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.

Return to Jesus

Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:20-21 (NKJV)

Dear Friends, God has put something heavy upon my heart to share with you.  As Christians, we are called to be His ambassadors, taking the Good News of His salvation to the lost.  I plead with you, I implore you, be reconciled to God through the saving work of His Son Jesus who died for your sins.  

We live in a broken world, the evidence is all around us…aborting babies, riots, evil being called good, good being called evil, plagues, hurricanes, forest fires… the list goes on.  When God first created the world it was good, but then satan the snake tempted Eve to eat the forbidden fruit.  Eve shared it with Adam and our world hasn’t been the same since. God had to kick Adam and Eve out of His perfect garden and lock the gate because of their sin.

But God made a way to make things right again.  As the prophets foretold, He sent His only Son Jesus, who never sinned, to take on the sin of all the world.  Jesus died a very painful death, bearing all those sins because He loves us.  But that’s not the end of the story.  On the third day, Jesus rose from the grave, conquering sin and death forever and opening to all who believe in Him the gates of heaven and eternal life.  My friends, this is a free gift that we must accept NOW.  Now is the acceptable time, today is the day of salvation (2 Cor. 6:2).

Return to Jesus with all your heart and soul and might.  Ask for His forgiveness. Accept His free gift of salvation.  Fill your heart with His Holy Spirit and Word by reading your Bible every day.  Tell others about Jesus, being an ambassador for Him.

There is a movement called The Return which I want you to check out.  Dedicated Christians have been planning this event for months. Though it may be smaller because of the COVID19 restrictions, our prayers can be BIGGER because we serve an awesome God who can do amazingly more than all we ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20).  The event runs September 18-28, with September 26 being the big day, but our prayers can continue 40 days to the election and even beyond.  Please check out the link above and invite others to join us in prayer for our nation.

Today’s TEA CUPP: If you haven’t prayed the sinners prayer, please pray with me right now…Dear Jesus, I want to be in your family.  I want to be Your child and be washed clean from all the bad things I’ve done in my life, all the times I didn’t listen to You, all the times I went my own way.  Please scrub away all my selfishness and pride and everything else I’ve done that is not of You. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and be with me each day.  Help me walk on Your straight and narrow path.  I believe You are my Savior who died for my sins. I believe You rose again and are preparing a place for me in heaven. I believe You are the only Way, the only Lord, the only God.  Please help me live as Your daughter from this moment forward.  Thank you for loving me and dying for me and letting me be in Your family.  In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

…Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 2 Corinthians 6:2 (NKJV)

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)

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.  Ephesians 3:20-21 (NKJV)

P.S. Please keep praying for THE GREAT REVIVAL, the last great revival before Jesus’ return, where many new hearts are brought into His Kingdom to welcome His coming.  Will you join me in fasting every Tuesday, though the USA election on November 3, 2020?  Our country needs our prayers now as much as ever. 

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

Of Course, There’s a Plague!

We have sinned with our fathers,
We have committed iniquity,
We have done wickedly. Psalm 106:6 (NKJV)

Oh, what a year!  People will always remember 2020 as the year of COVID19, the coronavirus, quarantines, masks, closures… although we won’t want to remember it because of all the deaths, fear, loneliness, rules, and missed events.  We all wonder why this had to happen.  Yet, when we search God’s Word we find so many relevant verses. 

Psalm 106 is one that speaks to our current situation, summing up our nation and world’s troubles, “We have sinned…we have committed iniquity…” (Ps. 106:6). Psalm 106 goes on to list all those sins from so long ago.  Can we see all these in our country today?…

  • We did not understand God’s wonders (Ps. 106:7)
  • We did not remember the multitude of God’s mercies (Ps. 106:7)
  • We rebelled (Ps. 106:7)
  • We forgot His works (Ps. 106:13)
  • We did not wait for His counsel (Ps. 106:13)
  • We lusted (Ps. 106:14)
  • We tested God (Ps. 106:14)
  • We envied our leaders (Ps. 106:16)
  • We made idols and worshiped them (Ps. 106:19)
  • We forgot God our Savior (Ps. 106:21)
  • We despised the pleasant land (Ps. 106:24)
  • We did not believe God’s Word (Ps. 106:24)
  • We joined ourselves to the devil (Ps. 106:28)
  • We rebelled against His Spirit (Ps. 106:33)
  • We did not destroy God’s enemies (Ps. 106:34)
  • We followed the way of unbelievers (Ps. 106:35)
  • We served our idols (Ps. 106:36)
  • We sacrificed our children (Ps. 106:37)
  • We shed innocent blood (Ps. 106:38)
  • We defiled ourselves and played the harlot (Ps. 106:39)

Is it no wonder the plague broke out among us?  (Ps. 106:29). What can we do?  We can intervene like Phinehas (Ps. 106:30) and stand in the breach like Moses (Ps. 106:23) so God’s wrath is turned away.  We must pray for our country, for our neighbors, for our families. Pray for God to send a revival across this land.  

