Becoming set apart in private fellowship with God

Personal holiness is a discipline that can provide deeper insights into the wisdom of God.

Personal holiness is a discipline that can provide deeper insights into the wisdom of God.

For many different reasons, believers in Messiah have a unique calling among religious traditions of the world. However, one of the most interesting facets of a life of faith and becoming set apart for God’s use is how many aspects are practiced privately, out of the glare of daily interactions.

For example, Yeshua taught the disciples to pray to God in private.

Matthew 6:6 – “But when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

If they had a disagreement with a friend or relation, they were not to publicly call them out as a first reaction, but to meet with them privately to see if a solution could be reached.

Matthew 18:15 – “If your brother sins against you, go and rebuke him in private. If he listens to you, you have won your brother.”

Most significantly, Yeshua produced disciples who were set apart by revealing deep truths and teaching them privately.

  • Mark 4:34 – He did not speak to them without a parable. Privately, however, he explained everything to his own disciples.
  • Mark 13:3-4 – While he was sitting on the Mount of Olives across from the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished? “

The process of becoming holy is one of being set apart as distinct for God’s use and for his glory. Perhaps one of the reasons this process is not as well-known is for the very reason that it typically occurs in private, out of the glare of public scrutiny, in quiet sessions of meditation or only between individuals who are submitting to God’s instruction.

In our American culture, it is not uncommon to see big, brash displays in congregations hoping to draw more people to God. However, the discipline of personal holiness that God desires typically comes to light only in the most intimate of settings. It is forged in the deepest recesses of personal reflection and private actions that spring from close communion with our Maker. The revelation that is sought in the public assembly is in actuality born and bred most regularly within the quiet corners of personal repentance and accountability.

But, as is the nature with all things of great value, the benefits that are received far outweigh any personal sacrifice that must be endured to achieve them.

Luke 10:23-24 – Then turning to his disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see the things you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see the things you see but didn’t see them; to hear the things you hear but didn’t hear them.”


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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

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

The way of holiness is narrow

The path less traveled holds the greatest reward.

The path less traveled holds the greatest reward.

Matthew 7:13-14 – “Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.”

In reviewing the overarching themes of Yeshua’s Sermon on the Mount, many of the concepts overlap with one another and can be classified under several headings. This passage about the broad way and the narrow gate is one of those concepts.

I have typically placed this passage under the heading of vigilance, as one of the most outstanding features of this illustration is how difficult the entrance to the narrow gate is, and how persistent one must be to enter in that way. However, it is not only difficult, but narrow. This narrowness suggests a setting apart, a holiness, of those who seek to follow this way.

The Greek word used for narrow is only used in this one illustration of the way of life being a narrow door or gate. The secondary passage is a similar illustration Yeshua uses in the gospel of Luke.

Luke 13:23-25 – “Lord,” someone asked him, “are only a few people going to be saved? ” He said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because I tell you, many will try to enter and won’t be able once the homeowner gets up and shuts the door. Then you will stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up for us!’ He will answer you, ‘I don’t know you or where you’re from.’

Again, Yeshua relates to his hearers how the way is not only difficult (by saying it would be necessary to make every effort), but that it would also be a narrow door. To my way of thinking, this confirms that the way of holiness or being set apart will be evident only in those few (contrasted with the many) who would persist in seeking the things of God, i.e., the narrow way.

What interests me about connecting these two passages in this way with this similar illustration is that the Luke passage is contextually about Yeshua warning that generation that the time (in his day) was short. When judgment was to fall (in the destruction of Jerusalem forty years hence), the door to being rescued from that judgment would be shut. Those of that generation who had rejected the message and teaching of Messiah, seeing that, when it came to pass, Yeshua’s prediction was correct, would suffer the ruin and loss of all that they had believed in. Most of them would lose their lives in the destruction of the city.

In the Mark passage, Yeshua says the broad way that most would travel leads to destruction, meaning ruin or loss. Connecting these two passages in this way highlights the meaning of those who would follow the narrow way would be the holy or set apart remnant, those of Israel who did recognize Yeshua as the Messiah and who diligently and faithfully strove to enter at the narrow gate.

