Bringing faith to completion through perseverance

The trial and proof of your faith are one and the same.

James 1:2-4, 12 – “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. … Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”

According to the first verse in this epistle, James is writing to the twelve tribes of Israel in the Dispersion. These are the scattered Israelites who were the descendants of those who had been taken captive during the Assyrian and Babylonian campaigns to overthrow Israel roughly six hundred years previous. Some of them had attempted to maintain their Hebraic identity, but most had been assimilated into the cultures of the nations to which they were taken. James is writing to them as a believer in the Messiah; this is a call to return to the faith of their fathers with the fulfillment of the restoration of Israel through faith in Messiah.

In living among the pagan nations, they experienced many trials in attempting to live as Hebrew believers in the one true God. James addresses this as the primary issue they faced, but he does so in a way to encourage them that these trials actually demonstrate the truth of their faith. Though their faith was being tested, it was also being proven. The word for testing also serves to illustrate the proof of that faith. As they remained vigilant and steadfast in their faith, the quality of their faith was being proven to those around them.

This steadfastness of faith is a term derived from the original Greek which means “to remain under.” It is sometimes translated as endurance or perseverance. It illustrates that their faith was being proven as they remained under the pressure of the trial.

This is a similar characteristic that the apostle Paul mentions in his letter to the Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 10:13 – No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

James takes this endurance a step further by saying that the endurance or perseverance during trials provides a completeness to one’s faith; it’s as if the faith is lacking something until it actually undergoes a trial to see if it is genuine. In doing so, one receives the crown of life, the reward of the victor through conquest. In the culture of the day, the wreath or crown was only awarded to the athlete who endured through the contest of strength and overcame the adversity by persevering above all others. However, in the spiritual contest of the new believers in Messiah, their reward was life itself, not just a wreath to adorn their heads.

We today are in a similar situation as those scattered Israelite descendants of long ago. We have echoes of a spiritual heritage that has become enmeshed with the culture around us. Yet, through the same faith in Messiah, we are tasked with demonstrating a perseverance in that faith which results in a continuation of that same life that has been provided throughout the intervening millennia, “the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”


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 most intimidating woman in the Bible

How do we measure up?

In reading the last chapter of the Proverbs of Solomon, we encounter a description of the wife of noble character. This outline provides an intimidating look at a woman who is faithful to her husband (v. 11-12), helps provide for her family (v. 27) and reaches out to others in need (v.20).

While this woman has intimidated many wives throughout history and continues to do so today, I think we can glean a bit more wisdom in this description if we look at her as being representative of how a faithful wife interacts with her family and those around her, and not a description of a real person. More importantly, I think we gain clarity when we see that this passage describes the wife that God has called to himself: those in the Kingdom of God.

Isaiah 54:5 – “Indeed, your husband is your Maker — his name is Yahweh of Armies — and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of the whole earth.

Jeremiah 3:14 – ” ‘Return, you faithless children ​– ​this is Yahweh’s declaration ​– ​for I am your husband, and I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.

Hosea 2:16, 19-20 – In that day — this is Yahweh’s declaration — you will call me, “My husband,” and no longer call me, “My Lord.” … I will take you to be my wife forever. I will take you to be my wife in righteousness, justice, love, and compassion. I will take you to be my wife in faithfulness, and you will know Yahweh.

Revelation 21:2 – I also saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.

The vigilance of the wife of God is evident in this passage in Proverbs 31, as we see all of the noble and positive characteristics of this woman. She works with willing hands, rising while it is still dark to provide food for her family, working late into the evening making clothing for her household. She invests in vineyard production, and demonstrates strength in all things.

Proverbs 31:29 – “Many women have done noble deeds, but you surpass them all! “

This surpassing of all other women demonstrates how this “super-woman” is a representative ideal and not an historical individual. Her vigilance in all things is captured in a few lines:

Proverbs 31:25-27 – Strength and honor are her clothing, and she can laugh at the time to come. Her mouth speaks wisdom, and loving instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the activities of her household and is never idle.

