The necessary dedication behind discipline

Our walk of faith is one of tireless self-evaluation and training in righteousness.

Our walk of faith is one of tireless self-evaluation and training in righteousness.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27: “Don’t you know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run like that, that you may win. Every man who strives in the games exercises self-control in all things. Now they do it to receive a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible. I therefore run like that, not aimlessly. I fight like that, not beating the air, but I beat my body and bring it into submission, lest by any means, after I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected.”

This admonition of Paul to the Corinthian believers should be a motto placed on the wall of every congregation to this day. Paul would accept absolutely no compromise when it came to matters of obedience or disobedience to Yahweh. He was so intent on keeping his focus on the righteousness of God and he says he would beat his body into submission if his desires outweighed what was right.

The phrase he uses here means to strike under the eye, as if giving someone a black eye. This conjures up imagery of prizefighting, where fighters train their body is so hard so that they may endure the battle in the arena.

If that’s the level of discipline needed to be successful in worldly games with and earthly reward such as a crown or head-wreath of victory, how much more is at stake in our spiritual lives that we should exercise the same vigilance and determination in keeping ourselves pure?

Yeshua put it this way to his disciples:

Matthew 5:29-30: “If your right eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it away from you. For it is more profitable for you that one of your members should perish, than for your whole body to be cast into Gehenna. If your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off, and throw it away from you. For it is more profitable for you that one of your members should perish, than for your whole body to be cast into Gehenna.”

The issue was not the physical chopping off of hands or gouging out of eyes, but having the same level of diligence in making sure our bodies are disciplined according to God’s word. This is the seriousness with which Yeshua commands his followers to be consistent in their walk of righteousness.

Paul carries this idea forward with the concept of putting our flesh to death. There is nothing more final than the concept of death. If the flesh is dead, it can’t continue to rise up in rebellion to the commands of God.

  • Colossians 3:5-6: “Put to death therefore your members which are on the earth: sexual immorality, uncleanness, depraved passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry; for which things’ sake the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience.”
  • Romans 8:13: “For if you live after the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

It’s true, we must die to ourselves in order to live for Messiah. If we are not willing to make that level of commitment in our walk, then perhaps we need to rethink our understanding of just what it is Yeshua taught.

Matthew 10:38-39: “He who doesn’t take his cross and follow after me, isn’t worthy of me. He who seeks his life will lose it; and he who loses his life for my sake will find it. “


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

Contrasts leading to forgiveness

The Biblical injunctions to avoid foolish and impetuous talk remain consistent over the centuries.

The Biblical injunctions to avoid foolish and impetuous talk remain consistent over the centuries.

Matthew 5:22 – “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be answerable to the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be answerable to the Council; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be liable to Gehenna fire.”

This saying of Yeshua appears extreme for such a seemingly petty offense. Anger and name-calling can have you dragged into court and ultimately into the judgment of God. What is even stranger is that it is pronounced in the larger context of murder, a crime which seems much more severe. Why the contrast? And is this a new teaching?

Well, to the first point, Yeshua almost always states things in contrast, as this provides the greatest clarity of the topic at hand. When two contrasts are presented, the truth then becomes self-evident.

Matthew 5:13 – “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by people.”

The salt is understood to be of no value if it loses the very thing that makes it unique among all other minerals or spices. This is a perfect analogy revealing the purpose of the believer is to not compromise their uniqueness as a child of God in a world of corruption.

Matthew 5:14-15 – “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.

The absurdity of lighting a lamp only to cover it with a basket illustrates the same principle: a believer is meant to shine, not to be outwardly like everyone else; we must shine with the light God gives us.

And the teaching of Yeshua about calling someone a fool and being in danger of Gehenna fire was not a new teaching, either. For example, the psalmist warned of the dangers of anger and wrath, how it can only lead to further evildoing, and how evildoers would ultimately receive judgment of God.

Psalm 37:7-9: “Rest in Yahweh, and wait patiently for him. Don’t fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who makes wicked plots happen. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath. Don’t fret, it leads only to evildoing. For evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for Yahweh shall inherit the land.”

