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

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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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“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 meGalatians 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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“Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; Be gracious to me and hear my prayer.” Psalms 4:1 (NASB)

Lord, we’re desperate for you.  We’re bunched up in confusion, moving by impulse and fear, flitting here and there like a frenzied flock caught in the wilderness of the far country.

We are here! We are here!

We know you hear; you’ve heard us before; you’ve swept in like shock and awe and saved us from our hopeless paralysis.

Do it again, O, Holy One; we are desperate for you. How long will you make us wait?

And you speak to us God, saying,

“Yes, how long? How long must I wait while you wear my grace and peace like some cheap cloak bought at the secondhand store? How long must I wait while you chase after worthless things, like birds pushed by a winter’s wind?  How long must I wait while you live out a lie because you think you’ve found the truth in something – or someone – other than me?”

Oh God, I hear your heart. You set me apart; yet, I joined the crowd — like birds of a feather. I confess it was you who spoke me into my mother’s womb; you who formed my innermost parts; and it is you who frees me from foolish folly.

It is you who gives me life; I have nowhere else to go.

From now on, Abba, when the swirl and twirl shoves at me, instead of taking to panicked wings; I’ll let you quiet my soul. I’ll lie upon my bed and listen for your still small voice, and I will be still and know that you are my God, the one and only, true Holy One.

I will offer you the sacrifice of righteousness – not a guilt offering, not a must-make-it-up-to-you list – but a broken and contrite heart.

I know now that these are what bring you joy. Dear Father, please shine your face upon me and light my way home, where I will lie within your wings and I will be at peace — because you are my peace and your peace envelopes my heart. I will sleep because I have none to fear but you.

Oh, Lord, I am desperate for you. I am ready now; I am willing now to be swept under the safety of your wings, as a hen gathers her chicks. (Matthew 23:37, NKJV)

By Jon Walker
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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 times” 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 andcome to know the Holy One of God (John 6:69).

by Jon Walker
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“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalms 51:10 (NIV)

God spoke the world into existence, and He spoke you into your mother’s womb. Even now, He can speak into the chaos of your life to bring it shape and form (Psalm 51:10 MSG).

This is a Genesis event, where God speaks into the void and the darkness of your life, creating for you a new beginning.

God can create something from nothing; He can take a heart that is broken, impure, or failed and create a heart that is whole, pure, and purposeful. God wants to see you pure, so He takes an active role in creating your new heart and bringing order to the chaos of your life.

Your job is to submit to His sovereignty, humble yourself before Him, and ask for His help.

Lord, speak a Genesis moment into our hearts and into the circumstances of our lives. We acknowledge “everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:30 MSG).

Renew in us a steadfast spirit’ (Psalm 51:10), no longer chaotic or moved by events, circumstances, or feelings. Give us lives shaped by you and by your Spirit flowing through us.

Give God your chaos. Let God speak into your life, creating a new beginning, a new hope, and a new energy. Pray, “God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life” (Psalm 51:10 MSG).

By Jon Walker
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“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message.” John 17:20 (NIV)

During the Last Supper, Jesus prayed for himself and then he prayed for the disciples. And then, with the hour of his death approaching, he took time to pray for you. He prayed for all those who would believe through the ministry of the disciples, and that means you.

This is what he told God:

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the worldJohn 17:23 (NIV).

Jesus prays for you still. “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them
Hebrews 7:25 (NIV).

Jesus wants you with him. “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory . . .” John 17:24 (NIV).

By Jon Walker
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We have come to believe and to 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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“My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be”. Psalm 139:15–16 (NIV)

If you grasp “how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge(Ephesians 3:18–19a NIV), then you will understand the extraordinary value of every human life, how each individual is a masterpiece created by God.

You are a masterpiece created by God!

Oswald Chambers wrote, “Individual lives are the expression of a pre-existing idea in the mind of God.” The point is, God thought you up (Jeremiah 1:5), and now he lovingly thinks of you.

You are of immeasurable worth to God, and your value is not determined by your appearance or performance, how much time or money you can contribute, how well you sing or teach, or how long you live. The value of any container is determined by its contents, and you are a one and only, custom-made container filled with the very life of God.

Rejoice in this truth, and be set free.

By Jon Walker
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“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3

Jesus says, “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for Him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.” (Matthew 5:3 NLT) He means we must come to the end of ourselves. We have to leave behind any self-sufficiency or self-righteousness and come to the place where we realize our only hope is in Jesus Christ, our Lord.

