Archive for March, 2008

March 31st, 2008

The Frustrated Life (1)

Have you been there, done that, and left frustrated?

Life is filled with unlimited options and unimaginable opportunities. We are bombarded with advertisements which are positioned to convince us that we need the product being promoted. Our landscape is littered with attractions and allurements which compete for our attention. It seems that the more we acquire, the more we desire. The more we attain, the more we strain to attain even more. Yet, at the end of the day after the varied pursuits, we are left empty.

We meet a woman in the Gospel of John who has been there, and done that. In fact, she has had five husbands and the one she is with now is not her husband. She has been looking for love in all the wrong places. She has been trying to make sense out of life through relationships with men. Each relationship has not delivered what it promised. This Samaritan woman meets a man, unexpectedly, who will transform her life.

  • “Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour.” John 4:4-6 (NIV)

Jesus is always at the right place at the right time. Jesus is always seizing opportunities to build bridges to broken people. The Samaritan woman encountered a divine appointment.

  • “When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, Will you give me a drink?’” John 4:7 (NIV)

Jesus initiated the relationship that would ultimately change the Samaritan woman’s life. Jesus was willing to associate with a woman who was both a Samaritan and an adulteress.

Are you frustrated with your life? Have you sought to fill the void in your life with good things at the expense of the best God has for you? Maybe it is time for you to meet Jesus at the well. Maybe it is time to give up on your personal journey to fulfillment and embrace the way of Jesus.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Monday, March 31st, 2008 at 1:00 am
Category Allurements, Divine Appointment, Frustration, Fulfillment, Life, Love.
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March 30th, 2008

Living the Life (7)

“When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, ‘Take off the grave clothes and let him go.’” John 11:43-44 (NIV)

Are you living the life God has given?

Jesus left heaven and came to earth to dwell among us and ultimately give His life in death upon the cross so that we could know and experience true life. Jesus has removed the obstacles and provided the only way to salvation. Jesus is the way.

Death could not prevent Jesus from bringing forth life even to Lazarus, who had been dead four days. As the stench of death permeated the graveyard, Jesus called Lazarus by name to come forth from the dead. As Lazarus came out of the tomb, Jesus commanded them to take the graves clothes off and to let him go.

What is keeping you from living the life God has given? What kind of grave clothes have kept you bound? Release those things which prevent you from walking in the fullness of God’s provision. Let go of those thoughts and attitudes that inhibit the flow of the Holy Spirit in your life. Jesus has paid full price for your freedom. Jesus has called you forth from the dead.

  • “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” Eph 2:1-2 (NIV)
  • “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36 (NIV)

Take the grave clothes off and walk in the grace God provides.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, March 30th, 2008 at 1:00 am
Category Freedom, Liberty, Life, Miracle, Resurrection.
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March 29th, 2008

Living the Life (6)

“So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.’” John 11:41-42 (NIV)

Jesus prayed.

When you contemplate the relational fortitude Jesus modeled in prayer, you gain insight into your personal need to stay connected to the Father. Jesus, as the Son of God and the Savior of the world, nurtured His love relationship with the Father through consistent conversation.

  • “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Mark 1:35 (NIV)
  • “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16 (NIV)
  • “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” Luke 22:44 (NIV)

Standing before the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus asked them to remove the stone and they did. Before Jesus commanded Lazarus to come forth, He prayed. In fact, Jesus looked up and prayed to His Father in Heaven. Jesus prayed a prayer of thanksgiving and a prayer of affirmation. Jesus wanted those standing near to believe that He was truly sent by God. As we read John 11:41-42 we get an inside view of the intimate relationship Jesus enjoyed with His Father.

Never underestimate the power of prayer.  Your love relationship with God determines the level of your participation in God’s agenda. As the world-renowned missionary, E. Stanley Jones, explained: “If I throw out a boathook from the boat and catch hold of the shore and pull, do I pull the shore to me, or do I pull myself to the shore? Prayer is not pulling God to my will, but the aligning of my will to the will of God.”

Jesus prayed and lived in alignment with the will of God. Are you ready to pull yourself to the shore?  

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Saturday, March 29th, 2008 at 1:00 am
Category Faith, Life, Obstacles, Prayer.
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March 28th, 2008

Living the Life (5)

“Jesus wept.” John 11:35 (NIV) 

Jesus wept aloud when He stood over unrepentant Jerusalem in their failure to recognize Him as Savior. But when Jesus stood before the tomb of Lazarus, He shed a tear. Jesus’ expression of grief was not a loud lament but rather an intimate display of grief over the reality of the consequences of sin. We get a glimpse of the humanity of Christ as He empathized with Mary and Martha. Of course, Jesus knew that He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead.

