Archive for the ‘Love’ Category

December 9th, 2015

Love Never Ends

“Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.” 1 Corinthians 13:8 (ESV)

Inherent in sinful man is the need to make himself feel superior to his fellow men. We want to be worshiped; we want to feel like we are better. This sinful need for distinction had infiltrated the Corinthian Church, and members within the church were arguing over who had the greatest gift. Was prophecy the greatest gift? Or was tongues preferable? The uproar was causing strong division and Paul spoke boldly into the contentious situation, reminding the people of God about the purpose of these gifts. All gifts are meant to edify the Church. Gifts are meant to build each other up, and the second these gifts become about the individual, we have turned these God-given gifts into sinful manifestations for the glorification of man.

The core of this argument is found in 1 Corinthians 13, a passage that is so much more profound than we often notice in weddings. Love must be the motivation for the use of spiritual gifts, because love is the only component of the Church that is eternal. When Christ returns, we will no longer need prophecy, as all its objects will have been fulfilled. Further, we will not need tongues nor interpretation, as we will fellowship with God fully in His Spirit in Heaven. Love, then, should be the chief concern for us as it will be the only gift we take with us forever.

Are you concerned with how you love your fellow man? Do you genuinely love your brothers and sisters in Christ or do you simply tolerate them? This kind of love is birthed from a true love for the Lord, knowing that if we love Him, we must love others since love is from God. Seek today to love better, rejecting the tendency to compare yourself to others and build up your own image and pride.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Wednesday, December 9th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category 1 Corinthians, Love, Spiritual Gifts.
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November 18th, 2015

Jesus is the Way

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.’” John 14:6-7 (ESV)

Jesus, proclaimed in John as the “Word of God in the flesh,” is divine communication. He represents fully to us the character and nature of God, allowing us to behold our Creator and witness what it looks like to walk in complete intimacy with Him. Jesus, then, communicates our goal. We are to walk in fellowship with God as Jesus walked in fellowship with Him. We are to be one as the Father and the Son are one. The dilemma for us, unlike Jesus, is that we are sinful and, therefore, cannot be one with Him unless our nature is changed. We, who are dead, cannot have fellowship with the life that Christ embodies unless that sin is eradicated.

Jesus allows for this provision. He came to communicate to us, yes, but He also came to make a way for us to have fellowship with God, as we were created to do. Further, He was the only one who could have made this way. His unique incarnation and perfect fulfillment of the law makes Him the only way to the Father. We cannot earn this nor choose a different path, for only Christ do we see the fullness of God displayed both in His life and in His resurrection.

Rejoice today, dear child of God, that the Lord did not abandon you. Rather, He loved you enough to send His only begotten Son, and in this sacrifice we find the ability to be fully satisfied and have our joy be made complete.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Wednesday, November 18th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category John, Love, Provision.
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November 17th, 2015

A New Commandment

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 (ESV)

The distinguishing mark of a true disciple of Christ is not the ability to raise people from the dead nor heal the blind. Rather, Christ proclaims that our identity as Christians is inherently tied to our ability to love one another as Christ Himself loved us. How did Christ love us? He loved us sacrificially and humbly. Think about the act of service Jesus performs for His disciples earlier in this passage. He washes their feet, and He does this having full knowledge that the Father had “given all things into his hands” (John 13:3 ESV). These hands that hold divine power in their grasp are the very same hands removing the dust and dirt from the feet of those He loves.

Jesus did not allow power to cloud His affection for His people, and we must guard against the spirits of this world doing the same. We cannot fake the kind of love that Jesus is calling us to. This kind of love is more than tolerance or acceptance. This kind of love is transformative and self-sacrificing. This kind of love is only possible in light of the gospel. We must love one another in a supernatural way, and when those around us see people from such different backgrounds and ethnicities loving each other so completely, they will be astonished. They will wonder why these people are acting so differently toward one another, meeting each other’s needs and bearing one another’s burdens, and we will be able to tell them we are able to because of how Christ first loved us!

Dear family of God, we must love one another. The growth of God’s Kingdom depends on it. Will you commit to love sacrificially today?

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Tuesday, November 17th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category John, Love, Sacrificial Love.
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November 11th, 2015

The Greatest Commandment

“And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.’” Matthew 22:37-40 (ESV)

Our complete affection for the Lord and devotion to Him should be our primary concern as disciples, knowing that only as we love Him completely can we truly walk as we were created to walk. We must seek to love the Lord fully with every part of our being; it is not enough to only give Him part for He is worthy of the whole. Once we have learned to love Him completely, allowing Him to satisfy our every need, then, according to Jesus, every other commandment will make sense. Our ability, then, to walk in obedience cannot be motivated by simple obligation; rather, our ability to walk in faithfulness is directly proportional to the type of affection we carry for the Lord. Further, our ability to love others as Christ loved them and commanded us to is only possible once we have learned to love the Lord fully. We can love others because of how He has loved us.