A similar thought is conveyed in the Proverbs, as well.

Proverbs 18:6-7 – “A fool’s lips bring strife, And his mouth invites beatings. A fool’s mouth is his ruin, And his lips are the snare of his soul.”

In contrast to these judgments of ruin or snared souls, Yeshua encourages love and forgiveness. If we have called someone “empty-headed” or a fool, we are already headed on a path that can lead us down a path of potential escalation, ultimately resulting in a greater judgment. But if we forgive, we cut that path off and open the door to the avoidance of further strife and reconciliation.

  • Matthew 5:44 – “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”
  • Ephesians 4:26-27 – “‘Be angry, and yet do not sin’; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.”
  • Ephesians 4:31-32 – “All bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving each other, just as God in Messiah also has forgiven you.”
  • Titus 3:2 – “…to slander no one, not to be contentious, to be gentle, showing every consideration for all people.”

Kindness and forgiveness are much more in line with the attitude that God expects of his children. Being understanding and showing consideration, even amidst disagreement, goes a long way toward representing God in a positive light to those who may not know him. A little salt and a little light provide opportunities for healing and understanding.


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

Living with integrity at all times

What we today might consider persecution is more likely closer to inconvenience.

What we today might consider persecution is more likely closer to inconvenience.

The first century believers lived at a unique time in the outworking of God’s Kingdom. This is why that time period is studied so heavily among believers today; what was their base doctrine, how did they worship, what practices are still valid for us as believers in the modern world? How we answer these questions will align us with the various expressions of those root questions. Those who favor authority and continuity might feel compelled toward Roman Catholic teachings; those who feel that God works independently and organically with each generation may lean toward Protestant traditions. Yet all of these established variations of the faith of Messiah will hold that believers will encounter some measure of adversity due to their faith, whether in large scale persecutions, or even the daily exercising of their beliefs.

This perception comes from the many passages of the New Testament writings which speak of persecution and suffering. Yeshua wanted to encourage his hearers to recognize that suffering adversity due to their attachment to him was to be rewarded.

Matthew 5:10-12 – “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. You are blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me. Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

This was a pattern of encouraging believers through trials that his disciples also passed on to their hearers.

Paul:
Philippians 1:27-30 – Just one thing: As citizens of heaven, live your life worthy of the gospel of Messiah. Then, whether I come and see you or am absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, in one accord, contending together for the faith of the gospel, not being frightened in any way by your opponents. This is a sign of destruction for them, but of your salvation ​– ​and this is from God. For it has been granted to you on Messiah’s behalf not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are engaged in the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I have.

Peter:
1 Peter 3:14 – But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be intimidated…
1 Peter 4:12 – Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you.

John:
John 15:20 – “Remember the word I spoke to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you…

This suffering and adversity was to be based on their stance for righteousness and for the principles of Yeshua, not for their own rebellion or stubbornness against the ruling authorities. In fact, we see these warnings were not without merit, as those early believers indeed experienced the very things that Messiah had predicted.

  • Acts 5:40 – After they called in the apostles and had them flogged, they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them.
  • Acts 8:1, 3 – …On that day a severe persecution broke out against the congregation in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout the land of Judea and Samaria. … Saul, however, was ravaging the congregation. He would enter house after house, drag off men and women, and put them in prison.
  • Acts 12:1-3 – About that time King Herod violently attacked some who belonged to the congregation, and he executed James, John’s brother, with the sword. When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter too, during the Festival of Unleavened Bread.

These examples show how bitterly the message of the gospel of the Kingdom would be received among the corrupt Jewish authorities, and Yeshua had wanted to ensure that his followers were fully prepared for what they would experience. This is why the New Testament writings are filled with statements of encouragement against adversity, because they were actually experiencing it first-hand in their daily lives.

Hebrews 12:3, 12 – For consider him who endured such hostility from sinners against himself, so that you won’t grow weary and give up. … Therefore, strengthen your tired hands and weakened knees…

Let us not fool ourselves into thinking that we in our Western culture are experiencing true persecution for the faith of Messiah. Just because someone disagrees with a social media post or breaks off a friendship because we choose to no longer pursue unrighteous activities is not persecution. To be persecuted in the biblical sense means to be chased or hunted down with the intent to physically harm or kill.

