Saturday, March 16, 2019 -
Today was a blessing to me. I felt truly called of the Lord to be here in this place. Another prisoner, “J,” calls me a “missionary,” and today I truly felt like I was. We had our weekly Bible study, and we’ve been going through Romans 12 and what it means to be a true Christian. These characteristics are listed beginning in verse 12, and we’ve been going through each item one by one, looking at the meanings of the words from the Greek text, and any other Scriptures which also discuss these marks of a true Christian. Today, we only got through one point, “Be patient (enduring) in tribulation.” The word here for tribulation is “thlipsis,” which means to crush, compress, squeeze, connoting severe affliction or distress, or pressure or a burden of the spirit. A narrowing of us, as if to sift us, or refine us. This indeed is a process of refining and growth – or it should be. When we are afflicted, we can complain or blame God, and the result is that we push God away. Instead, God wants to draw us into Himself, for He has a purpose – whether the trials are of our own makings or as a consequence of our good deeds or walk with Christ. If you would like to study this more, look up Matthew 13:21, 24:21; John 16:21; Acts 7:10, 14:22; I Corinthians 7:28; James 1:27; and I Peter 1:6-9. We also examined the tribulation that comes from persecution by looking at I Peter 2:20-24l 3:13-17; 4:12-16; and 5:6-11.
The really neat thing is that these men, who have never really studied the Bible before, are like little children in a candy store. They can’t seem to get enough, reading on down in the passages and bringing our attention to other amazing things God is showing them – often for the first time. I just have to smile and let these conversations play out with the Holy Spirit in charge! And what a blessed and amazing time it is! It is as much a blessing for me as it is for them, I’m sure. I get so excited at them getting so excited! I encourage you, wherever you are, no matter how qualified you are, to invite your neighbors and acquaintances into your home to study God’s Word. There are many hungry people out there just waiting for our invitation. One of the problems we are running into is a lack of space, so perhaps in nicer weather we can move to the rec yard to have these studies. Please pray for God’s direction and wisdom on my behalf. And don’t think yourself unqualified, for I no doubt feel very unqualified. But so did Moses, for that matter! I am convinced if every believer began a Bible study with seekers in their neighborhoods, it could transform this nation for Christ.