Archive for July, 2012

July 31st, 2012

A Trusting Heart or an Anxious Heart?

“Say to those who have an anxious heart, ‘Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.’” Isaiah 35:4 (ESV)

The beginning of chapter 35 of the book of Isaiah begins with a joyous promise of restoration revealing the glory of God. As the Lord waters the dry land and His people once again begin to sing His praise, they will “see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God” (Is 35:2b ESV). Once they have beheld the glory of God in His faithfulness, Isaiah says their anxiety or fear should turn to confidence, for God is bigger than any temporary difficulty.

When we behold the glory of God, we should be emboldened, losing fear and gaining confidence. His glory reveals His strength and ability to accomplish His purposes through the instrumentation of all of creation. Nothing is too big for Him. So, why would we worry? Why would we fear? Why would anxiety ever enter into our lives, knowing that even in our darkest moments the Lord is working all things for our good and within His divine plan?

Do you have an anxious heart? An anxious heart reveals a lack of trust in God’s power and sovereignty. Take comfort in knowing the biblical truth that God will do what He says He will do. Do not worry, but rest in His faithfulness. Remember the glory of God displayed on the cross of Christ and know that you have been saved from the greatest threat to your eternal happiness, so what else is there really to be anxious about? You can be eternally secure in your God, who has come to save you!

Chronological Bible Reading Plan: (Day 205:  Isaiah 35-36)

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Associate Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Tuesday, July 31st, 2012 at 1:00 am
Category Anxiety, Isaiah, Trust.
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July 30th, 2012

The Lord, Our Firm Foundation

” The LORD is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness, and he will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is Zion’s treasure.” Isaiah 33:5-6 (ESV)

Over the past few days we have looked at the Lord’s plan for repentance, resulting from a period of discipline. We have seen our need to emulate Him in how we forgive and to destroy those things that cause us to take our eyes off of Him and His greater purposes for the nations. Today, we see how the Lord provides stability for us in the midst of His discipline. While we are being disciplined for the sin in our life, we may feel injustice or self-pity, but we must remember that there is purpose in discipline. Sometimes the covenant people of God must face instability in the physical world to remember God’s ultimate control, thereby finding stability in Him alone.

When instability comes in your life, where do you turn? Do you turn to the Lord and cry out for His salvation, or do you blame Him for every allowing such discomfort in your life? In the midst of spiritual pain or loss, first ask the cause of this discomfort. Is this the enemy at work in order to discourage you from something the Lord has clearly called you to, or is this a consequence from persistent sin or disobedience in your life? If the former, run to the Lord and seek His grace to press forward in obedience. If the latter, seek the Lord’s revelation in your life to know what needs to be removed. In either case, remember that the Lord is our foundation and the place we should run toward in every circumstance.

Chronological Bible Reading Plan: (Day 204:  Isaiah 31-34)

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Associate Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Monday, July 30th, 2012 at 1:00 am
Category Consequences, Isaiah, Stronghold.
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July 29th, 2012

Repentance Leads to Destruction

“Then you will defile your carved idols overlaid with silver and your gold-plated metal images. You will scatter them as unclean things. You will say to them, ‘Be gone!’” Isaiah 30:22 (ESV)

True repentance leads to the destruction of the idol in your life that is stealing your affection for the Lord. The goal of repentance is not for you to manage your sin nor keep it under control; the goal is for you to destroy your sin. For the Israelite people, when they repented they could not afford to keep the carved idols overlaid with silver nor the gold-plated images, for doing so would have left open the door for another transgression. They had to remove the temptation altogether in order to turn from their sin completely.

We must treat the idols in our lives the same way. When we recognize that they are interfering with our covenant relationship with God Almighty and we repent of them, we must destroy the idols and say to them, “Be gone!” Don’t be so naive to think that you can keep the source of your sin near and not stumble. Destroy it or it will destroy you.

