Archive for the ‘First’ Category

July 31st, 2009

Priorities

“‘But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.’” Matt 6:33 (NIV)

What is competing for “first” in your life? What gets the majority of your time, energy, and attention? Maybe you feel like you have too many plates spinning and several wobbling. Maybe you are overwhelmed with the tugs on your life and you wonder how you are going to pull it all off before each deadline.

Jesus understands the allurements and tugs of life. He had to say “no” to the wrong things so that He could say “yes” to the right things. Jesus had to say “no” to the good opportunities so that He could say “yes” to the best opportunities. Jesus had to guard His mornings so that He could have unbroken fellowship and communion with our Heavenly Father. Jesus had to strategically carve out time to simply rest and be away from the crowds and the demands on His life.

There is only so much of you to allocate. You cannot please everyone and you cannot satisfy every request. Some of your spinning plates will have to crash. The wonderful news is that God’s Will can be accomplished within the 24 hours that He has given you each day.

  • “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27 (NIV)
  • “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world.” 1 John 2:15-16 (NIV)

Make room in your life for Jesus to occupy “first” place. Guard your daily intimacy with Him. Create margins in your life to foster balance. No one can do this for you. Only you can enthrone Jesus to the “first” position of prominence in your life. What adjustments do you need to make right now?

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 Friday, July 31st, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category Discipline, First, Integrity, Priorities.
Interact No Comments
July 30th, 2009

Your First Love

“Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.” Rev 2:4 (NIV)

When I was a teenager, I raced motocross. One afternoon I was on a track with my brother and some friends practicing in the heat of the day. At this point, I was in the lead and throttling through a sandy turn when my dirt bike slide out from under me at a high speed which slammed my body to the ground. The pain was so immense and the heat was so intense that I began to see stars. I was nauseated and just knew that I had broken my wrist. My brother came to my rescue and said, “Come on man! Ride it out! Let’s keep riding!” 

After my visit to the emergency room and a cast secured to my right arm, I proudly walked up to my brother and confirmed my suspicion that my wrist was broken. The X-ray enabled the physician to see what we could not see. The X-ray provided information that was not attainable from an external view of my arm.

Jesus has the unique ability to X-ray the church and to X-ray our heart. Jesus detects the internal workings. Jesus weighs motives and our current reality. Jesus knows the reality of our priorities.

  • “Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.” Rev 2:5 (NIV)

Remember, repent, and return. Remember the former intensity of your love relationship with Jesus. Repent of those things that have caused you to drift from your first love. Turn away from those things that have robbed you of your devotion to the Lord. Return to daily surrender and full devotion to Jesus as your first love.

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 Thursday, July 30th, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category Devotion, First, Priorities.
Interact No Comments
March 10th, 2008

First

“‘If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.’” John 15:18 (NIV)

One of our deepest needs is to be accepted by others. As a result, we invest so much of our time and energy seeking to please others. We do not like anyone to reject us or to think less of us. We strive to be admired and affirmed by others. Often our pursuit winds up streaming us into a performance trap. 

Satan plays into the equation in that he fuels our desire to be liked by others. He seeks to get us to neglect our daily intimacy with the Lord in order to neutralize our effectiveness as followers of Christ. Satan’s opposition is in proportion to our mobilization in God’s army.

Jesus reminds us that He endured opposition for God’s glory. Jesus was hated and despised. Jesus suffered persecution and ultimately death for God’s glory. 

  • “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” 1 Peter 2:21 (NIV)
  • “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” 1 Peter 2:23 (NIV)
  • “However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.” 1 Peter 4:16 (NIV)

If the world hates you, remember that it hated Jesus first. If the world despises you, remember that it despised Jesus first. Walk in the honor of bearing the name of Jesus. Continue to give Jesus “first” place in your life and remember that Jesus went first for you. 

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Monday, March 10th, 2008 at 1:00 am
Category First, Persecution, Suffering.
Interact No Comments
March 9th, 2008

First

“And the gospel must first be preached to all nations.” Mark 13:10 (NIV)

There are over 12,000 people groups among the nations of the earth. Jesus died on the cross so that everyone person who calls upon His Name will be saved. Jesus is the hope of the world. There is no other payment for the penalty of our sin. Jesus is the only way.

  • “‘Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.’” Acts 4:12 (NIV)
  • “Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” John 14:6 (NIV)
  • “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 (NIV)

What will you do to ensure that the message of the gospel gets to every people group on earth? How will you participate in the redemptive process? How many people will be in heaven because of your witness?

Shine the light of Jesus and share the love of Jesus every moment of every day. Seize every opportunity that God gives you to make Jesus known. Pray for the lost. Share your salvation story and lead others to come to know Jesus. We are not waiting on Jesus to come. Jesus has commissioned us and empowered us to get the gospel to all nations.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, March 9th, 2008 at 1:00 am
Category Evangelism, First, Gospel, Missions.
Interact No Comments
March 8th, 2008

First

“Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.’” Mark 9:35 (NIV)

Our culture thrives on being the best at whatever you do. Reality television shows have magnified the surge of cynicism and critical evaluation. You’re too tall or you’re too short or your vocal pitch is too high or too low. Everyone is striving to win. Everyone is clamoring for the top spot. In our culture, being “first” is the epitome of success.

Jesus redefines success. To be first you must be last. Being at the top is all about being at the bottom. Instead of being first, success is about letting others be first. It is putting others before yourself. The portrait of success that Jesus paints is that of being selfless. The way of Jesus is counter-culture. The current of the Christ-centered life goes against the flow of culture.

