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The Passion Tree

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"The Passion Tree"

by Jack E. Dawson

 
 
 

 Follow along with our daily advent blog duing the month of December.

www.ThePassionTree.org

 

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The "THE PASSION TREE" painting follows the story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Each ornament illustrates an event in history. The red garland represents the crimson thread of Jesus Christ woven through the entire Bible. Jesus IS from eternity (before Creation) to eternity (after the end of all things), and this garland weaves through all history, showing His Story. The first twelve ornaments show events in the Old Testament and the last twelve illustrate events in the New Testament, and a star representing the glory of God crowns the tree. There are 33 candles, one for each of the years that Christ spent on earth in the form of a man. You can see a suggestion of Christ in each flame . The red ornaments down the center and across form a cross. The three largest ornaments represent the trinity: God the Father (#13) gave His gift, the Son (#15) who came to earth, and God the Spirit (#22) lives within believers today. Use this as an advent calendar, reading and studying one a day from December 1 through December 25.

 

 

 

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1. "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." He created everything from nothing. He created everything we see and everything we don’t see. (Genesis 1:1)

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2. After creating everything, He planted a beautiful garden in the East, the Garden of Eden. Earth was ready for an inhabitant: "And God said, Let us make man in our image." Adam, the first man, and Eve, the first woman, were made perfect and placed in this perfect place where they could walk and talk face-to-face with God. They enjoyed wonderful fellowship together. (Genesis 1&2)

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3. God longed for man to love Him voluntarily. So He gave Him the freedom to choose. Lucifer, an angel in heaven, had chosen to rebel against God. He was cast out of heaven and became Satan. He was, and still is, very clever in his attempts to lead others to disobey God. He went to the garden and tricked Eve into believing that God wasn’t being truthful or good to her. God had said they could eat from every tree in the garden except one, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve chose to disobey God and eat from that tree, and when they did, they brought sin into their lives and the lives of all who would be born. They were no longer perfect and every descendant (even you and I) is born apart from God. (Genesis 3:1-13)

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4. God had a redemptive plan. It would take thousands of years to complete, but in the end He would once again have a perfect place for men and women to live with Him. But in the meantime, He knew this first couple would need to be sent out of the garden. For there in the garden was another tree, the tree of life. If they ate from it, they would live forever in their sad, fallen condition, aging and separated from God, so He drove them from Eden. (Genesis 3:14-24)

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5. Adam and Eve had children and their children were born with the same choice, to obey God or to disobey God. Sadly, they also chose to disobey. In fact, one of their children, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. (Genesis 4:1-16)

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6. From this first family came mankind, but sin also reproduced and multiplied, and things got so bad that God had to do something. He looked for someone who would choose to obey and love Him and only found one man: Noah. Noah found grace in the eyes of God, and God decided to destroy all things and start over with Noah and his family. He spoke to Noah and told him to build a large boat for himself and some of all the animals and birds on the earth. Then he sent a flood that covered the entire world. (Genesis 6:1-8:14)

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7. After the flood, Noah’s family began to repopulate the earth. But these people also chose to disobey God. In fact they decided to build a tower to the heavens. They wanted to find a way to make themselves great, but it wasn’t God’s way. God knew that would not be good, so He came down to earth and gave them different languages, causing a scattering of the people to different lands. (Genesis 11:1-9)

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8. God knew it was time to start putting His plan into action. He chose one man, Abraham, and told him that He would make a great nation from his family and would bless all the people on the earth through him. Abraham chose to obey God and follow Him even though it meant leaving the country where he lived. (Genesis 12:1-3)

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9. Abraham and his wife Sarah had trouble seeing how their family would be a blessing to all people when they could not seem to have even one child of their own. When they were too old to have children, God performed a miracle and gave them a son, Isaac. Then God did a strange thing. He asked Abraham to offer his son as a sacrificial offering of worship. God was testing Abraham to see if he would obey. Abraham did obey and God provided another sacrifice, a ram, in place of Isaac. This is a picture of what God would do for all of us, providing his son, Jesus, as a sacrifice for us, to redeem us from sin and reconcile us to God. This has been His plan all along. (Genesis 21-22)

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10. Abraham’s family did become a great nation: Israel. His descendants would move to Egypt when a famine came to their land, and there they were treated as outcasts and made slaves. They cried out to God and He sent a deliverer, Moses, who secured their freedom after God sent plagues that afflicted the Egyptians. The free nation of Israel left Egypt and encamped at the Red Sea. The Egyptians regretted their release and sent a military force against them, but God miraculously parted the waters of the sea and the people of Israel escaped across on dry land and into the wilderness. (Exodus 1-14)

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11. While the Israelites were on their way to the land God had prepared for them, Moses was given the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20), rules that God gave so that Israel could learn what was right and what was wrong. Moses was also given the instructions on how to build a tabernacle, a place where God would dwell among them. (Ex. 25:8) This tabernacle was just a picture, a representation of the place that God has prepared in heaven for His people. (Hebrews 8:5)

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12. After the Israelites were freed from Egypt, they journeyed through the wilderness and settled in the Promised Land where modern Israel is found today. A long time passed, and during this time God kept sending men called prophets to tell the people that He was going to send Someone to bless them and all the peoples of the earth, and they were to wait and look forward to that day. (1 Peter 1:10-12)

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13. The day that had been foretold by the prophets finally came. God did a miraculous thing, causing a virgin to conceive. A young girl named Mary became the earthly mother of God’s Son, Jesus. This was a first. Never before had God become like one of us. Jesus was fully God and yet fully man. (Galatians 4:4, Matthew 1:18-25 , John 1:1,14)

