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Ideas to start your New Year from the Lesson on GOD for 12/29 -1/4/04

Julie Ward, C.S.B.
Posted Sunday, December 28th, 2003

Happy New Year, dear Cedars friends! Here are a few ideas to start your New Year from the Bible Lesson for December 29 through January 4, 2004 - GOD.
Julie Ward, CS, Westwood, MA.

Why did Mrs. Eddy designate this subject as the one that begins our year, and often ends it? Isn't this the subject from which all the other lessons flow? God is our Alpha and Omega, our first and our last. Without a clear concept of God, there is no understanding of Christian Science, and our first and most important duty is to know Him better day by day. So our one great New Year's resolution is KNOW GOD BETTER!

Dig deep. Never be satisfied with last year's (or even last week's) conception of God. Since He is infinite, there's always more to learn about Him. And since you are His infinite idea, you have unlimited ability to know Him. God promises this in our GOLDEN TEXT (Jer.24:7), "I will give them an heart to know me..." God has given each one of us inifinite capacity to know Him - not just intellectually, but with our HEART, as we know someone whom we deeply love. We are His own. We have His covenant promise, "They shall be my people, and I will be their God." We love God because He first loved us, and that dear love keeps reflecting back and forth between God and His children infinitely - it never is depleted. Remind yourself often, "I am Thine, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee." (Hymn 324)

RESPONSIVE READING
Ask yourself, What is it that I glory in?
Is it my talent, my intellect, my personal possessions, my friends or family? While all of these things may seem to be legitimate, there's only one thing that we should truly glory in - the fact that we understand and know God. It's the pearl of great price, the unspeakable gift. Without it, all the rest is meaningless.

(Jer. 29:11-14) What kind of thoughts does God think toward us? Is He disappointed in us, impatient with us, sorry for us? No! He never condemns. His thoughts are thoughts of peace, and not of evil. He gives us "an expected end" - a right outcome for every challenge. He's not waiting to see if we make the grade. His precious promise is, "Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me WITH ALL YOUR HEART." And He's already given us "an heart to know me." The same God who gives us that hunger and thirst after righteousness guarantees that we will be filled!

The Responsive Reading ends by reiterating the promise, "And ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.' Look for other statements of that promise as you explore the lesson.

SECTION I
GOD IS ALL-IN-ALL, AND HE IS NOT A MYSTERY!

(B1)The first, the last, the ONLY is God. There is no other! So, there can't be God who is All-in-All AND matter, or God who is All-in-all AND sickness or death or unhappiness or dishonesty or war. (B2) Here is our one only job description. We are His witnesses, His servants, and our job description is to know, believe, and understand Him. There is no before or after to God. He is timeless, eternal, always NOW. (B3) Paul recognized, as we must, that we were made to KNOW God. He is not a mystery. Compare this with (SH5), "Ignorance of God is no longer the steppingstone to faith..." Paul concludes, "For in Him we live, and move, and have our being." This is a wonderfui statement to "work out" with: I live in Him - not in matter - so I live fully, freely, joyfully, and my life is eternal. I move in Him - not in matter - so my movement is unrestricted, untiring, purposeful, graceful. I have my being in Him - not in matter - so my being is safe, progressive, useful, needed. (SH4) "... Christian Science brings God nearer to man, and makes him BETTER KNOWN as the All-in-all. forever near." God is not far from us; He is forever near, even if we feel that He's far away. We can't ever go so far that we're outside of His loving presence.

SECTION II
KNOWING GOD ENABLES US TO SEE MORE OF HIS CREATION
David had a vision of building the great temple, but Solomon his son actually built it. Why? Because he glimpsed that the temple was already complete in God. God has no unfinished ideas, no works in progress.
As we see this, we will be able to complete our tasks - housecleaning, homework, even healings. Solomon's first request to God was that God would give him a wise and understanding heart. His priorities were right. He didn't ask for more time, more money, more expertise in the building business. His absolute acknowledgment of God's wisdom and understanding took out the "trial and error" approach and led him right to the ideas that he needed. Solomon realized that the temple he was building was but a symbol of his people's love for God, for God couldn't be contained in an earthly temple. He refused to substitute the lesser for the greater, to get so wrapped up in the building of the temple that he forgot why he was building it. We must follow that example in all of our projects. as we put God first, all the claims of limitation will fall away.

(SH6) Notice the ways that God "expresses Science and art throughout His creation." Look for Science and art in the tiniest as well as the largest things. Nothing is random, trivial, mundane. As we practice seeing that Science and art in even the smallest things in our experience, our eyes will be opened to behold wondrous things in our day-to-day lives. We'll see more of God everywhere, for when we see good expressed, we see God expressed. Practice seeing everyone you meet as God's precious, beautiful creation, in whom He is well pleased. (SH 9) Ask yourself, "Do I look BEYOND fading finite forms, or do I just stroll through the world taking things at face value, settling for what my eyes see? Where does my gaze rest? What is my focal point?" Gaining a correct view of things as perfect, eternal ideas puts everything in focus. Then, we begin to see things that were there all along. Inventions like the computer, the airplane, the microwave are examples of ideas that always existed, but needed someone to SEE them as ideas. These ideas appear to the "calm and exalted thought or spiritual apprehension" when we are at peace, waiting to see what God is revealing to us. "Thus the dawn of ideas goes on, forming each successive stage of progress." This is how the dawn of ideas goes on in your own consciousness as you progress in your understanding of God!

