The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection for the week of April 30 - May 6, 2017, is Psalm 53:1-6. This psalm was written by David and is nearly identical to an earlier Psalm, Psalm 14. In it, David reflects upon those who do not believe in the Lord and rejoices at the future promised salvation of Israel!
The [empty-headed] fool has said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt and evil are they, and doing abominable iniquity; there is none who does good.
God looked down from heaven upon the children of men to see if there were any who understood, who sought (inquired after and desperately required) God.
Every one of them has gone back [backslidden and fallen away]; they have altogether become filthy and corrupt; there is none who does good, no, not one.
Have those who work evil no knowledge (no understanding)? They eat up My people as they eat bread; they do not call upon God.
There they are, in terror and dread, where there was [and had been] no terror and dread! For God has scattered the bones of him who encamps against you; you have put them to shame, because God has rejected them.
Oh, that the salvation and deliverance of Israel would come out of Zion! When God restores the fortunes of His people, then will Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad. (Psalm 53:1-6, AMP)
With whom do you surround yourself? Do you consider them fools? Fools will lead you away from God, away from knowledge. They will lead you into temptations, into the rejection of the Lord. As you mediate on, pray over, and reflect upon this week’s verse, consider, are you surrounding yourself with fools?
May 1, 2017: Daily Bible Reading Commentary for Exodus 17-20
Click here for the reading
Commentary: There are two ways to handle a problem and each way is demonstrated. The Israelites complain about their problem. Moses takes the problem to the Lord, who is able to provide a solution. The manna provided by the Lord, as well as the water represent Jesus Christ, who is the Water and Bread of Life. We see the perils of not relying on the Lord when the Israelites face the Amalekites and when Moses’ father-in-law comes to visit. Jethro suggests changes to Moses, who does not consult the Lord in their implementation. On the surface, the ideas may seem sound, however, they can have disastrous consequences. In a few thousand years, the gourd appointed by Moses became the Sanhedrin, the very group which ensured that Jesus Christ was killed. Moses took the Israelites to Mount Sinai, where they agreed to live under the law of the Lord and Moses was given the 10 Commandments. The 10 Commandments were not the end of the Law, but the beginning.
Focus Verses: 17:1-7 The Israelites were quick to forget all that the Lord had done for them! But are we really so different? What has the Lord done in your life?
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.
April 27, 2017
JW Ledford, Jr., is scheduled to be executed on Tuesday, May 16, 2017, at 7 pm CDT, at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, Georgia. Forty-five-year-old Ledford is convicted of the murder of 73-year-old Dr. Harry Johnston, Jr., on January 31, 1992, in Murray County, Georgia. Ledford has spent the last 24 years on death row in Georgia.
According to psychologist who examined JW Ledford, JW had a history substance abuse that included the regular consumption of marijuana, whisky, and beer. JW was also known to experiment with consuming acid, cocaine, and Quaaludes. JW began using alcohol and drinking heavily at the age of eight. Two years later, he began using marijuana. He also used other drugs, such as speed and acid at a young age, according to testimony from his childhood friends. JW’s father was also a drug dealer and dealt out of the house.
On January 31, 1992, JW Ledford, by his own confession, drank a six-pack of beer, smoked ten joints, and possibly took some pills. Ledford further admitted that he was really “messed up” and could not remember the drugs he took that day. Ledford had lived next door to Dr. Harry Johnston, Jr., and his wife Antoinette for most of his life.
Ledford confessed that he had asked Dr. Johnston to give him a ride to the grocery store. They left the doctor’s house around 2 pm. During the drive, Dr. Johnston accused Ledford of stealing and turned the vehicle around. Once back in the garage and out of the truck, Ledford alleges that Dr. Johnston smacked Ledford, causing him to fall to the ground. Ledford then alleges that Dr. Johnston pulled a knife from his belt and cut Ledford’s hand. In response, Ledford pulled out his own knife and “stuck” Dr. Johnston in the neck. Ledford then continued to stab the doctor repeatedly. Ledford then dragged the body away and covered it with tree branches.
Around mid-afternoon, Antoinette saw her husband drive off in his pick-up truck with an unidentified person in the passenger seat. Fifteen to twenty minutes later, Ledford knocked on the Johnston’s front door. Antoinette answered. Ledford asked if her husband was home. When Antoinette said he was not, Ledford left. Ledford returned about ten minutes later, asking that Dr. Johnston come over to his house when he returned. Antoinette promised to give her husband the message and Ledford left again.
Updated: April 28, 2017
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).