Faithlife Sermons

“A Tale of Two Prisons”

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When we find ourselves in a place when things aren't going our way, we can either force things to go back to the way we think they should be or we can move forward, be led by the Spirit and set our personal preferences and biases aside.

These have been unprecedented and difficult times. We have been forced to rethink what we can do and how we can do things which has drastically changed how we live life. What was normally a quick trip to the store has become a well thought out process to make sure you are wearing protective gear, staying far enough apart from others and following the right directional arrows on the floor in order not to bump into someone else as that might result in a catastrophic event. Now, I'm not making light of our situation but this morning I do recognize the division these times have brought not only to the world and our country but also to the church. And while I do 100% support scripture when it talks about it in Romans 13:1 that we should submit to the governing authorities as they are from God and He has placed them in authority over us, I also do believe the Church has totally missed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be the Church and be a part of what God is trying to do. This morning I would like to briefly talk about two well-known men of God and how the Church has fallen into the same peception as one of these men. I believe with all my heart God is raising up the Church and using this tragic event to do just that and many in the Church are not recognizing just what God is trying to do. As James tells us in James 1:22-27, we need to look into to the Word and see if we are accurately reflecting it or not. Let’s dig into the Word and see what the Holy Spirit has to share with us and help us to effectively reflect Jesus Christ accurately.
I. John the Baptist prison
A. Background story
Matthew 14:3–12 NLT
For Herod had arrested and imprisoned John as a favor to his wife Herodias (the former wife of Herod’s brother Philip). John had been telling Herod, “It is against God’s law for you to marry her.” Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of a riot, because all the people believed John was a prophet. But at a birthday party for Herod, Herodias’s daughter performed a dance that greatly pleased him, so he promised with a vow to give her anything she wanted. At her mother’s urging, the girl said, “I want the head of John the Baptist on a tray!” Then the king regretted what he had said; but because of the vow he had made in front of his guests, he issued the necessary orders. So John was beheaded in the prison, and his head was brought on a tray and given to the girl, who took it to her mother. Later, John’s disciples came for his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus what had happened.
Matthew 4:12 NLT
When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he left Judea and returned to Galilee.
B. Current situation while in prison
recognized Jesus as the Messiah in
John 1:29–36 NLT
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’ I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.” Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God.” The following day John was again standing with two of his disciples. As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and declared, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!”
as his circumstances changed, he started to doubt if Jesus was the Messiah because he misunderstood the ministry of the Messiah and had his preconceived bias of what he thought the Messiah would do
C. Did nothing wrong to get prison
D. Mentality while in prison
doubted what he previously knew because reality didn’t line up with what he thought was supposed to be
II. Paul's Prison
A. Background story:
Acts 28:30–31 NLT
For the next two years, Paul lived in Rome at his own expense. He welcomed all who visited him, boldly proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ. And no one tried to stop him.
the church in Philippi founded 11 years before this letter which was written on the 2nd missionary journey
B. Current situation while in prison
Philippians 1:1–18 NLT
This letter is from Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus. I am writing to all of God’s holy people in Philippi who belong to Christ Jesus, including the church leaders and deacons. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News. God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus. I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God. And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear. It’s true that some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. But others preach about Christ with pure motives. They preach because they love me, for they know I have been appointed to defend the Good News. Those others do not have pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely, intending to make my chains more painful to me. But that doesn’t matter. Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice.
V3-thankfulness for the support of the church
v6-thankfulness for what God started in the believers and knowing Jesus will complete it
v9-prayers for the believers love, knowledge and discernment and to be filled with the fruit of righteousness (fruit of the Spirit Galatians 5:22-23)
v12-recognized his present circumstance as being used to asvance the gospel
vv15-18-no matter how or who was preaching Christ he was glad that Chris was being preached even if it wasn't the way he wanted
C. Did nothing wrong to get prison
D. Mentality while in prison
recognized God’s purpose was being fulfilled in spite of how it was being done
III. Our Current Prison
A. Background story
virus comes out of no where
B. Current situation while in prison
some are focused on why things aren’t being done as they have always been done
some are arguing and complaining why things can't change
C. Did nothing wrong to get prison/quarantine
D. Mentality while in prison
John the Baptist's mentality (doubted what he previously knew because reality didn’t line up with what he thought was supposed to be) or
Paul’s mentality (prayerful, thankful, and recognized God’s purpose was being fulfilled in spite of how it was being done)
Pastor Chilly Chilton said, “The enemy is always trying to distract us from our genuine purpose.”
If we aren't careful, that is exactly what Satan will do unless we go back to the mentality of the Great Commission rather than the Great Omission. We need to have the mentality of seeing God’s purpose being fulfilled in this difficult time and that He can fulfill His purpose in spite of our plans and how we think things should be.
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