Archive for the ‘Making Sense’ Category

July 25th, 2009

Self-Denial

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’” Matt 16:24 (NIV)

While driving down the interstate, I discovered a billboard advertisement that had this phrase in large gold letters with a dark background, “It’s all about you.” That phrase captures the ebb and flow of Christianity in the twenty-first century. Consumerism has captivated the local church. Christians are choosing churches based on the mentality of, “What have you done for me, lately?” We have fostered a culture of spectators. Let’s watch the show and be entertained.

Embracing that self-centered and me-istic lifestyle will not help you make sense out of life. In fact, life will become muddy and unclear. Jesus explained the Christ-centered life as the one where self-denial is a prerequisite. Jesus clarifies that life is not about you. Life is about God’s agenda.

To come after Jesus, you must deny yourself. It does not mean to neglect your needs or to embrace passivity. Self-denial on God’s terms is for you to utterly disown yourself. To deny yourself is to come to the place of total abandonment to God and His will for your life. Self-denial is essential in saving faith and in living out your faith before a watching world.

Arthur Pink wrote, “Growth in grace is growth downward; it is the forming of a lower estimate of ourselves; it is a deepening realization of our nothingness; it is a heartfelt recognition that we are not worthy of the least of God’s mercies.”

It’s not about you. It’s all about Him!

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor
(This devotional was originally posted in ’07 or ’08. I’m taking a break from writing for a season of personal renewal.)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephentrammell

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Saturday, July 25th, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category Humility, Making Sense, Self-denial.
Interact No Comments
January 31st, 2008

Making Sense Out of Life (6)

“‘What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?’” Matt 16:26 (NIV)

Jesus establishes the value of a soul. On one side of the scale is the world including achievements, acquisitions, and accolades. On the other side of the scale is eternal life. The bumper sticker which advertises, “He who dies with the most toys wins,” is wrong.

Life is not measured by how much you attain on this side of the grave. As one of my precious members from my seminary church would say, “I’ve never seen a hearse pulling a U-haul.” There’s more to this life than ascribing to an incessant materialism. Gaining wealth, status, and prestige while losing your soul, is fatal.

  • “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:5-8 (NIV)
  • “Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:10-11 (NIV)

Making sense out of life involves living with eternity in mind. Allow Christ to be the center of your life. Make Him the number one priority of your life. Eternity is at stake! 

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Thursday, January 31st, 2008 at 1:00 am
Category Body and Soul, Making Sense.
Interact No Comments
January 30th, 2008

Making Sense Out of Life (5)

“‘For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.’” Matt 16:25 (NIV)

Jim Elliot served the mission field of Ecuador trying to reach the Aucas for Christ. He and his missionary partners where killed by the ones they were seeking to reach. As a young modern martyr, Jim Elliot’s quote takes on new meaning: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” 

Your life will never make sense until you give your life to something bigger than your personal dreams and ambitions. When you align your life with God’s world redemption plan, your life will begin to make sense. Christ-centered living involves loving what God loves and hating what God hates. Christ-centered living involves being willing to forsake personal aspirations in order to fulfill the desires of God’s heart.

What is your life focused on now? Are you living for yourself, for personal happiness, for personal fulfillment? Have you come to the place of releasing your personal agenda in order to embrace God’s agenda? Are you willing to set aside personal preferences in order to surrender to God’s way? 

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Wednesday, January 30th, 2008 at 1:00 am
Category Finding Life, Making Sense.
Interact No Comments
January 29th, 2008

Making Sense Out of Life (4)

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’” Matt 16:24 (NIV)

Are you a fully devoted follower of Christ? Do you obey what you already know? To follow Jesus is to obey His commands. Obedience is a true mark of being a fully devoted follower of Christ. Being a follower implies that you are on a journey. Jesus is the leader. Jesus is the One whom you follow. Wherever He leads, you go!

