Daily Bible Reading for December 7, 2013, With Overview: Acts 21-22. Paul Goes to Jerusalem, Paul Visits James, Paul Arrested in the Temple, Paul Speaks to the People, Paul and the Roman Tribune, Paul Before the Council.
December 1, 2013, the countdown has begun. Twenty-five days until Christmas. Whose presents did I buy on Black Friday or Cyber Monday? For whom do I need to buy yet? Where is my list? Is there anyone I have forgotten? What do I need to have cooked or baked for Christmas parties? When? Do I need gifts for them? Where/What are we doing for Christmas dinner?
Do these questions sound familiar?
With the Christmas season in full swing, it is easy to lose sight of the reason we are celebrating. It is not to give and receive gifts. It is not about visiting with friends and family. Christmas is about celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
But the angel said to [the shepherds], “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. (Luke 2:10-11, ESV)
December 1, 2013 begins the 25-day countdown until Christmas. For some television stations, this means a different Christmas movie every night. For Christians, it marks the beginning of the Season of Advent and the beginning of a new church year. The Season of Advent is a season of hope, of anticipation, as we wait for the coming of our Savior. Are you ready?
This Advent Season, the 25-days leading up to Christmas, start a family tradition. Instead of turning in to watch a different Christmas movie every night, turn to the Bible. Read about the prophecies, the preparations, and the events that occurred in anticipation of Christ’s birth. Read about the prophecies concerning Christ’s second coming and ask yourself “Am I ready?” Experience the anticipation of those waiting for the birth of Christ. Discover your own anticipation for the second coming. Are you excited? Are you ready?
The Bible Passage selected for meditation, prayer, and reflection for this week, the week of December 1-7, 2013, Revelation 3:1-3. This book was written by John, who, near the end of his life received a vision of what was to come. John carefully recorded that vision, as per his instructions from Jesus Christ. Take some time this week to meditate on, pray over, and reflect on Revelation 3:1-3.
“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.” (Revelation 3:1-3, ESV)
This week, beginning on December 1, marks the beginning of the Advent season. The Season of Advent is a season of hope, of anticipation, as we wait for the coming of our Savior. Advent leads into the Christmas season, which celebrates the birth of Christ. Through Advent, we can experience the anticipation the Jews felt for the arrival of their Savior. We can also celebrate our anticipation for His second coming, about which John was writing in Revelation. As we anticipate His second coming we must stop and consider if we are truly prepared. Are you ready?
In the first three chapters, Jesus, through John, writes to seven churches. To the church in Sardis, Jesus writes a warning. It is a warning to all of us as well. Are you ready? Many say they are Christians. They may attend church regularly and know all the right answers, but their actions, their words, and their hearts fail to follow the instructions of the Lord, written in His holy book, the Bible. Jesus is warning that those who are Christian in name only need to repent and change their ways, otherwise, when Jesus comes, it will be against them. Are you ready?
Update: December 8, 2013
Ronald Clinton Lott’s execution is scheduled for 6 pm CST, on December 10, 2013, at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Oklahoma. Fifty-three-year-old Ronald is convicted of the rape and murder of 83-year-old Anna Laura Fowler on September 2, 1986 and 93-year-old Zelma Cutler on January 11, 1987. Ronald has spent the past 11 years on Oklahoma’s death row.
According to court documents, Ronald, the youngest of ten children, grew up in extreme poverty in Texas. His family lived in a five room shack that had no heat or running water. The first three weeks of Ronald’s life was spent in the hospital. During the first year of his life, his mother was paralyzed, which allegedly prevented them from bonding. Ronald claimed that his father was abusive, emotionally unavailable, and regularly beat his children using a large switch. At the age of 10, Ronald, his mother, and his next oldest sibling left his father and went to live in Lawton, Oklahoma. After living in Lawton for one year, Ronald and his mother moved to Oklahoma City, where she started working two jobs, leaving Ronald without adult supervision much of the time. Around this time, Ronald began using drugs and alcohol.
At the age of 12, Ronald was kicked out of the house by his mother, leaving him homeless and hungry. At the age of 14, Ronald was arrested for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. At the age of 16, Ronald was placed in the Oklahoma Children’s Center juvenile home after his mother alerted authorities that he had violated probation for “lack of parental control.” A later investigation determined that during his time at Oklahoma Children’s Center, widespread abuses occurred, including hog-tying children and leaving them in solitary confinement and failing to provide education. In 1985, at the age of 25, Ronald was involved in car accident in which he received a “mild to moderate head injury,” which later testing indicated could have caused some brain damage.
December 7, 2013
Bangladesh: Twenty-five-year-old Jahangir Hossain has been convicted by a Gazipur court of killing his wife, by strangulation, over an unpaid dowry. The court has sentenced Jahangir to be executed.
Four individuals have been convicted and sentenced to die for the murder of Suman Dutta. A fifth person was sentenced to two year in prison, while a sixth was acquitted. Sumna, an engineer, was killed in Mohamadpur on October 5, 2011.
