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.

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

God’s faithfulness should inspire faith toward him within us

God has provided abundant evidence that he is faithful to his people.

God has provided abundant evidence that he is faithful to his people.

For the ancient Israelites in Yeshua’s day, trust in Yahweh was based on tangible traditions that were built into the fabric of their culture and society. As they participated in the annual feasts of the biblical calendar, they were reminded of all that God had done for them and how he was always willing to forgive and protect them.

For example, at Passover and Unleavened Bread, they would rehearse all of the wonderful things Yahweh did for them in setting them free from their former bondage to Egypt. At Shavuot, this early summer harvest festival became associated with the giving of the Torah at Sinai, and how God himself had pronounced the Ten Commandments from that fiery summit.

As autumn approached, the beginning of the festival season was announced with the blowing of the shofar or rams horn on Yom Teruah, or Day of Trumpets. As this led up to Yom Kippur or the the Day of Atonement, the first week and a half was a call to repentance and renewal that would be provided through the scapegoat ceremony at the temple on Yom Kippur. Afterwards, preparations were made for building shelters for the week-long festival of Sukkot or Tabernacles, representing the journey in the wilderness after leaving Egypt.

And finally, as the week of Sukkot came to its conclusion the seven-day festival was extended by one day celebrating Eighth Day which came to be known as Shemini Atzeret, or the Eighth Day of the Assembly. On this day, thanks were provided for the abundance of that fall harvest that had just been celebrated, along with a prayers for abundant rains and provision into the next year. This would also be the final day of the water ceremony, referencing abundant provision and the holy Spirit.

With all of this reference to the history of their people and the constant provision of God, not only for their physical needs, but for the provision of forgiveness of their wrongdoing, it is amazing to me that it had not just been normal for every Israelite to trust in Yahweh and in his provision for the faithful.

Yet we find Yeshua having to spell out the provision of God, and how they had no need to be anxious for any of their needs; God already knew what their needs were.

Matthew 6:25-26, 28, 30, 34 – “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? … And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. … If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you–you of little faith? … Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Using examples from God’s own Creation, Yeshua mentions God’s provision of food to all birds, and the beauty of flowers, even though they are transient in nature. If God could manage his Creation, how was it that they could not trust in him to manage their needs, as well?

The beauty of Yeshua’s instruction is that he takes the aspects of the mighty national God down to the level of the individual. If God was continually represented in the annual festivals which called to mind all of his oversight and protection for them as a nation, how could they not allow for his provision of their personal needs, as well?

In our modern expression of our faith, we may not observe all of the festivals of the Torah, although I believe there is much benefit in doing so, even if they are to be considered only object lessons to what I have represented here. However, as we review these aspects of God’s word and the outworking of his provision throughout the history of Israel, we are faced with a similar challenge: can we not trust him to meet our individual needs, since he has clearly demonstrated himself as abundantly faithful with his own people throughout all of history?


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 hard work of reconciliation and forgiveness

Are we commanded to forgive unconditionally?

Are we commanded to forgive unconditionally? Well, Yeshua’s admonition to forgive others is unmistakable:

Matthew 6:12, 14-15 – “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. … “For if you forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. “But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will not forgive your offenses.

Therefore, as believers, we should just forgive everyone no matter what, correct? Well, if we dive a little deeper into Yeshua’s concept of forgiveness, we find that he lays out some parameters that can help guide us through some of these interpersonal relationships, and it may seem a little different than you may expect.

Luke 17:3-4 – “Be on your guard. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. “And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and comes back to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

Firstly, we can see that we must be alert or “on our guard,” as he relates here. Forgiveness is not something that should just be offered to everyone regardless of circumstance. If we are preparing to be forgiving, then we must be alert and use some critical thinking, as well.

Yeshua says “if he repents” you must forgive him. That is the qualifier. Even if someone comes up to you after repeatedly offending you in some way but asks for forgiveness, you must not withhold it.

