The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection for the week of March 22-28, 2015, is Jeremiah 1:4-10. This passage records Jeremiah’s calling by the Lord. As you read this week’s passage, study Jeremiah’s reaction to his calling. Have you ever acted in a similar manner?
Then the word of the Lord came to me [Jeremiah], saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew [and] approved of you [as My chosen instrument], and before you were born I separated and set you apart, consecrating you; [and] I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Then said I, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am only a youth.” But the Lord said to me, “Say not, I am only a youth; for you shall go to all to whom I shall send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Be not afraid of them [their faces], for I am with you to deliver you,” says the Lord. Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. See, I have this day appointed you to the oversight of the nations and of the kingdoms to root out and pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” (Jeremiah 1:4-10, AMP)
Jeremiah’s reaction is one shared by many prophets and individuals whom the Lord has called into His service: believing they are unfit to serve. Moses was scared of public speaking. Joshua needed frequent assurance and encouragement. Saul, after prophesying with prophets, felt unqualified and inadequate and attempted to hide! Solomon sought wisdom above all else, perhaps feeling he was too young to become king. Do you feel inadequate, unqualified, unsure, and/or scared for the purpose the Lord has called you? Take comfort! You are in good company.
God has called us all to serve Him in some manner. Very few approach the task with no reservations. As you meditate on, pray over, and reflect upon this weeks verse, consider what task the Lord has set before you. What excuse are you using to evade serving?
March 27, 2015: Daily Bible Reading with Commentary for Jeremiah 1-6
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Author:Jeremiah, a prophet of the Lord - "The Weeping Prophet"
Date:Jeremiah served as a prophet in Judah from approximately 627 BC until after the destruction of the Temple in 586 BC
Context:The first chapter of Jeremiah focuses on his calling by the Lord. Jeremiah was probably around the age of 20 when the Lord called him to fulfill his destiny as a prophet. Jeremiah thought himself incapable of the task the Lord called him to. God promises that He will put the words in Jeremiah's mouth. Once again, God chooses the weak to spread His message. The remaining of today's reading was spoken during the first five years of Jeremiah's ministry. Chapter 2 begins with recall of past events, when Israel still trusted in and relied upon the Lord. Beginning in verse 20 and continuing through the first five verses of chapter 3, Jeremiah, through God, condemns the idolatry Judah has embraced. The remaining of today's reading is God's charge of backsliding against the people of Judah. The people had not simply slid backwards, they outright rejected the Lord and anything to do with Him. Josiah, the King, was sincere in his efforts to seek the Lord and walk in a way that was pleasing to Him, but for many in Judah, the return to God was superficial - a surface act only. They failed to repent whole heartedly. As you read today's passage, look for the specific sins identified by Jeremiah and consider if those sins are present today. How are we like Judah?
World History: Josiah became ruler of Judah at the age of eight. Jeremiah was called to be prophet during the 13th year of Josiah's reign. Josiah ruled for a total of 31 years. Likely, Josiah and Jeremiah were good friends, as Josiah was a Godly king and Jeremiah was a mourner at his funeral. Jeremiah continued to prophesize during the reigns of the four kings that followed Josiah, none of which followed God. During the first five years, Josiah began to remove carven images, however the real revival and reform of Judah did not occur until after Josiah discovered the Book of the Law. Israel, to the north, had already fallen into captivity. Judah refused to learn from Israel's mistakes.
On December 2, 1989, every mother’s worst fear became a reality for Debra Jean Milke: her son, 4-year-old Christopher Conan Milke, disappeared. Unfortunately, this was just the first nightmare for Debra - it was about to get much worse.
Debra had allowed her son to go to the mall to meet Santa with her roommate James Lynn Styers and his friend, Roger Mark Scott. Later that day, James filed a missing child report indicating Christopher had disappeared while they were at the mall. The following day, during a police interview, Roger confessed to knowing where Christopher’s body was buried and to being present when James shot and killed him. According to the two men, they murdered Christopher at the request of his mother, who did not want the child anymore or for him to live with his father. Christopher’s death would also lead to a payout of his life insurance.
Armando Saldate, Jr., a former detective with the Phoenix Police Department, questioned Debra shortly after her son’s disappearance. There were no witnesses during the questioning and it was not recorded. According to the detective, Debra confessed to the crime, however she did not provide a written statement, nor did she sign one written by the detective. She was convicted and sentenced to death on January 18, 1991, on the testimony of Detective Saldate. The two men, who were also convicted of murder and sentenced to death, refused to testify against Debra.
Since then, a federal court has affirmed that now-retired Detective Saldate has a history of misconduct by lying under oath and/or violated suspects’ rights. After nearly 20 years, an appeals court determined that there was no evidence that Debra had voluntarily waived her Miranda rights, therefore her alleged confession was inadmissible in court. Debra was granted a new trial. She was released on bond, with an ankle monitor, in 2013.
