The Bible passage for mediation prayer and reflection for the week of May 24-30, 2015, is Galatians 1:15-2:2. Galatians is written by Paul. Today, Paul is remembered as a man who wrote a large portion of the New Testament, a man who was one of the first missionaries, and a man who helped establish much of the early church outside of Jerusalem. But during the time in which Galatians was written, Paul was also remembered for his persecution of Christians. In this week’s passage, Paul defends the person he has become.
But when He, Who had chosen and set me apart [even] before I was born and had called me by His grace (His undeserved favor and blessing), saw fit and was pleased to reveal (unveil, disclose) His Son within me so that I might proclaim Him among the Gentiles (the non-Jewish world) as the glad tidings (Gospel), immediately I did not confer with flesh and blood [did not consult or counsel with any frail human being or communicate with anyone]. Nor did I [even] go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles (special messengers of Christ) before I was, but I went away and retired into Arabia, and afterward I came back again to Damascus. Then three years later, I did go up to Jerusalem to become [personally] acquainted with Cephas (Peter), and remained with him for fifteen days. But I did not see any of the other apostles (the special messengers of Christ) except James the brother of our Lord. Now [note carefully what I am telling you, for it is the truth], I write this as if I were standing before the bar of God; I do not lie. Then I went into the districts (countries, regions) of Syria and Cilicia. And so far I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Christ in Judea (the country surrounding Jerusalem). They were only hearing it said, He who used to persecute us is now proclaiming the very faith he once reviled and which he set out to ruin and tried with all his might to destroy. And they glorified God [as the Author and Source of what had taken place] in me. Then after [an interval] of fourteen years I again went up to Jerusalem. [This time I went] with Barnabas, taking Titus along with [me] also. I went because it was specially and divinely revealed to me that I should go, and I put before them the Gospel [declaring to them that] which I preach among the Gentiles. However, [I presented the matter] privately before those of repute, [for I wanted to make certain, by thus at first confining my communication to this private conference] that I was not running or had not run in vain [guarding against being discredited either in what I was planning to do or had already done]. (Galatians 1:15-2:2, AMP)
Paul’s transformation did not occur overnight! Neither will ours! Often when we become Christians, we expect that our lives will immediate reflect the new person we have become: trials will disappear, we will always be joyful, everyone we meet will see this change in us and want to know what happened, we will be able to share God’s word and make a difference in everyone’s life. Unfortunately, that is not the way it works. Paul spent three years studying before he even approached the disciples of Jesus Christ! And he spent 14 more years studying before he began his mission work with the Gentiles! Paul spent more years studying the Word of God than some of us went to school! As you meditate on, pray over, and reflect upon this weeks passage, consider your daily habits. How much time do you spend everyday dedicated to learning the Word of God? How much time do you spend everyday in prayer and fellowship with Him?
May 27, 2015: Daily Bible Reading with Commentary for Psalm 63-65
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Context: All three of today's psalms were written by David. Psalm 63 was written while David was in the wilderness of Judah. An early leader of the church in Constantinople, John Chrysostom, believed that not a day should go by without the singing of this psalm. It was sung before every church meeting. This psalm speaks of the desire to fellowship with God above all else. The circumstances surrounding the writing of psalm 64 are unknown. It is a psalm of hope, looking forward to the time when God strikes down are enemies and all worship Him. Psalm 65 is a song praising the Lord and all He has created.
“If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.” He was the first president to have been born in the 20th Century. He loved lobster stew and New England clam chowder. He was the first president to have been a boy scout, served in the Navy, won a purple heart, and win a Pulitzer Prize. His right leg was 3/4 inch longer than his left, causing him back pain which would occasionally require him to use crutches, although he never used them in public. He is John Fitzgerald "Jack " Kennedy, better known as JFK, 35th President of the United States! Jack was born on May 29, 1917, as the second of ten children, in Brookline, Massachusetts. He was first raised in Brookline, but moved to the Bronx, New York, during his middle school years, before being sent to a private school in Connecticut. Following graduation of high school, he went on to attend Princeton University for six weeks, before enrolling at Harvard College, where he was a member of the varsity swimming team. Throughout college, Jack traveled throughout Europe, the Soviet Union, the Balkans, and the Middle East.
