Daily Encouragement

January 29 – Plagues, Work Your Way to Heaven, 10,000% Investing, and NPR on the Bible!

Exodus 8:1-9:35
Matthew 19:13-30
Psalm 24:1-10
Proverbs 6:1-5

Exodus 8:19 — Three plagues in and the magicians can’t keep up!

Exodus 8:8, Exodus 8:28, Exodus 9:28 — In Exodus 10:17 (tomorrow’s reading), Pharoah asks Moses to intreat the LORD. “Intreat” may not be a word we use much today, but if we look up the passage tied to the Strong’s Number, we can see what this is in Hebrew. James Strong matched up every word in the KJV Bible to the original language word. Since most of us don’t read Greek or Hebrew, we can look up the words by number (8,674 Hebrew root words; 5,624 Greek root words). When we click on “intreat” in Exodus 8:8, we can see that it is Hebrew word #6279, ‘athar.’ In Hebrew it is written עָתַר. We can see that it means “intercede, pray, intreat”, and we can see some examples of how it is used in the Bible.

While Pharaoh was insincere, he did ask Moses to pray for him. I Timothy 2:1-3 says that we need to pray for our leaders regardless of whether they ask for our prayers.

Sorry if I go on too long in the New Testament today, but this is an incredible passage!

Matthew 19:17 — Some people say Jesus is teaching “works righteousness.” In fact, He is! If you can keep God’s Law perfectly, you can have eternal life.

Matthew 19:18-19 — Jesus doesn’t quote the entire 613 commandments (the “least commandments” – Matthew 5:19), He just quotes five of the Ten Commandments (by the way – in just a few days we will reach the Ten Commandments). He quotes Commandments 5-9 and the Second Greatest Commandment (Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 5:43, Matthew 22:39). Commandments 5-9 deal with man’s relationship to man – a bit easier to examine than man’s relationship with God. These commands are summarized within the 2nd Greatest Commandment, also known as the Royal Law (Romans 13:9, Galatians 5:14, James 2:8).

Matthew 19:20 — The young man says he’s perfect on Commandments 5-9 and the Second Greatest Commandment.

Matthew 19:21 — Jesus could have said, “Let’s go back to #1-4 and #10, man’s relationship with God.” Other than #2, these commands are mostly heart issues, and after God dealt with Israel’s idolatry throughout the Old Testament, by now the Israelites had finally kept #2. In a few days Jesus will summarize these into the Greatest Commandment (Deuteronomy 6:5, 10:12, 11:1, 11:13, 11:22, 13:3, 19:9, 30:6, 30:16, 30:20; Joshua 22:5, 23:11; Matthew 22:36-40).

But the compassionate Jesus doesn’t ask him to falsely assent to the ‘intangibles’ commands, He asks this young man, – “Prove to Me you are keeping the Second Greatest Commandment and the Greatest Commandment. If you really love your neighbor as yourself, will you sell what you have to give to the poor?” Checking the Strong’s Number for the word “poor”, we pull up Greek #4434 – πτωχός. These aren’t just merely low-income people that have an aging iPhone. These are cringing beggars, public mendicants, literally distressed poor roving about in wretchedness. The poor Jesus talks about are those who are truly needy. They are the sick and suffering we read about yesterday (Matthew 19:2). This young man is cutting in line in front of the sick and suffering who have needs. Jesus is probably looking at these people that He has compassion for (Matthew 14:14) as He talks about the poor to the young man. “Prove it! If you loved these fellow Israelites as you love yourself (James 2:16), you would spend some money to meet their needs (and in the process convert earthly treasure to heavenly treasure) and obey the 2nd Greatest Commandment!”

Then going back to the Greatest Commandment, Jesus asks the young man to prove that he loves the Lord God with all his heart, soul, and mind by inviting him to “Come and follow me.”

