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Monthly Archives: March 2016

Witnesses of the Resurrection – Terri N. Reese-Green

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“We Are All Witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ”
By Terri N. Reese-Green
Women’s Huron Valley, Ypsilanti, MI

Today’s sermon will be called “We Are All Witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.”  We would like to go to the book of Acts 2:22-24 and Acts 2:32-38. Hear the word of the Lord…repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. And we are all witnesses of this resurrection. Jesus woke us all up this morning and started us on our way because he is the way.

God bless you,
Terri

The Word of God (Part 4) – Jonathan L. Clarke

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“The Word of God (part 4)”
By Jonathan L. Clarke
Gus Harrison Correctional, Adrian, MI

Continued…

The forgiveness of our sin debt, when we requested that Jesus Christ be Lord of our lives; is the admission that we are sinners. We are a new creation after that point (2 Corinthians 5:17), and sanctification is complete. Now as we confess our sins; we release the power of God into those areas of our lives to renew, heal, and change us. This is the process of sanctification that will continue throughout our lives. We repent by acknowledging our attitude or behavior has been contrary to God’s word. Then we make a continual effort to turn from that way of thinking or behavior, and we seek God’s strength to overcome our sins. Unforgiveness and unconfessed sin can hinder us from receiving blessings in our lives, and confession should be heartfelt and sincere, knowing that all sin is against God Himself.

And Isaiah 53:5 says,

“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed.”

Now I’ve heard some people teach that this passage of scripture has nothing to do with physical healing, and only the healing power in removing the enmity between us and our God. However, if you look at this passage of scripture in its context, verse 4 when studied out states that Jesus Christ bore our sicknesses. The consequences of sin and the curse, which was brought/manifested in the earth by the original sin of Adam. And if you look further at Matthew 8:14-17 it says,

“Now when Jesus had come into Peter’s house he saw his wife’s mother lying sick with a fever. So he touched her hand, and the fever left her. And she arose and serve them. When evening had come, they brought to him many who were demon-possessed and he cast out spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick. That is might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet saying: ‘He himself took our infirmities and bore our sickness.” (NKJV)

So you may be wondering what does this have to do with God desiring to do a new thing in my life? It has everything to do with it. As I mentioned earlier, this battle is going to require you exercising your faith. For some, this may be a call to start growing in your faith. For others, it may be a recommitment to give God’s word first place in your life, and believe what it says regarding a believer in Jesus Christ. Revelation 12:11 says,

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”

Satan represents the curse, and the Lamb of God Jesus Christ the blessing and God’s grace. The word of our testimony is our faith in Jesus Christ, and our belief in what God’s covenant promises are for the believer. It’s a change in our attitude, and our acceptance of looking at life from God’s perspective. Who are we going to believe? Are we going to believe what God’s word says about our lives, or are we going to believe what our circumstances dictate, or what our friends and even family may say. The solutions to all your problems is in your bible. Trust God!

Matthew 8:16 says,

“When evening had come, they brought to him many who were demon possessed. And he cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick.” (NKJV)

And Hebrews 13:8-9 says,

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have occupied with them.”

We must establish our hearts on what the word of God says! Jesus Christ hasn’t changed! In the book of Job, Job was afflicted with many various maladies brought about by an attack of Satan. Job’s friends and even his wife attempted to convince him that he was responsible for his illnesses. Job’s wife told him to curse God and die (Job 2:9). This was at the very onset of Satan’s attack, but Job was not moved. This is where many battles (spiritual warfare) are determined, at the very onset of a problem. Satan desires you to believe you are defeated and without hope. Job fixed his heart/established it on who God and His promises to His people. Job’s attitude was, if I die today; I’m going to die in my faith trusting God’s faithfulness.

Hebrews 11:6 says,

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.” (NKJV)

One of my favorite passages of scripture comes from Job 13:15a says,

“Though he slay me, yet I will trust Him…”

This is the kind of faith that removes problems and destroys burdens. The last scripture I’m going to quote today is 2 Chronicles 16:9a,

“For the eyes of the Lord run to and from throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to him.” (NKJV)

This especially includes those who believe and stand on God’s word. Until my next…trust and believe that God desires and yearns to do a new thing in your lives.

