Archive for November, 2009

November 30th, 2009

Looking Down From Heaven

(Today’s Devotional Submitted by Guest Writer: Jeff Skipper, Associate Pastor of Student Ministries, Champion Forest Baptist Church)

“After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.’ At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it.” Rev 4:1-2 (NIV)

If you have lived very long in this world you know life can be downright difficult at times. We are faced daily with disappointment, defeat, destruction, devastation, desolation, divorce, and death. The interesting thing is the Bible promises this type of suffering. The good news is that we are also promised it is only temporary and it will produce in us something that far outweighs all that we suffer.

God offers John a view that none of us will get before the second coming, yet we need to understand that view. John finds himself in a transcendent reality where he sees for the first time the world from God’s throne room! He sees death, destruction, disappointment, Nero, the Roman Empire, the past, present, and future from heaven! It’s as if he is looking down on his life through God’s eyes.

Have you been struggling in this life? Have you had a bad day? How about a bad year? What if, for just a moment, you were called to God’s throne room and you could see your situation from heaven’s perspective? Remember that the island of disappointment and doubt you find yourself in is only temporary, for God has something in store for you that far outweighs it: heaven. I pray that you will see life today from heaven’s perspective.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephentrammell

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Monday, November 30th, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category Heaven, Perspective, Suffering.
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November 29th, 2009

Live In The Moment

(Today’s Devotional Submitted by Guest Writer: Cheryl Spafford, Minister to Girls, Champion Forest Baptist Church)

“‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.’” Deut 31:6 (NIV)

Ever since I was in High School there have been two quotes that have either been tucked away in the pages of my Bible, attached to my dashboard, or taped up on the nearest mirror or bulletin board. They’re both written on the same card, one on each side. Depending on the circumstances of the moment I have one or the other always visibly before me while getting ready to take on the day or spending time in God’s Word. The first quote is by the late Jim Elliot and it reads, “Receive this moment’s experience with both hands. Don’t waste it. Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”

The second quote is by his wife Elisabeth and it reads, “A quiet heart is content with what God gives. It is enough. All is grace. All is under my Father’s control. My heart is at peace. My Father is in charge, how simple.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve prayed for courage. I need courage to stand up for what’s right, courage to speak truth, courage to live by faith, and courage to be still and simply wait on the Lord when everything within me wants to run. I don’t want to be fearful nor found lacking in faith. Sometimes I feel that if the Lord would just give me a monthly booster shot of courage that I could be so much more effective for Him in my Christian walk.

What are some areas in your life that challenge your faith and reliance on God’s sovereignty? If we look to the Father and allow our confidence and security to be found in Him, then anything else we have or don’t have doesn’t really matter. Find out about the true peace we can have in the Lord when we choose not to be afraid because the Lord is near (Php. 4:4-9). Our security is in Christ.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephentrammell

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, November 29th, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category Courage, Sovereignty, Worrying.
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November 28th, 2009

The Cone of Uncertainty

(Today’s Devotional Submitted by Guest Writer: David Upchurch, Associate Pastor of Young Married Adults, Champion Forest Baptist Church)

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalms 91:1 (NIV)

It has dawned on me that I’m getting older because I can’t wait for the weather forecast. One night during this hurricane season I heard an interesting term, and it made me say, “hmmm.” The weather man noted that there was a hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean and then used the phrase “the cone of uncertainty.” As it related to hurricanes and storms, the phrase describes that general path and area ahead of a tropical storm or hurricane. The forecasters are using all of their knowledge and technology to guess at what direction the storm might go. Included in all of those calculations are all of the weather variables and shifting conditions. What a great phrase to describe all of the possible scenarios!

Life has some pretty crazy storms at times including job cuts and downsizing, natural disasters, relationship stressors, prodigals, economic downturns, terrible housing markets, and doctor’s diagnoses. There is not much certainty in the seasons of life. Think about the many possibilities for these “cones of uncertainty” to make landfall. And imagine the number for each year of life in a lifetime. Add to that number the vast variables within each circumstance. Forecasting those storms is impossible. Talk about uncertainty!

However, there is a constant. There is One who is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8), whose word will stand the test of time (Isaiah 40:8), and who doesn’t change with the season or economy. His love is unchanging and his plans for you are certain (Jeremiah 29:11). God makes the uncertainty live-able and worthwhile. Choose to know Him and He will be your shelter in the storm.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephentrammell

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Saturday, November 28th, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category Faithfulness, Life Changes, Storms.
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November 27th, 2009

A Reason to Be Thankful

(Today’s Devotional Submitted by Guest Writer: Jared Richard, Associate Pastor of Singles, Champion Forest Baptist Church)

“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)

We must run to Jesus in times of distress, because He is compassionate, He understands our suffering, and our hope is His glory! All of these truths can be clearly seen in John’s recounting of the story of the death of Lazarus in his gospel.

