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Divine Conversation


I'm both Stern and in speaker school they teach you you should always start with a really controversial topic so here we go I thought let's start with something sexist right off the bat because that always goes well for me I think there is one thing that men are inherently better at than women I really do I think they're more they're wired up for it they're equipped for it I think the women will probably agree with me when I say that men are much better at scraping ice and twenty-one degree days ray yes ladies see don't say you're not appreciated every service has clapped so far you are just good at it it's not unity gorgeous women and you have the equipment like you buy it you get the hundred dollar ice scraper with like a heater and Wi-Fi and stuff and I have lived here 24 years and I am still using my target red card scraping off with a credit card no joke yeah I'm worried that if my boyfriend sees this he's gonna send me an ice scraper he doesn't live here so that's all he can do for me at this point but I know there are things you use you know to do it just scrape eyes they're called husband's and I don't have one and so it's just up to me now it's one of my least favorite parts of being single scraping my own windows so that's not what we're talking about we're talking about Colossians it's the last of the series and Colossians Colossians is a tiny power-packed book it's a letter written by the Apostle Paul from prison to the church at Colossae and it is beautiful but more than that it is powerful and so I have discovered in my life that I think just about everything comes down to communication everything that happens in relationship really boils down to communication research shows that men and marriages that don't last usually the problem is communication it's not money it's not sex it's not children it's communication and communication is what makes us alive and makes us human I had a friend who had ALS his name was Tom and he was just such a fantastic man he had ALS in such a powerful way he was so positive and wonderful he was alone he lived in a care facility but he used to just keep us all entertained with his stories he would he couldn't speak he had lost his ability to speak early on so you could only use an eye gaze machine but he would send us these awesome emails and Facebook posts about the trails he's to hike he was just an avid hiker and he would just keep us entertained he was hilarious and wonderful and we loved him and then one day we got an email from him that was a good buy because he found out that he his I had gotten an infection and stopped working and they said they wouldn't be able to fix it and so he said I can no longer communicate I'm done I just have to be done and so he told us all goodbye and he had the doctors removed life support because without communication he said he was less than human so communication is everything communication is what makes relationships and that is what makes our relationship with God as well you know maybe you come to God because you hear you hear a story about him or you hear the story of the Cross and you say yes to that and you come to him but to have relationship with him it requires communication and so we've given our communication with with God a religious word and it is prayer we've given that the word prayer but for now let's just take that word out of it because I think it makes it kind of stuffy informal and you already know if you think you're good or not at prayer and you already know if you think you're good or not at communication and so this is what we we just want to look at what it means divine communication what does that look like there's this little verse in Colossians in chapter 4 but all through Colossians it is surprisingly a prayer book Paul talks about prayer all through the book and he kind of bubbles over with this excitement about praying Paul is having a good time writing this letter and so I want to look at it I've been looking at this one verse and from it I've pulled this way to pray this sort of three-step prayer adventure and it has been changing things for me it's been so cool I have loved it and there are lots of ways to pray and this is only one of them but it's the one from Colossians but I love it and because it answers the question how do I pray for someone when I love them too much to know the will of God for their life have you ever loved someone too much that you just would have prayed every opportunity for them every good thing a million dollars the right house a new adventure a new job a new whatever you would just pray anything for them because you love them so much or you love them so much you can't write for me with my kids I can't get through all my mom wiring to get to what is the will of God for them in fact I had a friend who had a daughter he was kind of going off the tracks in high school and she was really worried about her and she tried to hook her up with lots of counselors and pastors and get her back on track and nothing was working and one time they went out of town for the weekend and the girl threw a sneaky secret party that got out of control the police were called things got broken things were bad and it brought her to her knees and that mom would have never prayed God just let her do something involving the police that's the opportunity I'm praying for for you for her she wouldn't have done that and so this prayer helps us pray for people that we love too much to be able to know the will of God for their life and it also helps us pray for people that we love too little to