Overcoming our social dilemma

Re-connecting with others allows us to connect more completely with God.

Re-connecting with others allows us to connect more completely with God.

  • Matthew 5:23-24 – “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.”

Based on this teaching of Yeshua, it is apparent that God desires us to value our relationships with others as much as we value our relationship with him. This is a principle that has far-reaching consequences in our current culture and social dynamic.

In general, I have the impression that most people in our Western society generally don’t like other people that much. This is evident in t-shirt slogans and memes that put down others, or that claim superiority over the masses of ineptitude around them. It is evident in the political tactics of candidates to sling mud at opponents in the hopes of appearing more balanced and fair. It is evident in the callous disregard for common courtesies in public. And it is evident most prominently within the negativity and polarity generated by our interactions online. All of these social strata begin to resonate with similar themes that devalue our collective experience and worth.

However, if Yeshua teaches us to value reconciliation with others on the same plane as our desire to commune with God, then it becomes clear that we have some work to do in our relationships. We need to re-learn how to be good humans, if for no other purpose than for simple politeness and good manners as we seek to respect those around us in a way that honors God. We don’t have to agree with or condone everyone who may have different views with us, but we do need to re-connect with our common humanity.

In the personal sphere, this also implies we must have stores of forgiveness in reserve to honestly and openly overcome differences with our primary and closest relationships, whether family or friends. I have seen family disputes and long-standing feuds between siblings as well as with parents devolve into bitter hatred and on-going conflict. The stress of these interactions then spills over into the lives of those around those connections, causing further ripples farther out into other areas of life.

Against this backdrop of general discontent and conflict in relationships and human interaction, Yeshua’s teaching on reconciliation and forgiveness stands in stark relief as a slender but persistent beacon of hope; hope for life and growth and sharing. What will it hurt us to forgive those who have wronged us? Likely a chunk of our pride which can indeed be painful and humbling. But the result on the other side of that pain and humility is the hope for a fresh start. It provides us the ability to return to an open and unrestricted relationship with God when we mimic his desire for reconciliation.

As a believer in Messiah, being a good human is not optional. We must set the example for others by following the examples that have been set for us.

  • Romans 12:17-18 – Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Give careful thought to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

If you enjoy these daily articles, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The gospel of the kingdom is the hope of the future of this world

Our high calling is to stand for the truth of God’s sovereignty amidst those who have not recognized him as king.

Our high calling is to stand for the truth of God’s sovereignty amidst those who have not recognized him as king.

1 Corinthians 15:50 – What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor can corruption inherit incorruption.

The kingdom of God will only be established on this earth as he rules and reigns in our hearts; this is a spiritual process, not a political one. There is no army that will rise up to fight against the armies of the world to establish a kingdom for God and his Messiah; Yeshua made this abundantly clear.

John 18:36 – “My kingdom is not of this world,” said Yeshua. “If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.”

There is an ongoing revolution, to be sure, but it is not one that is accomplished with the weapons of this world, but with the Word and Spirit of God.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 – For although we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh, since the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every proud thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Messiah.

As hearts are captured for him, the resulting repentant fruits of forgiveness, good deeds, and compassion continue to spread in concentric rings outward from the believers into the void of darkness around each one of them until they overlap in waves of rejoicing and glorifying the God of the universe. When this is accomplished, then the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of God and his Messiah.

Revelation 11:15 – The seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven saying, The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever.

In one sense, this is already accomplished because it is a foregone conclusion according to the immutability of God’s counsel in his Word. In another sense, it is still being accomplished within each generation as believers continue to spread the message of the kingdom.

The gospel, or the good news we have to share, is of the kingdom of God, not of personal salvation.

