Mt. Nebo Prison Ministry

Today, I was greatly encouraged to talk with Chuck Holmes, the director of Mt. Nebo Prison Ministry. R.O.C. is excited to find another prison ministry teaching the truth of the gospel.

Check out their website; http://mnpm.org/

ChuckHolmes Chuck Holmes – Directory of Mt. Nebo Prison Ministries

About Mt. Nebo Prison Ministry
Sharing the Gospel without compromising it’s Truth!

“We are grateful and excited for this opportunity to share with you the vision God has given Mt. Nebo Prison Ministry. It is our prayer that we might bring you, your church or organization, a unique opportunity to be involved in impacting the incarcerated believer with the truth and love of Jesus Christ. Our role, by desire and design, is to be a “tool” in the hand of our Lord as He accomplishes His work within the prison system.

This ministry is committed to sharing the Gospel without compromising its truth. We are committed to seeing our great God and Savior glorified through sound biblical teaching. This is done primarily through the books, tracts, materials and tapes that reflect the teaching of our Historic Christian faith. These “tools” are sent to chaplains, religious libraries and individual inmates throughout the prisons in this country.

We offer a 13-chapter workbook called, “Fundamentals of the Faith” that begins to ground believers in the Word. Upon completion they receive a MacArthur Study Bible and an array of materials on how to study Scripture. We also do one-on-one correspondence with inmates for the purpose of discipleship, encouragement and instruction in living a changed life for the glory of God. (*Materials are only available to state and federal facilities. We are not involved at the county or city level.)”

Letter from John MacArthur
From: John MacArthur

To Whom It May Concern:

Very seldom does a ministry come along that captures my heart like Mt. Nebo Prison Ministry. With all the groups in our world that label themselves “Christian,” Mt. Nebo is a breath of fresh air. The difference? A clear, non-compromising commitment to God’s Word. That’s what sets Mt. Nebo Prison Ministry apart. This ministry drives prisoners into the Word of God, and that’s something that is very dear to my heart. I have spent most of my life in a relentless pursuit of knowing what the Bible says. And for over 35 years I have dedicated myself to preaching the Bible and nothing else. So Mt. Nebo’s loyalty to the truth is something that has thrilled my heart from the first moment I met Chuck Holmes.

What a choice servant of the Lord! Chuck is a living testimony to God’s grace and the power of the gospel. He loves Christ, loves truth, and lvoes ministering to prisoners. In fact, his excitement over biblical ministry in the prisons is contagious. Chuck’s love for the Word of God and his desire to see prisoners growing in their knowledge of truth has been an encouragement not only to me, but also to our staff and elders at Grace Community Church. We see Chuck and Mt. Nebo Prison Ministry as important allies in reaching this world for Christ.

The prisons are a tremendous mission field. My hope is that you will be gripped by the potential that prisons offer for the spread of the gospel and the building up of the saints. And I trust that you will consider partnering with Chuck as Mt. Nebo gives prisoners what they need most – the truth that is found only in God’s Word.

Yours for the Master,

John MacArthur
Pastor-Teacher

Be not quarrelsome.

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The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome,

but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged (not resentful).

2 Timothy 2:24

“Teaching, not persecution, is the Scripture method of dealing with those in error. The same God who gives the discovery of the truth, by His grace brings us to acknowledge it, otherwise our hearts would continue to rebel against it.” ~ Matthew Henry

As His servants we must be willing to humbly serve.

 

What is SALVATION?

salvation

SALVATION

We teach that salvation is wholly of God by grace on the basis of the redemption of Jesus Christ, the merit of His shed blood, and not on the basis of human merit or works (John 1:12; Ephesians 1:7; 2:8-10; 1 Peter 1:18-19).

Regeneration. We teach that regeneration is a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit by which the divine nature and divine life are given (John 3:3-7; Titus 3:5). It is instantaneous and is accomplished solely by the power of the Holy Spirit through the instrumentality of the Word of God (John 5:24) when the Holy Spirit makes the dead unbeliever alive with Christ (Ephesians 2:4-6).  This union results in man being made a new creation, in which by his very new nature, places his faith in Jesus Christ alone. Genuine regeneration is manifested by fruits worthy of repentance as demonstrated in righteous attitudes and conduct. Good works are the proper evidence and fruit of regeneration (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Ephesians 2:10), and will be experienced to the extent that the believer submits to the control of the Holy Spirit in his life through faithful obedience to the Word of God (Ephesians 5:17-21; Philippians 2:12b; Colossians 3:16; 2 Peter 1:4-10). This obedience causes the believer to be increasingly conformed to the image of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). Such a conformity is climaxed in the believer’s glorification at Christ’s coming (Romans 8:17; 2 Peter 1:4; 1 John 3:2-3).

