God’s Gift of Imagination
Imagination is a wonderful gift from God. The ability He has given our minds to create mental images and thoughts is extraordinary. The Lord intended for us to be mentally active because He made us in His image. It’s not hard to understand where we have acquired this incredible insight because everything around us is the Lord’s imagination turned into His creations.
Like free will, imagination needs to be pointed in the right direction. The freedom God has allowed us to experience in regards to personal creativity comes with a choice. We can use it selfishly or allow Christ to guide it in the direction God has planned for us to use it.
In our Christian lives, we know the right choice is abandoning ourselves to Christ and abiding in the truth of God’s word. By believing in Christ as the Savior, we have been saved. The difference this makes in our lives is undeniable for we can live righteously in an unjust world.
Our creative nature also needs the same exposure to the way God wants us to envision things. When our focus is on Christ, we are inspired to learn more about Him. We develop a Christian mindset, and our thoughts shift from self-seeking desires to thinking more Christ-like.
When God guides your imagination, your talents become an instrument of His will. Those around you come face to face with His incredible power and glory. And the more you channel your creativity through Christ the better you become at improving the effectiveness of God’s designed plan for your life.
Without the Messiah’s aid, the mind is exposed to all sorts of corrupt thoughts and visions. All throughout the history of man there are tons of evidence disclosing the destruction from the misuse of imagination. Every century has left behind proof attesting to the negative results from an untamed mind.
In ancient Egypt, the Pharaohs envisioned a burial place where they could lay to rest and have all their material possessions placed next to their mummified bodies. They built the Pyramids for that reason and the price paid for their extravagant vision was the death of thousands of slaves. They didn’t care about the welfare of their captives because their imagination was self-centered.
God is almighty and has always left His mark on the world. The Lord is loving and has used many people over the centuries for revealing the beauty of creative spiritual imagination. God has made sure that we know He has always combated wrongful imagination.
In the early 13th-Century St. Francis of Assisi imagined living his life as close to Christ’s characteristics as humanly possible. His Family was wealthy. When he heard God’s call, he traded his privileged lifestyle for one totally dedicated to Christ. He continued imaging the way Christ was selfless in fulfilling God’s will and lived in poverty serving the needs of the poor until his death in 1226.
Learning how to be disciplined in our thinking is not an overnight matter. It’s a daily commitment to prayer, meditation, and devotion. Christ knows we will wander off course and the closer we are to Him the better we become in recognizing our separation from His presence.
We are indeed blessed to have God be so willing to allow us to partake in creative imagination. The rewards the Lord gives to us from placing Him above ourselves are limitless. If we make the right choice in using our imagination, then we understand the essence of the gift.
How do you use your imagination?
The Two Greatest Commandments
Part 3: Loving God Heartedly
We have been walking through the Scripture Matthew 22:37-40 and have talked about two of the three commands (mind and soul) Christ revealed as the greatest commandment from God. First, we discussed how praying and meditating allows our minds to remain open, receptive and responsive to the Lord’s word. Next we reviewed God’s gift of free will and how it connects with our souls. Now it’s time to see the ways we can love our Father with the heart.
Loving God heartedly is all about faith, trust and action. Those three indispensable absolutes build an unshakable foundation in Christ and are at the heart of a saved life. Without them there is no way to know the truth of our existence. They are the gateway to eternal life and a difference maker in living holy every day.
Faith is more than just a word. It’s the heartbeat of believing in God for eternity. Unbelievers struggle with understanding the essence of faith because they use human tragedies as the means of discounting the truth about the Lord. They cannot grasp the mysterious workings of our Father because they still cling to individual comprehension of death. Faith is the link from earth into heaven.
I have heard time and again from people who don’t believe, “if there were a loving God, He wouldn’t let such horrible things happen to people.” A unsaved life is bonded to self-knowledge and lacks God’s wisdom. Real faith knows that sin is at the root of evilness and without salvation, through Christ it causes tremendous harm including death.
The Holy Spirit erases any doubt about the way God works in the human heart. The Lord wanted you to experience His presence in a profound and personal way. He made sure your faith was noticed by touching you in an undeniable manner. There is nothing in the world that comes close to the way God revealed Himself to you. He released His love inside your spirit.
The moment, you picked up your cross and relied on Christ, is an act of loving God. Your decision, to abandon yourself to the Messiah, demonstrated to the Lord your faith. One of the best ways to love God with your heart is trusting in His designed plan for you; especially when it’s difficult to understand.
Sometimes you might be puzzled by the Father’s answers, and this is an opportunity to grow stronger in faith by relying more on Him. For me the times, I draw closer to God, is when I am baffled over His vision. Because I know, His plan is far better than anyone I could design.
Trusting Christ is accepting whatever He reveals to us is divine, just and right. Sacrificing personal interest for God’s will is loving Him wholeheartedly. It’s here God sees our willingness to let go and let Christ take care of our wills and lives. There is no greater experience in life than glorifying the Lord through trusting Christ.
The more we mature in Christ, the better we become at trusting the road to eternal life. Our desire to let the Savior take center stage increases and the less concerned, we are in the flesh. We no longer want to rely solely on our knowledge because we trust God’s wisdom. Our testimony with the Lord’s guidance is all the proof we need because our lives have been touched by the Holy Spirit.
