By Series - God Behind Bars

God Behind Bars

Friday

October 21, 2016

No Pain No Gain

Read

Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit”.

Romans 5:3-4, “But, we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope”.

Think

Toxic relationships. Abuse.  Divorce.  Betrayal. Illness.  Death. Depression.  Addiction.  Loneliness. Failure.  The list is endless. We cannot plan for pain—it capriciously blindsides us.  Suffering is part of life and part of God’s will.  Just the mention of the word PAIN sends a myriad of thoughts to our brain. We can immediately recall numerous hurtful scenarios because life is often “pain-full”.

There is truth to the phrase “no pain no gain”, because we’ve got to go through it to get to it! Without endurance and perseverance, we would fail to achieve some of our greatest successes. So, when it comes to pain we have two options. We can bitterly sink into depression and defeat. Or question the circumstance and pour our hearts out to God. Yet often, we get it backwards. We lean on God during the good times and pull away in the face of pain when we need Him most. When the bottom drops out and when we feel ambushed, assaulted, and crushed we can always count on God’s power and presence. We may never understand the full purpose of our pain but God does! Thus, when we are confident in His character and we refuse to bail before the breakthrough our faith and influence will increase exponentially.

Pray

“Search my heart, Lord, and soften any hardened feelings or callousness. Empty me of all bitterness and resentment. Lead me to reflect all that You are to the world, and help me to remember that there’s always purpose behind my pain. In Christ I pray, Amen.”

Act

When it comes to experiencing pain, we often question God’s motives. Write these four truths in your prayer journal to reference the next time pain strikes.

1. God is bigger than our questions.
2. God is bigger than our pain.
3. God is a Sovereign God.
4. There is purpose in our pain.

 

Thursday

October 20, 2016

One Touch

Read

Mark 5:34, “Jesus said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering’”.

Matthew 17:20, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible”.

Think

In today’s culture the terms ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’ are innocuous. We say, “The dishes are unclean” “That’s a clean shirt” or “I feel clean” after taking a shower. However, in ancient times, being considered clean or unclean had far greater implications. In Mark 5, we encounter a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years. Under Mosaic Law, she was deemed defiled. She was a complete outcast in every way and devoid of human touch. Anything or anyone she merely brushed against was considered unclean. She was depressed, despondent, and likely weak from anemia and blood loss. And sadly, she spent all of her money on various physicians, to only get worse.

Isn’t it true that we have all felt isolated, dirty, sin-stained, and ashamed? That’s what’s so amazing about Jesus. He is the ultimate cleanser and agent of change. Only He can take an outcast and cast out their sickness. But it’s up to us to decide to change. That’s exactly what the woman did. She fought through a massive crowd thinking, “If I can just touch the edge of His cloak I’ll be healed”. She didn’t know Jesus; she had only heard about Him and believed. We are only as sick as our secrets, and we eventually exhaust every effort trying to fix what only God can fix.

The moment she touched Jesus’ cloak the bleeding stopped. Feeling the release of healing power, Jesus stopped and asked who touched Him. Trembling with fear, she fell before Him and came clean by sharing her story. Jesus said, “Daughter, your faith has healed you both physically and spiritually”. Her whole life changed with just one touch. Have you touched the hem of Him?

Pray

Come clean before God and confess everything that feels unclean in your life. And pray for the helpless and hopeless to discover the peace and healing power found only in Christ.

Act

How is the account of the bleeding woman relatable to your life? What is the significance of Jesus calling her ‘Daughter’? What can you learn from her amazing display of faith?

 

Wednesday

October 19, 2016

Gospel Bound

Read

Acts 20:23-24, "I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace".

Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose".

Think

At some point in our lives we have all felt bound or incarcerated by something. Maybe it's worry, fear, addiction, unforgiveness, financial stress, or spiritual bankruptcy. Well, no matter the situation or circumstance we can rest assured in knowing that God works through—not some things or things with conditional clauses—but ALL things for our benefit and to His glory. However, sometimes His plan unfolds in unexpected ways.

