Category: <span>thoughts by Jon Walker</span>

I know my God goes before me and comes behind me (Psalm 139:5). He is “my refuge, a strong tower against the foe” (Psalm 61:3 NIV).


“Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land.” Jeremiah 1:18 (NIV)

Say this as a prayer –

In faith, I know this to be true:

By God’s hand, I am “a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land,” (Jeremiah 1:18 NIV) and I am enabled to fear no one but God.

I will not fear for I know God is with me. When I face fear, he whispers in my ear, “Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10 NIV).

He says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV).

When standing before fear, I can boldly say,Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:33–35, 37 NIV).

I know my God goes before me and comes behind me (Psalm 139:5). He ismy refuge, a strong tower against the foe” (Psalm 61:3 NIV).

And, because of this, I stand convinced that, “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38–39 NIV).

By Jon Walker
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Further Reading

•   God is Bigger than all my Problems
•  A Bible Study on Waiting on God By Sylvia Gunter
•  Salvation Explained


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We pray for others like Jesus would pray for them, thinking about them the way he would think, covering them with prayer, protecting them through prayer, and advocating for them in the same way Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father and advocates for us.


“He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene …” Isaiah 59:16 (NIV)

Most of our prayers are of the low order, or maybe more like the fast-food order.

We pull up to the drive-thru and yell out our requests to God and then expect him to have our order ready by the time we pull up to the window.

Yet, God’s view of prayer seems far above the utilitarian. He calls us to a violent form of intercession, where we take on the spiritual forces of darkness on behalf of our race, once invaded, now occupied by the prince of darkness.

Paul teaches us to put on the whole armor of God. If you follow the sequence of his instruction, we’re suiting up for battle so we can stand firm in prayer
(Ephesians 6).

We pray for others like Jesus would pray for them, thinking about them the way he would think, covering them with prayer, protecting them through prayer, and advocating for them in the same way Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father and advocates for us.

It is other-centered prayer on the extreme end of “other.

Isaiah describes God as “appalled” that no one was interceding for his people. We have the ability — more appropriately, the duty — to intercede on behalf of our brothers and sisters (Isaiah 59:16 NIV).

And we do not do this alone, for the Lord is already interceding, and we are simply joining him. Like the armor Paul describes for us, the Lord is suited for battle. Isaiah says: “He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak” (Isaiah 59:17 NIV).

Thoughts:

•    Ephesians 6 says to pray “on all occasions.” At which occasions have you been more likely to pray?

•    How does it change your confidence and your prayer life to know that God is interceding on behalf of his people?

by Jon Walker
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Further Reading

•   What Should Be Included in Prayer?
•   How to be sure God Listens to your Prayers
•  Salvation Explained


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“I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 (NIV)

We’re not as strong as we think we are, but God is stronger than we think.

You become strong through God’s strength. His strength enters your life, delivered by the Holy Spirit—Jesus within—and the more dependent you are on God, the stronger in Him you become. In our weakness, He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:10).

I can do everything . . .” doesn’t mean, ‘Now that I’m a believer, I’m strong enough to do everything and anything for God.” Your own testimony can attest to the fears and failures related to such thinking.

The strength of “I can do everything . . .” comes through God, who gives you the strength you need for each day. Your ability todo everything” is wholly dependent upon Him because your strength is dependent upon Him. It’s not a strength you work up to by pumping iron with emotional or mental barbells.

Strength comes from submission. The thing you do that may require the greatest strength is to submit yourself completely to God! But God is “working in you, giving you the desire to obey Him and the power to do what pleases Him” (Philippians 2:13 NLT).

Strength is linked to faith. You believe in faith that God is giving you His strength; and so, in faith you can act in confidence, knowing the strength is there: “But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength” (2 Timothy 4:17 NIV).

By Jon Walker
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Further Reading

God Listens to Us
• A Bible Study on Waiting on God By Sylvia Gunter
•  Salvation Explained

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While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate.”  Acts 10:17

Praying on a rooftop in Caesarea, Peter, the apostle of stomp and snort, is hungry, and while he waits for his daily bread to be prepared, he seeks the everlasting bread of life (John 6:48). Deeply submerged in the presence of God, Peter sees a vision of food forbidden.