Jesus is Love!

The Word of God (Part 3)- Jonathan L. Clarke

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“The Word of God (part 3)”
By Jonathan L. Clarke
Gus Harrison Correctional, Adrian, MI

Praise the Lord Jesus Christ! The Lord God Almighty!

Hello my brother and sisters in Christ! It’s a privilege and honor to address you all again. And of course; I’m very grateful and thankful for the members of Voices for Christ ministry for the opportunity to express online, the words God places on my heart to share.

We started out actually laying a foundation from God’s forgiveness. I requested that everyone go into their prayer closets and forgive those who have hurt you or offended you in the past or present; as well as forgiving ourselves. It’s very important that we forgive ourselves in order to release God’s healing power in our lives. And we need to cultivate and develop an attitude of forgiveness; where we are quick to forgive. Our adversary, the devil is real, he desires to keep us bond and contained in our actions, growth, and thoughts. He wants to prevent us from delighting in the free flowing anointing and love of Jesus Christ, which Jesus brought for us by His death, burial, and resurrection! And it’s God’s will for us to be overcomers and conquerors over the circumstances and issues that hinder us in our lives. So what we need to proclaim and confess is, “Today is the day that I choose to work out my salvation. I am going to take authority by the resurrection power of God over the circumstances in my life in the name of Jesus!” Go ahead and say that out loud!

With that confession, you have just stirred up the word of God in your lives and it’s prepared to be activated! You also have put Satan and his demons on notice that you are going to deal with your circumstances according to his nor the world’s thinking anymore. That we are going to believe and stand on what God’s word says about our circumstances; and not be moved until we see God give us the victory. Then we are going to continue to stand and believe God’s word to keep the victory in our lives. Lastly, we are going to surround ourselves with like-minded, Spirit-filled believers who will encourage us on in the things of God. This is a battle that we win by our faith!!

Galatians 1:3-5 says,
“Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil age according to the will of our God and Father, to who be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (NKJV)

Allow me to quote the footnote for verse 4 from the Nelson Study Bible.

“1:4 gave himself for our sins: This phrase looks ahead to Paul’s discussion of redemption in 3:13, 14. It is a quick summary of the good news: Christ’s death is for you (see 1 Cor 15:3). Deliver us from this present age is similar to Col 1:13, which states that Christ ‘has delivered us from the power of darkness’ into his kingdom. Both passages develop this truth based on Christ’s redemptive work (see Col 1:14), implying that the word deliver refers to sanctification in the face of the temptations of this present age.”

This is truly good news that because of everything that Jesus Christ did for us; we now have peace and fellowship restored with our heavenly Father, and we have available the power to live a fulfilled, holy, and completely whole life in every area of our lives! Our past sins, present, and future have been covered by the blood of the Lamb (Jesus Christ). Hebrews 1:3 in the King James says, “…when he by himself purged our sins…” That is, Jesus Christ cleansed us from our sins. I’m going to quote verse 3 from the Living New Testament Bible. It says,

“God’s son shines out with God’s glory, and all that God’s son is and does marks him as God. He regulates the universe by the mighty power of his command. He is the one who died to cleanse us and clear our record of all sin, and then sat down in highest honor beside the great God of heaven.”

Our sins have not just been covered, but they have been removed! Hallelujah!!

God’s grace, His unmerited favor is a result of His forgiveness for us! God’s favor, the anointing of God, gives us His power in our lives. The ability to destroy sin, while sanctifying us, molding us into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ, and working out God’s divine plan for our lives!

