Saturday, October 17, 2015

Behind Iron Bars

And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.  Philippians 1:6

Imagine you were arrested for a crime you never committed.  As a matter of fact, the very hideous crime you are convicted of turns your stomach and you can’t even imagine anyone, let alone yourself, doing this!  You are ripped from your family and suddenly find yourself in an environment where death threats are occurring hourly until you are snatched away and put in an isolated cell, only allowed out one hour per day.  This is a repulsive picture to imagine. However, I know Christian men in the Alaskan penal system that lives this life every day.  Whatever the circumstances that put them in a correctional center these Christian men have truly repented and are trusting God for protection and victory. 

The Apostle Paul was in a prison cell, shackled in chains for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Violence and fear permeated the prison back then as it does today in our modern jails.  When Paul penned that for him to live is Christ and to die is gain (Phil 1:21), he was struggling living in the flesh and desiring to “depart and be with Christ, for that is far better” (Phil 1:23).  That is not hard to imagine.  Many of us, if not most, have struggled with these feelings at one time or another.  I have encouraged several Christian brothers behind bars to write their story of hope amidst a very evil, dark situation, following Paul’s example while in jail.

 When impossible circumstances happen in our life and we are panic-stricken it’s like we are shoved in a “prison cell” by unforeseen forces. It’s hard to push back against the fear and violence swarming around.  HOWEVER, there is hope even in the toughest trials.  Paul’s letter to the Philippians while he was in prison gives us a certain hope.  God is working in and through us to complete a spiritual work of wholeness that He started.  Jesus won’t leave us where we are, in a prison cell to rot and be forgotten.  NO! He will finish what He started in us.  Like Paul, we too can shout, “I can do ALL things through him who strengths me” (Phil. 4:13).  We can make it through the next hour, and perhaps through the day.  He promises He’ll bring us out to an open, pleasant place. “He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me” (Psalm 18:19).

God will never leave you; never let you go.  God is moving on behalf of my Christian friends behind real iron bars and locked doors.  One inmate I visit is only allowed visitation with his family one hour per night.  He was assigned a night job that took him away from his visitation (a vital link to emotional health).  We immediately went to prayer and within 48 hours he was reassigned to the day shift and visitation continued with his family!  Only God could do that.  Let me give you one more supernatural example.  An unsentenced inmate was awaiting trial.  He was told he would have 100-240 years (basically life).  He committed a crime but not so severe to have that horrendous punishment.  I prayed for victory in his court case .  He walked out of the court room having to serve six years behind bars.  He will be released the day before his son graduates High School.  That is victory!  Again, only God could have arranged that. God be praised!  My friend, He will move in your impossible circumstance, too.  The worse things look, the better God can change your situation and be glorified.  Even the seekers will see that God gave you the victory! There is no other explanation other than supernatural forces at work in the lives of His Beloved.
Dear God, You see my impossible circumstances so I am declaring that you turn these circumstances around for my good and your glory.  Bring the good work in my life to completion.  Amen

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