Archive for September, 2007

September 30th, 2007

Grieving the Holy Spirit

Have you ever wrestled a kinked water hose? You squeeze the nozzle and the water just drips out. You are trying to wash the car, but the water pressure is absent. The kink in the hose restricts the flow of water. The kink inhibits the flow.

That’s what resident sin does to the Holy Spirit. Remember, you are the walking tabernacle of God’s Presence. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. He lives in you permanently. He took up residence at the moment of your conversion. He indwells you. When you allow sin to enter, you kink the flow of the Holy Spirit. 

“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Eph 4:30 (NIV)

You know how it feels to grieve. Grief hurts. It causes distress and intense pain. It hinders your ability to function at an optimum level. When you give sin an entry to your life at any level, you grieve the Holy Spirit who lives in you.

Sin offends the Holy Spirit. Sin restricts the flow of the Holy Spirit in and through your life. The presence of sin repels the presence of the Holy Spirit.

  • “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire.” 1 Thess 5:19 (NIV)
  • “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.” Romans 6:12 (NIV)
  • “Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” 2 Tim 2:22 (NIV)

Who is grieving, you or the Holy Spirit? The Bible teaches us to grieve over our sin. The presence of sin in our lives should grieve us to the point of godly sorrow and then repentance.

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” 2 Cor 7:10 (NIV) 

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, September 30th, 2007 at 1:00 am
Category Grieving the Holy Spirit.
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September 29th, 2007

Meeting Needs

“He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.” Eph 4:28 (NIV)

You may have disengaged from this verse since you immediately recognized that you are not a thief. You are not stealing. You, in fact, have a strong work ethic and would never dream of stealing. So what is God trying to say to you through this verse?

Look closely at the last phrase. Work. Do something useful and productive so that you can acquire more and attain greater prominence. Do something useful so you can gain momentum in the pursuit of the American dream. Is that right? Is that what God is saying? Not even close!

God wants you to embrace a strong work ethic so that you can be a blessing to others. His desire is for you to work diligently so that you can share with those in need. You ought to get all the education you can so that you can excel and be the best at what God called you to do. Why? Because God deserves your best!

However, it is not about you! It is about positioning yourself in alignment with God’s priorities so that you can be a blessing to others. God does not bless you so that you can funnel the blessings into your self centered pursuits. God blesses you in order to expand your capacity to bless others.

Do you have anything left to share with those in need? Statistics show that the average American lives on 120% of his or her income. That means we spend more than we make. Maybe it’s time to re-think the American dream.

The life God blesses is the life given to being a blessing to those in need. You are blessed to be a blessing!

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Saturday, September 29th, 2007 at 1:00 am
Category Meeting Needs.
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September 28th, 2007

Foothold

“…and do not give the devil a foothold.” Eph 4:27 (NIV)

I asked one of my dear pastor friends, Dr. Bob Anderson, this question: Why are so many pastors falling?  He responded, “When you have temptation without opportunity, you are safe. When you have opportunity without temptation, you are safe. But when temptation and opportunity meet, you are in trouble.”

To give the devil a foothold is to give the devil an opportunity. It is to give the devil an occasion to act. It is giving the devil a platform in your life to propel his agenda. You give the devil a foothold by allowing him room to occupy. When you give him an inch, he takes a mile. His goal is not to make you swim away from God. The devil just wants to get you to drift and to float down lazy river. He knows that the undercurrent will cause you to subtly drift from God. 

In the context of Ephesians, don’t allow your anger to simmer. Neutralize your anger before you go to bed. If you allow your anger to swirl, then you have given the devil an opportunity to operate. Don’t give him a foothold.

  • “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7 (NIV)
  • “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 (NIV)
  • “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Eph 6:11 (NIV)

Don’t give the devil any real estate. Post a sign that says to the devil, “You are trespassing on my Father’s territory!” 

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Friday, September 28th, 2007 at 1:00 am
Category Foothold.
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September 27th, 2007

Anger

“‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” Eph 4:26-27 (NIV)

He lost his cool! She flipped! What were they thinking? Can you believe what he said? Did you ever dream we would see this day? What happened?

Anger is either good or bad. If your anger is righteous indignation against sin and immorality, then it is good. If your anger is a reaction to not getting your way or a result of your impatience, then it is bad.

Jesus expressed anger when the Temple had been contaminated by the money changers instead of being a house of prayer for all nations. His anger was righteous indignation exposing their blatant irreverence toward the things of God. Yet, Jesus did not let the sun go down on His anger. In other words, He expressed his anger in a manner that confronted sin and prompted righteousness.  

  • “In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.” Psalms 4:4 (NIV)
  • “Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret–it leads only to evil.” Psalms 37:8 (NIV)
  • “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.” Prov 29:11 (NIV)
  • “I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.” 1 Tim 2:8 (NIV)

Are your hands clean? Have you exhibited healthy anger through the avenue of righteous indignation? Or have you fertilized unhealthy anger which grows into bitterness, rage, and envy?

Hate what God hates. Love what God loves.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Thursday, September 27th, 2007 at 1:00 am
Category Anger.
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September 26th, 2007

Body Life

Are you really living or just existing? In our nana-second world, there is a propensity to become robotic and just go through the motions. Information overload anesthetizes us to the daily grind of life. Often we miss opportunities to connect with others on a deeper level. Why? Because we are in a hurry to get to the next item on our “to do” list. We become consumed with maneuvering through the domino line up of tasks and neglect being relational with God and with others.

