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  • Shawn Thornton

Not By Your Worst Moments

Monday - May 3rd

Scripture to Read Today: 1 John 3:19-24


This is how...we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

1 John 3:19-20

One of America's bloodiest and most treacherous prisons throughout the 20th century was Louisiana's Angola Prison. Built after the civil war on land used to hold, sell, and transport (situated on the Mississippi River) African slaves, Angola became the place murderers, rapists, and kidnappers spent time for their crimes. Louisiana law determined that most who went to Angola died there. That made the inmates in one of the nation's largest maximum-security prisons some of the most treacherous prisoners anywhere.

If you are sentenced in your early twenties to a prison from which you know you will only escape by death, you become animal-like in how you live with others. No one's life (including your own) has any hope or any value if you are trapped with no light on the horizon. Don't get me wrong, the men who went to Angola Prison for their crimes did some terrible things. Justice demanded that they feel the weight of what they had done. But desperation sets in when you have no value, dignity, or purpose - and neither do the others in prison with you.

Rates of fighting, violence, assault and murder at Angola outpaced all other prisons in the U.S. through much of the second half of the 20th-century. With a leadership change in the Warden position of the prison, Angola took a turn for the better. The new warden, Burl Cain, began to communicate to the prisoners the value and dignity they had as men made in the image of God. Hardened criminals started to turn their lives over to Jesus Christ. Bible Institute and Seminary classes began to be taught. Discipleship groups, churches, and ministry teams were formed.

While still a difficult place full of the worst of the violent offenders, Angola Prison began to change for the better. Many men found salvation in Christ. They had their sins - including the crimes for which they were convicted - forgiven. They learned that in Christ, God saw them as righteous. God did not define them by their worst moments of evil in life but by Christ's greatest moment of love on the cross.

Most likely, you are not reading this in your prison cell. Nonetheless, as a child of God, Satan wants you to define yourself by your worst moments of sin. He knows that you know what those moments are. Jesus defeated Satan and his lies in His death, burial, and resurrection. Satan's lies about you are empty. God sees you as one clothed in Christ's righteousness. Remember that God knows everything about you and loves you as you are! "God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything" (1 John 3:20). Don't buy into Satan's lies and beat yourself up as a Christian spouse, parent, or co-worker. See yourself as God sees you!

God in love for you says you are not defined by your worst moments but by Christ's greatest moment on the cross!


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