Trust that provides completeness

You will keep whoever’s mind is steadfast in perfect peace, because he trusts in you. Trust in Yahweh forever; for in Yah, Yahweh, is an everlasting Rock.

Isaiah 26:3-4

Hebrew is an interesting language from our Western perspective, because it is a language of concrete terms and phrases. While we can entertain abstract thought and concepts in our modern languages, Hebrew deals with reality images, things that can be observed, touched, or felt.

“Forever” is one of those abstract terms we find a lot in the English versions of the Writings, yet this phrase has a richer and deeper meaning when understood from the original languages. Translated literally, this phrase comes across something like “to the vanishing point,” or “that which is concealed.” This is a more tangible way of saying that which exists beyond what we can see or know about.

Another unique aspect of this term is that it is used of both what we would call the future and the past; it is the whole understanding of time from beginning to end, or more accurately, from horizon to horizon. Once you go over the horizon in either direction, you disappear and can no longer be seen. With its modifier, it conveys the idea of everlasting or perpetual. Not just something that exists from some point in time forward, but its perpetuity exists in both directions, past and future, horizon to horizon. It just always has been.

This is how Yahweh is described, as a Rock, a cliff or mountainside; an image of something massive and immovable. He is described not just as eternal like living forever, but as always having existed, present now, and always existing beyond the horizon of what we can see and know.

Because this is the true nature of Yahweh, Isaiah promotes trusting in him. In the picturesque speech of Hebrew phrasing, he never moves, never changes, stands towering over generation after generation, always visible and present.

Shalom is another one of those Hebrew phrases that conveys so more than what we can convey in English. It is peace in the sense of completeness or wholeness, as a cup that is perfectly full of liquid and needs no more. It includes all of the concepts like health, safety, prosperity, and rest. A person who has, or is, shalom is 100% of everything intended for human existence. That is a powerful word, and one that is sorely needed in our world today.

Isaiah says by placing our whole-hearted and constant trust in Yahweh, we can experience peace: shalom. And not just peace, but literally peace-peace: shalom-shalom. It comes across in English typically as “perfect peace.” What deeper desire in human hearts could possibly be lacking from this state of shalom-shalom; doubly full, doubly content, doubly complete?

This is what we can experience in this life when our trust is steadfast in Yahweh. He is the immovable, imposing, always-present Rock that provides every need so completely that we can be completely whole, twice over.

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

The fragility of holiness in a world of darkness

The prophet Haggai, in relating the Word of God to the recently returned captives from Babylon, questions the priests on a specific ruling in regard to holiness.

“Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Ask now the priests for a ruling: ‘If a man carries holy meat in the fold of his garment, and touches bread with this fold, or cooked food, wine, oil, or any other food, will it become holy?'” And the priests answered, “No.” Then Haggai said, “If one who is unclean from a corpse touches any of these, will the latter become unclean?” And the priests answered, “It will become unclean.” Then Haggai said, ” ‘So is this people. And so is this nation before Me,’ declares the LORD, ‘and so is every work of their hands; and what they offer there is unclean.

Haggai 2:11-14

Through this, the prophet attempts to illustrate to the people that regardless of their presence back in the holy land and them going through the motions of sacrifices, their defilement was overshadowing the holiness that they were intending to bring about through their sacrifices. In fact, the prophet argues, the depths of their defilement was actually making all of the sacrifices unclean.

This illustrates for us that holiness is not something to be flippant about, as if it can be assumed or taken for granted. Holiness is directly related to our separation from defilement; it’s inherent in the word itself. We cannot remain in a state of holiness if we continue to choose ways that don’t please God.

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

2 Corinthians 7:1

For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

Ephesians 5:5

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

Titus 2:11-14

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts [which were yours] in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all [your] behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”

1 Peter 1:14-16 A

If we have been purified from past sins, why would we continue to walk in them any longer? According to Haggai’s logic, doing so only continues to defile every holy thing we try to do.

