struggle. Often, God has that other container ready for us, but in our impatience, frustrations, self-pity and defeatism, we never even look for the blessing that was waiting for our receiving.
Bad days are good. Crying is good. Kicking the kitchen cabinets sometimes can be good.

Screaming at a knife that just won't cut through a sweet potato can be so satisfying! There is really no such animal as a bad day! What really exists is only the emotion of letting the bad day get the better of you. Because, let's face the truth, a bad day happens so we can choose and have hope that tomorrow can be a good day.

The Psalmist said, "Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes in the morning." As night fell on my bad day I was still banging around in frustration over the things that had made it bad. The honey mustard, my little dog Samson swallowing wisteria (which can poisonous), family stresses (praying for my brothers), Dad sharing with me a situation. I became happy to wallow!
As I tried to focus on cooking dinner, my husband, Nathan, entered and asked if I needed help. Nathan, the gifted, blessed husband and father to be! Nathan was honored for his hard work in college by getting an incredible full-time job in Dallas . Since that time, I have tried to become a really awesome, self-sufficient, super-woman. Now, my drive to do so (and be pregnant at the same time) resulted in another crisis. I went to change the light bulb and received a minor electrical shock and a major scolding from my doctor. So when Nathan asked, "Do you need some help?" as much as I wanted to say 'NO", I immediately yelled "YES!"
By humbling myself and saying that I could not do everything and exclaiming that I needed help ever so badly created a freeing, liberating moment. My husband's love expression and acknowledgment of my need opened my eyes and made me realize that God, my Lord, was standing there too, asking if He could help me.

A lot of times in our drive to succeed at life's everyday challenges and achieve that balancing act between sanity and chaos, and in our attempts to win even the little battles, we forget that the Word says, "The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?" There is a God! His Spirit is standing in your kitchen as you gripe about the work situation that makes you want to gag, or the injustice you encountered on a daily errand, or the incredible idiot that you are for allowing yourself to make that mistake, and all He wants to do is hand you that other honey mustard container.

Last night I took it, opened it up, and saw the answer to what I was looking for, easily accessed and completely compassionate, enclosed. At the end of a bad day I made a choice to see good! I chose to pet my puppy! I chose to hug my husband with relief! I chose to not see the many hurdles that I tripped over throughout the day. I refused to look at the difficult race ahead. I just chose to see, receive, and embrace the SOURCE of my energy! This gave me the ability to rest and watch!

This morning, joy definitely came! At 6:30 AM my niece Lily was born---bright, beautiful, and surrounded by hope. And the weeping of yesterday---well, that paled in comparison to the joy of the morning!"

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009

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

"The Lord is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all His creation."
~ Psalm 145:9 ~

It's morning rush hour traffic. Her mind is racing; consisting of a checklist of the deadlines that must be met.

A few cars ahead is a young marketer. He has a presentation in just a few hours and is rehearsing what he will say as he drives to the airport. He feels the pressure of needing to "land this account." He hopes he will be effective. His hands sweat as he begins to feel the anxiety take over, meanwhile his stomach turns in nervousness.

In the meantime there is a car next to him with a man driving that is wondering helplessly, "How am I going to pay the bills this month?" He feels utter hopelessness. He is still in shock as he remembers just a month ago he was working. He worked at the company for years and then just like that, he was released from his job. His eyes glassed over as he imagines the faces of his wife and children as they depend on him to make it through today. The burden is too heavy. He has to be strong. He can't even think about not making it.

A few miles down getting off the exit ramp is a woman who just lost her husband. It was sudden. She didn't even get to say, "Goodbye". Anger, utter hopelessness, sadness, despair, pain and deep sorrow annihilate her whole being. Her whole life she feels is over. She thinks to herself with guilt, "I thought we had more time." With everything that is in her, she weeps. She can't feel her own hands on the steering wheel; numb with pain and sorrow.

At the light ahead is a young man who has a ring box with an engagement ring in his shirt pocket and he is planning the way he will propose to his beloved fiance. He is so in love with her. He cannot imagine life without her.