  • “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” 1 John 2:6 (NIV)
  • “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” John 8:31-32 (NIV)
  • “‘Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.’” Matt 7:24-25 (NIV)

Obeying Jesus requires submission to His Lordship. In order to truly follow Jesus, you must fully surrender to His leadership. Allow Jesus to have full control of your life. Allow Jesus to live His life in you and to shine His light through you. As a follower of Jesus Christ, your part is to obey Him. Your obedience to Christ will illuminate your proximity to Christ. Stay close to Jesus. Obey what you know!

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Tuesday, January 29th, 2008 at 1:00 am
Category Making Sense, Obedience.
Interact No Comments
January 28th, 2008

Making Sense Out of Life (3)

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’” Matt 16:24 (NIV)

Life without Jesus doesn’t make sense. You can spend your life succumbing to the current of busyness and end up weary and depleted. You can slither down the fast lane of materialism and land on the island of emptiness. Life just won’t make sense without Jesus.

Jesus says to come after Him you must deny yourself and take up His cross. To take up His cross is to identify with Jesus in His shame, suffering, and death. The cross was a horrific means of capital punishment. The Romans reserved this method of death for their enemies.

  • “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross!” Phil 2:8 (NIV)
  • “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.” 1 Peter 4:1-2 (NIV)

For you to take up His cross daily is to willingly surrender your life to Jesus in every area of your life. Choose to identify with Jesus through your obedience to God’s Word and through your diligence in serving others. Even in the hard seasons of life, choose to identify with Christ.  

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Monday, January 28th, 2008 at 1:00 am
Category Endurance, Making Sense, Surrender.
Interact 1 Comment
January 27th, 2008

Making Sense Out of Life (2)

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’” Matt 16:24 (NIV)

While driving down the interstate, I discovered a billboard advertisement that had this phrase in large gold letters with a dark background, “It’s all about you.” That phrase captures the ebb and flow of Christianity in the twenty-first century. Consumerism has captivated the local church. Christians are choosing churches based on the mentality of, “What have you done for me, lately?” We have fostered a culture of spectators. Let’s watch the show and be entertained.

Embracing that self-centered and me-istic lifestyle will not help you make sense out of life. In fact, life will become muddy and unclear. Jesus explained the Christ-centered life as the one where self-denial is a prerequisite. Jesus clarifies that life is not about you. Life is about God’s agenda.

To come after Jesus, you must deny yourself. It does not mean to neglect your needs or to embrace passivity. Self-denial on God’s terms is for you to utterly disown yourself. To deny yourself is to come to the place of total abandonment to God and His will for your life. Self-denial is essential in saving faith and in living out your faith before a watching world.

Arthur Pink wrote, “Growth in grace is growth downward; it is the forming of a lower estimate of ourselves; it is a deepening realization of our nothingness; it is a heartfelt recognition that we are not worthy of the least of God’s mercies.”

It’s not about you. It’s all about Him!

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, January 27th, 2008 at 1:00 am
Category Humility, Making Sense, Self-denial.
Interact No Comments
January 26th, 2008

Making Sense Out of Life (1)

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’” Matt 16:24 (NIV)

Does life make sense to you? Are you clear about why you exist and why God has placed you right where you are? Do you understand where you fit in God’s story?

It all begins with God and His invitation for you to join Him. The first step is to respond to God’s invitation as stated by Jesus in Matthew 16:24. Discipleship is both initial and perpetual. You make an initial commitment to Christ by confessing your sin and receiving God’s provision for the forgiveness of your sin. Your old life of sin is exchanged for the new life Christ provides. Your commitment to Christ is perpetual in that following Christ is an ongoing moment by moment conscious decision to continue following Christ.

Long before you decided what to do with God, God decided what to do with you. “If” you choose to become a follower of Jesus Christ, you come into alignment with God’s purpose and plan. God’s redemptive story includes you. Life will never make sense until you come to the place of turning your life completely over to Jesus. Allow Him to be the Lord of your life. Bring Jesus to the center of your destiny and your daily decisions.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Saturday, January 26th, 2008 at 1:00 am
Category Cross, Follower of Christ, Fully Devoted, Making Sense.
Interact No Comments