December 28th, 2015

Jesus is Greater than Moses!

“For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses– as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself.” Hebrews 3:3 (ESV)

The whole Bible is about Jesus.  From Genesis to Revelation, Scripture is concerned with revealing the glory of Christ, initially in revealing our great need for Him, followed subsequently by His unique role in God’s plan of salvation and the anticipation of His triumphant return. Even the great leaders of our faith are meant to point out how Christ was uniquely better than our best. Moses is a great example. Moses did great things for the Lord in leading the people of God out of the bondage of slavery, but even as great as he was, he was still flawed. He was a man who lacked faith in the Lord at times, grew impatient and angry with the people God asked him to lead, and acted impulsively, ultimately leading to his inability to enter the promised land.

The author of Hebrews uses these truths to amplify the glory of Christ for a Jewish audience. Yes, Moses was a great leader. Yes, he was a father of our faith, but he was and is not Jesus. Jesus is greater than Moses, for while Moses was a prophet of God, Jesus is the Word of God incarnate. Jesus is greater than Moses, because although Moses led a specific people out of physical bondage, Christ provides freedom for all people from the bondage of sin and death. Jesus is greater than Moses in that Jesus is the only way to the promised land and will certainly be there when we enter. Jesus is greater and is alone worthy of our worship, praise, and devotion.

As followers of Christ, we must be wary to not fall in love with a leader more than who that leader should be leading us toward. Our devotion must first always be to Jesus, for no leader regardless of his worth on this earth comes close to the glory that is Christ’s!

Grace and peace,

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

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Monday, December 28th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Hebrews, Jesus, Moses.
Interact No Comments
December 27th, 2015

A People for His Own Possession

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” 1 Peter 2:9-10 (ESV)

We have been saved individually, yes, but we have also been saved for a purpose. We have been called to be reconciled to Christ, but we have further been called to be a part of a people, a people fashioned by God for the purposes of God. We are being formed into a royal priesthood to mediate the presence of God upon the earth, interceding for its people. We are being formed into a holy nation, not confined to a geopolitical location but rooted together in the Spirit of God. We are being formed into a people for His own possession, personifying His communicable attributes and displaying His redemptive plan in us for the world to see. We are being formed into a people whose sole purpose is to proclaim the marvelous excellencies of God!

What an incredible privilege it is to be the people of God. We are simply called to brag on this God Who has so radically saved us. The beautiful thing about our calling is that the marvelous excellencies of God never run out. He exists infinitely, meaning there is no limit to all that He is. His goodness is infinite. His love is infinite. His mercy is infinite, and because of this truth, we should never want for material to proclaim.

You have been saved to be a part of a proclaiming people. Today, look back over this past year and see how God has been faithful to you, and as you map out His faithfulness take time to proclaim His marvelous excellencies as displayed in your life as part of this redeemed people.

Grace and peace,

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

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, December 27th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category 1 Peter, People of God, Testify.
Interact No Comments
December 26th, 2015

Teach Sound Doctrine

“But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.” Titus 2:1 (ESV)

As the people of God, we have a responsibility to teach His revelation faithfully. The Word of God was given to us to reveal the character of God and His eternal plan to unite all things to Himself in Christ. Scripture is precious, and every follower of Christ should do his or her best to diligently study it and read it, seeking to know Him more as a result. We should be passionate about this pursuit, as in reality it is a pursuit of God. We should desire daily to spend time in Scripture, knowing that in so doing we are spending time with the Lord.

Many today, however, do not make the time to study and meditate on God’s word, strengthening their knowledge of doctrine. They believe this kind of practice to be the responsibility of only the “called,” and rely upon them to feed them their acquired knowledge, as a caring mother does for her baby. But this is not the mandate given to the Church. Pastors are called to equip, not spoon-feed. Every individual has a unique responsibility to both learn the essentials of their faith and proclaim it to those who do not know.

Do you know the Word of God? Have you allowed scholars to sharpen your understanding of doctrine? Do you seek out trusted perspectives to shed light on issues in Scripture that are hard to understand? Commit today to take ownership of your faith, reading and meditating on truth so that you may be able to follow Paul’s challenge to Timothy and teach sound doctrine.

Grace and peace,

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

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Saturday, December 26th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Doctrine, Titus, Word of God.
Interact No Comments
December 25th, 2015

Peace to You

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” 1 Timothy 1:1-2 (ESV)

Typically in Paul’s epistles, he greets his reader by wishing upon them peace, a peace that he rightfully acknowledges is only possible with the coming of Christ. This peace provides one of the many things for which we can be thankful on Christmas day, for it is a peace that has been the chief longing of all of creation ever since the fall. The “shalom” or peace written about in the language of the Jewish people was more than simply a cessation of fighting; this word for peace carried with it the idea of completeness or soundness. Peace, then, in the eyes of the Jewish people was a setting right of all creation, which of course was fractured with the introduction of sin. Peace meant a restoration of relationship between God and man; peace meant wholeness.