Election. We teach that election is the act of God by which, before the foundation of the world, He chose in Christ those whom He graciously regenerates, saves, and sanctifies (Romans 8:28-30; Ephesians 1:4-11; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 2:10; 1 Peter 1:1-2).

We teach that sovereign election does not contradict or negate the responsibility of man to repent and trust Christ as Savior and Lord (Ezekiel 18:23, 32; 33:11; John 3:18-19, 36; 5:40; Romans 9:22-23; 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12; Revelation 22:17). Nevertheless, since sovereign grace includes the means of receiving the gift of salvation as well as the gift itself, sovereign election will result in what God determines. All whom the Father calls to Himself will come in faith, and all who come in faith the Father will receive (John 6:37-40, 44; Acts 13:48; James 4:8).

We teach that the unmerited favor that God grants to totally depraved sinners is not related to any initiative of their own part or to God’s anticipation of what they might do by their own will, but is solely of His sovereign grace and mercy (Ephesians 1:4-7; Titus 3:4-7; 1 Peter 1:2).

We teach that election should not be looked upon as based merely on abstract sovereignty. God is truly sovereign, but He exercises this sovereignty in harmony with His other attributes, especially His omniscience, justice, holiness, wisdom, grace, and love (Romans 9:11-16). This sovereignty will always exalt the will of God in a manner totally consistent with His character as revealed in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 11:25-28; 2 Timothy 1:9).

Justification. We teach that justification before God is an act of God (Romans 8:33) by which He declares righteous those who, through faith in Christ, repent of their sins (Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 11:18; Romans 2:4; 2 Corinthians 7:10; Isaiah 55:6-7) and confess Him as sovereign Lord (Romans 10:9-10; 1 Corinthians 12:3; 2 Corinthians 4:5; Philippians 2:11). This righteousness is apart from any virtue or work of man (Romans 3:20; 4:6) and involves the imputation of our sins to Christ (Colossians 2:14; 1 Peter 2:24) and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us (1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21). By this means God is enabled to “be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26).

Sanctification. We teach that every believer is sanctified (set apart) unto God by justification and is therefore declared to be holy and is therefore identified as a saint. This sanctification is positional and instantaneous and should not be confused with progressive sanctification. This sanctification has to do with the believer’s standing, not his present walk or condition (Acts 20:32; 1 Corinthians 1:2, 30; 6:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Hebrews 2:11; 3:1; 10:10, 14; 13:12; 1 Peter 1:2).

We teach that there is also, by the work of the Holy Spirit, a progressive sanctification by which the state of the believer is brought closer to the standing the believer positionally enjoys through justification. Through obedience to the Word of God and the empowering of the Holy Spirit, the believer is able to live a life of increasing holiness in conformity to the will of God, becoming more and more like our Lord Jesus Christ (John 17:17, 19; Romans 6:1-22; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4; 5:23).

In this respect, we teach that every saved person is involved in a daily conflict—the new creation in Christ doing battle against the flesh—but adequate provision is made for victory through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The struggle nevertheless stays with the believer all through this earthly life and is never completely ended. All claims to the eradication of sin in this life are unscriptural. Eradication of sin is not possible, but the Holy Spirit does provide for victory over sin (Galatians 5:16-25; Ephesians 4:22-24; Philippians 3:12; Colossians 3:9-10; 1 Peter 1:14-16; 1 John 3:5-9).

Security. We teach that all the redeemed, once saved, are kept by God’s power and are thus secure in Christ forever (John 5:24; 6:37-40; 10:27-30; Romans 5:9-10; 8:1, 31-39; 1 Corinthians 1:4-8; Ephesians 4:30; Hebrews 7:25; 13:5; 1 Peter 1:5; Jude 24).

We teach that it is the privilege of believers to rejoice in the assurance of their salvation through the testimony of God’s Word, which, however, clearly forbids the use of Christian liberty as an occasion for sinful living and carnality (Romans 6:15-22; 13:13-14; Galatians 5:13, 25-26; Titus 2:11-14).