A precious mom walks hurriedly with her baby in the carrier and two toddlers that run in circles beside and behind her as she attempts unsuccessfully to have them follow her. All she can think is, "I pray I survive this shopping adventure."So many different scenarios, with precious souls involved. How do I become more aware of those around me? Sometimes we just got to reach out on purpose. Walk by someone in the parking lot of a grocery store and blurt out the word, "Hi"!

Maybe a cashier everytime you see them has a scowl look on her face. Instead of me getting offended or upset, maybe I could give an encouraging word, a compliment and maybe even a hug.

Many times the world will never come into a building to worship at what we call a church building. But we can as the church reach out to the world.

It may seem small and insignificant to us; but it could be the most important thing we may ever do in that person's life.

May we be led by God's compassion. May we be vessels of honor, set apart and useful for the Master prepared for every good work (II Timothy 2:20-21).

Thursday, April 16, 2009

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

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it will eat its fruit."
~ Proverbs 18:21 ~

"If you want a happy life and good days, keep your tongue from speaking evil, and keep your lips from telling lies."
~ I Peter 3:10

"...But no man can tame the tongue. It is an uncontrollable evil, full of deadly poison..."
~ James 3:1-10 ~
Man can't tame the tongue....but guess who can if we let Him? The Holy Spirit who reveals Jesus Christ!

Have you ever heard of the following cliche's?

"Fake it 'til you make it."
"If you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say it at all."
"You're just going to 'die' when you see it."

I laugh as I write this because look what we speak into the atmosphere so carelessly. This is not a 'new age' finding. This is based on the principles of what God has done and what He expects us to do. The 'new age' movement has stolen that from the Word of God as their own. But it originated from the Lord. Where do you think the 'positive thinking' movement came from? They took the principles from the Word of God. Look at the beginning of the world as God created it...He SPOKE THE WORD into existence!

Again, God 'spoke' the 'Word' over creation into existence. Jesus said, "Have faith in God." We must place that faith in the TRUE LIVING GOD! Then Jesus said, "I assure you that you can 'SAY' to this mountain, "BE REMOVED, and be cast into the sea; and shall NOT DOUBT in his HEART but shall believe that those things which you have said will come to pass; he shall have whatever he says." ~Mark 11:22-23.

We through the power of the Holy Spirit that reveals the Word which is Jesus Christ when we have FAITH IN GOD, we will EVENTUALLY SEE IT. May not see it right away, but we have to see the GOD THING even more than what we see right before us.

I struggle with this so much! However, every time I take hold of His Word as TRUTH and not just an option, I have seen what I would call a MIRACLE manifest in my life.

So let's take the cliche's of the world, and turn it around for His glory! Our 'tongue' will get us where we either want to go or don't want to go. We have a choice because of our free will from God.

"Fake it 'til you make it." How about:

Let's "Faith it 'til we see it and watch your faith in God grow more." Example: "I am not moved by what I see, or by what I feel, I am moved by the Word of God." I warn you, it's difficult. You will get the 'wisdom of the world' speaking to you, and it will be contrary to what the Word of God says. The Wisdom of God is what we need to specifically pray for. Of course, we can't be careless. When utilizing faith you've got to move sometimes. You don't just stand still. Faith is placed in God as you are in motion.

"If you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all." How about:

"If you don't have anything nice to say, then find something nice to say." We have to see through the eyes of our Merciful God, who has mercy on us. His mercies are new every morning. I say often, "I believe His mercies are new every morning for Himself and we get to benefit from that." Can you imagine if His mercies were like ours? I wouldn't be typing this devotional. :)

God ALWAYS leads us by example. He does not ask us to do anything He hasn't already done.

"You're going to die when you see this." Now that is usually used when it's something good. So how about we say:

"You're going to 'live longer' when you see this." Our longer life will benefit so many more people for the glory of God. Why? So we can declare the Works of the Lord.

God blesses us all today as we are obedient to choose life today, in how we see our circumstances, in how we speak and in how we see.

