God’s children are commandment keepers

Obedience to the King’s rule is fundamental in the kingdom.

Obedience to the King’s rule is fundamental in the kingdom.

In the past I have described the Ten Commandments, or the Ten Words, as the Charter of the Kingdom of God. This means that these commandments are the basic rules that God expects his people to follow.

In legal terms, a charter is “a grant made by the sovereign either to the whole people or to a portion of them, securing to them the enjoyment of certain rights.” To further explain, the legal dictionary explains: “A charter differs from a constitution in this, that the former is granted by the sovereign, while the latter is established by the people themselves : both are the fundamental law of the land.”

As I have stated many times before, I do not believe the Ten Commandments were just for the national people of Israel. They are the only words ever spoken directly by God to a whole mixed community of individuals at once, and they were carved into stone, the most durable of records, by the very finger of God himself. Based even on only these two criteria, there is no other document or record anywhere conveyed directly by God with those to whom he was intending to communicate.

Yeshua verified that he was not doing away with any commands of Torah:

Matthew 5:17-19 – “Don’t think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass away from the law until all things are accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever does and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

To recognize the universality of this principle brings one to a more comprehensive understanding of God: his Word, his instruction, his Torah, is eternal. God’s people are those who understand and obey his words.

Further, there is not a single individual in the entire Bible who has ever been condemned for keeping the word of God, his Torah. There are, however, plenty of examples of those who were condemned for NOT keeping his Word:

  • Psalm 119:158 – I have seen the disloyal and feel disgust because they do not keep your word.
  • Nehemiah 1:7 – We have acted corruptly toward you and have not kept the commands, statutes, and ordinances you gave your servant Moses.
  • Amos 2:4 – Yahweh says: I will not relent from punishing Judah for three crimes, even four, because they have rejected the instruction of Yahweh and have not kept his statutes. The lies that their ancestors followed have led them astray.
  • Malachi 3:7 – “Since the days of your fathers, you have turned from my statutes; you have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says Yahweh of Armies.

There are examples of those who were condemned for ADDING unnecessarily to his words by their traditions:

Mark 7:9, 13 – [Yeshua] also said to [the Pharisees and scribes], “You have a fine way of invalidating God’s command in order to set up your tradition! … “You nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many other similar things.”

But no one ever is condemned for actually keeping and obeying his words; that’s what his obedient children are known for!

  • Psalm 119:57, 60, 63, 106 – Yahweh is my portion; I have promised to keep your words.  … I hurried, not hesitating to keep your commands.  … I am a friend to all who fear you, to those who keep your precepts.  … I have solemnly sworn to keep your righteous judgments.
  • John 8:29, 47, 55 – “The one who sent me [Yeshua] is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what pleases him.” … “The one who is from God listens to God’s words. This is why you don’t listen, because you are not from God.” … “You do not know him, but I know him. If I were to say I don’t know him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know him, and I keep his word.
  • Philippians 2:8 – [Yeshua] humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death — even to death on a cross.

Those in the Kingdom of God are those who honor God by keeping his commands in humble obedience. The Ten Commandments or Ten Words were kept by Yeshua, and if we consider ourselves his followers, then we should be keeping them, too.


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

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

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

The lamp of God

Being created in God’s image, it makes sense that his stamp is embossed within us.

Being created in God’s image, it makes sense that his stamp is embossed within us.

Proverbs 20:27 – The spirit of man is Yahweh’s lamp, searching all his innermost parts.

Different English renderings of this verse appear to be unsure of how exactly to render this unusual phrase.

  • New International Version: The human spirit is the lamp of the LORD that sheds light on one’s inmost being.
  • New Living Translation: The LORD’s light penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive.
  • Amplified Bible: The spirit (conscience) of man is the lamp of the LORD, Searching and examining all the innermost parts of his being.
  • Contemporary English Version: Our inner thoughts are a lamp from the LORD, and they search our hearts.
  • Good News Translation: The LORD gave us mind and conscience; we cannot hide from ourselves.

Is Yahweh somehow invading our personal human spirit, or is it speaking of the human spirit in general? Is it speaking of our mind, conscience, or inner thoughts?

The spirit of man is using the term “neshamah,” or life-breath, for man. This term is closely associated with the word “ruach” which also is typically translated as spirit. In Hebrew thinking, the life-breath is something from God that animates us as individuals. This is evidenced when God created Adam.

Genesis 2:7 – And Yahweh God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life [neshamah]; and man became a living soul.

When the spirit departs, the body dies.

Ecclesiastes 12:7 – Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit [ruach] shall return unto God who gave it.

The term “adam” can be speaking of an individual or the entire human race. I think we can get some direction here from another familiar passage as well:

John 1:9 – The true light that enlightens everyone was coming into the world.

There is a light that enlightens every person (all people: adam); it is called the Word, or the Spirit of God. Because of it’s association with the first chapter of John, most people assume that the Word is Yeshua. In one sense, that is true, because he was called by John “the Word made flesh.” He was so completely filled with and obedient to the Spirit of God that they were indistinguishable.

But John says this same light enlightens everyone, and this passage in Proverbs, written a millennia prior to John, is saying the same thing: the lamp of Yahweh is somehow connected to the spirit of all people. We have stumbled in our English Bibles at trying to describe it as conscience or inner thoughts, but the fact is that since all mankind (adam) is created in God’s image, we all have a connection to the Creator of all.