For many of us, this act of destruction is a very hard thing to do. Our idol can be a relationship, a sport we have spent years trying to perfect, a secret sin kept hidden for decades, or even an act of service in the church that we think is earning the favor of our Lord. While we must not be unwise in the way we dispose of our idol, we must also not wait forever in hopes that how we react to this particular stimulus will change.

What do you need to destroy in your life? What is stealing your affection from the Lord? What could you fill the void left by its absence with to lead you to greater intimacy with the Lord? Throw out the idols and taste of the satisfaction of the Lord. See that He alone is good!

Chronological Bible Reading Plan: (Day 203:  Isaiah 28-30)

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Associate Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, July 29th, 2012 at 1:00 am
Category Isaiah, Repentance, Satisfaction.
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July 28th, 2012

The Goal of Repentance

“I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them. I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall blossom like the lily; he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon; his shoots shall spread out; his beauty shall be like the olive, and his fragrance like Lebanon.” Hosea 14:4-6 (ESV)

The goal of repentance is always restoration. The Lord promises His people when they return to Him and repent of their idolatry and transgressions, He will forgive them and bless them. Both elements of restoration are important here. Forgiveness is important in that it communicates the healing of a fractured relationship, in this case between the people of God and God Himself. The Lord, though, doesn’t stop there. Not only does He forgive Israel; He blesses them. They will flourish and blossom as the Lord will once again shower blessings upon them.

Consider for a moment the significance of this duality within restoration. The Lord could have simply forgiven them and let them dig themselves out of their self-imposed hole. Yet, He goes above and beyond. He forgives completely, as should we.

When we have been wronged by those around us, how do we respond? Often we may speak forgiveness but fail to work toward full restoration with the other person.

When someone wrongs you, do you seek to bless them after they repent? Are you able to move forward in grace and love as the Lord has done for us time and again?

May we seek to act toward one another as the Lord has acted toward us. Once someone has asked for our forgiveness, let us not try to make them feel the pain we have felt. Rather, let us move forward in grace and seek to bless them as fellow brothers and sisters in covenant with Christ. The Lord has acted graciously toward us; may we act graciously toward each other.

Chronological Bible Reading Plan: (Day 202:  Hosea 8-14)

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Associate Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Saturday, July 28th, 2012 at 1:00 am
Category Hosea, Repentance, Restoration.
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July 27th, 2012

An Unusual Call

“When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the LORD.” So he went and took Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.” Hosea 1:2-3 (ESV)

Can you imagine Hosea’s response to the Lord when He spoke this command? “Excuse me, Lord? What did you say? Can you repeat that?” What man of God would ever be called to marry a prostitute, much less one that is promised to be unfaithful even after marriage?

I am not married yet, but I can only imagine having this conversation with my mom. “Mom, the Lord told me to marry a prostitute named “Gomer.” I have come to get your blessing.” My mom, undoubtedly, would not be thrilled with this prospect regardless of how ready she was for me to be married.

What’s the big deal here? Besides the girl’s name being Gomer, she is impure and seemingly unworthy of someone like Hosea’s affection, and, yet, that is precisely God’s point. You see, you and I are unfaithful to the Lord every day, as we choose to give our worship to other things He created instead of Him. We violate our covenant with Him and are worthy of being rejected. But, see how the Lord responds. Does He reject us? No! He pursues us. He comes after us in our unfaithfulness and buys us back, as Hosea did for Gomer. He is faithful even when we are not.

We should be overwhelmed by the ridiculousness of the love God has for us! Yes, the Lord may call us to do some crazy things, as He did Hosea, but remember that nothing He could call us to is more absurd than His intimate, persistent love for us.

Be overwhelmed by the love of God for you today. Think specifically of God’s love for you displayed on the cross of Christ. Truly, He forsook everything to pursue you!