Do you love the Lord fully? Have you completely surrendered the entirety of your self to Him, forsaking other temporary pleasures for the great reward found in Him? If you have not learned to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, then the rest of discipleship is meaningless. Only when you have obeyed this greatest command can you truly walk forward as a sincere disciple and follower of Christ.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Wednesday, November 11th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Devotion, Love, Matthew.
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November 6th, 2015

What Do You Love More Than Jesus?

“When Jesus heard this, he said to him, ‘One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’ But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.” Luke 18:22-23 (ESV)

We do not teach a “poverty gospel” in Christianity, meaning that we do not affirm that only in poverty can you truly live a life pleasing to the Lord, free from material distractions. While it is true that materialism is a dangerous foe to a Christian’s proper devotion to the Lord, material things are not in and of themselves evil. So, what is Jesus teaching this “ruler” in Luke’s gospel? If we are not affirming a poverty gospel, then why would Jesus command this drastic act of worship? Jesus asks this of the man because He knows where his true devotion lies. The rich ruler has been extraordinarily obedient to the requirements of the law, yet his heart still longs for the things of this world. He has yet to discover the central message of Christianity: true satisfaction is only found in God and God is only found in Christ.

This story is always a challenging one for the follower of Jesus, because it forces us to assess ourselves and see what things we are unwilling to sacrifice for Him. Are there things in your life that you would be unwilling to give up if Jesus asked you? If so, you have found a god greater than Him in your own mind. We all have idols that intermittently rise up in our lives; the trick for us, though, who desire to grow in Christ-likeness is to identify those things and put them to death so that they do not steal our affection for the Lord.

Dear friend, do not go away from the Lord sad as this rich ruler did. Remember that whatever it is that you must sacrifice in order to be obedient is far less satisfying in comparison to the greatness of our Lord.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Friday, November 6th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Idolatry, Love, Luke.
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November 3rd, 2015

A Father’s Love and A Son’s Response

“For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.” Luke 15:24 (ESV)

Child of God, hear this beautiful promise today: you can never wander too far away from the loving arms of your Heavenly Father! There may be times in your life when the temptations of this world once again captivate your mind and call you back into the pig sty in which you were found by Jesus, but know that even in the mud and muck of depravity, your Father in heaven waits and longs for you to “come to yourself,” repent, and return. A father’s love is unending and unconditional.

For many of us, these times of spiritual defeat push us away from the Lord, causing us to think ourselves too unworthy to return. “How can I go back to Him and ask Him to forgive me again? Would He even recognize me?” While certainly, as a Christian, our desire should be to grow in holiness, reflecting in greater detail the nature of Christ in our lives, do not let moments of weakness once again define you as they did before you surrendered your life to Jesus. Remember who you are! Your are a child of the living God, made so by the sacrifice of Jesus and the regenerating work of the Spirit. Yes, you have fallen, but get back up and return home to the arms of your loving Father.

May we not allow the inevitability of failure to ensnare us in defeat. We are more than conquerors in Christ, guaranteed eternal victory over our battle with sin. Stand up today, dear friend, and walk forward in holiness. Return to your Father, confess your sin, and see the feast that awaits!

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Love, Luke, Repentance, Return.
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October 18th, 2015

Does Your Love Match Your Forgiveness?

“‘Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven–for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.’ And he said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, ‘Who is this, who even forgives sins?’” Luke 7:47-49 (ESV)

This morning we encounter one of the most beautiful stories in all of scripture, in which a sinful woman recognizes her indelible need to worship her worthy Savior. Luke does not provide us with much back story for this woman except for the note that she is a known “sinner.” Because of her status, she is looked down upon by the “righteous,” who call into question Jesus’ righteousness for letting  such a woman have any contact with Him. Upon recognizing their judgment, Jesus asks a simple question of His host, Simon, that carries a profound answer.

Why wasn’t Simon treating the good “teacher” the way this sinful woman was? Why was she so broken and generous in her gift? Because she recognized her great need and the hope that rested for her alone in Christ.

The question for us today is, “Who do you most resemble in this story?” Are you broken over your sin? Do you bow before the Lord, desiring to give Him the very best you have because of what He has given you? Or do you judge those who have been forgiven much, thinking them unworthy of contact with you and your God?

