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Monthly Archives: January 2018

How Important are the Words We Say? – George Walker

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“How important are the words we say?”
By George Walker
Muskegon Correctional Facility, Muskegon, MI

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof” (Proverbs 18:21).

What comes out of our mouths can change everything around us. Being children of the Most High God we have the power to bring life to any situation we speak on. Every word we say is important and we will be held accountable. Jesus tells us in Matthew 12:34-37, paraphrasing: If you are evil (hard hearted) no good thing will you speak. A good heart bringeth forth good treasures. In the day of judgment you will give account of every idle word you say. Condemnation or justified, you choose today with the words that you speak.

Our Father gave us the example in Genesis 1:3 “Let there be light and there was light.” “Let us make man in our image, our likeness and have dominion over everything and God created he, male and female created he them.” God spoke everything into existence, His words are power and truth, they are life-everlasting to those who receive and obey them.

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13:1: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” If love-(God) is not in your heart then your words are just noise. W.O.W.-Watch Our Words!

Peter tells us in 1 Peter 3:10: “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile.” If you love life and want to continue to see good days you will refrain from speaking evil. Our Father gave us the ability to choose, we are to choose life always with our words. The only way we choose life is by allowing Jesus to change our hearts because out of the heart the mouth speaks. So, with your words, choose ye today whom you will serve.

Who’s to Blame? – Carl Nunnery

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“Who’s to Blame?
By Carl Nunnery
Farmington Correctional Facility, Farmington, MO

This is a real interesting subject to talk about because the word blame means to accuse. In other words, who was at fault? When you blame someone, you are saying that they did wrong, whether they actually did or not. Putting the blame on someone else starts at a young age when kids say he/she did it and find it would keep them out of trouble. They find themselves still using that same practice to stay out of trouble. It’s usually when something has happened or went wrong that we begin to put the blame on someone else. We start playing the blame game.

We convince ourselves that it was not our fault. We start to put together the excuses to justify ourselves, like so and so made me do it; I wouldn’t have done that if it wasn’t for so and so; I wasn’t there, I was with so and so; it wasn’t me, I don’t do or like that; or I couldn’t have done that.

Honestly, if you think about it, most of us have tried or even did put the blame for something we did on someone else just to keep from taking the responsibility of our action. The truth is, some people really think they do nothing wrong by using this practice. When you do not accept the blame for your mistake, you are nothing more than a deceiver because you made someone believe something that was not true (Gen. 3:13), you are a liar because you spoke an untruth knowingly (John 8:44) or you are a sinner because we knew the right thing to do and failed to do it (James 4:17).

I can give you a good description of how blame is used by using the story of Adam and Eve in Gen. 3:6-14.

Gen. 3:6 says both ate of the tree of good and evil that they were commanded not to. Gen. 3:12 says Adam confessed and blamed the woman (Eve) then Adam goes further to blame God by saying “the woman you gave to me.” Gen. 3:14 says the woman blamed the serpent by saying “he tricked me.”

So when you call someone a deceiver and liar for putting their blame on someone else, it sounds pretty harsh, doesn’t it? The truth is, both deceiver and liar are the descriptions of the devil. There is no way to sugar coat it. When you do not take the blame for something you did and put the blame on someone else, you are using the devil’s ways.

Let’s face it, no one wants to get in trouble for something that they may have done, but some choose to avoid that at any cost, even if it means it’s at someone else’s expense. It takes a strong conviction within that person to step up and take the responsibility for the wrong they may have committed. It’s the ones who are deceitful by trying to put the blame on someone else for their wrong-doing who are the most dangerous people to be around. Why? Because sooner or later you will be their serpent. You may have even trusted that person, but when push comes to shove, you were the one who took the fall.

When you refuse to take the blame for your own actions, that is bad. But when you put your blame on someone else, that is worse. You have gone from committing one sin, which is bad, to three sins. Let me explain. First, the actual wrong that you did. Second, you blamed someone else for your wrong. Third, you sinned against that person and against God.

When someone passes the blame, they feel as if they have gotten away with their wrong because they put it on someone else. They don’t see any further repercussions. This may be true in this life, but they still have the blame. It’s hidden in their hearts. We can’t see it, but God does. Nothing is hidden from God that will not be made known, and you can believe that you will be held accountable for it (Romans 14:12, Numbers 32:23).

