Archive for January, 2009

January 31st, 2009

Identity (3)

“All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. ‘Isn’t this Joseph’s son?’ they asked.” Luke 4:22 (NIV)

Jesus shared from Isaiah 61:1-2 in the hearing of those in the synagogue and identified Himself as the fulfillment of that prophecy. The people spoke well of Him. Amazed at Jesus’ gracious words, they tried to reconcile His professed identity by asking, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”

The people were confused. Their understanding of the coming Messiah did not position them to anticipate a carpenter’s son from Nazareth as the Messiah. The humanity and humility of Jesus did not line up with their view of the Messiah. They were expecting a mighty military leader with position and prominence who would restore Israel.

As followers of Christ, we can identify with His dual identity. Though virgin born, Jesus had an earthly father and a Heavenly Father. We too have an earthly father and our Heavenly Father.

  • “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” Romans 8:16 (NIV)
  • “Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.” Heb 12:10 (NIV)
  • “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.” 1 John 3:1 (NIV)

Your identity in Christ is formed and fashioned by your Heavenly Father. God has created you for His glory. You are God’s workmanship (Eph. 2:10) and you belong to God (I Pt. 2:9). If you ever forget who you are in Christ, look up! You are a child of the King!

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Saturday, January 31st, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category God's Will, Jesus, On Mission, Purpose.
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January 30th, 2009

Identity (2)

“The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’” Luke 4:17-19 (NIV)

As Jesus stood up in the synagogue to read, He was given the scroll of the prophet Isaiah and then He found the place from which He wanted to read. The passage Jesus read was what we now know as Isaiah 61:1-2. Jesus identified the ministry that He was anointed to employ. He identified the focus of His ministry as preaching the good news to the poor, proclaiming freedom for the prisoners, proclaiming recovery of sight to the blind, releasing the oppressed, and proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favor.

  • “Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’” Luke 4:20-21 (NIV)

Isaiah prophesied some 700 years before Christ was born that the Messiah would be anointed for this particular ministry. Jesus affirmed that He is the fulfillment of that prophecy.

Have you been the recipient of the ministry of Christ? Has your character and conduct been transformed? Now that you know Jesus personally, you are commissioned to embrace His ministry to bring others into His family. The ministry of Christ on earth is now your ministry. You may be the only Jesus others see!

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Friday, January 30th, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category God's Will, Jesus, On Mission, Purpose.
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January 29th, 2009

Identity (1)

“He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read.” Luke 4:16 (NIV)

You make room for what you value. When you value participating in the ministry of your local church, you will make room in your life for that ministry. If you value short-term mission trips, then you will make room in your annual calendar of events to go on a short-term mission trip. Whatever you value will receive your time, energy, and attention. Whatever you value will be a guarded priority in your life.

Jesus valued the weekly worship experience in the synagogue on the Sabbath (Saturday). The synagogue had been a consistent part of His life for thirty years at this particular point. After His baptism and 40 days of temptation in the desert, Jesus returned to Galilee and went to His hometown of Nazareth. As was His custom, He went into the synagogue.

Much of Jesus’ identity was connected to the synagogue. He had grown up being exposed to the reading of Scripture each Sabbath in the local synagogue. On this day, He stood to read. He participated in the flow of the service and contributed to the experience.

You are the sum total of your habits. In other words, you will become what you habitually invest your life in. You are in the process of becoming who you are in Christ. Value weekly participation in the local church. Value connecting with God in worship with other believers. Value weekly interaction with other believers in a small group Bible study. Make it your custom to grow in your love relationship with Jesus. Your identity is found in Christ.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Thursday, January 29th, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category God's Will, Jesus, On Mission, Purpose.
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January 28th, 2009

Joining God (5)

“The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.” Acts 11:29-30 (NIV)

God blesses generosity. You cannot join God in His redemptive activity and employ a stingy mindset. You cannot be selfish and effectively join God in His redemptive activity. Joining God involves being generous with your resources just as God has been generous toward you.

The church at Jerusalem was instrumental in birthing the church in Antioch. Now the mother church in Jerusalem is in financial need and the daughter church in Antioch responds by generously meeting the need. The grace of God was evidenced by the sacrificial and spontaneous generosity exhibited by the church in Antioch.

Sir Winston Churchill is noted for saying, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” What are you currently giving to fund the Lord’s work? Are you sacrificial in your giving?

Let’s make a life by bringing the life of Christ to a dark and decaying world through our generosity. Placing the needs of others before our own is the first step!

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Wednesday, January 28th, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category God's Will, Joining God, On Mission, Purpose.
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January 27th, 2009

Joining God (4)

“The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” Acts 11:26 (NIV)

As you join God in His redemptive activity, your sensitivity to His agenda will heighten. You will begin to see people the way God views them. Your heart for the lost will increase as you embrace the true meaning of being a Christian. In the language of the New Testament, the word Christian means to be of the party of Christ. It means to be identified as a little Christ. This word is used three times in the New Testament: Acts 11:26, Acts 26:28, and I Peter 4:16.

  • “Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?’” Acts 26:28 (NIV)
  • “However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.” 1 Peter 4:16 (NIV)

God was doing a redemptive work in the city of Antioch and the disciples joined God in His activity. Their irresistible influence in the pagan metropolis of Antioch caused the pagans to tag the disciples as Christians. It was considered a term of derision. The disciples in Antioch were deemed from the party of Christ.

If you were to ever be identified with anyone, there’s no greater person to be identified than Jesus Christ. In fact, the Bible says, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved”(Acts 4:12 NIV). As you join God in His redemptive activity, be willing to be identified by others as a Christian. Your life should draw people to Christ, not repel them from Christ. Let others see Christ in you!

