Archive for July, 2007

July 31st, 2007

Far Away

If you have ever traveled internationally, you know how it feels to be on the other side of the world. You know the impact of being twelve time zones away from home. There is a touch of insecurity which echoes the reality of being far away.

You can experience being far away in relationships. You can feel very close to someone at one time and then feel far away from them even when the physical proximity has not changed.

It is possible to be far away from God even though God is omnipresent. There is nowhere God is not. Yet, relationally you can be far away from God. You can walk closely with God and then in a subtle way over time drift until you are far away.

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.” Eph 2:13 (NIV)

The refreshing news is that you don’t have to stay far away. God’s desire is for us to walk in daily intimacy with Him. He initiates the relationship and gives us the capacity to respond.

Don’t waste your life. Don’t live your life far away from God. There are no benefits to living far away from God. You will experience isolation and alienation. The only way to eliminate the gap is in Christ.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Tuesday, July 31st, 2007 at 1:00 am
Category Far Away.
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July 30th, 2007

Excluded

“Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called ‘uncircumcised’ by those who call themselves ‘the circumcision’ (that done in the body by the hands of men)– remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.” Eph 2:11-12 (NIV)

You are either a Jew or a Gentile. In the New Testament period, Jews did not associate with Gentiles. In fact, the Jews viewed the Gentiles as unclean. Jesus made a way for the two to become one in the family of God.

Paul is reminding the saints at Ephesus of their former condition. He was placing a mirror in front of them and giving them a look into their life before conversion. They had to face the painful reality that they were actually separate from Christ and excluded from citizenship in Israel. Their former status was that of desperation.

Being excluded from citizenship meant overt rejection. Exclusion means that one does not measure up. It means that one does not meet the standards for inclusion. Paul is reminding the believers in Ephesus of their former reality.

Calculate for a moment what it would mean for you to be excluded from God’s family. Think about the separation anxiety related to not being included in God’s family tree. Do you remember what it felt like to not be in Christ? Do you remember being lost, hopeless, and separated from Christ?

Let the panic subside. Now, spend some time thanking God for including you in His redemptive plan. Let our Heavenly Father know how much you appreciate Him for including you in the salvation package.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Monday, July 30th, 2007 at 1:00 am
Category Excluded.
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July 29th, 2007

Moses & the Cloud

God makes His Presence known. For the children of Israel, God revealed His Presence through the glory cloud.

“In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out–until the day it lifted. So the cloud of the LORD was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel during all their travels.” Ex 40:36-38 (NIV)

God would guide the Israelites by the visible manifestation of the cloud during the day and fire by night. When the cloud lifted and shifted, the Israelites moved. The Tabernacle was constructed in a way that emphasized ease of mobility. This enabled the Israelites to move when God moved.

As God’s workmanship, where did Moses learn that kind of sensitivity to God’s movement? Did he learn it in the palace during his first forty years on the earth or perhaps during the second forty years of his life as a shepherd in the desert? The burning bush experience obviously made an abiding difference in his sensitivity to God’s Presence.

God is always at work. Are you sensitive to His activity? You can experience God’s Presence moment by moment as you commune with Him through prayer and feed on His Word. You can experience God’s Presence as you maintain a posture of expectation and anticipation. You always find what you are looking for. If you are looking for the activity of God, you will find it.

Recognition of God’s activity is proportionate to your sensitivity.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, July 29th, 2007 at 1:00 am
Category Moses & the Cloud.
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July 28th, 2007

Moses & the Desert

“But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’”
“And God said, ‘I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.’”
Ex 3:11-12 (NIV)

What benefits were available to Moses in the desert that were unavailable to him in the palace? What could God teach Moses in the dusty desert that he could not learn in the palatial palace?

I remember going through a difficult season in ministry and felt led to call one of my mentors. I shared with him that perhaps God was preparing me for my next assignment. I’ll never forget his response. He said, “Stephen, God is always preparing you for your next assignment. However, your next assignment may be right where you are.”