If this is the case, can we say that this picture describes us, those whom God has chosen to represent him in this generation? Do we act with strength and honor, or do we give up when things get difficult? Do we speak wisdom and loving instruction or are we constantly talking others down? Are we watching over our household (i.e., kingdom) activities with diligence, or are we idly letting it go its own way?

The woman of Proverbs 31 is not just an intimidating character for wives, but when rightly understood as the representative ideal for God’s people, she stands to challenge us all to be our best at all times for him.


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 immense but achievable responsibility of believers

Being faithful requires constant, intentional commitment.

Philippians 2:12-13 – Therefore, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who is working in you both to will and to work according to his good purpose.

Many times this passage is reviewed by looking only at verse 12 regarding the working out of one’s own salvation, and stopping short of verse 13. But verse 13 is the engine behind the ignition key of verse 12, because Paul is conveying that the work that was being done was actually God working in them according to his good purpose.

This passage touches on the duality of the believer’s existence: seeking to be a conduit for the outworking of God in both principle and action. The way to accomplish this effectively, according to Paul, is to do this “with fear and trembling.” I have a sense that many believers today have either lost this sense or never been instructed in it in the first place. This fear and trembling is a principle which conveys that we need to be thoughtful and circumspect in our lives, considering the gravity and eternal impact of our actions upon ourselves, our families, and others.

To be a believer in the Messiah carries with it a strong purpose which demands constancy and vigilance in intentional living. It means making choices for righteousness in situations that may not be the consideration of others who are not believers. Sometimes it means sacrificing elements of comfort or ease for the sake of others. Many times our time, energy, and resources will be spent for the sake of someone else.

All through this epistle, Paul is conveying the principles of this way of life to the Philippian believers.

For example, he touches on the principle of understanding what is right:

Philippians 1:9-11 – And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment, so that you may approve the things that are superior and may be pure and blameless in the day of Messiah, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Yeshua Messiah to the glory and praise of God.

He also shares the responsibility they have in suffering for doing what’s right:

Philippians 1:29-30 – For it has been granted to you on Messiah’s behalf not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are engaged in the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I have.

These were real experiences based on real decisions that they had to make every day that played into their experiences as believers in Messiah.

Now while all of this may sound very heavy and burdensome, we can also be encouraged from their example, as Paul was convinced of God’s ability to bring all righteousness to pass. He encouraged them that once the work that was begun in them was underway, it would ultimately come to fulfillment.

Philippians 1:6 – I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Messiah Yeshua.

If Paul is to be believed, the “working out” of their salvation was indeed accomplished. They had proven faithful in what he had taught them regarding the faith once received for all the saints, as Jude calls it (Jude 1:3).

If we learn nothing else from the early believers in Messiah, the life of faith was one of constant struggle and commitment with real consequences. This required a whole level of commitment that I believe is rarely seen among modern believers today. It is up to us to demonstrate the same vigilance in outworking the principles of righteousness in this generation. And even if we don’t yet have a full understanding of all that God expects of us, we have this continuing encouragement from Paul as a guiding principle:

Philippians 3:16 – In any case, we should live up to whatever truth we have attained.


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.

Which teachings in the Bible should we focus on the most?

God’s word directs us and establishes us in the correct paths that we may remain faithful and fruitful for God’s kingdom.

Core of the Bible podcast #60 – Which teachings in the Bible should we focus on the most?

Today we will be looking at the topic of vigilance, and how the quality of our walk with God will be directly proportionate to the amount of time we spend with God understanding and meditating on his commands. But just which commands are the most fruitful to focus our time and energy on?

In one of the most famous (and the longest) chapter in the Bible, we can gain some understanding of this principle.

Psalm 119:133 – Make my steps secure through your words, and do not let any wrongdoing control me.

Psalm 119:148 – I am awake through each watch of the night to meditate on your words.

If we take the immediate, surface meaning of each verse, we can see that abiding by God’s words makes our steps secure, they are firm and established on right principles. When we take the right steps, we will not be allowing any wrongdoing to control us; our sinful actions will be brought under the authority of the words of God.

