Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Focus on The Refiner

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

"When trouble comes your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing."
~ James 1:2-4 ~

"Noooo.  Please noooo."  The sweet little boy winced and cried as he was incredibly frightened of the shot the doctor was about to administer into his little arm. As panic could be seen rising up in his little face, suddenly it was as though I could hear the most calming voice say, "Tommy, look at mommy.  I'm right here.  You are okay sweetie. Don't look at anything else. Tommy look at me honey."  As he allowed his mom to coax and calm him, his focus on mom remained constant as the shot was administered.  Although he experienced the stinging pain, it was immediately interrupted with the doctor's voice saying, "Well, look at that!  You're all finished, brave young man."

As I saw this illustration in my mind it substantiated what I saw in my mind earlier this week. All I can say is it was perhaps like a ticker going across my mind the following words:
          "Do not allow circumstances to define you; instead allow God to refine you." 
As I was excited about the cool 'ring' to this quote, the more I realized the meaning, reality set in as I realized the refining process is incredibly painful.  So with that, it was as though the Lord gave me explanation to the latter part of the quote.  I believe the Spirit of the Living God was sharing a whisper of hope with me, and here is what I 'saw':
         "When I refine you, do not focus on the refining process, 
          focus on Me Your Refiner and you will see 
          that I Am your 'Ever Present Help' in times of lack, 
          in times of abundance and everywhere else in between. 
          I Am The Lord Your God."

The triumphant, victorious reminder in the refining process is that we remember that we are not alone.  When we finally make ourselves aware to His presence, although what we are going through may be more painful than we could ever imagine, the remembrance of knowing Who is with us trumps all pain because we are reminded that He is right there.  

Today, listen to His calming voice say, "Look at me daughter.  Look at me son.  You are okay, I am right here.  Don't look at the fire, look at Me Who brings you through the fire."

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Compassion leads us to see...

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, a young marketer sits in his car as he rehearses in his mind the presentation he will be presenting in just a few hours while 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 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 glazed 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, driving down 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 seems to be over. She thinks to herself with guilt, "I thought we had plenty of 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.

So many different scenarios, with precious souls involved. How do we become more aware of those around us? Many times it is about us reaching out on purpose.

Perhaps, while frequenting the grocery store, there is a particular person who is a cashier that seems to have a permanent scowl on her face. Instead of  a normal reaction, such as getting offended or upset,  perhaps we could give an encouraging word, a compliment and/or maybe ask, "May I give you a hug?"  Even if they say, "No", at least that act of kindness will be forever etched into their memory as hopefully one day they will realize they are worthy.

No matter the endless scenarios of how life treats us; we must remember that the world will most likely not come into a building that we call 'church'.  However we can as the church reach out to our 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. As we are to be vessels of honor, set apart and useful for the Master prepared for every good work (II Timothy 2:20-21).

A great reminder via YouTube:

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Love isn't Love Until it's What???

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

Image from
I saw these words in my mind the other day as though it were a three-dimensional sign,
"Love isn't truly love until it's challenged."

"Do WHAT Lord?"  It was as though I could hear the adorable character from 'Different Strokes' say, "Whatcha talkin' about Willis?"

Hmmmmm...Love isn't truly love until it's challenged?

I was thinking, "Now come on!" But at the same time I thought, "To love the loveable is incredibly easy." Of course it's easy to love great people, they are like beautiful flowers; I could smell and adore them all day long.  But what about those who are like a prickly cactus? 

It's quite interesting to see both sides of this.  We often think in judgement over those who rub us the wrong way...but what about us? Have we considered the possibility that we could be 'rubbing others the wrong way'?  To some we may be like a flower whom they really adore and admire; but then to others we may be like a prickly cactus. 

With all that said, you may be asking, "Teresa, what is the point?"  Well I'm glad you asked.  I am finding and continuing learning what LOVE does and is, which is so beautifully revealed in I Corinthians 13:4-7, but I am also learning the HOW to truly love.  Of course our Jesus is the greatest example; as He also challenged us with the following, "If you are willing to listen AND obey, I tell you, Love your enemies." SCREEEEEECH...WHAT THE HECK????  Love my enemies?????  And as though I can hear Him say with a patient smile, "Teresa, I'm not finished. Yes.  Love your enemies and let me tell you how:
DO GOOD to those who HATE YOU.
PRAY for the happiness of those who CURSE YOU.
PRAY for those who HURT YOU..."

Notice for every hate, curse and hurt; God through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit reveals the equipment of how to partner with Him and watch those hates, curses and hurts be turned around for His glory...and in turn we get to also be vessels of honor who ECHO what HE is in the business of doing...turning every evil, vile thing into a testimony of WHO HE IS!!!

Although we may not have the ability to love our enemies on our own strength...we have the ability through Christ Jesus as we are reminded that we can truly do ANYTHING THROUGH CHRIST WHO GIVES US STRENGTH.  And we can also be triumphantly and victoriously reminded that it is not by our power or might but BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD WE CAN DO WHAT HE HAS CALLED US TO BE...AND  THAT IS VICTORIOUS IN HIM!

As we welcome the operation of walking in true love over those who hate, curse and hurt us, let us also pray for others to be able to operate in God's love over us.  Let us be in continual remembrance of God's True LOVE; for even while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!!!  Now that is love that was truly challenged.

Scripture References:
Luke 6:27-36
Philippians 4:13
Principle of Who God is as revealed in Zechariah 4:6
Romans 5:8