  • Mark 1:14-15 – After John was arrested, Yeshua went to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news! “
  • Luke 4:43 – But he said to them, “It is necessary for me to proclaim the good news about the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because I was sent for this purpose.”
  • Luke 8:1 – Afterward he was traveling from one town and village to another, preaching and telling the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him,
  • Luke 16:16 – “The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then, the good news of the kingdom of God has been proclaimed, and everyone is urgently invited to enter it.
  • Acts 8:12 – But when they believed Philip, as he proclaimed the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Yeshua Messiah, both men and women were baptized.

We have the emphasis on the wrong aspect of what God intends for human existence if we focus on the personal over the collective enlarging of the kingdom of God. We have been taught for so many decades and centuries that the gospel is about us and our personal salvation, when in reality it is all about God and his kingdom. God ruling over all of the kingdoms of the earth is an inevitable conclusion that just hasn’t come to full fruition yet in this reality because we have sidelined the main purpose of God with our preoccupation with our own selfish needs and desires. Certainly, the promise of God through Messiah is eternal life in him, but that’s only because believers will be living within the parameters and fulfillment of obedience in his kingdom. The kingdom is the primary objective, not individual salvation.

This is why the world struggles now: not because it is nearing an ending but because things are not as they are supposed to be. Stress is induced when what is meant to happen does not occur. This unrealized potential is the cause of all conflict, as individuals refuse to recognize the sovereignty of the God of the universe. When the kingdom is not the focus, there is no urgency or motivation to obey the king.

Having the focus on individual salvation causes a silo effect, where believers retreat into pockets of safety and shelter from the raging storms around us. We receive what we hoped for and pray that God accomplishes his will in the lives of others, but we want him to do so by using someone else. But the heroes of the faith did not act in this way; they recognized their independent salvation was only a means for others to profit by, and they stood for the truth of the kingdom in every aspect of their lives. This caused friction among the unrepentant, who took out their anger on the faithful, wounding and killing them to rid the world of their conscientious stand for the truth.

We need to stand for the truth for the sake of others.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 – First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Yes, God desires all men to be saved, but this only occurs as they come to the knowledge of the truth, the other part of that verse. The truth of God is that he already reigns over all in the spiritual realm, and he is choosing to only rule over the physical realm when all will willingly come to him in repentance and understanding.

Isaiah 45:22-23 – “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.’

We need to pick up the banner, not the banner of some cause du jour, the latest meme-worthy event circulating through social media, but the banner of THE cause of causes: standing for the King and his kingdom amidst a generation of darkness.

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:5-6, 8 – For you are all children of light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or the darkness. So then, let us not sleep, like the rest, but let us stay awake and be self-controlled. … But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled and put on the armor of faith and love, and a helmet of the hope of salvation.
  • Philippians 2:13, 15-16 – “For it is God who is working in you both to will and to work according to his good purpose. … so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world, by holding firm to the word of life…”

This is the fulfillment of the kingdom of God on the earth. This is the end-goal of all Scripture and teaching within the Bible. This is how God chooses to reign over all those whom he has created. As the spiritual kingdom is established in the hearts of his people, it spreads throughout the earth until the physical kingdoms of the world are subservient to the King, and he is all in all, in both the spiritual and the physical realms. Let us hold firmly to the Word of life and be the lights of the kingdom to every generation. This is the restoration of all things, and our unwavering motivation providing hope for all time in the future to come.


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.

Operating under the freedom of forgiveness

Being forgiven and forgiving others allows for great collaborations to flourish.

Being forgiven and forgiving others allows for great collaborations to flourish.

Nehemiah 1:11 – “Please, Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant and to that of your servants who delight to revere your name. Give your servant success today, and grant him compassion…”

This prayer for forgiveness was offered to God by Nehemiah as he learned of the disrepair of the city of Jerusalem. During their captivity in Babylon, the city had become burned and its walls broken down. When Nehemiah, a Jewish leader servings the Babylonian king, became aware of the city’s condition, he approached God with a prayer of repentance.

Nehemiah 1:6-7 – “…let your eyes be open and your ears be attentive to hear your servant’s prayer that I now pray to you day and night for your servants, the Israelites. I confess the sins we have committed against you. Both I and my father’s family have sinned. We have acted corruptly toward you and have not kept the commands, statutes, and ordinances you gave your servant Moses.”

