Daily Encouragement

January 21 – Joseph’s behavior should sound familiar

January 21
Genesis 42:18-43:34
Matthew 13:47-14:12
Psalm 18:16-36
Proverbs 4:7-10

Three weeks into the year – and you’ve stayed with us! Thank you! God is blessing your faithfulness! How do I know? If you’ve been seeking God with your whole heart for these last 3 weeks – Psalm 119:2 speaks to you!

Biblical illustrations by Jim Padgett, courtesy of Sweet Publishing

Sometimes you feel like Joseph’s brothers – just trying to put food on the table and a government official is threatening jail time. 

Genesis 42:18 is words of comfort – knowing that the government official is under authority from above!

Genesis 42:27 – Speaking of the brothers – they tried to buy food, but they couldn’t. God used the brother 1) they wanted to kill to 2) store up food for them (before they knew they needed it), 3) give it to them at no charge (even though they tried to pay for it). What other thing has God done through 1) someone we wanted to kill, 2) before we knew we needed it, 3) and gave to us at no charge (and even refused our efforts to pay for it!)

Genesis 43:34 Joseph feeds them at his banquet table – if you’ve heard the Children’s Song – “He brought me to His banqueting table / His banner over me is Love” – what verse is that song quoting?

Matthew 13:50 – again Jesus talks about a “furnace of fire.” Interestingly while Millennials are far less likely to believe in God, attend church weekly, pray, read Scripture, etc than Senior Citizens, they are just as likely to believe Hell is real. Unfortunately many believe its just for Adolph Hitler – but the Bible tells us many, many more will be going there.

Psalm 18:25-26 As you’re journaling about the character of God, perhaps add a list of characteristics that He looks for in us.

Proverbs 4:7 How’s this for an executive summary of Proverbs?

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Daily Encouragement

January 20 – Jesus continues to warn about hell

January 20
Genesis 41:17-42:17
Matthew 13:24-46
Psalm 18:1-15
Proverbs 4:1-6

People ask should Christians get involved in politics? I point out there’s two books of the Bible called Kings, and another couple of the Chronicles of the Kings. Genesis 41:25 – God had a message for a politician in Egypt. 41:46 interestingly Joseph was about the same age as Jesus (Luke 3:23) when his ministry began. Also notice the parallel between 42:8 and John 1:10-11? There are some sermons on SermonAudio.com that show how Joseph was a picture of Christ. (BTW – if you’re looking for more info on a passage – checking SermonAudio.com will show you some of the most listened to sermons (out of more than 1.3 million) on a passage). One final note about Joseph – though Joseph was in Egypt, and the King/Pharoah gave him an Egyptian wife of cultic pedigree (41:45), Joseph did not name his children Egyptian names. He gave them Hebrew names (41:51/52). While you may be in Egypt, don’t let Egypt into you!

Matthew 13:30 – Jesus talked about hell several times already in Matthew (5:22, 5:29, 5:30, 10:28, 11:23). Now he talks about burning tares. v. 40 – the children of the wicked one will be gathered and burned. I hate to use the word sobering so often, but when we compare reading Scripture to the amusements (literally ‘a’ = non, ‘muse’ = thinking; nonthinkings) of today, we have serious words to pay attention to. v.42 “And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” If you knew that, and believed that, shouldn’t you say something? Do we think hell is real? Do we think heaven is a “pearl of great price” that we are willing to sell all that we have for it? (13:46).

Psalm 18:1-3 – Take a sheet of paper and make a list of who the Lord is. Or if you’re already building in your journal a biography of God – add these attributes to the list. Psalm 18:3 and 18:46 (we’ll get there day after tomorrow!) have been recorded in song – if you haven’t heard this classic, it’s a great way to hide these two verses in your heart!

Proverbs 4:4 – Keeping commandments is not misery. They are life. Have you noticed that Solomon seems to think wisdom is important? Genesis has been an interesting look at people who have or have not been wise.

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Daily Encouragement

January 19 – Managing resources for a reward

January 19
Genesis 39:1-41:16
Matthew 12:46-13:23
Psalm 17:1-15
Proverbs 3:33-35

Biblical illustrations by Jim Padgett, courtesy of Sweet Publishing

Genesis 39:2 shows us prosperity from someone who was with the Lord. While God can send prosperity, not all prosperity is of God (Psalm 73:12). Doctrine makes a difference – nonbelievers can follow Proverbs advice from God on how to be successful but they don’t have to follow the Author of the rules. While there are many ways to riches on this earth – only one doctrine leads to riches in the next world (Matthew 6:19).

