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.

Vigilantly seeking the things that are above

We should be finding ways to enact heavenly principles in the here and now.

Today we will be looking at the topic of vigilance. When we vigilantly “seek the things that are above,” we are not only looking forward to a heavenly eternity, but we should be finding ways to enact heavenly principles in the here and now, incorporating our new, spiritual kingdom life into the life we are living now.

The apostle Paul stated it this way:

Colossians 3:1-3 – If then you were raised together with Messiah, seek the things that are above, where Messiah is, seated on the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Messiah in God.

It seems that Paul was basing this concept of seeking Yeshua taught that we should always keep asking, knocking, and seeking in order to receive, to have doors opened, and to find what it is we’re searching for.

Matthew 7:7-8 – “Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

According to Yeshua, this type of vigilance is rewarded with the objectives sought for. If we are consistently asking and seeking and knocking, then we will definitively obtain those things which we seek.

Paul carries this same theme of seeking and searching forward into a mindset that should continually guide us in our ongoing new life in Messiah. This seeking involves ongoing aspects of vigilance that are wrapped up in the definition of the original wording used in the text. The phrase he uses in the Colossians 3 passage means to seek in order to find a thing; to seek in order to find out by thinking, meditating, reasoning, to enquire into; to seek after, seek for, aim at, strive after; to require, demand; to crave. These types of urgent and continual qualities of vigilance carry the same intent of Yeshua’s exhortation to keep seeking until the objective is found.

Whenever I explore this passage, I am reminded of a quote by G.K. Chesterton which reads, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.” To seek first the kingdom is not just a weekend activity, or one which can be pursued by sharing “amens” on Facebook, or by reading and listening to everything that the current Christian subculture puts out (everything that is, except the Bible). No, asking, seeking, and knocking is a mindset; a consistent, methodical and undeviating value to be exercised at every opportunity where God’s will has yet to be expressed.

In like fashion, Paul uses the same wording to emphasize the believer’s desperate motivation to know God and his Messiah, to learn more about the things of God and to keep one’s focus there through the trials of life. This is what he prayed about for those early believers.

Ephesians 3:17-19 – I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Philippians 3:10-11, 13-15 – …that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. …  Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Messiah Yeshua. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.

Can we truly say with Paul that we are “straining forward to what lies ahead…pressing on toward the goal”? This type of imagery conveys effort, discipline, and sacrifice to attain God’s purposes in this life. How we answer that question will typically uncover our progression of growth and our impact among those of our generation for him. In a moment, we will review this idea of sacrifice during this life, and how Paul expressed the concept of a sacrificial life that is lived for the Messiah.

Living a sacrificial life for God is going to be something that is different for every believer because we are all at different places in our walk with him. To Paul, placing one’s faith in the Messiah was, in no uncertain terms, a matter of life and death: death to self and traditions of men, and new life as a new self that seeks after the things of God.

Romans 8:13 – For if you live after the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

Colossians 3:5 – Therefore, put to death whatever is worldly in you: your sexual sin, perversion, passion, lust, and greed (which is the same thing as worshiping wealth).

This putting to death of our worldly passions and desires was considered to be an ongoing practice, one to where the believer becomes the dichotomous “living sacrifice;” that which is constantly being offered up to God, yet continually alive, as well.

Romans 12:1-2 – Therefore I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service. Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God.

This renewal of mind comes as we vigilantly “seek the things that are above,” not only looking forward to a heavenly eternity, but finding ways to enact heavenly principles in the here and now, incorporating our new spiritual life into the physical life we are living now. In this way, we end up “putting to death” our selfish desires and we rise to the new life of our new self, created to be like him.

When Yeshua came into this world, it was as a human baby miraculously conceived in the womb of his mother. The spiritual element of his life was present from his birth, and this was brought to fruition at his resurrection from death. In this imagery is contained the following principle: the temporary mortal aspect, the flesh, has to die before the new creation, the spiritual reality, can be fulfilled. This is why Paul instructed the early believers to recognize that they were no longer to be focused on the fleshly aspect of anything, including Messiah.

2 Corinthians 5:16-17 – From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Messiah according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Messiah, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Paul used the example and symbolism of Messiah’s resurrection beyond the flesh and applied it to the present life of those who believed in Messiah. He was encouraging them to operate from this mindset, because it was a reality in their lives that just had not come to pass yet; it was to be realized in the fulness of time at their passing from this life into the eternal kingdom of God.

