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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I was reading a devotional from the Jesus Calling Bible Storybook with my seven-year-old daughter this week. We were reading about Jesus feeding the 5000 with five loaves of bread and two fish. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this story, a large crowd of people were with Jesus, and the people were needing to eat. Jesus’s disciples wanted to send the people home because the logistics of feeding that many people would be crazy. Instead, a boy who had five loaves of bread and two fish was willing to share. Jesus gave thanks to God for the loaves and fish, and there was enough for everyone to have as much as they wanted, along with twelve baskets left over. A true miracle.
I’ve heard and read this story many times throughout my life. As I was reading it to my daughter, a line from the devotion stuck out to me. It said, “Jesus was able to show His endless love for hungry people.” I think this is such a beautiful truth. I think why it struck me is, of course, Jesus met the physical need of the group; He fed them food. But Jesus also was teaching this group about God, and He was meeting the need of their spiritual hunger: to know a Savior. Jesus not only showed His endless love for that group of hungry people…He does the same for us today.
We are hungry people. We are people who need to be filled spiritually. We are people who only operate and function well when we are in relationship with our loving Savior. Jesus is the only One who can fill us. He demonstrated His endless love for us by giving up His life. In the story of the five loaves and two fish, the people didn’t know what was to come for Jesus. They didn’t realize that He would truly show His endless love for them by dying on the cross for the sins of all. We, however, do know what Jesus did for us. We see His sacrifice. We see His willingness to take the punishment that was due to us. We have the opportunity to experience Jesus’s endless love in a way that the people in the story couldn’t imagine.
I keep remembering that phrase this week: “Jesus was able to show His endless love for hungry people.” I’m so grateful for His endless love for my hungry self. I want to keep remembering and embracing His love. I want to keep seeking after Him and being filled with something only Jesus can offer. I hope you do, too.
For He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul He fills with good things.
Where do you find your joy?
Do you find it in your job, shopping, relationships, or hobbies? Do you let your circumstances determine your joy? Or perhaps your joy is determined by how many Facebook likes you received on the family picture you posted (that took you 25 tries to get the perfect one).
If you are looking for joy in these places, then you are going to end up feeling like there is something missing, and you will become frustrated. I know this because God has been teaching me that I can't rely on anything else but Jesus Christ to give me the joy I desire and the peace I desperately need. For so long, I have been relying on my spouse and my circumstances to give me joy. I would continually be let down, because my husband is not perfect and circumstances are continually changing. God consistently reminds me that I can’t put my hope in things of this world because this world is broken. I will always be let down, feeling like something is missing.
Friends, to know Christ is to find real joy. If we know God's character, then we know that He Is good, He has a plan for us, and He wants us to have life and have it abundantly. If any of you are struggling, in a season where your circumstances are not what you would choose, or you are maybe doubting or just frustrated, don't lose hope! Spend some quality time with God this week. Ask Him to reveal where you are trying to find joy, and pray for His wisdom to change that behavior.
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails, and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my savior.
Habakkuk 3:17-18 NIV
You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough
Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up
Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low?
Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know (ooh oh)
You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours
And I believe (I), oh I believe (I)
What You say of me (I)
The only thing that matters now is everything You think of me
In You I find my worth, in You I find my identity, (ooh oh)
~Lauren Daigle, You Say
Do you ever feel uncomfortable in your own skin? Maybe at times like you don’t even recognize yourself? Do you fall into the trap of letting others define you? Do you choose your behaviors according to your surroundings? Or just struggle with your identity? No? It’s just me and Lauren Daigle? I’m guessing it’s not. I find when I fall into this entrapment, it is because I am focused on this world being my home rather than the home God has prepared. He designed me for a spiritual eternity, and this life only allows a fraction of time with limited physical resources. During our entire earthly life, we are changing (our physical appearance, our senses, our interests, etc.), and it’s no wonder our identity gets lost in the mix. But our Creator, who SPOKE the earth to life, has also spoke to our very existence. I love Hillsong Worship’s song “Who You Say I Am” and the reminder that it is God who speaks true life in us.
Who am I that the highest King
Would welcome me?
