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Monthly Archives: October 2017

Manifested Grace – Terri Reese-Green

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“Manifested Grace”
By Terri Reese-Green
Huron Valley Correctional Facility, Ypsilanti, MI

The Word of God tells us that the Word of God is what sets us free. Hearing the words of God will be very important in the relationship with Christ, the anointed one. Do we hear that God has given us authority over his house? He has come down to dwell in the house of men.

John 17:22 says “and the glory which thou gavest me I have given them that they may be one, even as we are one.”

John 14:20, I John 1:3 and 2 Cor 3:18 say grace happens to be a family. We can’t possess one without the other. How can I have Jesus and not the rest of the Trinity?

John 17:23 says I am in them and thou in me that they may be made perfect in one and that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them as thou hast loved me.”

Do you believe that the Trinity has been manifested to you so you can live the way you want? Why would you possess all this power and practice a sinful life? You have to believe that God gave you everything that He gave his Son.

Please study the Word of God and stop listening to everybody who says they know him.

Got Any Plans? – Carl Nunnery

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“Got Any Plans?”
By Carl Nunnery
Farmington Correctional Facility, Farmington, MO

Almost everything you do in life requires you to do one important thing — to make some kind of plan. Think about it, plans are made for:
Going shopping (make a list of what you need), going on vacation (where to stay or route to take), getting dressed (what to wear or time to get ready), looking for work (what you want to do, the pay you’re looking for), school or college (your future, cost of school, the courses), saving some money (what bank to use or amount to save), your wedding (the guests, where held, best man, bridesmaids), preparing dinner (what to fix, at what time, for how many), going on a date (where to go, what to eat, the cost), or planning a funeral (burial and all the unpleasant details).

There are endless examples I could list, but as you may have noticed from your list, it is missing the most important plan that you could make in your life. That plan is where you want to spend eternity.

A well known fact is some people wait until the last minute to plan anything, and more times than not, something will happen to interrupt those plans or they just altogether change their minds to do it at all. Notice the similarity of the meaning behind this “joke.”

A minister waited in line to have his car filled with gas just before a long holiday weekend. The attendant worked quickly but there were many cars ahead of him. Finally, the attendant motioned him toward the vacant pump. “Reverend,” said the young man, “I’m sorry about the delay. It seems everyone waits until the last minute to get ready for a long trip.”

The minister chucked, “I know what you mean, it’s the same way in my business.”

The truth is, some plans do have to be put on hold, but not so with the plan of your life. The world was not made by God on a boring day, nor was God’s creations done for the lack of nothing better to do. It was all of a designed plan he had.

Look at some of God’s plans:

Creation of the world, man and woman, who to carry His word, the animals on it, sun and moon, rid the world of sin, Jesus to be our Savior, heaven and hell, the food we eat, the gifts given to us, length of life, and eternal life.
God planned all this and more to all work together for the good and to give us everything we would need. God knew you before you were born. God had already made plans for your life.

In Jeremiah 29:11 it says, “for surely I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, to give you a future with hope.”

Don’t confuse God’s plan with your plans. By this I mean God knows what He wants for you and the plans He has for you. In Isaiah 54:8 it says, “for my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor my ways are your ways says the Lord.”
God’s plans have conditions. You see not everyone will receive eternal life. Why? God has given us all free will of choice. Yes, that includes your choice of plans of what you want to do. But do your plans include God’s will for you?

It is God’s will that: we not sin (John 5:14), John (8:11), come to repentance (Matt. 9:13), be saved (Ro. 10:13) and live in eternity (John 14:3).

God gave us all free choice. That means we can accept His ways or live in our own way. But hear this, in Prov. 14:12 it says, “there is a way which seems right to man, but in the end if the way to death.”

By God’s free choice, He doesn’t stop you from sinning or even living in sin, but he can make you sorry you did. In Luke 16:19-31) it gives you the end result of making a bad choice. Here we see the rich man in Hades (hell) in torment, where he can look across the “great chasm” and see Lazarus standing by Abraham in paradise in God’s comfort. The rich man made his choice and now is suffering everlasting torment for it. Suffering and torment does not have to be our means to an end. God has an expected end for you. God has revealed His plan of salvation to us. This plan should not be put on hold or delayed in preparing for it.