The writer of Hebrews takes this even further by describing how the Word of God, his eternal Spirit, is active within us.

Hebrews 4:12-13 For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and laid open before the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

I can’t think of a more precise explanation of how the lamp of Yahweh searches the innermost parts of our being. As believers, our call to holiness is heightened by recognizing that somehow God is active within the depths of every person. We are set apart by continually growing in obedience to his Word, his Spirit.

I recognize this is not commonly accepted theology, but it is what the Bible records describe when we understand them within their cultural context. I believe this is why believers gravitate to the Bible, what we also call the Word of God, because it was conveyed to mankind through that same Spirit of God. As we recognize the Voice speaking to us from its pages, we are drawn closer to understanding the God of the universe and his desire for all men to come to him, as well.


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

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

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

The powerful witness of integrity

We can stand out as God’s own children by speaking and acting in truth at all times.

We can stand out as God’s own children by speaking and acting in truth at all times.

Titus 2:7-8 – “Show yourself in all respects a model of good deeds, and in your teaching show integrity, gravity, and wholesome speech that is above reproach, so that anyone who opposes us will be ashamed, having nothing bad to say about us.”

Throughout the letter to Titus, Paul is instructing him how to effectively oversee the people of God who have been left in his care. Titus was to appoint leaders over the congregations in each town in Crete, and to encourage godly behavior among them all.

In the process of doing so, however, Paul is aware he may encounter opposition from detractors, especially “those of the circumcision,” (1:10). He reminds him that “[t]hey profess to know God, but they deny him by their actions. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work,” (1:16).

To counter those who would oppose him, Paul instructs Titus in a couple of areas. First, he encourages him to “be a model good deeds” in all things. In order for believers to be taken seriously, we must practice what we preach. We all know that if we say one thing but do another, we can be accused of hypocrisy which can hurt the message of the gospel of the kingdom.

Secondly, Paul relates to Titus that “in your teaching show integrity, gravity, and wholesome speech that is above reproach…” It’s not only in our actions that we must be consistent, but even in the smallest of things we may say that may be out of bounds. Those who would oppose the things of God will look for any inconsistency in what we say to try to detract from the kingdom message.

Yeshua exhibited this ability when he was confronted by those who would oppose him. Time after time, his firm and truthful responses would silence the crowd.

Matthew 22:46 – “No one was able to answer a word, and from that day on no one dared to question Him any further.”

Luke 14:6 – “And they were unable to answer these questions.”

Luke 20:39 – “Some of the scribes answered, ‘Teacher, You have spoken well!’ And they did not dare to question Him any further.”

The apostle Peter in a similar fashion encourages the believers’ deeds to match up with what it is they professed:

1 Peter 2:12 – “Conduct yourselves with such honor among the nations that, though they slander you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.”

The integrity of the believer should be exhibited in the consistency of the message as well as the actions that go along with that message. If we profess to know God, then we should speak and act as those who have been renewed in the image of the One who calls us to himself. This is the greatest witness to the truth 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 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.

Which teachings in the Bible should we focus on the most?

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

Core of the Bible podcast #60 – Which teachings in the Bible should we focus on the most?

Today we will be looking at the topic of vigilance, and how the quality of our walk with God will be directly proportionate to the amount of time we spend with God understanding and meditating on his commands. But just which commands are the most fruitful to focus our time and energy on?

In one of the most famous (and the longest) chapter in the Bible, we can gain some understanding of this principle.

Psalm 119:133 – Make my steps secure through your words, and do not let any wrongdoing control me.

Psalm 119:148 – I am awake through each watch of the night to meditate on your words.

If we take the immediate, surface meaning of each verse, we can see that abiding by God’s words makes our steps secure, they are firm and established on right principles. When we take the right steps, we will not be allowing any wrongdoing to control us; our sinful actions will be brought under the authority of the words of God.

Additionally, we can see the vigilance with which the psalmist illustrates the frequency with which we should be associated with the words of God. He states that he is “awake through each watch of the night” to meditate on God’s words.

Now a watch of the night is generally considered to be three hours, such as 6-9 pm; 9-midnight; midnight to 3 am; and 3-6 am. Of course, these are estimates since timekeeping devices were rude and not as accurate as our timepieces today. However, through the use of gravity water clocks or other visual star-based tools, general timekeeping could be maintained throughout the night and defined these various watches.

Regardless of the method, the result is that the psalmist relates how passionate he is to mediate on the commands of God, “through each watch of the night.” That is a commitment that few of us may realize today.

Now beyond the surface meanings which we can take away from these verses, I found an interesting underlying principle in the use of the Hebrew text where the word is translated either as word, or commands, or promise of God. Now, to me, these all have different meanings, so I wanted to try to understand more fully the intent of what is being described here and how it applies to the surface meaning we just discussed.

Now some of the English versions will translate the Hebrew for “words” as “promise,” as in “Make my steps secure through your promise…” However, as the the Keil and Delitzcsh commentary states: “imrah is not merely a “promise” in this instance, but the declared will of God in general.”

Is the “declared will of God” the same as the word of God?

I think we use the term “word of God” a bit loosely in our modern vernacular, meaning anything from the whole Bible, to a specific text, to the name of Messiah, to a personal prophecy one claims to receive. In my own writings, I will typically interchangeably use Word or Word of God with Torah, or the instruction of God. But in this case, I think we need to refine this distinction a little further.

