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?

“Speak, for Your servant hears,”:

Discovering The Way God Speaks

There are many ways God speaks and finding them takes a bird’s eye view, keen sense of hearing and a daily commitment to embracing Him. The Lord doesn’t always speak with His voice. Our Father uses a variety of His creations to grab our attention. Understanding those moments involves learning how to pause, look and listen.
A few weeks ago, I was attending church, and the sermon was on 1 Samuel 3:10. That verse is when God spoke to Samuel for the first time. Returning home, I sat in my favorite chair and began pondering over the significance of hearing God’s voice.
I remember the first time the Lord spoke to me. The Holy Spirit filled my soul. That profound experience left no doubt God existed because I felt His presence dwelling inside me. Not only did I feel it, but knew it was Him. I am grateful for salvation.

So, What are some of the ways God speaks?

Christ

The greatest way God talks with you is through Christ. First, you have to understand God’s language before you can identify His voice. The only way to learn the Lord’s words is to spend time with Christ. So, the more you pick up your cross and walk with the Messiah the better you become at recognizing the different ways God speaks.
When Jesus accepted you into salvation through the Holy Spirit the door to God’s kingdom swung open. Christ opened your eyes, ears, and conscience to the Lord’s voice. All you have to do is be attentive, responsive and an active participant in following the Lord’s commands. Your awakening will be exhilarating, and the road to eternal life will be firmly placed beneath your feet.

His Children

Another way God’s speaks is through other people. As children of God, we are to be joyful in hearing His voice. The Lord is pleased when we collectively praise and glorify Him, listening to the Good News of Jesus Christ. Rejoicing together unites us as one voice in proclaiming our faith in Christ, the Savior of the world.
In times of grief, God speaks His loudest. Grief is tough because it’s emotionally and spiritually painful. The sadness attached to it is too much to bear alone. God created us in His image and knew the best way to communicate in that situation was showing His compassion through one of His children. One of God’s way of comforting the grieving soul is radiating His love through other people. And God’s human contact is a difference maker in healing a broken heart.

God’s timing is always spot on, and Christ uses us to make His biggest impact when others need it the most. To be included in living life in this beautiful, selfless and purposeful way is a gift God grants to those who ears hear His calling. 
There are so many ways the Lord speaks to us. Loving one another, performing good deeds, carrying Christ’s message and being selfless servants are some of the ways. The beauty of salvation, is the more we mature as Christians, the better we become at speaking God’s language. And as the result of hearing the Lord others become attracted to our godly character.

Nature

Nature is full of God’s magnificent creativity. Here is where our Lord uses His natural surroundings to speak to us through the sheer beauty of His mighty creations. Even though, God took away the Garden of Eden, (Genesis 3:24), He wanted us to have a place that is appealing and enjoyable to the naked eye.
God’s animal kingdom speaks volume to His creative imagination. Our Father made both domestic and wild creatures as a means to capture our fascination with the living things roaming the earth. No matter what our animal preference, God has connected us with them. The Lord’s creatures are on every continent and body of water shedding light to the truth of His existence. God is incredible, and there is no escaping the evidence He has placed in front of our eyes!



God is constantly talking to us, and it is our responsibility to continue growing in the image of Christ. The temptations of the world continually speak false truths, and an untrained ear has no defense against the evil one. Deafness is blindness in God’s way of living. It is imperative to listen to God because failing to do so will leave us in the dark. The only way to drown out the unnecessary noise is to dedicate ourselves to Christ.

What are the ways you identify God’s voices?

The Two Greatest Commandments

Part4: Loving Others

The spiritual ingredients contained within the greatest commandment of loving God make the perfect recipe in loving those around us. In the first three parts of this series we have focused on loving the Lord with the heart, soul and mind. Without following it, there is no way of possessing the strength, consistency and mindset needed to love others continually.
Now we know what it takes to love God, let’s look at the second greatest commandment: 

“And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 

Matthew (22: 39)

People are unavoidable and even in remote places where there are distances between neighbors they show up unexpectedly. The population of the world is no accident. God’s designed plan (Genesis 1:28) intended for us to multiply. For this reason, the Lord provided lots of opportunities for us to radiate our love towards others.
The easiest folks to love are the ones we actually enjoy being around. We are willing to forgive when they say or do things that hurt our feelings. It doesn’t take a lot of Christian effort showing them our affection.  

Jesus pointed this out:

 Matthew (5:46) 

“For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same.”
The real challenge is loving those we really dislike, despise or hate. We sometimes find them among family members, at the office and within our circle of friends. They make us emotionally uncomfortable and brings the conflict to our hearts. Our conscience is disturbed, causing suffering within our souls. We rather not be around them, but the circumstances won’t allow us from staying away.
So, how can anyone find peace with those difficult people?
Finding the answer to that question comes from building a face to face relationship with Christ. None of us have the spiritual strength required to change someone else’s wrongful behavior. Nothing we can say or any amount of our determination can do the job. The only one who can is God. All we can do is change ourselves, and we can’t even do that without the aid of Christ.
Making peace with our enemies is tough. The pain they caused places a wedge between us. There is nothing wrong from feeling hurt or angry over being mistreated. The Lord fashioned us with emotions, and one of the reasons is knowing the difference between right and wrong. He also provided us a way to forgive.
However, when we hold onto negative feelings from other people’s sin, then we too are in the wrong. Our Father is watching how we respond to being mistreated. Until we can let go of our disturbances with the issue, and then we won’t be able to love. We have to find the cause of our blockage because an unforgiving spirit hardens the heart.

What actions can one take to move beyond the hurt?

The first thing is to pray not only for yourself, but the trespasser. Praying for the one who has wronged you shows God your willingness in setting aside the pain and ask Him to help them. Now this may be difficult to do, and Christ understands the resistance, but if you don’t try then the door to God’s grace remains closed.
I pray this prayer: “Lord relieve me from being angry. How can I be of service to this person? Your will, not mine be done.” When I honestly and humbly express those words without any reservations, I find inner peace. The presence of God flows into my soul and freedom from the emotional bondage emerges. 
Another excellent tool available is to write about the injustice. Taking a look at the situation on paper begins the process of shedding light onto the sensitive encounter. Stuffing negative emotions inside the soul drains the spiritual energy God has provided and prevents us from loving others. And clinging to them keeps them in the dark where they fester and grow. So, by releasing them on paper exposes our motives.
The way I do the writing exercise is to pray and ask myself questions. I usually start out like this: Why am I so bothered by this injustice? What part if any did I play in the situation? Did I provoke them? Do I feel entitled to hold on to anger? Am I resentful at them? If so, what is the cause? How does that resentment affect me? Answering those questions helps me to gain a better perspective on the situation. As the result of doing this I am able to see clearly the whole picture.
We have discussed in a general way how to love others. Your experiences may be different. The only thing that matters is for us to follow Christ’s commands and allow Him to be our Director. In regards to loving difficult people, the best guidance we can draw from is found in Matthew: 5:43-48.

What spiritual steps do you take to love difficult people?

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

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.

Trust

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

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.


Prayer

   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.

Meditation

   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.

Personal Experience

   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.