Additionally, we can see the vigilance with which the psalmist illustrates the frequency with which we should be associated with the words of God. He states that he is “awake through each watch of the night” to meditate on God’s words.

Now a watch of the night is generally considered to be three hours, such as 6-9 pm; 9-midnight; midnight to 3 am; and 3-6 am. Of course, these are estimates since timekeeping devices were rude and not as accurate as our timepieces today. However, through the use of gravity water clocks or other visual star-based tools, general timekeeping could be maintained throughout the night and defined these various watches.

Regardless of the method, the result is that the psalmist relates how passionate he is to mediate on the commands of God, “through each watch of the night.” That is a commitment that few of us may realize today.

Now beyond the surface meanings which we can take away from these verses, I found an interesting underlying principle in the use of the Hebrew text where the word is translated either as word, or commands, or promise of God. Now, to me, these all have different meanings, so I wanted to try to understand more fully the intent of what is being described here and how it applies to the surface meaning we just discussed.

Now some of the English versions will translate the Hebrew for “words” as “promise,” as in “Make my steps secure through your promise…” However, as the the Keil and Delitzcsh commentary states: “imrah is not merely a “promise” in this instance, but the declared will of God in general.”

Is the “declared will of God” the same as the word of God?

I think we use the term “word of God” a bit loosely in our modern vernacular, meaning anything from the whole Bible, to a specific text, to the name of Messiah, to a personal prophecy one claims to receive. In my own writings, I will typically interchangeably use Word or Word of God with Torah, or the instruction of God. But in this case, I think we need to refine this distinction a little further.

When it comes to good and fruitful Bible study, I find it really helps to define terms and to follow those terms throughout various passages to see how they are applied and what kind of contexts they occur in.  When we simply assume what a phrase means, we can many times inadvertently assign the incorrect meaning to a passage.

Looking at the two verses in Psalm 119 where this term occurs, it is actually a Hebrew phrase (beimratecha) that only occurs in this form in these two verses. The first is how following it keeps us firmly away from wrongdoing, and the second is that if we are passionate about it, we will meditate on it at all times.

Now Hebrew words have base forms that establish a root of a word, and most times we can gain a broader understanding of a word or passage by looking at the root word in different contexts. In this case, the root for beimratecha is imrah. We saw how the Keil and Delitzsch commentary defined this as the “declared will of God.” Yet, when we look at how imrah is used in other contexts, we begin to see a different emphasis. Here are some examples:

Genesis 4:23 – Lamech said to his wives: Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; wives of Lamech, pay attention to my words [imrah]. For I killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me.

Deuteronomy 32:2 – Let my teaching fall like rain and my word [imrah] settle like dew, like gentle rain on new grass and showers on tender plants.

Psalm 17:6 – I call on you, God, because you will answer me; listen closely to me; hear what I say [imrah].

First of all, we can notice how these examples having nothing to do with the word of God per se, but with the spoken words of each of these individuals: Lamech, Moses and David. So this word imrah gives us the idea of speech or spoken words.

Every other instance of this Hebrew root-word imrah relates to to the word or words of God, and almost all occur throughout the psalms.

In one sense, we know that all true prophecy is ultimately from God, however, it was spoken (and written down) by men, even spoken by Yeshua.

2 Peter 1:20-21 – Above all, you know this: No prophecy of Scripture comes from the prophet’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Hebrews 1:1-2 – Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, he has spoken to us in his Son…

This fascinates me, and makes me think of what words were specifically spoken by God, what words are the result of God’s actual speaking to his people?

I think you may know where I am going with this, because there are only a few specific instances where it is said God spoke decisively to the assembled group of people at once, where they directly heard the voice of God: Sinai and in the ministry of Yeshua.

Let’s look firstly at Sinai.

Exodus 20:1 – Then God spoke all these words: [and the passage goes on to list the Ten Commandments].

This incredible revelatory event freaked out the people so much that they begged for Moses to receive the instruction from God and relate it to them, but not for God to speak to them any longer.

Exodus 20:19 – “You speak to us, and we will listen,” they said to Moses, “but don’t let God speak to us, or we will die.”

