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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“You cannot serve two masters. If I am truly your Master, You will desire to please me above all others. If pleasing people is your goal, you will be enslaved to them. People can be harsh taskmasters when you give them this power over you.” Jesus Calling
Ouch. That one hit me right between the eyes this morning. I have read the text of Matthew 6:24 many times in my life, but never in this context. “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
I have often read this verse and checked it off in my mental checklist as “Got it. I’m cool. I give God my tithe and I do my best to give extra to places that I feel led to do so. My desire is to please Him, and He is my Provider. ”
I’ve never read any additional context into that verse until I read the brief devotional while I sipped my morning coffee. My entire life I’ve been a people pleaser, and I’ve done so to a fault. I can remember wanting to please my parents with good grades, good behavior, and good decisions. I wanted my teachers to view me as a good student, and for the most part, I was. I wanted to please my former spouse, my boss, my co-workers, my kids, and just about any other human in my life. Except I forgot one MAJOR thing. I should have been focused on pleasing God first.
Over the past six months or so, I found myself thinking I was doing what God wanted me to do, but I was absolutely miserable. I allowed myself to be so consumed in doing a good job that I completely allowed people to rule me. I gave them power over me and didn’t even realize what I was doing. I was so focused on the fact that God had given me this opportunity that I didn’t remember to focus on His will for my situation, and became consumed with pleasing the people around me.
I found myself begging God for deliverance from my situation and my misery. In my mind, I was being obedient by doing what my authorities were telling me to do. I had this mindset that I needed to submit to whatever it was they asked, because by submitting, I was being obedient to the Word. However, now that I’m on the other side of the storm, I see that I went beyond the point of submission right into slavery. I allowed the desires of the people I was trying to please become the guiding force in my daily life.
I’m learning there is so much more that God wants to show me in the margins between the go-go-go of life and when we collapse from sheer exhaustion into our beds at night. He wants me to keep my focus on Him, while still loving others the way we’ve been called to. Just when I think I’ve got this recent trial figured out, God reveals even more to me that I didn’t see before. I’m thankful for His grace and mercy, and that He helps redirect us when we fall short.
I sat down the other day and put together a meal plan for the week so I could conveniently put my grocery needs into Click List and swing by Kroger to pick them up several hours later. I love the ability to go online, sort through the specials, choose what I need, and magically have them ready with almost no effort on my behalf at all. All of my clicking on and off items as I was deciding how to get the best deal triggered a question in my mind—Am I trying to create a “Click List Jesus” in my life?
I have read a lot lately about following God through the bad stuff as well as the good. We’ve all had storms in our lives at one time or another. What’s your response during these times? Do you choose to wallow in self-pity, asking “Why me, God”? Do you become angry and immediately revert back to behaviors you engaged in before Jesus was King of your life? Or do you seek His wisdom to guide you in this situation and try to grow from it?
I am guilty of wallowing in sinful behaviors throughout these various storms at times. Here’s what I’ve learned though...Click List Christianity is worthless. We cannot pick and choose what parts of the Bible we want to follow and what parts we don’t like. We have to be willing to seek His face during the storms in our lives or we are never going to grow in our faith. We have to be willing to follow Him through the valley as much as we do on the mountaintop. Agreeing to follow Him means we have to click on all of the terms and conditions, not just the ones we like.
It’s not easy. In fact, sometimes it’s just plain difficult, and the mountaintop experiences seem like they are so far out of reach we may never see them again. God’s plan is so much smarter than anything we can comprehend, though. In order to fully experience what He has for us, we have to be willing to weather the storm with faithfulness and perseverance. That means our road isn’t going to be easy. It’s one of those promises in the Bible I wish I could “uncheck” on my list, but I know that I have to embrace this with the same weight I do all of the positives.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
We have to be willing to trust Him fully, and abandon our Click List mentality to walk totally with Him until we reach the other side. He has promised us an eternal reward if we do. That promise is worth so much more than the temporary situations of this life here on earth!