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category Christ, Christian, God's Will, Purpose.
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January 26th, 2009

Joining God (3)

“Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” Acts 11:25-26 (NIV)

Why did Barnabas need Saul? It would have made more sense for Barnabas to go back to Jerusalem and get Nicolas, one of the early deacons who happened to be from Antioch. Instead, Barnabas searched with intensity to locate Saul in order to bring Saul into the journey of what God was doing in the church in Antioch. Barnabas was very familiar with the calling God placed on Saul’s life.

  • “But the Lord said to Ananias, ‘Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.’” Acts 9:15-16 (NIV)
  • “When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.” Acts 9:26-27 (NIV)

Barnabas included Saul in God’s activity in the church in Antioch. Partnering in ministry, Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers for a whole year (Acts 11:26). Can you imagine sitting under the teaching of Barnabas and Saul for a year?

The Christian life is not a solo flight. God wants you to bring others into the journey. Right now there are people in your sphere of influence who would benefit greatly by joining God in His redemptive activity as a result of your invitation. Be willing to search for them just as Barnabas searched for Saul.

We do better together!

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Monday, January 26th, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category God's Activity, God's Will, Journey, On Mission.
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January 25th, 2009

Joining God (2)

“News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.” Acts 11:22-23 (NIV)

What did the evidence of the grace of God look like when Barnabas arrived in Antioch? What did he see about the church in Antioch that made him think of the grace of God? He noticed that the Lord’s hand was with them and that great numbers of people were brought to the Lord (Acts 11:21,24). He witnessed sacrificial and spontaneous giving (Acts 11:27-30). The church in Antioch was serious about prayer, fasting, Christ-exalting worship, and missions (Acts 13:1-3).

Had Barnabas not been willing to leave his comfort zone in Jerusalem and travel 300 miles north to Antioch, he would have missed seeing the evidence of the grace of God in the church in Antioch. Barnabas would have missed joining God in His redemptive activity in Antioch. Barnabas would have missed personally seeing the free expression of the loving kindness of God at work in the midst of Jews and Greeks worshiping together.

What is keeping you from joining God in His redemptive activity? As Henry Blackaby says, “You cannot stay where you are and go with God.” For you, it may not mean a physical relocation. Joining God always produces a spiritual change in you so that you surrender fully and completely to His agenda. Be willing to leave your comfort zone in order to join God in His redemptive activity.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, January 25th, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category Barnabas, God's Activity, God's Agenda, Grace.
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January 24th, 2009

Joining God (1)

“Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus.” Acts 11:19-20 (NIV)

Antioch was the third largest city in the Roman Empire next to Rome and Alexandria. It was located three hundred miles north of Jerusalem. The city was a pagan metropolis with a population of about 500,000 people. Those who had been scattered by the persecution in Jerusalem in connection with Stephen were sharing the message of Christ with Jews in Phoenicia, Cypress, and Antioch. Some men from Cyprus and Cyrene began to share the message of Christ with the Greeks in Antioch.

  • “On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.” Acts 8:1 (NIV)
  • “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.” Acts 8:4 (NIV)

The believers were willing to bloom where God planted them. Even though relocated as a result of persecution, they chose to share the good news of Jesus wherever they went.

To join God in His redemptive activity, you must be willing to bloom where God plants you. Think about your current life situation. Think about those in your sphere of influence. God has you right where you are so that you can share Christ with those He has brought into your path.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Saturday, January 24th, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category God's Activity, God's Agenda, Obedience.
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January 23rd, 2009

Baptism (4)

“If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” Luke 9:26 (NIV)

Believer’s baptism by immersion is a public proclamation of your faith in Jesus. Jesus identified with you through baptism so that you could identify with Him through baptism. Your identification with Christ is a bold and courageous act of obedience. If you have not identified with Christ through baptism, what is keeping you from taking that clear step of obedience? What would you be ashamed of? There’s nothing to fear!

  • “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” Romans 1:16 (NIV)
  • “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” 2 Tim 2:15 (NIV)

There’s no need to be ashamed. When you identify with Christ through baptism, you demonstrate your faith in the atoning work of Jesus on the cross. In baptism, you testify of His resurrection power that brought you out of darkness into the kingdom of light. You can bear the name of Christ with honor. He has given His all for you so that you can have an abiding love relationship with Him that is personal and eternal.

Don’t be ashamed of Christ. If you have not been baptized by immersion since your conversion experience, then make things right with the Lord by obeying His command.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Friday, January 23rd, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category Baptism, Boldness, Identification, Jesus, Obedience.
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January 22nd, 2009

Baptism (3)

“When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’” Luke 3:21-22 (NIV)

Jesus was about thirty years old when He began his ministry (Luke 3:23). The inauguration of Jesus’ public ministry featured affirmation from His Heavenly Father. God affirmed that Jesus was His Son. It would be similar to an earthly Father saying to his son, “Son, I’m proud of you!”

God provided Jesus with an affirmation of His love. Jesus would draw on the love of His Heavenly Father as He navigated the path of suffering. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus affirmed His love and loyalty to His Heavenly Father by praying, “Not my will, but Your will be done”(Mt. 26:39-44).

Jesus heard the precious words of affirmation, “with you I am well pleased.” Jesus brought pleasure to His Heavenly Father through His obedience and willingness to finish His work (Jn. 4:34). God affirmed Jesus with these words at the inauguration of His public ministry.

You are loved by God. In fact, you are the apple of His eye (Ps. 17:8). Walk in the light of God’s redemptive work in your life. God came to your rescue so that you could join Him in rescuing others. You are His workmanship (Eph. 2:10). Be affirmed by God!

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Thursday, January 22nd, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category Baptism, Identification, Jesus, Obedience.
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