The necessary dedication behind discipline

Our walk of faith is one of tireless self-evaluation and training in righteousness.

Our walk of faith is one of tireless self-evaluation and training in righteousness.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27: “Don’t you know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run like that, that you may win. Every man who strives in the games exercises self-control in all things. Now they do it to receive a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible. I therefore run like that, not aimlessly. I fight like that, not beating the air, but I beat my body and bring it into submission, lest by any means, after I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected.”

This admonition of Paul to the Corinthian believers should be a motto placed on the wall of every congregation to this day. Paul would accept absolutely no compromise when it came to matters of obedience or disobedience to Yahweh. He was so intent on keeping his focus on the righteousness of God and he says he would beat his body into submission if his desires outweighed what was right.

The phrase he uses here means to strike under the eye, as if giving someone a black eye. This conjures up imagery of prizefighting, where fighters train their body is so hard so that they may endure the battle in the arena.

If that’s the level of discipline needed to be successful in worldly games with and earthly reward such as a crown or head-wreath of victory, how much more is at stake in our spiritual lives that we should exercise the same vigilance and determination in keeping ourselves pure?

Yeshua put it this way to his disciples:

Matthew 5:29-30: “If your right eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it away from you. For it is more profitable for you that one of your members should perish, than for your whole body to be cast into Gehenna. If your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off, and throw it away from you. For it is more profitable for you that one of your members should perish, than for your whole body to be cast into Gehenna.”

The issue was not the physical chopping off of hands or gouging out of eyes, but having the same level of diligence in making sure our bodies are disciplined according to God’s word. This is the seriousness with which Yeshua commands his followers to be consistent in their walk of righteousness.

Paul carries this idea forward with the concept of putting our flesh to death. There is nothing more final than the concept of death. If the flesh is dead, it can’t continue to rise up in rebellion to the commands of God.

  • Colossians 3:5-6: “Put to death therefore your members which are on the earth: sexual immorality, uncleanness, depraved passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry; for which things’ sake the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience.”
  • 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.”

It’s true, we must die to ourselves in order to live for Messiah. If we are not willing to make that level of commitment in our walk, then perhaps we need to rethink our understanding of just what it is Yeshua taught.

Matthew 10:38-39: “He who doesn’t take his cross and follow after me, isn’t worthy of me. He who seeks his life will lose it; and he who loses his life for my sake will find it. “


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

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

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

Real peace is generated by trust in God

Regardless of our own abilities or resources, our ultimate trust in all things should be in God.

Today we will be looking at the topic of trust or faith in God, and how, regardless of our own abilities or resources, our ultimate trust in all things should be in God.

Philippians 4:6-7 – Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

This verse has been very popular over the years due to its simple admonition to prayer and its promise of peace of a troubled mind.

But rather than focus on the peace it provides, I would like to draw out another unstated concept present in this verse: trust in God. You see, peace can only come when there is an understanding that something, or someone, larger than our current troubling circumstance is handling the situation, and we don’t need to be anxious about it. This is why prayer is effective, because we are giving over situations that are beyond our control to Someone who has all control.

I think about when I was a small child, riding in the back of our car on a trip home from visiting relatives. I had no concerns about which roads we had to take, how much traffic there was, what the weather conditions were. My dad was taking us home, and that’s all that mattered. I would inevitably drift off to sleep with the rhythmic motion of the car and the road noise. I had no cares to concern me, only knowing that I would be home at the end of the trip. I trusted my dad to get us home; I had no reason not to trust him to do so.

When I became a dad and our family was on road trips to visit relatives, it was up to me to take all of those factors into consideration, since I was responsible for getting my family home safely. My role as a dad had increased responsibilities, but even with those responsibilities, my skills had grown to meet them. Certainly, I had to focus on things that I was not concerned about as a child, but even though I had to manage all of those concerns, I still had an over-arching trust that we were going to make it home. Regardless of the right route to take, the traffic, or the road conditions, we would be home soon.

Yeshua famously taught his disciples about trusting in our heavenly Father for all of their needs.

