Why life can seem difficult

It is up to every individual to understand and heed the message that the Spirit of God pleads with all people.

It is up to every individual to understand and heed the message that the Spirit of God pleads with all people.

In popular culture today, it is common to see or hear the phrase “the struggle is real.” Usually, it is meant to ironically describe how hard life can be. More often than not, it is used sarcastically to illustrate how some people don’t have the ability to overcome some of the simplest challenges of life.

However, there is a general sentiment in the world today that the ability to live one’s life is always a struggle, that there is no relenting of the constant tide of challenges we face. To this, the believer should possess a different perspective.

In the Bible, the Hebrew concept of the wisdom of God, also referenced as the Word or Logos in the Greek, is essentially the Spirit of God pleading with humanity. Wisdom and the Word are both personified representations of the Spirit of God communicating with mankind.

Regarding the state of the world today, even most Christians attribute all of the evil in the world to a “fallen” human nature. However, the Bible speaks very plainly to the condition of of those who rebel against the wisdom of God: eating the fruits of one’s own schemes. To choose the fear of Yahweh is to trust in and honor him; to choose one’s own ways is to rebel against him. Time and time again, God warns people of neglecting what is right and following their own ways; it’s a story as old as Eden.

Proverbs 1:7, 20-33 – The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline. … Wisdom calls out in the street; she makes her voice heard in the public squares. She cries out above the commotion; she speaks at the entrance of the city gates: “How long, inexperienced ones, will you love ignorance? How long will you mockers enjoy mocking and you fools hate knowledge? If you respond to my warning, then I will pour out my spirit on you and teach you my words. Since I called out and you refused, extended my hand and no one paid attention, since you neglected all my counsel and did not accept my correction, I, in turn, will laugh at your calamity. I will mock when terror strikes you, when terror strikes you like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when trouble and stress overcome you. Then they will call me, but I won’t answer; they will search for me, but won’t find me. Because they hated knowledge, didn’t choose to fear Yahweh, were not interested in my counsel, and rejected all my correction, they will eat the fruit of their way and be glutted with their own schemes. For the apostasy of the inexperienced will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them. But whoever listens to me will live securely and be undisturbed by the dread of danger.”

When people reject God’s counsel by refusing to trust in Yahweh, or worse, when they mock him, they become subject to the natural forces of God’s Creation (nature) and cruel intentions of others who also reject the fear of Yahweh. This is why the majority of people who are not believers in Yahweh feel that life is a random mess of hardship and struggle to survive, because that is what it feels like to not have a God to believe in, the God who actually created them and the world they live in.

By contrast, the believer is the one who listens to God, described as having “the fear of Yahweh.” The believer has knowledge of why things are the way they are; the believer has God’s “hand extended” to them. The believer receives counsel and correction from God by abiding in his Word and can live “securely and be undisturbed by the dread of danger,” which is another way of saying they are “saved” or safe.

The picture painted here in the opening chapter of the book of Proverbs shows us and summarizes for us how life operates, how life is. It is up to every individual to understand and heed the message that the Spirit of God pleads with all people. This is the contrast of apostasy and faith, darkness and light, ignorance and truth. For those who choose the fear of Yahweh, no longer should they say, “the struggle is real,” but instead they should be able to say with confidence, “the wisdom of God is real.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in Yahweh with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways know and acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.


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.

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A different Spirit

The wisdom of God provides color in a black and white world.

Now the natural man doesn’t receive the things of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to him, and he can’t know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

1 Corinthians 2:14

The context of Paul’s discussion to the Corinthian believers establishes that the apostles had received information from God’s Spirit that was not available to the Jewish leaders. The Scribes and the political leaders were blinded in a sense from receiving the truth of the work of Messiah in establishing the Kingdom of God.

But we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the wisdom that has been hidden, which God foreordained before the worlds to our glory, which none of the rulers of this world has known. For had they known it, they wouldn’t have crucified the Lord of glory.

1 Corinthians 2:7-8

The “rulers of the world” here refers to the Jewish scribes and political leaders. They were the “natural” men who had not received the understanding of the kingdom from God’s Spirit; if they had, Paul argues, they would not have crucified their Messiah.

This distinction illustrates the division that occurs due to the cleansing and enlightening work of the Spirit among believers. As we strive to remain distinct from the world around us and to maintain purity based on the instruction, or torah, of God, we begin a journey of increasing discernment to the things of God. The very goal of yielding more and more to God’s Spirit causes a natural and understandable division between the “natural man” and those who are being instructed in the ways of God.

This results in the believer being “set apart” from the rest of the world. This is why believers look at the world around them in ways that differ from those who are relying on their own knowledge and understanding. We have a spiritual resource and perspective that relies not only on conventional wisdom, but on the sure foundation of the heritage of our spiritual forebears.

As we continue to grow and to remain receptive to God’s Spirit, we can be led to fulfill God’s purpose in every generation. This is how God has designed his kingdom to continue to grow throughout 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 here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Living out the wisdom of God

The best demonstration of faith is in living out the wisdom of God.

