Steps to reducing anxiety that are founded on trusting God

Core of the Bible Podcast #34: Steps to reducing anxiety that are founded on trusting God

Today we will be exploring the topic of trust or faith, and how God is faithful to provide for all of our needs, reducing our anxiety over that which is unknown when we place our trust in him and follow some simple biblical directives .

Yeshua stated it this way:

“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” Matthew 6:26-32

Your life is more valuable to God than all the beauty and provision represented in his Creation; he knows all of your needs.

As believers, we are easily and constantly distracted from what is truly important by our bodily needs and desires. Living on this earth presents us with challenges and struggles that can pull our focus away from God.

REDUCING ANXIETY THROUGH TRUST IN GOD

Trust is about perspective. When we focus on the things of this world more than God, then we have lost our true perspective. Yeshua calls this condition “little faith.”

Yet, the simplicity of trusting God can restore us to the correct spiritual perspective and emotional “center.” A sincere understanding of God and his ability to provide for our basic needs gives us a foundation of trust that we can then build on. When this reality seeps deep inside to our core, it becomes a tap-root that can sustain us through the most adverse conditions.

According to Yeshua’s instruction here in Matthew 6, God cares for what he creates. Whether birds, flowers, grass, or people, he has built into his Creation practical mechanisms for sustenance that allow his universe to thrive. Seeing this provision and beauty within his Creation is his evidence to us, his proof, that he has the ability to provide for our needs. All we have to do is recognize this, and rest safely and securely within his care.

We are urged by Yeshua to ponder these evidences for ourselves. “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.”

When we see birds, we should consider how they can find the food they need without any type of farming or storage of goods. The contrast he makes is stark: day to day provision vs. constant toil and storage which is subject to disaster or thieves.

Is there really a way that we can live day to day, and is this what Yeshua is encouraging all of us to do, to be vagabonds and travelers?

As romantic and idealistic as that sounds, my belief is that Yeshua is emphasizing how we many times will tend to focus on the process and methods of provision so hard that we lose sight of who is the One who is the ultimate Provider.

This is a lesson that I constantly need to be reminded of. As a husband and father of four, I have spent the majority of my adult life concerned with providing for myself and my family. Ultimately, I have known that whatever job or place that I worked was a provision from God, but many times the stress became dominant when I took my focus off of him and sought to provide my own security and provision, or when the demands of the work seemed to overwhelm me.

In those moments, I found that all I had to do was focus on one day at a time, one issue at a time. As I did so, I would find that each new day brought a little clearer perspective and a little more insight, and pretty soon things would be working out.

While this may seem simplistic and a bit naive, it is a method that has allowed me to successfully maintain a career of twenty five years and provide (as well as could be expected) for my family in that time.

That has been my path so far, but it may not be yours. God may be calling you to do any number of things in any number of places; maybe several different places, or hundreds of places, for that matter. The primary thing for believers is to not focus on thinking that you are somehow providing for your own needs all this time, and that whatever you are currently doing is what is expected for the rest of your time here on this earth.

REDUCING ANXIETY THROUGH PRAYER

“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”

Anxiety over things we cannot control not only cannot add any time to our span of life, but actually has been scientifically proven to shorten it. The more we stress over things that have not happened yet, the more we tax our immune and nervous systems to where actual damage can be done to the working of our physical bodies.

Philippians 4:6-7 – Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Another lesson I continue to learn is on the benefits of ongoing prayer throughout the day, asking for God’s involvement and giving over my stress and anxiety to him.

While I have a pretty good routine of praying first thing in the morning to set my mind on the things of God before setting my mind on the things of the world, I confess, my prayer life throughout the rest of the day is practically non-existent. I become consumed in the responsibilities and requirements of my family, my home, and my work, and the things of God easily slide to the periphery of my experience.

However, I am learning that if I maintain an attitude of thanksgiving and continue to present requests to God throughout the day, real requests about real things, he is faithful to relieve my anxiety on those things, and to provide real evidence of his working through those things I have given over to him.

And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”

If we are to truly take Yeshua’s words to consider the lilies and let this line of thinking sink deep into us, we can find that we have the ability to look past the latest trends and fashions and know that if we are trusting in God, we will have the clothing we need to do whatever it is we need to do. Whether it is clothing for normal use, work clothing, or specialized outfitting for unique environments, God is able to provide whatever we need.

Recall the provision of the ancient Israelites wandering in the wilderness for forty years, as even Moses reminded them.

Deuteronomy 8:4 – “Your clothing did not wear out, and your feet did not swell these forty years.

While my clothing may not be the latest style, I certainly have what I need, and more. God has been faithful with me and my family.  Now, while I have never had clothing that lasted for forty years it definitely illustrates for me that if God is able to do that, then he is certainly able to provide whatever our possible needs may be. My trust and faith in him is strengthened when I consider the lilies of the field.

“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.”

This admonition was directed to an audience that for the most part did not know where their next meal might come from. They were an agrarian society that depended on the weather, the success of the local crops, and the avoidance of conflict. Warfare could interrupt that food cycle. Drought could interrupt that cycle. Pest invasions could interrupt that food cycle. Food was a precious commodity that hung by a thread on any given day of any month. With no refrigeration or collective grocery commerce, this was a real and daily concern that faced the majority of the population at that time.

