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Summary: Jesus is with you through all your trials and tribulation

WHAT TO DO WHEN IN A DUNGEON

Act 23:11 (quickview) 

Dr. Stan Coffey

Sometime ago I was in the Holy Land along with some of our members. We had the privilege to go places I had not been on previous trips. They had discovered since the last time I had been there the house of the High Priest, Caiphas and it was at that house where Jesus was tried first by the Jews. They brought him before the high priest with his hands tied behind him after giving him a severe flogging. That night he spent the night in a cistern. It was dug out of pure rocks and limestone. It was a part of the high priest’s dwelling. When we went down into that cistern under the high priest’s house, we were told that it was also used in some seasons as a dungeon to hold prisoners who would be tried by the high priest. There we saw carved out of stone places where prisoners would have their hands tied as they were forced to stand on their feet all night long and sometimes for days with their hands bound to that place in the rock. It was deep and dark with a stairway leading down into it, and more like a dungeon than anything else. It was that place where our Lord spent the night before he was to be tried by Pontius Pilate. As we worshiped and sang unto the Lord that night in that dungeon once again we were reminded that the Christian life is not always on a mountain top. Sometimes it is in a dungeon. Many of you are going through a dungeon time experience right now. A dungeon is a place where you are bound. It’s a place where you are restricted. It’s a place where you are held against your will. Some of us are in a prison of despair. Some of us are in a dungeon of depression. Some of us are in a dungeon of sickness and disease. We want to witness for the Lord and live for the Lord and serve the Lord but we are bound. Our only ministry seems to be that of prayer and testimony to those that God brings our way. Now I’ve been so blessed all of my ministry. I began preaching when I was 19. I preached every week from the time I was 19 until this last year when I had back surgery. I missed one Sunday in all those Sundays for over 30 years - about 35 years without missing a single Sunday because of illness. There was one time after we came back from Russia when I became ill. I missed a wedding and I missed the service. And so my little problems this year are nothing compared to many of the people that I visit. But you know I was reminded this week - God brought my mind and my heart to this passage because in this passage Paul was placed into a dungeon. I didn’t want to be at home last week. I wanted to be here. I wanted to be preaching. To make it worse when it came time for the service they had Wimbledon tennis on. I don’t play tennis. I don’t even like tennis. Of course you don’t like anything you’re not coordinated in. You can criticize golfers if you can’t play golf. Tell them it’s unspiritual. If they were spiritual, they wouldn’t play golf- ha! Ha! You know I could watch Adrian Rogers and be blessed but I couldn’t see some of you that I would see on TV. It really reminded me that every day that we have is a blessing from God. You know if you can attend church be sure and attend it. The day may come when you can’t attend it. We never know what experiences God is going to bring to us. But Paul is in a dungeon. If you will notice with me in Chapter 23 of Acts verse 11, the Bible in the previous verses says that Paul appears before the Sanhedran. Now when he came before the Sanhedran it was with great anticipation. You see he had been to school with those who had been members of the Sanhedran - the school of Gemaliel. The most renown school in all of Jewish Theology. Paul had graduated with honors. He was a Pharisee of the Pharisees. And yet when he came to Christ his Jewish heritage was left behind. His Jewish brothers turned on him because of his coming to Jesus and receiving the Gospel. Now Paul had a chance to tell his story about the Damascus road, the blinding light, the wonderful love of Jesus and how he fulfilled the prophets. But he was soundly rejected. In fact they rejected Paul in such a manner that it caused a riot. They had to call out the riot squad and some people were pulling at him from all directions. They nearly pulled Paul literally apart. And so the soldiers, partly to quiet down the riot and partly to save Paul who was a Roman citizen as well as a Jewish Christian, took him into the dungeon - partly for punishment and partly for his own safety. So he’s sitting in the dungeon feeling like he’s pretty much failed in his witness to his Jewish brothers - wondering about his future as a preacher of the Gospel - with everything being so uncertain and so dark. And I think about that dungeon we visited. Maybe his arms were tied to the places in the dungeon that were provided for the restraining of prisoners. Maybe his feet were in the stocks. So you can imagine how he felt. Just like you feel today in your dungeon - helpless, alone, powerless. In verse 11 it says “the following night the Lord is near Paul and said ‘take courage’. The King James says “be of good cheer Paul. As you have testified about me in Jerusalem so you must testify about me in Rome.” When you are in the dungeon the first thing I notice here is that the Lord stood by him. The Lord stood by him that night the Bible says. I want to tell you Jesus stood by him as:The sympathizing Christ - If you are in a dungeon of despair or disease, if you are restrained by physical or emotional maladies from being what God wants you to be - Jesus stands by you and He whispers to your ear what He told Paul. He said Paul I know what it is to be in a dungeon. It may have been that very same dungeon at the house of Caiphas in which Paul was restrained. The very same dungeon into which Jesus was cast. Jesus is over there in the corner and the apostle Paul looks over and says Hello Jesus. He said Hello Paul. And then he looks to his side and Jesus was standing right by him. He didn’t have to say anything. He just put his hand on his shoulder. And Jesus stood there and said I can sympathize. This place looks familiar to me. These restraints look very familiar to me. Paul you’re not alone. I was in the dungeon. Jesus stands by you as the sympathizing Savior as one who has been there, one who has suffered, one who’s been criticized, one who’s been castigated, one who’s been lied about and one who has been beaten down. And Jesus not only came as the sympathizing Christ, but


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