The good news is that this teaching still rings true in the more universal fashion in which it is typically viewed: that most people in the world continue on a wide path to ruin and loss due to their own oblivious lifestyles, while those who are diligently seeking out the things of God end up setting themselves apart by maintaining their focus and journey on the narrow path of holiness and faithfulness to God. This is who we are today, those of us who continue to place our faith in the Messiah. Through our vigilant and persistent following of him, through the narrow gate of Messiah, we have access to the place of safety and fellowship with 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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

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

God’s will is the purity of his people

Believers must maintain their faithfulness to God in order to remain pure for his purpose.

Believers must maintain their faithfulness to God in order to remain pure for his purpose.

1 Thessalonians 4:3, 7 – For this is God’s will, your sanctification: … For God has not called us to impurity but to live in holiness.

As Paul is writing to the Thessalonian congregation, he is reminding them of their high calling to purity.

1 Thessalonians 4:1-2 – Additionally then, brothers, we ask and encourage you in the Master Yeshua, that as you have received instruction from us on how you should live and please God ​– ​as you are doing ​– ​do this even more. For you know what commands we gave you through the Master Yeshua.

Paul’s objective is that the Thessalonians would live and walk in a way that pleases God. Even though they had been doing so, he is encouraging them further to refrain from the impurity of the accepted culture around them and specifically the “lustful passions” of those who didn’t know God.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 – For this is God’s will, your sanctification: that you keep away from immorality of idolatry, that each of you knows how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not with lustful passions, like those of the nations, who don’t know God. This means one must not transgress against and take advantage of a brother in this manner, because Yahweh is an avenger of all these offenses, as we also previously told and warned you. For God has not called us to impurity but to live in holiness.

We can learn from this that some of the cultural permissiveness may have begun seeping into the congregation, as Paul warns them not to conduct these types of offenses between themselves as members of the assembly. Many Bible versions will relate this offense as some type of sexual promiscuity; however, the word can also mean whoredom, in the sense of immoral idolatrous practices, as related here. As stated many times before, God views idolatry as a type of spiritual harlotry, since when it is practiced the people are substituting the covenant bond of Yahweh for another god, and thereby committing adultery against him.

1 Thessalonians 4:8 – Consequently, anyone who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who gives you his holy Spirit.

Paul strengthens his warning by saying God is an avenger of these practices, and to participate in these worldly activities is to reject the very holy Spirit of God.

From this, we can learn that if we are sincere in following the commands of God as followers of the Master Yeshua, we likewise have an obligation to resist the permissiveness of the culture we live in, since it is God’s will (or his intention, determination, and desire) that we be holy, set apart as pure and clean for his purpose. If we take lightly this responsibility and we fall into the seductive lair of cultural acceptance, we are dishonoring the name of the One who has called us to be his own. Our distinctiveness and usefulness as salt and light is diminished because we neglected to put our light on the lampstand and instead have hid it under a bushel. We have lost our saltiness and are good for no purpose of God except to be thrown out into the street to be crushed under the foot traffic.

Succumbing to the permissiveness of our culture robs us of our power in representing God to a world who needs to know him. We must sacrifice our own desires for the desires of God, and his desire and will is that we remain holy and set apart. This is God’s ultimate will for anyone who places their faith in him through Messiah, and he empowers us through his holy Spirit to do so.


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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

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

Holiness based on fulfilled prophecy and promises

Believers today are participating in the ongoing Exodus of God’s people from the worldliness around them.

Believers today are participating in the ongoing Exodus of God’s people from the worldliness around them.

2 Corinthians 7:1 – So then, dear friends, since we have these promises, let us cleanse ourselves from every impurity of the flesh and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

Speaking to the congregation in Corinth, Paul encourages them to maintain their holiness or their separation from all impurity of flesh and spirit. He does this by quoting from some promises that are mentioned in the previous chapter.

2 Corinthians 6:16-18 – And what agreement does the temple of God have with idols? For we are the temple of the living God, as God said: I will dwell and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore, come out from among them and be separate, says Yahweh; do not touch any unclean thing, and I will welcome you. And I will be a Father to you, and you will be sons and daughters to me, says Yahweh Almighty.

Paul here appears to be quoting from a specific passage of Scripture, and yet when cross-referencing this passage with the rest of the Torah, we find it is actually a loose compilation of several promises that were provided to Israel at various stages of their history. However, when we view these passages together, an interesting picture begins to emerge.

