January 2

Daily Bible Reading:  Matthew 3 – 4

Chapters 1 and 2 include five Old Testament prophecies about Jesus. Today’s reading includes yet another. They originated from multiple prophets: Isaiah, Micah, Jeremiah, and Moses, who lived during a time period spanning 800 years! Every single one proved spot-on in describing Jesus! Why do you suppose the vast number of Jews during His lifetime on earth failed to recognize Him as the Messiah? Even more significant –why do non-believers do so today when the evidence is overwhelming?

Matthew 3 records the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. Talk about awkward! Jesus, God incarnate on earth, appeared at the River Jordon and asked a mere mortal to baptize Him! Why do you think He did this? What lesson did He teach us by this example?

Think about the four questions asked. I predict they’ll cause you to think more deeply about what is presented in today’s Bible reading.

January 1

Daily Bible Reading: Matthew 1 – 2

Happy New Year, and welcome to a new decade! Follow this website daily and you’ll read the entire Bible in one year. It’s quick, easy, and thought provoking. Nothing else you do would have a more positive impact in developing your spiritual life.

The New Testament starts out with the genealogy of Jesus. It traces His roots to Abraham, the founder of Canaan, the land promised by God to the Jews, and also to David, the king directed to plan the construction of the Holy Temple where the Spirit of God would reside. The family tree extends all the way to Joseph, the wife of Mary, mother of Jesus. It documents 42 generations.

Jesus is not genetically related to anyone in this genealogy! He was fathered by the Holy Spirit through the virgin Mary. Why do you suppose Matthew included this information? Does it really matter at all?

I’ll leave it to you to contemplate these questions. My desire with each daily Bible reading is to enlighten and challenge you. I promise you’ll be enriched!

Plato’s Phaedrus

Ecclesiastes 1:9 New International Version (NIV)  What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

When you think of Greek philosophers, Plato should be the first name that comes to mind.  Socrates taught him, and he taught Aristotle.  However, most experts agree that Plato was “the man”.  He established the the first institution of higher learning, the Academy.  His works proved pivotal in the history of Ancient Greek and Western philosophy.  He lived for about 78 years from around 425 to 347 BC., which was a few hundred years before Jesus Christ.  

Ecclesiastes was written about 450 BC or perhaps 50 years before Plato’s most famous writings.  It’s a book of wisdom written by King Solomon (or perhaps other authors as the origin is not certain.)  Undoubtedly it influenced Greek philosophers.

Following is an excerpt from Plato’s Phaedrus.  I find it fascinating for a couple of reasons.  First, it sounds Biblical.  Was Plato an admirer of King Solomon?  I suspect so.  Second, Plato is spot-on in describing human feelings that existed about 2400 years ago, which are equally applicable to our modern society.  Here’s what he wrote:

“Love is some kind of desire; but we also know that even men who are not in love have a desire for what is beautiful.  So how shall we distinguish between a man who is in love and one who is not?  We must realize that each of us is ruled by two principles which we follow wherever they lead: one is our inborn desire for pleasures, the other is our acquired judgment that pursues what is best.  Sometimes these two are in agreement; but there are times when they quarrel inside us, and then sometimes one of them gains control, sometimes the other.  Now when judgment is in control and leads us by reasoning toward what is best, that sort of self-control is called ‘being in your right mind’; but when desire takes command in us and drags us without reasoning toward pleasure, then its command is known as ‘outrageousness’.”

The moral of Plato’s story:  don’t confuse lust with love, and pursue reason over pleasure.  It sounds like great advice for couples today!   


For years I read the Bible just like it’s a regular book.  Now with more spiritual maturity I’ve learned that it reveals far more about what’s really important to know than I ever realized from casual reading.  It’s insufficient to simply read the Bible–one must study it, too!  The irony is that doing so causes one to come up with more questions, and finding the answers increases our desire to learn even more.  Here’s just one recent example.

Out of nowhere a thought entered my mind:  what’s so special to God about the number 40?  What caused me to think this?  I suggest that it resulted from the prompting of the Holy Spirit.  

Think about all the times the number 40 pops up in the Bible.  Here are just a few instances:

–it rained for 40 days and 40 nights to flood the earth;

–after the ark floated for 40 days, Noah sent out a raven to find dry land;

–The exiled Jews from Egypt wandered in the desert for 40 years;

–Jewish spies spent 40 days doing reconnaissance in the promised land;

–Builders of the Tower of Babel worked 40 days before being stopped;

–Jonah informed Nineveh of its destruction in 40 days;

–Jesus fasted for 40 days after being baptized;

–Jesus remained 40 days on earth following His crucifixion until His ascension;

–Israel experienced 40 years of peace;

–Israel was restored from destruction after 40 years.

