Letters From Prison

Friday, July 18, 2014
Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Unto The Hills Around Do I Lift Up"1 (Lyrics)

Several local people who read the PresbyCan daily devotionals I write have commented on the fact that I seem to get a lot of ideas and inspiration from my Bible class at the Long Term Care Facility, and that is indeed the case. A number of those who attend tell us very interesting stories about their early Christian lives and experiences, and some make profound statements at times, which speak to my heart, make me think, and give me inspiration.

During the past few months, we have been looking at the Book of Acts and how the early apostles brought the gospel to different people in different areas at different times under sometimes difficult circumstances.

We looked at Philip telling the good news about Jesus to the Ethiopian treasurer on the road to Gaza. We studied Peter being brought to speak with the centurion Cornelius in Caesarea, and Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus. We followed the experiences of Paul and Barnabas on their journeys.

One Friday in May, we discussed the time when Paul and Silas were in prison in Philippi and how they were put in stocks in the inner dungeon after they had been beaten by the authorities. I elaborated on the fact that they were singing hymns and the other prisoners were listening to them. Even in their agony, through their singing, they brought the gospel to people in a most unlikely place. One of the people in my class responded, "I am sure glad Paul went to prison several times." At first I thought that I did not understand her correctly, but then she mentioned it again, "Just think," she said. "If he had not spent time in prison, he would not have had time to write the letters to the different churches, and we would not have these wonderful words of Scripture now."

I had never thought about that, and when I got home, I looked it up. Paul wrote letters to the Ephesians, the Colossians, and the Philippians, and also to Philemon, either from prison or from house arrest. These were the people of the different churches that he had visited at one time or another. Altogether, he spent five and half to six years in different prisons, so I read.

I checked some of these letters, and even though Paul was in prison, he was always so positive about his faith and so encouraging to the recipients of the letters. He starts several of them with the greeting, "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." In his letter to the Philippians, he continues on:

Philippians 1:3-5 – I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now. (NKJV)

Like Paul under house arrest, and like many of my readers, most of the people in my Bible class are not able to come and go as they please — they are free to go, but they just can't. Yet in my Bible classes, they make great faith statements and sing praises to God, in many cases, under very difficult circumstances. Like Paul, some of them may even write letters of encouragement and witness to people that they have visited at one time or another! I, too, thank my God upon every remembrance of them.

Prayer: Our Father in heaven, we thank You for the letters written by Paul to the different churches and how those words comforted and encouraged the recipients and us, even here and now. We pray for the many people who live in their own personal prisons, and ask that they will have comfort of body, peace of mind, patience in adversity, and faith to share with others. We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.

Forward this devotional     Share this devotional on Facebook     Like PresbyCan on Facebook

About the author:

Joel Jongkind <austria67@bmts.com>
Meaford, Ontario, Canada

Send your feedback to the author

1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thank you Joel. A very lovely prayer.

    Thanks Joel for the encouraging words.

    Dear Joel:
    Thank you for your very positive words. They are always so encouraging.
    I recently started marking Bible lessons for prisoners. These lesson are from the Canadian Bible Institute. These people bring such joy to my heart and tears to my eyes every time I open a new lesson. They work so hard at learning God’s word. I even had a gentleman who did extra work and sent it to me. Praise the Lord!!!
    I pray God blesses you always. Thank you for doing all that you do.

    Good morning Joel: What an appropriate Devotional for me personally. I feel I too am existing within a type of prison, a ‘prison of loss’, as I watch my beloved of over 60 years pass away before my very eyes. Yet I have had the the common sense to say a prayer of Thanks that she is not experiencing the agony of physical pain, that was suffered or now being suffered by others.
    So what I am left with is the anguish of a loss when I daily visit that hospital room. Thanks Joel for that insight, that perception.

    Hi Joel,
    Thank you for your devotional.
    Because we are involved in prison ministry your message brought different thoughts to mind. The men in prison have lots of free time and the one book that they have no problem getting is the Bible. We lead a weekly Bible study locally and the inmates love to sing, share, and pray.
    Seeing that Jesus and Paul were imprisoned also helps them to cope. They know that Jesus knows what they’re going through. It helps them to see value in their lives and the possibility of changing things around.

    This is very interesting Joel. I too work in Long term care facilities, and I have been prayerfully considering a study on Acts. This devotional may be God’s confirmation to me re the topic He wants me to present. I always emphasize this is God’s Bible Study and the teacher is the Holy Spirit. I am just the facilitator.
    God answers our prayers in so many different ways and you may be His voice in this specific situation.
    I thank you.

    All things truly DO happen for a reason even though at the time, we do not know what the reason is.
    So, too, with Paul‎ and his multiple times of incarceration. Most of us probably read of his arrests and see this as not good because this stopped him, for a time, from being out among the people and spreading the Good News. We don’t see it the way your Bible class participant did — as giving Paul the time needed to write letters to the various churches.‎ We read his words of encouragement to those people, forgetting where he was when he wrote.
    ‎It’s truly wonderful that you share time in the way you do with the Bible classes — the participants (plus those of us reading your Devotions that stem from them) are most beneficial. Do continue in the work of the Lord, and continue to write.
    God bless!

    Good thoughts. Keep writing.

Previous Post
Next Post

PresbyCan is a community of faithful, Holy Spirit-filled, Christ-centred, God-honouring Christians.