Paul is one of the greatest disciples of Christ that ever lived. Once he was saved, he traveled and learned in Christ’s presence. After Christ ascended, he dedicated every moment of the rest of his life to sharing the Good News. However, he spent the last years of his life in a miserable Roman prison. Even through this adversity, he found joy and wrote almost one half of the New Testament! We can learn to find joy in all circumstances by studying Paul’s words.
Paul had a difficult journey the last years of his life. He traveled from town to town, spreading the news of the Gospel. Not everyone was happy to see him. In his letter to the Corinthians, he explains that he “worked much harder… been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again” (2 Corinthians 11:23) After all of this, he finally made it to Rome, only to be thrown in prison! Yet he still spread the Gospel and found joy in these terrible circumstances. (2 Corinthians 12:10)
He wrote Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon… ALL FROM PRISON. That is almost HALF the New Testament and he wrote it all during one of the most difficult times in his life!
He wrote 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, AND 1&2 Timothy… ALL FROM PRISON. That is almost HALF the New Testament and he wrote it all during one of the most difficult times in his life!
In Paul’s letters of the Bible, he effused joy and contentment in his prison life. He was thankful and grateful for any and all assistance, but said not to despair, but to be joyful in the Lord. How did he do it?? And how can we learn to have the same joy in our lives?
Hope during Trials
Paul begins all of his letters in prayer. For example, he opens Philippians saying “In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (Philippians 1:4-5)Prayer is the key to keeping a relationship of communication with the Lord. Prayer not only for yourself, but for others that need His blessing as well. Prayer leads to being thankful and being thankful leads to joy.
He remembered his True Purpose
No matter what we may face, adversity, persecution, affliction, hardship, or disaster, the Lord has a plan for us. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) Even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time, God has a future for you. That future will always include a way to grow in faith and bring glory to Him. That is our true purpose on this Earth. “Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” (Isaiah 43:7)
Paul never planned on going to prison, and yet he found a way to fulfill his purpose while there. He was chained to a different guard every day. Instead of being upset that he was chained to some random person, he saw it as an opportunity to pour out his best sermons with a captive audience! He writes of this opportunity in Philippians: “I want you to know, beloved, that was has happened to me has actually helped to spread the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to everyone else that my imprisonment is for Christ… having been made confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, dare to speak the word with greater boldness and without fear.” (Philippians 1: 12-14)
God is the true source of hope
Stark contrast between Paul’s terrible circumstances and his intense hope is very evident in the book of Philippians. The word “joy” appears 16 times in this short letter. He explains that “I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance” (Philippians 1:19)
How can he be so confident? The Bible tells us that no matter how scary our current situation, God’s will shall be done. You can face the worst and come out the best. Just like Paul, faith and trust in the Lord, and his plan, can get you through any circumstances. Paul wrote “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” (Philippians 4:12)
He remained humble
While he became the apostle of spiritual joy, Paul never took the credit. He never boasted. He didn’t even overcome through his own willpower. He attributed his spiritual contentment to its true source, Jesus Christ. He explains in Philippians 4:13 that it was the power of Christ that helped him overcome.
While it may be easier for us to rely on ourselves and take the credit for the blessings in our lives, God is the true reason for the good in our lives. Whether he gives you the dream to build your own company or sends a friend in a time of need, God will always be there to provide for you!
May the Lord continue to bless you and provide for your needs. May you come to rely on Him in faith and understanding,
***Disclaimer: This title was borrowed from the sermon “When Forgiveness Seems Impossible” courtesy of Life Church. Please feel free to view the sermon below.
Forgiveness is a central tenant of Christianity, whether it be vertical or horizontal. Vertical forgiveness refers to forgiveness between God and us as opposed to horizontal forgiveness, which refers to forgiveness between us and Children of God. That being said, everyone has been in a position that forgiveness seems impossible. Situations such as betrayal in a marriage, betrayal from a business partner, abuse in any relationship, etc are all areas where the offense just seems unforgivable. So do we really need to forgive in those situations?
The simply answer is a resounding yes.
The Bible gives us very clear instructions where forgiveness is concerned. An example can be seen below. This verse is very clear that we are to forgive each other as the Lord has forgiven us (courtesy of biblia.com). In other translations, this verse says “ANY grievance as the Lord has forgiven you” Any, all, without exception. The Lord forgives every single one of our many transgressions without limitation, but why do we have to do the same?