  • Exodus 4:22 – “And you will say to Pharaoh: This is what Yahweh says: Israel is my firstborn son.
  • Exodus 29:45-46 – “I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God. “And they will know that I am Yahweh their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt, so that I might dwell among them. I am Yahweh their God.
  • Jeremiah 32:37-38 – “I will certainly gather them from all the lands where I have banished them in my anger, rage and intense wrath, and I will return them to this place and make them live in safety. “They will be my people, and I will be their God.
  • Isaiah 52:9-11 – Be joyful, rejoice together, you ruins of Jerusalem! For Yahweh has comforted his people; he has redeemed Jerusalem. Yahweh has displayed his holy arm in the sight of all the nations; all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God. Leave, leave, go out from there! Do not touch anything unclean; go out from her, purify yourselves, you who carry the vessels of Yahweh.
  • Isaiah 43:5-6 – “Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your descendants from the east, and gather you from the west. “I will say to the north, ‘Give them up! ‘ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back! ‘ Bring my sons from far away, and my daughters from the ends of the earth —

Each of these promises has to do with the deliverance of the nation and a regathering of God’s people. By quoting a variety of Torah passages, this seems to me to indicate that Paul was teaching that his missionary efforts throughout ancient Europe, Greece and Asia were designed to fulfill these promises: that God would bring his people together from wherever they had been scattered due to previous captivities among the nations. Because this great re-gathering was underway, they were to abstain from all unclean activities to remain pure and holy before God in the day of this great fulfillment of these prophecies.

The reason that this perspective gets overlooked is because where these types of promises are mentioned, believers have always been looking for a physical restoration to the physical land. By Paul using this collection of quotations rather than a single reference is an example of how the gathering of God’s people was to be a spiritual event based on these principles. Israel came out of Egypt into a land of their own. Israel was brought back to their land after a captivity in Babylon. These examples that they were familiar with indicate a principle of a collective of all who were willing to come to the God of the Bible in spirit and in truth out of the worldliness around them. As Paul applied these passages and principles, this was an indication of the great Second Exodus, a mixed multitude leaving the idolatry of their various cultures by becoming holy and set apart for God’s use in his kingdom.

Because this was a spiritual calling and gathering of God’s people, the emphasis for believers to remain holy and set apart is just as valid and relevant in our modern culture as it was in the days of the Second Exodus of the New Testament. We too, as believers in Messiah, can be considered among the sons and daughters of the Almighty. Because of these great and precious prophetic examples and promises, we too should take to heart the admonition of Paul to those early believers:

2 Corinthians 7:1 – So then, dear friends, since we have these promises, let us cleanse ourselves from every impurity of the flesh and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear 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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

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

The lamp of God

Being created in God’s image, it makes sense that his stamp is embossed within us.

Being created in God’s image, it makes sense that his stamp is embossed within us.

Proverbs 20:27 – The spirit of man is Yahweh’s lamp, searching all his innermost parts.

Different English renderings of this verse appear to be unsure of how exactly to render this unusual phrase.

  • New International Version: The human spirit is the lamp of the LORD that sheds light on one’s inmost being.
  • New Living Translation: The LORD’s light penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive.
  • Amplified Bible: The spirit (conscience) of man is the lamp of the LORD, Searching and examining all the innermost parts of his being.
  • Contemporary English Version: Our inner thoughts are a lamp from the LORD, and they search our hearts.
  • Good News Translation: The LORD gave us mind and conscience; we cannot hide from ourselves.

Is Yahweh somehow invading our personal human spirit, or is it speaking of the human spirit in general? Is it speaking of our mind, conscience, or inner thoughts?

The spirit of man is using the term “neshamah,” or life-breath, for man. This term is closely associated with the word “ruach” which also is typically translated as spirit. In Hebrew thinking, the life-breath is something from God that animates us as individuals. This is evidenced when God created Adam.

Genesis 2:7 – And Yahweh God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life [neshamah]; and man became a living soul.

When the spirit departs, the body dies.

Ecclesiastes 12:7 – Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit [ruach] shall return unto God who gave it.

The term “adam” can be speaking of an individual or the entire human race. I think we can get some direction here from another familiar passage as well:

John 1:9 – The true light that enlightens everyone was coming into the world.

There is a light that enlightens every person (all people: adam); it is called the Word, or the Spirit of God. Because of it’s association with the first chapter of John, most people assume that the Word is Yeshua. In one sense, that is true, because he was called by John “the Word made flesh.” He was so completely filled with and obedient to the Spirit of God that they were indistinguishable.

