The immense but achievable responsibility of believers

Being faithful requires constant, intentional commitment.

Philippians 2:12-13 – Therefore, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who is working in you both to will and to work according to his good purpose.

Many times this passage is reviewed by looking only at verse 12 regarding the working out of one’s own salvation, and stopping short of verse 13. But verse 13 is the engine behind the ignition key of verse 12, because Paul is conveying that the work that was being done was actually God working in them according to his good purpose.

This passage touches on the duality of the believer’s existence: seeking to be a conduit for the outworking of God in both principle and action. The way to accomplish this effectively, according to Paul, is to do this “with fear and trembling.” I have a sense that many believers today have either lost this sense or never been instructed in it in the first place. This fear and trembling is a principle which conveys that we need to be thoughtful and circumspect in our lives, considering the gravity and eternal impact of our actions upon ourselves, our families, and others.

To be a believer in the Messiah carries with it a strong purpose which demands constancy and vigilance in intentional living. It means making choices for righteousness in situations that may not be the consideration of others who are not believers. Sometimes it means sacrificing elements of comfort or ease for the sake of others. Many times our time, energy, and resources will be spent for the sake of someone else.

All through this epistle, Paul is conveying the principles of this way of life to the Philippian believers.

For example, he touches on the principle of understanding what is right:

Philippians 1:9-11 – And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment, so that you may approve the things that are superior and may be pure and blameless in the day of Messiah, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Yeshua Messiah to the glory and praise of God.

He also shares the responsibility they have in suffering for doing what’s right:

Philippians 1:29-30 – For it has been granted to you on Messiah’s behalf not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are engaged in the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I have.

These were real experiences based on real decisions that they had to make every day that played into their experiences as believers in Messiah.

Now while all of this may sound very heavy and burdensome, we can also be encouraged from their example, as Paul was convinced of God’s ability to bring all righteousness to pass. He encouraged them that once the work that was begun in them was underway, it would ultimately come to fulfillment.

Philippians 1:6 – I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Messiah Yeshua.

If Paul is to be believed, the “working out” of their salvation was indeed accomplished. They had proven faithful in what he had taught them regarding the faith once received for all the saints, as Jude calls it (Jude 1:3).

If we learn nothing else from the early believers in Messiah, the life of faith was one of constant struggle and commitment with real consequences. This required a whole level of commitment that I believe is rarely seen among modern believers today. It is up to us to demonstrate the same vigilance in outworking the principles of righteousness in this generation. And even if we don’t yet have a full understanding of all that God expects of us, we have this continuing encouragement from Paul as a guiding principle:

Philippians 3:16 – In any case, we should live up to whatever truth we have attained.


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 for all

Paul shared the message of Yeshua with everyone.

Acts 28:23-24, 28, 30-31 – After arranging a day with him [Paul], many [Jews] came to him at his lodging. From dawn to dusk he expounded and testified about the kingdom of God. He tried to persuade them about Yeshua from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets. Some were persuaded by what he said, but others did not believe. … “Therefore, let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the nations; they will listen.” … Paul stayed two whole years in his own rented house. And he welcomed all who visited him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Yeshua, the Anointed One, with all boldness and without hindrance.

At the end of the narrative about the life and ministry of Paul, we find him in Rome awaiting to be brought before Caesar to stand for the charges that the Jews in Judea had brought before Agrippa. However, in these closing comments we gain some far-reaching insights on what Paul was teaching: the kingdom of God, Yeshua as the Anointed One of God, and the salvation that was now being sent to the nations besides just the Hebraic Jews.

The kingdom of God continued to be the main theme of Paul’s teaching. Yeshua, as the Anointed One of God, had come to announce the fulfillment of the kingdom through personal and national repentance, instructing them of being born from above and living the torah from the heart and not just by the rote traditions of the Jewish elite and their oral law. This was the salvation that Yeshua brought: salvation from the effects of sin and disobedience to God, and the freedom to serve God from the heart. Since it primarily applied to them, the Jews had been the initial recipients of this message, and Paul continued that emphasis by preaching “first to the Jew, then to the Hellene,” (Romans 1:16; 2:9-10). The Hellenes, of course, were the Jews who had adopted the Greek culture and were absorbed within the nations.