Separation. We teach that separation from sin is clearly called for throughout the Old and New Testaments, and that the Scriptures clearly indicate that in the last days apostasy and worldliness shall increase (2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1; 2 Timothy 3:1-5).

We teach that, out of deep gratitude for the undeserved grace of God granted to us, and because our glorious God is so worthy of our total consecration, all the saved should live in such a manner as to demonstrate our adoring love to God and so as not to bring reproach upon our Lord and Savior. We also teach that separation from all religious apostasy and worldly and sinful practices iscommanded of us by God (Romans 12:1-2, 1 Corinthians 5:9-13; 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1; 1 John 2:15-17; 2 John 9-11).

We teach that believers should be separated unto our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12; Hebrews 12:1-2) and affirm that the Christian life is a life of obedient righteousness that reflects the teaching of the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:2-12) and a continual pursuit of holiness (Romans 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Hebrews 12:14; Titus 2:11-14; 1 John 3:1-10).

I don’t think I’m a bad person.

Luke 18:9-14
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

To some who were confident of their own righteousness (I don’t think I’m a bad person) and looked down on everyone else,Jesus told this parable:  “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ (I don’t think I’m a bad person)

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ (The one who has nothing to offer to God-no self-righteousness)

 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

This parable is rich with truth about the doctrine of justification by faith. It illustrates perfectly how a sinner who is utterly devoid of personal righteousness may be declared righteous before God instantaneously through an act of repentant faith. The parable is addressed to Pharisees who trusted their own righteousness (vv. 10–11). Such confidence in one’s inherent righteousness is a damning hope (Rom. 10:3; Phil. 3:9), because human righteousness—even the righteousness of the most fastidious Pharisee—falls short of the divine standard (Matt. 5:48). Scripture consistently teaches that sinners are justified when God’s perfect righteousness is imputed to their account (Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:4–5; 2 Cor. 5:21; Phil. 3:4–9)—and it was only on that basis that this tax collector (or anyone else) could be saved.

We have all become like one who is unclean,
    and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf,
    and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

Isaiah 64:6

All our righteous acts are considered filthy rags.  And these people had an illusion of their own self-righteousness. They told themselves, “I’m not a bad person.”

There is not one person whose heart (in themselves) is good enough to earn their way to heaven. We only are made righteous and meet the requirements through Christ alone! May true humility be stamped upon our hearts.

humility

 

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. May we only boast in what Christ has done and not in anything we are doing in our own flesh.  (I’m not a bad person, I go to church, attend Bible Study, don’t drink, tithe a lot of money, am nice to people etc.)

To wash and dress a corpse is a far different thing from making it alive: man can do the one, God alone can do the other. —Spurgeon

We are nothing without Christ. Nothing! Our hearts are wicked. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?  Christ is the only Hope we have for redemption.

Those who trust to their own righteousness and strength, and think they can do without Christ, make flesh their arm, and their souls cannot prosper in graces or comforts. ~ Matthew Henry

I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. Romans 12:3

We are bad, sinful, and wicked in our own flesh. Each one of us has fallen short. It is only through Christ alone that His grace is provided for us and we are saved.

Don’t boast in what you have done. Don’t list off all of your accomplishments and services like the Pharisee. Repent, humble yourself, and give thanks to Him always pointing to Christ in all you say and do. Don’t do it for self-approval or self-gratification. May Christ be the One who is being glorified in your life.

 

Ten Years Ago…

A few weeks ago, while working in my selfish flesh, I was thinking, “Did we make the right move to move here ten years ago?” …

Shorty afterwards a lady in one of our studies told me a story. She said ten years ago she was in prison here and it was so dead. There were many religions all over but no true Believers reading the Word Of God. It was a very dark and lonely place. She stated how now in the prison we go into there are many women reading scriptures, sharing the truth of Christ her Savior, and having Bible Studies. She claims it is a bright place, a place of spiritual growth and full of hope.

 

God showed me how one verse at a time, one night at a time, one Worship service at a time, one discipleship letter at a time, and one life at a time matters. He is the faithful One and His Word does not ever return back void. His Word will always accomplish the purpose for which He sent it.

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“So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

Isaiah 55:11

Soli Deo Gloria!

