Archive for August, 2009

August 31st, 2009

Family Spats: Resolving Conflict

“Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.” 1 Peter 3:8 (NIV)

Families that resolve conflict together stay together.

If the devil came to you for counsel on how to destroy families, what would your advice entail? Perhaps you would recommend the weapon of mass destruction, unforgiveness. Unforgiveness poisons harmony and erodes trust. Unforgiveness perpetuates suspicion and fertilizes bitterness.

As a result of living in a fallen world among fallen people, conflict is inevitable. In other words, motion causes friction. It is not a matter of “if” conflict will happen, but a matter of “when” conflict will occur. Conflict is a natural part of life on a broken planet. Conflict is the normal confetti of living in a fallen world.

Every relationship at some point will hit the wall of conflict. As my pastor, Dr. David Fleming says, “Every wall of conflict has a door which leads to conflict resolution, meaningful conversation, and intimacy.” Unfortunately, we often react to the wall of conflict by withdrawing or attacking. Instead of patiently pursuing the door of conflict resolution, we take a short cut and forfeit the potential on the other side of the wall of conflict.

What if we were willing to risk the pursuit? What if we were willing to allow God to navigate us through the process of locating the door positioned at every wall of conflict? What if we decided to resolve conflict together as a family? Could it be that revival would come to the home through the doorway of conflict resolution?

Forgiveness unlocks the door!

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, August 31st, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category Busyness, Family, Margins, Time.
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August 30th, 2009

Family Spats: Pride

“You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit.” Isaiah 14:13-15 (NIV)

Every conflict has pride at its root.

Before God created man in His own image, God had to resolve conflict that erupted in heaven. Pride infused Lucifer (Satan, the devil), the angel of God. In pride, Lucifer sought to lead a rebellion against God and thought he could dethrone God. However, God is holy and does not tolerate sin. Thus, God “de-heavened” Lucifer. Jesus spoke of this fall and John recorded the fall of Satan in Revelation 12:9.

  • “He replied, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.’” Luke 10:18 (NIV)
  • “The great dragon was hurled down–that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.” Rev 12:9 (NIV)

Pride causes us to think of ourselves before thinking of others. Pride causes us to embrace selfishness and self-centeredness. In pride, we forfeit God’s agenda and become absorbed in our own personal agenda. Pride is evidenced by our pursuit of gratifying our sinful nature (Gal. 5:16).

If pride seeps into your home, your family will experience major conflict. Pride corrupts and erodes relationships. Satan is the mascot of pride. He does not want your family to operate in peace, unity, and trust.

Examine the weeds inside your home. Don’t try to cut the weeds off at ground level by dealing with the symptoms of pride. Get to the root of the conflict within your home. As you trace the origin of conflict, you will find the root of pride.

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, August 30th, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category Devil, Family, Pride, Sanctification, Sin, Time.
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August 29th, 2009

God Is At Work

“Jesus said to them, My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.’” John 5:17 (NIV)

God’s will involves identifying where God is at work. Jesus said that God is always at work. The question is not, is God at work, but where is God at work. As Henry Blackaby says, “Look to see where God is at work so that you can join Him in what He is doing.” In your current situation, God is at work. In your neighborhood, God is at work. In your community, your country, and on every continent, God is at work. Are you willing to look to see where God is at work and choose to join Him in His activity.

In order to detect where God is at work requires sensitivity. You must be sensitive to God’s activity. You can get so busy in life and so distracted by the things of this world that you become numb toward that activity of God. Sensitivity to God’s activity comes through a life of full surrender. As you surrender your agenda to God’s agenda and surrender your desires to God’s desires, you will begin seeing God’s activity. Your sensitvity to God’s activity will continue to grow as you join God in what He is doing.

There’s no place on earth like being in the center of God’s will. Take some time today to evaluate your level of sensitivity to God’s activity. Have you become anesthetized to the things of God? Have you numb toward the activity of God? Surrender completely to the Lord and ask Him to give you a special sensitivity to His activity.

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, August 29th, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category Fruit of the Spirit.
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August 28th, 2009

Motives Matter

“You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” James 4:2-3 (NIV)

Motives matter to God.

Have you ever been the recipient of a gift that was given with impure motives? When motives are not right, the gift loses its impact. How you give is just as important as what you give. How you serve is just as important as the act of serving. How you do life is just as important as what you do with your life.

God is all-knowing and all-seeing. In His omniscience, God detects the motives in which you operate your life. God looks beneath the surface of your good deeds to identify your true motives. Selfishness is an indicator of impure motives. Wrong motives will cause you to mistreat others in order to get what you want.

  • “All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD.” Prov 16:2 (NIV)
  • “‘Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.’” Matt 7:7-8 (NIV)

What if we started with a boldness to simply ask God? If there is something we need, what keeps us from asking God who is the Creator and Sustainer of life? Why do we try to take life into our own hands and allow impure motives to infiltrate our decisions? Let’s commit to go to God! He is our sufficiency!

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, August 28th, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category Humility, Motive, Pride.
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August 27th, 2009

Our Whole Duty

“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” Eccl 12:13 (NIV)

Imagine enjoying a cup of coffee at Starbuck’s with one of the wisest men to ever live, Solomon. That’s right! You are sitting across from Solomon and you ask him to share with you what he has learned after experiencing life in a way that few would ever experience in a lifetime. Solomon pursued wealth, wisdom, and women. At the end of his life, he looks into the review mirror and captures what matters most.

Let me share the first essential to doing life God’s way: Revere God.

Solomon says to “fear God.” In the language of the Old Testament, to fear God means to revere God. It means to hold God in high esteem. We are to place the worth and value on God that He deserves. We are to reverence God for who He is and for what He has done.