However, for most of us today, food and drink are merely distractions that we toy with as to the newest cuisine or latest fad food. In our American culture at least, we have idolized food and food preparation, food consumption, restaurants, chefs, nutrition, food plans. We have TV channels dedicated just to food and food preparation and consumption. Restaurant eating has become a pastime and an adventure.

The variety and volume of food available to the average American consumer is mind-boggling in the context of historical comparison with past cultures and civilizations. And yet, even though we have plenty of necessary food available, we still spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about different kinds of food and what we will be eating.

Ironically, and quite sadly, with all of this food available, we still have a large problem with hunger and need in America. We have become so lop-sided in our thinking that we are missing the forest for the trees. If we were to simplify our food obsession, reduce our available portion sizes, and focus on focusing in on the quality natural food that God originally intended for us, we would be much better off and our national health and outlook would improve greatly. With the right motivation and logistical preparation, this could also allow for some of that surplus to make it to those who are in real need.

Yeshua is encouraging us to look at nature, these natural examples of birds and flowers to remind us that these necessary things are part of existence in this world. Just as birds need to eat and flowers exhibit their God-given splendor, Yeshua prods us to consider these provisions amidst the many unnecessary cares we carry for these things in this world. We can express the wonder at how God makes it all work, and keeps his people provided for among the seeming chaos of this life.

The ancient believers expressed a similar amazement at the care that God bestows upon mankind within the vastness of his Creation:

“O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. … When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” Psalm 8:1, 3-4

God cares for us, not because we desire him to, but because that is his role as a parent. Just as we always want to ensure our own children are provided for, how much more God wants to do the same for his own children! One of the main aspects of this provision is expressing trust in God that he will do so.

When we know and trust God, we are considered righteous, certainly as we grow and seek to follow his commands and live according to his Word. We exhibit this faith by praying and requesting for God to be active and involved in our lives, and the lives of those around us. This is where the peace that passes understanding resides, in true faith and recognition of God’s all-encompassing provision for his Creation.

REDUCING ANXIETY THROUGH GIVING

Psalm 37:18-19, 25  – The LORD watches over the blameless all their days, and their inheritance will last forever.  They will not be disgraced in times of adversity; they will be satisfied in days of hunger.  … I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous abandoned or his children begging for bread.

Where we need to exhibit care is in not condemning those who are hungry and in need, as if somehow they are the cause of their own misfortune by not trusting in the God of the Bible. That may only be a small part of a larger context of areas of the world where they are living through the same issues their ancient progenitors faced: drought, famine, and conflict. As a measure and enactment of our trust and faith in God, we should honor him by sharing with those in need to the best of our ability, whether through personal, hands-on assistance, to local agencies or organizations that are working in those areas to provide assistance to those in need.

Psalm 82:3-4 – “Provide justice for the needy and the fatherless; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute.  Rescue the poor and needy; save them from the power of the wicked.”

Just as it was the responsibility of the ancient Israelite judges to act justly with their own people, it may so happen to be that we are the ones whom God will use to provide the justice and rescue that those in need are desperate for. Sometimes, we may be the answer to the prayers of others.

There is no doubt that food and clothing are essential for life; about these necessities, Yeshua even taught that “your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” As we have opportunity amidst our own wealth and abundance, it may be that God is prompting us to share our resources with those who have none.

As we begin to see the larger picture of provision in the world in general, it allows us to get our eyes off of our own needs and anxieties and instead look for answers and solutions to helping others. Our anxiety can be relieved not only by trusting for God’s provision for us personally and through diligent prayer throughout each day. We can also become less anxious as we find ways to helping others in the way we would want to be helped, were we in the same situation.

Matthew 7:12 – “Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Our faithfulness in meeting the needs of others is the surest way to reduce our own anxiety over these needs for ourselves. That, in and of itself, is also a provision of God.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Our love for all others should be as natural as the elements of God’s Creation

Matthew 5:44-45 – “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, “so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. For he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

I find this passage to be enigmatic among the sayings of Yeshua, as it seems to contrast believers’ actions that are active with those of God that are assumed to be passive. We are commanded to actively love and pray for our adversaries, however, God’s natural order of things is for the sun to shine and the rain to fall. Is God actively blessing the evil by causing the sun to shine on their crops or actively sending rain for the purpose of blessing the unrighteous? Or are these impartial, passive blessings that are received by the evil and unrighteous just for the privilege of living in the natural world that God has created?

Based on the perspective of the biblical writings, God is not passive in his Creation, but he is actively involved with blessing all of mankind, while still ordering all things according to his will and purpose.

Ecclesiastes 3:11, 13-14 – He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also put eternity in their hearts, but no one can discover the work God has done from beginning to end. … It is also the gift of God whenever anyone eats, drinks, and enjoys all his efforts. I know that everything God does will last forever; there is no adding to it or taking from it. God works so that people will be in awe of him.
Psalm 19:1 – The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

According to the apostle Paul, God’s invisible attributes can be deduced from his visible, natural Creation.

Romans 1:20 – For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Paul actually engages this type of argument while reasoning with the Greek philosophers at the Areopagus.

Acts 17:24-27 – “The God who made the world and everything in it ​– ​he is Lord of heaven and earth ​– ​does not live in shrines made by hands. “Neither is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives everyone life and breath and all things. “From one man he has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live. “He did this so that they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.

