Watchful perseverance in love

How to stand firm in the face of opposition.

1 Corinthians 16:13-14 – Be alert, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong. Do everything in love.

A few of the final parting exhortations of Paul to the congregation at Corinth reveal some of the deepest foundations for believers in Messiah.

To be alert is vigilance, watchfulness; the idea of keeping awake when everyone else is sleeping. What is he encouraging them to be on the lookout for? If we review some other uses of this term in other letters of Paul, some of these ideas are found:

Colossians 4:2 – Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving.
1 Thessalonians 5:6 – So then, let us not sleep, like the rest, but let us stay awake and be self-controlled.

This idea of wakefulness as Paul uses it involves thankful prayer and being self-controlled. When we relax our guard from prayer, thanksgiving, and self-control, we can be led astray. Paul reveals this to be the case by adding to this exhortation of vigilance by saying, “Stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong.”

Standing firm in the faith implies persevering. One needs exhortation to persevere only when they are encountering opposition. This is a necessary element of the faith because believers, by default, can appear antagonistic to the world around them due to their opposing world views.

Psalm 37:12 – The wicked person schemes against the righteous and gnashes his teeth at him.
Proverbs 29:27 – An unjust person is detestable to the righteous, and one whose way is upright is detestable to the wicked.

Paul knows from personal experience this is the case, and encourages the believers to literally “act like men.” This bravery, strength, and perseverance in the face of opposition is a necessity among believers, or the implanted word will not bear fruit. This can bring about the situation disclosed by Yeshua in his parable of the sower:

Matthew 13:20-21 – And the one sown on rocky ground ​– ​this is one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy. But he has no root and is short-lived. When distress or persecution comes because of the word, immediately he falls away.

Notice, Yeshua says “when distress or persecution comes because of the word,” not if it comes about. This is the lot of those who choose to seek out and follow the Way of God in this life, and Paul is simply ensuring those believers in Corinth are prepared.

Paul then finishes his thought on vigilance, perseverance, and courage by summing up the ultimate command for all believers: “Do everything in love.” It literally reads, “All things of you, in love, let be done.” This is the difference between the believer and the non-believer when confronting these differing world views. According to Psalm 37, the wicked person “schemes against the righteous and gnashes his teeth at him.” Yet, even though to the believer the way of the unrighteous is detestable, they are still commanded to do everything in love.

True vigilance protects oneself through thankful prayer and self-control, all the while extending love to those who disagree with them. This was the path Paul encouraged those believers to navigate in their context of real danger persecution. How much more should we exhibit these characteristics in our comparatively mild day and age?


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.

The antidote against covetousness

We demonstrate God has our heart when we trust him by being sincerely generous with what he has given us.

Core of the Bible podcast #46 – The antidote against covetousness

Today we will be exploring the topic of vigilance, and how we need to be vigilant in removing all unrighteous practices from our lives. In Luke 12, Yeshua cautions his followers to be mindful and vigilant that they are not to allow themselves to be overcome with covetousness. He stated it this way:

Luke 12:15 – He told the people, “Be careful to guard yourselves from every kind of greed. Life is not about having an abundance of material possessions.”

There are two main aspects to this verse, and I think there is value if we are to break it down and view these aspects separately.

In the first aspect, Yeshua focuses on the importance of alertness to the subtilty of greed. He says to “Be aware to keep yourselves from every kind of greed.” Let’s look at the meanings of some of the main words in the text to understand it a little more deeply.

What’s translated here as “be aware” conveys the idea of staring at something intently, or to clearly discern something. It is the idea of a guard in a watchtower scanning the horizon for any evidence of invaders. This takes full attention and careful observation. Greed and covetousness are concepts that can quickly overtake us if we are not keeping a watchful eye for their sometimes subtle influence.

To keep oneself from something implies a measure of  isolating oneself. It means being on guard to avoid bad influence, or with the idea of preserving that which is good. This involves intentional effort and in the context of believers, it involves obedience to the things of God.

Yeshua says believers are to exercise this kind of watchfulness and protection to avoid “all covetousness.” The word used for covetousness includes a host of negative characteristics such as greed and aggressive materialism, which we typically associate with covetousness. However, it also includes ideas of fraudulence, extortion, or desire for any kind of advantage. Essentially, this type of person usually will do just about anything to get what they want. All of these things fall into the covetousness category.

The Geneva Bible says: “By covetousness is meant that greedy desire to get, commonly causing hurt to other men.”

John Gill writes: “all sorts of covetousness, and every degree of it, which of all vices is to be avoided and guarded against, being the root of all evil; and as the Persic version renders it, is worse than all evil, and leads into it”

Matthew Poole expands on this idea further when he writes:

“The pleonexia, here translated covetousness or immoderate desire of having of this world’s goods, which discovers itself either by unrighteous acts in procuring, or uncharitable omissions for the keeping, of the things of this life. It is that filarguria, love of money, which the apostle determines to be the root of all evil. It is also discovered by a too much thoughtfulness [of] what we shall eat, drink, or put on, or by the too great meltings of our hearts into our bags of gold or silver. All these come under the notion of that covetousness which is here forbidden. In short, whatsoever it is that hindereth our contentment with the portion God giveth us upon our endeavours, though it amounts to no more than food and raiment, according to the apostle’s precept…”

He then wisely refers us to a familiar passage in Paul’s letter to Timothy, and also the book of Hebrews:

1 Timothy 6:6-10 – But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out. If we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Hebrews 13:5 – Keep your life free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for he himself has said, I will never leave you or abandon you.

