The World—Everything Is Different, but Nothing Has Changed
And the times are changing quickly. No one has any idea what the world will look like in ten years, let alone twenty or thirty. The rapid development of technology is more than we can take in. Those of us over the age of forty were born before the digital revolution really started. We’ve learned to use laptops, cameras, the Internet, and our personal electronic products, but it’s like learning a foreign language. But those under the age of forty have grown up with the digital revolution, and to them it’s their mother tongue. This has created the biggest generational gap since rock and roll.
Even greater is the moral generational gap. Those over forty in the western world grew up in a culture that still retained a semblance of its historic Judeo-Christian heritage. Our worldview contained some remaining vestiges of biblical truth. But our children are growing in an increasingly secular society.
But don’t despair. The things that matter most haven’t changed one iota. The little Book in my suit pocket is as unchanging as Him who is from everlasting to everlasting. That strengthens us whatever change may come.
Many at Galatia had been influenced by the “Judaizers, ” Jewish Christians, or at least Christians in name, who sought to be justified through keeping the Law of Moses. But Paul tells them that the true function of the Law was not to save but to be a “schoolmaster” or “teacher” to bring them to Christ. Once they saw the impossibility of keeping the Law and the great culpability of breaking it, they would see their need to be saved by faith alone.
Lord, that schoolmaster (your Law) that revealed our need of a Savior is still revealing to us our shortcomings. As love is the fulfilling of the Law, and to love God and neighbor is the sum of it, we see the Law is a helpful guide for Christian conduct. Use it to test us and show us our flaws, then turn us by grace to the keeping of it through love. Amen.
Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
To remove the curse of God for breaking his Law from us, Jesus took our guilt upon himself and suffered that curse in our place. God cannot demand “double payment” for sin, so that he cannot justly condemn those whose sins were paid for in full on the cross. That is why there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).
O Lamb of God, it is your blood that takes away the sin-debt of the world, even of every one who believes on your name. We could not bear the punishment of our sin, nor endure the day of God’s wrath against sin. We praise you for your work of love on the cross, where you redeemed us from the curse of the Law. Amen.
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
It is in God’s design of things that children should grow up and leave the home. It is normal that they should go out and begin their own home. For our families to be strong and healthy, unlike the “fractured” if not broken families the world is so full of, husband and wife must remain in close, intimate union. And this union is a picture of the union between Christ and His Church.
God, help us to work at our relationships with others so that they will be all you intend them to be. Let my relationship with you be the foundation for a good relationship with spouse, children, parents, all family and friends, and every acquaintance. Amen.
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved; )
Perhaps the two sweetest words in the whole Bible are found here, “But God. ” In the verse just preceding, it is stated that believers were “children of wrath even as others” before their conversion. But God had a great love for them, which led him to “quicken, ” that is “raise to life, ” those who were dead spiritually. Paul then adds emphatically, “by grace you are saved. “
May we say with conviction, O Lord, that old Christian saying, “There, but for the grace of God, go I. ” May we recognize that it was your saving love that made the difference with us. We were dead to God, unable to respond properly to him. But your love laid hold on us, Lord, and you imparted to us life. And we know that yours is a love that “will not let us go.” Amen.
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
The Holy Spirit is here called the Spirit of Wisdom, using a grammatical construction that in the Greek indicates the Spirit is the “source of” or “giver of” wisdom. In 2 Timothy 3:15, we learn that the Scriptures are “able to make you wise unto salvation. ” When God opens our understanding to see the truth of the Gospel, he enlightens us and imparts to us wisdom to know and act on the truth. He then gives us hope of future glory and assures us of that hope by “the working of his mighty power” in us. That is the very power that raised up Jesus from the dead.
Open our minds more and more, we pray, to understand your truths. Let the “resurrection power” of God that raised Jesus Christ’s body from the grave raise up our spirits to live more and more a “resurrection life” of obedience to you. Amen.
And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
Faith is a gift from God, but it is also a thing that we are called to diligently work at and improve. In fact, these verses on diligence are further informed by verse 10 of the same chapter where our diligence is said to be the means of making “our calling and election sure. ” That is, when faith, virtue (moral fortitude), knowledge (gained through experience), self-control, patient endurance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love abound in our lives, it is fruit of righteousness that helps assure our hearts that indeed we are God’s children and will enter his everlasting kingdom (verse 11).
Lord, we take seriously your command to strive diligently after godliness and all Christian virtues in our daily walk. We know that you do not desire our faith to remain “alone, ” but that it should be accompanied by all Christian graces. We are encouraged to know that you will help us and guide us as we grow in all of these areas, step by step. Amen.
But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.
There will be days when you are tempted and days when you need protection, but you are a child of God. God will never leave you or forsake you – you will never have to walk through these challenging times alone. He is always faithful. He offers his protection and will help you stay away from evil. He has given you his Holy Spirit as a guide. Trust the Spirit to alert you when you have stumbled into trouble and call on him for protection.
Dear God, when I am fearful and need courage, I know you will strengthen me. You are always faithful and you will never leave me – thank you! Help me to trust you to guide me through difficult situations and protect me from any evil the evil one tries to use against me. O Lord, make my faith stronger so that I do not have a spirit of fear. Thank you for rescuing me time and time again. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Isaiah was dirty and full of sin. He was unworthy to see God’s holiness. Then the heavenly being took a hot coal from God’s alter. He put it on Isaiah lips and his sins were taken away and cleansed. Similarly, Jesus cleanses us who have faith in Him. He cleanses us and He makes us pure. Jesus Christ is our only hope of salvation from our wickedness. He is the only way to the Father and to heaven. Do you have faith in Jesus to remove your sins? If you cannot confidently answer, think and pray about it. It is always better to be sure. It is okay to not be sure; there is no shame in that. Get on your knees and ask God to reveal Himself to You. Proclaim your faith in Him and give Him your life. This is the way to salvation from your wickedness, sin, and the punishment you deserve – that we all deserve, but Jesus bore.
Moses had brought the Israelites out of Egypt and now they were wondering if they were any better off! They had reached the Red Sea, and couldn’t see any way around this barrier that had been placed before them. But God knew what he was doing and Moses followed his instructions and the sea parted so that the Israelites could pass through on dry ground. A question sometimes asked at a job interview is, “What do you do when you face an obstacle?” How would you answer? Would you try to go around it, through it, or perhaps over it? Moses could not go around his obstacle and knew that without help, he could never bring all the people, animals and supplies through it. So, he asked God for help. Was that the first thing you thought of? There is a saying, “If God brings you to it, he will bring you through it.” The key here is to ask God to bring us through it.