God has made it very clear to us, He is coming back (James 5:8) and (Rev. 22:20). God’s Word in Matt. 25:13 should keep you on your toes as well as to cause you to expedite your future plans. It says, “you know neither the day or the hour.” My friends, the sobering truth is we are not promised a tomorrow. One could easily go to sleep one night and wake up standing before God in judgment.
You can read just how fast and unexpectedly God’s wrath can come upon you in Gen. 19:12-25 where Sodom and Gomorrah did not see the wrath of God coming. They were going about their daily lives, eating, sleeping, working and laughing as their normal lives would be. God rained down fire on their city and destroyed everything in it, turning it to ashes.

Let me give you some food for thought. In 2 Peter 3:10 it says, “the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. The heavens shall pass away with a great noise and the elements (the earth) shall melt with fire. The earth and everything in it shall be burned up.” I can assure you, there will be no escaping it. You don’t want to wait until the last day to cry out to the Lord. It will be too late.
In Matt. 7:21 it says, “not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the ones who do the will of my Father in Heaven.” That pretty much says you snooze, you lose.

Jesus came to save that which is lost (Luke 19:10). Jesus came to die on the cross for your sins that you may live. In John 11:25 it says, “those that believe in me, even though they die, will live.”

My friends, I have never met any rational thinking person yet who wants to die and go to hell. Through Jesus Christ and His blood he shed on the cross, you don’t have to. God has offered you His plan of life. If you are not saved, I urge you to make immediate plans to do so.

In Romans 10:13 it says, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

This is one plan that you can make in your life that does not cost you a penny. That price has already been paid in full. So what’s stopping you? Make plans for your life. This call to God can be made 24/7 day or night.

Don’t leave God out of your plans for the future. He did not leave you out of his.

The Heart of Flesh vs. The Heart of Stone – Matthew Nawrocki

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“The Heart of Flesh vs. The Heart of Stone”
By Matthew Nawrocki
Newberry Correctional Facility, Newberry, MI

Hebrews 3:7-13 (NLT):
…the Holy Spirit says, “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested me in the wilderness. There your ancestors tested and tried my patience, even though they saw my miracles for forty years. So I was angry with them, and I said, Their hearts always turn away from me. They refuse to do what I tell them. So in my anger I took an oath: They will never enter my place of rest.”
Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.

Ezekiel 36:17 (NKJV):
…when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their own ways and deeds…

Ezekiel 36:26-27 (NLT):
…I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart (Heart of Stone) and give you a tender, responsive heart (Heart of Flesh). And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.

We are living in those times spoken of thousands of years ago. We’ve been given that heart of flesh that God promised, one that is tender and responsive. We must not move back toward that heart of stone, which we do if we live a hard-hearted, stubborn life. God says, “You did that when you lived in your own land, but in order to live in the land I gave you, you need a heart of flesh, not stone!” God is not relational with a stone, He is relational with flesh, with spirit. We need to have the heart of David who said, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” (Ps. 139:23-24) That is tender and responsive, a heart willing to be changed.

See, we need to get out of our man-made religious box, where we act like God is our pet rock. We need to realize who He really is. We are stubborn, most often, because we are scared. I have been affected, personally, by my own stubbornness for too long. It’s hard to let go, but we need to, and we do it by moving. The narrow-minded, hard-hearted person never moves; they stay still like a good stone does. But God says, “Move. Possess. Be Free.”

We are called to be open-minded, willing to change or move, allowing God’s truth to penetrate our new heart of flesh. First we must hear what the Word says and then we need to be open to do what the Word says. “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” (James 1:22)

Hebrews 4:12-13 says, “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.”

How will we answer God in that moment when He asks us why we did not allow our hearts to be willing to receive His word but, rather, we clenched tight and made our hearts harder than they already were, rejecting not the messenger or the word, specifically, but God Himself. How will we answer for our stubbornness? What is our justifying reason or logic? Is it good enough? Will we have a doctor’s note? Will it be an excused absence? Nothing is hidden from His sight, all things are naked and open to His eyes. Why do we keep trying to hide? Why would we think we could show up to church and clean up for an hour and then go back to our old lives like nothing is dirty? Do we honestly think He doesn’t see that? Do we think that He approves?

