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 New Testament for Everyone (NTE). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: When was the last time you had a prayer answered in the way you think it should have been? Do you have friends who believe that a lack of faith is why prayers are not heard or answered? Do you feel that you are like one of the prophets of Baal and everyone else around you is like Eljiah, with direct red line to heaven—or have you met that Elijah type who spends all their time sharing the five million miracles that took place this morning alone due to their effective prayer life? Has a “powerful” prayer life become “the sign” that you are in fact connected to God and therefore “chosen?” These are terms that I have heard used by various tribes. Perhaps we forget that Paul did not spend the whole letter of Colossians talking about prayer but did bookend his letter with a plea to keep prayer alive. Perhaps the intent was to show that open communication with Jesus is more important than the desired results. After all, I am pretty sure that Paul ends this letter with the epic lines:
I’m signing off in my own hand: PAUL.
Remember the chains I’m wearing.
Grace be with you. (Colossians 4:18)
Surely my friends, if you were the Apostle Paul, would your prayer not be, “Lord, remove these chains from me so I can preach the Gospel”? Surely, if you were John the Baptist, would your prayer not be, “Lord stop them from removing my head so I can preach the Gospel”? Surely, if you were in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before the crucifixion, would your prayer not be, “Stop this all right now, and let us find another way”?
I think it is because we see prayer as this powerful God-will-bending magic tool. If we pray, we can change God’s mind. God clearly does not know what is best for us or this planet or this universe. In fact, if we get enough people together God hears us more, as God works based on the clamors of lobbying groups.
(For the record, in case you think I am serious here, I hope you understand that I do not believe for one moment that this is who God is nor how God intends us to engage in prayer with Him.)
Recalibrate: If prayer is not a magic God-will-bending tool, what is the purpose of prayer for us?
Respond: When you pray today, ask God to speak back into your life.
Research: Read 100 Creative Prayer Ideas for Kids by Karen Holford.
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.
There is nothing I love more than when my family fills me in on their day—sharing both what they loved and what drove them crazy, what was hilariously funny and what was so sad it made their hearts break. This is what a relationship is—sharing who we are with each other. Sharing makes me feel as much a friend as I am a mother. Enjoy every moment with your little one. Your job is not to make everything perfect for your child. It is to love them and lead them through times that are not perfect.
Do you know what the word encourage means? To encourage means to give support, confidence, or hope to someone. Imagine that you are stuck in a hole deep in the ground. Scary, I know. Imagine a friend finds out you are stuck, and they run as fast as they can to bring a ladder to put down the hole so you can climb up and out of the hole. That is kind. Encouragement is like every step on the ladder. Choose to encourage someone today when they feel stuck and there is no way out. How amazing is it that even though Paul was locked up in prison he still spent his time encouraging others? I need help encouraging others—how about you? I will pray for you and you can pray for me that we will be encouraging wherever we are, in Jesus’ name.
When I was in middle school, I had a pretty close group of friends that I would do everything with. From Little League baseball to study groups after school, we would be seen everywhere together. We were so close that even our parents were friends with each other! Each of my friends had a special thing about them that added to the group in a specific way. My friend Billy was always quick to come up with something fun for us to do. At his house we would shoot hoops in the driveway, and then we’d head inside for a snack before playing some game he had on the Super Nintendo. Hangouts at Billy’s house were the best because there was never a dull moment! Not only was Billy’s house fun, but his entire family was always so sweet to me. They always made sure that I felt safe and satisfied. The house itself just felt loving because of the way everyone in it lived.
Paul had a friend like Billy, only his name was Tychicus. Tychicus gets a shout-out at the end of Paul’s letter to the Colossians (4:7). There, Paul tells the people that his letter is being delivered by his buddy Ty because he’s the kind of guy whom he trusts to make the trip from Rome to Colossae safely. Not only that, but Paul says that Ty is “a beloved brother, a fellow servant of the Lord . . . and [so] that he may encourage your hearts.” Because of a lot of what Paul is saying to the Colossians is difficult to hear, Paul knows he needs to send someone who can help make sure the people aren’t discouraged. So he sends his buddy Ty because he knows he can fill the room with the same love that Billy’s family filled their home with.
When you look at your friends, which one of them is most like Tychicus? Which one is more like Paul? Who do you represent in your group? What might they say you do for your friend circle? What can you do to be more like Jesus in your circle of friends?
“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:6). Remember the grace that is daily extended to you in absolute abundance. Remember it and gift it. Just as you need grace, the rest of the world does too. Stand firm and confident with “salt,” but let your words and your actions seep with grace, and when in doubt, err on its side.
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.