2 Corinthians 5:1-4 – For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened–not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.

Life, in this sense, is eternal life: a status not only of unending existence beyond this temporary one, but a certain quality of life that is being generated within us day by day. When we are truly and whole-heartedly pursuing the things of God each day, we are becoming more and more of what God wants us to be as his representatives on this earth, and in anticipation of the life that is truly life beyond this mortal existence.

Colossians 3:9-10 – Do not speak falsehoods to one another, for you have stripped off the old self with its doings, and have clothed yourselves with the new self which is being remoulded into full knowledge so as to become like Him who created it.

2 Corinthians 4:16 – …even though our outward man is wasting away, yet our inward man is being renewed day by day.

I like how the Weymouth NT here phrased Colossians 3:10 as “the new self which is being remoulded into full knowledge…” The word that the apostle Paul uses here appears to be unique to him and only appears in these two verses: Colossians 3:10 and 2 Corinthians 4:16. It conveys the idea of renewal or renovation; something that is an ongoing process in the life of the believer. Saying that believers need to be remolded into full knowledge captures a vivid image: we need to have our substance crafted into something new in order to become useful to God. And the verse also tells us that the goal is “to become like Him who created it.” This is image-of-God language that is foundational to the theology of the kingdom. When we seek first the kingdom; when we pursue it by striving after it and craving it, reasoning through it and enquiring into it on a daily basis, it changes and transforms us. We become reshaped, remolded, and renewed in essence of being, causing us to become like our Father.

The apostle Peter phrased it in these types of terms:

1 Peter 4:1-2 – Therefore, since Messiah suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same understanding ​– ​because the one who suffers in the flesh is finished with sin ​– ​ in order to live the remaining time in the flesh no longer for human desires, but for God’s will.

Each of us only has a certain remaining time here to accomplish what God desires, and we don’t know when that eventuality will occur. If we are being led of God’s Spirit to grow in him, being molded into his image more and more each day, we should work diligently to be sure that God is receiving the benefit of his investment in us by our faithful and obedient representation of him. This is how we incorporate our new, spiritual kingdom life into the life we are living now, and how his will is accomplished in each generation.


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 anointing that makes for a holy sacrifice

The Biblical pattern of anointing and sacrifice lays down a template for the spiritual life of believers today.

The Biblical pattern of anointing and sacrifice lays down a template for the spiritual life of believers today.

In the Bible, holiness, in the sense of something being set apart for God’s use, is a quality that was to have been instituted through a process of anointing. Anointing was the practice of rubbing, smearing, or pouring a substance on a thing or person to designate it as being set apart exclusively for God’s purposes. The most common method of anointing was with a type of oil or sacrificial blood, or both.

  • Exodus 30:25-29 – And you shall make of these a sacred anointing oil blended as by the perfumer; it shall be a holy anointing oil. With it you shall anoint the tent of meeting and the ark of the testimony, and the table and all its utensils, and the lampstand and its utensils, and the altar of incense, and the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils and the basin and its stand. You shall consecrate them, that they may be most holy. Whatever touches them will become holy.
  • Exodus 29:21 – Then you shall take part of the blood that is on the altar, and of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it on Aaron and his garments, and on his sons and his sons’ garments with him. He and his garments shall be holy, and his sons and his sons’ garments with him.

The idea that things could be set apart as holy became an object lesson for the people of Israel. They would come to recognize that when God sets something apart, it was special and uniquely his and should not be tampered with. Anything touching the altar or consecrated article would become holy, that is, set apart for God’s purpose.

A famous example of this is when King David was attempting to transport the anointed and set apart articles of the tabernacle, including the ark of the covenant, up to Jerusalem for the new temple.

2 Samuel 6:5-7 – And David and all the house of Israel were celebrating beforeYahweh, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals. And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger ofYahweh was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God.

As harsh as this may sound in a surface reading of this passage, Uzzah, with the best of intentions, attempted to keep the ark from falling off of the cart, but because he came in direct contact with something that was wholly set apart for God’s use, he died. In a sense, he became instantly holy, that is, he became set apart for God’s purpose by being wholly consumed by the anointed article.

This is meant to teach us, not of the harshness of God, but of his set-apartness, his otherness that has real impact and lasting effect on our physical lives here. We can see from the physical examples of the articles of the tabernacle and temple that anything that is anointed and set apart as holy to Yahweh is to be taken very seriously.

