David’s transparent honesty before God

God can increase our sensitivity to his guidance when we allow him to.

Psalm 26:1-2 – Vindicate me, Yahweh, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in Yahweh without wavering. Prove me, Yahweh, and try me; test my heart and my mind.

David exhibits a true test of integrity: asking God to test his heart and mind to prove his integrity. Today, we typically think of the mind as the center of logic and reason, and the heart as the repository of emotion. However, in ancient Hebraic thinking, almost the exact opposite was true: the heart was the seat of the will and understanding, what might be called the “inner man.” The mind, if we were to translate literally, was thought to reside in the location of the kidneys, considered the seat of all emotion and affection.

Physiology aside, the standard set before us by David is one of incredible honesty and sincerity. Could we truly sit before God in his presence and ask him to review our hearts, to review our thoughts, and be confident he wouldn’t find anything amiss?

What we can take away from this passage is the outworking of integrity. If our heart and mind are right before God, we can then walk in faith and integrity. Our minds and hearts need to be set correctly for us to be walking correctly.

This is likely one of the main reasons that believers today are not exhibiting Kingdom principles in their daily lives. It is because we are so easily distracted by the many sources of information that vie for our attention every minute. We check our phones for updates in our online presence far more frequently than we reference God’s Word. Notifications alert us to the fact that some other new piece of information has been posted somewhere, and we incur an addictive fear of missing out on some new thing or the latest trend.

If we can maintain our headspace within God’s Kingdom, we may instead find that God begins to instill within us a fear of missing out on what he desires to reveal to us within his Word, and what he is instructing us to do. Rather than audible notifications from our digital devices, we become trained to be sensitive to his Spirit prompting us to review a specific passage or take a certain action in our daily activities.

The true life of integrity is one that is responsive to the spiritual indications and direction of God, operating with a sense of transparency in heart and mind, all aspects of which are working together to accomplish God’s will each day.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive 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.

Involving God’s word and his Spirit in all of your ways

Ancient wisdom which provides continual direction and guidance within the will of God.

Proverbs 14:8 – The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way, but the folly of fools is deceiving.

Vigilance of thought is one of the most challenging yet most rewarding aspects of a believer’s life. The thoughts and plans we have will reveal what is truly in our hearts. To lead a life that is constantly focused on defrauding others or finding ways to exploit relationships is one that is bound to fail. In this proverb, Solomon illustrates this way as “folly.”

According to the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew lexicon, this type of individual demonstrates characteristics of always being morally bad, one who:

  • despises wisdom & discipline
    • Proverbs 1:7 – The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
    • Proverbs 15:5 – A fool despises his father’s instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is prudent.
  • mocks at guilt
    • Proverbs 14:9 – Fools mock at the guilt offering, but the upright enjoy acceptance.
  • is quarrelsome
    • Proverbs 20:3 – It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.
  • is licentious
    • Proverbs 7:7, 10, 21-23 – and I have seen among the simple, I have perceived among the youths, a young man lacking sense, … And behold, the woman meets him, dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart. … With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him. All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life.
  • it is folly and useless to instruct him
    • Proverbs 16:22 – Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it, but the instruction of fools is folly.
    • Proverbs 27:22 – Crush a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his folly will not depart from him.

All of this speaks to the foolishness of the one who rejects wisdom and discipline. The proverb goes further, though, and explains that fools are deceiving. They will operate from a base of deception and exploitation of the weakness of others. Their continual mode of operation is selfish gain with no regard for the harmful effects on others. This in itself is a mode of self-deception, as well; thinking one can always simply manipulate a situation for their own gain.

By contrast, those believers who are vigilant in all their ways will seek to avoid these dead-ends of life by “discerning their way.” The Hebrew word for discerning means “to consider, perceive, understand, distinguish, have insight.” Just reviewing this list of words demonstrates that to discern one’s ways is a practice that takes time and careful thought. Fools may rush in, as the old saying goes, but it’s the wise who take their time to review the consequences of their actions. Only then will they take the appropriate course of action.