When it comes to good and fruitful Bible study, I find it really helps to define terms and to follow those terms throughout various passages to see how they are applied and what kind of contexts they occur in.  When we simply assume what a phrase means, we can many times inadvertently assign the incorrect meaning to a passage.

Looking at the two verses in Psalm 119 where this term occurs, it is actually a Hebrew phrase (beimratecha) that only occurs in this form in these two verses. The first is how following it keeps us firmly away from wrongdoing, and the second is that if we are passionate about it, we will meditate on it at all times.

Now Hebrew words have base forms that establish a root of a word, and most times we can gain a broader understanding of a word or passage by looking at the root word in different contexts. In this case, the root for beimratecha is imrah. We saw how the Keil and Delitzsch commentary defined this as the “declared will of God.” Yet, when we look at how imrah is used in other contexts, we begin to see a different emphasis. Here are some examples:

Genesis 4:23 – Lamech said to his wives: Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; wives of Lamech, pay attention to my words [imrah]. For I killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me.

Deuteronomy 32:2 – Let my teaching fall like rain and my word [imrah] settle like dew, like gentle rain on new grass and showers on tender plants.

Psalm 17:6 – I call on you, God, because you will answer me; listen closely to me; hear what I say [imrah].

First of all, we can notice how these examples having nothing to do with the word of God per se, but with the spoken words of each of these individuals: Lamech, Moses and David. So this word imrah gives us the idea of speech or spoken words.

Every other instance of this Hebrew root-word imrah relates to to the word or words of God, and almost all occur throughout the psalms.

In one sense, we know that all true prophecy is ultimately from God, however, it was spoken (and written down) by men, even spoken by Yeshua.

2 Peter 1:20-21 – Above all, you know this: No prophecy of Scripture comes from the prophet’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Hebrews 1:1-2 – Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, he has spoken to us in his Son…

This fascinates me, and makes me think of what words were specifically spoken by God, what words are the result of God’s actual speaking to his people?

I think you may know where I am going with this, because there are only a few specific instances where it is said God spoke decisively to the assembled group of people at once, where they directly heard the voice of God: Sinai and in the ministry of Yeshua.

Let’s look firstly at Sinai.

Exodus 20:1 – Then God spoke all these words: [and the passage goes on to list the Ten Commandments].

This incredible revelatory event freaked out the people so much that they begged for Moses to receive the instruction from God and relate it to them, but not for God to speak to them any longer.

Exodus 20:19 – “You speak to us, and we will listen,” they said to Moses, “but don’t let God speak to us, or we will die.”

This instance of God speaking directly to the entire congregation has a large emphasis throughout Hebrew thought even to this day. Jewish rabbinic lore even suggests that after every commandment spoken by God, the whole congregation physically died, and God brought them back to life each time. There are also legends that say all the people actually saw the voice or the soundwaves of God’s voice, and that it reverberated through the entirety of their bodies, through every atom or molecule.

While we may view these legends as fanciful embellishments to the story, they nevertheless present a basis for understanding just how significant an event this was in the life of Israel, and indeed, the world. God spoke directly to them, and the words he spoke were the Ten Commandments.

If we now revert to our study of the word imrah and view these passages as focused primarily on the spoken words of God, we find that the “word” that the psalmists focus on as being the primary way of keeping from sin is the spoken instruction of God: the Ten Commandments.

Psalm 12:6 – The words [imrah] of Yahweh are pure words [imrah], like silver refined in an earthen furnace, purified seven times.

Psalm 18:30 – God ​– ​his way is perfect; the word [imrah] of Yahweh is pure. He is a shield to all who take refuge in him.

These instances of God’s spoken word make an interesting study. If we consider that the primary instruction that is spoken of as being the meditation of the righteous and the ensuring of avoiding sin is the Ten Commandments, we can see that an in-depth appreciation and ongoing evaluation of God’s words to his people has much benefit. The Ten Commandments are the basis of all of God’s word to his people, and the path to life that even Yeshua speaks of when asked of a bystander.

Matthew 19:17-19 – “‘… If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.’  ‘Which ones?’ he asked him. Yeshua answered: ‘Do not murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother; and love your neighbor as yourself.'”

Yeshua validates the keeping of the imrah, the spoken words of God that were known to his audience, but what of the other spoken words of God? The gospels reveal some other instances that we can also draw inspiration from.


At the beginning of the public ministry of Yeshua, John the baptizer received a sign that Yeshua was the One whom he had the privilege of revealing to Israel.

John 1:32-34 – And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and he rested on him. “I didn’t know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The one you see the Spirit descending and resting on ​– ​he is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ “I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”

The text is not clear that everyone else also saw the Spirit of God descending on him, but Matthew, Mark and Luke make it clear that God did make a spoken announcement at the same time to ensure everyone knew of the significance of Yeshua.

Matthew 3:16-17 – When Yeshua was baptized, he went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on him. And a voice from heaven said: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased.”

Mark 1:10-11 – As soon as he came up out of the water, he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well-pleased.”

Luke 3:21-22 – When all the people were baptized, Yeshua also was baptized. As he was praying, heaven opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in a physical appearance like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well-pleased.”

So, these examples are from the beginning of Yeshua’s ministry and establish validity for the works and teaching of Yeshua over the course of the next three and a half years.