Righteousness exalts a nation,
But sin is a reproach to any people. Proverbs 14:34 (NKJV)

There is HOPE, my dear friends.  We have the HOPE found in Jesus Christ.  Because of His saving work on the cross, all who believe in Him are rescued from this crazy world (John 3:16).  Jesus died for every sin listed above and for all the others, too.  Let’s pray for our nation to turn to Jesus! And God will hear our cries (Ps. 106:44)

Today’s TEA CUPP: Read and pray Psalm 106. Repent, turn to God. Ask His forgiveness through Jesus Christ for yourself and for our country. Turn over a new leaf this fall. Let’s give everyone something NEW to remember about 2020…the year of REVIVAL! Pray for our nation daily. Forgive us, O Lord.  

For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. 2 Corinthians 7:10 (NKJV)

May this be THE GREAT REVIVAL, the last great revival before Jesus’ return, where many new hearts are brought into His Kingdom to welcome His coming.  Will you join me in fasting for the next 7 Tuesdays, though the USA election on November 3, 2020?  Our country needs our prayers now as much as ever.  Check out this event happening in the coming days… https://thereturn.org/

Save us, O Lord our God,
And gather us from among the Gentiles,
To give thanks to Your holy name,
To triumph in Your praise.

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel
From everlasting to everlasting!
And let all the people say, “Amen!” Psalm 106:47-48 (NKJV)

Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.  Psalm 106:1 (NKJV)

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 

The Highest Tree

Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. 1 Peter 2:24 (NKJV)

The tallest tree in the world is said to be Hyperion, a 379.7-foot-tall (115.7 m) redwood tree located in California, USA.  If you’d like to experience such tall trees, you might enjoy a visit to Sequoia National Park where you can see 18 of the 30 largest trees in the world. Though there are many cool facts about redwood and sequoia trees, perhaps the most intriguing is their life span.  Giant redwoods may live up to 2000 years, while giant sequoias may live up to 3000 years!  Imagine that! Some of the very trees you may visit were growing when Jesus walked on this earth!

What is it that attracts us to such tall trees?  Do we always like the biggest and best, the oldest and toughest? Perhaps it is another way of Jesus calling us to Him, through His awesome creation (Romans 1:20). Perhaps it’s because these trees point us to heaven and bring us closer to God.  Or, maybe it’s that our Savior Jesus died on such a tree, the cross of Calvary.

 Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12:2 (NKJV)

Why did Jesus do it? Why did He allow Himself to be beaten and bruised, then nailed to a cross between two thieves?  Why did the Son of the Living God not call a Legion of angels to rescue Him and denounce His tormentors?  Because He loves us. He was the only perfect sacrifice that could die for our sins.  And while on that tree, He still had compassion, saying, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.”  (Luke 23:34)

Because of Jesus’ love and sacrifice on that tree, we have God’s forgiveness and promise of eternal life in heaven. Jesus is the only door through which we can enter heaven.  All we have to do is believe. When the sky was dark and the earth quaked and the temple curtain was torn in two from top to bottom, the centurion proclaimed, “Truly this Man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39)  Let us do the same.

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. John 3:16 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP: As you prepare to celebrate Good Friday and Easter, why not take a walk in a nearby forest or park.  There one can look up at the trees and find the tallest one that points you to heaven, while remembering the highest tree of all, our Savior Jesus’ cross.  Thank you, Jesus, for all You have done, dying for our sins on that tall tree, and making a way for us to be with You in heaven. I believe in You, Jesus!  I love You, Jesus!

Thus says the Lord God: “I will take also one of the highest branches of the high cedar and set it out. I will crop off from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one, and will plant it on a high and prominent mountain. On the mountain height of Israel I will plant it; and it will bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a majestic cedar. Under it will dwell birds of every sort; in the shadow of its branches they will dwell. And all the trees of the field shall know that I, the Lord, have brought down the high tree and exalted the low tree, dried up the green tree and made the dry tree flourish; I, the Lord, have spoken and have done it.” Ezekiel 17:22-24 (NKJV)

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

https://www.livescience.com/29144-worlds-largest-tree.html

https://www.tripsavvy.com/redwood-forests-in-california-1478739

http://www.visitsequoia.com/redwoods-and-sequoias.aspx