This morning as I was riding my stationary bike, reading Rev. Earl Smith‘s Death Row Chaplain book the comparison of these two words came up in the chapter titled Project IMPACT. It gave me one of those aha moments when you realize that there are so many people living life incarcerated because of the pain, the suffering, the abuse, the rage, the addiction, and rejecting God. There are people all around us today who are living a life incarcerated because they are imprisoned in their mind and spirit. The aha moment that you don’t have to be in trouble, in prison, in detention at school, in solitary confinement, locked up to be incarcerated.
Let’s consider the definition of the two words and discover the commonalities and the differences.
It is interesting to see how the dictionary definition defines the words above.
Now let’s reflect on the synonyms for incarceration and how they can apply to people who aren’t locked up physically but are being limited in what and how they are able to live their lives. We can be imprisoned without being in prison. We can be interned without being in prison. We can confine ourselves without being in prison. We can be restrained without being in prison. We can be put into servitude without being in prison. We can be under duress without being in prison.
As I read Rev. Earl Smith’s book this morning and the reality of physical vs emotional and spiritual state was quite powerful. The emotional and spiritual pieces that cause us to be incarcerated without being in prison require an encounter with God to be set free. The emotional and spiritual pieces that cause us to be incarcerated without being in prison require for us to become accountable to ourselves and to God, to forgive ourselves and be forgiven by God, and then to start living our lives on purpose, with purpose, to fulfill God’s will for our lives! In so doing, our spirit and mind are free, no matter what our physical situation may be. He share in the book that their are people who get out of prison and yet are still incarcerated and there are others who are in prison but have been set free and although they are being detained by human standards, they have been set free and are no longer incarcerated thanks to their decision to become accountable, to forgive and be forgiven, and to pursue a life in accordance to God’s will for them.
So how about you? Where are you reading or listening to this post from? Is it from a place of detention or freedom? Is it from a place of incarceration or true freedom? For who the Lord sets free is free indeed! It was such a powerful message and such a powerful truth! It spoke to moments that mattered for so many of those people in San Quentin – the ones who eventually got out after paying their time as well as those who were set free spiritually but ended their time on earth in prison.
Are you dealing with accountability issues? Are you dealing with forgiveness issues? Are you living according to God’s will for your life? What would it take for you make such a decision and break free from being incarcerated? The decision or choice is yours to make! Nobody except you can decide to take the steps to become free! Do you want to be truly free? Would you be willing to receive the gift of grace that is Jesus in order to get it? Do you realize that it just takes your decision to call on Jesus? Are you ready to call on the name of the Lord and be saved? Could today be your day?
MEMORY VERSE OF THE DAY: Psalms 31:23
‘Oh, love the Lord , all you His saints! For the Lord preserves the faithful, And fully repays the proud person.’
POINTS FROM THE DEVOTIONAL:
- Do you want good news or bad news?
- What if the news was the same and based on your choice or decision, it could end up being good or bad?
- The News: “God gives people what they deserve.”
- Paul teaches the Corinthian church:
- ‘Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.’ — I Corinthians 3:12-15
- John shares the vision from Revelation:
- ‘Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.’ — Revelation 20:11-15
- We learn from these two examples:
- Through Paul, we learn how we will be rewarded for all of eternity for the things we did to honor god and that everything we did for selfish desires will get burned up and turn to ashes. Going thru the fire, the good will last and the bad will get burn up, like in a smelting process through the furnace.
- Through John, we learn how at the judgment seat believers will be rewarded for eternity but unbelievers will be punished for eternity.
- The choices we make today will make a difference in eternity.
- The choices we make today will be graded on what type of a steward we have been with our lives.
- How will you use your talents?
- ‘“For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money. After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. “So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ “Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’ “But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’’ — Matthew 25:14-30
- When you get called to the judgment seat, which side will you be separated into?
- ‘“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”’ — Matthew 25:31-46
- Will you make wise or foolish decisions?
- ‘“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘ No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.’ — Matthew 25:1-13
- Will you make the decision before it is too late? We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow!
- So if you were to receive your report card of life today, how would it impact your eternity?
- In this life, God rewards our faithfulness.
- Remember why Jesus came the first time? He is coming back for a different purpose but let’s take hold of the reason He came the first time!
- ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.‘ — John 3:16-17
- ‘Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”’ — John 10:7-18
- Today’s devotional speaks to the how our choices in this life will cause us to receive what we deserve when it says:
- “God rewards our faithfulness in many ways. He preserves us, blesses us richly, and gives us lives of meaning and peace. But we also pay for wrong doing. In this life, arrogant, self-absorbed people often pay the price of strained relationships and other heartaches.” – p.28 of The One Year Daily Insights with Zig Ziglar
- We even see in Jesus’ words how even giving a cup of water in His name will have a reward:
- ‘“He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.”’ — Matthew 10:40-42
- So let’s make our choices wisely because we will receive from God what we deserve.
- Will you make the choice to spend eterntiy with God or the choice to spend eternity apart from God?
DISCUSSION TOPICS FROM TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL:
How does God’s grace fit into the teaching about God paying people back?
- God’s grace is enough. He is the God of the second chance.
- Will we choose to receive the gift of grace through Jesus Christ in order to get to spend eternity with God.
- We each get to choose to receive Jesus or not and based on that it will impact our eternal destination.
- Where do you want to get as your final destination?
What choices do you need to make so that you’ll get a good report card on that day when you stand before Christ?
- Invite Jesus into our hearts and allow Him to be our Lord and Savior.
- Take accountability for what we have done, choose to forgive ourselves and receive God’s forgiveness and then live out our lives in alignment to God’s will.
- Be a good steward with the gifts and talents God has given you – invest in them and multiply them and use them for the glory of God!
- We need to forgive others as God has forgiven us.
QUOTE(S) FROM TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL:
Today’s reading from Tanakh:
Are you ready to be free? Are you living free? Are you wanting to be free? Will you choose to and decide to do what is necessary to be set free?
Where are you at today? Are you looking for guidance? Are you wondering where to turn? Are you at the end of your rope and needing help? Are you ready for some help? Are you ready to turn to God and ask? seek? knock? Let’s pray together.
Did you pray with me? Would you be willing to leave me a comment so that I can pray with and for you about such an incredible decision? Or if you don’t feel comfortable leaving a comment on my blog, why not email or text me instead?