July 24, 2016: Daily Bible Reading Commentary for 1 Thessalonians 4-5
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Commentary: Paul continues his letter with a message of hope and inspiration - a life lived for Christ is a life worth living! A life in Christ is a life set apart from the world. Paul assures the Thessalonians that it does not matter if we are alive or dead when Christ returns, for we will all be with Him. Paul warns the church against spiritual drowsiness and becoming lazy in our relationship with Christ. We must stay active and alert! The letter concludes with a message from Paul, Silas, and Timothy regarding prayer.
Focus Verses: 4:13-18 What is your relationship with Christ? Do you continue to learn and grow? Have you become complacent?
Who was a positive, influential adult during your childhood? A teacher? A coach? A parent? A church leader? A friend’s parent? You may have had more than one adult you remember as being influential. Thats great! Everyone looks up to another individual for different reasons, but all positive, influential adults have one trait in common - they cared! They cared about you! They cared enough to make a difference.
Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he encountered robbers, who stripped him of his clothes [and belongings], beat him, and went their way [unconcerned], leaving him half dead. Now by coincidence a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite also came down to the place and saw him, and passed by on the other side [of the road]. But a Samaritan (foreigner), who was traveling, came upon him; and when he saw him, he was deeply moved with compassion [for him], and went to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them [to sooth and disinfect the injuries]; and he put him on his own pack-animal, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. On the next day he took out two denarii (two days’ wages) and gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I return.’ (John 10:30-35, AMP)
A person who makes a difference can be found in the most unexpected places. Perhaps the injured man saw the priest approaching. He would have breathed a sigh of relief - surely a priest, a man of God would care, would stop to help! But the priest passed him by, more concerned about himself. And then came a Levite. The man may have again thought help was at hand - surely a Levite, a servant of the Lord, would care, would stop to help! But the Levite passed him by, more concerned about himself. And then a Samaritan came. The man certainly did not expect help from a Samaritan, for the Samaritans and Jews despised each other! They went to great lengths to avoid walking through each other’s lands. Yet, the Samaritan stopped, helped, and took the injured man to where he could properly recover, paying all expenses, asking nothing in return. The most unexpected person can make a difference!
Can you be that person who makes a difference? July is National Make a Difference for Children Month. While we should always strive to be a positive influence in the lives of others, this month, focus on how you can make a difference in the life of a child. Perhaps you interact with children as part of your daily life. You are probably already making a difference! Reflect upon what you have done and how you can change and improve your interactions.
Therefore encourage and comfort one another and build up one another. (1 Thessalonians 5:11a, AMP)
If you do not interact with children daily, how can you make a difference? Pray for the Lord’s direction. Should you join a program such as Big Brother/Big Sister? Should you volunteer to coach a local sports league? Or volunteer to watch children? What action can you take? Pray for children and consider ways - and take action! - to make a difference to child.
Justin Michael Wolfe was just 21 years of age, when he was sent to death row in Virginia for arranging the murder of fellow drug dealer, 21-year-old Daniel Robert Petrole. After years of appeals, claims of innocence, confessions of guilt, recantations of testimonies, recantations of the recantations, and allegations of prosecutorial misconduct, Justin was granted a new trial. Justin has now been sentenced to 41 years in prison, but will serves just 26, with 15 credited for time already served.
On March 15, 2001, Daniel “Danny” Petrole, the leader of a high grade marijuana drug ring, was murdered in Fairfax, Virginia. Justin, a drug dealer who worked for Danny and owed him over $60,000, left town two days later, ostensibly to avoid questions about the drug ring the police uncovered with Danny’s death. Police claim he left town to avoid murder charges. Justin eventually turned himself into the police, in the hopes of convincing them he had nothing to do with the murder.
Police also arrested a third drug dealer, and a former Chantilly High School student with Justin, Owen Merton Barber IV. Owen confessed to the murder, saying he killed Danny on Justin’s orders. Owen agreed to testify against Justin. In exchange, Owen would not receive the death penalty. Owen received a lengthy prison sentence, while Justin continued to proclaim that he had nothing to do with Danny’s murder.
In December of 2005, Justin’s claims of innocence seemed to gain traction; Owen recanted his testimony. In a 13-page affidavit, Owen claims that Justin had no part in Danny’s murder. Four month’s later, Owen recanted his recantation, sending a letter to the defense team, claiming that Justin ordered Danny’s murder. He repeated this claim several times over the next few years. However, in 2010, Owen testified in federal court that Justin had nothing to do with Danny’s murder. He also claims that he felt forced to testify against Justin or the prosecutor were going to sentence him to death.
Also in 2010, Justin’s lawyers argued that evidence had been withheld by the prosecution prior to his original trial. The US Eastern District Court granted a new evidentiary hearing, which led to US District Court Judge Raymond A. Jackson vacating Justin’s death sentence. The state appealed that decision. After losing the appeal, the state chose to retry Justin. After numerous delays and appeals, Justin accepted a plea deal that would prevent him from once again being sentenced to death. As part of the deal, Justin pled guilty and, in a handwritten confession, admitted to conspiring with Owen to murder Danny. He was then sentenced to 41 years in prison, but will only serve 26 years, with 15 years credited for time already served.
Please pray for peace and healing for the family of the Danny. Please pray for strength for Justin and his family.
July 22, 2016
IDPN 2016 Issue 30
Bangladesh: Eight individuals accused of committing war crimes during the 1971 liberation war with Pakistan, have been convicted and sentenced. Three of the Islamists were given death sentences, while the remaining five are to be jailed until death. They were tried before an International Crimes Tribunal. Only two were present for the trial; the other six were tried in absentia.