There still remains another instance where the spoken word of God is mentioned, and that is at the conclusion of Yeshua’s ministry.

John 12:26-30 – “If anyone serves me, he must follow me. Where I am, there my servant also will be. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.  “Now my soul is troubled. What should I say ​– ​Father, save me from this hour? But that is why I came to this hour. “Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”  The crowd standing there heard it and said it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”  Yeshua responded, “This voice came, not for me, but for you.”

If the voice from heaven in these instances was indeed the voice of God heard by the assembled people, then it brings great significance to both the beginning of Yeshua’s ministry and the conclusion of it, validating who Yeshua was and also foretelling the glory that would be realized through his soon-coming crucifixion and resurrection.

This imrah or spoken words of God regarding his Son Yeshua presents a strong witness to the ministry of Yeshua and gives great weight to his teachings. In fact, Yeshua himself said repeatedly that he only taught whatever the Father instructed him to say.

John 12:49-50 – “For I have not spoken on my own, but the Father himself who sent me has given me a command to say everything I have said. “I know that his command is eternal life. So the things that I speak, I speak just as the Father has told me.”

John 14:10, 24 – “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who lives in me does his works. … “The one who doesn’t love me will not keep my words. The word that you hear is not mine but is from the Father who sent me.

If we agree that the teaching of Yeshua is the teaching of the Father, then I submit that the greatest summary of the Father’s teaching that Yeshua provides us is in the Sermon on the Mount. In the Sermon on the Mount, Yeshua admonished his hearers that all stumbling-blocks to righteousness must be removed from their lives with extreme diligence. He uses the powerful imagery of going to the extent of cutting off body parts to maintaining purity and vigilance in obedience to the commands of God if necessary (Matthew 5:29-30).

This level of vigilance now brings us full-circle to the meditation on the imrah or spoken words of God throughout the watches of the night, as the psalmist suggests. Vigilance involves extreme dedication exemplified by staying up all night to study and meditate, or to remove body parts that are used in sinful activities. It’s not that these are actual physical things that we could realistically do, but it’s having the same sense of tenacity and passion for the spoken words of God to do so in striving for obedience to God in all things.

This is why I conclude that the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount are the core of the Bible message; these are the two primary sources of the purest instruction from God that we have recorded for us in the Bible.

The principal ideas conveyed in these passages is that the word of God establishes our way, makes a firm place for us to walk when we are struggling 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 through the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount protects us, directs us, establishes us in the correct paths that we may remain faithful and fruitful for God’s kingdom. Let’s remember the surface teachings of the two primary verses in Psalm 119: When we take the right steps, we will not be allowing any wrongdoing to control us; our sinful actions will be brought under the authority of the words of God. By aligning our lives by the admonition of God through these passages, we can experience the life that God has designed for mankind since the beginning of time, and so his Kingdom can be realized in real time 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 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.

How Yeshua describes his followers

There is no room for partial commitment.

John 8:30-32 – “As he was saying these things, many believed in him. So Yeshua said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'”

Yeshua says that in order to be his followers or disciples, one must abide in his word. What does this mean and how is it done?

Yeshua’s word is his teaching, the principles he sought to bring to the people of Israel from God. It is my belief that the bulk of Yeshua’s teaching is summarized in the Sermon on the Mount, but it includes all of his doctrinal statements throughout his public ministry among the Israelites.

John 8:40, 47 – “but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. … Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

Yeshua reiterated time and time again that the message he brought was from God, the Father. To abide in his word is to abide in the very teaching of God. When we are faithfully in the word, we can see how Yeshua’s teaching lines up in fulfillment with everything that God intended for his people.

The word abide is also a demonstration of the vigilance needed to be faithful in the word. It means to remain, to stay, or wait. Remaining in the word of Yeshua requires a great amount of fortitude and intention. Every day, we encounter challenges that can test our commitment to the word of God. Yeshua says that his disciples are the ones who stick it out and remain faithful regardless of what else may be going on in their lives.

Yeshua mentions two other benefits from remaining in his word: knowing the truth and being set free. The truth is a rare commodity these days, and having the confidence to assert and rely on the truthfulness of the word of God can be a welcome stabilizer in a sea of constantly shifting opinions.

There is also a freedom, not to do whatever we want, but a freedom from sin that allows us to obediently serve God. We have been set free to serve, and are now enabled to do so when we are disciples of Yeshua.

Are you a disciple of Yeshua, or are you instead a disciple of your pastor or church or denomination? Remaining vigilantly alert and aware in the word of God will free you from the hollow traditions and opinions of men and allow you to be empowered by the Spirit of God, bringing to life his very words in the presence of those who need to hear them most.


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.

Sowing, weeding, and doing good

A fruitful harvest is the result of vigilance.

Core of the Bible podcast #53 – Sowing, weeding, and doing good

Today we will be exploring the topic of vigilance and how the act of maintaining the purity of our heart and our actions requires constant vigilance and continual grooming.

Mark 4:18-19, Amplified Bible – And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, but the worries and cares of the world [the distractions of this age with its worldly pleasures], and the deceitfulness [and the false security or glamour] of wealth [or fame], and the passionate desires for all the other things creep in and choke out the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

In this parable of the sower sowing his seed, Yeshua explains that the seed represents the word of God, and he describes the conditions of the hearts of those upon whom the seed is sown.