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14. Jesus grew up just like any other boy, but when he was thirty it was time to let the world know who He was and one of the first things He did was to be baptized. At that moment all three ways that God describes Himself to us were present: God, the Son, was there being baptized. God, the Spirit, was there in the form of a dove. God, the Father, was heard speaking from heaven. (Matthew 3:13-17)

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15. Jesus did many things to show people that He was God. He taught and preached the good news that there was now hope for everyone to be with God again, just like Adam and Eve had been before the Fall. He said that He was the Way. He performed many miracles, healed sicknesses and even brought some people back from death. (Matthew 4:23)

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16. Jesus chose twelve men to be his closest followers. Then, at the age of 33, after three years of showing the people Who He was, it was time for Jesus to finish the job God had sent Him to do. Sinless, he was going to die for the sins of mankind, to reconcile men to God. He tried to prepare the twelve for what was going to happen next. He told them about it during The Last Supper. He spoke to them of his blood that would be shed and his body that would be broken, using the cup and the bread as symbols, and told them to observe the supper in the future to always remember Him. (Luke 22:14-20)

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17. Jesus would have to go through a horrible death. He struggled with this because He knew it would be hard. He, as a man, would have to feel the pain. But He also was going to have to do something even more painful than death by crucifixion: He would be taking all the divine punishment for the sins of mankind and God the Father would have to leave Jesus to do this alone, because He can’t be a part of sin. Jesus wrestled with this in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. There, He determined to be obedient. (Mark 14:32-36)

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18. God’s Son, Jesus was taken captive by men and beaten, accused on false charges, given an unfair trial, and sentenced to die a cruel and shameful death. Yet He didn’t resist. He knew that this was why He came to earth. He willingly laid down His life in order that many may come to God through His death. (Luke 22:47-23:49)

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19. The death of Jesus made it appear that God’s plan has failed. Jesus dies and is buried.
(Matthew 27:57-61)

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20. But God’s plan had not failed. After three days in the tomb, Jesus resurrected, returning alive. He is the only One who has ever done that. He defeated death. He did it for us. We can be forgiven for our sins by accepting his death in our place. We can live forever just by trusting that Jesus has paved the way for us. We may face death, but it is just a way to transition into real life in heaven with God. (John 3:16, 20:1-23)

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21. After Jesus came back to life, He spent forty days telling people about the kingdom of God. Then while they were looking at Him, he went up into the sky all the way to heaven. He promised He would come back to get all who would believe in Him. Then He would take them to an indescribable place of beauty that He was going away to prepare. (Acts 1:3-11, John 14:3)

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22. Before Jesus went back to heaven, He told His followers to wait because He was going to send them a gift, the Holy Spirit of God. They waited and on the day of Pentecost they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. They were never the same after that. All who believe, even today, have the Holy Spirit living inside of them. It is proof that they have become Christians, God’s children. (Acts 2:1-13, Galatians 4:6-7)

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23. God’s plan is still unfolding. For many believers, life on earth ends in death and they move on to heaven. But for others, there are things yet to come. Jesus will return and take all of God’s children to heaven. He is going to come back with a shout and will summon the bodies of the Christians who have died, resurrecting them from their graves. Then any Christian who is alive at that time will be raised up in the sky right to where He is! Praise God, we will never be separated again. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

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24. After Jesus calls His followers to heaven, there will be a terrible time of death, war and trouble on the earth, a seven-year judgment known as the Great Tribulation, and the people of the earth will rebel against God and determine to make war against Him. But Jesus will bring His Christian army back and win the war, and there will be a thousand years of peace with Him as king. But there will still be some who refuse to obey Him. God must finally deal with all those who choose to disobey. He is the perfect judge, punishing those who do wrong. The penalty for sin is death. God doesn’t want anyone die for his or her sins. That is why Jesus came and died, and He is the only way to escape hell, the place prepared for those who refuse to be a part of God’s family. Those who refuse God’s Way will one day have to stand before the great white throne judgment, and they will have no excuse for rejecting Jesus. (Matthew 24:21-22, Revelation 19:11-20, 20:11-15)

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25. The plan of God will then be complete. There will be a New Heaven and a New Earth. A place where all who believe and place their faith in Jesus will live forever with God Himself. The curse of sin and death will be gone. Jesus, who once wore a crown of thorns, will then wear the Crown of Glory as King of kings and Lord of Lords. His suffering brings life just as we see the crown of thorns budding with new life. The seven lights represent the perfection of the God. The Star on top of the Tree reminds us of the star that guided the wise men to baby Jesus. Wise men still seek Him. Have you trusted in God’s Plan of faith in Jesus? His invitation to you is, "Come." (Rev. 21:1-8, Rev. 22:17)

 

Under "THE PASSION TREE" you see some people carrying the light. Others are walking in darkness. Jesus is the Light. (John 1:6-13, 12:44-46) Those of us who have the light need to be sharing it with others all over the world. The snow-covered landscape suggests a map of the entire globe (see below). We are the light and we must let our light shine so that many may come to saving faith in God through Christ Jesus. (Matthew 5:14-16)

During this Christmas Season, have you accepted God’s plan and placed your faith in Jesus? Rejoice, and let this holy season renew your hope and warm your heart. If you have not yet accepted God’s plan, repent of your sin and accept the forgiveness that is freely offered through faith in Christ Jesus. You will then have the privilege of spending eternity in heaven. (1 John 5:11-12) Can you find John 3:16 in the stars? 

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