Think about this. On judgment day God will bring all things into remembrance, nothing will be hidden and all will be brought to light. On judgment day, you will stand before God (Romans 14:10) and He is the one who knows all and sees all. God will spare the one you put your blame on and condemn you for it. When you put your wrong on someone else and have them carry your blame, what are you doing by this act? In the Bible it is listed among the 10 commandments, recorded in Exodus 20:16 as “thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” Do you really want to test God’s ability to show you what you did while living on this earth in His temple? In John 8:32 it says, “you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” What that is saying is we know the truth which includes doing right and wrong (James 4:17) and it’s only by doing what is right that you are free — free of sin. Otherwise you have hidden unconfessed sin in your heart, putting you in bondage to sin. We all know that bondage is being restrained or held back. You are not free, not until you confess that wrong to the person you sinned against by putting your blame on them and by confessing your sin against god by breaking one of his commandments to us.

At the moment you put your blame on someone else, how does that make you feel inside? Maybe nervous, a guilty conscience, mind racing, scared, saddened, worried, fear of the truth, feeling of betrayal, rumbling in the pit of your stomach?

All of the above are telltale signs of knowing you did wrong. It’s at that point you are a wanted person in a manner of speaking. You are always looking over your shoulder to see if anyone will find out what you did. Again I ask you, are you free? Look at it this way, you are a wanted person because of your sin and God is the sheriff who always catches His man. When you do wrong, don’t put your blame on someone else. It will eventually catch up with you. So man up, it’s better to accept your own blame that is rightly due you now than to have it seek you out later. When you stop to really think about it, blame and the reason for it is because of something you did wrong. So that’s bad enough, then you compound your wrong. You take and pass your wrong onto someone else. You have caused pain and burdens to someone who was undeserving of it. You have multiplied your sins upon yourself. People do not stop to think about all the ones that are affected by the wrong they passed to his fellow man. He has done a cowardly act to protect himself and in turn hurt innocent people. I say, put the blame where it belongs.

God is merciful to the sinner. That is why He sent His own Son to bear our sins. Not one, but all of them. Jesus who took the blame for the wrongs we did. Jesus who was without sin and who was blameless, He took our blame and punishment for us.

My friends, don’t compound your sins by blaming someone else for them. Give it to God and as strange as it may sound, you will feel a lot better for it. I say that because you know in your heart it is the right thing to do; you don’t have to carry guilt for it, you did not affect anyone else for your wrong doing; and you put the blame where it belongs.

Regardless of what you may think, honesty is the best policy. Blaming someone else for your wrong doesn’t get you away with anything for which you did. You still suffer God’s wrath for what you did and trying to hide it from him. Blame goes to the guilty. Put it where it belongs.

The Real Life – Carl Nunnery

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“The Real Life”
By Carl Nunnery
Farmington Correctional Facility, Farmington, MO

When someone asks you “What is life about?” or they ask, “What should we do in life?” it should only take you a moment to think of several things. They are: we see our pets and other animals; we walk, talk, laugh and cry; we go to the lake where we fish, swim and camp; we celebrate birthdays and holidays; we go out to eat or see a movie; we go to work, school or stores to shop; we see doctors for our sickness; we read books, watch TV or listen to music; we see flowers, plants and trees, we see births and we see deaths.

All of the above are just some of the examples of one thing — life. How many times do you take these things for granted? How many times do you take your own life for granted? Do you think good times or things will last forever? The truth is, there are a natural life (Gen. 2:7) and an eternal life (Romans 2:7).
So, how would you define life? It is simply defined as the interval between birth and death. Our natural life is how we live on earth, and it is how we live this life that will determine if you will have an eternal life. In Jeremiah 21:8, it says, “thus says the Lord: see, I am setting before you the way of life, and the way of death.”
God’s word is right up front with us. God made us an offer of life or death and has given each of us the choice to choose which one it will be. Whether it is the life of a newborn baby or a new car, both do have a life expectancy, and both alike have to be given the proper treatment to achieve the fullest or productive life possible. That means the life of something could either be short or it could be extended by how you are for it.

Here is the reality of life. All things will eventually perish on earth. In 2nd Peter 3:10 it says, “it will be dissolved or consumed with fire.” This is with the exception of your natural life, which has the choice to be extended to eternity or an everlasting life. In John 6:30 it says, “that all who believe in the Son (Jesus) may have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day.”

In John 3:14 it says, “you have passed from death to life.” Life is meant to be eternally for God’s children. This choice is in your hands, to live or die. You see, how you live today will determine how you will die later. God has shown us what we must do to receive this life. In Psalms 16:11 it says, “you show me the path of life, in your presence there is fullness of joy. In your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” God has shown us what He has offered each one of us.

A good proverb (Prov. 11:30) describes it like this: The fruit of righteous is the tree of life, but violence takes lives away.”

