It has been said that you can learn a lot in jail—most of it bad—but there are some good things that can be learned in prison. Just ask John Bunyan. In 1660, he was arrested for preaching without a license. While there, he began writing his great book Pilgrim’s Progress. Just ask Alexander Solzhenitsyn. He was imprisoned for criticizing the communists. While there, he wrote poems in his head, which he later was able to publish. Just ask Corrie Ten Boom. She was imprisoned for trying to save Jews from the Nazis. In her imprisonment, she lost her family; but she learned that no matter how deep the pit you are in, God’s love is deeper still. Just ask Joseph. He learned compassion, perseverance and perhaps humility. That allowed him to serve Pharaoh well and eventually protect his family. There are many kinds of prisons. What happens to us when we find ourselves there is up to us.


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A third generation preacher, Mike Shannon is Professor of Preaching at Cincinnati Bible Seminary of Cincinnati Christian University. He has served as a preaching minister, church planter, and college professor. His most recent preaching ministry was at the historic First Christian Church of Johnson City, Tennessee. In his nearly two decades at Cincinnati Christian University, Mike has served as both professor and Dean of the Seminary. He has also been an adjunct professor at Milligan College and Northern Kentucky University. Mike is the author or co-author of several books.

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We have heard of the place called Death Valley. Normally it is barren and forbidding, but every once and a while it explodes with color. Millions of wildflowers emerge from the ground and make the desert floor as beautiful as a painting. Where did the flowers come from? They were actually there all the time. They were in the ground in seed form, waiting to be nurtured and released. When the seeds receive the right amount of sun and rain, they explode with life. Out of our desert experiences, with God’s help, come life and great beauty.


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About The Author

A third generation preacher, Mike Shannon is Professor of Preaching at Cincinnati Bible Seminary of Cincinnati Christian University. He has served as a preaching minister, church planter, and college professor. His most recent preaching ministry was at the historic First Christian Church of Johnson City, Tennessee. In his nearly two decades at Cincinnati Christian University, Mike has served as both professor and Dean of the Seminary. He has also been an adjunct professor at Milligan College and Northern Kentucky University. Mike is the author or co-author of several books.

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More than 2,000 years ago, a young Greek artist named Timanthes studied under a respected tutor. After several years, the teacher’s efforts seemed to have paid off when Timanthes painted an exquisite work of art. Unfortunately, he became so enraptured with the painting that he spent days gazing at it. One morning when he arrived to admire his work, he was shocked to find it blotted out with paint. Angry, Timanthes ran to his teacher, who admitted he had destroyed the painting. “I did it for your own good. That painting was retarding your progress.” Timanthes took his teacher’s advice and produced Sacrifice of Iphigenia, which is regarded as one of the finest paintings of antiquity.

Adversity in life is God’s way of refining and beautifying our lives in His image. He is the Master Artist who constantly shapes the way He wants us to be. If you haven’t been walking with God, He still loves you and wants you back. It is never too late for God to refinish the colors of your heart. If you are walking with God, take comfort because He promises to love you unconditionally. (Turning Point Daily Devotional, 11/19/03)


View more sermon illustrations for inspiration for your next message.

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About The Author

A third generation preacher, Mike Shannon is Professor of Preaching at Cincinnati Bible Seminary of Cincinnati Christian University. He has served as a preaching minister, church planter, and college professor. His most recent preaching ministry was at the historic First Christian Church of Johnson City, Tennessee. In his nearly two decades at Cincinnati Christian University, Mike has served as both professor and Dean of the Seminary. He has also been an adjunct professor at Milligan College and Northern Kentucky University. Mike is the author or co-author of several books.

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