In the past several decades, respect for the Lord, our Christ, Messiah, and Savior, has greatly diminished. Where once it was common to pray, it has now become taboo. This past homecoming season, a picture was circulated online: a large group of high schoolers had went out to eat before the dance. The picture was of them joining hands in prayer. It was posted in celebration that there are still those among us, and young ones!, who remember to offer grace for the food they were about to eat. And the comments? Some, like the poster, found the image heartwarming. But many others could do nothing but deride these individuals for their choice to pray.
As Christians in America, we are fortunate. We have the guaranteed right to worship freely, however we choose. We may be ridiculed, we may be fewer than we once were - or perhaps the opposition has just grown louder. Organized prayer may have been removed from schools, sporting events, and other places - but our right to worship cannot and will not be encroached. We are fortunate, for not all individuals have that guaranteed right. Some face persecution, like Daniel in Babylon, for simply opening a window and praying.
Have you stopped to think about why and how we have that right? The right was and is secured for us in the Constitution of the United States, via the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” But it doesn’t stop there. In order for our rights to remain, the United States of America must remain a free nation. That responsibility falls on the shoulders of the United States Armed Forces.
Throughout the last 200+ years, the Armed Forces has evolved from a loosely regulated, rag-tag militia who secured this nation’s freedom, to a well-oiled fighting machine. Individuals who have joined the military and serve this country by protecting it, are willing to sacrifice everything to ensure that you and I are able to continue to enjoy our freedoms and rights.
On Monday, May 28, 2018, we celebrate Memorial Day - one of several holidays throughout the year that honor our armed forces. On Memorial Day, we specifically honor those who have fallen, those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for this nation - their life. Husbands and fathers. Wives and mothers. Sons and daughters. Nieces, nephews, grandchildren, uncles, aunts, cousins, and friends. Everyone who has fallen is someone!
Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. (Romans 13:7, ESV)
These men and women who have offered up their lives so that we may continue to live and worship freely, are owed our respect and our honor. This Memorial Day, thank the Lord for those who are willing to make such sacrifices. Also remember their families in prayer, for the pain of losing a loved one is always there.
When you get to know someone, you talk with them. You listen to their thoughts and opinions, discover their favorite movies and books, learn about their past and how they came to be the person that they are. And, eventually, you discover if their actions back up their words, if they are, in their heart, who they say they are.
You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. (Matthew 12:34-35, ESV)
The Pharisees were the religious elite. The men that were supposed to be the examples for all, the pillars of the community. They were to help the Jewish community grow in God and follow the laws of Moses. Yet, they set impossible requirements, demeaning those who could not meet their requirements, and failing to help those who truly needed their help.
They may have said all the right words and appeared to perform all the right actions, yet what was in their hearts? Their words and actions were lies, thus, in their hearts they were not faithful followers of the Lord.
The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life and his words of wisdom are a source of blessing, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence and evil. (Proverbs 10:11, AMP)
May 27, 2018: Daily Bible Reading Commentary for Galatians 1-3
Click here for the reading
Commentary: This letter was written with urgency, evident by Paul skipping his usual greeting, thanks, and prayers. He immediately begins with a defense of his apostleship before warning against false teachers who proclaim a salvation of works, instead of salvation by grace. Paul’s knowledge came through diligent and prolonged study. Further, Paul was supported by Peter in his teachings. Salvation cannot be earned through works, as no one, except Jess Christ, is without sin. God’s covenant with Abraham was also based on grace. The law was given as a reminder to the Israelites as to how they were to conduct themselves.
Focus Verses: 1:11-24 What does Paul’s calling reveal? Why is it important for Paul to note the length of time he spent studying and learning? How do you dedicate yourself to studying and learning?
The winter was cold, harsh, and bitter and led into a rainy, dreary, overcast, wet spring. It seemed as if the sun had not been seen since the fall, but finally, finally, the sun was starting to peak through the clouds. The days were getting warmer and drier. It was almost here. Summer! Days spent by the pool reading, frolicking on the beach, outside the house working on the lawn and garden. Regardless of what was being done outside, one thing was for certain, by the end of the summer, skin will have darkened into a delightful tan.
But Kyla was not rejoicing. In fact, she feared the summer. She had just became one of the 3.5 million individuals diagnosed with skin cancer each year, the most common form of cancer in the United States. When she received the news, she was in shock. She lived outside in the summer - the beach, pool parties, backyard BBQs, hiking, camping trips, and even just laying in the sun reading a book. What was she going to do???