Matthew 6:31-32: ““Therefore don’t be anxious, saying, ‘What will we eat?’, ‘What will we drink?’ or, ‘With what will we be clothed?’  For the Gentiles seek after all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. “

He encouraged them not to do what the nations around them would do which was earnestly seek after every opportunity to improve material gain and wealth. This is not a situation unlike today in which we find ourselves living among a culture that is obsessed with materialism. This is why this topic of trusting in God can be such a challenging topic for us today. It’s because, at least in our American culture, we are constantly fed a steady diet of information that says we must be successful at all costs. That definition of success is typically wrapped up in nice houses, fancy cars, and investment income.

All my life I have wanted to be independent and be able to create my own source or sources of income to support myself and my family. Even if it wasn’t possible at any given time, it has always been in the back of my mind that I would like to accomplish that level of independence. I’ve always thought it was just the way my brain is wired, but lately I have come to think that it may have more to do with exposure to our culture than it does with any independent streak I may have in my personality. It does not appear to be an uncommon desire in our current culture.

Yet here I am with kids almost grown and over 25 years with my current employer. Thankfully, we currently have more than enough to meet all of our needs, even though at times it was a struggle as we were raising our family up. Through it all, my wife and I have always trusted that God would provide for our family, and he has graciously done so.

Does that mean that I didn’t have to do anything, and God would simply pour resources into our lap? Of course not, I have had to work very hard to provide consistency in my job, sometimes working nights and weekends as needed. But I have had a strangely long run with a single employer which is becoming less and less prevalent as the years go by, and I find that in itself is an unusual provision in these challenging times.

You see, trust in God is not an abdication of all responsible action; it is a recognition of power or skill beyond your own that will ultimately accomplish the outcome. That trust can be present at every skill and responsibility level. When we pray about everything, we are demonstrating that our trust is not in our own abilities or resources, but in God.

Isaiah 26:3 – You will keep the mind that is dependent on you in perfect peace, for it is trusting in you.

Trust in God also involves being flexible. In a moment we will look at various aspects of flexibility that should also be evident in the life of a believer who is trusting in God.


So far in our examination of this topic, we have reviewed trusting in God by praying about all things. We have also looked at the efforts that are still needed on our part to accomplish even our most basic needs.

Beyond these basics, another aspect of trusting in God is remaining flexible. Many times, we may believe we are headed toward a desired outcome when God has something totally different planned. This is not always a negative thing, but it may require a pivot in our thinking and expectations.

Back to the example of the responsible dad who is safely taking his family home from a road trip, we can glean some application by looking at various aspects of that situation.

For example, we need to be strategizing our desired route, but not to the exclusion of allowing for detours along the way. Perhaps the expected route home has become unavailable due to a crash ahead or construction that has blocked off access. In these instances, we need to be able to take the time to think rationally around the obstacle in order to continue making progress toward home. When we perform this exercise, many times new opportunities in previously undiscovered ways come to light.

For example, I have a typical way I commute to work every day but in times of heavy traffic I have begun to rely on digital mapping of my route to find the quickest way around the traffic as needed. Some of the alternative routes at times of heavy traffic have yielded much more pleasant ways of getting to the same destination. This is one way in which remaining flexible can yield new opportunities when we trust God’s direction.

Psalm 119:59-60: “I considered my ways, and turned my steps to your statutes. I will hurry, and not delay, to obey your commandments.”

Being obedient in those times can yield new experiences and more fruitful results.

We also need to be considering traffic and road conditions but remain open to having to modify our plans accordingly as needed. Perhaps we begin to encounter snow, heavy rain, or dense fog which prevents us from seeing clearly. In these cases, we may need to simply pull over and wait it out until more favorable conditions arrive. Sometimes God has us sit quietly and wait for him until we can receive further instruction.

Psalm 40:1: “I waited patiently for Yahweh. He turned to me, and heard my cry.”

Isaiah 33:2: “Yahweh, be gracious to us. We have waited for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble.”

These periods of waiting for God can be excruciating, especially for those type A’s among us. But these times can also provide needed rest when we are over-stressed, or they can cause us to focus on other needed things that may have arisen unexpectedly. Remaining flexible says that we are trusting that God has a reason for the unintended delay.

At other times, God provides guidance through or during the adverse condition or situation.

