Daily Encouragement

July 2 – Hezekiah’s Tunnel

2 Kings 20:1-22:2
Acts 21:18-36
Psalm 150:1-6
Proverbs 18:9-10

2 Kings 20:5 — How does prayer work? Prayer in itself doesn’t, but the God that we talk to through prayer does work! He can deliver a king from an invading army. He can cure an incurable disease, and He acts “for mine own sake.” (2 Kings 20:6)

2 Kings 20:18 — The King of Israel will have descendants who will be unable to have descendants and who will serve the King of Babylon. Why? Likely because Berodach-baladan (Merodach-baladan in Isaiah 39:1) was given a royal tour, but the tour didn’t give the glory to the God who saved the life and empire of the king. How do we surmise this? The Queen of Sheba visited, and she saw all of Solomon’s splendor (1 Kings 10:5). But how did the Queen of Sheba respond? Praising the LORD God (1 Kings 10:9)! If Berodach-baladan praised the LORD for the situation of Hezekiah, I think it would have been recorded.

2 Kings 20:20 — Hezekiah’s tunnel was rediscovered by the adopted son of Horatio Spafford, author of the hymn “It Is Well with My Soul.” Here’s a quick 5-minute video explaining what Hezekiah’s Tunnel did:

2 Kings 21:3 — Let’s pray that our children follow us as we follow the LORD, and that they turn not from His ways!

2 Kings 22:2 — Praise the LORD that God can use the grandson of an evil king to serve Him!

Acts 21:21 — Yes, the grace of God came upon the Gentiles! Not that they were free from law but free from Moses’ Law. Moses only had 613 commandments. Of them, many dealt with the Temple. But the Temple is no longer a place where God dwells because God now dwells within us. We can go directly to Him not having to depend upon a priest. Now, the New Testament contains over 1,000 imperatives that apply to the Christian seeking to know God’s statutes!

Acts 21:30 — When God is at work, the entire city is moved!

Psalm 150:6 — As we finish the Psalms, it’s as if the psalmist has run out of things to declare and simply says, “Everything that hath breath, praise the LORD!” May we praise Him as well!

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Daily Encouragement

July 1 – Sennacherib vs. Hezekiah

2 Kings 18:13-19:37
Acts 21:1-17
Psalm 149:1-9
Proverbs 18:8

2 Kings 18:13 — This is one of the most documented miracles in the Bible. Come with me as we explore this passage, or if you want to wait for 2 Chronicles 32 or Isaiah 33, we can do that as well. To introduce you to Sennacherib, I will leave Milwaukee and head down I-94 to Chicago, past the Sears (now Willis) Tower, and into the University of Chicago campus. John D. Rockefeller spent millions building this educational institution, and one of his projects was the Oriental Institute. Speaking of Rockefeller, there is the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem, and it has many artifacts too – but it’s cheaper (and faster) for me to go to the Oriental Institute. As you enter the museum, and turn left, you’ll see at the end of the hall a giant “lamassu” or winged bull staring at you from the far end. If you approach the lamassu and turn your head slightly to the right, you will see one of the attendants of the palace of Sargon in Khorsabad and his son Sennacherib (he’s the one with the fancy beard).

2 Kings 18:14 — As we continue our journey through the Oriental Institute, we will follow the door near Sennacherib, and walk through the passageway until we see a “prism” that contains some wedged shaped cuneiform writing on it. I’ve taken the trouble to provide you with a translation of what was written (my Assyrian is a bit rusty). On the second column I point out that he talks about Hezekiah the Judahite near the bottom.

Now Hezekiah was asked for 300 talents of silver and 30 talents of gold, but it appears Hezekiah gave him far more than was asked for (2 Kings 18:15). The prism talks about the tribute on the 3rd panel.

2 Kings 18:15 — Where did Hezekiah get the silver from? The house of the LORD! What if instead of stripping the house of the LORD, he would have prayed?

2 Kings 18:17 — Sennacherib defeated the forces at Lachish. If we go to the British Museum, we can see what Sennacherib did: he built a siege ramp to capture the city and then declared victory. He commemorated his victory with a massive monument.