Here’s the common thread.  Every 40 days or years produced a time of testing, probation or trial.  After each one, God provided a blessing.  

The question we have to ask ourselves is how we can relate these Biblical realizations to our own lives.  For myself a good example is that my cancer treatments plus an equipment failure of one day lasted 40 days.  I went from lousy health to a condition of being restored–a time of trial followed by an incredible blessing.  

Does 40 play a role in any of your life experiences in a similar way?  I bet it does if you can simply recall it.  

I challenge you to search out the not-so-obvious teachings in the Bible.  The Holy Spirit will start opening your eyes to seeing much more than you ever realized.  

Proverbs 31 Wife

Proverbs 31: 10b-12 & 29-31a New International Version (NIV)                                                                           10 b  A wife of noble character who can find?  She is worth far more than rubies.  11 Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.  12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.                                                                                           29 Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.  30 For a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.  31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,

A few devotionals back I cited the best decision of my life:  accepting God’s free gift of grace and receiving salvation.  The next best thing proved to be listening to the Holy Spirit’s direction in finding my wife.    

What makes her special?  She’s a Proverbs 31 wife.  I don’t suggest that our marriage resembles the 50s television shows like Ozzie and Harriet or Leave It to Beaver.  We have our ups and downs just like every other couple.  What distinguishes ours, however, is mutual recognition of what makes a successful relationship:  I love my wife more than I love myself, and I love Jesus more than I love my wife.  The priority is Jesus, my spouse, and I, in this exact order.  She feels the same.  

I don’t know a simpler principle to preserve and protect a marriage.  It’s advice that I’ve passed on to several young couples about to tie the knot.  One young lady who received it about 25 years ago informed me just last year how much it has meant to her.  She still has the letter that I wrote to her.  

You may be a newlywed, a couple of old-timers or somewhere in-between in the number of years you’ve been married.  Alternately, you may be single.  I have some good news!  This principle applies not only to marriage, but to every relationship that one may have throughout a lifetime.  

I didn’t come up with this idea.  Jesus said it best in Matthew 22:37-39:  “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.‘  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’.”  This not-so-secret principle is the key to all successful relationships, and especially to marriages.  

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Romans 8:37-39 New International Version (NIV)  “ . . . in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our  Lord.”

Wow!  Paul’s comment about the love of God is powerful!  We’re conquerers and cannot be separated from His love by absolutely anything throughout all time!  I know Valentine’s Day is typically for husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, but I want to recognize the greatest love of all.  God’s love through Jesus Christ is far greater than any human emotion we can experience.  Let’s love Him back by living our lives in accordance with His will for us!  


Life’s Brevity

James 4:14 New International Version (NIV)  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

When young, most people don’t have a thought about dying.  That’s for old people–right?  As one plows through the years, the mindset changes.  The grandparents pass away, followed by a few aunts and uncles, and ultimately one’s father, and then the mother.  That’s the typical sequence.  The stark reality finally hits home that one is next in line once the prior two generations have departed.  

I picked up this point a little earlier, sometime between the death of an aunt and my father.  It derived from my extensive travel.  In a relatively short timeframe, I experienced several instances that demonstrated in brilliant technicolor the possibility of being taken out early–that is, by accident rather than natural death.  

While on a flight to Seoul, Korea, the big 747 taking me there suddenly dropped like a rock for what seemed like an eternity.  Food trays flew straight up in the air, and people screamed like they were about to meet their maker.  The pilot brought the aircraft under control, and a couple of minutes later it dropped again.  The same scenario occurred yet a third time.  I have no idea of how close we were to the ocean.  

On a landing in Minneapolis, my plane started to touch down when another one pulled out onto the same runway to take off.  The pilot deftly took a severe right turn and barely missed hitting the ground.  It soared over the adjoining neighborhood at just above treetop level.  

Flying to Tokyo a week after the Soviets had shot down the KAL 007 flight passing the Sakhalin Island, two MIG fighters loaded with air-to-air rockets pulled just off the right side of the aircraft and stayed for a half-hour.  Who knew what they might do?

The message is simple:  none of us know when our number will be called.  One of satan’s biggest lies is to convince people to procrastinate in accepting Jesus Christ.  If you’re in such a position today, act!  Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.  

