USING YOUR IMAGINATION THE RIGHT WAY
USING YOUR IMAGINATION THE RIGHT WAY Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Some Scripture (as noted) taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE. Š Copyright, 960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1988, The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
Some Scripture (as noted) taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
God has given us the ability to choose what we wish to think about, to imagine, to hope, to determine in our mind. We can picture defeat or we can hope for victory. The choices we make in our mind have a great deal to do with our success in living the victorious Christian life.
USING YOUR IMAGINATION THE RIGHT WAY
Your eyes will see the King in His beauty; they will behold a far-distant land. (Isaiah 33:17 NASB)
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (Colossians 3:1,2 NIV)
"Set your minds on things above."
The dictionary defines imagination as the formation of a mental image, an image of something not (as yet) perceived by the senses.
Using Our Imagination the Wrong Way
There are imaginations that are to demolished by the believer.
(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; (II Corinthians 10:4,5)
When we are imagining the great things we are going to accomplish or possess, and these desires are not of Christ, then we need to destroy those imaginations. They are dead works, not part of the rest of God. They often are idols. We can demolish them by asking God to remove them from us.
Sometimes people are under the impression that the Lord has spoken to them concerning some exalted ministry that will be theirs in the future. "You are called to be a prophet." "You will become the greatest apostle of all time," and so forth. This sort of deception is not uncommon.
Or our imagination may be in the area of immorality. "You married the wrong person. Now you have found the mate ordained for you from the foundation of the world."
How can we tell whether the imagination we are entertaining is from the Lord? Only by a patient, cross-carrying, obedient life. It is only by presenting our body a living sacrifice that we can prove the will of God.
There are some warning signs we can look for. If the vision tends to exalt us it is suspect. If the vision violates the commandments of the Scripture it is not from the Holy Spirit.
If a voice is warning us we must not tell anyone what we are being shown we must be very careful. Satan hates the light. He works in the darkness.
Another red flag is a feeling of haste or the necessity to force people and circumstances. The wisdom that comes from above is always pure, peaceable, courteous, open to reason and being questioned.
The Spirit of God does not lead us to hurt or destroy other people.
The Lord never rebukes us for testing the spirits because the Word commands us to do this. Christian people seem ready to follow anyone who says the name of Jesus and works miracles. They do not always test the apostles, so to speak.
We must never use our imagination in the manner prescribed by the current "imaging" or "positive thinking." While these practices may appear to at least border on the truth they actually are separated from the right kind of imagining by an uncrossable gulf.
The believer who is attempting to gain his or her desires by imaging or positive thinking is endeavoring to manipulate the natural world by supernatural means. This is not biblical faith. It is an occult practice and must be renounced thoroughly by the Christian who has attempted to operate this type of soulish power.
It is true that the fallen nature of man has dormant supernatural powers, powers that at one time may have been his to enjoy. But in Christ we are to have nothing whatever to do with attempts to employ the latent power of the soul, whether in mind reading, predicting the future, or gaining wealth. As we have said, we are to renounce vehemently and diligently any exercise of metaphysical wisdom or power we have been deceived into practicing.
To try to affect our circumstances by imagining change is a wrong use of our God-given imagination.
Using Our Imagination the Right Way
The right use of imagination is an important part of true faith in Jesus Christ.
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1 NIV)
We are saved by hope. Faith is "being sure of what we hope for." Think about it. In order to hope for something we have to picture it in our mind. We are hoping that some day we will actually possess that which we desire so intensely.
One can see immediately the role of imagination in the program of hope.
One can see also how different hope is from imaging and positive thinking. In the one we are looking to God, being certain because of His Word or what He has spoken to us that some day He will give us the desired object or situation.
But imaging and positive thinking are an attempt to apply the soulish power of the adamic nature in order to get what we want. Whether or not we make such an effort in Jesus' name has nothing to do with it. It still is a case of trying to exercise supernatural power rather than calling on the Lord that He may answer our prayer.
The first is the patient waiting on the will of God which characterizes the true Christian life.
The other is an occult practice in which we try to control the world through the power of imagination. Let us always keep in mind that the Lord Jesus Christ is the only Administrator of the resources of the Kingdom of God. We are not to attempt to administrate the things of the Spirit apart from the express direction of the Lord in every instance. We are not to try to "send out angels on assignment" or engage in any of the administrative acts currently being presented to the believers as the will of the Lord.