Now that we have defined what this covetousness is that we should constantly be on guard against, Yeshua then focuses on why this intense level of scrutiny is necessary. He then says, “Life is not about having an abundance of material possessions.”

According to Yeshua, life is not found in the abundance of ones material things. Having an abundance literally means to “superabound;” that is, to not only have enough to meet ones needs, but well beyond.

In the words of John Gill: “a man’s natural life cannot be prolonged by all the good things of the world he is possessed of; they cannot prevent diseases nor death; nor do the comfort and happiness of life, lie in these things; which are either not enjoyed by them, but kept for the hurt of the owners of them, or are intemperately used, or some way or other imbittered to them, so that they have no peace nor pleasure in them: and a man’s spiritual life is neither had nor advantaged hereby, and much less is eternal life to be acquired by any of these things; which a man may have, and be lost for ever, as the following parable shows.”

As Gill mentions, Yeshua then tells a parable to explain the pointlessness of the common perspective that most people have.

Luke 12:16-21 – Then he told them a parable: “A rich man’s land was very productive. “He thought to himself, ‘What should I do, since I don’t have anywhere to store my crops? “I will do this,’ he said. ‘I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones and store all my grain and my goods there. “Then I’ll say to myself, “You have many goods stored up for many years. Take it easy; eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.” ‘ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is demanded of you. And the things you have prepared ​– ​whose will they be? ‘ “That’s how it is with the one who stores up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

I think most of us instinctively know this to be true, but it doesn’t always stop us from desiring more, whether it is more things to possess or more power and authority or advantage over others.

Now I believe a significant caution is necessary here in saying that many commentators and preachers will use this parable and teaching to admonish those who are rich, or those who are being prudent in regards to their income and assets, but is that the true meaning of what Yeshua is teaching us here? Is he trying to say it is better to be poor than to be rich?

Here are a few examples of how commentators will typically view the meaning of this parable of Yeshua regarding the man who built bigger barns for himself:

Albert Barnes: “The passage, then, means: Be not anxious about obtaining wealth, for, however much you may obtain, it will not prolong your life. “That” depends on the will of God, and it requires something besides wealth to make us ready to meet him.”

Hermann Olshausen says that there are two propositions blended together: “Life consists not in superfluity” (the true life), and “nothing spiritual can proceed from earthly possessions.”

Heinrich Ewald says: “If man has not from his external wealth in general what can be rightly called his life, he has it not, or rather he has it still less by the fact that this, his external wealth, increases by his appeasing his covetousness.”

Matthew Poole writes: “The poor are as merry, and many times more satisfied, more healthy, and at more ease, than those that have abundance. It is a golden sentence, which deserves to be engraven in every soul.”

These great commentators from the past are drawing out many useful and helpful maxims and ideals that we can truly benefit from. But as Luke is using this parable for a specific purpose, it would serve us well to determine what he is trying to emphasize in Yeshua’s teaching.

On the surface, this parable appears to teach that saving up for an uncertain future is to no avail, as we cannot have any certainty of the length of our lives. While this is certainly true, I believe the real essence of the parable, based on the teaching of Yeshua that it is meant to illustrate (that of the vigilance needed in avoiding greed) is summed up in the last sentence: “That’s how it is with the one who stores up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

Notice, it is not the storing up of the treasure that is the issue, but storing up treasure for oneself, that is, for one’s own ease and comfort, without being rich toward God.

And herein I believe is the real essence of what Yeshua is teaching us: the antidote for greed and selfish advantage is not necessarily being poor, but it is being rich toward God. This then begs the question, how can one be rich toward God? How are we to abound and exhibit wealth toward God?

In Luke’s telling of the story, here Yeshua goes right into the teaching of seeking first the kingdom and trusting God’s provision and not relying on our own. This is another indication of the intended meaning that I believe Luke is highlighting in this passage, and which he now has Yeshua illustrating from this complementary perspective of the kingdom.

Luke 12:22-34 – “Then he said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, don’t worry about your life, what you will eat; or about the body, what you will wear. “For life is more than food and the body more than clothing. “Consider the ravens: They don’t sow or reap; they don’t have a storeroom or a barn; yet God feeds them. Aren’t you worth much more than the birds? “Can any of you add one moment to his life-span by worrying? “If then you’re not able to do even a little thing, why worry about the rest? “Consider how the wildflowers grow: They don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these. “If that’s how God clothes the grass, which is in the field today and is thrown into the furnace tomorrow, how much more will he do for you ​– ​you of little faith? “Don’t strive for what you should eat and what you should drink, and don’t be anxious. “For the Gentile world eagerly seeks all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. “But seek his kingdom, and these things will be provided for you. “Don’t be afraid, little flock, because your Father delights to give you the kingdom. “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Make money-bags for yourselves that won’t grow old, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

If one simply stores up treasure for oneself, the result can be as uncertain as the man in the parable experienced. He spent time, effort, and money to build bigger barns to hold all of the stuff he simply wanted to use for his own purposes. However, if one seeks first the kingdom, God’s provision will be sufficient, and those things that a person might have been storing up for themself can then be used to also help those who are in need. In this way, by being generous with those who are in need, according to Yeshua, people can store up true treasure, real treasure in heaven.