The seed being sown among the thorns represents those individuals who receive the word of God, but their hearts are so overcrowded with worldly cares and other ambitions that the seed cannot grow to maturity; it gets choked out and cannot bear fruit.

If we are to reflect on our own lives, how much of our time and attention is spent on the thorny distractions of this age, the deceitfulness of wealth, and passionate desires for other things besides the kingdom? We need to remain vigilant that the weeds and thorns of these other concerns do not overcrowd the truly important and impactful things that surround the kingdom: hearing and understanding the word and bearing fruit.

This process of God sowing his Word in the hearts of believers is commonly misunderstood to be a one-time event. It is believed that once God’s seed is sown that work is done and the seed will either grow or not depending on the condition of the soil. However, this parable of Yeshua along with other scriptural insights teach us that if we receive the Word gladly, it is up to us to continue to sow that good seed for the harvests to grow beyond that which was just sown initially.

For a farmer to have a continual harvest throughout the year, they must be continually preparing soil and sowing the appropriate seed at the appropriate season. Even in ancient Israel there were multiple harvests throughout the year depending on the crop. First was the barley harvest which occurred at the Feast of First-fruits during the week of Unleavened Bread in the spring.  Then came the first of the wheat harvest which took place at Shavuot or Pentecost at the beginning of summer. Finally, the richest and fullest harvest of the other crops took place at the Feast of Ingathering or Tabernacles in the autumn. Immediately after the autumn Feast of Ingathering, the work of re-plowing the fields and planting for the Spring harvest would begin. Each of these seasons indicates a different harvest for a different crop, but for that to be taking place there must constantly be new seed being sown.

Just like farmers preparing the soil in their gardens, we need to constantly churn the earth of our hearts, ensuring there is sufficient compost and nutrients to receive what is planted so the seed can successfully multiply and grow to its fullest capacity.

Galatians 6:7-8 – Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a person sows he will also reap, because the one who sows to his flesh will reap destruction from the flesh, but the one who sows to the spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.

Sowing to the spirit means that there are choices that need to be made each day. I think it’s pretty evident how we sow to the flesh, but sowing to the spirit is all about receiving continual seed throughout each day so that we can remain focused on the kingdom and conduct our lives with integrity according to the Word of God. For us to be able to do so, then we must have a continual input of the Word throughout each day.

Consider how much time you may be spending on social media, or watching television, or being involved in worldly aspirations. In reality, none of these things are wrong in and of themselves, but they can easily become time-sucks that draw our full attention away from living in according to God’s Word. In fact, a good indicator that one of these things may be a negative activity for you would be that if you are engaged in it and lose all sense of time until you snap out of that engagement, you may be getting pulled further into the weeds that can choke out the Word.

If these are your primary interactions with others within the context of your world then you may be suffering from a lack of good and and nutritious input for your spiritual life. The digital age we live in provides us many alternatives to be in the Word throughout each day. Besides just Bible podcasts like this one, there are more significant Bible apps and audio Bibles that can help keep you in the actual Word without having to be sitting and reading or studying.

Think of how much time you might spend driving throughout the day, or exercising, or doing redundant chores around the house that don’t require a lot of concentration: things like ironing, or cleaning, or mowing the lawn. I regard these types of activities as “idling” activities, where you may be physically active but your brain is kind of sitting in an idle mode. Instead of popping on the TV or listening to the news, or scrolling through random videos, why not instead listen to an audio Bible on your device while you are doing these types of things? There are lots of free options out there with various narrators and versions of the Bible to choose from.

Perhaps you have some good, doctrinally-sound worship music that can help keep your mind focused on God and his gracious mercy towards us. Using those times to their fullest helps to keep your spirit engaged with God. I have found it becomes much easier to receive personal and private direction for challenges I may be facing when I am interacting with the Word in these various ways.

Another indication that may demonstrate getting choked among the weeds is to consider if you are primarily a consumer or a creator of digital media. As believers and image-bearers of God in this world, we have the ability to use and create informative engagements with the things and people of this world for God’s glory and the furtherance of the kingdom. Social media can help spread God’s Word through written articles and photos, and videos can be created to explain how the Bible has relevance for people today.

As a personal example, one of my goals with coreofthebible.org is to continue to build a multi-tiered approach to sharing the information in these articles in different platforms: through written articles, weekly audio podcasts, and also through videos. However, through all of this, I am having to be very selective with how I approach each of these areas, as it is dangerously easy to become consumed with editing and posting and monitoring multiple platforms in an effort to maintain effective engagement. I don’t want to get lost in the weeds of the process to where I am losing effectiveness in the content. I am just trying to keep things as simple and to-the-point as possible to maximize the value to each reader, listener, or watcher of the content.

When we consider all of the various ways we receive information input throughout each day, we need to be intentional and purposeful with the time we have so that we can maximize our spiritual growth.

Proverbs 4:23 – Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it is the source of life.

In a metaphorical manner of speaking, King Solomon as the writer of Proverbs indicates that our heart or our inmost self-awareness is the source of the quality of our life. That source is sometimes compared to a well of water.

This type of metaphor would be readily received and understood in ancient times, since life in a desert or wilderness environment is not possible without water. The quality of that water depends on how we maintain that well; is it overgrown with poisonous weeds, is it unprotected from animals that can trudge through and muddy its waters or destroy its flow? Is our heart becoming defiled through the things on which we constantly focus?

