The First and Greatest Commandment

In the book of Matthew, there is the account of a lawyer asking Yahushua Messiah [Jesus Christ] a question:

“Master, which is the greatest commandment in the law?” (Matthew 22:36)

How could Yahushua narrow down God’s Word to only one commandment as being the greatest, since God is so infinitely wise and good and great in countless ways??

Yet Messiah did narrow down God’s commandments to only one — one commandment that is all-embracing, and completely inclusive of the WORD of Yahuwah Elohim [the LORD God]:

Yahushua [Jesus] said unto him, Thou shalt love Yahuwah Elohim [the Lord thy God] with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. (Matthew 22:37-38)

The answer to the lawyer’s question reveals to us the one commandment that is THE Foundation of all the rest of God’s commands.

Love for Yahuwah Elohim is the leading commandment! Love for Yahuwah leads us into the way of obedience to all of Yahuwah’s Word.

When we love Yahuwah with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind, then we will naturally have a love for obedience to all of His WORD — His commandments, His instructions, and His guidelines.

And the more we show our love for Him through our obedience (John 14:15), the more He sheds His love abroad in our hearts, so that we are able to achieve our goal — to love one another (Romans 5:5; 1Peter 1:22).

Loving Yahuwah is truly The All-Embracing and Completely Inclusive Commandment! This is why Yahushua said it is the FIRST and the GREATEST commandment.

If we love God with all our heart, it will be a deeply sincere and united love.

If we love God with all our soul, it will be a strong and intense love.

If we love God with all our mind, it will be a love that we understand, a love in which we are willing to place God and His Word as first place in our actions, in all that we do.

When we have this kind of consuming love, we will gladly, joyfully walk in obedience to the Word of Yahuwah Elohim.

Those who love Yahuwah, find it easy to love Him — first of all, because He first loved us (1John 4:19), and then second, because we have come to know His Name (Psalms 9:10).

When we begin to realize how much He loves us, and then to truly know His Name, then we begin to know His character!

It is His eternal character that makes our heart want to love Him completely:

And Yahuwah [the LORD] descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the NAME of Yahuwah. And Yahuwah passed by before him, and proclaimed, Yahuwah, Yahuwah Elohim [the LORD God], merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation. (Exodus 34:5-7)

As this Scripture teaches us, Yahuwah Elohim is as He has described Himself — merciful, longsuffering, ABUNDANT in goodness and truth, and forgiving of sins, and seeking to correct us (as a loving Father would do) whenever we go astray!

Yahuwah’s eternal, unchanging character draws us to Him. More and more, we understand the beauty of His holiness, and we yearn to be with Him! And just as we easily trust and love those whose character is honest and good and reliable, in the same way, we trust and love our Heavenly Father and His awesome WORD, with all our heart!

His Name reveals His character, and so it is that we find Yahuwah Elohim, our Maker, is truly worthy of all our love and devotion!

Our complete and devoted love for Yahuwah will never fail to bring us into the fullness of everything that Father desires for us.

Here is a lovely song that expresses this greatest of commandments. The title comes from the first word of Deuteronomy 6:5, the Hebrew word V’ahavta, which means: “And you shall love.”

V’ahavta: Love The Lord Thy God
—Music by Barry & Batya Segal.

And thou shalt love Yahuwah Elohim [the LORD thy God] with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. (Deuteronomy 6:5)

“The way we relate to God determines the way He relates to us.” – Derek Prince

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Preparing Our Heart to Seek God

scripture-verseWe all desire to seek God. But to find Him, there are certain steps we can take that are very helpful in our search. One such step is learning to prepare our heart to seek God.

Preparing our heart to seek God is a principle found throughout the Scriptures.

I have written previously about ‘preparing our heart,’ since this is what Thirsty Souls seek to do over and over. We seek to prepare our heart each day, in order to walk in honesty before God, to know the comfort of the Holy Spirit, and to do those things that are pleasing in His sight.

Because of the great importance of this subject, I again want to present this principle of ‘preparing our heart’.

The prophet Samuel told the children of Israel to “…prepare your hearts unto Yahuwah [the LORD], and serve Him only” (1Samuel 7:3b). This exhortation to prepare ourselves, is telling us to make our heart receptive and willing to love and obey Yahuwah Elohim [the LORD God].