A lot of Christians wonder why their lives feel like a wreck, and more often than not it’s because they claim God, and life in Him pulls them in one direction, but they also love self and the world around them and it pulls the other direction. I wonder how the rope feels in a game of tug-o-war. We need to choose a side. To have one foot in and one foot out leaves us completely vulnerable and exposed. We need to plant ourselves firmly on God’s team because I assure you we win with Him! We cannot play in the middle, there is too much tension in the middle; you do not want to be the rope.

We must allow the Word of God to be the truth that it is when it comes to our lives and our hearts. Let it separate the dark from the light in our lives. When the Word of God says something, it is not a suggestion, “hey guys, try this out if you want, it might work.” No. God’s Word says, “whoever delights in My law and meditates on it day and night and does what it says shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf does not wither, and whatever he does shall prosper.” (Psalm 1:2-3)

The Word of God can never work in the life of someone who is not willing to be changed by it. Open your heart to receive God’s Word, His Truth; remove that stubbornness and unwillingness to believe and do what He says. I promise you that your mind, your heart, and your life will be eternally changed.
Amen.

Stop Striking Out – Matthew Nawrocki

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“Stop Striking Out”
By Matthew Nawrocki
Newberry Correctional Facility, Newberry, MI

I love the game of baseball. I love everything about it. Only when you truly understand the game and all the mental intricacies of the game can you really come to appreciate it. I was struck by some parallels between baseball and the fight we face against our adversary, the devil, and I hope you’ll come to see a new approach to that warfare.

First, baseball is altogether a team sport, however it is also very individual in its overall flow. The team all plays but each man has his own position to play just as we do in the Body of Christ (Romans 12:4-8; 1Corinthians 12:12-27).

I want to focus on one area of the game in particular, the most individual part of the game, between the pitcher and the batter. Any professional pitcher will have a scouting report for his opponents. In this day and age, the analytics are so accurate and detailed they will literally reveal every strength and weakness possibly known, so that the pitcher will have the best opportunity of getting the batter out, and hurting the team as a whole. We, as the batters, need to be aware that our opponent is no dummy, he has a scouting report on us, looking to pounce on the weak areas that we have revealed through our lives. That is his plan of attack, to avoid our strengths and target our weaknesses. His goal is to beat us and thus hurt the body.

Now the first bit of good news in all this is that the devil can read your story but he cannot write your story. We have the opportunity to decide what happens next, and next is our approach. Since we know that our opponent has a full read on our past history of successes and failures we had better know what that scouting report says ourselves. A good hitter will be wise enough to read his own scouting report and know where the pitcher will be throwing the ball and what pitches he will use in what counts in an effort to get him out. Same goes for us; it is so important that we examine ourselves so that we are not unaware of our own weaknesses and, thus, susceptible to an attack without being prepared for it.
Now when the batter’s feet hit the batter’s box he is prepared and has a good idea of what the at-bat is going to look like before it even happens. Knowing the approach of the pitcher allows him to prepare for each pitch as it comes. He knows the strategy of his opponent, which increases his chances of getting a hit.
In our battle, we, too, can be confident in the preparation we have done beforehand. Since we have examined ourselves we are already prepared for a defense of those areas, thus making our chances for success and victory greater.

Now we know that there is more work to be done, because the batter recognizes that just knowing where the pitcher is going to attack is one thing, he also needs to practice and improve those areas. If he is a bad low-ball hitter or he cannot hit a curveball for the life of him, he better get in the batting cage and practice those specific pitches/locations so that he can be prepared physically and not just mentally. For us, we must realize that only knowing our weaknesses is not going to produce great success.

We also need to put God’s Word into practice. See, the Word of God works, but it’s like deodorant; it has to be applied. We need to get into the Word and allow God to show us what His strategy is for our specific weakness and then apply it. Recognize that we cannot do it on our own but that God has promised us that His grace is sufficient, for His strength, His power, is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

See, Paul goes on to say in 2 Corinthians 12:10 that we should, “take pleasure in (our) weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that (we) suffer for Christ, for when (we) are weak, then (we) are strong.” Truth is, our enemy has already been defeated and we need to know that we win in the end. However, in those desperate moments of his attacks, for he knows his time is short (Rev. 12:12b), we can take heart that what the enemy has meant for evil in an effort to defeat us; to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10), “God meant it for good, in order to bring about as it is this day, to save many people alive (Genesis 50:20). When he points us to our weaknesses he is actually only helping to improve us; he is showing us the areas that God is trying to grow us in and he is giving us the accelerated class to get there. Praise God.