This instance of God speaking directly to the entire congregation has a large emphasis throughout Hebrew thought even to this day. Jewish rabbinic lore even suggests that after every commandment spoken by God, the whole congregation physically died, and God brought them back to life each time. There are also legends that say all the people actually saw the voice or the soundwaves of God’s voice, and that it reverberated through the entirety of their bodies, through every atom or molecule.

While we may view these legends as fanciful embellishments to the story, they nevertheless present a basis for understanding just how significant an event this was in the life of Israel, and indeed, the world. God spoke directly to them, and the words he spoke were the Ten Commandments.

If we now revert to our study of the word imrah and view these passages as focused primarily on the spoken words of God, we find that the “word” that the psalmists focus on as being the primary way of keeping from sin is the spoken instruction of God: the Ten Commandments.

Psalm 12:6 – The words [imrah] of Yahweh are pure words [imrah], like silver refined in an earthen furnace, purified seven times.

Psalm 18:30 – God ​– ​his way is perfect; the word [imrah] of Yahweh is pure. He is a shield to all who take refuge in him.

These instances of God’s spoken word make an interesting study. If we consider that the primary instruction that is spoken of as being the meditation of the righteous and the ensuring of avoiding sin is the Ten Commandments, we can see that an in-depth appreciation and ongoing evaluation of God’s words to his people has much benefit. The Ten Commandments are the basis of all of God’s word to his people, and the path to life that even Yeshua speaks of when asked of a bystander.

Matthew 19:17-19 – “‘… If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.’  ‘Which ones?’ he asked him. Yeshua answered: ‘Do not murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother; and love your neighbor as yourself.'”

Yeshua validates the keeping of the imrah, the spoken words of God that were known to his audience, but what of the other spoken words of God? The gospels reveal some other instances that we can also draw inspiration from.


At the beginning of the public ministry of Yeshua, John the baptizer received a sign that Yeshua was the One whom he had the privilege of revealing to Israel.

John 1:32-34 – And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and he rested on him. “I didn’t know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The one you see the Spirit descending and resting on ​– ​he is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ “I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”

The text is not clear that everyone else also saw the Spirit of God descending on him, but Matthew, Mark and Luke make it clear that God did make a spoken announcement at the same time to ensure everyone knew of the significance of Yeshua.

Matthew 3:16-17 – When Yeshua was baptized, he went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on him. And a voice from heaven said: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased.”

Mark 1:10-11 – As soon as he came up out of the water, he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well-pleased.”

Luke 3:21-22 – When all the people were baptized, Yeshua also was baptized. As he was praying, heaven opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in a physical appearance like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well-pleased.”

So, these examples are from the beginning of Yeshua’s ministry and establish validity for the works and teaching of Yeshua over the course of the next three and a half years.

There still remains another instance where the spoken word of God is mentioned, and that is at the conclusion of Yeshua’s ministry.

John 12:26-30 – “If anyone serves me, he must follow me. Where I am, there my servant also will be. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.  “Now my soul is troubled. What should I say ​– ​Father, save me from this hour? But that is why I came to this hour. “Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”  The crowd standing there heard it and said it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”  Yeshua responded, “This voice came, not for me, but for you.”

If the voice from heaven in these instances was indeed the voice of God heard by the assembled people, then it brings great significance to both the beginning of Yeshua’s ministry and the conclusion of it, validating who Yeshua was and also foretelling the glory that would be realized through his soon-coming crucifixion and resurrection.

This imrah or spoken words of God regarding his Son Yeshua presents a strong witness to the ministry of Yeshua and gives great weight to his teachings. In fact, Yeshua himself said repeatedly that he only taught whatever the Father instructed him to say.

John 12:49-50 – “For I have not spoken on my own, but the Father himself who sent me has given me a command to say everything I have said. “I know that his command is eternal life. So the things that I speak, I speak just as the Father has told me.”

John 14:10, 24 – “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who lives in me does his works. … “The one who doesn’t love me will not keep my words. The word that you hear is not mine but is from the Father who sent me.