He Who is Mighty…

He Who is mighty has done a great thing…

The women inside are part of His body. They now have a body of singers who are working together inside the gates – a choir. A choir to lift their voices weekly in praise. A choir to lead the ladies in orderly worship. A choir that is free to sing and make joyful noises. A choir with instruments. Yes, instruments and tambourines to bring glory to God. Oh, how they magnify Him with their voices and instruments. What a joyful noise. He Who is mighty has done a great thing.

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He Who is Mighty by Sovereign Grace

Oh, the mercy our God has shown
To those who sit in death’s shadow
The sun on high pierced the night
Born was the Cornerstone

Unto us a Son is given, unto us a Child is born

He Who is mighty has done a great thing
Taken on flesh, conquered death’s sting
Shattered the darkness and lifted our shame
Holy is His name

Oh, the freedom our Savior won
The yoke of sin has been broken
Once a slave, now by grace
No more condemnation

Now my soul magnifies the Lord
I rejoice in the God Who saves
I will trust His unfailing love
I will sing His praises all my days

Following Christ

“We do not merely add Jesus Christ to our lives and continue in the same direction. Following Christ means we stop, turn around, and pursue Him.”

~ Steven J. Lawson

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We are blessed to be preaching and teaching the Word of God on a weekly basis as we declare to the ladies the whole counsel of God from His creation to Revelation. Currently we are going through the book of Revelation and Colossians on Wednesday nights. We have pastors who are teaching through the Word of God, verse by verse on Sunday mornings.

Soli Deo gloria!

The R.O.C., Relying on Christ, Ministry Team

 

A Love Story: part two…

Then Easter arrived.  Easter, the holiest of all Christian holidays.  My phone rang very early in the  morning – before 4:00, I think.  I answered.  A familiar voice I couldn’t quite put my finger on said,  “Becky”.  I said, “Yes.  Who is this?”  It was a co‐worker of mine ‐ an elderly man who had many  health problems.  I immediately asked if he was ok.  Did he need something?  He said, “It’s David.   He passed away during the night.” A friend and neighbor heard his water running for hours and  when he didn’t respond to knocking on the door, broke in and found him in the shower.   Not MY  David.  We were getting married in three weeks.  This has to be a mistake.

What do I do with this?  I couldn’t be angry with God – the only One who could carry me through  this.   Oddly, David and I had talked of what it what be like when we go home.  I knew he was in the  presence of the Savior he so adored.  I would never want to deny him that.  I had hoped we would  go together – a lot of years in the future.  The next several days are a bit of a blur.  Should someone  you love find themselves in this situation, just be available.  Don’t force an agenda.  Don’t  necessarily say anything.  Just pray and be available.  My bridesmaid friend became my rock as I  was allowed by David’s children to plan his memorial service.

Man on top of mountain.

The service was beautiful and honoring.  It was a worship service as that was one of David’s most  favorite things – spread his huge wingspan and sing to the top of his lungs in worship.  After the  service, my friends had planned an informal gathering at a nearby park.  Outdoors, a beautiful  setting to share popsicles (David’s favorite thing) and visit.  I was the last one to arrive at the park.

popsicles

I saw a couple of my friends in a very intent conversation with a big, tatted stranger sitting at one  of the picnic tables in the middle of our gathering area.  I asked what was going on.  I was told this  man was very drunk and depressed.  They were taking turns speaking with him about Jesus.  I  have the best friends ever!  I had to smile as this would have been a dream setting for David.  We  were often late to meetings, etc. as we would always stop for stranded motorists.  David would sit  on the curb with homeless men outside of Walmart and share Jesus then buy them a meal.  It was a  staple of his personality and calling.  I listened for a couple of minutes, then when I heard this man  say “Jesus couldn’t love him because of all he had done”,  I said “this one’s mine” and asked my  friend to step aside.  I sat down and shared with this man about the memorial service we had just  come from.  The man I should be marrying in a couple of weeks had died but had made it his life’s  calling to tell people how much Jesus loved them.  He would have loved this man in the park.   I  asked him his name.   He said “Michael”.  My heart lept!  David had been adopted at the age of  three.  His adoptive parents had named him David as I believe they saw the future man of God that  he would become.  His birth parents had named him Michael.  Oh, my David – you are here!  I  asked this young, very inebriated man if he knew Jesus.  He repeated that Jesus couldn’t possible  love him because of all he had done.  He said he’d done time in prison.  I told him I had done time  in prison, another friend there had just been released.  A lady with us was on ISP.  Jesus loved us  all unconditionally.  I asked him where he’d done his time – wondering if it was a prison that David  had visited doing ministry.  God had an even better gift.  Michael said Corcoran – in California.  My  eyes filled with tears as I told Michael that 33 years ago, David had accepted Jesus as his Lord and  Savior as an inmate of Corcoran Prison in California.  Coincidence?  Not a chance.  Michael’s eyes  got wide and he said “Lady.  You’re kinda freaking me out”.  I shared some more.  Many others  shared, too, throughout the afternoon.  Michael didn’t accept Jesus that day but I believe he will as  everyone poured into his life.  He had enough seeds planted to become a one‐man forest on the  day he decides to say “Yes” to Jesus.  I want to be present the day that Michael arrives in heaven  and David greets him saying “Remember that day in the park when those folks just kept sharing  the love of Christ with you?  Well, I sent my girl there to do just that.  She brought her friends along  and they wouldn’t give up on you just like Jesus never gave up on you.  Welcome Home!”

