Only the best for the King

This is the ideal that we should be continually striving for within the Kingdom.

This is the ideal that we should be continually striving for within the Kingdom.

Proverbs 22:29: “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve kings. He won’t serve obscure men.”

In reading the proverbs, one of the ways of drawing out the meaning of the proverb is by stating its opposite. For example, in this case, the skillful worker is the one who will be selected to serve the king, which implies that the unskilled worker would not be selected to serve the king. This makes sense, after all. Why would someone who is unskilled be tasked in working for a noteworthy individual, and certainly someone as influential as the leader of the land?

This principle is borne out in Samuel’s warning to Israel regarding their desire to have their own king over them like all the other nations.

1 Samuel 8:11, 14, 16 – And he said, “This will be the practice of the king who will reign over you: … “He will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. … “He will also take your male servants and your female servants, and your best young men, and your donkeys, and use them for his work.”

This obviously came to pass as Samuel had predicted and is a also principle that was borne out during the reign of Solomon when he selected Jeroboam to become a leader for his workers.

1 Kings 11:28: “The man Jeroboam was a mighty man of valor; and Solomon saw the young man that he was industrious, and he put him in charge of all the labor of the house of Joseph.”

Even in the parables of Yeshua, he encourages diligent and faithful behavior as that which will be rewarded.

Matthew 25:23: ““His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a few things, I will set you over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’”

Generally, even in business dealings today, it’s the highest performers who typically are able to attain to the greatest positions within a company. So why is it we can see how this makes sense within a physical hierarchy but then somehow not translate this over into our spiritual service? If we truly believe that we are serving the King, then shouldn’t he receive our absolute best at all times?

Paul encourages this among the Roman believers, and also with his protege Timothy in the carrying out of his leadership tasks.

  • Romans 12:11: “not lagging in diligence; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;”
  • 2 Timothy 4:2: “preach the word; be urgent in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with all patience and teaching.”

So, in what ways can we improve on our service within the Kingdom? Perhaps there are areas in which we are being gently convicted without yet having taken the initiative to increase our skills with the gifts that have been given to us. It may be in finally agreeing to that volunteer position that a ministry team has been asking about or committing to increase our learning in a study course or discipleship program. Whatever tools and opportunities we have been given, we can hone those resources into creating the finest level of service that we are capable of. It’s all about striving our hardest, not to impress others, but to bring only our best before the King, because he is worthy of only our absolute best.


If you enjoy these daily articles, 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.

The narrow way of effort and personal sacrifice

Avoiding the wide way that leads to destruction requires intentional actions.

Matthew 7:14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

When Yeshua is speaking about the way to life, he in no way signifies ease and complacency. Instead, he mentions the difficulty with which this way is attained, and the relatively small number of people who remain determined enough to find it.

All of this implies that whatever the general crowd is believing about the way of God is very likely not the correct way, because the way to life is constricted and compressed. It is a difficult, narrow way that takes perseverance, determination, and sacrifice to locate and to maintain.

If this concept sounds foreign to us today, it would indicate we have strayed from the truth of God’s word. We have wandered onto the wide path of destruction because it is an easier way. It is a shallow and wide plain that most people travel because it does not take as much effort to navigate, and there is a like-minded camaraderie with others who also want the way to be easy and are anxious to be with others. It is a way requiring no personal risk, the path of least resistance, a mentality of safety in numbers.

Additionally, as much as this may be a foreign concept today, it was equally foreign to Yeshua’s original audience. The path of the religious leadership was the wide way, and most people accepted the rules and regulations that had been added to the simple law of God. However, Yeshua continually railed against the hypocrisy and insincerity of the religious establishment, pointing people to a kingdom where God was their Father, and they were accountable for their own relationship with him. But with that accountability came responsibility, responsibility to really do what’s right at all times, and not just go through the motions of religious man-made dogma. Doing what’s right is hard; it takes intentional thought and effort and personal sacrifice. That is why so few people actually commit to the narrow and restricted way.

However, the vigilant are those who remain alert to their surroundings and are always searching for the specific details of what’s right in God’s eyes, details that can get lost in the blur of activity each day. They are the ones who are constantly on the lookout for the narrow and difficult way in all of their actions, and are willing to put in the effort and sacrifice to stay focused on God’s purpose. Because this is their direction and where they find meaning, they are emboldened with the sense of personal connection and identification with Yeshua and the Father. Yeshua says the narrow way is the way of life, and that life is its own reward.


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 resourcefulness and confidence of integrity

Working diligently within the will of God allows us to shine brightly in a world of darkness.