Mark 11:25-26 says,

“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses” [sins willful or unintentional]. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” (NKJV)

Our sin debt has been paid! And just as we have confessed Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, we must confess our sins unto God. we should confess all sins committed past and present. This process is called repentance. I’ve personally found that asking the Holy Spirit to help bring unconfessed sin to my memory is very helpful. We should also ask God to forgive us of unintentional sin or unknowing sin that we have committed. 1 John 1:9 says,

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Everyone and No One – Shawn Bere

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“Everyone and No one”
By Shawn Bere
Newberry Correctional, Newberry, MI

I’m the One who never crosses your mind…
Never proud; always kind.
I’m the face in a crowd – the one you THOUGHT you seen…
You know not whence I come, nor where I’ve been!
I’m the blind man, who sits with his cup.
I’m the inner-city child playing with his pup.
I’m the old bag-lady, with no shoes upon my feet!
I’m the stranger you fear, whom you improperly greet.
I’m the smelly bum, who lay on cardboard…
the one you step over with an unkind word!
I’m the hand that pulled you from your wrecked car!
I’m the one who watches wherever you are!
I’m the fireman who saved your children…
Yet, my identification remains a mystery, and you’re bewildered!
I’m the quadriplegic you volunteered to help.
I’m the old man with the walker, you caught when I fell.
I’m the old woman you helped cross the road;
I’m the pregnant mother, whose groceries you helped unload!
I’m the child with down-syndrome, who always says “Hi”;
Sure, you’ve had hard times,
but I seem to melt you with a smile!
I’m the person today,
to whom you gave a smile and a nod;
And no… I’m not God…
I’m the winner, the loser, the best and the worst!
I’m the one you gave water, to quench his thirst!
I’m the one who cared when no one else seemed to…
I listened to your story the whole way through!
I’m the unnoticed compassionate hand upon your shoulder…
I’m friend, family, or even you! You’ll understand as you grow older!
I was sent to help you, when life, it seemed, you cuold not bear…
I’m not always seen, but I’m always there!
I’m Servant and Friend to The Christ – The One you Love! Yes, Sent by The One, Whom we receive with the Lighting of The Dove!
I’m the one of whom the word speaks; sometimes, I seem to stare…
Yes, I’m one of those who watch over you…
I’m the Angel, of whom you are usually unaware!

(HEB 13:1-2) Let Brotherly Love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: For thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

The Easter Story – Tracy Leigh

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“The Easter Story”
By Tracy Leigh
Women’s Huron Valley Correctional, Ypsilanti, MI

Hello Friends, Family, Readers,

Just a note to all of you for an inspiring Easter season.

The news is out! A small room, packed with unruly people who’ve gathered for bible study, hear the news of the death of Christ. Curiosity spurs some into the 20 questions game. A few slink to the back corners where they whisper continually about current events in their own lives and could care less about the magnitude of the disrespect they’re showing or how disruptive their behaviors are for those intent on listening. It is all about them.

My heart aches to be somewhere I can sing\minister to people like the curious whom want to know or learn but have no one to share with them in a way they understand. This news about Jesus’ death and resurrection is perplexing to so many.

Why would this man die for me?
Why can’t I see Him?
Why would He take my punishment?
Why would He then offer me eternal life?

It’s a fable to so many, an archaic story that was told long ago but is not true anymore. It’s become a tradition and holiday. To many it’s a relationship with the powerful God of the universe and sweeter than the candy the Easter bunny brings.

Mark 16:6 says

But He said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.

Do the people realize the miraculous love available to them that can forever change their lives? The curious will find out. The whisperers will continue to try it on their own.

Don’t miss eternity in heaven friend! I pray you find Jesus in a very real way and realize what this Easter season means to have your punishment for your sins already paid. Now that is love. Will you still walk away, ignorant?

Pray now–

God, I am a sinner. Please forgive me. Be my God. I believe you lived, died, rose again. Guide me.

Happy Easter!!!!!! Happy Birthday!!!!

Realization – Gerald Anderson

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“Realization”
By Gerald Anderson
Gus Harrison Correctional, Adrian, MI

Dear God,
Lord I am down on my knees
Screaming for answers
I have been blinded
For so long from the truth
Engulfed by darkness
Shaken and afraid
You are my breath
What shall I do
As the serpent devours my tracks
I have left behind
Narrowly escaping his fangs
And having his venom course through my veins
Become completely consumed.
I praise you my King
I shout it out loud!
You have saved me
You have prevailed
There is no doubt within my contrite heart
Your hand rests upon my shoulder
As I store back at the wreckage
And destruction in my life
Realizing I was the serpent chasing myself
All leading to you God
I have been my worst enemy
But you have shown me the light
Bestowed upon my heart the truth
You love for all humankind
God we do not deserve your grace
Yet you give it
You gave through your own son Jesus
His blood to become our blood
His flesh to become our flesh
So we may live
All praise honor and glory
Be to you God
Creator of all
Amen