It will feel like you are faking it at times, but really it's faith being utilized. When do we use faith the most? When it is most difficult. Let's exercise our faith when things are smooth, so that when things try to thrust us off our foundation on Jesus Christ we will be able to use that faith as our shield against those things that try to get us to waver and doubt.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

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

"Train, not only teach, but lead by example as you show your child the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it."
~ Proverbs 22:6 ~

Yesterday, the devotional was regarding the old and the new life. I received feedback from several people, but one I received was from a very important person, my dad.

He wrote:
"...2 Corinthians 5:17. Therefore if anyone be in Christ, he is a NEW CREATION, old things are passed away, (Demolition) behold all things are become new (Restoration).
What has passed away in our lives since that day of salvation? It’s a continual process that only occurs when we are in His Word or more importantly when HIS WORD IS IN US." ~My Dad, Jerry.

My dad whom I am so blessed to have as my earthly father. He leads a life that has and still does show me and my sister's a glimpse of how we could see our Heavenly Father. I don't struggle with approaching God boldly to the throne of grace, knowing that I am His because of Jesus' obedience.

I remember when my dad and mom would sit us three girls around the table almost every night from small to when I left home as we would have our devotions in the Word of God. Then, as we would come from church on Sunday's in the Black Volkswagen with white interior...I'm laughing as I write that. Dad and mom would have a verse to memorize weekly and so as a family we would all memorize the scripture together. The Word of God was in all of us.

Even after my long journey away from home in my rightful place as I lived the life of what seemed like the "glamorous world"....so not! When I truly surrendered my life in March of 2003 my dad was right there for me giving me verses to memorize to help me stop smoking. He gave me I Corinthians 10:13. I'll paraphrase it, "Temptation is common to every man, BUT GOD is faithful who will not suffer me to be tempted above that I am able, and will with that temptation make a way to escape that I may be able to bear it." The Holy Spirit revealed to me as the Word became a "Rhema" word not and not only a "Logos" word in my life. He revealed that He made an "EXIT ROUTE" for all temptation. So that's when I learned a glimpse of the two-edged sword is truly a POWERFUL WEAPON which describes the Word of God! Tomorrow we will discuss that more in detail. That weapon when I spoke it out by faith out loud over myself, that day I was released of the habit of smoking! Not 'cold turkey', the WORD OF GOD!

My dad and mom prayed for my return for more than 10 years along with many other faithful 'servants' of God, including Poppa C.O. who was truly a faithful brother in the Lord to my parents.

I tell you all of this as I am reminded daily as I wear a ring that my dad gave to me and my sisters. In late 2002 before I surrendered my life to the Lord, my parents came up to Michigan to see me and my family. It was Dad and Mom sitting on the couch with me and Dad said I want to give you something. He handed me a small box and as I opened it I saw a gorgeous silver ring with 3 rows of hearts and in each heart was a diamond. He said, "I gave a ring to each of my daughters and when you look at this ring, it will be a reminder to pray." I remember thinking to myself, "I don't pray, but thanks for the ring."

Well, the amazing part is that it was revealed later that mom and dad had prayed over the ring by faith in God that I would soon return to the Lord. I believe it was in October when they blessed me with the ring and in March which was 5 months later, their daughter returned home with many 'battle' scars from the world.

I remember how faithful my sisters were too as they prayed for me many times. There would also be times where my sister, Joanna would call me and she would say, "I just want to let you know that you could take a million steps away from God; but if you just take one step back, He'll be right there with you."

I want to encourage all of you. Many of you have prayed for your daughter, your son, parents, family members, friends and even people you may have never met, but please know from my life that I came back. One of the first verses dad and mom memorized when we were small was Proverbs 22:6, "Train (lead by example) not only teach, but train up your children in the Lord and when they are old they will not depart from it."

