October 28, 2016: Daily Bible Reading Commentary for Zephaniah 1-3
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Commentary: The prophet Zephaniah was likely from the royal line and may have been a cousin to Josiah, who was king at the time. Zephaniah was the last prophet before the Israelites were taken captive by Babylon. Zephaniah delivered judgement upon Judah, Philistine, Moab, Ammon, Cush, and Assyria. Zephaniah explains why these nations will be judged and destroyed, but not completely destroyed. The Israelites will be spared and, eventually, restored.
Focus Verses: What are some of the reasons for the destruction of these nations? Do you possess any of those faults? How can you actively work to become a better servant of Christ?
“A through knowledge of Bible is worth more than a college education.” He was the first president to win a Nobel Peace Prize and the first president to study martial arts, which led to a detached retina after being injured in a boxing match. He was the first president to own a car, to submerge in a submarine, and to ride in an airplane (after he was out of office). He has a children’s toy named after him. He is Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States of America, serving from September 14, 1901, until March 4, 1909. Theodore, who grew to despise the nickname “Teddy,” was born October 27, 1858, in New York City, New York, to parents who owned a successful plate-glass import business. Theodore was a sickly child and, as a result, was homeschooled, which helped develop his love of the outdoors and his love for animals. Theodore went on to graduate magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1880. He then enrolled in Columbia Law School, but dropped out as he became more interested in politics and less interested in the law. Theodore married Alice Hathaway Lee on his 22nd birthday.
After dropping out of law school, Theodore became a representative for New York City in the New York State Assembly. He was the youngest person to hold that position. Theodore was devastated when Alice died on February 14, 1884, two days after the birth of their first child. He then spent two years in the Dakota Territory, seriously contemplating becoming a rancher, leaving his infant daughter in the care of his sister. He later resumed custody of his daughter when she was three. After two years, Theodore returned, running for mayor of New York in 1886, however he was defeated. Later that year, on December 2, Theodore married his second wife, Edith Kermit Carow, with whom he had watched the funeral procession of Abraham Lincoln as a child.
Theodore continued his political pursuits and campaigned for Benjamin Harrison in the 1888 presidential elections, after which he was appointed to the United State Civil Service Commission. He remained in that position until 1895, and during his time he fought against the spoils system, believing political positions should not be granted in return for political support. In 1895, after refusing to run for mayor of New York and regretting that decision, Theodore became president of the New York City Police Commissioners, radically reforming the corrupt New York Police Department.
In 1897, Theodore was appointed by President William McKinley to be Assistant Secretary of the Navy. As the actual Secretary of the Navy had ill health, most major decisions were left up to Theodore. Theodore especially supported the removal of Spain from Cuba in order to foster the nation’s independence and show the United States support of the Monroe Doctrine.
Theodore took a special interest in the Spanish-American War, which began in April of 1898, and left politics to organize the Rough Riders, a volunteer calvary unit composed of individuals from varying backgrounds. Lieutenant Colonel Roosevelt helped train his regiment led them in the famous charge up San Juan Hill in 1898, for which he was nominated for the Medal of Honor. He posthumously received the award in 2001.
Theodore returned to New York City, where he was narrowly (by 1%!) elected governor. He once agin came into conflict with the Republican Party. President McKinley’s first Vice-President Garret Hobart died in 1899, leading to a search for a new vice-president. Supports of Theodore encouraged him to go after the position. Opponents also supported Theodore for vice-president, believing it would keep him in check, as the office was largely powerless. Like nearly everything Theodore did, he threw himself into campaigning and helped McKinley win a second term.
On September 6, 1901, President McKinley was shot in Buffalo, New York. For days, it was thought that McKinley would survive, however, he succumbed to his wound on September 14. Theodore was sworn in as President later that day. Theodore attempted to live up to McKinley’s campaign promises and kept McKinley’s staff and cabinet. Shortly thereafter, Theodore invited Booker T. Washington to dine at the White House, the first African American to be invited to dinner, although this caused tension in the South. Theodore, personally, supported desegregation and woman’s rights, although his administration was not aggressive in its support.