Indonesia: The Attorney General’s Office has announced that they are waiting for the Supreme Court to rule before setting the date for the next round of executions. The Supreme Court is reviewing a case by multiple death row inmates. So far, President Joko Widodo’s administration has carried out two rounds of executions in the last year, which has resulted in the execution of 14 death row inmates.
Iran: On Saturday, July 16, 2016, two unnamed men were executed by hanging in Lakan Prison in Rasht, in northern Iran. The men, ages 40 and 49, were executed for drug related charges.
On Sunday, July 17, 2016, 11 individuals were executed by hanging in Qezelhesar Prison in Karaj. Two of the prisoners were identified as Saeed Saberi and Moslem Bahrami and at least one of those executed was a woman. All were executed on drug related charges.
Also, on Sunday, July 17, 2016, two men, identified by initials only, were publicly executed by hanging in public square in the city of Karaj. They were executed for rape. Another three men, Mansour Zafarani, Yousef Barahoui, and Qassem Delshad, were executed in the city of Birjand, all for drug related charges.
On Wednesday, July 20, 2016, ten prisoners were executed by hanging in Rajai Shahr Prison in northern Iran. All were executed for unrelated murder charges. Four of the prisoners have been identified as Mohsen Babaie, Mehdi Keshavarz, Reza Teymouri, and Mohsen Khanmohammadi.
Japan: Twenty-seven-year-old Kazuya Tsuchiya has been sentenced to death for the murder of 81-year-old Tanekichi Kawaura and 93-year-old Yoshie Kojima. Yoshie was killed in November of 2014, while Tanekichi was killed on December 16, 2014. Kazuya broke into each of their homes and robbed them after killing them.
Thirty-one-year-old Gota Tsutsui has had his death sentence upheld for murdering 56-year-old Mitsuko Yamashita and her mother, 77-year-old Hisae Yamashita on December 16, 2011, outside their home in Saikai, Nagasaki Prefecture. Mitsuko was the mother of Gota’s former girlfriend. Gota had previously threatened, by e-mail, to kill the women if they interfered with his attempts to renew their relationship.
Kenya: A street salesman, Peter Kinyua Mwangi, has been sentenced to death after being convicted of killing his girlfriend’s infant child. Peter was not the father of the child and began dating the mother three months before the child was born. On April 22, 2009, Peter first strangled the infant, then hit it, before dumping the baby into a pit latrine. The infant did not survive.
What does receiving a personal letter mean to you? How does it make you feel? When we look at a return address and realize that the letter is from a friend, we feel loved. We cannot wait cherish every word in the message held inside! In today’s fast-paced world, letter writing is quickly becoming a thing of the past, yet for some, the men and women on death row, it is the only way they can communicate with the world. Since March 8, 2005, The Forgiveness Foundation Christian Ministries has strived to give the over 3,000 men and women on death row the same feeling that you have when you receive a letter; loved. Our letters carry more than just the love of every member of The Forgiveness Foundation Christian Ministries’ team, which include the individuals (like you!) who help finance the letter writing ministry. Our letters also, and more importantly, carry the love of Jesus Christ! In each letter, we share how much Jesus loves them. He has already paid the debt of their sin, the debt of the murders for which they are convicted. We share with them that Jesus has freely paid that price, and that they are forgiven! They must only accept Jesus Christ’s forgiveness, making Him Lord of their lives! The Forgiveness Foundation Christian Ministries works toward honoring the “Great Commission,” with our mail ministry to the men and women on death row. View our donations page to discover how you can help The Forgiveness Foundation Christian Ministries minister to the men and women on death row.
Do you know how Noah knew it was safe to leave the ark? Do you know who the first Israelite king was and how he was appointed? Saul did not became the well-known Apostle Paul overnight. Peter did not suddenly go from fisherman to a leader in the early Church. Even Jesus did not go from a carpenter’s son to correcting Pharisees’ overnight! Before reaching prominence and influence, each were faced with trials. Each spent time studying the Word of God, just as we must do today. It is because of their trials, not despite, because of their studying, that they transformed from who they had once been into the influential figures that associate their names with today. To become the person God desires us to be, we too must diligently study God’s word.
Unsure of where to start your study? Let us help! Every year, we at The Forgiveness Foundation Christian Ministries, invite you to participate in our “52 Week Bible Reading Plan” (available here). By using this plan, you will, within one year, have completely read through the entire Bible, an excellent way to begin your study!
Paul, Peter, and Jesus each knew the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament. They also knew what the prophets had foretold and even the psalms written by David and others! Their knowledge came from years of study. By reading through the entire Bible, your knowledge and understanding of the history of Israel and the key figures in both the Old and New Testament, will grow. Always accompany your reading with prayer, reflection, and meditation. What does God want you to learn today? Check out our Commentary (available under the “Scriptures” tab on our website www.theforgivenessfoundation.org) for 2015, to learn more about world history during each day’s reading.
Diligent study of God’s word does not end upon reading the Bible. As with any subject of study, once you have grasped the basics, you dig deeper and increase your learning! We can help! This year, in addition to providing an overview of each day’s reading, we will also be providing focus verses. After reading through the day’s passages, go back and re-read the focus verses. Contemplate on the questions asked. What questions does the text pose for you? Check back to our website, www.theforgivenessfoundation.org, for each day’s reading. If you miss a day, past commentary can be found under our “Scriptures” tab.
Our 2016 plan begins on December 27, 2015, but join in at any time! Saul spent years as a pharisee, persecuting those who followed Jesus Christ, before understanding the truth. Peter was an adult when he was called to follow Christ. Even Jesus spent time in prayer and meditation, learning, before and during His ministry! It is never too late, or too early, to start studying God’s word. What is God’s plan for you?