One of the key benefits of this practice that I have seen in my own life is having peace about momentous decisions which need to be made. When I feel pressured to make a big decision about something, whether it is a large purchase or a career move, I have learned to ensure that I do not arrive at a hasty decision. Anything that presents itself as urgent immediately goes into a “consideration buffer.” Through meditation on God’s word and through prayer, the correct ways will ultimately present themselves.

The apostle Paul related this principle to the Ephesian congregation, as well.

Ephesians 5:15-18 – Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to reckless indiscretion. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.

He represents how paying careful attention to how a believer should walk involves understanding the Lord’s will and being filled with the Spirit. Being vigilant with our actions means that we are taking the time to involve God in all of our decisions in life. We are examples to others of how God’s goodness and mercy watch over us and protect us from every false way.

Psalm 119:103-104 – How sweet your word is to my taste — sweeter than honey in my mouth. I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every false way.

Psalm 119:127-128 – Since I love your commands more than gold, even the purest gold, I carefully follow all your precepts and hate every false way.

Hating every false way means there is a high dependence on the truth of God’s word. If Paul related the days were evil in his day, how much more we need to vigilantly follow his advice, and the advice of Solomon and the Psalmist, today: “Pay careful attention as to how you walk, discerning your way, carefully following God’s precepts.”


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

Why God’s people are holy

That which is set apart for the use of God establishes God’s purpose on the earth.

In the preparation of the Mishkan, the tabernacle-tent precursor to the temple, Moses was given instruction by God about how to prepare a special anointing oil. This oil was to be used as a way of identifying everything and everyone who was to be consecrated or set apart for God’s use.

Exodus 30:25-29, 31-33 – “Prepare from these a holy anointing oil, a scented blend, the work of a perfumer; it will be holy anointing oil. With it you are to anoint the tent of meeting, the ark of the testimony, the table with all its utensils, the lampstand with its utensils, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the basin with its stand. Consecrate them and they will be especially holy. Whatever touches them will be consecrated. … Tell the Israelites: This will be my holy anointing oil throughout your generations. It must not be used for ordinary anointing on a person’s body, and you must not make anything like it using its formula. It is holy, and it must be holy to you. Anyone who blends something like it or puts some of it on an unauthorized person must be cut off from his people.”

To use this unique anointing oil for any other purpose was to violate the standard of holiness, or set-apartness, that God was establishing for this oil. This is what holiness is: to be set apart for specific use only in the service of God, not to be engaged with the commonality of everything else, otherwise the holiness no longer remains.

There is nothing magical or inherently powerful within the thing or person who is considered holy, other than there is the recognition that that thing or person is uniquely identified as God’s, and to be used only for God’s purpose and will. This anointing oil was just a mixture of common elements and spices, and yet once it was created and designated as holy, it became holy. Similarly, the Sabbath is just another day of the week, and yet because God set it apart as holy, it is therefore holy.

Deuteronomy 7:6 – “For you are a holy people to Yahweh your God; Yahweh your God has chosen you to be a people for His personal possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.

Just like the ancient desert wanderers, we as God’s people are just people like any others. Yet because God has designated his people as holy, we are set apart from all other people on the earth because God has made it so. Just like the holy anointing oil, we have been set apart for use in within the purpose and will of God. Therefore, we should not be primarily engaged with the commonality of practices that the rest of the world is engaged in, otherwise, we are no longer holy.

1 Peter 2:9-10 – But you are a chosen people, A royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

This is why God has provided the standards of his Torah, his instruction, through the Ten Commandments. This is why we have recorded for us the words and teaching of God’s Torah through Yeshua in the Sermon on the Mount. If we understand nothing else about God’s word, we would honor God and remain holy by abiding by these directives. This is what sets believers apart: our obedient actions and practices in the service of God. This is how his kingdom is established 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 at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The Spirit that sets believers apart

Throughout the Bible, God’s Spirit has miraculously worked among his people to maintain his purpose and will.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

The integrity of knowing and doing God’s will

If we are to maintain our integrity in any given situation, then we should have the clarity of purpose and direction that God’s will provides.

The Hebrew word for integrity (tom, pronounced tome) has been discussed before as meaning simplicity or completeness. But one of the other variations for this word comes from the stones that were used by the high priest to determine God’s will in any situation.