I can recall a true-life story about a couple driving home on the interstate when they became trapped in a white-out snowstorm. Unable to see the road, they simply pulled over, but they also knew that if they remained stationary too long, they would become trapped as the continuing snow deepened. Praying about their situation, they soon realized a snowplow had arrived to keep the freeway clear. They were then able to get back on the freeway and follow at a safe distance as the road was being plowed for them by professionals who knew the way and had the resources to clear the snow. They were able to safely arrive at their exit and complete their journey.

Psalm 25:5: “Guide me in your truth, and teach me, For you are the God of my salvation, I wait for you all day long.”

Psalm 73:21,23-24: “For my soul was grieved. I was embittered in my heart. … Nevertheless, I am continually with you. You have held my right hand. You will guide me with your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.”

God’s guidance still involves us to follow that guidance, just as the couple had to get back on the freeway to follow the snowplow. But when we are faithful to his statutes, we will find he has provided a way through our predicament, and all to his glory.

In summary, we need to be faithful with what we’ve been called to do, but we need to always keep a higher sense of trust and dependency in God beyond our own abilities and actions. When we pray for the outcome according to God’s will, we can rest assured that regardless of any modifications along the way, everything will come to pass within his purpose and timing.

This is where the peace that passes understanding comes from: it is generated in the recognition that God ultimately has us, regardless of what happens along the way. It is beyond our understanding, because only he knows which route we will ultimately have to take to get there. We should always maintain a healthy understanding of the limits of our abilities and be sure our ultimate trust is in the One who can bring us safely home at the end of the trip. Yet, if he has other plans for us along the way, plans of which we had no idea or had even considered a possibility, our trust in him will provide the confidence needed to operate in these unfamiliar areas and terrain.

This is what it means to walk by the Spirit. Yeshua taught:

John 3:8: “The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear its sound, but don’t know where it comes from and where it is going. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.””

Paul reiterated this dependency on God when he wrote to the Galatian congregation:

Galatians 5:25: “If we live by the Spirit, let’s also walk by the Spirit.”

Therefore, if we live by faith in the God of the universe, let us also walk by faith that he can and will guide us within his perfect plan and purpose. This can provide real peace because it is not based in anything that can be overturned in this life, but it is based in the One who holds all things in the palm of his hand.


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

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

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

Contrasts leading to forgiveness

The Biblical injunctions to avoid foolish and impetuous talk remain consistent over the centuries.

The Biblical injunctions to avoid foolish and impetuous talk remain consistent over the centuries.

Matthew 5:22 – “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be answerable to the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be answerable to the Council; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be liable to Gehenna fire.”

This saying of Yeshua appears extreme for such a seemingly petty offense. Anger and name-calling can have you dragged into court and ultimately into the judgment of God. What is even stranger is that it is pronounced in the larger context of murder, a crime which seems much more severe. Why the contrast? And is this a new teaching?

Well, to the first point, Yeshua almost always states things in contrast, as this provides the greatest clarity of the topic at hand. When two contrasts are presented, the truth then becomes self-evident.

Matthew 5:13 – “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by people.”

The salt is understood to be of no value if it loses the very thing that makes it unique among all other minerals or spices. This is a perfect analogy revealing the purpose of the believer is to not compromise their uniqueness as a child of God in a world of corruption.

Matthew 5:14-15 – “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.

The absurdity of lighting a lamp only to cover it with a basket illustrates the same principle: a believer is meant to shine, not to be outwardly like everyone else; we must shine with the light God gives us.

And the teaching of Yeshua about calling someone a fool and being in danger of Gehenna fire was not a new teaching, either. For example, the psalmist warned of the dangers of anger and wrath, how it can only lead to further evildoing, and how evildoers would ultimately receive judgment of God.

Psalm 37:7-9: “Rest in Yahweh, and wait patiently for him. Don’t fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who makes wicked plots happen. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath. Don’t fret, it leads only to evildoing. For evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for Yahweh shall inherit the land.”

A similar thought is conveyed in the Proverbs, as well.

Proverbs 18:6-7 – “A fool’s lips bring strife, And his mouth invites beatings. A fool’s mouth is his ruin, And his lips are the snare of his soul.”

In contrast to these judgments of ruin or snared souls, Yeshua encourages love and forgiveness. If we have called someone “empty-headed” or a fool, we are already headed on a path that can lead us down a path of potential escalation, ultimately resulting in a greater judgment. But if we forgive, we cut that path off and open the door to the avoidance of further strife and reconciliation.