Paul recognized through the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy (Isaiah 6:9-10), that some of the Jews would accept the message, but that many would reject it.

Acts 28:25-27 – Disagreeing among themselves, they began to leave after Paul made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your ancestors through the prophet Isaiah when he said, ‘Go to these people and say: You will always be listening, but never understanding; and you will always be looking, but never perceiving. For the hearts of these people have grown callous, their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyes and hear with their ears, understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.'”

This rejection of the message by the Hebraic Jews would then allow the the tribes of Joseph and Ephraim, Jews who had been scattered during the Diaspora who had now become the Hellenes, an opportunity to receive the good news of faith in Yeshua and receive the kingdom of God by faith in him. This was the reuniting of the ten tribes with the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, as also prophesied in Ezekiel.

Ezekiel 37:15-17 – Yahweh’s word came again to me, saying, “You, son of man, take one stick, and write on it, ‘For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions.’ Then take another stick, and write on it, ‘For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions.’ Then join them for yourself to one another into one stick, that they may become one in your hand.

In the process of the Hellenistic Jews being reunited with their brothers in fulfillment of prophecy and coming to the knowledge of the truth by faith, others of the nations, true Gentiles who feared the God of the Bible, would also be provided the opportunity to receive the kingdom message and the salvation from the effects of sin.

In this way, the story of Yeshua as the Anointed One of God, bringing the good news of the kingdom of God, would be spread to all. The salvation offered to the Jews and the Hellenes would now be, and forever remain, an open door for all to come to the God of the Bible.

Revelation 22:17 – Both the Spirit and the bride say, “Come! ” Let anyone who hears, say, “Come! ” Let the one who is thirsty come. Let the one who desires take the water of life freely.


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 good shepherd: how to identify the true Messiah

He would defend the flock to the death, if needed.

John 10:9 I am the door. If anyone enters in by me, he will be saved, and will go in and go out, and will find pasture.

This section of Scripture is interesting to me on a couple of levels: one, because it is typically used as a “salvation” passage, and two, because it mentions those who have been “saved” going back out into the pasture. If this is a salvation passage, why is it that the sheep go in, but then go back out? If the sheepfold is representative of being saved and in the kingdom, why would those who are saved leave the kingdom?

I believe the difficulty arises when we make this a salvation passage just because the word “saved” is used. The larger context of the parable is not salvation, but the identification of the good shepherd who is contrasted with the thief. Clearly (at least to us in perfect hindsight) we can see that Yeshua is that good shepherd. I think we could benefit from a wider perspective and context to understand some of this in more detail.

In verses one through six, Yeshua had just used the parable of the sheepfold that includes a thief, a gatekeeper and a shepherd. Yeshua mentions the gatekeeper opens the door for the true shepherd, and the sheep recognize his voice and dutifully follow him and will not follow the thief because they don’t recognize his voice. In this parable, Yeshua identifies himself as the shepherd. This is none other than an only slightly veiled reference to himself as the Messiah, and that the true “sheep” would recognize him when he arrived.

However, it is said in verse six that “Yeshua spoke this parable to them, but they didn’t understand what he was telling them.” So, while keeping the same characters in play, he transitions the identification of himself from the good shepherd to the gate or entrance to the sheepfold.

John 10:7-10 Yeshua therefore said to them again, “Most certainly, I tell you, I am the sheep’s door. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters in by me, he will be saved, and will go in and go out, and will find pasture. The thief only comes to steal, kill, and destroy. I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.”

In this section, Yeshua positions himself as the authoritative entrance to the sheepfold who keeps the sheep safe while they are in the sheepfold. The gatekeeper opened up to him because he is the good shepherd. Here he identifies as the only passage into the sheepfold; there is no other way into the sheepfold. Thieves may try to climb in some other way (verse 1), but there is a unique and exclusionary emphasis to Yeshua claiming to be the gate. The sheep who would want to be safe must go through him.