Tom is a basis for the word thummim (pronounced too-meem) as in the “Urim and Thummim.” Thummim means perfections, and Urim (pronounced oo-reem) means lights. Therefore, in some versions of the Bible, instead of simply transliterating Urim and Thummim in the descriptions of the high priest’s breastplate, they will use the phrase “lights and perfections.”

Exodus 28:30 “Place the Urim and Thummim [lights and perfections] in the breastpiece for decisions, so that they will also be over Aaron’s heart whenever he comes before the LORD. Aaron will continually carry the means of decisions for the Israelites over his heart before the LORD.

Leviticus 8:8 Then he put the breastpiece on him and placed the Urim and Thummim [lights and perfections] into the breastpiece.

Numbers 27:21 “He will stand before the priest Eleazar who will consult the LORD for him with the decision of the Urim [lights]. He and all the Israelites with him, even the entire community, will go out and come back in at his command.”

Nehemiah 7:65 The governor ordered them not to eat the most holy things until there was a priest who could consult the Urim and Thummim [lights and perfections].

There has been much speculation as to how these stones worked, or what mechanism was involved in order to determine what God’s will was in any given situation. Some think the stones would be used kind of like holy dice. Others think that the stones lit up when a certain question was asked. However, regardless of the method, the result was that God’s will would be determined through the use of these stones. It was a simple method and it was complete in that the determination would be final.

What is interesting to me about the Hebrew language is that all the word meanings within a root group tend to blend together and overlap. The simplicity and completeness of integrity is also a means for determining God’s will, just as the stones were for the high priest. The continuity of Hebrew thought comes through the completeness of the root word tom culminating in the perfections of the word thummim. To be complete is to be perfected.

If we view integrity as being the simple choice in any given situation, we may find that we are operating within the ethics that God prefers. Understandably, the simple choice is not always the easy choice, but it is typically the clearest path to doing what’s right. If we are to maintain our integrity in any given situation, then we should have the clarity of purpose and direction that God’s will provides.

The Greek word telios (pronounced tell-ee-os) carries this concept into the New Testament writings. For something to be telios is to reach its fullness, maturity, or completion. This is why Yeshua could instruct his disciples to exhibit this most essential characteristic of their heavenly Father.

Matthew 5:48 “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

The apostle Paul said that believers could determine God’s perfect will through being transformed by the renewing of their mind.

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

Whether in Hebrew or Greek, this clarity of purpose and understanding of God’s will is provided by the simplicity and completeness of integrity, just as the perfections of the stones did for the high priest.

For believers today, we don’t need physical stones to understand God’s will and act with integrity. God’s will is best determined by having a thorough understanding of his word and by allowing our minds to be renewed by God’s Spirit as to how to apply it in day to day actions. Therefore, it can be said that those who live lives of integrity are truly living their lives according to 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.

The Watcher and Influencer of hearts

God holds men accountable for the integrity of their actions, and yet is actively supporting, directing, and regulating those actions for his perfect will.

“If you say, “Behold, we didn’t know this;” doesn’t he who weighs the hearts consider it? He who keeps your soul, doesn’t he know it? Shall he not render to every man according to his work?”

Proverbs 24:12

Yahweh is he represented as one who weighs the heart and keeps the soul. Scripture conveys the idea that Yahweh is observing, and guarding, and watching at all times. To say that he observes is to say that he keeps watch, as one who is guarding a fortress. A watcher must be alert and aware at all times of what’s going on. But a watcher is also a preserver, or a guard who protects what he has guarding. These meanings bleed together in the descriptions of how God is intimately involved with the inmost motives of his people.

Proverbs 16:2: “All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but Yahweh weighs the motives.”
Proverbs 21:2: “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but Yahweh weighs the hearts.”

As a weigher of hearts, he is depicted as a measurer, balancing motives on a scale to see how they measure up. But there is also conveyed a notion of being a regulator of those motives which drive our actions. In this sense, Yahweh is depicted as being actively involved in molding and shaping one’s thoughts toward a desired outcome.

Proverbs 21:1: “The king’s heart is in Yahweh’s hand like the watercourses. He turns it wherever he desires.”