Yeshua even takes this metaphor further by saying whatever is in our heart is what spills out of our mouths:

Mark 7:20-23 – And [Yeshua] said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”

Guarding our heart, then seems to be a concern that we should not take lightly, and should prompt us to take the appropriate time to strategize how to maintain the soil our our hearts at all costs.


In our American culture at least we seem have lost a sense of just how impactful the constant bombardment of worldly information flow can be to our lives, and it seems we are even becoming addicted to always having a music playlist going or having the television on in the background. As believers, we need to ensure that the well of our heart is filled with pure and nutritious water, not the potentially poisonous and unprotected muddy water of the world. It is our individual responsibility to guard our hearts; that means to protect what we allow to influence our hearts, because whatever is in there is what will ultimately come out through our speech and our actions. It’s like the old saying, “garbage in, garbage out.” Why not instead turn that saying on its head by changing it to “purity and goodness in, purity and goodness out.”

Even saying such a thing has Pollyana-ish overtones and seems awkward and simplistic. But is it really, or is that just our natural inclination has already become so jaded that we find it difficult to identify with what is good and right about human nature and living according to the positive and kind admonitions of God’s standards?

You know an interesting bit of Bible trivia relating to textual interpretation centers on a specific New Testament verse that has had a defining impact on believers over the last two millennia. And it has to do with the name “Christian.” For some context, allow me to read a passage out of Peter’s first epistle.

1 Peter 3:8-16 – Finally, all of you be like-minded and sympathetic, love one another, and be compassionate and humble, not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult but, on the contrary, giving a blessing, since you were called for this, so that you may inherit a blessing. For the one who wants to love life and to see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit, and let him turn away from evil and do what is good. Let him seek peace and pursue it, because the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do what is evil. Who then will harm you if you are devoted to what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be intimidated, but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. Yet do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that when you are accused, those who disparage your good conduct in Christ will be put to shame.

So we can see contextually that Peter is encouraging the believers to have good conduct at all times because this honors God. Now the passage with the textual consideration I mentioned previously is actually in chapter four; I’m going to read it in the YLT because even though it’s awkwardly phrased, it still brings out more of the clarity of the point I’m about to make.

1 Peter 4:15-16 – for let none of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evil-doer, or as an inspector into other men’s matters; and if as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; and let him glorify God in this respect;

Let’s look at some interesting commentary on this idea of suffering as a Christian.

Ellicott’s Commentary

(16) Yet if any man suffer as a Christian.—St. Peter purposely uses the name which was a name of derision among the heathens. It is not, as yet, one by which the believers would usually describe themselves. It only occurs twice besides in the New Testament—in Acts 11:26, where we are told of the invention of the nickname (see Note there), and in Acts 26:28, where Agrippa catches it up with the insolent scorn with which a brutal justice would have used the word “Methodist” a century ago. So contemptible was the name that, as M. Renan says (p. 37), “Well-bred people avoided pronouncing the name, or, when forced to do so, made a kind of apology.” Tacitus, for instance, says: “Those who were vulgarly known by the name of Christians.” In fact, it is quite an open question whether we ought not here (as well as in the two places of Acts above cited) to read the nickname in its barbarous form: Chrestian. The Sinaitic manuscript has that form, and the Vatican has the form Chreistian; and it is much harder to suppose that a scribe who commonly called himself a Christian would intentionally alter it into this strange form than to suppose that one who did not understand the irony of saying a Chrestian should have written the word with which he was so familiar.”

Cambridge Bible Commentary

  1. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian] The occurrence of a name which has played so prominent a part in the history of mankind requires a few words of notice. It did not originate with the followers of Christ themselves. They spoke of themselves as the “brethren” (Acts 14:2; Acts 15:1; Acts 15:3; Acts 15:22, &c.), as “the saints,” i.e. the holy or consecrated people (Matthew 27:52; Acts 9:13; Acts 9:32; Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 6:1; Ephesians 1:1, &c.), as “those of the way,” i.e. those who took their own way, the way which they believed would lead them to eternal life (Acts 9:2; Acts 19:9; Acts 24:22). By their Jewish opponents they were commonly stigmatized as “the Nazarenes” (Acts 24:5), the followers of Jesus of Nazareth, the city out of which no good thing could come (John 1:46). The new name was given first at Antioch (Acts 11:26), shortly after the admission there, on a wider scale than elsewhere, of Gentile converts. Its Latin form, analogous to that of Pompeiani, Mariani, for the followers of Pompeius or Marius, indicated that the new society was attracting the attention of official persons and others at Antioch. The word naturally found acceptance. It expressed a fact, it was not offensive, and it might be used by those who, like Agrippa, though they were not believers themselves, wished to speak respectfully of those who were (Acts 26:28). Soon it came to be claimed by those believers. The question, Are you a Christian? became the crucial test of their faith. By disowning it, as in the case of the mildly repressive measures taken in these very regions by Pliny in the reign of Trajan, they might purchase safety (Pliny, Epp. x. 96). The words now before us probably did much to stamp it on the history of the Church. Men dared not disown it. They came to exult in it. Somewhat later on they came to find in it, with a pardonable play upon words, a new significance. The term Christiani (= followers of Christ) was commonly pronounced Chrestiani, and that, they urged, shewed that they were followers of Chrestus, i.e. of the good and gentle one. Their very name, they urged, through their Apologist, Tertullian (Apol. i. 3), was a witness to the falsehood of the charges brought against them.

