Why don’t they get it?
What’s it going to take?
Are they ever going to learn?
All of these questions may go through your mind as you see the men and women in the jail over and over again. In the last several years since Tracey and I have been going to the jail we have seen a bunch of them come and go only to return.
While there are numerous charges and reasons why each of them are in jail it really isn’t any different than why so many are still locked up in sin. Each of us has lived a life filled with trying and failing but maybe we just didn’t get caught. I know I lived trying to run my own life for many, many years before I became sick and tired enough to really hand it over the Christ.
Even though I wouldn’t want anyone to have to be in jail there is a good side to it. Because I get to go there and tell them Jesus Christ is the solution. If they weren’t in jail I may not have an opportunity to share my testimony and the Word of God with them. I know God does speak through others but tonight it was my privilege.
Sometimes when it’s time to go to the jail I am fired up ready to go. I’ve got scripture, testimony, examples and illustrations lined up and other times I don’t. Tonight was the latter. I didn’t really have any one thing or verse I felt led to share, but I know God knows what he’s doing so I went simply, trusting him.
Walking into the vending room the guys were already there and seated. It seemed to be unusually quiet for some reason but that’s good. I passed the sign up sheet around and started with a word of prayer. I prayed “God I have nothing, but I know you’ve got this. I thank you for each of these guys and the opportunity to share your word with them tonight. I just ask that you would speak to them in the way only you can, in Jesus’ name amen.”
After sharing a little bit of my testimony I read Hebrews 4:12 to them about how the word of God divides the soul and spirit. I never seem to get tired of sharing with others about how we are a spirit with a soul that lives in a body. I think this is so vital to understand. If we don’t get to a place where we can distinguish between our souls and spirits we will forever be led around by our thoughts and emotions. We must learn to walk after the spirit and not the flesh.
I know when I lived in the soul/body realm I constantly looked for something to make me feel the way I wanted to. There are a number of things that give us that charge to the flesh we’re looking for. It can be sex, drugs, money, gambling, risk taking, like skydiving or driving fast, it can be just about anything. Why do you think people love scary movies or roller-coasters? We’re all looking for that one thing that gets our heart pumping and the adrenaline racing, something to make us feel alive!
We read a little in Galatians 5 about the flesh and spirit and in 2 Corinthians 12 where Paul shares his revelation about weakness. The Apostle Paul had what he called a thorn in his flesh and he couldn’t shake it. He prayed three times for God to remove it, but God told him “My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” God’s grace enabled Paul to walk in the Spirit despite his troubles in his flesh.
I finished talking with the guys tonight telling them most of our problems stem from thinking we are strong enough and smart enough. We think we’re able to handle our lives and run them how we want to. God is saying to us “Let me carry your burden. Let me run things. I am the only one who can.” Once we see that our own weakness in the flesh is the key to having God’s power in the Spirit we will agree with Paul when he said, “Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” The spirit is indeed willing but the flesh is weak.
Written by Louie
One of the biggest problems most of us have is thinking we are self- sufficient. We think we can handle it. We are independent. I understand self-sufficiency is applauded in most circles and sometimes rightly so. I mean, I do think we shouldn’t always be looking for a handout, but rather we should work and learn to provide for ourselves and families. But what I’m talking about here is spiritual sufficiency, and that is something none of us have in and of ourselves.
The toughest lesson any of us have to learn is how weak we truly are. We have swallowed the lie of independence for so long it’s almost impossible for us to believe the truth. Therefore God has a way of getting us in a place where we can discover our need of him. For some it is drug addiction, divorce, loss of employment, jail, troubled children and the list goes on and on. I may not have named your particular corner, but I can promise you there is one perfectly designed just for you. You see, God isn’t content being the only one that knows this he wants us to know too. The only way for most of us is through some trials and hardships. It must be proven to us beyond any doubt that we are not self-sufficient and we are in need of Jesus Christ, who is more than enough.
If you read about the Apostle Paul and his discovery of this truth you’ll find out he came to understand weakness as an asset. He had something in his life that wouldn’t go away. He called it “a messenger of Satan.” He prayed three times for God to remove it, yet God’s response to him was “My grace is sufficient.” Paul learned this, “thorn in his flesh” as he called it, was there in order to keep him humble. Once he came to this conclusion he learned to embrace his weakness. He discovered when he was weak (insufficient) he was actually made strong. In Paul’s insufficiency God became all sufficient. God told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Paul said, “I will gladly rejoice in my weaknesses that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
In other words if we think we are sufficient then God will continue to let us live that way. We may have to suffer all sorts of trials, hardships and painful results to wake us from the stupor false independence causes, but God is patient and he knows what he’s doing. He will be there waiting for us to cry out, and he will show up being all sufficient. The Bible tells us Jesus himself “learned obedience through what he suffered.” Apparently we are going to learn in the same way. James tells us “The trying of our faith works patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” In conclusion, it seems as though we learn the most through trials and difficulties, but never forget God’s grace is sufficient.
Written by Louie