Let me illustrate this for you. The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant is my favorite example of this. For those of you who are not familiar with this parable, it is a story about a king and two servants (Matthew 18:21-35). The king has a wayward servant that owes him10,000 talents. I promise I will explain what talents are in just a moment, stick with me. The servant begs for a little more time and the king gives it to him. The servant, now in the clear, approaches a fellow servant that owes him 100 denarii. He begs for more time but the first servant refuses, casting the other into debtor’s prison. The king finds out and revokes his previous forgiveness from the first servant because instead of forgiving his fellow servant as he should have done, he was cruel.
Now, let’s put this in modern day language
One denarii is the equivalent of one full day’s work. So servant #2 owed servant #1 the wage equivalent of 100 days of work. In modern terms of the daily wage of the average person in the U.S., that is about $15,000. That is a lot, but a manageable amount. Now, #1 owed his king 10,000 talents, which is 60,000 denarii. That is 60,000 days of work or $9,278.400,000! That is over 9 BILLION dollars!
So, the king forgave a ridiculous, unachievable amount of money. This symbolizes the fact that God forgives us of more sins than we could EVER pay back. There is no possible way to pay God back for all of our billions of sins. Now, servant #1, now forgiven, refused to give servant #2 the measly amount that he owed him… after being forgiven 9 BILLION dollars worth! That is not a Biblical way to behave.
Now, how many times should we forgive them? The Bible says 7 times 70 times. This number does not mean you should actually count every time somebody wrongs you. It illustrates that you should forgive and forgive, just as God forgives you. This even applies to those in prison. Even if the world says some things are unforgivable, through Christ, all is forgiven. And sharing the peace that comes with forgiveness is one of our main goals here at CPP Ministry. So please, consider joining our cause.
We all know that the Christian faith puts a ton of emphasis on fellowship and attending church events. This seems like a great idea, but oftentimes we let our lives get in the way. So, why is Christian fellowship important?
It is more than just spending time with acquaintances that happen to share a similar set of beliefs. Fellowship is time in God’s family (see left).
Even the word for fellowship in the new testament, koinonia, means to be together for mutual benefit. This clearly states that it is beneficial for all parties. But how is it beneficial? The Bible clearly states that fellowship, spending time together as children of God, both encourages good works and is an expression of love for one another (Hebrews 10: 24-25) That sounds pretty beneficial to me!
A third, most important reason, is that fellowship sets an example and has a massive impact on those looking in. Not that love for one another and good works are not important, but our primary directive is to spread the word of Christ so that none die without hearing the gospel (Mark 16:15). This can be accomplished when outsiders witness the love that is shared during our time together. (John 13:35)
And if you need yet another reason to fellowship, it is always an opportunity to pray with and for each other. For while solo prayer is powerful, prayer together is even more powerful. For the Word says, ” Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 18:19.
And these are just a few of the multitude of reasons why Christian fellowship is so important. Though many believers today do not recognize the importance of fellowship or local church involvement, Christian fellowship is essential to spiritual growth. Many aspects of our spiritual lives depend on being together with other believers to encourage, teach, serve, and share life together.
Do you have something to add? Please feel to comment below or send us a message!
Thanks for sharing this! I am thankful for Paul and all his writings!!
Congrats on the new CPP Blog! I Good to get news, inspiration, thoughts from others who have an interest in…
Thank you so much for the appreciation! We try our best to let Jesus’ light shine.
Thanks so much!
Thank you so much for your kind words! We are in the process of setting up newsletters so if you…
Thanks to the great work of God and all of our God-sent volunteers, our organization has quickly grown in size in the last few years. Now that our audience has grown, God has moved us to open a blog. It will include tips and tricks, motivational stories, and Word of God for your viewing pleasure.
Happy New year 2020! We are entering 2020 with hearts of gratitude to God and to you all who make this outreach to the incarcerated possible. God is working and we believe great things will be manifested in 2020 as our Father answers the prayers.
CPP Chat is slowly building up and we are enjoying sweet fellowship and mutual encouragement chatting with like-minded Christian brothers and sisters. We are looking for hosts so more times for chat can be scheduled in 2020. Contact Beth is you are interested: cppministry@Gmail.com
Book Released: The end of 2019 “Visit Prison in an Envelope” was compiled and published. This book is a valuable tool to anyone interested in or currently corresponding with a person or persons in prison. You can see the preview at Amazon. It covers every issue and topic for effective ministry. We hope you will share it online and in your church; the awesome real stories of pen pals and inmates will be an inspiration to all who read it.
