The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection for the week of April 23-29, 2017, is 2 Corinthians 1:3-5. Paul is once again writing to the Corinthians, with whom he was experiencing a strained relationship at the time. The Corinthians were upset that Paul had not visited them as he said he would. This letter, in part, explained his actions. Paul did not want to visit with them when his visit would not bring joy, but rather suffering.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of sympathy (pity and mercy) and the God [Who is the Source] of every comfort (consolation and encouragement), Who comforts (consoles and encourages) us in every trouble (calamity and affliction), so that we may also be able to comfort (console and encourage) those who are in any kind of trouble or distress, with the comfort (consolation and encouragement) with which we ourselves are comforted (consoled and encouraged) by God. For just as Christ’s [own] sufferings fall to our lot [as they overflow upon His disciples, and we share and experience them] abundantly, so through Christ comfort (consolation and encouragement) is also [shared and experienced] abundantly by us. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5, AMP)
Paul’s writing here is to encourage the Corinthians during this trying time. They are not alone in their feelings. Paul feels them and understands them too, but more importantly, so does the Lord! We are never alone when going through a difficult time. Jesus Christ, as a man, suffered all that we could possibly suffer and more! He is always there with us. He also wants to be there with us during a times of joy. As you meditate on, pray over, and reflect upon this week’s verse, evaluate your actions during times of struggle and times of joy. Do you invite the Lord to share in them with you?
April 29, 2017: Daily Bible Reading Commentary for Mark 13-14
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Commentary: Jesus is able to describe future events that are going to occur, but shows His humanity when He admits He does not when the foretold events will occur. While awaiting Passover, Jesus dined at the house of Simon the Leper. A women (identified in other Gospels as Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus) anointed Jesus with a perfume, valued at a whole year’s wages! She was criticized for the act, however Jesus rebuked the disciples. He was on earth for a limited time, but the poor would always be there to help. During the Passover, Jesus’ final meal with His disciples, Jesus linked the old celebration with the new (Communion). He also warned that one of them would betray Him; a great insult after breaking bread with a person. After the meal, Jesus and His disciples went to pray at the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus’ humanity is again shown through His prayer to His father. Jesus willingly allowed Himself to be arrested, rebuking attempts at violence. Jesus was taken before the religious leaders of the day to stand trial, but they were unable to find testimony that agreed. According to Jewish law, in order for a person to be sentenced to death, there must be two witnesses whose testimony agrees with one another. Out of desperation, the chief priest asks Jesus if He is the Son of God. Jesus, for the first time, publicly identifies Himself as such. He was immediately condemned to die, breaking Jewish law which requires a day between conviction and sentencing.
Focus Verses: 13:33-36 A relationship with the Lord cannot be postponed! It cannot wait until you think you have time for it! A relationship with the Lord must be established now and continued to nurture so that it may grow and develop! What is your relationship with the Lord?
“The best form of government is that which is most likely to prevent the greatest sum of evil” He was the last Founding Father to serve as President. He was the first president to wear long pants, as opposed to the knee breeches favored by all previous presidents. He was also the first president to ride in a steamboat. He is James Monroe, 5th President of the United States, serving from March 4, 1817, to March 4, 1825. James was born on April 28, 1758, in Westmoreland, Virginia. He was one of seven president’s from Virginia and was born while Virginia was still a colony of England. James excelled at his studies, and, at the age of 16, James began college, attending the University of William and Mary. He married his wife, 17-year-old Elizabeth Kortright in February of 1786.
James did not attend the University of William and Mary for long, as he dropped out and joined the Continental Army in 1776. His first act of rebellion was to raid the arsenal of the British royal governor and give the stolen supplies to the Virginia militia. James served under General George Washington at the Battle of Trenton, a/k/a the Crossing of the Delaware, where he was severely wounded.
Following the Revolutionary War, James went on to study law under Thomas Jefferson. The two developed a close relationship, both personal and professional, that would last for the rest of their lives. James’ political career began in 1782, when he was elected to serve in the Virginia House of Delegates. Following his marriage, James retired from politics and began farming. He eventually sold his property to begin practicing law, and eventually re-entered politics.