While these New Testament encouragements were designed to minister primarily to that first century generation, I recognize there are still places in the world today where believers in Messiah are persecuted, physically beaten, imprisoned, and tortured for their faith. In those situations, these words that were aimed at those early believers still ring true in all their fullness today.

However, regardless of the severity of adversity that anyone suffers for righteousness and the principles of Messiah, we can take the advice of the apostle Paul to heart that applies in any situation:

Philippians 1:27- Just one thing: As citizens of heaven, live your life worthy of the gospel of Messiah.

This is the high calling of every believer of Messiah in every place, in every situation, at all times. When we continually live our lives with integrity, worthy of the gospel of Messiah, we honor our true citizenship and bear the greatest witness to the reality of that Kingdom.


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 Kingdom of humility

God has designed his Creation to operate in unison with his will.

God has designed his Creation to operate in unison with his will.

Matthew 5:3 – “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.”

Yeshua taught the necessity of humility in the establishment of the Kingdom of God. In fact, his first recorded message to the people was one of repentance and humility before God.

  • Matthew 4:17 – “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
  • Mark 1:15 – “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

However, this was not a new message to the people of God. They had been urged all along through the Prophets and the Writings of the Tanakh to ensure that their hearts were never lifted up.

  • Psalm 34:18 – Yahweh is near the brokenhearted; he saves those crushed in spirit.
  • Psalm 51:16-17 – You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it; you are not pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. You will not despise a broken and humbled heart, God.
  • Isaiah 66:2 – My hand made all these things, and so they all came into being. This is Yahweh’s declaration. I will look favorably on this kind of person: one who is humble, submissive in spirit, and trembles at my word.

This makes sense, since the establishment of the Kingdom of God on the earth has always been the purpose of God since the beginning of all things. The consistency of the message is staggering considering all that took place throughout the history of the people of Israel, and the many times they rejected this simple principle.

  • Deuteronomy 8:14 – “be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget Yahweh your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery.”
  • 2 Chronicles 32:25 – However, because his heart was proud, Hezekiah didn’t respond according to the benefit that had come to him. So there was wrath on him, Judah, and Jerusalem.
  • Psalm 94:2 – “Rise up, Judge of the earth; repay the proud what they deserve.”

The Kingdom is not and will not be made up of those who are self-assured in their own purposes; this is the anti-Kingdom mentality. This is the worldview that seeks to leverage everything and everyone around them to their own advantage and design. Even (especially) among God’s own people, this frame of mind produces not the blessing of God, but the judgment of God. We must remember that we are made in his image; we are not him.

Yet, through all of this, the thread of humility before God is one that remains foundational to the establishment of the Kingdom. God still calls people to lay their own plans down before him and to pick up the cross of his purpose and will in the face of adversity and sometimes even ridicule. This is how the Kingdom grows: through each individual choosing to accomplish God’s will, not their own, with the gifts and resources he has provided each one of them.

James 4:10 – “Humble yourselves before Yahweh, and he will exalt you.”


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

Loving from the heart

True compassion for others begins with an all-consuming love for God.

True compassion for others begins with an all-consuming love for God.

Many believers are familiar with the prophecy of Micah if for no other reason than this famous verse about acting with compassion:

Micah 6:8: “He has shown you, O man, what is good. What does Yahweh require of you, but to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”

But Micah is only signifying what God had repeatedly told Israel over and over. Notice how Micah says, “He has shown you…” This is not something that God had done in a corner somewhere distant; no, God had repeatedly told them how he desired their hearts to be right and to demonstrate compassion with others in all things, providing this justice and mercy in tangible ways.

Through Isaiah, he warned them of the impending judgment for their failure to learn that lesson.

Isaiah 1:16-17: “Wash yourselves, make yourself clean. Put away the evil of your doings from before my eyes. Cease to do evil. Learn to do well. Seek justice. Relieve the oppressed. Judge the fatherless. Plead for the widow.””

