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Teaching at the Tree is communicated in a practical, easy to understand way that is relevant to your everyday life. It’s not religious jargon, just the truth of God’s word presented in a loving and challenging way.

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Daily Devotions

07/18/2019
Jul 18, 2019

Thursday

 

Title: God’s Word is Always True

 

Lyric: You will stay true
            Even in the chaos
            Your word remains truth
            Even when my mind wreaks havoc

 

Scripture: 2 Samuel 7:18-29 (ESV)

Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and prayed,

“Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? And now, Sovereign Lord, in addition to everything else, you speak of giving your servant a lasting dynasty! Do you deal with everyone this way, O Sovereign Lord?

“What more can I say to you? You know what your servant is really like, Sovereign Lord. Because of your promise and according to your will, you have done all these great things and have made them known to your servant.

“How great you are, O Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you. We have never even heard of another God like you! What other nation on earth is like your people Israel? What other nation, O God, have you redeemed from slavery to be your own people? You made a great name for yourself when you redeemed your people from Egypt. You performed awesome miracles and drove out the nations and gods that stood in their way. You made Israel your very own people forever, and you, O Lord, became their God.

“And now, O Lord God, I am your servant; do as you have promised concerning me and my family. Confirm it as a promise that will last forever. And may your name be honored forever so that everyone will say, ‘The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is God over Israel!’ And may the house of your servant David continue before you forever.

“O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, God of Israel, I have been bold enough to pray this prayer to you because you have revealed all this to your servant, saying, ‘I will build a house for you—a dynasty of kings!’ For you are God, O Sovereign Lord. Your words are truth, and you have promised these good things to your servant. And now, may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you. For you have spoken, and when you grant a blessing to your servant, O Sovereign Lord, it is an eternal blessing!”

 

Explanation: When reading the Bible, it is helpful to know it is a book about God, with a secondary interest in God’s people. A theological approach to studying the Bible asks how we can read the text in order to get to know God. The book of Samuel is a prophetic book of history from God’s perspective, recording what God believed to be important. As we look at our passage today, we can ask ourselves:

 

1. What does this reveal about God?

2. How is this event related to God?

3. Why did this matter so much to God that He made sure it was recorded for us to read?

 

In this prayer of David, we see the central part of God: God is sovereign. Sovereign means God is the supreme authority, and all things are under His control. He is the creator, owner, and possessor of heaven and earth, everyone, and every situation. What can bring you more peace and gratitude than to know God is in control?

 

It is in light of the power of God’s sovereignty that David does two things that should always be included in our prayers: praise and petition. In verses 18-24, David rehearses and praises God’s faithfulness. It is fortifying to build up your faith with a rehearsal of all that God has done in our lives. It builds confidence and trust as we remind ourselves of God’s past workings in our situations.

 

After David expresses his gratitude for God’s abundant power in his life, he then turns to petition in verses 25-29. To simplify, I think David is modeling godly manners. It’s as though there is a bit of spiritual etiquette playing out in this prayer...gratitude first! It is respectful and honoring to let God know that WE KNOW He has consistently worked on our behalf. When we start with gratefulness, it helps us fine tune our asking. We will find ourselves praying according to His will more and more as He changes our heart and desires. I John 5:14 says, “This is the confidence we have that if we ask anything according to His will, He will hear us.”

 

Questions:

1. Practice gratitude. Set a goal: see if you can spend 48 hours only praising when you pray. 

    Recite God’s goodness in your life without asking for anything. 

    Take notice of your spiritual posture after this challenge. It builds your strength/hope.

 

2. Reread this passage and find the answers to our three defining questions:

    1. What does this reveal about God?

    2. How is this event related to God?

    3. Why did this matter so much to God that He made sure it was recorded for us to read?

Daily Devotions

07/17/2019
Jul 17, 2019

Wednesday

 

Title: Overcoming Anxiety

 

Author: Stacey Crawford

 

I have always had this tendency to be an anxious person. It has been something I have dealt with for many years. Often times, anxiousness and worry are my natural response to situations and the things of life. Two years ago, my anxiety really got the best of me. I was going through a really difficult season. My marriage was struggling, my sister-in-law was battling stage four cancer (which she eventually ended up passing away from), and we were beginning to prepare to move into our current building. Now on a regular day, dealing with just one of these things would have caused me to be anxious, but combining all of them…I had finally hit my breaking point. For the first time in my life, my anxiety caused me to have a complete meltdown. I had three panic attacks in the course of two months. Every time something happened or things changed, I simply couldn’t handle it, and it all became too much. I remember feeling absolutely crippled in those moments. I could barely breathe or gather my thoughts, and it literally felt as though my life was spinning out of control.

 

I know many well-meaning Christians who try to help you in those moments. They will quote scripture and tell you to “stop being anxious” because that is what the Bible says. But the truth is, when you are a person who struggles with anxiety, it’s not that easy. Anxiety is so much a natural part of you that it is super difficult not to be anxious in certain situations, especially when your life feels like it is falling apart and there is nothing you can do about it.

 

This is why I wanted to write about the song we are learning about this week. I love how this song directly focuses on anxiety. The fact is that anxiety is real, it is something we experience, but it does not have to be where we end. I can have moments of anxiousness, but I can overcome it with the peace of God. I have come to the realization that I will probably deal with anxiety for the rest of my life. The natural in me will probably always err on the side of fear and anxiety in certain situations, but I don’t have to stay there. I can fight the battle over my anxiety with the only thing that will bring me peace and help me overcome. Jesus!

