It’s not just that this is where we should start, and it’s not just that it’s a commandment, it’s AWESOME. But for the record, just before the nation of Israel crossed over into the PROMISED LAND; after they had wandered through the desert under the weight of the 10 Commandments, Moses gave them a new commandment: “Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.” (Deu6:4-8- emphasis mine).
If they had taken this one new commandment seriously, it would have replaced all the other ten. In everything: everywhere they went in the land of milk and honey, everything that they did, and everything that they saw with their eyes, they were meant to LOVE God FIRST- it would have solidified and guided their spiritual life- kept their connection fresh with God. Jesus reinforced this as the greatest commandment (see Mark 12:28-30). God is a spirit (Joh 4:24), and if you haven’t been able to put Him first in your spirit; to LOVE Him with all your heart, soul, and might, now is your chance, your place to begin.
How do we know, or get into that place where we can say with all honesty that we Love God with all our heart, soul, and might? James says, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” (Jas 4:8) You cannot serve two masters. You cannot be IN the world and OF it at the same time. You cannot hold onto religion and follow JESUS. You can’t have it YOUR WAY and His way. So, how do we draw near to God and are certain that we are living a life that proves that we LOVE and put him FIRST?
Jesus said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Mat 6:33). God is a spirit and can ONLY be sought in the spirit and in truth. HIS kingdom is a spiritual kingdom, and HIS righteousness is a spiritual righteousness. And all of the things he wants to add unto our lives start there- in the spirit. If you aren’t seeing it this way; if you are looking for the “things” of the world as signs, then these words of Jesus are for you too; “And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, ‘Why doth this generation seek after a sign?’” (Mat 24:34a)- note that he sighed deeply “in his spirit.” They were looking for a “thing” in the world, and not the Christ, the gift in the spirit that was standing right in front of them.
It helps to take notice of the words of David, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psa 51:10)- This is one of the “things” I ask for this every morning- a fresh start. Many of my dreams with Jesus happen in a heart- like physically, like in a room; they are either tender and soft or hard and unmovable: all too often as I think and pray for others, they are hard. When these happen, I know there’s a message or something coming- first from the spirit, and then all things will be added. Let me encourage you to seek first the Kingdom of God in your spirit. Do this, and drawing near to God will be easier, and He will draw near to you.
“And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me Satan; for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” (Luk 4:8). Now, don’t just read this as another Biblical story– it WAS A REAL EVENT. Here, Jesus says that there are two actions; worship and service- TO THE LORD ONLY. While worship sometimes takes on an external expression of joy, it is an internal action in the heart, where the Spirit of God meets our spirit. Jesus’ words to Satan were singular and specific, thou shalt worship and serve- it is WRITTEN. It is foundational. Once we start with worship, service becomes automatic. This is the real outward expression.
LOVE God, draw near, seek His kingdom, and when you find Him, WORSHIP Him. What amazing moments we can have in that place- every day if you wish. Then, out of that comes our desire to serve HIM. As with everything else, service starts in our spirit- not in what we see around us. “The meek also shall increase their joy in the LORD, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isa 29:19). Worshipping and serving God is singular and specific, and once you’ve tasted it, you will want it every day.
ou reach that place where you LOVE GOD. You worship HIM, you want to serve HIM. Your heart is softening. You would rather be in the Word that go to the movies. You would rather spend the evening with someone special and talk about what following Jesus meant to you today then watch TV. But, you are worried about what others might say or think. How would they judge you? You are not yet crucified with Christ. You still look outside instead of inside; and that comes with a risk- your heart could easily harden. I don’t really care what others think when they criticize my relationship with God. I care what He thinks. I care what He tells me to do. I want to talk with you about Jesus. But sometimes I think I am the only person on earth who wants Jesus as much as I do- not the religious Jesus, but the LIVING Jesus. I know it has come with a price that pains me. But, that is what it means to live by faith. There are many scripture verses about living by faith, but, for me Galatians 2:20 sums it all up: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” The faith of the Son of God, who loves you and gave himself for you. Does he really live in you today or do you worry about the things of the world and what people would think and say if you started following Jesus? Who do you talk to at the end of the day? Who do you pray with every morning? Where is the joy in your life that comes with living by faith? Practice LIVING faith and you will find you are the happiest person you know, and that’s contagious.