Exodus 29:36-37 – and every day you shall offer a bull as a sin offering for atonement. Also you shall purify the altar, when you make atonement for it, and shall anoint it to consecrate it. Seven days you shall make atonement for the altar and consecrate it, and the altar shall be most holy. Whatever touches the altar shall become holy.

Yeshua confirmed that anything placed on the altar was to become completely holy and set apart for God’s purpose.

Matthew 23:16-19 – “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold holy? And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift holy?

The idea that anything which touched the altar specifically would become holy has to do with the idea that an offering that is on the altar is being used for its highest purpose, given in complete and full sacrifice to God.

In the New Testament writings of the apostle Paul, he touches on this aspect in the life of a believer.

Romans 12:1 – I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

If our living bodies are to be considered living sacrifices, and sacrifices that are on the altar are considered holy, then our lives become a holy offering to God. Following the logic of the narrative of Uzzah, if we touch the altar of sacrifice with our living body, we must die. Paul expresses the paradox of the believer in that we are constantly in a state of dying to ourselves when we willingly offer ourselves to God.

The apostle John, however, focuses on the living aspect about the anointing of God. His contention is that believers have been anointed by God with his holy Spirit for the purpose of understanding truth, and learning to live and abide in him.

1 John 2:20, 27 – But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. … But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie–just as it has taught you, abide in him.

This paradox of the life of the anointing and the sacrifice of holiness is a reality that we must understand if we are to truly serve Yahweh faithfully in obedience to Yeshua.

  • John 15:4-5 – Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
  • Matthew 10:38-39 – And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

We have been called to die to ourselves and live for him. This is the path of the anointing and the way of holiness.


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.

Peace and reconciliation are the primary indicators of the children of God

Believers are taught and encouraged to operate within a spirit of peace at all times.

Believers are taught and encouraged to operate within a spirit of peace at all times.

When Yeshua taught his disciples about forgiveness, it was with the idea that they were to be reconcilers, those who promote peace instead of further divisiveness. This was to be true not only among themselves, but with all others, even including their enemies.

Matthew 5:44 – “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”

The apostle Paul continued this line of thinking in his epistle to the Roman congregation.

Romans 12:16-18 – Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

The apostle James mentions how it is the wisdom of God which promotes peace, and also how righteousness can only become evident in an environment of peace.

James 3:17-18 – But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without pretense. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace.

If the fruit of righteousness (that is, doing what is right in God’s eyes) can only be sown in peace, then we see how peace itself, as a fruit of the holy Spirit, is a demonstration of God working within our lives.

  • Galatians 5:22-23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things.
  • Romans 8:14 – For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

According to the apostle Paul, anyone who considers themself to be a child of God is led by the Spirit of God. Therefore, if one of the fruits of the Spirit is peace, then peace prompted and flowing from God’s Spirit should be evident within their life. This aligns with the teaching of Yeshua

Matthew 5:9 – “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

Paul encouraged the Corinthian believers, just like the Roman congregation, to have the same mind about living in peace which would be an outward demonstration of their spiritual maturity or completeness.

2 Corinthians 13:11 – Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, have the same mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

Living in peace with others is an identifiable characteristic of Kingdom life. If we are attempting to promote the wisdom of God to others, then, according to the apostle James, at its most basic level that wisdom can only be sown amidst an environment of peace and good will toward others.

Romans 14:19 – So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.

If we have a shared faith in Messiah Yeshua, then we can build on that to encourage one another. If we encounter others who do not share a biblical faith, then, as children of God shining as lights in this world of darkness, we are still obligated as much as possible to live at peace with them.

Romans 12:17-18 – Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

This is how we demonstrate the love of God to others, not through condemnation, but through being peace makers. This is how we exemplify to others that we truly are children of God. This is how we overcome adversity and bond together as brothers and sisters in Messiah. This is the way of interacting socially with all that honors God and fulfills his desire for his Kingdom becoming evident on the earth.


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.

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.

Living, and dying, for others

Compassion and obedience are not just for this life only.

Compassion and obedience are not just for this life only.

John 10:14-15, 17-18 – I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. … For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father.”

In teaching his disciples of how he is to be likened to a good shepherd, Yeshua reveals how God had provided him the authority to not only lay his life down for the sheep, but to take it back up again. With this obvious reference to the resurrection, we gain a small but tremendously powerful insight into the compassion and obedience of the Son of God to his Father.