This recognition of their humbled state in their captivity then allowed Nehemiah to petition the king to allow him to return and oversee the rebuilding of the city.

Nehemiah 2:4-5, 8 – Then the king asked me, “What is your request? ” So I prayed to the God of the heavens and answered the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor with you, send me to Judah and to the city where my ancestors are buried, so that I may rebuild it.” … The king granted my requests, for the gracious hand of my God was on me.

The rest of the book of Nehemiah then relates the struggles and persistence of the Jewish people to rebuild Jerusalem under the oppression of their enemies. This was a Herculean effort that involved the coordination of many different families and tribes to overcome the adversity to successfully rebuild the protective walls of Jerusalem. Yet all of this work and effort could only be conducted under the recognition of God’s forgiveness and his promise to restore his people to their land.

Nehemiah 1:8-9 – Please remember what you commanded your servant Moses: “If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples. “But if you return to me and carefully observe my commands, even though your exiles were banished to the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place where I chose to have my name dwell.”

The history of this event reminds us of the power of forgiveness and its ability to allow us to operate with passion and purpose again. The Jews had felt defeated and powerless after their captivity, and yet the power of God’s forgiveness and the promise of restoration re-energized them to conduct one of the largest volunteer efforts in ancient times.

When we recognize our own disobedience and are truly repentant before God, we too can be relieved of the oppressive state of inactivity within his purpose. More importantly, even beyond ourselves, when we forgive others, we also release them from the weight of unresolved conflict, allowing the continued growth of relationships and shared experiences to prosper. This freedom afforded by forgiveness is the bedrock foundation of the New Jerusalem, the kingdom 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.

The single, powerful stroke of contrast

Forgiveness is firmly integrated in the inner workings of love.

1 Corinthians 13:5 – “[Love] is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not easily provoked, and does not keep a record of wrongs.”

As an artist, I enjoy how each layer of a painting can modify the overall image, and enhance the original idea to the point of sometimes changing the picture completely. Typically, this is something that is controlled through the use of various shading and highlighting to bring out the intended emphasis. As a painting is nearing completion, I enjoy the highlighting aspect most of all because it begins to bring focus to the whole image.

On occasion, I have attempted to paint multiple paintings at once based on the same theme to see if I could duplicate an idea. No matter how hard I tried, even using the same colors and brushes, each finished painting would have a slightly different “feel” than the others.

I recently had a dream where I was commissioned to paint four similar paintings of a cabin in a snowstorm. In this dream, I was using the same colors and brushes, but I was purposely changing the brush technique to see how each painting’s emphasis would shift. All of the paintings were very dark and dreary, showing the intensity of the snowstorm.

Then, in an unintentional movement of my hand in the fourth painting, I had inadvertently created a shadow behind the roof of the cabin. It was a simple and quick move of the brush, and suddenly the entire character of the painting was transformed. Instead of the harsh, dreary, and hopeless nature of the the other three paintings, there was suddenly the sense of light breaking through the storm and creating this inadvertent shadow. The contrast of the single shadow changed the emotion of the painting from one of hopelessness into one of hope. The sun had broken through the snowy maelstrom in one small area of light, hinting that the storm would pass.

The reason this type of contrast is significant is because in art, contrast creates depth and meaning. A painting that is uniformly and methodically structured, even if done with great skill, lacks emotional impact and appears washed-out.

In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he has, in my estimation, penned the most comprehensive practical definition of love that exists. Most English versions will convey verse 5 as “[love] does not keep a record of wrongs.” In the original Greek, the sentiment conveys a harsher tone, more literally rendered as “[love] takes no accounting of the evil.”

