Archive for December, 2007

December 31st, 2007

Doing Life (5)

Doing life involves anticipating the Lord’s return.

“Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.” James 5:7-8 (NIV)

In our society of instant coffee, microwavable breakfast, and fast food, we don’t wait well. We want what we want right now. When it comes to the return of Christ, patience is required.

Jesus came to the earth, lived, died a sacrificial death, rose from the dead, and ascended to the Father in heaven. Jesus is coming again. In His second coming, Jesus will come like a thief in the night.

We tend to get so comfortable in this life that we forget about the reality of the Lord’s return. Just as a farmer waits patiently for the rain and the fruition of his crops, we are to wait patiently for the Lord’s return. That means to live in anticipation of the visible return of the Lord. We are to stand firm by obeying God’s Word with the expectation of the soon coming of Christ.

Could Jesus come back today? Are you ready for His return? Turn your eyes upon the Lord and anticipate His return.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Monday, December 31st, 2007 at 1:00 am
Category Doing Life, Life.
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December 30th, 2007

Doing Life (4)

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7 (NIV)

Doing life involves submission and opposition readiness. God is at work and the devil is at work. Anytime you choose to join God in His activity, Satan will oppose. You can walk in victory by submitting to God. Submission is a conscious choice to surrender your agenda to God’s agenda. Moment by moment surrender allows God to have His way in your life. Your usefulness to God will be proportionate to your willful submission to God.

It is not enough to submit to God’s agenda; you must also resist the devil. Opposition readiness is not optional for the follower of Christ. If you are going to reign victorious in this life, you must consciously resist the lure of the enemy. Satan is the master of disguise. He seeks to get you to drift into his path and to get you to neglect your devotion to God.

Will you submit to God? Will you resist the devil?

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, December 30th, 2007 at 1:00 am
Category Doing Life, Life.
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December 29th, 2007

Doing Life (3)

“All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” James 3:7-8 (NIV)

Doing life requires restraint. There are countless temptations used of Satan to entice us to compromise our Christianity. His goal is to get us to drift from our devotion to God. One of Satan’s favorite tools is an unbridled tongue. He knows that our words can do more damage than our actions alone.

Have you ever said something you deeply regretted? Have you had one of those moments when you spoke before you had time to really think through and process what you were going to say? Ouch! It is impossible to retrieve words once spoken. If only we could snatch them out of the air before they made contact with the tympanic membrane of someone’s ear. If you have ever allowed words to slip and wound someone, then embrace this great word from God on how to respond.  

“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)

Has God placed someone on your heart that you have wounded with your words? Are you willing to go to them in humility in order to apologize and ask for their forgiveness? God will honor your obedience to His word. God will make a way for you to experience restoration. Restoration is God’s specialty! Don’t delay. Make things right!  

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Saturday, December 29th, 2007 at 1:00 am
Category Doing Life, Life, Restraint.
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December 28th, 2007

Doing Life (2)

“Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.” James 2:21-22 (NIV)

Doing life requires faith. As a follower of Jesus Christ, you are in the minority on this planet. You are doing life on the narrow path in the midst of a fallen world. Your beliefs will be challenged. Living the Christian life will be marked by opposition and resistance. However, your faith in Christ and His provision will be authenticated by your actions.

Are you putting feet to your faith? Are you allowing your faith to hit the pavement of real life in the real world? Abraham serves as a wonderful example of trusting in God’s provision no matter the cost. He was willing to sacrifice his only son in order to be obedient to God. As you know, God came to the rescue in the fourth quarter with a few seconds left on the clock. God provided the substitute. Why did God allow Abraham to go through such a trying experience? God was testing Abraham’s faith.

Do you fully trust God to do what He says He will do? Do you fully trust God to empower you to do life His way during your short stay upon the earth? God wants to reveal His glory in you and through you as you live out your faith. Allow your faith to be expressed to a watching world by your actions. As you are doing life, your faith will either attract others to Christ or distract them from Christ. Will your actions give evidence to your vibrant faith in God?  

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Friday, December 28th, 2007 at 1:00 am
Category Doing Life, Trust.
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December 27th, 2007

Doing Life (1)

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4 (NIV)

My dad has had a life of trials. His parents were alcoholics and a few years into his marriage to my mom, he became an alcoholic. My mom and dad divorced when I was about seven. My dad spent most of his adult life in and out of prison and combating the ferocious enemy, alcohol. The last few years have been tranquil as he has aged.

Today, I took him to visit the nursing home he has picked out for his next place of residence in less than seven days. I met with the administrator and signed the paperwork. It’s hard to believe that at age thirty-eight, I would be helping my dad prepare for this type of transition. I think it has been a day of facing this trial and allowing God to test our faith and develop perseverance.

Walking with God for the past twenty-eight years, I have learned that God is serious about spiritual maturity. God uses all kinds of situations and circumstances in our lives to bring us into maturity. He does not want us to lack anything. God also allows us to experience trials in order to reveal His heart of compassion. God cares about you and everything you go through.

Doing life requires trusting in God’s provision. Doing life in a fallen world creates opportunities for us to experience joy in the midst of adversity. God’s character does not shift. He is the Rock. Consider your circumstances and then consider it pure joy. God is up to something special in your life.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care  

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Thursday, December 27th, 2007 at 1:00 am
Category Doing Life, Faith, Perseverance, Trials.
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December 26th, 2007

For Christmas (5)

The Christmas story is rooted in God’s nature and character. 

