Archive for July, 2009

July 31st, 2009

Priorities

“‘But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.’” Matt 6:33 (NIV)

What is competing for “first” in your life? What gets the majority of your time, energy, and attention? Maybe you feel like you have too many plates spinning and several wobbling. Maybe you are overwhelmed with the tugs on your life and you wonder how you are going to pull it all off before each deadline.

Jesus understands the allurements and tugs of life. He had to say “no” to the wrong things so that He could say “yes” to the right things. Jesus had to say “no” to the good opportunities so that He could say “yes” to the best opportunities. Jesus had to guard His mornings so that He could have unbroken fellowship and communion with our Heavenly Father. Jesus had to strategically carve out time to simply rest and be away from the crowds and the demands on His life.

There is only so much of you to allocate. You cannot please everyone and you cannot satisfy every request. Some of your spinning plates will have to crash. The wonderful news is that God’s Will can be accomplished within the 24 hours that He has given you each day.

  • “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27 (NIV)
  • “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world.” 1 John 2:15-16 (NIV)

Make room in your life for Jesus to occupy “first” place. Guard your daily intimacy with Him. Create margins in your life to foster balance. No one can do this for you. Only you can enthrone Jesus to the “first” position of prominence in your life. What adjustments do you need to make right now?

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor
(This devotional was originally posted in ’07 or ’08. I’m taking a break from writing for a season of personal renewal.)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephentrammell

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Friday, July 31st, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category Discipline, First, Integrity, Priorities.
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July 30th, 2009

Your First Love

“Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.” Rev 2:4 (NIV)

When I was a teenager, I raced motocross. One afternoon I was on a track with my brother and some friends practicing in the heat of the day. At this point, I was in the lead and throttling through a sandy turn when my dirt bike slide out from under me at a high speed which slammed my body to the ground. The pain was so immense and the heat was so intense that I began to see stars. I was nauseated and just knew that I had broken my wrist. My brother came to my rescue and said, “Come on man! Ride it out! Let’s keep riding!” 

After my visit to the emergency room and a cast secured to my right arm, I proudly walked up to my brother and confirmed my suspicion that my wrist was broken. The X-ray enabled the physician to see what we could not see. The X-ray provided information that was not attainable from an external view of my arm.

Jesus has the unique ability to X-ray the church and to X-ray our heart. Jesus detects the internal workings. Jesus weighs motives and our current reality. Jesus knows the reality of our priorities.

  • “Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.” Rev 2:5 (NIV)

Remember, repent, and return. Remember the former intensity of your love relationship with Jesus. Repent of those things that have caused you to drift from your first love. Turn away from those things that have robbed you of your devotion to the Lord. Return to daily surrender and full devotion to Jesus as your first love.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor
(This devotional was originally posted in ’07 or ’08. I’m taking a break from writing for a season of personal renewal.)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephentrammell

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Thursday, July 30th, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category Devotion, First, Priorities.
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July 29th, 2009

The Potter’s Wheel

“So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.” Jer 18:3-4 (NIV)

The safest place for you to be is in the center of God’s will. The most dangerous place for you to be is in the center of God’s will. When you are living in the center of God’s will, you experience His provision and protection. However, you are the greatest threat to Satan when you are living in the center of God’s will. When you think about it, being on Satan’s radar is an indication of being a threat to his kingdom. You cannot walk in the center of God’s will unopposed.

One of my Sunday School teachers who flew an A-10 fighter jet in the Air Force used to say, “The closer you get to the enemy, the greater the conflict.” Motion causes friction. When you are living to please God, be ready for that spiritual motion to cause friction and spiritual warfare.

Jeremiah, known as the weeping prophet, experienced the painful reality of being on the potter’s wheel. God placed Jeremiah on the potter’s wheel to demonstrate His loving and corrective touch. God demonstrated the value He places on purity, holiness, and full surrender. God expects that of every generation and every nation.

Don’t resist those seasons of being placed on the potter’s wheel. Remember that God is the Potter and you are the clay. God tenderly and lovingly molds you and shapes you for His glory. God removes the impediments in your life that restrict His flow through you. Be still! Rest! Give God access to every area of your life. Allow God to shape you for His eternal significance.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor
(This devotional was originally posted in ’07 or ’08. I’m taking a break from writing for a season of personal renewal.)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephentrammell

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Wednesday, July 29th, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category Jeremiah, Life Changing Experience, Surrender.
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July 28th, 2009

Moses’ Identity

“But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’” Ex 3:11 (NIV)

Who am I? Why am I here? These two basic questions are innate in every human being. We long to know who we are and we strive to discover why we are placed on this planet called earth. Our security is proportionate to our understanding of our identity.

