Daily Encouragement

January 17 – Listen to God. Repent. Obey. Be Blessed.

January 17
Genesis 35:1-36:43
Matthew 12:1-21
Psalm 15:1-5
Proverbs 3:21-26

Genesis 35:1-3 – Yesterday Jacob was in deep trouble. His kids murdered an entire town seeking revenge. This is one of the few times we see the correct pattern of how to handle problems (we’ll see many examples of the wrong way). Jacob listened. Jacob repented.  Jacob obeyed. God blessed.

Genesis 35:20 – Rachel dies and is buried in Bethlehem Ephratah (Gen 48:7). Jeremiah 31:15 talks about her weeping for the children. Micah 5:2 mentions this place Bethlehem Ephratah and says something big will happen there! Note especially Genesis 35:21 talks about the “tower of Edar” – this is the Migdal Eder of Micah 4:8! (And if you’ve seen Quentin Road’s Christmas Program – they talk about it at the 23 minute mark)!

1930s Rachel’s tomb with Muslim graves. View looking South towards Bethlehem.

The Jewish group “Friends of Rachel’s Tomb” has some interesting history and many ancient photos of the structure referred to today as Rachel’s Tomb. Unfortunately this site’s history prior to the Byzantines is unknown, as opposed to the Cave of the Patriarchs, so we don’t know if it is the actual site, but we know that Rachel was buried in this region.

Genesis 36 – J. Vernon McGee discusses this chapter as God’s pointing out the “rejected line” and then dismisses it – similar to the line of Cain vs. the line of Seth that we read earlier this month.

Matthew 12:6 – If you’re looking for a journal topic thru the gospels – read what Jesus said about Himself. Sometimes people think of Jesus as just a good teacher, or sometimes they write songs that Jesus is like a “boyfriend.” While Jesus was an amazing teacher, and loves us more than anyone else can, He is great. Greater than the temple (v.6), Greater than the Sabbath (v.8), and Greater than the curse (v.13)

Psalm 15 – God expects a change in His people! God lives in a holy heaven (v.1) and cannot abide sin. The good news is all we have to do to go to heaven is be perfect. The bad news is nobody is perfect.

Proverbs 3:21-26 – I enjoy leading tour groups – most of the time on a tour I’m not telling people something “hidden,” just making sure they don’t miss something in plain sight!  Solomon shared yesterday the Creationary power of wisdom – and he has to remind his son – don’t let it go! Can you count the blessings today of wisdom? God’s way is better than our way! Just like Jacob realized when he was in a jam: Listen to God. Repent. Obey. Be Blessed.

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Daily Encouragement

January 16 – Wisdom and Choices

January 16
Genesis 32:13-34:31
Matthew 11:7-30
Psalm 14:1-7
Proverbs 3:19-20

We’re in the second half of the first month of this journey!

Genesis 32:14-19 – we’re in the middle of a dramatic scene. Jacob had lied to his father and cheated his brother Esau out of the blessing of his father.  Earlier this month we saw the liar Jacob being outlied by his uncle Laban. He’s learned his lesson. Now he’s seeking reconciliation. This is an expensive reconciliation. But God is blessing his self-sacrificial reconciliation with a new name.

Genesis 32:26 – The Pulpit Commentary says Jacob “sought to obtain from him the blessing which he had previously stolen from his aged father by craft.”

Genesis 33:30 – Jacob realized in yesterday’s passage his family is far from devout (stealing idols!) but now is determined to change his family’s theology by committing himself publicly. Just as grandpa Abraham did (Genesis 12:7), Jacob built an altar  to El-Elohe-Israel. God – not just any God but the Creator God (Genesis 1:1 uses the word Elohim) of Israel – is my God now! BTW – Bodie Hodge / AiG has a great article on names for God. But in the next chapter (Genesis 34) we see Jacob’s kids inherited his sin nature and are practicing it more than their father’s newly exemplified faith.