“The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”  Luke 2:20 (NIV)

God’s story is the story of redemption. In His grace and mercy, God has come to us in order to rescue us from our sin and our eternal damnation. God’s redemptive activity is an outflow of His holiness and compassion. God became like us so that we could become like Him.

The shepherds responded to God’s invitation by going into Bethlehem to see Jesus lying in a manger. They shared their angelic experience with Joseph and Mary to affirm their belief in Jesus as the savior of the world. The shepherds returned with an attitude of praise and adoration for all that God had done in their midst. They identified that their personal experienced lined up with God’s revelation.

God keeps His word. When God speaks, you will know that His activity is just as He said. The shepherds anchored their faith in the certainty of God’s revelation. You can trust God to do what He says He will do. There isn’t a fraction of error. God speaks so that we can know Him, serve Him, and make Him known throughout the earth. 

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Wednesday, December 26th, 2007 at 1:00 am
Category Certainty, Christmas.
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December 25th, 2007

For Christmas (4)

Merry Christmas to you and your family! 

The day we have been anticipating all year is finally here. We have the wonderful privilege of celebrating the birth that changed our past, present, and future. Jesus is born!

  • “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ –which means, ‘God with us.’” Matt 1:22-23 (NIV)
  • “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 (NIV)

God is with us. God is for us. God is in us. This day of celebration goes far beyond simply a day of exchanging gifts and seeing our loved ones. This day marks the day when God became like us so that we could become like Him.  Have you received the ultimate gift made available to you by God? Have you received God’s gift of eternal life?  If so, then say so!

  • “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” Luke 2:20 (NIV)
  • “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.” Philem 1:6 (NIV)

Are you willing to share the ultimate gift that you have received with others? Jesus came to earth, lived, died, rose from the dead, and ascended back to heaven so that we could have eternal life and share it with others. Now that’s what Christmas is all about! 

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Tuesday, December 25th, 2007 at 1:00 am
Category Christmas, Experience.
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December 24th, 2007

For Christmas (3)

“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”  Luke 2:19 (NIV)

Think back to a Christmas experience you had in which you were deeply moved. Do you remember the specifics of the event that made it so touching? With our modern day affinity for technology, you probably captured the experience with a camera or a video recorder. Special moments are worth capturing and worth sharing.

Mary’s experience was beyond words. Though cameras were nonexistent at that time, God gave Mary the wonderful capacity to treasure up all the things that the shepherds had shared with her concerning Jesus. She pondered them in her heart. Mary gathered all the information coming her way about Jesus and she embraced God’s activity. Can you imagine how she felt? Mary was chosen by God to bring the Savior into our world.

Have you recognized the value God places on you? For Christmas, retrace the spiritual markers in your life. Spend time reflecting on each one. Treasure each one and ponder them in your heart. Consider how God is at work in you, around you, and through you to bring His light and His love into our world of desperation.  

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Monday, December 24th, 2007 at 1:00 am
Category Christmas, Recognition.
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December 23rd, 2007

For Christmas (2)

God’s revelation demands a response. 

“When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.”  Luke 2:15-18 (NIV)

God speaks. God reveals Himself so that we may know Him and serve Him. God invites us to join Him in His redemptive activity. He includes us in the redemptive process. Yes! God could accomplish His mission without us. He doesn’t need us. God chooses to use us in communicating His love to a lost and drifting world.

The shepherds responded to God’s invitation through instant obedience. They hurried off to find Jesus! There wasn’t a delay to calculate the cost of obedience. They passionately sought the Lord and responded to God’s offer instantly. The shepherds are examples of how God’s revelation demands a response. They could have responded in apathy or in resolve.

What has God revealed to you? Have you responded to God’s revelation by obeying instantly? What is keeping you from walking in the light God has given you? Imagine responding to God with a resolute, “Yes, Lord!” For Christmas, consider what God has been speaking into your life. Make a decision to trust God and His perfect timing. Decide to obey Him instantly. Leave the results up to God!

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell,
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, December 23rd, 2007 at 1:00 am
Category Christmas, Response.
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December 22nd, 2007

For Christmas (1)

God’s activity is perpetual. 

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’” Luke 2:8-12 (NIV)

God is always at work. He never sleeps and never takes a power nap. God’s activity is redemptive. In His redemptive activity, God chose to announce His good news of great joy to shepherds. Shepherds were considered unclean in their day. They were not honored for their vocational choice. Though despised by people, they were loved by God. God allowed the shepherds to participate in His redemptive activity.

Is there anyone you have been praying for lately who is in need of salvation? Have you had moments of doubt? Maybe you have wondered if it is even possible for God to convince them of their need for salvation. You may have felt that they are beyond God’s reach. The good news of great joy is that there is not a person on planet earth beyond God’s reach. For Christmas, be reminded of God’s activity. Ask God to heighten your awareness of His activity. Make yourself available for the redemptive activity of God in the one you have been praying for. God is working! 

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell,
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Saturday, December 22nd, 2007 at 1:00 am
Category Awareness, Christmas.
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