F.F. Bruce, in his commentary on Acts adds the following:

“Xrestus (“useful, kindly”) was a common slave-name in the Graeco-Roman world. It “appears as a spelling variant for the unfamiliar Christus (Xristos). (In Greek the two words were pronounced alike.)” (F. F. Bruce, The Books of Acts, 368).

So, just for a little mental hypothesis, what if, in the great span of history, believers were being chastised and ridiculed early on, not for being “Christians” or followers of Christ (since people unfamiliar with the scriptures would not know what a “Christ” was) but instead were being ridiculed for being “Chrestians” or “do-gooders”? Non-believers could certainly identify those individuals, and believers faithful to their calling could definitely be accused of that, since they were instructed to follow the “good-doing” of their Lord and Master:

Acts 10:38 – “how God anointed Yeshua of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how he went about doing good and healing all who were under the tyranny of the devil, because God was with him.

Galatians 6:9 – Let us not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.

2 Thessalonians 3:13 – But as for you, brothers and sisters, do not grow weary in doing good.

1 Peter 2:15 – For it is God’s will that you silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good.

1 Peter 3:17 – For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.

Of course I would not be dogmatic about this name identification, but it does raise an interesting concept and emphasis that may be lost in our modern understanding of that word. Christian implies that one believes a certain thing, while Chrestian implies that one does certain things. Which one would have been more derogatory? The word Chrestian would have, and indeed did, identify the early believers as do-gooders based on the fact that their Messiah was always doing good.

So what does all this side-bar about the Christian name have to do with the influence of our hearts? Well getting back to our main focus, this would mean that the content of the heart would have to have good intentions implanted there, and that believers would have to be acting out that goodness based on the overflow of their hearts, as Yeshua taught.

You see, without constant attention, the garden soil of our hearts can be quickly overrun by weeds. And when it’s overrun by weeds, it will become unfruitful; we cannot do the good things that we are called to do. It’s not about what we believe, but what we do.

We must weed the garden at all times to ensure that as the seed grows, it is clear of any other obstructions to the light and moisture that it needs. The weeds can block the light and consume the water of the rain and irrigation meant to nourish the seed for maximum growth. Removing weeds can be hard work, especially if we have neglected to review it on a regular basis.

It’s always good to remember that we need to mind the gardens of our hearts with vigilance. When we do so, we will be honoring the Master Gardener by maximizing the return he has planned for the seed that is continually being sown in us.


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.

Lawbreakers cannot inherit the kingdom

To say that one is a believer is simple; doing God’s will is the real indication of belief.

Matthew 7:21-23 – “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.
On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, and do many miracles in your name? ‘ “
Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you lawbreakers! ‘

Many believers who meditate on their purpose will be challenged with discerning what the will of God is for their life. We sometimes tend to think of things in big chunks of ideals like: should I get married? Should I take that job? Where should I live?

Well, the Bible is neither a magic 8-ball nor some sort of fortune cookie for personal prophecy about the future. The will of God is much less abstract and much more attainable, if we will only take the Word of God at face value.

We get a very strong indication of the approved lifestyle of the inhabitants of the kingdom in the verses above. Yeshua is saying that those who are in the kingdom will be demonstrating they are doing God’s will. Those who are not in the kingdom would be those who are “lawbreakers.” Some other versions might translate the Greek word anomia as “those who practice lawlessness.” The word literally means “against the law.” As it relates to the context of this overall passage of the Sermon on the Mount, those who are outside the kingdom of God are those who disobey the law of God.

This is a callback to the beginning of the Sermon where Yeshua pronounces the following:

Matthew 5:17-19 – Don’t think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass away from the law until all things are accomplished.
Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever does and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Those who “break the least of the commands” are lawbreakers, and, hence, outside the kingdom of God. You see, the will of God is the law, the torah, of God. It’s his instruction that has been provided to mankind for the purpose of, well, instructing us on what is proper and right. It is not up for debate, as it is permanent and everlasting.

Psalm 119:89 – Your word is forever, Yahweh; it is firmly established in heaven.

The will of God is his Word; God does not say anything that is not his will. Therefore, if we are abiding by the everlasting Word of God, we are doing his will and are set apart within the kingdom of God.

Look at some of these wonderful verses that illustrate this principle:

Mark 3:35 – “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

Romans 8:27 – And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because he intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

The Spirit of God will only intercede according to God’s Word (his law, his torah) because it is his will.

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.

Paul encourages believers to have their minds renewed as something that is opposite of being conformed to the age. The Word of God is always opposed to the morality and reasoning of the age apart from him.

1 John 2:17 – And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does the will of God remains forever.

Again, John contrasts the will of God with the world and its lusts. Once again, the Word of God which is forever is contrasted with the lusts of the world which pass away with every generation.

To say that one is a believer in the Lord Yeshua is simple enough to do, but Yeshua says it takes more than that to inherit the kingdom of God. One must not only claim Yeshua is Lord, but must do the law, the torah, the instruction of God; the principles of the kingdom. It is the doing of his Word that allows God to be magnified in each generation, as his ways are demonstrated as righteous.

Matthew 5:19 – “Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands [i.e., is a lawbreaker] and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever does and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.


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.