And now we come to that place where we find peace with God- REAL inner peace. I won’t go into the scriptures that talk about holding your peace- being quiet, etc; but I will show you what peace comes with all of the principles above. “And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.” (Luk 8:48). She had faith in Jesus which made her whole (removed her sin- see the Power of Forgiveness blog); Jesus didn’t just say she was healed, but she was whole (spirit and body), and she could enter into that place of peace with God. Going back to Principle #1 and the commandment of Moses that the people were to Love the LORD, and that they were to LOVE him in their homes, “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house,…” It should follow then that when Jesus was here he would say to his disciples, “And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again.” (Luk 10:5-6). If the homeowners were really practicing LOVERs of the LORD (following the great commandment of Moses), then the “son of peace,” the spirit of Jesus- the LOVE of the LORD would be found there, and “peace shall rest upon you.” But to those Jews who knew not this commandment because they were religious minded, and hard hearted, then they would be uncomfortable, and the spirit of the disciples would be troubled and their peace would return to them.
Let’s see some more: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (Joh 16:33)- only IN JESUS we have peace. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (Joh 14:27)- be at peace in your spirit, “not as the world giveth.”
And yet there is a warning, “Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.” (Luk 19:42) If thou hadst known…the things that belong unto their peace. Notice, it BELONGED to them! In this THY day. This was for them right then and there. But IF; they didn’t and now it was all hidden from their eyes- how sad. Peace was not for them. And the same it is for many Christians today. Are you troubled? Are you missing a feeling of REAL PEACE in your heart? Do you KNOW that there’s something lost? Is there a WHAT IF in your life? Well now you know. There is HOPE! Daughter, turn from your sin (repent) and restore your relationship with God. Be of good comfort, your faith (Principle #4) will make you whole. And the Peace of God will be like a home where you can sit and share your LOVE.
To understand this principle, I need to help define the word blessing. In the original Greek, the word bless is the word Makarios. The real meaning of the word is a state of being, everything is as it should be, everything is coming together as it should be, or you will be living your best life, or all of these. It’s NOT a bunch of worldly things (although they may come in that way sometimes). So when we think that, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (Jas 1:17), we mean Makarios. When I was a young boy, I had a wonderful dream from God that I can still remember vividly. It was a good gift, a perfect gift, and I knew that one day in the future I would hold it in my hands (I would be experiencing my best life, as it should be)- it was a reality to me even then! Which is why I really love this scripture. It makes me still think now that even something as thin as a single strand of hair can cast a shadow. And so, God won’t turn away so much as the thickness of the shadow of a human hair from the perfect gift (state of being ) that He has for you. Turn away all you might, He will always be there waiting for you to come back. Imagine that, God, whose light is so pure and bright that no shadow can stand in it, has a good and perfect blessing for you. But, unfortunately, so many “Christians” I talk to look for this in the world, and not in the spirit which is a shame because all of these gifts are “from above.” “God is a Spirit” and His gifts are spirt and truth, and righteousness, and this becomes their great loss. So often I think that I could paraphrase Principle #5, Jesus saying, “…if thou hadst known, even you, at least in this YOUR DAY, the BLESSINGS (your best life, as it should be) which belongs TO YOU! But now they are hidden from thine eyes.” It’s very painful to watch.
By the way, for me, that day did come, and I got to hold that gift (everything as it should be), and then it was gone- stolen by Satan- more than once I will add. But there was ABSOLUTELY no mistake where it came from. It came at a low time in my life. It came from above, to refresh my spiritual walk. To encourage me and strengthen me.; to be my breath, to be my best life ever, forever. So, yes, I know for a fact that following Jesus and being in that place of Peace comes with great blessing (state of being as it was meant to be). I WAS BLESSED.
James says, “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein,, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” (Jas 1:25). People say that the perfect law of liberty is the 10 Commandments. I’m here to tell you that the PERFECT law is the one Moses gave going into the Promised Land. I want to encourage you to try following Jesus; try putting these principles into practice- or ones of your own, (be a doer of the work and not a forgetful hearer) and see if your blessings don’t overflow. And be careful not to lose them as I have.