The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection for the week of October 15-21, 2017, is Hebrews 11:1-13. This week’s passage deals with faith. You will notice the frequent use of the word. In the book of Hebrews, the word “faith” is used more times than in any other New Testament book, except Romans.
Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].
For by [faith—trust and holy fervor born of faith] the men of old had divine testimony borne to them and obtained a good report.
By faith we understand that the worlds [during the successive ages] were framed (fashioned, put in order, and equipped for their intended purpose) by the word of God, so that what we see was not made out of things which are visible.
[Prompted, actuated] by faith Abel brought God a better and more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, because of which it was testified of him that he was righteous [that he was upright and in right standing with God], and God bore witness by accepting and acknowledging his gifts. And though he died, yet [through the incident] he is still speaking.
Because of faith Enoch was caught up and transferred to heaven, so that he did not have a glimpse of death; and he was not found, because God had translated him. For even before he was taken to heaven, he received testimony [still on record] that he had pleased and been satisfactory to God.
But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out].
[Prompted] by faith Noah, being forewarned by God concerning events of which as yet there was no visible sign, took heed and diligently and reverently constructed and prepared an ark for the deliverance of his own family. By this [his faith which relied on God] he passed judgment and sentence on the world’s unbelief and became an heir and possessor of righteousness (that relation of being right into which God puts the person who has faith).
[Urged on] by faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went forth to a place which he was destined to receive as an inheritance; and he went, although he did not know or trouble his mind about where he was to go.
[Prompted] by faith he dwelt as a temporary resident in the land which was designated in the promise [of God, though he was like a stranger] in a strange country, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs with him of the same promise.
For he was [waiting expectantly and confidently] looking forward to the city which has fixed and firm foundations, whose Architect and Builder is God.
Because of faith also Sarah herself received physical power to conceive a child, even when she was long past the age for it, because she considered [God] Who had given her the promise to be reliable and trustworthy and true to His word.
So from one man, though he was physically as good as dead, there have sprung descendants whose number is as the stars of heaven and as countless as the innumerable sands on the seashore.
These people all died controlled and sustained by their faith, but not having received the tangible fulfillment of [God’s] promises, only having seen it and greeted it from a great distance by faith, and all the while acknowledging and confessing that they were strangers and temporary residents and exiles upon the earth. (Hebrews 11:1-13, AMP)
How many times is the word “faith” used in this passage? Go on! Count! Christians today are often ridiculed for their faith in an unseen God, but this is nothing new. Individuals have been ridiculed for their faith for thousands of years! It is not likely to change until Jesus returns to this earth. Do you ever pause to consider the faith required of the individuals mentioned in this passage. We know their stories, their outcomes, so their faith may not seem great, but place yourself in their position. Like you now, they did not know how their story would end, how they would be remembered. They made mistakes, mistakes which they probably wished the entire world would not know. But we do know. We can take comfort in their faith and in their mistakes. They too struggled with their faith, but we remember them because they pushed on and kept their faith. As you mediate on, pray over, and reflect upon this week’s verse, consider your own faith. How do you show it to the world around you? How can your faith motivate those around you?
October 21, 2017: Daily Bible Reading Commentary for Acts 7-8
Click here for the reading
Commentary: Stephen speaks to those who have captured him, recounting the history of Israel and their blessings from the Lord. Stephen also accuses the religious leaders of being the same as those who had rejected the Lord in desert, which incited the people, turning them into a lynch mob who stoned Stephen to death. Saul (later Paul) was present at Stephen’s death. Stephen’s death led to the persecution against other Christians and Christians spreading and telling others of salvation through Christ. Philip is considered one of the first missionaries. We also meet Simon the magician, who was simply hoping for a new show for his act.
Focus Verses: 8:1-3 Why is it important to see Saul before he became a follower of Christ? What are your thoughts on Saul?
October 19, 2017
Torrey Twane McNabb was executed by the state of Alabama on Thursday, October 19, 2017. Torrey was pronounced dead at 9:38 pm CDT, inside the execution chamber at the Holeman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama. His execution was delayed for several hours due to appeals. Torrey was 40 years of age. Torrey was executed for the murder of Police Officer Anderson Gordon on September 24, 1997, in Montgomery, Alabama. Torrey spent the last 18 years on Alabama’s death row.
Torrey’s father had spent time in prison and his mother was a cocaine addict. Torrey began using cocaine around the age of 14 or 15.