Luke 12:31, 33-34 – “But seek his kingdom, and these things will be provided for you. … Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Make money-bags for yourselves that won’t grow old, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

A desire to have an abundance of wealth or material possessions is, for most people, a desire for security in life. Whether it’s financial savings plans, 401K retirement plans, or winning the lottery, we desire to have an assured future. If we know we have more than enough for the moment, then our ongoing provision is accounted for. Yeshua provides the reasoning behind why this should not be our primary focus in life.

First of all, we may work hard to save for our future, only to have our life end prematurely (from our perspective), and who would then be the recipient of everything we had worked so hard to attain? Was all that work and time spent collecting all of that wealth really the best use of our resources while we lived?

Additionally, it does not allow us to be rich towards God. If God blesses us, we should be faithful in using those material blessings to bless others, as he has done with us. This is how the child honors the Father and demonstrates their true spiritual lineage; by becoming like him.

Further, one more final and important point regarding our vigilance against covetousness in our lives, the apostle Paul provides a stern warning regarding covetousness to the believers in Colosse:

Colossians 3:5 – Put to death, therefore, whatever is worldly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”

Greed, the desire for more and more material things for personal security and satisfaction, is idolatry. This must be put to death, a term of finality; there is no middle ground. We need to be vigilant in removing all unrighteous practices from our lives, and idolatry is the primary indicator of rebellion against God. When we seek to trust our provision (which we can see) more than our Provider (whom we cannot see), then we have fallen prey to idolatry.

God promises to meet our needs, not our wants, but in so doing, he instructs us that we should demonstrate generosity with others out of respect for his care for us. If you really desire to have a godly abundance, then rather than being an idolater, be an abundant giver.

Luke 6:38 – “Give, and you will receive. A large quantity, pressed together, shaken down, and running over will be put into your pocket.”

This is not meant to teach us that we can get more earthly possessions for ourselves by giving to others, which is the basis of the prosperity gospel. But it is the representation that the large quantity that is placed in our account will be the heavenly treasure, the true wealth that only God can give. That is the wealth that will not ever be lost, as Yeshua taught: “an inexhaustible treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

God wants our hearts, and when we trust him by being sincerely generous with what he has given us, rather than storing up everything for our own purposes, we will gain true wealth within his purpose for all eternity.


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.

Guarding against moral degradation

We must protect ourselves against falling into old, destructive patterns.

1 Corinthians 15:33-34 – Do not be deceived: “Bad associations corrupt good moral habits.” Come to your senses and stop sinning; for some people are ignorant about God. I say this to your shame.

The text here speaks of bad associations; those companionships and conversations that have little to no redeeming value. In our association with these types of relationships and interactions, the apostle Paul warns that we are in danger of becoming deceived. We need to demonstrate vigilance in our activities among those who are ignorant about God as we can be led into sinful areas.

While we certainly need to interact with those around us who may not presently know God, we may sometimes feel that our remaining involvement with them, especially those closer acquaintances and relationships, can help to pull them toward God. However, I once received some sage advice from a former pastor. He mentioned how if someone is standing on a chair, it is much easier for a group of people to pull them off of the chair than for the person on the chair to pull others up.

Proverbs 13:20 – He who walks with the wise will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed.

While these cautionary admonitions apply to those around us, the same logic holds true for those who may be within our congregations. We may feel more confidence that those inside our local groups can be reliable companions. However, earlier in the same epistle to the Corinthians, Paul has some similar advice.

1 Corinthians 5:6 – Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little leaven leavens the whole batch of dough?

Paul here uses the analogy of how yeast can overtake an entire batch of dough with just a little bit of time. In Hebraic thinking, an unleavened batch of dough that is left to itself can absorb yeast particles from ambient conditions and become leavened in as little as a day or two, sometimes only a matter of hours. In this sense, we need to guard ourselves and our local believing communities from those who could potentially bring in harmful ways.

1 Corinthians 5:9-11 – I wrote to you in a letter not to associate with sexually immoral people. I did not mean the immoral people of this world or the greedy and swindlers or idolaters; otherwise you would have to leave the world. But actually, I wrote you not to associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister and is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or verbally abusive, a drunkard or a swindler. Do not even eat with such a person.

While we can’t escape all worldly influence in our daily lives, we can certainly be vigilant with those who claim to be believers and yet persist in ways that are ungodly. Our role then switches from one of shared companionship to one of accountability.

1 Corinthians 5:12-13 – For what business is it of mine to judge outsiders? Don’t you judge those who are inside? God judges outsiders. Remove the evil person from among you.

While we are not in a position to be judgmental of how those in the world conduct themselves, Paul says ultimately God judges them. In closer relationships with non-believers, we can distance ourselves when we see that our familiarity with them is not bearing fruit, and we ourselves may be in danger of falling into old, destructive patterns.

Within our congregations, however, our responsibility is to ensure that we are not associating with those who claim to be believers but are unrepentant. Then we do have the right, and the responsibility, to confront their sinfulness.

Ultimately, with all of our interactions in life, we need to be vigilant about maintaining truth and following Yeshua in sincerity and obedience. When we do so, we can be led to further areas of wisdom and understanding.

Proverbs 9:6 – Forsake foolishness and live, and go in the way of understanding.