To prepare our heart is to have a heart that is yielded to Father’s will, a heart that is willing to be repentant and obedient to Father’s WORD. This requires that we apply effort, and give ourselves to the needed forethought, adjustments, and time required to accomplish our goal.

Acquiring a prepared heart is a process that includes thinking about our goal and planning ahead. It includes being willing to make adjustments to our schedule, so that we can have the necessary time to fulfill our goal.

But is there a clue to help us “prepare our heart” in practical terms?

Yahushua Messiah [Jesus Christ] told us the clue, and it is one of the most important verses for Thirsty Souls:

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33a).

This verse tells us our daily priority: to seek Yahuwah, and the ruling and reigning of His righteousness in our daily walk. To do this, we simply begin to learn and obey His Word.

Notice in the above verse, that this is to be our highest priority — to seek first our King Yahuwah, and His righteousness, in all that we do — in our thoughts, our words, and our actions. We do this daily by prayer, by reading and study of the Word of Yahuwah [the Bible], and by committing ourselves to obey what Father’s Word actually says.

Guarding Our Heart

man-praying-on-kneesAs we ‘seek first the kingdom of Yahuwah,’ we are preparing our heart, so that we may walk with Father, and serve Him only. This means that we will make it a regular practice to personally ask Father to give us the following:

  • a tender heart
  • a clean heart
  • a willing and obedient heart
  • a contrite and humble spirit

Our heart is the center, the very source of all we say and do (Proverbs 4:23). Our heart is as an artesian well, as a flowing spring from which everything in our life flows. For this reason, we need to keep and guard our heart with all diligence, which is part of our necessary preparation for seeking God.

Having a Tender Heart

One important element necessary for preparing our heart is acquiring a heart that is tender, a heart that is no longer hardened. We ask Father to give us a tender heart so that we have a heart that is soft and quick to be submissive to the Word of Yahuwah. King Josiah is an example of one whose heart was tender:

Because your heart was tender, and you have humbled yourself before Yahuwah [the LORD], when you heard what I [Yahuwah] spoke…” (2Kings 22:18,19).

Having a Clean Heart

Another quality of the prepared heart is having a clean heart. Praying and asking Father to create in us a clean heart will result in regular confession of our sins, as King David’s example teaches us in Psalms 51.

This is an important ingredient in preparing our heart — to seek Father’s cleansing and forgiveness of our sins by the blood of Yahushua Messiah [Jesus Christ] (Ephesians 1:7). When we first repented and received forgiveness by the blood of Yahushua, Father caused us to become born of His Spirit, or Born-Again. At that time we were forgiven, and received His initial cleansing of all of our past sins (Romans 3:25).

In our daily walk however, we all commit sins knowingly or unknowingly. We continue to need the daily cleansing of sin, the forgiveness of our sins by Messiah’s blood. Thus we must regularly confess [acknowledge] our sins to Father, turning away from our sins, and thanking Him for His cleansing and forgiveness (1John 1:7-9).

As we continue to ask Father for this treasure of a clean heart, He then imparts unto us a sensitivity to the guidance of His Holy Spirit, leading us to make any needed repentance and adjustments to our behaviour.

Notice that there is a reward for having a clean heart:

“Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart” (Psalms 73:1).

Having a Willing and Obedient Heart

Praying and asking Father to give us a willing and obedient heart is another key part of our practice for ‘preparing our heart.’

Yahuwah, Who is infinitely wise and good, desires that we would become full participants in His New Covenant by writing His instructions on our heart:

“Behold, the days come, saith Yahuwah [the LORD], that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: . . . . But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith Yahuwah [the LORD], I will put my Torah (law) in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jeremiah 31:31-33; see also Hebrews 8:8-10).

Notice that the New Covenant includes the putting of His instructions [His Torah] into our mind, and writing them on our hearts. This is why the Holy Spirit works within us, to give us a delight to obey all of God’s Word, including His Torah.

In order to become full participants in Father’s Covenant, we must cooperate with the Holy Spirit’s guidance and cultivate a willing and obedient heart, becoming a “DO-er” of Father’s Torah. We need also to guard our heart against erroneous teachings that would prevent the fullness of Torah from being written on our heart.

Notice what the apostle Paul tells us:

“For I delight in the law [Torah] of God after the inward man…” (Romans 7:22).

Be ye followers [imitators] of me, even as I also am of Messiah [Christ]” (1Corinthians 11:1).