know the will of God for their life because there are lots of people like that in my life there are lots of people that I just my emotions get in the way I don't in my flesh want the best for them I don't inside of my wicked human heart hope things go well for them I don't pray they get the promotion I don't pray they get the money I don't I don't want the best for them and so this prayer takes my emotions out of the picture and me knowing the will of God out of the picture so here it is out of out of Colossians 4 devote yourselves to prayer being be watchful and thankful and pray for us - excuse me 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 be wise in the way you act toward outsiders make the most of every opportunity let your conversation be always full of grace seasoned with salt so that you may know how to answer every one so like I said there are lots of kinds of prayer but the kind of prayer we want to look at today is a three-step process that is the prayer of gratitude a prayer for opportunity and the prayer for effectiveness I think they're all really important and together they form a sort of circle that we can pray around people we love and we can pray around people we hate and you know who's in that circle most of the time me sometimes I love myself too much to pray the full will of God and sometimes I love myself too little to believe the full will of God and so I pray this everyday over myself I pray it every day over each of my kids I pray it over whoever God kind of directs me toward and it has been so cool this morning I prayed it over all the veterans I don't know what the will of God is for 19 million veterans but I knew do know that I can safely thank God for them for their lives for their service ask God to open the right doors of opportunity for them and that they would effectively walk through those doors so that's it in a nutshell let's talk a little bit about each one of those things the first one is the prayer of gratitude Paul said pray diligently stay alert with your eyes wide open in gratitude now this is big because gratitude does not tend to find us it doesn't chase us down gratitude we have to find we have to keep our eyes peeled for it we have to be on the lookout for things to be thankful for sometimes it's easy and sometimes it's hard right now during the month of November when everybody's doing their thankful everyday post we've got some gratitude flowing but other times we don't and so it is really important that we stay intentional at looking for ways to be grateful you know when you you get something new like a new car and you love it and so you tend to talk a lot about it you every time you get in the car you say I'm so glad for this car and you tell people about it in the model and what it does and how fast it goes and then as it gets older you stop talking about it it's just it's not that cool anymore I think that's how our relationship with God does if we don't intentionally talk about what he has done and how come we're thankful and why we know he's blessed us I think after a while we stopped talking to him altogether and so looking for ways to be thankful are so important Colossians 1-3 said our prayers for you are always spilling over into Thanksgiving we can't quit thanking God our Father and Jesus our Messiah for you also in Colossians for this reason since the day we heard about you we have not stopped praying for you we continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way bearing fruit in every good work growing in the knowledge of God being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience and giving joyful thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light I love how the message says this one we pray that you'll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory strength God gives it is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy thinking the father who makes us strong enough to take part in every bright and beautiful thing he has for us it's so lovely that idea of God today give me glory strength I don't want grim strength I want glory strength gratitude is the axis on which our life and communication with God rests and functions think about whenever you run out of things and I know a lot of people feel like it's sort of hypocritical to be thankful if you don't feel it and I'm just I just think I want to give you permission to be hypocritical because I think okay I'm gonna say it until I feel it I am gonna say it out I'm gonna say the things I'm thankful for I tell people a lot of times if you can't be thankful for what you have be thankful for what you don't have and if you need some examples just talk to the person next to you they probably have some things they've been through that you're glad you haven't so it's just that idea of looking at the landscape of our lives and saying I see God's working it I see his work ethic I see that he's been good to me and it isn't just Scripture it's also science science tells us that gratitude is good for us gratitude makes us better humans report in Psychology Today gives seven ways that gratitude changes our lives the first one is it opens the door to more relationships this is written too small for my eyes it opens the door to more relationships thankful people have better friendships gratitude improves physical health grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than other people in fact thankful people go to the doctor more and stay up on their medical exams more which leads to longevity of life gratitude in improved psychological health it reduces a multitude of toxic emotions from envy and resentment to frustration