Archive for June, 2015

June 30th, 2015

Be Careful of the Counsel You Keep

“And he said to him, “I also am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD, saying, ‘Bring him back with you into your house that he may eat bread and drink water.’” But he lied to him.” 1 Kings 13:18 ESV

The Kingdom had been divided, and one of the new kings, Jeroboam, had transformed from a figure like Moses, who delivered the people of God from oppression, to one like Aaron,  who fashioned golden calves and led the people of God into idolatry. As Jeroboam was preparing to sacrifice to his golden calves, a prophet of the Lord came to speak over him the Lord’s judgment. The man of God had specific instructions from the Lord: speak your peace and leave immediately without taking food or drink from anyone.  The man of God, of course, did this in the presence of the king but was persuaded by an older prophet on his return home to eat with him when the older prophet lied about receiving a vision from the Lord that made the younger prophet’s partaking of food and drink in his home acceptable to the Lord. The younger prophet, who just called Jeroboam to repentance by speaking the truth of God, lost his life because he allowed a false prophet to alter his course before the Lord.

Beware of false prophets. If the word of someone who claims to know the word of God does not line up with the Lord’s already revealed word, do not listen to them. Trust what God has already spoken, for the Lord does not contradict Himself. Trust in His words and His provision; otherwise, you may encounter a lion on the road who takes your life and guards over you as a reminder. Pray this morning for a discerning heart and a mind filled with God’s truth.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Pastor of Mobilization & Young Adults (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Tuesday, June 30th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category 1 Kings, Deception, Truth.
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June 29th, 2015

Value What God Values

“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30 ESV

At our church, we have a saying: behavior that is praised is multiplied. The core of this adage communicates that if we want to encourage hearts of service in our people, then we should applaud those who serve, thereby suggesting to our people that this is the kind of behavior that we desire to see in everyone who attends Champion Forest Baptist Church.

While this nugget of wisdom proves true in the interaction of a church body, it also proves true in the relationships between men and women. Women, who desire to be desired by men, will follow the example of women who are praised to earn that for themselves. For instance, if a young girl dreams of dating another young boy in her class at school, she will watch the kind of girls that boy is attracted to and seek to replicate that behavior in an effort to win him over.

The question for men today is, “What kind of behavior are we encouraging?” Are we implicitly suggesting to women that in order to be valuable they must look and act like some magazine cover? Or are we affirming in them the values established by God? Do we love women who display strength and dignity?  Do we affirm women whose children rise up and call her blessed? Do we applaud a woman who dresses herself with strength, reflecting the purity that God has called her to? We must value what God values.

We need men who desire godliness in a woman; not godlessness. We also must encourage our women to seek the approval of God above the approval of man, knowing that any man who makes her call into question her devotion to the Lord is not worth her time or effort.

May we encourage in our marriages and in our young people a healthy perspective, teaching each other to value and praise what God has established as praiseworthy.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Pastor of Mobilization & Young Adults (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Monday, June 29th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Proverbs, Relationship, Value.
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June 28th, 2015

Guard Your Affection for the Lord

“And so he did for all his foreign wives, who made offerings and sacrificed to their gods.” 1 Kings 11:8 ESV

Every one of us has something in our lives that competes for our worship and affection. For some, our job has the ability to steal our devotion and cheat the Lord of the worship He deserves. For others, our children have become our priority and our happiness is dependent upon their happiness rather than obedience to the command of God. For Solomon, his weakness was his women. He allowed his  love for his foreign wives to take precedence over his love of the Lord. The man who built the temple of God Almighty began building temples for false foreign deities in order to appease women he had no business marrying in the first place.

When you and I begin to value the approval of men or satisfaction in this life over the approval of God and ultimate satisfaction in Him, we will begin to cheat Him of the worship He deserves and give our devotion to another. This is idolatry and we must be careful to avoid it. Solomon did not and all of Israel suffered for it. As long as he proved devoted to the commands of God, Israel was guaranteed favor and peace, but as soon as Solomon kindled the anger of the Lord, adversaries were raised to remind Solomon and his people of their great need for the Lord.

What are some sensitive areas in your life that compete for your affections? Is it an addiction? Is it a relationship? Is it an occupation? Be careful to guard your affections for the Lord. Otherwise, He may send a reminder of your great need for Him. Repent and return to a God who is alone worthy of our praise.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Pastor of Mobilization & Young Adults(Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, June 28th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category 1 Kings, Allurements, Idolatry.
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June 27th, 2015

The Whole Duty of Man

“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” Ecclesiastes 12:13 ESV

After a very long discussion of how this world can offer nothing that truly satisfies a man, the Preacher of Ecclesiastes comes to this very wise and final conclusion: our responsibility to the Lord as His creation is to honor Him by being fully satisfied by Him.