We can’t successfully obey God if we don’t trust him

Trusting in God is the root of obedience to his Word.

Deuteronomy 9:23 – When Yahweh sent you from Kadesh Barnea, saying, “Go up and possess the land which I have given you;” then you rebelled against the commandment of Yahweh your God, and you didn’t believe him, nor listen to his voice.

As national Israel was preparing to enter the land of Canaan, Moses was recounting to them their history over the last 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. This was to put them in the correct mindset so they could be fully prepared to take the land that God is providing to them.

One of the negative occurrences that he recounted was a stark reminder to them to be faithful and obedient to God’s commands. When they had rebelled against God’s original command to take the land, they were routed by the local tribes and suffered heavy losses. Additionally, this act of disobedience was the primary cause of their wandering in the wilderness for forty years. God had to make sure all of the unfaithful among them died off before they could have another opportunity to successfully overcome and possess the land.

Moses stated this process of rebellion as a simple fact: they had rebelled against the word of Yahweh (literally, the mouth of Yahweh) because they did not trust him; therefore, they did not listen or obey him. Rebellion is fostered by not trusting God or his Word, and therefore no obedience to that Word can be had.

The same is true today. When people do not trust God, they do not believe in his Word and they are not likely to obey his commands. Trusting in God is the root of obedience to his Word.

In Hebrew, listening to God is the same thing as obeying him. When one listens to God, obedience is the result. Many of us today may hear what God is saying, but we don’t actually listen to him and take it to heart; if we did, we would obey him.

Mark 4:23 – “If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen.”

Yeshua made this statement over and over to the people of his generation. But in doing so, he also knew many of them would not believe, and therefore would not hear and obey in repentance.

Matthew 13:15 – For this people’s heart has grown callous; their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn back — and I would heal them.

Not hearing God is a condition of a callous heart. The heart, as the source and wellspring of life, is surrounded by bitter thoughts and emotions against God that thicken its defenses. The individual then becomes deaf and blind to the pleas of God.

But Yeshua encourages his disciples. They are the believers, the listeners and doers of the words of God.

Matthew 13:16 – Blessed are your eyes because they do see, and your ears because they do hear.

James also illustrates this contrast between believers who are doers and those who only hear without truly listening.

James 1:22-25 – But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like someone looking at his own face in a mirror. For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of person he was. But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer who works ​– ​this person will be blessed in what he does.

Those who believe in him are the ones who can obediently carry out his Word to their generation just as the disciples did. The Word of God was spread throughout the Roman Empire to the limits of the known world within a forty year span of time, and all with no printing, no transportation, and no internet. They simply believed God and and followed his Messiah, sharing the good news of the kingdom of God in faithful obedience.

John 10:27 – “My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me.

Trust in God leads to hearing the Messiah and obediently following him. If we have not been as obedient as we should be, perhaps we need to reevaluate where we are placing our trust. Once realigned with the proper heavenly perspective and trust in God, we can then bear fruit for him and successfully accomplish his purposes 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.

Finding good and attaining happiness

Trust in Yahweh to genuinely experience the goodness and happiness that only he provides.

Proverbs 16:20 Whoever is prudent and circumspect with the word will find and attain good, and the one who trusts in the LORD, how happy and blessed he is!

Trusting in Yahweh and in his word or instruction allows individuals to find and attain good. The Hebrew word tov implies that which is pleasant and agreeable to the senses. It carries ideas of fruitfulness and prosperity, kindness and ethical goodness, beneficial and valuable things.

When these things are realized through thoughtful consideration of his instruction or his word, then esher or happiness and blessedness results.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 – The person who trusts in Yahweh, whose confidence indeed is Yahweh, is blessed. He will be like a tree planted by water: it sends its roots out toward a stream, it doesn’t fear when heat comes, and its foliage remains green. It will not worry in a year of drought or cease producing fruit.

Notice that drought may come, but the one trusting in Yahweh has a source of water (strength and nourishment) that is not readily available to others. There is no need to worry about what others worry about.

The words of Yeshua echo this sentiment of Jeremiah:

Matthew 6:31-33 – “So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat? ‘ or ‘What will we drink? ‘ or ‘What will we wear? ‘ “For those of the nations eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.

When we are truly trusting in Yahweh, we are seeking his kingdom to be expressed on this earth. This provides both an objective and a place of safety, a refuge from which to operate.

Psalm 34:8-10 – Taste and see that Yahweh is good. How happy is the person who takes refuge in him! You who are his holy ones, fear Yahweh, for those who fear him lack nothing. Villages may lack food and go hungry, but those who seek Yahweh will not lack any good.

To fear Yahweh is to trust him; it is an expression of respect, awe, and appropriate reverence for the power and might of the one true God. The psalmist encourages people to “taste,” that is, to perceive with the senses, to see. Trusting in Yahweh is not just a belief or exercise of the mind, but an ongoing act that involves all that we do and say. Trusting in Yahweh means we recognize, act, and abide by the authority of his word. It is not just a head full of abstract beliefs, but a heart from which actions spring with the understanding and wisdom he provides.

Proverbs 16:20 strikes me as addressing one of the deepest desires of mankind: to attain tov or good which brings true happiness and blessedness. The things in this world that we seek to fill that void are vain shadows of this attainable reality. It is up to us to “taste and see,” that is, trust in Yahweh to genuinely experience the goodness and happiness that only he provides.


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