Matthew 19:22 — He went away sorrowful for he had great possessions. The young man did not love his neighbor as himself. The young man did not love the Lord God with all his heart, soul, and mind. The young man by his actions failed the greatest test of his life. We’ll take him at face value – he probably kept many commandments. But could he prove that he kept the two greatest commandments. No. The young man proved himself a sinner.

Matthew 19:29 — In 2017, investors in the Dow Jones Industrial Average made a 28% return on their investment. Want to make a 10,000% return? Invest for His Name’s sake. People can lose money converting dollars to Euros or gold bullion or Bitcoin. Nobody has lost converting earthly treasure to heavenly treasure (Matthew 19:21).

Psalm 24:7-8 — Handel’s Messiah features these verses. The Brussels Choral Society does a beautiful job singing about the Lord.

Proverbs 6:1 — Co-signing is a bad idea. “Up to 75% of borrowers may end up defaulting… which means not only that the cosigner is going to be on the hook to pay it – something that they really usually don’t expect – but also that it’s going to go on their credit history.” If you doubt that – please read the rest of the transcripted broadcast from NPR. Who would have thought that NPR would do an entire program on Proverbs 6:1!

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Daily Encouragement

January 28 – Despair vs. Compassion, Paths vs. Astray

Exodus 5:22-7:25
Matthew 18:21-19:12
Psalm 23:1-6
Proverbs 5:22-23

Exodus 5:22 — Why hast thou sent me? Moses seems pretty distraught, as did the first American foreign missionary, Adoniram Judson.

“Judson’s wife and all their children died in the first 14 years of his missionary career, and he became very despondent.  He questioned:  Did he carry death with him like a contagion?  In the beginning there had been Harriet Newell and her baby; followed by Samuel Newell, who died a few years later in Bombay; then Judson’s own son Roger; his wife Ann; and now his daughter Maria.  He hoped—he believed—he carried the gift of life eternal into the next world, but wondered why he carried the gift of death in this?”

In Hebrews 11:24, Moses is listed in the Hall of Faith – even though he doubted, he had faith. Count how many times in Exodus 6 God uses the phrase “I will.” Moses could have doubted, but he had faith in God.

Exodus 6:25 — We see a name briefly mentioned, Phinehas. We’ll meet him several times throughout this year (just don’t confuse Phinehas the son of Eleazar with Phinehas the son of Eli)!

Matthew 18:33 — Compassion is mentioned 21 times in the New Testament. Fourteen times in the Gospels – either Jesus was described with compassion, declared His compassion, denoted others with compassion, or others desired His compassion.

Psalm 23 — This Psalm inspired the John W. Peterson song “Surely Goodness & Mercy” (performed by Martha Garvin/Musical Memories). In this Joy of Music program, organist Diane Bish goes to the Marble Collegiate Church in New York City where she plays the pipe organ for the Marble Choir and Festival of Voices as they sing “Psalm 23”. This isn’t just relaxing music, though; this is a promise for you if you are one of His sheep!

Proverbs 5:22-23 — In contrast to the sheep of the Lord’s flock, the wicked will not stay on the paths of righteousness but will be led astray. We’ll continually see this sharp contrast between the way of wisdom and the way of the wicked.

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Daily Encouragement

January 27 – God of the Hebrews, God of the Whole World!

Exodus 4:1-5:21
Matthew 18:1-20
Psalm 22:19-31
Proverbs 5:15-21

We return to Moses talking to God. Yesterday he had two questions (Exodus 3:11 & 13); today he has three excuses (Exodus 4:1, 10, & 13).

Exodus 5:3 is a bit odd at first glance – wasn’t Moses supposed to be asking for emancipation, not just a vacation? Is Moses backpedaling on God’s instruction? Looking at the context from yesterday and today we see that God gave them the words to say (Exodus 3:15; 4:28 & 30). Was God demonstrating that Pharaoh’s heart was so hardened that he wouldn’t sign off on a brief vacation to protect his workforce (Exodus 5:3 – lest he fall upon us with pestilence)? Benson’s Commentary on Exodus 5:3 shares this perspective.

