The more that I have studied and prayed, the more I realized that it would help me to put together some principles for myself. This project has been some thirty years in the making. These are the things that I believe, and that help me follow Jesus. There is no mystery why there are 12 of them, it’s just worked out that way. They help me stay focused, to carry my cross, to deal with my pain, and I hope that they can help you too- I love you.
#1 Love the LORD thy God
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- I love you.
# 2 Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God
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 the 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 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- I love you.
#3 Worship and serve God Only
“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- I love you.
#4 Live by Faith
You 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- I love you.
#5 Have Peace with God
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- I love you.
#6 Receive the Blessing
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 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 that the perfect gift (state of being ) that He has for you. Imagine that, God, who’s 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 thou, at least in this YOUR DAY, the BLESSINGS (your best life, as it should be) which belongs TO YOU! But now they are hid 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).
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 Promise 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- I love you.
#7 Dwell Together in Unity
Until now, the point has been about my relationship with God. And then I had to look at my spiritual relationship with others, and it comes full circle. All the way back to the first principle, and all the way to Deuteronomy where Moses declared that God would send another prophet just like him, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen—, And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.” (Deu 18:15,19), and we know that prophet to be Jesus. Just after Moses gave the greatest commandment, to Love God with all thy heart, soul, and might, he says that God will send another just like him into THE PROMISED LAND. Now, this is important. Israel was just about to enter THE PROMISED LAND out of bondage to the world and the dryness of the 10 Commandments, into the land that God had PROMISED them. And the commandment is LOVE the LORD. Moving forward, Jesus, as the prophet Moses promised, and just before he made a way for us to enter into a NEW LIFE (side note: just as Moses declared that in the flesh, God would send another prophet, Jesus said that God would send US another Comforter- the Holy Spirit), added to the words of Moses, “And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” (Mar 12:31). Not as the world loves, but as HE loves. His love isn’t based on flesh and the things of the world, His love is based on spirit and truth; forgiveness and faith. We have to believe. There’s a lot to say about this point, and if God gives me strength, I’ll write more about it, but here’s a brief. If we are baptized and born-again in the Spirit at a young age (or any age as long as we follow on from there), are taught and cling to Love God with all of our heart, soul and might at a young age, live in Love and the spirit from a young age, then God will lead us in His Spirit throughout our lives. He will surround us with Godly friends, and at some point, He will bring us into a relationship with someone who lives by the spirit as we do, to become our spouse- if we let go and let God do so. Have a look at Abraham’s servant finding a wife for Issac.
BUT, and this goes against everything we all believe about marriage, the real priority in a marriage is NOT WORLDLY but to live together as one as a spiritual relationship and representation of Jesus and the church (his Bride). A man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife- as one, in UNITY- in the spirit. Adam and Eve were in the image of God (spiritual) until they sinned and knew their nakedness. If we live as one in the spirit, feed and water each other in the spirit, and “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.” (the Words of the Lord), then as we interact with other believers, we all GROW IN UNITY with other followers of Jesus into one commUNITY- in the Spirit. Together, we understand where we fit in under Jesus, because we LIVE IT every hour of the day. So in Jesus, we move from being one with him, to two with him, to many with him. In the spirit, I can love myself because I know I am a child of God and He loves me. In the spirit, I love my wife as myself (well, to be honest, much more than myself), and I love my spiritual brothers and sisters who believe in, love, and follow Jesus according to a spiritual life (not a religious Jesus, but the LIVING Jesus). “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 Jn 3:16). If we treat others as more important than ourselves, let go of ourselves (our priorities) then HE will raise us up in UNITY. There’s SO much more to say on this subject, but I think it’s important to lay the foundation of love as I believe it. I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless, I live; I live so that I can lay down my life for you- I love you.
#8 Be Transformed by Renewing Your Mind
The Bible mentions the word conformed twice. Once seemingly in a positive way, and one negative, but they are both leading to the same principle:
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Rom 8:29)
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Rom 12:2)
This is a pivotal topic; it is life changing, but it has never been easily appreciated or accepted- especially now in our generation. I could have added this as an earlier Principle, but it has never been meant for just a single individual, although it typically has come through one. This Principle is so important it’s going to take more than this short space to share it. Please click the button, ONLY if you’re willing to learn the truth.
#9 Study to Show Yourself Approved unto God
Are you “called”? In the Bible, there are many references to people being called: Moses was “called” by God to deliver Israel from bondage, Jesus was “called” out of Egypt, “called” a Nazarene, and Paul for one says that he was “called” to be an Apostle of Jesus Christ. I’ve met so many people over the years who tell me that they too have a calling on their lives, they believe that they have been called by God to be one thing or another, Apostles, Prophets, Teachers; some giving themselves religious titles or given them by others without any proof associated with the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that many are called but few are chosen.
If you want to be a follower of Jesus, it’s not enough to seek to be called, you need to study to be chosen. The Apostle Paul charged Timothy, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15). And Paul would know. Paul was an educated Pharisee, approved by the rulers of the Jewish religion- he knew it better than anyone, but he doesn’t send Timothy off to University for a proper education so he can be approved by men to carry forth the Gospels, Paul tells Timothy to study to ”shew thyself approved unto God,”.
Most modern Biblical education systems spend years teaching theory on the works of Calvin, Luther, and others, and topics like tithing, and the adoption of Christmas and Easter, among other heady Christian religious things that don’t add one bit of life to a Christian.
Elisha is another example of one who studied to be chosen. He spent so much time with Elijah, that he knew that there was something more in going onward. Each time Elijah told him to wait behind, Elisha wasn’t having any part of that. He was HUNGRY for God. He wasn’t taking no for an answer. Along the road, many other prophets He wanted a double portion- and pressed through until he got it- approved by God.
Are you that hungry? Are you studying every day to be approved by God to be a “good and faithful servant?” Or, are you a modern Christian with only enough time for the two hours on Sunday morning? Let me give you a real warning! Not everyone- including many Christians, will enter into eternity. Jesus says that he wishes you were either cold (did not accept him at all), or hot (following hard after him); but because you are luke-warm, he will spit you out of his mouth. How can you say that you believe in the two most important Commandments if you aren’t going to study to know His ways? How can you say that you love Jesus if you only know the religious figure and not the Living One Himself?
This is NOT about being able to quote Scripture off the top of your head, it’s about intimacy with God. This also isn’t necessarily an individual thing. Find the someone in the spirit who you can seek that intimacy with together. Talk about it in your homes, in the streets, with the joy that comes with it. If we aren’t rising to our heights, we’re sinking to our depths.
The LORD spoke through the Prophet Hosea, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” (Hosea 4:6) Thou hast forgotten the law- Principle 1. He continues, “
“As they were increased, so they sinned against me: therefore will I change their glory into shame.
They eat up the sin of my people, and they set their heart on their iniquity.
And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings.
For they shall eat, and not have enough: they shall commit whoredom, and shall not increase: because they have left off to take heed to the LORD.
Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart.” (v7-11)
This is the reflection of OT Israel on NT “Christianity.” Come out of religion and find that intimacy with the Living Jesus- study to be chosen. I love you.
#10 Commit Your works unto the Lord
#11 Go Forth
#12 Bear Much Fruit