  • “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” Isaiah 53:3 (NIV)
  • “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin.” Heb 4:15 (NIV)
  • “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” Phil 2:5-7 (NIV)

Jesus knows grief by personal experience. Jesus knows what you are going through right now. You will never go where Jesus has not already been. Draw near to Him. Place your burdens upon Him. Trust Jesus with your life, your hurts, your disappointments, and your dreams. 

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Friday, March 28th, 2008 at 1:00 am
Category Grief, Humanity of Christ, Humility, Incarnation, Life, Sympathy.
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March 27th, 2008

Living the Life (4)

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ John 11:25-26 (NIV)

The value of life seems to go up when you come face to face with death. If you have ever had someone close to you die, you know what I mean. We tend to take life for granted until we brush up against the reality of death. Maybe you have leaned on the door of death personally through tragedy or health issues. 

When I almost died in a Jet Ski accident on February 23, 1986, at 2:20pm at Buhlow Lake in Alexandria, Louisiana, the value I placed on life elevated exponentially. When I held my daughter, Tori, for the first time, the value I had placed on life catapulted again. Five years later when I held my son, Austin, for the first time, the value I had placed on life skyrocketed yet again.  

Martha expressed her faith in Jesus and acknowledged that her brother, Lazarus, would not have died had Jesus been there. Jesus, the One who establishes the value of a life, declared, “I am the resurrection and the life.” Martha understood that her brother would rise again on the last day. She was looking to the distant future. Jesus reminded her of the immediate reality.

Do you believe that Jesus is who He says He is? Do you believe that whoever lives and believes in Jesus will never die? Have you come to that place of trusting in Jesus personally for the forgiveness of your sins and the provision of your salvation?

The value of your life has already been established by the saving work Jesus did for you on the cross. Jesus took your place. Jesus took the full wrath of God for your sin. Your sin debt has been paid in full. You can know Jesus, the resurrection and the life, personally and eternally.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Thursday, March 27th, 2008 at 1:00 am
Category Faith, I am sayings, Life, Resurrection.
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March 26th, 2008

Living the Life (3)

“When he heard this, Jesus said, ‘This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.’” John 11:4 (NIV)

God has a purpose behind every problem.

Living the life in a fallen world includes unfavorable circumstances. The sin factor affects both the cause and the solution to problems in this life. You can trace sin, sickness, and death back to the garden when man fell. The residual effect of sin permeates every generation. We live our lives in a world that straddles daily the consequences of sin. As Steve Farrar writes in his book, Finishing Strong, ”Sin will take your farther than you want to go, keep you longer that you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.”

God does not originate our problems, but He orchestrates the solution to our problems. The origin of our sin is linked through our family tree back to Adam and Eve. The solution to our sin is linked to God’s provision of forgiveness through the atoning work of Jesus on the cross.

  • “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)
  • “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” Romans 8:28-29 (NIV)

Martha and Mary grieved the death of their brother, Lazarus. They also grieved the fact that Jesus did not come to their rescue according to their personal preference of time. Jesus identified a higher purpose behind their problem. Jesus declared that it was for God’s glory.  

Watch to see how God reveals Himself and His glory through your circumstances. God’s glory can radiate in your present circumstances and in the midst of your perplexing problems. God has a purpose behind every problem. Allow God’s glory to shine even when the solution to your problems is delayed from your standpoint. God purpose will always prevail. Nothing can derail God’s glory.  

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Wednesday, March 26th, 2008 at 1:00 am
Category Consequences, Death, Glory, Life, Sickness, Sin.
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March 25th, 2008

Living the Life (2)

“Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.” John 11:5-6 (NIV)

Delays are painful. We understand that God is all-knowing and that God is love, but we just don’t always fully understand God’s timing. When God doesn’t respond in the time frame that we have established, we wonder if God really cares. Delays intensify our fears and magnify the reality of our meager faith.

Have you ever been between a rock and hard place and wondered if God would come through for you? Have your circumstances ever taken you to a place you never thought you would go? God allows us to go through those seasons and experience those places in order to come to know the depth of His love. God is for us. God always has our best interest in mind. Nothing happens to a child of God without His permission. If God permits it, then God will use it for your good and for His glory.