Genesis 34 – The Rape of Dinah

Matthew 11 – yesterday we saw doubting John but Jesus’ compassion rings out – “there hath not risen a greater than John”! But the least of the kingdom will be greater than John!

Matthew 11:23 – Now I’m glad you’re reading God’s Word in its entirety this year but this verse is a sober warning for you. If you have more exposure to God – you have more responsibility. God rained down fire and brimstone on Sodom but says it will be worse for those who know about Jesus but don’t know Jesus personally. Jesus alternates from warning of eternal judgment to offering rest in your souls. There’s no middle way with Him.

Psalm 14:1 – Ray Comfort says April 1 is National Atheists’ Day.

Psalm 14:3 sounds a theme we will see in Romans 3.

Proverbs 3:19-20. This wisdom seems pretty powerful. Let’s keep seeking it as we continue reading!

Share how reading thru the Bible has been a blessing to you! E-mail us at 2018bible@vcyamerica.org or call and leave a message at 414-885-5370.

Daily Encouragement

January 15 – Blessings from Seeking the Lord!

January 15
Genesis 31:17-32:12
Matthew 10:24-11:6
Psalm 13:1-6
Proverbs 3:16-18

Jacob and Rachel Leaving the House of Laban by Charles-Joseph Natoire, oil on canvas, 1732, High Museum of Art

Genesis 31:24 and Genesis 31:26 appear to show Laban is disobeying God. Laban obviously is speaking to Jacob but God seemingly told him not to speak to Jacob at all. This is where Bible commentaries can be helpful to explain difficult passages. BibleHub offers a few different commentaries on 31:24, and you realize there’s a wide variation in the commenting – don’t say anything violent, don’t go from positive to negative, don’t try to get him back, etc. That’s when you realize that human commentators are not inspired – but their best help is when they point out cross references. In Genesis 24:50 – years before when Eliezer went to Laban, asking for Rebekah to return to marry Isaac, Laban said “The thing proceedeth from the LORD: we cannot speak unto thee bad or good.” Now in Genesis 31:24 God uses the same words Laban used back at Laban – “Take heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad.” Ever had a time when God used your words to convict you?

Matthew 10:33 – Another convicting verse – “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” How many times have people started talking about eternity, life after death, and you’ve heard God telling you to talk about what His Son did for them? But thankfully – we know this isn’t the unforgivable sin, because as we’ll see in a couple weeks someone famously commit this sin.

Matthew 11 – When John was in doubt – Jesus pointed his disciples indirectly to Isaiah 35:4-6 – the signs of when God would come.

Psalm 13:6 – I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.” Feel free to sing during your time with God!

Proverbs 3:16-18 – We saw in yesterday’s reading that these are the benefits of wisdom and mercy, and Proverbs 9:10 tells us wisdom and understanding come from the Fear of the Lord and the Knowledge of the Holy. Today we see more benefits from fearing the Lord – Length of days, Riches and honor, Pleasantness, Peace, and Happiness! Enjoy God’s blessings from seeking Him!

Share how reading thru the Bible has been a blessing to you! E-mail us at 2018bible@vcyamerica.org or call and leave a message at 414-885-5370.

Daily Encouragement

January 14 – Can you name the 12 disciples?

January 14
Genesis 30:1-31:16
Matthew 10:1-23
Psalm 12:1-8
Proverbs 3:13-15

Genesis 30:43 – Ever have a boss that was jealous of you? God blessed Jacob incredibly so he increased exceedingly. But Laban had changed his wages and every time he changed the terms of the deal God blessed Jacob even more. Sometimes you may be in an unfair position. But God sees.

Genesis 31:12. A friend of mine shared how he wasn’t being treated fairly in a business situation. Thankfully God keeps ultimate score even when we feel like we’re losing, and He will still bless us and provide as we need.