Genesis 39:8 – Joseph was willing to risk prosperity on this planet (Genesis 39:8) because he would not risk the next world (Genesis 39:9), and lost his material prosperity in this world (Genesis 39:20). Recently in the news a man in Oregon was asked to violate his conscience so he quoted a verse of Scripture and was fined $135,000. Sometimes, though, the test is not will you stand in persecution, but can you stand in blessing.

Genesis 41:16 – Joseph turned down the credit (Genesis 41:16), when yesterday he seemingly wanted the credit (Genesis 37:6).

Matthew 13 is a great example of “venture capital.” A friend of mine is a venture capitalist – he buys businesses. Some get devoured. Some wither. Some are choked. But if just one of ten businesses can return an hundredfold, or even just thirtyfold, he can make a ton of money. Speaking of investing – what are you investing in? Are you investing in spreading the Gospel seeds? Are you praying for your friends that as they respond that they won’t be devoured, withered, or choked?

Psalm 17:13 is a great cry from someone oppressed – as we go thru trials we can cry to the One who listens!

Psalm 17:15 – Also, notice how Psalm 17:15 today and Psalm 16:10 yesterday seem to be a burst of prophetic utterance in the midst of a prayer within a temporal struggle?

Proverbs 3:33-35 is a great example of Hebrew antithetical poetry. ” It is very different from English poetry. English poetry is developed from Greek and Latin poetry, which is primarily sound-based. Hebrew poetry has much in common with Canaanite poetry. It is basically thought-based in balanced, parallel lines” (Bible.org) These verses contrast the blessing with the curse. Will we follow wisdom and understanding, or the simple, the scorner, and the fool?

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Daily Encouragement

January 18 – Wisdom haves and have-nots, and practical wisdom

January 18
Genesis 37:1-38:30
Matthew 12:22-45
Psalm 16:1-11
Proverbs 3:27-32

Genesis 37:1 – Abraham was a stranger. His blessing of being a father of many nations wouldn’t be realized until after he was dead. Obeying someone for a reward in the distance – what’s that called? (Hebrews 11:9).

Genesis 37:6 – By the way, Joseph seemed to have the same youthful lack of discretion (albeit less violent) that his siblings had (37:6-8, 9-11). Reuben had a grosser lack of discretion (Genesis 35:22) but seems to have improved some that he stopped the fratricide in v. 21. (Ever wonder why Proverbs always talks about wisdom? Children have needed it for thousands of years!)

Biblical illustrations by Jim Padgett, courtesy of Sweet Publishing

Genesis 37:28 – Joseph was sold for twenty pieces of silver (v. 28), similar to Someone who was sold for thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15).

Genesis 38:15 – Judah still had lessons to learn. He sold his brother for a quick buck (37:27) and then looks to buy a favor from a harlot (38:15). I Timothy 6:10 has something to say about money….

Bonus thought – Scripture is not just ‘character lessons’ – i.e. Judah wanted to kill Joseph, we shouldn’t want to kill our brothers. Rather all of Scripture points to Jesus. Jack Klumpenhower has lesson notes on most of Genesis including today’s reading. He wrote a book emphasizing that Sunday School has become ‘character lessons’ – not showing how every passage of Scripture points to Jesus. Over the next few days see how Joseph’s life points to Jesus.

Matthew 12:25 was alluded to by Founding Father John Dickinson – “By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall.” Patrick Henry declared in his final speech “United we stand, divided we fall.” Abraham Lincoln talked about a house divided on slavery. Ross Perot named his political committee “United We Stand.”  But are we united with Jesus? (Matthew 12:30).

Matthew 12:40 – BTW – notice Jesus believed Jonah was a real person? As we were talking yesterday about how great Jesus is – He claimed to be greater than Jonah! (Matthew 12:41) greater than Solomon! (Matthew 12:42). Finally let’s make sure to be careful of our words – Matthew 12:36. (Reading Scripture tends to be sobering, does it not?)

Psalm 16:1 – Once when I was feeling under attack and overwhelmed, I started copying the Psalms by hand. Not because I didn’t have access to a photocopier, but because I felt I was reading thru the Bible too quickly and I needed to force myself to slow down and meditate. The Psalms really came alive as I realized that God deals with hurting people throughout the book again and again. But some promises are conditional – if He is at my right hand – then I shall not be moved (v.8). God promises deliverance, but we must obey.

Proverbs 3:27 – Solomon is giving the wisdom that Jacob and his descendants needed early. A variation of the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12), v. 27 is a simple command – if you can be a help to someone, be a help to someone. Sometime I’d be afraid to do something because it wasn’t my place, but it was always appreciated when I would tell someone – I think you need help – can I help you?


Proverbs 3:28 – If you’ve had a friend on Facebook who’s a Multi-Level Marketing distributor, I’m sure they’ve shared with you how they’ve been paid early and how wonderful it is to receive early .

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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!

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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!

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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).

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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.

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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.