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.
We would love for you to join us! We offer 2 service times on Sundays.
We would love to hear from you! Shoot us an email.
Title: Practicing for Peace
Scripture: Philippians 4:8-9 (ESV)
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Explanation: The fight for the mind is one of the greatest battles for the believer. It is a battle, a discipline, something to be worked at. It would be nice if the switch to Christlikeness was turned on the day you decide to follow Jesus. But Paul tells the church it is a purposed practice. Much like learning a new hobby, a new skill, or getting a new job, you have to work and rehearse at being like Jesus. Paul tells the Philippians to be purposed to think about good things. When a sinful thought comes, confess it to God, fight it, and set your mind on what is good, honorable, and just. As you practice these things, and purposefully set your mind on Christ and the good things He calls you to, then you will find peace.
Title: The Peace of Christ
Scripture: Philippians 4:4-7 (ESV)
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Explanation: Yesterday’s passage, Paul instructing two ladies in the church to deal with their issues, is the lead-in to this passage. He instructs them that, despite their trial and disagreement, they should always choose (make a conscious effort) to rejoice, even in this circumstance. Paul wants them to choose to be reasonable over being offended. This means one of them is going to give up their right to be right, to win the argument. He doesn’t just say they should because it’s the right thing to do…he tells them they can because Christ is at hand. Paul wants to change their perspective with the greatest promise for those who trust in Jesus. It is the promise of His return and presence in the lives of His followers. Paul holds in front of them the consistent reality that this could happen at any moment. They can give up their rights, stay faithful, and do the sacrificial, hard thing because Christ will be back for them!
Naturally, with any strife comes anxiety and worry. Paul tells them the way to deal with any anxious situation in their lives is to pray to God about it, thanking Him for the promise that everything will work out in the end because He will be back. Paul tells them it’s this perspective that will set them free and give them true peace. No matter what life brings, Paul wants his readers to know that peace is possible when they look at everything from the perspective of God’s promised love and presence in their lives.
Scripture: Philippians 4:2-3 (ESV)
I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
Explanation: A common assumption is that the church doesn’t or shouldn’t have relational conflict. We should be a peace-filled place full of unconditional love, accepting of everyone with kind words and smiles galore. Though this assumption is fueled by the very thing we are called to be, the ideal isn’t yet realized.
The reality is that church is full of broken people who are learning to find wholeness through Christ. At times, sin and frustration seep out of its members and fill the walls of the church with hostility. Even the best among us fall from time to time, and Paul is dealing with such an issue here. Euodia and Syntyche are solid Christian ladies, dedicated to Christ and His mission. But they have fallen into disagreement, and it is causing strife in the church. Paul encourages them to deal honestly with it, to get help through it, and get back to focusing on the mission of Christ.
Title: Staying Faithful
Scripture: Philippians 3:17-4:1 (ESV)
Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.
Explanation: The underlying theme of every single one of Paul’s letters is the call to stay faithful to Jesus. No matter what he is addressing, the hope is that the church looks to Jesus for their needs, acts like Jesus in their attitudes and actions, and holds on to Jesus through their trials. Paul knows that their natural desires, satan’s temptations, and a distraction-filled world all have the very real power to pull them away from Christ, and Paul wants his church to fight to hold on to Christ. Paul offers two things to help when they find themselves in a trying situation: He offers an example to look to and a reward to look forward to. He offers himself and the other faithful Philippians as an example to test themselves against and see how they stay faithful. Then he reminds them of the reward for those who do stay faithful. He wants his church to keep their eyes on the coming reward in Jesus.
Title: Pressing On
Scripture: Philippians 3:12-16 (ESV)
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
Explanation: Some would consider those who run marathons or compete in an ironman races to be insane. For these competitors, there is a prize worth straining for, and what keeps them pressing on through all the struggle is their goal to reach the prize ahead. This prize matters more than anything they could have possibly left behind them in the race. The prize is most often something different for each individual, and the finish line they aim to cross gives them their “own” personal win.
This is true of these types of races, but on a much deeper level, this can be true of our lives as well. For Christ, the prize was a relationship restored with us, His children, once again. He strained forward at all cost to attain this goal. Fully aware of this, the Apostle Paul, compelled by this love that Christ demonstrated, made his personal prize the “upward call of God” to live a life now and into eternity in complete satisfaction in Christ Jesus. This upward call, as we explored in yesterday’s devotional, was all that Paul wanted. There was nothing on earth that he would leave behind or lose that would deter him from attaining this prize. Paul states that his race is not quite complete yet, but he will not abandon all that he has eagerly worked for and gained in Christ up to this point in his race, because the prize at the finish line is just too good. He urges us as well, to maturely make Christ and the hope of life with Him our own personal prize. Friends, we must hold true to whatever “straining” we have experienced and will continue to experience in this life. Christ has made us His own, so let’s make Him our prize.