Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks

If forgiveness resides in our heart, we can then speak and act on that forgiveness.

Today we will be looking at the topic of forgiveness, and how it relates to the condition of our heart. If forgiveness resides in our heart, we can then speak and act on that forgiveness. However, if what we say is unforgiving, then the words we speak illustrate or reveal what is actually in our hearts.

Luke 6:45 – The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings out that which is good, and the evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings out that which is evil, for out of the abundance of the heart, his mouth speaks.

I knew a man who was recently honored at his work for being an outstanding performer, always receiving gracious comments from customers with whom he interacted on a regular basis. He even received national recognition and many accolades from his company for his achievements. However, when a particular crisis arose and he was challenged by his boss with a sharp disagreement over his mishandling of a particular situation, what began as a discussion of strategy degraded into a string of profanity and lashing out. He ended up blaming a customer for what was in reality his own inability to bring a situation to its proper conclusion. This indignation, it would seem, was always simmering and bubbling under the surface of the polished outward appearance of his performance. When a situation challenged his work, what was truly in his heart boiled over and out of his mouth, revealing the true nature of his character.

Yeshua calls this the “fruit of the tree.” The wider context of our verse today demonstrates this idea.

Luke 6:43-45 – For there is no good tree that brings forth rotten fruit; nor again a rotten tree that brings forth good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit. For people don’t gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings out that which is good, and the evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings out that which is evil, for out of the abundance of the heart, his mouth speaks.

If, as Yeshua teaches, “each tree is known by its own fruit,” then we can ascertain very quickly what is in a person’s heart by what they say, how they say it, and what they do. What we say is important, because our speech is what makes the contents of our heart known to others; it is the authorized (by us) commentary on what is in our heart.

Proverbs 10:20 – The tongue of the righteous is pure silver; the heart of the wicked is of little value.

Notice how the tongue of the righteous is contrasted with the heart of the wicked. By locking these two themes together, Solomon is passing commentary on how the tongue (that is, what we say) and the heart are absolutely connected.

In a heated discussion with the Pharisees, Yeshua says the following:

Matthew 12:34-37 – “Brood of vipers! How can you speak good things when you are evil? For the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart. A good person produces good things from his storeroom of good, and an evil person produces evil things from his storeroom of evil. I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Yeshua teaches that the heart is like a storeroom where either good things exist, or where evil things exist. The underlying Greek term is where we get our word thesaurus from. Consider what a thesaurus is: a thesaurus is a storehouse of words that have similar meanings. Our heart is a storehouse where similar things are stored, either good or bad. It implies a wealth, abundance, or treasure; either a treasure of positive, helpful things or an abundance of unhelpful and wicked things. We make deposits in our hearts with every thought, every interaction, and every distraction. Based on what we allow ourselves to be engaged with every day, it is up to us if those things that we are storing up are good or evil. Either way, Yeshua teaches that the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart, so whatever we have stored up in our heart is what is going to come out at some point.

According to the logic Yeshua uses here, the words we say are evidence that can be used in our favor, or against us. This is the same principle today used in courtrooms to determine the guilt or innocence of individuals. How many times on a courtroom drama on TV or a courtroom scene in a movie have you seen the story lead up to a climax when an individual becomes trapped in the witness stand being confronted with information that varies from what they are testifying under oath?

This is the same type of process that goes on in people’s minds when we are interacting with each other. We all pass judgment on others, not necessarily to be overly critical, but to gauge the sincerity of an individual to see if their words line up with their actions. When they do, we consider that individual trustworthy; when they don’t, we de-value what that person says because they are inconsistent and therefore unreliable. In essence, we are conducting “fruit inspections” as part of our normal course of interacting in a society of individuals.

Looking at these passages, we can see how Yeshua is teaching that the heart is the driver of what we say and do. If our speech and actions are not where they need to be, we may be in need of some work on our hearts.

This is where things can get challenging.

Jeremiah 17:9-10 – The heart is more deceitful than anything else, frail and weak ​– ​who can understand it?  I, Yahweh, examine the mind, I test the heart to give to each according to his way, according to what his actions deserve.

Notice how Yahweh lets us know that the difficulty we face when we explore our own hearts is that we can easily be deceived when doing so. It’s like being dropped into a dark cavern without a map and being expected to know where every winding passage leads. The light from our headlamp only shines for a limited way in front of us. From time to time, the cavern walls crumble with the threat of cave-in due to the frailty and weakness of the structure. We may travel for hundreds of yards down  a passage only to reach a dead end.