God allowed Moses to experience forty years in the palace and then forty years in the desert. God wanted Moses to learn some things about his personal identity through a desert experience that he could not learn in the palace. God was preparing Moses for the purpose of delivering the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage. The burning bush encounter was a life changing experience for Moses. The encounter enabled Moses to come to know God in a personal way. God revealed His holiness to Moses and then unveiled His plan for Moses to embrace.

As you can imagine, Moses could not visualize himself as the deliverer of the children of Israel. They had been slaves for over 400 years. Moses began making excuses and tried to deny his usefulness to God. Moses began to focus on what he lacked and missed the reality of God’s ability to do the extraordinary through ordinary people.

Have you ever doubted your usefulness to God? Have you ever tried to convince God that you are not fit for His plan? God is not impressed with our abilities or our inabilities. God is not limited by our limitations. Are you willing to yield to God’s control and allow Him to have His way in your life? God is willing to take you through a desert experience to prepare you for His assignment.   

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor
(This devotional was originally posted in ’07 or ’08. I’m taking a break from writing for a season of personal renewal.)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephentrammell

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Tuesday, July 28th, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category Burning Bush, Life Changing Experience, Moses.
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July 27th, 2009

Deception

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:8 (NIV)

Accuracy promotes intimacy.

If you want to have an intimate love relationship with God, you must have an accurate estimation of yourself. Taking personal inventory can be helpful. Have you ever stopped long enough to really get down to your current reality? You can live at such a fast pace in this life that you neglect the need for introspection. Looking within to capture the truth of your spiritual status is vitally important.

An accurate estimation of yourself requires truthfulness. Being honest about your thought-life, being honest about your motives, and being honest about your inner desires are marks of spiritual maturity. The tendency is to evaluate others under a microscope and to evaluate ourselves with binoculars. Everyone looks good from a distance. Take a close look at your life. 

Don’t live in deception. Don’t gloss over the things that break the heart of God.

“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” 1 Cor 10:12 (NIV)

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor
(This devotional was originally posted in ’07 or ’08. I’m taking a break from writing for a season of personal renewal.)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephentrammell

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Monday, July 27th, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category Deception, If, Integrity.
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July 26th, 2009

Think Big

Think big…because God is a big God.

“Then King David said to the whole assembly: ‘My son Solomon, the one whom God has chosen, is young and inexperienced. The task is great, because this palatial structure is not for man but for the LORD God.’” 1 Chron 29:1 (NIV)

Have you ever been invited to participate in a God-sized task? Maybe you are facing something right now that is God-sized. God enjoys bringing us into His story. He is not limited by our limitations. We spend so much time evaluating ourselves in relation to others. We feel inadequate or unqualified and wonder if God could really use us. God specializes in using those deemed useless by the world’s standards. We bring pleasure to God when we simply say, “Lord, I’m Yours! Use me!”

God doesn’t need you to do something great for Him. Actually, He is big enough to fulfill His plan with or without you. The beauty of God’s love is that He chooses to enable you to do something great for Him. Will you make yourself available for God’s use?

I would have never dreamed that God wanted me to surrender to preach. Yet, on February 23, 1986, God allowed me to get involved in a Jet Ski accident that almost took my life. While struggling to stay alive in the intensive care unit, God called me to preach. I was only sixteen years old.

Think big…because God is a big God. He can do something great through you regardless of your age or life stage. Are you willing to make yourself available to God for His glory?

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor
(This devotional was originally posted in ’07 or ’08. I’m taking a break from writing for a season of personal renewal.)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephentrammell

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, July 26th, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category Availability, Something Great, Think Big.
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July 25th, 2009

Self-Denial

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’” Matt 16:24 (NIV)

While driving down the interstate, I discovered a billboard advertisement that had this phrase in large gold letters with a dark background, “It’s all about you.” That phrase captures the ebb and flow of Christianity in the twenty-first century. Consumerism has captivated the local church. Christians are choosing churches based on the mentality of, “What have you done for me, lately?” We have fostered a culture of spectators. Let’s watch the show and be entertained.

Embracing that self-centered and me-istic lifestyle will not help you make sense out of life. In fact, life will become muddy and unclear. Jesus explained the Christ-centered life as the one where self-denial is a prerequisite. Jesus clarifies that life is not about you. Life is about God’s agenda.

To come after Jesus, you must deny yourself. It does not mean to neglect your needs or to embrace passivity. Self-denial on God’s terms is for you to utterly disown yourself. To deny yourself is to come to the place of total abandonment to God and His will for your life. Self-denial is essential in saving faith and in living out your faith before a watching world.