Paul tells us that he himself delighted in the Torah. And then Paul repeatedly exhorts us to be an imitator of him, because He imitates Messiah. If we desire to imitate Messiah and Paul, then we too need to have that same delight in God’s Torah.

Here is a very helpful step in delighting in God’s Torah:

Blessed is the man… his delight is in the Torah [law] of Yahuwah [the LORD]; and in His Torah [law] doth he meditate day and night… and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper” (Psalms 1:1-3).

One way we can learn to delight in God’s Torah is to study, meditate, and memorize portions from the Torah. As we seek to become a “DO-er” of what it says, then little by little, we nurture a willing and obedient heart, which is a precious treasure (Luke 6:45).

Having a prepared heart is to seek Father for a willing and obedient heart. And let us not forget — a willing and obedient heart has its rewards and blessings as well (see Isaiah 1:19; Hebrews 8:10 and 10:16; Philippians 2:13; Jeremiah 7:23).

Having a Contrite and Humble Spirit

The prophet Isaiah gives us another clue for preparing our heart:

“Thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite [sorrowful] and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” (Isaiah 57:14-15).

Praying and asking Father to help us maintain a contrite and humble spirit is another treasure to be seeking. And what a glorious promise for those with a contrite and humble spirit — Father’s indwelling Presence! If we are praying for a contrite [sorrowful for our disobedience] and humble spirit, then Father delights to answer such prayers, because He gives His grace to the humble (1Peter 5:5).

When we are praying regularly for a heart that is tender and clean, willing and obedient to Yahuwah’s Word, then we will find that, more and more, our heart will be quick to repent and make changes, quick to be sorrowful for our sin, and quick to humble ourselves by yielding to Father’s guidance.

We will also find it helpful to spend some time in fasting in order to encourage our heart to be prepared.

All these things are necessary ‘forethought’ prayers and actions for preparing our heart to seek Yahuwah Elohim.

Making Adjustments

Furthermore, our forethought preparations will include making adjustments within our life that need to come into obedience to Yahuwah’s Word. Some adjustments are actually major changes within our lives, since we are coming out of a way of life that has been opposed to Yahuwah’s kingdom. Many of us have to un-learn the ways of the heathen, as the prophet Jeremiah warns us: Thus saith Yahuwah [the LORD], Learn not the way of the heathen… (Jeremiah 10:2a).

Walking according to the abominations of the heathen [the nations] is certainly something to un-learn!

The prophet Samuel gives us the necessary clue as to how we can begin to un-learn the ways of the heathen.

When Samuel told the children of Israel to ‘prepare your hearts’, he told them the key ingredient for this process: ” … put away the strange gods [Baalim or ‘lords’] and Ashtaroth [representation of a false deity] from among you” (1Samuel 7:3,4).

This is the same exhortation the patriarch, Jacob, told his household to do: ” … put away the strange gods that are among you” (Genesis 35:2).

This exhortation is a crucial and vital step for preparing our heart! It is the beginning of the cleansing, deliverance, and maturing process that each child of Yahuwah must do to be sanctified wholly in spirit, soul, and body (1Thessalonians 5:23).

The Scriptures teach us that putting away ‘the strange gods [idols] from among us’ is a major step in preparing our hearts! This major step will help lead us to ” … be found in Yahushua Messiah [Jesus Christ] in peace, without spot, and blameless” (2Peter 3:14).

A good place to start with this preparation is to ask ourselves, “Have I put away the ‘strange gods’ from my life?” For example, “Am I obeying the Second Commandment?”

Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I Yahuwah [the LORD] thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments. (Deuteronomy 5:8-10)

Many of us need to make sure that we have no graven images or idols — no strange gods, no abominations in our lives (Luke 16:15; Revelation 21:27). This is a vital, absolutely necessary step for preparing our hearts, if we are to be found in obedience to the Second Commandment (Exodus 20:3-6 and Deuteronomy 5:7-10)

The Second Commandment

open-torah-scrollObedience to the Second Commandment is an essential step in walking in Yahuwah’s blessings, and in avoiding the many curses associated with forbidden objects! The Second Commandment is one commandment the Enemy of our souls works incessantly to twist and hide its TRUE meaning. In this way multitudes of Yahuwah’s people have been deceived for centuries regarding this Commandment.