If we consider that even being alive as an individual on this planet is truly a gift from God, something that we as individual beings have zero control over, how much more the bounty of God’s provision is evidenced through the natural order of his Creation. This was even recognized among the secular philosophers of the day. Consider the statement of Seneca, a Roman philosopher of the first century, which is almost a direct parallel to the saying of Yeshua:

“If you imitate the gods, give favors to the ungrateful: for the sun rises for the wicked, and the seas are open to pirates.”

This idea of providing favors to the ungrateful, or as Yeshua states, loving and praying for the wicked and unrighteous, was considered a “godly” attribute even among the philosophers of the day.

John Wesley has an interesting take on this verse, focusing instead on how those generic blessings are received by those who don’t know God.

“He gives them such blessings as they will receive at his hands. Spiritual blessings they will not receive.”

This implies that non-believers, while not willing to submit to the spiritual requirements of God, nonetheless are willing to take whatever benefit they can from the Creation of God and use it for their own ends. For me, this illustrates how things meant to bless others can be taken for granted with no recognition or acknowledgement of the privilege provided. I believe this captures the sentiment that Yeshua is seeking to provide in this instruction.

Adam Clarke provides even further clarity in this regard as to the results of the those favors or blessings, even if they by-and-large go unacknowledged.

“There is nothing greater than to imitate God in doing good to our enemies. All the creatures of God pronounce the sentence of condemnation on the revengeful: and this sentence is written by the rays of the sun, and with the drops of rain, and indeed by all the natural good things, the use of which God freely gives to his enemies. If God had not loved us while we were his enemies, we could never have become his children: and we shall cease to be such, as soon as we cease to imitate him.”

God demonstrates that he loves all people by giving them life and blessings through his Creation. Yeshua encourages us as believers to mimic our heavenly Father by having our prayers and intercessions for the ungrateful and unworthy simply be a natural outworking of who we are, just as the sun rising and the rain falling are the natural outworking of God’s handiwork on a daily basis. Our love and forgiveness for all others should be as natural for us as sunshine and rain are for God: all day, every day.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

A faith that looks beyond what it can see

2 Corinthians 5:7 – For we walk by faith, not by sight.

This impactful verse has morphed into a sound-bite of our Christian culture through the pervasive screen-saver and bumper-sticker mentality of this current generation. Bad teachers and charlatans alike have used this verse out of context to justify any number of invisible principles, promising future rewards which currently cannot be seen with the eyes. Promoters of the health and wealth gospel convey how God intends for all believers to be wealthy, even if they are currently in poverty. “Walk in the faith of your future wealth, not by the poverty of what you currently can see, and you will have it,” they falsely claim.

However, maintaining the actual context of this verse (2 Cor 3:5- 5:15), the apostle Paul conveyed this sentiment amidst a lengthy treatise on the believer’s ability and mindset in overcoming adversity and real-life persecution for their faith, not a depressed financial condition. This was an appropriate and necessary statement of encouragement based on the situations and conditions that the believers, especially the apostles, faced every day. In their ministry of growing the congregations and teaching the early believers in their new-found faith in Messiah, they were being persecuted, and by persecuted I mean they were hunted and pursued, most times in fear for their very lives.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 – We are afflicted in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed.

The treasure they carried was the message of “the light of the knowledge of God’s glory” (4:6) conveyed through “the glory of the Messiah, who is the representation of God,” (4:4). Paul says, “we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us,” (4:7).

Just as the Messiah represented God, the apostles were representing to the congregations the truth of God’s glory and kingdom through his provision of the Messiah Yeshua. Even though their bodies were being debased and abused, Paul conveys that this was only a “momentary light affliction [which] is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory,” (4:17). “For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’s sake, so that Jesus’s life may also be displayed in our mortal flesh,” (4:11).

This is hardly the stuff of mere economic hardship.

Continuing his discourse, Paul begins an analogy of life in the present world contrasted with life in eternity which cannot be presently seen.

2 Corinthians 4:18, 5:1 – So we do not focus on what is seen [i.e., all of the bodily abuse and persecution they were enduring], but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. For we know that if our earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal dwelling in the heavens, not made with hands.

This “earthly tent” is the outward form of the present physical body. This is not necessarily an invention of the apostle Paul, it was a description of the physical body that was prevalent in contemporaneous writings of the time.

Wisdom 9:13-17 For who can learn the counsel of God? Or who can discern what the Lord wills? For the reasoning of mortals is worthless, and our designs are likely to fail; for a perishable body weighs down the soul, and this earthy tent burdens the anxious mind. We can hardly guess at what is on earth, and what is at hand we find with labor; but who has traced out what is in the heavens? Who has learned your counsel, unless you have given wisdom and sent your holy Spirit from on high?

These writings were included in the Septuagint Greek version of the Hebrew Bible in the apostle Paul’s day, and indicate that this idea of the physical body being likened to a tent was not unknown among Jewish thinkers of those times. Ironically, the passage also laments not being able to understand the wisdom and counsel of God unless God sent his holy Spirit, the very thing that Paul is making the case for regarding Messiah Yeshua in the Corinthian passage.

2 Corinthians 5:4-5 – Indeed, we groan while we are in this tent, burdened as we are, because we do not want to be unclothed but clothed, so that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the Spirit as a down payment.

The direction of Paul’s argument is building toward the distinction between the earthly visible body, this outward physical body, and the eternal, invisible life of the spirit.