God created in order to share with a people the fullness of His Being, meaning all His characteristics and attributes.  He wanted to show them His perfect love, peace, creativity, and provision so that in turn these people would respond in worship to Him, recognizing Him as the glorious God that He is.

Truly, this is why we exist: to glorify God and worship as we recognize our inability to be satisfied apart from Him.

Along the way, though, you and I have the tendency to get distracted and turn to created things to satisfy us in ways that only God can.  This distraction is the essence of sin: looking at our God, who is the perfection of everything we need, and saying to Him, “I would rather have this thing you created than you.”  We give the glory reserved for God to something He created, and we do it all the time.  How many times have you turned to created things to fulfill you in ways that you know only God can?  Why would we rob our God, who alone is worthy of our praise, of the glory He deserves?

The Preacher says you can search this whole world and try everything under the sun to find satisfaction, but none of it will truly satisfy.  So, quit looking down here for satisfaction that can only be found up there!  Turn your attention to the Lord.  Fear Him and keep His commandments, knowing that when you do, you will discover your ultimate purpose and be joyously satisfied in our infinite God.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Pastor of Mobilization & Young Adults (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Saturday, June 27th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Creator, Satisfaction, Worship.
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June 26th, 2015

The Enduring Hope of Christ

“Again I saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them.” Ecclesiastes 4:1 ESV

In the middle of The Preacher of Ecclesiastes’ musings about the emptiness of this world, he directs his attention briefly to the reality of those who are oppressed and without any comfort.  He wonders why the Lord allowed them to ever be born at all, suggesting that non-existence would have been better than this existence.  Certainly, many of us in our time on this earth have seen oppression like that described here and likely thought the same thing.  All the hunger, disease, abuse, and abandonment in the world can be overwhelming and lead to questions like: Why would God allow such a thing as this?  Has He forgotten these people?

You and I know, however, that God has not forgotten these people.  In fact, setting free those who are oppressed is one of the expressed reasons the Son of God stepped out of heaven and into our seemingly hopeless world:

  • “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19 ESV)

Because of the work of Christ, we no longer have to look upon the sad reality of this world as hopeless.  Because of the gospel, the good news of Jesus, these people who are oppressed, poor, captive, and sick (both spiritually and physically) have a future of hope! Our responsibility is to tell them about the work of Christ, so that they can be saved spiritually and, then, continue the work of Christ by taking care of them in their hour of need.  Who do you know that needs to hear this message of hope today?

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Pastor of Mobilization & Young Adults (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Friday, June 26th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Evangelism, Evil, Hope.
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June 25th, 2015

Sharpened into the Image of Christ

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17 ESV)

We were created to do life together, not apart. Part of the reason God has knitted us into a particular people following His saving work in our lives is to help each other become increasingly more like Christ. As a Christian, our desire should be to put on display the character and nature of God that is at work within us. We want people, when they see us, to see Jesus.

The problem for us in accomplishing that goal is sometimes we fall back into bad habits or allow the fleeting pleasures of this world to once again take the rightful place of the Lord in our life as the sole object of our worship. Because of this tendency to regress instead of progress in our image formation, we need fellow brothers and sisters in Christ around us to remind us of our ultimate goal of displaying the image of Christ in us and reject those things that have prohibited us from doing so.

All of us need people who speak truth to us in grace and love, hoping to encourage redemption and restoration in our pursuit of Christ-likeness.

As you begin your day today, I ask you to consider two things: First, can you think of someone in your walk with Christ to this point who has sharpened you in your pursuit of Him? Take a moment and thank the Lord for their presence in your life and how He has used them to encourage you. Second, do you have anyone in your life now that you are allowing full access to your life so that they can help you see how to better display the image of Christ? If not, why not?

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Pastor of Mobilization & Young Adults (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Thursday, June 25th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Accountability, Christlikeness, Proverbs.
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June 24th, 2015

The Danger of a Flattering Tongue

“A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin.” (Proverbs 26:28 ESV)

Jesus proclaims to us in John’s gospel that “if you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32 ESV). Truth is liberating, even if initially it doesn’t feel that way. Isn’t it better to know that you have a piece of lettuce stuck in your teeth than walking around naively smiling largely for the whole world to see your shame?

The problem for many of us in today’s culture is that we err on the side of self-esteem.  We don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or cause them to doubt their self-worth by telling them the truth, even if it means that they build up a false reality in their own mind that will ultimately only lead to disappointment. (For an example of this, see every “try-out” episode of American Idol.)

We must heed the advice of the wise author of Proverbs and Jesus Himself; we must be truthful for the good of those we love.