Instead, we should seek to remain faithful and obedient in all things, being ever mindful and respectful of the fragility of holiness as we continue to live in a world of darkness.

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

The day belongs to faith, hope, and love

So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But, since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.

1 Thessalonians 5:6-8

The early believers faced challenges that most typical believers in our American culture today will never see. They were sorely persecuted, chased down from town to town for simply believing in the fulfillment of their prophetic scriptures that the Messiah and the Kingdom of God had come. They were beaten, imprisoned, and killed for their faith. Their hope was that they would be rescued from this persecution, that they would be saved.

Yet through it all, the apostle Paul encourages them to be vigilant and remain watchful. They were to protect themselves metaphorically with a breastplate of faith and love, and to guard their minds with the hope of this salvation that was to come. This was their armor. They had no defensive weapons at their disposal except faith, hope, and love.

While we may not be suffering the persecution they did, we still can take to heart Paul’s admonition to remain awake, watchful and sober. It is easy for us to be lulled into a sense of security because we are at peace, because religion (at least in this country) is currently a protected practice.

Because of this, we are easily sidetracked with the cultural distractions that confront us every day. In our increasingly digital society, we can easily get lost in the sea of information overload, the never-ending stream of digital consciousness that assaults us through our technology. The tools that have helped us to communicate have now become the overlords that demand our constant attention, and lull us to sleep within the confines of our devices.

Just as Paul encouraged the Thessalonian believers to remain alert and watchful, we, too, should always remain aware of who we are among this generation; we are the children of the day. The day is where the light is brightest, and where the greatest opportunities exist for growth. The day is where we work to plant our crops and maintain our fields until the harvest.

Faith, hope, and love are the qualities of the day that can keep us afloat amidst the societal tides that seek to drag us out to the sea of informational darkness. We must exercise vigilance in continually going against the flow of our culture. How?

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:11

The more we build one another up in our faith, the stronger we become at resisting the night. Shake yourself out of your digital stupor, and come together in faith, hope, and love so that we can demonstrate the good news of the Messiah and the Kingdom of God to a generation of darkness.

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

Avoiding the deception of hypocrisy

Core of the Bible podcast #24- Avoiding the deception of hypocrisy

In this episode we will be exploring the topic of integrity, and how people of integrity understand and avoid the dangers and deception of hypocrisy.

Yeshua stated it this way: “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:3-5

In other words, the basic takeaway is: Don’t be hypocritical.

But did you know there is actually more to this passage than just that? This admonition falls within the larger context of Yeshua’s teaching of judgment of others. Everyone is really good at quoting Matt.7:1 when they are attempting to defend something they are doing that is viewed critically by others:

Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.

“See,” they will say, “you shouldn’t judge others.”

Well, yes and no.

If we are finding ourselves critical of others, it is definitely safer to not pass judgment, as Yeshua points out. However, the next verse has an interesting facet to it:

Matthew 7:2 “For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.

Yeshua seems to be focusing not as much on the act of judgment itself, but the standard by which one is judging others. Is it a fair standard? He then elaborates that thought with our spotlight verses today:

Matthew 7:3-5 “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”

Ah, now we have the nugget of wisdom. Yeshua is saying that, in order to remove the speck in our friend’s eye, that is, in order to judge them fairly and help them, we need to ensure we have no logs in our own. Then we will see well enough in order to be a fair judge of our friends. Otherwise, if we are not willing to remove the log in our own eye, then we should not judge at all, or we will be judged.

That’s a little different meaning than you may be used to, isn’t it?

You see, it’s very easy for believers today to remove themselves from all controversy by simply saying, “I’m not one to judge,” thinking they are upholding Matt. 7:1. However, what they are really doing is going against the meaning of the passage, as Yeshua’s main point is NOT the “not judging,” but the “seeing clearly” to provide fair judgment. Because when we provide fair judgment, we are representing God’s interests in this world in a way that honors him.

God has charged his people with dominion over all things.

Genesis 1:28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

In the creation story, after Adam and Eve have partaken of the tree, he says, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil…” This ability for man to discern critically between right and wrong is in one sense how we have been created in God’s image.

