Archive for January, 2012

January 31st, 2012

Walking with a Limp

“And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25 When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him.” Genesis 32:24-25 (ESV)

As God’s workmanship, Jacob came away from the night of wrestling with a limp and a new name. You don’t come into close proximity with the living God and leave the same. God gave Jacob the name Israel, which means God prevails. Jacob was known as a deceiver, but God gave him a new name to live up to. Jacob would become the patriarch of the twelve tribes of Israel.

Have you ever wrestled with God? Who won? Wrestling is part of being God’s workmanship. Jacob, as God’s workmanship, came to know God in a new way after a night of wrestling. Just like in weight training, without resistance there is no growth.

God allows us to go through seasons of uncertainty. God allows us to experience seasons of silence and yes, even seasons of suffering. We wrestle with God in those seasons. Our faith is challenged and often our prayer life is stretched. We come to know God by experience. Sometimes that experience involves pain.

God is for you. He is willing to go to any length to bring you into a vibrant, intimate, and growing relationship that is personal and eternal. God will pursue you and groom you so that you will be conformed into the image of Christ. Your life matters to God. After you encounter the Living God, you may walk with a limp to remind you of His daily provision.

Chronological Bible Reading Plan: (Day 23: Genesis 32-34)

Pursuing God,

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

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Tuesday, January 31st, 2012 at 1:00 am
Category Jacob, Transformation, Wrestling with God.
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January 30th, 2012

God’s Protection

“So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah into the field where his flock was 5 and said to them, ‘I see that your father does not regard me with favor as he did before. But the God of my father has been with me. 6 You know that I have served your father with all my strength, 7 yet your father has cheated me and changed my wages ten times. But God did not permit him to harm me.’” Genesis 31:4-7 (ESV)

Jacob experienced God’s protection as he served Laban. Though Laban deceived Jacob in several ways, Jacob found comfort in God’s Presence. Jacob recognized God’s provision in the midst of the unfortunate treatment Laban inflicted. The instability of the circumstances surrounding Jacob did not penetrate the protective covering provided by God. Navigating the current of shifting loyalty from Laban’s integrity deficit, Jacob rested in the consistent provision of God.

When you are treated unfairly, be encouraged by the reality of God’s protection and God’s abiding Presence in your life. Even when your circumstances create an atmosphere of uncertainty, you can anchor your faith to the rock of God’s nature and character. You can trust God to see you through.

Jesus knew what it meant to be betrayed and to suffer injustice. Jesus was perfect and encountered unfair treatment by those whom God had created.

  • “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” 1 Peter 2:23 (ESV)

Do what Jesus did. Entrust yourself to Him who judges justly. Entrust your life to the One who has given you life and to the One who has the final say in every circumstance you face. God is worthy of your trust and worthy of your devotion. Relinquish control of your life to the One who created you for His glory.

Chronological Bible Reading Plan: (Day 22: Genesis 30-31)

Pursuing God,

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

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Monday, January 30th, 2012 at 1:00 am
Category God's Provision, Jacob, Protection.
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January 29th, 2012

God Encounter

“Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.’ 17 And he was afraid and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.’” Genesis 28:16-17 (ESV)

Don’t miss God! You can be so preoccupied with your life and your plans that you neglect practicing the Presence of God. God is omnipresent. There is nowhere God is not. He is always at work around you. Unless you intentionally look to see where God is at work, you can miss Him. Detecting God’s activity requires being sensitive and observant.

As Jacob placed a stone under his head and went to sleep, he had a dream in which he saw a ladder with angels ascending and descending on it. God said to him, “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. 14 Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (Gen 28:13-14 ESV).

Upon reflection of the night’s events, Jacob realized that he had encountered God. He named the place, Bethel, which means house of God.

Each time you read the Bible, you are encountering God. Whenever you choose to share your faith with someone, you will encounter God. As you seek to meet needs and continue the ministry of Jesus on the earth, you will encounter God. God reveals Himself to you as you join Him in His activity.

Chronological Bible Reading Plan: (Day 21: Genesis 27-29)

Pursuing God,

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

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, January 29th, 2012 at 1:00 am
Category God's Presence, Heaven, Jacob.
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January 28th, 2012

Leaving a Legacy

“And the LORD appeared to him the same night and said, ‘I am the God of Abraham your father. Fear not, for I am with you and will bless you and multiply your offspring for my servant Abraham’s sake.’ 25 So he built an altar there and called upon the name of the LORD and pitched his tent there. And there Isaac’s servants dug a well.” Genesis 26:24-25 (ESV)

What kind of impact will your life make on the next generation? What is going to outlive you and outlast you? What deposits are you making into the next generation? In order to leave a legacy, you must live a legacy.