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.

Praying persistently according to God’s will

The things we pray for should be of such importance that we will just not let them go, no matter what.

Luke 18:1-5 – Now he [Yeshua] told them a parable on the need for them to pray always and not give up. “There was a judge in a certain town who didn’t fear God or respect people. “And a widow in that town kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ “For a while he was unwilling, but later he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or respect people, “yet because this widow keeps pestering me, I will give her justice, so that she doesn’t wear me out by her persistent coming.’ “

In this parable of Yeshua, he explains the benefit of persistence in our prayers to God. The parable seems a bit odd because he is using the example of a judge who doesn’t fear God or respect people. This person is not qualified to be a judge, and yet, the widow ends up swaying his opinion due to her incessant coming to him. If persistence works even with those who do not fear God or respect people, then how much more will God be willing to respond to those whom he cares for and loves?

Persistence in anything is a demonstration of the sincerity of the individual. We can pray to God for all kinds of things flippantly or without any real motivation to see things happen; however, Yeshua is encouraging us that the things we pray for should be of such importance that we will just not let them go, no matter what. This level of persistence shows God, and ourselves, that we are serious about our requests.

Now, this parable is not a one-for-all treatise on what to pray for, just how to pray. If we are praying for something that is totally against God’s will and purpose, he is not obligated to grant that type of request, no matter how many times we ask.

1 John 5:14-15 – This is the confidence we have before him: If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked of him.

The “what” of the prayer needs to be according to his will, and the “how” of the prayer is the persistence in it.

We must remember that God is like a good and faithful parent, and he will not give us something that is not beneficial for us.

Matthew 7:9-11 – “Who among you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? “Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him.

If God grants our prayers when we pray according to his will, then it is in our (and God’s) best interest to pray for those things that we know he desires for us and for his kingdom.

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

Our minds our transformed when we openly and honestly review God’s Word on a regular basis, growing in our understanding of him and what he desires for our lives. This is how we learn to pray according to his will. And when we do so persistently, we can be assured that he hears and responds as the loving parent he is.


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.

Identifying the bad fruit of false prophets

Actions speak louder than words.

Matthew 7:15-20 – 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. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So you’ll recognize them by their fruit.

Like many believers, I have always applied these verses as making sure I am staying away from false prophets and teachers by avoiding false doctrine. I have believed that false doctrine can lead you astray and is the evidence that a teacher is really a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

While that certainly is true, looking at the verse carefully does not reveal any indication of recognizing false prophets by bad teaching, but by bad fruit. I think, at least for me, in my mind I have always substituted the concept of teaching for fruit. However, in the Bible imagery, fruit always represents two things: actions and multiplication.

As for actions, the actions that are the result of truth should be actions of repentance. This is witnessed by some of the earliest teaching of John the baptizer.

Matthew 3:8 – “Therefore produce fruit consistent with repentance.

Luke 3:8 – “Therefore produce fruit consistent with repentance. And don’t start saying to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you that God is able to raise up children for Abraham from these stones.

Even the motive of Yeshua’s ministry was that the Israelites would repent of their sinful ways.

Luke 5:30-32 – But the Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners? ” Jesus replied to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a doctor, but those who are sick. “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

One of Yeshua’s most well-known parables focuses a great deal on fruit.

Matthew 13:23 – “But the one sown on the good ground ​– ​this is one who hears and understands the word, who does produce fruit and yields: some a hundred, some sixty, some thirty times what was sown.”

Luke 8:14-15 – “As for the seed that fell among thorns, these are the ones who, when they have heard, go on their way and are choked with worries, riches, and pleasures of life, and produce no mature fruit. “But the seed in the good ground ​– ​these are the ones who, having heard the word with an honest and good heart, hold on to it and by enduring, produce fruit.

In these two representations of the parable of the sower taught by Yeshua, look at the words that are used in describing the good soil: honest, good, enduring, producing fruit (actions) and large yields (multplication). These are the characteristics of those who are living repentant lives for God.

Ephesians 5:8-10 – For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light ​– ​ for the fruit of the light consists of all goodness, righteousness, and truth ​– ​ testing what is pleasing to the Lord.

Here’s what Paul tells the Ephesians that the good fruit consists of: good actions, righteous actions, and actions based on truth.

Galatians 5:22-23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things.

All of the fruit of the Spirit are words that are meant to be action words: love in action, joy in action, peace in action, patience in action, and so on. All of these are actions that demonstrate a repentant lifestyle, one that is no longer choosing to do what is wrong in God’s eyes.

For balance and clarity, Paul also provides lengthy lists of bad fruit (works):

Galatians 5:19-21 – Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I am warning you about these things ​– ​as I warned you before ​– ​that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 6:8-10 – Instead, you yourselves do wrong and cheat ​– ​and you do this to brothers and sisters! Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or males who have sex with males, no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom.

Romans 8:7-8 – The mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit to God’s law. Indeed, it is unable to do so. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

These are the works (actions) of the flesh (non-repentance), all types of bad fruit that Yeshua was warning about false prophets. None of these actions are pleasing to God. These are the fruits to be aware of when it comes to discerning the wolves from the true shepherds. If they, as individuals demonstrate these characteristics, or if their followers are being multiplied in these fruits (actions), then these are false teachers.

Paul reminds the Corinthians of how they have come out of those bad fruits into the power of the Spirit of God, being set apart by repentant actions.