We often face challenges in our lives, especially when we are trying to live as Jesus wants us to live. Have you ever been asked why you believe? If not you probably will be. It can be hard to find the right words at times, but God will give us the words if we ask. Just as he promised Samuel, Isaiah and the other prophets, he will not leave us on our own and will give us the words we need when we need them. The next time you meet an obstacle, let God lead you over, under, around or through it. He will guide us in the right way to go.
Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, He was prophesied about. That He would restore and bring life not break and ruin. That he would bring forth judgment on the Earth, and people everywhere across the oceans would listen to what He had to say. Now thousands of years later, people all over the Earth still listen to what Jesus has to say. Jesus is glorified through all history. People on every continent and in every country listen for His voice and read His Word.
Jesus, thank You for bearing the burden and punishment of my sins and wrongdoings. You are the only way to come to the Father and to everlasting life. I place my faith in You and You only. I believe that You, Jesus, are the Son of God. I believe in the Father and Holy Spirit also. I believe in the trinity and that the Trinity is one. I put no one else before You in my priorities. If You are not at my center, remove idols from my life. I place my life, faith, and trust in You. I repent from my wrongdoing, and I come before You in faith. My life is in Your hands. I come to You because You are gracious and let me call on Your name. Amen.
The first thing Andrew did when He found out Jesus was the Christ was to go tell his brother. Andrew went and got Peter and brought him to Jesus. Andrew could have been scoffed at or rejected by Peter if Peter did not believe Jesus was the Christ; yet, Andrew took him to Jesus anyways, and I’m sure he was glad he did. You have Jesus, and you love Him. Have you tried to bring your family to Him? Knowing Jesus is the only way to eternal life, wouldn’t you want to try your best to introduce Him to your grandparents, mother, father, brothers, sisters, and cousins?
Heavenly Father, give me strength and courage to introduce You to my family. They need You. I want to speak to them about You. Help me to tell them about You well. Help me to answer questions they have and to try to find them the answers I don’t know. Soften their hearts. Only You can bring them to You, so please do so. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
Sometimes we grow weary as believers. Walking the road of faith gets hard. Other times it gets mundane. Sometimes doubt creeps in. We may even allow sin to fester in our lives and lead us to complacency and ceasing to listen to the Holy Spirit. But as believers, we can encourage our brothers and sisters to continue in the faith. Sometimes all someone needs is a reminder, encouragement, and support.
Heavenly Father, help my brothers and sisters. Give them strength and endurance to continue in the faith You called them to. Place people in their lives to encourage them. Bring them to a deeper love for You. Make them to feel Your presence this week. Let them remember why they first loved You. You are our great love. You are the worthiest of our love. You are worthy of more than we can give. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Father God, You sent Your son to the world to save us. He was with you in the beginning. People everywhere listen to His words. Jesus is amazing and true. Thank You for Your goodness, and that You build up and care for the weak. Help Your Church that is scattered all over the Earth. Unite us, Your Bride. Help us to glorify you and to proclaim Your gospel to the nations. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
When we reach a point of contentment, we are not moved by what another person does or does not have. Contentment prevents us from defining ourselves according to the world’s values. We become content through God, in whom we know we have everything we need. Eternal life, being the most important of it all.
Dear God, I thank you that I can be totally content in you. You have filled all the gaps and voids in my life. I know that I will never find contentment in this world; only in you and you alone. I pray that more and more of your children will come to realize this too, Lord. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Sometimes people tend to take God’s love and everlasting mercy as a way for them to continue living irresponsibly. When they are confronted about their actions, their response is “God loves me for who I am. ” Yes, he does, but our love for Him should compel us to be convicted of our sins and confess them to him. God won’t hold our sins against us; he is quick to forgive and swift to restore.
Dear God, once again I would like to thank you for your endless love and everlasting mercy. Father, I am sorry for any time I have taken you or your love for granted. If there has ever been a time where I tried to use the grace you have given so freely as an excuse to live irresponsibly, I humbly confess where I have erred, and I receive your forgiveness. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Dear God, I pray for those who have chosen to turn from you. Lord, I pray that something in their hearts will make them change their minds about you. May they experience your love, Lord, in all its fullness and may they be compelled by this to know you more. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Someone once said that there are no u-hauls behind hearses. The implication is that you can’t take it with you when you die. There’s a story of a man who tried. When the doctors told him he had a short time to live, he converts some of this cash into gold bricks, puts them in a suitcase and instructs that this suitcase should be buried with him. When he approaches the pearly gates carrying the suitcase, St. Peter stops him and asks to look inside the suitcase. The angel Gabriel asks, “What’s in the suitcase?” “Pavement,” replies St. Peter. The story illustrates that in heaven what we consider to be wealth on this earth is really nothing. Heaven’s streets are paved with gold. That would be the equivalent of us finding some kind of value in asphalt or concrete chunks here on earth. We spent a lot of time trying to get things on this earth. We spend a lot of time working to get more and more and more stuff that we just don’t need. If you don’t believe it, take a look at what happens when a person dies without an heir. A lawyer has to come in, open up the house, and sell off all the belongs to settle the estate. Thousands and thousands of dollars worth of stuff–sometimes still in boxes–is sold for pennies on the dollar. An entire lifetime of obtaining things and the only thing that happens is that strangers come in to pick over the possessions a giant yard sale. This passage tells us that we are to be content with what we have. We should be content with food and clothing. As long as our needs are met on a daily basis, that’s really all we should ask for. Everything else is just bonus stuff and if we are spending time away from our families, if we’re spending time focusing on getting rather than focusing on living, then we’re being very foolish because we can’t take it with us. When the end comes, all the stuff that we bought stay right here our closets or our garages. While we’re on this earth we need to make the right choices and be sure that we are able to be content with what we have. Then we may end up with few things that we want.
Childbirth can be a painful experience. Even with the best pain killers available, the stress and trauma of childbirth cannot be lessened greatly. A mother giving birth may travail in labor for hours. Her contractions may be painful and the birth process may be grueling. In that period of labor, she suffers greatly. But as soon as she sees the face of that newborn child, all of that passes away. The suffering, the pain, disappears and is replaced by joy. Here Paul gives us a similar situation. Paul explains here that the Gospel has great power to sustain us in times of trouble. He was not talking only about the trials that Christians in his time had to endure, but the sickness, pain, and trouble that all Christians, throughout time would have to endure. He says that no matter how difficult the suffering in this world is, it does not even compare to the glory that awaits us in heaven. The glory that will be revealed to us is so great in comparison to the suffering that preceded it. We will forget our former trials when we get a glimpse of that glory.
