The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection for the week of April 19-25, 2015, is 2 Corinthians 1:3-5. Paul is once again writing to the Corinthians, with whom he was experiencing a strained relationship at the time. The Corinthians were upset that Paul had not visited them as he said he would. This letter, in part, explained his actions. Paul did not want to visit with them when his visit would not bring joy, but rather suffering.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of sympathy (pity and mercy) and the God [Who is the Source] of every comfort (consolation and encouragement), Who comforts (consoles and encourages) us in every trouble (calamity and affliction), so that we may also be able to comfort (console and encourage) those who are in any kind of trouble or distress, with the comfort (consolation and encouragement) with which we ourselves are comforted (consoled and encouraged) by God. For just as Christ’s [own] sufferings fall to our lot [as they overflow upon His disciples, and we share and experience them] abundantly, so through Christ comfort (consolation and encouragement) is also [shared and experienced] abundantly by us. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5, AMP)
Paul’s writing here is to encourage the Corinthians during this trying time. They are not alone in their feelings. Paul feels them and understands them too, but more importantly, so does the Lord! We are never alone when going through a difficult time. Jesus Christ, as a man, suffered all that we could possibly suffer and more! He is always there with us. He also wants to be there with us during a times of joy. As you meditate on, pray over, and reflect upon this week’s verse, evaluate your actions during times of struggle and times of joy. Do you invite the Lord to share in them with you?
April 24, 2015: Daily Bible Reading with Commentary for Jeremiah 22-26
Click here for the Daily Reading
Context: Chapter 22 pronounces judgment on the wealthy that have used their wealth on themselves and not to the Lord's purpose. The Lord also pronounced judgment on the sons of Josiah for turning away from the Lord and refusing to listen to Him. For that, their punishment would be severe. Following these harsh pronouncements comes a ray of sunlight in the darkness. God has not forgotten His people. They will not be held captive forever. They will be restored to Israel. Chapter 25 occurs nearly 20 years before the previous chapter (Jeremiah in NOT arranged chronologically). It foretells of Babylon conquering Judah and the Israelites being captives for 70 years. In chapter 26, Jeremiah is threatened with death for prophesying against Judah. Jeremiah was the only true prophet of the Lord at this time. There were others who were considered prophets but they did not speak for the Lord and were prophesying peace. The temple priests support these false prophets over the Lord's true prophet, Jeremiah.
Michael Hanline is now 69 years of age, the age most people are enjoying retirement, spending time with grandchildren, and reflecting upon the years they spent watching their children grow up. But Michael’s story is different. Yes, he is 69, but he is not enjoying his retirement, rather, he is simply enjoying freedom. For the past 34 years, Michael has been an inmate in a California prison for a crime he did not commit.
In 1978, at the age of 35, Michael was convicted of the murder of JT McGarry, a resident of Ventrua, California, and friends with Michael. Prosecutors, using Michael’s girlfriend as their star witness, theorized that Michael killed JT due to jealousy over being involved with the same woman. Michael was sentenced to life in prison, without the possibility of parole. Michael always claimed his innocence. After his conviction, he thought it might take a couple of years to sort out everything and get released. Those couple of years turned into 34. For the last 15 years, the California Innocence Project has been working to free Michael.
During the investigation, the California Innocence Project discovered that prosecutors withheld evidence from Michael’s legal team, evidence which should have been shared. Additionally, DNA testing from evidence found at the crime scene matches neither Michael, nor Michael’s alleged accomplice. On Wednesday, April 22, 2015, a Ventura County Superior Court judge formally dismissed all charges against Michael, at the request of prosecutors.
Please pray for Michael as he adjusts to a world full of “Buck Rogers” gadgets.
April 24, 2015
IDPN 2015 Issue 17
Bangladesh:Ariful Islam has been sentenced to death for throwing acid on a school girl in Rangpur. Ariful’s two accomplices were each given life sentences. The girl, Masuda Akhter, a 9th grader, was left blinded by the attack.
Rasu Khan has been given the death penalty for a 2008 murder. On August 18, 2008, Rasu raped Shahida Begum before killing her. It was nearly a year before Rasu was arrested, although for an unrelated crime. After his arrest, Rasu eventually confessed to the rape and murder, along with the murder 10 other women. Rasu began his killing spree after “failing in love.” His goal was to kill 101 women, raping those he found attractive.
Indonesia:Rodrigo Gularte, a Brazilian man on death row, has been declared fit to be executed, despite his alleged mental illness. According to his lawyers Rodrigo has schizophrenia, but testimony from fellow inmates convinced a court that Rodrigo was not ill.
