The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection for the week of June 18-24, 2017, is 1 Kings 18:17-18. This short passage is an exchange between Ahab, king of Israel, and Elijah, a prophet of the Lord. Ahab and Elijah were opponents, with one worshipping Baal, and the other worshiping the Lord God. In their first recorded meeting, Elijah told Ahab that Israel would have no more rain until Elijah allowed it. Then Elijah left the country! Now, the two men meet again, seven years later.
When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father's house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the Lord and followed the Baals. (1 Kings 18:17-18, ESV)
Israel was in a severe drought. It had not rained for seven years! Ahab blamed Elijah for the drought, and all the problems caused by the drought, calling him a “troubler of Israel.” But Elijah called out Ahab, reminding Ahab that the problems of Israel stem from Ahab and his house, who no longer worship the Lord. Elijah statement still stands today. Those who follow the Lord are repeatedly blamed for problems that countries experience, because they refuse to abandon the commandments of the Lord. Followers of the Lord are still, thousands of years later, considered troublers! We are called to follow the Lord and obey His commandments at all times, not just when it is convenient. Without the Lord, without troublers, society would rapidly degrade into complete immorality and chaos. As you meditate on, pray over, and reflect upon this week’s verse, consider your daily actions. Are you a troubler?
June 24, 2017: Daily Bible Reading Commentary for Luke 13-14
Click here for the reading
Commentary: In God’s eyes, all sin is equal and everyone will die for their sin. We must repent of our sin now, before it is too late. On the Sabbath, Jesus healed a woman and rebuked the Pharisees. With the parable of the mustard seed, Jesus taught that a little good, or a little bad, can spread far. Salvation does not come through works; we cannot be “good enough.” To be saved, we must accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior and repent of our sins. We should be concerned about the needs of others, not our own social status and act with humility. We must seek His will for our life and rely upon Him.
Focus Verses: 13:10-16 Who was right and who was wrong? Why? What can you learn from this exchange?
Updated: Monday, June 19, 2017 2:07 pm EDT
Steven Lynn Long's execution was scheduled to occur at 6 pm CDT, on Wednesday, June 28, 2017. His execution has been rescheduled to Wednesday, August 30, 2017. Forty-five-year-old Steven is convicting of raping and murdering 11-year-old Kaitlyn Briana Smith on May 21, 2005, in Dallas, Texas. Steven has spent the last 11 years of his life on Texas’ death row.
According to testimony at his trial, Steven’s mother, by her own admission, neglected her children. She would frequently take them to bars and leave them sitting in the car. She also threatened to take and leave them in an orphanage if they misbehaved. Steven was arrested several times a child, misbehaved at school, and suffered from anxiety attacks. As he grew older, his attacks became more violent; once threatening his mother with a knife and physically assaulting his daughter. While serving time for attempted murder, Steven alleges he was sexually abused by another inmate. Prior to his arrest, Steven worked on refrigerators.
On May 20, 2005, 11-year-old Kaitlyn Smith went over to her neighbor’s house to spend the night. The following morning, it was discovered that she was missing. Following that discovery, a search of the neighborhood commenced. Kaitlyn’s grandfather noticed that the skirting around a vacant home had been disturbed. Upon further investigation, he found Kaitlyn’s body beneath the house.
A bloody fingerprint was found near her body. The fingerprint matched that of Steven Long, who had also been staying the night in the same house as Kaitlyn. An autopsy revealed that Kaitlyn had been violently sexually assaulted for a prolonged period of time. Long confessed to killing and raping Kaitlyn shortly after police arrested him.
Please pray for peace and healing for the family of Kaitlyn Smith. Please pray for strength for the family of Steven. Please pray that if Steven is innocent, lacks the competency to be executed, or should not be executed for any other reason that evidence will be provided prior to his execution. Please pray that Steven will come to find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already.
June 23, 2017
IDPN 2017 Issue 25
Bahrain: A man has been sentenced to death for his part in a car bomb explosion that killed a mother and her three children. Another individual was sentenced to life in prison. The women’s car was struck by shrapnel from a bomb. At least ten individuals were involved in the bombing, which is believed to have been targeting police. Instead the bomb exploded when a private vehicle was passing.
China: Over the past several years, it has come to light that many scientific research papers have, in some way, committed research misconduct. The courts have now become involved and have announced that scientist who fabricate data could face stiff jail sentences or even the death penalty.
A 26-year-old woman has been sentenced to death, with a two-year reprieve, for trafficking drugs. The woman had previously been given a prison term for drug trafficking, but has avoiding serving her terms.
India: Forty-seven-year-old Eknath Kisan Kumbharkar has been sentenced to death for the murder of his daughter. Eknath defended the murder, arguing that it was a honor killing; his daughter had married a man outside of their caste. He also received a 10-year rigorous prison term for killing an unborn child. His daughter was pregnant at the time of the murder. Eknath was sentenced to death by a court in Nashik.