We are children of God. Think about that for a minute. The God of the universe sent his son to be born of a woman on earth living under the law – a woman like us. He sent his son so that we might be free from this law – the law of sin and death. We are free because of his sacrifice, and we have been made sons and daughters of God through him. How amazing!
Paul cries out here in anguish over indwelling sin that remained in him. He longs for the day when he will be free fully from the power of sin. While we live, a conflict is in us between the old and the new natures. It is a daily battle. It does not end until we leave this world, but God can help us subdue the flesh and live increasingly out of the new nature.
Father, I thank You for being with me in my trials. I know that I will have to suffer some in this world and I know I will have to go through trials. I also know, however, that what will be revealed to me when I finally see You face to face will make it all worthwhile. My suffering will fade to nothing as I see the glory of Your face. Amen.
If we hate that which is evil, we will love that which is good. The two go together hand in hand. You cannot love God and love Satan; you cannot love God’s Law and also love the paths of unrighteousness. At least, your heart of hearts and your new nature from the new birth will seek what is truly good; the old nature will seek sin, but the Christian must subdue and overcome it. The age old question of who’s right! There’s a commercial for an automobile company that uses the slogan of “either/or, or both/and” that I kind of like. Not that I’m supporting the company, but because I believe we sometimes think in an either/or way when it’s really important to be a both/and kind of person. In today’s gospel, Martha is busy about hospitality and Mary extends hospitality in a quieter manner. We need both, and we need to be both. There are times when we need to be about doing what Jesus tells us to do, but if all we do is “do” and we don’t take the time to listen, we just might get it wrong. Mary sits and listens to Jesus while Martha feels overwhelmed with her tasks. When Martha complains, Jesus tells her not to be anxious and worried, and I think that here is the key. When we take the time to sit and listen to Jesus and then move on to follow the will of God, we don’t have to be anxious and worried; we can relax in the knowledge that we are doing our best, and that is what is required of us. Jesus doesn’t say that what Martha is doing is unimportant; he just seems to imply that she shouldn’t be so focused on her work, that she neglects her need for being present and listening. We, too, can be so busy doing that we forget to take the time to pray, to reflect on Scripture, to sit and listen to Jesus. During the sometimes lazy days of summer, let us take advantage of the laziness and just sit in God’s presence and reflect on who we are and who we are called to be, so that when the time comes to be busy again, we’ll be ready.
Micah is a prophet at around the same time as Isaiah and has come to prophesy punishment to those who are behaving in an unjust manner. Just because a person has the power or authority to act unjustly, doesn’t mean that he should. One might think that harassment or schemes to defraud people of their property or their inheritance, are something new, but Micah lets us know that these things have been going on since antiquity. God isn’t any happier today about these practices than he was then. Micah made known God’s displeasure to the kings and leaders of the day. He warns that their unjust practices need to stop and that the people need to repent or else they are leaving themselves open to attack by armies greater than theirs.
As we know, Assyria and Babylon both decimated Judah and Israel. Think about the Roman Empire, they too had fallen into such a moral decay that they were open to being overcome by Constantine. What about today? We have become lax in our time as well. Corporate takeovers that have little respect for the rights of the workers have become common. Even companies that have not been taken over have been known to change their policies and limit the benefits that their employees enjoy. Communities can take property away from individuals for schools, highways, shopping centers, by eminent domain and those who live on the properties are forced to move. Although owners are reimbursed, renters need to fend for themselves. Looking out for number one, whether personally, communally or nationally can lead to ignoring the essentials and there is nothing to stop others from overcoming us. As Micah says, we need to work for justice if we want peace. And so still today, the Jewish people celebrate Passover and one of the traditions is for someone to ask why we celebrate this feast, and the youngest child answers with the story of the Passover. Jesus was celebrating Passover with his friends on the night before he died. I know this reading comes up during the summer, so it’s not the time for Passover, or the Passion of Jesus, but I have a question. What are our traditions surrounding the passion and death and resurrection of Jesus? Do we celebrate the end of Lent on Holy Thursday? Do we spend time with Jesus on Good Friday remembering his sacrifice? Is Easter all about candy and the Easter bunny? Today, many of our churches are practically empty on Easter Sunday and the children think more about an Easter egg hunt than God. Would the youngest member of the family be able to tell the story of why we celebrate? God brought the Israelites from slavery to freedom at the original Passover, but Jesus brought us from the slavery of sin and the freedom to celebrate eternity with him in heaven. One was temporary, the other is permanent. Why is it that we take this celebration so lightly? Even though it’s summer, let’s take a moment to think about how the story of our faith is being passed on to our youth.
God’s name as it is written in Scripture is either Jehovah or Yahweh, or just YHWH. All are translations of He is Who He is. Because the Jewish people did not call God by the name he gave Moses. It is for this reason that the Jewish people were so angry when Jesus said that before Abraham came to be I AM. To say God’s name was to blaspheme. For the people of Moses’ time, names had power. They felt that to use the name of God was to say that they had power over God, and so the name was sacred. I can remember an uncle of mine who would often take not just the Lord’s name in vain when he was angry, but would also use it to curse whoever he was angry with. I’m sure you know many people who do the same without even blinking an eye.
Good Christians, all, who would be horrified if they were called on it. We are offended when people use foul language, why are we not offended when the Lord’s name is taken in vain? A friend of mine used to work in the office of a major manufacturing company and the man who sat behind her was continually cursing the company and its managers. One day she had had enough and turned to him and said, “No wonder the company is going to pot, you keep asking God to damn it.” He had never considered that he was both swearing and cursing, but he stopped. What about us? Do we need to clean up our speech, or ask other to do so? How do I praise God? God doesn’t want an animal sacrifice he wants a sacrifice of the heart. He wants a joyous heart, a heart that bursts into song because it can’t help itself. A heart so full of gratitude that song is the only way a body can express it. I love music; I love to sing the songs of praise in church. I might not have the best voice but it’s the one God gave me so he must think it’s good enough. There is something about music that lifts the soul. It’s no wonder that the psalms are music. In fact, this psalm even tells us which piece of music to sing it to – “Lilies!” When we think about it, some of the most glorious music was written for religious reasons: Handel’s Messiah is but one example. When we listen to the anthems of many nations, we see how they give thanks and praise to God. Whether we raise our voices in song or not, what is important is that we raise our voices in thanks and praise to God. Our prayers acknowledge that we know who is in charge, to whom we owe everything and who deserves our praise.