Yeshua’s connection with God was so close that the bond of obedience surpassed life itself. Yeshua had received the command of God that he would have the ability to take up his life on the other side of the grave. This demonstrated a huge measure of trust and confidence that Yeshua placed in his Father. He was to demonstrate a compassion so extreme on behalf of his brothers that it would cost him his life.

Yet he was to trust in the resurrection on the other side, and not for himself, but that God’s purpose would be completed through his resurrection. Yeshua was not simply trusting God that he would be restored to life for his own benefit, but that he was being restored to life for the benefit of others. He died for others and was restored to life for others. Everything about the death and resurrection of Yeshua was for others; it had nothing to do with his own personal survival for himself.

We don’t understand this principle enough. We struggle to grasp an obedience to God that is so complete that it willingly succumbs not only to death on behalf of others, but to continued service for others on the other side. That is what compassion looks like to God. It does not have any selfish ambition whatsoever, and yet when it is accomplished, God provides every honor and glory upon that individual.

I believe we have erred when we look to God for our own continued survival, that hoped-for eternal life, based on the fact that we believed in him and served him to the best of our ability during this life. Then we hope to enjoy peace and security for eternity, a kind of spiritual retirement allowing us to enjoy the privileges gained for sacrifices made during this life.

But this is not the message of the gospel. The good news of the kingdom is that we serve God and accomplish his purpose here and now, and we serve God there and accomplish his purpose then and there. Believing in God should never be about ourselves or our personal security. If we are following the example of our Messiah, it should always be about others; we should be constantly laying our lives down on behalf of others, dying to ourselves over and over again.

Romans 12:1 – I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

This is what it means to be a living sacrifice. It is a dichotomy of two contradictory principles: a sacrifice is to die yet somehow remains alive. The believing life is one of paradox: living in a kingdom that exists in eternity, yet is present here and now; dying to ourselves yet living for God; existing in a world of darkness yet being a light to those around us. We are reconcilers of opposites, peacemakers of things that are at war with one another. Just like our Messiah obeyed in death and life, we are to remain obedient in dying to ourselves and living for him. The life that feeds on the resurrection power of the Messiah is a life of obedience and compassion.

1 John 3:14, 16 – We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. … By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.


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.

Creating peace in a world of chaos

The believer’s mission in society is all about promoting peace where it does not currently exist.

The believer’s mission in society is all about promoting peace where it does not currently exist.

Romans 12:16-18 – Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 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.

Paul was writing to the Roman believers to instill in them a strong foundation in not only the doctrinal facets of their faith but the practical aspects, as well. In summarizing the believers’ responsibilities toward others, Paul latches on to one of the most profound teachings of Messiah:

Matthew 5:44 – But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…

Paul conveys this as, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse,” (Romans 12:14). Why would the Roman believers need to hear this unless they were indeed being persecuted for their faith? Paul goes even further to quote this consistent biblical ethic as it was stated by Solomon in the proverbs.

Romans 12:20 – But If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head.

Boiled down into a modern vernacular, what Paul, Solomon, and Yeshua all appear to be saying is that doing nice things to those who are not nice to you results in them feeling the heat of shame at having been mean to you, vividly described as having hot coals poured on their head. To bless them when they are persecuting you means to say and do nice things to them even though they are oppressing you.

But we can only be nice in the face of opposition when we are not reacting with like emotion for like. We have to bring a new resource to the conflict, a resource of forgiveness and desire for love and open communication. Paul says to not repay evil with evil, but instead, to “overcome evil with good,” (Romans 12:21). This is the only way peace can be promoted within a society of divided interests.

We live in an age where this type of divisive environment breeds at an accelerated pace due to the instantaneous communication channels available to us as the internet continues to link the world together. To make matters worse, many oppressors feel empowered to spread conflict by remaining anonymous behind user names. For those of us who are tasked with being peacemakers, there is no small challenge in trying to remain unaffected by comments and commentary that cannot be unseen or unheard. Yet, as believers, if we are directly confronted by these anonymous pot-stirrers, we are tasked with praying for them and blessing them, which is to speak kindly toward and about them regardless of their harmful attitudes.

Online communication aside, we must not allow those hateful attitudes to spill over into our real world interactions with others. While we have an obligation to remain informed on the important cultural issues of the day, we must withhold the reactive impulse to debate acquaintances and family on the same level of animosity that may be thrust at us. Whenever we are confronting the evils of our day, we must do so with a spirit of gentleness, kindness, and goodness. Otherwise we are simply adding fuel to the raging fires of contemporary debate.

