Category: thoughts by Jon Walker

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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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“He has identified us as His own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts . . .  “  2 Corinthians 1:22 (NLT)

Your faith will grow stronger as you focus on your identity in Christ (Galatians 2).

What this means is that you abandon any image of yourself that is not from God. You stop accepting what others have said about you; you stop accepting how others have labeled you; you stop accepting how others have defined you.

You start believing what God says about you; you start believing God is pleased with how he created you; you start believing that God defines you.

You’re not defined by your feelings; you’re not defined by the opinions of others; you’re not defined by your circumstances; you’re not defined by your successes or failures; you’re not defined by the car you drive, the money you make, or the house you say you own when the bank really does.

You are defined by God, and God alone. He identifies you as his own (2 Corinthians 1:22).

The thing is, if you don’t know who you are then you’re vulnerable to other people telling you who you are. But the concrete, solid, gospel truth is that you are who God says you are and no one else has a vote in the matter.

This “identity issue” is an important part of living the abundant life. Jesus was able to face the incredible demands of his mission because he knew exactly who he was; he knew that he mattered to God, and that gave him confidence to move purposefully in faith.

You are now identified with Christ and have the power of the Holy Spirit within you. You are God’s precious child and he created you in a way that pleases him.

By Jon Walker
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“So then, we must pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another.” Romans 14:19 (HCSB)

God intends for us to support one another

God wants us to build one another up — The word support literally means to increase one another’s potential. It carries the idea of strengthening one another, to make one another more able to face the challenges of living for Christ. “We are in this fight together” (Philippians 1:30 NLT). We cannot afford to lose anyone. To succeed, you need the strength supplied by the Body of Christ, just as they need you.

God wants us to stand alongside one another — “Encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 11:25, NIV). God does this for us. He “supports us in every hardship, so that we are able to come to the support of others, in every hardship of theirs because of the encouragement that we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:14). We’re created to stand alongside one another.

God wants us be patient with one another — When we support one another, we express unconditional love. Even after we grow close enough to each other to learn one another’s quirks and annoying little habits, we will stick by each other’s side. “With all humility and gentleness, and with patience, support each other in love” (Ephesians 4:2 NJB).

Is there someone who could use your encouragement today? Don’t wait until later! Encourage that person right now.

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.

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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Those who do not take up their cross and follow in my steps are not fit to be my disciples. Those who try to gain their own life will lose it; but those who lose their life for my sake will gain it.” Matthew 10:38-39 (TEV)

Will we be loyal to our fears or loyal to Jesus?

Jesus says we should understand this: if we fear we will lose out on life by following him, the truth is we will lose it all anyway, and at the same time, we will lose out on the real, kingdom life we’re searching for.

On the other hand, if we abandon our fears and follow him, Jesus will lead us into the kingdom of heaven, where we will find the life we always hoped for.

It is a very practical decision unless you’re trapped in the kind of fallen thinking that tells us disposable things and temporary relationships are the end all and be all of the universe.

When someone argues that following Jesus is impractical, it shows they do not have a clue about the kingdom of heaven. “The Message that points to Christ on the Cross seems like sheer silliness to those hell-bent on destruction, but for those on the way of salvation it makes perfect sense,” says the Apostle Paul. (1 Corinthians 1:18 MSG)

When we suggest the commands of Jesus are impractical or unrealistic, we show our own ignorance about the kingdom of heaven

And so Jesus comes with his eye on the Final Judgment. With the cross, Jesus brings peace, notes Bonhoeffer. “But the cross is the sword God wields on earth.” The Word of God is “sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defence, laying us open to listen and obey.” (Hebrews 4:12 MSG) Jesus slices across our loyalties, demanding that we chose him as the priority.

By Jon Walker
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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:14

In faith, I know these things to be true:

God is full of love and grace, and he fills me with his love and grace.

God’s work within me is to clear a channel for his love and grace to flow through me into the lives of anyone and everyone I meet.

• I may not be there yet, but I am “confident of this, that he who began a good work in [me] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”(Philippians 1:6).

• And I know “God is able to make all grace abound [in me], so that in all things at all times, having all that [I] need, [I] will abound in every good work
(2 Corinthians 9:8).

He will make my joy complete because I no longer live in darkness, but I now live in the truth and have fellowship with God
(1 John 1:4; 1 John 1:6).