China: The death penalty for a man convicted of killing a baby over a parking dispute has been upheld. Thirty-nine-year-old Han Lei claims he thought the child was a bag of groceries when he grabbed her and threw her to the ground on July 23, 2013. Han and the child’s mother were arguing over a parking space. Han asked the court to reduce his sentence since he did not intend to kill the child. His request was denied.
Gaza: A Palestinian has been sentenced to death by a Hamas military court on Thursday, December 5, 2013. The man was convicted of collaborating with Israel. Hamas executions are carried out without the support of Palestine and its President.
Indonesia: This past week, a German and an Austrian were separately arrested for attempting to smuggle drugs into the country. They were arrested days apart from one another and police are currently trying to discover if they are connected. Both could face the death penalty.
Iran: On Sunday, December 1, 2013, a total of five inmates were hanged at two separate prisons. At the prison of Rasht, three inmates, identified by initials only, were hanged, one for murder and one for possession and one for trafficking of drugs. At the prison of Bandar Abbas two inmates, also identified by initials only, were executed for kidnapping and murder.
Four Ahwazi political prisoners, Ghazi Abbasi, Abdul-Reza Amir-Khanafereh, Abdul-Amir Mojaddami, and Jasim Moghaddam Payam, were executed. They were charged and convicted of “enmity with God,” a vague charge often made against those who criticize the government. It is believed that the four were executed on December 2, 2013.
Update: December 8, 2013
Allen Nicklasson’s execution is scheduled for 12:01 am CST, on December 11, 2013, at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic, and Corrections Center in Bonne Terre, Missouri. Forty-one-year-old Allen is convicted of the August 24, 1994 murder of 47-year-old Richard Drummond in Callaway County, Missouri. For the past 19 years, Allen has been on Missouri’s death row.
Allen was scheduled for execution earlier this year, on October 23, however his execution was stayed due to concerns surrounding the execution drugs. Last year, Missouri mistakenly received a shipment of propofol, an anesthetic drug widely used in hospitals around the world during surgeries. It is also famous for being the drug from which killed singer Michael Jackson. The German company who manufactures the drug was upset to learn that it had been delivered to a prison and that the prison intended to use it to carry out executions, which the company, like most of Europe, strongly opposes. Due to Missouri’s refusal to return the drugs, the company ceased shipping the drug to several distributors in the United States last year, instead delivering to hospitals only. Shipments resumed to distributors earlier this year, and Missouri has since returned the mistakenly-delivered shipment.
November 27, 2013
On November 8, 2013, typhoon Haiyan slammed into the Philippine Islands, killing more than 5,000 people and destroying the homes, livelihoods, and way of life for many of the inhabitants. Over one thousand people are still missing, with some believed to be among the unidentified dead. Since the typhoon struck, the world has rallied together, sending food, water, medical supplies, and aid to help those affected. Roads, airports, and seaports are beginning to reopen, making it easier to transport desperately needed supplies. Security has increased, reducing looting and crime. Outlying areas hit by the storm are being reached. Government officials are optimistic, believing the worse to be over.
On November 17, 2013, tornadoes struck several states in the Midwestern United States, killing six. As in the Philippines, many are without homes, struggling to find food and water, and trying to recover some semblance of their normal lives. Now the Midwest is facing another potential storm, this time from snow. Operation Blessing has teams on the ground in both locations. Check out their website for how they are contributing to rebuilding efforts.
Over the past year, several communities have suffered disasters such as the recent one mentioned above. The communities pull together, rebuild, and move on with their lives. But this holiday season, this season of thanksgiving, we, The Forgiveness Foundation, ask that you remember those in the Philippines who are struggling to find food and water; remember those in the Midwest without homes; remember all those whose lives have been affected by tragedy. While you celebrate your day of thanksgiving, remember to thank the Lord for the home you are in, the food on the table, the friends and family surrounding you, and for sparing you and yours from disaster this past year.
Also pray for those who have not been so fortunate. Ask that they be blessed by the Lord this holiday season and seek the Lord’s guidance on how you can assist in ministering His blessing, then wait for His response. If He leads you to make a financial donation to assist those who have been affected by these disasters, please consider Operation Blessing, a Christian relief organization, already hard at work in the Philippians.
Remember and obey the Lords instructions: Pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17, ESV)
Think Like Jesus 2013
Temptation The Path to Sin
If you are a parent, you probably remember Christmas Eve. Do you recall just how hard it is to get excited children to bed? Can you remember the pressure building knowing that a bicycle, a bicycle in a box, a bicycle in a box is waiting for you to put it together, to put it together quietly, quietly before morning, and placing it under the Christmas tree? Remember deciding to leave the assembly instructions in the bicycle’s box. Do you remember taking the bicycle apart and retrieving the instructions from the box before you put the bicycle together correctly. Are you like Adam? He actually read the instructions and decided to ignore them.
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’” (Genesis 2:15-17, ESV)
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