Revering God involves giving Him first place in your life. Your ambition is to honor God with your life. His agenda becomes the focus of your life. You revere God by aligning your heart with His heart. Revering God is demonstrated by loving what God loves, and by hating what God hates.

In his book, Walking with God, John Eldredge writes, “I assume that an intimate, conversational walk with God is available, and is meant to be normal.” As you walk with God and revere Him, your love relationship with God will become intimate. Doing life God’s way always produces intimacy with God and brings Him pleasure.

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, August 27th, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category Fear, God's Will, Intimacy with God, Selflessness, Wisdom.
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August 26th, 2009

Stick Out Your Tongue

“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” Matt 12:33-34 (NIV)

Do you remember the days when the nurse would ask you to stick out your tongue in order to insert a thermometer? The process was to detect your physical temperature. Your tongue is also an indicator of your spiritual temperature. The words you speak reflect what’s in your heart. Jesus affirmed that the mouth speaks out of the overflow of the heart.

Biting your tongue is not sufficient. It’s really not about your tongue. It’s about your heart. Whatever is in your heart will be displayed by your speech. The way you speak to others will exhibit what’s in your heart. Just as a good tree will bear good fruit and a bad tree produces bad fruit, your words will bear fruit based on the spiritual condition of your heart.

Open your mouth and stick out your tongue. What has your tongue revealed about your heart this week? Examine the words you have spoken. Have you been gracious and kind in your conversations? Have your interactions revealed a heart aligned with God’s heart?

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, August 26th, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category Faithfulness of God, Heart, Portray, Reverence.
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August 25th, 2009

The Fault Of Favoritism

“My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism.” James 2:1 (NIV)

James gives perspective to the believers who have been dispersed by the persecution in Jerusalem. He is writing to the Jews of the Diaspora. They are living outside of their homeland. They are being exposed to different cultures and to different philosophies for living. James reminds them that they are believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. Their position in Christ is to inform their behavior toward others.

We have been transformed by God’s grace and adopted into His family. Our identity is that of being believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. Our lives take on new meaning as we embrace the way of Jesus. His life and His mission become our reality. Jesus wants to transform the culture through us. Thus, we are not to show favoritism. We are not to value one person over another. We are not to favor one people group over another people group.

  • “‘Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.’” Lev 19:15 (NIV)
  • “I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism.” 1 Tim 5:21 (NIV)

The spirit of favoritism does not reflect the heart of God. As His children, we are not to show favoritism. God has called us to extend His love to every people group on earth. That means to impartially radiate His love and compassion to every person regardless of their skin color or social status. A great start would be for you to begin praying for people who are not like you.

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, August 25th, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category Compassion, Favoritism, Grace, Judging, Love.
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August 24th, 2009

Doing His Word

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22 (NIV)

We are bombarded with information. From billboards to books, from electronic media to engaging magazines, there is no void of information. The accessibility of information is literally at our fingertips. If you really want to know something, there are unlimited avenues of securing the information that you are seeking.

The Bible is still the most read book on planet earth. As you read God’s Word, you have the opportunity to listen to what God is saying and then to do what He says. However, you also have the opportunity to keep God’s Word at a distance. You can listen to God’s Word for information purposes only. Your reading and hearing of God’s Word becomes a cognitive exercise that yields minimal fruit in your life. God wants your level of listening to move beyond that of information. The reality is that we know more than we are doing. It is not that we need to know more at this point, but rather obey what we already know.

You can literally deceive yourself by listening to the Word of God at the level of information. God’s Word is designed for more than just informing you about facts and trends. God’s Word is to inform you about the nature and character of God. God’s Word is to inform you about His world redemption plan and where you fit into the process. However, you can stay at the level of knowing about God and His plan without allowing the information to directly impact your life.

God wants you to go to the next level.

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, August 24th, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category God's Word, Life Lessons, Success.
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August 23rd, 2009

Abram’s Obedience

So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran.” Gen 12:4 (NIV)

What is keeping you from obeying God? Do you fear the unknown? Are you uncomfortable making a move without having more information? Maybe God has chosen to limit His revelation to match your obedience. Once you obey what He has already said, then He will show you the next step.

Abram took God at His word! He simply obeyed God. God told Abram to leave and go to a land that He would show him. Guess what? Abram left, as the Lord told him. He obeyed.

You can never go wrong obeying God. His way is always the best way. Even when it doesn’t make sense or seem remotely logical, God’s way is the right way. If you are confused about your next step, just obey what He has already said. Start there!

Identify what you are wrestling with right now? What is keeping you from taking the next step? Place that fear or frustration before the Lord in prayer and see how He helps you take the next step. You can trust God with your present circumstances and your future hopes and dreams.

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, August 23rd, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category Abraham, Obedience, Trust.
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August 22nd, 2009

The Pursuit Of Purity

“Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” 2 Cor 7:1 (NIV)

Is it possible to stay clean while living in a dirty world? Every possibility for contaminating our lives is available to us. Sin is rampant. We face trials from without and temptation from within. The cultural current is moving in the opposite direction of the Christ honoring flow. We must make a conscious and continuous decision to walk in purity.

  • “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:8 (NIV)
  • “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” 1 Tim 4:12 (NIV)

Purify yourself and perfect holiness. Purify your heart and set an example for the believers in purity. In Christ, you are positionally pure. In Christ, you are a new creation. In Christ, you are adopted into God’s family. Now live out practically what you are positionally in Christ. The only way to reign in this life is to allow Christ to reign in your life. Submit to His authority in your life. Allow Jesus to live His life through you.

Staying clean while living in a dirty world is only possible in the strength Christ provides. Jesus has already set the example. Jesus has demonstrated the life of purity in a sin-polluted culture. Jesus lived a sinless life and died a sacrificial death so that you can walk in victory.

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, August 22nd, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category Purity.
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