It is the choice on how one chooses to live their life. So many today live their lives as blind people. Stumbling around in the dark, they are unaware of the dangers that lie before them. Think about this, as parents, we wish our children a good life as well as wish they did not have to die. This is the same desire that God has for each one of us. Yes, life can be trying and even difficult at times, but you are not alone. Jesus also had his trials and temptations. He knows what we go through. This is why He gives us the strength to overcome and the power to resist our temptations.

Don’t take life as a matter of you live then you die. Don’t gamble with your life. Yes, we have hard knocks. Yes, we have questions of “is life fair?” Yes, we wonder why things happen. These are all good common questions and they are all answered in God’s own words. In Isaiah 55:8 His words say, “my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways.” It’s according to God’s will for us and in His own timing.

The main question we should ask ourselves is this. If your life on earth ended today, can you say you lived a life for God.” Can you say you have no unconfessed sin? Can you say you will receive eternal life?

Now, here is a little trivia. This is kind of a chart I worked up using the numbers of the Bible and their meaning. In the last three pages, I’ve used the word earth three times: how we live our lives on earth, where the earth will be consumed by fire, and if your life on earth ended today. I think we can agree that another name for earth is, in fact, world.

According to the Bible numbers and meaning: the number 4 means world. Now if you take the number of continents in the world, you would come up with 7 of them. The number 7 means spiritual perfection/completeness. Now if you multiply 4 x 7, you get 28. The number 28 means eternal life.

The number 7, which meant spiritual perfection and completeness makes it understandable that it would imply eternal life since that is completeness in the spiritual realm.

Some say you only have one life to live. This is only true in the natural/physical realm. This is because they are not looking at the whole picture. You might say they left the picture in the middle of the movie, they did not see the end of the show that will involve the life of the spiritual supernatural realm.

Life on earth offers many blessings to us, but it also offers many pitfalls and snares as well. You should never live your life to please yourself, and I put an emphasis on the word self. Living for yourself should never be a part of your life. This is Satan’s way, not God’s way. Life is the most fragile thing on earth and we are in control of it in our life.

Let me take you back to Genesis 1:26 when God created man. In Genesis 2:7, He gave him life. Did you know there was no sin? Absolutely none. Man brought this by his disobedience to God. It was from that point in life that being with God in eternity was not a guarantee. It had to be something earned by obedience to God and how you lived your life. What Adam and Eve did show us is how they fell for the lies and deception of Satan and for the things that were pleasing to their eyes. How we live our lives must never be done with your eyes, but with your heart. Satan knows how to make things look pleasing to the eye, but they are deceptions to get you to disobey God and to cause you to choose things to live for self or to live for the things out of lust of the eye.

So I remind you, from the very beginning of creation we were born to live, but it was through man’s own carelessness and disobedience to God and their disregard for life that we now live in a life that God does not desire for us — to die.

So I tell you, life is God’s creation, it matters very much, is eternally your choice and is a matter of how you live now.

The tree of life is found nowhere on earth, but yet it is while we are on earth it is offered to us. So when it comes to life — your life — don’t miss your opportunity to receive it. God sent His Son Jesus to offer you life more abundantly. By accepting Jesus Christ as your savior you can receive life.

Trying to save a life isn’t wasting your life. The free gift of God was paid for by Jesus, who gave his own life for you (Romans 6:23).

The Bible: More Than a Book (Part 2 of 2) – Carl Nunnery

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“The Bible: More Than a Book (Part 2 of 2)”
By Carl Nunnery
Farmington Correctional Center, Farmington, MO

The big question that is most frequently asked is, “If the Bible is God’s word, who wrote it?” While God did not physically write the Bible and its contents, the fact remains these are his holy words. We know God is spirit (John 4:24) and God is called holy and true (Rev. 6:10). God speaks to us through his Holy Spirit. In the early days it has been recorded God speaking in:

Gen. 3:13 – God spoke to Eve
Gen. 4:6 – God spoke to Cain
Ex. 3:4 – God spoke to Moses in the burning bush
Gen. 7:1 – God spoke to Noah

The list could go on and on of God speaking to us. The point is, God spoke verbally as well as through his Holy Spirit as he does to us now. Wanting to know who wrote the Bible is a legitimate question of curiousness. This question can best be explained like this. Many times I have had someone come to me and ask me if I would write a letter to his family because he could not write. So he told me what he wanted to say. It was his words I was writing down for him. The same is true of God and his Holy Spirit. He selected various human writers from all walks of life. It was God’s Holy Spirit that told them what to say. In 2 Peter 1:20 it says, “No prophecy ever came by human will, but by men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke to them from God.”

God used 40 different men with different backgrounds to write his words. It took these men over 1600 years to complete so it’s obvious these 40 men were not alive at the same time period, yet what they individually wrote they all agree with what they say. In other words, they all confirmed each other’s writings as truth.