Paul encourages believers, “As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” For us to do so, we must be thoughtful and consistent in our responses. Our mission is to share the love of God but to do so without compromising the truth of his Word. This may sound simple, but it is incredibly nuanced and at times extremely difficult, as many hard facts about God’s truth can appear intolerant to others. But this is what we are called to do. This is how we, as living sacrifices, are challenged with navigating the cultural debates of our day.

2 Timothy 2:24-25 – The Lord’s servant must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth.

We should never want to be responsible for shutting the gates of Zion to those who most need to gain entrance. If we are faithful to this consistent instruction throughout God’s Word, we provide opportunities for reconciliation where there were previously none. We can learn to be promoters of peace and calm amidst the chaos of popular opinion, but it takes careful thought and reasoned intention. We can become the peacemakers that both Yeshua and Paul encouraged their followers to be.


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.

Working for peace and harmony

How we handle disagreements is a reflection of our obedience to the instruction of God.

How we handle disagreements is a reflection of our obedience to the instruction of God.

Romans 12:17-18 – “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

This instruction from the apostle Paul comes in the context of a passage regarding living in harmony with others. We know that Yeshua taught us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44), and this teaching of Paul actually expands on that principle for refining our understanding.

Paul encourages us to think rationally about what the ramifications of our vengeful nature might be, and to “give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.” Sometimes, we may be confronted with an individual who continues to push and shove to get their way, and in certain cases our initial response to this may not be what is equitable in the sight of everyone. Paul urges believers to remove themselves from the moment, from the heat of the disagreement, and to step back and look at the situation from a larger, more comprehensive perspective. Doing so can sometimes give us the insight needed to appropriately handle our interaction with that pushy individual to where we don’t act reflexively, but thoughtfully and carefully in light of who we are in Messiah.

Paul adds that we should live peaceably with all, but only so far as it depends on us and how we act or react in a given situation. We can’t be responsible for how other people may react in our interactions with them. We can only work for peace as much as we can, and then leave the rest to God. They may not be receptive to our overtures of peace, and yet that is not a reason to withhold it in the first place. We must always strive for unity when we can, and step away from resistance when we are unable to bridge the conflict. Our goal is to live in peace with all, but some may just not be receptive to it.

Ultimately, as believers, we should be actively seeking ways to forgive and overcome disagreements, especially with brothers and sisters in Messiah. But even with those who are adversarial toward us, we should seek as much as possible to overcome their evil actions toward us with good actions toward them. Most times, if done sincerely from a perspective of overcoming conflict, these good actions will open the doors for peace, and allow fruitful relationships to grow.


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.

Demonstrating sacrificial faith in God

When we reserve retribution to God, we will be honoring him, and he will be attentive to our call.

When we reserve retribution to God, we will be honoring him, and he will be attentive to our call.

Psalm 4:3-5 – “But know that Yahweh has set apart the faithful for himself; Yahweh hears when I call to him. When you are disturbed, do not sin; ponder it on your beds, and be silent. Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in Yahweh.”

This psalm highlights that those who exhibit faith in God have been set apart for himself. With this being set apart comes a responsibility to maintain that trust in God. The believer demonstrates trust in God when they do not allow themselves to take action against personal injustice, but to meditate or ponder the situation in a quiet place such as the bed, and to remain silent.

In this version, the psalm says, “when you are disturbed, do not sin…” The meaning of being disturbed actually broadens to describe when someone becomes angry, or disquieted, or so worked up over some injustice that they begin to shake and become frustrated. When this happens, they are not to not follow through with the outworking of that frustration, but to think it through in that quiet place.

Instead, the psalmist says to have a two-pronged response: to offer right sacrifices and to put one’s trust in Yahweh. What is a correct sacrificial response for believers today?

Romans 12:1 – “I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

Hebrews 13:16 – “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”

The admonition for believers today is to offer ourselves as ongoing sacrifices, and to not neglect others as we seek to serve God. These are the sacrificial things we need to meditate about and consider as we remain silent on our beds.

Yeshua’s conversation with a scribe brought a similar understanding to him, when he repeated back to the Master his understanding of the whole purpose of man: to love God and to love others.

Mark 12:32-34 – “Then the scribe said to him, ‘You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’—this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.’ When Yeshua saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’”

If we truly offer these “right sacrifices” and maintain our trust that Yahweh will work the situation through in his timing, we will be honoring God and he will be attentive to our call. If we choose to maintain our trust in Yahweh in this way, we can be encouraged through the reassuring words of the apostle Paul:

Romans 8:28 – “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”


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.

