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The Jailhouse Gospel

The Jailhouse Gospel
By Jerry Ousley

Over the years I’ve visited a few jails where people who have gotten into trouble have been arrested, felt the guilt of their crime and asked for a minister. Generally these folks know that they have done wrong and want to make things right. There are those who have been called by God to minister to prisoners and it is a ripe and open field of opportunity for the Gospel.

There are some of those jailhouse experiences that I have questioned over the years. Now don’t get me wrong; I know that many have genuinely come to the Lord from the jails and prisons. These are men and women who have had a real and lasting experience with Christ. I completely admire those who are willing to put up with ridicule and often even danger to go into the jails and prisons to tell these men and women about Jesus.

However, I have run into some who only wanted to make a commitment to the Lord thinking that somehow life behind bars would be easier and that perhaps their conversion experience would influence a judge into giving them a lighter sentence. I’ve seen those who once they have gotten back onto the streets have turned out to be worse than they were when they went in. These individuals only desired to use God to get what they wanted out of jail and back out into the public. Somehow I know that their use of God for their own personal gain will catch up with them someday.

But this doesn’t mean that we should stop ministering in the jails and prisons. In fact, this particular facet of ministry is one that is mentioned by our Lord, Jesus Christ in no uncertain terms. We are to do it. I know that if it were me behind bars facing who knows what that I’d certainly be focused on God because I know that He’d be my only hope!

In Acts 16:22-34 we read about a pair of jailbirds who were arrested not because they had committed a crime but because they had been good witnesses for the Lord. They were none other than Paul and Silas who had come to the Greek city of Philippi. They had just embarked on this new phase in their ministry for God. In a vision Paul had seen a Greek man beckoning to them to come and help them. It was a vision from God giving them direction as to where they should go next. It was exciting to have heard from God and know that they were going exactly where He was leading them. According to the chapter a lady by the name of Lydia of Thyatira had become their first convert and it seemed that all was going well. From there they entered Philippi where they preached the Gospel openly.

While there a slave girl began following them around taunting them saying “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” Those words on the surface seem to be noble words. But apparently she spoke them in a manner of mockery. This girl, as it turned out, was possessed by a demon spirit and had been used by her master to tell the future of others. Her master had made a lot of money from her. But one day Paul just got fed up with it, and under the influence of the Holy Spirit commanded that the evil spirit leave the girl. It did but after that she lost her ability to tell fortunes and so her owner lost a big chunk of income.

That was it; he reported it to the authorities and shortly after Paul and Silas found themselves beaten, bleeding and locked in the inner jail not only behind bars but also fastened up in the stocks. Hurting, and cold, instead of complaining “Lord, it was Your idea for us to come here, so why are You punishing us like this?” they instead were found singing praises to the Lord at midnight. Can you imagine that? It’s mighty hard for me to put myself in their place and have the same attitude. I’d probably be crying “Woe is me!” Because of their praise an earthquake from God shook the prison and the stocks fell from them and all the cell doors were thrown open. To shorten this a bit, the head jailer thought that all the prisoners had escaped and was about to kill himself with his own sword when Paul cried out, “Don’t do anything harsh to yourself; we’re all here!”

Not only were the jail cell doors open but now the door was open to this man’s heart to hear the Gospel and that very night he and all in his house were saved! Talk about a revival! The point is that God does want to do a work in us and for us. He does have our best interest at heart even though sometimes it doesn’t seem like it. We may find ourselves literally in prison. But just as bad and sometimes worse, we may find ourselves in the prison of life. We feel bound up. We may be suffering a deadly sickness or disease. We could be in such financial difficulty that there seems there is no answer. But I want you to listen to the jailhouse gospel. Hear the praises echoing through the chambers in the dead of night and know that God is about to shake open those prison doors and change your life, just like He did for that jailer, forever.

Jerry D. Ousley is the Author of five books, “Soul Challenge”, “Soul Journey” “Ordeal” “The Spirit Bread Daily Devotional” and his first novel “The Shoe Tree.” Listen to the daily broadcast Spirit Bread. Find out more by visiting http://www.spiritbread.com

or email us at jousley@spiritbread.com

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.comCHRISTIAN WRITERMAKE A WEBSITE

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