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Living on Death Row

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*“Living on Death Row”  Part I

Philippians 1:9-18

THESIS:  Because of our relationship with God in the harshest of times and circumstances we should react in a way contrary to the norm.

            Currently in the United States there are approximately 3462 people living on death row.   Of this 3462 people who are counting down the last days of their life 94 are in this great state of Louisiana residing in the comfortable confines of Angola State penitentiary.  This number does not include the tens of thousands men and women in prison sentenced to life without parole.  But One thing all of these men and women have in common is they know more about their destiny than the average free citizen.  In my studies and research of people living on death row, whether they claimed to be innocent or guilty I have noticed they all seem to have a peace about it all.  Even if it was within 24 hours of that walk down the green mile and there was still a chance the governor would call it off at the last minute I have yet to see anyone on death row panicking, screaming and shouting for another chance.  What is it about this situation that allows for such a peace?

            My brothers and sisters in Christ I believe that having more knowledge of your end brings about a type of peace.  It amazes me how you and I who are living on the outside can have less peace of mind than a prisoner who is about to die. Here is someone who not only knows where they will die, but also how they will die and when they will die and yet they can remain calm while they are being interviewed.  I don’t understand it; here we are with the ability to come and go as we please, unlimited resources at our disposal, the ability to distract our selves from reality at any given moment, a selection of clothes to put on our backs, can stand in front of a refrigerator and ask ourselves what do I feel like today and yet we freak out when the Cowboys loose a game!  It’s a sad day when someone who is on the brink of literally losing it all has more peace than those who have been blessed by God.

            I truly believe that the body of Christ is in desperate need of a faith check.  What do you mean preacher?  Well if someone who is incasarated has peace because he has more knowledge of his death; how can we not have a greater peace when we not only know that we will some day die but we know where we will end up! In other words our end is really a new and greater beginning.  And God is saying while you are waiting to move on to something greater I’m going to give you some stuff down here to make you happy.  All you gotta do is deal with a little bit of adversity from time to time.  And to compensate for strain you will encounter during this time of adversity I’m going to stand by your side while you are going through it.   If you really have faith in who you say you say you have faith in there should be nothing normal or typical about how you act at all times.  Good times and bad time, heartache and pain sunshine and rain through it all there should not be anything normal about how you and I act especially during times of adversity.  You see those who don’t know the Lord freak out when their world is turned upside down.   

            But the Bible says we have a peace that surpasses all understanding.  So no matter what situation you find yourself in your behavior should not fit that situation.  If hell is breaking out all around you, you should be able to sit right smack dab in the middle of it and look at the problem like there’s something wrong with it and not you.  No matter what the devil throws your way you should be looking at that joker like he got a problem not you.  I don’t know about you but I have God on my side and no matter what comes against me I can look at it and say you sure you want to mess with me because you may not know what you are getting yourself in to!  Yeah, mess with me if you want to but I’m gonna give you just one warning and if you don’t head that warning I’m going turn it over to my Jesus!  There comes a time when your faith is so great that you stop running to God a telling him about your problem but you start telling the problem about your God.  You have to reach a level of spiritual maturity where you can stand against trouble and know that you know that you know God got your back.  And if He be for me who can stand against me.  The songs of praise you learn should be more than just entertainment for your soul.  It should become your personal war chant.  The Bible has to become more than just a collection of bed time stories but rather the weapon you use to destroy the enemy in your life.  The enemy and all the onlookers should be scratching there head saying “I know they aint got no reason to shout; so why is she running the isle, why is he wrinkling up that suit saying God is good all the time.” 

            The apostle Paul is our greatest example of puzzling behavior in a time of adversity.

I.                   Paul’s situation

a.       While in Rome he was thrown in jail for preaching Christ

b.      Because he was such a powerful preacher he was placed in the inner cell

                                                              i.      The outer cells where for first time felons and nonviolent offenders; those who were not considered a threat to national security

                                                            ii.      The inner cell was for those who have committed murder or any other crime against Caesar

1.      Because of what God has birth in you the devil has to through so much at you.  He sees you as a threat to his kingdom.