John 14:6 – Yeshua said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me.

The word for “saved” there can and does mean saved in other contexts, but here it means that the sheep are safe or protected while they are in the sheepfold and the gate is shut; that is the purpose of the gate: to keep the thieves and wolves out.

However, the sheep need to leave the sheepfold in order to eat and survive. They can’t just stay protected in the sheepfold all day. So Yeshua also mentions that he is the good shepherd who will not run away even if wolves come to attack the flock while they are out of the sheepfold and in the pasture. He is not just a hired hand who has no commitment to the sheep, but he would defend the flock to the death, if needed.

Once again, we see Yeshua providing an indication of how he was going to demonstrate to the sheep that he was the true and good shepherd and not just a “hired hand.” He would ultimately give his life for them, and that would be the final authentication of his Messiahship.

So, while this passage is many times used as a salvation proof text, in reality, the meaning of the parable was of Yeshua indicating that he was indeed the Messiah the sheep were waiting for, and he would ultimately give his life to demonstrate his role.


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.

Faith for those who are about to believe

God counted on visible judgment to spark belief.

1 Timothy 1:15-16 – This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: “Messiah Yeshua came into the world to save sinners” ​– ​and I am the worst of them. But I received mercy for this reason, so that in me, the worst of them, Messiah Yeshua might demonstrate his extraordinary patience as an example to those who [are about to] believe in him for eternal life.

This passage breaks out into two main ideas: v. 15 which relates what must have become a common saying at the time, and then Paul’s encouragement at his example of God’s mercy in v. 16.

The saying “Messiah Yeshua came into the world to save sinners” was apparently becoming common among the believers as a general declaration of the gospel message. That Yeshua had come to save sinners does sum up this idea; however, in the context of what Paul has written, it appears that it carries an unusual sense of imminency.

This may not be readily apparent upon a surface reading, but I recently noticed that in the Greek text, the phrase that involves believing in Messiah for eternal life is prefaced with the concept of imminency: those being about to, or intending to, believe in Messiah. The literal Greek phrasing is as follows: “I was shown mercy that in me [the] foremost, might display Yeshua Messiah the perfect patience, as a pattern for those being about to believe on him to life eternal.”

It appears as if Paul is implying that something momentous in his day is about to happen that will cause many people to believe in Messiah for eternal life. When they do, they will be able to look at the experience of Paul as a pattern of how gracious God is.

My personal belief is that Paul and the apostles were aware of the impending destruction of Jerusalem as being the motivator for encouraging repentance among the Jewish congregations along with those God-fearers who were participating with them in their worship of the one true God. The urgency with which this judgment and repentance is repeated continually during the message to the scattered Israelites throughout the book of Acts demonstrates this point.

Acts 3:19-23 – “Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped out, “that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send Yeshua, who has been appointed for you as the Messiah. “Heaven must receive him until the time of the restoration of all things, which God spoke about through his holy prophets from the beginning. “Moses said: Yahweh your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers and sisters. You must listen to everything he tells you. “And everyone who does not listen to that prophet will be completely cut off from the people.
Acts 2:38 – Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Yeshua Messiah for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 17:30-31 – “Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God now commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has set a day when he is going to judge the world in righteousness by the man he has appointed. He has provided proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”
Acts 24:24-25 – Several days later, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and listened to him on the subject of faith in Messiah Yeshua. Now as he spoke about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix became afraid and replied, “Leave for now, but when I have an opportunity I’ll call for you.”
Acts 26:20 – “Instead, I preached to those in Damascus first, and to those in Jerusalem and in all the region of Judea, and to the nations, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works worthy of repentance.

The apostles kept this repentance and judgment of God at the forefront of their understanding of the times that they were in, and in their teaching to all the people they ministered to.