In a surprising move, the death sentence for Mustafa Moradalivand and Sayed Hashem were commuted. Both men were convicted on drug charges in February of 2014. The commutation is surprising due to Indonesia’s new, tough stance against drug offenders.
Nineteen-year-old Heather Mack and 21-year-old Tommy Schaefer, both from Chicago in the United States, have been convicted of killing Heather’s mother, Sheila von Wiese-Mack, and then stuffing her body in a suitcase and abandoning it. Neither received the death penalty. Tommy received 18 years in prison for premeditated murder. Heather received 10 years for being an accessory to murder.
Iran:On Thursday, April 16, 2015, 12 inmates were executed by hanging in Mashhad. On the following day, Friday, April 17, 2015, four others were hanged in Birjand. On Saturday, April 18, 2015, four prisoners were executed in Zahedan’s Central Prison. Their names and crimes were not reported.
On Monday, April 20, 2015, four inmates, Loqman Moeziri, Ali Jalili, Bahr Ali Yahyazadeh, and Behnam Ahmadi, were executed by hanging at Orumieh Prison. Their crimes were not reported. Their families, upon learning that their executions were imminent, clashed with security forces, breaking a prison window.
Update: Monday, April 20, 2015 10:40 am EDT
Robert Lynn Pruett's execution is scheduled to occur at 6 pm CDT, on Tuesday, April 28, 2015, at the Walls Unit of the Huntsville State Penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. Thirty-five-year-old Robert was convicted of killing 37-year-old correctional officer Daniel Nagle, on December 17, 1999, while Robert was serving a life sentence at the McConnell Unit in Beeville, Texas. Robert has spent the last 15 years of his life on Texas’ death row.
Robert grew up poor, often going hungry. He and his family frequently moved while he was a child. Robert was friends with gang members, did drugs, and drank alcohol while growing up. His mother worked hard and his father was gone during the early years of his life. Eventually they got back together. As a teenager, Robert and his friends began stealing from people's houses. During one of these robberies, when Robert was 15, he and his friends were caught by a neighbor. They fled the house and attempted to hide their stolen goods, including rifles. Robert was caught and sent to a juvenile detention center. Robert returned home on a very strict parole and warned to not get into any more trouble.
Upon returning home, Robert was informed by his friends that his neighbor, Ray Yarborough, had taken one of the guns he and his friends had stolen. Robert, who did not like Ray, asked for the weapon back. Ray denied having the weapon. The two argued for a while but did not resolve the problem. Robert informed his brother and father about the argument. They all agreed to do nothing so as to not stir up trouble.
On August 9, 1995, just a few weeks shy of Robert's 16th birthday, Ray, who lived in a trailer across from Robert, came home drunk. His dog had escaped and, while attempting to catch it, he yelled obscenities and threatened to beat it. Robert, who was unaware of the escaped dog, thought Ray was yelling at him. Robert awakened his father and brother and all three went outside to confront Ray. Robert, the first one outside, attacked Ray. Robert's brother came outside next and began fighting with Ray. The two of them ended up in some trees, where Robert's father went after them. Robert claims he stayed with the group who had gathered. Robert's father and brother emerged from the woods with blood on their clothing. The three fled. They were later arrested and all were charged with Ray's murder. Robert's father eventually confessed to stabbing Ray and killing him. He testified that although his boys were with him during the murder, they did not partake. He received a life sentence. Robert's brother, who was 25 at the time of the murder, received a 40 year sentence. Robert, who was tried as an adult, received a 99 year sentence.
Do you volunteer? Are you joyful?
In 1974, President Nixon, through executive order, proclaimed one week in April as National Volunteer Week, a week to celebrate and recognize the efforts of all individuals who volunteer. Since then, every year, each president has issued a proclamation during National Volunteer Week, this year falling between April 12-18, 2015. Due to raising awareness, the number of individuals who volunteer through the United States has increased. National Volunteer Week has also expanded into an entire month! That’s right, April is National Volunteer Month!
Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” (2 Corinthians 9:7-9, ESV)
As Christians, we should desire to give of our selves and serve others as we are able. We should serve because we want to, not because we must. God can see into our hearts and see our attitude of service.
Part of having a desire to serve comes from serving in a manner that we enjoy! If you love being around children, consider volunteering for nursery duty! Do you enjoy showing your creative side? Volunteer to help with decorations! Perhaps you enjoy working with your hands - find a local Habitat for Humanity or community project near you! There are endless options for volunteering, you just have to look for them! You may just find something you love and share God’s love in the process!
This month, consider activities you enjoy doing. Look for volunteer activities which are similar. Then act! Sign up to volunteer! If you are unsure, try something new! You never know what passion you may discover and how the Lord can work through you!