Abraham and Sarah lived out their faith in God before their son, Isaac. They were intentional about handing down the faith and leaving a legacy. Sarah died and was buried. Abraham died years later and was buried in the cave of Machpelah with Sarah.

How did their faith impact Isaac’s life? God graciously appeared to Isaac just as He had appeared to Abraham. God affirmed Isaac with His abiding presence and promised to bless him and multiply his offspring for Abraham’s sake. Did you catch that? The blessing from God was in honor of Abraham, for Abraham’s sake. Isaac responded to this encounter of God by building an altar there and calling upon the name of the Lord. Isaac continued the faith that Abraham and Sarah had modeled before him.

What kind of legacy will you leave? Will those closest to you continue in the faith because of the faith you lived out during your time on the earth? Leave a legacy by living a legacy. Worship God privately and publicly. Serve the Lord with passion and enthusiasm. Be an irresistible influence for the Lord and impact the next generation.

Chronological Bible Reading Plan: (Day 20: Genesis 25-26)

Pursuing God,

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

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Saturday, January 28th, 2012 at 1:00 am
Category Abraham, Isaac, Legacy.
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January 27th, 2012

Jehovah Jireh

“And Isaac said to his father Abraham, ‘My father!’ And he said, ‘Here I am, my son.’ He said, ‘Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?’ 8 Abraham said, ‘God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.’ So they went both of them together.” Genesis 22:7-8 (ESV)

Abraham demonstrated absolute loyalty and devotion to God by his willingness to sacrifice his promised son. Abraham and Sarah were beyond child bearing years. Yet, God provided the miracle of Isaac’s conception. Now God is asking Abraham to sacrifice that which was promised to him.

  • “And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.” Gen 22:13 (ESV)

Is there anything in your life that takes priority over your relationship with Jesus? Are there any allurements sifting your affection away from your devotion to Christ? Do you have an Isaac in your life that you are unwilling to sacrifice?

What is standing in the way of your realization of unbroken fellowship with God? What is taking the number one place of prominence in your life which is reserved for God? Whatever that item, ambition, or person is may be your Isaac.

Could it be that God wants you to sacrifice that Isaac in your life to enable God to have top priority in your life? God wants first place in your daily walk. God wants to be the supreme object of your energy and affection. He not only deserves it, but He demands it.

Spend a few moments taking inventory of your current priorities and identify what is preventing God from being your top priority.

Chronological Bible Reading Plan: (Day 19: Genesis 22-24)

Pursuing God,

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

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Friday, January 27th, 2012 at 1:00 am
Category Abraham, God's Provision, Obedience.
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January 26th, 2012

God’s Grace

“And the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. 9 But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, laughing. 10 So she said to Abraham, ‘Cast out this slave woman with her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac.’” Genesis 21:8-10 (ESV)

Shortcuts in life can generate adverse consequences. Instead of waiting on God’s timing to produce offspring, Abraham and Sarah took a shortcut by utilizing Sarah’s servant, Hagar. “And Sarai said to Abram, ‘Behold now, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.’ And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai” (Gen 16:2 ESV). Sarah got what she wanted, but later didn’t want what she got!

Abraham had to make the difficult decision to send Hagar and Ishmael on their way in order to keep marital peace with Sarah. Hagar finds herself in desperation and ready to give up her life and the life of her son, Ishmael, as they wander in the wilderness of Beersheba. She placed Ishmael under a bush anticipating his death as well as her own. Then God intervened:

  • “Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. 20 And God was with the boy, and he grew up. He lived in the wilderness and became an expert with the bow. 21 He lived in the wilderness of Paran, and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.” Gen 21:19-21 (ESV)

God’s grace always matches the desperation of our need. God has the final say even in the darkest of moments. When life gets messy, don’t hesitate to turn to the Master! God’s grace is more than enough!

Chronological Bible Reading Plan: (Day 18: Genesis 19-21)

Pursuing God,

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

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Thursday, January 26th, 2012 at 1:00 am
Category Abraham, Compassion, Grace.
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January 25th, 2012

God’s Miracle

“The LORD said, ‘I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.’ And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah.” Genesis 18:10-11 (ESV)

Is the level of your faith determined by the intensity and severity of your circumstances or by the One in whom you are placing your faith? Abraham and Sarah’s situation was desperate and seemingly impossible. Abraham was one hundred years old and Sarah was ninety years old and barren.

Don’t miss the blessing behind “even when.” Even when Abraham was past age and Sarah was barren, God enabled them to become parents because Abraham considered God faithful. God had already made the promise of blessing Abraham with offspring (Gen. 12:2-3).