  • Matthew 5:44 – “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”
  • Ephesians 4:26-27 – “‘Be angry, and yet do not sin’; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.”
  • Ephesians 4:31-32 – “All bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving each other, just as God in Messiah also has forgiven you.”
  • Titus 3:2 – “…to slander no one, not to be contentious, to be gentle, showing every consideration for all people.”

Kindness and forgiveness are much more in line with the attitude that God expects of his children. Being understanding and showing consideration, even amidst disagreement, goes a long way toward representing God in a positive light to those who may not know him. A little salt and a little light provide opportunities for healing and understanding.


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

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

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

God’s faithfulness should inspire faith toward him within us

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Living with integrity at all times

What we today might consider persecution is more likely closer to inconvenience.

What we today might consider persecution is more likely closer to inconvenience.

The first century believers lived at a unique time in the outworking of God’s Kingdom. This is why that time period is studied so heavily among believers today; what was their base doctrine, how did they worship, what practices are still valid for us as believers in the modern world? How we answer these questions will align us with the various expressions of those root questions. Those who favor authority and continuity might feel compelled toward Roman Catholic teachings; those who feel that God works independently and organically with each generation may lean toward Protestant traditions. Yet all of these established variations of the faith of Messiah will hold that believers will encounter some measure of adversity due to their faith, whether in large scale persecutions, or even the daily exercising of their beliefs.

This perception comes from the many passages of the New Testament writings which speak of persecution and suffering. Yeshua wanted to encourage his hearers to recognize that suffering adversity due to their attachment to him was to be rewarded.

Matthew 5:10-12 – “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. You are blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me. Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

This was a pattern of encouraging believers through trials that his disciples also passed on to their hearers.

Paul:
Philippians 1:27-30 – Just one thing: As citizens of heaven, live your life worthy of the gospel of Messiah. Then, whether I come and see you or am absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, in one accord, contending together for the faith of the gospel, not being frightened in any way by your opponents. This is a sign of destruction for them, but of your salvation ​– ​and this is from God. 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.

Peter:
1 Peter 3:14 – But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be intimidated…
1 Peter 4:12 – Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you.

John:
John 15:20 – “Remember the word I spoke to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you…

This suffering and adversity was to be based on their stance for righteousness and for the principles of Yeshua, not for their own rebellion or stubbornness against the ruling authorities. In fact, we see these warnings were not without merit, as those early believers indeed experienced the very things that Messiah had predicted.

  • Acts 5:40 – After they called in the apostles and had them flogged, they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them.
  • Acts 8:1, 3 – …On that day a severe persecution broke out against the congregation in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout the land of Judea and Samaria. … Saul, however, was ravaging the congregation. He would enter house after house, drag off men and women, and put them in prison.
  • Acts 12:1-3 – About that time King Herod violently attacked some who belonged to the congregation, and he executed James, John’s brother, with the sword. When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter too, during the Festival of Unleavened Bread.

These examples show how bitterly the message of the gospel of the Kingdom would be received among the corrupt Jewish authorities, and Yeshua had wanted to ensure that his followers were fully prepared for what they would experience. This is why the New Testament writings are filled with statements of encouragement against adversity, because they were actually experiencing it first-hand in their daily lives.

Hebrews 12:3, 12 – For consider him who endured such hostility from sinners against himself, so that you won’t grow weary and give up. … Therefore, strengthen your tired hands and weakened knees…

Let us not fool ourselves into thinking that we in our Western culture are experiencing true persecution for the faith of Messiah. Just because someone disagrees with a social media post or breaks off a friendship because we choose to no longer pursue unrighteous activities is not persecution. To be persecuted in the biblical sense means to be chased or hunted down with the intent to physically harm or kill.

While these New Testament encouragements were designed to minister primarily to that first century generation, I recognize there are still places in the world today where believers in Messiah are persecuted, physically beaten, imprisoned, and tortured for their faith. In those situations, these words that were aimed at those early believers still ring true in all their fullness today.

However, regardless of the severity of adversity that anyone suffers for righteousness and the principles of Messiah, we can take the advice of the apostle Paul to heart that applies in any situation:

Philippians 1:27- Just one thing: As citizens of heaven, live your life worthy of the gospel of Messiah.