The reality is that all of us have sinned greatly, whether we recognize it or not. The deeper we walk with the Lord and the greater we strive for holiness, the more junk we will find. May we not be accused of loving little for thinking we have been forgiven little. May we have the continual mindset of this brave woman, who saw her Savior and worshiped Him accordingly.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, October 18th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Forgiveness, Love, Luke.
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August 22nd, 2015

God’s Everlasting Love

“Thus says the LORD: ‘The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, the LORD appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.’” Jeremiah 31:2-3 (ESV)

The presence of discipline does not indicate a lack of love; rather, discipline when given by the Lord is always motivated by love for the good of His children. As we have seen throughout the prophets, the people of God had wandered from the Lord and had begun to turn to other things to find satisfaction. The Lord calls them back to Himself in discipline, knowing that if His people continue to pursue the favor of idols or satisfaction in the world, they will come up empty. The best thing He can give His people is Himself. They have no need to turn elsewhere, if they remember that He truly is the perfect solution to every need they have. The discipline the Lord gives, then, is not only given out of anger, although there is a since in which the Lord is rightly offended by their sin. This discipline is ultimately given out of love for His glory and their good.

God’s everlasting love for you has an inherent long-range perspective that allows for discipline in the present to protect you in the future. Parents surely understand this relational dynamic, knowing they must discipline their children in order to help them know how to act appropriately for their future success.

When discipline comes, don’t become resentful toward the Lord; rather, seek out the truth behind the discipline, knowing God simply desires to root out ungodliness for His glory and your good.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Saturday, August 22nd, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Discipline, Jeremiah, Love.
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July 27th, 2015

An Unusual Call

“When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the LORD.” So he went and took Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.” Hosea 1:2-3 (ESV)

Can you imagine Hosea’s response to the Lord when He spoke this command? “Excuse me, Lord? What did you say? Can you repeat that?” What man of God would ever be called to marry a prostitute, much less one that is promised to be unfaithful even after marriage?

I am not married yet, but I can only imagine having this conversation with my mom. “Mom, the Lord told me to marry a prostitute named “Gomer.” I have come to get your blessing.” My mom, undoubtedly, would not be thrilled with this prospect regardless of how ready she was for me to be married.

What’s the big deal here? Besides the girl’s name being Gomer, she is impure and seemingly unworthy of someone like Hosea’s affection, and, yet, that is precisely God’s point. You see, you and I are unfaithful to the Lord every day, as we choose to give our worship to other things He created instead of Him. We violate our covenant with Him and are worthy of being rejected. But, see how the Lord responds. Does He reject us? No! He pursues us. He comes after us in our unfaithfulness and buys us back, as Hosea did for Gomer. He is faithful even when we are not.

We should be overwhelmed by the ridiculousness of the love God has for us! Yes, the Lord may call us to do some crazy things, as He did Hosea, but remember that nothing He could call us to is more absurd than His intimate, persistent love for us.

Be overwhelmed by the love of God for you today. Think specifically of God’s love for you displayed on the cross of Christ. Truly, He forsook everything to pursue you!

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Pastor of Mobilization & Young Adults (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Monday, July 27th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Hosea, Love, Pursuit.
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June 9th, 2015

Communicating Value

“Behold, you are beautiful, my love, behold, you are beautiful! Your eyes are doves behind your veil. Your hair is like a flock of goats leaping down the slopes of Gilead. Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes that have come up from the washing, all of which bear twins, and not one among them has lost its young. Your lips are like a scarlet thread, and your mouth is lovely. Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate behind your veil.” Song of Solomon 4:1-3 (ESV)

Being selfish requires no effort. Selfishness comes naturally to us. If we aren’t careful, we will operate our lives on the assumption that life revolves around us. Being self-centered and self-absorbed is the antithesis of marriage. In the marriage relationship, the husband and wife must release selfishness and embrace selflessness.

Our culture is not marriage-friendly. The pace of life and the demands on our time can strain a marriage relationship. As a partner, you have to make room for marriage. You have to conscientiously and intentionally make room for the one you love. In order to have a healthy, vibrant, and growing marriage, you have to create space for the relationship. It takes time to nurture a meaningful relationship with your spouse.

Busyness is the prominent enemy to intimacy. We divert our energy to parenting, to our career, to recreation, and to other things to the neglect of our marriage relationship. It is so easy to neglect the sacred union God calls us to with our spouse. We can give our best to others and give our spouse the crumbs. That’s a recipe for an unhealthy marriage. Remember, you will make room for what you value!

Riding HIS Wave,

Stephen Trammell
Lead Pastor
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephentrammell

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Tuesday, June 9th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Commitment, Love, Song of Solomon.
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