I was lost but He brought me in
Oh His love for me
Oh His love for me
I am chosen
I am who You say I am
You are for me
Not against me
I am who You say I am
Whoever I think I am, this song reminds me that God has identified me in ways that no one else can, not even myself. When we are in relationship with God, we take on our heavenly identity and have to be reminded of it regularly. We aren’t meant to be comfortable with ourselves as defined by the world around us but by the spoken affirmation of a protective, loving Father. This is why it is important to spend time in the Word, to pray without ceasing, and to be open in worship at all times. In these moments we enter into relationship with God, He fills us with the Holy Spirit so we can become more like Him, our true identity. It’s spiritual health that allows your physical to take on a whole new identity and purpose. Spend time today relationally with God. Allow Him to speak over you.
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness,
through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,
by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises,
so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature,
having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
2 Peter 1:3-4 (emphasis added)
I am nothing without Jesus. Let that sink in for a minute. This really resonated with me as I was sending another church member a song I thought she would like. Earlier that day, I saw her post on Facebook that she was in the middle of “doing,” doing housework and all the things that keep us busy, but in that moment, she felt compelled to stop and just worship Jesus. I thought that was incredible.
I don’t know about you, but I constantly get consumed with my to-do list, and allow myself to fill up my schedule with things I “need” to do that I can often miss those opportunities. Opportunities to just sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to His still small voice. I become too consumed by the things I feel I need to accomplish in order to feel better and successful.
I stopped in my tracks that day and asked myself the following question: Am I allowing space and room for God to talk to me in my life, or am I more concerned about my to-do list? It really challenged me. I get so caught up in the things I feel are important and I think should get done before I can take that moment to sit at the feet of Jesus or simply worship Him. If I’m being honest with myself, my to-do list and my busy schedule can often trump time spent in the presence of Jesus. This made me cringe when I really thought about it, because this is not what I want to be said of my life.
Instead, I want to be obedient to God’s voice in my life. I want to hear His voice clearly, but if I don’t take the time to stop and listen, I’m going to miss out on the chance. I don’t want my to-do list to dictate my life. I don’t want my busyness to overtake my life. I want to be sensitive to the leading of Jesus. I want to be open to His disturbances in my plan. I want to be willing to stop in the middle of what I am doing and pray, get on my knees and worship Him. I don’t want to be consumed by the ways and things of this world, but to be overtaken by the power and presence of Jesus.
What about you my, dear friends? I challenge you this week to honestly look at your life. Are you willing to allow God to disrupt your plans? Are you willing to stop what you are doing in a given moment and just worship? Has your to-do list or busyness taken over your life? I want to encourage you today to carve out time for Jesus. When you hear His still small voice speak to you today, stop what you are doing and listen. You will never regret spending time at the feet of Jesus!
Seek the Lord and his strength,
seek his presence continually.
1 Chronicles 16:11 NRSV
But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given to you as well.
Matthew 6:33 NRSV
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.
My daughter has found a love for music and has flourished in the last year with piano, clarinet with her school band, ukulele, and most recently the guitar. Playing these instruments seems to come so effortlessly to her, which amazes my husband and me because we have no musical skills! It has been a gifting that we have slowly uncovered and have been blown away to see her progress.
There was a time in her life when she was involved in another activity that she LOVED but it was taking a lot of time and dedication, and a lot of family time away. We value time as a family and make it a priority. So, we prayed about it, and prayed some more! I knew God was telling me that she should step away from it. But she loved it and it was a hard thing to let go of. We wanted to be obedient to God, so we decided that she needed to step away from the activity and see what God had in store for her next. As she did this, I was amazed at the new opportunities that opened up for her…no doubt, a new door opening to her from God. Now our home is filled with beautiful sounds of music and worship, and we’re getting the quality family time that we value as well. It’s been such a blessing to all of us.
We have so many opportunities to speak with God and ask for direction throughout our day. How blessed are we that we get to have the Holy Spirit with us always! He’s always there to guide us. Take time to be still and quiet, and ask God to lead you and your family in the direction He wants you to go. Sometimes it’s not an easy process, and you may drag your feet if you don’t like God’s answer. Try and be obedient, because it is such a blessing when you do. I have found that when God calls you to do something (or not do something), He really does know what He’s doing!
I know it sounds cliché, but when one door closes, God has something ready and waiting to open to you! Sometimes we have to let go of something, to let God grow something new we never even expected.