In May of 1902, President Roosevelt had to deal with a strike by anthracite coal miners, which threaten a national energy shortage. Theodore initially threatened an intervention with federal troops, however, he was able to get the workers to agree to have the dispute arbitrated with a commission. The workers did not unionize as they would have preferred, but they did receive higher pay for fewer hours.
Theodore was re-elected president in 1904, with a landslide victory against Alton Brooks Parker. During his time in office, Theodore maintained a good relationship, mostly, with the press, providing interviews and photo opportunities nearly every day. During one particularly rainy day in which the press were huddled outside, Theodore invited them into the White House and gave them their own room, beginning the modern-day presidential press briefings.
The Panic of 1907, or the Knickerbocker Crisis, was a financial crisis that occurred for three weeks, starting in mid-October. Stock prices fell and many business declared bankruptcy, including banks. New York’s third largest trust, Knickerbocker Trust Company, collapsed, causing panic. J.P. Morgan convinced other New York bankers to pledge large sums of money to help the banking system, preventing banks from collapsing. This panic eventually led to the creation of the Federal Reserve System.
One of Theodore’s most prominent and longest lasting work was in the conservation of natural resources. Theodore established the United States Forest Service and signed into law the creation of five National Parks. Working closely with Gifford Pinchot, who has a park named after him in Pennsylvania, Theodore established 51 Bird Reserves, four Game Preserves, and 150 National Forests, greatly increasing the amount of land under federal protection.
Internationally, Theodore worked at increasing the size of the US Navy and seeing to the completion of the Panama Canal, which including military assistance to Panama. He also assisted in negotiating the end of the Russo-Japanese War, which led to his Nobel Peace Prize.
Theodore initially supported his successor, William Howard Taft, however, Theodore began to openly criticize him when William’s policies began to differ from his own. Theodore formed the Bull Moose Party and ran against William in 1912. During his campaign, Theodore was shot in the chest as an assassination attempt. He continued speaking for 90 minutes before seeking medical treatment. Theodore lost the election.
Theodore remained active for most of his life, traveling, and publishing numerous books, including the four volume series The Winning of the West. He was an outspoken supporter of the Allies during World War I, and demanded harsher policies against Germany. He also believed “hyphenated Americans” were unpatriotic because they were not wholly loyal to the United States. Roosevelt had also been given the authority to raise four divisions similar to the Rough Riders. However, must to Theodore’s furor, President Woodrow Wilson refused to send the troops to France, forcing the divisions to disband. In retaliation, Theodore published a book against the president, helping his own party gain control of the Congress.
Theodore identified with the Dutch Reformed Church, although he frequently attend Episcopalian church services with his wife, as Dutch Reformed Churches were nearly impossible to locate. Theodore believed that if you did not fear God, you must consider yourself about the laws of man.
In 1918, Theodore considered another run for President but persistent health problems from malaria, ultimately convinced him against running. On January 6, 1919, Theodore died at his Long Island estate in his sleep after a blood clot lodged in his heart. He was 60 years of age. After being informed of Theodore’s death, vice-president Thomas Marshall said, “Death had to take Roosevelt sleeping, for if he had been awake, there would have been a fight.”
Happy Birthday Mr. President!
The birthday camping trip came as a surprise! All were looking forward to the weekend, even the birthday girl who only had a day to prepare! A few days at a National Park, full of camping, hiking, unexpected rainstorms, cookouts, and, of course, s’mores! The car trip was filled with talk of what they were going to eat and the trails they wanted to hike. Several specific trails were picked; some for the views they offered and others for the hiking challenge they offered. One afternoon road trip later, the group arrived at the campsite after dark, setting up the tent using flashlights before burrowing into sleeping bags intent on a good night’s sleep before a day full of adventure. The excitement was somewhat tampered the following morning: some of the hiking trails were closed to allow park rangers to search for a missing hiker, including one of the planned trails. No worries, there were several other trails. Word came later that day. The hiker, who had been missing for a week was found. She was dead. She had committed suicide.