For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that through perseverance and through encouragement and comfort of the Scriptures we might have hope.

Romans 15:4

While Paul is here speaking about the writings that we would today call the Old Testament, in truth for believers today, the collective apostolic writings of the New Testament would also be included within the torah, or instruction of God. Paul’s admonition is that our learning should be based on this instruction of God. These writings have been designed for instructing us in wisdom. From this wisdom stems steadfastness, constancy, and cheerful endurance. This wisdom provides hope, expectation, or confidence.

For the first century believers, their hope was that they would be protected and spared through the rampant persecution of the Jews against their sect. Their hope was in the soon and coming judgment upon the wickedness of that generation that was to be poured out in the impending war with Rome. The writings of their forefathers were being fulfilled before their eyes, and they could draw encouragement and comfort to help them endure the troubling times they were living through. In like fashion today, we can also draw hope and encouragement through the writings of our spiritual forefathers in the Bible that have been handed down to us through the centuries.

Additionally, Paul’s admonition is that, based on the wisdom of the writings, we should be building one another up, not segregating ourselves further from one another.

We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord. … May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 15:2, 5-6

Believers today have been entrusted with the most valuable commodity there is in a world of falsified news and social unrest: the truth of God’s instruction. If we lived like we really believed that, like we really trusted in the God of the Bible, the world would, for better or worse, take notice. The results would be dependent on how steadfast we would remain; to be tested if we could endure their onslaught with the cheerful endurance of our spiritual forefathers.

If we would, as Paul envisions, “join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” the impact on this generation could have similar effects that the faithful of that generation had, effects which are still resonating with believers down to our day thousands of years later.

Our faithful handling of God’s word is magnified when we actually live out what we say we believe. The best demonstration of faith is in living out the wisdom of God.

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

To be vigilant against deception one must know both the Bible and the teacher

There are two parts to vigilance in our understanding of the faith: thoroughly knowing the torah or instruction of God and knowing from whom the Word is being taught.

…evil men and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceivers and deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it.

2 Timothy 3:13-14

Paul is emphatic with his protoge Timothy, and is cautioning him in being fully aware of the deceivers who were infiltrating the ranks of the fledgling Messianic Kingdom movement. Paul emphasizes that the deceivers would make themselves known not just by their teaching, but by their lifestyles and their actions.

For [these] men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, fierce, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding the form of religion but denying the power of it. Avoid such people.

2 Timothy 3:2-5

These were the corrupt Jews who were coming against the teachings of the Messiah and the apostolic communities that were growing amidst the synagogues of the first century. One has only to read the denunciations or “woes” of Yeshua against these individuals to know who they were.

Matthew 23:15, 23, 27 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you traverse sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves. …
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. …
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.
Luke 11:42-43, 46, 52 “But woe to you Pharisees! for you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! for you love the best seat in the synagogues and salutations in the market places. …
And he said, “Woe to you scribes also! for you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. …
Woe to you scribes! for you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”

They were hypocrites; they had “the form of religion but were denying its power” as Paul writes. As a contrast to this corruption, Paul instructs Timothy to look at the example of his own life and conduct.

Now you have observed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions, my sufferings, what befell me at Antioch, at Ico’nium, and at Lystra, what persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. … But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 3:10-11, 14-15

There are two parts to vigilance in our understanding of the faith: thoroughly knowing the torah or instruction of God and knowing from whom the Word is being taught. If you are not aware of the actual lifestyles and practices of your teachers, you must exercise caution in what they are promoting. However, the complement to that is, if you are thoroughly familiar with the Scriptures (and I mean the Scriptures, not just what a certain denomination teaches about the Scriptures), then you will have balance in being able to accurately evaluate anyone’s representation of the Word of God.

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

Striving after the passionate faithfulness of past generations

A life of integrity is forged in the constant pursuit of righteousness.

Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.

Psalm 86:11

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!

Psalm 143:10

The person of integrity is one who intently seeks to know the truth of God. They desire to walk in that way, to conform their lives to what God desires of them. They have made seeking God the passion of their life, hungering to know him more and to know the correct way. They will not rest until they have heard a word from God, until he has shown them the next steps on their path.

The Psalms are well-known among believers because they are filled with this type of pleading to God for guidance, for pouring out praise to God and outwardly declaring a desire for righteousness in speech and in action.

As believers, we identify with the passionate expression of these principles, because we are ignited with the same Spirit. The kindred longings and desires of our hearts beat in unison with those faithful who have gone before and expressed their deepest secrets which are immortalized among the pages of Scripture. The integrity that lived and breathed in them inspires us to learn of their ways and mimic their faithfulness.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

Hebrews 12:1

Exhibiting a trust in God that can influence others

True wisdom creates an active trust in God.

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

Proverbs 22:17-19

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

The process begins with our ears; we must hear the words of the wise. In our modern culture, we take for granted that we have the Bible readily available in written form. Yet these truths were historically conveyed to each generation orally, as literacy was not nearly as widespread as it is today.