Because of this, I believe Paul had a sense that when the judgment was going to be poured out on Jerusalem that many Jews and others among the nations who had heard their message would see and understand those events and would become believers in Messiah for eternal life. The righteous judgment of God upon his rebellious people would spark many at that time to place their faith in the Messiah, and in that way, “all Israel,” that is, the believing remnant inclusive of non-Jewish God-fearers, would be saved.

This is why at the end of his discourse on this concept in Romans 9-11, Paul could exclaim:

Romans 11:33-36 – Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments and untraceable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? And who has ever given to God, that he should be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.


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.

Paul’s godly dream of the kingdom

Faithful believers are participating in and growing the kingdom.

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.”

This passage fascinates me because of the simplicity of its intent. Paul is encouraging Timothy, for himself and for Timothy’s congregation, to remain in an attitude of petition and intercession for the secular leaders of that day. The purpose behind this is so that they would be able to lead a “tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” This is Paul’s godly dream for the people of God, that they would be able to prosper in the grace and peace of the kingdom of God in that day and time. We know it was a godly dream because he immediately adds that “this pleases God our Savior.”

I believe this godly dream of Paul is the ultimate fulfillment of the kingdom of God on the earth. While it may only be hinted at here, it is the theme of the Old Testament, and also the goal of the New.

Zechariah 8:12 – “For they will sow in peace: the vine will yield its fruit, the land will yield its produce, and the skies will yield their dew. I will give the remnant of this people all these things as an inheritance.”

Isaiah 65:21-23 – “People will build houses and live in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They will not build and others live in them; they will not plant and others eat. For my people’s lives will be like the lifetime of a tree. My chosen ones will fully enjoy the work of their hands. They will not labor without success or bear children destined for disaster, for they will be a people blessed by Yahweh along with their descendants.”

Revelation 22:1-5 – “Then he showed me the river of the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the city’s main street. The tree of life was on each side of the river, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree are for healing the nations, and there will no longer be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. Night will be no more; people will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, because Yahweh God will give them light, and they will reign forever and ever.”

In Paul’s admonition to Timothy, he says God “desires all men to be saved, and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” Here are a few representative passages demonstrating how all nations would come and worship before Yahweh.

Isaiah 66:23 – “All mankind will come to worship me from one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another,” says Yahweh.”

Revelation 21:23-26 – “The city [the New Jerusalem] does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because the glory of God illuminates it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. Its gates will never close by day because it will never be night there. They will bring the glory and honor of the nations into it.”

This godly dream is the reality of the kingdom of God come to the earth. It is my belief that through our faithful petitions, intercessions, and righteous examples, we, too, can participate in and grow God’s great plan for the ages, where all men know him and come to him, bringing their glory and honor into the everlasting New Jerusalem.


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! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

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

Set apart and saved for his purpose

Destiny is a powerful encouragement.

Philippians 2:12-13 – Therefore, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, work down to finality your own [collective] salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who is working in you both to will and to work according to his good purpose.

As Paul is writing to the congregation at Philippi, he emphasizes their need to be actively engaged in their salvation, but to do so with “fear and trembling.” The idea is that their salvation is so precious and valuable, they should not toy with the idea of who they have been called to be, they should not regard their privileged position as something to be treated lightly. Their mission was to be positive examples of God’s mercy and grace to an entire generation.

Philippians 2:14-16 – Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life…

This was a fulfillment of their destiny, the purpose that God had set them apart for from the very beginning. This was the same message Paul and Barnabas shared in the synagogue in Pisidian Antioch with the assembled Jews in that place.

Acts 13:47 – For so Yahweh has commanded us, saying, ‘I have set you to be a light for the nations, that you may bring salvation to the uttermost parts of the earth.'”

This excerpt is from the passage in Isaiah which illustrates the place that God has always set apart for his people.

Isaiah 49:6 – he says: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved [protected, guarded] ones of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

Their salvation was a guarding by God, a protection of them through their trials because he had a larger purpose for them. They were set apart (holy) and protected (saved) for God’s purpose of reaching out to the world through them.

