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.

Daily Encouragement

January 7 – Is the Trinity hidden in Genesis 18?

January 7

Genesis 16:1-18:15
Matthew 6:1-24
Psalm 7:1-17
Proverbs 2:1-5

Genesis 18:2

Although we’re a week into Genesis, if you’re looking to see the overall structure of the book – Thru The Bible with J. Vernon McGee has been making available notes & outlines on each book (including Genesis) for many years. If you wondered if Genesis 18:2 was a reference to the Trinity – that would be a great opportunity to check some commentaries. While commentaries are by no means inspired, much less infallible (and some are written by people who deny the inspiration of the Bible – which never really made sense to me – why would you spend your life studying a book you don’t believe in?) checking multiple commentaries is helpful to see what arguments are made for and against an idea (especially when they cross-reference other Scripture – as Gill did pointing to John 5:37 as his argument why it is not the Trinity).

Matthew 6:21 is quite convicting – where are you laying up treasure?

Psalm 7:11 is one of the earliest references we have seen yet this year to the specific doctrine of the Wrath of God. (We’ve seen God’s wrath exemplified in Genesis, but a focus on it as a teaching). When we get to Romans 3:25 we can discuss the difference between propitiation and expiation.

Finally, in Proverbs 2 – do you think Solomon believes understanding the fear of the LORD as a casual endeavor?

(By the way – links are not endorsements, but resources that I’ve found helpful. There’s only one book that I’ll endorse 100% without reservation, and that’s the book we’re reading thru this year!)

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 6 – Melchizedek and Perfection

 January 6
Genesis 13:5-15:21
Matthew 5:27-48
Psalm 6:1-10
Proverbs 1:29-33

Melchizedek. Genesis cap 14 v 18. Borcht

Genesis 14:18 – The next time we see Melchizedek is a thousand years later in Psalm 110. David is telling of a conversation between the LORD and David’s Lord. This reference seemed confusing for the next thousand years until it was explained in Hebrews 7:17.

Matthew 5:48 – after reading thru today’s passage and ending up with verse 48 – do you feel imperfect? Join the club (Romans 3:23), but if you have the time do a word study on “be perfect.”

Psalm 6:9 – looking for another Bible study topic? Research God hearing your prayers.

Proverbs 1:32 – remember these two individuals we met a few days earlier?

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 5 – Ur & Abram

January 5
Genesis 11:1-13:4
Matthew 5:1-26
Psalm 5:1-12
Proverbs 1:24-28

We’re back in a genealogy after the tower of Babel, the Adams Synchronological Chart of World History is again a great resource to visualize the genealogies.

But Genesis 11:27 is not something to skip. We’re introduced to Abram, born in 2166 BC. And here’s a great chart to overview his life. And if you have been to the Oriental Institute in Chicago you will see a collection of artifacts from Ur from the time of Abram. If you go there, you’d notice Ur was culturally significant, and to researchers, was the largest city in the world at the time of Abram. God told him to leave Ur (Genesis 12:1 uses the past perfect to refer to God’s communication to Abram, but interestingly the New Testament clarifies when God spoke to Abram in Acts 7:2-4).

Author’s Photograph from Oriental Institute

Matthew 5:14-16 – Earl Martin has a gift for helping believers memorize Scripture:

Matthew 5:23 – we’ll get to the Ten Commandments later, but Jesus is telling people there’s more to keeping the Ten Commandments than just the bare minimum… in fact you had to not just match the Pharisees – you had to exceed them!

Psalm 5:1-2 – And a bonus song from Earl Martin – watch this memory verse song and you will be hiding God’s Word in your heart.


Proverbs 1:28 – it appears to contradict Proverbs 8:17. The key to understanding this seeming contradiction? Isaiah 55:6.

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 4 – Archaeology & Erech

January 4
Genesis 8:1-10:32
Matthew 4:12-25
Psalm 4:1-8
Proverbs 1:20-23

About the One Year Bible Reading Plan: Some have asked why we’re bouncing around from Genesis to Matthew to Psalms to Proverbs. Many people start reading the Bible “straight thru” and while we’re enjoying the dramatic histories of Genesis, by the time they end up in the levitical teachings and genealogies (the ‘less exciting’ parts of the Bible) – many people get fatigued and quit. I heard a gentleman say that every January he tries to read thru the Bible, but he’s read Genesis more than any other book of the Bible. This way you get a mix of the genres (types of writings): Old Testament (law, history, prophets), New Testament (gospels, Epistles), Psalms (praise and prayer requests), Proverbs (wisdom literature). As the year progresses we’ll point out some of the genres and things to look for (especially in Psalms and Proverbs – Hebrew poetry is quite different from English poetry!)