On Monday, March 23, 2015, 24 years after she was sentenced to death, all charges against Debra were formally dismissed. Her ankle monitor was also removed. She is now suing the city of Phoenix, Maricopa County, and numerous other individuals for violation of her civil rights, being denied a fair trial, and malicious prosecution.
Please pray for Debra.
“Wealth can only be accumulated by the earnings of industry and the savings of frugality.” He is the great uncle of Harry Truman. He was an avid reader, with a large personal library. His favorite author was Shakespeare. He was the first vice-president to become president. He is John Tyler, 10th President of the United States. John was born on March 29, 1790, in Charles City County, Virginia, on his family’s slave-owning estate called the Greenway as one of eight children. He was one of seven presidents born in Virginia. John had an excellent education, graduating from the College of William and Mary at the age of 17 and being admitted into the bar two years later. When John was 21, his father became governor of Virginia, which allowed John to obtain a position in the Virginia House of Delegates. John married his first wife, Letitia Christian in 1813. They had eight children together, one of whom died as an infant.
John served as a military captain in the War of 1812, after which he was elected to the House of Representatives from 1816 to 1821. In 1825, John became governor of Virginia for two years before becoming a senator. In opposition to President Andrew Jackson, John joined the Whig party, founded by Henry Clay and Daniel Webster.
In 1840, John was selected to run as vice president, with William Henry Harrison running for president. Together, with their catchy slogan - “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too!” - the duo won their bid for the White House. Harrison was inaugurated in March of 1841. One month later, President Harrison died, the first president to die while in office. One legend says that John was on his knees playing marbles when he received the news of Harrison’s death, although this is unconfirmed.
With Harrison’s death, uncertainty abounded regarding the office of the Presidency. Was John Tyler, the vice-president simply to assume the powers of the president’s office? Was he actually the President of the United States? The presidential Cabinet determined that John was simply “Vice-President acting President,” however John believed differently. John believed that with Harrison’s death, he now was the President, shortly after returning to Washington DC, had himself sworn in, with any qualifiers. John did not believe that it was necessary to take the Presidential oath, as he had already taken the Vice-Presidential oath, however, he wanted to squash any doubt regarding his accession. He also went on to issue an inaugural address on April 9, 1841.
John’s presidency was difficult. There were those legislatures that did not immediately accept him as President. John remained firm in his belief that he was president, returning any correspondence that was addressed to the “Vice President” or “Acting President,” unopened. Additionally, he was immediately at odds with his inherited Cabinet, as he was unwilling to allow them to continue making policy by a simple majority vote as Harrison had done. Further, John became at odds with his own Whig party, when he demonstrated that he was not a man who could be managed. The Whig party eventually expelled him and attempted to have him impeached for misuse of veto power. The attempt failed to gain support. It was the first time impeachment proceedings had been started against a President.
The major division between John and the Whig party occurred over a national banking act, which John opposed and the Whigs supported. John twice vetoed such an act. Shortly thereafter, his Cabinet began resining, all but one, an act orchestrated by Henry Clay in an attempted to force John’s resignation. When John did not resign, the Whigs in Congress refused to allocate funds to repair the White House.
In September of 1842, John’s wife, Letitia died of a stroke. He was the first president whose wife died while he was in office. He married his second wife, Julia Gardiner in 1844. They went on to have seven children, all of whom lived into adulthood. With a total of 15 children, no other president had more children.
President Tyler and Congress continue to oppose each other on several issues, such as the tariff rate, the government debt, and a distribution program. Due to several vetoes by John, the first impeachment proceedings in American history took place against President Tyler. The Congress also refused to accept a number of the Presidential nominees for his Cabinet. He was the first president to have his nominees reject. He continues to hold the record for the most rejections.
Despite the domestic issues, John was successful on several foreign and military affairs. He began a process that would eventually lead to Hawaii becoming a state. On his final day in office, he admitted Florida into the Union. He also advocated for Texas to become a state. John improved relations with Britain regarding several disputed borders and brought an end to the Second Seminole War. He also advocated for the establishment of a chain of forts from Iowa to the Pacific.
John sought to run for second term and was using the annexation of Texas to gain favor. Unfortunately, following a deadly incident onboard the USS Princeton, John was unable to complete his plan prior to the election, as several key Cabinet members were killed. John also sought to reshape his public image by distributing a favorably biography of himself.
Unfortunately, neither the Whig party, nor the Democratic party was willing to accept him and nominate him for another term. John, therefore formed his own party - the Democratic-Republicans, who nominated him to run for a second term. However, John eventually dropped out of the race and supported James Polk of the Democratic party for President.
