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Bless God to find Soul as an infinite source for all you could ever need.
Rick Stewart, C.S., Dresden, Germany
Posted Monday, February 6th, 2017
[Bless God to find Soul as an infinite source for all you could ever need.]
Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on
for Sunday, February 12, 2017
by Rick Stewart, C.S., Dresden, Germany
Tel. +49 351 312 4736 firstname.lastname@example.org
In recent weeks I have thoroughly enjoyed watching ongoing unfoldments of my five-year-old, Martha. She is making great strides in her self-sufficiency. It is the kind of thing perhaps you have also witnessed. A little one begins to explore the things they can do all by themselves. In this case Martha is becoming a world-class chocolate milk maker! I know when it has happened because I find one of the kitchen chairs near the buffet where the mugs and glasses are kept. Or perhaps I find a little Nesquick powder on the table or a drop or two of spilled milk. Of course the certain sign, a chocolate ring around Martha’s mouth as she smiles in delight after having enjoyed her beloved chocolate milk!
I have watched this same adventure unfold with all four of my kids and my nieces and nephews. It is when they begin to claim their dominion in doing things for themselves. It is a delightful adventure. A great step in their development. And also something to be guarded against. What? Can there be anything negative in these steps of self-sufficiency and capability? It is only this—sometimes all of us can become overly prideful in what “we” can do for ourselves. Not just kids, but big people too. Look what I can do! Look what I have done! There is great pride in the “I” of mortality, and sometimes at the cost of remembering the great source of all existence and everything we need, God, Soul. Perhaps our goal is to encourage this wonderful self-sufficiency and include a just and loving acknowledgement of God as a very present help in our daily lives!
As an example I share the importance of a simple addition to daily life. It can be symbolized by the “blessing” offered before a meal. “Dear Father, may we be truly thankful for the food we are about to share.”
In this world of super markets and civilization it is far too easy to think we have what we need because of a job, a pension, or a store. We become blindly dependent on mankind’s great development and infrastructure. We also become prideful about our education and talents and in so doing we often lose sight of the source, the means, and the end of all as being the Creator, Almighty God. Don’t we often forget a key element to successful life, an act that should be part of our everyday life—blessing God!
As the Golden Text for this week’s Bible Lesson on Soul states,
“Bless the Lord, o my soul, and forget not all his benefits:” Psalms 103:2
This unique and important act of worship, “blessing the Lord,” has been recognized for thousands of years in Jewish and Christian scripture. It is a frequently used phrase in the Book of Psalms. It is believed that the Book of Psalms was written over a period of about 1,000 years and the particular Psalm that includes our Golden Text this week is identified as a Psalm written by David about 3,000 years ago. The activity he encourages, “blessing the Lord,” is a call to praise, glorify, exalt, and acknowledge the Lord of all things. David’s Psalm 103 also encourages us to remember all the blessings and benefits that come from blessing and acknowledging God. So, no matter how happy I might be in witnessing my beloved Martha’s growing abilities, I look forward to encouraging her to remember that her Father-Mother God, the very source of her being, the Soul that governs the universe, is the source and enabler for everything she will ever need.
This week’s Bible Lesson is a wonderful reminder of God, Soul as being the source for all good.
Section 1: God, Soul blesses us with unlimited, spiritual good.
In this section we enjoy an example of how the Prophet Elijah was fed, led, and shepherded by the Lord and the Lord’s emissaries, the ravens.
In citation B4 (I Kings17: 1-5) we read a fascinating account of Elijah being led to the side of a brook where he would find water and where the ravens would provide him with food. Citation B3, Psalms 36:6, 9 reminds us, “O Lord, thou preservest man and beast. For with thee is the fountain of life.”
This wonderful connection between our Shepherd, God, Soul and all creation, man and beast, is a glorious thing to discover and glory in.
One of my first cases in the healing ministry was with a horse that had been diagnosed by a vet with a severe case of colic. The vet’s prognosis was not a good one for this horse, Dugan. His owners were Christian Scientists and they responded to the vet’s dire predictions with a call to me. I exercised Dugan several times a week for them and I knew him well. So it was natural when they called to accept the case and I immediately went to their farm, began to walk with Dugan and pray with him. In a short time his distress and pain simply vanished and within hours Dugan was completely free.