Genesis 10:10 is an interesting verse that is referenced in the Special Collections Room at the Cleveland Public Library. I noticed an ancient artifact with a letter above it, and the Librarians were gracious enough to send over a scan of the original letter from the archaeologist. The archaeologist states that this artifact is from the city cited in Genesis 10:10.

Peace Treaty Cone Image

Matthew 4:17 is the first mention of the Kingdom of Heaven, a phrase found only in Matthew’s gospel.

Psalm 4:3 is a great promise: “the Lord will hear when I call unto him.”

Psalm 4:8 – We can sleep because of safety in Him!

In Proverbs 1:22 – take note of the three people who reject wisdom, we’ll meet them quite regularly.

By the way, in Proverbs we’ll see a few themes emphasized repeatedly. Les Ollila has provided some helpful definitions:

The FEAR of God is Practicing the Conscious Awareness of His Presence.

WISDOM is seeing life from God’s Perspective.

KNOWLEDGE is getting Truth into Me.

UNDERSTANDING is applying that Truth in every scenario of life.

Les Ollila

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 3 – How to Map Genealogies

January 3
Genesis 5:1-7:24
Matthew 3:7-4:11
Psalm 3:1-8
Proverbs 1:10-19

Genesis 5 – we’re in another genealogy! The Adams Synchronological Chart of World History is a great way to see how the genealogies line up (as well as all of world history). You can do the math yourself, or use the chart to notice something interesting about when Methusaleh died. Also, if you haven’t been to the Ark Encounter yet – that is it an incredible experience to comprehend what “three hundred cubits” really means!

Ark Encounter, Williamstown, Kentucky. Author’s Photo

In Matthew 3 we meet John the Baptist – whom Jesus would call the greatest prophet, yet John said of his cousin Jesus, his “shoes I am not worthy to bear.” We see Jesus tempted by Satan in Matthew 4 – how did he defeat Satan? By quoting Scripture! There’s a great blessing in Scripture!

Psalm 3 tells us a great promise to keep, and Proverbs 1:10 gives a great warning to heed. Is it just me or does it sound like there were youth gangs causing trouble back in Solomon’s day?

As we go thru this year – it will mean more to you if you take notes on your journey. Grab a notebook, and pick something to track as we read thru the Bible. If this is your first time journaling thru the Bible, I’d start tracking the attributes of your God. God is telling you who He is through His word – don’t forget what He is telling you – write it down! As has been said, “The faintest stroke of pen is better than the strongest memory.” You’ll be glad you did when at the end of this year, you have a biography of your Father that you have written, and have obtained from the best source in the world!

Three days in – you’re making a great start to the year!

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 2 – Fall and a Promise

January 2
Genesis 3:1-4:26
Matthew 2:13-3:6
Psalm 2:1-12
Proverbs 1:7-9

Day 2 – we’re glad you’re continuing on the challenge!

Some observations that many people skip over when they start in Genesis:

Genesis 3 – No sooner are we into paradise but we’re already into the fall – sin comes into the world and it just keeps spreading. But – we have a Promise. Genesis 3:15 is the Protoevangelium – the first reference to the Gospel, and is referenced in Romans 16:20.

Satan used the serpent to make Eve think her boss wanted to make her life miserable (Genesis 3:5). Today we have tale bearers and gossips in churches and Christian workplaces who just like the serpent are used by Satan poison people intentionally like Absalom (2 Samuel 15:2-6), or unintentionally like the co-worker who grumbles about the boss. I’ve worked in several settings – Christian and secular – and have encountered people intentionally and unintentionally trying to poison me to make me think that the boss wanted to make my life miserable, and I needed to trust them instead of the boss. We’ll even see people lying to children telling them that the governor/president/king did/will do something to poison them against their political authority. Be on the lookout for serpents in your workplace!

Where was Adam when Eve sinned? Most people think Eve was having a private conversation with the serpent while Adam was working the back 40 acres, but Genesis 3:6 says Adam was “with her.” As Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Or perhaps when good men do nothing, they are not good?

Dexter Penwell shares with us this on Genesis 4:2:

Abel was a keeper of sheep. At that time, they were not allowed to eat meat. Therefore, there were only 2 things that the sheep would be used for. One is for skins to clothe themselves. However, it would not be worth keeping sheep every day just to kill one or 2 every few months for making clothing. That then means that the main reason for keeping sheep had to be as a way to have animals for sacrifices. (That also means that although the Bible does not specifically state that they knew that they were to use sheep for sacrifices, they had to know, or there would not be a real reason to keep sheep all the time.

Dexter Penwell

Speaking of the Gospel, Matthew 2 talks about the seed, coming out of Egypt, who will be called a Nazarene.

Psalm 2 is great comfort when you think you are oppressed – imagine all the kings of the earth ready to attack! But “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh!” Amen!

Earl Martin has a great memory verse song to go along with Proverbs 1:7:

And if you have parents, Proverbs 1:8 is a great verse to pay attention to.

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.