But John says this same light enlightens everyone, and this passage in Proverbs, written a millennia prior to John, is saying the same thing: the lamp of Yahweh is somehow connected to the spirit of all people. We have stumbled in our English Bibles at trying to describe it as conscience or inner thoughts, but the fact is that since all mankind (adam) is created in God’s image, we all have a connection to the Creator of all.

The writer of Hebrews takes this even further by describing how the Word of God, his eternal Spirit, is active within us.

Hebrews 4:12-13 For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and laid open before the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

I can’t think of a more precise explanation of how the lamp of Yahweh searches the innermost parts of our being. As believers, our call to holiness is heightened by recognizing that somehow God is active within the depths of every person. We are set apart by continually growing in obedience to his Word, his Spirit.

I recognize this is not commonly accepted theology, but it is what the Bible records describe when we understand them within their cultural context. I believe this is why believers gravitate to the Bible, what we also call the Word of God, because it was conveyed to mankind through that same Spirit of God. As we recognize the Voice speaking to us from its pages, we are drawn closer to understanding the God of the universe and his desire for all men to come to him, as well.


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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

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

The unique prayer life of God’s children

We have work to do, not stuff to get.

We have work to do, not stuff to get.

Matthew 6:9 “Pray then in this way:…”

People pray in many different ways to many different gods. Prayer is so ubiquitous that it appears to be a practice that is hard-wired into the human psyche.

What sets believers in Messiah apart from all others is not just that we pray, but that we should be praying to the one true God in a certain way with a certain focus and understanding that others do not have. When asked of his disciples for teaching on prayer, Yeshua’s answer provides a rich storehouse of wisdom in practice.

Yeshua understood that people of all nations pray but are typically using many empty words to no purpose, other than, I suppose, making themselves feel better. However, he encourages a specific way of praying that has purpose and direction. He provides a model prayer that demonstrates simplicity and humility.

First, where and how we pray are both important: our place of prayer should be a place of privacy apart from others to demonstrate sincerity in speaking only with God, and not for the sake of appearing over-righteous to others.

Prayer should be offered directly to God, addressing him as a loving Father, not as some vengeful deity who needs to be appeased. We need to recognize that even though God exists beyond this reality, he is still accessible and active here, as well. He is set apart from all other gods and his character illustrates his uniqueness.

Our primary focus in prayer should be for God’s reign to be recognized by all upon this earth, and in so doing, his will would come to pass in this reality in the same way it is accomplished in the heavenly realm. This is the unique nature of the prayer practice of those who would consider themselves Yeshua’s disciples. Everything in our lives should center around God’s kingdom, not ours.

Even when praying for our own needs that arise each day, Yeshua reminds us our focus should still be on others, forgiving those who have wronged us, just as we have committed wrongs against our heavenly Father. If we expect him to forgive us of our shortcomings, we need to have the same level of concern for others.

Our prayers for personal desires should be primarily intent on the avoidance of being led astray and succumbing to the desires of this world above the needs of the kingdom. Praying just for things we want is not always in the best interest of the kingdom.

When we pray in this way, our lives become set apart from others because we are not just praying for stuff and things, but for God’s glory and honor to be manifest in this place and time, and to recognize his will is more important than ours. When this becomes our guiding purpose, then his will can and will be accomplished on this earth through us.


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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

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

Being intentional with God’s Word

Being regularly engaged with God’s word in meaningful ways is what sets us apart for his will.

Core of the Bible podcast #68 – Being intentional with God’s Word

Today we will be looking at the topic of holiness, and how being regularly engaged with God’s word in meaningful ways is what sets us apart for his will.

Psalm 1:1-2 – “Blessed is the person who does not follow the advice of wicked people, take the path of sinners, or join the company of mockers. Rather, he delights in the teachings of Yahweh and reflects on his teachings day and night.”

A life that is set apart in holiness has its roots in the diligent study of torah, or the instruction, of Yahweh. This constant input of God’s teachings is what generates within us a desire to do what honors him and directs us to deal fairly with others. Since we are commanded to be holy, a practical understanding of what it means to “meditate” or “reflect on” his teachings can benefit our spiritual growth and nourishment.

Firstly, if our review of God’s instruction is to be constant, it must be comprehensive. We should be reviewing all of God’s word on a regular basis, not just cherry-picking our favorite verses. At a minimum we should be reviewing all of the Bible at least once a year.