Be mindful, however, that how we speak truth is also important. Certainly, truth is good, but we must also speak it in grace so that it can be received.  The truth isn’t always easy to hear and our defense-mechanisms as sinful men and women tend to explain away criticism that is spoken without love.  If, however, a hard truth is spoken with grace and compassion, you can take that information and hopefully become a better follower of Christ as a result.

The reality is that flattery is not reflective of the heart of Christ, because ultimately it encourages people to think of themselves as more than they are.  Truth reminds us that we are all works in progress seeking to emulate the perfect work of Christ.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Pastor of Mobilization & Young Adults (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Wednesday, June 24th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Grace, Proverbs, Truth.
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June 23rd, 2015

Faithfulness to God’s Calling

“Thus was accomplished all the work of Solomon from the day the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid until it was finished. So the house of the LORD was completed.” (2 Chronicles 8:16 ESV)

The most important calling on Solomon’s life had finally been completed. The temple of the Lord had been constructed and the Lord promised to keep His “eyes and (His) heart … there for all time” (1 Kings 9:3 ESV). The temple allowed for the indwelling presence of God among His people, and Solomon’s faithfulness to accomplish this work secured that reality.

Imagine, though, if Solomon had gotten distracted. Imagine if he decided that catching up on his latest TV show was more important than securing every detail as God declared for His holy house. Imagine if he had allowed his job as king to distract from his responsibility to build the house of the Lord.  Imagine if he was just too lazy to follow the command of God. Imagine what blessings Solomon would have cost his people if he had not faithfully brought his calling to completion.

What is the Lord calling you to build with your life? What are you doing to insure that you faithfully see it through to completion? What could your faithfulness in seeing this calling through bring about in the lives of the people around you, both in your physical family and your church family?

The calling of God upon our lives carries purpose.  He doesn’t randomly assign vain tasks in order for you to feel valuable.  No, His calling has greater purpose, so that every one of us who have been called to join His spiritual family must carefully consider the consequence of our unfaithfulness and the blessing of our perseverance.

What do you need to build today?

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Pastor of Mobilization & Young Adults (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category 2 Chronicles, Calling, Faithfulness.
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June 22nd, 2015

Worship, Our Joy Expressed

“I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.” (Psalm 146:1 ESV)

We were created to worship God, and everywhere you or I look we can find another reason to worship Him.

Look at creation.  What a creative and generous God we serve!  Mountains, oceans, the animals on the African plane, and a host of other examples all communicate the beautiful ingenuity of our glorious God.  He is worthy to be praised for His creation.  Look at His creation today, be filled with joy, and respond in worship to the Lord of heaven and earth.

Look at God’s provision for you.  Do you have a home?  Do you have a family?  Do you have a church family? Do you have food for today? Do you have a job? Do you have a car or some other means of transportation? Do you have a Savior who has rescued you from eternal wrath through His sacrificial work on the cross when you were without hope?  Do you have the revealed Word of God to help mold and shape you into the image of Christ by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit?  Think about the many ways God has provided for you, be filled with joy, and respond in worship to our great and generous God.

I could go on and on with innumerable reasons to stand and worship our God, but I could never describe how He interacts with you personally on a daily basis.  I challenge you to look today for the many ways God is active in your life and respond with a heart of gratitude and praise for His presence.  Will you join with creation today in praising our God, who is worthy?

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Pastor of Mobilization & Young Adults (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Monday, June 22nd, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Joy, Satisfaction, Worship.
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June 21st, 2015

Honor Your Dad

“Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.” Proverbs 23:22 (ESV)

As I was driving to the office earlier this week, I heard this powerful question on the Christian radio station I was listening to, “What did your dad do right?” That question captured my heart and gripped my soul. I turned the radio volume down and I began to pray a prayer of thanksgiving to God for the specific things my dad did right. Then, the Lord prompted me to call my dad and share with him what I felt that he did right. That phone conversation was one of the most meaningful interactions I have ever had with my dad since my parents’ divorce thirty-six years ago.

Perhaps you had an engaging father who walked with God and lead your family spiritually. You have so much to be thankful for. Maybe your dad did not have a vibrant relationship with the Lord and he was not a model father to you. Father’s Day may generate painful memories that you have to navigate with God’s grace.

Take some time today to think about what your dad did right. You may want to consider writing down some specific things your dad did right and give God glory for each item. If your dad is still alive, give him a call or write him a letter to express what he did right. You will honor your father and you will bring him such joy and pleasure as you share your heart of gratitude with him.

Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity to celebrate the faithfulness of God and the value of your earthly father. If you are a parent or a grandparent, live in such a way as to enable your children and grandchildren to generate an extensive list of what you did right!

Riding HIS Wave,

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

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, June 21st, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Father, Parenting, Proverbs.
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