The Exhortation to the Apostles

Matthew 10:2-4 The Lord Jesus Christ introduces us to the 12 men he chose to spend time with while He was on earth. While memorizing the names of the disciples will not get us bonus points in Heaven, knowing basic Biblical facts is helpful! Unfortunately most Christians can’t name more than two or three disciples. However many Christians could name the members of Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring, the starting lineup of the Green Bay Packers, or many other things less significant. By the way – I do best memorizing with a song – here’s “He Has Called Us Too” on YouTube that will help us memorize the 12 disciples.

Psalm 12:6 – God has a special promise for you. You’ve taken the challenge to read thru God’s Word for the first time or for an additional time. Other words are vanity, flattering, double hearted, and proud. But you’ve chosen to partake of pure words. Keep it up!

Proverbs 3:14 – And speaking of silver – the wisdom of God, the understanding from God (see Proverbs 9:10) is better than silver, gold, rubies, and even Bitcoin (Bitcoin is included in the “all things thou canst desire” in Proverbs 3:15).

Share how reading thru the Bible has been a blessing to you! E-mail us at 2018bible@vcyamerica.org or call and leave a message at 414-885-5370.

Daily Encouragement

January 13 – The 6th “Thou Shalt Not”

January 13
Genesis 28:1-29:35
Matthew 9:18-38
Psalm 11:1-7
Proverbs 3:11-12

Genesis 28:1 is the 6th “Thou Shalt Not” of the Bible. Even though Jacob had deceived his father horribly yesterday, his father blessed him again and charges him – stay separate from unbelievers. By the way, if your first two wives don’t please your parents – the answer is not what Esau did in Genesis 28:8-9!

Jacob’s Ladder, as in Genesis 28:12; illustration from the 1728 Figures de la Bible; illustrated by Gerard Hoet (1648-1733) and others, and published by P. de Hondt in The Hague; image courtesy Bizzell Bible Collection, University of Oklahoma Libraries

Genesis 28:19 Bethel is the same place where the Lord appeared unto Abraham (Genesis 12:8).

Matthew 9:28 – The blind men who heard about Jesus had more faith than the disciples who lived with Jesus!

Matthew 9:38 – Is God calling you to be a labourer in His harvest?

Psalm 11:4 is an amazing combination of the transcendence of God and the immanence of God. He is high above us, yet His eyes behold us.

Proverbs 3:12 – What does faith look like? Yesterday it was giving when you don’t know how much you will get. Today it’s accepting when you don’t want to receive. Later in Proverbs 13:1 and 15:5, Solomon tells us that how we respond is a sign of what type of person we are – wise & prudent, or a scorning fool.

Share how reading thru the Bible has been a blessing to you! E-mail us at 2018bible@vcyamerica.org or call and leave a message at 414-885-5370.

Daily Encouragement

January 12 – Trusting God to Provide

January 12
Genesis 26:17-27:46
Matthew 9:1-17
Psalm 10:16-18
Proverbs 3:9-10

Genesis 26:33 – Just a few days ago on January 9th we saw Abraham digging a well in Beersheba (Genesis 21:31) now we see Isaac digging a well in Beersheba (Genesis 26:33). We also see the danger of God’s people marrying unbelievers (Genesis 26:35).

Genesis 27:41 – interesting the connection between hate and murder – Jesus talked about this a few days ago in Matthew 5:22.

Jesus healing the sick of the palsy

Matthew 9:3 – Throughout history the deity of Jesus has been attacked.  Many – including Islam, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Unitarians say Jesus did not claim to be God, rather his followers “deified” Him after His death. But in Matthew 9:3 Jesus is accused of blasphemy. AiG has a great Bible Study on the question “Is Jesus God.

Matthew 9:13 – Thank God for this verse – he came to call us – sinners – to repentance!

Psalm 10:17 – Who has the Lord heard? (this seems to be a theme throughout the Bible!)

Proverbs 3:9-10 – Here’s an example of what it means to “trust in the Lord” – the farmer does not know how much harvest he will have. The financial world tells stock market traders to lock in some profits from time to time (keep the first part of the profits for yourself). The widow did not think she had enough oil for herself if she gave to the prophet first (I Kings 17:13). Hannah did not know if she would have any other children than Samuel (I Samuel 1:11). The Bible says if you give God your firstfruits – He will fill your barns. As Arthur DeMoss said, “To be successful you should give God the first dime out of every dollar, the first hour out of every day, and the first day out of every week.”