In another case many years later I was living on a ranch near Ocala, Florida. I lived in a log cabin surrounded by a very large pasture of about 400 acres. The nearest human neighbor was about 2 miles away, but there were 9 horses that lived in my front yard, this pasture. As a part of my living arrangements I had agreed to look after the horses and call a vet when necessary. One night around 2 a.m. one of these horses, Molly, came to the gate leading to my cabin. Molly was coughing loudly. I awoke to find her lying down and unable to get up. She was breathing with great difficulty. Since I knew that no vet would come in the middle of the night, I went to Molly, sat down beside her, and began to pray. My prayers were simple. I knew God, Life was right there. And I knew that life harmonious was the fact of Molly’s existence. Molly and I sat together under the stars and shared a wonderful feeling that not one of God’s creatures is ever beyond His care. I thought of the fact that all of God’s creatures move in the harmony of divine Science (SH 514:28-30). After some time Molly stopped coughing and stood up. Molly was a very old mare that was no longer ridden and seemed to have little interest in human contact, but the entire next week after the healing anytime I was in the pasture Molly would come up and allow me to pet her as she nuzzled my hands. After about a week of saying thank you, she was once again her independent self.
This natural relationship between man and all of God’s creatures is clearly illustrated as the ravens fed the prophet Elijah. It is evidenced throughout the Bible. And as we gain a similar spiritual receptivity to Elijah’s we can see this reign of Soul all around us.
Mary Baker Eddy writes in Science and Health, “Man is the expression of Soul. The Indians caught some glimpses of the underlying reality, when they called a certain beautiful lake “the smile of the Great Spirit.” (477:26)
The Native Americans often demonstrated this unity with all creation as they looked to God’s nature to meet their every need. Their respect for nature and appreciation of its lessons is often illustrated in their life styles. Not always, but very often a harmonious respect and gratitude for the gifts of nature that supplied their needs. The great Sioux, Sitting Bull, once said. “Behold, my brothers, the spring has come; the earth has received the embraces of the sun and we shall soon see the results of that love! Every seed has awakened and so has all animal life. It is through this mysterious power that we too have our being and we therefore yield to our neighbors even our animal neighbors the same right as ourselves, to inhabit this land.” E
CedarS Executive Director, Warren, shared the following story as related by Cobbey Crisler* in one of his books. It is another illustration of the great intelligence and love that is expressed by God’s nature.
“Let's not leave out veterinary medicine as far as God is concerned, because the statement is made here, “You preserve both man and beast." Perhaps some of you have heard this story. It's a very moving one. It was reported to me by someone who is in the audience today. About the illustration of God's love and care for what we would call an animal or beast. In this case, it was a goat. The female goat was having difficulty in giving birth to its kid. The pain was so obvious that the owner of the farm on which this goat was roomed and boarded felt so deeply about what was happening that she seemed to [go] all to pieces emotionally. She canceled everything else she had to do except very priority appointments, and stayed in the stall near that goat. The plaintive cries and the appeals to help only seemed to break down the defensive mechanism of the host, as we said was a condition of virus. Finally, in that kind of desperation that has always held out some hope for man because we've given up every other exploration of alternatives, she said this, "Dear Father, please show to this one of your lesser ideas in a way that they may understand Thy love and Thy care." That brought a sense of peace so that the concern and worry were not as paramount. As she sat there, the door of the barn was open slightly, in the crack came a rabbit. The rabbit wasn't at all concerned by the presence of a human, went right by her to the stall to the goat and began to lick the face of that goat and kept licking and loving, licking and loving. Then after the rabbit had fulfilled its assignment—it was a divine assignment—that rabbit came through prayer—it left and the goat stopped its cries, and got vertical, got well and had the kid without any after effects. That kind of song in our hearts answered directly, “Thou preservest man and beast.” How we could utilize those thoughts! That wasn’t quoted from the Psalms but it was based on a revealed fact that came from a joyous heart. The rabbit responded. Like the fish responded when Jesus needed tax money (Matthew 17:27). These are potions from God’s dispensary.”
“Leaves of the Tree: Prescriptions from Psalms” by B. Cobbey Crisler*
Section 2: Reflecting Soul’s infinity in daily life.