Following the outbreak of World War II, Jack joined the Navy. He earned the Purple Heart when his ship was struck. He helped save the lives of many of the men onboard, which also earned him the Navy and Marine Corp Medal of Honor. Jack was honorably discharged shortly before the Japanese surrender in 1945. Jack’s brother, Joe, Jr., was killed during the war. It had been expected that Joe would become involved in politics and eventually make a run for President. With his death, that responsibility fell to Jack.
Jack began his political career at the age of 29, one year after leaving the military, with an election to the House of Representatives, where he served for six years. In 1952, Jack ran and won a US Senate seat. In 1953, he married his wife, Jacqueline Bouvier. During his first two years as a Senator, Jack was frequently absent, due to severe illness and needing several spinal operations. At one point, Jack, a Roman Catholic, was so ill, he received Catholic last rites. In 1958, Jack again ran for Senator and won.
In 1960, JFK narrowly defeated his opponent, Richard Nixon, for the presidency in the popular vote by approximately 120,000 votes, however, JFK won 303 electoral votes, compared to Nixon's 219 electoral votes. Kennedy was a well-known, published author by this time. He also suffered from Addison's disease, along with back pain from his time in the Navy. His son, John F. Kennedy, Jr. was born after he was elected. JFK was sworn into office on January 20, 1961, and his inaugural address included the now-famous quote "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”
Kennedy suffered an early set back in his presidency, when, in April of 1961, the invasion of the Bay of Pigs in Cuba failed to overthrow Dictator Fidel Castro. This disaster caused him to state, “How could I have been so stupid.” The following year, in October of 1962, he ordered a blockade of Soviet ships going into Cuba, leading to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Kennedy also faced problems in Germany, which included the construction of the Berlin Wall. During his first months in office, Kennedy introduced the creation of the Peace Corps, which was approved by Congress.
Domestically, Kennedy sought to advance the space race in May of 1961, when he announced that the United States would have a man on the moon by 1970. His prediction came true, although he was not around to see it. Neil Armstrong walked on the moon on July 20, 1969. Kennedy also increased the minimum wage, cut taxes, and increased Social Security benefits. Kennedy also believed in racial integration and signed a bill for affirmative action for government contractors. As president, he intervened at least twice to allow black students to attend college. In June of 1963, Kennedy gave a radio address on civil rights. Many of his ideas were later incorporated into the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
On November 22, 1963, President Kennedy, and his wife, Jacqueline, were visiting Texas Governor John Connally, and his wife Nellie. During a parade through town, President Kennedy was shot twice. He was pronounced dead less than a half hour later. Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested for the assassination of JFK. Oswald was shot two days later by Jack Rudy. Kennedy was the fourth President of the United States to be assassinated and the eighth president to die while in office. Kennedy was 46 years old when he died, the youngest of any president.
Happy Birthday, Mr. President!
In every legislative session since 1981, a bill has been introduced which would abolish the death penalty. In some years, it never advanced out of committee, while in other years it gained significant support. However, the bill has never passed. On Wednesday, May, 20, 2015, the unicameral Nebraska legislature approved the bill by a vote of 32-15. In Nebraska’s unicameral legislature, all bills must be voted on three times. Each time the death penalty repeal bill was voted on, it gained support. Following the third vote on May 20, the bill advanced to Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts.
Governor Ricketts has previously spoken out against the bill and had publicly stated that he would veto the bill. On Tuesday, May 26, 2015, Governor Ricketts officially vetoed the bill. The bill now returns to the legislature, who will once again vote, this time on whether or not to override the veto. Thirty votes are required to override the veto.