2 Corinthians 5:6-8 – So we are always confident and know that while we are at home [that is, as in a familiar country] in the body we are away from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight [i.e., outward, visible form]. In fact, we are confident, and we would prefer to be away from the body and at home [that is, as in a familiar country] with the Lord.

To walk by faith and not by sight is to not become overwhelmed with the condition and situation of the outward form of the natural body, that which can be seen. The pinnacle of Paul’s discussion lies in walking by faith (that which is unseen but very real) in distinction with becoming distressed through the seen and known condition of the outward form of the body through all of its current persecutions and abuses.

This is the true hope that believers in Messiah share! Our faith can overcome all situations and obstacles that can be seen, because they are only temporary (4:18). Our faith reaches beyond these temporary things into eternity, even beyond the “tent” of this outward form that we currently have.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The Spirit that sets believers apart

Many believers today are of the opinion that the Holy Spirit did not work among God’s people until the day of Pentecost described in Acts chapter 2.

Acts 2:1-4 – When the day of Pentecost had arrived, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like that of a violent rushing wind came from heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were staying. They saw tongues like flames of fire that separated and rested on each one of them. Then they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them.

And yet we find David claiming that God’s Holy Spirit was with him in his day.

Psalm 51:10-11 – God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.

In fact, we find the Spirit of God has been present and active since the very opening verses of the Bible.

Genesis 1:1-2 – In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness covered the surface of the watery depths, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.

Now, believers today might concede and say something like, “Well, yes, God’s Spirit has always been present, but he has not come to live inside believers until the day of Pentecost in Acts 2.” But is this really the case?

Numbers 11:16-17 – The LORD answered Moses, “Bring me seventy men from Israel known to you as elders and officers of the people. Take them to the tent of meeting and have them stand there with you. “Then I will come down and speak with you there. I will take some of the Spirit who is on you and put the Spirit on them. They will help you bear the burden of the people, so that you do not have to bear it by yourself.

Now if we are going to get into the semantics of whether the Spirit was IN or ON people, I think we will be missing the point, and quite honestly, we will be missing a beautiful continuity all throughout God’s Word, as well.

The Spirit of God is his Presence, active and working within his created order to maintain his purpose and will. The Spirit of God is the Spirit of holiness, the Presence that separates and distinguishes the profane from the sacred, the mundane from the spiritual.

When the Spirit of God acts in Creation, we consider the miraculous to be taking place. From the act of Creation itself, to guiding Israel through the wilderness, to speaking through Moses and the prophets, to anointing all of his people with knowledge, wisdom, and insight, the Spirit of God is the “thing” that distinguishes God’s people from the rest of the people living on the planet at any given time. This is what gives the Bible its uniqueness in its worldview, and what separates its adherents from all others.

How can we know if we “have” the Holy Spirit working in our lives? Well, primarily we have to recognize that the Spirit of God is not a possession we “have.” If we choose to abide in his ways as revealed through Yeshua, we are promised he will choose to abide with us.

1 John 2:3-6 – This is how we know that we know him: if we keep his commands. The one who says, “I have come to know him,” and yet doesn’t keep his commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps his word, truly in him the love of God is made complete. This is how we know we are in him: The one who says he remains in him should walk just as he walked.

When we keep his word, we obey his commands, and our lives should look like Yeshua’s. In his departing words to his disciples recorded for us in John’s gospel in chapters 14-17, Yeshua teaches about the intimate and powerful ways that God will continue to work through his people when they are obedient to God’s commands as he had related to them during his ministry among the people of Israel.

John 14:15-17 – “If you love me, you will keep my commands. “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. “He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive him because it doesn’t see him or know him. But you do know him, because he remains with you and is in you.
John 15:26-27 – “When the Counselor comes, the one I will send to you from the Father ​– ​the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father ​– ​he will testify about me. “You also will testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.
John 16:13 – “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. For he will not speak on his own, but he will speak whatever he hears. He will also declare to you what is to come.

The Spirit of holiness is the Spirit who would cause the disciples, and subsequently all believers, to testify to the Messiah-ship of Yeshua. This is an earmark of the Spirit’s work in our lives: testifying that Yeshua is the Messiah of God, sent to save his people from their sin.

The Spirit of holiness is the Spirit of truth, and the Spirit cannot direct believers of Messiah into falsehood. He was to declare to the disciples what was to come, and we have those declarations recorded for us throughout the New Testament writings as historical validations of all that was foretold.

1 John 2:20-21, 27 – But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I have not written to you because you don’t know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie comes from the truth. … As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you don’t need anyone to teach you. Instead, his anointing teaches you about all things and is true and is not a lie; just as it has taught you, remain in him.

The Spirit of God is what sets God’s people apart from all others. When we claim to believe in Yeshua as the Messiah of God, we are taking part in the miraculous fulfilling of God’s purpose in the world. As we remain “in” the Holy One, he remains “in” us. The Spirit of God is active today among his people, continuing to set standards of righteousness and belief in the Messiah for each new generation through what has been revealed to his set-apart people, his holy people, throughout the ages.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The necessity of being watchful at all times

There is a Greek word that illustrates how believers need to always be ready and wary of danger and falsehood. It is the word agrypneo (ag-roop-neh’-o) and carries some of these meanings:

  • to be sleepless, keep awake, watch
  • to be circumspect, attentive, ready

It is only used in four places in the New Testament writings, but all of them depict a state of watchfulness which I believe is lacking from most believers today.