and regret Robert Emmons is a leading gratitude researcher and he has conducted lots of studies on this and concluded that it effectively increases effectively effectively increases happiness and reduces depression gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression people who are thankful are less likely to seek revenge when they've been wronged this is my favorite one grateful people sleep better so good a 2011 study shows that spending just 15 minutes journaling your gratitude before you go to sleep will make you sleep better and longer and people who sleep better and longer live longer gratitude improves self-esteem when we I we're so used to living life as like a zero-sum game like there's only enough for a few people to win and so we're always grabbing at whatever's left but when you stop looking at it like that you stop having to compare and I can be happy for you without being sad for me when I am grateful for what what God has given you for the advances in your life for your happy marriage for your stuff it makes it a lot easier for me to love my life as well it seems counterintuitive but it's the truth the more I lean into cheering for other people the happier I am with my own life I'm not worried oh no how why did they get back and I'm not so it is such a big deal for your self-esteem to be grateful and then gratitude increases mental strength for years research has shown gratitude not only reduces stress but it plays a major role in overcoming trauma a study of Vietnam vets found that those who are grateful had far less effects of trauma and stress as they walked through the healing process so there are lots of things that gratitude does for us and we we talk about a lot we talk about it like God wants us to be grateful or he'll be mad at us and in fact God wants us to be grateful because it's good for us we enter his gates with Thanksgiving because it positions us to hear him not because it positions him to talk to us he's positioned it's we're out of position and so when we set our hearts set our minds set our prayer set the words coming out of our mouths with gratitude it changes the way we see the world in fact here's a challenge for this week that I didn't give to any other service but I didn't trust them you people look trustworthy I think you're gonna do this yeah you're lucky every day this week you send a text to someone you think of that you're grateful for and just tell them hey I am grateful for you I am grateful for you because whatever fill in the blank make it be true if there's nothing to say then just say you're grateful for them I'm grateful that you breathe that you exist it's just a good way to set up your day and set up your mindset to see your life and not feel like a victim all the time I think it's really important the second one is the prayer for opportunity Paul said 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 look at this Paul is saying open I do or for our message the message that already got him in Chains he says more of that I need more of that in my life I need more opportunity to do the thing that keeps getting me in trouble and beaten up and so when we pray for an opportunity we're not praying for what we want we're not praying for more money more job more whatever we're praying God whatever makes you glorious on this planet I pray for more of that for me I pray that you lead me increasingly through doors that make your name beautiful I pray that you position me that you helped me see the doors when they open that your name can be multiplied in my world in my city and my home and my family in my school it's that kind of opportunity and with that I believe come all kinds of other opportunities but if we put the opportunity for sharing his message first we can trust him with everything else that comes from that that's something that I'm always astounded at when I look at the New Testament writers they are living in one of the most dangerous times ever to be a Christian they are living where you you know it's not every head bowed every eye closed do you want to receive Jesus nobody looking around don't worry no one's gonna laugh at you it's like somebody will probably kill you but do you want to receive Jesus I mean it's not the same as our lives they're they're looking through a different lens it's a much short it's a short haul lens instead of a long haul lens they don't know how much time they have to spin on the planet and yet their lives look so exciting and good and fulfilled and so this prayer for God opened opportunities I think is really important as long as we're praying we want just the opportunities you want 1st Corinthians 16 says but I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost because a great door for effective work has opened to me and there are many who oppose me so it's not like it's not without opposition but it's the door God is opening acts 14:27 on arriving there they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles and then my favorite revelation 3 - the angel of the church in Philadelphia right these are the words of him who is holy and true who holds the key of David what he opens no one can shut and what he shuts no one can open I know your deeds see I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut our culture glorifies hustle right now we are a country that wants to work hard and get ahead and achieve and collect and amass and I get it and I value hard work but you know I am pretty much over trying to slam through doors if God doesn't open them I have no interest in them I don't have the time for it I don't have the muscle for it I don't have the energy for it