Many great minds over the centuries have pondered these aspects of Yahweh’s involvement within the deepest recesses of those whom he has created. Some have concluded all is predestined and Yahweh’s hand guides everything without exception. Others have concluded that the free will of mankind is the only explanation for how God can hold us accountable for our actions.

However, I am of the opinion that these types of passages demonstrate how all of creation is balanced on the point of a needle. The very actions and motives of our heart are not only known by God but also at times purposefully planted with intent. To my mind, this is why predestination and free will are both sustainable arguments from Scripture, because they are both true, but neither is satisfactory in the extreme.

To be wholly predestined is to be a robot acting out a pre-programmed course of events. To have complete free will is to acknowledge the sovereignty of man above the will of God, hence, making mankind God.
The reality is that God holds men accountable for the integrity of their actions, and yet is actively supporting, directing, and regulating those actions for his perfect will.

I believe the practical key for our understanding lies in recognizing the outcome of our actions which are based on our motives. The more in line our actions are with God‘s word, the more we can know we are doing what’s right in his eyes. The integrity of our actions are the feedback loop on our motives. While this indefinable process of God’s influence on our heart and motives strains our understanding, we are not left without a recognition of the results of that influence in our lives.

We should join with the pleas of David, as he seeks Yahweh’s strength and wisdom in molding and shaping his heart, so that his actions would reflect and conform to the will of  God.

Psalm 51:10-13,17: “Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me. Don’t throw me from your presence, and don’t take your holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation. Uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways. Sinners shall be converted to you. … The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

When we offer up broken hearts, we demonstrate our willingness to conform our lives to God’s standards so that his will can be accomplished. Allowing his influence on our hearts through his Spirit completes the purpose of God to establish his ways in our hearts, and not just in a book.

Integrity is consistency of action with the revealed will of Yahweh. We should welcome his scrutiny and influence as a watcher and influencer of hearts while we seek to obediently chart our way through this world. The more we do so, the more he is honored and glorified.


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 priceless objective of accomplishing God’s will

Understanding God’s perspective helps us make the choices each day that honor him.

Core of the Bible podcast #30 – The priceless objective of accomplishing God’s will

In this episode we will be exploring the topic of the kingdom, and how the kingdom of God, defined as doing his will, should be the primary and most urgent focus of our lives every day.

Yeshua stated it this way:

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. Matthew 13:45-46

How invested are you in the kingdom of God? Yeshua taught us that we should be seeking the kingdom first, not somewhere further down a list of spiritual things we think we should be doing.

This parable illustrates the immense value that a true seeker places on the discovery of the kingdom of God. To be willing to sell everything you have in order to gain one single objective is a demonstration of the very highest commitment.

John Gill in his Bible commentary comes to this interpretation of this parable, which I have paraphrased a bit for clarity from the 18th-century prose:

“…in conjunction and harmony with the other parables, I believe this is to be understood of those who seek knowledge in all of its branches, natural, moral, and spiritual; and who, like a “merchant man seeking goodly pearls,” find the Gospel and prefer it to everything else. … for those who seek wisdom and knowledge through proper means are like merchant men who trade abroad and for valuables; and these, under divine direction, find the truths of the everlasting Gospel in the Scriptures, and through the ministry of the word, and by prayer and study…”

If the merchant is the seeker of truth and the pearl is the gospel of the kingdom, then we would do well to first of all ensure we know what the kingdom is.

What is the kingdom of God?

In a very small nutshell, the kingdom of God is exhibited anywhere God reigns supreme. While he ultimately rules heaven and earth, he is not always granted rule here by men who don’t believe in him or who prefer to follow their own ways rather than his. Hence Yeshua’s prayer that God’s kingdom would come and that his will would be done on earth as it is in heaven.

The carrying out of God’s will on earth is the demonstration of the reality of his kingdom. According to Yeshua, God’s kingdom is all about God’s will being done here on earth in the same way that his will is accomplished in heaven. Consider the following:

Matthew 6:10: “May your Kingdom come, your will being done, as in heaven, so on earth.”

Matthew 7:21: “Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

When we are doing God’s will, his kingdom comes, or is present. God’s desire is for his kingdom to cover the earth; that is, that his will would be accomplished in the lives of his creation. We can know God’s will by being in his word on a continual basis. Understanding God’s perspective helps us make the choices each day that honor him. As we live out his word, we become the light and salt of the world that Yeshua spoke of in other parables.