James, in the 1787 Federal Convention, opposed the new constitution because it lacked a bill of rights. However, James, along with several other key figures, chose to ratify the new constitution and push for change once the new government was established. James was defeated by James Madison for a seat in the House of Representatives, but was quickly appointed to the United States Senate. Within one year, he had become the leader of his party in the Senate. He resigned his seat in the Senate to become Ambassador to France, where he arranged for the freedom of all Americans held prisoner by the French, including Thomas Paine. Following harsh criticism by then President George Washington, James was dismissed from his position and returned to Virginia, where he was elected governor in 1799. He later went on to serve as the Secretary of State and the Secretary of War under President Madison, the only person to concurrently hold two cabinet positions.
James was elected as the 5th President of the United States in 1816. He faced little opposition as the other major political party, the Federalists Party, was rapidly losing support. James won all but 34 electoral votes. The same year that Monroe was elected President, the White House was actually painted white, after having been burned during the War of 1812. James was the first president to be inaugurated outside. James faced some problems during his first term, including the nation's first economic depression, which lasted three years. James viewed this as a normal part of nation growing, however, many people suffered during this time.
In the following presidential election, James faced no opposition, as the Federalist Party did not have a candidate. James is the only president, besides George Washington to run unopposed. Surprisingly, James failed to capture all electoral votes, as one elector in New Hampshire voted for John Quincy Adams, who was not running. His second term was known as the "Era of Good Feeling," as the nation appeared to be operating smoothly and there was little political fighting. James is known for his Monroe Doctrine, which forbids the interference of European nations in North and South America. Additionally, during his term, Missouri applied to become a state. In order to appease northerners who feared that this would upset the balance between slave and free states, Maine was allowed to become a state.
James Monroe died on July 4, 1831, at the age of 73, from heart failure. He was the third President to die on Independence Day, following Thomas Jefferson and John Adams five years earlier. James died 55 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed. Little is known about his religious beliefs, as his surviving letters contain no reference, nor do surviving letters from his family members contain mention of his religious beliefs. Prior to the Revolutionary War, the Monroe family attended the Church of England. During his adult years, James attended an Episcopal church, but there is no record of him taking communion.
Happy Birthday Mr. President!
Updated: Thursday, April 27, 2017 1:03 pm EDT
Earlier this year, US District Judge Michael Merz issued a stay of execution for three inmates involved a lawsuit regarding the drugs Ohio plans to use to execute them. Judge Merz wrote in his order that the stay would be vacated once the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on the case. In February 2017, a three-judge panel of 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the stay. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has announced that the case has been placed on the docket for June 14, meaning the execution scheduled before then will likely not be carried out.
April 20, 2017
Ronald Phillips is scheduled to be executed at 10 am EDT on Wednesday, May 10, 2017, at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Mansfield, Ohio. His execution has been rescheduled from February 15, 2017. Forty-three-year-old Ronald is convicted of murdering 3-year-old Sheila Marie Evans on January 18, 1993. Ronald has spent the past 23 years on Ohio’s death row.
During his trial evidence was presented that Phillips had a difficult childhood, as his mother was an alcoholic. She would frequently leave her children, including Ronald, home alone for days at a time, forcing them to beg for food and eat paint chips and garbage. Ronald also spent time in several foster homes in which he was repeatedly raped and abused. He also alleges that his father sexually, physically, and verbally abused him during childhood.
Fae Evans, Sheila’s mother, was dating Ronald Phillips and occasionally living with him, along with her three children, Sheila, 29-month-old Sara, and Ronald Jr., Phillips’ infant son. On January 18, 1993, Fae took Ronald Jr., to a doctor’s appointment and left Sheila and Sara to be watched by Phillips. Fae returned to the apartment around 11:25, and found Phillips sitting in the kitchen. When Fae called for her daughters, they failed to respond. Phillips went into the girls’ bedroom, where he found Sheila laying cold, motionless, and pale. Phillips took Sheila downstairs to his grandmother’s apartment, where they called an emergency operator. Since Sheila was not breathing, the operator told Phillips how to perform CPR until paramedics arrived.
Once paramedics arrived, they immediately transferred Sheila to the Children’s Hospital in Akron, Ohio. Dr. Eugene Izsak, the first doctor to examine Sheila, noticed that she had multiple bruises on her torso, a distended stomach, apparent internal abdominal injuries, and a stretched anus with acute, recent changes. After obtaining a steady pulse, surgery was performed on Sheila, which showed the extent of her severe internal injuries. Sheila died from her injuries later that day.