Share how reading thru the Bible has been a blessing to you! E-mail us at 2018bible@vcyamerica.org or call and leave a message at 414-885-5370.

Daily Encouragement

January 11 – Who was Abraham’s Second Wife?

January 11
Genesis 24:52-26:16
Matthew 8:18-34
Psalm 10:1-15
Proverbs 3:7-8

Congrats on hanging in there – we’re 1/3 of the way thru January. Don’t let Scripture reading become a duty however – you can browse a list we put together of some of the blessings of reading Scripture (and please share with us if you’ve found some we missed!)

Genesis 25 is a Bible Trivia bonus question – most Christians don’t know the name of Abraham’s second wife. 25:9 takes us back to Machpelah. 25:21 – interesting that two generations in a row of patriarchs had trouble conceiving a child. 25:34 – we see the “mess of pottage” – a phrase that has been used by many over the years including Karl Marx!

Matthew 8:18-22 – I heard a message on this passage entitled “A Question of Commitment.” Following Jesus is greater than any comfort, and any relationship you may have.

Photo from author’s hotel room of the Sea of Galilee

Matthew 8:23-27 Jesus has power over nature, and in Matthew 8:28-33 Jesus has power over demons. But instead of seeking deliverance we see a city that “besought him that he would depart.”

Psalm 12:12 – What kind of person will God not forget?

Proverbs 3:7 – How close can we get to evil?

Share how reading thru the Bible has been a blessing to you! E-mail us at 2018bible@vcyamerica.org or call and leave a message at 414-885-5370.

Daily Encouragement

January 10 – Machpelah & a Miracle

January 10
Genesis 23:1-24:51
Matthew 8:1-17
Psalm 9:13-20
Proverbs 3:1-6

Genesis 23:19 tells us about Sarah being buried in the Cave of Machpelah. Interestingly the Cave of the Patriarchs today is based on a structure from Herod the Great – over 2,000 years old. If you want to see an aerial view of the Cave, a Jewish group has some interesting footage on YouTube. In 24:3 – we see a followup to the contrast of women in Proverbs – Abraham wants a certain kind of wife for his son, one from the people who had been exposed to God, not from the Canaanites; as we’ve seen in Proverbs there is the lady Wisdom, and the Strange woman – one’s choice of companions (especially a lifelong companion) is important (Proverbs 13:20).

Start at 6:46 for the relevant parts

Matthew 8:4 – This is the first miracle recorded in the New Testament (but not the first chronologically). On February 23rd we’ll read what this verse is referring to (but if you want to sneak ahead check out Leviticus 14. Matthew 8:14 talks about Peter’s house – that may have been discovered (and is a regular tourist stop if you travel to Israel).

Traditional Site of Peter’s House in Capernaum (not the church, under the church).
Author’s Photo

Psalm 9:17 – The wicked shall be turned into hell. “The most sobering reality in the world today, is that people are dying and going to hell today.” Many think they are a good person, but are they good enough to go to heaven?.

Proverbs 3:5 – Patch the Pirate put Proverbs 3:5 to music (I try to share Scripture memory songs because music is a great way to hide God’s Word in our hearts). And speaking of God, His offer of directing our paths is a conditional promise worth seeking.

Proverbs 3:7 – Be Not Wise in Thine Own Eyes, from Earl Martin

Share how reading thru the Bible has been a blessing to you! E-mail us at 2018bible@vcyamerica.org or call and leave a message at 414-885-5370.