1 Corinthians 6:11 – And some of you used to be like this. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Yeshua Messiah and by the Spirit of our God.

While keeping an eye out for those destructive actions in our lives and the lives of others, we should focus vigilantly on maintaining repentant attitudes in all we do.

Colossians 1:10 – so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God,

John 15:8 – “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.


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.

Steps to maintain clarity on the path of righteousness

We can have the assurance from multiple sources that we are on the right path.

Proverbs 14:12 – There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way to death.

The proverbs of Solomon contain a wealth of practical advice for the believer. This verse challenges believers to continually examine their ways to ensure they are on the correct path. The right way is not always abundantly clear, and if we simply trust our own wisdom and thinking, we may end up on the wrong road entirely.

Fortunately, Solomon has also provided some additional insights to help us determine which way we should be going.

Proverbs 12:15 – A fool’s way is right in his own eyes, but whoever listens to counsel is wise.

For the believer, the primary source of wisdom and counsel is Torah, or God’s Word. When faced with indecision, it is wise to prayerfully scour the Scriptures to allow God to provide needed direction.

When a possible course of action presents itself, it is then helpful to receive advice or counsel from a trusted friend or mentor. God, in his boundless intelligence, has granted that the repository of wisdom is not limited to one individual or one source. Most times, confirmation from a trusted acquaintance is the motivator needed to form solid course of action.

Wisdom is available from many different resources at any given time, especially in our current day and age of information. Besides trusted personal family, friends, and contacts, there are many online resources and teachings to guide and strengthen a believer’s faith.

Conversely, there is also a plethora of false teachings that can, and do, lead many astray with their hollow ethics and prideful focus. Yeshua cautioned that these teachings can be evaluated by understanding what kind of results the teacher or organization produces.

Matthew 7:15, 19-20 – “Be on your guard against false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves. … “Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. “So you’ll recognize them by their fruit.

Some diligent and common-sense investigation of an individual or ministry can many times provide the perspective needed to know if they can be trusted or not.

Solomon continues his practical advice:

Proverbs 3:7 – Don’t be wise in your own eyes; fear Yahweh and turn away from evil.

If we are not relying on our wisdom, and we are fearing Yahweh by trusting in his Word and resources he has provided, it’s still up to us to actually turn away from evil. This is something that only we can choose to do, albeit with the strength God provides us.

Ephesians 6:10-11 – Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by his vast strength. Put on the full armor of God…

1 Peter 4:10-11 – Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve others, as good stewards of the varied grace of God. If anyone speaks, let it be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, let it be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Messiah Yeshua in everything. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.

Finally, Solomon also encourages the believer to be sure the actions are coming from the right place within us.

Proverbs 16:2 – All a person’s ways seem right to him, but Yahweh weighs motives.

Another reading of “motives” reads “spirit.” Yahweh weighs or judges the spirit in which we do things, or the unseen motivation that guides what we do. Are we truly seeking the right way according to his Word and counsel, or merely trying to make ourselves look better in front of others?

1 Peter 2:1 – Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander.

In our quest to stay on the right path, then, we should be sure that we are vigilantly staying true to God’s Word, confiding with trusted advisors, taking measured steps to avoid evil and ensuring that we are operating from the correct motives. By doing so, we can have the assurance from multiple sources that we are on the right path. These confirmations provide the confidence and strength necessary to discern God’s will and keep us moving on the narrow path in the way of righteousness.


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.

The brightly lit fire of self-discipline

We must be vigilant over our own actions to remain fruitful and effective for God in the work that he has laid out for us.

2 Timothy 1:7 – For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.

The apostle Paul was writing this to his young protégé, Timothy, in the wider context of reminding him of his spiritual heritage, and to encourage him that he is up to the task of being a leader among the congregations that Paul had been instrumental in establishing throughout Asia.

This “sound judgment” that Paul mentions is a word that also means self-control, self-discipline, and prudence. One of the clear earmarks of the Spirit of God’s influence in our lives is discipline and self-control.

Galatians 5:22-23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things.

In writing to Timothy, Paul implies that the intensity of the outworking of the Spirit in the life of the believer is partially dependent on the believer’s participation and focus.

Albert Barnes contributes the following thoughts on Paul’s instruction to Timothy:

“The original word used here denotes the kindling of a fire, as by bellows, etc. It is not uncommon to compare piety to a flame or a fire, and the image is one that is obvious when we speak of causing that to burn more brightly. The idea is, that Timothy was to use all proper means to keep the flame of pure religion in the soul burning, and more particularly his zeal in the great cause to which he had been set apart. The agency of man himself is needful to keep the religion of the heart warm and glowing. However rich the gifts which God has bestowed upon us, they do not grow of their own accord, but need to be cultivated by our own personal care.”

Timothy was tasked with a great many responsibilities, and through them all Paul is encouraging him to remain vigilant, to watch carefully, to be circumspect in all things so that his work can be effective and fruitful.

2 Timothy 4:2, 5 – Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching. … But as for you, exercise vigilance in everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

It is necessary to exercise vigilance and self-control in all things, otherwise we are no better than a city without walls; i.e., we have no defenses against danger.

Proverbs 25:28 – Like a city broken down without walls is a man without restraint over his spirit!