Moses probably felt that way. He likely wondered what God could possibly be up to by allowing him to remain in the desert for forty years. God allowed Moses to experience forty years in the palace to prepare him for the forty years in the desert to prepare him for the forty years of leading the children of Israel to the Promised Land.

God does not waste our desert experiences. God uses those dry times in our lives to reveal Himself in a way that we would not comprehend otherwise. He is always preparing us for our next interaction, our next appointment, our next interruption, and our next assignment.

God will redeem the season you are in. Are you willing to trust God with your life? Are you willing to submit to His prompting?

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Saturday, July 28th, 2007 at 1:00 am
Category Moses & the Desert.
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July 27th, 2007

Moses & the Palace

“When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, ‘I drew him out of the water.’” Ex 2:10 (NIV)

Amram and Jochebed were the parents of the baby that we come to know later as Moses. In response to Pharaoh’s order to throw every boy that is born into the Nile, they sought to preserve his life by placing him into a floating basket and into the Nile River. He floated down the crocodile infested Nile safely into the view of Pharaoh’s daughter. When he grew older, he was brought to her and she named him Moses.

God was clearly at work. God provided for Moses to go from being a helpless baby targeted by the death sentence of Pharaoh to being reared in the palace. Only God can maneuver someone from the awful plight of persecution to the panacea of the palace.

God thrives in hopeless situations. When your circumstances are desperate and impossible, God performs His greatest work. There is nothing beyond His grasp. He can surprise you with the exact provision at the exact time of need.

As God’s workmanship, Moses encountered an unusual beginning. He was born in an environment that was not on his side. Everything seemed to be against him. Yet, God was for him and made a way when there seemed to be no way.

Have you ever felt like you were in the turbulence of the Nile? Have circumstances ever weighed you down and depleted your emotional reserves? God is fully in tune. He invites you to come to Him as you are and rest in His care. You are His workmanship and He knows what you need.

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Matt 6:6-8 (NIV)

God knows. God cares. Rest in Him.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Friday, July 27th, 2007 at 1:00 am
Category Moses & the Palace.
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July 26th, 2007

Joseph

“Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made a richly ornamented robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.” Gen 37:3-4 (NIV)

Favored does not always equate to invincible. Joseph was favored by his father and hated by his brothers. Jealousy is like acid that erodes relationships and dissolves family unity. The seed of jealousy would germinate into a vine of hurtful branches in Joseph’s life.

Joseph journeyed from the pit to the palace and then from the prison to the place of prominence. His life was like a vine climbing the rubble of a collapsed brick fence. Yet, through it all, the Lord was with Joseph.

God never abandons His workmanship. You are created by the Master architect. Your unique design comes from Almighty God. Nothing happens to you without the permission of your Creator. Whatever God orchestrates He navigates. You are safe in His Hands. He knows what you are going through. He knows your past, your hurts, and your hang-ups. He knows ever wound you have incurred. The Lord is with you and for you.

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Gen 50:20 (NIV)

Lessons from Joseph’s Life:

  • God never abandons His children.
  • God navigates what He orchestrates.
  • God nestles a mess into a masterpiece.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Thursday, July 26th, 2007 at 1:00 am
Category Joseph.
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July 25th, 2007

Jacob

“So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man.” Gen 32:24-25 (NIV)

Have you ever wrestled with God? Who won? Wrestling is part of being God’s workmanship. Jacob, as God’s workmanship, came to know God in a new way after a night of wrestling. Just like in weight training, without resistance there is no growth.

God allows us to go through seasons of uncertainty. God allows us to experience seasons of silence and yes, even seasons of suffering. We wrestle with God in those seasons. Our faith is challenged and often our prayer life is stretched. We come to know God by experience. Sometimes that experience involves pain.