This is the high calling of every believer of Messiah in every place, in every situation, at all times. When we continually live our lives with integrity, worthy of the gospel of Messiah, we honor our true citizenship and bear the greatest witness to the reality of that Kingdom.


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

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

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

The Kingdom of humility

God has designed his Creation to operate in unison with his will.

God has designed his Creation to operate in unison with his will.

Matthew 5:3 – “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.”

Yeshua taught the necessity of humility in the establishment of the Kingdom of God. In fact, his first recorded message to the people was one of repentance and humility before God.

  • Matthew 4:17 – “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
  • Mark 1:15 – “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

However, this was not a new message to the people of God. They had been urged all along through the Prophets and the Writings of the Tanakh to ensure that their hearts were never lifted up.

  • Psalm 34:18 – Yahweh is near the brokenhearted; he saves those crushed in spirit.
  • Psalm 51:16-17 – You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it; you are not pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. You will not despise a broken and humbled heart, God.
  • Isaiah 66:2 – My hand made all these things, and so they all came into being. This is Yahweh’s declaration. I will look favorably on this kind of person: one who is humble, submissive in spirit, and trembles at my word.

This makes sense, since the establishment of the Kingdom of God on the earth has always been the purpose of God since the beginning of all things. The consistency of the message is staggering considering all that took place throughout the history of the people of Israel, and the many times they rejected this simple principle.

  • Deuteronomy 8:14 – “be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget Yahweh your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery.”
  • 2 Chronicles 32:25 – However, because his heart was proud, Hezekiah didn’t respond according to the benefit that had come to him. So there was wrath on him, Judah, and Jerusalem.
  • Psalm 94:2 – “Rise up, Judge of the earth; repay the proud what they deserve.”

The Kingdom is not and will not be made up of those who are self-assured in their own purposes; this is the anti-Kingdom mentality. This is the worldview that seeks to leverage everything and everyone around them to their own advantage and design. Even (especially) among God’s own people, this frame of mind produces not the blessing of God, but the judgment of God. We must remember that we are made in his image; we are not him.

Yet, through all of this, the thread of humility before God is one that remains foundational to the establishment of the Kingdom. God still calls people to lay their own plans down before him and to pick up the cross of his purpose and will in the face of adversity and sometimes even ridicule. This is how the Kingdom grows: through each individual choosing to accomplish God’s will, not their own, with the gifts and resources he has provided each one of them.

James 4:10 – “Humble yourselves before Yahweh, and he will exalt you.”


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

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

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

Loving from the heart

True compassion for others begins with an all-consuming love for God.

True compassion for others begins with an all-consuming love for God.

Many believers are familiar with the prophecy of Micah if for no other reason than this famous verse about acting with compassion:

Micah 6:8: “He has shown you, O man, what is good. What does Yahweh require of you, but to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”

But Micah is only signifying what God had repeatedly told Israel over and over. Notice how Micah says, “He has shown you…” This is not something that God had done in a corner somewhere distant; no, God had repeatedly told them how he desired their hearts to be right and to demonstrate compassion with others in all things, providing this justice and mercy in tangible ways.

Through Isaiah, he warned them of the impending judgment for their failure to learn that lesson.

Isaiah 1:16-17: “Wash yourselves, make yourself clean. Put away the evil of your doings from before my eyes. Cease to do evil. Learn to do well. Seek justice. Relieve the oppressed. Judge the fatherless. Plead for the widow.””

Through Zechariah, he emphasized how there should be no evil in the heart, no falsity in the words out of the mouth in the carrying out of his commands.

  • Zechariah 7:9-10: ““Thus has Yahweh of Armies spoken, saying, Execute true judgment, and show kindness and compassion every man to his brother. Don’t oppress the widow, nor the fatherless, the foreigner, nor the poor; and let none of you devise evil against his brother in your heart.’”
  • Zechariah 8:16-17: “These are the things that you shall do: speak every man the truth with his neighbor. Execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates, and let none of you devise evil in your hearts against his neighbor, and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate,” says Yahweh.”

This repeated injunction of focusing on the heart is emphasized in the teaching of Yeshua and his disciples, as well.

Matthew 5:8 – “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Matthew 18:35 – “So also my heavenly Father will do to you unless every one of you forgives his brother or sister from your heart.”