If we are reminded to continually kindle the Spirit of God’s influence within us into a larger flame, we can stand against any onslaught that may confront us. We must be vigilant over our own actions to remain fruitful and effective for God in the work that he has laid out for us in the ongoing establishment of his kingdom on the earth.


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.

Guarding the source of life

The Proverbs provide a template for guarding our hearts against wickedness.

Vigilance in the believer’s life takes intentional thought and effort, which is why it is likely so rarely witnessed. GK Chesterton is quoted as saying “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”

Proverbs 4:23 – Keep your heart with all vigilance; for from it flow the springs of life.

“Keeping” of one’s heart means to guard, watch and observe. The word for vigilance implies confinement and custody as if imprisoned with a posted guard.

In the Bible, the heart has extreme value; it is the inmost person, the repository of all influence and insight. According to Solomon throughout his Proverbs, the qualities surrounding the heart demonstrate why it is so important to guard and watch over it.

  • 2:2 the heart can be pointed to understanding
  • 3:1 the heart keeps commandments
  • 3:3 instruction is written on the heart
  • 3:5 the heart is the root of trust in Yahweh
  • 4:4 the heart holds onto instruction
  • 6:21 instruction is to be bound and tied to the heart
  • 7:3 instruction can be engraved there
  • 23:12 the heart is the place of discipline
  • 23:15 the heart is the place of wisdom
  • 23:17 the heart can envy sin
  • 23:19 the heart can be directed
  • 23:26 the heart can be given (submitted to truth)
  • 24:17 it is the place of secretive emotion
  • 27:23 the heart is the source of attention

With the centrality and potential influence of the heart in all of these things, it is little wonder that the heart is something to be guarded, confined, and watched over with all vigilance. 4:23 sums up the essence of the heart when it says, “from it flow the springs of life.”

A clean spring is an enviable source of fresh water in a culture of the desert. If the heart is the source of this type of refreshing and nourishing life, then all of the things mentioned in the context of the heart must be central to ensuring the righteous life experience: instruction, commands, discipline, wisdom, truth, focus, and trust in Yahweh.

Proverbs 25:26 – Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who falters or slips before the wicked.

The vigilance required in keeping the heart safe and pure is a safeguard against the wickedness that is encountered in this world. If one gives in to the destructive perversions around them, they have relinquished the safe-guarding of their heart. In that instance, their heart then becomes as a muddy spring or a polluted fountain, good for nothing but casting up mire and dirt. It no longer has the ability to refresh or nourish anyone or anything.

If we treat the commands and instruction of our heavenly Father as Solomon asked of his own son to follow his parents’ commands, we have a template for guarding our hearts against all wickedness we may encounter.

Proverbs 6:20-23 – My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching. Bind them upon your heart always; tie them about your neck. When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you. For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life…


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.

Vigilance on the road to New Eden

The way consists of focusing on God and dying to self.

The vigilance required to live the life that God requires involves two distinct yet complementary aspects: a constant focus on God and a committed attitude of dying to self.

Focus on God:
Romans 8:5 – For those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their minds set on the things of the Spirit.

Dying to self:
Romans 8:12-14 – So then, brothers, we are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh, because if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons.

Focus on God:
Colossians 3:1-2 – So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Dying to self:
Colossians 3:5-10 – Therefore, put to death what belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, God’s wrath is coming upon the disobedient, and you once walked in these things when you were living in them. But now, put away all the following: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self. You are being renewed in knowledge according to the image of your Creator.

The apostle Paul conveys some of his most profound teaching in the passages presented here. The crux of the believer’s life is rooted in these deep truths. The summation of the argument in both cases is the ongoing blending of these twin acts of keeping one’s eyes on God and dying to self.

  • “For all those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons,” (Romans 8:14).
  • “…you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self. You are being renewed in knowledge according to the image of your Creator,” (Colossians 3:10).

Focusing on God and dying to self is defined here as being “led by God’s Spirit,” and by “putting off the old self; putting on the new self.” By faithfully doing these things, Paul says we engage a process of renewal, a type of ongoing resurrection from dead practices to knowledge of what is right. As this process continues we become what God has originally created us to be, “in his image.”

Genesis 1:27 – So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female.
Genesis 9:6 – … for God made humans in his image.

All of humanity’s striving is to get back to Eden, to return to the original concept and design that God has for all people. Yet Messiah has begun a new type of creation, one that is better because in it we can be victorious over all trial and temptation. This the the grand goal of all Scripture, to point us in that direction and to empower us through his Spirit living within us. Only dying to self allows for this level of renewal. Only a clear focus on God and his Word provides for dying to self. And the two aspects of this life of dying to self and being led by God’s Spirit are brought to fruition through Messiah Yeshua.

Romans 8:1-2 – Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Messiah Yeshua, because the law of the Spirit of life in Messiah Yeshua has set you free from the law of sin and death.
Colossians 3:1 – So if you have been raised with Messiah, seek the things above, where Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God.

In Messiah, God had begun this new and renewed humanity. As Adam was the first physical being, Yeshua became the first spiritually renewed being.

1 Corinthians 15:45-49 – So it is written, The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is of heaven. Like the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; like the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven.

As we focus on Messiah and his steadfast obedience to God, we are renewed in his likeness to ultimately bear the image of God.

Galatians 5:16, 24-25 – I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh. … Now those who belong to Messiah Yeshua have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with 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 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.