2 Kings 18:22 — Rabshekah misunderstands what Hezekiah did. He didn’t get rid of altars to the LORD; he removed the forbidden altars.

2 Kings 18:35 — Rabshekah challenges the LORD.

2 Kings 19:35 — Yes, the LORD judges as well as exercises mercy.

Acts 21:13 — Paul was willing to suffer and die for the name of Jesus. Are we willing to live for the name of Jesus?

Psalm 149:4 — The blessings of the immanence of the LORD.

Proverbs 18:8 — May we not wound others with our talebearing.

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Daily Encouragement

June 30 – The Fall of the Northern Kingdom (722 BC)

2 Kings 17:1-18:12
Acts 20:1-38
Psalm 148:1-14
Proverbs 18:6-7

2 Kings 17:7 — The first violation listed as a cause for God’s judgment was the violation of the first commandment. Later in 2 Kings 17:10 we see the violation of the second commandment. Yet, God in His mercy still sent prophets to warn them (2 Kings 17:13).

2 Kings 17:32-33 — Today, we have a similar situation. People show the formalities of reverence to the LORD by paying a visit to mark His birth or His death, but He is placed on their heart’s shelf among the other gods. People pick and choose the parts they like, and then mix in a fair amount of hedonism, idolatry, and other practices for a diversified religious experience.

2 Kings 18:5-6 — How is this for a testimony of faithfulness? Can it be said of you that you “clave” to the LORD?

2 Kings 18:9 — We are now at 722 BC, one of the key dates in Israelite history – the fall of the Northern Kingdom.

Acts 20:9 — While your guide has fallen into a deep sleep in church, thankfully he has never fallen from the third floor.

Acts 20:18 — Speaking of a testimony of obedience, consider Paul’s: “… serving the LORD with all humility … and with many tears.”

Acts 20:28 — Paul’s charge to the elders of Ephesus: guard the flock. He tells them that it’s not “your” flock, it is the flock of the Holy Ghost and a valuable flock, purchased with the very blood of Jesus Christ.

Acts 20:29 — Too many today are falling into ancient heresies like Gnosticism or its modern variations. We need to remember that heresy came quickly to the Church after the Gospel.

Psalm 148:1 — Count the number of ways we can praise the LORD!

Proverbs 18:7 — Does your mouth lead you into destruction?

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Daily Encouragement

June 29 – Tiglath Pileser III

2 Kings 15:1-16:20
Acts 19:13-41
Psalm 147:1-20
Proverbs 18:4-5

2 Kings 15:5 — Why was Azariah struck with leprosy? We’ll find out in 2 Chronicles 26:16-21!

2 Kings 15:12 — ”And so it came to pass.” The word of the LORD always comes to pass!

Stele of Tiglath-Pilesar III, King of Assyria (745-727 BCE), Zagros mountains, western Iran, Dolomite (hard limestone), H. 2.4 m, IMJ 74.49.96 Gift of Ayoub Rabenou, Paris

2 Kings 15:19-20 — From the University of Southern California:

In 1993 a team of UCLA archaeologists led by Professor Elizabeth Carter were undertaking a survey of the Karamanmarash Valley in present-day Turkey (right). Digging near a village called Incirli, a funny thing happened. One of the local residents informed them that a man had found a strange artifact in a mound behind his house, which he had been leveling for agricultural reasons. The mound was now sitting in his garden. Upon going to the garden and inspecting the object, Prof. Carter was amazed to discover that it was actually an ancient basalt stele (rounded stone slab) dating back to the days of the Assyrian Empire.

The Incirli stela is one of the few inscriptions that solidifies the existence of the biblical figure Pul/Tiglath Pileser. This alone brings a great deal of importance to the history and the words encompassing the Incirli stela.

2 Kings 16:3 — This was a clear violation of Leviticus 18:21 and Deuteronomy 18:10. Unfortunately, he would not be the last king to so do (2 Kings 17:17 and 2 Kings 21:6).

Acts 19:15 — It’s not enough to have a friend who knows someone. You need to know Jesus directly!

Acts 19:19 — Obedience can be expensive – in this case 50,000 pieces of silver!

Acts 19:30 — I’m thankful for friends who can tell the difference between a God-given opportunity to preach and a riot that will be dealt with administratively (Acts 19:35).