Following his time as President, John retired to a Virginia plantation that he renamed Sherwood Forest, after the legend of Robin Hood. He spent much of the time on his plantation, rarely receiving friends or giving public speeches, although he did attempt to help with a compromise that would avoid Civil War. Following the breakout of the Civil War, John did not hesitate to support Virginia and join the Confederacy, where he was elected to the Confederate House of Representatives, although he never lived to see the opening session. John, who had frequently suffered from poor health, died on January 12, 1862, at the age of 71. His cause of death is believed to have been a stroke. John became the only president to not have his death officially recognized in Washington, as many believed him to be a traitor. Confederate President Jefferson Davis insisted that he be given a hero’s burial, with his coffin draped in the Confederate flag. Over a century later, President Jimmy Carter restored John’s US citizenship.
John is believed to have been Episcopalian. He would occasionally make references to God in speeches, however he was not known as a strong proponent of religion. John believed in religious tolerance and freedom for all religions - “The conscience is left free from all restraint and each is permitted to worship his Maker after his own judgement.” John also believed that religion did not have a place in politics.
Happy Birthday Mr. President!
It has been a long week. Father was diagnosed with cancer. He does not have long to live. Mother spent most nights crying on the phone to you, looking for support. And she wants to meet this weekend! She says you have always been logical one and now needs someone logical and not emotional to help her organize everything. And work. Work! It is the busiest time of year and with the new promotion, you want to show that you have earned it, but, on top of everything else, a major supplier has ceased production. It is a lot to handle on its own, yet now… You feel that you have not yet had a moment to yourself to process all that has happened, to cry and grieve, to handle things in your way. How are you going to get through this?
Over the course of life, everyone experiences a day, week, month, or year like this. It seems that everything that can go wrong does, and you are left to try and deal with it on your own. But you are never alone! You always have a friend standing right beside you. You can cry on His shoulder, lean on Him for support. When things get really bad, He will carry you through. There is just one catch…you must ask!
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:28-29, ESV)
That friend is Jesus Christ! When we are overwhelmed with our problems, we can turn to Him for relief.
March is Spiritual Wellness Month! It is the month in which Spring officially arrives, even if the weather may not always agree. Spring, a season of renewing and planting. It is fitting, then, that in March, we also focus on our own renewal and planting. Do you have a blooming relationship with the Lord? Or does your relationship need some watering and growth?
Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. (1 Timothy 4:7-9, ESV)
A relationship with the Lord, does not happen overnight. We must plant the seed, water it, care for it, before it begins to grow and flower. Just as we go to the gym to train our bodies to be fit, we must also spend time with the Lord to develop our relationship, which will benefit us far more than physical training ever will.
This month, Spiritual Awareness Month, focus on your relationship with the Lord! No matter what stage of your relationship, it can always grow!
March 20, 2015
IDPN 2015 Issue 12
Belarus: Twenty-one-year-old Siarhei Ivanou was sentenced to death this week for the rape and murder of a 19-year-old girl in August of 2013.
Egypt: On Monday, March 16, 2015, an Egyptian court sentenced 14 individuals to death. All were members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. Among those sentenced to death is Mohamed Badie, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Indonesia: While President Joko Widodo has refused to grant clemency for drug dealers, including Australians Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, he has granted clemency to three men convicted of premeditated murder. Their sentences were reduced to life in prison. Myuran and Andrew continue to await their execution date. They are being held on the island where execution are carried out.
The Indonesian Ulema Council, Indonesia’s Islamic Authority, is calling for the death penalty to be applied to several crimes that violate Islamic law, including “sodomy, homosexuals, gays, and lesbians.”
The case of a Filipino domestic worker and drug courier, Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, will be reviewed by the Indonesian Supreme Court. Veloso was convicted in 2010, of attempting to smuggle 2.6 kilograms of heroin from Malaysia to Yogyakarta. Veloso claims she did not know there were drugs in her suitcase. Veloso was scheduled to be executed soon along with two Bali Nine members. Some speculate that this review could result in a delay for all those scheduled to be executed with her.
Iran: On Saturday, March 14, 2015, four men - 26-year-old Seyed Alam Ozbak, 25-year-old Nasimollah Ozbak, 30-year-old Soltan Ozbak, and an unnamed 60-year-old Iranian man - were executed by hanging in Zahedan in southeastern Iran. Seyed, Nasimollah, and Soltan are all Afghan nationals. Their crimes were not reported.
On Sunday, March 15, 2015, Farshid Jaafari was executed by hanging in Adelabad Prison in Shiraz. He was convicted on drug-related crimes.
On Thursday, March 19, 2015, two men were executed by hanging in public in Jiroft. The names of the two men were not reported, nor were their crimes.