Isaiah 60:1-3 – Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.

All of this rich context from their history demonstrated how this “working out of their salvation” in that first-century generation was a demonstration of God working through them, setting them apart for the very specific purpose that they would be a “light to the nations.” This is why they were to participate in it “with fear and trembling.” The reason the early believers in Messiah were so effective in their generation was because God himself was working among them and through them to bring about the culmination of his plan from the beginning.

As believers in Messiah today, we are inheritors of this legacy of being set apart (holy) and protected (saved) for the same purpose: that God’s glory may be seen throughout the earth. We are saved not just for our own benefit but for his glory! Salvation is not about us, it’s about God! Let us participate with the same sense of fear and trembling, a reverence and awe for our called-out destiny that we may fulfill it faithfully and successfully in every generation for him.



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.

Now also on YouTube! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvR_aNEyA7WEZJtF4B8fZ6g

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

Trusting in God or wealth

We all have necessary obligations in life, but if our over-arching purpose for everything we do does not rest in God and his kingdom, then we have by default chosen to place our trust in the other option, and Wealth then becomes our Lord.

Core of the Bible podcast #27 – Trusting in God or wealth

In this episode we will be exploring the topic of trust, and how that in which we have placed our ultimate trust, God or Wealth, will always be evident in our lives.

Yeshua stated it this way:

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

You cannot be bound equally both to God and to your confidence in wealth. One will always take precedence over the other, and the results of following either will be evident in your life.

The issue that Yeshua focuses on is not necessarily the results of following either (which are evident throughout the biblical writings), but the complete inability of humans to multi-task serving God in among other responsibilities in this life. He says emphatically, “you CANNOT serve God AND wealth.” In literal terms, the text reads there is NO ABILITY to do both.

Looking at the example Yeshua gives us, it’s as if we were to picture ourselves as slaves, and we have two masters. These masters, while both responsible for us, can command us with conflicting information that would require actions that would go against the other.

For example, let’s say “Lord 1” commands us to fetch water from a nearby spring for his thirst, and immediately “Lord 2” commands us to get his slippers for his cold feet. Which command do we do first? We can’t do both tasks at the same time, and yet they are equally important. Do we get the water first, or the slippers? Both Lords are equally commanding and we are obligated to obey them both.

It becomes readily apparent that if we are to choose one Lord over the other as the primary Lord of us, then the secondary Lord’s commands are moved to the secondary position. In this case, if we chose Lord 1 and his water fetching as being primary, we would then do that task first, and Lord 2’s task of getting his slippers would have to wait.

Also of note is that Yeshua does not provide a third option, as if there was an option to have no Lords at all and just do whatever we want at any given time. He posits that those are the two options, either God or wealth, and we will in fact serve one primary Lord from those options.

This raises the point of just how powerful Wealth as Lord is; he (if we are to personify him for our discussion) actually rivals God in scope and influence, at least from our limited perspective in this world. This is also why he is so dangerous.

Let’s continue this little thought experiment of personifying Wealth as Lord. From our perspective, this Lord can control where we live based on our financial situation. He can control what and how much we eat based on our buying power. He can control the type of car we drive, or if we even have one. If we do have a car, he controls how long our commute is based on where we have to perform our work. He can control our daily lives based on other types of employment requirements we have: how long we have to spend each day at our jobs and how much time off we are allowed to do what we need to do for ourselves and our families, if we have one. Perhaps we have no spouse and children because the Wealth has not granted us the financial stability to do so. He controls our ability to receive appropriate health care, and may even be directly responsible for the length of our lives depending on how hard we have to work and what kind of dangers we face doing our jobs. The list goes on: where we can afford to vacation, what kind of clothes we wear, the social circles we are a part of, and so on.

Wealth as Lord is a very powerful master, indeed. When viewed from our limited perspective, it becomes immediately apparent why people choose to serve the Wealth as Lord, since Wealth appears to provide for the best outcomes of all of these things. Perhaps at times we have also served this Lord, as well. Even if we don’t always do what he wants us to do right away, many times we still answer his call.