Lord, I pray for the older people who do not know You. I pray they will find Your love and joy. Let them lean on You for strength and understanding. Help them to smile and live out the remainder of their days for You. Get them the word if they don’t have access to it. Bring Christians into their lives to speak life into them. You are the God who cares for the young and old, weak and strong, rich and poor. Bless our elderly and help us honor them. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
The writer of this Psalm desperately wanted God to show His strength through him, an old man. He wanted everyone to know God’s power. As we grow old, we can still show God’s strength. As we become weaker, we can proclaim how strong He is. Do not lose heart as you grow old. The retired missionary now goes door to door to preach even though he’s walking slowly. The woman who started doing jail ministry long ago is often decades later faithfully visiting the jail. Whatever God is calling you to, God is greater than your age.
Lord, as I grow old, let me still serve You faithfully. When I’m weak, help me to show others Your strength. Through wrinkles, let others see the joy on my face that comes only from You. Even if I’m moving slowly, let me still move for You. I will gladly do Your will until my last breath. If I’m on this earth, You have me here for a reason. I will continue to live for You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
We were all introduced to our savior, Jesus Christ, through someone else. When we truly understand salvation, it is not enough for us to simply receive it. In our excitement, we will gladly go tell others about this miraculous savior. The prophet describes how when a city came to know the Lord, they rushed to pray and seek God so that they could go to another city to share this good news. The Word tells us we are commissioned to tell others the good news – let us go quickly!
Prayer is greatly needed in the Church, the body of Christ today, and in the human society as a whole, is a genuine, God-sent revival. It is either revival or revolution, if it is a revolution, it will plunge human society and civilization into chaos and utter confusion. We are living in a time of widespread apostasy. This may be the last apostasy from which we will be saved by the return of our Lord Jesus to this earth to take the reins of government into His own thoroughly competent hands. That would, of course, be the greatest and most glorious of all revivals, and it would be a revival that would never end. However, we do not know that this is the final apostasy. There have been more complate and appalling apostasies in the past than this one is at the past hour. The apostasy in England in the time od the Wesleys, and in Amereica at the time of Jonathan Edwards, was far more complete than the present apostasy is. The postasy in this country at the opening of the 19th century was far more appalling, at least as regarding university life, than the apostasy of today. It was the revival under the Wesleys and their associates that saved the church and saved civilization in their day. Even as thorough a rationalist as the historian WIlliam Lecky admits that it was the revival under Wesleys that saved civilization in England. It was the Great Awakening under the leadership of Jonathan Edwards and others that savwed the church in America. Our greatest need today isa deep, thorough, Spirit-wrought, God-sent revival. Such revivals, as far as our human role is concerned, always come in one way – by prayer. It was Jonathan Edwards’ CALL to PRAYER that brought the Great Awakening. It was the city missionary Jeremiah Lanphier stirring the Christians of New York to prayer that brought the wonderous revival of 1857. It was the prayer of four humble Christians from Kells, Ireland, and the prayers of others. that brought the marvelous Ulster revival of 1859-1860. I have been praying to write a book about prayer. I had to read other peoples book about prayer, because even though I have been praying my whole life I needed to go back to the heart of prayer. The heart of prayer, to me is a personal relationship with Jesus. And to address going to Jesus’, Mother Mary to help me and of course the Holy Spirit. TO keep God the center of my life.
There is much in prayer, and yet it is as simple as James 4:2 – “You do not have because you ask not.” Then we ask ourselves, “Why don’t we have anything?” Again God replies, “It is because of our neglect of prayer. When we read the only inspired church history that was ever written, the history of the church in the days of apostles as it is recorded by Luke (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) in the Acts of the Apotles, what do we find? We find a story of constant victory and perpetual progress. We read, for example, such statements as Acts 2:47 – The Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. We read this statement from Acts 4:4 – Many of those
Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.
When we try to rush ahead of God’s timing and His guidance, we will end up making a lot of mistakes. We need to humble ourselves under God’s guidance, realizing that He truly knows best. When we do so, we will reach the right points in our life at the right time. It’s all about trusting Him.
Doubt is normal. It was there in Paul’s time and it exists today. Maybe it is more prevalent today than it was in Paul’s time because there are so many people trying to discourage people from belief in God. The pagans of Paul’s time believed in gods, they just didn’t all know God. Today many claim that there is no God. They believe that scientists will soon be able to explain everything about how the world was created and answer any other question we might have. See, no need for God! And if there is no God then no heaven and no resurrection. If this is true then why bother depriving ourselves of all the pleasures we can get just because Christianity says love of God and of others should come first. But, there were too many people who witnessed Jesus after his resurrection. Too many people who were willing to die for the sake of Jesus and his teaching. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t die for a lie. And I doubt that they would either. So, as Paul says, since Jesus rose from the dead, we need to pay attention to what he said and to the promise that one day we too would rise if only we remain faithful. Doubt? Okay, but in the end, trust and belief.
According to Lionel Swain, of St. Edmund’s College, Ware, St. Paul believed intercession to be one of the most important aspects of faith and praying life, as praying for others is a recurring theme in his works. Prayer acts as a way for St. Paul to acknowledge God’s power. Intercessory prayer also acts as a way for the Apostle to “share in … the Father’s redemptive love”. Paul believed that prayer transformed the person doing the praying, as much as the one being prayed for, which creates a stronger bond between him and God.
Prof. Dr Johannes van Oort, Professor Extraordinarius in the Department of Church History and Church Polity of the Faculty of Theology at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, adds that, in addition to praying for wisdom, the early church was very much involved with different charismas, one of which being healing. Praying for other people’s illnesses was another way that intercessory prayer was important in the early church, as healing was a sign of “the power of God’s Kingdom”. This gift of healing is specifically mentioned, among the other charismata, as a sign of being a true Christian by Irenaeus of Lyons in his text, Against Heresies.
In addition to praying for each other in life, early Christians would pray for those who had died. There is no unequivocal evidence that Christians began to pray for the dead before the third century AD. G. F. Hamilton argues that the earliest example of Church prayer on behalf of dead Christians are found in the Sacramentary of Serapion of Thmuis (350 AD). Rather than pray for the departed in regular church services on Sunday, these early Christians would hold special commemorative occasions during the week. There was a sharp distinction drawn between remembering and praying on behalf of the dead, and those who were the “‘faithfully’ departed”, where Christians would only pray for those who had died as believers. The First Epistle of Clement (95 AD) contains a prayer which, while mainly for protection for the living, also includes the dead. Even quite early, a distinction was drawn between those who had died as Christians, and those who had died as unbelievers. In the Martyrdom of Polycarp (155 AD), Polycarp is killed and his bones are taken by fellow Christians and a shrine is set up to him, where they may remember his martyrdom. In contrast, the “Apology of Aristides” shows how those who were not Christians were grieved for, while the dead faithful were rejoiced over.