Most importantly, Yeshua emphasized how the basis of the Kingdom of God, and the righteous actions of the heart, were rooted in a sincere, genuine, and complete love for Yahweh. This was the first and greatest commandment which would lead to the second most important commandment: to love others.

Matthew 22:37-39 – He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”

The failure of the religious leaders to exemplify true and genuine compassion was also the condemnation Yeshua pronounced against them, using the same words of Isaiah:

Matthew 15:8 – “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”

These compassionate actions are at the very center of the message of the Bible, and the Yeshua’s words in the Sermon on the Mount simply clarify something that God had been saying all along: the goal of all of Torah, or God’s instruction, is loving one another genuinely from the heart, not out of religious obligation. This is the message he taught his disciples: that true love for God causes us to truly love others. This was the message that the disciples sought to distill to those under their care and direction, as well:

  • Romans 8:28 – “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God…”
  • 1 Corinthians 2:9 – “But as it is written, What no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human heart has conceived — God has prepared these things for those who love him.”
  • 1 Corinthians 16:14 – “Do everything in love.”
  • 1 Timothy 1:5: “but the goal of this command is love, out of a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith…”

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

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

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

Separation through the Word

Obedience to God’s Word is essential to a holy life.

Obedience to God’s Word is essential to a holy life.

Psalm 119:101-102 – “I hold back my feet from every evil way in order to keep your word. I do not turn away from your ordinances, for you have taught me.”

Believers cannot live holy lives unless they know the Word of God. It is the instruction of God that teaches us what is right and what is wrong.

Psalm 119:105 – “Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.”

Left only to our own understanding, we can’t know what the evil way is because typically every way can look equally beneficial.

Proverbs 16:25 – “There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way to death.”

Sometimes we go along with what everyone around us is doing because it seems like the right thing to do. But when we shine the light of the Word of God onto it, it can change its appearance to end up being the very thing that is leading people astray. Many campaigns and movements seem to be beneficial, but they end up causing greater issues than expected. As humans, our foresight is limited, and we can’t always see the ramifications of all of our choices.

This is why we, as believers, need to choose a different path, one that is separate from the way of the world. We may appear to others to be the one fish that is swimming upstream while all the others are heading in the other direction. But this is only because we have chosen to follow One who has perfect knowledge and is not just following statistics. We are the ones who are looking for the narrow entrance while all the others are continuing on through the broad road.

Matthew 7:13 – “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to destruction is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way.”

We have received God’s Word as the gracious gift that it is. Just as Yahweh set apart Israel in the wilderness by giving them his commandments, we have been set apart by this same instruction of God.

Titus 2:11-12 – “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age…”

Those of us who are seeking to be followers of Messiah and children of Yahweh must operate under different principles than the rest of those who are only out for themselves and what they can obtain on their own. Seeking to be image-bearers of God in this world, we are not only instructed to be on a different path, but we are obligated to.

Psalm 34:12-14 – “Who is someone who desires life, loving a long life to enjoy what is good? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from deceitful speech. Turn away from evil and do what is good; seek peace and pursue it.”

The way of holiness is a way that is separate and distinct for a reason. It is not only a protection and benefit for those who are obedient, but it is also a light to those in the darkness, that they may be drawn to its wisdom and thereby drawn closer to God.


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

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

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

Cultivating godly leaders of integrity

The fruit of a life lived in harmony with God’s Word is beneficial to all.

The fruit of a life lived in harmony with God’s Word is beneficial to all.

Matthew 5:20 – “For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.”

With these words, Yeshua sets a contrast that he will continue to illustrate over and over in the gospels: the person of integrity will not simply follow outward rules but will be obedient to God from the heart. Through these contrasts which were on display by the majority of the religious establishment, Yeshua demonstrates that the opposite of integrity is not just lawlessness, but hypocrisy.

Matthew 23:2-3 – “The scribes and the Pharisees are seated in the chair of Moses. Therefore do whatever they tell you, and observe it. But don’t do what they do, because they don’t practice what they teach.”

Yeshua had warned about recognizing false teaching by evaluating the fruit of those who teach these things. If their lifestyles did not match what they were teaching about, then they could be ignored.

Matthew 7:15-17 – “Be on your guard against false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves. You’ll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit.”

