Here is an update on Pastor Joe’s son-in-law. The surgery went well and the dr’s released him. Right now he is home and coherent. I ask that you continue to pray for everyone involved as the road to recovery is a long one.
Last week, I wrote about dirty prisons. If you have not read Use “Your Voice: Listening in Dirty Prisons,” I highly recommend it.
Here is a quick excerpt. “What happens here is Paul and Silas are drug through a market place. A hot, dusty, dirty, stinky place full of animals, blood, spit, urine and pooo. Everything that happened in that market place was now all over their half-naked bodies. Whatever diseases laid on the ground now lay inside each of these men’s fresh wounds.”
Use Your Voice – Wherever You Are Placed
“But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:25 NKJV
Prison is defined as a place where you are denied freedoms. It is a place where captives are kept. Some might call it being trapped or Groundhog Day. Paul & Silas were in literal prison. A real life prison. Four walls, dirt floor, no electricity, no bathrooms, no privacy. It is a very shameful place where everyone knows your business.
Let’s take a step back and look at the reason Paul and Silas were thrown into prison…they were talking about Good things. Paul healed a woman from being possessed by demons. That’s like, being in the drive through line at Chick-fil-A, placing your order and the cashier says, your meal has been paid for by the car in front of you. Upon hearing the news, you get out, walk up to that car and beat the driver for being Good and throw him in jail. It just doesn’t make any sense, does it? We shouldn’t cause pain to someone who has shown us love, grace and mercy.
My first question to y’all is, have you ever done something good for someone else, but found yourself in trouble for the thing you’ve done? Just think of the Chick-fil-A fiasco. Image being the driver who just paid for someone’s meal. What are your thoughts when he beats you up and throws you in jail? Do you get angry, are you disgusted? Do you say things under your breath like.”I am never going to help you out again!!!” or “I am never helping anyone again!!!” I cannot fathom why someone would harm me for helping them out.
And that is where I found out I was in the wrong. It was my bad attitude that opened the door for the enemy to enter into my life. I do this all the time; I get angry at the person, not the spirit. I should be angry at the evil spirit.
“For anger gives a foothold to the devil.” Ephesians 4:27
By me getting angry at a person, I allow access for the devil into my life. Jesus overcame the devil by denying access.
Now, I understand how some of y’all think. I get it. I have make the same argument to God by saying, Lord, Jesus got mad. I tell God, “Jesus was table flippin’ mad when He entered into Jerusalem.” That is when He tells me in a very loving voice, “He was cleaning out His temple, you are to clean up yours.”
See, 1 Corinthians 6:19 says my body is a temple where the Holy Spirit lives.
Meaning, the only person I can yell and scream at, the only one I can get table flippin’ mad at… is me.
So, when talking about prisons that you have been in, both spiritual and physical. I have a question for y’all. Was it your behavior that landed you in prison or was it God’s plan for you to be there?
Because there is a difference.
David spent 9 months in mental prison after entering into an adulterous relationship with Bathsheba. David chose the act, he placed himself in prison. 2 Samuel 11
Samson spent years in physical and mental prison waiting for his hair to grow back after he told Delilah what makes him strong. He placed himself in prison. Judges 16
Peter spent months in mental prison after he said, I don’t know who that man is, pointing to Jesus. Matthew 26
All of these men placed themselves in mental prisons by their actions.
Don’t get me wrong, God can turn your bad decisions into good. The Bible is full of men and women who saw errors in their ways and turned from them. I am very thankful He is an understanding God, a very loving and patient God, because I have been in some pickles. God has literally walked me out of my own prison many times.
But, when you are in prison for God, instantaneously you bring others out with you when the doors open wide. And that is exactly what happened here. Paul and Silas were drug through a market place and thrown in a Roman prison. After they were drug through all that nastiness, these two men were placed in a dark prison shackled to a group of rough and rowdy men.
“Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.” Acts 16:26 NKJV
Now, if you have not read this story then you may be thinking what I was thinking, God saved all the prisoners. But, that is not what happened. These prisoners were not the ones on God’s agenda to be saved at that time. (We don’t have time to get into this today, but sometimes it is not the right time for you to run out of your prison). God’s salvation was for the jailor and his family.
“Then he [prison guard] called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Then they spoke the Word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.”
Do you know why God could trust Paul to sing in that prison at that time? Because He knew Paul had a heart change and would carry out the mission God intended.
“Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.”
Paul went from killing Jews to saying, I was wrong. Immediately. I would love to have a conversation with Paul about the three days he was blind to see what his thoughts were, what he felt. Many people who have lost one of their senses say the others are a lot more sensitive. I bet Paul listened more, because he couldn’t see.
“As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! [his name before Paul] Why are you persecuting me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” The men with Saul stood speechless, for they heard the sound of someone’s voice but saw no one! Saul picked himself up off the ground, but when he opened his eyes, he was blind. So, his companions led him by the hand to Damascus. He remained there, blind for three days and did not eat or drink.” Acts 9:3-9
He had an intimate encounter with God, Himself. This is something the Israelites tried to find for thousands of years. Look at 1 Samuel chapter 5-8. They knew God, they knew His strength, they knew His power, they just didn’t know Him. That is why they asked for a king to lead them, because they didn’t trust God to do it, God was not human to them.
It took me a long time to realize and understand God is everywhere at every time. Sometimes, I am like the Israelites, looking for God. I question and say, where are you Lord? It is in those times I need to remember; He is in each one of us believers. Many times, I need to be more like Paul for those three days, by letting God lead me by the hands of others. I often wonder if it was the hand of Jesus that led Paul from the desert into town.
I want to close by telling y’all a story. A long time ago a friend of mine had a dream. In his dream, he was standing in Heaven before the Earth was created, with everyone else. When suddenly, God appeared. In front of everyone, He said, “Y’all (God says y’all). There are some in Heaven that were deceived by the enemy and they were taken captive. They entered a foreign land. I am building up a Heavenly Army and asking each of you the same question, will you go down there and bring them back home? Before you answer know this. Some of you will be captured and killed. Some of you will be a POW. Some of you will hurt. Some of you will lose yourself. Some of you may not make it back here, you will die down there.”
Now, I do not know what all happened before Earth or Adam and Eve. I don’t know how much truth his story carries, but here is what I truly believe. And this lines up right with God’s character. He asked us if we wanted to go. We chose yes.
We are placed in prison, no matter the reason why, because God knows how strong we are. He knows what we are capable of. He knows we will walk out and when we do, many others will come with us. We are down here because God trusts each and every one of us to make it back home. Not only ourselves, but, our family, friends, co-workers, our community members, all of us. We, are commissioned officers in God’s Army.
“Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him-but some of them doubted! Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20
We will be back next week, discussing more on Use Your Voice. But, for this week, if you find yourself in a prison, open up those vocals and start singing. Now is the time to shake the earth and free the captives.