Theological perspective: In an article in Theological Studies, Catholic theologian Patricia A. Sullivan warns that saints should not be built up in a way that brings down God. Saint Augustine had famously said that we pray not to instruct God but to get our will in line with God’s. Sullivan warns away from the dictionary meanings of “intercession” as “intervention, mediation, arbitration, negotiation”, all of which sound like we are dealing with a hostile or unfriendly God, whom we need to manipulate to get what we need. Such is not the meaning of the hapax legomenon in the New Testament of the word for intercession. Sullivan goes on:
When we ask a saint to intercede for us, what is happening at a deeper level is that we are taking refuge in the all-enfolding community of the redeemed, approaching God thru saintly symbols of Christ’s victory and of our hope. Saints want always what God wants, what is best for us whether we pray for it or not. They are in a perpetual attitude of praise for God’s love and care, to which we join ourselves, praying, more precisely, with them rather than to them. The value of our petitions is that they turn us in confidence toward the God who loves us, allowing God’s work to be more effective in us, and thru us in others.
It would be anathema to ask God to try any harder to do good. By invocation of a saint “we take refuge in faith in the all-enfolding community of all the redeemed,” where “each is responsible for all”. They are “creative models of holiness”.
Although the idea of intercession or mediation (Arabic: s̲h̲afāʿa) has historically played a very prominent role in Islamic thought, it is not universally accepted by all Muslims in the present day.
The Quran says that the pre-Islamic Arab pagan gods will not be able to intercede with God on behalf of humankind, and that “the guilty” (al-mujrimīn,) will not benefit from any intercession on the Day of Judgment. Other passages that deny the efficacy intercession include. Still others say that God is the only intercessor.
However, “intercession is mentioned in the Qurʾān with respect to angels praying for the believers and the Prophet praying for erring but repentant Muslims.” Furthermore, it became an orthodox Islamic doctrine or “cardinal belief” that “Muḥammad will intercede for all Muslims on the Day of Resurrection.” While this particular tenet practically remained unchallenged throughout Islamic history, the widespread Sunni and Shia practice of asking deceased prophets and saints for intercession by praying at their tombs have become contentious issues in the modern Islamic world, with all these different types of intercession often being labelled by Salafi/Wahhabi Muslims as a type of polytheism, in a manner akin to the attitude of many Protestants towards the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox practice of saint-intercession. In prophetic sayings there is intercession of martyrs for “seventy relatives” in the Hereafter.
Some religions claim that praying for somebody who is sick can have positive effects on the health of the person being prayed for.
Meta-studies of the literature in the field have been performed showing evidence only for no effect or a potentially small effect. For instance, a 2006 meta analysis on 14 studies concluded that there is “no discernible effect” while a 2007 systemic review of intercessory prayer reported inconclusive results, noting that 7 of 17 studies had “small, but significant, effect sizes” but the review noted that the most methodologically rigorous studies failed to produce significant findings.
Does Jesus really want us to believe that our enemies are our parents, children, family or friends? Somehow, I don’t think so! It is really about priorities. Have you ever chosen to watch a sports program when your child wanted to talk to you? What about not sitting at the table for meals because a special game is on? We are called on to make choices all the time. We can choose God, or we can choose other. Is that late night party worth missing church? We can talk all we want about being too busy, but the truth is that we find the time for what we want to do. I love to read, knit, spend time with my friends and I hate doing the laundry, dishes, vacuuming, but it all needs to be done. I would rather pick up a good book than exercise. I can say that I am “too busy” to do the things I don’t enjoy doing, but the truth is, I choose to spend my time in other ways. The same is true about putting God first. A friend that is always put last doesn’t remain a friend for long. When it comes to God, we know he will never desert us, but what about our turning our backs on him? We know what we must do – put God first and then everything else falls into place. Even carrying the crosses each of us must bear in life is easier because we know we don’t have to do it alone. Sometimes we may have to disappoint a child or friend because we choose to do the right thing, but that is the price of being a disciple of Jesus.
It is amazing how selfish we can be sometimes. A line of traffic on a busy street. We’ve been waiting for what seems like forever at a traffic light. Out of the corner of our eye, we see a car trying to pull out of a parking lot, the driver desperately looking for an opening. We avert our eyes and grip the steering wheel, determined not to give an inch. Someone else can make that sacrifice. Selfish, our selfish nature makes it very difficult to understand the great sacrifice Christ made for us. When we were useless sinners, when we were absolutely powerless, He chose to die for us. Sinners….who hated God, who delighted in the very things God hates. He died for us. It’s hard to get our selfish brains wrapped around that notion. We were on the verge of perishing and He gave Himself away to save us. Who does that? What a great friend Christ is to us! That He would lay down His life to save such selfish, sinful beings.That is what is most amazing about His sacrifice. If we had all been good, righteous people–then perhaps it is understandable that He would be willing to die for us. But we were ungodly. And He STILL died for us. The depth of His love was such that, even in our sin, He loved us and died for us. He took our sin upon Himself. He knew about everything we ever did or ever would do. It didn’t matter. He did it anyway. His unwavering love for us sent him to the cross.
In this scripture, Jesus explains to His disciples (including us), that He chose us. Traditionally, in Jewish culture, a person would choose his own Teacher. In this case, Jesus makes it clear that these disciples were chosen by the Teacher, instead. This applies to us today as well. Christ has chosen us; we didn’t choose Him first. Not only has He chosen us, He has ordained us to be fruitful, meaning that we are to be productive and successful in spreading the Gospel. We were set apart for this purpose by Christ. Christ expects this fruit to “remain” or be permanent. Whatever good work we do for the Kingdom should be lasting and eternal. When we bear good fruit in this way, the consequences are that our prayers will be answered by God. Christ tells us that whatever we ask in His name will be done. This is an encouraging promise, that both gives us validation and shows us our purpose in this life.
Lord, I thank You for choosing me and ordaining me. Help me to spread the Gospel far and wide in such a way that it makes an eternal impact on people’s lives. I thank You that You will hear and answer my prayers as I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end. He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.
God’s miraculous deliverance of Daniel from the lions in the lions’ den where he had been cast for worshipping the true God opened Nebuchadnezzar’s eyes to whose God was God. And he even issued a decree that all men in his vast kingdom give homage to the God of Daniel. Daniel’s faith and refusal to cease his regular daily devotions had resulted in the knowledge of God being spread throughout the land.
