Summary: The powerful, inspired writings of the Apostle Paul from his prison cell, and how they can help us to be free! Link included to formatted text, handout, and PowerPoint Template.

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Just When I Need Him Most

Acts 23:10-11

Can you imagine being jailed for the cause of Christ? What would you be thinking as you sat there? What would be your attitude?

We don’t have to wonder how it was for Paul. For the majority of the rest of the book of Acts he was a prisoner, and during this time he wrote several books of the Bible, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God. We call them the ‘prison epistles’ because of this.

Let me show you some of the statements he made from jail.

Ephes. 4:1

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord…

That’s how he viewed himself. Not a prisoner of the state. He considered himself a prisoner for the cause of Christ, and counted it a privilege!

Ephes. 6:20

For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

An ambassador is a representative from a foreign land, and Paul considered himself a missionary to the other prisoners during this time, as well as those he could write letters to. Could he have possibly known as he wrote those letters that they would be read by so many, inc. us? What a jail ministry was conducted by a man IN jail!

Philip. 1:12-13

But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; [13] So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;

Paul was guarded by the infamous Praetorian Guard, the special forces, the elite soldiers who guarded Caesar himself. The average Christian could never have gotten close enough to witness to these, so God did what He had to in order to get His voice heard there.

God gives each of us “in roads” to share the gospel, if we’ll recognize them.

Did it work for Paul?

Philip. 4:22

All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household.

Well, next time you are placed in circumstances that weren’t your first choice…look for a door of opportunity to be opened by God…He has a reason for everything, even your dr’s appt. running an hour late, your plane being delayed, your septic tank needing pumped, or the teachers going on strike!

2 Tim. 2:9

Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound.

Paul knew that tho’ they could ‘bind the man’ they could not bind ‘the message!’

In our text, it’s his first night in jail…this is before he wrote all these other verses we’ve just looked at. What’s he thinking? How did he get a good perspective early on?

Paul was a great man, but he was still just a man. He had real feelings, and needed God to be with him and be real to him. He needed to know he wasn’t all alone. Then God showed up in his cell…just when he needed Him the most.

3 things that happened in the jail cell that night:

[let’s dissect v. 11]

1. The Lord stood by Paul

What a beautiful phrase! We are big on commitment around here, and making commitments and keeping them…but let’s not forget that when we make a commitment to Jesus, He makes a commitment to us!

Hebrews 13:5-6

[5] … he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. [6] So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

Ill.—a woman said to D. L. Moody: “I have found a great promise to help me when I am afraid…Psalm 56:3—‘What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.’”

Moody replied, “I have a better promise than that: Isaiah 12:2 ‘Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid:’”

Both when we’re afraid and even when we’re not…both promises are true!

a. As the sympathizing Christ

Just a few years earlier Jesus was in the same city, before the same council, also being tried for things which are no crime, but for doing good. Jesus had “been there and done that”. Both were called blasphemer, heretic, and troublemaker.

And we have a Savior who knows and understands what we are going thru, because He has been there, and He’s right here with us today!

Lonely? Hurting? Feeling rejected? Grieving? Discouraged?

He’s been there!

The Lord stood by Paul as the sympathizing Christ…

b. As the sustaining Christ

We need others to hold us up sometimes. Some tragedies and trials are so great, we cannot even attempt to make it on our own…either somebody swoops in to help sustain us, or we go down!

How wonderful to know that when we can’t stand it, Jesus stands by us!

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