I want to walk through the doors that God alone opens I just do and the idea goes hand in hand with the very next part of the prayer which is the prayer for effectiveness and there was a there's a story in Greek mythology you probably read it in high school about a man named Sisyphus who gets in trouble with the gods and his punishment is to roll a large boulder up a long hill and just when he gets to the top of the hill the boulder rolls down again anyone feel that way in your life sometimes they're kind of like oh man I push that boulder up the hill all week long and on Monday I'm gonna start over again you can't feel that way in your marriage you could feel that way in parenting you could feel that way in any area of your life where it is just constantly futile labor especially in America we have begun to prize being busy over being effective effective is the prize busy is not and so when we pray for effectiveness this to me is the part of the prayer that hits at home this is really important otherwise we find ourselves on a Sisyphean adventure I'm convinced that there are some things in our life that will feel like eat your broccoli because it's good for you but I do not think your whole life should feel that way I just do not I am I am over that idea I one of my core values since the light in the last three years has been if it's not fun I'm doing it wrong I'm probably doing it wrong and I know that sounds really shallow and that doesn't sound like something you hear in church but I believe it that we are meant to be effective and fulfilled that life isn't supposed to be constantly rolling boulders life is supposed to have inside of it the fun that comes from being effective and having opportunities and fulfilled inside of them I'm sure of it I serve the king of the kingdom whose ingredients are righteousness peace and joy if I am never experiencing any one of those things in my life I have picked the wrong Kingdom or I'm doing the wrong thing or I'm rolling the wrong dumb boulder and I want to figure out what should I be doing instead because I we live a little bit of time on our planet our little scratch on the timeline to make a difference to do something that that that feels like we were born to do it and so I think we should find it um my boyfriend has a dog his name is Winston and he is a German Shepherd has anyone ever had a German Shepherd puppy if you have you understand that having a German Shepherd and a couch is hard I mean the German Shepherd in any wiring at all having a German Shepherd in a hot tub cover not a good idea he has been a booger he is a puppy but cliff is working really hard with him and so we were gonna go to dinner and he said well we have to go let Winston out before we go to dinner or else he'll eat the couch and so we went to the house and he said I don't have time to take him for a walk so I'm just gonna play fetch with him so while he's telling me this he's cutting up Tillamook Cheese like $9 a pound cheese like okay and so we take Winston out and he throws the ball and Winston comes back and gets the cheese and he throws the ball and it's come back together that she gets the cheese and at one point I make this brilliant observation where I say it is amazing how dogs are just wired up to fetch and he said not that dog that dog is a shepherd he's not a retreat he was not wired up to fetch and so he doesn't like to fetch he just really likes cheese and when he's done with the cheese he will be done fetching the ball and so I watched him it sure enough like 10 times and winced it's just like done just on the ground because he was full he didn't need any more cheese and I was watching and thinking I get him I get Winston I am that I do so many things for cheese I really do I do so many things because there's a reward on the other side and sometimes it's like a tiny little reward and sometimes it's a high-value reward like $9.00 cheese but I know it when I'm living in a golden retriever moment I know it when I'm like racing down the lawn with the wind blowing through my going for the stick doing what I was born to do I know it and I there are things you got to do for cheese or things you got to do for a reward like pay your taxes and stay out of jail I mean I've done that it has always kept me out of jail it has never produced a real sense of fulfillment or fun I've never gone out to celebrate the day I paid my taxes but the things that I do in fact here's another homework assignment cuz you did so good with the last one I saw you I'll get your phones out and text somebody didn't see that is write down this week four times where you know you were living your best life you were effective you were fulfilled and it was wonderful I asked this question a lot when I speak to women's groups and the answers they give me are amazing some of them it's like when they're skiing early in the morning and the sunset and then some of them it's when they're feeding their child or when they have a child there are these moments where we know we've married this idea of being effective and fulfilled together and our lives aren't made up exclusively of those moments but there need to be some of them or else we're gonna be frustrated and so you can look in your life right now and see that you have already walk through doors of opportunity even this very day you are through a door perhaps you're a parent if you're a parent you don't need to go home and and travail and wonder is this the will of God for my life you're okay you're a parent you're not getting out of it I mean I would like to see that conversation with your kid if you decide thank you and your five-year-old