Through Zechariah, he emphasized how there should be no evil in the heart, no falsity in the words out of the mouth in the carrying out of his commands.

  • Zechariah 7:9-10: ““Thus has Yahweh of Armies spoken, saying, Execute true judgment, and show kindness and compassion every man to his brother. Don’t oppress the widow, nor the fatherless, the foreigner, nor the poor; and let none of you devise evil against his brother in your heart.’”
  • Zechariah 8:16-17: “These are the things that you shall do: speak every man the truth with his neighbor. Execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates, and let none of you devise evil in your hearts against his neighbor, and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate,” says Yahweh.”

This repeated injunction of focusing on the heart is emphasized in the teaching of Yeshua and his disciples, as well.

Matthew 5:8 – “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Matthew 18:35 – “So also my heavenly Father will do to you unless every one of you forgives his brother or sister from your heart.”

Most importantly, Yeshua emphasized how the basis of the Kingdom of God, and the righteous actions of the heart, were rooted in a sincere, genuine, and complete love for Yahweh. This was the first and greatest commandment which would lead to the second most important commandment: to love others.

Matthew 22:37-39 – He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”

The failure of the religious leaders to exemplify true and genuine compassion was also the condemnation Yeshua pronounced against them, using the same words of Isaiah:

Matthew 15:8 – “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”

These compassionate actions are at the very center of the message of the Bible, and the Yeshua’s words in the Sermon on the Mount simply clarify something that God had been saying all along: the goal of all of Torah, or God’s instruction, is loving one another genuinely from the heart, not out of religious obligation. This is the message he taught his disciples: that true love for God causes us to truly love others. This was the message that the disciples sought to distill to those under their care and direction, as well:

  • Romans 8:28 – “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God…”
  • 1 Corinthians 2:9 – “But as it is written, What no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human heart has conceived — God has prepared these things for those who love him.”
  • 1 Corinthians 16:14 – “Do everything in love.”
  • 1 Timothy 1:5: “but the goal of this command is love, out of a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith…”

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

Cultivating godly leaders of integrity

The fruit of a life lived in harmony with God’s Word is beneficial to all.

The fruit of a life lived in harmony with God’s Word is beneficial to all.

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.”

With these words, Yeshua sets a contrast that he will continue to illustrate over and over in the gospels: the person of integrity will not simply follow outward rules but will be obedient to God from the heart. Through these contrasts which were on display by the majority of the religious establishment, Yeshua demonstrates that the opposite of integrity is not just lawlessness, but hypocrisy.

Matthew 23:2-3 – “The scribes and the Pharisees are seated in the chair of Moses. Therefore do whatever they tell you, and observe it. But don’t do what they do, because they don’t practice what they teach.”

Yeshua had warned about recognizing false teaching by evaluating the fruit of those who teach these things. If their lifestyles did not match what they were teaching about, then they could be ignored.

Matthew 7:15-17 – “Be on your guard against false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves. You’ll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit.”

The fruit of the religious leaders of Yeshua’s day had become so corrupt they no longer fairly represented Yahweh, and by their lifestyle they were judged by him as lawless. The third commandment of the Ten is to not take Yahweh’s name in vain, yet their entire religious lives centered on their vanity.

Matthew 23:27-28 – “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of the bones of the dead and every kind of impurity. In the same way, on the outside you seem righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

His condemnation of the leaders was not just a rebellious act against authority, but a condemnation of their hypocrisy. Leaders, by the very nature of their responsibility, must be held to a higher standard.

James 3:1-2 – “Not many should become teachers, my brothers, because you know that we will receive a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is mature, able also to control the whole body.”

Maturity in a leader is that they will be consistent between what they say and what they do. As believers, we should all be striving for that level of integrity in everything, and as God sees fit, godly leaders will then rise to prominence among his people. The flashy charisma of hypocritical false leaders will be shown for what it is as the fruit of a life that is not truly yielded to God. However, the leaders of integrity will demonstrate a heart for truth and obedience to God’s Word. This is the goal of integrity for all believers: to harmonize truth with actions.