Of course, the fact that Jesus is compassionate toward us is tremendous and that our hope is His glory is almost a given at this point in our ministry, but have you really thought about how Jesus’ suffering makes Him worth running toward in times of distress?

In our darkest moments, when we feel like there is no single entity in the universe who can understand what it is that we are going through, we have this hope:  Jesus understands more than we know!

When bad things happen, we have two choices: we can run from Jesus or we can run toward Him. I hope that in John 11 and the truth of the immensity of Jesus’ suffering on our behalf gives you reason enough to run toward him to discover that He is everything He has promised us He would be! Don’t let His suffering be in vain; don’t let His incarnation be in vain. Run to Him and allow Him to be the peace in your life that you seek. Allow Him to speak life into you. Jesus came so that we may have hope, a hope rooted in His glory!

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephentrammell

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Friday, November 27th, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category I am sayings, Jesus, Thankfulness.
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November 26th, 2009

Thank God for the Little Things

(Today’s Devotional Submitted by Guest Writer: Scott Riling, Pastor of Missions and Ministry, Champion Forest Baptist Church)

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thess 5:16-18 (NIV)

Families and friends come together on Thanksgiving Day to enjoy one of the most incredible meals all year. Even many families who would not consider themselves particularly religious will most likely begin with some sort of an acknowledgment of the Divine One before going after the turkey or ham. When that time comes, I am sure the Lord will hear some very interesting prayers. Many will probably contain the all-inclusive statement, “Thank You for our many blessings!”

However, the Lord will hear other prayers that will be a little more specific and will include actually naming some of those blessings. Can you name some specific things that you know God has brought into your life?

In her book The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom tells about an occasion that taught her to always be thankful. She and her sister, Betsy, had just been taken to the worst concentration camp in Germany in WWII—Ravensbruck. The barracks were cold, overcrowded and flea-infested. Early one morning, they read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, which reminds Christians to always rejoice, pray, and be thankful. Betsy told Corrie to stop for a moment and give thanks to the Lord for all of their circumstances. At first Corrie refused, but then Betsy insisted.

As the months passed in the camp, they were a little surprised at how they could openly hold Bible studies in the barracks without guard interference. They finally learned why—the guards did not want to enter the barracks because of the fleas!

Let’s be truly thankful to God for how richly He has blessed us—even for the little things!

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephentrammell

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Thursday, November 26th, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category Blessings, Praise, Thankfulness.
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November 25th, 2009

Giving Thanks in All Things

(Today’s Devotional Submitted by Guest Writer: Adam Watson, Associate Pastor of Worship Ministries, Champion Forest Baptist Church)

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Phil 4:11-13 (NIV)

How many of us can honestly agree with Paul and say that we have learned to be content whatever the circumstances? Around Thanksgiving, many of us gather a list of things to be thankful for, and speak them as a reminder of God’s blessings. This is a great exercise and a discipline that we should practice all year round.

But what is it that keeps us from living in a lifestyle of constant thanksgiving for every circumstance? Personally, I let life’s big and little annoyances crowd out the things for which I should be thankful. If you’re a problem solver like me, you focus on how to fix all the tough things going on before you feel like you can rest and really be thankful for the good things. That’s not how Paul approached his life. He was thankful all along the way. Sure, Paul still faced more than his share of challenges, but he didn’t wait to start his thanksgiving until things got better.

The choice we have today is to see our lives in spiritual terms. The physical things we can thank God for will come and go. The spiritual aspects of our lives are what last. Abundant life with Christ is the secret to constant contentment. What worldly and physical things are keeping you from seeing God’s blessings in your life? What problems are postponing your life of thankfulness? Ask the Lord for help to see your life through spiritual eyes.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephentrammell

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Wednesday, November 25th, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category Blessings, Contentment, Thanksgiving.
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November 24th, 2009

Giving Thanks for the Best Thing

(Today’s Devotional Submitted by Guest Writer: Adam Watson, Associate Pastor of Worship Ministries, Champion Forest Baptist Church)

“This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:9-10 (NIV)

Have you ever had a day where it feels like nothing you do is right, and everyone is upset with you? Those are the days where it’s hard to have a good perspective on thankfulness. I was having one of those days recently and came to the point of deciding the rest of my day didn’t have to be plagued by self-pity. I made the hard decision to turn my focus away from myself and turn it toward God.