In this section, Elijah continues his very enlightening walk with God. As the brook Cherith dried in the ongoing drought Elijah needed another source of sustenance. God did not send Elijah to the richest man in the province; no, he sent Elijah to another and very unlikely source, a poor widow, with so little food left that she was ready to make a last meal for she and her son, and then simply die.
Elijah had a request, a supreme act of unselfishness, “And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.” (B9, I Kings 17:8-16) So little food that she and her son are about to starve and the prophet asks her to feed him first. What a test of unselfed love! This widow woman obeys, responds, gives out of her lack, and she ends up with unending supply the rest of her life!
Perhaps these two citations from Science and Health are illustrated by Elijah and the widow:
“Soul is not compassed by finiteness. Principle is not to be found in fragmentary ideas.” (S6, 302:1)
“Soul, or Spirit, is God, unchangeable and eternal; and man coexists with and reflects Soul, God, for man is God’s image. Science reverses the false testimony of the physical senses, and by this reversal mortals arrive at the fundamental facts of being.” (S7, 120:4–9)
What a graphic reversal that widow had in her fortunes as she responded to Elijah’s soul-filled request. She responded to the call of unselfishness and faith and she was practically rewarded with infinite supply.
You may have heard me share before how my grandfather learned this great lesson of a willingness to listen to the guidance of Soul’s requests. It was during what is known in America as “The Great Depression.” My grandfather, Archie Lafferty, lived with grandmother and his seven children (including my mom) in Perry, Iowa. He had been a railroad man, but had been without regular work for two years. The family found ways to make ends meet. Grandmother often made batches of delicious fudge and my mom and her brothers and sisters would go out and sell it. Grandfather paid for the electricity by volunteering his time at the city light plant. But no steady work.
One Sunday Grandfather was at church. In the Perry Christian Science church Sunday School was held first, and afterwards the church service. While Grandfather was at church, the phone rang at home and my mother answered. It was the city light plant. They had a problem that no one seemed to be able solve, and then someone said, “Call Archie Lafferty, he can fix anything!” So they did. As soon as she got the call mom ran to the church to tell Grandfather. She met him as he came out of the church door. And mom gave her father the message.
While Grandfather was in church he had reached the point of the collection. And he had a great mental battle of what he should contribute. He knew he had a dollar and a dime in his pocket. But he was not sure what was right to put in the collection basket. The dollar or the dime? Remember he had been two full years without work and he had seven kids at home. Finally, he made his decision, he put the dollar in the collection. He walked out of church a father with only a dime in his pocket! Mom delivered her message to him. And as expected, Archie Lafferty was able to make the repairs at the city light plant. The folks in the plant were very grateful. Then…the next day Grandfather received a call from the railroad calling him back to work. And for the rest of his life that was the last time he was ever without a job.
Section 3: Soul will meet every single need!
What about a practical need such as taxes? Prayer, trust and faith certainly come into play in meeting our daily needs, but taxes? I remember a surprise I had just last year. We had received a tax bill from what is called the Finanzamt here in Germany. It was for our income taxes. In previous years we had paid installments during the year that made our year-end payment rather small. That had not occurred this year. My wife, Susanne, made me aware of the tax bill and I found myself simply responding, “Sure I can take care of that right away.” I did not intend to be a liar, but the funds were not in my bank account! But I had been praying regularly for myself and others that whatever the need was we faced, the ability to meet that need was already present. And so I very firmly affirmed that fact, again, and again, and again! Two events occurred almost immediately. A very generous patient made a substantial payment without any bill or invoice being sent. And then my brother, Scott, called and began to talk about how grateful I should be for Germany. He talked about the wonderful atmosphere my wife and I had to raise our four children. And so with his observation I began to be specifically grateful for the opportunity to pay our taxes and show my gratitude in practical form. And to back up his words with actions my brother made a deposit in my account specifically for “taxes.” Almost immediately I was given the unexpected means to keep my word to my wife and meet my obligation to my adopted home.
In Bible citation B13, we find the interesting story of Jesus and payment of the taxes. ”And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.” Matthew 17:24–27
Warren also shared with us Cobbey Crisler’s comment on this event:
“Verse 27, Peter is told to “cast a hook in the sea, take up a fish.” There is a fish today called St. Peter’s fish. It is one of the few species where the male fish actually carries the young in its mouth. One commentator makes an interesting remark because this was Peter’s profession. Most of his disciples had been fisherman. When Jesus left, where did they go? They went back fishing. What did they catch? Zero. This commentator makes the remark, “Nowhere do the gospels record that the disciples ever caught a fish without the help of Jesus.”