If the Lord Jesus could do nothing of Himself except what He saw the Father do, how much more are we, who are altogether undone in sin and vanity, unable to know when, where, or how to direct the gifts of the Spirit of God?
The victorious saint conquers the devil by the word of his testimony. Regardless of his circumstances he declares what God's Word has stated. He refuses to be discouraged. He refuses to deny the Word by grumbling and complaining. When he feels his faith and confidence weakening he prays to God for faith and patience.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (Colossians 3:1,2 NIV)
The above verse is commanding us to use our imagination in the right way. We are to set our heart on things above. We are to set our mind on things above, not on earthly things, not on things we can perceive by our human senses. We are to look constantly at things that cannot be seen.
How are we to set our heart and mind on things above when we cannot see the things above?
We have to imagine them. We have to picture in our mind what we read in the Book of Revelation concerning the Throne of God, Christ, the elders, the saints. We have to think of ourselves as seated in Christ far above all other authority and power.
Also there is no law against our placing in the picture what we hope is true. We can think about Paradise to our heart's content. We can picture in our mind what it will be like when we die and meet Jesus in Person for the first time, and also see our deceased loved ones. We can imagine ourselves getting acquainted with the heroes of faith we have read about in the Scriptures.
This is how we use our imagination to set our heart and mind on things above.
Keeping our desires centered on the Throne of God is extremely helpful in these days when we see our country becoming a moral cesspool, when we behold the unbelievable perversity of the "wise" of our culture. They are living in a lie because there is little fear of God in the land. Their foolishness and destructive impulses are obvious to anyone who is walking with God.
When the Apostle Paul wrote the Book of Philippians he was in very distressing circumstances indeed.
He, an orthodox Jew, was chained to an unbelieving Gentile. Paul could practice none of the ceremonial cleansings or dietary regulations. How very difficult it must have been for Paul to exist in such moral and physical filth.
Added to this was the constant threat of being brought before Caesar. There were people in Rome who were preaching Christ for the purpose of calling the attention of the authorities to the imprisoned Apostle so he would be killed. Can you imagine such perversity? It reminds us of the perversity the Lord Jesus faced continually. It was part of the sufferings of Christ.
Paul now had a decision, just as you and I have a decision when we are in distressing circumstances.
Paul could have become furious because of those who were preaching Christ from an improper motive. He could have become consumed with self-pity as he thought of what it would have been like to be in Tarsus in a warm, clean room, his wife attending to him, his grandchildren bringing his slippers and listening to Torah as only Paul could expound it.
He could have been fearful and anxious at the thought of being brought before the worldly court of Caesar. What would be his fate? His imagination could have worked overtime in that area.
Instead Paul, by a deliberate choice of his will, decided to be content in his new surroundings. He set his mind and heart on things above where Christ is seated on the right hand of God. Death to Paul was release from chains and entrance into Paradise, especially into the Presence of Jesus Christ His Lord and Master.
When Paul died he would be able to hear the remainder of those "inexpressible" words that had been spoken when he had been caught up to the third heaven.
Paul deliberately used his imagination, his hope, his faith, to envision the joy that soon was to be his. Then he could write, "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, rejoice!"
Because of his grasp on the invisible Paul knew for him to die was gain. He wanted to be at home with the Lord but was willing to remain in physical discomfort for our sake.
Although all that is negative, depressing, perverse, filthy, uncomfortable, bleak surrounded Paul he was able to command us to think only about things that are lovely, of good report, uplifting.
This was a choice Paul made. He could as easily have bemoaned his fate, calling on all of us, including God, for sympathy. Paul chose to overcome Satan by the word of his testimony that God is faithful. Paul was pressing toward the mark, always forgetting what was behind him. He had a better resurrection in mind.
We now in the United States of America are entering an era of moral horrors, unless the believers quickly turn from their wicked ways and seek the Lord. We will be sorely tempted to curse the darkness when we see the behavior of perverse men and women in government and other places of leadership.
To spend our time cursing the wicked is to sin. To fret ourselves over the darkness that surrounds us is sin and will lead to more sinful behavior.
Evil can be conquered only by good—Divine good.
We are going to have to obey Paul if we are to survive the things that even now are taking place.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:8 NASB)
Imagine that which is true. Imagine that which is honorable. Imagine that which is right. Imagine that which is pure. Imagine that which is lovely. Imagine that which is of good repute, excellent, worthy of praise.