Psalm 147:1 — From Earl Martin:

Psalm 147:5 — A great and simple verse to memorize and meditate upon!

Psalm 147:19 — Israel guarded the Law and the Old Testament, and by doing so, they have been a key part in the preservation of the Bible for us today!

Proverbs 18:4 — What kind of man is this? The second phrase enlightens us – the wise man!

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Daily Encouragement

June 28 – Disappearing Treasures

2 Kings 13:1-14:29
Acts 18:23-19:12
Psalm 146:1-10
Proverbs 18:2-3

2 Kings 13:4 — God always listens to those who turn to Him. Don’t wait so long to call upon Him!

2 Kings 13:21 — Yes, God still had work for Elisha to do, even after he was dead!

2 Kings 13:23 — Ah, God even honors His covenants with us even when we don’t honor them!

2 Kings 14:6 — God may send punishment on the third and fourth generation, but man cannot, even when enforcing the God-ordained laws.

2 Kings 14:14 — We’ve seen Rehoboam lose the treasures to Pharaoh Shishaq (1 Kings 14:26), Asa take the treasures to Ben Hadad (1 Kings 15:18), Jehoash take the hallowed things to Hazael (2 Kings 12:18), and now Amaziah lose to Jehoash the treasures. We’ll see Ahaz give the treasures to Assyria (2 Kings 16:8), Hezekiah give the treasures to Sennacherib (2 Kings 18:15), and finally Jehoiachin surrender to Nebuchadnezzar the treasures (2 Kings 24:13).

Sometimes we stockpile our wealth waiting for a future day to use our riches for the LORD, but we know not what tomorrow may bring or what our descendants will do.

2 Kings 14:25 — Jonah the prophet prophesied victory for the Israelites, and the people rejoiced assuredly. But then Jonah was given a message of forgiveness to the Ninevites and … we’ll see what happens when we get to the Book of Jonah!

Acts 18:26 — May we be like Apollos – a man willing to take instruction from others.

Acts 19:8 — Paul used his credentials to open doors to speak in synagogues as well as before Romans. What doors are you able to open to preach in?

Psalm 146:6 — Who is the God of Jacob? The Creator!

Proverbs 18:2 — Is your heart curved inward, or is it seeking understanding from above?

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Daily Encouragement

June 27 – Jehoiada Renews the Covenant

2 Kings 10:32-12:21
Acts 18:1-22
Psalm 145:1-21
Proverbs 18:1

2 Kings 10:32 — Here we see God’s judgment on Jehu. The monument we talked about yesterday was a permanent record of his disobedience.

2 Kings 11:17 — Jehoiada renewed the covenant of Deuteronomy 29 – this is the same covenant in Joshua 7:11 that God reminded the people they had disobeyed, it was the same covenant that God warned about disobeying in Joshua 23:16, it was the same covenant that God renewed in Joshua 24:25, it was the same covenant that they disobeyed in Judges 2:20, it was the same covenant that God reminded Solomon he disobeyed in 1 Kings 11:11, it was the same covenant that Elijah realized the Israelites disobeyed in 1 Kings 19:10, and it was the same covenant that the nation is now renewing again.

2 Kings 11:18 — The queen that had brought in Baal worship tried to accuse the people of treason (2 Kings 11:14), and only when she heard the “noise of the guard and of the people” did she enter into the house of the LORD (2 Kings 11:13). Apparently, it had been so abandoned that it was the staging ground for the revolution.

2 Kings 12:8 — From the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary:

The object of this chest was to make a separation between the money to be raised for the building from the other moneys destined for the general use of the priests, in the hope that the people would be more liberal in their contributions when it was known that their offerings would be devoted to the special purpose of making the necessary repairs. The duty of attending to this work was no longer to devolve on the priests, but to be undertaken by the king.

2 Kings 12:18 — Isn’t it interesting to read about the people who try to bribe their way to success, when all they need to do is just follow God completely (2 Kings 12:3)? As I’m sure you are aware, the problem with pragmatism is that it often works!

Acts 18:8 — 

Acts 18:9 — Ever notice how often God has to tell us to not be afraid?

Acts 18:14 — Sometimes God defends us before we can defend ourselves!