In this parable we are encouraged to be like this merchant. In a believer’s life, everything one has and does should stem from the reality of the kingdom. God’s purposes should have priority in all decision making. Once we find the treasure of God’s will in his word, we should engage every resource we have to see it come about by living it out. It should consume all of our actions and thinking.

—–

If the kingdom of God is all about accomplishing God’s will on earth, then how do we discern God’s will?

Matthew 12:50: “For whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother.””

We know that it must be possible to know and do God’s will, otherwise Yeshua has a set a standard that is unachievable in this life.

In a similar way, the apostle Paul challenges the Ephesian believers to the same standard of knowing what God’s will is so that they can bear fruit that is pleasing to him.

Ephesians 5:8-10 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light —  for the fruit of the light consists of all goodness, righteousness, and truth —  testing what is pleasing to the Lord.

Ephesians 5:15-17 Pay careful attention, then, to how you live — not as unwise people but as wise —  making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

In his letter to the Roman congregation, Paul provides some insight into how God’s will is discerned. In this specific instance, while sarcastically cautioning the Jews among the congregation against their potential for hypocrisy, he does let slip a secret on what God’s will is based.

Romans 2:17-18, 21 Now if you call yourself a Jew, and rely on the law, and boast in God, and know his will, and approve the things that are superior, being instructed from the law … you then, who teach another, don’t you teach yourself? You who preach, “You must not steal” ​– ​do you steal?

You see, he mentions the key principle that to know God’s will was to rely on and be instructed from the law. The law, or torah of God, is how we can know and approve what God sees as best for his created beings.

Paul continues this thought later on in the epistle, saying that the only way to really understand God’s will is to be transformed by not conforming to the world around us, and to have a renewed mind. Since he has already set the precedent that the knowing God’s will is based on being instructed from the law, we can know that this renewing of the mind comes from understanding God’s will from his law.

Romans 12:2: ” Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God.”

Further, in other epistles, both he and Peter specify aspects of God’s will for his people that are once again based on his torah. Let’s look at each of these admonitions and compare them with their roots in the law of God.

SEXUAL IMMORALITY

1 Thessalonians 4:3: “For this is the will of God: your sanctification, that you abstain from sexual immorality.” What defines sexual immorality? The law does in Lev.18 and 20:9-21 when it explains all of the different family members and and appropriate and inappropriate relations.

GIVING OF THANKS

1 Thessalonians 5:18: “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus toward you.” Where are we encouraged to give thanks to God? From God’s law:

1 Chronicles 16:8 Give thanks to the LORD; call on his name; proclaim his deeds among the peoples.

Psalm 28:7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart celebrates, and I give thanks to him with my song.

Psalm 92:1 It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praise to your name, Most High…

DOING GOOD

1 Peter 2:15: “For this is the will of God, that by well-doing you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.” Where are we encouraged to do what’s right? Once again from the law:

Deuteronomy 6:18 “Do what is right and good in the LORD’s sight, so that you may prosper and so that you may enter and possess the good land the LORD your God swore to give your fathers,

2 Chronicles 19:11 … Be strong; may the LORD be with those who do what is good.”

Psalm 34:14 Turn away from evil and do what is good; seek peace and pursue it.

All of God’s word is his torah, his instruction for his people. By purposefully and intentionally spending time each day in his word, we are transformed by understanding what things God desires for his people, so that his will can be done on earth by us. This is the way his kingdom comes.

1 Peter 4:2: “that you no longer should live the rest of your time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.”

1 John 2:17: “The world is passing away with its lusts, but he who does God’s will remains forever.”

—–

When you are fully invested in seeking the things of God, this desire for conformity to the kingdom becomes second nature. It becomes all-consuming and touches every aspect of your life. Living out the principles of God’s kingdom brings it to life among all of those around you.

How do you know what the most important things are in your life?

The things you value most are the things that consume your time, your energy, and your resources.

In the case of this merchant seeking the pearl of great price, we can imagine his search consuming all three of those qualities.

He would have spent time searching for what he was looking for. We can imagine this to have been a lifelong pursuit. He was a merchant, a trader, this is what he did for a living.