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Fast forward a couple of months ‐ I’m at my local Laundromat where ministry just happens.  In the  early hours of Saturday mornings, there are often homeless men there who clean up for the week  in the small restroom in the back.  I love to start my wash, then drive a few blocks down to  McDonald’s and pick up a big bag of breakfast burritos and a tray of coffees and hand them out  randomly to whoever is there.  This particular morning, I had started my laundry and a homeless  man comes in with a shopping cart full of his treasures – a sleeping bag, a tarp a few clothes. . .  He gently asks me if I would watch his things while he “showers”.  I said I would be happy to. Some time passes, he exits the restroom in clean clothes and wet hair.  He thanks me and heads  out the door with his cart.  A few minutes later I am up front folding my clothes with my back to  the front door.  No one else is in the Laundromat.  I softly hear “Excuse me, Ma’am”.  I look around  not certain if I’d really heard that.  I again hear “Excuse me, Ma’am”.  I turn to see the homeless  man extending his hand to me saying “this is for you”.  In his hand is a perfect long stemmed rose –  creamy white pedals on the outside, deep pinkish red on the inside curling over the edge as it  unfolds.  I teared up and told him these are my favorites.   He smiled, said nothing more and  quietly left.  Oh David!  How I miss you!  Thank you!

The two things I wish to leave you with are:

Pay attention.  God has the most amazing gifts of His  love for you.  Don’t miss them.  Mine came wrapped as a drunken ex‐con in the park – what a  blessing – and a homeless man bearing a rose in the Laundromat – inexplicable Joy!  God has gifts  for you but don’t put Him in a box – be aware of every possibility.

Two – if you doubt, for any reason, the depth, width, height and length of His love for you, we  would be honored to pray with you for a deeper understanding and acceptance of the Joy He finds  in you, His beautiful daughter.

In His Grace,

Becky

A Love Story: part one…

A true love story written by a dear sister and friend as told to the ladies inside.