Additionally, we have difficulty being objective when we explore our hearts because we are intimately and inextricably emotionally tied to outcomes that are based on our heart motives which can be weak and unsupported. When we discover long-standing perspectives that may be unfounded or not as we expected, we can become disoriented and lose our way within the emptiness of failed ambitions or missed opportunities.

But the good news, according to Jeremiah, is that Yahweh also says that he understands our heart by searching out its depths, and testing and trying the mind. He provides everyone according to their way, “according to what their actions deserve.” In this type of biblical karma, God is providing an experience for each person based on what actions are being driven by the heart’s disposition.

If this is the case for all of humanity, then it is in our best interest to look to Yahweh as the Creator of all to understand the true condition of our heart.  This is not something we should attempt on our own due to the potential dangers we just discussed. If the heart that we have is so frail and deceptive, how can we control what comes out of its overflow in our speech and actions? How can we fill our hearts with love and forgiveness that is necessary to engage with others in ways that our Creator desires?

In a moment, we will see how God has provided a solution to the challenges we face in the wayward directions of our hearts. He himself can provide the motivation and strength that is so critical to living a life that has real and demonstrable love for others.   

If we revisit what Yeshua taught in relation to our hearts, that we speak comes out of the overflow of whatever good or evil is stored up in the heart, then it is in our best interest to know how to ensure that we have only good in our hearts. However, from what we have learned so far, the heart is frail and can be deceptive even to our own reasonings.

There was a promise made to ancient Israel that we can look to to help us understand how God views the situation. Israel had become corrupt before God, and because they refused to listen to his instruction, they were removed from the land he had promised to them and they were spread among the nations as a punishment for their disobedience. Yet, God reveals this happened as a way of teaching them that they would need to rely on him, not their own strength and reasoning, to accomplish his Word.

Ezekiel 36:23-28 – “I will honor the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations ​– ​the name you have profaned among them. The nations will know that I am Yahweh ​– ​this is the declaration of Yahweh GOD ​– ​when I demonstrate my holiness through you in their sight.  For I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries, and will bring you into your own land. I will also sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will place my Spirit within you and cause you to follow my statutes and carefully observe my ordinances. You will live in the land that I gave your fathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God.

This is an amazing passage that provides us some critical information in the discussion of the heart. Yahweh said in order for Israel to be the light to the nations that they were destined to be, he would need to not just renovate or repair but to replace their collective heart with a new one. This new heart would provide the motivation and strength, guided by his own Spirit, to actually follow his statutes and ordinances, as he had originally intended for them.

This same thing is also mentioned in the famous passage in Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 31:31-34 – “Look, the days are coming” ​– ​this is Yahweh’s declaration ​– ​”when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. “This one will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors on the day I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt ​– ​my covenant that they broke even though I am their master” ​– ​Yahweh’s declaration. “Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days” ​– ​Yahweh’s declaration. “I will put my teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. “No longer will one teach his neighbor or his brother, saying, ‘Know Yahweh,’ for they will all know me, from the least to the greatest of them” ​– ​this is Yahweh’s declaration. “For I will forgive their iniquity and never again remember their sin.

This teaching that would be in their hearts would be placed there by God himself. He would provide them the new hearts of obedience that would accomplish his purpose in the world. Ezekiel relates that the nations would come to know Yahweh when they saw him demonstrate his holiness through them by restoring them to himself, even though they had strayed so far from him.

When Yeshua arrived to instruct the nation one last time before they would disappear from the world stage, he pronounced the same message to Nicodemus, a leader in Israel, this message previously revealed by Jeremiah and Ezekiel.

John 3:3-8 – Yeshua replied, “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  “How can anyone be born when he is old? ” Nicodemus asked him. “Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born? ”  Yeshua answered, “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again. The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

To be born of the Spirit of God was another way of saying they needed to have a new heart. This was the only way for Israel to have the contents of their hearts switched from evil to good. God was doing a work with the remnant of his people who would hear this message of the kingdom to become the born-again people of the new covenant and the new Creation. In doing this work in their lives, God would be demonstrating his holiness among his own people, and through this faithfulness those from among the nations would be drawn to Yahweh, as well.