Proverbs 31:10, 29-31 Who can find a wife of noble character? She is far more precious than jewels. … Many women have done noble deeds, but you surpass them all! ” Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the LORD will be praised. Give her the reward of her labor, and let her works praise her at the city gates.

One would be hard pressed to find fault with the woman represented in Proverbs 31. This paramount of virtue and industry has been a standard revered for ages, since these words were originally penned. If such a woman were to exist, she would be worthy of high praise, indeed.

She is typically known as the woman of noble character, but if we dig a little into the language, we find another aspect of character at work: strength. The word that is typically translated as noble or virtuous is a Hebrew word meaning strength, resources, or ability. Going further into the root language, we arrive at the word for twisting or whirling about, as perhaps in a dance. Taken together, these meanings convey that this woman is not just noble, but a resilient and resourceful individual who is poetically active and engaged at all times. Everything she does is worthy of praise and honor. She takes care of her husband and her family; she reaches out to those in need; she is constantly doing something that brings honor to her family name and to God. Her activities are known and recognized by others, and God is honored by her determination and character.

Using a slightly different word picture, Yeshua encourages his believers to be of a similar mindset.

Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. “No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

When we see how these themes intertwine, we can arrive at the conclusion that Proverbs 31 isn’t speaking about a specific woman at all, but is a personification of the collective people of God who are to be continually active in the works and will of God. As the bride, we honor our husband when we are diligent and faithful in our duties, dancing joyfully about within his perfect will for us. As we do, our light shines out in meaningful ways to others; it cannot be hidden.

I have learned that the woman’s confidence and resourcefulness allows her to laugh at tomorrow (v. 25). There is nothing outside of ourselves that can dampen our integrity or our efforts when we are busily engaged within the perfect will of God and his purpose for the kingdom.


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.

Vigilance and hard work are necessary for establishing the kingdom of God

Each generation requires the kingdom to be reestablished in its midst.

The burden bearers carried their loads in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and with the other held a weapon. And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built.

Nehemiah 4:17-18

The story of Nehemiah is one of reestablishing God’s presence in Jerusalem after the exile of the nation in Persia. God has placed in the heart of Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of the city of Jerusalem to protect those living there against their enemies in the area.

While the historical account has merit for describing the return of the Jewish exiles, it also carries some analogous themes for the vigilance required in establishing the kingdom of God within each generation.

The kingdom has a central place of ancestral lineage as a figure: the city of Jerusalem.
1:5 Then I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor with you, I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my ancestors’ graves, so that I may rebuild it.”

It is a disgrace for the city to lie in ruins.
1:17 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, so that we may no longer suffer disgrace.”

Those outside the city are opposed to its presence.
1:10 When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard this, it displeased them greatly that someone had come to seek the welfare of the people of Israel.

The ones reestablishing the presence of the kingdom meet with resistance.
4:7-8 But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and the gaps were beginning to be closed, they were very angry, and all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it.

Countering the resistance requires a sharp vigilance while the work progresses.
4:17-18 The burden bearers carried their loads in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and with the other held a weapon. And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built.

Those involved with the construction are relying on God’s strength and protection to accomplish the work.
4:4, 9 Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their taunt back on their own heads, and give them over as plunder in a land of captivity. 9 So we prayed to our God, and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.

Infighting needed to be identified and resolved
5:5, 9-11 Now our flesh is the same as that of our kindred; our children are the same as their children; and yet we are forcing our sons and daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters have been ravished; we are powerless, and our fields and vineyards now belong to others.” … 9 So I said [to the leaders], “The thing that you are doing is not good. Should you not walk in the fear of our God, to prevent the taunts of the nations our enemies? 10 Moreover I and my brothers and my servants are lending them money and grain. Let us stop this taking of interest. 11 Restore to them, this very day, their fields, their vineyards, their olive orchards, and their houses, and the interest on money, grain, wine, and oil that you have been exacting from them.”

The Torah of God was central to the community
8:2 Accordingly, the priest Ezra brought the law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could hear with understanding. This was on the first day of the seventh month. 3 He read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the law.

The people collectively confess and agree to follow God’s instruction
9:38 Because of all this we make a firm agreement in writing, and on that sealed document are inscribed the names of our officials, our Levites, and our priests.

The community purifies itself
13:3, 30 When the people heard the law, they separated from Israel all those of foreign descent. … Thus I cleansed them from everything foreign

While this is not an exhaustive list of themes, they briefly outline the level of vigilance necessary in the work of establishing the kingdom in a hostile environment. As we seek to work alongside God in growing his kingdom in this world, we can take to heart his responsiveness and favor as we cautiously but diligently set ourselves apart to fulfill the work in each generation.

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