When I foolishly felt like there was nothing to be thankful for, God reminded me to look back at the top of the list. The best thing to be thankful for always remains true:  God loves me, and not just a little bit. He loved me enough to go out of his way to have a relationship with me. God created us to be in relationship with Him, and when we mess up, He pursues us still. He loved me enough to sacrifice Himself to remove the sin barrier between us. He loved me when I didn’t love Him. This truth is foundational for living as a Christian.

How long has it been since you thanked God for loving you? Do you ever feel like God’s love for you is dependent on your circumstances? Go back to the top of the list and remember God loves you unconditionally.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephentrammell

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Tuesday, November 24th, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category Acceptance, Love.
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November 23rd, 2009

Fruit Inspection

(Today’s Devotional Submitted by Guest Writer: Louis Miori, Pastor of Pastoral Care, Champion Forest Baptist Church)

“‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.’” John 15:5 (NIV)

If you go to the local bookstore, you will find hundreds of book titles in the “self-help” section. While some of these books offer practical solutions to life’s problems, many of these books center on changing one’s outward behavior in one’s own strength. Most of these books encourage intense self-reliance to become a better person and to have a better life.

While our culture places a primary emphasis on SELF:  self-reliance, self-improvement, and even self-indulgence, Jesus speaks to the contrary by telling us that apart from Him, we can do nothing! To attain a life of victory, a life of true joy, peace, and purpose, a life where we successfully overcome our hurts, habits, and hang-ups, Jesus endorses a life of complete surrender to Him and complete dependence on Him. As we daily surrender ourselves to the Lordship of Christ, and as we daily declare our dependence on Him rather than ourselves, then He will enable us to live a fruitful life.

What kind of fruit is produced when a follower of Christ chooses to totally surrender to and totally depend on God? On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, take a few moments to evaluate the evidence of each of the nine fruit of the Spirit in your life (Gal. 5:22-23). If you truly want to see how the fruit of the Spirit is manifesting in your life, ask your spouse, another family member, or a trusted friend to “inspect your fruit” with this same 1-10 scale. Be encouraged, God loves you so much and wants you to live a life of surrender, dependence, and victory!

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephentrammell

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Monday, November 23rd, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category Faith, Holy Spirit, Victory.
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November 22nd, 2009

God’s Initiative

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’” Gen 3:8-9 (NIV)

God demonstrated His selfless and sacrificial love in the Garden of Eden. As Adam and Eve were trying to hide from God due to their willful disobedience, God asked Adam a question that revealed the heart of God and the sinfulness of man. God called to Adam, “Where are you?”

The truth is that God knew exactly where Adam was both physically and spiritually. God did not need Adam to identify his location. God wanted Adam to consider and contemplate his own personal spiritual state. God wanted Adam to recognize his disobedience and rebellion. God demonstrated sacrificial love as He killed an animal that He created in order to provide covering and cleansing for Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:21).

God’s provision taught Adam and Eve that the shedding of blood was necessary for the removal of sin. The demonstration of selfless and sacrificial love also taught Adam and Eve that sin comes at a high cost. Adam and Eve received God’s forgiveness, but had to suffer the consequences of their sin. They were banished from the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:23). God’s selfless and sacrificial love includes tough love.

Think of ways in which God has demonstrated His selfless and sacrificial love in your life. You may want to revisit the spiritual markers in your life and assess them based on God’s selfless and sacrificial love.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephentrammell

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, November 22nd, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category Initiative, Love, Redemption.
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November 21st, 2009

Take Every Thought Captive

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Cor 10:5 (NIV)

What’s going on in your mind? How’s your thought-life? What have you been thinking about lately? God has given you the ability to think, reason, and make decisions. God has given you the ability to know and understand. You have the wonderful ability to contemplate, consider, and calculate. You are blessed with the capacity to ponder, prepare, and to produce. How are you harnessing the potential God has placed within you?

  • “Test me, O LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in your truth.” Psalms 26:2-3 (NIV)
  • “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3 (NIV)

Is your mind at peace? Write down the specific items that are bothering you. Think through the issues that are pressing up against you. Now place those items before the Lord in prayer. Give each issue to the Lord. Release them! Now receive the Lord’s provision of grace to be single-minded. Focus your thoughts on Jesus and His Lordship. Allow Him to be your source of strength and your anchor of stability.

De-clutter your mind by unloading the hurtful thoughts and the anxious thoughts that perplex you. Write them down! Speak them aloud! Release them to the Lord!

Replace those toxic thoughts with healthy reminders of who you are in Christ. You belong to God. You are His treasure and His masterpiece (Eph. 2:10). You have everything you need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). You are more than a conqueror (Rm. 8:37). You are complete in Christ.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephentrammell

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Saturday, November 21st, 2009 at 1:00 am
Category Mind of Christ, Purity.
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