Romans 15:8-12 – For I say that Messiah became a servant of the circumcised on behalf of God’s truth, to confirm the promises to the fathers, and so that Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and I will sing praise to your name.  Again it says, Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people! And again, Praise Yahweh, all you Gentiles; let all the peoples praise him!  And again, Isaiah says, The root of Jesse will appear, the one who rises to rule the Gentiles; the Gentiles will hope in him.

God knew all along that once he chose Israel, they would fall away and he would have to scatter them throughout the known world. But this was also with the understanding that in drawing them back to himself through Messiah, others from among the nations would also be drawn to him. This was and is the method that God has set in place to draw all people to himself through Messiah Yeshua. God has demonstrated himself faithful with Israel, thereby providing a firm foundation for those of other nations to come to him, as well.

If we are to be speaking and demonstrating forgiveness and reconciliation with others, then that forgiveness and reconciliation will truly need to be in our heart. This can only be accomplished when we step out of the way of our old natures and allow God to work through our renewed nature in those situations.

2 Corinthians 5:16-19 – Therefore we know no one after the flesh from now on. Even though we have known Messiah after the flesh, yet now we know him so no more. Therefore if anyone is in Messiah, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new. But all things are of God, who reconciled us to himself through Yeshua Messiah, and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Messiah, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us.

As this message of reconciliation spreads, more and more people have their hearts changed out to become hearts of obedience guided by the Spirit of God. That’s the good news of the kingdom. The even better news is that, knowing we still have the capability to slip and fall accidentally from time to time, we still retain the ability to ask for ongoing renewal when we mess up.

1 John 1:6, 9 – If we say, “We have fellowship with him,” and yet we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth. … If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

If, as Paul writes, we are new creations, then we need to operate within the new Creation of God’s kingdom, and live and abide by its principles, not the principles of this old Creation. Both Yeshua and Paul convey that the principle of reconciliation and forgiveness is a core principle of God’s kingdom. If our hearts have been renewed, then that forgiveness and reconciliation can truly reside in our new hearts. What we place in our heart from that time on is up to us.

Our ability to speak this forgiveness and reconciliation to those around us appears to be a choice that we have every day, but only when we recognize and remember who we really are. It is in this fashion that God is honored among the nations when his children are operating with the righteousness of his kingdom regardless of the outward situations and conditions they encounter. When the abundance of the heart is good treasure, then that good treasure can’t help but be shared with those who need it most.


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 at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Real peace is generated by trust in God

Regardless of our own abilities or resources, our ultimate trust in all things should be in God.

Core of the Bible podcast #83 – Real peace is generated by trust in God

Today we will be looking at the topic of trust or faith in God, and how, regardless of our own abilities or resources, our ultimate trust in all things should be in God.

Philippians 4:6-7 – 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.

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. This is why prayer is effective, because we are giving over situations that are beyond our control to Someone who has all control.

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.

Yeshua famously taught his disciples about trusting in our heavenly Father for all of their needs.

Matthew 6:31-32: ““Therefore don’t be anxious, saying, ‘What will we eat?’, ‘What will we drink?’ or, ‘With what will we be clothed?’  For the Gentiles seek after all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. “

He encouraged them not to do what the nations around them would do which was earnestly seek after every opportunity to improve material gain and wealth. This is not a situation unlike today in which we find ourselves living among a culture that is obsessed with materialism. This is why this topic of trusting in God can be such a challenging topic for us today. It’s because, at least in our American culture, we are constantly fed a steady diet of information that says we must be successful at all costs. That definition of success is typically wrapped up in nice houses, fancy cars, and investment income.

All my life I have wanted to be independent and be able to create my own source or sources of income to support myself and my family. Even if it wasn’t possible at any given time, it has always been in the back of my mind that I would like to accomplish that level of independence. I’ve always thought it was just the way my brain is wired, but lately I have come to think that it may have more to do with exposure to our culture than it does with any independent streak I may have in my personality. It does not appear to be an uncommon desire in our current culture.

Yet here I am with kids almost grown and over 25 years with my current employer. Thankfully, we currently have more than enough to meet all of our needs, even though at times it was a struggle as we were raising our family up. Through it all, my wife and I have always trusted that God would provide for our family, and he has graciously done so.

Does that mean that I didn’t have to do anything, and God would simply pour resources into our lap? Of course not, I have had to work very hard to provide consistency in my job, sometimes working nights and weekends as needed. But I have had a strangely long run with a single employer which is becoming less and less prevalent as the years go by, and I find that in itself is an unusual provision in these challenging times.