As the result of continually surrendering our lives over to Christ, we strive to become more like Him. We enjoy improving upon the Christian life God has so graciously given to us. We are spiritually awakened and know we will take our place in heaven.
Loving the Lord with our hearts is allowing Him to guide us in all our affairs. Seeking Christ’s direction in regards to family, friends, careers and finances enable us to make substantial Christian decisions based on trust. An active devotion to God ensures us the way we live our lives is righteous, and it demonstrates a Christian character firmly planted in godliness.
Action is essential to loving the Lord with our hearts because it speaks louder than any word. Without action, love is meaningless. Our Father has provided us the ability to love. And the only way, for its fruit to ripen, is expressing it in our attitudes, thoughts and behaviors. So, that means we have to develop a personal relationship with Christ.
Salvation is a daily commitment to applying Christian values in all our affairs. The Lord presents us opportunities to love Him by placing commands in front of us to follow. Every time we behave by putting them into action we love Him. Obeying God is how we become inspired to find more ways to serve Him selflessly.
In the Ten Commandments, the first one is placing the Lord above anything else in our lives. Making our Father the top priority takes action. One of the fondest ways of expressing love to God is by placing our worldly obligations (family, friends’ careers, etc.) on the back burner and spend time getting to know Him better. Private devotion pays the biggest dividend of all eternal life. It’s not impossible to make adjustments that will save our lives.
Our Father graciously loves us leaving no excuses in loving Him. Praying, meditating and improving on living by His word are all actions. And the more we use them in our daily lives, the deeper our connection with Christ becomes the center of our attention.
Formulating the best possible relationship with God brings remarkable results because He is pleased when we love Him from our heats. By being faithful, trusting and active in your quest for Christ you become united with His kingdom. The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement. Whether you are a seasoned veteran or just beginning your journey with God there, is always ways to improve loving Him with the heart.
How do you love God with the heart?
This article is part 3 of 4 discussing the Scripture Matthew 22:37-40
The Two Greatest Commandments
Part 2: Loving God Spiritually
In the first part of this series of loving God, we discovered the essentials of showing the Lord affection with our minds. We came to understand how fruitful it is to build a solid prayerful and meditative devotion to God. Now that we know how to surrender our minds over to the Lord, then we need to take the next step by loving Him with our souls.
The soul is the inner core of our connection with God. When God created man by breathing His breath inside the flesh, man became a living being (Genesis 1:26). The Lord created us in His image and Spirit so we could feel His presence. Our soul is not a physical entity, but the dwelling place of our Father, and the way we tap into it is from Christ through the Holy Spirit.
In the Book of Genesis, one of the principal components in discovering how the soul works is when God provided Adam and Eve the freedom of choice (Genesis 2:16-17). The Lord granted them free reign over all things in the Garden of Eden except for the fruit of the tree of good and evil. When they chose disobedience (Genesis 3:6), the awareness of their conscience revealed. God’s penalties for their wrong choice are still with us today, and His new covenant in allowing our favor with Him comes from a personal relationship with the Messiah.
God is giving, loving and forgiving. He is reliable, faithful and understanding. The Lord is righteous, just and correct. Our Father has placed those like qualities inside our souls. They are the essence of His existence and the way He has bonded our spirits with Him. Learning how to possess, maintain and nourish them can only come from a working relationship with Christ because without God’s guidance we will be unable to love Him spiritually.
God designed every man and woman with the desire to be physically, emotionally and spiritually secure. Our Father has provided us with the ability to harvest the land for food. Those necessities of security and food are our survival. God also wants us to multiply the earth by helping Him with creating more of His children. Another need, He has instilled in us, is finding fellowship with others. So, our desire for security, sex and friendship are certainly part of God’s creation.
Understanding the freedom God has allowed us in being an individual, having sex relations and connection with others is crucial to loving Him with our spirits. The Lord has made those human instincts enjoyable, and misused from His intended purpose. So, without Christ’s direction in aligning them with God’s will, they ruin our relationship with the Lord, cause us to harm others and prevent us from an afterlife with Him.
The results from misusing our God-given instincts allows our souls to become attached to pride, lust, anger, envy and the like. All those sins displease the Lord and fosters evil and wickedness. When our instincts are out of control the damage caused is devastating to those in the way. And our excessive indulgence in them distance us from Christ. Living life in that manner does not love God with the soul. That is why it’s imperative to humble ourselves. Our eternal lives depend upon the condition of our souls and the only way our spirits can find godliness is through Christ.
God’s gift of salvation (Ephesians 2:1-10) is how we can love Him with our spirits. Once the granting of salvation is in place, then it becomes our responsibility to continue surrendering our souls to Christ so we can love God spiritually. Through Christ, our needs shift from personal satisfaction to seeking the will of our Father. Jesus provides us with the strength and courage to sacrifice individual desires for eternal life.