The Bible started being written by Moses with the first five books of the Bible around 1500 years before Christ and the Bible ends with Revelation written by the Apostle John on Patmos Island around 90 A.D. If you do the math, as of this date, the Bible is over 3500 years old. This in itself speaks volumes in its longevity alone. In the 1600 years, the Holy Bible which includes the Old Testament and the New Testament, has a total of 66 books. There are 39 books in the O.T. and 27 books in the N.T.

Jesus confirms the 39 book so of the O.T. in Luke 24:44 where it says, “These are the words that I spoke to you while I was with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Again in Matthew 25:35 where Jesus talks of the Old Testament and confirms it by talking of how Abel was killed (Genesis 4:8) and how Zacharias was slain (2 Chr. 24:20-21).

The Bible speaks of things to come (prophecy) in the Old Testament while in the New Testament it shows us that prophecy is fulfilled as well as it gives us some prophecy that has yet to be fulfilled, such as the return of Jesus (Rev. 22:20). The word “prophecy” is a message or prediction.

The hero of the Bible from beginning to end is the Lord Jesus Christ (Col. 1:17). The writers of the Old Testament kept saying: “He’s coming.” The writers of the New Testament kept saying: “He has come.” The end of the Bible says: “He’s coming again.”

About 190 years after completing the writing of the Hebrew Bible, it began to be written to include ten different versions. They are:

1. The Septuagint — the oldest version begun around 280 B.C.
2. Minor Greek versions — 2nd century A.D.
3. The Targums — for Jews who no longer read Hebrew
4. The Syriac — for Christians of Syria
5. Old Latin versions — used in Africa
6. The Vulgate — in 1546 the Council of Trent declared this be the Roman Catholic version
7. The Coptic version — an Egyptian version with three dialects
8. The Ethiopic — finished in the 7th century in various dialects
9. Gothic versions — made in 4th century by Wulfila
10. The Ancient Versions: Arabic, Armenian, Georgian, Slavonic

Different versions are still being written to this day and are the same words as first written only they are written to assist you in understanding as well as other speaking languages.

By reading the Bible you will become more and more excited as you gain understanding of how God was involved in their lives as he still is in ours today. You will learn that while times have change, God has not! His words and his message are still the same. In the Bible you learn so many truths, such as: what man was created for, who the faithful men were who spread the gospel, what happens to those who sin, how God gives us life, what we must do to obtain eternal life, and the truth about heaven and hell, life and death, and true love!

The Bible is not only a learning book, but it is also a weapon for us to use. It is a defense against Satan’s attacks. You can read in Matthew 4:4, 6-7, 10 how Jesus defended himself against Satan by quoting scriptures. The Bible is the only book you will read that is meant for you personally — it is a book of truth and love!

Let God’s word open your eyes, mind and heart. The Bible is loaded full of wisdom that is available to all of those who diligently seek it. Some thought may be given to the word “Bible” and how some look at its meaning:

B – basic
I – instructions
B – before
L – leaving
E – earth

Trust me when I say that we will all leave this earth one day. It’s up to you to decide how! There is a way up (heaven) and there is a way down (hell). Read the Bible for your instructions!

The Bible: More Than a Book (Part 1 or 2) – Carl Nunnery

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“The Bible: More Than a Book (Part 1 of 2)”
By Carl Nunnery
Farmington Correctional Center, Farmington, MO

At the very beginning of the Bible, the first words written are in Genesis 1:1 and it says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and earth.” Then going to the 4th book in the New Testament which is the last of the gospels you can find John 3:16 where it says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” Then we can go to the very last book in the Bible where you can find Revelation 21:1 where it says, “Then I saw a new heaven and new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.”

These are just three of the well-known scriptures in the Bible. The first one in Genesis shows the creation of God. The second one is in John. In this book the main purpose is to demonstrate what real faith in Jesus Christ is. It is for this reason the noun “faith” never occurs. On the other hand, the verb “to believe” is very frequent. The book of John shows God’s salvation to man. The third one is Revelation and it shows the new home for those who have accepted God’s salvation to man through his son Jesus Christ. What can we learn from just these three verses?

