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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Title: Treasures in Heaven
1 Timothy 6:17-19 (ESV)
As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.
Explanation: Paul, a devoted follower of Jesus, is writing to Timothy, a young pastor just beginning his journey of teaching others about Jesus. Paul is teaching him how we should view our riches and wealth. Riches and wealth are not bad, but the heart and what we do with those riches are of great importance. Paul is warning those who are rich not to be boastful or prideful when it comes to their riches. They should not look at themselves as being better because they have more than others, but rather, use all they have been given for the greater good. They should use their wealth to bless others, knowing that all they have has been given to them by God.
The things of this world are fleeting and will fade, but anything we do for the Kingdom of God and the glory of God will go on with us and others through eternity. Being generous and sharing with others leads to life. We are truly “rich” when we are willing to share with others what we have graciously been given.
Title: Where Your Treasure Is
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Explanation: If we were to look at all the things that humans consider as treasures, we would see that anything we treasure has the possibility of being destroyed or stolen. This is not meant to be a statement that puts us on high alert and in a state of panic, but rather, drives us to evaluate the value we place on our earthly treasures. A question we must ask ourselves is simply what do we value more? Do we value acquiring something that is temporal and will one day vanish, or do we value acquiring what is eternal?
Jesus’s message in today’s reading is a gut check moment for us to truly evaluate the treasures in our lives. Jesus is not communicating that life should be lived in compete poverty without any provisions; He is communicating that the treasures of our lives will rule our hearts. We will either be driven to acquire more of the temporal, which will eventually vanish, or the eternal, which we will forever get to enjoy. Jesus wants us to know that eternal treasures are truly the most valuable. Our hearts may be tempted to believe that more of (fill in the blank) in this life is better because it means happiness for us now. But Jesus, who is eternal and has fully experienced what is eternal, draws our hearts to put on the eternal mind of Christ, and to see that whatever is eternal is the best of all treasures we could ever acquire.
Title: The Interests of Others
Scripture: Philippians 2:1-4 (NLT)
Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
Explanation: I’ve heard it said there are two types of people:
Paul is clearly talking about becoming a “there you are” person!
One would think that people who love Jesus would automatically love and get along. In this thank-you note to his dear friends at Philippi, Paul is so grateful for their love to him and their gift while he is in prison. BUT...while they soared with love and unity toward him at one point, they are limping in self-centeredness now. They are at odds, hindering the message of new life in Christ. He pinpoints the cancer eating at their unity: hard hearts and lack of compassion. This is a group of believers that had a history of generosity and thoughtfulness toward Paul, and now they are distracted and distracting!
But Paul knows the way out of this maze of self-centeredness...fellowship together in the Spirit. He gives them a list of what they need to DO and what they need to stop, and I am sure all of us would love to nail that list. It sounds like a dreamy way to live. The problem is our physical natures lean differently. We want to be “there you are” people, but like a tire with a slow leak, we flatten into “here I am.”
Tenderness and compassion cannot be legislated or hopefully wished for. Only when they are resident and living in our hearts can we become unselfish and humble. They are fruit of the Spirit and can only be produced by the Holy Spirit in us, and that requires time and fellowship in His presence.
Title: Let Love Be Genuine
Scripture: Romans 12:9-13 (ESV)
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Explanation: There is no better synopsis of the life God calls us to lead than what Paul writes here in Romans. If we want to live a life like Jesus, in service and love for others, this is how we do it. It starts with genuine love, both for God and for the people of this world who God died to save. It takes hating evil. This is not just a strong emotion, but a working against it in your own life and in the world around you. You do that by holding fast to what is good. Think about good things, cherish them, do them. Treat others like they are family, and see who can win in honoring and encouraging the other. Serve the Lord with passion and excitement. Rejoice when something good happens, be patient and thankful when something bad happens, and always go to God in prayer. Always be looking at how you can bless those in the church, and look to find ways to include others in your life.
It’s a long and difficult list, if you set yourself to live this way. But this is the way God has said we would find the most life possible. It’s how Jesus lived His life, and if we want to find the “good” life, it’s how we need to live ours.
Title: Do Not Grow Weary
Scripture: Galatians 6:9-10 (ESV)
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Explanation: Paul knew that even with the power of the Holy Spirit, doing good was an uphill battle for us. Without being purposed about spending time with God and serving God, our natural inclination is always to move away from God and to be self-serving. So, Paul called the churches in Galatia to stick to it. He wanted them to stay focused and not give up on doing the things that God would have them do. What would God have them do? Take every given opportunity to bless others and do good to them, especially those in need within the community of faith…their church.