Jesus gave His life to bring us life. He rose from the dead to usher in our salvation. He saved us from our sin and from ourselves. But it doesn’t end there. Jesus is building His Kingdom through His Body, the church. If you are a child of God, then you have been adopted into His family and you are now part of His Body. Together, we are all members of one body, His Body.

Now that we are family, we must learn how to do life together. In his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul presents some essentials for doing life together. If the Body of Christ is going to function efficiently and effectively in order to affect the nations, then we must learn how to serve Jesus together. 

“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” Eph 4:25 (NIV)

Is there anyone in His Body with whom you are currently at odds with? Is there anyone you need to extend forgiveness to in order to do life together? What are you waiting for? Make things right. Call them. Email them. Text them. Write them. Go visit them. Do whatever it takes to keep a right relationship with Jesus and His Body. 

You will never go wrong doing right!  

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Wednesday, September 26th, 2007 at 1:00 am
Category Body Life.
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September 25th, 2007

Slippery Slopes

“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin–because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” Rom. 6:6-7

Why do we tend to see how close we can get to the edge without falling? What is there about us that is drawn to taking risks? Why do we draw the line in the sand right on the edge of compromise?

God wants us to live a life of holiness and righteousness. His desire is for us to be Christlike. In other words, God wants every believer to be a fully devoted follower of Christ.

Satan has the opposite agenda. He wants you to doubt God’s Word and deny God’s way. He uses deception to try to get you to drift from God and take a shortcut to pleasure and to idolize instant gratification.

What’s the key to victory? Avoiding slippery slopes. Don’t see how close you can get to the fire without getting burned. Don’t flirt with sin and think you will come away unharmed. Avoid slippery slopes!

  • “Avoid every kind of evil.” I Thes. 5:22
  • “…but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” James 1:14-15 
  • “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” Gal. 5:16

Draw the line in the sand far from the edge. Sin never delivers what it promises!

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Tuesday, September 25th, 2007 at 1:00 am
Category Slippery Slopes.
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September 24th, 2007

Jersey

Live up to the jersey you wear.

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Eph 4:22-24 (NIV)

Our culture is saturated with a passion for sports. From the stands to the playing field, excitement and anticipation flow like a white water rafting river. The current is swift as fans and players hyper-focus on the game at hand.

It’s all about the jersey you wear. There is a team you are pulling for. You sacrifice for that team. You cheer on and promote that team. Your loyalty is lavished on that team. You are an authentic fan.

When you become a child of God, you receive a new jersey. Once you are adopted into God’s family you are fitted with the Jesus jersey. Now you are playing to please Jesus. You are representing Jesus on this broken planet. You are robed in His righteousness and blessed with a new identity.

Are you living up to the jersey you wear? Do those closest to you know what team you are on? Is it evident to your neighbors, schoolmates, and co-workers that your loyalty is to Jesus and His game plan? 

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Monday, September 24th, 2007 at 1:00 am
Category Jersey.
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September 23rd, 2007

Beliefs

“…to be made new in the attitude of your minds;” Eph 4:23 (NIV)

Your beliefs determine your behavior.

Does it really matter what you believe? To live right, you must believe right. Your behavior is a direct reflection of your beliefs. In order to live to please God, your beliefs must align with God’s revelation.

Spiritual growth requires being made new in the attitude of your mind. Nurturing your mind with God’s Word informs your beliefs and transforms your behavior.

  • “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 (NIV)
  • “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Phil 4:8 (NIV)

Do you know what you believe and why you believe? Can you articulate with clarity the convictions you hold about life, death, sin, holiness, and eternal life? Are your beliefs in alignment with God’s revelation?

Allow God to groom you and grow you. Place yourself in a weekly Christ exalting worship experience with other believers and then seek to develop your beliefs through a small group Bible study.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, September 23rd, 2007 at 1:00 am
Category Beliefs.
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September 22nd, 2007

New Self

“…and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Eph 4:24 (NIV)

You are in the process of becoming who you are in Christ.

In Christ, you are a saint, blessed, chosen, adopted, redeemed, forgiven, included, sealed, and secure. Your new self is a spiritual reality in Christ that becomes evident practically as you live out your faith.

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Phil 2:12-13 (NIV)

God expects you to work out what He has worked in. You are complete in Christ. Your new self in Christ has been given everything you need to embrace the life of Christ in your daily lifestyle. Take off the old and express the new. 

“Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” Col 3:9-10 (NIV)

What adjustments need to be made in your schedule, your energy allocation, and your financial stewardship to become who you are in Christ? What is keeping you from expressing the life of Christ practically through your daily interactions? Are your current habits helping you to develop and demonstrate your new self?

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Saturday, September 22nd, 2007 at 1:00 am
Category New Self.
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September 21st, 2007

Old Self

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;” Eph 4:22 (NIV) 

Does your struggle with sin end at conversion? If so, why do believers sin? The penalty for your sin has been paid in full by the atoning work of Christ on the cross. Yet, the presence of sin is still contaminating our culture and inviting believers to compromise their convictions. 

Paul acknowledged that the old self is in a state of decay. The fleshly corruption creates an inner civil war for the child of God.   

  • “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing.” Romans 7:18-19 (NIV)
  • “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.” Gal 5:16-17 (NIV)
  • “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:24-25 (NIV)
  • “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” Col 3:5 (NIV)

What a celebration to behold for your deliverance from your former way of life! Put off the old self. There’s a new you in view through the redemptive activity of God. The victory has been won! 

Pursuing God, 

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Friday, September 21st, 2007 at 1:00 am
Category Old Self.
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