The Bible is the written words of God but what does that mean? It means that the words you will read are true and you can believe them since they are from a God “who never lies” as recorded in Titus 1:2. It’s awesome to be able to read these words of God for our understanding and learning as well as our promise and hope. All of this and so much more has been written down and put into a book for us. In the Bible you can read of all of those who have come before us starting with the creation of Adam and Eve to those who have sacrificed their lives to enable you to read it for yourself. The Bible tells you about:

The first man and woman – Adam and Eve (Gen. 1:27)
Who Satan was and now is and what he does (Gen. 3:1)
The flood, the plagues, kings, the Ten Commandments
The Old Testament prophets
The Acts of the Apostles
The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ
The end of times and what will come to pass (2 Peter 3:10)
The fight between good and evil (Isa. 5:20; Rev. 21:1)
The new kingdom of God – the new Jerusalem (Rev. 21:1)

The Bible tells us of God’s fight to rid the world of sin and how he lays out his plan for salvation and what he expects of us as well as how we are to live our lives.

God speaks of: love, mercy, forgiveness, and judgment.

Nowhere else can you read the true words of God that were written down in the book we call the Bible. Because they are God’s words and God is holy. In Leviticus 19:2 it says, “For I the Lord your God am holy.” Again, we call this book “The Holy Bible” or “God’s Word.” The Holy Bible is the oldest book still read to this day, it is the most published book, and it is the most widely owned book. Now we come to the topic of where did the Bible come from and how did we get it. This can be best understood by first giving you some history of the Bible itself.

The word “Bible” is a Greek word “Biblia” which means little scrolls. The word of God was first written on scrolls. These scrolls were made either of leather or papyrus then rolled into a cylinder papyrus is a long stem reed grass found in the Nile Region. This grass was formed into paper in which God’s word was written. Some of these scrolls have been found in caves located south of Jericho near the Dead Sea and have become known as “The Dead Sea Scrolls.” On these scrolls were found to contain: 2 scrolls of Isaiah, Habakkuk, and fragments of all the Old Testament books. These Dead Sea Scrolls are the oldest manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible. So why was it then called the Hebrew Bible? That is because at the time they were written the Hebrew language was the ancient tongue of Israel, just as when the New Testament was written in Greek it was due to that being the world tongue of the first century.

Now we come to the question of why the Bible was written? First, it was because it was a command by God. In Exodus 17:14 it says, “The Lord said to Moses, write this as a reminder in a book. Second, the Bible tells us the story of man’s complete ruin in sin and God’s perfect remedy in Christ. In Psalm 12:6-7 it says, “The words of the Lord are pure words, and that we shall keep the words of the Lord and shall preserve them from this generation forever.” In Job 19:23 it says, “Oh that these words are written down! Oh that they were inscribed in a book!” You might say God gave us our first school book in learning. In Isaiah 34:16 it tells us to “seek and read from the book of the Lord.”

The Bible is considered to be the standard of faith and practice. In the collections of writings in the Bible in the technical sense it is referred to as Scriptures. The Bible as our school book and God as our teacher is well said in 2 Timothy 3:16 where it says, “all scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, correction, and training in righteousness.” The Bible is also a huge history book.

Continued…

Luck or a Miracle – Carl Nunnery

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“Luck or a Miracle”
By Carl Nunnery
Farmington Correctional Facility, Farmington, MO

You’re so lucky. This seems to be our favorite saying when something good happens to someone when they either get what they want or something good happens to them. But I ask you, was it luck or was it a miracle?

Do you know or realize the difference? First, let’s look at lick. This means it happens by chance, or good fortune. It takes no skill or thought, it’s just a good thing that may have went your way, a win at bingo to getting a hit on the ballgame. So many try to manufacture their own luck by having one of the following: a lucky penny, their hat or clothes, a horse shoe, a rabbit’s foot, a four leaf clover or a friend.

The list goes on and on. It’s what most of us call superstitious. They never consider the supernatural. The supernatural is a sign of God’s power, the manifestation of God himself. This supernatural event is what the Bible calls a miracle.

A miracle was not only used to show God’s divine power, but may have provided a need. This need could be an individual need or a divide will of God. To give you an idea of this difference, an individual need is food, clothes, a car or a job. Divine will is a person in your life, gifts, healing, being spared tragedy.

You may ask, “what is the importance of being able to distinguish luck from if miracle if they are both a good thing to have happen to you?” The point to be made is this – nothing happens by chance.

In Eph. 1:5, it says “having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself according to the good pleasure of His will.” To predestinate means this: in everything you do, receive or have happened to you, it has been planned out even before time began. We were created by God, for God and for his purpose as his children. This being said, God also gives us something called free will. This is what goes against His will, the right to make our choices which leads to the lost being found. You see, God has a plan – to save the lost. The lost who have been saved can and do become effective witnesses for God and His glory.

Now you ask, “How does predestination fit in with luck or miracles?” Remember that predestination is planned out before hand. God gives us all and everything we need. It’s the free will in how we choose to accept it or use it. It comes down to this: was it luck as you see it or was it the will of God?