If we agree that the teaching of Yeshua is the teaching of the Father, then I submit that the greatest summary of the Father’s teaching that Yeshua provides us is in the Sermon on the Mount. In the Sermon on the Mount, Yeshua admonished his hearers that all stumbling-blocks to righteousness must be removed from their lives with extreme diligence. He uses the powerful imagery of going to the extent of cutting off body parts to maintaining purity and vigilance in obedience to the commands of God if necessary (Matthew 5:29-30).

This level of vigilance now brings us full-circle to the meditation on the imrah or spoken words of God throughout the watches of the night, as the psalmist suggests. Vigilance involves extreme dedication exemplified by staying up all night to study and meditate, or to remove body parts that are used in sinful activities. It’s not that these are actual physical things that we could realistically do, but it’s having the same sense of tenacity and passion for the spoken words of God to do so in striving for obedience to God in all things.

This is why I conclude that the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount are the core of the Bible message; these are the two primary sources of the purest instruction from God that we have recorded for us in the Bible.

The principal ideas conveyed in these passages is that the word of God establishes our way, makes a firm place for us to walk when we are struggling with the vanity of our own efforts. It implies that, left to our own ways, we will ultimately exhaust ourselves, panting breathlessly with those things that have the sum value of zero in the end.

By contrast, God’s word through the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount protects us, directs us, establishes us in the correct paths that we may remain faithful and fruitful for God’s kingdom. Let’s remember the surface teachings of the two primary verses in Psalm 119: When we take the right steps, we will not be allowing any wrongdoing to control us; our sinful actions will be brought under the authority of the words of God. By aligning our lives by the admonition of God through these passages, we can experience the life that God has designed for mankind since the beginning of time, and so his Kingdom can be realized in real time on the earth.


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.

What is “the faith” we are to contend for?

Characteristics that should be evident in the lives of believers.

Jude 1:3-4 – Dear friends, although I was eager to write you about the salvation we share, I found it necessary to write, appealing to you to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all. For some people, who were designated for this judgment long ago, have come in by stealth; they are ungodly, turning the grace of our God into sensuality and denying Yeshua the Anointed One, our only Master and Lord.”

This passage has been well-known over the years as a rallying-point for believers to ensure they are holding fast to “the faith.” Jude clearly wanted to provide warning to those to whom he was writing about some ungodly people who had stealthily come among the true believers. They were those who rejected, denied, or contradicted the teaching of Yeshua, and were perverting the grace of God into brash and wantonly spiteful exhibitions of outrageous conduct, which he then goes on to describe in detail.

Jude is urging the “saints” or holy, set-apart ones to contend and struggle for the “commonly held” salvation, “the faith” that he says was entrusted or transmitted to them once. What is this “faith” or “salvation”? We should have a better understanding of it in order to know how to earnestly contend for it.

Well, we do know from the context of what it is not, as Jude describes in detail the sinful activities of those who had rejected the teaching of Yeshua. They were rebellious toward all authority, they bore no fruit, they were irreverent, living for themselves and whatever they could gain. They did not have the Spirit of God, and because of this they had no accurate spiritual discernment. Therefore, they distorted the truth of God into whatever suited their own desires, and yet mingled among the believers as if they were part of them, causing division.

From this summary we can review the opposites of these traits to see the aspects of those who hold the true faith. Those of the common faith accept and cling to the teaching of Yeshua. They willingly submit to all authority and demonstrate reverence toward God and others. They live for others, not themselves only, and bear much fruit for God. They possess the Spirit of God and pray earnestly, seeking to enhance their understanding to accurately discern the truth of God. They modify their behaviors based on the truth of God and seek the unity of God’s people and the love of God.

Jude encourages them further:

Jude 1:20-21 – But you, dear friends, as you build yourselves up in your most holy faith, praying in the holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting expectantly for the mercy of our Lord Yeshua, the Anointed One, for eternal life.

To build themselves up and to grow in the faith and to diligently struggle against those who were false is what Jude was urging these believers to do. In the same way, we should be equally passionate and committed to the truth of God, and to consistently and earnestly pray for guidance in being fruitful in accomplishing God’s will for us in this 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 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.