He recoils, saying, “Surely not, Lord! . . . I have never eaten anything impure or unclean” (Acts 10:14). A heavenly voice says, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean” (Acts 10:15).

Peter’s perplexed, but at the same time, God is working his plan. Across town is a centurion seeking the one true God. He is a Gentile; he is, in a figurative sense, food forbidden. But God says to look for a man named Peter; and Peter, still wondering what the vision meant, sees three men from Cornelius approaching on the street below.

The Holy Spirit says to Peter, “Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them” (Acts 10:19-20). Peter follows the men to Cornelius’ house and finds a crowd already waiting to hear the good news of Jesus, the Christ.

Cornelius tells Peter that, four days before, God promised to send a messenger. In that instant, Peter knew he was the messenger and that the vision meant the gospel is for all people, even Gentiles.

And as Peter began to tell Cornelius’ crowd how to make peace with God, the Holy Spirit descended upon them all, even those who were Gentile.

Oswald Chambers described God as the Great Engineer, creating circumstances to bring about moments in our lives of divine importance, leading us to such divine appointments.

You’ve seen how God did this in the lives of Peter and Cornelius; will you watch now for how God engineers divine encounters in the life you can no longer call your own?

Question: Do you expect God to be at work in your own life?

by Jon Walker
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Further Reading

•  Divine Appointments by Katherine Kehler
•  Conversation Starters to transition to Spiritual things
•  Salvation Explained

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The Word became a human being and, full of grace and truth, lived among us. We saw his glory, the glory which he received as the Father’s only Son.” John 1:14 (TEV)

The love of God is intimate and personal.

He came up-close in Christ, and that means we cannot hide our imperfections and faults from him. He knows about them anyway.

This model from God means we need to love each other intimately and personally, looking past the faults and weaknesses of one another, seeing the handiwork of God in each one of us, knowing that we also have weaknesses and faults but that God is active in our lives, too.

When we know and believe that God is determined to love us no matter what, we can stop being concerned about our faults and conform to Christ instead of our fears (Romans 12:2). When we don’t believe that God loves us no matter what, we try to put on masks that make us look perfect in order to hide our faults. When we try to hide behind masks, we undermine God’s plan that we live together in transparent, loving communities, such as small groups.

The reality is, God’s love is perfect, and he wants to cover our faults with Jesus Christ.

God goes beyond merely diagnosing our problems or judging our faults (Psalm 103:10); instead, he steps forward to address the areas of our lives that are broken:

•    Into our emptiness, he brings fullness and completion (Colossians 2:9-10).

•    Into our deficit, he brings supply (Philippians 4:19).

•    Into our death, he brings life (Ephesians 2:1, 5).

•    Into our separation, he brings reconciliation (Romans 5:10-11).

•    Into our imperfect love, he brings perfect love (1 John 4:10).

The more we’re conscious of God’s love, the less self-conscious we become about ourselves. We spend less time and energy looking to appear perfect and have a life where everything is exactly the way we want it to be; instead, we invest more time and energy pouring ourselves into other people, who, along with us, make an imperfect community, but one infused with God’s love.

By Jon Walker
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Further Reading

•   God’s Plan or My Plan? A Study by Don Myers on Discerning God’s Will
•   What Do You Want Jesus to Say When you Meet Him Face to Face?
•   Salvation Explained

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“Risk your life and get more than you ever dreamed of.” Luke 19:26 (MSG)

If God tells you to take a step of faith but you hesitate to take it until he shows you what the second step will be, you’re not waiting on God. He’s waiting on you.

God uses risks, large and small, to push us into a deeper faith. And so he wants us to step forward in faith, even if we don’t know where the second step will take us. The not knowing is what requires faith, and the not knowing compels us to rely on God to guide us forward.

Regardless of what we see on the other side of a God-directed risk, the reality is God is there. What seems to be a no-guarantee situation actually comes with the greatest guarantee of all — a God-guarantee — that he’s working in your life.

With this guarantee from God, you can enter into the risky obedience of attempting things that are impossible unless God gives you his strength to do them.