Information later showed that she was a local woman, known for running those trails as training for trail races and to keep in shape for her job. Shortly before she killed herself, a picture had been shared on a popular social media site, a picture she did not want shared with the world. Under the picture were hundreds of disparaging comments, most criticizing her appearance. Many of those comments came from co-workers. She was bullied, resulting in her death.
She was not the first person to commit suicide due to bullying and, sadly, she will not be the last. Over 42,000 individuals commit suicide every year. It is the third leading cause of death among young people. And, for every person that successfully kills themselves, 100 others attempt and fail. Due to the nature of suicide, it is impossible to determine how many suicides are related to bullying.
We often think of bullying as the school yard bully. Anti-bullying campaigns are focused at school age children, with adults being trained how to respond if a child reports bullying to them or what to do if they witness a bullying incident between children. But it also needs to be recognized that bullying does not end at graduation. Sadly, it follows us into adulthood and the workplace. And, even more sad, the older we become, the crueler we become. Bullying can take many forms, not limited to gossip, exclusion, cruel, crude, unflattering, and/or unwanted jokes made at others expense, and criminal acts such as abuse and harassment.
The word “bully” never appears in the Bible, but that does not mean the topic is not addressed. Solomon advises, “The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.” Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, reiterates Solomon’s advice, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29, ESV) Jesus commands His followers to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matthew 5:44, ESV). Just as children are taught in school, we are not to stoop to the level of the bully and retaliate. We are to pray for them, show the other cheek (Matthew 5:39).
We are also not to stand by and watch others being bullied - it is the same as bullying. Inaction to others being bullied is bullying! We are to“Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hands of the wicked,”(Psalm 82:4, ESV). But, you may thinking, will that not lead to me being bullied?! Perhaps, but we must be willing to make sacrifices to follow the Lord.
It may be a tired statement, but it is true: we cannot control the actions of others, only how we respond. So how do you respond? October is Bullying Prevention Month. Set aside at least one day this month to focus your daily Bible study on what the Bible has to say about bullying and our reactions. Spend some time in prayer each day this month praying for strength for those who are being bullied. Pray for strength for yourself to not stand idly by. Pray for awareness and compassion for the bullies.
October 21, 2016
IDPN 2016 Issue 43
Bangladesh: On Sunday, October 16, 2016, Asadul Islam, alias Arif, was executed by hanging. Asadul was a leader of Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh, a banned militant group. He was convicted as part of an attack that killed two judges in 2005.
Belarus: The death penalty remains highly secretive in the only European Union member nation that retains capital punishment. According to those who have had family members executed, the family of the condemned is not informed of when the execution will take place - one a day box will simply arrive on their doorstep containing their family member’s belongings. The family then knows that they execution has been carried out. They are also not informed of the burial location. Visitation with the condemned family member is extremely limited and very carefully monitored. Only certain topics are allowed to be addressed. The European Union continues to oppose the death penalty, especially its use by one of its member nations. The nation has faced sanctions in the past for its continued use of capital punishment.
China: Wei Pengyuan, former deputy head of the coal department of China’s National Energy Administration, has been sentenced to death for accepting bribes and holding extremely large amounts of assets from unidentified sources, exceeding his legal income. His death sentence came with a two year reprieve, after which his sentence will be commuted to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole or further commutation.
India: Vikram Singh and Jasvir Singh were sentenced to death for the kidnapping and murder of a 16-year-old boy in 2005. The two relatives kidnapped the teenager and demanded a ransom from the boy’s father. They were scheduled to be executed this month, however, their executions have been stayed to review their petitions for mercy.
Umesh Reddy has had his execution stayed by the Karnataka High Court on Thursday, October 20, 2016. Umesh is convicted of rape and murder. He is appealing his sentence, asking to have it commuted to life in prison.
Palestine: In the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, a court has sentenced a 54-year-old man to death for allegedly spying for Israel. Two others were also recently sentenced to death, each for murder. All trials were carried out in secret.
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?