On September 24, 1997, Sanford Sharpe, a bail bondsman, was attempting to locate Torrey McNabb, who had failed to appear in court to charges of receiving stolen property and possession of a controlled substance. After failing to appear, a warrant was issued for his arrest. Sanford located McNabb and McNabb’s grandmother’s residence. Sanford spoke with McNabb, who said he would go with Sanford. Under the pretense of putting on shoes, McNabb fled out the back door.
Later that day, around 1:30 pm, Sanford again located McNabb, this time parked in a vehicle outside of his grandmother’s home. Sanford pulled up beside McNabb. When McNabb noticed Sanford, he quickly drove away. Sanford pursued. While crossing an intersection, McNabb struck another vehicle. Sanford drove up and started to get out of his vehicle when McNabb started shooting a gun. Sanford quickly drove away from the gunfire and called the police. Sanford then returned to intersection and parked next to a police patrol vehicle. Inside was Officer Anderson Gordon, who had been shot several times. Sanford, fearing for his safety, pulled out his own weapon. Police arrived a short time later and confiscated Sanford’s weapon.
Annie Gamble, was the women whose vehicle had been struck by McNabb. After being struck, Annie saw McNabb, who she identified later, pull a gun. She pleaded with him not to shoot her. McNabb began shooting at a red truck that drove by. Annie then saw McNabb walking towards the police patrol parked on the corner, hiding his weapon. McNabb approached the rear of the patrol car and began firing into the car, shattering the rear window. When the officer fired back, McNabb fled the scene.
Several other eyewitnesses corroborated Annie’s story. They were also able to tell police what direction the shooter had fled. Police officers pursued. McNabb attempted to hide in a ditch and, upon discover, shot at the officers. The officers returned fire, wounding McNabb.
McNabb was treated for his injuries and confessed to the shootings, telling police a similar story as reported by the witnesses. However, McNabb disputes the earlier events as reported by Sanford, alleging that Sanford fired at him first and was an “out of control bounty hunter.” He also claims that he approached Officer Gordon for help and that the officer pointed a gun at him first, causing him the panic. Witnesses report that the police officers weapon was not drawn when McNabb began shooting. He also argued that he was high on cocaine that morning making him unaware of his actions and paranoid. McNabb was sentenced to death in 1999.
Please pray for peace and healing for the family of Officer Anderson Gordon. Please pray for strength for the family of Torrey McNabb.
October 20, 2017
IDPN 2017 Issue 42
Algeria: On Sunday, October 15, 2017, the Criminal Court of Oran sentenced, in absentia, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, alias Belaouar, to death. Mokhtar, leader of the terrorist group al-Qaeda and Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), has been convicted of creating and managing terrorist organizations, stealing and holding weapons, and trafficking. Additionally, officials believe that he was planning to kidnap foreign nationals.
Iran: On Thursday, October 12, 2017, a man, identified by initials only, was executed by hanging at Kerman Prison. He was convicted of Moharebeh for blocking the road, kidnapping Afghans, and extorting them. Moharebeh, which means waging war against God and/or spreading corruption on earth, is a comprehensive term that covers a large number of offenses.
On Saturday, October 14, 2017, Hamidreza Khoshbakht was executed by hanging at Rasht Central Prison. He was executed for a murder committed in 2013, when he was 20 years of age.
Pakistan: The Lahore High Court has acquitted Muhammad Hussain, Ahmad Din, Munir Ahmad, Rehmat Ali, Sarja, and Soja, of their death sentences. All six individuals had been convicted of a triple murder. They were acquitted due to major discrepancies in testimony from witnesses and medical reports. In addition, there was a significant lack of evidence in the case and the prosecution failed to prove their case.
Nazeer Ahmed has been sentenced to death for the murder of his niece, Najma Bibi. Ahmed murdered Bibi after the two had a dispute. Ahmed has also been fined and given prison sentence.
Updated: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 6:07 pm EDT
District Court Judge Maria Jackson granted a 90-day stay of execution for Anthony Allen Shore. Anthony's execution has been rescheduled for January 18, 2018. The temporary stay was granted to allow time to investigate claims that another Texas death row inmate, Larry Swearingen, attempted to persuade Anthony to confess to the crime for which Larry has been sentenced to death. Larry is scheduled to be executed next month. The state supports the stay of execution in order to allow time to investigate the claims and ensure that justice is being carried out.