An autopsy discovered that Sheila had over 125 bruises, many which occurred within hours of her death. Sheila had been severely beaten around her head, face, upper and lower torso, arms, legs, and genitalia. Blows to her abdomen resulted in severe internal injuries. Sheila died as a result of cardiovascular collapse which was the result of sever, blunt force trauma to her abdomen, and numerous complications. Furthermore, it was determined that Sheila had been raped.
April 28, 2017
IDPN 2017 Issue 16
India: Renuka Shinde and Seeda Gavit, sisters who are convicted of abducting and murdering up to 13 young children under the age of five, are scheduled to become the first women hanged in India in 72 years. The sisters were arrested in 1996, when they were in the their late twenties. They had kidnapped approximately 40 children who were then used to help them commit even more crimes, often for money. Sometimes the children were released, other times they were injured to create a distraction, and some of the children were killed when they outlived their usefulness. The sisters have completed their appeals and the president has rejected their clemency petitions.
Pakistan: Four militants, Rehman ud Din, Mushtaq Khan, Obaid ur Rehman, and Zafar Iqbal, were executed by hanging on Tuesday, April 25, 2017. All four men were members of the Pakistani Taliban coalition, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan. They were convicted of terrorism.
Saudi Arabia: On Sunday, April 23, 2017, three Pakistani nations were executed for smuggling heroin. The three men were identified as Mohammed Ashraf Shafi Mohammed, Mohammed Aref Mohammed Anayt, and Mohammed Afdal Asghar Ali. They were likely executed by beheading. So far 26 individuals, including these three, have been executed this year in the kingdom.
Singapore: On Friday, April 21, 2017, 52-year-old Mohd Jeefrey bin Ismail was executed by hanging. Jeefrey had been assisting the Central Narcotics Bureau, but his actions were viewed as not “substantively assisted.” If those convicted of drug offenses are able to substantially assist the Central Narcotics Bureau in “disrupting drug trafficking activities within or outside Singapore,” they can receive a reduced sentence. Unfortunately, the terms to earn a reduced sentence are at the discretion of the Public Prosecutor, who must issue a Certificate of Cooperation in order for an inmate to be eligible to have their sentence reduced. The prosecutor is not required to release the reason for his decision.
Every month, The Forgiveness Foundation Christian Ministries publishes a horrific, real life tragedy involving murder. Often, we publish more than one. In most of these horrific tragedies, there is a common event that occurs prior to the murder: the consumption of a mind altering, behavior changing, rational thinking suppressor, more commonly known as alcohol.
Since alcohol is known to affect a person’s ability to think rationally and act responsibly, many defendants will argue that they should be granted leniency because they were unable to think and act rationally at the time of the crime. This attitude is often developed at an early age due to the glorification of drinking and its related actions, without consequences, in movies and television shows.
April is Alcohol Awareness Month, however, some organizations prefer to call it Alcohol Responsibility Month. Awareness seeks to inform people about the dangers of something, in this case, alcohol. Responsibility forces people to become accountable for their actions. Awareness is a rather passive word; it allows people to speak in hypotheticals and say, “Not me!” Responsibility is aggressive and personal! It forces people to look at themselves and their actions. Both Awareness and Responsibility are important!
Alcohol Awareness Month has been around since 1987, and it has significantly reduced the number of fatalities from drunk driving and underage drinking. It has also increased conversations between parents and kids about alcohol! Yet, we want these numbers to fall even farther! In order to do that, we need to teach Responsibility!
Barring rare exceptions, each individual chooses to drink alcohol, knowing that it will inhibit decision making skills and could possibly lead to events that could change their life forever. That is the choice you make! Therefore, whatever happens next, is your responsibility. Is it really fair to argue that you are not fault for a crime, or cannot be held fully responsible, because you had chosen to inhibit your ability to make decisions? Is it fair to put yourself on the same level as those who have a documented mental illness, over which they have not control, that inhibits their ability to make decisions, when you are the one who chose to put yourself in that position? Is that really what we want to teach the next generation? That they do not have to be responsible for their actions? Is it!?