Genesis 3:6 …the woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom…

See, Eve was thinking all of these very critical thoughts prior to taking the fruit; the fruit did not give her the capacity to think critically, it was already inherent within her.

The symbolism of the story is that the discerning ability of man was corrupted by the desires of the flesh: a craving for food, a preoccupation with beauty and form, and a curiosity for secret wisdom outside of God’s allotted provision.

Being created in God’s image, man has natural tendencies to judge between right and wrong. However, the story of Adam and Eve illustrates how living in this world skews those natural tendencies toward potentially harmful outcomes. She was seduced by the serpent, representing fleshly desires which are adversarial to God and his purpose. The wisdom of God becomes eclipsed by what confronts us by our senses in the natural world, and we lose sight of his righteous standards.

Therefore, Yeshua says we many times end up with these “logs” in our eyes, where we get caught up in the fleshly standards of the world, and we can no longer see clearly to correctly discern between right and wrong. In this state, we are unable to be of real assistance to those around us in need. And as believers, if we remain oblivious to our shortcomings, we then begin to act hypocritically saying we believe one thing while doing another, and thereby defaming the Name of God.

If we end up defaming his name, this is actually a violation of the third commandment: “Do not take the name of Yahweh in vain, or to no purpose.” Remember, our goal is to faithfully represent him in this world, since we have been created in his image. I believe that this is one of the main reasons why Yeshua is so emphatic that we avoid hypocrisy at all cost.


What I find fascinating is that hypocrisy is readily understood by all people. No matter a person’s social standing or culture, hypocritical actions are the basis of lost trust, strained work relations, and broken friendships. Within each individual there must be a built-in, deep desire for fairness and justice, otherwise hypocrisy in and of itself would be meaningless. Recognizing hypocritical actions demonstrates how all people, regardless of religious beliefs or backgrounds have the ability to discern a measure of rightness or equity. This is part of who we have been created to be, a type of moral and spiritual DNA that is evident in each person.

The driving factor of hypocrisy tends to be selfish preservation.

While I was recently reading an article regarding hypocrisy, the comments of the author, a neuroscientist Phd by the name of Erman Misirlisoy over at medium.com, caught my attention as it relates to this topic. He states it this way:

“Self-interest is the most obvious reason for any of us to act like hypocrites. When people are questioned about why they act in conflict with their own stated moral standards, many will say that the personal costs are enough to outweigh the intention to act morally. Essentially, we all want to act fairly until we are put on the spot and are facing our own personal consequences.”

Makes sense; after all, who wants to be accountable for getting caught at doing something we have openly condemned in others?

The kicker is, as Misirlisoy continues, that hypocrites are actually judged more harshly than flat out liars, and he provides a possible reason why.

“One strong explanation relates to false signaling. In essence, hypocrites employ a double layer of deception in their immoral acts — one more layer than the basic liars who simply say they’ve acted morally when they haven’t. When we hypocritically condemn someone’s immoral behavior, we disguise our personal misbehavior with a veil of persuasiveness or manipulation. It’s easier to see through an outright lie than a hypocrite’s condemnation. On top of that, a hypocrite has brought another person into the game. Instead of directly denying their immorality, the hypocrite sneakily implies they are good by attempting to shame someone else. This is a recipe for hatred when caught out…Overall, it backs up the idea that we have a greater tolerance for liars than we have for hypocrites. Hypocrites are like a special type of liar who puts extra effort into disguising their misbehavior and sending us false signals of moral superiority. Those false signals drive our contempt.”

When someone doesn’t hold themselves to the same standards they expect of others, they reveal a moral deficiency that invalidates their position. They can become blinded to the true state of any given situation, and then callously pursue their own agenda.

This is why this practice is so strongly condemned by Yeshua. He openly called out the hypocrisy of the religious leaders. In the 23rd chapter of Matthew, he publicly called them hypocrites at least 8 times in front of the assembled crowd and his disciples.