Martha and Mary experienced the full impact of a delay. Their brother, Lazarus, was sick and died before Jesus got there. They knew firsthand the trauma of unmet expectations. They had seen Jesus speak life into the dead. They had seen Jesus restore sight to the blind, speech to the mute, mobility to the lame, and hearing to the deaf. Yet, Jesus did not operate according to their personal time preference. Jesus delayed.

Why doesn’t God show up to resolve your dilemmas sooner? Why does God seem to delay His response to your need for divine intervention? God’s timing is perfect. He is never late. God, in His sovereignty, takes the confetti of our lives and produces a portrait of His grace.

Do you trust God? Are you entrusting your life and your circumstances to His care? Are you willing to obey God in the midst of a perceived delay?

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Tuesday, March 25th, 2008 at 1:00 am
Category Delays, Life, Omniscience, Sovereignty, Unmet Expectations.
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March 24th, 2008

Living the Life (1)

Are you living the life God has for you now?

Jesus is alive and the tomb is empty. Shouldn’t that reality make an eternal difference in your life now? For some reason, we put life off until another day. We believe that life is right around the corner. It seems as though that corner never comes. Life is delayed until the next opportunity or the next breakthrough. Maybe life will kick into gear when we get our driver’s license, or graduate, or get married, or get a home, or have kids, or land that perfect job, or send our kids off to college, or become grandparents, or retire. What’s the holdup? Why isn’t life happening now?

  • “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” 1 John 5:11 (NIV)
  • “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 1 John 5:12 (NIV)

The eternal life God has given us in His Son is now. If you have the Son, then you have life now. God has taken the initiative to provide you the opportunity to receive the gift of eternal life. Once you place your faith in the completed work of Jesus on the cross, you become a child of God. In that moment, God graces you with the gift of eternal life. Eternal life for you does not begin after you die and go to heaven. Even if Jesus comes before you die and you get to experience the rapture, eternal life does not begin at that point. Eternal life for you begins the moment you trust Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. Eternal life is now!

What are you doing with the life God has given you? Are you living it for His glory? Are you wasting it on careless living? Are you delaying it until another day, week, month, or year?

Choose to live the life now!   

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Monday, March 24th, 2008 at 1:00 am
Category Life.
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March 23rd, 2008

He Has Risen

“The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.’” Matt 28:5-6 (NIV)

Are you looking for Jesus? He has risen! Death has been conquered. Sin has been atoned for. Forgiveness has been made available. Reconciliation has been established. Satan has been defeated. Hell has been invaded. Heaven has been decorated: gates of pearl, streets of transparent gold, river of the water of life, the tree of life, light from the Glory of God, light from the Lamb of God, no more night, no longer any curse, absence of tears, absence of mourning, absence of crying, absence of pain, and the presence of jasper, sapphire, chalcedony, emerald, sardonyx, carnilian, chrysolite, beryl, topaz, chrysoprase, jacinth, and amethyst.

  • “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.” Romans 6:8-10 (NIV)
  • “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Romans 6:4 (NIV)
  • “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Cor 15:58 (NIV)

Are you living in light of the resurrection of Jesus? Are you walking in anticipation of heaven? The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to you. The tomb is empty so that you can be filled by the Person of the Holy Spirit.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, March 23rd, 2008 at 1:00 am
Category Easter, Life, Resurrection.
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March 22nd, 2008

Forgiveness (5)

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Eph 4:32 (NIV)

Extending forgiveness is intentional and perpetual.

The words “just as” are powerful. In our key verse above, they mean to imitate and to emulate God’s forgiveness. We are to forgive each other just as in Christ God forgave us. Let’s consider going on a personal journey together in order to extend forgiveness to those who have wounded us.

Ask God to bring to your mind someone you need to forgive. This may induce feelings of hurt, betrayal, or neglect. Now that you have someone in mind, take that person with you to the cross in prayer. In fact, you may even need to take them by the hand as you kneel with them at the foot of the cross. Remember that Jesus knows him or her better than you do. Jesus loves him or her more than you do. Also, Jesus paid the full price for his or her complete forgiveness.

In prayer, say to the Lord, “Jesus, as You have graciously forgiven me, I now choose to forgive (insert his or her name).” Release that person from the prison of your unforgiveness. Genuinely extend forgiveness as in Christ God forgave you. Now entrust that person and your future to God.

  • “‘And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.’” Mark 11:25 (NIV)

Forgiveness is always the best decision.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Saturday, March 22nd, 2008 at 1:00 am
Category Compassion, Cross, Extending Forgiveness, Forgiveness.
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