Descending into greatness requires placing the needs of others before your own. Jesus was willing to serve His disciples by washing their feet and ultimately washing their sins away through His shed blood upon the cross. Are you willing to serve others? Are you willing to put others first? That does not come naturally. It requires being fully surrendered to the Spirit’s control in your life.

Do you qualify as “servant of all” in your sphere of influence? Look to Jesus! He is the model to follow!

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Saturday, March 8th, 2008 at 1:00 am
Category First, Humility, Servanthood.
Interact No Comments
March 7th, 2008

First

“‘Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.’” Matt 7:3-5 (NIV)

We tend to judge others by a different standard than we judge ourselves. When we look at ourselves, we tend to use a filtered lens that makes us look pretty good. When we look at others, we tend to utilize the most powerful microscope to examine their lives. We can be rather selective by choosing someone who will make us look good.

The truth is, everyone looks good from a distance. Proximity affects accuracy. Jesus is giving us a new lens to view ourselves and others. Instead of bypassing the reality of a massive plank in our own eye in order to identify the speck of sawdust in our brother’s eye, Jesus wants us to examine our own life first.

  • “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.” Psalms 51:3 (NIV)
  • “‘Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips…’” Isaiah 6:5 (NIV)
  • “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:8 (NIV)

Introspection paves the way for realization of God’s impartation of grace in which we live and breathe. God already knows about the plank. Be quick to remove it and be slow to critique the speck in your brother’s eye.  

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Friday, March 7th, 2008 at 1:00 am
Category Confession, First, Introspection.
Interact No Comments
March 6th, 2008

First

“‘But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.’” Matt 6:33 (NIV)

What is competing for “first” in your life? What gets the majority of your time, energy, and attention? Maybe you feel like you have too many plates spinning and several wobbling. Maybe you are overwhelmed with the tugs on your life and you wonder how you are going to pull it all off before each deadline.

Jesus understands the allurements and tugs of life. He had to say “no” to the wrong things so that He could say “yes” to the right things. Jesus had to say “no” to the good opportunities so that He could say “yes” to the best opportunities. Jesus had to guard His mornings so that He could have unbroken fellowship and communion with our Heavenly Father. Jesus had to strategically carve out time to simply rest and be away from the crowds and the demands on His life.

There is only so much of you to allocate. You cannot please everyone and you cannot satisfy every request. Some of your spinning plates will have to crash. The wonderful news is that God’s Will can be accomplished within the 24 hours that He has given you each day.

  • “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27 (NIV)
  • “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world.” 1 John 2:15-16 (NIV)

Make room in your life for Jesus to occupy “first” place. Guard your daily intimacy with Him. Create margins in your life to foster balance. No one can do this for you. Only you can enthrone Jesus to the “first” position of prominence in your life. What adjustments do you need to make right now?

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Thursday, March 6th, 2008 at 1:00 am
Category Discipline, First, Integrity, Priorities.
Interact No Comments
March 5th, 2008

First

“‘Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.’” Matt 5:23-24 (NIV)

In yielded worship before the Lord, your sensitivity to the things of God is heightened. Your awareness of God’s holiness and your personal sin becomes elevated when you are consecrated before the Lord in worship. If during the act of offering your gift at the altar of worship God brings to your mind the reality of a strained relationship, leave your gift and diligently go and be reconciled.

God values unity in the body. God expects us to protect the vitality of our relationships with others. You cannot have a right relationship with God, even in worship, if you are not in a right relationship with others. Living in a fallen world perpetuates the litter of strained relationships. Make reconciliation your “first” response to God in worship. You have been reconciled to God through the finished work of Jesus upon the cross so that you can be an intentional reconciler on this broken planet.

  • “If you have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth, then do this, my son, to free yourself,  since you have fallen into your neighbor’s hands: Go and humble yourself; press your plea with your neighbor!” Prov 6:2-3 (NIV)
  • “Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, ‘Today I am reminded of my shortcomings.’” Gen 41:9 (NIV)

Your gift becomes acceptable to God at the level of your relational purity with God and with others. Guard your relationships. Seek immediate reconciliation! Exhibit humility and brokenness! Ask for forgiveness! Extend forgiveness! Do whatever it takes to make things right between you and God. Do whatever it takes to make things right with others.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Wednesday, March 5th, 2008 at 1:00 am
Category First, Reconciliation.
Interact No Comments
March 4th, 2008

First

“Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.” Rev 2:4 (NIV)

When I was a teenager, I raced motocross. One afternoon I was on a track with my brother and some friends practicing in the heat of the day. At this point, I was in the lead and throttling through a sandy turn when my dirt bike slide out from under me at a high speed which slammed my body to the ground. The pain was so immense and the heat was so intense that I began to see stars. I was nauseated and just knew that I had broken my wrist. My brother came to my rescue and said, “Come on man! Ride it out! Let’s keep riding!” 

After my visit to the emergency room and a cast secured to my right arm, I proudly walked up to my brother and confirmed my suspicion that my wrist was broken. The X-ray enabled the physician to see what we could not see. The X-ray provided information that was not attainable from an external view of my arm.

Jesus has the unique ability to X-ray the church and to X-ray our heart. Jesus detects the internal workings. Jesus weighs motives and our current reality. Jesus knows the reality of our priorities.

  • “Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.” Rev 2:5 (NIV)

Remember, repent, and return. Remember the former intensity of your love relationship with Jesus. Repent of those things that have caused you to drift from your first love. Turn away from those things that have robbed you of your devotion to the Lord. Return to daily surrender and full devotion to Jesus as your first love.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Tuesday, March 4th, 2008 at 1:00 am
Category Devotion, First, Priorities.
Interact Comments Off