Vigilance in remaining pure

After coming to the truth, we need to continue in the truth.

2 Peter 3:13-15 – But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation…

This admonition of Peter to “those who have received a like faith as ours,” (2 Peter 1:1) is to remain vigilant in pursuing a spotless and blameless life, and by remaining on guard to not be carried away by rebellious men.

The spotlessness he speaks of hearkens back to the idea of the perfection of the sacrificial animal who was to be entirely clean and whole, or without defect.

Numbers 6:14 – “‘He shall present his offering to Yahweh: one male lamb a year old without defect for a burnt offering and one ewe-lamb a year old without defect for a sin offering and one ram without defect for a peace offering…”

This motif sets the principle in place that the believers were to view themselves as set apart like the sacrifices of the old covenant, remaining acceptable to God because of their wholeness in purity.

Other examples of this type of purity were encouraged by Paul to Timothy, along with the apostle James.

1 Timothy 6:12-14 – “Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Messiah Yeshua, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Yeshua Messiah…”

James 1:27 – “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”

1 Peter 1:18-19 – “knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Messiah.”

So Peter says the believers were to be found spotless, without any spot, stain, or blemish and also to be blameless. This can also be translated as unblameable, in the sense that their lives should be so exemplary that they could not be truly accused of defilement at any time. They were to be diligently pursuing this spotlessness and unblameable-ness so that they might be living in peace or tranquil assurance of their position before God.

Can that be said of believers today? Are we in vigilant pursuit of keeping ourselves from being stained by this world as James admonishes? If we were to be a sacrificial animal in ancient Israel, could we be selected as a substitutionary sacrifice because of our wholeness and purity?

Some might say, “I am in Messiah, therefore I am holy and blameless in him.” That may indeed be the case; however, that reality for believers today is not without responsibility to also continue to diligently walk in paths of undefilement and to remain in that state since we have come to know him and believe in him.

2 Peter 3:17-18 – “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand [i.e., that the patience of the Yahweh is salvation], be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of rebellious men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Yeshua Messiah..”

Too many people today claim to know him and yet don’t walk after him, believing that his cleansing of our sin is all they need and they can continue to live as they choose, or they excuse their licentiousness with false grace. These are those who have been “carried away by the error of rebellious men” as Peter concludes, and no longer walk according to the whole truth, only the part they want to, because it suits their preferences.

To those who have dropped their guard and fallen from steadfastness, who believe they are justified even in their continued waywardness and lack of discipline, I can only present the words of Yeshua:

Matthew 7:21-23 – “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.”


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.

How Yeshua describes his followers

There is no room for partial commitment.

John 8:30-32 – “As he was saying these things, many believed in him. So Yeshua said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'”

Yeshua says that in order to be his followers or disciples, one must abide in his word. What does this mean and how is it done?

Yeshua’s word is his teaching, the principles he sought to bring to the people of Israel from God. It is my belief that the bulk of Yeshua’s teaching is summarized in the Sermon on the Mount, but it includes all of his doctrinal statements throughout his public ministry among the Israelites.

John 8:40, 47 – “but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. … Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

Yeshua reiterated time and time again that the message he brought was from God, the Father. To abide in his word is to abide in the very teaching of God. When we are faithfully in the word, we can see how Yeshua’s teaching lines up in fulfillment with everything that God intended for his people.

The word abide is also a demonstration of the vigilance needed to be faithful in the word. It means to remain, to stay, or wait. Remaining in the word of Yeshua requires a great amount of fortitude and intention. Every day, we encounter challenges that can test our commitment to the word of God. Yeshua says that his disciples are the ones who stick it out and remain faithful regardless of what else may be going on in their lives.

Yeshua mentions two other benefits from remaining in his word: knowing the truth and being set free. The truth is a rare commodity these days, and having the confidence to assert and rely on the truthfulness of the word of God can be a welcome stabilizer in a sea of constantly shifting opinions.