With this guarantee from God, you can enter into the risky obedience of loving other believers so deeply and so richly that you prove to the world that God’s love is flowing through you.

With this guarantee from God, you can enter into the risky obedience of loving your unlovable neighbors just as God loved you, even when you seemed unlovable.

With this guarantee from God, you can enter into the risky obedience of changing your priorities to match God’s priorities, sacrificing, in faith, what you cannot keep for the things that can never be taken away.

With this guarantee from God, you can engage in the risky obedience of making disciples of all peoples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them that the risky obedience of following Jesus comes with a God-guarantee (Matthew 28:19-20).

What task is before you that seems impossible?

By Jon Walker
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Further Reading

•   We are Christ’s Ambassadors
•  Your Life is the Only Bible Some People Read
•  Salvation Explained

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My only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” Acts 20:24 (NIV)

You’re the only person in the world who can live your life. No one else can live your life for you, and no one else is in competition with you to complete the task Jesus gave you.

Take a deep breath, and rest in the truth that God created you with such a unique mix of spiritual gifts, passions, abilities, personality, and experiences that only you can be you. No one else can duplicate you, and you cannot, should not, imitate another. You are an original masterpiece from the Master’s hand.

Your uniqueness means you’re the only one who can fulfill the mission that God assigned for you to complete.

God’s graduate assistant, Paul, says,

I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s graceActs 20:24 (NIV).

We shouldn’t waste a precious minute of life doing things that don’t matter if that means the most important thing we can do is left undone.

It’s never too late to start faithfully pursuing the mission God has set before you — the one he designed you to complete.

You may think you don’t have skills God can use, but the truth is, God designed you with the very skills he needs in you to do what he asks of you. You are uniquely, wonderfully, and fearfully made.

– Everything God has done for you, including redeeming you from your sinful failures, will support your success and bring glory to God. Think back on your life. In what specific ways has God been preparing you to accomplish his goal for your life?

How would you live differently if you truly believed God created you for a unique mission, one that only you can accomplish?

By Jon Walker
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•  Stepping Into a Personal Revival
• Fully Surrender to the Lord

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“Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, ‘We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.'”  Numbers 13:30 (NIV)

God wants you confident in the truth that, through him, all things are possible.

Every day of your life, you have a choice:

  • You can focus on the bigness of the giants that stand before you, or …
  • You can focus on the bigness of the one, true God who is pouring his strength into you.

Your focus will determine your behaviour, and it will influence your faith.

When the Israelites first approached the borders of Canaan, Moses sent scouts into the Promised Land to assess the situation. Ten of the scouts came back with reports that focused on the giants in the land, men so big and powerful the scouts feared they could not be defeated.

However, two of the scouts remained focused on the promise from God that he would hand the land over to the Israelites. One of those scouts, Caleb, silenced the others when he said,

We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do itNumbers 13:30b (NIV).

He was focused on the magnitude of God, not the magnitude of any giant challenges ahead. Today you may see many giants that challenge your faith — giants of time and energy, finances and resources, fear and faithlessness.

God wants you to be confident that he’s pouring his strength into you so you can do whatever it takes to defeat these giants. God says you can take possession of an abundant life because he is with you.

By seeing his hand sweep away the personal giants in your life, you’ll be even more confident that you can do all things through him who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13).

Thoughts:
•    What giants are you facing today?
•    Meditate on the greatness or “bigness” of God. How do your problems compare?

By Jon Walker
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•  A Bible Study on Waiting on God
•  Hearing God’s Voice – a Study by Charles Stanley

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“We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death.” 1 John 3:14 (NIV)

Our love for one another is the fruit, not the root, of our relationship with God. John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, taught that our love for others emerges from our relationship with God; that anyone born of God who knows God will love with the love of God (1 John 4:7, based on NLT).

In a sense, the process of sanctification – our movement toward becoming portraits of Jesus – involves God-Love cleaning the clutter we’ve hidden in the cupboards and corners of our being. The Eternal Lover moves with deliberation through the grit and grime of our sin. He throws open the shades and wipes down the windows of our souls until we “shine like stars in the universe” (Philippians 2:15 NIV).