Matthew 18:6 — If you work in children’s ministry (Sunday School, Christian Day School, Parenting, etc.), it’s not “filling in” because the pastor couldn’t find anyone else. This is serious business. You are dealing with the model citizens of heaven (Matthew 18:4) and the equivalency of a death penalty (Matthew 18:6). Take heed to your ministry (Colossians 4:17)! Also, if Matthew 18 becomes a verb in your vocabulary (“Matthew 18’d him but he still didn’t repent”), make sure you have the right attitude. Matthew 18:15-17 was not written to justify you in your disputes but to emphasize how important Christian unity is. Keep making the effort to reconcile (Psalm 133).

Psalm 22:27 — Even though our Exodus reading introduces the LORD to Pharoah as the God of the Hebrews, our Psalm reading reminds us that the LORD’s kingdom will have no end (Isaiah 9:7), and all nations shall worship before Him!

Proverbs 5:21 — Here we see another “anthropomorphism” – the “eyes of the Lord.” While it’s difficult to comprehend omnipresence, Solomon reminds us God sees us. As Joseph told us earlier this year – when we sin, it’s not just against a fellow human, it’s against God because it is in His sight.

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Daily Encouragement

January 26 – What to Do with a Lunatic Son?

Exodus 2:11-3:22
Matthew 17:10-27
Psalm 22:1-18
Proverbs 5:7-14

Exodus 2:12 — Whether this is a good act or not is a matter of debate among commentators. However, even though he looked around and saw nobody, some Hebrews saw him (Exodus 2:14), and Pharaoh found out (Exodus 2:15), and there were consequences.

Exodus 3:11 — While Moses’ humility is commendable (Numbers 12:3), he has questions. Unfortunately, we will see tomorrow his lack of faith.

Matthew 17:15 — Many a parent of teenagers has come to God with this prayer, but thankfully most haven’t needed to pray for God to heal their child’s seizures. While the disciples were proud of their role (Mark 9:38), they lacked faith (Matthew 17:20), and unlike their teacher that we saw a few days ago (Matthew 14:23), they had not spent time in prayer.

There’s an old gospel song – “How long has it been, Since you talked with the Lord?

Psalm 22Harry Ironside, Senior Pastor of The Moody Church from 1930-1948, said, “Someone long ago suggested that in Psalm 22 we have the Good Shepherd giving His life for the sheep, in Psalm 23, the Chief Shepherd in resurrection life guiding His people through the wilderness of this world, and in Psalm 24, the Great Shepherd coming again in power and glory to bring in everlasting blessing.”

If you have the time, he gives a great message on this psalm (The Shepherd Psalms).

Proverbs 5:9-11 — We see the consequences of going after the Strange Woman. Loss of honor, time, wealth, labors, health, but plenty of mourning.

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Daily Encouragement

January 25 – The Weeping Patriarch

Genesis 50:1-Exodus 2:10
Matthew 16:13-17:9
Psalm 21:1-13
Proverbs 5:1-6

Genesis 50:4-6 — Side note: Pharaoh was glad to accommodate a diligent and profitable God-fearer who asked for time off for work for a good reason. Only 15 times does someone weep in Genesis – most of the time it’s Joseph. It’s okay for a God-fearing leader to have compassion! 

Genesis 50:17 — The first time Joseph wept was Genesis 42:24, then Genesis 43:30, Genesis 45:2, Genesis 45:14, Genesis 45:15, Genesis 46:29, Genesis 50:1, and now for the 8th time.

Genesis 50:24 — An echo of faith in the promise of Genesis 15:14. Congratulations on finishing your first book of the Bible! Let’s see what happens to Jacob/Israel’s descendants in Egypt.