No wonder, then, we proclaim at this time of year, “Joy to the world. The Lord has come!” Is there any more joyous statement? All of creation feels the tension of sin; all of us feel the separation between us and our Creator, and now we have a way to mend it. Christ came to take upon the weight of our sin and impending punishment. He took upon the brunt of God’s wrath, waging war against the tyranny of transgression, so that you and I could have peace with God the Father through Jesus Christ, His Son and our only hope.

On this beautiful Christmas day, then, fellow brother or sister in Christ, I wish you peace, a peace that is only possible because of the very object of our celebration today: Jesus Christ. Merry Christmas!

Grace and peace,

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

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Friday, December 25th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category 1 Timothy, Peace, Restoration.
Interact No Comments
December 24th, 2015

You Work Out As God Works In

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12-13 (ESV)

We are not dependent upon any man, woman, or spiritual mentor in order to grow in our faith in Christ. No, for the Lord is at work within us! The same Spirit of God that raised Christ from the dead is the same Spirit that inhabits us at our salvation, breathing in us new life and allowing us to work out the effects of our salvation. The Holy Spirit shapes and molds us into the image of Christ by revealing truth to us in the Word of God and convicting us over our sin.

He works on the inside of us so that we can work on the outside. As we are shaped into the image of Christ, we must begin to act like Him. Paul calls us later in chapter 2 to “do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world…” (Phil 2:14-15 ESV). Obviously, such behavior goes against human nature, but that is precisely the point. We act differently because we are different as a result of the gospel, and our actions testify to its transforming power.

Do you act differently as a result of the gospel? Do you practice the type of humility personified by Christ? Do you do everything without complaining or grumbling? You have been called to live as Christ, but you have also been empowered to do so by the Holy Spirit of God. Live in that power today to put on display the transforming power of Christ within you.

Grace and peace,

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

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Thursday, December 24th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Holy Spirit, Philippians, Transformation.
Interact No Comments
December 23rd, 2015

The Purpose of the Church

“…so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 3:10 (ESV)

As the Church of Jesus Christ, we are called to proclaim the manifold wisdom of God to both creatures on the earth and rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. We are called to unveil God’s redemptive plan, forged in eternity past, by which He seeks to unite all things to Him in Christ Jesus, Whose propitiatory work now makes intimacy between God and creation possible. We are revealing the hope of everything!

What an incredible calling we have, and yet so often we lose focus. We make the church experience about us, focusing on how a given church meets our needs or perhaps how it doesn’t. We jump from church to church, seeking the most entertainment value or the best childcare. Now, all of these secondary issues are not completely unimportant, but they are just that. They are secondary. In the consumer-driven world in which we live, we must take extra precautions to not fall victim to that mentality in the Church, remembering that our calling to the body of Christ is much larger than a social event. No, it is the hope of the world!

Today, remember the calling of the Church to make known the manifold wisdom of God, and further remember the boldness and confidence that is yours in Christ Jesus to accomplish this calling. Is there someone you know this Christmas who needs this hope? Speak boldly and tell of His glorious worth.

Grace and peace,

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

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Church, Ephesians, Proclamation.
Interact No Comments
December 22nd, 2015

How Do You Overcome Sin?

“These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.” Colossians 2:23 (ESV)

We live in the cross-section of the redeemed and the fallen. As the redeemed people of God living in a fallen world, the presence of persistent sin is still possible, falling victim to temptation even though we know its limitations and shortcomings. The question then becomes how one overcomes such sin. Should we submit to the human regulations mentioned by Paul, choosing simply not to handle, taste, or touch objects of temptation? Should we resort to asceticism or self-flagellation? Paul teaches we should not, as such actions may have the appearance of religious behavior but do nothing in terms of stopping the indulgence of the flesh, as anyone who has tried them can attest.

Paul writes that the key to overcoming sin is not focusing on the sin but rather on Christ. Think about it. If all you do is tell yourself to stop doing the sin, then your focus is entirely on the sin most likely leading to temptation. If, however, you avert your attention away from the sin to the satisfying truth of Christ, then suddenly, as the old hymn suggests, the things of this world become strangely dim.