This book was written by Beth Michael concisely and considerately. It is thoughtful of the incarcerated and the Christian who is led to minister as a friend to the incarcerated. It gives specific and precise detail in every single stage of the pen pal relationship. Also, helpful is the illumination of the perspectives from both the inmate pen pal and the Christian pen pal. I strongly suggest this book as mandatory reading for those considering entering ministry-by-mail to the incarcerated within the prison systems. It is a fast read, but also a nice reference as you are building your ministry. By: Nancy Celli, CPP pen pal
I found “Visit Prison in An Envelope” to be very helpful and I would recommend it for all volunteers new and the seasoned ones as well. It would be great as a basic training guide and a refresher or a reference source of some of the do’s and don’ts of writing to strangers. The Guide to Prisoner Pen pal Correspondence Ministry will help to minimize opportunities for conflict/harm and instructions for dealing with uncomfortable situations. It is great to have someone like Beth Michael, who has a heart of love and concern for both the inmates and the pen pal volunteers as well. By an Amazon Customer
You could feel the awe And wonder, you could sense It in the air, the love gift in The manger was for mankind everywhere.
And as that place received Him in the stable on the hay, He can now be born in us Because of Christmas day.
They shall call his name Emmanuel, God with us. Matthew 1:23 KJV
From Jesus Morales Jr. #1502743
Letter from Prisoners: Karen, Jesse & Beth, Rejoice! Jesus is born!! Thank you so much for my Christmas card. You have no idea how much it means to me. It’s been so long since I’ve received a card and I’m excited on being eligible in finding a Christian pen pal. ? Thank you and God bless. I can’t wait to hear back. Christopher in Texas
Happy New Year 12-31-19 Hello, Hope this finds “all of you” in the best of spirits & the greatest of health. For as myself I’m ok. I just received your card 12-30-19 & you don’t know how much you blessed me. All I could do was smile. I was so depressed, these holidays just had me down. I’ve been praying for someone to talk to. When your incarcerated you meet a bunch of people who are straight up fake. I started this time in late 1999 early 2000, 20 yrs under this number #1020210. I made parole March 10 2015, I walked in my mom & dad’s house, stayed out 807 days, violated & now I’m back with 2, 5 yr set off. I come back up April 2023. I discharge 10-10-2028. Anyway, thank you for the smile and the blessing of the Christmas Card you sent me. Please if possible, find me someone to write. God bless all of you….. Richard Alvis #1020210
Emails from Volunteers: Thank you, Beth. I will absolutely write him today. I just want to tell you that the Lord is so good; one of my pen pals, he’s pretty funny, one day he wrote. “Michelle, I think you’re Jesus’ sidekick”. It just made me laugh so hard and they really want to know scripture so I do Bible studies with them and if it takes me all day to write a letter – it does, but there is nothing more rewarding then this and I thank God every day for trusting me enough to do His will with these people that are incarcerated. Michelle C.
Hi Beth, Today, during our church service, the entire congregation prayed for several of the prisoners we had sent cards to that had replied with their prayer requests. It was very moving. Our pastor then held a sermon about one of the verses on of our recipients sent back. It was an open service and many of our members spoke of their experiences where they had felt lonely and far from the Lord. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being at the head of this ministry. I want you to see this letter from one of our recipients: The letter was also read out loud at church. (Letter from Dantres Lane) The impact this project has had on our congregation has been outstanding and is a true testimony to Gods work in our lives. Thank you. So much. Mackenzie
Letters from Prisoners: Dear Pen Pal Connection Family (Bob, Diana, Kim Jesse & Beth) & everyone else! I received the beautiful card & special message, thank you very much. You touched my heart & brought light to this at times dark place. You all are a blessing. You give Christian inmates hope. I hope your Christmas was meaningful & that you were surrounded by loved ones. I have email now by the way, Jpay.com to register, then add my name. J “No matter how long the night, dawn will surely come. “ Matt 18:12-14 Luke 2:10-11 Isa 9:6 Heb. 13:8
Jesus He came not to a throne, But to a manger. He lived not as a King, But as a servant. He chose NOT a Kingdom, But a cross. He gave NOT just a little, But everything. —–Holley Gerth
Happy Birthday CPP Ministry!!
Please rejoice with us to celebrate God’s grace & faithfulness to establish this fruitful outreach ministry and to bring us this far! It is hard to believe it’s been 20 years!! We know it’s only possible through y’alls prayers and devotion to our Lord who put the same earnest care into your hearts for the prisoners, the least of these whom Jesus loves. ******************************* “The branch of the vine does not worry, and toil, and rush here to seek for sunshine, and there to find rain. No; it rests in union and communion.” – Hudson Taylor VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY: If you have some time to spare, and/or some stamps, please pray about serving on the CPP staff. We are currently in need 1 additional Administrative Support helper and a helper to do resource searches for a few inmates who are planning their reentry & aftercare. Contact Beth for more information & opportunities: firstname.lastname@example.org THANK YOU ******************************* PEN PALS NEEDED: For special needs inmates struggling with depression, addictions, homosexuals, physical disabilities or mental illnesses, and need Biblical guidance and Christ’s wisdom & strength. Also some in a false religion are asking for a Christian pen pal – Muslim or other.