The Book of Matthew, Auditing the Master, A Tax-Collector’s Report by B. Cobbey Crisler*
Isn’t it wonderfully interesting to see these examples of God; Soul governing the universe with infinite, loving blessings for all? The mentality of Elijah or of our Master and Savior, Christ Jesus evidenced continual access to this world of Soul’s governance.
Mary Baker Eddy comments in Science and Health citation S16, “The life of Christ Jesus was not miraculous, but it was indigenous to his spirituality, — the good soil wherein the seed of Truth springs up and bears much fruit.” (270:31–1)
And in citation S17 she states “The only intelligence or substance of a thought, a seed, or a flower is God, the creator of it. Mind is the Soul of all.” (508:5–7)
Aren’t we seeing more and more evidences of a universe governed, loved, cared for by the Soul that is the Mind of all?!
Section 4: Relying on Soul in all situations.
This section of the Lesson includes excerpts from that wonderful Psalm 103 that is the source of our Golden Text and also Bible Citation, B17, “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;” (Psalms 103:1–4)
As we learn to “Bless the Lord” our eyes are truly opened to the benefits that we receive as we recognize God, Soul as the source of all; forgiven of iniquities, healed from diseases, saved from destruction, and crowned with lovingkindness and tender mercies.
I have not had many experiences with deserts in my life. But throughout the Bible we read promises of God as meeting the needs of his children in desert situations as described in citation B15, Isaiah 35. This occurred time and again in the Bible, many thousands of years ago, but what about now? I love the following specific example from the life of a Christian Scientist that was published in the Christian Science Journal and also shared in a Christian Science lecture. The experience is from the life of Jack Hubbell, CSB. In his lecture, “Divine Truth Frees You from Limitation” he shared the following:
“I was challenged with a shortage of water many years ago. I was one of a party of three on a geological expedition in Utah. We went into a remote desert area, but could carry only enough water to last three days. We expected to locate water in the region. However, after two days of fruitless searching for water, we had no choice but to return to civilization the following morning.
That evening, I turned to God in prayer. I recalled some accounts in the Bible of people suffering from limited supply whose needs were met through an understanding of God's love and power. Jesus fed over five thousand people with only a few loaves and fishes (Matt. 14:15-21). Elisha provided a widow and her son oil and meal that lasted through an entire drought (I Kings 17:10-16). Moses struck a rock and water poured out of it (Num. 20:11).
I asked myself, "Did these experiences actually occur, or were they myths or allegories? I reasoned that they were demonstrations of divine law. And, that the same law which was in effect at the time of Moses must still be operating now. I had learned from the Bible that God is love, and Christian Science shows this Love to be power. Divine Love is the power that gives impulse to law.
It is inconsistent with God's love that man should be in want. The Bible states: "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want" (Ps. 23:1). To want something is to deny its presence. I asked myself: "Am I denying the presence of good"? God is ever-present. God is good; therefore good is ever-present. So, there can be no absence of good. Consequently, it wasn't a question of overcoming real lack, but proving lack isn't real. I felt at peace, confident that God's love was adequate to meet the human need.
The following morning, before we were to break camp, I decided to look once more for water. I turned into a narrow canyon near the camp, but there was nothing but sand and rocks on the canyon floor, not even a sign of vegetation. I sat down on a boulder to re-establish my thoughts of the night before. My eye fell on a patch of green moss - about the size of my thumb nail - growing in a crevice of the rock forming the canyon wall. I struck the moss with my handpick, and it became quite moist. I struck it again and again, and suddenly water burst from the crevice in the rock, an abundance of water that continued to meet our need (Christian Science Journal, March, 1966, p. 140).
Was seeing this little patch of green amidst thousands of acres of sand just fantastic luck? Not to me. I saw it as proof of God's law in action. It only confirmed a phenomenon recognized in Christian Science, namely, that there is a definite relation between our human consciousness and what we physically sense as experience.”
(Christian Science Journal, March, 1966, p. 140).