But what do we do in a situation where someone provides an offense against us but does not repent or ask forgiveness? Are we obligated to forgive them? Well, Yeshua lays out an instance where that also may come into play. It begins by confronting the individual who has wronged another.

Matthew 18:15 – “If your brother sins against you, go and rebuke him in private. If he listens to you, you have won your brother.”

In this case, an offense of some sort has been caused by a close friend or relative yet they have not asked for forgiveness. Interestingly, Yeshua lays the responsibility to restore the relationship on the one has been wronged. It would appear that one of Yeshua’s primary principles is restoration of relationships, not avoidance. This is also intimated in another teaching where he relates those relationships should be restored prior to worshiping God.

Matthew 5:22-24 – “But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Whoever insults his brother or sister, will be subject to the court. Whoever says, ‘You fool! ‘ will be subject to fire of Gehenna. So if you are offering your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.”

The reconciliation begins with us for those with whom we might be angry for some reason. If we go and speak with them about it and they recognize the error, then, as Yeshua says, “you have won your brother.” However, what do we do if they don’t repent or ask for forgiveness? This process is also lined out by Yeshua.

Matthew 18:16-17 “But if he won’t listen, take one or two others with you, so that by the testimony of two or three witnesses every fact may be established. If he doesn’t pay attention to them, tell the congregation. If he doesn’t pay attention even to the congregation, let him be like a Gentile and a tax collector to you.”

Only in the most bitterest of contentions must we remain separated from those who have wronged us. Yet, how many of us have actually cared enough to take the initiative in doing the hard work in restoring those failed relationships? Forgiveness may be real and lasting but it is not cheap. It comes at a price, and it has boundaries.

Yeshua then concludes this teaching with a phrase that has challenged commentators and believers over the years, but I believe is not as difficult to understand as it sounds.

Matthew 18:18 – Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will have been loosed in heaven.

This binding and loosing principle can be understood in the light of what God has commanded. Whatever God (heaven) has bound, is bound or restricted. Whatever God (heaven) has loosed or allowed, is allowable. This is a basic understanding of all of God’s Torah or instruction, beginning with Adam and Eve in the Garden. This is also why we find Yeshua referring to the Torah principle of additional witnesses found in Deuteronomy.

Deuteronomy 19:15 – A lone witness is not sufficient to establish any wrongdoing or sin against a man, regardless of what offense he may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.

As believers, we are bound to what God’s Word or Torah says, but whatever it allows, we are also free or “loosed” to do. So when we follow the admonition of the Torah injunction in ensuring facts of a matter before we jump to conclusions about someone’s intent, we honor God and relationships can be restored.

In his teaching on forgiveness, Yeshua simply provides clarification on the fact that if someone repents, we are obligated to forgive them. However, if they are unrepentant and we have fully involved others to verify the injustice, then and only then are we justified in avoiding them.


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

God’s provision in the pursuit of righteousness

Are we seeking God’s Kingdom and his righteousness, or just his Kingdom?

Are we seeking God’s Kingdom and his righteousness, or just his Kingdom?

In the sixth chapter of Matthew, Yeshua gives one of the most comprehensive descriptions of the life of faith. In it, he describes how our constant striving for material things can set us at odds with God’s purpose for us in his Kingdom. He describes how we cannot equally serve God and money, and then he goes on to explain the examples of how God’s creation provides for all the needs of its creatures.

Matthew 6:26: “See the birds of the sky, that they don’t sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns. Your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you of much more value than they?”

Through the examples of birds and the beauty of flowers which are so temporary, Yeshua masterfully relates how all of God’s creation is maintained, even though much of it is transient in nature.

Matthew 6:30: “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today exists, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, won’t he much more clothe you, you of little faith?”

Because that is the case, we also should trust or have faith in God’s provision for us as his children. But all of this hinges on the conclusion of Yeshua that makes this type of faith possible.

