The God of all Creation

The example of God’s provision is all around us when we have eyes to see.

The example of God’s provision is all around us when we have eyes to see.

Psalm 135:6-7 – Yahweh does whatever he pleases in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all the depths. He causes the clouds to rise from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain and brings the wind from his storehouses.

The fact that God is the Creator and Sustainer of all is provided throughout the Bible as a reason for people to place their trust in him.

Revelation 4:11 – Our Lord and God, you are worthy to receive glory and honor and power, because you have created all things, and by your will they exist and were created.

Yeshua teaches on the natural order as a measure of trusting in God when he speaks of the lilies of the field and the birds of the air.

Matthew 6:26, 28-30 – “Consider the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? … “And why do you worry about clothes? Observe how the wildflowers of the field grow: They don’t labor or spin thread. “Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these. “If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t he do much more for you ​– ​you of little faith?”

The apostle Paul writes of how the Creation itself should cause men to seek after God.

Romans 1:18-20 – For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth, since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, that is, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what he has made. As a result, people are without excuse.

When we look out into the Creation, something we see every day, we should be reminded of the power, majesty, and provision of God in our lives. Even in the cities where almost all is concrete and steel and glass, a glimpse of the sky above, the rain that falls, or the wind that blows down the streets and alleys should remind us that we are part of a world that God has created, and that he retains his privilege over all.

No matter if we lose sight of him, we can place our trust in him since he is still in control of all, even when he is obscured by circumstances of our own making, or through the designs of men all around us. When we recognize him as the Creator of all, we yield to his greater will and purpose and allow his provision in our time of need. Just as he still provides for the natural order of all things, he can still provide for those who place their faith in him.

Matthew 6:30 – “If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t he do much more for you ​– ​you of little faith?”


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 kingdom of God’s provision

A continual heavenly focus will guide our actions to doing what’s right, and our needs will be met.

Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

A continual heavenly focus will guide our actions to doing what’s right, and our needs will be met.

This teaching of Yeshua was intended as an encouragement to keep one’s focus on the kingdom of God first and foremost above all worldly concerns, and the worldly concerns would take care of themselves. Which worldly cares? Specifically the items he mentioned previously.

Matthew 6:31 – “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?'”

Having enough food to eat has been a constant struggle throughout history, and in Yeshua’s day was no exception. People had to depend on their own efforts or the efforts of their farming neighbors, the weather, and the political stability of their region to ensure they would have food to eat.

To have enough to drink or to have appropriate clothing for whatever season was at hand were equally ongoing concerns, especially for the lowest classes of people. There were no local clothing stores, and even drinking water was dependent on the condition of local communal wells.

These were real and legitimate concerns that could become all consuming. Knowing where the next meal was coming from, if one would have enough water or clothing to wear were a source of constant anxiety for the majority of the people. This created a work ethic that demanded constant attention to finding and attaining these needs.

In our modern industrialized societies we are so blessed with the common availability of these things that we take them for granted, as if they are some sort of inherent right. Yet, we still abuse this privilege by being consumed with seeking the best food, the highest quality drinks and the most trendy clothing and latest fashions. If you are not convinced of this, just scroll through your social media feed.

As an antidote to this worldly focus, Yeshua states that if one prioritizes God’s kingdom above these things, these things will be provided anyway without all of the stress and striving after them. That is the context of his teaching.

Matthew 6:34 – “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.”

There will always be some concern that can draw our attention away from the things of God to where that concern becomes all-consuming. But Yeshua’s “kingdom first” ideal is the overriding principle that should guide our thoughts. By replacing our anxiety over worldly needs (or exaggerations of those needs) with a dedicated and committed focus on God’s kingdom and the righteous actions that result from that focus, we can be free from this endless striving. Those things begin to pale in comparison within the more expansive and eternal perspective of the kingdom of God.

Of course we all need to eat and drink and have appropriate clothing, but when those things consume our waking thoughts above doing what’s right according to God’s standards, then our lives are out of balance. This is another way of stating that it is more important to God for us to act in right ways than the basic living of life itself. If this is not how we view our faith, then our lives are out of balance. This heavenly focus must guide all of our decisions, not just the religious ideals we hold. The promise of Yeshua is that enacting the principles of the kingdom in our daily lives will ensure that our physical needs (not necessarily our desires, but our needs) are met, as well.

Likewise, he set the example for us to follow. If Yeshua believed in this principle enough to put the kingdom of God first in all of his life and teaching, then as his followers, we also should 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.

The sermon of the kingdom

The kingdom of God on earth is evidenced through the humble obedience of heart-believers

In the gospel of Matthew, one of the most significant passages of the Bible is related in chapters 5-7: the Sermon on the Mount. It is also echoed in Luke 6:20-49. Within these verses, Yeshua is teaching his disciples and followers about the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven; what it encompasses, who is included in it, and how one conducts oneself within it.

