You are about to leave prison or maybe you have just walked out of the gate. You have professed Jesus Christ to be the Lord of your life. He has guided you and protected you during your time behind bars (or behind the fence). Now what do you do???
Open your Bible
You will be warned and encouraged by the accounts of men, some who were godly and some who were not, some who started poorly and finished well and some who started well and finished poorly. Solomon comes to mind. He was the wisest man who ever lived but he let his heart be turned away by his own appetite for pleasure. As a result, he slipped so far from the Lord that he became involved in the most base of all false worship, even sacrificing his children to Molech. He had everything he could ever want but he let his eyes and his flesh get the best of him. As a result, he lost the peace and joy that only God gives and he sought to replace it with pleasures from worldly knowledge and parties. It didn’t fulfill, in fact, it led to the loss of most of his kingdom. Be warned by the example of Solomon.
Thank God that the Bible is also filled with accounts of men who started poorly and finished well. Peter started as a sinful fisherman who did not seem to know when to speak and when to keep quiet. He leaned upon Jesus for three years then in the hour of temptation he denied three times that he even knew Jesus. Praise God that this wasn’t the end for Peter, in fact, it was just the beginning. As Peter learned not to trust in his own strength, he grew spiritually along the same lines that John the Baptist had prescribed in John 3:30, “He (Jesus) must increase, I must decrease.”
That is the key to our spiritual growth too. Jesus must increase. We MUST give Him more of us, opening all of the doors to our heart. When we agree to step off of the throne of our life, He steps in to lead us down a path that we could never have known as long as we maintained control.
Paul had to learn the same lesson. He hated Jesus and all those who followed Him. He killed Christians and hauled many more to prison because they proclaimed that Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus met him on the road to Damascus and saved Paul’s soul. Jesus also led him into the wilderness for three years to teach Paul more about Him and about the calling that Jesus had on his life. Paul had trusted Jesus for salvation but he had to learn to trust Jesus to lead him through this life.
Many of you have trusted Jesus for eternal salvation. Trust Him to lead you through this life as well.
Trials are going to come
1 Peter 4:12 says, ‘Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.’ In other words, trials are a normal part of life. Most people live in a world where they believe if they could just get past some issue in their life then EVERYTHING will be a bed of roses. WRONG! A lot of men in prison have the same misconception. They believe that getting out will solve all of their problems. Praise God that it will certainly solve many of them and it will bring a lot of blessings into your life. However, being freed from prison will also introduce new challenges. Be prepared to face them. We don’t have to run from them and we don’t have to give into them either.
God promises to be with us in the trials
There are a lot of passages in Psalms that encourage us to hold fast when trials or temptations come. David learned over and over again that he could trust the Lord in tough times. Psalm 34 was written by David shortly after he had made a huge mistake in running to the enemy for protection (I Samuel 21:10-15). He later realized his error and ran back to the place he knew he could go to be delivered from Saul and the men who sought to kill him.
Psalm 34:4: I sought the LORD and he heard me and delivered me from all my fears.
Psalm 34:7-8 The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him and delivereth them. Oh taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
Psalm 34:19 Many are the afflictions (adversities, calamities) of the righteous but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.
Psalm 34:21-22 Evil shall slay the wicked and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate (punished). The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants and none that trust in him shall be desolate.
Read the entire Psalm and see how David learned to trust the LORD in the midst of the trials. The good news is that we can trust the same faithful One that David knew 3000 years ago. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.
You’re going to face some unknown situations when you walk out of prison
Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us how to deal with the unknown situations that are in front of you.
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Do not lean on your own understanding. Are you unsure about how you will pay the bills? Don’t go out and do another drug deal just to get by; pray for guidance and for God’s provision and see where He leads. If you don’t know where you should live, then ask the Lord for direction, for open doors in the town where He wants you to be. Do you need a job? Then seek the Lord first and follow the path that He leads you on.
Like it says in Proverbs 3, in ALL of your ways, acknowledge Him. That means that we should seek His will in ALL of our ways. The promise is that He will direct your path; He will show you the way to go. It doesn’t say that he might show you the way; it says that He will show you the way.
But note that the beginning of the passage directs us to trust the LORD with ALL of our heart. Don’t be half-hearted. God does not have a plan B; we don’t need one either. Some men might think, “Well, I’ll trust the Lord for a minute to work this out but if I don’t have an answer by Friday then I’ll just to handle it my way.” No, no, no, no. Trust Him with all of your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. God may have a solution that you cannot even see right now. Trust Him completely and see where He directs you according to His will.
Satan wants to discourage you. He wants you to give up, to quit, to return to the ways that led you to prison in the first place. God has a better plan. Jeremiah 29:11 says, ‘I know the thoughts I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end (a hope and a future).’ God wants to give you peace; He offers you a hope and a future. He wants to establish a strong, godly family. He wants to bless you with His presence in your life. He wants to use you in His plan to bless other people. So don’t let the enemy draw you away from the plan of the Lord. Satan’s plan is simple. He wants to kill you, steal from you and destroy you (John 10:10) but Jesus says in that passage that He came to give you life and that more abundantly. So, do you want to have your life stolen from you? Do you want to have it destroyed? If not, then resist the plan of the enemy by embracing the plan of the Lord and He will give you an abundant life in Christ Jesus.
As you have trusted Jesus for salvation, trust Him to lead you in this life. Walk in Him as it says in Colossians 2:6-7, ‘As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him, rooted and built up in Him, and established in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.’
Get rooted in God’s Word and you will be established (have a strong foundation) in faith. Set aside time everyday to spend with the Lord.
Finally, Hebrews 10:19-23 encourages us to hold on because Jesus has made a way for us to appeal directly to the throne of grace.
Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having a high priest over the house of God. Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised).
Jesus has made a way for you to come to God the Father. You have someone on your side in the throne room of the universe. If you have received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior then He is rooting for you today and He is interceding to the Father on your behalf.
So, hold fast to the profession of faith that you have in Christ Jesus. He will never leave you or forsake you. His last words in Matthew 28:20 remind us, “Lo, I am with you always even unto the end of the world.” Amen.