  • “By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised.” Heb. 11:11 (ESV)
  • “Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.” Heb. 11:12 (ESV)

Instead of focusing on your circumstances, focus on the faithfulness of God. You can bring your burdens to the Lord with openness and transparency. You can bear your soul before the Lord as you navigate the terrain of a fallen world. God formed you and fashioned you for His glory. Your circumstances will not derail the purposes of God from being fulfilled in your life. Trust God to demonstrate His faithfulness to you. Be sensitive to God’s activity today in the midst of your circumstances.

Chronological Bible Reading Plan: (Day 17: Genesis 16-18)

Pursuing God,

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

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Wednesday, January 25th, 2012 at 1:00 am
Category Abraham, Miracle, Sarah.
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January 24th, 2012

God’s Provision

“Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’” Genesis 12:1-3 (ESV)

Without trust, there is no authentic relationship. Relationships are built on the foundation of trust. As you know, to be trusted one must be trustworthy. Without question, God is worthy of our trust. He is holy, righteous, immutable, eternal, and perfect. God honors His Word. God keeps His promises. God has impeccable timing and matchless integrity.

When God revealed Himself to Abram, the relationship of trust was demonstrated. God commanded Abram to leave his comfort zone and to embrace the unknown. God promised to bless Abram and to make Abram a blessing. At this time, Abram was seventy-five years old and he and Sarai had no children. Even though God’s promise did not make logical sense in that Sarai was well along in years and childless, Abram took God at His Word and obeyed Him.

What are you doing with what God has said to you? Have you obeyed what you already know? God blesses obedience. When you obey God, you come to know God by experience. You will discover God’s will as you obey God’s will. Walk in the light God gives you and watch to see how God unveils the next step that He wants you to take. As you obey, God will show you the way.

Chronological Bible Reading Plan: (Day 16: Genesis 12-15)

Pursuing God,

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

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Tuesday, January 24th, 2012 at 1:00 am
Category Abraham, God's Provision, Obedience.
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January 23rd, 2012

God’s Will Prevails

“Then Job answered the LORD and said:  2 ‘I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.’” Job 42:1-2 (ESV)

The chisel of adversity and the hammer of suffering produced an informative perspective within Job to be able to declare that God can do all things. Job acknowledged the power of God and the firm reality of the prevailing purposes of God. Regardless of the trajectory of the circumstances and the momentum of the adversity, God will accomplish His plan.

God allowed Job to experience a journey filled with heartache, loss, grief, and anguish. Through it all, God navigated the path for Job to come to the place of desperation which ultimately led to the place of restoration.

  • “And the LORD restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.” Job 42:10 (ESV)
  • “And the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning. And he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. 13 He had also seven sons and three daughters.” Job 42:12-13 (ESV)
  • “And Job died, an old man, and full of days.” Job 42:17 (ESV)

What’s your story? Maybe you have gone through an avalanche of adversity or the undulation of uncertainty. What have you learned about God’s faithfulness? Have you come to experience the prevailing purposes of God? God has the final say and He is working all things together for your good and for His glory (Rom. 8:28-29).

What needs restoration in your life? Where do you need to experience God’s faithfulness the most? Draw near to Him and trust Him to see you through. God is still on His throne and nothing happens to you without His permission. If God allows it, He will use it to accomplish His purposes and plan. Rest in His providence.

Chronological Bible Reading Plan: (Day 15: Job 40-42)

Pursuing God,

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

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Monday, January 23rd, 2012 at 1:00 am
Category God's Faithfulness, Job, Trust.
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January 22nd, 2012

Measure of a Moment

“‘Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. 5 Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?’” Job 38:4-5 (ESV)

There are times when God has to remind us that we are not God. When we fail to remember that God is the Creator and we are the created, we position ourselves for a lesson on humility. It is possible to get so busy doing life that you forget the reality of who God is and what He has done. During seasons of adversity, it is possible to become so self-absorbed that you ignore the reality of God’s abiding Presence.

God had to remind Job of his personal limitations and the shortfall of his humanity. Job made some short-sighted assumptions about God that did not line up with God’s nature and character. Job was speaking from his own limited understanding about life and the origin of life. God intervened by speaking to Job and engaging him with some thought provoking questions.

Just after graduating from college, I was asked to preach one of my closest friend’s funeral. He died as a result of an aggressive form of cancer at age twenty-two. God placed the following passage of Scripture on my heart to share at Jimmy’s funeral.

  • “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 (ESV)

Are you having a difficult time making sense out of some of the things going on in your life right now? Acknowledge God’s supremacy and His majesty. Entrust your life and your circumstances to His redemptive care. God fashioned you for His glory and He will accomplish His plan through you in the midst of your circumstances.

Chronological Bible Reading Plan: (Day 14: Job 38-39)

Pursuing God,

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

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, January 22nd, 2012 at 1:00 am
Category Creator, God's Power, Job.
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