Letter from Prison

Dear Friend,

If you believe God put me in prison merely to be a blessing to others, it is only partially true. I am now convinced that He has me here for another purpose – to learn and grow in Him and His Word. Of this, I have become truly convinced. For example, never would I have taken such significant portions of each day reading and studying God’s Word and listening to the voice of His Spirit. For what he may be preparing me for, other than my own edification, I do not know, nor can I speculate.

I also learn a lot from others, including my friend “C”, who miraculously came to the Lord when he hit rock bottom in an isolation cell. He’d lived a life of self-pleasure, a wanton lifestyle of addictions, violence, sex, and misery. His mom had just died. And the mother of his two youngest children and his sister had also just died of heroin overdoses. So they locked “C” in isolation, afraid he might become violent.

Every time we study Scripture together, it seems “C” reminds me that one word should exemplify the life of a true Christian – obedience! And this is very true. I see it reinforced over and over again as I read through the history of Israel and Judah in the first half of the Scriptures.

Everything seems to hinge on the obedience of God’s people. Life versus death. Health instead of disease. Prosperity instead of drought, famine, and calamity. Peace rather than war. Victory instead of defeat. Joy and happiness rather than despair and sorrow. Confidence and courage rather than dread. Wisdom and knowledge rather than confusion.

However, with obedience comes other characteristics and attributes we find clearly portrayed throughout the Scriptures. God blessed when the people and leaders turned to God for direction. When they forgot God and did what they thought right in their own eyes, not seeking His directions and advice, God’s directions and blessings and victory were not there! We see this over and over again!

And this shortcoming, trusting in our own judgment rather than seeking God’s direction and advice, becomes more and more prevalent the better and easier life becomes for us. And that’s when pride can easily set in, as it did for the kings of Israel and Judah. They start out well, seeking God’s direction, and God blesses them in every way. But then one day they skip the step of asking God first whether they should do something specific, or go up to battle. This often leads to their downfall and destruction. Look at the examples of Saul, Solomon, or Joash. That’s why Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes later in his life.

Jesus Himself reiterates this principle when Peter began to doubt his trust of the Lord to keep him afloat as he stepped foot on the Sea of Galilee’s surface. As soon as Peter’s faith began to waiver, he began to sink.

And, as “C” constantly reminds me when we look at Scriptures together, it all comes back to obedience. Our obedience is predicated on our love for our Savior, who gave Himself for us. And hence we should give our lives willingly to Him in complete obedience – out of a true love that never wants to destroy the intimacy God intended us to have with Hm.

This is why God compares our relationship with Christ as that of a bride. We are the bride of Christ; He is the perfect groom who gave His life for His bride. This “submission,” or obedience out of sheer love, is the picture God intends between a man and wife; for a husband must love his wife as God loves his church.

Thank you for your continued prayers and letters of encouragement!

In His Service,

Philip Zodhiates

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