This passage is what I’ve come to call the core of the Bible message. It is the root of all balanced biblical understanding. Once one understands that Yeshua’s purpose was to define and firmly establish the kingdom of God upon the earth, the rest of the Bible falls into place.

Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
Matthew 5:10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

According to Yeshua, the kingdom of God belongs to those who are humble and who are constantly doing what is right regardless of personal cost. To be humble and obedient to God’s standards at all times should be the goal of every believer.

Matthew 5:19-20 Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever does and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.

Those whose righteousness surpasses that of the religious leaders are to be the believers whose humble obedience to God’s commands stems from the heart, not from mere outward conformity to rules and regulations.

Matthew 6:10 – Your kingdom come. Your will be done…

It is to be these heart-believers who bring the kingdom of God to the earth. When God’s will is accomplished by the humble and obedient faithful, his kingdom is present.

Matthew 6:33 – But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.

Humble obedience from the heart comes with the privilege of God’s provision for the basic necessities of life. When God’s kingdom is first in the believer’s life, then stresses over the pressures of life that affect those around us fall into the background and fade away. Accomplishing the will of God brings peace.

Matthew 7:21 – “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

The kingdom of heaven is not made up of those who merely profess to believe, but of those whose profession is evidenced in the truth and power of their outward actions. Against all odds and opposition, even to death, true believers will stand for what’s right according to God’s will and purpose. They are rooted and deeply established within the word of God to recognize and act upon the principles that God expects of all people.

This is the message of the Bible reduced to its simplest form: the kingdom of God on earth is evidenced through the humble obedience of heart-believers. This is how God’s will is accomplished on the earth until his kingdom grows to encompass all nations and people.


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

Steps to reducing anxiety that are founded on trusting God

God is the great Provider in many different ways, sometimes even through you.

Core of the Bible Podcast #34: Steps to reducing anxiety that are founded on trusting God

Today we will be exploring the topic of trust or faith, and how God is faithful to provide for all of our needs, reducing our anxiety over that which is unknown when we place our trust in him and follow some simple biblical directives .

Yeshua stated it this way:

“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” Matthew 6:26-32

Your life is more valuable to God than all the beauty and provision represented in his Creation; he knows all of your needs.

As believers, we are easily and constantly distracted from what is truly important by our bodily needs and desires. Living on this earth presents us with challenges and struggles that can pull our focus away from God.

REDUCING ANXIETY THROUGH TRUST IN GOD

Trust is about perspective. When we focus on the things of this world more than God, then we have lost our true perspective. Yeshua calls this condition “little faith.”

Yet, the simplicity of trusting God can restore us to the correct spiritual perspective and emotional “center.” A sincere understanding of God and his ability to provide for our basic needs gives us a foundation of trust that we can then build on. When this reality seeps deep inside to our core, it becomes a tap-root that can sustain us through the most adverse conditions.

According to Yeshua’s instruction here in Matthew 6, God cares for what he creates. Whether birds, flowers, grass, or people, he has built into his Creation practical mechanisms for sustenance that allow his universe to thrive. Seeing this provision and beauty within his Creation is his evidence to us, his proof, that he has the ability to provide for our needs. All we have to do is recognize this, and rest safely and securely within his care.

We are urged by Yeshua to ponder these evidences for ourselves. “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.”

When we see birds, we should consider how they can find the food they need without any type of farming or storage of goods. The contrast he makes is stark: day to day provision vs. constant toil and storage which is subject to disaster or thieves.

Is there really a way that we can live day to day, and is this what Yeshua is encouraging all of us to do, to be vagabonds and travelers?

As romantic and idealistic as that sounds, my belief is that Yeshua is emphasizing how we many times will tend to focus on the process and methods of provision so hard that we lose sight of who is the One who is the ultimate Provider.

This is a lesson that I constantly need to be reminded of. As a husband and father of four, I have spent the majority of my adult life concerned with providing for myself and my family. Ultimately, I have known that whatever job or place that I worked was a provision from God, but many times the stress became dominant when I took my focus off of him and sought to provide my own security and provision, or when the demands of the work seemed to overwhelm me.

In those moments, I found that all I had to do was focus on one day at a time, one issue at a time. As I did so, I would find that each new day brought a little clearer perspective and a little more insight, and pretty soon things would be working out.

While this may seem simplistic and a bit naive, it is a method that has allowed me to successfully maintain a career of twenty five years and provide (as well as could be expected) for my family in that time.

That has been my path so far, but it may not be yours. God may be calling you to do any number of things in any number of places; maybe several different places, or hundreds of places, for that matter. The primary thing for believers is to not focus on thinking that you are somehow providing for your own needs all this time, and that whatever you are currently doing is what is expected for the rest of your time here on this earth.