Dear child of God, are you struggling with persistent sin? Do not beat yourself up consistently, living in condemnation. Rather remember who you are in Christ, repent, and refocus on the heavenly things He provides. Having done that, once again recognizing that you have died with Christ, then put to death what is earthly within you, living fully as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved.

Grace and peace,

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

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Colossians, Sin, Victory.
Interact No Comments
December 21st, 2015

The Trajectory of the Gospel

“It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery. And Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him healed him.” Acts 28:8 (ESV)

The gospel is a message of enormous significance on a number of levels. The gospel is certainly about the actions of Christ, providing a means by which we as sinners can be reconciled to God, the Father, worshiping Him as we were created to do, but it is also concerned with much more than simply the means of salvation. The gospel is further concerned with where such an act, i.e. Christ’s resurrection, will take all of creation. The gospel is about the restoration of all things! As Paul himself writes in Ephesians 1:9-10, the gospel is about the Lord “making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (ESV).

Paul wasn’t just concerned with proclamation; no, he was concerned about incarnation. He wanted the gospel to take up root in him, so that as with Christ the Word of God could dwell among all the peoples of the earth. He was concerned with poverty. He was concerned with sickness. He was concerned with every effect of the fall, seeing their eradication as further evidence of Christ’s victory over all sin.

You and I have the same ministry. We are called to proclaim first, yes, as Christ’s witnesses but we are also called to care. We are called to minister to the least of these as if we were ministering to Jesus Himself. Are you fully embodying the gospel? Or are you only partially concerned with its progression? We must be about telling people about Jesus, but we should also be concerned with showing them about the victory we have in Him.

Grace and peace,

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

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Monday, December 21st, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Acts, Gospel, Restoration.
Interact No Comments
December 20th, 2015

Our God Raises the Dead

“Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?” Acts 26:8 (ESV)

The Resurrection of Christ is the most important event in all of human history, in that it secures our hope in a restored future. Jesus’ rising from the dead clearly displays for us the possibilities for all of creation, which will likewise pass away and be made new as Christ Himself was made new. There will be a new heaven; there will be a new earth. There will be a new Jerusalem, and we all, who are in Christ, will be made new, joining together with all of creation in its redeemed form to eternally worship our merciful and gracious God.

If there is no resurrection, then none of this is possible, as Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 15. The resurrection is the foretaste of that which is to come. Certainly, such an event is possible. Some would say that it is not, and therefore dismiss Christianity as a whole, seeing its linchpin teaching as unreasonable. But given our belief about God, that He is the greatest possible being and the initiator of creation, then certainly it is within His power to breathe life back into that which is dead. Is a resurrection really that hard to accept, if God is Who He says He is in Scripture?

Do not shrink away from the teaching of Christ’s resurrection, fellow Christian. Despite what modern conceptions may say, we cannot afford to give way on this subject, for in it rests our entire system of belief. There is no demythologizing that which is central to our belief. God is omnipotent and our Creator. He is certainly able to raise the dead, and by raising Christ, He has secured for us an everlasting hope.

Grace and peace,

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

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, December 20th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Acts, Omnipotence, Resurrection.
Interact No Comments
December 19th, 2015

Declare the Whole Counsel of God

“…for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” Acts 20:27 (ESV)

The Ephesian Church was in danger. Paul speaks to the elders of the church and suggests to them that when he leaves, wolves will enter and try to devour the church. Paul’s concern, though, is limited, knowing that he has done all he can to prepare them by preaching to them the full counsel of God’s word. He did not choose to leave portions out, thinking that they would be too hard for them to digest or handle. No, he boldly proclaimed all of Scripture, knowing that even the hard truths were necessary for this church’s success.

In America today, we face similar dangers as that of the Ephesian Church, yet many of our leaders have shied away from preaching the full counsel of God, choosing instead to focus on the more acceptable aspects of Scripture. The problem, though, that arises when you only teach a partial gospel is that when difficult times come or false teaching is presented, the people do not know how to respond and are likely either defeated or led astray. Certainly no pastor intends for this to happen, but when parts of God’s Word and, thus, His character are ignored, the Church is ill-prepared to accomplish the purpose God has set before it.

My friends, may we commit to be a people who teach the full counsel of God. May we not shy away from topics such as God’s wrath and His coming judgment even as we proclaim His sacrificial love. May we teach people how to be better citizens or our planet, yes, but may we be more concerned with teaching them how to embody the fullness of Christ and the sacrifice such embodiment demands. God revealed Himself fully in His Word; who are we to question which aspects of Him are acceptable and which are not?

Grace and peace,

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

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Saturday, December 19th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Acts, God's Word, Scripture.
Interact No Comments