May 2, 2016: Daily Bible Reading Commentary for Exodus 21-24
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Commentary: Many of the laws covered in today’s reading are considered social laws. Do any of these laws seem familiar? Many have been adapted and helped form the basis of our laws today.
Focus Verses: Reader’s choice! Choose a section of the laws given. Why did God give Israel these laws? What was the purpose of the laws? What significance do these laws hold today?
Thursday, May 5, 2016, is the 65th annual National Day of Prayer. Join with Christians around the world as we lift our voices in prayer to the Lord. The theme chosen by the National Day of Prayer Task Force for 2016 is Wake Up America. The verse chosen to highlight this theme is Isaiah 58:1a.
“Cry aloud; do not hold back; lift up you voice like a trumpet;” (Isaiah 58:1a, ESV)
Throughout the book of Isaiah, the prophet Isaiah warns the people of Israel that they will be held accountable for their sins. The nation must repent and turn from their wicked ways, repent and turn from their false gods, repent and turn in worship towards the one, true God, the Lord. Prophets and teachers have warned against complacency, extolling the nation of Israel to wake up and look at what was happening around them.
Many of the prophets warning can seem just as relevant today as they did when they were written. Israel ignored the warnings and was captured. Are we will still ignoring the warnings? Are you ignoring opportunities in your life to stand up for the Lord and be a shining example for Him?
Join with The Forgiveness Foundation Christian Ministries, and other Christians around the world, for this National Day of Prayer. As you join in prayer for America, also pray for yourself, that the Lord may use for His purpose. Let our prayers be a cry that cannot be ignored!
April 29, 2016
IDPN 2016 Issue 18
Iran: A 31-year-old man, identified by initials only, was executed by hanging on Wednesday, April 20, 2016. The execution took place in Bandar Abbas Central Prison in central Iran. The crime for which the man was executed was not reported.
On Saturday, April 23, 2016, 30-year-old Jamshid Dehvari, 35-year-old Sadeq Rigi, 22-year-old Mohammad Sanchouli, and at least two other unnamed prisoners were executed by hanging in Zahedan Central Prison in south eastern Iran. Their crimes were not reported.
On Sunday, April 24, 2016, an unnamed 27-year-old prisoner was executed by hanging in a prison in Sari in northern Iran. Another unnamed prisoner was also executed in the same prison on Sunday. Neither inmate had their crime reported.
On Tuesday, April 26, 2016, three unnamed prisoners were executed by hanging in Zahedan Central Prison in south eastern Iran. Their crimes were not reported. An unnamed fourth man was also executed on Tuesday in Qazvin Central Prison. His crime was not reported.
On Wednesday, April 27, 2016, six inmates were executed in Rajai Shahr prison of Karaj. Two of the inmates were identified as Kazem Salimi and Jamshid Nouripour, while the remaining four inmates were not identified. All the condemned were convicted of murder.
Mauritania: The death sentence of a blogger has been upheld by an appeals court. The blogger, Cheikh Ould Mohamed Ould Mkheitir has been convicted of blasphemy after posting an article online that was considered blasphemous. His charge, however, has been reduced from apostasy to infidel, after he repented.
Pakistan: On Tuesday, April 26, 2016, Tahir and Imran were executed by hanging at Central Jail Faisalabad. Both men were convicted of the murder of four individuals in Jaranwala in 2005. They were executed after their appeals for mercy had been rejected by President Mammon Hussain.
On Thursday, April 28, 2016, Ali Raza and Farhad were executed by hanging in the Central Jail Haripur. Ali was convicted of a 2004 murder, while Farhad was convicted of murder in 1997.
Saudi Arabia: On Friday, April 22, 2016, Shah Zaman Khan Sayyed, a Pakistani national, was executed by beheading in the Riyadh region. Shah had been convicted of attempting to smuggle heroin and amphetamines into the kingdom. The execution, like many, was carried out in public. He was the 86th individuals executed in the kingdom so far this year.
Singapore: Thirty-year-old Jeffery Phua Han Chuan had been sentenced to death for trafficking heroin. After three failed attempts to have his sentence reduced, the High Court has overturned his death sentence and sentenced him to life in prison. Jeffery argued that he was addicted to ketamine, had impaired mental responsibility, and was depressed.
Wes was on track to become a lawyer, his dream. He had a large group of friends and his house was always open to those friends, any time day or night. Wes always appeared happy, confident, well-adjusted. He had even just adopted a dog! To an outsider, even to a friend, Wes’ life seemed to be going well. Then, to the surprise of even his closest friends, Wes ended his life.
Mental health affects everyone! To some, like Wes, there is an internal struggle, a struggle no one sees. To others, the struggle is more obvious, apparent by their anti-social behavior or erratic actions. Still to others, there is no struggle - their mental health is well! We all consider out physical health on a daily basis, going to the doctor when we do not feel well, or perhaps taking a day off work, just to be safe. Why do we not give our mental health the same consideration?
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7, ESV)
It is estimated that 1 in 4 people suffer from mental health problems, yet few will receive treatment. In our society, admitting you have a mental health problem has a negative social stigma attached, although this view is slowly changing. Would you fear to admit you have the flu? No! Of course not! Failing to receive treatment could cause harm to those around you. The same is true for your mental health. Failing to admit you need help could harm those around you! Perhaps not physically, but they could be harmed emotionally and mentally.