Psalm 145:3 — Amen!

Psalm 145:18 — The LORD is nigh! Call upon him!

Proverbs 18:1 — Many of the commentaries note that this is a hard Hebrew phrase to translate. They note that the desire is the driving force for good or for bad.

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Daily Encouragement

June 26 – The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser

2 Kings 9:14-10:31
Acts 17:1-34
Psalm 144:1-15
Proverbs 17:27-28

2 Kings 9:22 — Jehu seems to be a moral crusader. He even avenges Naboth (2 Kings 9:26). Will he hang with his commitment to the LORD?

2 Kings 9:34 — The first time Jehu failed in his obedience. The prophet told Jehu that the dogs would eat Jezebel and there would be none to bury her (2 Kings 9:10), but Jehu contradicts the prophet by ordering Jezebel to be buried.

2 Kings 10:6 — Jehu executes the judgment against Ahab’s family (2 Kings 9:8) that Elijah prophesied, and he again proclaims fidelity to the LORD in 2 Kings 10:10. He obeys the Lord in 2 Kings 10:17 by continuing to exterminate the lineage of Ahab.

2 Kings 10:29 — No!!! Jehu followed the LORD except in regard to the Golden Calves! 2 Kings 10:31 – he didn’t follow the Lord completely.

Interestingly, the only king of Israel or Judah that we have a depiction of is Jehu. The Israelites were forbidden from making graven images or “victory statues” of themselves (Exodus 20:4). The only graven images we have are from the secular nations such as the Assyrian Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III in the British Museum.

“The tribute of Jehu, son of Omri: I received from him silver, gold, a golden bowl, a golden vase with pointed bottom, golden tumblers, golden buckets, tin, a staff for a king [and] spears.”

Acts 17:6 — This is a great testimony: “These that have turned the world upside down!” Most Christians have left their neighborhood right side up!

Acts 17:11 — The noble Bereans who searched the Scriptures daily! May we be of their tribe!

Acts 17:22 — How does Paul preach to the intellectuals on Mars’ Hill? He uses an illustration – the altar to the Unknown God (Acts 17:23) – but he then proceeds to describe this God as the Creator first (Acts 17:24).

Acts 17:26 — Who made us? God did, and He made us of one blood. Ken Ham has written on this.

Acts 17:31 — At the BibleWalk Wax Museum in Mansfield, Ohio, they have a life-size portrayal of the Judgment Seat of Christ. The museum says that up to half of the people who come through the facility ask them if the Judgment Seat of Christ is really in the Bible. People are familiar with the Passion of Christ but are not as familiar with the fact that God will judge the world! It was this idea that judgment will come after God raises the dead that was so controversial in Paul’s day (Acts 17:32).

Psalm 144:1 — The Soldier’s Prayer.

Psalm 144:15 — Happiness comes to those who follow the LORD!

Proverbs 17:27-28 — How much knowledge and understanding do you have?

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Daily Encouragement

June 25 – Gehazi Reporting to the King

2 Kings 8:1-9:13
Acts 16:16-40
Psalm 143:1-12
Proverbs 17:26

2 Kings 8:4 — Sometimes we think Gehazi was mistreated. In our mind, he was just running errands for Elisha (2 Kings 4:12). In spite of this, though, the Shunamite woman had ignored him (2 Kings 4:26), he had shoved her away (2 Kings 4:27), and he couldn’t heal her sick child (2 Kings 4:31). He doesn’t even get to talk to Naaman the Captain of the Host of Syria (2 Kings 5:10). When he tried to improve his financial condition, he became a leper (2 Kings 5:27). Remember, though, he was in communication with the king of Israel at the same time.

2 Kings 8:8 — The king of Syria recognized that the man of God transcended national limitations – he spoke for the LORD that transcended borders. Yet at the same time, Elisha wept (2 Kings 8:11) because he had been made aware of what Hazael would do to his people (2 Kings 8:12). That is a delicate balancing act – empathy for your own nation and still maintaining integrity before the world.