Engaged with God in a faith that changes lives

True wisdom creates an active trust in God.

Core of the Bible podcast #62 – Engaged with God in a faith that changes lives

Today we will be looking at the topic of trust in God, and how remaining in and applying God’s wisdom continues to increase our faith or trust in God. As our faith increases, we then share the truths of his wisdom with others, and the Kingdom of God expands. True wisdom creates an active trust in God.

Proverbs 22:17-19 – “Turn your ear, and listen to the words of the wise. Apply your heart to my teaching. For it is a pleasant thing if you keep them within you, if all of them are ready on your lips. I teach you today, even you, that your trust may be in Yahweh.”

The writer of the Proverbs provides us with understanding regarding the nature and results of true wisdom. True wisdom lives deep inside of us and causes us to trust in God. However, it only accomplishes its goal as we apply and review it regularly to where it is a ready resource for us to draw from.

The process begins with our ears; we must turn or incline our ears toward wisdom. The Hebrew word conveys a stretching out, as in stretching out the fabric of a tent when pitching a tent. This involves an intentional and focused purpose in what we listen to. We have so many different audio distractions in our age that it is common for the words of wisdom to be drowned out by the many other options available to us. We have radio and music in the car, music, podcasts, and videos in our headphones and on our phones and other devices wherever we go. It’s almost as if we cannot do anything anymore without having some sort of digital crutch with us.

One of my pet peeves among my family is when the TV is on “just for background noise” while another activity is going on. It may just be the way my brain is wired, but I believe that level of multiple distraction can be harmful to our ability to focus and concentrate long term. Whatever is on the TV is not meant to be a background filler, but a full-on attention getter and keeper. Regardless if we are paying direct attention to it or not, I believe that split in focus does not go unnoticed by our subconscious mind and tends to splinter our ability to create full awareness on spiritual training when it is needed.

As a brief example of this, an article from 2016 in Science Daily related a study in child development in settings with various noise environments.

“The environments children are in, including how much and what kinds of stimulation they are exposed to, influence what and how they learn. One important task for children is zeroing in on the information that’s relevant to what they’re learning and ignoring what isn’t. A new study has found that the presence of background noise in the home or at school makes it more difficult for toddlers to learn new words.”

(Society for Research in Child Development. “Background noise may hinder toddlers’ ability to learn words.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 July 2016. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/07/160721072605.htm)

Understandably, we are all exposed to various audio levels throughout each day, but when we are voluntarily choosing to add additional distractive noise into our background environment out of habit, we may be hindering our ability for overall focused comprehension when it is truly needed.

Another aspect of hearing the words of the wise, as the proverb points out, is literally hearing the words spoken instead of just read internally on the page.

While most believers today are used to reading the Word for themselves, in recent years I have become more reliant upon good audio versions of the Bible for my meditative read-throughs of the Bible. I have found that if I listen with headphones I can many times glean aspects of phrasing that I have missed in just reading the passages. The headphones help to block out background distractions and allow me to focus more on the immediate text. For even further increased comprehension, I will sometimes read along with the narration, but use a different version than the audio file. This many times leads to new discoveries when I encounter unique phrasing in one text over the other, and I pause the recording to do a little quick research on why this is so.

In our modern culture, we take for granted that we have the Bible readily available in written form and in many freely available audio versions. Yet historically these truths were conveyed to each generation orally and in person, as literacy was not nearly as widespread as it is today.

To hear the words of the wise implied a nearness of relationship as these truths were conveyed person to person. To hear the words of wisdom, one had to be in the company of the wise. In so doing, the learner would be exposed to not only the teaching, but the lifestyle of the sages. The wisdom of the elders would be taught not just with a lesson, but their lives.

Proverbs 23:12 – “Apply yourself to discipline and listen to words of knowledge.”

Proverbs 5:1-2 – “My son, pay attention to my wisdom; listen closely to my understanding so that you may maintain discretion and your lips safeguard knowledge.”


The next aspect of creating a growing trust in God comes when the wisdom is applied in the most inward recesses of our being: in our hearts. To apply the wisdom is to place or station it in this place so it will remain sure and steadfast, and become part of our deepest make-up, our very constitution.