The hitter who applies the knowledge of his weaknesses, and practices to improve, becomes a more well-rounded player than he was. What was meant to get him out has only prospered his future in baseball! Thank God and praise Him that he allows the attack because His intention is to use it as a lesson for growth. God works all things together, the good and the bad, to ultimately work for our benefit and in doing that we become more like Jesus (Rom. 8:28-29). This is why we can count it all joy when we fall into trials because the testing produces (James 1:2), and that is what God is after; the fruit that we produce. This is how we glorify God, by producing much fruit (John 15:8).

My prayer is that you can take a new perspective toward your current circumstances knowing that the devil is only there to strengthen you. He may think what he’s doing is different but he is just a pawn in the hand of the chess master. God is good and for our good and he has a purpose in every difficulty. Amen.

Take Off The Mask – Matthew Nawrocki

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“Take Off The Mask”
By Matthew Nawrocki
Newberry Correctional Facility, Newberry, MI

“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.” (Hebrews 4:13)

Why do we insist on hiding our true selves? I believe it’s because we fear that people, even God, will not like the real us. We are deeply afraid of making ourselves vulnerable, by being open and honest, because of the fear of being rejected. We are all born with that deep need for approval, and acceptance; the need to be loved. So we fear rejection of any kind and, instead of taking risks, we hide ourselves so we don’t get hurt. But the truth is that God can only heal what we reveal, and so our hiding actually keeps us from finding the true healing that our souls really need!

We are in a unique time and we’ve become so advanced in technology, so involved in other people’s lives we feel we don’t measure up. We compare our everyday real life to everyone else’s social media highlight reel and it’s no wonder it causes despair, insecurity, and fear to manifest in our lives. But who are we really fooling? Others, God, or just ourselves? Most people around us know we are hiding things, and God is most certainly all-knowing; so it can really only be us. Even if we were to fool others, what have we really gained? Relationships based on lies or “half-truths” in which no real intimacy can exist? Is that going to bring us the approval we long for? Even when people do accept us we still don’t feel accepted because we know they’ve only accepted our counterfeit self.

When we hide parts of us we want no one to see, it actually keeps us from stretching and stepping out into God’s will because of fear that we may be exposed in certain situations. We need to remind ourselves, or come to realize, that God knows our hearts, every inch of them, from its highest of heights to its deepest depths. Scripture says that when He comes again, He will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and will reveal the counsels (private motives) of the heart (1 Corinthians 4:5). When light is present, all hidden things of darkness will be out in the open because when light enters the darkness it always overtakes it; the darkness cannot “comprehend it” (John 1:5). The sad truth is that when the True Light came into the world “people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed” (John 3:19-20).

See, we may not admit it, but think about it, we actually prefer darkness most of the time because it is easier not to “see” and have an excuse to sit still and remain the same; We are more comfortable with many layers on, because the thought of nakedness is too revealing and scary. We continue to add layers so that just in case some get stripped off we are still covered and defended. We end up trapping ourselves inside our own self-built, self-made walls. We end up enslaved, in prison, while thinking we’re free because nobody else knows . . . right? But whether or not anyone else knows, we’re still “locked up”, it doesn’t change the truth because we don’t see it or want to admit it, it’s still truth!

We need to open up on our own, peel back those onion-like layers, remove the false clothing we use to change our appearance so that we may spare ourselves the shame of being revealed before God, on that Day, when it is no longer on our terms, but His. Give it up! You know what that is in your own life. I believe God is revealing it to you now or has already as you were reading this; or maybe He’s been showing you but you’ve refused to act. Act! Reveal it to Him so that He can heal it and lead you into the free and abundant life He died for you to have. Amen.