You see, trust in God 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, we are demonstrating that our trust is not in our own abilities or resources, but in God.

Isaiah 26:3 – You will keep the mind that is dependent on you in perfect peace, for it is trusting in you.

Trust in God also involves being flexible. In a moment we will look at various aspects of flexibility that should also be evident in the life of a believer who is trusting in God.


So far in our examination of this topic, we have reviewed trusting in God by praying about all things. We have also looked at the efforts that are still needed on our part to accomplish even our most basic needs.

Beyond these basics, another aspect of trusting in God is remaining flexible. Many times, we may believe we are headed toward a desired outcome when God has something totally different planned. This is not always a negative thing, but it may require a pivot in our thinking and expectations.

Back to the example of the responsible dad who is safely taking his family home from a road trip, we can glean some application by looking at various aspects of that situation.

For example, we need to be strategizing our desired route, but not to the exclusion of allowing for detours along the way. Perhaps the expected route home has become unavailable due to a crash ahead or construction that has blocked off access. In these instances, we need to be able to take the time to think rationally around the obstacle in order to continue making progress toward home. When we perform this exercise, many times new opportunities in previously undiscovered ways come to light.

For example, I have a typical way I commute to work every day but in times of heavy traffic I have begun to rely on digital mapping of my route to find the quickest way around the traffic as needed. Some of the alternative routes at times of heavy traffic have yielded much more pleasant ways of getting to the same destination. This is one way in which remaining flexible can yield new opportunities when we trust God’s direction.

Psalm 119:59-60: “I considered my ways, and turned my steps to your statutes. I will hurry, and not delay, to obey your commandments.”

Being obedient in those times can yield new experiences and more fruitful results.

We also need to be considering traffic and road conditions but remain open to having to modify our plans accordingly as needed. Perhaps we begin to encounter snow, heavy rain, or dense fog which prevents us from seeing clearly. In these cases, we may need to simply pull over and wait it out until more favorable conditions arrive. Sometimes God has us sit quietly and wait for him until we can receive further instruction.

Psalm 40:1: “I waited patiently for Yahweh. He turned to me, and heard my cry.”

Isaiah 33:2: “Yahweh, be gracious to us. We have waited for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble.”

These periods of waiting for God can be excruciating, especially for those type A’s among us. But these times can also provide needed rest when we are over-stressed, or they can cause us to focus on other needed things that may have arisen unexpectedly. Remaining flexible says that we are trusting that God has a reason for the unintended delay.

At other times, God provides guidance through or during the adverse condition or situation.

I can recall a true-life story about a couple driving home on the interstate when they became trapped in a white-out snowstorm. Unable to see the road, they simply pulled over, but they also knew that if they remained stationary too long, they would become trapped as the continuing snow deepened. Praying about their situation, they soon realized a snowplow had arrived to keep the freeway clear. They were then able to get back on the freeway and follow at a safe distance as the road was being plowed for them by professionals who knew the way and had the resources to clear the snow. They were able to safely arrive at their exit and complete their journey.

Psalm 25:5: “Guide me in your truth, and teach me, For you are the God of my salvation, I wait for you all day long.”

Psalm 73:21,23-24: “For my soul was grieved. I was embittered in my heart. … Nevertheless, I am continually with you. You have held my right hand. You will guide me with your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.”

God’s guidance still involves us to follow that guidance, just as the couple had to get back on the freeway to follow the snowplow. But when we are faithful to his statutes, we will find he has provided a way through our predicament, and all to his glory.

In summary, 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 in God 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, 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 can bring us safely home at the end of the trip. Yet, if he has other plans for us along the way, plans of which we had no idea or had even considered a possibility, our trust in him will provide the confidence needed to operate in these unfamiliar areas and terrain.

This is what it means to walk by the Spirit. Yeshua taught:

John 3:8: “The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear its sound, but don’t know where it comes from and where it is going. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.””

Paul reiterated this dependency on God when he wrote to the Galatian congregation:

Galatians 5:25: “If we live by the Spirit, let’s also walk by the Spirit.”

Therefore, if we live by faith in the God of the universe, let us also walk by faith that he can and will guide us within his perfect plan and purpose. This can provide real peace because it is not based in anything that can be overturned in this life, but it is based in the One who holds all things in the palm of his hand.


