Series: Jesus Manifesto
Message: Getting Out of the Darkness
Preacher: Paddy McCoy
Reflection: Japhet De Oliveira
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Zan Long
Live Beyond: J. Murdock
Live Purpose: Lydia Svoboda
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Colossians 1:11-14 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: When I was a child, one of favorite authors was Alexandre Dumas. I enjoyed watching any black and white movie that involved musketeers and also the animated cartoon series Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds that aired in England. I also had a collection of books by Dumas, and simply enjoyed reading them cover to cover. One of Dumas’ most famous characters is Edmund Dantes in The Count of Monte Cristo. I cannot tell you how many times I have been in conversations with others who have hit a deep moment of despair. They feel unfairly trapped by their circumstances and are filled with anger. Many have contemplated ending their lives. They have lost the way forward. In those conversations, the fictional character Edmund Dantes has appeared more than once. He serves as a gentle reminder that each of us has a choice—either to allow circumstances to shape us or to shape circumstances. We hold onto hope and never let go. There are several quotable phrases in The Count of Monte Cristo such as this one that expresses how Dantes coped with being placed in prison unfairly and cast away for life: “The sum of all human wisdom will be contained in these two words: Wait and hope.”
Everyone faces hard times. Yet we may not all share a definition of what a “hard time” is. What I consider to be hard may not be what you consider to be hard. Growing our capacity to appreciate the difficulties of others starts by remembering the understanding and empathy that have been given to you. Think about how easy it is to dismiss the anxiety that others face. Maybe you have used the term first world problem to dismiss what someone else was sharing with you. Maybe you’ve ignored a child’s complaint, citing “bigger things to worry about.” Imagine what it would be like if you did not ignore the pain of others. What if you were more empathic and wanted to raise hope for others. Imagine if you took the time to remind yourself of what Jesus has done for you. Would you extend more grace to others? Would you raise hope in others? I believe that the apostle Paul understood grace, and even when he heard the truth about the Colossian church, he could not resist raising their hope and showing them an even more beautiful picture of Jesus.
Recalibrate: Do you generate hope in others or need hope generated in you? How do you grow capacity for empathy toward others?
Respond: Pray for the opportunity to receive hope.
Research: Read The Count of Monte Cristo and compare the character of Edmund Dantes with the character of Jesus. What would you do differently?
Remember: “The Son paid for our sins, and in Him we have forgiveness” (Colossians 1:14, ICB).
Japhet De Oliveira is administrative director for the Center for Mission and Culture at Adventist Health in Roseville, California.
Colossians 1:11 says, “Then God will strengthen you with His own great power. And you will not give up when troubles come, but you will be patient.” With your little one, take a moment to dwell on this text. Patience is not a typical characteristic of a toddler. The best way for them to learn patience is from you. So pray that God will strengthen you with His power and that you will not give up when troubles come but will be patient in Jesus’ name.
Do you have a favorite superhero? What is it about them that you like the most? Would you like to do what they do? Flying high in the sky or shooting across the city using spider webs? Jesus is my favorite superhero because He wants to save everybody and He promises to strengthen the people who believe in Him so we can do good things in tough times like He does. What good things would you like to do to change the world? Here is the superhero song for the week.
Imagine yourself for a second as the boring photographer of the Daily Bugle. All was going according to his vanilla plan until one fateful day when he was bitten by a radioactive spider. And suddenly, he went from being just Peter Parker to . . . Spiderman! One injection from that biohazard arachnid, and Peter had the ability to shoot webs from his wrists, stick to the side of buildings, and defeat criminals using his super strength. All because of one fateful encounter.
In the chapter of Colossians today, Paul talks about the idea that we can be made strong with all the strength that comes from God’s glorious power. If Peter Parker only needed to be bitten by a spider to change into someone stronger, I wonder what would happen if we were to be infused with the Holy Spirit. The Bible says that the disciples of Jesus could do miracles in God’s name after spending time with Jesus. What might adding a little more time with Jesus do for you this summer? Who knows . . . you may find yourself stronger than you were without Him!
“Being strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might” (Col. 1:11). We are weak and sure to fail. But He is faithful to strengthen by the same power that moves mountains, parts seas, stills storms, and conquers death. The greatest power in existence is the one that holds you up and works all things together for your good. His glorious might will go with you. You will be strengthened with the utmost and most faithful assurance.
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development for ages 0-17. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
J. Murdock is associate pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado, where he focuses on youth and young adult ministry.
Lydia Svoboda is a junior theology major at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska.