October 25, 2016: Daily Bible Reading Commentary for 2 Chronicles 29-32
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Commentary: Today, we look at the reign of Hezekiah, king of Judah. Hezekiah, who followed the evil Ahaz, was considered a good king who followed the Lord and led Judah in a revival and a time of peace and prosperity. Ahaz was a low point in the history of Judah, while Hezekiah was considered the greatest king since David. Hezekiah sought to once again follow the Laws of Moses and intervene on behalf of his people who were ignorant of the Laws, but had their hearts in the right place. Unfortunately, after the Lord granted Hezekiah addition years, Hezekiah became prideful, which led to problems for Judah.
Focus Verses: 32:24-31 What lesson do you learn from the actions at the end of Hezekiah’s life? Have you taken credit for that which should have been given to the Lord? How can you make amends?
The birthday camping trip came as a surprise! All were looking forward to the weekend, even the birthday girl who only had a day to prepare! A few days at a National Park, full of camping, hiking, unexpected rainstorms, cookouts, and, of course, s’mores! The car trip was filled with talk of what they were going to eat and the trails they wanted to hike. Several specific trails were picked; some for the views they offered and others for the hiking challenge they offered. One afternoon road trip later, the group arrived at the campsite after dark, setting up the tent using flashlights before burrowing into sleeping bags intent on a good night’s sleep before a day full of adventure. The excitement was somewhat tampered the following morning: some of the hiking trails were closed to allow park rangers to search for a missing hiker, including one of the planned trails. No worries, there were several other trails. Word came later that day. The hiker, who had been missing for a week was found. She was dead. She had committed suicide.
Information later showed that she was a local woman, known for running those trails as training for trail races and to keep in shape for her job. Shortly before she killed herself, a picture had been shared on a popular social media site, a picture she did not want shared with the world. Under the picture were hundreds of disparaging comments, most criticizing her appearance. Many of those comments came from co-workers. She was bullied, resulting in her death.
She was not the first person to commit suicide due to bullying and, sadly, she will not be the last. Over 42,000 individuals commit suicide every year. It is the third leading cause of death among young people. And, for every person that successfully kills themselves, 100 others attempt and fail. Due to the nature of suicide, it is impossible to determine how many suicides are related to bullying.
We often think of bullying as the school yard bully. Anti-bullying campaigns are focused at school age children, with adults being trained how to respond if a child reports bullying to them or what to do if they witness a bullying incident between children. But it also needs to be recognized that bullying does not end at graduation. Sadly, it follows us into adulthood and the workplace. And, even more sad, the older we become, the crueler we become. Bullying can take many forms, not limited to gossip, exclusion, cruel, crude, unflattering, and/or unwanted jokes made at others expense, and criminal acts such as abuse and harassment.
The word “bully” never appears in the Bible, but that does not mean the topic is not addressed. Solomon advises, “The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.” Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, reiterates Solomon’s advice, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29, ESV) Jesus commands His followers to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matthew 5:44, ESV). Just as children are taught in school, we are not to stoop to the level of the bully and retaliate. We are to pray for them, show the other cheek (Matthew 5:39).
We are also not to stand by and watch others being bullied - it is the same as bullying. Inaction to others being bullied is bullying! We are to“Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hands of the wicked,”(Psalm 82:4, ESV). But, you may thinking, will that not lead to me being bullied?! Perhaps, but we must be willing to make sacrifices to follow the Lord.
It may be a tired statement, but it is true: we cannot control the actions of others, only how we respond. So how do you respond? October is Bullying Prevention Month. Set aside at least one day this month to focus your daily Bible study on what the Bible has to say about bullying and our reactions. Spend some time in prayer each day this month praying for strength for those who are being bullied. Pray for strength for yourself to not stand idly by. Pray for awareness and compassion for the bullies.
October 21, 2016
IDPN 2016 Issue 43
Bangladesh: On Sunday, October 16, 2016, Asadul Islam, alias Arif, was executed by hanging. Asadul was a leader of Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh, a banned militant group. He was convicted as part of an attack that killed two judges in 2005.
Belarus: The death penalty remains highly secretive in the only European Union member nation that retains capital punishment. According to those who have had family members executed, the family of the condemned is not informed of when the execution will take place - one a day box will simply arrive on their doorstep containing their family member’s belongings. The family then knows that they execution has been carried out. They are also not informed of the burial location. Visitation with the condemned family member is extremely limited and very carefully monitored. Only certain topics are allowed to be addressed. The European Union continues to oppose the death penalty, especially its use by one of its member nations. The nation has faced sanctions in the past for its continued use of capital punishment.
China: Wei Pengyuan, former deputy head of the coal department of China’s National Energy Administration, has been sentenced to death for accepting bribes and holding extremely large amounts of assets from unidentified sources, exceeding his legal income. His death sentence came with a two year reprieve, after which his sentence will be commuted to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole or further commutation.
India: Vikram Singh and Jasvir Singh were sentenced to death for the kidnapping and murder of a 16-year-old boy in 2005. The two relatives kidnapped the teenager and demanded a ransom from the boy’s father. They were scheduled to be executed this month, however, their executions have been stayed to review their petitions for mercy.
Umesh Reddy has had his execution stayed by the Karnataka High Court on Thursday, October 20, 2016. Umesh is convicted of rape and murder. He is appealing his sentence, asking to have it commuted to life in prison.
Palestine: In the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, a court has sentenced a 54-year-old man to death for allegedly spying for Israel. Two others were also recently sentenced to death, each for murder. All trials were carried out in secret.
What does receiving a personal letter mean to you? How does it make you feel? When we look at a return address and realize that the letter is from a friend, we feel loved. We cannot wait cherish every word in the message held inside! In today’s fast-paced world, letter writing is quickly becoming a thing of the past, yet for some, the men and women on death row, it is the only way they can communicate with the world. Since March 8, 2005, The Forgiveness Foundation Christian Ministries has strived to give the over 3,000 men and women on death row the same feeling that you have when you receive a letter; loved. Our letters carry more than just the love of every member of The Forgiveness Foundation Christian Ministries’ team, which include the individuals (like you!) who help finance the letter writing ministry. Our letters also, and more importantly, carry the love of Jesus Christ! In each letter, we share how much Jesus loves them. He has already paid the debt of their sin, the debt of the murders for which they are convicted. We share with them that Jesus has freely paid that price, and that they are forgiven! They must only accept Jesus Christ’s forgiveness, making Him Lord of their lives! The Forgiveness Foundation Christian Ministries works toward honoring the “Great Commission,” with our mail ministry to the men and women on death row. View our donations page to discover how you can help The Forgiveness Foundation Christian Ministries minister to the men and women on death row.
Do you know how Noah knew it was safe to leave the ark? Do you know who the first Israelite king was and how he was appointed? Saul did not became the well-known Apostle Paul overnight. Peter did not suddenly go from fisherman to a leader in the early Church. Even Jesus did not go from a carpenter’s son to correcting Pharisees’ overnight! Before reaching prominence and influence, each were faced with trials. Each spent time studying the Word of God, just as we must do today. It is because of their trials, not despite, because of their studying, that they transformed from who they had once been into the influential figures that associate their names with today. To become the person God desires us to be, we too must diligently study God’s word.
Unsure of where to start your study? Let us help! Every year, we at The Forgiveness Foundation Christian Ministries, invite you to participate in our “52 Week Bible Reading Plan” (available here). By using this plan, you will, within one year, have completely read through the entire Bible, an excellent way to begin your study!
Paul, Peter, and Jesus each knew the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament. They also knew what the prophets had foretold and even the psalms written by David and others! Their knowledge came from years of study. By reading through the entire Bible, your knowledge and understanding of the history of Israel and the key figures in both the Old and New Testament, will grow. Always accompany your reading with prayer, reflection, and meditation. What does God want you to learn today? Check out our Commentary (available under the “Scriptures” tab on our website www.theforgivenessfoundation.org) for 2015, to learn more about world history during each day’s reading.
Diligent study of God’s word does not end upon reading the Bible. As with any subject of study, once you have grasped the basics, you dig deeper and increase your learning! We can help! This year, in addition to providing an overview of each day’s reading, we will also be providing focus verses. After reading through the day’s passages, go back and re-read the focus verses. Contemplate on the questions asked. What questions does the text pose for you? Check back to our website, www.theforgivenessfoundation.org, for each day’s reading. If you miss a day, past commentary can be found under our “Scriptures” tab.
Our 2016 plan begins on December 27, 2015, but join in at any time! Saul spent years as a pharisee, persecuting those who followed Jesus Christ, before understanding the truth. Peter was an adult when he was called to follow Christ. Even Jesus spent time in prayer and meditation, learning, before and during His ministry! It is never too late, or too early, to start studying God’s word. What is God’s plan for you?
Updated: October 20, 2016
Please pray for these men and women. Pray for salvation if unsaved, peace if saved, and that the innocent shall be revealed before they are executed. "The Lord is slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." (2 Peter 3:9 ESV).
All Ohio executions have been removed from our 2016 Execution Calendar. To find out why, click here.