The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection for the week of March 1-7, 2015, is Matthew 26:36-46. In this passage, we see that although He is the Son of God, He is also very much the Son of Man. He is human! With emotions and weaknesses that we all have! Can you imagine how you would be acting if you knew that you were to soon die a horrible and excruciating death?
Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He told His disciples, “Sit down here while I go over yonder and pray.” And taking with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to show grief and distress of mind and was deeply depressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is very sad and deeply grieved, so that I am almost dying of sorrow. Stay here and keep awake and keep watch with Me.” And going a little farther, He threw Himself upon the ground on His face and prayed saying,“My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will [not what I desire], but as You will and desire.” And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and He said to Peter,“What! Are you so utterly unable to stay awake and keep watch with Me for one hour? All of you must keep awake (give strict attention, be cautious and active) and watch and pray, that you may not come into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again a second time He went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass by unless I drink it, Your will be done.” And again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were weighed down with sleep. So, leaving them again, He went away and prayed for the third time, using the same words. Thn He returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of especially wicked sinners [whose way or nature it is to act in opposition to God]. Get up, let us be going! See, My betrayer is at hand!” (Matthew 26:26-46, AMP)
Have you ever questioned this passage? It seems abrupt and how could the disciples fall asleep that fast?! This passage is not a short as it first seems. Jesus’ prayer went on all night! We are only given a brief overview of His prayer. Jesus was continually praying that night; asking His Father for another way! Jesus was struggling! He loved His Father, our Father, and wanted to honor Him. He loved us deeply and wanted to save us. Jesus’ prayer that night would be worthy of its own book! We can learn from His brief, but powerfully recorded prayer. As you meditate on, pray over, and reflect upon this week’s passage, honestly evaluate your prayer life.
March 3, 2015: Daily Bible Reading with Commentary for Ruth
Click here for the Daily Reading
Author: Unknown, possibly Samuel
Date Written:Unknown, likely after Israel had taken a king
Context: The book of Ruth takes place during the time of Judges, which was a time of declining morals and ethics among the Israelites. So what is the purpose of such a book? We already have a book that shows the degrading state of Israel during the time of Judges. In Ruth we follow her as she leaves her land to travel with her mother-in-law to Bethlehem, in hopes of finding family. We learn the story of David's roots, and by extent, Jesus. Through Naomi, we see the theme of God taking one from a full life, to an empty life, and returning it to fullness. Even in times of crisis and despair, we can live our lives in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord.
World History:Ruth is the only book in the Old Testament named after a non-Israelite.
Update: Tuesday, March 3, 2015, 9:26 am EST
Kelly Renee Gissendaner was scheduled to be executed at 7 pm EST, on Monday, March 2, 2015, at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, Georgia. Her execution was postponed over concerns about the potency of the execution drugs. Forty-six-year-old Kelly is sentenced to death for arranging the murder of her husband, 30-year-old Doug Gissendaner on February 7, 1997, in Gwinnet County, Georgia. Kelly has spent the last 16 years on Georgia's death row.
This is the second time Kelly's execution has been postponed in the last week. Kelly was first scheduled to be executed on February 25, 2015. That execution was rescheduled for March 2, 2015, due to a snowstorm. Hours after her execution was scheduled to begin, the execution was postponed due to concerns over the execution drugs. In the hours before her execution on March 2, 2015, the drugs were tested for potency. The test fell within the acceptable levels. Hours later, the drugs began to take on a cloudy appearance, leading to new concerns over the drugs. After contacting the pharmacist, the decision was made to postpone the execution in an abundance of caution. No new execution date has yet been set.
Kelly is the mother of three children, who were ages 5, 8, and 12, at the time of the murder. She was previously a member of the United States Army. Kelly alleges she was physically and sexually abused as a child.
Kelly and Doug met in the 1980s. They first married in 1989. Over the course of the next eight years, Kelly and Doug had a tumultuous relationship. After being married in September of 1989, they separated in December of 1991, reunited briefly in October of 1992, divorced in March of 1993, reunited in February of 1995, remarried in May of 1995, separated in May of 1996, and reunited in December 1996. By February of 1997, though, their relationship was once again on the rocks. Kelly was involved with another man, Gregory Bruce Owen, whom she first met in September of 1995. Kelly told a coworker that she was unhappy with her husband and in love with Gregory.