Matthew 6:33: “But seek first God’s Kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well. “

When we align our actions and priorities with God’s purposes and his Kingdom, only then will we recognize how bountiful his provision is for us. Yeshua makes this out to be a type of law of nature: seeking God’s Kingdom and doing what’s right according to his purposes brings the necessary provision. However, when we focus on the provision more than the Kingdom and doing what’s right, we are guaranteed neither.

If that’s what it takes for God provision in our lives, then why aren’t more people experiencing God’s provision? The answer may lie within the premise itself. The command to seek first God’s Kingdom has two parts: seeking the Kingdom and seeking his righteousness. There are many people today seeking God’s Kingdom it is true, but are they also seeking his righteousness with the lives they lead? What Yeshua is demonstrating is that a righteous life cannot be separated from a pursuit of the Kingdom; they are one and the same. If someone is seeking God’s Kingdom, then they should by default be living righteously. However, if one is not living righteously, can they really be said to be seeking God’s Kingdom first?

The carefree attitude of recognizing God’s provision in one’s life is the privilege of those who are living faithfully according to God’s word, not just in speech or beliefs, but with their actions and their lifestyles. This is what it means to seek the Kingdom: to be an expression of God’s righteousness in this world. This should be the goal and aspiration of every believer, and when it is, God has promised to provide the needs of those who do so.


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 solitude of intimate prayer

Regular times of private prayer are where we can have the closest communion with Yahweh.

Regular times of private prayer are where we can have the closest communion with Yahweh.

Yeshua encouraged his followers to practice times of quiet prayer to God. This seems to have been to encourage an intimacy where religiosity had been responsible for conveying something different. We can learn what those religious practices were by the admonition of Messiah to do the opposite.

For example, it appears to have been the practice of the pagan religious leaders to prepare lengthy prayers with the hopes of convincing their gods to pay attention to their petitions.

Matthew 6:7-8 – “When you pray, don’t babble like the Gentiles, since they imagine they’ll be heard for their many words. Don’t be like them, because your Father knows the things you need before you ask him.”

It must also have been the practice of the Jewish religious leaders to enjoy praying publicly in a measure of show to the crowds that they were righteous. Yeshua names these religious leaders as hypocrites, a Greek word which means “actor, stage player, pretender.”

Matthew 6:5 – “Whenever you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by people. Truly I tell you, they have their reward.”

These are not the types of prayers that God desires of his people. No, Yeshua mentions how heart-followers of Yahweh should have a private and intimate relationship with him that is not dependent on long, showy prayers. This is the type of prayer that Yeshua himself practiced. In times of great challenge or decision-making, he sought the will of the Father in solitude.

Matthew 14:23 – After dismissing the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. Well into the night, he was there alone.
Mark 6:45-46 – Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go ahead of him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After he said good-bye to them, he went away to the mountain to pray.
Luke 6:12 – During those days he went out to the mountain to pray and spent all night in prayer to God.

Of course, Yeshua taught his followers how they should pray by outlining what types of things they should pray for in his model prayer, what we have come to know as the Lord’s Prayer, in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4. But it was verse six in which he taught where they should pray:

Matthew 6:6 – “But when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

The prayer of the righteous individual is one of the heart. The heart is private and sincere. It must be sought out in solitude, as it doesn’t (or shouldn’t) in any way rely on the approval of others. For believers, the only one we should be seeking approval of is Yahweh, and ensuring that our lives are ones that honor him. This is how we are set apart, this is what makes us holy.


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 out an attitude of generosity

When we trust Yahweh for all we have, providing resources to others, both physical and spiritual, becomes a way of life that honors him.

When we trust Yahweh for all we have, providing resources to others, both physical and spiritual, becomes a way of life that honors him.

Matthew 6:21: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Yeshua warns how all of the glittering things that attract our attention in this world are things that can divide our heart and purpose from the things of God.

