Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Truth trumps facts...

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

"God removed His hand because they were disobedient."
"They went through that because they walked away from God."
"Children are a direct reflection of their parents."


Where did these cliches come from?  Definitely not from the Word of God...but I know for me, I have likened these sayings as though I read it straight from, First Liar 1:1 (That was me being facetious).  Of course through the hazy glass of deception, I have found that the purpose of that looking glass is to erode our vision of how we see God as this effects whether we receive from Him or not.

In this process, I am continuously learning about opinions...they seem right...and many times are even factual...but it's not ABSOLUTE TRUTH.  So when we hear, "God removed His hand because they were disobedient..." this by default says that God is a liar for The Word says differently, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." - Deuteronomy 31. All in all, truth trumps facts...and here's the truth...I remember those times I intentionally and unintentionally removed myself from Who He is and that removal process was due to my own choice of disobedience...yet He still patiently awaited for my return to Him.

I have been guilty of saying and hearing others say, "They went through that because they walked away from God..." In God's lovingkindness, His Spirit has lovingly highlighted  that calamities and prosperity fall on the just and the unjust  (Matthew 5:45). In finding this, I have learned not to allow the majority of good or bad circumstances be the final say in my life to be the "measuring stick" of how "good" I am in the sight of God.  Actually, my heart is being purged to live a life of continual thanksgiving that no matter how good I am, or how good or bad my circumstances are - God's goodness is revealed - it may not always be in my circumstances - but if we really pay attention, His goodness is always active. Even in that knowing, my good works are a must as it reveals I have faith - yet, it still doesn't come close to the goodness of God that He longs to lavish on me and more importantly THROUGH me.

It brings me back to the place of knowing our good works reveal the glory of God, His glory is the person Jesus! Yes, of course there are consequences to our obedience and disobedience - it's called the law of sowing and reaping...the results of living in Him are ULTIMATELY an abundant life of Who He is as revealed in the EVIDENCE OF HIS SPIRIT, motivated by His LOVE which brings forth JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS AND SELF CONTROL. It isn't about mustering every ounce of human will power to produce this - these things are just evidence of Who possesses us when we allow The Holy Spirit to operate through us - not for our glory but for the good of others so they look to the Father in awe!

What about that "age old" saying, "Your children are a direct reflection of your parents"?  Although at times this is factual pertaining to earthly parents. I also know wonderful parents who have great kids...then there are those who are wonderful parents who have wayward kids...there are parents who have no business being parents who have kids that seem to have no hope...and then those same kind of parents who have kids that are incredible in spite of their upbringing. With all these takes on different types of parents, ultimately, we have an incredible Father God who has children that once received His Salvation, but walked away...does that mean our God is a bad parent because of those who are wayward?  Of course not, the choice of every individual to be obedient or disobedient is up to them - to walk in relationship with God or not.  In this I am reminded that just because I live a good life, make great choices in many ways, doesn't mean anything - my choice to obey in the beginning was "fear based" reasoned by the thought, "I don't want God to be disappointed in me." And this kind of thinking is not relational to please God, but it's truly carnal and even selfish because it is on another spectrum of pleasing self. Some please self with sin - while others can please self by being good. I am learning that both stem from pride and God has triumphantly and victoriously reminded me today that without Him I can do nothing that He has destined me to be a part of - it's all about relationship and intimacy with the King by His Spirit Who reveals Jesus Christ the glory of The Father!

Finally, do you want to continuously get out of the paradigm of religious, selfish cliches?  It's simple yet it takes relying on His Spirit...we get to be in awe of Who God is - ask Him for the Fire of His Spirit which compels us to study Who He is through His Word which reveals His steadfast character through every story of triumph and tragedy...He is the unchanging God of Majestic Love coupled with Wisdom as He reveals His purpose through ours!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Sower, the Seed and the Soil

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

Matthew 13

Often concerned, "What if I sow into someone and nothing comes of it?"
"What if...?"

I was reminded of the understanding I received about 6 months ago regarding the sower, the seed and the condition of the ground as played out in Matthew 13...
- From the path, which represents those who don't understand, to
- The rocky soil, representing those who hear the Word and immediately receive with joy but when problems arise they fall away, to
- The thorns which are those who "hear" but the cares of this world and deceitfulness of riches crowds it out to
- The final, which is the good soil or good ground. This good ground produces a harvest of 30, 60 and 100 fold.

After reading this at that time, truly believing as I read that passage that it was strictly speaking of four different types of people, this is when I couldn't shake it and just had to ask the Lord, "What if we sow into one of these types of people besides those who have a heart of fertile soil?" "Does that mean I wasted my time?" Almost simultaneously, as I asked that question, it was as though I heard, "Teresa, my daughter, your heart was once like the "path" where the seed (Word) was snatched up, but I sent sowers into your life and then one day that path was turned to "rocky" soil, where you heard and with joy you received, but when the hard times came, you didn't run to Me, instead you ran from Me.  Then soon after, the condition of your heart turned to thorny ground where the cares of this world and deceitfulness of riches crowded my Word out; you didn't make yourself aware to My grace as I was eagerly awaiting to pour Myself onto you and because of My love for you, I knew what needed to be done and in My patience and loving kindness, I sent laborers to woo you back to Me and in that you allowed me to truly become The Gardener of your heart - and look - now you have allowed Me to turn your heart into fertile soil where there is a return like you could have never imagined  - some 30, 60 and even 100 fold."

With all that said, as we sow into people's lives - let's not hold back in sowing into people - whether we ever see results or not...we must remember that God's Word does not return void as God watches over His Word to perform it. We know it is only by the goodness of God that draws men to repentance so they can be revived and through the process of His patient love toward us, our hearts become and remain fertile by continuously producing crops that point to the handiwork of the Father!