As God scrubs our insides with the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ, we pass from “death to life” (1 John 3:14). We are transformed from people who are selective in who and how we love into people energized by God’s spirit to love one another abundantly and unconditionally.

It takes faith to love another with the God-Love flowing into us. Like Peter, we step or swim when we keep our eyes on Jesus and not the stormy waves of human emotions. Human love fears the water; God-Love walks across the waves with such confidence and grace that the storm is quelled.

Love starts with God – God loved you first, and your ability to love others comes from your connection with God. God loved you; now, you love others, and that allows others to see God in you (1 John 4:11-12 NIV).

Love in you proves Jesus in you – When you love others abundantly and unconditionally, you prove you’ve passed from death to Jesus-life. It proves you’re now alive and connected to Jesus through the Holy Spirit (1 John 3:14).

By Jon Walker
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•  Eternal Love
•  God Demonstrates His Love

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I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 (NIV)

When Jesus commands us to do something, he knows we can’t do it unless we’re empowered by him. So, through the Holy Spirit, he joins his life with ours; thus, “Christ lives in me.”

This new life takes us where we could never go ourselves. God transforms us by the life of Christ within us, and so we “live and move and have our being” energized by being in Christ (Acts 17:28 NIV).

No matter how hard we try, some days sheer willpower isn’t enough to move us closer to where God wants us to be. And so we try harder, and things just get worse.

This is God driving us away from “try harder” Christianity. It is God teaching us, “Not I, but Christ.”

We begin to see it is no longer “just I” doing the work. We learn to say in faith: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 NIV).

Our confidence is not in our ability but in God’s ability. Discuss ways that God works through us internally and externally to build our faith in him.

How would things change in your life if you traded self-confidence for God confidence?

By Jon Walker
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We Plan, God Directs
The Bride of Christ

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“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17 (NIV)

If you set out to love someone, no one can stop you from reaching your goal.

If your goal is to get him to love you back, he can decide not to love you. If your goal is to change her, she can resist your attempts to change. If your goal to please him, he can remain unpleased. If your goal is to control her, she can rebel against your control.

But no one can block your goal to give unconditional, Jesus-led love.

Others can reject your love, refuse your love, misunderstand your love, discount your love, spit on your love, ignore your love, impugn your love, but they cannot stop you from loving them.

Others can hold your love in scorn, crown your love with thorns, and nail your love to a cross of shame, but they cannot stop you from loving them.

Bono, from U2, once asked the question: “How do you dismantle an atomic bomb?” The answer, he said, was love.

Love presses through as

it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” and love “sustains all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7 NIV; Hebrews 1:3 HCSB).

The all-powerful God of love takes our fears and redeems them with his love, so we can move with the unstoppable, sustainable objective to love even those who seem impossible to love.

With Jesus loving through you, no one can stop your love.

By Jon Walker
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• Eternal Love
Keeping Yourself in God’s Love – even during painful times in your life
How to Experience God’s Love

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“Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.” Proverbs 3:5&6

We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God. John 6:69 (NIV)

Because the well runs dry, we know Jesus is the river of living water (John 4).

Because the storm rages, we know Jesus is the Lord of the storms (Matthew 14).

Because the floods overwhelm, we know Jesus is the rock on which to build (Matthew 7).

Because the foundation shivers, we know Jesus is the cornerstone that will not move (Matthew 21).

Because sickness comes, we know Jesus is the healer (Matthew 4).

Because we’re bankrupt through the debt of sin, we know Jesus is our redeemer. (Galatians 3).

Because we grieve, we know Jesus is the voice calling from the shore, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” (John 21).

Because we’re full of doubt, we know Jesus is the nail-scarred palm inviting our touch (John 20).

Jesus taught in the “nasty now-and-now” because he knew disciples with focused faith are never made in the classroom; we’re made in the uncertainty of life as we come face-to-face with “I can’t, but God can.

If we will allow it, our circumstances drive us deeper into the heart of God, and we change because we have believed

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The Trust Factor
Count Your Blessings

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“We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6:69 (NIV)

Because the well runs dry, we know Jesus is the river of living water (John 4).

Because the storm rages, we know Jesus is the Lord of the storms (Matthew 14).

Because the floods overwhelm, we know Jesus is the rock on which to build (Matthew 7).