There are many different ways this can be accomplished in today’s world. In our day and culture, at least here in America, we have a large variety of versions and translations to choose from. We also have many different media options from print, to online, to apps for our mobile devices. We have audio versions and video versions that can be listened to and viewed regularly. If any generation has the ability to be steeped in God’s word, it is our current information-rich society.

Typically, one of these through-the-year plans will have daily readings each including a portion of the Old Testament, Psalms, and the New Testament. When broken down into bite-size pieces like this, it is easily achievable to read the entire Bible in only 15 or so minutes a day.

The problem that can be encountered with these plans comes when some unavoidable event comes up that causes the reader to lose a day or a couple of days. Getting caught up to get back on track becomes more and more challenging with each passing day, and eventually it is just easier to give up. Part of this stems from the versions that list the actual date for each passage to be read, and once a few days are lost or we get behind, it can be a struggle to keep up. I find it’s easier to use a plan that doesn’t have dates attached to each reading, therefore, if a day or two is missed, it just takes a couple of days longer than a year to complete the entire Bible.

My favorite method is based on a chart that was created by the para-ministry Young Life, and it breaks all of the passages down by the genre of content on each day of the week rather than by simply Old or New Testament each day. This way, there is more consistency and variety throughout each week.

Now over the years I have modified this method for my own preference, but as an example, on Sundays I read through the books of Moses. Mondays and Tuesdays are prophecy, Wednesdays are the Apocryphal books, Thursdays and Fridays are historical books, and Sabbath is New Testament. Additionally, each day I read a portion from Proverbs and Psalms in an ongoing rotation throughout the year. I have had the most success with this method, as it has the variety I need, but also the consistency of regularity that works with my daily and weekly routine.

Whatever plan one chooses, just take it one day at a time to continue or create a daily routine. There really is no excuse to not engage regularly with God’s Word for believers in today’s day and age, other than not having the discipline to do so, which leads to the next point.

Secondly, our review should be intentional. We have to set apart time each day to be successful. Like any relationship, there has to be constant interaction in order for the relationship to grow. The psalmist uses the language of “day and night” to convey the constancy of this meditation in God’s word.

Again, my personal practice is that my morning time is when I can most focus on my relationship with God and my deeper thinking about theological issues. I’m typically up really early while the rest of the family is sleeping so I have the quiet time I need to focus. For other people, late at night might be the best for them, after the events of the day have calmed down and everyone else in the household goes to bed.

All I know is that for me, personally, if the day gets going before I have had my quiet time, I rarely have another opportunity throughout the day and I am usually so tired by the evening that I am straight off to bed.

Setting aside whatever time works for you is critical to the success of this type of commitment to read through the Bible. If you do not have a routine, you are less likely to keep going.

Additionally, with a quiet time routine, your mind and body are more likely to remain engaged with it because it becomes a natural part of who you are and what you do. I look forward to my quiet time each day because I enjoy spending time with God in his Word, but if I don’t make the time for that interaction to take place, it rarely happens on its own.

Thirdly, this daily review of God’s Word should be meaningful. We need to be critically engaged with God’s instruction. What do I mean by this? Essentially, we need to be thinking about what it is that we are reading: who was this written to? When was it written? What is the goal of the author in writing this material? These are the types of things that help us begin to understand the overarching narratives that become evident as we gather information on the whole of the Bible and not just our favorite comfortable passages.

It’s popular today to do some form of Bible journaling, where one comes to the Bible with markers and pens, ready to note any insights that may become apparent in that daily reading. Using this type of approach helped me begin to see many of the connections throughout the Bible, how it is essentially “hyper-linked” between passages and quotations throughout. In fact, at one point, my marked-up Bible became so worn that pages began to fall out. Some wonderful friends in the congregation surprised me by taking the time and expense to have it rebound for me as a gift so I could continue to use it as the valuable reference tool it had become.

The more comprehensive our understanding is of all of God’s Word, the more clarity we can gain on his overall purpose and goal for humanity within his Creation. When we have a better grasp of his purpose and goals, then we also have more understanding on his expectations of us as individuals, and we become empowered to bear fruit for him.