What’s for Christmas (part 1 of 2) – Carl Nunnery

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“What’s for Christmas?” part 1 of 2
By Carl Nunnery
Farmington Correctional Facility, Farmington, MO

I want to start by saying what I hear to be the most popular question that is asked on December 25, the day we celebrate as Christmas. That question is:

“What are you getting for Christmas?”

The truth is, the question should not be “What are you getting?” but rather “What you got” for Christmas! The point I wish to make is this, each one of us have already received one special gift already. Do we realize it? Let me ask you eight more questions about Christmas.

Have you ever thought of Christmas as being one huge birthday celebration?
Did you know Jesus’ birth was predicted before anyone else’s in history?
Did you know that when Jesus was born (Christmas) he was the most valuable gift one could ever receive?
Do you know what that gift was or how much it cost?
Do you know why we decorate a tree and put an angel or star on top of it?
Do you know what the angel or star represent?
Do you know why we place gifts under the tree?
Do you know why Jesus was born?

These questions and more will be answered and discussed as we continue. Christmas is one of the most special days of the year. It’s loaded with a lot of smiling faces and hearts filled with joy. We have abundant love in time spent with family, friends and loved ones. The children are bouncing around everywhere showing off their new gifts they have received. Yet, in the midst of all the joy, fun, family, food and gifts, we must not lose sight of the “reason for the season,” and at what cost that was made to make this day possible, and to the awareness of the “priceless gift” that was given to us that day!

So how did Christmas begin?

By the grace of God (John 1:17)
God sent his own son to us (John 3:16)
To be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23)
To die for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3)
Who was raised to life (Romans 8:34)
To be our savior (Matthew 1:21; 1 Corinthians 15:3)
His name was Jesus Christ (John 1:17)

Jesus was a gift from God to be our savior for our sins. God knew we could not save ourselves. Ephesians 2:8 tells us, “It is the gift of God.” Before Christ we were all sinners with no hope and heading for the place prepared for sinners – hell, we had no choice!

Now, since God sent his son Jesus to us, and by what Jesus did for us on the cross, glory to God, we now have a choice and do not have to perish in hell. We can accept Jesus as the true son of God sent by God to be our savior that was born (Luke 2:11).

When Jesus came to be our savior, he saved us from the sins we carried, God came as man, that man was Jesus.

Some wonder why God/Jesus came as a human and not as God himself. There are three reasons for that:

God has no sin
God had to send his son Jesus as a human
It had to be a human (Jesus) to bear the punishment for us (humans)

This was the “good news” that the Lord’s angel came to tell the shepherds in the field (Luke 2:9-10). The good news that a savior had been born, bringing us forgiveness and hope!

Why is Christ’s birth celebrated on the 25th day of December? The true date of Jesus Christ’s birth is actually not known, but most of Christendom now accepts December 25th as the date of birth. But that one question still remains, why the 25th? I myself have often thought as to why this one special day was chosen. I’ve studied a lot of biblical dates and facts, and I will refer to a list that is called:

“Numbers of the Bible and their Meaning”

The list was numbered 1-40. As I recalled the number 25, the meaning of this number was “the forgiveness of sin.” It was then I started to put together a possibility as to why the date of 25th. I told myself, Christ was born to us as a savior from sin and its forgiveness. I started adding this together and came up with my suggested logic as to why the 25th was to be the only clear choice of a day to celebrate as Christmas.

As the Christ was born on the 25th
That day a savior was born
Christ came to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins
The number 25 in biblical meaning means “forgiveness of sins”

This is a little bit of interesting thought that I wanted to share with you about the 25th day of December.

“Christmas Day”

The exact day Jesus was born may not be known to us, but the exact day in itself is of little concern compared to the fact of why Jesus was sent to us.

When did God send Jesus to us? This gift of God was sent some 2000 years ago, and even then his name was already decided nearly 730 years before Jesus was born. In the Old and New Testaments there are over 217 names that are attributed to Jesus.