There is also a freedom, not to do whatever we want, but a freedom from sin that allows us to obediently serve God. We have been set free to serve, and are now enabled to do so when we are disciples of Yeshua.

Are you a disciple of Yeshua, or are you instead a disciple of your pastor or church or denomination? Remaining vigilantly alert and aware in the word of God will free you from the hollow traditions and opinions of men and allow you to be empowered by the Spirit of God, bringing to life his very words in the presence of those who need to hear them most.


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 diligent in what matters most

Hard work always pays off.

Proverbs 21:5 The plans of the diligent surely lead to profit; and everyone who is hasty surely rushes to poverty.

The proverbs of Solomon are filled with admonitions to diligent labor and hard work, and the rewards that come thereby. The Hebrew word he uses is charutzim, the ones who are are sharp, decision-makers who are consistent in their efforts, determined and eager. Primarily, Solomon illustrates the natural rewards that result for those who are consistent and diligent in their work.

10:4 He becomes poor who works with a lazy hand, but the hand of the diligent brings wealth.
12:24 The hands of the diligent ones shall rule, but laziness ends in slave labor.
12:27 The slothful man doesn’t roast his game, but the possessions of diligent men are prized.
13:4 The soul of the sluggard desires, and has nothing, but the desire of the diligent shall be fully satisfied.

If we were to take advice from anyone regarding the wealth of this world, Solomon would be the most likely candidate, as he was one of the wealthiest men who ever lived. However, as highly as Solomon praised those who were diligent in their work, he also had some insights on something more valuable than wealth, more precious than silver and gold. If we believe he was trustworthy with his advice in estate planning, then perhaps we should pay attention to his lessons on that which is even more valuable.

3:13-14 Happy is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gets understanding. For her good profit is better than getting silver, and her return is better than fine gold.
8:1 Doesn’t wisdom cry out? Doesn’t understanding raise her voice?
8:10-11 Receive my instruction rather than silver, knowledge rather than choice gold. For wisdom is better than rubies. All the things that may be desired can’t be compared to it.

Solomon claims wisdom is of more value than the wealth of this world. So, a logical conclusion to be drawn from these passages is that if diligence in work has a high reward in the wealth of this world, how much more of a reward is available to those who are the charutzim, the diligent, eager, and determined ones who labor in the wisdom that God provides?

Psalm 119:66, 72 – Teach me good judgment and discernment, for I rely on your commands. … Instruction from your lips is better for me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.


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.

For believers, it’s always time to hit the gym

The key to any training program is to have a clear goal before you at all times.

1 Tim 4:7-10: “…Train yourself in godliness, for, while physical training is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and struggle, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.”

As Paul is writing to Timothy, he is revealing the level of discipline required of all believers. The goal, he says, is godliness; a word with ambiguous meaning today. Other English versions use words like righteousness, devotion, truly religious, piety. The Greek word is actually a compound of “well” and “venerate, pay homage.” So, to “well-venerate” implies a reverence and respect for God in all things.

Both Peter and Paul conveyed this concept throughout their writings:

Titus 1:1 – Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Yeshua Messiah, for the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness,
2 Peter 1:3 – His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
1 Timothy 2:1-3 – First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior…

Paul cautions Timothy that some people may appear to be godly, but will only appear that way. These types of hypocrites are to be avoided.

2 Timothy 3:2, 5 – For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, demeaning, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, … holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people.

Paul also says the teaching that promotes godliness is somehow connected or equated with the teaching of Yeshua. My personal belief is that the Sermon on the Mount goes into vivid detail on Yeshua’s view of the godly life that is sincere and reverent toward God and others.

Additionally, according to Paul, any doctrine that does not agree with with this teaching of godliness is to be considered false doctrine.

1 Timothy 6:3-6 – If anyone teaches false doctrine and does not agree with the sound teaching of our Lord Yeshua Messiah and with the teaching that promotes godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing..;.

But the key aspect of the godly, reverent lifestyle that Paul is conveying to Timothy is that training oneself in godliness is to be commended and practiced on a regular basis. Paul uses the phrase “…to this end we toil and struggle…”(literally, agonize) to convey the importance and dedication of his own efforts to attain the goal of godliness.