Good Advice: “Never yield to gloomy anticipation. Place your hope and confidence in God. He has no record of failure.” Mrs. Charles E. Cowman RESOURCES: Christian Library International (CLI) Spiritual Growth Resource. Resource Bible Lessons: https://cli.world/volunteering/inmate-bible-study-lessons/ https://cli.world/ministries/prisons/
************************************ Victorious Living Magazine Victorious Living encourages hearts and equips minds through testimonies of God’s grace and love in the lives of everyday people. https://www.kojministries.org/prison-ministry https://victoriouslivingmagazine.com/ Writing Ministry to Inmates Event “Shine Bright & Write” *************************************** FREE Bible: I found Bible Truth Publishers online, and to request a Bible for an inmate(s) you just contact them at the e-mail address below with the complete mailing address for the inmate(s): BTPmail@bibletruthpublishers.com From Jackie S.
IDEAS to Share CPP MINISTRY There are Christians throughout America and the world who love Jesus and would serve but many don’t know about CPP Ministry opportunity to serve Jesus behind prison walls. Please pray with us asking God for ways we can each share this outreach to the least of these are brethren incarcerated. Most who contact us are already Christians or seeking to know the Lord. The enemy is pulling them in the opposite direction. It is the children of God that makes the huge difference to help them turn from their old ways to follow Jesus. Think about all the grace and mercy our Father has extended to you out of His great love; God loves these inmates just as much as He loves you and me! Amen? We want your IDEAS! Media, church, publications, anywhere that Christians can be found to hear and be moved of God’s Spirit calling them to get information or to visit the web site and join with us. It’s Resurrection Sunday, lives need resurrection!!
WORDS TO ENCOURAGE: Safely Back Home – Read John 14:1-7 Jesus said to [Thomas], “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” -John 14:6 (NRSV) WHEN I began my morning walk around the lake, I noticed that the fog was unusually heavy. I could hardly see 10 feet in front of me. When the weather is clear, I can see buildings and homes and the sparkling waters of the lake. None of this was visible on this morning. When I arrived on the opposite side of the lake, I looked out into the fog toward my home across the water. I could not see it, but I still knew it was there. I also knew that if I followed the walking path, I would arrive safely back home. In our Christian walk, sometimes the hurts, fears, and frustrations of life are like that heavy fog. We cannot see our way clearly. But if we follow the path our Lord has laid out for us, we will arrive safely at our destination, a destination that brings healing and peace and joy. And at the end of this life’s walk, we are assured that Christ has prepared an eternal home for us where we will see him face to face. The fog will be lifted forever. Woody A. Adams (North Carolina, U.S.A.) Prayer O God, we thank you that in Jesus Christ we discover “the way, the truth, and the life.” Amen. Thought for the day Following the path God lays out will always lead us home. Prayer Focus Those searching for “the way home”
I don’t deserve forgiveness and I don’t deserve His love. I don’t deserve His blessings that He showers from above.
My greatest deeds have missed His mark. My works were just my will. My life appears so very dark. Guilt haunts me even still.
Except for Jesus on the cross, except for loving grace, except forgiveness undeserved – a hope? No, not a trace.
CLOSING: We witness God’s power, love, mercy, and faithfulness are displayed through CPP Ministry nearly every day. Most often through the letters we receive from the prisoners or the e-mails we receive from the CPP volunteers. It would not be possible without the many of you who followed Jesus into the prisons. Jesse & I always thank God for you and keep you in prayer, asking our Father’s best blessings upon you; may He give us all the staying power to finish the race.
A big Thank You all the Volunteer CPP Staff, pen pals, all our supporters, prayer partners, and friends on Facebook and CPP Chat Room. Together God is working great things behind the prison walls!! Please submit any ideas for promoting CPP. Also if you have inmate art, poems, or other to Beth at email@example.com May you and your family have a blessed Easter!!!
In Christ’s love, Jesse & Beth,
Jesse & Beth Michael, Executive Directors Christian Pen Pals / Pen Pal Connection firstname.lastname@example.org www.christian-penpals.com Member of International Network of Prison Ministries www.PrisonMinistry.net/cp