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

Out of the Kingdom

God removes from his Kingdom all that prohibits the light of truth and righteousness from shining.

God removes from his Kingdom all that prohibits the light of truth and righteousness from shining.

Yeshua had taught that the religious leaders of his day were so corrupt that God had no choice but to remove them. His Kingdom had suffered violence from those who tried to make their own traditions and rules equal to his Torah. Therefore, Yeshua warned them that they would lose the very thing they were trying so hard to hold on to by their own schemes.

Matthew 21:43, 45 – “‘Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruit.’ … When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they knew he was speaking about them.”

Yeshua spared no mercies in confronting the leaders with the reality of how this was to be accomplished.

Matthew 13:40 – “‘Therefore, just as the weeds are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age.'”

The end of that corrupt age was upon them, and a new age was about to be inaugurated: an age of righteousness and peace that had been predicted for centuries. But first, those who were standing in the way had to be removed for this to take place.

Matthew 13:41 – “‘The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will gather from his kingdom all snares and those guilty of lawlessness.'”

Those things that were snares, traps, or hindrances (as many different versions translate the Greek word skandalon) were things that related to the concerns of men, not the concerns of God. These were things that distracted people from the true purpose of God, as Peter found out when he tried to insert his own agenda into the outworking of God’s plan with Messiah.

Matthew 16:21-23 – From then on Yeshua began to point out to his disciples that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and be raised the third day. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, “Oh no, Lord! This will never happen to you! ” Yeshua turned and told Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a snare [skandalon] to me because you’re not thinking about God’s concerns but human concerns.”

Additionally, those guilty of lawlessness were, ironically, the scribes and Pharisees themselves. This pronouncement came directly from Yeshua in a long list of offenses they had committed against the righteous standards of God.

Matthew 23:27-28 – “‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of the bones of the dead and every kind of impurity. In the same way, on the outside you seem righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.'”

The destiny of those who were corrupting the remnant, the true believers, those who sided with Messiah, was to be burned.

Matthew 13:42 – “‘They will throw them into the blazing furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'”

This was the imagery Yeshua used to describe the destruction of Jerusalem; it was burned with fire and completely destroyed when it fell to the Roman army in 70 AD. Based on this historical reality, we can see how the prophecy of Yeshua came to pass within a generation, as he had predicted. All of those who were guilty of the snares of man-made concerns and lawlessness due to their hypocrisy were eliminated in the destruction of the beloved city.

It was only after that cleansing that the fullness of the Kingdom could be realized, as those who had believed in Messiah could fully live according to the righteous standards of Yahweh from the heart.

Matthew 13:43 – “‘Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom. Let anyone who has ears listen.'”

That was God’s plan all along, that the hearts of those who would seek him would be obedient to his Word, his Torah. When that happened, his enemies (those lawless who set snares of men) were removed from the Kingdom and then the remnant, the true believers who were pure of heart, could let their lights shine.

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.'”

The city on the hill is the New Jerusalem, Zion, the righteous Kingdom of God, and it cannot be hidden. To this day it shines with the brightness of all those who are obedient to Yahweh, serving him from the heart and no longer by just the letter of the law, but by the Spirit.


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

Love, prayer, and forgiveness

To conquer evil, believers must do good and pray for others, and then forgive when repentance occurs.

To conquer evil, believers must do good and pray for others, and then forgive when repentance occurs.

Matthew 5:44-45 – “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. For he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

When it comes to those who are enemies or who are contrary to us, we have two commands from Yeshua: love them and pray for them. In this way, he says we will be children of our Father in heaven.

In the examples he provides, Yeshua’s definition of love is something along the lines of: to do good to someone else even if they don’t deserve it. He uses the example of God shining his sun and sending the watering rains on everyone, regardless if they acknowledge him or not. This serves two purposes: it illustrates God as the Creator over all, and it highlights his equal care for those he has created, whether they return his care and concern or not. When we treat others in this fashion, says Yeshua, we are acting like our Father in heaven, and can rightly be called his children.