All One – Gerald Anderson

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“All One”
By Gerald Anderson
Gus Harrison Correctional, Adrian, MI

As I bow my head and pray
Jesus Christ is the only way
Many turn their backs
But God’s love never lacks
We are his creation
Truly equal only one nation
To only him shall I serve
Praying I do not get what I deserve
Praise be to God all of my days
And to God all of my days shall I praise

This is God Almighty – Shawn Bere

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“This is God Almighty”
By Shawn Bere
Newberry Correctional, Newberry, MI

In the Shadows of His Wings, we behold the Glory of His Light;
Touching, As we might, The Beating of His Heart;
Holding arms outstretched, Grasping the Rays of Hope,
Which Fill the life on the one
Surrendered to The Unfailing Love of the Father;
Whose Faithful Hold will Never allow us to Fall;
Whose Hand of Might will uplift us when we Fail;
Whose Grace and Mercy Reaches to Cleanse our Wounds;
And Whose Compassion and Oneness in Spirit
Caresses our Weary Soul, when we Cry out, “Abba! Help me!”
And we are Comforted, as His unfailing Love
Envelopes and Embraces us Each and Everyday!

THIS is my Father, who Cannot Fail; Cannot Lie; And Will not Leave!
THIS is the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!
THIS is the LORD God – The Father Yahweh, El-Shaddai, Elohim, Abba;
The Son Jesus The Christ of Nazareth; And The Holy Spirit of Truth!
THIS is my Savior, My Friend, My Brother, My Father, And My God!

HE IS MY TRUTH ABSOLUTE!
HE IS GOD ALMIGHTY!

[ISAIAH 9:6] “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

[REVELATION 1:8] “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the LORD, Who is and Who was and Who is to come, the Almighty.”

Amen! Amen! Amen!

So What – Hunter Tokar

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“So What!”
By Hunter Tokar
Carson City Correctional, Carson City, MI

When I am released from prison my wife and I have to move from the mobile home park we live in. why? Because during my incarceration they have changed ownership and no longer allow convicted felons to live there. Seriously. ANY felony conviction for anything will prohibit you from living there.

Here’s another one for you. My wife is a General Manager for McDonald’s Corporation. She hires and fires people on a daily basis. However, as of 4 years ago she can no longer hire convicted felons. That’s right, if a McDonalds is a corporate store (and most are) they will no longer hire anyone with a felony conviction. Seriously. I saw a list recently that indicated which companies would hire convicted felons. But, I personally know guys who have gotten out and tried to use that list only to find out that most of those companies do not hire convicted felons.

The MDOC is giving our more paroles than ever, yet society is making it harder and harder for anyone released from prison to actually make it. Can’t live here, can’t work there. Come on, I can’t live in the trailer park and not even McDonald’s will hire me at minimum wage. (Does, anyone else see the humor in that?)

Here’s what I think of when I hear all this, SO WHAT! When I found out we had to move I thought, “GREAT we’re getting a house.” When I heard about all of those companies who won’t hire felons I thought, “God’s gonna get me an even better job than minimum wage at McDonald’s or Home Depot.”

I hear guys complaining every day about the unfair practices of the world and I expect that from unsaved men. However, some of those I hear complaining the most are Christians. You either trust God or you don’t – period. In every situation you have that choice. Sometimes it is very discouraging to just sit in a dayroom and listen to people. Why are the Christians the ones complaining the most often and the loudest? The world is the world, they’re going to do what they do, but we are called to a higher standard and we trust in HIM alone. He is fully aware that you need a place to live and you need a job. TRUST HIM!!