II.                Paul’s Prayer

a.       Sometimes all you can do is pray

                                                              i.      Paul was very old man by the time this epistle is written

                                                            ii.      He was not very large man; probably my height and my size

                                                          iii.      His eye sight was really bad

                                                          iv.      His voice was really squeaky from years of debating and preaching

                                                            v.      He had a hump in his back and could stand up right

                                                          vi.      And he begins to pray

b.      If it were you or me in jail the second cell closed we would freak out then we would pray

                                                              i.      Please Lord Jesus deliver me

                                                            ii.      You say that I am more than a conqueror

                                                          iii.      Deliver me like you did the children of Israel from the hands pharaoh

                                                          iv.      Deliver me like you did Daniel in the Lions den

                                                            v.      Deliver me like you did the three Hebrew boys

                                                          vi.      The Lord is my Shepherd…

c.       Your prayer should not fit your situation

                                                              i.      Paul prays for someone else

                                                            ii.      Some of are only here because of someone else’s prayer

1.      I know there’s a mother somewhere that one day when you thought things could not get any worse; one evening when you got home that night after catching three busses and walking three miles

2.      Came home and threw together what little bit of food she had

3.      ate what little bit she had the energy to eat

4.      Just before getting into her bed

5.      she paused and got down on her knees and instead of saying:

a.       Fix my situation

b.      Pay light bill

c.       Get rid of the back aches

d.      Make a better life for me

e.       Instead she said God I don’t know where my child is at but God you know- Amen!

6.      There comes a time when you can not fight like you use to fight, you can’t struggle like you use to struggle but thank God you don’t pray like you use to pray

7.      You see as your physical power decreases your spiritual power increase

8.      Back in the day I use to say God handle him for me; but in the back of my mind I was thinking if you don’t I will!

III.             Preach to someone else

a.       History tells us that Paul had been in prison at least 2 months when he wrote this letter

b.      Because they were considering killing him not only was he in jail but he was chained to the guards

c.       So Paul says OK; now I have a captive audience of unbelievers

d.      The devil wants to shut you up by intimidating you

                                                              i.      But now’s your chance to show your faith

                                                            ii.      Talk about Jesus when they least expected it

                                                          iii.      Preach your first sermon when they think you should lamenting;

                                                          iv.      Stand up and say I don’t know how this is gonna turn out but let me tell about a friend of mine named Jesus.

e.       While the devil is trying to shut you up God is setting you up

                                                              i.      The very people the devil thinks will derail God’s plan will further God’s plan

1.      Joseph- who’s brothers sold him in to slavery, bosses wife set him up for a crime he did not commit; but in that dungeon he was able to show off the gift God gave him; and when they got out the remember Joseph.  So Joseph went from the prison to the palace; the prison did not prevent the palace rather it was a prerequisite for the palce

2.      Moses- who killed a man and had to flee for his life to a dessert land.  Until one day he was sent back to fulfill his purpose.  But the years in the dessert did prevent his purpose but rather it was a prerequisite for his purpose

3.      Jesus- was set up by one of his very own named Judas; Judas sold him out for 30 pieces of silver; Judas sold Him out so that they would crucify him; but after the crucifixion he was resurrected; the crucifixion did not prevent the resurrection but rather it was a prerequisite for the resurrection

4.      I don’t know what you are going through, but I do know what ever it is; it’s a prerequisite for your walking in your purpose;

5.      If you know that God is going to do a great work through you let here so glory, Hallelujah!

                                                            ii.      What you are going through is really for someone else’s benefit: 

                                                          iii.      Illustrate:  Guards going to the water cooler and home telling everybody about this strange prisoner.

IV.             Provoke someone else to praise

a.       Can I do my job; I might be going through hell and highwater but God wants me to provoke a praise in this house

b.      What ever it is you’ve been dealing with it’s going to take something different to get out of it:

                                                              i.      If you use to praise him by rocking side to side today you may need to tap your feet…


[1] Steeple Chase Nov 2005

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