 

Although I struggle with being anxious and fearful to some degree, I have also experienced God’s peace even in those moments. What I didn’t share was that in the middle of my panic attacks, once I took a moment and a deep breath (or ten), I remembered my battle plan. I’m not ever going to overcome my anxiety this side of heaven, but I can learn how to manage it. And the way I manage it is to go to God. In the moments when I feel anxious or overwhelmed, I take time away and worship. And in those moments, God does exactly what He has promised. He gives me peace. A peace I often cannot explain, but I know it is His presence filling me with the last thing I could ever give myself. I go to God because in those moments He is the only one, the only thing, that will help me clear my mind and give me the peace I need. The same is true for you, my dear friends.

 

If you are someone who battles with anxiety at any level on a regular basis, you are not alone. We may have to fight this battle the rest of our lives, but we can stand in confidence knowing that God has won the war over anxiety…and someday we won’t be anxious anymore. But while you are here on earth, I encourage you to create a battle plan. You may never overcome anxiety this side of heaven, but you can have a battle plan. Allow God to meet you in the middle of your anxiety. Allow Him to be a part of your battle plan. He will meet you in the middle of your anxiety and give you exactly what He has promised…His peace.

 

I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift

the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

John 14:27 NLT

 

Daily Devotions

07/16/2019
Jul 16, 2019

Tuesday

 

Title: Humble Trust

 

Lyric: Dare anxiety come I'll remember

           That peace is a promise You keep

           Peace is a promise You keep

 

Scripture: 1 Peter 5:6-11 (ESV)

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

 

Explanation: There are some very definitive steps this passage gives to fight anxiety.

1. Humble yourself. The key to finding peace amidst anxiety is being willing to surrender and trust that God may know more than you, and you need Him.

2. Cast your anxieties. Part of humbling ourselves is freely handing over control of our situations to God. It’s a mental exercise that leads to willing obedience. When we cast our anxieties, we are saying to God, “Here is what I am worried about. How do I handle it your way?”

3. Be sober-minded. This is a call to always be prepared for what may come your way, always focused on God, ready to humbly cast your worries to Him. Because there is an enemy looking to trip you up, you have to always be alert.

4. Resist him (the enemy). I think it’s interesting that the resisting is tied here to belonging to a body of believers going through the same thing. Anxiety will say that you are all alone, you’re the only one who feels the way you do. But God gives us others (the Church, Connect Groups) to help us along the way. 

5. Endure. Even though life will try to tell you that you can’t handle the hard times, believers live under the promise that God will always come through, even if it’s the 11th hour. 

 

Questions:

  • What did you learn about God in this passage?
  • Which one of these truths speak to you most today?
  • Pick one of these truths today, and focus on living it out. 

Daily Devotions

07/15/2019
Jul 15, 2019

Monday

 

Title: Peace Beyond Understanding

 

Lyric: There's a peace far beyond all understanding

           May it ever set my heart at ease


Scripture: Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

Explanation: The command to not be anxious is less about a feeling and more about the power we give it. We may all feel anxious from time to time, and it may seem like it comes out of nowhere for no reason. God’s command is focused rather on the response we have when we feel anxiety. What do we do with it? Do we allow it to dictate and enslave us, or do we do what this passage commands? To bring our anxieties, by prayer and thanksgiving, to the One who cares about us, to the One who is able to handle what causes our anxieties, to the One who is able to truly give us peace in the midst of our anxieties. 

 

Questions:

  • What is one thing that stands out to you in today’s reading?
  • What did you learn about God in this passage?
  • Do you feel anxious today? 
    • When you feel anxious, stop and talk to God about whatever you are feeling in the moment.
    • Pick one thing you can thank God for, and focus on that.

 

Daily Devotions

07/14/2019
Jul 14, 2019

Sunday

 

Song: P E A C E, by Hillsong Young & Free

 

Title: Yes and Amen

 

Lyric: I will stand tall on each promise You made

 

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 1:20 (ESV)

For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.

 

Explanation: At the heart of anxiety is the question, “what if?” What if I fail? What if my spouse doesn’t come through for me? What if life doesn’t go the way I expected? It is a place of uncertainty. The context for this passage in Corinthians is the church questioning Paul’s authority, his sincerity, and even the gospel he proclaimed. In verse 17, he asks them the rhetorical question, “Was I uncertain in my declaration to you?” Paul defends himself by answering in verse 19, saying that he and Silas and Timothy were certain of their message to the Corinthian church, and because of Christ, they knew their calling, their sincerity, and their gospel were true. Paul goes on to lay this claim before the Corinthians and before us: in Jesus, all of God’s promises find their fulfillment. 

 

Paul was not saying that Jesus grants every request we bring to Him. Rather, the fulfillment of the promise of Abraham, the law, all of the prophets, and the salvation of the world is found in Christ. Because of Jesus and what He affords us, we know that all of God’s promises come true. 

 

Questions:

  • What is one thing that stands out to you in today’s reading?
  • What is one area of your life where you need to trust God’s promises today?
  • What is the one thing you can do to see it lived out?
  • What did you learn about God in this passage?