I know they held onto that verse so close to their hearts as they cried in the beginning, felt numb in the midst of their journey of waiting to see their daughter come home through the window of their hearts. They are proof as I am proof that no matter what they heard the way I was living my life, or when they didn't hear from me for months, not knowing if I was dead or alive, they just kept hanging onto that verse. Their life verse is Proverbs 3:5-6. That verse has been "stamped" in the concrete that held up the basketball goals at all our homes we lived in. That verse is throughout the house as my mom declares it daily.

My parents have been "vessels of honor, set apart and useful for the Master prepared for every good work (in my life)." My sisters were selfless as they had to go through much hurt because of my actions. There are many things I credit my parents for, but one is that they did not allow my actions to sever the nurturing for their two other children that were still home, my sisters. They continued on, it was difficult, but they had to, and I am so blessed by the life of my two sisters who live extraordinary godly lives. My parents weren't just Christian parents...they are godly parents. I'm not saying they didn't make mistakes, but they did the best they could and they truly relied on the Lord for their strength. I am truly blessed to have them as my parents.

I thank the Lord for my dad who always encouraged me. He is not a man that speaks many words, but when he does, you should probably listen. I remember hearing my dad say to me when I was disobedient many times. He would say (by faith many times) "Teresa, you are going to be used by God in a mighty way." You know what? He was right...I am a wife and a mom and what a ministry that God has for me. It's difficult, but yet so worth it!

I want to honor my parents today and for all the other parents that are almost at the point of giving up...don't give up! Look at me..I'm still here! I'm still here! God has surrounded me with warriors. My parents and sisters; warriors of Christ on my behalf. I married a warrior and my daughter's name means "Bold, brave warrior". More than anything I serve the Mightiest Warrior of All...My Jesus!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

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

"And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. The old wineskins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine must be stored in new wineskins that way both the wine and the wineskins are preserved."
~ Matthew 9:17 ~ (New Living Translation)

One of my favorite television shows, "Extreme Makeover Home Edition" is amazing to watch. The transformation from old and decrepit to brand new and "without words to describe" beauty!The restoration we capture on the television right before our eyes as we first watch the demolition take place. I am captured as I watch the skilled professionals from the builder to the carpenters, electricians, plumbers, artists, decorators, designers and volunteers all at work to see their handiwork as a whole at the end of the show.

Can you imagine them trying to complete the makeover on the existing house with existing issues? That sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? No matter how awesome the skilled professionals were, there would be no beauty to behold when the house was supposedly finished. Of course that seems "silly" to ponder, yet we try to live our lives that way many times. An example could be by justifying why I still choose to live out certain things in my life when I know it needs to be "demolished" out of my life; it does not belong in my life.

As I watch this show I am reminded consistently of God's beautiful handiwork over our lives when we allow Him. Can you imagine this scenario? OK, imagine the shows producer from, "Extreme Makeover Home Edition" calls the potential family that will be a recipient of the Makeover and briefs the family on what will happen. Then, the family who needs the makeover desperately, says, "I'm sorry, but we are going to have to decline your offer, I can't allow you to demolish the existing house; too many memories." Hopefully this scenario has never happened, yet we attempt to live our lives that way as well and unintentionally we do not allow The God of the Universe to mold us into what we need to become for His glory.

We must allow the demolition and restoration to take place in our lives. For when those trials attempt to come after our faith in God, our joy and peace in and from Him, we will be able to stand and persevere as we have a New Foundation on Christ Jesus. When we stay in the Master's hands and are obedient even when it is most difficult, we will see restoration, transformation and beauty take place that are beyond what we could ever imagine, hope for or dream of.

Many times that old thing that we try to hold onto is the very thing we need to let go of so that God can replace it with His greatness over our lives. This is very difficult but at the end of the day it will be worth it, for we will hear, "Well done my good and faithful servant."

I pray I let go of what does not belong to me and hold onto only those things from and of the Lord. We need to remember that our lives are to be an effective force for the glory of God for others to see and experience in their own lives!

May we learn, know, and experience the restoration power of God in our lives.