The knowledge of this subject [obedience to the Second Commandment] is something the Enemy wants to keep hidden from our understanding. Since Satan is out to destroy God’s people, then our lack of knowledge of God’s Word is a major key to Satan’s plan! As the prophet Hosea warns us: My people [not the heathen, but Yah’s people] are destroyed for lack of knowledge [the knowledge of what the WORD of Yahuwah actually says]” (Hosea 4:6).

As Believers, we must begin to clean up our lives, and heed Father’s Word (Deuteronomy 5:7-10) with a serious attitude! We need to address the important subject of idolatry, because “idolaters … shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (1Corinthians 6:9).

Today multitudes of Believing ones are ignorant of the commandments in Scripture, and the consequences of disobedience. Their Pastors and Leaders have simply not told them anything about this Truth of the Second Commandment, because it would not “fit into” the theology they learned from their Theological Seminaries and Bible Schools.

For such an important subject as the Second Commandment and the removal of abominations from our life, we need more understanding and knowledge! It is not a subject to be ignored. It is a vital step for the preparation of our heart, so that we can begin walking in Father’s blessings.

Removing idolatry from our lives, and thus come out from under a curse, is the specific directive given by many of the prophets for the ‘preparing of our hearts’ (1Samuel 7:3-4; see also Ezekiel 16, 20, and 23).

For gaining a better understanding of this important subject of removing idolatry from our lives, I strongly recommend the following articles: Graven Images and Idols: What Your Pastor Never Told You About the Second Commandment and Removing the Abominations: A Warning to the Bride.

Walking With Messiah

scripture-verseThirsty Souls are those who diligently seek Yahuwah, seeking to walk with Him.

To walk with Him requires that we walk in the same paths He walks in, in paths of Righteousness (Psalms 23:3; Proverbs 8:20).

To walk with Him requires that we walk in the same manner as He walked, while He was on the earth (1John 1:6-7; 1John 2:6).

To walk with Him requires that we learn to be ‘yoked’ with Him, walking in obedience to His instructions — the guidelines revealed in His WORD (Matthew 11:29-30).

But if we refuse to walk with Him, choosing instead to walk in paths that are different from His paths, then we are not yet ‘yoked’ to Him (Proverbs 2:12-13).

Serving Yahuwah Acceptably

Thirsty Souls earnestly desire to maintain the on-going, regular practice of preparing our hearts!

By preparing our hearts, we are more ready to receive His grace and more ready to serve Him:

“Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Hebrews 12:28).

As this verse teaches us, in order for us to serve Yahuwah acceptably, we first need the means whereby we can serve Him. Yahuwah enables us to serve Him, by giving us His grace!

But Yahuwah gives His grace [His enablement] only to the humble (1Peter 5:5)! A humble heart therefore prepares to receive His grace, just as soil is plowed and softened to receive the Seed planted by the Gardener.

And then, in order to serve Messiah we need to begin to follow Him, as we see in the Gospel of John:

If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour” (John 12:26).

But what does it mean to follow Messiah?

  • The apostle Peter tells us we are to follow Messiah’s example, by following in His footsteps (1Peter 2:21);
  • The apostle John tells us we are to walk as He [Messiah] walked (1John 2:6);
  • The apostle Paul tells us we are to be followers [imitators] of him [Paul], as he [Paul] is an [imitator] of Messiah (1Corinthians 11:1).

So if we desire to serve Yahuwah acceptably, we must learn to become followers of Messiah, walking as He walked.

He Is Worthy!

Yahuwah, the Mighty One of Israel, the Lover of our souls, Whose goodness and mercy endures forever — He is worthy of all our efforts and adjustments, whether big or small, to have a heart that is devoted to Him and His Word!

Let us therefore cry out to Father daily, to give us a heart that loves to yield to, and obey, His instructions and commands!

Let us heed the prophets’ warnings, by removing the abominations of the heathen, as we seek to mature and grow in the knowledge of God!

Truly Father is good to those who have a heart that is prepared to seek God!

Thank You Abba Father, for Your loving instructions and guidelines. Help me Father, to seek You always for a tender and clean heart, a willing and obedient heart. Help me to always have a heart that is prepared to love You, follow You, and serve You. In Yahushua Messiah’s name I pray. Amen.

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Steps For Finding Great Peace

peaceful-waters

“God designed the human machine to run on Himself. God Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn … God Himself is the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other! God cannot give us a happiness and a peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” — C. S. Lewis

When questions, uncertainty, and uneasiness cloud our direction, then having an inner peace is a valuable quality to possess!