James 1:17 tells us “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.” Did you notice the word “every” in the verse? What some call luck they are overlooking it as a gift from God, and in all things we are to be thankful to God for the things we have or receive.

You are probably saying, “Then why do bad people receive good things?” Remember, we are all God’s children and He wants us to be good stewards of the gifts He gives us or the things He may provide, and, as such, use it for His glory. It is true some don’t, but many do. These are the ones God uses to be an example to the rest. While some feel lucky, they should in fact be thankful.

God does not ever give up on us to change our ways to see His goodness and many blessings He gives or provides for us each and every day. God knows our needs and He can provide for these needs in the most unexpected time or way.
A miracle or luck? Think about it this way: we are lucky to have a loving God and it’s a miracle he still loves us enough to send His Son to die for us while we were the actual sinners, not the Son He sent.

Here is some food for thought: God made a miracle in creation of the world (Gen. 1;1); God made a miracle by sending the plagues (Exodus 7); God made a miracle by parting the Red Sea (Exodus 14:21); God made a miracle for the fall of Jericho (Joshua 6:6); God made a miracle making the sun and moon stand still (Joshua 10:12); and many more.

We see many miracle of God. Nowhere does God tell us He will provide for us if we are lucky.

So next time you feel lucky, you should feel God’s presence and His provisions to you. Don’t confuse luck with something God provided for you.

In Ephesians 5:20 it says, “giving thanks always for all things unto God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God is the only miracle worker. Give thanks to Him who provides them in your life.

Independence Day – Carl Nunnery

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“Independence Day”
By Carl Nunnery
Farmington Correctional Center, Farmington, MO

Once a year we celebrate a day with a festival we call “Independence Day,” which is recognized on the 4th of July. Nearly all people are given this day off from their jobs to join in the celebration. It is a happy day that is filled with: family and friends, fireworks, camping, and barbecues.

We are all aware of why we celebrate this day from the years we spent in school and taught in History class. Now I want to expand on how some use the term independence day. Think about the many ways it is used such as: moving out on your own, getting a bitter divorce, your retirement, etc.

Most people don’t give a thought to a special independence day we have. It is the victory over death and the victory over Satan. Both these victories were for us. You see, on the day we were born, we were born into a sinful race, and as such, doomed to die. In John 8:24 it says, “We will die in our sins unless we believe.”

My friends we celebrate the 4th of July for a fight for our freedom that gave us our independence, and back over 2000 years ago, another battle was fought and won for us. Jesus defeated Satan and passed this victory to us if we believe.

Jesus defeated death by his resurrection and passed this victory to us. No we didn’t hear the “pops” of fireworks at this victory, but nonetheless a true victory for all who believe.

Just as we have men and women who join the military service to protect our freedom at home, some have lost their lives in this fight and have shed their precious blood for this fight. We thank our men and women in this service, and rightly deserved, but the victory Jesus gave us is the ultimate victory, and we must give him our thanks for it.

My friends, I’m not taking anything away from those who fought and gave their lives in the battle for our freedom and independence, but with the ultimate victory Jesus gives us will enable us to one day be reunited with them in the land of glory. The ones who believe in Jesus’s death and resurrection will be the victors.

We call our victory “Independence Day” and it is celebrated on the 4th of July. The victory Jesus gave us over death is a spiritual victory, and it is known as Easter or Day of Resurrection.

Easter is not known as a day of independence but that is exactly what it is. Jesus defeated death and he rose from the dead on that day. We received many gifts in that victory, let me give you just a few of the examples received: life (victory over death), a savior, a comforter, a mediator, the indwelling Holy Spirit, to be joint heirs with Christ.

When we celebrate our Independence Day on July 4th be mindful of the most important victory won for each of us. This victory gave us the power over Satan; it has given us the power over evil; it has given us life over death!! It has given us “life” eternally.

If you want proof of God’s own fireworks, consider this: God’s “lightning” to light up the sky (Matt. 24:27); God’s “thunder” that shakes the ground (2 Samuel 22:14); God’s “clouds” that appear as smoke (Revelation 1:7).

These are just some reminders of his ultimate power and victory won for us. So when you go and buy fireworks to celebrate the 4th of July remember this: while we come up with roman candles and sparklers, God gave us a cross and nails!

Let us not forget our true independence day that Jesus fought for us and won. Let us not forget the cost of that victory, his blood and his life!

God bless you all and most of all:

Have a Happy Independence Day!

Hide and Seek – Carl Nunnery

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“Hide and Seek”
By Carl Nunnery
Farmington Correctional Facility, Farmington, MO

“3, 2, 1, ready or not, here I come.” Sound familiar? This was a catchy saying we said a lot as children while playing the game “hide and go seek.” We would hide in groups while one selected person would come and try to find you. Most people do not realize they are still playing this game in their adult lives. As children, we learned we could hide from someone and not be found by the seeker. Adults still play this same way, only the seeker is God. In childhood, it was fun and games. Now in our adult lives, it is life or death.

