Archive for May, 2007

May 31st, 2007

Position

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” 1 John 3:1-2 (NIV)

Try to measure God’s love. There isn’t a scale large enough to calculate His love. You become a child after your physical birth. However, you do not become a child of God until you respond to His offer of salvation.

At salvation, you are not made righteous, you are declared righteous by God. He lavishes you with His love and you become a child of God. Your new position in Christ enables you to enjoy peace with God and assurance of eternal life.

Rejoice that you are a child of God and recognize that the best is yet to come. What you will be has not yet been made known. One day you will be like Jesus and see Him as He is.

There’s more to come! Enjoy each day walking with Jesus. Focus on knowing Him intimately and making Him known globally. Your position in Christ changes everything including the here and now as well as the hereafter. 

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Thursday, May 31st, 2007 at 3:00 am
Category Position.
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May 30th, 2007

Adopted

Solidify the “in Christ” realities…

  • Reality number one: I am a Saint.
  • Reality number two: I am Blessed.
  • Reality number three: I am Chosen
  • Reality number four: I am Adopted.

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12 (NIV) 

If you are in Christ, then you are adopted. God gave the right for you to become a child of God. In love, God predestined you to be adopted as his child through Jesus Christ.

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will–to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” Eph 1:4-6 (NIV)

God’s grace is the gateway to our adoption into His family. Your adoption is formalized at conversion. God takes the initiative to draw you by convicting you of sin and convincing you of His righteousness. He gives you the freedom to choose Him or refuse Him. His salvation is available to all but only effective for those who place their trust in the completed work of Jesus on the cross.

Adoption is not an option. Adoption is a reality for those who are in Christ. Spend some time thanking God for His willingness to adopt you into His family.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Wednesday, May 30th, 2007 at 3:00 am
Category Adopted.
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May 29th, 2007

Chosen

“I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws.” Psalms 119:30 (NIV)

Have you ever wondered what makes people do good things? Why would someone choose the way of truth? Why would someone set their heart on God’s laws? Perhaps one’s behavior is related to one’s position in Christ.

We have been exploring the “in Christ” realities found in Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus.

  • Reality number one: I am a saint!
  • Reality number two: I am blessed!
  • Reality number three: I am chosen!

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” Eph 1:4 (NIV)

Did you choose God or did God choose you? That’s right…you were chosen by God long before you were even born. The song says, “While He (Jesus) was on the cross, I was on His mind.” Even before Jesus came to earth to live a sinless life, die a substitutionary death, and defeat sin and death, you were chosen by God. Before God splattered the stars in the universe, you were chosen. Before God spoke light into existence, you were chosen. Before God separated the day from the night, you were chosen.

Why were you chosen? You were chosen by God to be holy and blameless in His sight. Can you pull that off by yourself? No! Does God expect you to pull that off by yourself? No!

Jesus came so that you could live the life of choseness.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Tuesday, May 29th, 2007 at 3:00 am
Category Chosen.
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May 28th, 2007

Unique

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9 (NIV)

What do your fingerprint, DNA, and snowflakes have in common? Each has been uniquely designed by God and there are no two alike. Out of 6.4 billion people alive on planet earth today, there is no one exactly like you. Even if you are an identical twin, there are unique differences between you and your look alike.

God made you uniquely to fulfill His purpose and to bring Him glory on the earth. As a child of the King, you have been identified as chosen. You were selected by God to be part of His family. You were chosen to be part of His royal priesthood, His holy nation, and His possession.

How does your uniqueness benefit God? You were uniquely chosen by God to declare His praises. You have a song to sing! He called you out of darkness. Do you remember where you were when God came to your rescue? He brought you into His wonderful light. From darkness into the light is the theme of our praise.

You are uniquely designed by God and for God. You are His. Are you willing to allow Him to shine through your uniqueness to impact the nations for His glory? Are you willing to uniquely know Him and uniquely show Him to your family, your friends, and your future relationships?

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell 
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Monday, May 28th, 2007 at 3:00 am
Category Unique.
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May 27th, 2007

Vertical

“One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’” 

“‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus, ‘is this: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these.’” Mark 12:28-31 (NIV)

What really matters in this life? It depends on your point of reference. If you are living for what can be seen, then the answer may be very complex. However, if you are living for that which is unseen, then the answer is very simple.

Love God and love others. Jesus modeled this kind of focus in His earthly ministry. He stayed connected to the Father through daily intimacy. He guarded His priorities. He protected His love relationship with the Father. Jesus allocated His time to reflect His core values.

Are you loving God with all of your heart? Are you loving God with all of your soul, mind, and strength? This represents your vertical relationship. Your vertical relationship is your number one priority. Your effectiveness in the Kingdom of God will never rise above the level of your intimacy with God.

Think about the cross for a moment. Notice the vertical beam. This represents your relationship to God. Are you rightly related to God through faith in Jesus Christ? Are you daily nurturing your love relationship with Him?

Stay vertical!

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, May 27th, 2007 at 3:00 am
Category Vertical.
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May 26th, 2007

Blessed

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Eph 1:3 (NIV)

You are God’s treasure. Can you imagine the Creator of the universe being the reason for your existence? You are not an accident. He purposed for you to be born. You were planned by God.

