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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Scripture: Deuteronomy 28:1-6
And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.
Explanation: God is gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love (Exodus 34:6; Psalm 86:5, 15; Jonah 4:2). He even offers grace to His enemies (Romans 5, Ephesians 2, Colossians 3). But He is unashamed in His claim that the only way to find peace, blessing, and full life is by trusting Him and walking in His ways. The idea that these things (peace, blessing, abundant life) live outside of God’s design is foreign to the biblical story. Instead, the Bible paints a picture of abundant life being found IN a relationship with God, operating IN the design of God, for those trusting IN God’s promises. The amazing grace is that God tells no one they are excluded from having this life available to them. This is why salvation, life, and grace always start with repentance (a rejecting of an old way or different way of doing things), and an acceptance of God’s way.
Have you ever made this statement before? “I will forgive them once they say they are sorry for everything they did to me.” I have been there, done that. We want to be right, and justify our anger and bitterness toward a person, which makes us a slave to that anger and bitterness because we are stuck there. So, when we see the person we are still angry with, we only see through our glasses of anger, and not for who they really are. God asks us to forgive, not for His benefit, but for ours, so that is no longer attached to our hearts.
My parents got divorced when I was young, so I was the every-other-weekend kid with my dad. We sort of had a relationship, but not one where we knew each other well. I felt like I had to please my dad and show him what a great kid I really was. Every time he would do something wrong, it was another check against him of what he didn't do right, which wasn't fair to him. When I became an adult, I felt like God was calling me to forgive my dad and look at God to be the Father I truly needed. God started breaking down walls, and I started to forgive my dad for leaving our family. I forgave him for forgetting about some of my birthdays. I just started forgiving, and God started to change my heart and soften it toward my father. I’m still human. and there were sometimes when hurt would creep back in. When that would happen, I would give it back to God. I just wanted to please my heavenly Father, because He is the one who created me to be who I am. God’s plans are way better than my plans. He wants us to obey and follow Him because He knows it is better for us. When following God, you can trust He will walk with you through everything, even when it is hard.
Take a minute and ask yourself these things: What are some things that you feel like God is calling you to do, and you keep saying “no” because it is just too hard? What are you a slave to in this world (unforgiveness, money, worry, etc.)? Then take some time to ask God to show you what your first steps can be to follow Him.
Prayer: Father, I want to trust the things you have called me to. I know that I am holding onto things I have become a slave to in my life. Please forgive me for not following You. Help me and show me the next steps You want me to take in my life to follow You. Thank you for always loving me! In Jesus’ name I pray, amen!
Scripture: Colossians 3:1-17
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away:
anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Explanation: Being in relationship with Jesus should change our lives completely. But the reality is that the list of things Paul lays out to rid ourselves of, always stands as a temptation to us. Paul knows this about himself, he knows it about his church in Colossae, and he knows it about us. The temptation to sin is never far from us. So, he reminds and encourages the church (and us) that life in Christ looks different, and for those in Christ, a different choice is available. He goes on to encourage the church to “put on” certain behaviors that are befitting of Jesus. He is not saying they won’t be tempted with the first list, but they need to choose to put on the second list. The believer always has a choice to put on either the sinful nature or put on the image of Christ.
Scripture: Romans 6:15-23
What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Explanation: Paul starts by posing a hypothetical question. He is confronting the thought that says, “Because Jesus will just forgive us, it doesn’t matter if we continue to sin.” He goes on to explain that our behaviors reveal (or prove) who we truly are obedient to. If we are in Christ, we should choose to be obedient to Christ. A heart united with Christ chooses to be free from sin, instead of choosing to get away with as much as we can and still “be saved.” In giving his explanation, Paul leaves no neutrality when it comes to our relationship with God and sin. You are either a slave (obedient) to sin, or a slave (obedient) to God. Each choice we make aligns us with either sin or God. This sounds dire and lacking grace, but Paul explains that it’s because of grace we can be free from the compulsion (not having a choice) to sin, and we are free to choose Christ. So, as we experience God’s love for us and as we experience His forgiveness, our desires and behaviors are pointed toward Jesus instead of sin.
Scripture: John 10:10
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Explanation: The promises of God are an important part of scripture. The Bible calls us to trust and believe that when God says something, He truly means it. Jesus, in the midst of explaining how He is the path to salvation, lays out this promise…in Him is the path to overflowing and abundant life, the life we all dream about. But the key here to remember is that it is found IN Him. Within the bounds of submitting to Jesus’s way of life, He makes this promise for each and every one of us. Jesus sets the boundaries on how this life is found. It’s within these boundaries we are invited to trust and believe that even when things don’t appear to be abundant or good, Jesus still will deliver on His promise. Everything else outside of these bounds, no matter what they say, are thieves, there only to steal, kill, and destroy.