Arthur Pink wrote, “Growth in grace is growth downward; it is the forming of a lower estimate of ourselves; it is a deepening realization of our nothingness; it is a heartfelt recognition that we are not worthy of the least of God’s mercies.”

It’s not about you. It’s all about Him!

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor
(This devotional was originally posted in ’07 or ’08. I’m taking a break from writing for a season of personal renewal.)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephentrammell

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Saturday, July 25th, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category Humility, Making Sense, Self-denial.
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July 24th, 2009

Stumbling Block

“Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.’” Matt 16:23 (NIV)

Peter deeply cared for Jesus. Peter had just spoken the powerful words given by God to affirm that Jesus was truly the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Jesus then shared with his disciples that He would be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter had the audacity to rebuke Jesus.

As one commentator observed, Peter “could hardly have understood that by his attempt to dissuade Jesus from the cross he was placing arrows in the bow of Satan to be shot at his beloved Savior.” In the language of the New Testament, a stumbling block, or skandalon, referred to an animal trap where food was strategically placed to lure the animal into harm’s way. Satan was using Peter to set a trap for Jesus. Satan had already tempted Jesus to take a shortcut to God’s plan. Now, Satan is using Peter to seek to get Jesus to bypass the way of the cross.

We become a stumbling block when we think that our way is better than God’s way. We become a stumbling block when we fail to consider the way of God. Be careful not to oppose the plan of God. Be on guard not to become an instrument in the hands of the Enemy.

Let’s commit to becoming a stepping stone for others to come to know Christ. Let’s eliminate our proclivity of becoming stumbling blocks. God’s way is always the best way. Let’s embrace the way of the cross. 

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor
(This devotional was originally posted in ’07 or ’08. I’m taking a break from writing for a season of personal renewal.)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephentrammell

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Friday, July 24th, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category Stumbling Block.
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July 23rd, 2009

Omniscience

“O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.” Psalms 139:1-4 (NIV)

God is all-knowing. There is nothing that God does not know. Has it ever occurred to you that nothing ever occurs to God? Even when you pray, you are not bringing God up on your situation or circumstances.  In His teaching on prayer, Jesus said, “Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him”(Matt 6:8 NIV). God knows everything you have faced, everything you are facing, and everything you will face.  

God knew you before you were conceived by your parents. “The word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations’”(Jer 1:4-5 NIV). God knew exactly what He wanted to do in you and through you to fulfill His purposes during your lifetime on planet earth. It is hard to fathom, but God even knew the choices you would make up to this point and knows what choices you will make today.

The beauty of God’s love is that in His omniscience, knowing everything about us and our decisions, He chooses to love us and He chooses to use us for His glory.  

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor
(This devotional was originally posted in ’07 or ’08. I’m taking a break from writing for a season of personal renewal.)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephentrammell

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Thursday, July 23rd, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category All Knowing, Attributes of God, Omniscience, Omniscient.
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July 22nd, 2009

Peacemaking

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” Matt 5:9 (NIV)

The Bible opens with peace in the Garden of Eden and was interrupted when man sinned. Jesus made peace a reality again by sacrificing His life upon the cross to destroy the penalty of sin and death. In eternity, peace will be fully restored. As long as there is the presence of sin upon the earth, peace will be challenged.

Christ-centered living involves peacemaking. As a follower of Christ, you have the privilege and responsibility to be a peacemaker. Being a peacemaker is the result of a holy life and the willingness to confront the culture with the claims of Christ. Peacemaking is not the art of being passive and tolerating willful disobedience. Peacemaking is not accommodating ungodly behavior. To be a peacemaker is to build bridges to broken and sinful people in order to show them the love of Christ and the way of Christ.

God raised up Nathan to confront King David concerning his sinful indulgence with Bathsheba. Nathan announced to David, “You are the man!” As a result, David repented and wrote Psalm 51. Nathan was a peacemaker in that he built a bridge to David in order to help David make peace with God.

You have to be willing to get close enough to people to impact their lives. Sometimes that means looking beyond yourself and your circle in order to be used of God to be a peacemaker. Paul reminded the believers in Corinth to be bridge-builders when he wrote,  “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation”(2 Cor 5:18-19 NIV). You have been given the message. You have everything you need to obey God’s call.

Are you at peace with God? Are you at peace with others? Will you help others make peace with God? Will you help others make peace with others? Remember, we are just fellow beggars who have found bread…the Bread of Life.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor
(This devotional was originally posted in ’07 or ’08. I’m taking a break from writing for a season of personal renewal.)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephentrammell

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category Christ-Centered Living, Peacemaking.
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