Matthew 23:13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.

This passage in full shows the depth of Yeshua’s passionate contempt for the duplicity of the religious leaders and their disdain for the truth of God’s Word.

He also cautioned his disciples to recognize and avoid this characteristic of the religious leaders.

Luke 12:1  … He began saying to His disciples first of all, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”

The disciples then picked up this recognition of hypocrisy and continued to caution the early believers from falling into the same trap.

Romans 12:9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.

James 3:17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.

1 Peter 2:1-3 Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.

Hypocrisy undermines the integrity of those who exemplify it.

This is why it is critical that we as believers maintain a consistent and honest walk in all matters of any moral depth. It is only when we ensure we have no logs in our own eyes, then we will be able to see clearly to take the speck out of someone else’s eye.

Additionally, our ability to maintain our integrity reflects on the One whom we represent, and the kingdom he is establishing. When our integrity is intact, we then have the clarity of vision to keep our own way pure, and also to provide that exemplary guidance as a light to others.


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

The Kingdom of God has a name

In one of the most famous passages of the Bible, we learn that the Kingdom of God, which is the main theme of the Bible, has a name. Here is the context of the passage:

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

Jeremiah 31:31-34

This passage of course is extremely familiar to believers. This promise is specifically addressed to Israel and Judah that a new covenant would be made with them by God, not by them. The demonstration of this new covenant would be that his law or Torah would be within them, and they would all personally have an intimate relationship with him. This was to be the economy of the kingdom: an internal reality governing the lives of its people, not just an outward set of laws as their forefathers had received at Sinai.

Now, it is actually the next passage in Jeremiah that identifies the name of this kingdom.

Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for light by day And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The LORD of hosts is His name: “If this fixed order departs From before Me,” declares the LORD, “Then the offspring of Israel also will cease From being a nation before Me forever.” Thus says the LORD, “If the heavens above can be measured And the foundations of the earth searched out below, Then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel For all that they have done,” declares the LORD.

Jeremiah 31:35-37

The eternal nature of this kingdom is defined in these verses. As long as the order of the moon, stars, and sun and essentially the whole natural order of things exists, the offspring of Israel will remain. And that is who this group is, the members of this kingdom: the offspring, or seed, of Israel.

The Hebrew calls them the zera Yisrael, the seed of Israel. The zera or seed is extremely symbolic throughout the Bible and has layers of meanings, as seeds do. A seed can be related to plants or human descendants. A seed carries the potential for new life of its genus into the future indefinitely. Seed can refer to a singular future descendant or a group.

As this applies to believers, the Bible is clear that Yeshua was the zera or seed promised from the days of Abraham, who was the father (technically, the grandfather) of Israel.

Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as [referring] to many, but [rather] to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ.

Galatians 3:16

The apostle Paul makes the point that the scripture in this case points to an individual seed, Yeshua, as the recipient of Abraham’s blessing and that through him Abraham, the father of Israel, would be the father of many nations.

And herein lies one of the deepest layers of meaning, and the root of the good news of the gospel message of the kingdom: if we are believers in Messiah, the Bible says we are “in him,” meaning, we are in the zera, the seed, just as Yeshua taught.

John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
2 Corinthians 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin [to be] sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Ephesians 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace
Colossians 2:6-7, 10 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, [so] walk in Him, having been firmly rooted [and now] being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, [and] overflowing with gratitude. … and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;
1 John 2:6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.
1 John 3:9 No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
1 John 4:13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.
1 John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

If we are in the seed, and he in us, then we are participants in the zera Yisrael, the seed of Israel; hence, the kingdom. This kingdom will never end, and the seed will continue to perpetuate forever until it fills the earth.

“And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and [men of every] language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.

Daniel 7:14

This is the promise of God and the hope that we have. The zera Yisrael is the name of the everlasting Kingdom of God. As we faithfully walk in the ways of Yeshua, we are co-laboring with God to plant seed for future generations of believers, until his kingdom fills 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 here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Keeping our hearts open to the needs of others

But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?