This verse tells us that “all things work together for the good of those who love God.” If we love God, then we live in obedience. The “all things” refers to the providence of God and all the things that relate to Him: His Holy Spirit, His love and mercy, His truths, etc. All of these things come together for our good if we love God and show that we do by our behavior. But it’s not only required that we love God, but that we are called according to His purpose. This refers to the purpose that God has set before us. He calls us to a specific purpose in this life. As long as we are obedient to this purpose, to His call, then all of His resources come together for our good. This is a very encouraging scripture to let us know that, if we follow the will of God, everything will be okay with us. More than okay, actually. They will be “good,” because God is on our side.
Jesus tells us that the golden rule sums up the law and the prophets. Jesus is also telling us that we shouldn’t try to take the easy way out. From the time a two or three year old figures out that disobeying mom or dad brings punishment, he also figures out ways of trying to get away with it. The child will lie or hide or blame a sibling or the family pet! Unless this behavior is caught and the children learn that they can’t get away with it, they will continue this pattern. It can be very tempting to take the easy way out. This is not what we are called to do. We are called to take the narrow path, doing the right thing. We all get upset when we hear about hit and run accidents, but it’s hard to own up to something if you think you won’t be caught, especially when it could be expensive We choose the easy or the narrow path just about every day. Some decisions are easy, some are not. Do you waste time on the phone or on a computer searching websites or playing games when you should be working? See, what I mean? Students today are told they need computers for research that will enhance their learning, but some take advantage and their research trying to find papers that they can claim as their own. Jesus knew us well, and has given us fair warning. We should listen.
We need to be on the lookout for those who would lead people away from God by pretending that they are leading them to God. We have seen this happen several times in very public and tragic ways, but it can happen in less public ways as well. The world was horrified when they learned of the mass murder/suicide of over 900 people, one third of them minors in Guyana in 1978, and again of the destruction of the compound in Waco, Texas where over 70 people died. Both of these tragedies occurred because the leaders of the cult claimed to either be a god or be God’s messenger or Messiah. There have been many other cults operating with less destructive results. Preying on loners or immigrants, the leaders promise security here and eternal life if only you follow them. They don’t say that you are following God, but you are following them because they are the only ones who know the way! By their fruits you will know them. These people ask blind obedience, work to separate people from their families and friends, and often demand a certain percentage of income. This doesn’t sound like Jesus to me. Paul never demanded obedience to himself, in fact, he said just the opposite to the Corinthians. John the Baptist said that he wasn’t the one and pointed to Jesus. We have been warned by Jesus to look at those who claim to be prophets carefully and judge by their fruits. If they are more interested in leading us to themselves instead of to Jesus, we must beware.
Again we have a prophet spreading God’s message of love, begging the people to admit their wrongdoing, and sincerely repent and turn back to him. When you read the Old Testament, you start to wonder if they will ever learn. I wonder what historians one hundred years from now will say about us and our behavior. Will they read the New Testament and find remnants of Christian groups and compare their behavior with the Bible, and find us worthy of the name? I’m not so sure. Not only is there a lot of what I consider very un-Christian behavior by individuals but also by Christian groups towards one another. Perhaps we should reread Joel and the messages given by some of the other prophets and take these messages to heart. God wants us to turn to him. He wants us to take responsibility for our actions, and ask forgiveness so that he can forgive and renew us. God isn’t looking for grandiose exhibitions of repentance, but a sincerity of heart. It’s how much we are willing to change our behavior. It’s how welcoming we will be to the stranger, how much we are willing to help others to grow in their faith as well as how willing we are to grow in our own.
Let us not, O Lord, underestimate what you can do in us and through us. We do not know all of your purposes for us, but we know that nothing is too hard for you to do. We pray for the steadfastness of soul to continue to pursue knowing you even in the face of resistance and the faith to believe that your Word planted deep in us can strengthen us for even the most difficult tasks. Amen.
Position of the Parties Zechariah 3:6 > The Angel of the Lord gave this charge to Joshua: 7 – “This is what the Lord Almighty says: “If you (I) will walk in my ways and keep My requirements then you will govern My House and have change of My Courts, and I will give you a place among these standing here.
Psalm 33:12 – “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD.”
America was founded on godly principles rooted in God’s eternal Word. Freedom is God’s idea, and implanted within every human heart by the Creator who made them is the yearning to be free. Leviticus 25:10, inscribed on our Liberty Bell says, “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all inhabitants thereof.”
The golden, majestic appearance of our Declaration of Independence – the parchment papaer, the resolute signatures of those who represented the voice of a new nation, and the rich content of this anointed document, bear testimony to the powerful faith which underscored the conviction on which our independence is based: “… the Laws of Nature and Nature’s of God that all men are created equal, and they are endowed by thier Creator with vertain unalienable Rights… appealing to the Supreme Court of the world. …”
faith of our earliset leaders can be seen in the content of their state constitutions, penned by some of these men who wrote the Declaration of Independence. The Delaware document, for example, written by Thomas McKean, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation, and George Read, also a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution ofthe United States, says, “Every person who shall be chosen a memeber either house, or appointed to any office or place of trust, before taking his seat, or entering upon the execution of his office, shall take the following oath: “I…do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His only Son, and in the Holy Spirit, one God, blessed for ever more; and I do acknowledge the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration.” 1
Authors of the State Constitution of Pennsylvania, Benjamin Rush and James Wilson, shared a like conviction. They wrote: “Each memeber of the Legislature, before he takes his set, shall make and subscribe the following declaration: I do believe in one God, the Creator and Governor of the good and the Punisher of the wicked. And I doacknowledge the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration.”
The North Carolina Constitution bears witness to a desire that believers shape the governing process: “No person who sahll deny the being of God or the truth of the Christian religion, or the divine authority, either of the Old and New Testaments, or who shall hold religious principles incompatible with the freedoms and safety of the State, shall be capable of holding any office or palce of trust or profit in the civil department within this State.”In 1892, the Supreme Court noted that each of the 44 states then in the Union had some kind of God-cnetered declaration in its constitution. Indeed, the writings and governing documents of our Founding Fathers attest to their belief that a central faith in the Almighty was essential, and that ths new America could only move forward as “One Nation Under God.”
God raised up America for His own special purpose: to be a witness to His great goodness, to carry out the Great Commission and to be a light to the world. His drea from the beginning was to build a nation through whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed. It is being accomplished everywhere born-again, Spirit-filled believers are standing in faith, boldly releasing His covenant promises for the fullfillment of His purpose. As you read this post, get to know and appreciate these God-anointed, founding documents of America that are based on Hos eternal Word, and the other historical documents included in this post. Set your hearts to pray for the great experiment in freedom, dedicated to the Lord Jesus Christ. Allow God’s Word to flow from your mouth in faith as we partner with Him in intercession for the manifestation of His plans, purpose and pursuits for One Nation Under God – the United States of America in Jesus name Amen.