Exodus 1:22 — Satan is attempting to destroy the Israelites and specifically the line of the Messiah. Haman tried this in Esther 3:13. Herod would try this in Matthew 2:16.

 (1837–1922)  Moses in the Bulrushes
Elizabeth Jane Gardner  (1837–1922)  Moses in the Bulrushes

Matthew 16:16 — Once Simon Peter recognized who He was, Jesus could explain what would happen (Matthew 16:21). Interesting that only after the disciples had seen Jesus telling John’s disciples that He was the prophesied one (Matthew 11:4-6), that they watched the 5,000 being fed (Matthew 14:21), that they experienced Jesus walking on the water (Matthew 14:25), that they witnessed countless incredible miracles (Matthew 15:30-31), and that they participated in the feeding of the 4,000 (Matthew 15:38). Peter voices the obvious conclusion. Yet Jesus doesn’t let any of us stop at a confession – He calls for us to take up our cross and follow Him. He wasn’t talking about a nice piece of jewelry; He was talking about the element of execution.

Psalm 21:6-7 — If the king trusts in the Lord, he will be blessed. Let’s pray for our elected officials that they will trust in the Lord so He can bless them. PublicServantsPrayer.org is a great website to remind you to pray for your leaders. I’m subscribed to the Wisconsin prayer list.

Proverbs 5:1 — Hopefully you’ve realized that wisdom is more than just cute sayings on a refrigerator magnet. It’s pretty important. Today we follow up on the Strange Woman that we met in Proverbs 2:16, and will meet again in Proverbs 6:24 and Proverbs 7:5. Other women we’ll meet are the evil woman, the whorish woman, the woman who lacks understanding, the brawling woman, the angry woman, the contentious woman, the adulterous woman, the odious woman, and the foolish woman. We’ll also meet the gracious woman, the fair woman, the virtuous woman, the wise woman, and the God-fearing woman!

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Daily Encouragement

January 24 – Echoes from the Past

Genesis 48:1-49:33
Matthew 15:29-16:12
Psalm 20:1-9
Proverbs 4:20-27

Genesis 48:5 — Jacob is claiming Joseph’s sons Ephraim and Manasseh. When we get to the long genealogies (I Chronicles 5:1-2), we’ll see how the birthright that belonged to Judah went to Ephraim and Manasseh.

Genesis 48:18-19 — Joseph is correcting his dad about who deserves the birthright – an interesting echo of what Jacob did to his father in Genesis 27.

Genesis 49:10 — The scepter is spoken of by Balaam (Numbers 24:17) and the psalmists (Psalm 60:7, 108:8). Shiloh is a difficult term; even commentators admit it’s hard to be certain. It seems to refer to the promised seed to Eve.

Matthew 15:30-31 — Pay attention to these verses; when we come to the trial of Jesus, this would be exhibit A in the defense of Jesus of Nazareth. Why? Check Isaiah 35:4-6!

Matthew 15:33 — Remember what we read two days ago? An interesting echo of Matthew 14:17. The disciples failed the lesson two days ago, and they look like they failed the quiz Jesus gave them today.

Thankfully Jesus, the Great Teacher, addressed the learning problem the disciples had in Matthew 16:8.

Psalm 20:7 — There is a chorus based on this verse – I trust you will be blessed by this as I was!

Proverbs 4:20-27 — Engage your ears, eyes, mouth, lips, and feet so you can keep your heart!

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Daily Encouragement

January 23 – Why Was Jacob Afraid to Go to Egypt?

Genesis 46:1-47:31
Matthew 15:1-28
Psalm 19:1-14
Proverbs 4:14-19

Genesis 46:3 — “Fear not to go down into Egypt.” Abraham went down into Egypt because there was a famine in Canaan (Genesis 12:10), but he lied about his wife while there (Genesis 12:12), and it was in Egypt that he likely picked up Hagar whom he sinned with (Genesis 16:3). Ishmael did not take a wife of the believers but of Egypt (Genesis 21:21). God forbade Isaac from going to Egypt (Genesis 26:2). Joseph was sold into Egypt (Genesis 37:28). Perhaps that’s why Jacob/Israel was scared to go back to Egypt. He had learned that before you go, seek God’s face, and God will give you wisdom (James 1:5).