No matter how dark and perverse the spiritual atmosphere becomes, keep on imagining that which is righteous and holy. Let your mind dwell on the wonders of the new world of righteousness that is coming from Heaven.
To keep our minds on the things that are true, honorable, and right, to refrain from becoming angry and bitter against the actions of our society, will require enormous amounts of prayer. We will have to make up our mind to obey Paul in this matter and then we will have to pray continually, night and day, to keep from being drawn into wrath and bitterness because of what we see taking place.
Can you understand how important it is to use your imagination in the right way?
Notice how David survived in the midst of the envy and plotting that were directed toward him while he was governing Israel.
I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. (Psalms 16:8)
David could not actually see the Lord before him any more than you or I can. But by an act of will, by employing his imagination, David kept God in front of him at all times. Because of this vision of God David was able to keep steadfastly on his way in the peace of the Lord.
You and I can set the Lord before us if we so choose. This is a right use of our imagination.
David had many setbacks in his life. When Achish refused to let David and his men go out to battle with the Philistine army they returned to their base at Ziklag. There they found that the Amalekites had raided Ziklag, burned the city with fire, and had carried off all their wives and children.
And when David and his men came to the city, behold, it was burned with fire, and their wives and their sons and their daughters had been taken captive. Then David and the people who were with him lifted their voices and wept until there was no strength in them to weep. (I Samuel 30:3,4 NASB)
The men were very angry and talked of stoning David. But it was David's way to encourage himself in the Lord when things looked hopeless.
Moreover David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God. (I Samuel 30:6 NASB)
Notice that David did not attempt to use imaging or positive thinking, or to speak the "word of faith," in order to change his circumstances. He strengthened himself in the Lord his God. His vision was of God's power and faithfulness, it was not an attempt to imagine things into existence or to "speak the creative word." What a total difference!
How about you and me? When the future is bleak do we give up in despair or do we strengthen ourselves in the Lord?
Because David put his trust in God, even in this terrible circumstance, the end of the matter was a great victory for David and his men.
David prayed and asked God's directionalways a wise thing to do.
And David inquired of the LORD, saying, "Shall I pursue this band? Shall I overtake them?" And He said to him, "Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them, and you shall surely rescue all." (I Samuel 30:8 NASB)
David, as was his custom, obeyed the Lord. The result was the recovery of his losses and those of his men plus a great deal of spoil from the Amalekites.
The problem with the Christian metaphysics of today is that the believers do not inquire of the Lord. They assume they know how, when, where God should deliver and so they set out to accomplish the deliverance by "faith."
David asked God if he should pursue the Amalekites. He did not take the obvious for granted.
How many, many times in Christian work today do people take the obvious for granted, just as Joshua did with the Gibeonites. "God has given us the great commission. Are we to sit around and wait after God has told us what to do? Let's get out there and do the job."
Thus we become the blind leading the blind.
Let us cease from our dead works and get in touch with the living Christ. Then He will command us what to do. Sometimes it is to attack, which may be obvious. On other occasions it may be to march around the wall or wait until we hear a rustling in the mulberry trees, which are not as obvious.
We are not to use our imagination to guide our actions or release forces in the spirit realm. We are to use our imagination to keep Christ always before us until we continually are waiting to hear His voice and understand His will for every detail of every day, including the details of our gifts and ministry.
David recovered everything the Amalekites had taken, including his two wives. Nothing was missing: young or old, boy or girl, plunder or anything else they had taken. David brought everything back. He took all the flocks and herds [that had belonged to the Amalekites], and his men drove them ahead of the other livestock, saying, "This is David's plunder." (I Samuel 30:18-20 NIV)
What would have been an exceedingly distressing defeat turned into a marvelous victory, all because David refused to dwell on the tragedy but strengthened himself by remembering the faithfulness of the Lord.
How is it with you? Are you in the middle of a "hopeless" situation? Strengthen yourself in the Lord. Ask God what to do. Fear and faith cannot dwell in your heart at the same time.
The writer of the forty-second Psalm was having a difficult time.
My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, "Where is your God?" (Psalms 42:3 NIV)
But then the writer called to mind the times of joy in the Presence of the Lord.
These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng. (Psalms 42:3 NIV)
Can you remember times of joy among the people of the Lord? Call these good times to remembrance. They will carry you through the most difficult of circumstances. Call it imagination, or faith, or hope, it is all the same. It is your conviction that God is a rewarder of those who seek Him diligently. Ask your soul this question:
Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar. (Psalms 42:5,6 NIV))
We are saved in the present by our remembrance of God's faithfulness in the past, the times of joy we have experienced.
