Grace Creates

What Do I Do With This, God?

Posted on: June 7th, 2013 by Jon Walker | Tags: , , , , ,

“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?”

Talk About It

  • 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?”

 

Discover how God can work through the worst of circumstances in Jon Walker’s new book, “Breakfast with Bonhoeffer.” Gut-wrenching honesty, real world faith, not just another ‘feel good’ Christian story, this book shows how God works through the worst of circumstances, including disease, divorce, and financial downfall.

Author: Jon Walker

Jon Walker is managing editor of Rick Warren’s Daily Hope Devotionals and a contributing editor at pastors.com. © Copyright 2013 Jon Walker. Used by permission.

Life’s Uncertainty Teaches God Can Be Trusted

Posted on: June 6th, 2013 by Jon Walker | Tags: , ,

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).

 

Discover how God can work through the worst of circumstances in Jon Walker’s new book, “Breakfast with Bonhoeffer.” Gut-wrenching honesty, real world faith, not just another ‘feel good’ Christian story, this book shows how God works through the worst of circumstances, including disease, divorce, and financial downfall.

Author: Jon Walker

Jon Walker is managing editor of Rick Warren’s Daily Hope Devotionals and a contributing editor at pastors.com. © Copyright 2013 Jon Walker. Used by permission.

What prevents you from greater Christian maturity?

Posted on: June 3rd, 2013 by Jon Walker | Tags: , , , ,

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.’” (Luke 15:22 NIV)

In the story of the prodigal, we identify with the younger brother, seeing ourselves as prodigals returning to God.

Some of us even identify with the older brother, realizing we’ve sinfully harbored resentment when God shows grace to others who, in our wrongful judgment, are “less Christian” than ourselves.

But have you ever thought God wants you to identify with the prodigal’s father, who “keeps no record of wrongs” as he scans the horizon, always hoping for the return of his son (1 Corinthians 13:5 NIV)?

Consider that we’re on a journey, through Jesus, to become like the heavenly Father, where we become one with his heart, one with his mind, and one with his other-centered focus. We are called to become Christ-like, and when we resemble Jesus, we resemble the Father (John 10:30).

People will see the family resemblance in us; as sons and daughters, they’ll see the maturity of our Father working in and through us. Our objective is to become a father or mother of the faith, a living representation of the Father’s compassion for others.

To be honest, the idea of becoming a father of the faith is as alien to me as it may be for you to believe you could mature into a mother or father of the faith. In fact, it seems impossible; yet, it’s what we are meant to become.

What prevents you from growing into greater Christian maturity?

To echo Oswald Chambers, “Do you not want to be a saint, or do you not believe God can make you one?”

(The idea that we can mature into fathers and mothers of the faith is presented in Henri J. M. Nouwen’s book, The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming.)

 

Discover how God can work through the worst of circumstances in Jon Walker’s new book, “Breakfast with Bonhoeffer.” Gut-wrenching honesty, real world faith, not just another ‘feel good’ Christian story, this book shows how God works through the worst of circumstances, including disease, divorce, and financial downfall.

Author: Jon Walker

Jon Walker is managing editor of Rick Warren’s Daily Hope Devotionals and a contributing editor at pastors.com. © Copyright 2013 Jon Walker. Used by permission.

Will You Join Jesus in His Work?

Posted on: May 30th, 2013 by Jon Walker | Tags: 

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9:36–38 NIV)

There are gut-wrenching moments in life, the kind when something hits you so hard it feels like someone’s ripping your insides out.

The apostle Matthew, in his biography of Jesus, suggests Jesus experienced such a gut-wrenching moment when he saw all the harassed and helpless human sheep. More than a mere broken heart, Jesus was moved to extraordinary compassion when he saw so many people beaten down by life, facing problems so overwhelming they didn’t even know where to go for help (Matthew 9:36).

In this moment, Matthew reports Jesus looked at his disciples and said, in effect, “I want your help with this. There are so many people who need relief—who need to know and experience God’s compassion—that I need you to help with this great harvest” (Matthew 9:37–38, author paraphrase).

Jesus calls us to join him in his work. Jesus calls us to pray that others will join us in this work. God fills us with his love and compassion so we can minister to those who are harassed, helpless and beaten down by life. We carry the good news that Jesus helps us overcome the heartache of our circumstances and tribulations.

 

Will you join Jesus in his work and see how God works through your obedience to him?
Discover how God can work through the worst of circumstances in Jon Walker’s new book, “Breakfast with Bonhoeffer.” Gut-wrenching honesty, real world faith, not just another ‘feel good’ Christian story, this book shows how God works through the worst of circumstances, including disease, divorce, and financial downfall.

Author: Jon Walker

Jon Walker is managing editor of Rick Warren’s Daily Hope Devotionals and a contributing editor at pastors.com. © Copyright 2013 Jon Walker. Used by permission.