(continued in part 2)…

What’s for Christmas (part 2 of 2) – Carl Nunnery

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“What’s for Christmas?” part 2 of 2
By Carl Nunnery
Farmington Correctional Facility, Farmington, MO

(continued from part 1…)

In the Bible, God’s Word tells us that after the “fall of man” his first creation “Adam,” God told us we would be sent a savior as early as in Genesis (3:15) and has been continued to be prophesied by prophets throughout the Old Testament:

Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15)
Isaiah (Isaiah 7:14, 42:1)
Malachi (Malachi 4:2)

These are just some of the notable scriptures, but if you look at the prophecy of Christ’s birth in Isaiah (7:14) – that has come true – this was done around 735 B.C., that is 735 “Before Christ” was to be born!

The date of Jesus’ birth is approximately 4 B.C. (the calendar is based on erroneous calculations by Exiguus, who renumbered 754 of the Roman table to A.D., but whose 6th century figures were four years in error). When the angel Gabriel in Luke (1:26) announced to Joseph that Mary was with child it made it divinely announced.

Jesus was called the Christ because it was a term which showed that the “Messiah” of the Old Testament prophecies was meant. Since the birth of “Christ” the Lord in Matthew 1:18, the followers of Christ were then called “Christians” in Acts 11:26). Now we celebrate the birth of Christ on the day we call “Christmas.”

Many celebrate Christmas in different ways, but the most common tradition is that of putting up a Christmas tree. Then we put an assortment of decorations on it, then place our gifts under it.

So why the main focus of the Christmas tree? Did you know the most important history of the earth revolved around three trees?

The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 2:16-17)
The Tree of Life (Revelation 2:7)
The Tree Jesus died on (Matthew 276:32-44)

I want to share a rhyme I read concerning the cross as well as showing the deity of Christ.

“He came to die on a cross of wood,
Yet he made the hill on which it stood.”

Can you see the many comparisons in that short rhyme?

He came to die – God did not have to die as man
On a cross – the cross of wood, made of a tree
Made the hill – creator of heaven and earth
Jesus/man – the God/man

To add something more about the tree:

The Christmas tree taken from an evergreen tree
To symbolize Christ’s death on a tree for everlasting life

When we put up a Christmas tree, what does it represent to you?

The tree – as the “cross” of Jesus (made of wood)
The lights – as a “star” that led the wise men to Jesus
The angel – as Gabriel, announcing Jesus’ birth
The gifts – as wise men who came bearing gifts to Jesus

How many think of the Christmas tree in this way? I doubt many give it much thought when setting up their tree. Some even forget the true meaning of Christmas altogether.

Christmas is about giving to others as Christ was given to us by his birth. Unfortunately there are some people who are going through some hard times during the Christmas season, but whatever your difficulties may be, they need not spoil the Christmas season, for nothing can spoil Christ. We have to remember why Christ was sent:

“To Give Us Life”

A famous missionary quote by Jim Elliot was:

“He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain that which he cannot lose.”

As we read this we understand that we cannot keep our body, it is temporary, dust to dust (Genesis 3:19). But, we can gain something we cannot lose, eternal life (Hebrews 5:8).

My friends, Christmas is not about the gifts from others. Those gifts merely express their love for you, just as Christmas expresses the love of God for us by him sending us the gift of Jesus.

Jesus grew up not a rich man, but as one who faced struggles of his own. The pain and abuse he suffered for you and I to give us the right to be “sons of God” through the blood of Jesus he shed on the cross and through the resurrection of Jesus who rose from the dead three days later, that gave us our hope of our own resurrection.

The story of Jesus’ life reminds me of the writing called “Borrowed.”

Jesus born in a borrowed bed
Jesus preached in a borrowed boat
Jesus last supper in a borrowed room
Jesus crucified in a borrowed cross
Jesus buried in a borrowed tomb

How about we “borrow” some of the love of Jesus this Christmas, let Jesus know his life was not in vain and accept him as your savior that was born to you that Christmas day!

This Christmas:

Wake-up to a new life in Christ
Wake-up to the special gift God gave us

Remember that all the beautiful decorations that we hang on the Christmas tree are only a symbol of what else was hung on a tree for you and me: Jesus Christ our Savior.

Accept your free gift today! Have a Merry Christmas! Have a thankful Christmas!

So You’re in Prison (part 1 of 2) – Carl Nunnery

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“So You’re in Prison part 1 of 2”
By Carl Nunnery
Farmington Correctional Center, Farmington, MO

Why prison?