When it comes to forgiveness, we are instructed by Yeshua to forgive others only when they come to us asking for it. Forgiveness by us is required when someone has wronged us and is repentant, asking for our forgiveness. It is then that we must not withhold our forgiveness, even though we may be hurt and wounded by the offense. If they come to us seeking forgiveness, no matter how many times, we must do so.

Matthew 18:21-22 – Then Peter approached him and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? As many as seven times? ” “I tell you, not as many as seven,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven.”

Forgiveness is not something that is offered when there is no repentance; even God does not provide that. In those instances, we are to continue to love (do undeserved good things) and pray for them. However, when someone sincerely comes to us in recognition of the error of their ways against us, we must forgive regardless of the offense. This is the way God forgives, and his forgiveness is complete.

It is easy to get all of these terms mixed up in our heads and to think we are required to provide forgiveness to enemies who are unrepentant, since we are to love our enemies. No, we are to love our enemies by doing good to them and praying for them even though we may not feel they deserve it, but we must do so sincerely with the desire to see them repent. In this way, we are acting as God does toward all people.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 – First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

After loving others by doing good things for them and sincerely praying for them, it should prompt them to repent.

Proverbs 25:21-22 – If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for you will heap burning coals on his head, and Yahweh will reward you.

The “burning coals on his head” is the ashamedness that someone would feel when you have returned good for their evil. In fact, the apostle Paul quotes this same proverb and then adds:

Romans 12:21 – Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.

When we do good and pray that repentance occurs, then we are to offer forgiveness based on their repentance. Love and prayer come first, then forgiveness comes when repentance is demonstrated. In this way, we act like our Father in heaven and honor the way of living that brings glory to his Name.


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 ongoing battle against avoiding sin

Although believers are victorious in Messiah, the reality of living for him is a real conflict every day.

Although believers are victorious in Messiah, the reality of living for him is a real conflict every day.

Matthew 5:29 – “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into Gehenna.

Yeshua is speaking here of the extreme vigilance with which we must guard our spiritual lives. While this example is exaggerated for emphasis, it demonstrates a spiritual principle that is a typical theme in God’s Word.

For example, in Proverbs, the father is advising his son on the dangers of being lured into complacency or led astray by the woman of bad character:

Proverbs 5:3-8 – Though the lips of the forbidden woman drip honey and her words are smoother than oil, in the end she’s as bitter as wormwood and as sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps head straight for Sheol. She doesn’t consider the path of life; she doesn’t know that her ways are unstable. So now, sons, listen to me, and don’t turn away from the words from my mouth. Keep your way far from her. Don’t go near the door of her house.

In the ongoing narrative of the opening chapters of Proverbs, the father then continues to urge his sons to avoid this type of woman.

Proverbs 7:24-27 – Now, sons, listen to me, and pay attention to the words from my mouth. Don’t let your heart turn aside to her ways; don’t stray onto her paths. For she has brought many down to death; her victims are countless. Her house is the road to Sheol, descending to the chambers of death.

This same warning is for their own good. It is a warning to remain faithful to Yahweh and to not be led astray by the deceptive nature of sin. In the Proverbs, this worldly sin is characterized by the woman of bad character.

The apostle Paul also warns believers of avoiding sinful practices, but he characterizes sin as the flesh.

Romans 8:12-14 – So then, brothers and sisters, we are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh, because if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons.

While Yeshua emphasized the avoidance of sin by removing body parts, Paul goes a step further and says the deeds of the body must be completely put to death in order for the spiritual life to thrive.

These are all different ways of saying the same thing: we must not be seduced by the attractiveness of sin (characterized by the woman). The first step is to avoid those ways all together. However, if we have begun down that road, we must immediately deprive ourselves of any aspect of our lives that has become compromised (exemplified by cutting off a hand or gouging out an eye). If that option has been surpassed, then we must completely “put to death the deeds of the body.” What all of these ideas are conveying is just how destructive sinful lifestyles are, and the seriousness with which sin must be dealt with in the believer’s life.