2 Kings 8:10 — Is Elisha trying to deceive the king? From Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers:

Elisha sees through Hazaeľs character and designs, and answers him in the tone of irony which he used to Gehazi in 2 Kings 5:26, “Go, tell thy lord—as thou, the supple and unscrupulous courtier wilt be sure to do—he will certainly recover. I know, however, that he will assuredly die, and by thy hand.”

This use of irony is prevalent throughout the books of 1 & 2 Kings, and can be difficult to catch especially since we don’t have a widespread “sarcasm font” yet. GotQuestions.org has a good discussion of irony vs. sarcasm – irony can be appropriate, but sarcasm isn’t.

2 Kings 9:13 — Well, it seems the captains of the host of Ahab weren’t too loyal to the house of Ahab. Were they loyal to the LORD and grumbling over the new Baal worship? Or were they just upset that Ahab’s boy got wounded by the Syrians (2 Kings 8:29)?

Acts 16:25 — What did Paul and Silas sing in the prison? Patch the Pirate wrote a song that pulls from Old Testament verses that express the themes that Paul & Silas may have sung:

Acts 16:27 — The keeper of the prison was asleep. It wasn’t the music that saved him – it was the testimony of the prisoners that led him to ask how he could be saved (Acts 16:30). Yes, even his house heard the word of the Lord (Acts 16:32) and was saved (Acts 16:31). They were baptized too (Acts 16:33).

Listen to Earl Martin sing “Sirs, What Must I Do:”

Acts 16:37 — Interestingly, Paul didn’t make full use of his Roman “passport.” Paul gladly suffered so he could reach the jailer.

Psalm 143:2 — The psalmist wants mercy, not justice.

Psalm 143:5 — Note the similarity between this passage and Psalm 119 – the psalmist asks for God to listen because he knows that God does not hear the prayer of the iniquitous (Psalm 66:18, Proverbs 15:29, 1 Peter 3:12).

The psalmist says he meditates on God’s works, muses on them (Psalm 143:5), reaches for God, thirsts for God (Psalm 143:6), and because of that, he can request that God hear him (Psalm 143:7).

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Daily Encouragement

June 24 – Come Over to Macedonia!

2 Kings 6:1-7:20
Acts 15:36-16:15
Psalm 142:1-7
Proverbs 17:24-25

2 Kings 6:16 — As an old preacher once said, “God and you make a majority.”

2 Kings 6:17-18 — The LORD takes sight and gives sight.

2 Kings 6:23 — As Psalm 20:7 says, “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.”

2 Kings 6:31 — Famine, instead of being seen as a sign of God’s judgment and of His need to be appeased, was the reason for the king to be mad at the prophet of God and his desire to shoot the messenger.

2 Kings 7:19-20 — Bad things happen to people who question God’s power to provide.

Acts 15:38 — Interesting analysis from John Piper:

This is the foremost instance of Barnabas patience with the failures of others. He is the son of encouragement (Acts 4:36). He wants to give John Mark another chance and he wants to do it now.

Paul disagrees. The disagreement is so deep that it cannot be resolved, and these veterans whose friendship goes back at least 15 years, and who owe each other so much, part company. Neither will yield.

Which one of them was right? Well, Luke is remarkably objective here. He does not seem to take sides. Perhaps one little clue shows that the church inclined to the side of Paul, because in Acts 15:40 it says that Paul and Silas were commended by the brethren to the grace of the Lord. It doesn’t say this about the departure of Barnabas and John Mark.

Acts 16:3 — Paul not only taught mentoring (2 Timothy 2:2), he practiced it!

Acts 16:9 — From GotQuestions.org:

Up to that point in history, the gospel had been limited to Asia, and many historians credit Paul’s heeding the Macedonian Call with the spread of Christianity into Europe and the Western world.

Psalm 142:4-5 — When no man cared for my soul, the LORD is my refuge!

Proverbs 17:25 — This is interesting, especially in the context of Solomon’s son Rehoboam who lost the kingdom that his father had built.

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Daily Encouragement

June 23 – The “Uncool” River that Cleanses!

2 Kings 4:18-5:27
Acts 15:1-35
Psalm 141:1-10
Proverbs 17:23

2 Kings 4:28 — The honest cry of a woman to the prophet comes out in this verse. She did not ask for a son, but she was ultimately given one that she loved. Now her son is taken from her, and God brings her son back to life.