Monday, April 13, 2009

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

"...The joy of the Lord is our strength."
~ Nehemiah 8:10 ~

I have often asked, "Why is there a pattern of pain to get to victory?" I somewhat see the answer revealed when we see how freedom comes at a price; just as Jesus died as He paid in full our debts of sin. Soldiers that are trained for combat that are willing to die for their country as a whole. A woman travailing in labor pains right before the beautiful birth of her baby. Yet, as we go through the pain we realize when we have that covenant relationship with Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit we are NOT alone!

We hear a cliche all the time; "You just need to know who you are in Christ." But as my husband said one day, "If they don't know who Christ truly is, how can they know who they are in Him? They may know Him as their Savior, but do they know Him as Healer, Redeemer, their Strength, their Rock and their Refuge in times of trouble?" When he said this, it was a true wake up call that people do want to know who they are in Christ.

One of the things that has helped me is knowing that laughter and joy has assisted me by the strength of the Lord to go through a lot of bad things in my life after surrendering my life to the Lord. This is when I realized that truly "the joy of the Lord is my strength" (Nehemiah 8:10).

When do we need strength the most? When we are weak. So joy shall be supplied when you need it most. It is not happiness. It is JOY! Happiness is determined by our circumstances. However, the joy of the Lord is not based on circumstances, it gets us through no matter how bad the circumstance may be. For me personally, joy has been something that when I prayed for it, it did not make sense, especially to others around me but I was able to walk in it with faith in God.

You can go through trials with joy as you are provided strength to get to where you need to go. When we fix our eyes of faith on the Provider of our righteousness, peace, strength and joy we will be able to live a life that people will want, ask about and finally want to experience.

May we find strength in Jesus Christ as He gives us uspeakable joy, and perfect peace that surpasses all understanding.

Remember, it isn't just prayer that changes things. It is the One True God who we pray to that changes things.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Saturday and Sunday, April 11 &12, 2009

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

"He isn't here! He has been raised from the dead, just as He said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell His disciples He has been raised from the dead..."
~ Matthew 28:6, 7 ~

I am reminded of the ground which represents my heart and the seed which represents the Word of God (Mark 4).

As I reflected on the root system of the weed which is amazing to observe just in nature itself, the weed can grow almost anywhere with or without a lot of water and it can take over almost any type of soil. It reminds me of the sin that is everywhere around us. You don't have to work hard to sin; it's just there readily available. Anything that is of God takes maintenance, being purposeful as to the kind of seeds that go into my heart, even if many Christians are doing it or even if "pastors" who are still human suggest it, I must ask, "Is this pleasing to You Lord?"

I truly must go to the 'Gardener' of my heart of whom it should belong to and ask, "Lord, the one's close to me who are following you said it's this way or this is how I need to plant, and this is the kind of seed I need to plant into the ground. Lord, I come to you and ask, is this harmful to me in the longrun or will it profit the ground that belongs to you and maintain for your glory?"

He will guide me, but if I go to the one's who are called "experts" for their wisdom of the ground, soil and seed their advice still is nothing compared to the Creator of my spirit, my God...not just any god but ALMIGHTY GOD who is revealed by Jesus Christ who was obedient unto death; and because He was obedient unto death, He sowed his life into the ground just like a seed is sown into the ground. As the seed is in the ground, it first has to die.

Jesus died willingly; no one took His life, He gave it, knowing that his life as the seed would resurrect. The ground, the tomb could not keep the SEED of GOD in the ground. What resurrected? LIFE. JESUS CHRIST! Hallelujah! I thank you Father that as we celebrate what you did for us, we remember that when all seems like death is around us; resurrection will take place.

Just like in Genesis 1 as God created grass and seed-bearing plant they seeds were to produce the plants and trees from which they came. Jesus Christ came as the Seed that came after His kind which was of God Himself. What was the by-product of His Resurrection? ETERNAL LIFE! (Our flesh will perish, but our spirit will go on).

As I grow and my heart is maintained by being sensitive to the Word of God; I pray that my life reflects the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Do I produce the seed from which I came?