Ecclesiastes 12:11 – “The sayings of the wise are like cattle prods, and those from masters of collections are like firmly embedded nails…”

Proverbs 2:1-2 – “My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, listening closely to wisdom and directing your heart to understanding…”

Psalm 90:12 – “Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.”

The heart is where God desires his instruction to be placed; so much so, in fact, that this was a condition of the new covenant with his people:

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

Because of this, one of the qualifiers of being considered among God’s people is having his Word in the heart.

Romans 12:2 – “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”

As this wisdom is established in our hearts, it causes us to act in ways that honor him when we keep his commands, faithfully discerning his will in our daily lives. One of the ways this is evidenced is when the wisdom of God in our hearts progresses to become fixed upon our lips; we can recite and manifest the knowledge we have gained in daily practice.

I can recall as a new believer in Messiah I was given a list of memory verses to learn to assist with the basics of living a believing life. The method presented to me was the Topical Memory System still put out by the Navigators ministry today. It contains a total of 60 verses surrounding five separate important topics to help with recall. Looking at the list today, I can see that there are many verses I still remember from 35 years ago, and others that I will need to refresh as I haven’t reviewed them regularly since. However, I am convinced that learning that practice early on served me well as I have drawn from the resources of those verses time and time again throughout my believing life. By spending time learning the verses by heart, I was strengthened through reciting them over and over. By being able to recall those verses when needed, I was helped when I needed it most. (If you would like to consider this method for yourself, simply type in “Topical Memory System Navigators” and it should come up in a search).

Additionally, what is in our heart can’t help but come out through what we say and do. Yeshua confirms this aspect of our inmost being when he teaches, “Out of the overflow (or abundance) of the heart, the mouth speaks,” (Matthew 12:34). His immediate context was demonstrating how evil in the heart is expressed, but the writer of this proverb shows how the positive, the good, and the useful will also spill from the mouths of those who have placed good in their hearts.

Some other proverbs that also delineate the ability of the wise to pour forth wisdom in speech. Lady Wisdom, or the personification of wisdom, is illustrated with the following instruction:

Proverbs 8:6-9 – “Listen, for I speak of noble things, and what my lips say is right. For my mouth tells the truth, and wickedness is detestable to my lips. All the words from my mouth are righteous; none of them are deceptive or perverse. All of them are clear to the perceptive, and right to those who discover knowledge.”

Proverbs 10:13, 21 – “Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning, but a rod is for the back of the one who lacks sense. … The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of sense.”

Proverbs 15:7 – “The lips of the wise broadcast knowledge, but not so the heart of fools.”

I like the idea of the lips of the wise broadcasting knowledge and feeding many who are hungry to hear the truth. I am reminded of Paul’s instruction to the Roman congregation:

Romans 10:14-15, 17 – “How, then, can they call on him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about him? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news. … So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Messiah.”


As believers today, we may not always have a community of elders to live among and draw direct wisdom from. However, Yeshua reassured his disciples that the resource of God would be near to all who believed in him.

John 7:38-39 – “The one who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.” He said this about the Spirit. Those who believed in Yeshua were going to receive the Spirit, for the Spirit had not yet been given because Yeshua had not yet been glorified.”

This was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Ezekiel:

Ezekiel 36:26-27 – “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will place my Spirit within you and cause you to follow my statutes and carefully observe my ordinances.”

Paul confirmed that this was the expected ongoing practice of believers, to be constantly engaging with spiritual wisdom that comes from God.

1 Corinthians 2:12-13 – “But we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, that we may know the gift that has been given to us from God. But those things we speak are not in the teaching of the words of the wisdom of men, but in the teaching of the Spirit, and we compare spiritual things to the spiritual.”

As believers, we have the ability to draw from a wealth of spiritual resources and to prayerfully consider and discern these truths for ourselves. We are no longer limited to a localized circle of elders, although if we have access to fellowship with such a group, we can see and learn the distinctions of the faith worked out in practical ways through their actions.

In summary, when we listen, apply, and regularly recite the wisdom of God, our lives will be demonstrating a real trust and growing faith in God. Within this process of listening, applying and reciting, God engages with us, showing us his ways and directing us to purposes and goals that glorify him and expand the Kingdom of God on the earth. We have to remember that biblically speaking, trust or faith in God is not just a feeling or an inward state of mind, it is an active outworking of revealed truth which has been assimilated into the heart. This type of “living trust” is what shines into the darkness of this world to draw others to God and his wisdom.


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.