Categories
Christian Living

The Power of Suggestion

Last week one of my kindergarten music classes played rhythm sticks. I came down the rows afterwards giving each child a squirt of hand sanitizer. One little guy asked, “Is that hypnotizer?” I immediately realized what happened: he substituted a word he’d heard for a term he hadn’t yet mastered.

With a chuckle, I told him it was only hand sanitizer. But I kept thinking about what he said. What if there really was such a thing as hypnotizer in a bottle? I’d give each kid a squirt, and as they rubbed their hands together they’d become open to the power of suggestion.

Me (in a soothing voice): “You will keep your hands and feet to yourselves. You will listen while I am talking. You can wait to got to the bathroom.”

Oh how grand it would be!

Sometimes, when I get my spiritual hands dirty, I wish there was a bottle of heavenly hypnotizer. God gives me a squirt or two. I rub my hands together. And I’m suddenly open to the power of holy suggestion.

God (in a soothing voice): “You will be more patient with the children. You will listen (really listen) to me. You should spend time in coffee shops–like Matt, from jesusluvsall.”

Free will is overrated. “Lord, just tell my subconscious mind what to do and let’s get this over with!” But that’s not how things work in the Kingdom of God. In reality, we’re free to choose our thoughts and behaviors. There are always options: good ones, bad ones and somewhere in between.

There’s no such thing as heavenly hypnotizer. And this is a GOOD thing. Robot Christians would be as inauthentic as puppet children. We are designed to love, listen too and obey God (and fallible humans) by choice.

My favorite “Free to Choose” scripture:

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

Joshua 24:15 (NIV)

Today, and every day, may we choose to serve the Lord.

🙏❤️ prayers and love.

Categories
Christian Living joy

Turning the Key

Photo by Jaye Haych on Unsplash

I was intrigued recently with something DeborahMarie wrote on her blog, Great is God’s Faithfulness. The title of the post was, The Key to Life, and it was all about the choice set before God’s people in Deuteronomy 30:19-20.

Moses challenged them to love, obey and commit totally to God–to choose life over death and blessings over curses. This choice would be the key to life, but God would not make it for them.

OK, I thought. I have the master key to life, but it’s useless until I stick it into a lock and turn it. What motivates me to do that?

I found the answer in another devotional the next morning. Glenn Packiam, writing in Our Daily Bread, shared an article called, Costly Joy. The scripture he spotlighted was Christ’s parable of the hidden treasure.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” — (Matthew 13:44)

The author then connects the dots to reveal the secret of unswerving motivation:

“Joy drives change–not guilt or duty.”

Glenn Packiam

BINGO! The Joy of the Lord inspires us to choose and use the key to life.

There’s a great example of this in action in Nehemiah chapter 8. The wall around Jerusalem had just been completed, and all the people came together to worship God. These folks hadn’t been to church or heard the Word in a long time. So when the scribe Ezra read from the Law of Moses, the congregation fell under conviction and began to weep. But Nehemiah said, “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

According to the book of Hebrews, it was this same kind of joy that gave Jesus the strength to endure the cross (Hebrews 12:2).

It may have been Friday night, but the Lord knew Sunday morning was coming!

You and I have read the book: God wins.

And winners go out in joy and are led forth in peace (Isaiah 55:12).

“Joy is the reason; surrender is the response. The treasure of knowing Jesus is the reward.”

Glenn Packiam

Whose Joy?

This joy that I have

the world can’t take it away

It belongs to God.

Categories
Hope

The Daunting Power to Choose

By faith Moses, when he had grown up refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time

Hebrews 11:24-25

The Biblical story of Moses, the reluctant emancipator of the Israelites, is a fascinating read. Starting in the second chapter of Exodus, the saga unfolds with a plot worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster.

I’ll spare you the details, as you already know or can check it out for yourself. However, I’d like to focus on two toxic thoughts Moses faced that involve us all, together with the antidote Jesus provides.

If Only <<<rewind

Moses was a Hebrew baby saved by Pharaoh’s daughter and raised as her own son; a prince of Egypt. Yet when he grew up, he chose advocacy for his own people over a life of affluence and power. But one disastrous day, defending his kinsfolk went too far, when he murdered an Egyptian he found beating a Hebrew (Exodus 2:11-15). When Pharaoh found out, he tried to kill Moses. But Moses ran away, disappearing into the desert.

There, on the back side of the wilderness, Moses served his new father-in-law as a shepherd. He’d gone from a prince who could actually help his own people to a simple sheep herder in the middle of nowhere!

Standing in the blazing sun counting sheep, Moses must have said to himself a hundred times, “If only I’d not lost my temper and killed that Egyptian foreman.” But it was a mute point, what happened happened and no amount of regret could erase it.

Like Moses, I’ve said my share of “If onlys.” Yet it hasn’t gotten me anywhere either.

What If? >>>fast forward

One day, while on sheep duty, Moses sees a bush on fire that isn’t burning up. Curious, he goes over to it, only to hear the voice of God Himself, “Moses, Moses.” It turns out the Almighty wants him to go back to Egypt and finish the job–freeing his people from slavery.

This time, however, our hero is not so eager to jump into the fray.

Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?

Exodus 3:11

This is followed by several “what if” questions. “What if they don’t believe me.” “What if I don’t know what to say? Remember, God, I stutter!”

Like Moses, I’ve said my share of “What ifs.” But worrying about the future hasn’t helped me either.

The Antidote

Near the conclusion of his famous Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Jesus speaks to the worry-warts in the audience. He basically says, “Folks, when you worry you’re like a hamster on a wheel–all worked up but going nowhere. Look to God first and everything else will fall into place (Matthew 6:33).”

Christ then says the following, comforting insomniacs like me ever since:

Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:34

Effectively dealing with depression or anxiety means living in the NOW. Therefore, henceforth, I choose to keep the rewinds and fast-forwards to a minimum. I’m just going to press “>play” and take each moment as it comes.

Care to join me?

The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.

Abraham Maslow
Photo by Public Domain Pictures on Pexels.com