But here is something to consider: perhaps if we can look beyond Wealth as Lord and see that there is only one Lord of Wealth, then we find that we only truly have one Master.

Deuteronomy 8:17-18 – Be careful not to say, “My own ability and skill have gotten me this wealth.” You must remember the LORD your God, for he is the one who gives ability to get wealth; if you do this he will confirm his covenant that he made by oath to your ancestors, even as he has to this day.

1 Chronicles 29:12 – You [Yahweh] are the source of wealth and honor; you rule over all. You possess strength and might to magnify and give strength to all.

Proverbs 8:18, 21 – Riches and honor are with me [Wisdom], long-lasting wealth and righteousness. … that I may cause those who love me to inherit wealth, and that I may fill their treasuries.

If we are faithful with the Wisdom which God provides, we will have the ability to look to the only One who provides what we need, and that is God.

Yeshua confirms which Lord needs to always be first:

Matthew 6:32-33 for all these [things] do the nations seek for, for your heavenly Father does know that you all have need of all these; but seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these shall be added to you.

We all have necessary obligations in life, but if our over-arching purpose for everything we do does not rest in God and his kingdom, then we have by default chosen to place our trust in the other option, and Wealth then becomes our Lord. We should always seek FIRST the kingdom and its priorities, and then place the concerns with wealth and provision as secondary, because the promise is then that these things “shall be added to you.”

—–

According to the New Testament writings, covetousness is equated with idolatry (Colossians 3:5). When viewed from this perspective, it is clear that God cannot be worshipped among any other gods, as one of many.

Yeshua makes it clear that every choice in life will fall under one heading or the other, God or worldly wealth, and whichever choice is made is a determination of which deity is being trusted.

Some of the writings which were contemporary with those of the biblical texts convey the dangers of focusing too much on the building of wealth and security of this world’s goods. While considered apocryphal by some, the writer of Ecclesiasticus penned the following practical wisdom almost three millennia ago:

Sirach 31:1-11 Wakefulness over wealth wastes away one’s flesh,

    and anxiety about it drives away sleep.

Wakeful anxiety prevents slumber,

    and a severe illness carries off sleep.

The rich person toils to amass a fortune,

    and when he rests he fills himself with his dainties.

The poor person toils to make a meager living,

    and if ever he rests he becomes needy.

One who loves gold will not be justified;

    one who pursues money will be led astray by it.

Many have come to ruin because of gold,

    and their destruction has met them face to face.

It is a stumbling block to those who are avid for it,

    and every fool will be taken captive by it.

Blessed is the rich person who is found blameless,

    and who does not go after gold.

Who is he, that we may praise him?

    For he has done wonders among his people.

Who has been tested by it and been found perfect?

    Let it be for him a ground for boasting.

Who has had the power to transgress and did not transgress,

    and to do evil and did not do it?

His prosperity will be established,

    and the assembly will proclaim his acts of charity.

This whole narrative proclaims the honor of the one who, even though he may be rich, does not seek after it with all of his being.  Acts of charity would be evident with him as he seeks to not transgress the commands of God, and therefore his prosperity would be established.

Yeshua also proclaims this same principle in a story that is related of an encounter he had in his day with a rich young ruler.

Matthew 19:16-22 – Now someone came up to him and said, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to gain eternal life?” He said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones?” he asked. Jesus replied, “Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “I have wholeheartedly obeyed all these laws. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go sell your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he was very rich.”

In the case of this sincere seeker, Yeshua gets right to the heart of the issue and puts this young man in the cross-hairs of the decisive issue: in order to attain to eternal life or salvation, will this man trust in his riches, or simply place his trust in God?

We may view the man’s response with empathy, because, while the question isn’t necessarily directed at us, we should also understand we are faced with the same principle. Where do we stand when it comes to our wealth? Are we willing to place the needs of others over our own security?