Here is a prayer that Kenneth Copeland wrote for the United States Government: James 5:16 – “The earnest (heartfelt, continue) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous pwoer available [dynamic in its working].”
Following are Scripture-based prayers that will help connect your heart with the heart of the Father for our nation. 1st Timothy 2:1-3 says we are to pray, intercede and give thanks for kings and all who are in authority. This is God’s command to every believer. Praying for godly leaders is productive toward God’s plan and purpose for our nation.
Proverbs 21:1 tells us, “THe king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.” God will turn the hearts of our leaders as we heed His instructions to pray for them.J
Jeremiah 1:12 – Pray this paryer in faith, believing you receive, and remember God watches over His Word to perfrom it!
Father, I pray according to 1 Timothy 2:1-3 > which says, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of god our Saviour.”
First, I ask for righteousness to prevail in our nation. I ask for godly counsel and wisdom for our cheif justice of the Supreme court, associate justice and all judges across this land. Isaiah 1:26 says, “And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, the city of righteousness, the faithful city.” Thank You, Lord, for restoring to our nation righteous judges who hear Your voice and adhere to Your Word.
I pray for our president, his cabinet, the vice president, the secretary of state, and the State Department; secretary of the treasury and the Department of Defense; intelligence agencies, law enforcement and the Department of Justice; secretarty of education and the Department of Education; governors and state governments; mayors, city councils and all others in authority at every level government. I pray they receive the wisdom of God, act in obedience to that wisdom, and for the power of God to flow in ther lives. Show them Your plan for the reversal for every evil way, and give them the courage to execute it. I declare that they hear and obey Your voice, Lord, and sho9w honor and respect for Your Word and your people.
Heavenly Father, and Lord God Almighty, I pray forthe members of Congress: our Senate and House of Representatives. I pray they find Your peace and direction, and they act and lead according to Your Word A house divided against itself cannot stand. Therefore, Father, I ask that You unify them in righteousness be manifest in the hearts of all in authority, and that they seek after You with all their hearts, souls, minds and strength.
In Jesus name I speak a hedge of protection over all men and women in law enforcement and the military. According to Romans 13:4, they are minsters of God, Your servants, for our good. Thank You, Lord, that Your angels surround them and keep them, that no evil befalls them, neither does any playue or calamity come near them. I declare that your hand is on them, and that yor deliver them from who lie in wait to harm them. Thank You for helping them discharge their duties with great wisdom and anointing, and walk in truth, integrity and honor. Wherever they go, they carry the anointing and light of freedom as representatives of a covenant nation.
According to Matthew 18:19 and @Now Father, you Corinthians 10:4, I bind the principalities and powers and rulers of the darkness of hte world ranged against this nation and pull them down. In the Name of Jesus, I bind every evil spirit of strife and division, and I break your power to divide this nation. I speak unity, harmony and peace over America. I declare that Jesus is Lord over the United States of America!
Now Father, Your Word says to pray for the peace of Jerusalem because those who love Jerusalem shall prosper. Because You love Jerusalem and all of Israel receives th Shalom of God, which brings wholeness – nothing missing, nothing broken. I pray no leader of our nation will make any decision that will harm Israel in any way, and that Yo make Youraself known and reveal Your perfect will to Israel and its leaders.
Thank You, Father God for hearing my prayers, in Jesus name, thank You for answering John and my prayers in Your Son Jesus name, I love You Father God in Jesus name, I love John very much. Forgive me for douhting You. Thank You Father God for lovong me in Jesus name, I thank You for softening the District Attorney in Jesus name. I am asking You for bring John back to us, To You first Father God in Jesus name Amen.
Genesis 6:11-12 > Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and full of violence God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their way.
Local government are encourging arrests to line their pockets. While Lackawanna County holds innocent people
There is big money in county jails in America, and Lackawanna County in Scranton Pennsylvania is no different. I believe the county should be charged with Capital Kidnapping. I know their corruption all to well. I was held three weeks longer then I should of been.
The first signal of the new wave of possible wrongdoing happened in September 2017, when agents from the state police and attorney general’s office raided the county’s Administration Building, jail and work release center. Five months later, in February 2018, the attorney general’s office charged seven current and former prison guards with sexually abusing female inmates or having inappropriate contact with them.
InfoThis is archived material from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) website. It may contain outdated information and links may no longer function.
Former Lackawanna County Commissioners Robert C. Cordaro and Anthony J. Munchak Sentenced Today on Corruption Charges in Federal Court
U.S. Attorney’s OfficeJanuary 30, 2012
Middle District of Pennsylvania(717) 221-4482
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that former Lackawanna County Commissioners Robert C. Cordaro and Anthony J. Munchak were sentenced in federal court in Scranton today by United States District Court Judge A. Richard Caputo.
Cordaro and Munchak were sentenced today to serve 132 months (11 years) and 84 months (seven years), respectively, in federal prison following their convictions after a jury trial in June 2011 on multiple felony counts to corruption during their tenure as County Commissioners. In addition, Cordaro was ordered to pay restitution to the IRS in the amount of $98,856, a $1,800 special assessment and serve a three-year term of supervised release. Cordaro had previously agreed to forfeit $355,000 to the United States which represents proceeds from the criminal offenses. Munchak was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine, a $800 special assessment and also serve a three-year term of supervised release.
Cordaro was ordered to surrender immediately, Munchak will report on April 3, 2012 to commence service.
Judge Caputo said in imposing the sentences today that the defendants violated the public trust and the oath they took as public officials. He noted that these are the fundamental foundations of our system and that the defendants turned that system “upside down.”
At the sentencing hearing today the government contended that Cordaro and Munchak’s criminal activities were “serious, extended and extremely damaging.” The Government stated that Cordaro and Munchak used their positions as majority County Commissioners to “engage in a pay-for-play scheme by accepting money in exchange for their official actions,” and violated the trust placed in them by the citizens of Lackawanna County.
“People have the right to expect that their elected leaders will honor the oath they swore to. The federal justice system must and will stand up to protect that expectation,” said Peter J. Smith, United States Attorney.
The Government was represented in the Cordaro and Munchak case by Assistant United States Attorneys Lorna N. Graham, Bruce Brandler and William S. Houser. The investigation was conducted jointly by the FBI and the Criminal Investigations Office of the IRS.
History of This Case
Cordaro and Munchak were originally charged in a 40-count indictment in March 2010 with racketeering and related charges in connection with alleged improper actions of the former Majority Commissioners in accepting payments and other benefits from individuals and entities doing business with Lackawanna County.