Because the foundation shivers, we know Jesus is the cornerstone that will not move (Matthew 21).

Because sickness comes, we know Jesus is the healer (Matthew 4).

Because we’re bankrupt through the debt of sin, we know Jesus is our redeemer (Galatians 3).

Because we grieve, we know Jesus is the voice calling from the shore, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” (John 21).

Because we’re full of doubt, we know Jesus is the nail-scarred palm inviting our touch (John 20).

Jesus taught in the “nasty now-and-now” because he knew disciples with focused faith are never made in the classroom; we’re made in the uncertainty of life as we come face-to-face with “I can’t, but God can.”

If we will allow it, our circumstances drive us deeper into the heart of God, and we change because we have believed and come to know the Holy One of God (John 6:69).

by Jon Walker
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•  What a Friend we Have in Jesus
Alone But Not Lonely

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Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.John 6:68-69 (NIV)

Even if we don’t understand God’s plan, we need to respond to his direction.

In fact, when we don’t understand God’s plan that we need to be very focused on doing exactly what he directs us to do.

God allows us to choose to do his will, or to not do his will, and often, he asks us to make that choice before we know the specific details of his plan. That’s because part of his plan is to develop in us a trust – where we trust God’s character and his benevolence.

He develops within you an attitude of prior commitment, a desire to do his will. Part of the strength that God gives you to “do all things through him” is the ability to choose to do his will, even before you know what it is.

But this is where many people stall in their steps toward being on mission. They get into a battle of wills with God, wanting him to reveal his plan first, and only then will they decide whether or not to respond.

But that’s not the way it works. God wants you to decide in advance that you’ll do what he tells you to do. He’s calling you to trust him with complete abandonment, believing that his will is the best plan for your life and believing that he will strengthen you to do all the things he asks.

You may not be ready to do that yet, but God will even give you the strength to be honest about that. God will not be surprised by your transparency if you say, “Father, I’m not sure I’m ready to do your will. I don’t know if I want to do it or not.” He already knows about your hesitancy.

But allow God to strengthen you in this area. Tell him, “I don’t know that I’m willing to step out in faith without first knowing everything that’s going to happen, but I’m willing to be made willing.”

One reason God doesn’t give you the full picture of his plans for your life is that you may be overwhelmed by what you see. Since it is a God-sized mission, it may appear impossible for you to complete. But that’s the point—there is no way you can fulfill your mission without God and his strength.

As you take steps of faith, and your confidence in God increases, he will reveal more of the plan.

By Jon Walker
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God’s Plan – A Study on God’s Destiny for Me?

We Plan, God Directs

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“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”  2 Corinthians 4:8–9 (NIV)

When we confess our belief in Jesus as the Holy One of God, we often assume our lives will become easier. It doesn’t help that many people with good intentions teach this as biblical truth.

Certainly Jesus taught that his yoke is easy (Matthew 11:30), and the apostle Paul spoke about the Sabbath rest of God (Hebrews 4:9), but both these examples teach the need to develop a deep trust in God and not that following Jesus is easy. We’re to step into the will of God and stay there, trusting he has our best interests at heart (Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 8:28).

With God’s Spirit working in us and through us, we can get through what we’re going through. The apostle Paul says this is the very time we can learn to trust Jesus:

Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am” (Philippians 4:13 MSG).

If we want to make a significant contribution to the Kingdom of God, we cannot sidestep the difficult seasons of life. Like Paul, we can watch God keep us from being crushed when we’re under pressure, give us hope when things don’t make any sense, reveal his presence when we are rejected, and pick us back up when we’re knocked senseless to the ground (2 Corinthians 4:8–9).

Getting through what you’re going through requires a shift. Instead of asking, “Why me?” ask, “What do I do with this, God?”

Thoughts:
– Why wouldn’t God take away all our problems when we commit our lives to Jesus?
– What do you think God would do if you prayed, “Lord, help my unbelief?”
– Where are you saying “Why me?” in your life? What do you think will happen if you ask instead, “What do I do with this, God?”

By Jon Walker
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The Gift of Forgiveness

Where Your Choices Can Lead You

How to get ‘Holy Spirit’ Power

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