As one who has and is experiencing time in prison, and most who also have experienced being in prison would sure agree, it’s not a real nice place to be. Prisons are full of men and women who have one thing in common…they broke the law. While the crimes in which they are being punished for may vary, the consequences are the same – you must be punished!

You are sent to prison:

While prisons are for punishment/correction, not all sent to prison are guilty! If you are asking me, “Do I believe some should not be there?” then my answer is “Absolutely!” Whether it be by: miscarriage of justice, corruptness in the judicial system, political reason, or prejudice of the case itself.

Regardless of why you were sent to prison, the sad fact about this is that it happens more times than it ought in today’s society. The courts do what they feel the public wants to see! This was just the case for Jesus, an innocent man, but the public shouted “Crucify him” (Mark 15:13), so Jesus was stripped of his possessions, He was disgraced publicly, and murdered! This same treatment of the wrongfully accused has been happening as far back as recorded in Genesis 39:7-20) in the story of Joseph. He was accused of committing a sex crime against Potiphar’s wife in which he was not guilty, nonetheless, Joseph was thrown into prison without a trial.

In Romans 11:32 it says, “God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all.” Yes, some are put into prison to show their need for God in their lives, and for them to be more dependent on God for His direction and leading in their lives.

Can good come out of prison?

By now you are probably thinking, “What do the stories that you mentioned about Jesus and Joseph have to do with me being in prison? Right? Just this, they were both faithful to God! They had not fear! Both Jesus and Joseph were obedient and faithful to God even in the worst of their situations. Both are awesome examples of God’s love and mercy and how He can take a seemingly hopeless situation in your life and turn it around for His good and glory!

The good in trusting God:

Jesus knew he was innocent
Joseph knew he was innocent
Jesus knew he was going to die
Joseph knew he was going to prison
Jesus prayed “Father into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 22:14)
The Lord was with Joseph (Genesis 29:2)
The turn-around:

Jesus was raised from the dead (resurrected) and now is at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19)
Joseph became second in command in Egypt under the Pharaoh’s service (Genesis 41:40)

Thrown into prison for Jesus:

Don’t take this in the literal sense that Jesus is why you were sent to prison. It was from the choices you made or by placing yourself in a bad situation. I merely wish to express the good that can come from it! After the death and resurrection of Jesus, Jesus commanded all to, “Go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). His great commission, many who were being obedient to God’s word were thrown into prison such as:

John the Baptist – Mark 6:17 – prison
The Apostles – Acts 5:17 – prison
Stephen – Acts 7:58 – stoned
James – Acts 12:2 – killed by sword
Peter – Acts 12:6 – prison
Paul and Silas – Acts 16:23 – prison
John the Apostle – Revelation 1:9 – exiled to Patmos Island
Jesus – Luke 23:25 – crucified

Is prison your hell?

The fact remains, prisons are for punishment for crimes against the law. While some describe prison as being “hell,” it’s not even close! Yes, it is a real undesirable place to be, but prison is what you make it or allow it to be! Prison may indeed feel like hell to that person, but in all truthfulness, it’s how we choose to live while in prison and the choices we make in prison as well. It is in prison you come face to face with paying for the consequences of your actions.

Let me give you the real differences between prison and hell:

Prison = loss of freedom, temporary, surrounded by “fence,” for correction, a chance to change, for breaking human laws, you can appeal your case.

Hell = loss of freedom, eternal, surrounded by “fire,” for life, unwillingness to change, for breaking God’s laws, there is no appeal.

Wake up in prison:

It is in prison you have received a “wake-up” call. God is telling you that breaking the law (i.e. sinning) will not be tolerated and you will be punished. Now would you believe me if I told you that this wake-up call is for God because He loves you?

It is…and He does!!!
The Bible says the reason Jesus has not come already to collect His saints (saved) is because of His “longsuffering,” that He wants to give us a chance to change our ways (repent) so we will not die in our sins eternally. In 2nd Peter 3:9 it says, “The Lord is patient [or longsuffering] with you, not wanting any to perish, but all coming to repentance.” This is true in prison. It is here God wants you to recognize your sin and turn away from them (that is repentance).