Kelly's relationship with Gregory was equally tumultuous, as they dated and broke up at least once. Kelly first brought up killing her husband in November of 1996. Kelly told Gregory that she could not simply divorce Doug because he would not leave her alone if she divorced him. Over they next four months, they spoke of killing her husband several times, before agreeing on a plan. On the evening of February 7, 1997, Kelly dropped Gregory off at her home and drove to a friend’s house, where she insisted that they go out that night to a nightclub.
Doug arrived home shortly after 10 pm. Owen confronted him, holding a knife, which Kelly had given him, to Doug’s throat. Owen forced Doug to drive to a remote location, walk into the woods, and kneel on the ground. Owen killed Doug by striking him with a nightstick, also given to him by Kelly, and stabbing him in the back and neck several times. Owen also stole Doug’s watch and wedding ring.
After arriving home from her night out, Kelly met up with Owen and the couple burned Doug’s vehicle. Kelly also asked Owen if her husband was dead and inspected the body.
It was nearly two weeks before Doug’s body was discovered. When police questioned Kelly, she concealed her relationship with Owen and insisted she had not contacted him for some time. Owen eventually confessed and agreed to testify against Kelly in exchange for a life sentence, sparing him from the death penalty.
At her trial, Kelly claimed innocence, saying she did not team up with Owen to kill her husband, arguing that she could have divorced him if she wanted out of the relationship. The jury found her guilty and sentenced her to death on November 20, 1998.
If executed, Kelly would be only the second women executed by the state of Georgia. Georgia last executed a woman, Lena Baker, in 1945.
Please pray for peace and healing for the family of Doug. Please pray for strength for the family of Kelly. Please pray that if Kelly was not involved in the murder, evidence will be brought forward before her execution. Please pray that Kelly may come to find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if she has not already found one.
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!
When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying,“Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.”And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying,“I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” (Matthew 8:1-4, ESV)
In 1987, President Ronald Reagan declared March to be Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. In the previous decades, men and women who suffered from any of the numerous developmental disabilities were often sent away to institutions because we did not know how to address their needs. With his proclamation, President Reagan sought to raise awareness and provide “encouragement and opportunities” for people with developmental disabilities.
Over 4.6 million individuals are considered developmentally disabled within the United States. In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, the goal of which was to assisted individuals classified with developmental disabilities in obtaining jobs, housing, and independence. Thousands of programs resulted from this Act, which helps individuals with developmental disabilities reach their full potential, becoming productive, contributing members of society.
In 2004, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was passed. Through this Act, changes were made in schools, allowing teachers to better provide specialized education for individuals with developmental disabilities. Colleges have begun designing programs to specifically help these individual obtain college degrees, which furthers their ability to contribute in the workforce and live independent lives.
During this month, Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, consider your view of and relationship with people with developmental disabilities. Have you considered what you have done to help a friend or neighbor who may have a developmental disability? Have you considered what you have taught your children? Have you considered?
February 27, 2015
IDPN 2015 Issue 09
Indonesia: Despite international pressure, the government continues to prepare for the execution of the two Bali 9 members who remain on death row. Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran are considered to be the leaders of the nine member group who attempted to smuggle a large amount of drugs. While in prison, they are alleged to have become positive influences on other prisoners. Australia, along with other nations, continue to pressure the Indonesian president to spare their lives. The president has previously rejected their petitions for clemency.
Iran: Saman Naseem was executed last week in the prison of Urima in northwestern Iran. Saman was sentenced to death for crimes that he allegedly committed at the age of 17, which should have made him ineligible for the death penalty as he was a juvenile at the time of the crime. Saman was sentenced to death in April of 2013, for “enmity against God” and “corruption on earth,” due to his membership in a Kurdish opposition group. He was 17 at the time of his arrest.
Ali and Habib Afshari, brothers, have been executed by hanging in Urmia prison. The brothers were political activists convicted of “corruption on earth” and “acting against God’s will.”
On Sunday, February 22, 2015, 12 prisoners were executed by hanging. Eight of the prisoners were executed at the prison of Bandar Abbas in souther Iran. Seven were charged with drug related crimes, while the eighth was convicted of rape. None of the eight prisoners were identified by name. Four prisoners, Mohammad M, Ehsan J., Amir Hossein G., and Reza Z., were executed at the prison of Arak. All were convicted on drug related charges.
On Tuesday, February 24, 2015, four men, Mohammad M., Ehsan J., Amirhossien Gh., and Reza Z., were executed by hanging in the main prison in the city of Arak. All four men were executed on drug related offenses.
On Wednesday, February 25, 2015, two unidentified men were publicly executed by hanging in Kermanshah.