Nebraska has not executed an inmate since 1997, although it has recently purchased execution drugs. The state currently has 10 men on death row, following the death of Michael Ryan earlier in the week.
Michael Wayne Ryan, an inmate on death row in Nebraska died on Sunday, May 24, 2015, at the Tecumseh State Correctional Institute in Tecumseh, Nebraska. Michael was 66 years of age. Michael was sentenced to death on September 12, 1985, after being convicted of murdering 5-year-old Luke Stice and 26-year-old James Thimm during the first quarter of 1984. Michael spent the last 30 years of his life on Nebraska’s death row.
Michael, a high school dropout and former truck driver, eventually became the leader of white supremacist, anti-government, antisemitic, Christian cult. The cult would carry out burglaries at night, selling the items they stole to stockpile supplies and weapons for the coming armageddon, which they believed would take the form of a race war. In 1985, the bodies of Luke Stice and James Thimm were discovered. Evidence suggested, and agreed with testimony provided by other members of the cult at trial, that both males had been brutally tortured and sexually assaulted before being killed.
Michael was last scheduled to be executed in 2012, but received a stay of execution two weeks before his scheduled date, as Nebraska was unable to obtain the necessary drugs to carry out his execution. Legislatures in Nebraska are currently trying to abolish the death penalty. Ten men remain on death row in Nebraska, following Michael’s death.
A cause of death has not yet been determined, as there has been no autopsy, however, it is known that Michael had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and had been receiving treatment for a long-term medical condition.
Please pray for peace and healing for the families of Luke Stice and James Thimm. Please pray for the family of Michael.
Andrew’s mother was always home, ready with a snack, when he came bounding off the school bus. His father arrived home in time for dinner, which was made by Andrew’s mother. They ate together at a dinner table, sharing with each other the news of the day. As Andrew grew, he and his parents would talk about the news, exchanging their views on the various subjects. Andrew’s parents would always attend his sporting events, cheering on him and his team. Family came first, in actions and words.
Shane’s mother was always home, ready with a snack when he came bounding through the door, but he didn’t see her; she was busy on the computer. His father arrived home in time for dinner, usually made by Shane’s mother. They ate together at a dinner table, with conversation extremely limited, as the sound of a cellphone going off frequently occurred. Shane’s father would take phone calls from work. Shane’s mother would often answer e-mails. Shane would be busy texting his friends. Even though they frequently attended Shane’s events, they often missed seeing him succeed; they were otherwise occupied. Family came first, they said, but…
But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
(1 Timothy 5:8, ESV)
This month, May, is Family Wellness Month! This month, you are encouraged to spend more time with your family. Show your love! Show your joy! Show your family how important they are in your life!
How often has dinner been interrupted in the last week by a phone call? How often has family time been interrupted by someone sending and/or receiving a text message. How many times have your checked and possibly responded to a work e-mail while with your family? How many times, during a lull in conversation has someone checked social media on their phone? And five minutes later, you realized that everyone is on their phone instead of talking to those who are present? This month, unplug from the world and focus on family!
Family wellness begins by spending time together as a family! And no, not by watching television! Unplug! Build your relationship with your children, your spouse, your parents. Find an activity to do together. Go for a bike ride, cook a meal together, play a game. Work on family fitness while building relationships!
Spend time with your family talking and, more importantly, by listening! Learn what is going on in your family members lives. With what are they struggling? What has brought them joy recently? What is new in their lives? Face to face communication is extremely important. Many adults, especially older adults, prefer it over electronic communication. Many children and teens need the experience of expressing themselves in person, instead of in 140 characters or less or through emoji’s.
Family wellness is not limited to building relationships, but also to ensuring that each member of the family is experiencing spiritual wellness. Engage in a family Bible study. Talk about the week’s sermon and how it can apply to daily life. Grow together spiritually as a family!
This month, Family Wellness Month, focus on the all around wellness of your family. Start small, but start!