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

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

As this wisdom is established in our hearts, it progresses to become fixed upon our lips; we can recite and manifest the knowledge we have gained in daily practice. Yeshua confirms this aspect of our inmost being when he teaches, “Out of the overflow (or abundance) of the heart, the mouth speaks,” (Matthew 12:34). His immediate context was demonstrating how evil in the heart is expressed, but the writer of this proverb shows how the positive, the good, and the useful will also spill from the mouths of those who have placed good in their hearts.

Finally, when we listen, apply, and regularly recite this wisdom, our lives will be demonstrating a real trust in God. Biblically, trust is not just a feeling or an inward state of mind, it is an active outworking of revealed truth which has been assimilated into the heart. This type of “living trust” is what shines into the darkness of this world to draw others to God and his wisdom.

How to remain firmly established in the ways of God

Possessing, and practicing, the wisdom of God keeps one on the right path.

Make my steps secure through your word, and do not let any wrongdoing control me.

Psalm 119:133

Yeshua admonishes us that all stumbling-blocks to righteousness must be removed from our lives with extreme diligence. One of the surest ways to ensure this is the case is for us to remain vigilant in the word of God.

All through the Bible, those who would be wise are encouraged to sit at the feet of those who exhibit God’s wisdom. The wisdom of God is to be pursued as a treasure, as a most precious possession. Possessing, and practicing, the wisdom of God keeps one on the right path.

This verse in Psalm 119 (among myriads of others within this same psalm) extol the virtues of overcoming wrong behavior by remaining faithful to the words of God.

The principal idea conveyed is that the word of God establishes our way, makes a firm place for us to walk, when we struggle with the vanity of our own efforts. It implies that, left to our own ways, we will ultimately exhaust ourselves, panting breathlessly with those things that have the sum value of zero in the end.

By contrast, God’s word protects us, directs us, establishes us in the correct paths that we may remain faithful and fruitful for God’s kingdom.

Understanding the positive by defining the negative

Everything is open and above-board in dealing with a righteous person, and you will always know where you stand.

The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.

Proverbs 11:3

The book of Proverbs provides a wealth of God’s wisdom in brief statements. The juxtaposition of positive and negative characteristics help to illustrate each other, causing them to stand out in bold relief to one another.

When we understand the characteristics of the negative quality, we look to its opposite in order to understand the positive quality more fully. This is the beauty of the proverbs that contrast good and bad qualities.

In this verse, the integrity, the completeness or wholeness, of someone who is righteous or upright is contrasted with the twisted ways of those who are deceitful, or who act covertly in order to accomplish their own ways, even if it means overthrowing the actions of the righteous.

Many Bible versions will list this negative quality as “perverseness.” While this is not technically incorrect, the word “perverse” tends to have a different connotation in our modern vernacular. Relating the underlying Hebrew word as “crooked” brings out some of the meaning of the original: the idea of twisting or distortion of something by acting covertly in an intentional manner. This is an apt description of how someone who is treacherous would act in order to accomplish their own ends. In the end, it destroys them.

By contrast, the righteous or upright can be guided in the correct way to walk by recognizing the opposite of the crooked, twisting, covert ways of the treacherous. A person with integrity will deal honestly and fairly with others at all times. There is no hidden agenda with a righteous person; what they say, they will do. They are known as a “straight shooter,” someone who can be trusted because they are faithful and loyal. Everything is open and above-board in dealing with a righteous person, and you will always know where you stand.

In Matthew 5:33-37, Yeshua encourages believers to exhibit these characteristics in all of their outward relations: “Be a person of your word, not requiring any oath to substantiate your actions. Simply say yes or no, and do what you say.”

When we act in this way, we can honor God and magnify the positive characteristics displayed in his word.

Lighting the way for others

As you act with integrity based on the wisdom you have received, your good works make a difference in the lives around you.

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 a stand, and it gives light to all 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 who is in heaven.

Matthew 5:14-16

Be shining: let your good practices be seen by all. Magnify God.

The life of a believer is a life that is all about others. It’s not just about receiving light for your own path, but about lighting the way for those around you. As that light is received, they can recognize and honor God for who he is.

We don’t have the luxury of receiving wisdom from God simply for our own benefit and use. That does not align with our integrity. Integrity is not only about doing the right thing, but doing the right thing in the sight of, and for, others. In fact, integrity doesn’t exist until it can be demonstrated to someone else, whether it be God or your neighbor.

The reality is that the truth of God can’t be contained. As you act with integrity based on the wisdom you have received, your good works make a difference in the lives around you. Those acts of integrity then act as a light for others who see the consistency of your beliefs and your actions. When that happens, God is magnified, that is, brought closer in reality to them.

Put your lamp on the lampstand where it belongs. Together, our collective lights become a city of righteousness that magnifies and broadcasts a beacon of God’s truths to our world, and a generation of those living in the darkness can be drawn to him.