Myanmar: Tun Naing, a self-proclaimed “exorcist,” has been sentenced to death for murdering three children by beating them to death. He beat the three children - aged 3 years, 2 years, and 8 months - in an attempted to rid their bodies of evil spirits. Tun reportedly gave family members and villagers “blessed” water and placed them in a “trance” before killing the children while they watched. Tun has been sentenced to death by hanging. The last execution in Myanmar took place in 1988.
United Arab Emirates: Thirty-year-old Jennifer Dalquez has had her death sentence reduced to five years. Jennifer, a Philippine maid, was convicted in 2015, for the murder of her employer in December of 2014. Jennifer alleged that the murder was self-defense, as her employer was attempting to rape her. A court has now found in her favor, acquitting her of the murder charge. She was, however, sentenced to five years in prison, with credit for time served, for stealing the cell phone of her employer after she killed him.
Updated: Monday, June 19, 2017 2:06 pm EDT
William Charles Morva is scheduled to be executed at 9 pm EDT, on Thursday, July 6, 2017, at the Greenville Correction Center in Jarrett, Virginia. Thirty-four-year-old William is convicted of the murder of 32-year-old Derrick McFarland and 40-year-old Corporal Eric Sutphin in August of 2006, in Blacksburg, Virginia. William has spent the last nine years of his life on Virginia’s death row.
According to those who knew William, his behavior changed following the death of Charles Morva, William’s father, in 2004. Prior to 2005, William was a drifter, having no permanent address, and was a self-proclaimed survivalist, who preferred to go without shoes, and often spoke of spending the nights in the woods.
In 2005, William Morva was in jail awaiting trial on attempted robbery and firearms possession. On August 19, days before his trial, Morva complained that he had sprained his ankle and injured his wrist and required medical treatment. Morva was taken to a local hospital the following morning. Due to his alleged wrist injury, waist chains were not utilized.
Sheriff’s Deputy Russell Quesenberry accompanied Morva to the hospital. While walking, Quesenberry noticed that Morva’s limping (due to his alleged injured ankle) was sporadic and seemed to completely disappear at times. Additionally, Morva continually tried to walk on the right side of Deputy Quesenberry, despite requests to stay to the left. Deputy Quesenberry wore his firearm on his right side.
Moses ran from his heritage, not wanting to accept responsibility. Elijah ran, fearing for his life and forgetting God. Jonah ran from God, fearful of what was being asked of him. David ran, quite frequently, from other men, forgetting to ask the Lord for guidance. Jeremiah protested his appoint to prophet. Esther hid, scared to publicly acknowledge who and what she was. Andrew, Bartholomew (Nathanael), James, James, John, Jude (Thaddeus), Matthew (Levi), Philip, Simon, and Thomas all ran in fear the night Jesus was arrested. And Peter denied Christ, three times! Saul persecuted those who stood for Christ.
Cole felt that the Lord was directing him to become a minister, but it was not what he wanted. Cole wanted wealth and power, attending school for a business degree instead. Alyssa was stressed because her family had to move across the country for her husband’s job and planning for the move was not going smoothly. To manage the stress, she turned to alcohol, concealing her actions from her family. Throughout high school, Wes attended church every Sunday and youth group every Wednesday night. Wes was recently arrested, for stealing and other crimes. Alex had just started his second year of college. He no longer attended church, giving in to the college partying mentality. Throughout school, Katie was frequently ridiculed for her faith in the Lord. She tried to witness, experiencing no success, becoming somewhat of an outcast. As she began her job, she kept quiet about her belief and made no complaint when forced to frequently work Sundays, preventing her from finding a church to which to belong.
The Bible is filled with examples of men, and a few women, who, in some way, shape, or form, ran from God, His instructions, or His identity with them. We are certainly not immune from running! Can you honestly look back on the choices you have made in life and say that there is not a time when you ran from God? Are you running now? There are many different ways to run, some of which do not even seem like running!
The people recorded in the Bible are remembered not because they ran, but for their actions when they weren’t running. Moses, David, and Esther are remembered for being great leaders. Elijah, Jonah, and Jeremiah are remembered as influential prophets. The disciples and Saul are remembered for all they did for the early church. But how? How did they go from running from God, to influential, inspirational, remembered individuals? The same way you can! Stop running, and start rebuilding!
And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:20-24, ESV)
Jesus knew the lives of those to whom He was speaking. He knew the lives of the people who would one day read His teachings. He knew that they were not perfect and that many had turned from the Lord. He told a story, a parable, of a young man who thought he knew best. The young man took his inheritance and left home to enjoy his life, but it did not last. Eventually he ran out of money and had to return to his father as nothing more than a beggar. His father welcomed him home with open arms, throwing a great feast in his honor!
Too often, we are like that young man, thinking we know best, living our life as we see fit. Then, for one reason or another, we are forced to stop and examine what our lives have really become. We can continue with our charade or begin rebuilding our life and find our purpose. And when we chose to begin rebuilding, our Father will be there with opening arms, ready to welcome us and throw a feast for our return.
This month, the month of June, is National Rebuilding Month! Are you like the young man? Are you still running? Are you ready to rebuild?