The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection, for the week of February 1-7, 2015, is Genesis 22:1-14. This passage shows the tremendous faith of Abraham, who was willing to sacrifice anything for the Lord.
After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.
When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” (Genesis 22:1-14, ESV)
Isaac was the son for which Abraham had waited 100 years! And now he was being asked to sacrifice him! Abraham trusted the Lord. He trusted the Lord’s promise that he would father a nation, but how was that to happen if he had to sacrifice his son?! Abraham loved his son, however he also wanted to honor the Lord. Can you imagine what Abraham must have been thinking during his three-day trek to where the alter was to be built? Can you imagine his heartbreak and anxiety? Can you imagine Isaac’s horror and terror when he realized he was to be the sacrifice?
Isaac, the son of Abraham, was not sacrificed that day. Thousands of years later, Jesus, the Son of God would be sacrificed for the sins of the world. It is believed that Jerusalem was built on the same mountain as Isaac was almost sacrificed! Here, at the beginning of the Israeli nation, God was foretelling the salvation that was to come. God was also testing Abraham’s faith. Abraham would go on to not only father a nation, but to become an example as a pillar of faith for all. As you meditate on, pray over, and reflect upon this week’s passage, consider what is the Lord is asking you to sacrifice for him? Look to this passage for encouragement and motivation to stay strong, for the Lord has a plan.
February 1, 2015: Daily Bible Reading with Commentary for Romans 11-12
Click here for the Daily Reading
Context: With Jews suffering under the rule of the Roman Empire, some believed that God had abandoned the Israelites in favor of the Gentiles. In chapter 11, Paul reassures the Jews that they have not been abandoned. Israel is God's chosen nation, His chose people, however, they have repeatedly turned their backs on the Lord. In return, their hearts had been hardened. Even during Paul's time, many hearts were hardened, which is why so many Jews rejected Jesus Christ as their savior. Through salvation of the Gentiles, the Israelites will return to the Lord. In chapter 12, Paul talks about being a sacrifice for Christ. Often envisioned is martyrdom, but that is the extreme. Instead, the sacrifice is daily, doing little things, such as volunteering at a soup kitchen. Sacrifices should be made out of love, not out of obligation.
World History: In AD 54, Roman Emperor Claudius is poisoned, supposedly by his fourth wife, Agrippina, mother of Nero, who became emperor upon Claudius’ death. It is commonly accepted that Nero later arranged for his mother to be killed.
On Friday, January 30, 2015, the state of Ohio announced that it would not be carrying out any executions this year. All executions that were scheduled for this year have been reschedule for 2016. Ohio began experiencing problems with its execution protocol in January of 2014, with the execution of Dennis McGuire. Dennis’ execution did not go as planned, as he took approximately 25 minutes to die after the execution drugs were administered. According to various reports, Dennis was also gasping during the execution. Following an in-depth investigation, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections determined that Dennis was indeed unconscious for the execution, however they increased the amount of drugs used in the execution. The combination of drugs used in Dennis’ execution was the first time that combination was used.
Following the revision of the execution protocol, several inmates filed appeals, leading to Judge Gregory Frost to postpone all executions until the issues were resolved. In December, Ohio passed a law which provides identity protection for those who supply the state of execution drugs. In January of 2015, Ohio put a new execution protocol into place, which includes a new combination of execution drugs. As of now, Ohio does not have the new drugs needed to carry out any executions and is experiencing difficulties finding a supplier. This year’s executions have been rescheduled in order to allow Ohio time to obtain the drugs and adopt the new execution protocol.
A complete list of revised executions can be found under our “Scheduled Executions” tab, or click here.
On January 31, 1961, several young men, mostly from Friendship Junior College in Rock Hill, South Carolina, chose to eat lunch at the counter of a local McCrory’s Five & Dime. They walked into the restaurant, sat down, and ordered hamburgers, soft drinks, and coffee. The men were refused service and ordered to leave the establishment. When the men refused, the police were called. The young men were beaten, to the cheers of the crowd that had gathered. The men were hauled off to jail. They were given a choice: a $100 fine or 30 days of hard labor at the York County Prison Farm. One man paid the fine. The remaining nine chose to serve their time, sparking a “jail, no bail” movement.
What caused such an ordinary activity as going our for lunch to spark such brutal actions? Simply the color of the men’s skin. They were blacks, sitting at a “White’s Only” lunch counter. They were not the first people of color to sit at the “White’s Only” lunch counter, nor would they be the last. Their actions helped the sit-in movement continue to gain steam. In addition to encouraging the sit-in movement, the group also started the “jail, no bail” movement. By refusing to pay bail, the men showed complete dedication to the civil rights movements, and encouraged others to do the same. When people of color were arrested and then paid their fine, they were paying for the city to continue to be able to arrest people like themselves. By choosing to stay in jail (where they were not exactly model inmates, as they refused to work at least twice), they were forcing the white authorities to pay for their housing, food, and supervision for their 30 day imprisonment. This idea spread, filling jail cells.