Updated: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 4:00 pm EDT
Shortly after asking Governor Greg Abbott for a single, 30-day reprieve from execution, Anthony Shore revealed that fellow death row inmate Larry Sweraingen had approached Anthony to conspire regarding the murder of Melissa Trotter. Larry has been convicted and sentenced to die next month for the murder of Melissa Trotter (read more here). In an attempt to escape punishment, Larry convinced Anthony to confess to Melissa's murder. As part of the conspiracy, Larry had given Anthony numerous documents about the murder, including a hand-drawn map of where the body was located and where Larry had hidden physical evidence of the crime. The requested reprieve would allow time to investigate all the items found in Anthony's cell. Governor Abbott has not yet responded to the request.
Updated: Monday, October 16, 2017 10:48 am EDT
Anthony Allen Shore is scheduled to be executed at 6 pm CDT, on Wednesday, October 18, 2017, at the Walls Unit of the Huntsville State Penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. Fifty-five-year-old Anthony is convicted of murdering 9-year-old Diana Rebollar, 15-year-old Laurie Lee Tremblay, 16-year-old Dana Sanchez, and 21-year-old Maria Del Carmen Estrada, over a period of time from 1986 to 1995, in Harris County, Texas. Anthony has spent the last 13 years of his life on Texas’ death row.
Anthony was born in Rapid City, South Dakota. His family moved frequently as a child, which did not allow him to make friends. Around the age of 13, Anthony alleges that his mother began molesting him. A few years later, he began drinking and using marijuana. Around the same time, he also alleges that he had “something” to do with the murder of a homeless man in Florida. Throughout the years, he worked as a wrecker driver, a telephone line installer, and as a general construction worker.
Anthony was married to Gina Worley in 1984, with whom he had two children. The two remained married for several years before divorcing when Gina discovers he was having extra-marital affairs. Shortly after marring his second wife, 18-year-old Amy Lynch, charges were filed against Anthony, accusing him of molesting his two daughters. Anthony avoided jail by accepting a plea bargain that required him to register as a sex offender and submit a DNA sample to the police. Amy divorced Anthony after he attempted to strangle her. Anthony was arrest for cocaine a few years later.
On April 16, 1992, Maria Del Carmen Estrada was kidnapped, raped, and strangled to death by an unknown assailant. Police recovered DNA evidence from under her fingernails, but were unable to find a match in their database. More than ten years later, on October 24, 2003, as police were re-running DNA evidence from cold cases, they received a match for the DNA found under Maria’s fingernails. Her assailant was identified as Anthony Shore.
Updated: Monday, October 16, 2017 10:50 am EDT
Raymond Tibbetts was scheduled to be execution at 10 am EDT, on Wednesday, October 18, 2017, at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Mansfield, Ohio. Raymond’s execution has been rescheduled to Tuesday, February 13, 2018. Sixty-year-old Raymond is convicted of murdering his wife, Judith Sue Crawford, and 67-year-old Fred Hicks on November 6, 1997, inside of Fred’s Cincinnati home, where they all lived. Raymond has spent the last 19 years of his life on Ohio’s death row.
Raymond alleged that he had a “miserable” and “horrible” childhood, as his parents were drug users, causing him to be in and out of foster care beginning at an early age. Raymond played football in high school until he suffered a knee injury. At a young age, Raymond began getting into trouble with law enforcement, eventually resulting in prison time.
Fred Hicks suffered from emphysema and had hired Judith Crawford as his live-in caretaker in his Cincinnati, Ohio home. In late September, Judith married Raymond Tibbetts who also moved into Fred’s house. Fred’s sister, Joan Landwehr would often visit with Fred to check on him.
On November 6, 1997, Joan arrived at Fred’s home for a lunch date. Upon knocking and receiving no response, Joan let herself into the house with her spare key. She also noticed that Fred’s vehicle was missing. After entering, Joan went to the second floor where she found her brother’s body slumped in a chair. Fred’s chest and stomach were bloody and the pants pocket where he normally kept his money was turned inside out. Joan immediately called the police.
Police discovered that Fred was still connected to his oxygen tank. He had two knives protruding from his chest, a third knife in his back, and a fourth knife blade broken off in his back. Fred did not have any defensive wounds and the stab wounds punctured his heart, lungs, and aorta.