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Saturday, January 06, 2018

Prisoners for the Lord



Prisoners for the Lord
We are to minister to those imprisoned, whatever the reason they are there.
Luke 4:18a “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim release to the captives,
Matthew 25:34 Then the King will tell those on his right hand, ‘Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35a for I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat. 36 I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you visited me. I was in prison, and you came to me.’
Hebrews 13:3 Remember those who are in bonds*, as bound with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you are also in the body. (*or “in prison.”)
Christians may be jailed, or otherwise suffer, for their beliefs.
Christ's servants, if they come to be prisoners, are his prisoners; and he despises not his prisoners. He thinks never the worse of them for the bad character which the world gives them or the evil treatment that they met with in it. – Matthew Henry’s Commentary, public domain.
“… for most of church history—and in most of the world today—Christians have been severely oppressed, marginalized and killed for their beliefs. (Daniel Hess, “God Has a Great Plan for You (Even If It’s Not What You Had in Mind),” Relevant, January 5, 2018.)
Luke 21:12 But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you up to synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for my name’s sake. 13 It will turn out as a testimony for you.
Acts 12:1-16 tells the story of Peter’s miraculous release from prison; 16:16-40 Paul and Silas in the jail at Philippi; Acts 21:12 through Acts 28 tells of Paul’s arrest and transfer to Rome. (See below for full texts.)
Becoming a believer is like being released from prison.
“And Can It Be” and “O Zion, haste” are hymns that speak of salvation in such terms.
Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature's night;
Thine eye diffused a quick'ning ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free;
I rose, went forth and followed Thee. ("And Can It Be ...," Charles Wesley, public domain)
Behold how many thousands still are lying
bound in the dark-some prison-house of sin,
with none to tell them of the Savior's dying,
or of the life He died for them to win. ("O Zion, haste ... ," Mary Ann Thomson, public domain.
Following Christ is like willingly being jailed by Him. That seems to be what Paul was saying in these verses, although he probably was also referring to actual imprisonment:
Ephesians 3:1 For this cause I, Paul, am the prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles,
Ephesians 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to walk worthily of the calling with which you were called,
Romans 16:7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives and my fellow prisoners, who are notable among the apostles, who were also in Christ before me.
A prisoner of the Lord gives up her freedom. She eats and sleeps as Christ commands. She lives for Christ, and others, not for herself. But she gladly submits to such imprisonment!

Acts 12:1 Now about that time, King Herod stretched out his hands to oppress some of the assembly. 2 He killed James, the brother of John, with the sword. 3 When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This was during the days of unleavened bread. 4 When he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of four soldiers each to guard him, intending to bring him out to the people after the Passover. 5 Peter therefore was kept in the prison, but constant prayer was made by the assembly to God for him. 6 The same night when Herod was about to bring him out, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains. Guards in front of the door kept the prison.
7 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side, and woke him up, saying, “Stand up quickly!” His chains fell off his hands. 8 The angel said to him, “Get dressed and put on your sandals.” He did so. He said to him, “Put on your cloak and follow me.” 9 And he went out and followed him. He didn’t know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he saw a vision. 10 When they were past the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city, which opened to them by itself. They went out, and went down one street, and immediately the angel departed from him.
11 When Peter had come to himself, he said, “Now I truly know that the Lord has sent out his angel and delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from everything the Jewish people were expecting.” 12 Thinking about that, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John who was called Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. 13 When Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer. 14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, she didn’t open the gate for joy, but ran in, and reported that Peter was standing in front of the gate.
15 They said to her, “You are crazy!” But she insisted that it was so. They said, “It is his angel.” 16 But Peter continued knocking. When they had opened, they saw him, and were amazed.

Acts 16:16 As we were going to prayer, a certain girl having a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much gain by fortune telling. 17 Following Paul and us, she cried out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us a way of salvation!” 18 She was doing this for many days.
But Paul, becoming greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” It came out that very hour. 19 But when her masters saw that the hope of their gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas, and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. 20 When they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men, being Jews, are agitating our city 21 and advocate customs which it is not lawful for us to accept or to observe, being Romans.”
22 The multitude rose up together against them and the magistrates tore their clothes from them, then commanded them to be beaten with rods. 23 When they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely, 24 who, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison, and secured their feet in the stocks.
25 But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26 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 loosened. 27 The jailer, being roused out of sleep and seeing the prison doors open, drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, “Don’t harm yourself, for we are all here!”
29 He called for lights, sprang in, fell down trembling before Paul and Silas, 30 brought them out, and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
31 They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 They spoke the word of the Lord to him, and to all who were in his house.
33 He took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes, and was immediately baptized, he and all his household. 34 He brought them up into his house, and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, with all his household, having believed in God.
35 But when it was day, the magistrates sent the sergeants, saying, “Let those men go.”
36 The jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent to let you go; now therefore come out and go in peace.”
37 But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us publicly without a trial, men who are Romans, and have cast us into prison! Do they now release us secretly? No, most certainly, but let them come themselves and bring us out!”
38 The sergeants reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Romans, 39 and they came and begged them. When they had brought them out, they asked them to depart from the city. 40 They went out of the prison, and entered into Lydia’s house. When they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them, then departed.
Acts 21:12 When we heard these things, both we and the people of that place begged him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 

Thanks for reading!

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