We must be desperate for God: “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and His rule.” (Matthew 5:3 MSG) Bonhoeffer notes the original disciples did not have religious wealth, in the sense that they did not have Pharisaical prestige or position.

And, as they followed Jesus, they were inexperienced in this new way. All they could do was follow Jesus for each next step; they couldn’t rely on well-worn traditions that are so easily leaned upon in place of a relationship with Jesus.

They had nowhere else to turn but to Jesus—and it should be that way for us, as well. If you deeply believed there was nowhere else to turn but Jesus, how would your life change?

By Jon Walker
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“For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2 (NIV)

If you’re thinking about making some New Year’s Resolutions, consider this one from The Apostle: “This year I resolve to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified.

Paul’s message is radically simple: Salvation is in Christ alone. What does this mean?

It’s not Christ plus your good behavior.

• It’s not Christ plus the years you taught a Bible study.

• It’s not Christ plus your tithe.

• It’s not Christ plus the church you attend.

• It’s not Christ plus the number of verses you memorize.

• It’s not Christ plus your title in the church.

• It’s not Christ plus wisdom from the latest Christian seminar.

• It’s not Christ plus a  fast.

• It’s not Christ plus a good driving record.

• It’s not Christ plus well-behaved children.

• It’s not Christ plus the right job.

• It’s not Christ plus the right spouse.

• It’s not Christ plus the latest technology.

It’s simply Christ. Christ plus nothing.

That’s a message that is as right throughout this coming year as it will be in 2999.

May your new resolution for the year be nothing but Christ and Him crucified.

by Jon Walker
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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. Your focus will determine your behavior 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 it” (Numbers 13:30 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).

What are you thinking –

  • What are you facing today that seems too big to handle? Are they too big for God?
  • Do you focus your day by studying God’s Word in the morning? How would doing so give you confidence in God’s strength throughout the day?

by Jon Walker
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“And do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them; for behold, I will bring adversity on all flesh,” says the Lord. “But I will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go.” Jeremiah 45:5 (NKJV)

Once you get into the real world, you’ll find it’s not as easy as that.” “You’re in for a rude awakening when you get out of here and into real life.”

These are things we might say to students who’ve never experienced life outside of school. But the truth is, graduation doesn’t lead to real life because we find our  real life in Christ.

We become real, healed, full human beings when we connect with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Until then, we’re still sending postcards from a fantasy life. Our maturity in Jesus brings us closer and closer to real life, as established by God before he set the foundations of the world.

Thomas Merton, the prayer-centered monk, spoke in terms of life in the nasty-now-and-now being like an onion. God keeps peeling away the layers until the real you is revealed.

In a sense, God is explaining that when he says, “I will bring adversity on all flesh” (Jeremiah 45:5 NKJV). He uses adversity in your life to scrape away the layers that cover your real life.

God says when he brings great disaster upon you there will be no time to pack a bag filled with ego, self-centeredness, lust, or materialism. He’ll let you escape, but only with the Jesus-clothes on your back.

What you’re left with is your real life in Jesus (Colossians 3:4). A life that is filled with God’s purpose and a life in alignment with God’s heart and mind. In this real life, we enter into the abundance of life promised by Jesus (John 10:10).

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“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1–2 (NIV)

No matter what you’ve ever done, there is no condemnation in Christ. He sits at the Father’s right hand, not as an accuser, but as an advocate who pleads on your behalf.

Jesus loves you. He willingly gave his life for you. God began the work to bring you back into his presence long before you were born. God knows you can’t make the journey home on your own, so while you “were still helpless”, Christ died for you (Romans 5:6 HCSB).

Jesus offers mercy, not condemnation. He says, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (Matthew 9:13 NIV). His objective is to bring you back into intimacy with the Father, so he’s not interested in making you jump through hoops to prove yourself worthy or to earn back God’s love.

In a sense, Jesus says, “You promise to do things in exchange for your forgiveness, but I want to give you forgiveness and grace as a gift. I desire mercy, not these sacrifices you hope will win back my love; you never lost my love!”

My purpose is not to condemn you but to let my life run free within you as the Holy Spirit connects you directly to the Father” (Romans 8:1-2 NIV, author paraphrase).

It’s as if Jesus is saying, “You can’t wash all the stains away, so let me do it for you. My blood will be the bleach to wash you white as snow, and my Spirit will begin to live directly in your heart.”

Wrapped in Christ, we are able to

approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16 NIV).

When you feel condemnation coming at you like a furious flood, look to Jesus, who says,

I no longer condemn you. Go and sin no more” (John 8:11 NLT, with author paraphrase).

By Jon Walker
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