When I prepare a message for the ladies at McHenry County Jail, I am always prepared for God to take over and change the course of the lesson once I get there. Saturday, February 2nd was no exception. My initial message was loosely based on my pastor’s current sermon series based on the book of Joshua.
The main scripture was:
10 Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, 11 “Pass through the camp and command the people, saying, ‘Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you will cross over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess.’ ” (Joshua 1:10-11)
I then gave some background as to why the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years instead of going directly to the Promised Land. We discussed such things as the people’s fear, disobedience & ungratefulness (Exodus 16, Exodus 32 & Numbers 13). At one point God told Moses that they could enter the Promised Land but He would not be going with them. After some discussion, Moses stated emphatically “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here.” (Exodus 33:15). Let’s not forget Moses’ disbelief that prevented him from ever entering the Promised Land (Numbers 20:1-12).
Some of the other things we discussed were:*
- If God promises something, he has already made the provision
- If you don’t go forward with God, you will end up going backward or sideways without Him. You can’t stay where you are.
- God’s people MUST be marked by His presence.
- Before some of us can move we have to be ready to leave where we are. That means being ready to make the changes God is asking us to make. We have to surrender fully to God on all things. We must also realize that our plan may not be His plan & that His plan is ALWAYS better than ours.
- Some people are okay with where they are, even when where they are is not okay. This is usually because they are comfortable in their current mess, they are afraid of change, or they are too lazy to do what is being asked of them.
As we wrapped things up for the evening I circled back to Joshua 1:11.
“Pass through the camp and command the people, saying, ‘Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you will cross over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess.’ ”
I asked each of the ladies to imagine walking out of jail in three days. :
- What are you going to do to ensure that you never return to this or any jail?
- Once you are released, find a good Bible-believing church. If you come across one that looks down on you for having been in jail, move on and find a church that treats ALL people like they are treasured children of the most-high God.
- It can be easy to be a Christian while you are in jail because the things from your “old life” are on the outside. You may need to leave certain people & places behind if you want to stay on track spiritually.
- What legacy do you want to leave for your children?
As I listened to their answers, I was encouraged by their commitment to their faith and their families. The ladies assembled that day were understandably at different places in their spiritual walks but the one thing is sure; God was in the midst of our conversation. As the evening progressed, one young lady (I’ll call her Mary), emerged as the spiritual leader of this little flock. Mary was able to answer the other ladies’ questions and I could tell that they both respected and admired her. It’s is good to know that even behind bars, the ladies at McHenry County Jail have someone with whom they can discuss spiritual issues.
All Scripture was taken from NKJV
Some quotes were borrowed from Pastor Nathan Bargo