One of the study resources available online, the Discovery Bible’s Helps Word Studies, provides further insight into the word for training:

  • “…to train with one’s full effort, i.e. with complete physical, emotional force like when working out intensely in a gymnasium.”
  • exert intensely, like a pro-athlete
  • full discipline, necessary to be in “top working condition”
  • constant, rigorous training (exercise).
  • acquiring proficiency through practice – regular exercise with graduated resistance

Whatever this training is, it is intense and continual. It is to be practiced at all times and in all aspects of living. Having godly, reverent interactions with others at all times takes extreme effort and involves unceasing vigilance. The word also implies that the more it is practiced, the better one gets at exhibiting it.

Paul also reveals how and why he stays focused on this training in godliness: “because we have our hope set on the living God…” The key to any training program is to have a clear goal before you at all times, and if your goal, your hope, is on the living God, your life will, by default, become more godly and reverent in all aspects.

This is the struggle of believers everywhere: to become more godly. However, the more we succeed and grow toward that goal, the more that God and his kingdom becomes revealed to those around us. The more evident that God becomes, the more people can be drawn to him.

That is a goal worthy of intense and ongoing training, indeed.


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.

Communion with God

The deepest relationships are built over shared communication, not one-way conversations.

Psalm 5:1-3 – Listen to my words, Yahweh; consider my sighing. Pay attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for I pray to you. In the morning, Yahweh, you hear my voice; in the morning I plead my case to you and watch expectantly.

This psalm is attributed to David and is contextually a prayer for protection of the wickedness of his enemies. However, there is a common biblical principle embedded in the verses of this psalm that, if applied on a regular basis, can enhance our communication with God.

At the end of verse 3, David says, “in the morning I plead my case to you and watch expectantly.” This Hebrew word translated as expectantly is sometimes rendered as “look up, eagerly watch, look forward, or look out expectantly.” The definition of the word means, “to lean forward, i.e., to peer into the distance; by implication, to observe, await.” The idea is to present an earnest request to God and then to eagerly wait for an answer. It’s not as if one prays and then goes about their usual business, but instead after praying they remain or immediately go to a place where they intently wait for a response from God, not doing any other activities until they have heard from him.

In the time of the prophet Habakkuk, God was raising up the Chaldeans against unfaithful Israel, and Habakkuk would pray to God and then God would answer him in a reciprocal fashion; this became the text of the prophecy and the outline of the book. However, this same Hebrew word is used again as Habakkuk delivers his plea to Yahweh, and then describes his time of waiting for an answer:

Habakkuk 2:1 – I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.

Habakkuk committed himself to “look out” to see how God would respond, and to formulate his next response. It is my belief that this type of back-and-forth communication is something that God desires to have with all of his children. Yet we typically become so distracted with the things of this life that, after presenting a request or question to God, we run off and go about our business hoping to somehow receive some sort of subconscious sign or indication of God’s response to us. In that self-induced busy-ness, I think we sometimes miss what he actually does respond to us, and we assume that his “silence” on a matter is an indication that he has left us to our own devices.

We need to slow down and savor our relationship with our Creator. We don’t build real relationships with other people over text or messaging or “tweeting.” For those who are important to us in this life, we carve out time in our days and evenings to spend time with them, sharing activities and long conversations with them. The back-and-forth discussions provide insights into each other’s thoughts and emotions that actually bind us to each other.

If we truly want to have a relationship with God, we must do the same. We need to provide some room in our days and nights to spend quality time alone with him, bringing him our concerns, praying over difficult scripture passages, seeking answers to to life challenges we face with open hearts and open Bibles in our laps. And then we need to do the most important thing: we need to listen, expectantly waiting to hear what direction or insight, comfort or correction he may have for us.

This is how close friends and family members communicate effectively. This is what it means to be a child of God in communion with him.

Micah 7:7 AMP – But as for me, I will look expectantly for Yahweh and with confidence in Him I will keep watch; I will wait [with confident expectation] for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.


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.