But, can we have peace within our hearts, even in the midst of unrest and turmoil?

Yes!

The Bible tells us the secret for having peace, even Great Peace:

“Great peace have they which love thy Torah (Law): and nothing shall offend them” (Psalms 119:165).

What is that secret? It is loving God’s Torah.

The Hebrew word ‘Torah’ is often translated into the English word ‘Law.’ This is a most unfortunate translation of a very important word! The word ‘Law’ tends to suggest a sense of demanding restrictions. But that is not the meaning of the word ‘Torah’!

The word Torah simply means God’s eternal teachings and instructions, His guidelines for the family members of His household.

As we come to understand the great goodness, lovingkindness, and mercy of Yahuwah Elohim [the LORD God], we then begin to know the purpose of His teachings and instructions — that they are for our good, and they have our best interests in mind (Romans 7:12).

The above verse from Psalms 119 teaches us that loving God’s Torah is the way to finding peace.

The Torah contains the eternal Words of Yahuwah Elohim, the Mighty One of Israel, as spoken by Messiah, and it teaches us the way to finding true and lasting peace. When we love the Words of Messiah, including His words in the Torah, we will then want to follow His instructions; and then we will begin to know great peace.

This peace does not simply “float down from heaven” when we become Born-Again. Here is how this peace comes to us:

“To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:79).

Those who follow Messiah Yahushua [Christ Jesus] have found that He is the One who guides our feet into Father’s ways, as we follow His guidelines. Yahushua leads us, by His Holy Spirit, to the place of understanding, wisdom, and peace, when we begin to follow the eternal Father’s Instruction Manual, the Bible!

Little by little, we learn that following God’s instructions is much more beneficial than living according to our own feelings or reasonings or opinions!

As I have said in various other articles, those who have found peace of heart and mind, have taken the very simple and mature steps of repentance:

1) Humbling ourselves, and seeking The New Birth;
2) Reading the Bible, and thus learning the facts of God’s Word for ourselves;
3) Seeking to do what is right in God’s sight; and
4) Learning what we need to avoid, and departing from evil.

Because we love Yahushua, we earnestly desire to keep His commandments, including those He gave to Moses, popularly known as The Torah. And because we are following God’s instructions, guidelines, and teachings, we then have the peace that Yahushua [Jesus] promised:

“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” (John 14:27).

It is Messiah who gives us the peace we need, when we follow the Scripture guidelines that tell us how peace is accomplished. As individual links of a chain, each Scripture guideline is necessary in order to accomplish the strength of the whole.

The world snarls and chafes at us because of our love for Yahuwah’s Word. The world does not understand our desire to walk in the pathway of Father’s Torah. But as Yahuwah’s children, we find it to be a blessing beyond all our dreams! Our hearts are settled, and we are at rest with where we are, and with what Father is doing in our lives (Deuteronomy 33:27).

If we desire to know the peace of God which surpasses understanding, let us begin to pray what King David prayed:

“O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!” “…With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments! Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee!” “…Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight!” “…O how I love thy Torah [law]! it is my meditation all the day” (Psalms 119:5, 10-11, 35, 97).

Our peace will grow, as we seek to do the eternal Father’s will:

  • Humble ourselves, and cry out to Him, and become born of His Spirit;
  • Read His Word regularly, and learn to become a “DO-er” of Yahuwah’s instructions, teachings, and guidelines;
  • Seek Messiah personally, praying for His guidance to be clear and sure to us;
  • Trust completely with all our heart, that Yahuwah will direct our path, and guide us by His Holy Spirit.

These are the steps we may take, to begin loving Father’s Torah, and thus finding great peace!

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“FAITH knows that just as the peasant farmer has to take his ten thousand steps to sow his tens of thousands seeds, each one a part of the preparation for the final harvest, so also there is a need for often repeated, persevering prayer, all working out some desired blessing.”
— Andrew Murray

Daily Thought

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Are you satisfied? Or do you want to go further? If you would like to go further, then begin to understand and obey the 2nd Commandment.

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For an indepth study on Biblical guidelines for learning how to study God's Word for ourselves, see the following:

Search the Scriptures

Take A Closer Look!

Maturity:
It is good for us to do a spiritual evaluation every once in a while. We need to investigate, and check to see, if we are growing up and becoming a responsible person. We ought to learn some of the indicators of spiritual growth and maturity.

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