Chronological Bible Reading Plan: (Day 201: Hosea 1-7)

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Associate Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Friday, July 27th, 2012 at 1:00 am
Category Hosea, Love, Pursuit.
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July 26th, 2012

That You May Tell The Next Generation

“Walk about Zion, go around her, number her towers, consider well her ramparts, go through her citadels, that you may tell the next generation that this is God, our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever.” Psalm 48:12-14

As people who have experienced the provision and protection of the Lord, we have a responsibility to proclaim to those who come after us the legacy of our God. Our generation should pray and hope that generations after us will avoid the mistakes we made in turning our worship to created things and keep their focus on the only worthy object of worship, Christ. The way they know of His goodness is by our declaration. We have a responsibility to shout the good news of Jesus.

How are you entrusting God’s faithfulness to you in the generation coming after you? Statistics show that a significant number of students who grow up in the church will not stay faithful between the ages of 18-22. We cannot afford to lose them. We must fight for them. We must entrust the love of the Lord within them.

Paul gave his life to the Church, but he also gave his life to Timothy to build and instruct him for the future of the Church. A large responsibility of parents in the nation of Israel was teaching their children the miraculous works of God for their people, so that their generation would not turn to a false hope in times of trouble. Time and time again in scripture we see this call to entrust the wisdom given to us in the next generation. The question is, “Are you entrusting?”

Take a moment and pray for the generations that are coming after us. Further, commit to disciple and mentor someone in younger generations, entrusting to them your knowledge of the Lord.

Chronological Bible Reading Plan: (Day 200:  2 Kings 18; 2 Chronicles 29-31; Psalms 48)

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Associate Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Thursday, July 26th, 2012 at 1:00 am
Category Discipline, Future, Generations.
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July 25th, 2012

Our Almighty God!

“O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure.” Isaiah 25:1 (ESV)

In chapter 25 of the book of Isaiah, we see the elders of Jerusalem mentioned in 24:23 singing a new song to the Lord of admiration and awe. The Lord has displayed His might and His glory, and His people have been humbled. How could they not be? Nations are falling around them at the pleasure of the Lord. He has faithfully provided for the needy in their land, countering the oppressive work of those who have misused their earthly authority. He has proven once again His sovereignty over all things and His plans to bring about His will for His glory and our good.

Seeing the work of the Lord is a humbling experience and should cause us to respond in adoration. How has the Lord worked mightily in your life? How has He shown Himself faithful in the midst of injustice? How has He protected you? Think on these things. Remember them, and respond in humble worship.

May we not lose sight of the power of the God we serve. He spoke and everything that is happened. Think of this kind of power. We have not seen anything close to the might of God, and yet with all of that power, the Lord does not reign over us without love and mercy. He comes as a Servant-King, calling us to worship as we are overwhelmed by His pursuit of us and faithful provision for us. The might of God served as a source of hope for the people of Israel in the Old Testament, promising to restore them to their land, and it has also proven valuable to us, as He used that power on display in Christ to overcome the comparatively impotent powers of sin and death.

Be overwhelmed by the might of our God and worship Him for how He has used it to save you!

Chronological Bible Reading Plan: (Day 199:  Isaiah 23-27)

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Associate Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Wednesday, July 25th, 2012 at 1:00 am
Category Isaiah, Power, Praise.
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July 24th, 2012

God’s Sovereignty Over the Nations

“An oracle concerning Egypt. Behold, the LORD is riding on a swift cloud and comes to Egypt; and the idols of Egypt will tremble at his presence, and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them. And I will stir up Egyptians against Egyptians, and they will fight, each against another and each against his neighbor, city against city, kingdom against kingdom; and the spirit of the Egyptians within them will be emptied out, and I will confound their counsel; and they will inquire of the idols and the sorcerers, and the mediums and the necromancers; and I will give over the Egyptians into the hand of a hard master, and a fierce king will rule over them, declares the Lord GOD of hosts.” Isaiah 19:1-4 (ESV)

A common theme throughout the prophets of the Old Testament is God’s sovereign control over the nations. He appoints the rulers of nations and uses them for His ultimate purposes. If He needs to bring about judgment over a particular people, He gives victory to even the enemies of Israel in order to remind His people of His ultimate power and their ultimate need for Him. In this particular set of chapters, the Lord through the prophet, Isaiah, is calling down judgment over a number of nations, including Egypt. In bringing judgment against Egypt, the Lord is speaking to Judah, who turned to Egypt to save them from the attacks of the Assyrians. Judah must remember that as the people of God, their first place of refuge must be to run to the Almighty, who controls the fate of even the most powerful of nations, which in this case is Egypt. The Lord brings about Egypt’s destruction or its salvation.