(to be continued…)

So You’re in Prison (part 2 of 2) – Carl Nunnery

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“So You’re in Prison part 2 of 2”
By Carl Nunnery
Farmington Correctional Center, Farmington, MO

Help in prison:

While in prison, there are many religious programs and resources available to you that will help you seek a new direction in your life. I urge you to contact one of the many prison ministries, and to attend their church services. These wonderful men and women are dedicated to the Lord’s work and devote their time to come be with you with the goal of saving lost souls, taking you from the darkness (sin) and into the light (Jesus) and helping you find the proper direction in your lives. When you were accused of committing your crime against the law, you were arrested and brought before a “Judge” (human) who sent you to prison. It is there, if you don’t receive their “Free” spiritual help and guidance, you will face another “Judge” (God).

Satan will attack you in prison:

Yes, in prison, even if you go to church, some men will verbally attack you. These are the ones Satan uses to attack you. Jesus said in John 15:18, yes, these men will say you are weak if you go to church. Weak in the Bible refers to the meek (powerless). Let me refer you to what Jesus said on the Sermon on the Mount in his “Beatitudes” located in Matthew 5:5 where it says, “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.” These same men will say to you, “You are hiding behind the Bible.” Again, this is what the Bible tells us to do. The Bible is God’s word and our shelter and strength. Look at Ephesians 6:11 it says to, “Put on the whole armor of God.” Ephesians 6:17 says, “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit which is the word of God.” This is where Christians get their truth, strength and protection. So…who are you going to listen to!

What can church do for me in prison:

Let me clear up some misconceptions about going to church in prison. First, you must go for the right reasons. Second, just by going to church, it does not mean God will get you out of prison, even though He is able to do as done for Peter as recorded in Acts 12:6. Know this: God is not a “get out of jail free card” to be used only when you need it. The truth is, you are in prison for breaking the law and must be punished for it. Reality check my friends, you will be punished whether it be for breaking human laws or God’s laws!! As for Peter, as you read in Acts 12:6, he committed no crime other than preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. There are many good blessings that come from going to church such as:

You recognize you are a sinner (Luke 2:17)
You repent of your sins (God’s pardon) and confession unto the Lord is made (Romans 10:10)
You recognize your need for a Savior (Ephesians 5:23)
You refuse to listen to man’s evil talk and listen to God (Romans 12:9)
You receive peace, love and joy in your heart (fruit of the Spirit) (Galatians 5:22-23)
You receive a new life in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17)
You have fellowship with other believers (1 John 1:7)

Let me say this (which you may not understand now), but consider being in prison not just a wake-up call from God, but also as an act of God’s kindness! How? Read Romans 2:4 where it says, “Do you not realize God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” That’s right, a change in your ways…

Change your ways in prison:

Again let me say, “We are judged by human laws” as well as by God’s laws (commandments). In Romans 7:& it says, “If it had not been for the law, I would not know of sin.” You see, the law makes us see the error in our ways. It is the law that tells us what we are not to do, it is when we violate these laws that causes us to have error in our ways, then in Romans 13:3 it says, “If you do not want to fear authority, then do what is good.” That makes sense, doesn’t it. That pretty much says, “Obey the law and you’re in good shape!”

God’s promise in prison:

So you’re in prison, receive this wake-up call with kindness from God, who loves you enough to send it you. Turn to God and His abundant love, mercy and wisdom which He promises “shall be given to you.” Use this time to draw near to God and His ways, “obey His laws.”

In prison you can one day be released for the human laws in which you broke, but remember this, if you do not obey God’s laws, in hell your release will be denied.

Prison is not an end, but a chance for a new beginning. Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and receive this special promise. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 it says, “Anyone in Christ is a new person, the old is passed away, then all things become new.”

This is the new beginning I told you about that you can receive in prison when you receive Christ. Your future is bright – your future is promised.

Give your life to Christ in prison:

In closing, prison is a place used for people who are paying for the penalty for their crime (sins). Prisons can’t pardon you of your sins, but…

God can!!

God will!!

God promises!!

Accept Jesus Christ today (yes, in prison) if you have not already done so. Start living a new life for the Lord and not yourself. You must deny self (Matthew 16:24).

Wake up to God’s call, be alive!! Alive in Christ!!

God bless you and be “free” in prison!