The moment we reach out sincerely to Christ, then we find the path of loving God with the soul. Our ability to stay on the narrow way increases and our disobedience decreases. Even though we fall short in adhering to Christ’s godly ways the only thing, to remember, is to rededicate our spirits back to Him. We will not be let down because God is pleased when we don’t give up. We will realize failure is our greatest period of spiritual growth.
We have briefly discussed some of the ways we can love our Father spiritually. One of the fascinating parts of our journey with Christ is there’s always more to learn. Our experiences with salvation may vary, and God has a specific plan for each of us. Nevertheless, our faith and Christ’s resurrection assure us of eternal life. All, we have to do, is trust God.
How do you love God spiritually?
This part two of four covering the scripture Matthew 22:37-40.
The Two Greatest Commandments
Part 1: Loving God Mentally
Loving God is a wonderful, freeing and peaceful experience that brings the greatest enjoyment out of life. No person, place or thing can replace or duplicate the satisfaction that loving God generates. The serenity, God, grants from expressing our love for Him, inspires us to become more Christ-like.
Discovering the love God has for you is an astonishing revelation. There is nothing that comes close to matching God’s love. When Christ accepted you into salvation, it sets in motion an up close and personal connection with God’s love. Jesus in return will show you how to love the Lord.
Let’s take a look at what Christ revealed as the greatest commandment.
“…You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matthew 22: 37-38)
Here is where Jesus made it known to the Pharisees the truth about real love. The Messiah clearly identified the first commandment is loving God with the heart, soul and mind. Christ made it obvious that God wants us to love Him with our entire being. That scripture is the blueprint for striving to love God emotionally, spiritually and mentally.
How can we love God with our minds?
Learning to love our Father with the mind is an ongoing process of examining our thoughts both good and bad. That is a lifelong commitment involving a willingness to discover where we fall short followed by a humble desire to let Christ build our character centered in God’s truth. Letting go and letting Christ take care of our minds is loving the Lord mentally.
Our mind is one of the most exciting parts of God’s gift of life. And without Christ’s spiritual guidance in developing it our understanding of how to love our Father will be hidden. There is only one way to move out of mental darkness and into the Light of God’s truth, and that is prayer.
Like our hearts, the mind needs purification and by opening up a channel to the Lord, a cleansing of the mind takes root. The more humble we pray, the purer our thoughts become and the better we will be expressing our love to God.
Another way we can follow that part of the commandment is by meditating on God’s word. In the Book of Psalms, David used meditation to draw mentally closer to God. David learned the value of letting the Lord control his thoughts and in return our Father allows us to find the same by preserving his writings for us to gain its fruits.
One form of Christian meditation is thinking deeply about the Father’s word and contemplating over Christ’s teachings. In Psalms 1:2 it spells out the need to mentally focus on those two significant spiritual actions the night and day. Any time we are thinking about God’s truth, we love Him.
By surrendering our minds to the Lord, He places thoughts inside us to love Him. All, we have to do, is be prepared in hearing His voice and act accordingly. Devotion is at the center of developing a mental connection with God.
Uniting Prayer with Meditation
As the result of joining the prayer with meditation, an unshakable mental foundation in God’s word emerges. Both the conscious and subconscious parts of the mind arein His hands. That is a powerful and life changing experience because without the Lord’s strength there is no way we can prevent our minds from the corruption of self-deception.
As we continue building a solid Christian mindset, Christ reveals the ways our minds work against God. We become acutely aware of ungodly thoughts and the temptations that influence them. It is those sinful thoughts that stop us from loving God.
Our first step in changing our thought pattern is allowing Jesus to take away those negative thoughts and make room for God to replace them with the thoughts He has planned for us to think. Yes, the Lord has a plan for our thinking and in order to find it, we will need to continue improving on ways in aligning our minds with His will. Our daily commitment to Christ keeps our minds spiritually fit.
The way, this has unfolded in my Christian journey, is quite remarkable. It all began one night when I found myself on my knees asking God to help me with my alcohol abuse. That was my first contact with Him for over eleven years, and a few weeks later I stopped drinking. God had done for me what I couldn’t do for myself and miraculously removed the mental obsession with alcohol from my mind.
I knew then there was no doubt of His existence and began to pray sincerely to Him. Then I was taught the importance of adding meditation into my devotion. Prayer and meditation have revolutionized my train of thoughts. My blindness to rightful thinking has gradually been stripped away and finding Christian ways of thinking has become very desirable.
My biggest mental shift has been identifying the things in my life that take me away from contemplating on God’s word. That has meant reviewing the types of music, movies, and books I like and being willing to discard the ones that are spiritually unhealthy.
Discovering those mental obstacles has paved the way for Christ to supply me with the courage in stopping my mind from sinful temptations. Jesus has made that mental transition a pleasant experience filled with His love and God’s grace. The Lord has made this so worthwhile that I don’t miss them, and when I do revert back to old behavior my conscious reminds me to refocus my thoughts. I am grateful for this because I continue to grow more Christ-like.
Your experience with loving God mentally may be different. However, we all have been commanded by Christ to love the Lord. All that counts is to take action, love God and let Christ continue directing our thoughts.
How do you love God with your mind? I would like to learn from you.
This is the first article in a series of four covering the New Testament scripture Matthew 22: 37-40.