REDUCING ANXIETY THROUGH PRAYER

“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”

Anxiety over things we cannot control not only cannot add any time to our span of life, but actually has been scientifically proven to shorten it. The more we stress over things that have not happened yet, the more we tax our immune and nervous systems to where actual damage can be done to the working of our physical bodies.

Philippians 4:6-7 – Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Another lesson I continue to learn is on the benefits of ongoing prayer throughout the day, asking for God’s involvement and giving over my stress and anxiety to him.

While I have a pretty good routine of praying first thing in the morning to set my mind on the things of God before setting my mind on the things of the world, I confess, my prayer life throughout the rest of the day is practically non-existent. I become consumed in the responsibilities and requirements of my family, my home, and my work, and the things of God easily slide to the periphery of my experience.

However, I am learning that if I maintain an attitude of thanksgiving and continue to present requests to God throughout the day, real requests about real things, he is faithful to relieve my anxiety on those things, and to provide real evidence of his working through those things I have given over to him.

And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”

If we are to truly take Yeshua’s words to consider the lilies and let this line of thinking sink deep into us, we can find that we have the ability to look past the latest trends and fashions and know that if we are trusting in God, we will have the clothing we need to do whatever it is we need to do. Whether it is clothing for normal use, work clothing, or specialized outfitting for unique environments, God is able to provide whatever we need.

Recall the provision of the ancient Israelites wandering in the wilderness for forty years, as even Moses reminded them.

Deuteronomy 8:4 – “Your clothing did not wear out, and your feet did not swell these forty years.

While my clothing may not be the latest style, I certainly have what I need, and more. God has been faithful with me and my family.  Now, while I have never had clothing that lasted for forty years it definitely illustrates for me that if God is able to do that, then he is certainly able to provide whatever our possible needs may be. My trust and faith in him is strengthened when I consider the lilies of the field.

“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.”

This admonition was directed to an audience that for the most part did not know where their next meal might come from. They were an agrarian society that depended on the weather, the success of the local crops, and the avoidance of conflict. Warfare could interrupt that food cycle. Drought could interrupt that cycle. Pest invasions could interrupt that food cycle. Food was a precious commodity that hung by a thread on any given day of any month. With no refrigeration or collective grocery commerce, this was a real and daily concern that faced the majority of the population at that time.

However, for most of us today, food and drink are merely distractions that we toy with as to the newest cuisine or latest fad food. In our American culture at least, we have idolized food and food preparation, food consumption, restaurants, chefs, nutrition, food plans. We have TV channels dedicated just to food and food preparation and consumption. Restaurant eating has become a pastime and an adventure.

The variety and volume of food available to the average American consumer is mind-boggling in the context of historical comparison with past cultures and civilizations. And yet, even though we have plenty of necessary food available, we still spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about different kinds of food and what we will be eating.

Ironically, and quite sadly, with all of this food available, we still have a large problem with hunger and need in America. We have become so lop-sided in our thinking that we are missing the forest for the trees. If we were to simplify our food obsession, reduce our available portion sizes, and focus on focusing in on the quality natural food that God originally intended for us, we would be much better off and our national health and outlook would improve greatly. With the right motivation and logistical preparation, this could also allow for some of that surplus to make it to those who are in real need.

Yeshua is encouraging us to look at nature, these natural examples of birds and flowers to remind us that these necessary things are part of existence in this world. Just as birds need to eat and flowers exhibit their God-given splendor, Yeshua prods us to consider these provisions amidst the many unnecessary cares we carry for these things in this world. We can express the wonder at how God makes it all work, and keeps his people provided for among the seeming chaos of this life.

The ancient believers expressed a similar amazement at the care that God bestows upon mankind within the vastness of his Creation:

“O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. … When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” Psalm 8:1, 3-4

God cares for us, not because we desire him to, but because that is his role as a parent. Just as we always want to ensure our own children are provided for, how much more God wants to do the same for his own children! One of the main aspects of this provision is expressing trust in God that he will do so.

When we know and trust God, we are considered righteous, certainly as we grow and seek to follow his commands and live according to his Word. We exhibit this faith by praying and requesting for God to be active and involved in our lives, and the lives of those around us. This is where the peace that passes understanding resides, in true faith and recognition of God’s all-encompassing provision for his Creation.

REDUCING ANXIETY THROUGH GIVING

Psalm 37:18-19, 25  – The LORD watches over the blameless all their days, and their inheritance will last forever.  They will not be disgraced in times of adversity; they will be satisfied in days of hunger.  … I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous abandoned or his children begging for bread.