Encourage Someone Today

Posted on: May 29th, 2013 by Jon Walker | Tags: , , ,

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

As Pastor Rick prepares us for the Decade of Destiny, remember to support those around you who are preparing, too.

  • God wants us to build up one another. The word “support” literally means to increase one another’s potential. It carries the idea of strengthening one another, making one another more able to face the challenges of living for Christ. “We are in this fight together” (Philippians 1:30a 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. God does this for us — he “who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:4 NIV). 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 lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2 NKJV).

Talk About It

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

 

Discover how God can work through the worst of circumstances in Jon Walker’s new book, “Breakfast with Bonhoeffer.” Gut-wrenching honesty, real world faith, not just another ‘feel good’ Christian story, this book shows how God works through the worst of circumstances, including disease, divorce, and financial downfall.

Author: Jon Walker

Jon Walker is managing editor of Rick Warren’s Daily Hope Devotionals and a contributing editor at pastors.com. © Copyright 2013 Jon Walker. Used by permission.

You Have a Choice

Posted on: May 28th, 2013 by Jon Walker | Tags: 

“You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” (Romans 6:18 NIV)

For years I wandered away from God, and my image of that time is that of a traveler on a trail through the wilderness.

I left the trail and got lost.

Wandering in the wilderness, I lost even the memory that I was there because of my own sinful choices. Eventually, I lost the truth that I had any choice at all. It felt like I was held hostage by my choices and that I had no choice but to keep making the same choices. What other choice did I have?

So, part of my prodigal return was realizing I still had a choice, starting with the foundational choice that “I can’t, but God can.”

Once I returned to God’s path, I could clearly see the terrible, horrible choice I’d made to wander away and the resulting waste of time, energy, and missed opportunities. Not to mention, I’d been exhausting myself trying to live life like it was never designed to be lived.

What I could also see is that I still had choices — I could continue down God’s path, I could sit and mourn the waste, or I could return to my wanderings.

But, most of all, I finally believed my freedom of choice left me free not to sin. I did not have to sin; I could choose not to sin. I am free from sin, not free from temptation, but free from the slavery of sin that kept me chained to ungodly choices.

Jesus broke the power of sin in your life, and he’s empowered you, through the Holy Spirit, to make the right, corrective, godly choices.

Be still and know that he is God — and think upon this truth.

Talk About It

Why do you think God lets us make our own choices?

Are you facing a big decision about your future? What do you believe is the godly choice?

 

Discover how God can work through the worst of circumstances in Jon Walker’s new book, “Breakfast with Bonhoeffer.” Gut-wrenching honesty, real world faith, not just another ‘feel good’ Christian story, this book shows how God works through the worst of circumstances, including disease, divorce, and financial downfall.

Author: Jon Walker

Jon Walker is managing editor of Rick Warren’s Daily Hope Devotionals and a contributing editor at pastors.com. © Copyright 2013 Jon Walker. Used by permission.

Walking with a Broken Leg

Posted on: May 27th, 2013 by Jon Walker | Tags: 

Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. Galatians 3:23–25 (NIV)

One day you see me and I’m wearing a huge cast on my leg. I tell you I broke my leg pretty seriously, and the doctor says I have to wear the cast for at least three months as I learn how to walk properly.

About a year later, you see me still wearing the same cast, and you’re really concerned. You ask me if my leg has actually been permanently damaged and if I’ll have to wear the cast forever.

You say, “I thought that cast was supposed to re-train you to walk after your accident.”

Then, I surprise you by telling you: “Oh, the cast. You know the doctor told me I’d really made great progress and he wanted to take it off after three months. But I wouldn’t let him. I mean, it’s gotten pretty comfortable to walk on and, just between you and me, it’s a bit frightening to think about walking without the cast.”

The cast is the law, and the cast is meant to teach us how to walk with God after the surgery performed by Jesus to clear out all the decay and infection in our sin-wounds.

There is nothing evil about the cast; God created it to help us walk again.

But the cast was never meant to be a permanent solution. The Spirit inside us is the long-term solution to walking the way God wants us to walk.

 

Discover how God can work through the worst of circumstances in Jon Walker’s new book, “Breakfast with Bonhoeffer.” Gut-wrenching honesty, real world faith, not just another ‘feel good’ Christian story, this book shows how God works through the worst of circumstances, including disease, divorce, and financial downfall.

Author: Jon Walker

Jon Walker is managing editor of Rick Warren’s Daily Hope Devotionals and a contributing editor at pastors.com. © Copyright 2013 Jon Walker. Used by permission.

Until We’re Fully Known

Posted on: May 24th, 2013 by Jon Walker | Tags: 

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:12 (NIV)

In relationships the failure to communicate can be extremely frustrating. But, the failure to commune leads us to despair.

Communication is usually about sharing information; at its most basic level, the transmitting and receiving of meanings.

Communion, however, is about sharing life. It’s about knowing and being known, caring and being cared for on a deep and personal basis.