O Lord, help me as I am humbled by being reminded of Resurrection Day, the day that you revealed death, hell and the grave had NO HOLD ON YOU...MY JESUS! THANK YOU FOR RESURRECTING IN VICTORY!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Thursday and Friday, April 9 & 10, 2009

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

"...The Lord has already told you what is good, and this is what He requires: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God."
~ Micah 6:8 ~

I was pulling the weeds today. The roots were stubborn as I tried to pull them from below the surface. The root itself was twice as long if not more than the actual weed.

I was reminded of sin that is deeply rooted in my heart. From the surface it doesn't look that bad. Yet deep down it has festered, taken root and is so hard to pull up as it is entangled with other roots. I can "snip" the bottom of the "weed" from the surface of sin but if I don't get to the root, it only gets deeper below the surface more intertwined and much harder to get out of the ground (my heart).

The root of sin are of many different things...but I believe more than anything the root to all sin is pride. Pride comes in many different forms. If I'm shy or I don't want to talk to someone because I'm afraid of what that person may think...believe it or not it's pride. You may say, "No, that can't be." Seriously, think about it. If I put a guard up around myself because I'm fearful of rejection or what they might say about me; it's pride. I'm thinking of ME, MYSELF and I at that moment which is the "trinity to humanism". Some of you who know me may think, "You shy?" Maybe not bashful or shy, but I hold back many times when the Lord wants me to bless someone with a compliment or a word of encouragement.

I always thought that pride came in one form and that was in the form of haughtiness. For example, "I know I'm good, I'm better than you and I can do it better than you." However, I believe just how Lucifer (Satan) fell which was from pride; he truly believed that he could raise himself up above God...PRIDE! He was so bright and beautiful as he reflected the glorious light of God. The key is that he only "reflected", he was not the source of light. Lucifer actually believed that he was the source of light. Boy, he was truly deceived. How interesting that he was deceived by his OWN deception.

Another example that I can give that I unfortunately do a lot is when someone is wanting to help me out, by blessing me with something and I refuse it because I don't need their help, yet I just prayed for help in a certain area...but my reasoning is "If I accept it then what does that say of me?" Maybe some of you don't have these issues, but I do and struggling with those stubborn roots today was a great reminder.

Here are some common sins that are from pride and what we can do to please the Lord instead:
Sin OR Please the Lord
Manipulation OR Speak Honestly about what is trying to be accomplished.
Lying OR Truth
Stealing and Hoarding OR Giving
Gluttony OR Being balanced
Jealousy OR Celebrating
Taking offense OR Choosing to not receive offense
Selfishness OR Selflessness
Behaving rudely OR Behaving kindly (Remembering that niceness is not to be
taken as a weakness).
Grudges and Unforgiveness OR Forgiving and showing Mercy

Notice everyone of the sins mentioned above has to do with protecting myself. However, when I choose the right thing, I by default will walk humbly before the Lord.

We have choices to make daily. I have made many, many bad choices in my life. I have made a few good ones and I like the outcome of the good choices. Not only are the results worthwhile but it pleases God. Let us get the root system cleaned up.

Let us take root in the fertile soil that our hearts need to be made of, so that we may do what the Lord requires of us and that is to do right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

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

"The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control: againsth there is no law."
~ Galatians 5:22 ~

The gifts that God has given to us, are we sharing them as we show evidence of the fruit of the spirit? Or do I dare say as I did a few years ago, "Well, that's not my gift, so I can't do that." That may strike a chord with some...it did me a few years ago when I was needing to volunteer for my child's sunday school class. The children's pastor said, "Every parent is asked to help volunteer in their child's sunday school class every 6 weeks." I was flabbergasted as I said in a slight derogatory tone, "O no, I'm not called to teach children." Please know I laugh as I write this, I sure had some pride going on in me....you think?

What is even more ironic? I had just taken a "Spiritual Gifts Test" for the church. I'm not knocking those "tests", however, we must be careful with that because we limit what God wants to do through us for HIS glory. For me, as I took that test, my strengths were pastor, evangelist and intercessor. So I was summed up in 3 words spiritually...naively I was able to justify why I could not help in certain areas of ministry throughout the church.