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

The surpassing righteousness of love

The truly righteous actions can’t be legislated.

Matthew 5:20 – “For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.”

Many of the scribes and the Pharisees were famous for abiding by the letter of the law in scrutinizing detail, yet they were guilty of disobeying the spirit of it.

Matthew 23:23 – “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You pay a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, and yet you have neglected the more important matters of the law ​– ​justice, mercy, and faithfulness. These things should have been done without neglecting the others.”

They had become examples of legalistic rule-following; outwardly appearing to obey the law when in their hearts they were just as wicked as the vilest law-breakers whom they would condemn. Yeshua continually called them out for their hypocrisy, and this is what enraged them against him.

For Yeshua, outward actions should stem from the sincerity of the heart; it is not possible to make the heart right just by conducting some outward ritual. This is why it is impossible to legislate morality; it must be something that springs from a place of inward purity, not just outward conformity.

Not every Pharisee or scribe was wicked, and many ultimately came to faith in Messiah among the early believers, albeit struggling to understand how the law would apply to believers in Messiah, as is demonstrated in Acts 15. However, for Yeshua, of primary concern was regenerative work of God’s Spirit on the heart.

John 3:6-8 – “Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. “Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again. “The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

When the heart is right, the actions will be right. The righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees can only be surpassed when the actions that conform to the Word of God are sincere with no agenda or motivation for self-aggrandizement.

1 John 3:14, 16 – We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers and sisters. The one who does not love remains in death. … This is how we have come to know love: He laid down his life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

If our true motivation is love for others, not just rule following to make ourselves look good, then we can be confident that we are doing the right thing for the right reasons. When the Spirit of God is present in our lives, we can’t help but do things that benefit others, because God is love. And only when we act in truly loving ways towards others is when our righteousness surpasses that of the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees. We can then see the kingdom, and others can see the kingdom in us. It is then that the kingdom of God is manifest in our lives.


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.

Watch and remember

To imperatives that can keep believers from being led astray.

Acts 20:31 – “Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.”

Here in his parting address to the leaders of the Ephesian congregation, Paul leaves them with this admonition to “watch and remember.” What was it they were to watch for, and what is it they were to remember?

Acts 20:29-30 – “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. “Men will rise up even from your own number and distort the truth to lure the disciples into following them.

They were to be watching for the false teachers that were sure to come. This is language that is reminiscent of the words of Yeshua to the disciples as he was sending them out two by two.

Matthew 10:16-17 – “Look, I’m sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves. “Beware of them, because they will hand you over to local courts and flog you in their synagogues.

Whenever truth is declared, it creates a vortex of distortion which swirls around it as people are confronted with its light. Those who reject it try to hide from and conceal the light of truth because it reveals their error and exposes their weakness.

Yeshua illustrated this as he spoke to Nicodemus about the necessity of being born from above:

John 3:19-20 – “This is the judgment: The light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. “For everyone who does evil hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed.

If Yeshua and Paul were warning the first century believers of the dangers that were present to them from false teachers, how much more today do we need to be watchful for the darkness of error which can creep in unawares?

Remaining alert is most possible when we keep our focus on the One to whom we belong. When we become distracted is when we drop our guard. Paul says to watch and remember; when we remember who we are, we can build ourselves up. But when we remember who He is, what He has done, and what He can do, God gives us His strength to remain steadfast in the truth of his word.

Acts 20:32 – “And now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you an inheritance among all who are sanctified.

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.

Living as a new person

His Spirit can renew our hearts for him.

1 Samuel 10:6, 9 – …and the Spirit of Yahweh will come mightily on you, and you shall prophesy with them, and shall be turned into another man … When he turned his back to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart. And all these signs came to pass that day.

The Spirit of God has the ability to transform believers. Saul, as the first king of Israel, was mightily anointed by God for the task, so much so, that he effectively became another person. The text says that God when the Spirit of God came upon him, God “gave him another heart.”

God’s desired goal with individuals is that when they encounter him in a personal way, they are effectively changed from the inside out.

God had told Ezekiel that the whole nation of Israel was going to be able to receive his influence in their lives. This was to provide them the strength and wisdom to obey his commands.

Ezekiel 36:25-27 – I will also sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will place my Spirit within you and cause you to follow my statutes and carefully observe my ordinances.