As God’s workmanship, Jacob came away from the night of wrestling with a limp and a new name. You don’t come into close proximity with the living God and leave the same.

“Then the man said, ‘Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.’” Gen 32:28 (NIV)

God is for you. He is willingly to go to any length to bring you into a vibrant, intimate, and growing relationship that is eternal.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Wednesday, July 25th, 2007 at 2:00 am
Category Jacob.
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July 24th, 2007

Noah

“This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.” Gen 6:9 (NIV)

God’s workmanship included Noah. When we meet him in Scripture, we are drawn to Noah because he is the kind of daddy every child desires. He is in right standing with God and other people. Noah lives in harmony with God. He walks with God.

It sounds like Noah is a finished product. When we read about him in this verse, it appears that Noah has arrived. Where can he go from here? Yet, God takes Noah on an aquatic journey that is preceded by a perpetual dry season.

As God’s workmanship, Noah has to learn how to trust God when circumstances do not make sense and delays are as frequent as the shifting shadows. Noah’s life becomes a consistent pattern of waiting.

Can you relate? Are you agonizing over something in your life that seems to linger? Waiting does not come naturally to us. We live in a high tech world that delivers information faster than the blink of an eye. We expect instant responses and instant results. Yet, God does not seem to be on our timetable.

Could it be that part of being God’s workmanship includes more than just us employing good works? Maybe God wants us to see His value in the process more than the finished product. Maybe it’s not so much about the ark. Maybe it’s more about what is on the inside of the ark. God is really passionate about the interior of our lives.

While you are waiting, God is working!

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Tuesday, July 24th, 2007 at 2:00 am
Category Noah.
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July 23rd, 2007

Workmanship

Salvation is a gift, not a reward. You cannot perform enough good works to earn salvation. You receive the gift of eternal life by the grace of God through faith in the completed work of Jesus on the cross. If salvation is a gift, how do good works add value?

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Eph 2:10 (NIV)

He graciously gave His best, Jesus, to pay the sin debt you owed. It is a gift. If you try to pay for the gift one has given, then you cheapen the gift. What can you add to the finished work of Jesus on the cross? His atoning work is complete.

You were uniquely designed by God and for God. You are His masterpiece, His treasure, and the apple of His eye. You are His workmanship. He formed you and fashioned you for His glory. You are not an accident! You are here on purpose!

You cannot add to the salvation that God provided to you by His grace through faith. However, as His workmanship, you are created to do good works. You don’t work for salvation; you work as a result of the salvation gift you have received. Good works are a result of a grateful heart. Gratitude for what God has initiated and our faith has activated results in good works.

“Then will all your people be righteous and they will possess the land forever. They are the shoot I have planted, the work of my hands, for the display of my splendor.” Isaiah 60:21 (NIV)

Are you willing to display God’s splendor today? You are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works! Who will benefit from your life today?

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Monday, July 23rd, 2007 at 2:00 am
Category Workmanship.
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July 22nd, 2007

Pride

God asked Job a very enlightening question: “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.” Job 38:4 (NIV)

Sometimes we forget how big God is and how small we are. That is one factor that makes salvation so amazing. God as the Creator of the entire universe has taken the initiative to rescue, redeem, and restore fallen humanity. God became like us so that we could become like Him. Wow!

So what do we bring to the table? Out of 6.7 billion people on planet earth, what does one individual add to the equation of God’s redemptive activity?

“…not by works, so that no one can boast.” Eph 2:9 (NIV)

Remember, we are saved by His grace through faith. It is a gift, not a reward. We do not earn salvation by our works or deeds. Thus, there is no room for pride. Pride says, “Look at what I have done! Look at what I have accomplished!” The reality is that we cannot add to the completed work of Jesus on the cross.

“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Gal 6:14 (NIV)

How will you respond to God’s transforming grace? How will you interact with people this week in light of God’s redemptive activity in your life?

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, July 22nd, 2007 at 2:00 am
Category Pride.
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