Archive for August, 2014

August 31st, 2014

He Can Hear You Now

“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.” James 5:13 (ESV)

Independence is valued in our society. Being strong and self-sufficient tend to be the marks of success by the world’s standards. However, God’s economy has a much different value system. It’s not about personal strength, but reliance upon God’s strength. Self-sufficiency is replaced with dependency upon God and His provision. Success in God’s economy is marked by instant obedience and alignment with God’s plan.

Part of God’s plan includes our relational connection to God through an abiding relationship with Jesus Christ. The love relationship that God has made available to us in Christ is nurtured by our daily communion with God in prayer. The prayer connection flows from God to us and from us to God. God invites us into an intimate prayer connection that radiates from His heart of love and our response of awe and wonder. Imagine being able to share your heart as well as your heartaches with the God of the universe. We have that amazing privilege to bring everything to God in prayer. In Christ, we have been given access to the Creator of the universe.

Are you in trouble? Are you experiencing challenging circumstances or strained relationships? Don’t delay! Take your burdens to the Lord in prayer. Empty the contents of your heart before the loving and faithful God that you have come to know by experience. God has provided you with the ultimate communication instrument called prayer. Just pray! Begin to articulate to God whatever is perplexing you and whatever is bothering you. God can handle your hurt. God can make the fog lift. Be still and know that He is God (Ps. 46:10).  God’s line is never busy and yes, He can hear you now!

Drawing Near,

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

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, August 31st, 2014 at 3:00 pm
Category Adversity, God's Provision, Prayer.
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August 30th, 2014

Choosing to Forgive

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.Eph 4:32 (ESV)

Extending forgiveness is intentional and perpetual. The words “just as” are powerful. In our key verse above, they mean to imitate and to emulate God’s forgiveness. We are to forgive each other just as in Christ God forgave us. Let’s consider going on a personal journey together in order to extend forgiveness to those who have wounded us.

Ask God to bring to your mind someone you need to forgive. This may induce feelings of hurt, betrayal, or neglect. Now that you have someone in mind, take that person with you to the cross in prayer. In fact, you may even need to take them by the hand as you kneel with them at the foot of the cross. Remember that Jesus knows him or her better than you do. Jesus loves him or her more than you do. Also, Jesus paid the full price for his or her complete forgiveness.

In prayer, say to the Lord, “Jesus, as You have graciously forgiven me, I now choose to forgive (insert his or her name).” Release that person from the prison of your unforgiveness. Genuinely extend forgiveness as in Christ God forgave you. Now entrust that person and your future to God. ”‘And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses’” (Mark 11:25 ESV). Forgiveness is always the best decision.

Drawing Near,

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

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Saturday, August 30th, 2014 at 1:00 am
Category Forgiveness, Grace, Mercy.
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August 29th, 2014

Redefining Retaliation

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Matthew 5:38-39 (ESV)

The religious leaders Jesus confronted during His earthly ministry had perverted the Mosaic Law. They inflamed the law of retaliation, known as the lex talionis, for their personal benefit. The law was intended to control excess and to ensure that the punishment would not exceed the offense (Exod. 21:22-25; Lev. 24:19-20). It was intended to prevent people from employing personal revenge. The religious leaders leveraged the law as a minimum. You would be expected to retaliate by punishing your offender at the same level of their offense to start with and then add to that revenge.

Jesus inverted their perversion by portraying the law of retaliation as a maximum. Revenge and retaliation would not be the proper response for the follower of Jesus Christ. Jesus presented the life-giving response of choosing to see the evil person as an opportunity rather than an obstacle. When someone strikes you on the cheek physically or through verbal assault, the fully yielded follower of Christ is to not retaliate based on his natural proclivity.

Turning the other cheek becomes the choice whereby you respond to the offense in the power of the Holy Spirit rather than reacting in the flesh. Instead of striking back by executing personal revenge, the believer is to respond with the grace and mercy of Christ.

You cannot redefine retaliation without operating in the power of the Holy Spirit. Your natural response will be to unleash revenge. Jesus ushers in a new response that blesses your offender and brings honor to God!

Drawing Near,

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

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Friday, August 29th, 2014 at 1:00 am
Category Grace, Jesus, Revenge.
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August 28th, 2014

God’s Team

“And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” Acts 2:44-47 (ESV)

God’s team is made up of those who have been saved by His grace. God’s team members wear the Jesus jersey and play for His glory. His team is characterized by unity, community, selflessness, generosity, compassion, loyalty, fellowship, gladness, sincerity, evangelism, and growth.