Good Morning My Sisters,

It is always such a JOY to spend time with you.  Today I have more testimony for you.  May I share a beautiful Love story with you?  My love story?  So let’s back up a bit for those of you I haven’t had the joy of meeting.  I did my 3‐ish years inside at Colorado Women’s.  I was released to a halfway house.  After a couple of weeks, I was sent out to find work – on foot each day all over town.  One day I was in a particular part of town where there are many small businesses.  I decided to stop by a non‐profit a friend of mine worked for.   She, too, was a felon and worked there and loved her job.  I dropped off my resume and noticed next door was a Prison Ministry I was familiar with.  So, of course, I stopped into say “Hi”.  It was such a great visit.  I told them I was looking for work and stopped in when I saw their sign.  They invited me to share birthday cake with them as one of the ladies who worked there was celebrating her birthday.  The Pastor/Founder of the ministry joined us and asked me about my job skills.  I have quite a varied background of skills.  When done, he told me of their current data base administrator giving her notice that morning – THAT morning.  She was pregnant and had a toddler.  She and her husband decided for her to be a stay‐at‐home mom.  I was offered the job on the spot.  Our God is amazing!  Of course, I took the job.  We had to jump through some special hoops with the CDOC to allow me to work there, but all went well and I began my employment with them.   My office area was near the back of the building so I was unable to hear people come in the front door.  One day, I heard this booming, joyous laughter.  It certainly caught my attention.  Again, I heard it so I stuck my head around the corner and asked my office mate who it was.  She responded that a friend of the pastor’s was visiting from California and was going to spend a few days in town working on a joint ministry project.   About a half hour later, this tall, buff (big shoulders), brown eyed, gentle giant came into my area.  He introduced himself as “David” and asked me my story.  He’d already been told it up front, but asked me to share.  I gave him the abbreviated version.  He asked if he might pray with me.  Of course – I never refuse prayer.  He prayed the first of many beautiful, articulate, blessings over me.  I was a bit overwhelmed at what he prayed.  It was like he knew my struggles and me.  When he left, I offered to shake his hand and thanked him. He boldly told me he didn’t shake hands and gave me the warmest bear hug I have ever received.   He came by once more during the week.  We prayed.  I got hugged – he made quite the impression. Over the next couple of years, we spoke often on the phone.  We always prayed.  He always showed a genuine interest as I was released, did ISP, then parole and was finally on my own.   About that time, he decided to move to Colorado and work part time at the ministry.  He quickly became a close friend.  I booked him and others into prisons to minister to the men of CDOC.  He had a regular Bible study at the local jail.  He always shared what he was teaching and how it had gone.  We often prayed for the inmates he visited.  We were a team to visit churches to promote and share the ministry.  This was the best as he was bold in his worship and outspoken and confident in his beliefs.  It was fun to overwhelm the most conservative churches that didn’t know what to think of this gregarious man who loved Jesus more than life.  His name, David – a man after God’s own heart – suited him perfectly. At one point, David made contact with his former high school sweetheart who lived out of state.   Her husband had died a few years earlier.  They reconnected and their relationship seemed to blossom over the phone and Internet.  They decided it was time for him to visit her over the holidays and take their relationship another step.  We, the office, staff was thrilled at this new found happiness for him.  About a week after he left, he called me to say he was on his way home.   He said she wasn’t who she used to be and he wasn’t who he used to be and they weren’t going to work out for a number of reasons.  He was heart broken.  He was to get home the next afternoon.  I told him (didn’t ask) he was going to my church’s night at the zoo with me that next night.  He needed a little pick‐me‐up.  We went and sang Christmas carols around a fire pit, made s’mores and got accosted by the little kiddos from my Sunday school class.  At one point, we found ourselves on the carousel acting and laughing like children.   When the ride was done, he helped me down by taking my hand.  When I was safely on the ground, he didn’t let go of my hand.   Hmmm We held hands for the remainder of the night.  We spoke of our friendship and how much we cared for each other.  I had no interest in dating as I still considered my life to be a bit of a mess  – felon, and all.  He told me that our pastor had told him I was “off limits” that first day we’d met.   We set those things aside and confessed our true feelings for each other.  From that moment, he began to “court” me – genuinely, biblically, court me.  I have never had a man so honor me and treat me with such beautiful respect.    One of many sweet things he did was buy me roses.  He always found a particular kind – creamy white pedals on the outside, with a deep pinkish red on the inside so the red would curl outward as the buds opened up.  Beautiful.  I never could find them when I looked but they were the only ones he would buy for me.

white rose red tip

About three months into our new relationship, he invited me to a fancy big dinner and told me to  “dress up” -something I didn’t often do.  I dressed up.  We went to the restaurant and ate an exquisite meal.  I was stuffed.  He asked me what I would like for dessert.  Not a thing – I was stuffed.  No, he said.  The desserts here are amazing.  No, I really can’t eat another bite.  He was quite insistent.  I finally agreed to share one dessert.  I then learned that ‘dessert’ was the que for the wait staff and restaurant manager to bring out this enormous bouquet of flowers – including my special roses.  David dropped to one knee and asked for my hand in marriage.  I later found out he had called my dad (out of state) to ask his permission.  Yes, oh Yes!  How I loved this Godly man. We chose a date a few months away.  Our pastor at work would do the honors.  My best friend agreed to stand with me.  I had chosen my dress – purple.  We had chosen a beautiful outdoor location.  All things were falling perfectly into place.

…To be continued…

Bible Study & Prayer …

Before class began, one of the women asked me to pray for her because she had just finished a very difficult program designed to help her stay away from drugs once she was released.

She felt so good graduating from that program, but was faced with yet another difficulty. The prison system put her on farm duty, which meant she had to work outside for eight hours a day on a farm harvesting crops.