A comprehensive understanding of the Bible helps us realize that God desires people to rule over his Creation as his representatives, but they have constantly rejected his authority and suffered the due consequences of that rejection. He then chose one nation, Israel, to be an example and a light to the rest of the world. The Bible is their record of the experiences they encountered on that journey with God. Through their example and his interactions with them, we learn of how God desires to interact with all people.

Coming to conclusions like this can only be gained by continual and deep reflection on the context of the original writings of Scripture. Rather than looking for a meaningful verse that just sounds good, or simply passing popular scripture memes on social media, the life of true faith in the God of the Bible is one that seeks to understand not only what the Bible says this life is about, but how it is to be lived to best honor our Creator.

Finally, while there are different learning styles, we can have various levels of meaningful engagement depending on how we choose to interact with the Word. Most people do this through reading. This engages one level of our critical insight. If one comes to the Bible to read and to journal or take physical notes, our comprehension begins to grow on a couple of levels. By reading and taking notes while listening to an audio version, our comprehension grows on multiple levels. The key is to recognize that God has provided his Word for a reason, and it’s the most important reason in the world: so we can know him. If doing additional things besides just reading sounds too difficult and challenging, then at least reading or listening to the Word on a regular basis can continually familiarize the believer with its content.

Here are a couple of other ideas for helping our understanding grow:

  • When we study, we can read the word out loud, interacting through sight, speech and hearing.
  • We can select different versions or parallel Bibles to keep the variety of expressions fresh, and our understanding broadened by the subtle variations in versions.
  • By committing meaningful passages to memory and reciting them over and over (i.e., “hiding God’s word in our heart,” Psalm 119:11), we have our most intimate and meaningful application of this engagement.

Through all of this, I would hope that you have at least one takeaway from today’s information, and that is that whatever method works for you in spending time with the God of the Bible, your diligence in that effort sets you apart from the rest of the world who is simply trying to find their own way based on what seems best to them at the time. This being set apart, this holiness, is what God wants for his people, because he does desire our continual spiritual growth in knowing him and in our fruitful work in helping others.

In what ways can you be more engaged with God’s instruction? Perhaps experimenting with different levels of interacting with his word through the media options available to us can provide fresh perspective and renewed insight. The more intentional we are in learning from his guidance, the more set apart and available for his purposes we become.


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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

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

Set apart through simplicity

When we make the Word of God our singular focus, we become holy.

When we make the Word of God our singular focus, we become holy.

Matthew 6:2-23 – “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light within you is darkness, how deep is that darkness!”

Yeshua’s teachings are filled with simplicity and transparency.

  • Love Yahweh your God with all your heart, mind and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself.
  • Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
  • Don’t criticize others unfairly.
  • Don’t be hypocritical.
  • Let your yes be yes and your no be no.

The life that seeks to honor God is not a complicated one. It is a life that is lived in equity with others and in abiding by the simple direction of God.

In the Hebraic worldview, having a good or evil eye represents what one focuses on. In the Bible version represented above, Yeshua encourages his followers to have a healthy or good eye. But as is typically the case, the underlying Greek phrasing brings out some color into this basic black and white English rendering. According to the Helps Word Studies, this word means: “unfolded, single – literally, “without folds” … referring to a single (undivided) focus, i.e. without a (secret) “double agenda” which prevents an over-complicated life (becoming needlessly distracted).”

It is commonly understood that having too many objectives in life can be overwhelming, and source of great stress and anxiety. On top of the typical stresses of earning a living, managing family concerns and taking care of ourselves, in our modern culture we have added the constant distraction of juggling an online presence, being consumed by messages and notifications, pulling us away from our real life into another level of digital schizophrenia. This exemplifies the darkness of the eye that is bad, the effects of wicked, malicious, or slothful attention that result in obscurity of meaning and purpose.

By contrast, Yeshua encourages simplicity and singleness of focus and direction. This is what brings peace and purpose into our lives and makes us holy. When we have the correct sense of purpose, it’s as if our whole body becomes full of light. We have the ability to plan effectively and to accomplish so much more for God and for the kingdom when our priorities are right and we have a clear sense of direction.

We must discipline ourselves to remain focused on what’s important: the teachings of Yeshua and the Word of God. As we apply that type of clear direction in our lives, we simplify our approach to living life, and become the set apart people God desires us to be.


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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

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

Separated for a purpose

Holiness is the evidence of the salvation God provides.

Holiness is the evidence of the salvation God provides.