Stay Strong,

Hunter

How To Catch A Monkey – Charles Selby

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“How to Catch a Monkey”
By Charles Selby

In some areas of the world monkeys are considered a common food source. Catching that meal, however, requires being smarter than it. Sounds easy enough but let’s see. The instructions are:

Drill a golf ball-size hole through a 6’ x 2” x 6” board. The hole should be centered and in the middle of the board.

Find a location commonly frequented by a gang (sic) of monkeys. Then wait for them leave before pounding the board into the ground 3’ deep. The hole should be about 2” above the ground.

Return to the area a couple days later, when the monkeys can be seen in the area. Stand next to your board and juggle a shiny red or blue painted golf ball in view of the monkeys. When the monkeys indicate an obvious interest in the ball, allow them to see you hide it inside the hole in your board, then walk away.

Moments after leaving a monkey will stick its hand inside the hole, elbow deep, and quickly vocalize its frustration as it aggressively tries to take your ball. That’s your cue to bop it on the head with a sturdy stick.

To remove the thief’s lifeless arm from the hole, reach behind the board and pull the ball from its clinched fist. If additional monkeys are required, make certain they see you remove the ball from the hole after the arm is removed. The watchful monkeys need to see you place the ball back into the hole before you leave.

This process can be repeated as many times as necessary because, surprisingly, each monkey will fail to figure out that it, too, will fall victim to the same trap. I’m uncertain why the monkeys think they are faster or more clever than their less fortunate, greedy courage, but each one will die for the same reason: its inability to let go of a meaningless object.

Where am I going with this? Sadly, many prisoners are no smarter than the simple-minded monkey. Yeah, I know the comparison seems a bit judgmental, but the facts are irrefutable if you think about it. You see, the monkey could’ve easily avoided death by either letting go of the ball or by looking behind the board to take the ball instead of reaching through the hole for it. It’s common sense, you’d think. Yet we act no differently when refusing to let go of the petty things in life that prevent us from pulling our hands through the cold metal holes that cruelly bind us and destroy our lives: handcuffs.

I get that the concrete, steel, and negativity of incarceration have a dominating way of narrowing our focus to exclude hope from our view. I’ve been there, I assure you (I have 30 yrs. In on a life bit and 13 yrs. were spent in the hole), which is why I write from the heart to proclaim that incarceration mustn’t become an excuse to give up on self-improvement. God did not create us to live in cages – to be less intelligent than the monkey.

Still, claiming to be smarter than a monkey requires acting like it. that means exercising an acute awareness of our mortality, understanding the consequences of our actions, and getting our priorities in life right. Of course this can be easier said than done, perhaps even impossible at times. But difficulty isn’t a reason to give up and become a product of this environment. It can’t be because the path of least resistance serves only to make both rivers and men crooked. In fact, there’s a saying that goes: “We’ll never realize just how much we need Jesus until He’s all we have.” That’s usually the point in life when we’ve become tired of being tired, and something’s gotta give…a point in which the right thing to do when finding ourselves in a hole is to quit digging.

There, second chances can be found through renewing our minds with the Word of God (Rom. 12:2), which leads to learning to do better (Isa. 1:16-18) and trusting in God will all our hearts (Prov. 3:5) to not only accomplish all things through Jesus, but also to become more than conquerors when faced with adversities (Rom. 8:35-39; Phil. 4:11-13). Yes, that means even letting go unforgiveness, racism, envy, doubt, greed, sexual and chemical addictions, gang affiliations, and criminal thoughts – all the petty, self-destructive things, the sins, that we can’t seem to let go of in order to experience meaningful freedom from the bracelets (1 Pet. 2:1-2; Heb. 12:1-2).

In short, things like denied Parole Board hearings, failed relationships, terminated parental rights, another criminal conviction, and Judgment Day, as the stick upside the monkey’s head, doesn’t have to be the final blow that forces us to let go too late. Today is the day to realize that overcoming the darkness is as easy as turning on the light (Heb. 3:7-13; Jn. 14:6, 8:12). Jesus chose to die for us rather than to live without us, so it’s time to let go and step into the light where we can see to choose better paths and to live with purpose.

Civilians aren’t excluded from needing to be smarter than a monkey; self-incarceration comes in many forms. Thankfully, Jesus came to set all captives free (Lk. 4:18).