Series: Jesus Manifesto
Message: Getting a Little Help from My Friends
Preacher: J. Murdock
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 4:2-4:18 in The Message (MSG). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: The word diligence is not one we usually associate with relationships. If I suggested that it would be great for you to love diligently or be a more diligent friend or be diligent in your family relationships, it just would not carry quite the “friendly” tone we usually mean to convey when discussing relationships. However, as the paraphrase opens today, Paul is asking us to “pray diligently.” He wants intentional, persistent, conscientious effort applied to praying, as he knows it is all too easy to let a prayer life simply wane. This leads to the rather obvious question: What are you diligent about in your life? To which areas in your life do you apply a regular level of diligence? Which a super level? Why those areas and not others?
As I have shared before, it is easy for me to take an “out of sight, out of mind” approach even to my very close friends, but when I see them again I reconnect instantly and am fully immersed in their lives and they in mine. I believe many of us experience the same tension with our prayer lives—with the exception that we are cultivating a relationship that can often feel out of sight all the time.
When Becky and I were first getting to know each other we were separated by an ocean and thousands of miles of land. She was either in Seattle or at Walla Walla University and I was either in Cornwall or at Newbold College. We tried to talk to each other on this very rare device that some of you might have seen in a museum before called a “telephone.” It was attached to the wall of the house with a wire; some of the fancier models had an antenna but the signal was not reliable. We also chose to use another method that you may have heard people commonly used centuries ago—the letter. We wrote to each other every day. This is no exaggeration; we each have a box of letters that we wrote to each other. Were we diligent in our letter writing? I would say absolutely, we were, but this diligence was not motivated by a sense of duty. It was motivated by love and it created joy to share our thoughts and to hear back from each other.
Recalibrate: What would make the way you pray joyous rather than expected?
Respond: Thanks Jesus for the joy of open communication
Research: Read Chapter 11 “The Privilege of Prayer” in the book Steps to Christ by Ellen White.
Remember: “Continue praying and keep alert. And when you pray, always thank God” (Colossians 4:2, ICB).
Japhet De Oliveira is administrative director for the Center for Mission and Culture at Adventist Health in Roseville, California.
With your little one, breath on the window or a mirror and draw a love heart in the fog. Hold your child’s hand and blow on their skin. See if they can do the same with you. Every breath is a gift of life from God. We get to choose if we want to live in love like God designed us to. With every breath we can choose to love in the spaces we are in, just like Paul did while he was in jail. I don’t know what your circumstances are at the moment, but I do know that God does—and He sends His Spirit to hold our hands and walk us through the spaces where we find ourselves. Hold tight and with every breath choose love.
Have you ever had someone explain a game to you and they spent so long explaining the rules you just gave up wanting to play? Paul tells us in Colossians 4:6 that we should always be kind and wise. When we are sharing Jesus’ love we need to be kind and wise. Kind is a way of doing things that says the person we are with has a place in our hearts. Wise is knowing when and how to act. I need help to be kind and wise; how about you? I will pray for you and you can pray for me that in Jesus’ name we will be both kind and wise no matter what happens to us today.
Every week I make all the meals our family eats every day. It’s my way of making sure my wife gets a good meal and stays happy and balanced throughout the day. In order to do this, I sit down and make a list of items to get at the grocery store so that each meal is tasty and complete. Sometimes that means shopping for things other than the staples. Not only does a good meal need things like vegetables and veggie meat, but also the things you don’t always think about, like salt, sugar, or spices. This week I am making my wife a special meal that involves beans. In order to make sure that recipe is perfect, I have to remember to buy dried beans that I will boil in water for a few hours. But, before I set the pot on the stove, I can’t forget an essential part of the recipe—salt. Just a pinch of salt in the water before it heats up makes the difference between a pot of delicious beans, and a pot of mushy, bland beans. And, with it, the difference between a happy wife at dinner and a wife who is less than satisfied with her meal (and probably with me).
Paul tells the Colossians to “let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone” (4:6) Paul is blending together a recipe for the kitchen with a recipe for life itself here in this verse. Both a pot of beans and a conversation with a stranger need the same thing—a pinch of salt. Salt makes things better as they simmer, and a little bit of positive attitude flavoring your conversation goes a long way! Paul is telling us to do what we can to make sure people know that they are loved through everything we do. The next time you’re looking to show someone God’s love, add a dash of salt to your approach and see where it takes you!
“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity” (Colossians 4:5). Don’t ever discredit someone for being an “outsider.” Those were the people Jesus hung around the most. Make friends with those who come from a different place and/or look different than you. Don’t fear risks, and make the most out of everything that comes your way through the sufficient strength you find in Jesus.
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.