Doing church first involves being the church. Our doing flows out of our being. It is possible to become so busy doing church that you bypass the relational aspect of being the church. God has called us, the church, to an abiding relationship with Christ.

  • “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone.” Eph. 2:19-20 (ESV)

As a member of God’s household, you are called to abide in Christ. Your perpetual connection to Christ and His resources will result in bearing fruit. However, don’t focus on bearing fruit. Focus on abiding. As you abide in Christ, fruit will be born. Apart from Christ, you can do nothing. His is your Source and He is your Life! As you abide in Christ, you will instantly add more value to the team, the Body of Christ.

Drawing Near,

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

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Thursday, August 28th, 2014 at 1:00 am
Category Church, Community, Spiritual Growth.
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August 27th, 2014

Fully Devoted

“So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” Acts 2:41 (ESV)

Wow! On the day of Pentecost, three thousand were adopted into God’s family. Three thousand were delivered from the clutches of hell and placed on the path that leads to heaven. Three thousand were saved by God and for God. They became followers of Jesus Christ and were added to His Body, the church. An eternal transaction took place!

What’s next? Now that the three thousand are in Christ, how are they to function as a community of Christ-followers? What will be different about their conversation and their conduct? Do they go back to business as usual or do they embrace a new way of living?

  • “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.” Acts 2:42-43 (ESV)

Notice how their lifestyle radically changed. On this side of their salvation, the three thousand along with the other 120 believers start doing life together. They begin to operate as a community of believers. They are walking together in unity. Their priorities have shifted and their time allocation reflects the heart of God.

Take a moment to examine your life in light of Acts 2:42-43. Are you devoted to the reading, study, hearing, and application of God’s Word? Are you in fellowship with a group of believers you can do life with? Are you consistently embracing the privilege of prayer? Are you in awe of the redemptive activity of God?

Drawing Near,

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

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Wednesday, August 27th, 2014 at 1:00 am
Category Christ, Community, Devotion.
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August 26th, 2014

No Greater Task

“When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:1-4 (ESV)

God empowers us for participation in His redemptive activity.

We cannot operate in God’s kingdom economy without God’s kingdom resources. God’s agenda can only be fulfilled by God’s enabling. Without God’s power, we cannot fulfill God’s mission. On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit indwelt the believers and enabled them to speak forth the Gospel. Everyone heard the Good News in their own heart language. This miraculous communication of the Gospel was God’s demonstration that the Gospel is for everyone!

What is your spiritual story? How did you come to know Christ personally? What has your life been like since being filled with the Holy Spirit? What does God’s Word say about how a person can be saved? If you have experienced the Gospel firsthand, then you are now ready to witness to Christ’s saving power. You are now ready to share your faith with others. Read Romans 3:23, 5:8, 6:23, 10:9-10, and 10:13.

God has reconciled you to Himself so that you can join God in reconciling others to Himself. Build bridges to those who don’t know Jesus so that they can have the saving relationship that you enjoy in Christ. There’s no greater task on planet earth!

Drawing Near,

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

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Tuesday, August 26th, 2014 at 1:00 am
Category Holy Spirit, Salvation, Soulwinning.
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August 25th, 2014

Learning to Wait

“‘And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.’” Luke 24:49 (ESV)

Jesus instructed the believers to wait in Jerusalem until they had received what His Father had promised, namely, power from on high. Jesus had to ascend back to the Father so that He could send the Counselor, the promised Holy Spirit (John 16:7). Yet, Jesus did not give them an exact time or date for the Holy Spirit’s arrival. They had to wait!

  • “And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, ‘You heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’” Acts 1:4-5 (ESV)

The 120 believers waited ten days to be clothed with power from on high (Acts 1:15). Have you ever wondered why it took ten days? During that time, they replaced Judas by adding Matthias to the eleven apostles (Acts 1:26). But why did it take ten days? Perhaps the 120 believers had some internal issues to resolve. Maybe they had to confess sin and remove jealously, bitterness, and envy. Maybe it took ten days to come to the place of complete unity as a community of Christ-followers.

Are you currently waiting for God to reveal His next step for your life? Is there anything in your life that God wants you to deal with before He shows you what’s next? Ask the Lord to search your heart (Ps. 139:23).

Drawing Near,

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

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Monday, August 25th, 2014 at 1:00 am
Category God's Timing, Prayer, Revelation.
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August 24th, 2014

Expressing Our Union

“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18 (ESV)

God ordained marriage and God ordained the church. We are married to Christ and our union is expressed through His Body, the church. Peter confessed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus affirmed that He would build His church on that reality.

In order to become a follower of Jesus Christ and become a member of His Body, the church, a person must confess Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God. This profession of our faith is essential to salvation (Rom. 10:9-10). Jesus builds His church by adopting us into His family (Eph. 1:5). Only those who are born again enter into His Kingdom (John 3:3).

Jesus builds His church. Our job is to be the church. Jesus saves people from their sin. Our job is to share the Good News of Jesus so that others can know Jesus personally and eternally. Jesus saves us, not to sit, but to serve. Our role in the Body of Christ, the church, is to empty hell and to populate heaven.

The church is not the physical building. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are the church. We are the church gathered in worship and the church scattered on mission during the week. God wants us to be the church so that the world will have the opportunity to come into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Express your union with Christ. May others be drawn to Christ through your witness. Testify of His redeeming love and share your spiritual story.

Drawing Near,

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

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, August 24th, 2014 at 1:00 am
Category Ministry, Witness, Worship.
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August 23rd, 2014

Witness Through Worship

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:25 (ESV)

Think about where you sit each Sunday when you attend the worship service at your local church. Maybe you like sitting in the rear of the worship center, or maybe the front, or perhaps on the side. Find your place and think about what you do during that time of worship. This is your weekly experience of joining other believers in public worship of the One who lived, died, and rose again to bring you life eternal.

Your worship is a witness. Did you realize that the way you express your worship to Almighty God is a witness to others. Your worship matters to God and impacts others. Consider your worship the past few Sundays. Were others inspired by your worship? Was it evident to others that Christ is your life? Did you express your love to God in such a way that others nearby where convinced of your devotion?

Paul and Silas were in prison for preaching the gospel. In the middle of the night, they were praying and singing hymns to God. That must have been an unusual sight for the other prisoners to behold. You see, the other prisoners were listening. Paul and Silas’ midnight expression of worship was a witness. God showed up in His power and delivered Paul and Silas from their confinement. God also brought salvation to the jailer and his entire household. The prisoners had never seen anything like that before.

What kind of witness is your worship to others? The way you focus in worship each week is so important. Expressing your love to God in public worship has the capacity to influence others. Bring your passion to corporate worship this upcoming weekend and be intentional about your worship being a witness.

Drawing Near,

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

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Saturday, August 23rd, 2014 at 1:00 am
Category Influence, Witness, Worship.
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August 22nd, 2014

Vertical Expression

“Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!” Psalm 100:2 (ESV)

What are you passionate about? Perhaps you get excited about engaging in life-giving activities such as playing golf, fishing, shopping, scrap-booking, or painting. Maybe your passion is decorating your home or working in the yard. It would take less than thirty seconds to discover your passion. Whatever you are passionate about will surface rather quickly as you interact with people.

God wants you to bring your passion to public worship. Whenever you assemble with other believers in a corporate setting to worship God, you can choose to engage or to totally disengage. God gives you the freedom to passionately pursue Him in public worship. God desires your passionate worship and God deserves your passionate worship.

It is so easy to direct our passion toward so many other things in life and then bring God the leftovers when we come to a worship service with other believers. We can enter a beautiful worship center filled with fellow believers and drift into a dormant posture for worship. Instead of giving God our best, we can so easily be distracted by the tugs of this life. It it possible to worship our work and fail to work at our worship designed to express our love to God.

Do you worship the Lord with gladness? Is there passion in your expression of worship? Come into His presence with joyful songs. If you have been delivered from the flames of hell and placed on the road that leads to life, then you have a song to sing. If you have been saved by the grace of God and become a citizen of heaven, then you have a song to sing. Bring your passion to worship. Sing with appreciation in your heart for all that God has brought you through. Passionately express your worship to the One who gave you eternal life!

Drawing Near,

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

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Friday, August 22nd, 2014 at 1:00 am
Category Expression, Praise, Worship.
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