Two of them apply to the Messiah’s followers in the context of being sure that they were not becoming complacent in that generation, as the culmination of all things was at hand.

Mark 13:33 – “Watch! Be alert! For you don’t know when the time is coming.
Luke 21:36 – “But be alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place and to stand before the Son of Man.”

This was incredibly important for them to recognize, as they faced many challenges and persecutions during the tribulation of those times. Their watchfulness became a necessary constant to maintain their survival amidst the infiltration of the Jews among believing communities, civil strife within their nation, and the beginnings of war with their Roman oppressors. So in a personal sense, they needed to remain alert for their own benefit and survival, as the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish state was at hand.

However, the remaining two uses of this Greek term apply in an outward sense where this vigilance and watchfulness was necessary to protect and help others.

Ephesians 6:18 – Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.
Hebrews 13:17 – Obey your leaders and submit to them, since they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

In the Ephesians passage, Paul is in the midst of describing the now famous “armor of God” analogy. He is encouraging a constant focus on prayer, requests, and intercession for other believers. The watchfulness of the believers was not just to be for themselves, but to extend to the others around them who were enduring the same atrocities. This watchfulness and perseverance in prayer would help guard and guide the believers through the tribulation and turmoil of those times.

Additionally, the congregation of the Hebrew believers was reminded to be obedient to those who were placed in authority over them because the leaders had been tasked specifically with watching over their souls or their lives; that is, caring for the doctrinal correctness and also physical safety of that body of believers. This careful attention and vigilance was necessary because of the wide array of false teaching and practices that had arisen and were swirling amidst the chaos of those times. The elect remnant was being called out of the darkness of dead Judaism and pagan idolatry into the light of God’s kingdom.

Yeshua had plainly warned of this:

Matthew 24:24 – For false messiahs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.

In a similar way, we should be exhibiting this agrypneo, this watchfulness and readiness, over what we are learning about the truth of God’s Word, as well as being watchful over others to ensure they are also being guided faithfully. For those of us in active believing communities, we should honor and respect those godly leaders who are guiding our congregations, as they have a large responsibility, like shepherds for their flock.

While our social conditions and experience may have changed dramatically from that early remnant being called into the kingdom of God, our informational and doctrinal experience is just as widely diffuse and corrupt, if not more so, than first-century Israel. Our vigilance in this 21st century is just as sorely needed for our own understanding and for interceding for those around us to be kept in the way of truth. While we generally enjoy many luxuries of living standards not available to our spiritual ancestors, one luxury we cannot afford is to let down our guard when it comes to seeking, pursuing, and maintaining the integrity and truth of God’s kingdom for ourselves, for our family, and for our friends.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The integrity of the open mind

Proverbs 9:8-9 Reprove a wise man, and he will love you. Instruct a wise man, and he will be still wiser. Teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.

This is an interesting concept that seems to raise the question of why a wise person would need further understanding. We typically consider that those who have knowledge are those who do not need further instruction, since they already have the knowledge. We will usually spend our time instructing those who do not have understanding so they can grow in their learning. If we are instructing someone, we feel we are giving them knowledge that they do not have, and they will be better off for it.

While this may be generally true of teaching others, the idea of reproving or rebuking a wise person is also shown to be effective, as well as being necessary at times.

Proverbs 19:25 Strike a mocker, and the inexperienced learn a lesson; rebuke the discerning, and he gains knowledge.
Proverbs 25:12 A wise correction to a receptive ear is like a gold ring or an ornament of gold.

With wisdom can come a sense of superiority and an attitude of knowing it all, therefore there can arise a conceit that prevents open-mindedness and seeks for control of others. However, a true wise person of integrity will remain humble regardless of the revelation and understanding they have received from God. A righteous person of integrity, in Hebrew, a tzaddik, will understand that even with great learning they don’t know everything, and that they still have room to be instructed further. In many ways, having a wide breadth of wisdom and understanding only highlights how much more there is to learn.

It is truly the know-it-all person who has closed their mind, thinking they have all the information they need on any given topic. Yet they typically have only enough information to be dangerous, and have not plumbed the further depths of wisdom and understanding. Sometimes even God needs to step in to help them recognize that they are out of line, and ultimately they are better off for it.

Job 5:17 See how happy is the person whom God corrects; so do not reject the discipline of the Almighty.

Integrity, or acting in righteousness, is to keep an open mind to further instruction.

There is a Hebraic way of understanding the Torah or instruction of God which demonstrates that wisdom may have many different levels and aspects to it. They involve the Hebrew words Peshat (“surface”), Remez (“hints”), Derash (“inquire”), and Sod (“secret”). The Peshat means the plain or contextual meaning of the text. Remez is the allegorical meaning. Derash includes the metaphorical meaning, and Sod represents the hidden, or deep spiritual meaning. It is a good practice of integrity to remain open to other ways of looking at things, as long as they remain consistent with the overall message of the Bible.

We can see these various levels of messaging throughout the Bible, whether it is a prophecy that was to be applied in a specific circumstance with additional deeper meaning, or whether it was parable of Yeshua meant to allegorically teach a spiritual truth using common elements of daily life. All wisdom comes from God, but if we are to exhibit integrity in our walk, we should remain open to the possibility of learning new things to add to our repository of knowledge we have attained thus far.

Being a disciple of integrity in the kingdom of heaven is similar to the example of teachers of the law in Yeshua’s day who became believers. They recognized that they had access to depths of ancient wisdom of the Hebraic culture as well as the new insights that the Messiah brought to those ancient teachings.