You know how hot it has been lately. We have had temperatures in the 100’s now for several straight weeks.

I really felt bad for this inmate. She is not a young girl and not in the best of health. I personally felt that it was not a good idea for her to be in that unbearable heat for eight hours.

The other inmates all had ideas on how she could get out of the farm work. I listened for a while and their ideas were all based on deception and rebellion.

Finally, I said, “Listen, ladies, I have a better idea. Why don’t we pray and ask God for His help in this situation. If you belong to Him, he will take care of you. Remember that Jesus Himself said, Apart from Me you can do nothing. And Paul reminded his followers that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. So the only way to face any difficult situation is to take it to Jesus in prayer. We simply cannot face all the trials that this life serves us without Jesus. But with Our Lord in the situation His grace is sufficient for us.

So we spent some time asking God for His help for this inmate. God knows our frame and our limitations. He never leaves us or abandons us. Listen to this story of great faith in the book of Acts. Luke told this account of his friends Paul and Silas who were whipped with rods and then thrown into prison and chained so that they could not even move.

about midnight paul

 

Acts 16:16-34
Luke says, As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.
But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.” The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.

Paul and Silas were beaten and chained up in a prison because Paul cast a demon out of a young girl who was being used by certain men to earn money. Once the demon was cast out the girl was useless to those evil men. So they threw The apostle Paul and Silas in prison. Now that was a very difficult situation to be in. But how did those godly men respond. They prayed.

There are three things I see in this story that we can apply to our lives and situations.

The place of prayer in the life of a believer. Paul, Silas and Luke were on their way to pray. Prayer was the greatest work that these men did. Without prayer, their work was empty and powerless. God has given us a great privilege — the gift of prayer — the opportunity to talk directly with Him, the Creator of the universe.

To ask Him for help in our time of need, to thank Him for His blessings, to seek His forgiveness for our sins, and to plead for the life of our loves ones. What a gift!

We can’t even approach our president to ask for help when we need it. And he is only a man just like us. There is no chance in the world to get an audience with the Queen of England, and she is only a woman, just like us.

But we can come directly into the throne room of heaven and approach Almighty God. He will never turn us away. He always has time for us. We don’t even need an appointment. We don’t have to call ahead of time to make sure He’s home.

We just come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need, as Hebrews 4:16 says. When Paul and Silas were chained up in the prison cell, bloody and bruised from the beating they had just endured, they couldn’t sleep, they wouldn’t complain, and they refused to lose hope.

Their hearts were filled with praise for the God they knew was with them. The Scripture says, At midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God.

In the worst of conditions, these men were praying and praising God. What an example for us. We are probably never going to be beaten and chained and imprisoned. We are comfortably settled in our homes. Yet how many of us neglect this great privilege of prayer.

The second thing I see in this story was the result of the men’s prayer. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. It was a miracle! God sent an earthquake to break the chains and set them free.

Our prayers reach to God’s throne. He hears our weakest plea for help. He will not turn a deaf ear to our prayers! When the Israelites cried out to Him to deliver them from slavery in Egypt, He told Moses, I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. Ex 3:7. God told Moses that He was coming down to deliver them out of the land of slavery and bring them into a good and large land a land flowing with milk and honey.

And then finally, I see the effect of our prayers on others. The jailer whose life was in jeopardy if the prisoners escaped, fell down trembling before Paul and Silas, and he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

The Jailer recognized the hand of God in their release from their chains. And he wanted in. Whatever power was responsible for the earthquake, he knew was the Almighty power and he wanted to be a part of that. He had heard the prayers and singing the Paul and Silas were doing at midnight. He knew they were not just ordinary prisoners. These were men whose words were heard by the One True God of Heaven! And he wanted to be a part of that family. In fact his whole family became believers in Jesus and were baptized.

This difficult situation turned into such a blessing not only for Paul and Silas, but for a family that were lost in sin and hopelessness. It all began with prayer and it all finished in prayer.

Do you know what The female prisoner who feared working at the farm said after we prayed? She said “I know God is in control and even if I died of the heat, I know where I will go and I am not afraid.”   That’s what prayer does. Prayer stabilizes us, gives us hope, helps us to see our situation from God’s eyes, not our own, settles our hearts so that we can truly believe that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

~written by a R.O.C. volunteer

Update: The lady was taken off of the farm crew a week later. God answered her prayer.