As summer crept ever closer, Kyla knew that she needed to prepare herself. She did not want to cut herself off from her friends and summer activities, so she began reading information provided by her doctor. Kyla feared that she would not be able to go outside at all during the summer. She learned that she could, she should just avoid the sun - seek out shade when the sun was at its peak, typically between 10 am and 4 pm. She even had to be careful on cloudy days. The harmful rays of the sun are not stopped by clouds! She would also have to be aware of changes on her skin. Any new moles, or changes in existing moles, needed to be checked by a doctor immediately!
Kyla kept reading, then grabbed her keys and headed out to her car. She needed to go the store. Several bottles of sunscreen went into her cart. She planned to have a bottle in every bag she used, plus one in the car, and she wanted some extra in case those bottles ran out. It was important that she always apply sunscreen before going outside and reapply every two hours, more often if she was in the water or sweating. She wanted to always have sunscreen available. She also bought a wide brimmed straw hat to protect her face, ears, and neck, along with a few shirts and pants. Kyla knew that she would not always be able to wear long clothing, but she wanted to have lightweight clothing available for when she could.
Kyla had a blast over the summer! Her determination to keep herself safe earned a few weird looks and remarks, but her friends could have cared less what she was wearing…they were just glad she was with them! Kyla even had the opportunity to share her newfound knowledge with others and help them stay safe and protect themselves. And her friends may have occasionally joked about her new habits but it never stopped them from asking to borrow her sunscreen (or the spare hat in her car). Kyla was always more than happy to oblige, usually without a lecture on staying healthy.
May is Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month. With the days getting warmer and summer just around the corner, it is important that you and your family are prepared and know the early warning signs of skin cancer. Most skin cancers are treatable and curable if caught early enough. Take time this month to learn about how to prevent skin cancer. Share what you learn with friends and family! Please pray for healing for those who have been diagnosed with skin cancer.
May 25, 2018
IDPN 2018 Issue 21
Algeria: Merzoug Touati, a blogger, could be sentenced to death for his online posts and videos. He is being charged with espionage for allegedly publishing posts on Facebook and videos on YouTube that incite violence and encourage civil unrest. He has been in prison since January 2017. Amnesty International alleges that Merzoug is a journalist who is being falsely charged.
Bahrain: Two men have had their death sentences upheld by the Cassation Court. Their names were not reported. They are convicted of planning and carrying out the murder of a police officer.
Iran: On Wednesday, May 16, 2018, Babak Rezaei was executed by hanging in Ardabil Central Prison. He was convicted of murder during the course of a robbery, which occurred in October 2012.
Iraq: On Tuesday, May 22, 2018, Tarik Joadaoun, a/k/a Abu Hamza al-Beljiki, has been sentenced to death for his actions as a member of the terrorist group known as the Islamic State. Tarik is a Belgian national who made propaganda videos.
Malaysia: Fifty-four-year-old Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto has been sentenced to death for smuggling drugs. Maria was previously acquitted of the charge, however, she was sentenced to death on appeal. Maria was arrested while flying from Shanghai, China, to Melbourne, Australia, where she lives. She was found to be in possession of crystal methamphetamine. Maria alleges that her boyfriend placed the drugs in her luggage and that she had no knowledge of them.
Do you aspire to be a “better Christian?” Do you want to deepen and strengthen your relationship with the Lord? Well, I’ve got good news for you! It is possible! In as little as one year, The Forgiveness Foundation Christian Ministries can help you transform your relationship with the Lord!
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:8)
Right there! That is how you are going to grow and deepen your relationship with the Lord! You have to take the first steps and draw near to Him! You have to actively seek after a relationship with the Lord. How?
A great starting point is simple: daily study of His Word, the Bible. God has given us the Bible as a history book, a textbook, a praise book, a philosophy book, a book of warning of the coming future, and so much more! By following along with our “52 Week Bible Reading Plan” (available here), daily study will allow you to completely read through the Bible in one year. It is perfect for beginners who don’t know where to start, or for those who have already read the Bible a couple dozen times. Each reading, each study can bring new meaning and realization.
The Forgiveness Foundation Christian Ministries wants to help you! Each day, we will post a summary of the day’s reading on our website, www.theforgivenessfoundation.org. We will also post specific verses to focus on each day. Read through the entirety of the day’s reading. Then come back and re-read the focus verses. Prayerfully contemplate the questions asked about the reading. If you miss a day, don’t worry! Past commentary can be found under our “Scriptures” tab.
Our 2018 Daily Bible Study begins on December 31, 2017, but join us anytime! So, are you ready to deepen and strengthen your relationship with the Lord this upcoming year? Then let’s go!