Now, from this small testimony I tell you it was no sooner than when I made my comment to the pastor, he lovingly said, "Well, it may not be a gift you flow in as other gifts that you may operate in more freely, but it doesn't mean you still can't help." Immediately and thankfully the Holy Spirit in God's goodness led me to repentance and I was embarassed to say the least and I eventually did volunteer, and guess what? There were things inside of me that revealed God's gifts pouring out to teach the children and in turn taught me as well. It was so awesome!!!!

I have realized when God has led me to "new" ventures of my life where I could not rely on my own abilities, that is when the rivers of living water truly flowed through me in ways I never thought possible. It far exceeded the things I was trained in by man, manuals, books, etc.

Finally, let's not put God in the box of what He can do with us, because we "feel" or "think" we don't have the ability or the "gift" to do so.

I tell you the truth, when I was in school and you can ask my patient parents; school altogether was not my strength, especially in Writing and English. I came close every year to getting a D in school especially with Writing. Yet, as an adult on March 6, 2003, as I TRULY surrendered my life to the Lord, one of the first things God had me do was WRITE. I remember being bewildered. WRITE? I don't write. Yet six years, over 20 journals and one book later, whether I thought so or not, it was declared over me (I have to believe) before I was even born that God declared over my life,"Teresa, you are a writer, an encourager and you will live a life of joy, but you must rely on ME."

Believe me, the things that God may be calling you to do are probably so far fetched, but guess what? Like a conspiracy theorist...you just gotta believe it! Pray to God for clarity and to know how to go about it...and watch your obedience change many lives. You may never know the impact, but God does.

God bless you as you reveal God's gifts to the world you live in!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tuesday, April 7, 2009, "Pointing back at me"

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

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound."
~ Isaiah 61:3 ~

Have you ever had an issue with someone that wronged you and it seemed like every scripture you read, pointed to that person? I laugh as I ask that question.

I have found that the character of God many times has revealed that when we go before Him and we have our intimate time of communion with him through His Word, He highlights areas in our own lives that need to be changed. I have found that this is how God works with me at least.

I'll give you an example, there was a girl that I worked with a couple of years ago that had a GIGANTIC CHIP on her shoulder. She possessed this miserable, negative, life-sucking attitude about mostly everything in life, towards me especially. UGH...just thinking about it makes me want to vomit. I would not choose to be around someone like that EVER...but being that I worked with her, I noticed when I would get home icky, icky stuff would OOZE out of me. And I would pray so hard that God would remove her from my work environment, to make my life easier...LOL! Guess what? He didn't remove her from my life.

However, what He lovingly did was reveal in me areas of my life where I truly needed to grow His compassion towards people like her. O MAN was it the hardest lesson..I kept going around the "mountain" over and over and over again....everything I read in the Bible was pointing conviction towards HER...and how SHE needed JESUS...but you know what? I realized the scripture was pointing right to ME, and how I was the one who truly needed the power of the Holy Spirit revealing Jesus in my life toward HER. Does that make sense?

Once, I passed that test...she was dismissed from the employer as it was revealed that she was not working out. I'm not kidding! It was a lesson from Luke 6, "bless those that hurt you, bless those that persecute you and spitefully use you"...it seems that every time I finally released someone by saying, "GOD BLESS HIM or HER or THEM" He is faithful to HIS Word...God is not limited...it is us who limit ourselves from seeing God reveal His promises for what they were to set out to do. The result of blessing those people is from Isaiah 61...Jesus fulfilled this when He came (500 years after Isaiah prophesied this):

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are BOUND"

Now Jesus fulfilled that...and guess what? Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to reveal what He had done so that we could do it for others!!!!

I know it is soooooooooo hard, and it seems that it would be a lot easier to smack people upside the head...but the end result is more anger..LOL!

I pray I reveal God's compassion, love and reveal His truth with boldness today!