On Wednesday, January 28, 2015, 16th Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett and Circuit Court Judge John C. Hayes III, the nephew of the judge that sent the men to the prison camp, overturned the conviction of the men who became known as the Friendship 9: John Gains, Clarence Graham, Willie Thomas “Dub” Massey (now a substitute teacher in the Rock Hill area), Willie McCleod, James Wells, David Williamson Jr., Mack Workman, Robert McCullough (deceased August 7, 2006), and Thomas Gaither (the only one who was not a student at Friendship College).
As we approach Black History Month (February), we must remember to look back at incidents such as these. As uncomfortable as remembering these events may be, they are part of our history as Americans. To move forward in the present, we must remember the past, but not dwell in it, and, if possible, right the wrongs that have been made.
January 30, 2015
IDPN 2015 Issue 05
Egypt:Last year, over 500 members of the Muslim Brotherhood, which backed ousted President Mohammed Morsi, were sentenced to death in a mass trial. Many later had their sentences reduced. Now, 37 of those who did not have their death sentenced reduced, have been granted retrials. The initial conviction was due to an attack on a police station in 2013.
Indonesia:Australia is asking Indonesia to reconsider its plans to execute Australian nationals Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. Both men were members of the Bali 9 drug ring. They are the only two members to have had their sentences of death upheld. The other members received various prison terms. Since Indonesian President Joko Widodo has rejected their clemency requests, each faces an imminent execution date, although they have been able to appeal to have their case reviewed. The President’s rejection is in line with his policy of cracking down on drug smugglers, especially foreigners, and having their executions carried out.
British grandmother, 58-year-old Lindsay Saniford could be executed within the coming weeks, as she was asked to sign a document that officially confirms her death sentence. Lindsay was convicted of smuggling drugs into the country. She alleges that she was forced to carry the drugs, as her children were being threatened.
Iran:On Sunday, January 25, 2015, two prisoners, Milad Z. and Alireza A., were executed by hanging in the prison of Arak in central Iran. Both men were charged and convicted of possessing and trafficking heroin. In the prison of Kerman, also on Sunday, ten prisoners were executed by hanging. All ten were executed on drug related charges.
Three unidentified prisoners were executed by hanging in Hamadan in western Iran on Monday, January 26, 2015. All three prisoners were convicted of rape.
On Wednesday, January 28, 2015, a man was publicly executed by hanging in Golpayegan in central Iran. His execution was witnessed by thousands of individuals. The man, 43-year-old Mansour Mirlouhi was convicted of Moharebeh (ie waging war against God) and “corruption on earth” for participating in several armed robberies and armed clashes. Another individual, Ali Kamalvand, has also been unofficially reported as being executed. He was convicted of three rapes.
Malawi: The year 2014, marked the 50th anniversary of the nation, which has prompted calls for reform and transformation. Some believe that these reforms should included the abolishment of capital punishment. Malawi’s last execution occurred in 1992.
Do you ever wish God would speak to you like He did with Noah, Abraham, and Moses? Do you ever wish your relationship with the Lord was more like David’s? Do you ever wish you were granted a gift like Solomon? Looking back on their lives, it is easy to wish that God still spoke to us as He did to them. We tend to forget, however, that they still had the trials and tribulations that we have today. Speaking with God did not make their lives easier…it often made their lives more difficult!
God did not speak with them everyday. Years could go before they conversed once more. Abraham lived for 175 years. There are only seven recorded instances of God speaking to him! Noah lived 950 years. There are only four recorded instances of God speaking to him! Four!
Today, we may not think that God speaks to us as directly as He did to Noah and Abraham and Moses and David and Solomon, but that does not mean that He does not speak to us! Today, we can speak to God whenever we want or need. God speaks to us through His word, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit. God’s answers may not always be clear, but we can better understand Him by studying His word.
This year, The Forgiveness Foundation Christian Ministries asks you to join us in our year-long Bible study. Over the course of one year, beginning December 28, 2014, we will read through the entire Bible. Follow along with The Forgiveness Foundation's 52 Week Bible Reading Plan (available here). Check back to our website, www.theforgivenessfoundation.org, everyday for commentary on each day’s reading. If you miss a day, past commentary can be found under our “Scriptures” tab. Each week, we will have select a Bible passage from that week’s reading for extra consideration.
Do you want to hear God when He talks to you? Then get studying!