This was God’s plan for them all along: to become a new people, set apart from all others, and to be obedient examples to the rest of the world. They were to be a nation following his torah, his instruction for all to see. This obedience would not be one of rote compulsion, but one of freedom and joy from the heart.

Jeremiah 31:33 – Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days ​– ​the LORD’s declaration. I will put my teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

The only way this could effectively be accomplished was by transforming the individual’s heart to understand and to desire to follow God.

Hebrews 10:22 – let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water.

Just as God had promised Israel that he would cleanse them from all of their impurities and their idols, he promised that believers in Messiah could draw near to him as they received cleansing for their rebellious deeds of conscience and body.

John 3:3, 5 – Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” … Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

To live as a believer in God and his Messiah is to live as a new person with lives of integrity and righteousness. This is the goal that God has for every individual who comes to him in sincerity and truth, and he can make it so.

Many people come to congregations seeking to change their own lives, as if somehow they can learn enough or do the right “church things” they can mold and shape themselves into who they think God wants them to be. However, all of these passages speak to the changing of the heart to be an act of God, not a twelve-step plan to becoming a better person.

2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Messiah, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

It doesn’t take a program of study to experience God’s presence in our lives, but it does take a sincere approach that lays down all personal objectives and known transgressions against a holy and righteous God. A true seeker must be willing to die to self, for the call of the true believer is the call of the martyr.

Just like Saul of long ago, God is still willing to transform. Once we have surrendered all to God, then he can mold and shape us into whom he desires us to be for him.


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

Did John mean the kingdom was already present, or soon to come?

“The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand! Repent, and believe in the Good News.”

Mark 1:15

The words of John the baptizer rang in the ears of the first century Jews with a sense of impending urgency. The time was fulfilled; the kingdom of God was at hand! This reality was the motivation of John’s cry for repentance. If people were not serious about their torah obedience, they were to be left among those who would experience the coming judgment of God on the land.

This message of the nearness of the kingdom can be easy to misunderstand. Did John mean it was already present, or soon to come? The short answer is that both meanings are true; the kingdom was already unfolding and yet was going to be coming to pass as the judgment that would fall on them.

We can see this is the case as Yeshua continues this message in his ministry:

“Whatever city you enter and they receive you, eat what is set before you; and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ “But whatever city you enter and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your city which clings to our feet we wipe off [in protest] against you; yet be sure of this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city.

Luke 10:8-12

He instructs the disciples to explain the nearness of the kingdom; to those who would receive their message, it was a message of comfort. However to those who were judged unworthy, it was a message of condemnation. It’s the same message: “the kingdom is near,” just with two completely different applications depending on how the message was to be received.

The message of the kingdom is a separator of individuals. To those who receive God’s kingship authority and turn away from disobedience to his Word, the message of the kingdom is a comfort and a blessing. But to those who reject the kingship of God and are unwilling to turn away from disobedience to his Word, the message of the kingdom is an annoyance and a burden; their judgment has come upon their own heads.

And this is the verdict: The Light has come into the world, but men loved the darkness rather than the Light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come into the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever practices the truth comes into the Light, so that it may be seen clearly that what he has done has been accomplished in God.”

John 3:19-21

While this message still rings true for every generation, it was especially true for that first-century generation. Those who were to “come to the light,” as John mentions, demonstrated the grace and mercy of God among the remnant of his people. Yeshua says of these: “Truly, truly, I tell you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment. Indeed, he has crossed over from death to life,” (John 5:24). The crossing over had already happened; these individuals were not to come under the pending judgment of God’s people. However, upon those who were not willing to come into the light, it was as if the judgment had already come: “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life,” (1 John 5:12).

The New Jerusalem of Revelation is symbolic of the Kingdom of God. Its purpose and glory is described there as being the home of the righteous, those who have received the message of the Kingdom of God.

But I saw no temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, because the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its lamp. By its light the nations will walk, and into it the kings of the earth will bring their glory. Its gates will never be shut at the end of the day, because there will be no night there. And into the city will be brought the glory and honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who practices an abomination or a lie, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Revelation 21:22-27

In like fashion to that exemplified group of Yeshua’s original audience, to each generation since that time the message of the kingdom is the same: “the light of the Kingdom of God is near.” Will we accept the kingship of Yahweh or not? Will we be obedient or not? Will we choose to enter its gates or not?

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.