Perhaps the most pressing need each of us has is to know that we are fully known and, yet, still deeply loved. That, despite our failures and weakness, regardless of our successes and strengths, we are still unconditionally loved.

Some of our families did a fairly good job of this while others failed miserably.

But God, the Father, is perfect in his love, and we are already fully known by him. He created us with a desire for that “fully known” love and so he draws us to himself, where we are face-to-face with him, where one day we will know fully even as we are now fully known (1 Corinthians 13:12).

And our objective-in-Jesus is to carry this fully known love into our relationships, modeling for others a Christ-like communion that that emerges in a place where it is safe to be fully known and still be loved.

 

Discover how God can work through the worst of circumstances in Jon Walker’s new book, “Breakfast with Bonhoeffer.” Gut-wrenching honesty, real world faith, not just another ‘feel good’ Christian story, this book shows how God works through the worst of circumstances, including disease, divorce, and financial downfall.

Author: Jon Walker

Jon Walker is managing editor of Rick Warren’s Daily Hope Devotionals and a contributing editor at pastors.com. © Copyright 2013 Jon Walker. Used by permission.

A Leader Who Serves or a Servant Who Leads

Posted on: May 23rd, 2013 by Jon Walker | Tags: ,

“But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:32 NIV)

When Jesus tells Peter he’s prayed for him, he explains this specific prayer was because “Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat” (Luke 22:31 NIV).

Now, to me, it begs the question: Lord, did you have to say “yes”?

There may be days when you wonder if God is letting Satan sift you. But, if that is true, we can choose to believe God is still in control and that his presence inside us is greater than the one who is in the world (1 John 4:4).

A sifting brings glory to God, such as when Job still praised his maker, even when everything seemed lost and even his wife was telling him to give up on God.

A sifting also probes your weaknesses, revealing where you’re still thinking, “I can.” A good swift sift will push you to “I can’t, but God can.”

In allowing you to be sifted, God is scraping away all the distraction and things that might hinder you from fulfilling your purpose.

The way that Jesus tells Peter about the sifting has always held a special meaning to me. Jesus didn’t just say, “Get ready for a whirlwind of hurt! I know you’re going to let me down.”

Instead, Jesus points to the future: Peter would survive the sifting. He would return humbled, but stronger, with the purpose of strengthening his brothers. In a sense, “When you turn back from your turning back, you’ll be a servant who leads.”

Thoughts:

What is the difference between a leader who serves and a servant who leads?
Discover how God can work through the worst of circumstances in Jon Walker’s new book, “Breakfast with Bonhoeffer.” Gut-wrenching honesty, real world faith, not just another ‘feel good’ Christian story, this book shows how God works through the worst of circumstances, including disease, divorce, and financial downfall.

Author: Jon Walker

Jon Walker is managing editor of Rick Warren’s Daily Hope Devotionals and a contributing editor at pastors.com. © Copyright 2013 Jon Walker. Used by permission.

Truth: Sailing on God’s Spirit-Wind

Posted on: May 22nd, 2013 by Jon Walker | Tags: , , ,

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. Ephesians 3:20 (NIV)

In faith, I know this to be true:

God wants me to succeed in my walk of faith.

He shaped me exactly how I need to be in order to succeed at my purpose in life, and he’s placed the Holy Spirit within me to guarantee I succeed.

His power works within me to do immeasurably more than I can ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20 NIV). He planned me to succeed at my purpose, created me to succeed at my purpose, and is now going before and coming behind me as I fulfill my purpose (Ephesians 2:10; Psalm 139:5).

In my frustration, I may see his plans as evil, but they’re actually plans full of “hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV). He is not a thief come to “steal and kill and destroy”; he’s come to give me life, a life full and complete and with purpose (John 10:10 NIV). His plan is to “make my joy complete” (1 John 1:4 NIV); his joy within me coming full cycle, completing the connection between me and him.

God enlightens the eyes of my heart so that I can see the hope to which he’s called me, “the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:18 NIV).

In God’s grace, I can open my faith sails, and he will blow me to his destination through his mighty Spirit-wind.

 

Discover how God can work through the worst of circumstances in Jon Walker’s new book, “Breakfast with Bonhoeffer.” Gut-wrenching honesty, real world faith, not just another ‘feel good’ Christian story, this book shows how God works through the worst of circumstances, including disease, divorce, and financial downfall.

Author: Jon Walker

Jon Walker is managing editor of Rick Warren’s Daily Hope Devotionals and a contributing editor at pastors.com. © Copyright 2013 Jon Walker. Used by permission.

About Jon

Jon Walker has worked closely with Rick Warren for many years, first as a writer/editor, later as vice president of communications at Purpose Driven Ministries, and then as a pastor at Saddleback Church.

He's also served as editor-in-chief of LifeWay's HomeLife magazine and founding editor of Rick Warren's Ministry Toolbox.

He is the author of Costly Grace: A Contemporary View of Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship. His articles have appeared in publications and websites around the world. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

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