Many believers look at Paul’s statement of dying to the flesh as being descriptive of the repentant sinner coming to Messiah; the one-time commitment to die to oneself and live the new life in Messiah. However, this statement, as exhibited throughout the Scripture, is a metaphor for an ongoing and continual vigilance by which the believer must separate themself from the sin that is present each and every day. This is not a one-time event but a constant battle that every believer in Yahweh must maintain.

Paul says the believer has the ability through the Spirit of God to overcome these challenges, and to be led by the Spirit, and not by the flesh, is the true hallmark of those who are children of God. Vigilance in this battle means relying on God’s strength to overcome the woman of bad character or the flesh, what the apostle John calls “the world,” all of which can be overcome by our faith in Messiah.

1 John 5:3-5 – For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Yeshua is the Son of God?


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.

Worshiping the King through obedience to his Word

The ninety-ninth psalm is a majestic call to worship the God of the universe right here and now on this earth.

The ninety-ninth psalm is a majestic call to worship, a call to worship and serve the God who is exalted above all people.

Psalm 99:2 – Yahweh is great in Zion; he is exalted above all the peoples.

In the context of ancient Israel, this psalm illustrates where God allowed his Presence to dwell: within the sanctuary of the temple. The first verse says, “He is enthroned between the cherubim.” The cherubim were two massive, winged angelic beings that dominated the Holy of Holies, the perfectly cube-shaped room at the center of the temple into which the High Priest entered only once a year on the Day of Atonement.

The psalmist urges the hearers to “worship at his footstool” or at the place of his feet. In the symbolism of the temple, if Yahweh was enthroned between the wings of the cherubim, then his feet would have rested at the Ark of the Covenant, the place of the Ten Commandments.

Psalm 99:4 – The mighty King loves justice. You have established fairness; you have administered justice and righteousness in Jacob.

Within this cascading symbolism, prostrating oneself at the footstool of God is a recognition of the justice of God through his commands. To bow at his footstool is to submit oneself to the administration of his justice through the observance of his commands.

As Yahweh is the King, it stands to reason that the foundation of his kingdom is based on righteousness, fairness, and justice. These, the psalm says, have been administered “in Jacob.” The whole history of Jacob or Israel is an example for the rest of the world to see how fairly God has dealt with his people. In viewing this example, we can understand how God desires to interact with his people.

Isaiah 55:3-4 – “Pay attention and come to me; listen, so that you will live. I will make a permanent covenant with you on the basis of the faithful kindnesses of David. Since I have made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples…”

In other places, the heavens are considered the throne of God and the entire earth is considered the footstool of Yahweh. This is referenced by Isaiah who is quoted even by Yeshua himself.

  • Isaiah 66:1 – This is what Yahweh says: Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool. Where could you possibly build a house for me? And where would my resting place be?
  • Matthew 5:34-35 – But I tell you, don’t take an oath at all: either by heaven, because it is God’s throne; or by the earth, because it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King.

Ultimately, Yahweh says, as the Creator of all, there is no one place that could contain his Presence, but as the King of all he will honor the individual who humbly submits to his word.

Isaiah 66:2 – “My hand made all these things, and so they all came into being. This is Yahweh’s declaration. I will look favorably on this kind of person: one who is humble, submissive in spirit, and trembles at my word.”

All of this imagery combines to demonstrate the majestic holiness of the God of the universe. He cannot be contained within a temple, or even the earth itself, since it can only represent his footstool. His majesty is so great that it fills the universe, and yet he reveals to us, through his dealings with “Jacob” and with “David” that he respects those who honor his word. His word is the foundation of all justice and fairness that was symbolically kept within the footstool of his Presence in the temple, within the Ark of the Covenant.

If we are to worship at his footstool, and the entire earth is his footstool as both Isaiah and Yeshua reference, then it behooves all people to worship him on this earth by submitting to his timeless word represented by his commands. This is how we worship the God of the universe; not only by lifting holy hands in prayer or song, but by living out his commands in all we think, do and say.

Colossians 1:9-10 – “… we haven’t stopped praying for you. We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God…”


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.