He would also have had to expend energy in his search. Day after day he would have continued to travel to market after market and comb through merchandise. There could have been wasted trips with no results. Long, hot days would have been spent jostling among the crowded venues, trying to find the ultimate prize.

And when he finally discovered what he had been looking for, imagine his relief! All of the efforts and time expended was worth it. He had obtained his goal, the most amazing pearl he had ever seen in all of his travels. He knew he needed to obtain it, whatever it took, because it was valued above every other precious treasure he had seen. So all of his resources then went in to obtaining it to make sure he would be able to purchase it for himself.

Yeshua explains that this is what the kingdom of God is like. It’s like this merchant, spending his time, his energy and his resources to obtain the most precious treasure. The kingdom should be made up of individuals who value God’s principles and his will above everything else. All of our time and energy should revolve around the goal of accomplishing God’s will in our lives. We should be willing to travel long distances, struggle amidst crowded marketplaces and invest all that we have in this commodity which contains the highest value in our lives.

Is the kingdom to you a pearl of the highest value, or only one of many other similar pearls strung together that you wear to adorn yourself to be admired by others? By applying the principles of accomplishing God’s will in all we do every day, we can overcome our vain efforts at shallow beliefs and be engaged in the most rewarding pursuit of all: the kingdom of God on 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.

Knowing and doing God’s will in his kingdom

There is a way to discern God’s will for our lives.

According to Yeshua, God’s kingdom is all about God’s will being done here on earth, in the same way that his will is accomplished in heaven.

Matthew 6:10: “Let your Kingdom come. Let your will be done, as in heaven, so on earth.”
Matthew 7:21: “Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
Matthew 12:50: “For whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother.””

We know that it must be possible to know and do God’s will, otherwise Yeshua has a set a standard that is unachievable in this life.

The apostle Paul also challenges the Ephesian believers to the same standard of knowing what God’s will is so that they can bear fruit that is pleasing to him.

Ephesians 5:8-10 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light ​– ​ for the fruit of the light consists of all goodness, righteousness, and truth ​– ​ testing what is pleasing to the Lord.
Ephesians 5:15-17 Pay careful attention, then, to how you live ​– ​not as unwise people but as wise ​– ​ making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

In his letter to the Roman congregation, Paul provides some insight into how God’s will is discerned. In this specific instance, while sarcastically cautioning the Jews among the congregation against their potential for hypocrisy, he does let slip a secret on what God’s will is based.

Romans 2:17-18 Now if you call yourself a Jew, and rely on the law, and boast in God, and know his will, and approve the things that are superior, being instructed from the law,

The law, or torah of God, is how we can know and approve what God sees as best for his created beings. Paul continues this thought later on in the epistle, saying that the only way to really understand God’s will is to be transformed by not conforming to the world, and to have a renewed mind. Since he has already set the precedent that the knowing God’s will is based on “being instructed from the law,” we can know that this renewing of the mind comes from understanding God’s will from his law.

Romans 12:2: ” Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God.”

Further, in other epistles, both he and Peter specify aspects of God’s will for his people that are once again based on his torah.

1 Thessalonians 4:3: “For this is the will of God: your sanctification, that you abstain from sexual immorality,” (Lev.18; 20:9-21).
1 Thessalonians 5:18: “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus toward you.” (1 Chron 16:8; Psalm 28:7; 92:1).
1 Peter 2:15: “For this is the will of God, that by well-doing you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:” (Deut 6:18; 2 Chron 19:11; Psalm 34:14).

All of God’s word is his torah, his instruction for his people. By purposefully and intentionally spending time each day in his word, we are transformed by understanding what things God desires for his people, so that his will can be done on earth by us. This is the way his kingdom comes.

1 Peter 4:2: “that you no longer should live the rest of your time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.”
1 John 2:17: “The world is passing away with its lusts, but he who does God’s will remains forever.”


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.

Goodness and blessing follow those who trust in God and his word

Goodness and happiness are not rights as some would contend, but a privilege. They are a privilege afforded to those who trust in God, who abide by his word.

He who wisely heeds the word will find good; whoever trusts in Yahweh, happy is he.