Alert and thankful prayer that overcomes temptation

The victory over a trial or temptation is through prayer and the strengthening of God through his holy Spirit.

Core of the Bible podcast #39 – Alert and thankful prayer that overcomes temptation

Today we will be exploring the topic of vigilance, and how vigilance in alert and thankful prayer is a primary method of overcoming temptation and accomplishing God’s will on earth.

Matthew 26:40-41. And he [Yeshua] came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Yeshua was speaking this to Peter for the specific purpose of admonishing him to stay alert with him while he was praying in Gethsemane. However, this has become a type of universal admonition regarding prayer to avoid temptation, and not without good reason.

Praying to avoid temptation was a key teaching within Yeshua’s template for prayer. “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Based on the original word definitions, this can be expanded and paraphrased as “May we not be lead into adversity and hard testing; nevertheless, rescue us from anguish, harm, and all evil.”

Praying in this manner is a demonstration of vigilance. When praying to avoid temptation, 1) there is an awareness of the possibility of impending challenges and 2) there is also a recognition of God’s ability to provide assistance or escape.

The act of praying focuses the mind on the essential needs of the moment. This is necessary because vigilance also involves alertness and overcoming the distractions and limitations of fleshly influence. While our spirit may be willing, many times we become spiritually disoriented as worldly impulses (whether internal or external) overwhelm us.

Galatians 5:16-17 …walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh craves what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are opposed to each other, so that you do not do what you want.

Walking in the spirit includes a rich and abundant prayer life. Many believers, myself included, struggle to maintain a vital spiritual walk throughout the occurrences of each day.  It’s easy to push spiritual things into the background while we attempt to deal with the seemingly urgent issues we face each day. Consistently praying helps provide leverage over real fleshly distractions and desires, and allows us to truly walk in the Spirit.

Yeshua’s template, his model prayer for believers does include the phrase: Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. This has been fertile soil for many commentators over the years to plant seeds for consideration in this question of overcoming temptation.

Benson Commentary

“And lead us not into temptation — the clause may be translated, Lead us not into temptation, but so as to deliver us from the evil, viz., either by removing the temptation, when it is too strong for us to withstand; or by mitigating its force, or by increasing our strength to resist it, as God shall see most for his glory. This correction of the translation, suggested by Macknight, is proposed on this ground; that to pray for an absolute freedom from temptation is to seek deliverance from the common lot of humanity, which is absurd; because temptations are wisely appointed by God for the exercise and improvement of piety and virtue in good men, and that others may be encouraged by the constancy and patience which they show in trials. Hence, instead of praying to be absolutely delivered from them, we are taught to rejoice when, by the divine appointment, we fall into them. See James 1.

James 1:2-4 – Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.

This petition teaches us to preserve a sense of our own inability to repel and overcome temptation, and of the necessity of assistance from above, to enable us to stand in the evil day.”

As for myself, I have sometimes wondered if God purposely places us in trying situations so we will learn to reach out to him more frequently. This type of logic says that if we are in the habit of praying to him during regular times, perhaps we will not need to be disciplined in as many trying times.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

“And lead us not into temptation— There is some difficulty in the form of the petition, as it is certain that God does bring His people—as He did Abraham, and Christ Himself—into circumstances both fitted and designed to try them, or test the strength of their faith. Some meet this by regarding the petition as simply an humble expression of self-distrust and instinctive shrinking from danger; but this seems too weak. Others take it as a prayer against yielding to temptation, and so equivalent to a prayer for support and deliverance when we are tempted; but this seems to go beyond the precise thing intended. We incline to take it as a prayer against being drawn or sucked, of our own will, into temptation, to which the word here used seems to lend some countenance—”Introduce us not.” This view, while it does not put into our mouths a prayer against being tempted—which is more than the divine procedure would seem to warrant—does not, on the other hand, change the sense of the petition into one for support under temptation, which the words will hardly bear; but it gives us a subject for prayer, in regard to temptation, most definite, and of all others most needful. It was precisely this which Peter needed to ask, but did not ask, when—of his own accord, and in spite of difficulties—he pressed for entrance into the palace hall of the high priest, and where, once sucked into the scene and atmosphere of temptation, he fell so foully. And if so, does it not seem pretty clear that this was exactly what our Lord meant His disciples to pray against when He said in the garden—”Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation”? (Mt 26:41).”

And to this I would add again, this idea of alertness in prayer means that we are spiritually aware of our situation and not just being carried along by our own desires. This is where we tend to fall into temptation: when we let our circumstances guide us instead of God’s good Counsel (through his Word and his Spirit) guiding us.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

“But deliver us from evil— As the expression “from evil” may be equally well rendered “from the evil one,” a number or superior critics think the devil is intended, especially from its following close upon the subject of “temptation.” But the comprehensive character of these brief petitions, and the place which this one occupies, as that on which all our desires die away, seems to us against so contracted a view of it. Nor can there be a reasonable doubt that the apostle, in some of the last sentences which he penned before he was brought forth to suffer for his Lord, alludes to this very petition in the language of calm assurance—”And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work (compare the Greek of the two passages), and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom” (2Ti 4:18). The final petition, then, is only rightly grasped when regarded as a prayer for deliverance from all evil of whatever kind—not only from sin, but from all its consequences—fully and finally. Fitly, then, are our prayers ended with this. For what can we desire which this does not carry with it?”