Someone who is suffering may scoff when reading the above Bible verse, or similar Bible verses. They may have tried praying, surrendering their problems to Christ, only to find that they are still suffering. Being a Christian does not guarantee that we have good mental health. Satan is going to use any way possible to drive us away from Christ. Christians struggle, even through prayer. There is nothing wrong with seeking out someone to talk to about what you are going through! God has given out a wide variety of gifts. Many people have the gift of being able to help others. Some refer to them as psychiatrists, others a mental heath professionals. There is nothing wrong with admitting you need help! It is something we do every time we come to Christ in prayer!
May is Mental Health Month. It is a month dedicated to raising awareness about mental health and working to change societies view on mental health and seeking treatment. Do your views need to change? Have you harmed someone because of your views? Do you need to seek help?
Updated: Monday, May 2, 2016 1:07 pm EDT
Earl Mitchell Forrest's execution is scheduled to occur at 6 pm CDT, on Wednesday, May 11, 2016, at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic, and Corrections Center, in Bonne Terre, Missouri. Sixty-six-year-old Earl is convicted of the murder of Michael Wells, Harriet Smith, and Deputy Sharon Joann Barnes on December 9, 2002, in Salem, Missouri. Earl has spent the last 13 years of his life on Missouri’s death row.
Earl had difficult life growing up. He was often hit by his father, who encouraged him to fight. Earl also began drinking and using illegal drugs, activities supported by his father, at an early age. Although never married, Earl was a father figure to the children of one of his girlfriends, Nancy Young. They all testified that he was a good father-figure. Earl was known for abusing alcohol and methamphetamine. He was also known as a hard worker, although he needed supervision to complete even basic tasks.
On December 9, 2002, Earl Forrest had been drinking alcohol. Forrest and his then-girlfriend, Angelia Gamblin, went to the home of Harriet Smith. Allegedly, Forrest and Harriet had an agreement in which he would introduce Harriet to a source of methamphetamine in exchange for a lawn mower and a mobil home. According to Forrest, Harriet failed to “fulfill her part of the bargain.”
Angelia waited in the car, while Forrest entered the home. Also present inside the home was Michael Wells, Harriet’s friend. After Forrest entered the home, a fight ensued, which resulted in Michael being shot and killed. Harriet attempted to escape using Angelia’s car. Harriet hit a tree branch backing out of the driving, causing the car to be stuck. Forrest brought Harriet back into the house, where he shot her a total of six times, killing her.
Forrest took a lockbox containing approximately $25,000 worth of methamphetamine and fled with his girlfriend. Sheriff Bob Wofford and Deputy Sharon Joann Barnes were investigating the shooting and went to talk to Forrest. Forrest opened fire on the officers, killing Deputy Barnes and injuring Sheriff Wofford.
After being convicted and sentenced to death for the murders of Michael, Harriet, and Sharon, Forrest was linked to the 1995 California murder of 39-year-old Lori Beth Stefan. She was last seen alive heading towards Forrest’s home. Police officials visited Forrest in prison in Missouri, where he confessed. Due to his pending execution, it is unlikely that Forrest will ever face charges for Lori’s murder.
Please pray for peace and healing for the families of Micheal Wells, Harriet Smith, Sharon Barnes, and Lori Stefan. Please pray for strength for the family of Earl Forrest. Please pray that if Earl is innocent, lacks the competency to be executed, or should not be executed for any other reason, that evidence will be presented prior to his execution. Please pray that Earl will come to find peace through personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already.
Updated: Monday, May 2, 2016 1:10 pm EDT
Vernon Madison's execution is scheduled to occur at 6 pm CDT, on Thursday, May 12, 2016, at the Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama. Sixty-five-year-old Vernon is convicted of the murder of Officer Julius Schulte on April 18, 1985, in Mobile, Alabama. Vernon has spent the last 30 years on Alabama’s death row.
On April 18, 1985, Officer Julius Schulte was dispatched to the home of Cheryl Green to investigate the disappearance of Cheryl’s 11-year-old daughter. Schulte was not in uniform or in a marked car, however, he was wearing a badge that identified him as a member of the Mobile Police Department. Upon his arrival, Cheryl’s daughter had already returned, however, neighbors had asked the police officer to stay until Cheryl’s ex-boyfriend, Vernon Madison left, as the two were having a domestic dispute.
Cheryl and Madison had broken up a few days before and he had returned to Cheryl’s home in order to retrieve some of his belongings. Madison was angry, believing that Cheryl had called the police on him. When Officer Schulte arrived, both Cheryl and Madison approached him in his vehicle and spoke with him. Madison left the building a short time later. Madison walked a block away to where a former girlfriend was waiting in her car.
Madison retrieved a pistol from the car and returned to the apartment building. He walked up behind Officer Schulte, who was still in his vehicle and shot him twice in the head at point-blank range. Officer Schulte died later that day. He then shot twice at Cheryl before fleeing the scene. She survived her injuries. He later admitted to an acquaintance that he had “just killed a cop.”
Madison was arrested the following day. He was convicted and sentenced to death in November of 1985. He had his sentence twice overturned and each time he was re-sentenced to death. Madison's lawyers are arguing that since being in prison, Madison has suffered from several strokes, which have caused him to loose his sight and slur his speech. Additionally, they claim that the strokes have impaired his mental competency and that he is no longer able to understand why he is being executed. Madison's lawyers claim that his execution must be halted.
Please pray for peace and healing for the family of Julius Schulte. Please pray for strength for the family of Vernon Madison. Please pray that if Vernon is innocent, lacks the competency to be executed, or should not be executed for any other reason, that evidence will be presented prior to his execution. Please pray that Vernon may come to find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already.