Transforming lives on both sides of the bars
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners” (New International Version 1984, Isaiah 61:1).
For two years I have had the privilege to close my letters and emails with “Unleashing the captives.” It comes from the verse in Isaiah listed above and is an ever-present reminder that OJPM is God’s instrument for transforming both inmates and volunteers into fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.
After all, there are more similarities between the people on each side of the bars than we would like to imagine. When our ministry is fruitful, each person, whether volunteer or inmate, takes a step out of their comfort zone in obedience to Jesus Christ.
I have read and prayed over this passage daily for the last two weeks and the Lord has placed on my heart three ways that transformation takes place in our lives. I am preaching on this at First Baptist Church, McAlester, this month and want to share the outline with you as well.
First, transformation takes place when we face the reality of our own sinfulness and completely yield ourselves to Jesus Christ. For the inmate, there is a reality that sets in when the cell door shuts or the judge declares guilt and announces a sentence. For others, the cell in one’s own heart or mind can be equally real and confining.
Isaiah reminds us that it is through the work of the Holy Spirit that we call upon God as Lord that leads to transformation.
Second, transformation takes place when we react to the out of control circumstances we face and completely yield ourselves to Jesus Christ. For the inmate, this could be going from life on the outside to being locked up with little contact with family or friends. For others, it could be a dream that has died or turned into a nightmare. How many of you found yourself in out of
control circumstances just last month during Christmas?
Isaiah reminds us that God is sovereign and in control at all times.
Third, transformation takes place when we respond to God’s call to serve and share with others and completely yield ourselves to Jesus Christ. For the inmate, there is an amazing discovery he or she makes to realize they can minister to other inmates. For others, who is God using you to impact?
Isaiah reminds us that God anoints and sends out His followers to share hope, love, grace, deliverance and transformation!
Have you set a New Year’s resolution yet? How about committing to meditate each week on the following verse and how God is working to transform you in 2017. “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Finally, thank you to the many friends of OJPM that pray, serve and also financially give to support our ministry. Because of the sacrifice of many OJPM finished 2016 with a balanced budget for first time in several years.
Unleashing the captives,