Daily Encouragement

January 9 – Mount Moriah

January 9
Genesis 20:1-22:24
Matthew 7:15-29
Psalm 9:1-12
Proverbs 2:16-22

Genesis 22:2 Mount Moriah is where Abraham offered his son Isaac. 2 Chronicles 3:1 tells us another event occured on this site, and references another event in 1 Chronicles 21:18. This site Abraham called Jehovah-Jireh – the Lord will provide. And about 2,000 years later, from this site, one could see the Lamb of God as He taketh away the sins of the world. While Abraham was willing to give up his only son of promise, God Himself would send His only Son. For a completely different take on the location of Moriah, Islam believes Mount Moriah is near the Kaaba in Saudi Arabia.

Matthew 7:22 is another sobering verse of Scripture. While reading thru the Bible is a great thing, and prophesying and casting out demons are examples of more “wonderful works,” that is not enough. As Martin Luther said, “If ever a monk got to heaven by his monkery, it was I.” But monkery wasn’t enough to get Martin Luther to heaven, and tragically there are untold numbers of people who claim to know the Lord, but He will say “I never knew you.” Don’t let it be said of you – know God while you can – even if you have just three minutes to live!

Psalm 9:1-2: Let’s memorize this verse with Earl Martin:

Psalm 9:3 is a great promise when you’re attacked by your enemies. It seems there are only two kinds of time – before you’re attacked and when you’re under attack!

Proverbs 2:6 introduces us to the antagonist of the lady Wisdom,  the Strange Woman. If you’re looking for a study topic, contrast the two women as we go thru Proverbs.

Share how reading thru the Bible has been a blessing to you! E-mail us at 2018bible@vcyamerica.org or call and leave a message at 414-885-5370.

Daily Encouragement

January 8 – Where is Sodom and Gomorrah?

January 8
Genesis 18:16-19:38
Matthew 6:25-7:14
Psalm 8:1-9
Proverbs 2:6-15

Genesis 19:24 is a sobering verse that warns about God’s wrath against sin. If you’re like me you’ve wondered where Sodom and Gomorrah are. As we study the Bible we often search the internet for information about the topics – there are a lot of “fake news” out there (not just sensational reporting, but groups that disbelieve the Bible and seek to minimize the multitudes of evidence for the Bible). The best site that I have found for information on Bible Archaeology is the Associates for Biblical Research. ABR believes this is the site of Biblical Sodom. They also share their reasoning for why it is the site of Sodom, and ICR’s John Morris is sympathetic, as is Dr. Steve Austin .

The possible site of Sodom?

Some readers are concerned that 18:21 contradicts the omniscience of God – however in Genesis 1:1 – God created the entire universe from nothing – He made it all. According to Genesis 6:5 – God knew what was on the heart of everyone – He saw it all. Yesterday in Genesis 18:10 – God told Abraham what will happen a year in the future – He knows the future. So if he made it all, saw it all, and know the future – He is not like a researcher making a trip to investigate a situation. Rather, this is an anthropomorphism – see Baker’s Bible Dictionary.

It’s kind of like when the President visits a hurricane disaster site. He goes as an anthropomorphism of the US government. As an agent of the US Government – the Government already knew what was going on in Puerto Rico, the Government was already working on relief, the Government didn’t learn anything new from the visit, and his personal visit wasn’t substantively helpful (he didn’t reconnect power lines) – the visit was merely symbolic to show the residents that the Government knew, cared, and wanted to help.

Matthew 6:33 was my grandfather’s favorite verse, although today we may call it a “life verse.” When we get our priorities right, God takes care of our needs, and often times a lot of our wants. Unfortunately Matthew 7:1 is the new life verse of people today.

Matthew 7:12 – From Earl Martin:


Psalm 8 helps us realize how little we have to boast of, but how great our God is that He loves us! Psalm 8 was probably the inspiration for “How Majestic is Thy Name” by Patch the Pirate.


Proverbs 2:6-8 shares the blessings of listening to the Lord. If you don’t have a Bible journaling system, perhaps make a log this year of what God does for us. He gives wisdom, knowledge, understanding, sound wisdom, a buckler, keepeth paths, preserves our way, and much much more!

Share how reading thru the Bible has been a blessing to you! E-mail us at 2018bible@vcyamerica.org or call and leave a message at 414-885-5370.