Proverbs 16:20

One of the things that I find fascinating about the Proverbs is their construction. Sometimes the proverb will highlight a contrast; other times it will provide two supporting statements, both saying the same thing but stated differently for emphasis. In this case, this proverb falls into the latter category.

The admonition of this proverb involves paying attention to or heeding the word of God. The emphasis is stated in the second half of the proverb so that the halves can be equated. One who heeds the word is equated with trusting in Yahweh. The attainment or finding of good is equated with being blessed or happy. Therefore, trusting in Yahweh by heeding his word will result in good, blessing and happiness.

Most people seek to have this hope of goodness and happiness as much as possible in their lives. However, goodness and happiness are not rights as some would contend, but a privilege. According to this verse, these are a privilege afforded to those who trust in God, who abide by his word. This is not a guarantee in every single situation, but a theme or pattern that will prevail in the lives of those who trust in him.

If this equation is true, then highlighting the opposite carries a logical conclusion, as well. Those who do not heed God’s word will not find good; whoever does not trust in God will not be happy. This also does not mean that they will never experience any good or any happiness, but these will not be the predominant characteristics of their lives.

Coming openly to God’s word we are confronted with his power and majesty, a mighty Creator who guides the nations. Established as the ultimate authority over his Creation, and demonstrating this in vivid detail with his people time after time, we are drawn into a vivid understanding that he is worthy of our trust, respect, and honor. We see how his purposes are designed for the good of his people, not their harm. His word therefore fosters our trust.

But we are also struck with the reality of those who disobey his instruction, and they do so at their own peril. Many times their disregard for the wisdom of God brings their misfortune back on their own heads.

The more we remain in his word and seek to understand his will, the more our lives are characterized by the goodness and blessing that he seeks to provide us when we place our trust in him.

Trust in Yahweh with all your heart, and don’t lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6

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.

Real peace is generated by trust in God

Regardless of our abilities, our ultimate trust should be in God.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

This verse has been very popular over the years due to its simple admonition to prayer and its promise of peace of a troubled mind.

But rather than focus on the peace it provides, I would like to draw out another unstated concept present in this verse: trust in God. You see, peace can only come when there is an understanding that something, or someone, larger than our current troubling circumstance is handling the situation, and we don’t need to be anxious about it.

I think about when I was a small child, riding in the back of our car on a trip home from visiting relatives. I had no concerns about which roads we had to take, how much traffic there was, what the weather conditions were. My dad was taking us home, and that’s all that mattered. I would inevitably drift off to sleep with the rhythmic motion of the car and the road noise. I had no cares to concern me, only knowing that I would be home at the end of the trip. I trusted my dad to get us home; I had no reason not to trust him to do so.

When I became a dad and our family was on road trips to visit relatives, it was up to me to take all of those factors into consideration, since I was responsible for getting my family home safely. My role as a dad had increased responsibilities, but even with those responsibilities, my skills had grown to meet them. Certainly I had to focus on things that I was not concerned about as a child, but even though I had to manage all of those concerns, I still had an over-arching trust that we were going to make it home. Regardless of the right route to take, the traffic, or the road conditions, we would be home soon.

You see, trust is not an abdication of all responsible action; it is a recognition of power or skill beyond your own that will ultimately accomplish the outcome. That trust can be present at every skill and responsibility level. When we pray about everything, our trust is in God.

You will keep the mind that is dependent on you in perfect peace, for it is trusting in you.

Isaiah 26:3

We need to be strategizing our route, but not to the exclusion of allowing for detours along the way. We need to be considering traffic and road conditions, but remain open to having to modify our plans accordingly as needed. We need to be faithful with what we’ve been called to do, but we need to always keep a higher sense of trust and dependency beyond our own abilities and actions.

When we pray for the outcome according to God’s will, we can rest assured that regardless of any modifications along the way, everything will come to pass within his purpose and timing.

This is where the peace that passes understanding comes from: it is generated in the recognition that God ultimately has us, and will bring us safely to our destination, regardless of what happens along the way. It is beyond our understanding, because only he knows which route we will ultimately have to take to get there. We should always maintain a healthy understanding of the limits of our abilities and be sure our ultimate trust is in the One who will be bringing us safely home at the end of the trip.