Now the writer is rejoicing in the Lord.
By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me—a prayer to the God of my life. (Psalms 42:8 NIV)
Again he is downcast.
I say to God my Rock, "Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?" (Psalms 42:9 NIV)
Have you ever felt this way? Maybe right now you are going about mourning, oppressed by the enemy.
What are you to do? You are to talk to your soul and tell it to hope in God. Call to mind the goodness of the Lord and refuse to let your soul get you down.
Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. (Psalms 42:11 NIV)
Asaph joins those with whom God deals endlessly.
But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. (Psalms 73:2 NIV)
But then he remembers God's word to the righteous.
When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. (Psalms 73:21-24 NIV)
Jude had something to say to the Christians of his day.
I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. (Jude 1:5)
Let's think for a moment about the journey of Israel from Egypt to Canaan.
When the Jews left Egypt God had informed them He was bringing them to a land flowing with milk and honey. The idea of a land flowing with milk and honey gave them good material for their imagination to work on.
The Presence of God during the pilgrimage of the Israelites was remarkable. They had seen the Red Sea open up, the cloud by day and the fire by night, the Presence of God on Sinai, the Glory of God resting on Moses. They had drunk water coming from a rock. They had heard the trumpet blast issuing from the smoke that covered Mount Sinai. Some of the elders actually had gone up into the mountain and eaten at the table of God. Then there was the daily manna, the fire coming down from Heaven and consuming the sacrifice on the Altar of Burnt Offering, and miraculous healings. In addition the Jews had witnessed the sudden afflicting of Miriam with leprosy and the ground opening up and swallowing Korah, a number of the leaders of Israel, and all their family members.
In spite of all this, in spite of the numerous deliverances and miracles that had accompanied them, they chose to disbelieve God. They murmured continually against Moses and God. They pictured themselves dying in the wilderness. They saw themselves being slaughtered by the giants in the land of Canaan.
They used their imagination in the wrong way.
This is why the Lord, after having brought them out of Egypt with a mighty hand, destroyed them in the wilderness. They insisted on picturing themselves as being in dreadful circumstances. They could have chosen to set the Lord always before them. They could have spent their time envisioning rivers flowing with milk and honey; iron being mined from the hills. But no, even after spectacular appearances of God, even one of which any of us would love to have experienced, they determined to murmur and complain in unbelief.
Under the same circumstances, had they chosen to believe, they could have entered Canaan victoriously as soon as they arrived and spared themselves thirty-eight additional years of wandering in the desert.
Under the same circumstances, the Apostle Paul could have become angry, bitter, and despairing.
Under the same circumstances, Daniel could have denied God.
Under the same circumstances, the Lord Jesus could have become furious because of the continued perverse provocations of the priests and elders.
But Paul "saw" the Glory of God and the reward that was to be his.
Daniel "saw" the faithfulness of the God of Israel and knew joy would be his whether in life or in death.
The Lord Jesus "saw" the glorious Church that would be formed during the coming centuries.
The same is true of you and me. We have come through many dangers, toils, and snares. God has delivered us every time we have called on Him and obeyed Him.
Now we may be frightened by a new problem. We have a choice. Will we bring to mind the times the Lord has delivered us or will we wring our hands in despair because we just know this time the Lord is going to let us down? God has been faithful to all the saints of history but He is going to make an exception with us.
If you are a grumbler, a complainer, crying out bitterly over every new trial, why don't you try giving God the glory? Even though you are unable to see any possible way in which you can be delivered, how about looking up to the Creator of the galaxies and acknowledge His infinite power and faithfulness?
Why don't you ask Him to help you and then praise Him for the answer?
Look past the giants, look past the storm and the mounting waves, look past the furnace heated seven times, look past the lions and see Jesus sitting at the right hand of almighty God. Jesus Christ, the Lord of all, sits as King of the flood. Nothing can by any means harm you if you are a follower of that which is good.
Your responsibility is to abide in Christ with all the diligence you can manage. Christ's responsibility is to take care of you and your loved ones no matter what the problem may be.
Trust God! Use your imagination continually and hope for that which you desire. Never give up. Don't let life beat the hope, joy, and idealism out of you.
Some people get right to the door and then quit. How sad!
Don't be like that. Set the Lord before you. Our God has never yet failed anyone who trusted in Him, and He will not begin with you.