Fools for Christ

1 Corinthians 1:20 New International Version (NIV) Where is the wise person?  Where is the teacher of the law?  Where is the philosopher of this age?  Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?”

1 Corinthians 1:27 New International Version (NIV)  But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise;  God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”

1 Corinthians 3:19 New International Version (NIV)  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.  As it is written: ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness.’ “

In writing to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul had things to say about the world’s wisdom.  It is foolishness in the eyes of God.  All of mankind is nothing as compared to the infinite wisdom of our Creator.  

Have you noticed that the people in our society who have much education, who think of themselves as quite intelligent, who regard themselves as sophisticated, believe Jesus Christ is just another mythical character based upon many stories that preceded Him.  They are self-confident in their own wisdom with no regard to a serious study of the Bible.  How foolish!  Unfortunately, our universities are full of this kind, who influence impressionable and naive students.  I’m thankful to have had a technical education many years ago that avoided courses that would expose one to such nonsense.  

Antonin Scalia served as a United States Supreme Court Justice for almost 30 years.  He proved to be an outstanding legal mind in this important position.  He recognized the wisdom of the Bible and its application to modern society.  I love this famous quotation of his:

“God assumed from the beginning that the wise of the world would view Christians as fools … and he has not been disappointed,  If I have brought any message today, it is this: Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity.  Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world.”

I want to be a fool for Christ!  How about you?  

Truth Twisted

Luke 18:38a New International Version (NIV)  “ ‘What is truth?’ retorted Pilate.”

Truth is a hot issue today.  Those persons who consider themselves as progressive feel that truth is relative–that is, what is true for you isn’t true for me.  As a result, truth is personalized.  Whatever you believe is your truth.   

I’m here to confirm to you that this view is not the truth.  These folks are wordsmiths, coming up with a different meaning that reflects twisting the truth–in short, a lie.  Truth is “that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality.”  The quoted definition is the dictionary’s–not mine.  Truth is not that which I feel is true regardless of fact or reality. 

I jokingly cite my belief in the existence of Bigfoot.  If I twisted the definition of truth, I could claim this mythical creature is real regardless of the facts, and my belief would be equally valid.  What nonsense!

We may think this issue has emerged in recent years in our modern culture, but in reality it has existed since Adam and Eve.  I’ve learned over the years that nothing is really new, and that’s why it’s important to study and understand history.  It’s also a great reason to continually immerse ourselves in the Bible.  

When Pilate tried Jesus, relative truth versus actual truth reared its ugly head.  In the conversation between them, Jesus said, “ . . . the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth.  Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”  Jesus defined truth right in this statement.  It’s “that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality.”  On the other hand, Pilate used the relative truth argument ingrained with many today, “What is truth?”  He opined that truth is whatever one chooses to believe.  

Relative truth allows one to believe there are many pathways to Heaven, and it doesn’t matter what religion one follows.  I suggest it is one of the most effective tools satan has devised to lead people astray that will ultimately destroy them.  

Our country’s greatest challenges derive from redefining truth to promote lies.  We must always listen to and embrace Jesus’s testimony of the truth.  

End Times

Revelation 1:1-2 New International Version (NIV)  “1 The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.” 

What makes the Bible difficult to understand at times is that the stories are so phenomenal and outside the realm of our experiences, written by authors of a different time and place.  Imagine poor John writing Revelation.  Is there any book that is more confusing and hard to follow?  its imagery is incredible in the author attempting to describe the future events revealed to him.  

If Jesus returned today, John’s vision at the time of recording the events would be 2,000 years early.  Of course, we don’t know when the Second Coming will occur, but it might be today, 100 or 1,000 or a million years from now.  Put yourself in his shoes in trying to convey what he saw.    

Just turn back your memory from only 35 years ago to an era before personal computers, fax machines, cell phones, the internet, AIDS, smart TVs, cruise missiles, ISIS, sexual identity, demise of the Soviet Union, landing a spacecraft on a meteor, and thousands of other examples.  If only 35 years ago you had to write about what 2019 would be like, how would you have done?  Now imagine the same exercise and attempting to describe the year 4019, even if you had a video showing you examples of things that you’d never seen or could visualize.  Would a reader in 4019 understand what you wrote in 2019 about it?  

Nonetheless, should we avoid reading and attempting to understand Revelation?  Of course not!  It’ll still give us valuable information about the world that has yet to come, and the arrival of Jesus Christ as the King.  The third verse of Revelation 1 says it all: Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.”