Do This: Put Prayer on the Short List

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” (Colossians 4:2)

How many things in your life would you say that you’re 100 percent committed to? By definition, that has got to be a short list, right? You can’t be fully committed to too many people or ideas or disciplines at once.

dothis_350Paul wants us to add something to that tiny list – talking to God. He tells his friends in Colosse to be “devoted to” prayer. That means the impulse to say something to God is more than just a “should” but as current in every moment as the instinct to send a text to a friend whenever something worth saying pops into mind.

How can we do that? He says they – and we – should be watchful for what to ask for God’s help with and for what to tell him thanks for. Just like someone into a new social media app, Paul wants us to be constantly on the look-out for something worth posting to our Father.

Think: How many things do you ask God for in a typical day? How many would do you tell him thanks for? What would it take to increase those numbers this week?

Pray: Tell God thanks for 10 good things right off the top of your head. Then ask him to help you to be more devoted to him in prayer.

Do: Make a short list of things in your life that you are seriously 100 percent committed to.

Do This: The Door Opener

“And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.” (Colossians 4:3)

Paul had a clear mission in life: To “proclaim the mystery of Christ.” He knew exactly what he was supposed to do with his days. That confidence gave him the courage to keep doing it even when it got him thrown in jail.

dothis_350Paul was essentially a delivery person. His job was to deliver a message. So he asked the Colossians to pray for him in two very specific ways. The first was about what God could do—open doors for the message.

Paul was locked behind physical doors, not the ideal spot for a delivery guy. He knew he needed God’s help to get the message beyond those iron bars. He also needed God to open the doors to people’s lives to make a way for the message of Jesus to get into their hearts.

Think: Have you ever thought about how God might have opened a door to get the message of Jesus through to your heart? What doors need to be opened to get the message to any of the unsaved friends in your life?

Pray: Thank God for opening the door to get the message of Jesus through to you. Ask him to continue to open doors to the message in your town, family, workplace and church.

Do: Even if you don’t know what you’re supposed to do with your whole life, describe your mission for this day or week in a sentence or two.

Do This: Do the Right Thing Right

“And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.” (Colossians 4:4)

In yesterday’s devo, Paul asked his friends to pray for his mission in two ways. The first was that God would open the doors to the message. The second is in verse 4: “that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.”

dothis_350Paul understood he absolutely could not do what God had for him to do unless God made it possible. But he also knew that he still had to do it. When the door for the message opened up, Paul had to be ready to make the delivery. And he wanted prayer that he’d do it well.

The same is true in your life. God is the one who makes it possible for you to obey him, to love and serve others, to proclaim his message. But when the moment comes, you and I need to act. God accomplishes his will through our choice to do what he asks in the right way and at just the right moment.

Think: What is God asking you to do today? Are you ready to do it? What will be the difference between doing what he’s asked and doing it really well?

Pray: Ask God to help you to know clearly what he wants you to do this day, then ask him to open the door and to help you to do what he gives you to do really well.

Do: Make a quick list of a few things you’ve done in this last week or so that were acts of obedience to God. Put a plus sign next to the ones that you felt you did well and a check next to the ones you wish you’d done better.

Do This: Be Aware of Outsiders

“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.” (Colossians 4:5)

I had a pastor once who used to say things like, “You think you’re just going to Starbucks. You’ve got nothing on your mind but walking in, ordering your drink, and getting out. But God has scheduled an appointment for you.” Then he’d tell this incredible story of how God used an available Christian in the life of a searching or hurting unbeliever.

prayer_350He was talking about those unexpected encounters we have with people for whom God has just opened a door of opportunity. Maybe they’re going through a rough time. Maybe their hearts have just been broken. Maybe they are less convinced than ever that they can live without God.

And maybe you’re the Christian God has scheduled for them to meet and talk with in that moment, to deliver his message of love and grace and forgiveness and transformation. Are you willing to let God change your plans? Are you available to make the most of every opportunity?