Where we need to exhibit care is in not condemning those who are hungry and in need, as if somehow they are the cause of their own misfortune by not trusting in the God of the Bible. That may only be a small part of a larger context of areas of the world where they are living through the same issues their ancient progenitors faced: drought, famine, and conflict. As a measure and enactment of our trust and faith in God, we should honor him by sharing with those in need to the best of our ability, whether through personal, hands-on assistance, to local agencies or organizations that are working in those areas to provide assistance to those in need.

Psalm 82:3-4 – “Provide justice for the needy and the fatherless; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute.  Rescue the poor and needy; save them from the power of the wicked.”

Just as it was the responsibility of the ancient Israelite judges to act justly with their own people, it may so happen to be that we are the ones whom God will use to provide the justice and rescue that those in need are desperate for. Sometimes, we may be the answer to the prayers of others.

There is no doubt that food and clothing are essential for life; about these necessities, Yeshua even taught that “your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” As we have opportunity amidst our own wealth and abundance, it may be that God is prompting us to share our resources with those who have none.

As we begin to see the larger picture of provision in the world in general, it allows us to get our eyes off of our own needs and anxieties and instead look for answers and solutions to helping others. Our anxiety can be relieved not only by trusting for God’s provision for us personally and through diligent prayer throughout each day. We can also become less anxious as we find ways to helping others in the way we would want to be helped, were we in the same situation.

Matthew 7:12 – “Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Our faithfulness in meeting the needs of others is the surest way to reduce our own anxiety over these needs for ourselves. That, in and of itself, is also a provision 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 at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

A legacy of compassion and love

Helping those in need is the great privilege among the people of God.

They asked only that we would remember the poor, which I had made every effort to do.

Galatians 2:10

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul gives a brief review of his activities after becoming a believer in the Messiah. He says after his conversion he immediately went to Arabia, and then returned back to Damascus (1:17). (As an aside, some have postulated a theory that he traveled to Arabia to visit Mt. Sinai, because his own personal revelation had changed his whole world).

He then relates three more years had passed before he spent two weeks in Jerusalem with Peter, and also met with James during his visit there (1:18-19). He traveled around Syria and Cilicia at that time and was unknown to the Messianic assemblies in Judea (1:21-22).

He returned to Jerusalem fourteen years later after receiving a revelation that he should minister among the nations, and not among his own people in Judea. He wanted confirmation from the then-leaders of the Messianic believers in Jerusalem (Peter, James, and John) that this was an appropriate ministry approach (2:1-2, 9), which they acknowledged with “the right hand of fellowship,” (2:9). Upon receiving this confirmation, he relates that “they asked only that we would remember the poor, which I had made every effort to do.”

I find it fascinating that out of all of the doctrinal issues which could potentially have been raised with the confirmation of an international ministry, that remembering the poor is the primary effort that should be a focus of this endeavor.

However, this is not without precedent in the history of the kingdom of God. As Israel was preparing to enter the land of Canaan, Moses provided specific instruction about the care and protection of those who would be needy among them.

Deuteronomy 15:7-8 “If there is a poor person among you, one of your brothers within any of your city gates in the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Instead, you are to open your hand to him and freely loan him enough for whatever need he has.”

This command comes immediately on the heels of an accompanying conditional promise that I personally have overlooked until recently re-reading this passage.

Deuteronomy 15:4-5 “There shall be no poor among you, however, because the LORD is certain to bless you in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance ​– ​ if only you obey the LORD your God and are careful to follow every one of these commands I am giving you today.”

While there is an acknowledgement that there will always be those in need in the land, there is a conditional promise that if they are careful to follow the commands of Yahweh in providing for their needy, there is no need for anyone to have lack within the earthly kingdom of God which was being established in the land of Canaan.

Deuteronomy 15:11 “…that is why I am commanding you, ‘Open your hand willingly to your poor and needy brother in your land.'”

To my way of thinking, this principle has enormous implications for us today. God has promised his people that within the kingdom there is no need for anyone to be in want of necessities, IF we follow his command to always help those in need. Throughout his Word, or Torah, Yahweh provides for his people time and time again, and here he is mentioning that we have an opportunity, rather, an obligation, to partner with him in that provision by helping those among the kingdom who are in need.

“There shall be no poor among you…” What a great opportunity and privilege to find ways to help those among his people who are without necessity, just as the apostles in Jerusalem commissioned Paul to do among the nations. When we are obedient to God’s Word in this area, we are participating in a legacy of compassion that is thousands of years old. But we must remember, the motivation should always be one not of compulsion, but of love.

1 Corinthians 13:3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and if I have not love, it gains me nothing.

2 Corinthians 9:7 Each person should do as he has decided in his heart ​– ​not reluctantly or out of compulsion, since God loves a cheerful giver.

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