2 Kings 4:31 — I heard a great message from Devon Swanson on Gehazi, the unfaithful servant. We met Gehazi yesterday (2 Kings 4:12), and he was intelligent enough to know how to help the woman (2 Kings 4:14). A good worker – but he had a fatal flaw that will also be seen in Naaman (2 Kings 5:22).

  1. No relationship with his ministries (2 Kings 4:26). Yes, the Shunamite woman wasn’t talkative (2 Kings 4:13 and 16), but Gehazi, who had been often in her house (2 Kings 4:10), didn’t have a relationship that allowed her to freely open up to him.
  2. No respect for his ministries (2 Kings 4:27). Yes, the Shunamite woman ignored him and physically approached his boss, the one Gehazi was called to protect. Gehazi didn’t protect Elisha because he was trying to thrust away one of his ministry’s key donors!
  3. No reward from his ministries (2 Kings 4:31). Our reward in ministry is seeing lives changed – some thirty-fold, some sixty-fold, some one hundred-fold (Matthew 13:8). Obviously, Elisha felt that Gehazi could be used by God to work a miracle, but Gehazi’s fatal flaw cost him his reward.

2 Kings 5:1 — Did you catch the phrase “by him the LORD had given deliverance unto Syria?” God cares about the political affairs of heathen nations! How much more so does He care about nations that claim to trust in God! But what is the political agenda of God?

2 Kings 5:2 — The captured Israelite maid would be used of God, not to get political deliverance for herself and the other captive Israelites in Syrian bondage, but to be a witness as a faithful slave to Naaman’s wife. She was able to use her unfortunate situation just like Joseph did – to bring blessings to a heathen nation. Her testimony was evident within the household of Naaman, and so much so that it moved the king of Syria!

In the background of this picture from the VCY Israel Trip, you can see the dirty waters of Jordan.

2 Kings 5:6 — Ah, Naaman. He thought healing could come through political entreaty, but the king of Israel could not heal him. Nor could healing come through religious ceremony (2 Kings 5:11). Nor could it come through financial inducement (2 Kings 5:16). It came through washing in the dirtiest river imaginable. It was not a difficult thing – it was quite simple. But it was not easy. Pride almost kept Naaman from being clean. Yes, his servants had to beg him – “Wash, and be clean!”

Today, we can wash and be clean in a river that is not too appealing – this river is the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14, Hebrews 9:14, Hebrews 13:12)! Yes, the blood of the Lamb is not the river that most people go to for cleansing; they prefer the “prettier” waters of good works. Like Naaman, they try political activity, religious ceremony, and financial inducement. But they still are cursed with an incurable, fatal disease like Naaman (2 Kings 5:1). But like Naaman, though our sins be as scarlet, they can be made as white as snow (Isaiah 1:18, 2 Kings 5:14)!

Acts 15:1 — Ah, one of the “prettier rivers” – circumcision. Circumcision was initiated in the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 17:10), was repealed in Acts 10:15, and was expounded in Acts 10:45.

Acts 15:20 — What were these laws that were commanded to be followed by the Gentiles?

  • Abstaining from meats offered to idols. Wait until we get to Paul’s discussion on whether we can eat meats offered to idols!
  • Abstaining from fornication. The New Testament Church takes a harder line than the Old Testament Israelites on fornication. In Exodus 22:16-17, we see one of the “hardness of heart” passages (Mark 10:5, Matthew 19:8). In the New Testament, Jesus has increased our duty – we’re not just expected to follow the bare minimum requirements needed for the functioning of an orderly society of free citizens, but we have an increased duty to our fellow man that requires the full obedience of a bound servant to his master.
  • Abstaining from things strangled. Again, the life is in the blood (Leviticus 17:10-12).
  • Abstaining from vampirism. Yes – today we have made vampires cool and exciting. No – we are not to glorify this anti-biblical behavior. Some may say these things are cultural, but these are from the Holy Ghost (Acts 15:28).

Psalm 141:8 — The foundation for our national motto – “… in Thee is my trust.”

Proverbs 17:23 — Hmm … did we not read about someone taking a gift today, and as a result, someone’s view of God was perverted?

Share how reading through 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.