November 2008

This month’s view is another one from prison. Prisoners have a similar view of the world as you do. This month, we have a new president, the economy is plummeting, and it’s time to celebrate Thanksgiving. For many, it is a time of pain and fear, but with God in our hearts, we can be thankful for many things. Today, a letter arrived that read: “Looking forward to your November view. I love to read your views!” I am thankful.

Thankful in prison…

Prisoners are locked away from their families, placed in a small cell with a stranger and watched by guards twenty-four hours a day. It would be a nightmare for many of you to be in prison, so you may ask, “How could a person be thankful in prison?”

This is not a recommendation for the prison life, but there are many things to be thankful for in prison when you know that God is merciful. He is to be thanked for our food, our warm bed though it is very firm, and for our friends and family who have not given up on us. “O Give thanks to the LORD; for He is good: For His mercy endures forever.” 1

All of us are bound in our sin until we receive freedom through the finished work of Jesus Christ. It is the Lord that prisoners have to thank for their salvation. As the chorus goes: “Thank you Lord for saving our soul, thank you Lord for making us whole, thank you Lord for giving to me, Thy great salvation so rich and free.”

Difficult times…

These are definitely difficult times unlike most of us have ever seen. Some say we are headed for a depression similar to the ‘30s. It is not the time to give up hope because you have a God who loves and cares for you. He knows your every need. He promises to provide when you turn to Him. Jesus says, “Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and He will give you all you need from day to day if you live for Him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.” 2

The problem is that many of us don’t make the Kingdom of God our primary concern. The Scriptures tell us what the kingdom of this world will be like during difficult times: “For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred.

They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control; they will be cruel and have no interest in what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act as if they are religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly.” 3 Is there any question why many are defeated today?

God is faithful…

It could be your children that are in need. The above Scriptures describe the first three decades of my life. You know the lingering pain that my old life causes so many, but the Lord never gave up on me. He brought me to my knees in a prison chapel, where He showed me that I believed a lie and walked in deception for all those years.

There was nothing anyone could do for me but pray and share the testimony of Jesus Christ. How He bled on the cross to forgive my sin, and rose from the dead to give me eternal life. As a result, I became a new man in Christ. “What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!” 4

If the Lord did it for me, He did it for you and your family too! “For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, ‘Anyone who believes in Him will not be disappointed.’ Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They all have the same Lord, who generously gives His riches to all who ask for them. For ‘Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ 5

The Best Thanksgiving ever…

This can be the best Thanksgiving of your life in the midst of these difficult times. It is time to trust God by stepping out in faith. Salvation means deliverance, liberation and wholeness. “No matter what happens, always be thankful for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 6

The Hebrew word, “Shalom” is usually translated “Peace.” This word conveys a deeper meaning of healing and reconciliation. It can sometimes be better translated: “Wholeness.” This word is used to greet and to depart. It is what we all seek, to be at peace, made whole, with God and with each other. We can be thankful for the “Shalom” we receive through Jesus Christ.

As a Christian, you belong to God. “Or don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” 7

Our lives are in God’s hands. Though we may be physically in prison, our lives are free. These times are in God’s control, even the number of our days before we meet Jesus face to face. We can trust the living God who lives in our hearts and directs our paths. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will direct your paths.” 8

A Prayer For You ...

Heavenly Father, You know our beginning and our end. It is You Who formed us in the womb. It is You Who has numbered our days. We call on You ,Who created us, to bring peace which exceeds all understanding. Jesus said He gives us peace, but He does not give as the world gives. We want that peace to complete us, to make us whole. We seek You Father with all that we possess. Please give us strength to endure, wisdom to react and make us whole through the love of Your Son, Jesus. As You have forgiven us, may we be empowered to forgive others. May we overcome this world as Jesus overcame in love. Thank You, Father, for the perfect love which You give to us; and for the salvation from this dark world, which only comes through Jesus Christ, in Whose name we say…Amen.

Scripture References:

1 Psalm 136:1
2 Matt. 6:32, 33
3 2 Tim. 3:1-5
4 2 Cor. 5:17
5 Rom. 10:9-13
6 1 Thess. 5:18
7 1 Cor. 6:19, 20
8 Pro. 3:5, 6

Acknowledgement: A special thanks to Sherry for transcribing this months view!

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