Matthew 13:52 “Therefore,” he said to them, “every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom treasures new and old.”

For us today, we have the ongoing inspiration of God as we continually review the wisdom of God in his Word. We should continually add to our “storeroom of wisdom” with humility and integrity, all the while keeping our focus on the Almighty God as our ultimate source and guide for all truth.

Proverbs 9:10 The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom. The knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Fishing for the faithful to live in the kingdom

Matthew 13:47-50  “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a large net thrown into the sea. It collected every kind of fish, “and when it was full, they dragged it ashore, sat down, and gathered the good fish into containers, but threw out the worthless ones. “So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out, separate the evil people from the righteous, “and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

This parable is a popular one as it appears to explain how God will “tidy up” all of Creation at the end of all things at some point in the future. As to when this will occur depends largely on one’s view of the end-times that many say we are currently living in.

However, as mentioned previously, we have to remember that the parabolic teachings of Yeshua revolve around the nation of Israel, as they were his primary mission.

Matthew 15:22-24 Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came and kept crying out, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely tormented by a demon.”  Jesus did not say a word to her. His disciples approached him and urged him, “Send her away because she’s crying out after us.”  He replied, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

While Yeshua ultimately did assist this woman due to her demonstration of great faith in him as the Messiah of God, this does not diminish his own admission of his primary focus: the nation of Israel.

The parable of the net has been used (and misused, with the best of intentions) in the service of missions work and growing the kingdom. The idea is that the wide net of the gospel is cast into the sea of the world, surrounding everyone, and at the end of the world (or all time, whenever that is supposed to be) God will have his angels sort everyone out depending on if they are good or bad. Good people are spared, but bad people are sent to burn in hell for all eternity.

Pulling this parable back into the context of the culture of the day and the mission of Yeshua, I think we would do better to interpret it in light of what Yeshua was attempting to teach his immediate audience.

When Yeshua called his disciples, he mentioned how their fishing ability would be adapted to fishing for people.

Matthew 4:19 “Follow me,” he told them, “and I will make you fishers of people.”
Mark 1:17 “Follow me,” Jesus told them, “and I will make you fishers of people.”
Luke 5:10 and so were James and John, Zebedee’s sons, who were Simon’s partners. “Don’t be afraid,” Jesus told Simon. “From now on you will be catching people.”

Charles Ellicott, on the topic of catching people in Luke 5, conveys: “thou shalt catch men, i. e. by teaching thou shalt win their souls for the kingdom of God.” This was the thrust of what Yeshua had taught his disciples when he charged them with following him. They were to spread the net of teaching the gospel of the kingdom that would affect everyone in Israel, good and bad. Some would respond, and some would not.

Now as we move to the timing of this sorting out of the good and bad, we find it takes place at the end of an age, not the end of the world, as the KJV relates. The Greek word aion means age, as in the end of a specific era of time, not the end of the world, as in the planet.

So what was the end of the age? From a host of corroborating scripture, the end of the age was to be the end of the national age of Israel at the destruction of the temple.

Matthew 24:3, 34  While he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples approached him privately and said, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what is the sign of your coming and of the end of the age? ”  … [Yeshua said,] “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things take place.

Yeshua prophesied that the end of the age would take place within that generation, and his ministry was a warning to all that God was no longer going to spare the nation due to its corruption and hypocrisy. He had warned the leaders directly:

Luke 11:49-51  “Because of this, the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and persecute,’ “so that this generation may be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world ​– ​ “from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. “Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible.

All of this came to pass with the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. Just as the parable of Yeshua taught, the net of the good news of the kingdom was cast (by the disciples, the fishers of men) into the sea of all the people of Israel, encapsulating them all. At the end of the age (the national age of Israel), the good (i.e., the remnant who was obedient to the Messiah’s teaching) were spared, but the bad (those who rejected the teaching of Messiah and the kingdom) were destroyed, with weeping and gnashing of teeth, when Jerusalem burned in its utter destruction from the Roman armies.

This is the reality of the parable of the net. The time of the end was the time of the end of the nation of Israel. God, through Yeshua, faithfully established the eternal, spiritual kingdom prior to the destruction of the earthly, natural kingdom of Israel.

Now we can still leverage some of the imagery of fishing for people in this current age, the age of the eternal kingdom. As we teach the good news of this kingdom, some will be drawn to this message while others will not. However, we would do well to avoid misapplying the consequences of not heeding the message, for in this age, those who reject the good news of the kingdom are simply depicted as living “outside the city,” (or the kingdom).

Revelation 22:11, 14-15 “Let the filthy still be filthy; let the righteous go on in righteousness; let the holy still be holy.”  … “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates. “Outside are the dogs, the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

The faithful and the holy will have the right to enter the New Jerusalem; those who reject the message will remain outside of its mercies and benefits. This is the way of the eternal kingdom of God for each generation.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Cultivating a godly heart

Today we will be exploring the topic of holiness, and how cultivating a heart like God’s means to be moved and motivated by the things that move and motivate him. This godly empathy is what separates Gods people as a unique and set apart people.

Yeshua stated it this way:

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4

Yeshua explains that in grieving for unrighteousness a blessing will result, as God will be near to comfort those who are passionate for righteousness.