• Through the “Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,” I am, at all times, filled with grace, mercy, and peace
(2 Corinthians 13:14).

This is what I believe to be true and I will walk accordingly, allowing God to do his work in me from the inside out. Father, make it so. I believe; help my unbelief.

Question: In which area(s) of your faith (perhaps some listed above) can you pray today: “I believe; help my unbelief”?

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

God pours his power into your life, giving you his strength to do what he’s called to do.

Faith is acting in confidence that God’s power is active in and through your life; faith is trusting God’s power will be your strength to do everything through him.

He’s not asking you to live life under your own power or through your own strength. That would limit what you can do while God’s power and strength are unlimited.

When you say, “There’s something I’d really like to do for God, but I don’t think that I can do it,” God may reply, “Great! I’m glad you’ve figured it out. You can’t do it by yourself, but with my power working through you, you can do anything I ask you to do.”

If you stay at “I can’t” and never move power to “God can,” then you’re less likely to even try great things for God. It’s like having a car with the most powerful engine ever built, but saying, “I don’t think it can get me past the first intersection.” So you leave it in your garage, never taking it onto the road.

God’s power is available to you:

For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey Him and the power to do what pleases Him” (Philippians 2:13 NLT).

by Jon Walker
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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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“… Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus.

But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!” Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, “Faint-heart, what got into you?Matthew 14:29-31 (MSG)

The call of discipleship is to follow after Jesus, even onto the water. In a sense, Jesus beckons,

Come closer to me. Be my disciple and learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I am the only way, so I require you to focus exclusively on me in your obedience.

Then, to underscore the need for this single-minded obedience, the Bible tells us that Peter became distracted. As he sees the wind whipping across the waves, Peter takes his focus off Jesus and he begins to sink into the water. His obedience is now double-minded – and he provides a profound object lesson in what happens when we try to serve two masters.

Here is the way of little faith: We want to walk on water; yet, we insist on being able to focus on whatever we want — sometimes Jesus, sometimes the wind and waves; sometimes Jesus, sometimes our careers and casual pursuits; sometimes Jesus; sometimes “the sin that so easily entangles” (Hebrews 12:1 NIV).

When we choose to focus on our cares and worries, we elevate our anxieties to the same status as the promises of Jesus. But, which is more important, which should demand our greater attention – the ability of Jesus to care for us or the concerns we have about our circumstances?

And so, rather than obeying the commands of Jesus, we demand he tolerate our distractions and double-mindedness. We live within a mythology that says we can somehow follow after Jesus, yet pick and choose what commandments we will obey — and when we’ll obey.

But, if we want to walk on the water with Jesus, we must hear his directing us, ‘Don’t look at the waves; look at Me.’

By Jon Walker
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May the God of peace . . . equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
Hebrews 13:20–21 (NIV)

God gives you everything you need to succeed in your life with Jesus.

The writer of Hebrews refers to this as equipping, and it’s similar to providing a sports team with the necessary training and equipment to succeed. They are given the equip-ment to win.

A common phrase among pastors is, “God doesn’t call the equipped; he equips the people he calls.”

And God is calling you.

The Bible says God will richly and lavishly support your every need as you begin your Jesus-journey. It’s not just your material needs that he’ll provide; he’ll also be a constant presence, going before you on your journey and sweeping in behind as you move forward.

God will be your strength, your wisdom, and your guidance. He’ll open doors of support and close doors that will take you in the wrong direction. He created you to succeed, and he’s been using people and circumstances throughout your life to equip you for your journey.

God equips you through others. One way God equips is through your family, friends, and co-workers. They may support you through material needs, but more importantly they can model a Jesus-life for you and help you bring your fears, concerns, and struggles into the light, so God can move you from fear to faith.

God equips others through you. Just as God uses others to equip you, he will also use you to equip others. Jesus-in-you can help others see God as an encourager and a supporter, and Jesus as a loving “friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24 NIV).

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 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 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 there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” Luke 2:8-10 (NIV)

Have you ever noticed God is always telling us to not be afraid? For instance, in the Bible, whenever an angel shows up with a message from God, the first thing the angel says is: “Do not be afraid.”

There are all kinds of reasons we might be afraid to receive a message from God: We’re afraid of change, afraid of losing control, afraid of sacrifice.