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV)
I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on “purpose” lately. As I went on a Rambo-style rampage with a can of Raid last week, I literally asked God what the purpose was for creating those annoying ants. Almost immediately came the response, “So anteaters don’t starve, of course.” Of course. Thanks for that, God.
Since I don’t own an anteater, nor do I have a friend who does, I continued eradicating the parade marching around my windowsill. I assumed death by Raid was better than death by being squished by a mischievous cat. Then the empathizer in me immediately asked God for forgiveness for murdering something He created.
Sometimes I feel like my purpose is teetering close to that can of Raid—just waiting to be eradicated by the forces of Satan. The devil uses mind games to make us feel like our purpose is futile. He lies that God has left us hanging on a wire all alone, and we aren’t good enough for any work God would want to do here on earth. Here’s what I continually repeat when these lies start swirling my head, making me feel as insignificant as that poor ant parade: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
God sees purpose in me! He called me to be His! No matter what the devil tries to put in my head, I have to claim the victory. I’m more important than the lies of the devil. God has work He wants to do in me, in you, and in your home, workplace, and community. The devil and his can of Raid can’t eradicate the good work God wants to do in us unless we give him that power.
As you go through your week, remember that YOU are called to be HIS, even if your purpose isn’t entirely clear to you. God is going to guide you, if you rely on Him!
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends
all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4: 6-7
I struggle with anxiety. I always have, even as a little kid. It wasn’t as bad then, but it did cause me sleepless nights and lots of unnecessary worry. I hate it. But the enemy...he loves it. He loves to see me struggle through my anxious moments. He loves it so much he even encourages it by adding to my already anxious thoughts, until I am spinning down a spiral of overthinking the worst-case scenario. So many times he has gotten to me!
But then Jesus…He comes to my rescue every single time! He doesn’t grow weary or impatient with me. When I reset my focus on Him, all my anxious thoughts disappear. I’ve gotten better at going to God more quickly than I used to, but I am still working on this. Anxious thoughts still get me. The moment something goes off course, I think the worst of that situation is going to happen.
What about Jesus? Even as He talked with His disciples the night before He was going to be crucified, He knew He was about to be beaten, humiliated, and hung on a cross. Talk about being anxious! But He told His disciples to “not let their hearts be troubled” (John 14:1). Jesus tells us not to be worried about our situation. I feel like that is such a huge mindset change for me to get over. Or maybe it’s a control issue; I want to control my life because I don’t want to go through the worst anymore. Either way, I take this way of thinking to God every time and ask Him to forgive me for letting my anxious thoughts get to me once again!
God is so gracious! It’s like He pulls me in close, dusts me off, tells me He loves me and to keep trying. We all have our struggles. We’re obviously not perfect, but we can keep trying. Keep going to God, whatever your struggle is! He will help you. There has never been a time He didn’t show up for me.
This week, think of what you need God’s help in. What is your struggle? Ask God to come into your situation. I’m praying you get the peace you need from Him!
DID YOU KNOW - We Were Designed For GREATNESS?
An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest.
But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side
and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”
While on my way to work, I was listening to worship songs on my Sirius radio. A song came on, and for whatever reason, made me think back to a time when our kids were little and would bring home things they made at school. Let’s be honest, most items were just AWFUL! Right? I mean, these are things you wouldn’t see in a museum. However, as parents, we treasure these things as if they were worthy of the highest honor of being displayed in an upscale museum, protected by 24-hour security. Why? Because we knew the heart of the one who made the piece.
Same as God! Even though we are broken, and stumble and fall on a daily basis, God sees our heart… our worth. How amazing is that? To think that the view from the earthly realm of a broken, tattered, and messed up work of art, can be seen so clearly through the lens of grace, mercy and perfect love. For that, I am so grateful! You see, grace means to get something you do not deserve, unmerited favor. And mercy means you do not get a punishment that you deserve, instead receiving compassion and forbearance.
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace,
that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Be encouraged by His word that we do have value, through the lens God sees us in. Even though we might think of ourselves as this ugly looking clump of clay that was supposed to be a beautiful horse, God sees us as so much more!