Think: What would be an unwise way to act toward “outsiders” or unbelievers? Why does it matter how we treat the people we don’t expect to see ever again?

Pray: Ask God to help you to be available to be used for his glory in unexpected ways—and ask him to help you to be wise in the way you act toward outsiders.

Do: Notice how God steps in and changes your plans this week. Are you looking for opportunities to be used by him in someone else’s life in those moments?

Do This: Dropping Grace

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:6)

So let’s say that in the spirit of yesterday’s devo, you are committed. You are committed to making the most of every opportunity to be wise toward unbelievers. You are committed to letting God change your schedule so you can show up in the lives of “outsiders” right on time.

prayer_350What are you going to say to them? Or maybe a better question is, “How are you going to say whatever it is you say to them?”

First, train yourself to talk about grace and to speak with grace and to demonstrate grace – all the time – so that when you talk to outsiders it’s only natural for you to keep talking about grace until everywhere you stand beautiful little puddles of grace form on the floor under your feet.

How do you do that? You become convinced in your heart that your God loves you not because you earned his love but because he is loving and forgiving and merciful and generous and compassionate and kind. And then you copy him by giving that kind of grace in the words you say to people who don’t deserve it any more than you do.

More tomorrow.

Think: What is God’s grace worth to you? How has it changed your life? How much of God’s grace have you earned by being a good person? How much does he resent you?

Pray: Ask God to help you to let your conversation to be always full of grace.

Do: Ask a few people to define the word grace. You might try your your mom, your best friend, a co-worker, and your Uncle Pete for starters. Write these down. They’re golden!

Do This: Get Salty

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:6)

Yesterday, we talked about training ourselves to speak with, for, and of grace to the point where little pools of grace start to form on the floor around us. Paul also wants us to grab the salt shaker and douse our words with seasoning.

prayer_350Salt does a few things. One is that it adds flavor. Salted words are easier to hear, to chew, to swallow. Learn to talk in a way that’s worth listening to. Don’t just say what everyone expects to hear; don’t just read the cultural script to blend in. And don’t just keep talking. Force your words to pass a value test before getting through the gate.

Salt is also a preservative. Before there was a fridge in every kitchen, food would be packed in salt to make it last longer.

Salted words won’t become worthless ten minutes after you say them. While speaking gracefully with unbelievers, say something worth listening to and speak words that have staying power beyond today’s weather, last night’s TV, and tomorrow’s schedule.

Think: What percentage of your words would you say are full of grace? What’s the opposite of speaking gracefully? What percentage of your words would you guess are actually worth listening to?

Pray: Ask God to help you to let your conversation be always full of grace and seasoned with salt.

Do: Notice what words come out of your face today (or through your fingers in texts and posts and emails). Flag a few that were really salty and graceful and mark any that should never have been set free.

Do This: Know What to Say

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:6)

Yes, this is a short verse and, yes, we’re still talking about it for a third day in a row. So what’s the benefit of dropping grace from our faces in every place? What’s the point of making all of our words sodium-enriched? “. . . so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

prayer_350Is it some kind of magic formula? Say “grace” and “salt,” and you’ll never be speechless? No. It’s a formula for life. If I’m committed to saying only graceful, grace-fueled, gracious words seasoned with salt to give them flavor and timelessness – all the time – that’s all I need to know.

It won’t matter if I’m talking to my best friend or an “outsider” I just met, I’ll know to speak with grace and salt. I won’t have to wonder which words are right. If the words are gracious and well-seasoned, those are the right words.

Think: Do you ever catch yourself editing your words based on the person you’re talking to? Is that a healthy habit – or should you always speak with grace and salt no matter who you’re with?

Pray: Ask God to help you to let your conversation always be full of grace and seasoned with salt, so you can know how to answer everyone.

Do: Try to memorize this short verse this week until you can text it to a friend without looking.