SECTION III
KNOWING GOD LEADS TO PERFECT, IMPERSONAL JUSTICE
When the law of God is in your heart, you'll be able to interpret and enforce human laws rightly.
Solomon proved this when the two women came to him to decide whose baby was whose. It seemed as if there was no way to know the facts, but his understanding of their motives and their hearts enabled him to make a right decision. If you are faced with a moral dilemma, your ability to know God will free you from confusion and indecision. Start with the fact that GOD KNOWS, and then, "Let Truth uncover and destroy error in God's own way, and let human justice pattern the divine." (SH12)

Do you claim insight and perspicacity as your "native air"? You should! When you know God, you recognize that His realm of thought is unlimited and so is yours. Here's a definition of perspicacity for you from the American College Dictionary: "keeness of mental perception; discernment; penetration. Archaic - keenness of sight."

SECTION IV
KNOW GOD FIRST - ALL THE REST IS ADDED!
(B11) "He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness." So often when we are physically or emotionally hungry, we're trying to feed the wrong thing. The real hunger that we're feeling is the desire to know God. And He promises us, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." Compare this with (SH17), the "unsatisfied human craving for something better, higher, holier, than is afforded by a material belief in a physical God and man." The physical concept of God and man can never satisfy. By definition, it's limited.

(B12) Our prayer isn't asking God for a lot of things. Why? Because He already knows! So let's let our prayers be grateful acknowledgments that He knows, He cares, and He meets those needs. Error would keep us so busy thinking about eating, drinking, being clothed, meeting our physical needs, that our search for God falls to the bottom of the list and we don't quite ever get around to it. Don't be fooled! SEEK GOD FIRST! He'll take care of the rest.

(SH16) Weighing the human in the scale with the divine always limits our vision. Promise yourself, "I will not limit IN ANY DIRECTION OF THOUGHT the omnipresence and omnipotence of God." There is nothing too hard for Him. There is no incurability. This applies not only to cases of disease, but to anything that claims to be impossible. ("I'll NEVER understand him...get him to understand me...get my house clean...finish my homework....find a friend who understands me...."). Remember, He already knows your need, so you don't need to ask Him or tell Him. Just thank Him, acknowledge Him, and REJOICE in the affluence of our God.

SECTION V
KNOWING GOD BRINGS HEALING

(B13) The nobleman believed what Jesus told him, even though there was no immediate physical evidence that his child was healed. Do we do that? Do we believe what the Christ is telling us, or do we wait around to see if the material senses bear it out?

(SH21) When Jesus healed, taught, preached, he touched the hearts of the people and "lifted their lives higher than their poor thought-models would allow." What are our thought-models? Are they cramped and limited? Do they begin with a broken man and the try to fix him? Jesus didn't do that. He began with "perfect God and perfect man - as the basis of thought and demonstration. As we start with that basis, our prayers will be correct and effective.

(SH23) Whatever name our problems seem to have - sickness, lack, depression, unemployment - we'll be more effective when we call the problem by its REAL name - "ignorance of God." How does healing happen? "The right understanding of Him restores harmony." The answer to every problem is a better understanding of God. Notice the strong verbs in this passage. They're the daily "to-do list" of the Christian healer. Dismiss, rise, blot out, and remember that the problem is not after you personally, any more than a fisherman goes fishing for a particular fish. It's "arrayed against the supremacy of Spirit." So it's not a question of whether you are personally up to the healing. The supremacy of Spirit will always win the day. We're not waiting for the verdict to come from the body. The verdict is already in, and Christ, the ONLY JUDGE, says, "Thou art whole!"

SECTION VI
KNOWING GOD ELIMINATES HATRED AND WAR

(B15) Notice that the natural flow of the nations is up, not down. It's natural for all peoples and nations to love good, no matter what their history indicates. Beating swords into plowshares indicates that the power of nations is constructive, not destructive. As we cease to learn war anymore, what will we learn instead? Won't we learn more about God? (B16) The work of righteousness is the work of right thinking. If you are yearning for a quiet place - mentally or physically - you'll find it in right thinking. (B17) In the true knowledge of God there is not a single destructive element. This is a promise - "The earth shall be FULL of the knowledge of God" so that there is no "ignorance of God" to be healed. (B18) Just as we began with the covenant promise, we end with God's promise that "ALL shall know me, from the least to the greatest." No one is left out!

(SH26) Notice the modifiers in this passage. As we gravitate Godward (and we must!), we don't become boring or restricted. We don't lose our identity, but gain "ENLARGED individuality, a WIDER sphere of thought and action, a more EXPANSIVE love, a HIGHER and MORE PERMANENT peace." That's living large - that's Life with a great big capital L!

(SH27) Ask yourself! This is the only real measure of your progress and your worth. If the answer is yes, the way will grow brighter. "Your fruits will prove what the understanding of God brings to man."

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