In concluding his discussion with the rich young seeker, the disciples expressed their astonishment at this principle that he seemed to be espousing. Wasn’t it the rich who were shown to be blessed by God, and thereby the ones who were essentially guaranteed an entrance into eternal life?

Matthew 19:23-26 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven! Again I say, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter into the kingdom of God.” The disciples were greatly astonished when they heard this and said, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and replied, “This is impossible for mere humans, but for God all things are possible.”

With God, what appears impossible to us becomes possible. It is not our trust that provides, but God who provides. Our trust in him merely becomes the means of demonstrating that it has been directed into the correct place when it is resting in the providence of God’s mercy and bountiful provision, whether for salvation or provision in this life. When that occurs, we then allow God the freedom to be God in our lives, and for him to provide and direct as he sees fit for his purpose and kingdom.

2 Corinthians 9:10-11 – “Now God who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will provide and multiply your supply of seed and will cause the harvest of your righteousness to grow. You will be enriched in every way so that you may be generous on every occasion, which is producing through us thanksgiving to God…

1 Timothy 6:17-19 – Command those who are rich in this world’s goods not to be haughty or to set their hope on riches, which are uncertain, but on God who richly provides us with all things for our enjoyment. Tell them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, to be generous givers, sharing with others. In this way they will save up a treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the future and so lay hold of what is truly life.

This statement by Paul to Timothy is a reference to the very principle Yeshua made to the rich young seeker. God is the one who provides us all things. Since that is the case, do we really think that we can somehow provide for ourselves in any meaningful way beyond what he has given us?

This is the root principle that Yeshua was revealing. If we are choosing to trust wealth over God, then we are looking to the provision rather than the Provider. That is the foundation of all idolatry: trusting in a created thing rather than the Creator.

Instead, let’s learn to move away from our own perceived security and into the only true security that exists: that which comes from God. Once we learn to trust God, to really and genuinely trust him for every provision, it’s as if a whole world of possibilities opens up, and allows us the freedom to actually seek first his kingdom.

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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.

The day belongs to faith, hope, and love

We should always remain aware of who we are among this generation; we are the children of the day.

So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But, since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.

1 Thessalonians 5:6-8

The early believers faced challenges that most typical believers in our American culture today will never see. They were sorely persecuted, chased down from town to town for simply believing in the fulfillment of their prophetic scriptures that the Messiah and the Kingdom of God had come. They were beaten, imprisoned, and killed for their faith. Their hope was that they would be rescued from this persecution, that they would be saved.

Yet through it all, the apostle Paul encourages them to be vigilant and remain watchful. They were to protect themselves metaphorically with a breastplate of faith and love, and to guard their minds with the hope of this salvation that was to come. This was their armor. They had no defensive weapons at their disposal except faith, hope, and love.

While we may not be suffering the persecution they did, we still can take to heart Paul’s admonition to remain awake, watchful and sober. It is easy for us to be lulled into a sense of security because we are at peace, because religion (at least in this country) is currently a protected practice.

Because of this, we are easily sidetracked with the cultural distractions that confront us every day. In our increasingly digital society, we can easily get lost in the sea of information overload, the never-ending stream of digital consciousness that assaults us through our technology. The tools that have helped us to communicate have now become the overlords that demand our constant attention, and lull us to sleep within the confines of our devices.

Just as Paul encouraged the Thessalonian believers to remain alert and watchful, we, too, should always remain aware of who we are among this generation; we are the children of the day. The day is where the light is brightest, and where the greatest opportunities exist for growth. The day is where we work to plant our crops and maintain our fields until the harvest.

Faith, hope, and love are the qualities of the day that can keep us afloat amidst the societal tides that seek to drag us out to the sea of informational darkness. We must exercise vigilance in continually going against the flow of our culture. How?

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:11

The more we build one another up in our faith, the stronger we become at resisting the night. Shake yourself out of your digital stupor, and come together in faith, hope, and love so that we can demonstrate the good news of the Messiah and the Kingdom of God to a generation of darkness.

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.