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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Matthew 26:30-32 (ESV)
And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.”
One of the greatest promises that any one of us could receive is Jesus saying to us, “I will go before you.” Sometimes we can convince ourselves that we are in this life alone. At least it can feel like that to us. This especially was true for the disciples who Jesus was communicating this to. Before, during, and after Jesus’s crucifixion, His disciples were very confused about what was happening with Him. They never would have imagined this man who they loved, who they radically changed their lives to follow, and who they believed to be God, would soon be gone. Jesus knew this would be a very vulnerable and disheartening time for them, and therefore, even before it happened, He spoke these words for them.
They may have struggled to believe these words at first, but amazingly, in spite of their fear, doubt, frustration, sadness, whatever emotions they were feeling, they still obeyed. Even more amazingly, Jesus followed through with the very thing He said He would do. After His resurrection, He met them in Galilee. Can you imagine the astonishment and relief they experienced when Jesus met them at Galilee? This was a very comforting moment for them.
We too can experience the comfort of Jesus. By walking with Him, learning His will, and walking in His ways, we can be assured that Jesus is before us…wherever He tells us to go and whatever He calls us to do. We must believe in faith that He will do as He says.
There have been numerous times in my life when I have needed encouragement, or for someone to simply remind me that I am loved. In fact, I had a moment like this the other day. Everything going on in the world really had me anxious. I knew God was in control, but I still had an unsettled spirit. Right before I went to bed, I received a message from a friend of mine from college. It had been a few years since we had talked, so it was a nice surprise to hear from her. She told me that every day she has been asking God to give her the name of someone to pray for, and that particular day it happened to be me. She then proceeded to tell me what I had meant to her and how much I had impacted her life. I don’t think she realized how much that meant to me. Her message could not have been more timely, and I knew without a doubt that God was the one who designed the interaction.
I know how greatly it impacts my life when others reach out to me in my time of need, and I want to do the same to them. I want others to find hope and peace in the middle of grief and chaos. I want others to be reminded of God’s love when they have been betrayed or feel unloved. I want others to find encouragement in God’s Word when they need a little something “extra” to get them through the day. I love being able to encourage others. I love being able to help others and remind them of how incredible God is. I love when God gives me words to speak to someone, and the impact it has on their life. It is amazing to me that God has given us, the body of believers, to physically be a representation of His love. And one of the best ways we can achieve this is through encouraging one another.
I think this current season is the best opportunity we have been given to encourage one another. The world we are living in is a very strange place to be living right now. There are so many unknowns. Our normal lives have been shifted, and we can’t gather together with our friends, families, Connect Groups, or as a church body. But we can still encourage each other. In fact, I think there are so many ways we can reach out to show love and support to each other during this very confusing time. Ask God to lay someone on your heart daily, and take time to reach out to them and pray for them. Text funny memes and texts to your friends. Send Bible verses or other encouraging stories to your Connect Groups. Order food and have it sent to shut-ins or families who are struggling. Even though we can’t physically be with one another, there are so many ways we can still lift each other up and encourage each other. What a wonderful time to be the body, to lift each other up and give each other the encouragement we know everyone needs. There are many ways we can love each other, even from far away. We can remind each other of the hope we have in Jesus.
We are all walking through these uncharted waters together. In this time of disappointment and uncertainty, let’s show the world that they can still find peace and hope. Let’s be like Jesus, and use this time to build up His kingdom and to encourage one another. Even as we are stuck in our homes, we can still be the hands and feet of Jesus.
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 (ESV)
God, this season is weird, it’s scary, it’s uncertain. But we know that You are never changing, You are moving, You are working. Help us to utilize this time to reach out to those we love, to send words of encouragement and help each other walk through this season together. God, we know, even now, we can still be your hands and feet. Give us wisdom today. Show us who you want us to reach out to. Give us the words of hope and peace they need to hear. May we walk through this season well by lifting up and encouraging one another. Use us to show the world what it really means to follow You. We ask all of this in Your name. Amen.
John 16:19-22 (ESV)
Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.
No one likes to be blind-sided. I think we can all say that we would desire to know disaster is about to strike, or we are about to go into battle or into a stormy season. We want to somehow be prepared for the initial blow. The disciples were the same way. They knew, based on the things Jesus was telling them, that they were about to go into a rough and rocky season. They wanted to be prepared, they wanted to know everything they could to walk through the next season. Anyone else feel the same way right now? The disciples were about to experience Christ dying on the cross for them and for all of us. These were Jesus’s best friends, His closest group of companions. Sorrow was about to overwhelm them when they experienced their teacher and beloved friend on the cross.
But what I love about Jesus is He met them there. He knew life would be rough, that it would be full of sorrow and confusion, but He gives us hope even in the middle of it. He reminds us that weeping lasts for a night, but that true joy can still be found in each new day. Just like a mother giving birth, it is painful in the process, but the moment she holds her child in her arms, it is nothing but pure joy. The same is true for each and every one of us. Even in the middle of the storm, in the middle of the chaos, in the middle of the current season we all find ourselves in, we too can still experience joy. It is a joy that is found in Jesus and in Him alone. God alone takes our weeping and turns it to rejoicing. May you find hope in this promise today.
John 14:1-6 (ESV)
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Jesus knew the next day He was going to be crucified, yet He took this time to console those around Him. Jesus saw the anxiety, concern, and confusion that was most likely present on the faces of the disciples when they learned Jesus was going to be leaving. He reassured them that although He was leaving them, their trust in Him was not misplaced, and they were going to be the tools God used to continue the work and teachings Jesus began while on earth. In the meantime, He would be working on preparing a new place for them.
In those days, it was customary when traveling on a long journey, one would go ahead of the others in the group to prepare a lodging place for them. Thomas expressed the disciples’ confusion, because he thought Jesus was referring to another location or city in the physical realm. Jesus explained that His preparation was for a different place, a heavenly place where they would stay at the end of their journey on earth, a place with the Father. Through His death on the cross, Jesus made a way for all of us to come to God the Father and live in the place prepared for us in heaven.
Jesus never promised the disciples (or us) they wouldn’t have trouble in this life. He did promise, however, that He would be here with us, as a source of strength during hard and troubling times. In the same manner that Jesus saw the hurt on the faces of the disciples and comforted them, He does the same for us today when we are hurting.
John 14:15-20, 25-27 (NIV)
“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”
“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
In this passage, we see Jesus speaking with His disciples and telling them that He is leaving, but reassuring them they would not be alone. Jesus tells them the Father is sending an advocate (someone who speaks on our behalf) who would be with them forever. An advocate is a counselor, comforter, or helper. This is the Spirit of truth, who we refer to as God’s Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit dwells inside of all believers once they put their trust and faith in Jesus (Romans 8:11). This Helper also gives us gifts from the Father that we need, such as wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, performing of miracles, prophecy, discernment, speaking and interpreting tongues (1 Corinthians 12).
Thankfully, this gift of God’s Spirit is still available to us today. The Holy Spirit speaks only truth to us, and reminds us of God’s Word. Even when we are not sure what to pray in difficult times, we can trust that God knows what we need. In a time of uncertainties, allow God’s peace to cover you. Go to the
Father first, and He promises to be with you. God’s peace is a supernatural presence in our life to reassure us not to fear when tough situations arise.