The Blessed Easter Tree

 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  1 Corinthians 1:18 (NKJV)

God planted a tree for you, my friend.  This Blessed Easter Tree, this Old Rugged Cross, is truly the Tree of Life for all humanity.  For no one can enter into the presence of God in heaven, unless she goes through the door of this Blessed Easter Tree.

“On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, the emblem of suffering and shame; and I love that old cross where the dearest and best for a world of lost sinners was slain” (George Bennard, 1913).

Who would think that we could find this favorite old hymn and the Easter story in the Old Testament book of Ezekiel? Yet we shouldn’t be surprised, for the entire Bible, God’s Word, points to our Savior Jesus Christ, telling His story from creation to eternity.  In Ezekiel we find not only God breathing life into dead bones, making them new creations like we are when we believe in Jesus. He also paints the picture of a tree planted on a hill to save a nation.  Could this be our “Old Rugged Cross?”

Set aside time today to read Ezekiel 16 and 17, chapters which outline the sins of Israel.  As we think of our world today, you might even think Ezekiel is talking about the USA, while at the end of each chapter, God sagaciously gives us hope!  In Ezekiel 16:63, He promises us, “…when I provide you an atonement for all you have done…” And in Ezekiel 17:23 He says, “On the mountain height of Israel I will plant it; and it will bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a majestic cedar…” So first comes the promise of atonement in Ezekiel 16:63, followed by how God will do it in Ezekiel 17:23 — by planting a tree on the mountain.  That tree is the cross of Christ, a fruit-bearing tree. The fruit is you and me and all those who believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection, spreading the Good News to others.

And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left.  Luke 23:33 (NKJV)

On Calvary’s mountain a wooden cross was planted in the ground. On that same cross, the Son of God was willingly nailed to pay the price of the world’s sins (that means yours and mine!).  His Name is Jesus, perfect, without sin, our precious Lord. After He died, His followers laid Him in a tomb. Roman soldiers stood guard before the stone, but they had no power over the Son of God. For on the third day, angels came and rolled the stone away and Jesus rose from the grave, appearing first to Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9), saying, “Mary” (John 20:16). And He still calls our names today.  God’s Church has brought forth many branches and has been bearing fruit ever since that day, bringing glory to our majestic Savior.  

And we declare to you glad tidings—that promise which was made to the fathers. God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.’  Acts 13:32-33 (NKJV)

“So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies at last I lay down; I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it some day for a crown” (George Bennard,1913).

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Read Ezekiel 16-17 and other Easter verses. Confess your sins and the sins of our nation.  Claim Jesus’ promises of atonement (Ezekiel 16:63) and salvation (Ezekiel 17:23).  Rejoice in the good news of His resurrection. Hear your risen Savior call your name, “_______.”

rejoice because your names are written in heaven.  Luke 10:20 (NKJV)

Why Jesus Came: ...I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:10 (NKJV)

Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”  John 18:37 (NKJV) – Oh, how we need His truth today!

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.  John 3:16-17 (NKJV)

And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  Philippians 2:8-11 (NKJV) – Oh Father, be glorified this Easter!

How Jesus saved us:  Having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Colossians 2:14 (NKJV)

An Easter prayer:  That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.  Philippians 3:10 (NKJV) – Amen.

Happy, Blessed Easter from My TEA CUPP Prayers to you!  If you enjoyed today’s devotion, you also might like to read My Glory All the Cross and Remember the Cross and The Witness of the Stone.

After two days He will revive us;
On the third day He will raise us up,
That we may live in His sight.  Hosea 6:2 (NKJV)

But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”  Matthew 28:5-6 (NKJV)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.  John 15:5 (NKJV)

For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!  Job 19:25-27 (NKJV)

Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

The Door of Hope

…O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles…  Judges 6:13 (NKJV)

Do you feel like you’ve been walking through the Valley of Achor, the Valley of Trouble?  With coronavirus all over the world, cancer in young children, including my granddaughter, and so many uncertainties (like can a person buy toilet paper and will there be a job tomorrow?), people everywhere have been walking through a dark valley.

Did you know there is really such a valley in our Bibles?  We read in Joshua 7 how the children of Israel were defeated in one of their early battles as they tried to claim the Promised Land.  What happened? Why wasn’t God helping them?  Well, it turned out one of the Israelites had taken some of the accursed treasures at the first battle and hidden them in his tent.  Because of his sin, God was withholding His blessings.  Joshua found out and the Israelites stoned the man.  That place was given the name, the Valley of Achor (Trouble).  

What sins are we hiding in our tents today? We need to look at our own hearts and the heart of our country and confess these sins to the Lord.  We need to run through our towns with our prayers as incense to stop the plague (Num. 17:46-50, Psalm 141:2, Rev. 5:8).  We need to turn to God in prayer, every one of us, seeking His forgiveness and blessings, and He will see us safely through even this storm and restore our nation.

My friends, we have a great hope. With every punishment, God gives us a promise.  When God kicked Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, even then He gave a promise that someday His Seed would bruise the head of Satan, a Savior would be coming. And today, even now, God promises the Valley of Achor will become a door of hope.

I will give her …the Valley of Achor as a door of hope… Hosea 2:15 (NKJV)

He will not leave us in this valley.  Even those who are on their deathbeds can receive God’s promise as did the thief on the cross…

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4 (NKJV)

What is this Door of Hope?  Who can save us from this valley?  Where can we find these promises? It is Jesus, the Son of God who died for the sins of all the world, tearing the veil in the temple, over 2000 years ago. But He didn’t stay dead, on the third day He rose again opening for all who believe the door of heaven.  And there we find eternal forgiveness, peace and joy.

Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. 1 Peter 4:12-13 (NKJV)

God is still on the throne.  Jesus is still risen from the tomb. The Holy Spirit is still here to help and encourage us.  And, we have our Bibles – God’s Word, God’s great love story.  Open your Bible and open the Door of Hope.  

Today’s TEA CUPP:  What hope have you seen in your valley of trouble? A kindness from a friend or stranger?  Good Samaritans helping neighbors?  I pray that most of all you see Jesus! Who can you be a door of hope to today?

I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. John 10:9 (NKJV)

 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. Revelation 3:20 (NKJV)

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  James 1:2-4 (NKJV)

Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson

God With Us

easter_cross_light_2012_c1God with Us

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”  Matthew 1:23 (NKJV)

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matthew 28:19-20 (NKJV)

The book of Matthew begins and ends sharing the message “God with Us.”

My TEA CUPP Prayers are all about getting to know our wonderful Lord, sitting down daily with Him for TEA.  He promises He will be with us!

Why not in preparation for Easter, read the book of Matthew?  You can divide the 28 chapters into 7 daily readings:

Palm Sunday (Sunday before Easter):  Matthew 1-4
Monday:  Matthew 5-8
Tuesday:  Matthew 9-12
Wednesday:  Matthew 13-16
Thursday:  Matthew 17-20
Good Friday:  Matthew 21-24
Saturday:  Matthew 25-28

Happy Blessed Easter Sunday, celebrating our risen Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus!

New King James Version (NKJV)The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.