Matthew 15:1-28 — Jesus accused the Scribes and Pharisees of sin but had mercy on the Gentile woman. God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5, James 4:6, Proverbs 3:34).

Psalm 19 — Patch the Pirate composed a great song based on this psalm!

Psalm 19:7 — If you have time, it’s worthwhile to do a quick search on the phrase “the Law of the Lord” in the Old Testament. Why not memorize Psalm 19:14? It’s a great verse to hide in your heart to keep your life pure!

Proverbs 4:18-19 — The path of the just is as the shining light … the way of the wicked is as darkness. A pretty clear contrast. Which path do you want to take?

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.

Daily Encouragement

January 22 – The Compassion of Jesus

Genesis 44:1-45:28
Matthew 14:13-36
Psalm 18:37-50
Proverbs 4:11-13

Compare Genesis 44:34 to Genesis 37:26 that we read earlier. Judah has repented (see Webster’s 1828 definition).

Continuing yesterday’s theme – in Genesis 45:9, Joseph’s family thought he was dead, but now he is “lord of all Egypt.” While not a direct correlation, God seems to foreshadow what would happen to His Son.

Matthew 14:14 — Hopefully, you’re engaged in a personal biography of your God. What moved Jesus? Does what moves Him move you?

Matthew 14:20 — We see His compassion on the thousands. In Matthew 14:27, we see His compassion on the dozen. In Matthew 14:31, we see His compassion on just one.

Psalm 18:46 finishes a song we listened to a few days ago that starts with Psalm 18:3. Remember to be thankful for God’s deliverance – unlike the 9 lepers.

Proverbs 4:12 — Runners do not want to stumble. How can we avoid stumbling?

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Daily Encouragement

January 21 – Joseph’s Behavior Should Sound Familiar

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!

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! Why? All government officials are under authority from above!

Genesis 42:27 — Speaking of the brothers, they tried to buy food, but they couldn’t. God used the brothers: 1) they wanted to kill in order to 2) store up food for themselves (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, and 3) 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.” Interesting that 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 that Hell is real. Unfortunately, many believe it’s just for Adolph Hitler, even though 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?

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.

Daily Encouragement

January 20 – Jesus Continues to Warn About Hell

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 that there are two books of the Bible called Kings and two more called the Chronicles of the Kings. Genesis 41:25 – God had a message for a politician in Egypt. Genesis 41:46 reveals an interesting fact – Joseph was about the same age as Jesus (Luke 3:23) when his ministry began. Also, did you notice the parallel between Genesis 42:8 and John 1:10-11? There are some sermons on SermonAudio.com that show how Joseph was a picture of Christ. By the way, if you’re looking for more info on a passage, checking www.sermonaudio.com will show you some of the most popular sermons on a passage. One final note about Joseph – though Joseph was in Egypt and Pharoah gave him an Egyptian wife of cultic pedigree (Genesis 41:45), Joseph did not name his children Egyptian names. He gave them Hebrew names (Genesis 41:51-52). While you may be in Egypt, don’t let Egypt get into you!

Matthew 13:30 — Jesus has talked about hell several times already in Matthew (Matthew 5:22, 5:29, 5:30, 10:28, 11:23). Now, He talks about burning tares (Matthew 13:40). 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” = ”no” & “muse” = “thinking”; the word literally means “non-thinking”) of today, we have serious words to pay attention to (Matthew 13:42). “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 (Matthew 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 the commandments is not misery. They are life. Have you noticed that Solomon seems to think wisdom is important? Genesis has given us an interesting look at people who have or have not been wise.

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.