Another reality of being in Christ is that you are blessed. If you are in Christ, then you can say, “I am blessed.” Go ahead and say it aloud!

God has blessed you in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. God’s resources are unlimited. He never runs out! He never runs dry! His shelves are never empty! Our God of abundance has blessed you with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

When someone asks you today, “How are you doing?”…don’t say, “Oh, I’m doing alright.” Instead, say with conviction and confidence and assurance, “I am blessed!”

Doesn’t that want to make you shout? Don’t ever forget who you are and Who’s you are!

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Saturday, May 26th, 2007 at 3:00 am
Category Blessed.
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May 25th, 2007

Saint

In her book, Breaking Free, Beth Moore reminds us of our position in Christ in the following affirmations:

  • God is who He says He is.
  • God can do what He says He can do.
  • I am who God says I am.
  • I can do all things through Christ.
  • God’s Word is alive and active in me.

Seek to memorize these five statements and speak them aloud each morning to start your day off in the right frame of mind. It will affect your outlook and attitude in a life giving way.

Focus with me on the third affirmation: I am who God says I am. Repeat that phrase to yourself and allow it to sink in. Let’s see how we can connect this truth with Paul’s “in Christ” realities.

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:” Eph 1:1 (NIV)

If you are in Christ then you can affirm this reality:

Reality #1:  I am a saint.

If you are in Christ then God says that you are a saint. A saint is one who has been set apart by God.  Your faith in the atoning work of Christ on the cross transfers your identity to that of a saint. It doesn’t mean that you are perfect and immune to the presence of sin.  It means that God positions you as a saint. You have a new standing before God and with God.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Friday, May 25th, 2007 at 3:00 am
Category Saint.
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May 24th, 2007

If/Then

God’s love is unconditional. Some of God’s promises are conditional. For example, see if you can locate God’s conditional promise to Solomon.

“When Solomon had finished the temple of the LORD and the royal palace, and had succeeded in carrying out all he had in mind to do in the temple of the LORD and in his own palace, the LORD appeared to him at night and said: I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices. When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.’” 2 Chron 7:11-15 (NIV)

Did you find it? God’s conditional promise to Solomon had an if/then element. If my people will…then I will. Yes! We want God to hear from heaven and we want God to forgive our sin and we want God to heal our land. Yet, God’s promise is conditioned by our willingness to humble ourselves, pray, seek His face and turn from our wicked ways.

In the first chapter of Ephesians, Paul gives us an if/then promise without using the words if and then. He unveils the realities of being “in Christ.”

Now that you have underlined or highlighted Paul’s use of “in Christ” in the book of Ephesians, see if you can detect the benefits or realities of being “in Christ.” For example, if I am in Christ, then I am…! Write down each reality and spend some time reflecting on one reality at a time. Over the next few days, we will explore each reality together.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Thursday, May 24th, 2007 at 4:00 am
Category If/Then.
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May 23rd, 2007

Regeneration

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, ‘Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.’” 
“In reply Jesus declared, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.’”
John 3:1-3 (NIV)

Jesus encountered Nic at night. Nicodemus was a very religious man but did not have a relationship with Jesus. He was an outstanding law abiding citizen as far as society was concerned, but missed the mark of God’s perfection. He recognized Jesus as a unique teacher but failed to recognize Jesus as the Messiah.

The encounter shifted as Jesus announced that a person must be born again to see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus thought Jesus meant that a person must be born again physically. However, Jesus was speaking of a spiritual rebirth.

To be born again means to be born from above. It means to be born into. At conversion, you are born from above which means God regenerates, redeems, and reconciles you. When you place your faith in Jesus alone for salvation, you are born into His family.

“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)

When you are born again your new identity is that of being “in Christ.” Once you are “in Christ” you become the recipient of God’s treasures as affirmed in Ephesians chapter one.

Read Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus and underline or highlight the phrase “in Christ” each time you see it. Then, close your eyes, smile, and express your gratitude to God for your new identity.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007 at 4:00 am
Category Regeneration.
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May 22nd, 2007

Union

“To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Col 1:27 (NIV)

When you say, “I do” to Jesus, there is a union formed that cannot be broken. You become one with Christ. You are united with Him.

Once you are “in Christ” there are eternal benefits and immediate realities. Notice how Paul uses the union reality in the first chapter of Ephesians through being “in Christ.”

“…the faithful in Christ Jesus (1:1), …blessing in Christ (1:3), …he chose us in Christ (1:4), …given us in the One he loves (1:6), …in him we have redemption (1:7), …which he purposed in Christ (1:9), …in him we were also chosen (1:11), …you also were included in Christ (1:12), …marked in him with a seal (1:14).

Let me ask you a question that has eternal consequences: Are you in Christ? Think about your life and travel back in your mind to the place where you recognized your lostness and became aware of your need for union with Jesus. Do you remember the eternal transaction? Can you recall the moment you became a Christ follower and gave evidence of your union with Him?

What about now? Is it obvious to others that you are in Christ?

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007 at 4:00 am
Category Union.
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