The Apostle Paul longed to visit Rome. He yearned to proclaim Jesus’ name in the largest and most influential city in the known world. God, though, prevented him from going until due time. Paul eventually did make it to Rome—but not in the manner he imagined. He went there as a prisoner. As God's ambassador in chains, Paul continued to preach fearlessly under Roman guard for two years and wrote the majority of the New Testament.

As a great reminder of spiritual ambition, we must remember Paul's devotion despite his harrowing and likely miserable circumstances. He could have quit. He could have complained about life being unfair. He could have grown bitter towards God—but he didn't. He remained ‘joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer’. We can all take a page from the apostle's book to push past our own opposition or discomfort and carry out God's sovereign plan and purpose. So the next time we undergo hardship, we must not ask God, "Why me?" And instead ask, "Why not me?"  Remember, what binds us physically might just be what spiritually sets us free.

Pray

Pray for a renewed desire, a new spiritual ambition to see God's will be done no matter the circumstances. And ask God to grant you the necessary patience to wait on His perfect timing.

Act

Throughout the day assess your attitudes, ambitions, and motivations. And consider your willingness to avail yourself to accomplish the work God has prepared for you to do.

 

Tuesday

October 18, 2016

Co-heirs with Christ

Read

Romans 8:16-17, “And by Him we cry, ‘ABBA, Father’. The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory”.

Think

Before Jesus enters our lives, we are selfish and prideful sinners lacking ultimate purpose and direction. Even the pursuit of happiness without pure joy is limited by both time and circumstance. Therefore, we always feel like something is missing or askew. And no matter how much we try we can never assuage the God shaped hole within our soul. The Bible says God has placed eternity on the hearts of mankind. Thus, whether we know it or not, no amount of pleasure, possessions, or even acts of public service can fill the ever-present gaping void in our lives. What’s the solution to our pollution? Jesus Christ!

Everything changes the moment Jesus enters our lives. We are adopted into the family of God and declared as righteous heirs to eternal life—the reason for our hope. But that’s not all—the Holy Spirit of God takes up permanent residence within us, thereby occupying the previously empty space in our hearts. This is Christ in us! And the more and more we strive to grow in our relationship with God, the more we will undergo the transformation into becoming who God desires for us to be. And as His faithful children, He wants to leverage our gifts and talents for greatness like we’ve never before imagined.

Pray

Pray for the inmates at our two prison campuses who have recently accepted Christ. And pray for them to make an eternal impact on other inmates still incarcerated and bound by sin.

Act

Spend a few minutes basking in God’s love while meditating on I John 3:1, “How great is the love the Father has lavished upon us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”

 

Monday

October 17, 2016

Uniquely You

Read

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” – Psalms 139:14

Think

We all seem to have this desire to be unique – one-of-a-kind.  The reality is that God really did design each of us to be just that – a unique, one-of-a-kind individual with our very own gifts, talents and purpose.  Too many times though, we don’t recognize ourselves as one of His special and unique designs.  Instead, we begin the compareson game and look around at others to see how we measure up.  We decide that what God has created within us isn’t as good as what someone else is, so we launch into a mission of becoming like that someone instead of appreciating and understanding who God designed us to be.

It’s one of the enemy’s favorite ploys really.  If he can distract us from recognizing the unique design God gave us, then it can keep us from aspiring to the purpose God has given each of us.  If the enemy can cause us to chase after a counterfeit version of who we think we want to be like, then he can cause us to stumble and believe we can never fulfill any purpose for God.

Thankfully, our God is in the restoration business.  He can steady us after we stumble, help us to recognize our God given uniqueness and He will use our stumbles for His glory to fulfill His purposes.  Recognize your uniqueness today and allow God to use it for His glory - You Be You!

Pray

Ask God to help you appreciate the unique qualities he placed in you.  Ask Him to use your unique design for His glory and purposes.  Thank Him for the forgiveness and Grace given by His Son, Jesus.

Act

Discover how you can begin using your unique gifts to further God’s kingdom and grow in your confidence and relationship with Him.  Start by attending the Growth Track classes at Fellowship Church.  You can discover how to be the best YOU.