1 John 3:17 

The apostle John uses some interesting phrasing in this verse. He describes ignoring the needs of a brother as a closing of the heart. He then asks rhetorically, if someone’s heart is closed, how can the love of God be in them?

The love that God has shown to us as believers is not a closed-loop system. It’s not as if we receive everything we need or want from God and then call it good and ignore everyone else.

I once heard an illustration of the water features of Israel as being representative of this principle. The Jordan river flows with fresh water from the mountains into the Sea of Galilee. There, the water teems with fish and all sorts of living creatures. Historically fisherman have worked their boats and nets and the Sea has provided its bounty for the surrounding communities.

The Sea of Galilee has fresh water because the besides being fed by the Jordan, it also empties on its southern edge to continue the Jordan river on its way. The water continually flows through the Sea as the river heads on its course.

However, as it enters the Dead Sea, the water has no outlet. The incoming fresh water merely stockpiles in the lowest regions of the area, where evaporation produces a lifeless stew of salt and brine that does not support any fish population.

This illustration shows that without an outlet, the water becomes stagnant and lifeless. In a similar way, if we merely receive the blessings and abundance God has provided us and do not share that bounty with others, our lives can become lifeless and unproductive, as well.

John drives home his admonition with the following statement:

Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.

1 John 3:18 

We should not just say we have compassion for others, we should demonstrate it with real actions based on the truth of God’s Word.

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

Forgiveness and love can recreate the world

“I tell you, her sins–and they are many–have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”

Luke 7:47

The mastery of Yeshua’s teaching was that he would use the opportunity of the moment to illustrate his points, what we might call today, “teachable moments.” In this brief passage in Luke 7:36-50, Yeshua teaches a man named Simon, a Pharisee who had invited him to dinner, about forgiveness and love. He does this by telling a parable about two debtors.

Then Jesus told him this story: “A man loaned money to two people–500 pieces of silver to one and 50 pieces to the other. But neither of them could repay him, so he kindly forgave them both, canceling their debts. Who do you suppose loved him more after that?” Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt.” “That’s right,” Jesus said.

Luke 7:41-43

In this simple parable, a beautiful picture emerges of the quantity of love that is typically shown for kind actions. When someone receives a kindness, they want to somehow repay it by doing something nice back. The greater the kindness shown to a person, the greater their sense of love and appreciation for their benefactor. Even from his Pharisaical background, Simon recognizes the universality of this truth.

Yeshua then applies this truth to the immediacy of the situation, as an anonymous woman who was known to be sinful was lavishing Yeshua with repentant tears and expensive perfume. While Simon had viewed this woman with critical judgment, Yeshua pointed out her loving actions were based on her recognition of her forgiveness. This accomplished two objectives: curbing Simon’s sense of criticism while also teaching about the universal human response to forgiveness.

Anyone reading this brief account can be struck by its simple and profound message as these are dual lessons that can immediately be personally applied. We should always reserve judgment of others without knowing their heart, and we should recognize just how closely forgiveness and love are tied together.

As believers, our lives should be bathed in love; this is because we have been forgiven of our offenses against a holy God. In like fashion, we should also be forgiving towards others, which generates more love as they then recognize and receive that forgiveness. If we truly lived lives of forgiveness, our lives would be the beacons of love that God desires, creating patterns of love and forgiveness that spiral off into other relationship circles.

Forgiveness is not cheap and always comes at a price, whether against our pride or sense of fairness or justice. But I believe it is a price worth paying if it results in more love in the world.

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

Trust is a straight path

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

This very famous passage of Scriptures is famous for a reason: it captures the essence of faith.

To trust whole-heartedly in Yahweh is to know and accept his Word, his torah, as being authoritative. It is to accept his rule over all of his creation, and to seek to represent his interests in our lives. Trust in Yahweh is not just an abstract belief, but a real understanding that produces right action. When our hearts are aligned with his purpose, our actions will follow.