In taking no accounting of the evil in others, we will need to operate within the principle of forgiveness. To forgive others is the only way that we can not take into account some evil that they may have done toward us. Just like in the painting process, forgiveness provides the contrast where all other natural responses of anger and resentment paint a washed-out picture of hopelessness. Forgiveness is the spark, the singular, powerful stroke of contrast that imbues a relationship with the depth and emotion that provides hope. It’s the sunlight through the snowstorm.

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,” Yeshua replied, “but seventy times seven.”

We may not be able to control the way others choose to interact with us, but we can control our reaction to their influence in our lives. As believers, we are urged to provide forgiveness which contrasts with the world’s way of dealing with resentment. This single, powerful stroke of contrast makes us stand out from others and honors the One who desires us to be the catalyst of restorative and hope-filled relationships, just as He has been with us.


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.

Forgiveness always comes at a cost to someone

Forgiveness always positively changes a relationship, but it always comes at a cost.

The book of Leviticus is the heart of the “law of Moses,” the torah, or instruction that Moses provided to Israel. In it is outlined much of the ritual that defined the ancient Israelite worship of God. To our modern Western mind, some of the practices appear to make no practical sense, such as specific types of offerings that God expected his people to provide.

However, if one looks more closely at chapters 4-6, a pattern emerges that has significance even for us today. Amidst all of the rules and regulations, we can see that God desires to forgive his people when they have strayed from right paths.

Leviticus 4:26, 31 Through this process, the priest will purify the leader from his sin, making him right with the LORD, and he will be forgiven. … Through this process, the priest will purify the people, making them right with the LORD, and they will be forgiven.

Leviticus 5:6, 10 This is a sin offering with which the priest will purify you from your sin, making you right with the LORD. … Through this process the priest will purify you from your sin, making you right with the LORD, and you will be forgiven.

Leviticus 6:7 Through this process, the priest will purify you before the LORD, making you right with him, and you will be forgiven for any of these sins you have committed.”

All of these instructions point to one thing: God desired for the people to be reconciled with him, otherwise, why would he spend so much time describing how they were to go about making that happen?

An often-overlooked aspect of this process of forgiveness is the cost that the individual had to incur when bringing a sacrifice. Bulls, goats, rams, sheep, birds; all of these were costly offerings for sin that had to be brought to the priest in order for God’s forgiveness to be granted.

This highlights an important principle: when forgiveness is granted, it always costs somebody something; it is never free.

There was nothing inherent in the animal itself that somehow provided this forgiveness. This is even brought out in the New Testament writings.

For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Hebrews 10:4

No, it was the value of the sacrifice that demonstrated the sincerity of the giver. The offerer had to demonstrate true intent (that is, repentance). Among other things (like the identity substitution), the giving of a perfectly good animal that could provide much personal benefit to the offerer was a way of showing they were sincere in asking for forgiveness.

The bringing of the animals to the priest was not for blood debts to be repaid, and God certainly didn’t need the animals for himself. But through this process, he was teaching the Israelites that there is a value to be exchanged for a renewed relationship with God.

Forgiveness always positively changes a relationship, but it always comes at a cost. This is why it is even still a custom today to bring a gift to someone when apologizing for some sort of relationship transgression. The thoughtfulness or value of the gift demonstrates the sincerity of the giver.

We are commanded by Yeshua to forgive others and to love our enemies when they don’t deserve it or when they are not demonstrating sacrificial repentance. Even if we are approached multiple times a day by the same individual, we are to forgive them. When these types of passages are discussed today, what is rarely mentioned is the cost that this forgiveness exacts from us. If the individual asking for forgiveness is not providing some sort of sacrificial benefit on their behalf, then the one who is absorbing or carrying the cost of the forgiveness is you.

This is why the act of forgiveness is so unique among God’s people today. Forgiveness that is freely offered is not cheap, it still comes at a great expense. It is a sacrificial lifestyle with real cost to the believer in every relationship. But the sacrificial obedience that God demands of us provides for positive relationships in all areas of life and honors him by demonstrating we have learned the true value of forgiveness.

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.