The fruit of the religious leaders of Yeshua’s day had become so corrupt they no longer fairly represented Yahweh, and by their lifestyle they were judged by him as lawless. The third commandment of the Ten is to not take Yahweh’s name in vain, yet their entire religious lives centered on their vanity.

Matthew 23:27-28 – “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of the bones of the dead and every kind of impurity. In the same way, on the outside you seem righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

His condemnation of the leaders was not just a rebellious act against authority, but a condemnation of their hypocrisy. Leaders, by the very nature of their responsibility, must be held to a higher standard.

James 3:1-2 – “Not many should become teachers, my brothers, because you know that we will receive a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is mature, able also to control the whole body.”

Maturity in a leader is that they will be consistent between what they say and what they do. As believers, we should all be striving for that level of integrity in everything, and as God sees fit, godly leaders will then rise to prominence among his people. The flashy charisma of hypocritical false leaders will be shown for what it is as the fruit of a life that is not truly yielded to God. However, the leaders of integrity will demonstrate a heart for truth and obedience to God’s Word. This is the goal of integrity for all believers: to harmonize truth with actions.


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

Out of the Kingdom

God removes from his Kingdom all that prohibits the light of truth and righteousness from shining.

God removes from his Kingdom all that prohibits the light of truth and righteousness from shining.

Yeshua had taught that the religious leaders of his day were so corrupt that God had no choice but to remove them. His Kingdom had suffered violence from those who tried to make their own traditions and rules equal to his Torah. Therefore, Yeshua warned them that they would lose the very thing they were trying so hard to hold on to by their own schemes.

Matthew 21:43, 45 – “‘Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruit.’ … When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they knew he was speaking about them.”

Yeshua spared no mercies in confronting the leaders with the reality of how this was to be accomplished.

Matthew 13:40 – “‘Therefore, just as the weeds are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age.'”

The end of that corrupt age was upon them, and a new age was about to be inaugurated: an age of righteousness and peace that had been predicted for centuries. But first, those who were standing in the way had to be removed for this to take place.

Matthew 13:41 – “‘The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will gather from his kingdom all snares and those guilty of lawlessness.'”

Those things that were snares, traps, or hindrances (as many different versions translate the Greek word skandalon) were things that related to the concerns of men, not the concerns of God. These were things that distracted people from the true purpose of God, as Peter found out when he tried to insert his own agenda into the outworking of God’s plan with Messiah.

Matthew 16:21-23 – From then on Yeshua began to point out to his disciples that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and be raised the third day. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, “Oh no, Lord! This will never happen to you! ” Yeshua turned and told Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a snare [skandalon] to me because you’re not thinking about God’s concerns but human concerns.”

Additionally, those guilty of lawlessness were, ironically, the scribes and Pharisees themselves. This pronouncement came directly from Yeshua in a long list of offenses they had committed against the righteous standards of God.

Matthew 23:27-28 – “‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of the bones of the dead and every kind of impurity. In the same way, on the outside you seem righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.'”

The destiny of those who were corrupting the remnant, the true believers, those who sided with Messiah, was to be burned.

Matthew 13:42 – “‘They will throw them into the blazing furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'”

This was the imagery Yeshua used to describe the destruction of Jerusalem; it was burned with fire and completely destroyed when it fell to the Roman army in 70 AD. Based on this historical reality, we can see how the prophecy of Yeshua came to pass within a generation, as he had predicted. All of those who were guilty of the snares of man-made concerns and lawlessness due to their hypocrisy were eliminated in the destruction of the beloved city.

It was only after that cleansing that the fullness of the Kingdom could be realized, as those who had believed in Messiah could fully live according to the righteous standards of Yahweh from the heart.

Matthew 13:43 – “‘Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom. Let anyone who has ears listen.'”

That was God’s plan all along, that the hearts of those who would seek him would be obedient to his Word, his Torah. When that happened, his enemies (those lawless who set snares of men) were removed from the Kingdom and then the remnant, the true believers who were pure of heart, could let their lights shine.

Matthew 5:14-16 – “‘You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.'”

The city on the hill is the New Jerusalem, Zion, the righteous Kingdom of God, and it cannot be hidden. To this day it shines with the brightness of all those who are obedient to Yahweh, serving him from the heart and no longer by just the letter of the law, but by the Spirit.


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