For us today, we must also be mindful of God’s sovereign control over the nations to bring about His will. Let us be mindful that our government is ordained by the Lord and that we should pray for those who represent us to seek to glorify the Lord through their actions rather than detract from His glory. Further, may we remember as a nation to look to the Lord for help first rather than some other government, as He is sovereign over every human institution.

Take a moment and pray for our country, that we would turn to the Lord first for His provision and protection.

 

Chronological Bible Reading Plan: (Day 198:  Isaiah 18-22)

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Associate Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Tuesday, July 24th, 2012 at 1:00 am
Category Isaiah, Sovereignty.
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July 23rd, 2012

The Lord is Our Defender

“For the LORD will have compassion on Jacob and will again choose Israel, and will set them in their own land, and sojourners will join them and will attach themselves to the house of Jacob. And the peoples will take them and bring them to their place, and the house of Israel will possess them in the LORD’s land as male and female slaves. They will take captive those who were their captors, and rule over those who oppressed them.” Isaiah 14:1-2 (ESV)

The Lord is our defender. Sometimes in the midst of what we see to be injustice, we try to take matters into our own hands and fix the situation on our own. This kind of mentality, however, fails to appreciate the sovereignty of God and his orchestrating of all things for His glory and our good. If we are able to get ourselves out of a troubling situation, then we receive the glory for it. If, however, we rely upon the Lord to deliver us and He does so miraculously, in ways we could have never even imagined, then He alone receives the glory.

Do you allow the Lord to defend you, or do you try to defend yourself? When someone says something negative against you, do you try to explain it away or are you so blameless in the situation that people will eventually come to see the falsity of those statements? Are you so secure in the Lord, that fixing the words of people takes a back seat to pleasing the Lord?

We must be careful to not “defend” ourselves out of learning what God is trying to teach us in difficult moments. Rather, in the midst of these times, continue to seek the Lord and trust that when the time is right He will deliver you and, further, have made you a better follower of Christ.

Chronological Bible Reading Plan: (Day 197:  Isaiah 13-17)

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Associate Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Monday, July 23rd, 2012 at 1:00 am
Category Isaiah, Justice, Sovereignty.
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July 22nd, 2012

Run to the Lord

“In the time of his distress he became yet more faithless to the LORD–this same King Ahaz. For he sacrificed to the gods of Damascus that had defeated him and said, “Because the gods of the kings of Syria helped them, I will sacrifice to them that they may help me.” But they were the ruin of him and of all Israel.” 2 Chronicles 28:22-23 (ESV)

When tough times come into our lives, we have a choice: we can either run to the Lord or run from Him. For Ahaz, instead of repenting before the Lord and begging for His favor over Judah after being defeated by the army from Damascus, He instead began worshiping their gods, seeing his defeat as the work of the hands of greater gods instead of judgment from the one, true God of Israel. He failed to learn the lesson God was trying to teach him in this difficult time, and, as a result, led the people of God astray toward a path of impending destruction.

When bad things happen in your life, how do you react? Do you see these moments as opportunities for you to know the Lord more, experiencing His grace and peace in ways that you possibly never would have otherwise? Or do you feel the need to punish God for allowing this event to come into your life by “robbing” Him of your worship and giving it to some other created thing?

Allow moments of trouble and testing to be moments to learn more about God. Run to Him, not from Him. See that He is our present help in a time of trouble. Taste and see that He is good.

In tough moments, our true faith is revealed. How will you respond?

 

 

Chronological Bible Reading Plan: (Day 196:  2 Kings 16-17; 2 Chronicles 28)

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Associate Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, July 22nd, 2012 at 1:00 am
Category 1 Chronicles, Repentance, Tribulation.
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