Many times this verse is used to comfort those who are grieving the loss of a recently departed loved one. However, the intent of this wisdom goes beyond the general aspect of mourning for death. Instead, it is a promise of God’s comforting presence with those who have a deep and sincere grief over unrighteousness, whether personal or within their shared experience.

When coming to the Bible for inspiration, people are not typically thinking about grief, but are looking for passages to encourage and to bring joy and fulfillment. Yet, according to Yeshua, one of the most fulfilling things that brings blessing into life is to be circumspect in one’s own walk, and to be sorrowful over the wayward practices of those around us.

This is not a sorrow for sorrow’s sake, just to feel sad about how disobedient we have been, or to languish in the wayward practices of the world around us. No, this grief is a grief that should spur us to action, to be personally repentant and to intercede for others.

This type of “active mourning” begins when one realizes their wayward actions are an affront to a holy God.

Prov 9:10: “The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom. The knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”

Cultivating a heart like God’s begins with understanding who he is. We need to know who God is in order for us to honor and respect him. However, if we are not aware of the nature and majesty of the God of the universe, then we will remain oblivious to all he has provided us.

All through the revelation of God’s word he describes himself so that we can have an understanding and come to know him.

Isaiah 40:25,28: “”To whom then will you liken me? Who is my equal?” says the Holy One. … Haven’t you known? Haven’t you heard? The everlasting God, Yahweh, The Creator of the ends of the earth, doesn’t faint. He isn’t weary. His understanding is unsearchable.”
Isaiah 57:15: “For thus says the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also who is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”
Ezekiel 39:7: “My holy name will I make known in the midst of my people Israel; neither will I allow my holy name to be profaned any more: and the nations shall know that I am Yahweh, the Holy One in Israel.”
1 Samuel 2:2: “There is no one as holy as Yahweh, For there is no one besides you, nor is there any rock like our God.”
Revelation 4:11: “”Worthy are you, our Lord and God, the Holy One, to receive the glory, the honor, and the power, for you created all things, and because of your desire they existed, and were created!””
Revelation 15:4: “Who wouldn’t fear you, Lord, and glorify your name? For you only are holy. For all the nations will come and worship before you. For your righteous acts have been revealed.””

Recognizing the glory and majesty of God has to happen before we submit to his ways. Once this recognition is in place, then we can begin to learn about what God expects of us.

Leviticus 22:31 “You are to keep my commands and do them; I am the LORD.
Deuteronomy 6:17, 25 “Carefully observe the commands of the LORD your God, the decrees and statutes he has commanded you. … “Righteousness will be ours if we are careful to follow every one of these commands before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us.’
Deuteronomy 8:6 “So keep the commands of the LORD your God by walking in his ways and fearing him.
Deuteronomy 11:1 “Therefore, love the LORD your God and always keep his mandate and his statutes, ordinances, and commands.
Psalm 119:131 I open my mouth and pant because I long for your commands.
1 John 5:3 For this is what love for God is: to keep his commands. And his commands are not a burden…

When we understand what God desires of us, then we can evaluate our own thoughts and actions to see how we measure up to his expectations. This can result in personal repentance and a recommitment to do what’s right.

First we must recognize where we have erred; then, we must react in a way that honors God.

Psalm 32:5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not conceal my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah
Psalm 38:18 So I confess my iniquity; I am anxious because of my sin.
Psalm 51:2-3 Completely wash away my guilt and cleanse me from my sin.  For I am conscious of my rebellion, and my sin is always before me.
Proverbs 20:9 Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am cleansed from my sin”?

To sin is to be disobedient, a disobedience which separates and distances us from God. When we come to the realization that we have sinned against a holy God it should cause us grief; grief about our own situation, grief about how we have not measured up to his standards that he expects of us. This grief should move us to correct our ways and to ask God for his help in overcoming those things which keep us from being fully committed and obedient to him. Recognizing our own sin opens a pathway to a restored relationship with the God of the universe.

Mourning for unrighteousness is also a type of deep grief when one recognizes a state of unrighteousness among those around them. A godly heart is offended at the things that offend God.

Psalm 119:136 My eyes pour out streams of tears because people do not follow your instruction.
Lamentations 3:48 My eyes flow with streams of tears because of the destruction of my dear people.

Yeshua himself set the example for all believers as he poured out his heart in prophetic utterance over the hardness of the people of Jerusalem.

Luke 19:41-44 As he approached and saw the city, he wept for it, saying, “If you knew this day what would bring peace ​– ​but now it is hidden from your eyes. “For the days will come on you when your enemies will build a barricade around you, surround you, and hem you in on every side. “They will crush you and your children among you to the ground, and they will not leave one stone on another in your midst, because you did not recognize the time when God visited you.”

The apostle Paul also exhibited this characteristic with his intense desire for his countrymen to come to the knowledge of the truth of their Messiah.

Romans 9:1-5 I speak the truth in Christ ​– ​I am not lying; my conscience testifies to me through the Holy Spirit ​– ​ that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Messiah for the benefit of my brothers and sisters, my own flesh and blood. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the temple service, and the promises. The ancestors are theirs, and from them, by physical descent, came the Messiah, God over all be praised forever. Amen.
1 Corinthians 13:6 Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth.
Philippians 3:18 For I have often told you, and now say again with tears, that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.

When we come to the recognition that we live among a people who are lost, confused, and vainly seeking their own ways, we should be moved with compassion. We should seek to pray for them and to help them understand the truth of God’s word. This can only happen when our motivation is springing from a deep desire for all people everywhere to know the God of the universe and to become a part of his Kingdom of righteousness on the Earth.