To not rely on our own insight, we must defer to his explanations of those things which we cannot know. Our past, our future, the unknown, are all in his hands. His torah teaches us about how to live, and many times, if not most times, sets the standard for conflict with the current culture. We must look for his direction when we don’t know the way.

To acknowledge him in all our ways, we must recognize him in our daily activities and routines. We must always keep an eternal perspective through the struggles and trials of the present. Everything we do and say should be based on who he is, and what he has revealed about his creation.

His promise to those who trust in him is that by whole-heartedly trusting him, he will make their paths straight. A straight path has purpose and direction, and does not meander off of a specific course. It does not wind over hills that are hard to climb, and where dangers lurk around corners, but it is open and true to the horizon. A straight path is the shortest route to the destination.

This is trusting in Yahweh, the one true God of all.

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

A different Spirit

Now the natural man doesn’t receive the things of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to him, and he can’t know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

1 Corinthians 2:14

The context of Paul’s discussion to the Corinthian believers establishes that the apostles had received information from God’s Spirit that was not available to the Jewish leaders. The Scribes and the political leaders were blinded in a sense from receiving the truth of the work of Messiah in establishing the Kingdom of God.

But we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the wisdom that has been hidden, which God foreordained before the worlds to our glory, which none of the rulers of this world has known. For had they known it, they wouldn’t have crucified the Lord of glory.

1 Corinthians 2:7-8

The “rulers of the world” here refers to the Jewish scribes and political leaders. They were the “natural” men who had not received the understanding of the kingdom from God’s Spirit; if they had, Paul argues, they would not have crucified their Messiah.

This distinction illustrates the division that occurs due to the cleansing and enlightening work of the Spirit among believers. As we strive to remain distinct from the world around us and to maintain purity based on the instruction, or torah, of God, we begin a journey of increasing discernment to the things of God. The very goal of yielding more and more to God’s Spirit causes a natural and understandable division between the “natural man” and those who are being instructed in the ways of God.

This results in the believer being “set apart” from the rest of the world. This is why believers look at the world around them in ways that differ from those who are relying on their own knowledge and understanding. We have a spiritual resource and perspective that relies not only on conventional wisdom, but on the sure foundation of the heritage of our spiritual forebears.

As we continue to grow and to remain receptive to God’s Spirit, we can be led to fulfill God’s purpose in every generation. This is how God has designed his kingdom to continue to grow throughout eternity.

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

Watching our words

“If anyone among you thinks himself to be religious while he doesn’t bridle his tongue, but deceives his heart, this man’s religion is worthless.”

James 1:26:

Guarding what we say is a critical aspect of every believers life. We may have the most profound thoughts and understanding of God’s Word, yet if we constantly spew nonsense because we are not thinking through our interactions with others, we not only discredit ourselves, but we discredit God.

This is especially true when we as believers are interacting with those who are unrighteous; they will surely seek to find every opportunity to malign and twist the words of believers whenever possible.

“I said, “I will watch my ways, so that I don’t sin with my tongue. I will keep my mouth with a bridle while the wicked is before me.””

Psalm 39:1:

The life of a believer is one of vigilance in producing thoughtful and measured responses to the world around us. This means taking time to slow down, absorb and process emotional reactions, and to remain steadfast with the truth at all times.

“Who is someone who desires life, and loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking lies. Depart from evil, and do good. seek peace, and pursue it.”

Psalm 34:12-14:

While the benefits of thoughtful and measured responses are many, one of the most tangible benefits occurs with ourselves and our own situations. By vigilantly guarding what we say, we have an opportunity to prevent a host of negative consequences that could otherwise create stress and hurt in relationships around us, and thereby cause us further distress.

“Whoever guards his mouth and his tongue keeps his soul from troubles.”

Proverbs 21:23:

Instead, when we do speak, let it be of those things that are in a manner that are respectful of our Lord and Master, and are bathed in thankfulness to God. These are the things that make for peace and reconciliation, and bring honor to his name.

Whatever you do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father, through him.

Colossians 3:17

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