The ones doing the hiding now are the ones hiding in their sins and thinking they cannot be found. In Genesis 3:8 we read about two people who thought they could hide from the seeker (God) after their sin in eating the forbidden fruit. This was the case of Adam and Eve. What we learned from this is that God is omnipresent, which means He is everywhere. In Ezekiel 28:3 it says “No secret is hidden from you.” Trying to hide from God is like trying to hide from your own shadow — it can’t be done.

Jesus in his gospels recorded the truth about God. In Mark 4:22 Jesus said, “for there is nothing hidden except to be disclosed. Nor is anything secret that is to come to light.”

God has been the seeker since creation after the first sin where he says “I will seek that which is lost (Ezek. 34:16). It seems the more God seeks and the harder He tries, the sinner tries not to be found. God wants the sinner to be the seeker.
Psalms 10:4 says “the wicked will not seek after God, and God is not in their thoughts.” This is due to their belief that their sins are hidden — even with the many recorded scriptures that plainly tell us the result of sin. In Romans 6:23 it says, “the wages of sin is death.”

God desires all men to come to repentance, to seek Him and His kingdom (Rev. 22:20). Jesus says, “surely I am coming soon.” When Jesus comes, he will collect His saints. It is not God’s desire that any should perish (2nd Peter 3:9).
God tells us to seek him while He can be found. Sinners are living a temporary life and will die in their sins. Why? In Numbers 15:39 it says, “seek not after your own heart and your own eyes.” This is saying sinners are living in the flesh and they desire things of this world. Satan is the God of this world. God’s kingdom is above.

In Colossians 3:1 Paul says “seek the things that are above.” It is right now we can seek God through His son Jesus Christ. We are given warnings why we should seek God now, such as “you will search for me but you will not find me (John 7:34). What this means is when Jesus returns, it will be too late to seek Him then. So you ask, what if I do wait until Christ returns, then seek him? Proverbs 1:28 says “they will call upon me and I will not answer. They will seek me but will not find me. That scripture should shake you out of your boots. It should wake you up.

We are not promised tomorrow. God can return at any time — day or night. God has been seeking you. I urge you to seek Him while He can be found. Deuteronomy 4:29 says, if you seek the Lord God, you shall find Him.” Here is why that is so important. In Proverbs 8:17 it says, “those that seek me early shall find me.” Don’t wait until the last minute to be saved. Be brought into the light (Jesus). There is no reason to hide any more. Trust me when I say that God knows where you are and what you are doing.

You are only grieving Him because He knows your fate and you are denying yourself His abundant love in His everlasting kingdom to come. Being saved does not mean you have to give up all the good things in life — just your sinful ones. God will show you the good things in life. They are free.

So I urge you, come out of your darkness. Stop thinking you are hiding. You are only deceiving yourself. Accept Jesus Christ today as your Savior. Tell Him you have been hiding in your sins and want to be found. Tell Jesus you are a hiding sinner and to pull you out of your hiding place.

All of us have sinned, made mistakes or bad choices, but here is the abundant love and mercy God has. He will forgive them all and remember them no more. God will remove all your fears that have caused you to hide.

God will open a new door, show you the light and show you a new way. His word is truth. Who do we thank for this invitation? Jesus.

Come out, come out, wherever you are.

He Started It – Carl Nunnery

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“He Started It”
By Carl Nunnery
Farmington Correctional Center, Farmington, MO

Anytime two people argue or when they are caught fighting with each other, what is the classic excuse that you hear them say? You guessed it, “He started it!” It seems when one gets in trouble, they are quick to shift the blame to the other. No one wants to admit their fault. I’ve seen many times, in most cases, they start with what one or the other may have said to provoke it. In Proverbs 15:1 it says, “A soft answer turns away wrath.” We can usually control a situation by what we say or how we say it, even the tone of your voice can be a contributing factor in how one may respond back to you.

When someone says, “He started it,” that may have been true, but you can quickly put out that fire by how you talk back to them. If you respond back in haste, you are putting fuel on the fire and will soon burn out of control. Some true statements are: “that you are in charge of your own destiny” and “say what you mean and mean what you say.” You should let what you say come from your heart and not of retaliation toward them. Think about this one, “one who puts out a fire is better than one who starts them!”

In all situations, cooler heads prevail! In Colossians 4:6 it says, “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer every man.” That kind of goes along with an old saying, “think before you speak.” Have you ever said something to someone, that after you said it you wish you could take it back? I think that we can all say “we’ve been there, done that!” What causes someone to say the wrong thing or to shoot back an insult to someone?