In October 2010 a superseding indictment was filed on substantially the same charges. The superseding indictment was presented due to changes in the application of the Federal Honest Services mail fraud statute resulting from a Supreme Court ruling.
In June 2011, following the 12-day trial, a federal jury in Scranton returned guilty verdicts against Cordaro and Munchak on charges of racketeering, bribery, conspiracy and tax fraud charges as described below.
Conspiracy to Commit Theft or Bribery Concerning Programs Receiving Federal Funds (1 count);
Bribery Concerning Programs Receiving Federal Funds (2 counts);
Conspiracy to Commit Extortion Under Color of Official Right (1 count);
Extortion Under Color of Official Right (2 counts);
Money Laundering Conspiracy (1 count);
Money Laundering (3 counts);
Racketeering (1 count);
-Racketeering Conspiracy (1 count);
Conspiracy to Defraud the United States(1 count);
Subscribing and Filing a Materially False Tax Return (3 counts); and
Income Tax Evasion (2 counts)
Conspiracy to Commit Theft or Bribery Concerning Programs Receiving Federal Funds (1 count);
Bribery Concerning Programs Receiving Federal Funds (2 counts);
Conspiracy to Commit Extortion Under Color of Official Right (1 count);
Extortion Under Color of Official Right (2 counts);
Subscribing and Filing a Materially False Tax Return (1 count); and
Income Tax Evasion (1 count)
SCRANTON — Seven current and former Lackawanna County Prison guards arrested this afternoon on charges of sexual abuse at the jail are free on bail. Troopers arrested former prison guard John J. Shnipes Jr., 42, of 115 Simpson St., Archbald, at his home. Shnipes is a former Archbald councilman who lost his seat in 2017. He didn’t say anything as troopers led him by his arms to their vehicle and declined comment later when he was escorted out of the state police barracks in Dunmore. Charges against Shnipes, 16 in total, include involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and institutional sexual assault. State police arrested George T. McHale, 50, of 513 Florin St., Scranton, and Jeff Staff, 42, address unknown, at the jail. Both were taken away in handcuffs and escorted to marked state police vehicles. Correctional officers James J. Walsh, 51, Paul J. Voglino, 45,Mark Johnson, 53, and George R. Efthimiou, 50, also were arrested. Walsh has been on paid administrative leave. He is charged with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse by forcible compulsion and by threat of forcible compulsion, according to a court docket made public late this afternoon. Voglino is charged with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse by forcible compulsion and threat of forcible compulsion. McHale is charged with institutional sexual assault, indecent assault without consent and indecent assault by threat of forcible compulsion. Johnson is charged with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse by forcible compulsion and threat of forcible compulsion, institutional sexual assault, indecent assault and harassment. Efthimiou and Staff are both charged only with institutional sexual assault. The dates the offenses are alleged to have occurred range from January 1999 through 2011, according to publicly available dockets. State police arrived at the jail after 2 p.m., not long before shift change, and acted with silent efficiency. Both McHale and Staff were visibly surprised. McHale’s eyes stared forward. His face was a pale mask of shock. Staff wanted a Times-Tribune photographer to stop taking pictures. The state police didn’t react. The camera kept clicking. Warden Tim Betti said no warning of the arrests was given but he could “surmise” what the arrests were about. He stood in the parking lot of the jail as the state troopers put the two under arrest. He planned to address his staff after and was sure that morale would be low. “It affects my morale,” Betti said. “It’s a little dour…it matches the sky right now.” The arrests come six months after agents from the state Attorney General’s Office and state police raided the jail, the county work release center, 911 center and county administration building related to a grand jury investigation into alleged sexual abuse of inmates. County Judge James Gibbons, who is chairman of the county prison board, said Wednesday afternoon he did not know any details of the arrests. He said he was not notified in advance that the arrests would happen. Bernie Brown, a lawyer representing Staff, Voglino and Johnson called the charges “trumped up” and claim the guards’ accusers went to the attorney general and are telling stories to increase their chances for settlements in their lawsuits. The investigation arose from a civil lawsuit filed by a woman who alleged she was sexually abused by six guards from 2007 to 2016. Three additional women later joined the lawsuit and implicated other officers going back to 1998. The lawsuit, which is pending in federal court, contained allegations against prison guards the women said committed the abuse, as well as fellow guards who witnessed it but did nothing to stop it. It also alleges prison and county officials knew about the abuse and tried to cover it up. The accused guards coerced the incarcerated women into the sex acts by giving them extra privileges or threatening to take away privileges or place them restricted housing, the suit said. When they were free, the guards manipulated them into having sex by threatening to have their probation revoked. Two of the women alleged they tried to report the abuse to other guards and prison officials. Rather than help them, the guards harassed and berated them and actively helped the abusive guards conceal the assaults, the complaint said. The suit alleged most of the abuse happened between 1998 and 2013, but some as recently as last year. All seven arrested were taken to the state police barracks in Dunmore for interviews and then were arraigned by Magisterial District Judge Paul J. Ware at his office on West Pine Street. Their preliminary hearings are scheduled for 11:15 a.m. on Feb. 23. A press conference is slated for some time tomorrow, Trooper Mark Keyes, a spokesman at the Dunmore barracks, said. Walsh and McHale are free on $50,000 unsecured bail and Voglino, Efthimiou and Staff walked on $25,000 unsecured bail. Johnson posted a bail bond for $25,000. Shnipes posted a bond for $100,000. An attorney representing Shnipes said he is looking forward to his day in court. JEFF HORVATH, STAFF WRITER, CONTRIBUTED TO THE REPORT Check back for updates.
The day after the guards’ arrests, Attorney General Josh Shapiro called it “the opening chapter” in trying to end abusive prison culture. The grand jury presentment charging the guards mentions others who knew about abuse but may have done nothing about it, though Shapiro declined to speculate then about charging them.
None of the cases of the guards arrested — John Shnipes, George T. McHale, Jeffrey T. Staff, James J. Walsh, Paul J. Voglino, Mark A. Johnson and George R. Efthimiou — have reached the trial stage. I just wander if these men are requiered to regieser with the State police as Sex Offenders. I just heard that the county government paid $700,000 to these C.O.’s who raped the women in jail. I seen male C.O.’s go into female inmates cells. We were told of we said anything we would never see our kids agasin. Because the C.O.’s could pin charges on us for telling on them.
If God has asked you to lay something down or pick something up — I promise you that in due time you will see the fruit of that decision. You will never ever regret obeying Him no matter how extreme, crazy, hard or illogical it might look. — it’s worth it every single time! Before […]