Matthew 6:19-20: ““Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

When it comes to earthly riches, Yeshua warns about two factors that can affect what we have: the moth, and also what is here called rust. Interestingly, although we use the word rust in English, the Greek word simply means “that which consumes until it disappears.” Of course, rust is a consumer of metals and anything that may seem to have some stability and longevity in this world. Surely anyone who has had a vehicle in a climate where roads are salted in the winter is familiar with the effect of rust on something as tangible as a vehicle.

In reality, rather than talking specifically about the effects of rust on metal, Yeshua is explaining how everything that we can possess in this life, whether it’s money or tangible goods, are all consumed in one way or another. Ironically, in our current market-driven culture, the populace is known as “consumers.” Economically speaking, we even have a “consumer index” to determine how the economy is performing. We consume food, we consume entertainment, we consume housing, we consume energy; just about everything in this life is about using up resources.

By contrast, the life of a believer is all about generously giving: to give to those in need, to give back to God, to create new opportunities and second chances, to give freely and with cheerfulness. This is the contrast that Yeshua is placing before his hearers.

This teaching about earthly treasure is less about stuff and more about attitude. When we as believers can have the right attitude, and switch from selfish consumerism to generosity and giving, then God knows our heart is in the right place. It is then that his will can be accomplished through us.

1 Timothy 6:17-19: “As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.”


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.

Having a singular focus

One can only have clear vision, and then clear actions, when one has a singular focus on that which is most important

One can only have clear vision, and then clear actions, when one has a singular focus on that which is most important

Matthew 6:22-23: ““The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”

An individual who is holy and is seeking God’s purpose will not be distracted by the things of this world. This admonition of Yeshua comes in the context of multiple illustrations of the same principle: one cannot have divided interests and still serve God effectively. In fact, Yeshua draws the distinction as sharply as light and darkness.

Notice the context of this teaching on the light of the eye. It is sandwiched between two other illustrations of duplicitous thinking and actions.

Matthew 6:19-20: ““Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

This admonition distinguishes between the focus on treasures of this world contrasted with the treasures of the heavenly realm which have eternal value. Then, Yeshua uses the illustration of the eye and the body. Immediately following this picture comes another admonition to avoid the lure of worldly wealth.

Matthew 6:24: ““No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

So the context of the eye being the lamp of the body is firmly entrenched in the midst of two teachings on avoiding divided interests. To confirm this further, the message of the eye is that it must be single, that is, not having a multi-layered outlook. When one has a multi-layered vision, only darkness is the end result. Therefore, one can only have clear vision, and then clear actions, when one has a singular focus on that which is most important.

These three illustrations taken together triangulate a powerful message on the principle of singular purpose within the kingdom of God. Yeshua is encouraging his disciples to be individuals of singular focus, putting God’s Kingdom first in all things, and thereby generating light for people lost in darkness; first for themselves, and then for others. This singular focus sets them apart, makes them holy, and prepared to do the work.

In like fashion, we must heed the Master’s advice within the scope of our relationships. When we have a singular focus on God’s Kingdom, we have light within ourselves and are ably equipped for his work in this 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 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.

Becoming set apart in private fellowship with God

Personal holiness is a discipline that can provide deeper insights into the wisdom of God.

Personal holiness is a discipline that can provide deeper insights into the wisdom of God.

For many different reasons, believers in Messiah have a unique calling among religious traditions of the world. However, one of the most interesting facets of a life of faith and becoming set apart for God’s use is how many aspects are practiced privately, out of the glare of daily interactions.

For example, Yeshua taught the disciples to pray to God in private.

Matthew 6:6 – “But when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

If they had a disagreement with a friend or relation, they were not to publicly call them out as a first reaction, but to meet with them privately to see if a solution could be reached.

Matthew 18:15 – “If your brother sins against you, go and rebuke him in private. If he listens to you, you have won your brother.”

Most significantly, Yeshua produced disciples who were set apart by revealing deep truths and teaching them privately.