In his talk, “The Leaves of the Tree: Prescriptions from the Psalms,” Cobbey Crisler* says the following, “We’re all covered by insurance policies, perhaps life and health insurance. The Canadian spelling is probably better, “assurance” as far as biblical therapy is concerned. If you’ve ever wanted to know what benefits we have, Psalm 103 lists them, Verse 2, “Forget not all his benefits.” We have “Forgive us iniquities,” that’s sin removed from man. “Disease,” all of them. Verse 3 Removed from man’s experience and nature.”
Section 5: Soul’s gift of grace is for us all, never give up!
I have often found it crucial to stop, turn from aggressively presented fears, worries, and doubts, and quietly affirm God’s, Soul’s presence. Sometimes when the task before us seems quite impossible.
I love what is written in the Book of Job, B20 | Job 37:14 “stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God.”
And as the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians in citation B25, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” (II Corinthians 9:8, 11, 15)
Last night, my son, Johann, and I watched the incredible Super Bowl 51. It was truly a testament to staying in the game. Continuing when it might seem impossible. Playing each play. Never giving up. And it reminded me of a couple things. One was a remark by Winston Churchill, the doggedly inspiring Prime Minister of Great Britain.
On Oct. 29, 1941, he visited Harrow School, his alma mater, and made some remarks, including these words:
“Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy. We stood all alone a year ago, and to many countries it seemed that our account was closed, we were finished. All this tradition of ours, our songs, our School history, this part of the history of this country, were gone and finished and liquidated.
“Very different is the mood today. Britain, other nations thought, had drawn a sponge across her slate. But instead our country stood in the gap. There was no flinching and no thought of giving in; and by what seemed almost a miracle to those outside these Islands, though we ourselves never doubted it, we now find ourselves in a position where I say that we can be sure that we have only to persevere to conquer.”
Does it seem like you are alongside a small brook barely able to hang on, depending on hand-outs from friendly crows? Are you knocking on the door of a poor widow asking for help? Have you thrown your fishing line into the sea hoping to find a way to pay your taxes? Is your little stone-pick chipping away at a tiny patch of green in barren rock? Are you down 28 – 3, with all momentum seeming to be with your opponent? Have you worked, prayed, asked for prayers for a challenge that seems greater than anything you have faced before?
If you are willing to look to Soul in every need, you will be supplied, beyond anything you could conceive of humanly. If you let Soul, unselfish Love guide your decisions, you will be supplied.
My mom’s Christian Science teacher encouraged her students to visit the Mother Church as soon as possible. My mom began in obedience to save a little each week from her grocery allowance in hopes of making that trip to Boston. Honest savings set aside. Then came Father’s Day. She wanted to help my older brother and sister buy a present for our Dad. But Mom had nothing to give them. Then she thought of her little jar of savings. At first she condemned the idea, “That is what you always do; you start to save and then use it for something else!” But her humble prayers were guided by what Love would do. So she gave the money to Candy and Gary to buy a Father’s Day present. That very day she received a phone call from a fellow church member with a question. “Glatha, would you perhaps be able to travel with our daughter to Boston so she can start her new job? We would of course pay all your expenses!” My dad when he heard about the opportunity assured mom he could take care of Candy and Gary. And as Gary remarked, “Mom, that is just like winning a trip.” In a matter of weeks she was in Boston and had fulfilled her teacher’s assignment. But she had learned so much about willing to trust our lives to the unlimited benefits of blessing the Lord in all things and letting Soul take care of all our needs.
Sometimes we have just got to stay in the game. Play each play. Play each point. Continue. As Winston Churchill remarked, “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. Psalm 103:2
*[Warren’s P.S.: If you would like to be able to enjoy more of Cobbey Crisler’s scriptural commentaries, you can buy your own transcripts (and audio CDs) of most of Cobbey’s 28 talks at a new website: www.crislerlibrary.co.uk Email your order or inquiry to email@example.com, or directly to Janet Crisler, at firstname.lastname@example.org ]
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[The Met application ideas above are provided primarily to help CedarS campers and staff (as well as friends) see and daily demonstrate the great value of studying and applying the Christian Science Bible lessons throughout the year, not just at camp! YOU CAN ALSO SIGN UP for weekly emails from past CedarS staff of possible ways to share.