We’re afraid of living apart from the pretense that we must be good enough.

Yet, the good news of great joy is that you don’t have to be good enough because God is good enough on your behalf!

The Bible teaches us to fight fear with faith—faith that Jesus will cover all our sins and shortcomings.

Practical Nativity:

  •  Replace fear with faith. God’s perfect love drives out all fear (1 John4:18). As you abandon your fears, ask God to guide you toward great faith: “I believe, Lord; help my unbelief.”
  •  Chase God, not perfection. You will never reach perfection, but Jesus, through his death and resurrection, is your perfection. God doesn’t love you because you’re the best in your class or because you try really hard. God loves you because he loves you. Slow down, shake off your anxiety, and meditate on that.

by Jon Walker
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His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. And this gave him great pleasure.” Ephesians 1:5 (NLT)

Say the following as a prayer.

In faith, I know this to be true:

God is in love with me, and when he thinks of me, it brings him joy.

It was his good pleasure to create me, and he created me so he could love me and his glory could shine through me. He chose me “in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight” Ephesians 1:4 (NIV).

In his love, he determined to adopt me into his family, and, even then, he planned for my redemption through Jesus’ blood, bringing “the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on [me] with all wisdom and understanding” (Ephesians 1:7–8).

His love for me is continuous, so that I can say with confidence and joy, “When I awake, I am still with you” (Psalm 139:18b).

By his Spirit, I can live a life worthy of the Lord, and I am able to “please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10).

Jesus teaches me this confidence in God’s love, so that the same joy that is in him will be in me and so my joy will be complete, centered wholly in God (John 15:11).

What would it feel like to be “lavished” with God’s grace?

How does it feel to know God is pleased to have you in his family?

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Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Psalm 51:8 (NIV)

In the school of Christ, brokenness is a good thing.

Here’s why: It’s impossible to become intimate with God unless we are broken of our independence, broken of our pride, and broken of our insistence that our way is better than God’s.

We must be broken of the illusion that we bring anything to the peace talks when we seek to end our war with God; the only surrender God requires is unconditional.

  • Brokenness is the last stop before we finally confess, “I can’t; God can.”
  • Brokenness is the apostle Paul confessing, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” Romans 7:24 (NIV).
  • Brokenness is the prodigal fighting with the pigs over food. Luke 15:11–32.
  • Brokenness is Joseph, still in prison, forgotten by the cup bearer. Genesis 40:23.
  • Brokenness is Jonah in the belly of a whale, confessing the consequences of running from God: “I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.” Jonah 1:12 (NIV).
  • Brokenness is Peter weeping bitterly outside the trial of Jesus.
    Luke 22:62.
  • Brokenness is Jesus abandoning everything to God: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42 (NIV).

God breaks us so he can use us. We can smash our pride against the solid rock of Jesus, confess our sins, and admit our need for him; or the stone can fall on us, meaning God in his ruthless, loving pursuit of us will break us of our pride, sin, folly, and independence. Matthew 21:44.

Like Jesus serving bread at the Last Supper, God takes us, breaks us, blesses us, and then uses us.

Oh, Lord, may you hear our joy and gladness; may the bones you have crushed rejoice.” Psalm 51:8 (NIV, author paraphrase).

By Jon Walker
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“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” Colossians 3:16 (NIV)

God wants you to teach someone who can then teach someone else.

  • He wants you to teach others about the spiritual insights he’s deposited in you
  • He wants you to teach others about the practical steps you’ve taken to become more   and more like Jesus
  • He wants you to teach others about the ways he’s stretched your faith.
  • He wants you to teach others how they can discover life in Christ.
  • He wants you to teach them the skills necessary to go on mission.

God’s plan calls for us to tell others about Jesus and then to disciple them so they can disciple others.

You may be wondering if you’re capable of doing this, but the apostle Paul says you can make a choice to “let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom . . .” (Colossians 3:16 NIV) It is God who teaches through you, giving you a supernatural wisdom and confidence to tell others about Jesus.

Frankly, you have more knowledge, training, and resources at your disposal than believers did in the first century Church, and yet they were able to be a witness to the world (2 Timothy 2:4). More importantly, God is with us in the same way that he was with them.

Trust the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to flow from you and give you the words and the wisdom you need to tell others about Jesus.

By Jon Walker

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