Vincent’s Word Studies

“It is a mistake to define this word [temptation] as only solicitation to evil. It means trial of any kind, without reference to its moral quality. Thus, Genesis 22:1 (Sept.), “God did tempt Abraham;” “This he said to prove him” (John 6:6); Paul and Timothy assayed to go to Bithynia (Acts 16:7); “Examine yourselves” (2 Corinthians 13:5). Here, generally of all situations and circumstances which furnish an occasion for sin. We cannot pray God not to tempt us to sin, “for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man” (James 1:13).”

To my way of thinking while keeping an eye to the perspectives of these learned commentators, the thought here is that it is acceptable for us to pray to be kept from hard testing and temptation; Yeshua himself illustrated this prayer in Gethsemane:

Luke 22:41-42 – Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and began to pray, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me ​– ​nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

As children of God, though we may need to suffer trials and temptations, things that God can use to try us and to refine us, we can still pray to be delivered safely through them. It’s ok to pray “Lord, if it is possible to avoid this trial, then please remove it from us. But if we must enter this trial, please strengthen us to remain pure and victorious over it.”

—–

Colossians 4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.

I find it interesting that prayer is meant to be an activity in which our conscious awareness is alert and watchful. This implies that prayer is purposeful and intentional, not just something in which our rational thought is disengaged. In fact, it is just the opposite; as we can see in this selection of Scripture references, believers are encouraged to pray for very specific things at specific times:

Tenakh:

Num 21:7: “The people came to Moses, and said, “We have sinned, because we have spoken against Yahweh, and against you. Pray to Yahweh, that he take away the serpents from us.” Moses prayed for the people.”

Jeremiah 42:1-3 – Then all the commanders of the armies, along with Johanan son of Kareah, Jezaniah son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least to the greatest, approached the prophet Jeremiah and said, “May our petition come before you; pray to the LORD your God on our behalf, on behalf of this entire remnant (for few of us remain out of the many, as you can see with your own eyes), “that the LORD your God may tell us the way we should go and the thing we should do.”

Yeshua

Matthew 5:44: “But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you, “

Matthew 6:9: “Pray like this:… “

Matthew 9:38: “Pray therefore that the Lord of the harvest will send out laborers into his harvest.””

Matthew 24:20: “Pray that your flight will not be in the winter, nor on a Sabbath, “

Mark 13:33: “Watch, keep alert, and pray; for you don’t know when the time is.”

Luke 10:2: “Then he said to them, “The harvest is indeed plentiful, but the laborers are few. Pray therefore to the Lord of the harvest, that he may send out laborers into his harvest. “

John 17:15: “I pray not that you would take them from the world, but that you would keep them from the evil one. “

Apostles:

2 Corinthians 13:9: “For we rejoice when we are weak and you are strong. And this we also pray for, even your perfecting.”

Philippians 1:9: “This I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and all discernment;”

2 Thessalonians 1:11: “To this end we also pray always for you, that our God may count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire of goodness and work of faith, with power;”

2 Thessalonians 3:1: “Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified, even as also with you;”

James 5:14: “Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the assembly, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord…”

Throughout the Bible, prayer is exemplified as being enacted for intentional and specific purposes; most importantly, for the will of God to be accomplished on the earth. This strikes at the heart of the all-too-common practice of only praying for personal needs and wants.  While God does want us to trust him for everything, in the grand scheme of the Bible message, ultimately our personal needs and wants are and should be subjected to the larger scope of God’s kingdom and the establishment of his rule and reign in the hearts of people on this earth.

Remember in our Colossians passage, Paul encourages believer to pray with an alert mind (as we have just illustrated), but also with a thankful heart.

Colossians 4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.

Having a thankful heart means that one is in view of all of the ways that God has blessed them. If you are thankful for the provision of your home, you won’t be tempted to go into further debt for a shiny new one beyond your means. If you are thankful for the nutritious food that God has provided you for your sustenance, you will not be tempted to eat beyond what your body needs. If you are grateful for the friends and family you have, you won’t be tempted to go astray from your spouse or to put your family or friends at risk.

Thankfulness runs all through Paul’s epistle to the Colossians:

Colossians 1:9, 12 – For this reason also, since the day we heard this, we haven’t stopped praying for you. We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, … giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light.

Colossians 2:6-7 – So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, being rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with gratitude.

Colossians 3:15, 17 – And let the peace of Christ, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts. And be thankful. … And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Constant prayer and giving of thanks is a theme Paul also brings to the congregation in Thessalonica as well. In fact, he cements this as a cornerstone of believing practice in the accomplishment of God’s will.

1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 – pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Messiah Yeshua.

If we are therefore praying in an alert fashion, that is, being aware of what we are praying and why we are praying, and we are doing so from a place of gratefulness and thankfulness for his provision in our lives, then we have a recipe for overcoming temptation.

This takes discipline and thoughtfulness. By intentionally praying for God to assist us when we are being challenged, this type of behavior can be changed. The victory over a trial or temptation is through prayer and the strengthening of God through his holy Spirit. How quickly it happens depends on how alert we remain and how diligent and thankful we are in prayer.

As we grow in this process, remaining steadfast in prayer to God keeps us focused and in communication with the One who is more than able to provide us the necessary strength to overcome any obstacles we may encounter.


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