I'm sorry it turns out this was never God's will for me you're gonna have to find someone called to it no you're a parent you got to stick it out you got to be a parent and so since you've already walked through the door since you're there be are you effective and are you fulfilled doing it because I don't again there will be hard days as a parent there will be eat your broccoli days as a parent but my prayer for you is that you will have days that are fun and fulfilling days where you don't do it for the cheese you do it just for the thrill of the chase and if you're a spouse here you are you've walked through the door are you effective are you fulfilled and if you're not how long do you want to stay that way maybe ask him okay you've won you've walked me through this door of opportunity make me effective make me fulfilled I'd love for this to be fun because frankly I'm looking around and I don't really see that many marriages that I'd want to live in and I think the church ought to have some I think we ought to have some marriages where people are on fire with this idea God has called us into this opportunity together and we're gonna live it out like where the golden retrievers were meant to be instead of just everyday obligatory punching another clock rolling another boulder so this idea I think can transform our thinking toward anything we're doing and we can pray it for anyone I pray it every day for my children God open doors of opportunity I pray gratitude for them for their gifts for their strength for their health for their hilarious senses of humor for all that they are and then open doors of opportunity for them and make them effective and fulfilled as they walk through them don't let them miss a single door and then I pray it for people who annoy me or people I worry about people who I worry about that are you know like in government I'll be like okay I want to pray for that person and I don't even like that person but I want to pray God you open a door of opportunity for them see because when we think opportunity we automatically think like promotion or or money or whatever but God's opportunity can be lots of things he could be opening a door of opportunity to meet him to encounter him he could be opening a door of opportunity for that person to come face to face with something that needs to change in their lives I don't know and thankfully I'm not the boss of that but I can pray passionately fervently open doors of opportunity for every person in Congress open the doors of opportunity that you know will be life-changing for them and cause them to go through them effectively and in fulfillment you do you worry that you could pray too much for someone like maybe you'll over bless someone accidentally like oh no what if that person prospers I'm not ready for it you can trust him you can trust him when you pray for people because that you the same God who says come to me knock on my door ask me for what you need that same God says pray for those who curse you pray for your enemies love those who persecute you and you will be blessed and so I feel for the first time released to pray the full will of God over every human I know without needing to know what the full will of God is just to pray that they will see it and love it and do it so I don't know if prayer sounds fun to you it's only starting to be fun for me i LS did a number on my prayer life I just I think I've been honest about that before but I feel the joy of it coming back where I'm seeing God start to move in these mysterious and beautiful and quirky weirdo ways or I'm just like wow and I love it and I don't know that prayer has to be laborious lengthy I went through a season in my life where I just believed it was an hour a day you have to tarry an hour you have to and I don't I just I don't know what I think about that but I do know that it doesn't have to be because Jesus prayers were pretty pretty you know to the point which I appreciate and also I love that Jesus got up early everyday to be with his father but I think we've been beating people up with that Scripture a long time well why don't you get up early and be with him I think he got up early because he was so excited to be with him he just couldn't sleep anymore was like Christmas morning and when we start seeing prayer like that will move toward it I'm not sure God wants me reluctantly anyway I've been with me reluctantly and I am NOT pleasant and so I think he'd rather have me excited about the idea so I've written this one little prayer that I'm gonna lend to you for this week if you want that you can pray over any human alive and pray over yourself as many times as you want to and I think it covers all the basis and it is this Jesus thank you for this day and the chance to live it open doors of opportunity that cannot be shut and enable me to walk through them effectively for your great glory and my great joy Jesus thank you for this day and the chance to live it open doors of opportunity that cannot be shut and enable us to walk through them effectively for your great glory and our great joy and everyone said amen thanks so much for being here you guys next week we have an amazing speaker coming in I can't wait for you to hear him please have the best week of your life text somebody tomorrow

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Part 2 of our series, In Christ. We live here, but we are citizens of Heaven. That reality impacts our “here”. As we are filled with the knowledge of God’s will, you will discover a deepening faith giving you the strength to endure, a growing love giving you the ability to bear fruit in every