Leviticus 20:23, 26 – “You shall not follow the practices of the nation that I am driving out before you. Because they did all these things, I abhorred them. … ‘Thus you are to be holy to Me, for I Yahweh am holy; and I have set you apart from the peoples to be Mine.”

All throughout the book of Leviticus, God reiterates over and over how his people were to be distinct from the people around them. They were to avoid copying their religious practices and social customs. Yahweh says, “Because they did all these things, I abhorred them.” And yet, as the history of Israel unfolds, we find that they stubbornly continued the idolatrous practices that eventually led to God removing them from their land by the Assyrians and Babylonians.

2 Kings 16:6-8 – “In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria captured Samaria; he carried the Israelites away to Assyria. He placed them in Halah, on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. This occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They had worshiped other gods and walked in the customs of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel, and in the customs that the kings of Israel had introduced.”

The same God still desires his people to be holy and set apart today. Yet there appears to be an ongoing desire to participate in the customs of the people around us. It is no longer just a mild or sporadic resistance to certain aspects of obedience to God, but now flagrant disregard for the commandments and practices that should be setting us apart. God has provided the commandments as a way of protecting his people from the harm that comes from these destructive practices, and yet it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish God’s people from the rest of the nations.

Fearful of appearing to be legalists, God’s people instead go along with the cultural and societal practices under the guise of “reaching out” to others, or simply out of ignorance. Believers have been taught for so long that the law of God has been “done away” in Messiah, that they have adopted an “anything goes” mentality instead of maintaining a purposeful separation from the harmful practices of our societies.

Understanding why God wanted his people separate can help: God’s people are his, and bear his name in this world.

Leviticus 20:26 – “You shall be holy to me; for I the Lord am holy, and I have separated you from the other peoples to be mine.”

When we recognize our lives as believers are not our own, we begin to understand that God has rightful authority to direct us and that he does so because he cares for us and wants to rescue us completely from the worldliness around us. The longer we resist his authority and instead choose our own paths, the longer we will remain in conditions he never desired for us to be in.


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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

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

You become like what you worship

This principle applies to people of all nations.

Within the revelation provided to the apostle John, we get a glimpse of a scene in heaven with the saints extolling the majesty and holiness of the one true God.

Revelation 15:2-4 – And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb: “Great and amazing are your deeds, Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, King of the nations! Lord, who will not fear and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your judgments have been revealed.”

In this scene, those who had been brought through the trials of the tribulation predicted by Messiah now stand before the throne of God, worshiping him. They describe him as the one who alone is holy because of his “amazing deeds” and “judgments” which had been revealed.

The outworking of these judgments within the Revelation are a demonstration of God’s holiness, his set-apartness from all other gods. He alone could rightfully carry out the actions that are represented there because it had all come to pass due to the failure of his people to honor him.

There is a principle revealed throughout the Bible that ties the holiness of believers to their worship of the one true God. Just like the saying that relates “you are what you eat,” the biblical principle is “you become like the one you worship.”

1 Kings 11:2 – “Of the nations concerning which the Lord said unto the children of Israel, You shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods…”

The apostle John admonishes his audience to reject the false gods of this world.

1 John 2:16 – For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

If we worship the false gods of this world, the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life, we will become consumed with them in our daily lives. This is why the Bible in so many different ways condemns these things, from the Ten Commandments through the Sermon on the Mount. This is why this song in Revelation can be titled “the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb.”

However, if we worship the one true God, since he is holy and set apart, we become holy and set apart. This is not only the result of our worship, but is a commandment which becomes a statement of fact of the reality of our lives:

Leviticus 20:26 – And you shall be holy unto me: for I, Yahweh, am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine.

Romans 11:16 – For if the first-fruit is holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root is holy, so are the branches.

Our holiness is a derived holiness from God, it is not something we manufacture or invent within ourselves as if it were some sort of way that we could make up to try to please him. Our holiness becomes evident only when we produce fruit in keeping with his commandments because we are single-mindedly focused on pleasing him. Our devotion to him drives the holiness in our lives.

And the holiness in our lives drives the nations to worship him, also. As they see the separateness of our lives that are devoted to him, they learn of his deeds that he has performed on behalf of his people. We can then say with the saints in heaven, “Just and true are your ways, King of the nations! Lord, who will not fear and glorify your name?”

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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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.
Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.
Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.