  • Mark 4:34 – He did not speak to them without a parable. Privately, however, he explained everything to his own disciples.
  • Mark 13:3-4 – While he was sitting on the Mount of Olives across from the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished? “

The process of becoming holy is one of being set apart as distinct for God’s use and for his glory. Perhaps one of the reasons this process is not as well-known is for the very reason that it typically occurs in private, out of the glare of public scrutiny, in quiet sessions of meditation or only between individuals who are submitting to God’s instruction.

In our American culture, it is not uncommon to see big, brash displays in congregations hoping to draw more people to God. However, the discipline of personal holiness that God desires typically comes to light only in the most intimate of settings. It is forged in the deepest recesses of personal reflection and private actions that spring from close communion with our Maker. The revelation that is sought in the public assembly is in actuality born and bred most regularly within the quiet corners of personal repentance and accountability.

But, as is the nature with all things of great value, the benefits that are received far outweigh any personal sacrifice that must be endured to achieve them.

Luke 10:23-24 – Then turning to his disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see the things you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see the things you see but didn’t see them; to hear the things you hear but didn’t hear them.”


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.

Compassionate actions for the right reasons

True righteousness acts for the good of others whether or not one can be seen to help.

True righteousness acts for the good of others whether or not one can be seen to help.

While it is true that God desires his people to be people of compassion, Yeshua clarifies the distaste that God has for the selfish motives behind the corrupted practices of the Pharisees and religious leaders of his day.

Matthew 6:1 – “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. Otherwise, you have no reward with your Father in heaven.”

The ancient Hebraic idea of righteousness was a concept that included more than just the giving of alms or financial assistance that it is typically equated with in this passage. Clearly, the whole context of this teaching by Yeshua is on the avoidance of hypocrisy; one should not do righteous actions just to be seen of others.

These righteous actions that Yeshua is focused on were the typical practices that the Pharisees and religious leaders strove for in their public observance of their religion; giving of alms, prayer, and fasting. So instead of Yeshua’s admonition applying only to the practice of almsgiving, we can view his statement of practicing righteousness as a heading for all three of these categories, in this fashion:

  • Matthew 6:1 – “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. Otherwise, you have no reward with your Father in heaven.”
    • 6:2 – So whenever you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do…
    • 6:5 – Whenever you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites…
    • 6:16 – Whenever you fast, don’t be gloomy like the hypocrites.

The challenge for the Messiah believer is that we are equally commanded to make our giving private and sincere, while at the same time ensuring our light is not hidden under a basket.

Matthew 5:15-16 – “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.”

Albert Barnes highlights it is not the public nature of the act which is problematic, but the motive behind the act:

“Our Lord does not require us never to give alms before people, but only forbids our doing it “to be seen of them,” for the purposes of ostentation and to seek their praise. To a person who is disposed to do good from a right motive, it matters little whether it be in public or in private. The only thing that renders it even desirable that our good deeds should be seen is that God may be glorified.”

In a similar way, Charles Ellicott focuses on this dichotomy that the believer faces between the two extremes of private sincerity and public actions of compassion:

“It is the motive, and not the fact of publicity, that vitiates the action. The high ideal of the disciple of Christ is to let his light shine “before men” (the self-same words are used in Matthew 5:16 as here), and yet to be indifferent to their praise or even their opinion. In most religious men there is probably a mingling of the two motives, and we dare not say at what precise stage the presence of the lower overpowers the higher. It is enough to remember that it is the little speck which may taint the whole character till it loses all its life.”

For the believer today, it is probably best to remember that God desires us to help others from the heart, not for the purpose of being seen as generous or from a strict sense of unwilling duty. As new creations in Messiah, our renewed nature should naturally gravitate towards generosity and self-sacrifice on behalf of others. We should be extending the compassion of God to those who need it most regardless if we are recognized, but also never shying away from doing what is right when others may not be willing to do so. By keeping our focus on the needs of those we are helping and not how we are being perceived, we can rise above the shallowness of hypocrisy that is offensive to 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.