For us to have a heart like God, we must share his perspective. We can only gain God’s perspective of this world in this life by being routinely and deeply engaged with his word. In doing so, we are molded and shaped with the worldview that God desires for his people.

If we are growing in our understanding of God and his desires for the ideals of his kingdom to be present here and now, then we are likely to also be demonstrating a sincere and passionate dissatisfaction with the unrighteousness that is exhibited within our experience each day. We grow to want what God wants, both for us and for others. This holy grieving over lack from the ideal is spiritually healthy, and helps to keep our focus on what is truly of eternal importance. This is growing in holiness.

“Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the LORD your God.” Leviticus 20:7“

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” 1 Peter 1:14-16

If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The privilege and responsibility of helping the helpless

To say that God is compassionate is an understatement. All throughout the Bible, God is listed as the merciful one, a God of mercy and compassion.

Jonathan Gill in his Bible exposition states that this type language is not only rich within the pages of scripture, but it’s also all through the Jewish writings:

nothing is more common in Zohar, and the Talmud than to express the Divine Being by no other name, than “the Merciful”; “the Merciful said” so, and so; that is, God: and so the Arabians generally begin their books and chapters with these words, “in the name of God, exceeding merciful”, or “the merciful commiserator”…

The Hebrew word for merciful is defined with some of the following expanded ideas: “to stroke or lovingly caress, or to be secure as within a womb.” Based on these concepts, we can come to understand that to be merciful is to care and protect for another as if that person was their very own helpless child. This refines the definition to the point of a needle: to truly express compassion is to lovingly help those who are helpless.

Almost every biblical reference in a search of the word merciful comes up as a description of God, with only few exceptions.

Proverbs 11:17: “The merciful man does good to his own soul, but he who is cruel troubles his own flesh.”

This proverb speaks of how God rewards the merciful, because in expressing mercy and compassion, a person is reflexively doing what’s best for their own soul, since God will reward them for their faithfulness in caring for those unable to help themselves.

All of Psalm 112 is an ode to the righteous person, the one who fears God and keep his commandments. According to this psalm, this quality of mercy is a predominant aspect of righteous living.

Psalm 112:4-6: “Light dawns in the darkness for the upright, gracious, merciful, and righteous. It is well with the man who deals graciously and lends. He will maintain his cause in judgment. For he will never be shaken. The righteous will be remembered forever.”

As we recognize God’s most dominant quality of mercy and compassion, we should be filled with the same quality as we seek to emulate him. As we are made in his image, we share his qualities, and our responsibility is to reflect those qualities around us in this life.

This is the message that Yeshua encourages us, rather commands us, to be engaged with if we are to be considered children of God.

Luke 6:36: “Therefore be merciful, even as your Father is also merciful.”

If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The dominion of forgiveness

Romans 12:21: “Don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

This famous verse written by Paul to the Roman congregation, while well-known, is much less practiced than it is widely known.

The word for overcoming comes from the Greek root word which means victory, or conquest. The famous Nike statue known as winged victory (the armless, headless torso of a woman with wings spread wide) is based on this very same Greek word.

This famous verse comes contextually on the heels of Paul explaining how vital it is for believers to treat others, especially those who are adversarial, with uncommon love and respect.

Romans 12:17-18,20: “Repay no one evil for evil. Respect what is honorable in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as it is up to you, be at peace with all men. … Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
for in doing so, you will heap coals of fire on his head.”

Paul here is actually quoting an Old Testament principle that is found in the book of Proverbs:

Proverbs 25:21-22: “If your enemy hungers, feed him; if he thirsts, give him drink; for so doing you shall heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall reward you with good.”

This was also a core teaching of Yeshua in the Sermon on the Mount, demonstrating a thread of consistent emphasis throughout all of scripture. It was obviously given fresh life and emphasis in the teachings of Yeshua, and then deeply ingrained into the mindset of the early believers.

Matthew 5:44-45: “But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you, that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. “

Yeshua explains that practicing this ideal signifies the believer as a true child of God. A child of God carries the same spiritual DNA as its parent and will therefore conform to the practices of the parent.

This ability to overcome is rooted in the concept of forgiveness, as no one can truly bless their enemies unless they have let infractions go. It is one thing to follow the command with gritted teeth, uttering curses under our breath, trying to be faithful to what we have been tasked to do. However, it is another thing entirely to truly forgive someone who has wronged us, and to serve them honestly from the heart. To be able to practice this overcoming quality, believers must be willing to forgive. Doing so enables us to actually and effectively practice this vital principle that Yeshua commanded us.

This idea of being born of God and overcoming is also carried forward by the apostle John. This is the only other passage in the New Testament that speaks of this ability to overcome, or be victorious.

1 John 5:1-5: “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God. Whoever loves the Father also loves the child who is born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep his commandments. For this is loving God, that we keep his commandments. His commandments are not grievous. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world: your faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”

Our faith in the Messiah allows us to overcome the world, and in overcoming the world, we are therefore afforded the ability to overcome the evil that is present everywhere. This is the scriptural solution to evil in the world. It begins with obedient children of God respecting and honoring all others in a way that honors God.

This is how God‘s plan for the dominion of believers in the world takes place, not through conquest and bloodshed, not through political reform, but through simple forgiveness and honest service to others in the name of God.

If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.