Maybe…

They don’t want to be seen as weak
They try to outdo them in words
They have to get the last word in
They speak out of anger, not their heart
They have too much bad pride
They may be embarrassed that others hear it (shown-up)

The list goes on, but the fact remains, they try to justify their actions for lashing back at them (excuses). So when two people argue, who wins? The answer is, neither of them do!

You both broke one of God’s greatest commandments. In John 15:12 it says, “This is my commandment that you love one another as I loved you.” Love comes from the heart, God is love, and God dwells in every believer. In James 1:19 the writer says, “Be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” That pretty much says it all doesn’t it?

Swift to hear, be ready to listen. Slow to speak, think before you speak. Slow to anger, you avoid conflict.

My friends, getting the last or better word in is not all it’s cracked up to be. Don’t create a new enemy for yourself, we already have Satan as our biggest and worst enemy. Don’t allow Satan to use you in his work!

Remember the saying: “He started it” does not work with God, he already knows.

What you start, God will finish!

The One Thing You Lack – Matthew Nawrocki

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“The ‘One Thing’ You Lack”
By Matthew Nawrocki
Newberry Correctional Facility, Newberry, MI

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you thought to yourself, “If I just had this or that I’d be satisfied?” I know I have. Most of the time we come to realize that it brought us temporary satisfaction for an hour, a day, a week, a month, maybe even a year or two, but it wasn’t quite the satisfaction to end all satisfactions that we thought it would be.

The truth is, we all feel that void – that longing, that pull that’s begging the question I once asked myself, “Is this all there is?” C.S. Lewis once said that if there’s a longing or a desire, then there’s something that has been created to fill it. If it’s a square hole, there’s a square object that perfectly fits it. The fact that we feel hunger or thirst lets us know that there is something that was created to fill it, even if you don’t have it or can’t see it at that moment. We know it to be true because we have food for hunger and water for thirst. The same is true for internal voids like purpose, love, and some unexplainable voids we cannot even put into words.

It reminds me of the story in Matthew 19:16-22 about the rich young ruler who came to Jesus and asked, “What good thing must I do that I may have eternal life?” He had a lot of everything, but still knew there to be more, something greater than the material and superficial. The dialogue continues and ends with the young man essentially saying, “I’ve done all that. What is it that I still lack?” He was struggling; maybe not to the naked eye, but he was lost and searching for answers. He was struggling to feel fully satisfied, so he asked Jesus how he could have eternal life.

Eternal – something that would always be there. Everlasting – never to go away. It’s no surprise he felt it, or even that we do, too, for the Bible tells us that “God has put eternity in our hearts” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). It was a desire created by God to cause us to search for Him and desire the eternity He has created for us – to find the square block for the square hole.

In Mark’s gospel account of this story, it says in Mark 10:21, “Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘One thing you lack…'” That phrase reminded me of another story with a similar plot. In the story of Mary and Martha, Jesus tells Martha in Luke 10:42, “But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” The one thing Mary did was she “sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word” (Luke 10:39). She was worshipping Him, spending time with Him, knowing that the work her sister was doing could wait a few minutes.

Don’t lose sight that God knows you and just like He did with the rich young ruler, “looking at you, He loves you.” He saw the ruler for his real struggle, he knew his heart; and he knows ours. Unfortunately the young ruler let his great and many possessions get in the way of him receiving what he came to Jesus looking for.

What is that thing or things that are in the way in your life? Really think about it. Is it possessions, wealth, relationships, fear, doubt, worry, activities, work, or a way-too busy schedule? Know that even though we’ve missed the mark, He is still there for us during our “seasons” where we allow “things” to get in our way of being with Him and getting closer to Him – the one thing that matters in this life. We can end the battle today, we can sit at His feet like Mary did, listening intently to His every breath, His every word. He told us, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from me, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29).

The sad reality is that the answer is right there in front of us. Jesus promises to fill that void, but because it doesn’t fit our comfortable, convenient life and will be a sacrifice or because we don’t “feel it” or want to change because it’s painful and difficult, we, too, walk away “sorrowful” (Matthew 19:22) just like the rich young ruler did, even though he left with the same exact things he showed up with. He wanted something to fill what he knew was lacking, or missing, in his life, but when he realized what it would cost him to gain it, he went away sad.
I wonder how many times we’ve done the same thing. I’ll let Jesus have the final word here as he leaves us with a powerful thought and question. “Anyone who intends to come with Me has to let Me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow Me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, My way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?” (Matthew 16:24-26, The Message Translation).