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Be a Cheerful Giver - and Get the Lasting Goods!

Kathy Fitzer, St. Louis, MO & Park City, UT
Posted Sunday, September 9th, 2007

Be a Cheerful Giver - and Get the Lasting Goods!
Metaphysical Application Ideas by Kathy Fitzer, C.S. of St. Louis, MO
on "Sub
stance," the Christian Science Bible Lesson for Sept. 10-16, 2007          

Editor's Note: The following background information and application ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson for this week are offered primarily to help CedarS campers and staff (as well as friends) see and demonstrate the great value of daily study of the Christian Science Bible lessons year-round, not just at camp!   You can sign up free to have these mets emailed to you in English by Monday or in French or Spanish by Wednesday: CHECK www.cedarscamps.org/metaphysical/ FOR THE FREE TRANSLATIONS.

It is tempting to think about substance in terms of what we have or what we need, or even who our body tells us we are.  But, this Bible-lesson encourages us to think, instead, about identifying ourselves in terms of thought - in terms of what we are GIVING.  And, incidentally, as we give, we receive - not only what we need, but also abundantly MORE than we need!  Then, we realize that substance is the essence of thought (of Mind) that constitutes our being.

Golden Text:  The Promise of Abundance through Giving
We are given a clear command - GIVE!  And then the promise - you will be given to.  And you will be given good like brown sugar is given to cookie dough - not just measured, but packed down to make room for all that can be held, and poured right in!  This verse follows several directives including: not to judge or condemn; to be merciful; to treat others, as you would like to be treated; and to forgive.   We don't have to sit around helplessly and take whatever is handed out.  GIVE!  Don't be deceived by what appears to come by chance or fate.  GIVE (just for the sake of giving) and you WILL receive abundant good!

Responsive Reading:  Be a Cheerful Giver!
The promise continues ... you receive in relation to your giving.  It is empowering to realize that God loves a cheerful giver!  Or, maybe we can think of it as being able to FEEL God's love when we delight in giving.  Competition - in sports, in academics, in business - tempts us to believe that if we want to get ahead we need to think of ourselves first.  For instance, it may keep us from sharing some secret of success.  But, Paul assures us that as we willingly give unselfishly, our needs will be abundantly met.  The Hebrew word translated "cheerful" can also be thought of as prompt or willing. (Strong's)  We all know the difference between doing something because we feel obligated and doing something because we really want to do it.  God's grace enables us to do whatever it is we do with a sense of exuberance and delight.  The ability is from God.  We just need to give our consent and be willing!  And then, once we accept the seed that God gives and it is sown, the result is that we have enough to meet our present need, enough to invest in more seed so that we can continue to plant, and enough to share with others, as well. (v. 10) As we give to others (and remember that at the time this letter was written, Christians were often dependent on gifts from others to survive) not only will others' needs be met, but they will also see how very good God is, be grateful, and prompted to help others, in turn.  The most important result may be that ALL thought will be turned to God - the source of all good - and gratitude will be the primary driving force for all that we do!
 
[Possible Sunday School Topic (P.S.S.T.): What can you cheerfully give or do that you had been reluctant to do or give?]

Section I:  Give Faith ... Receive a view of lasting substance through a spiritual perspective
What are we being asked to give in this section?  Isn't it our willingness to believe and trust that which isn't seen by the physical senses, but which is revealed by Spirit?  Starting with verse 4 of Hebrews 11
(which follows what we have in the Lesson) we read of the many marvelous blessings experienced by the patriarchs and prophets of the Old Testament - all of which resulted from the faith these people had in the goodness and supremacy of God. (B-1)  It is through our faithfulness to Truth that we, too, act according to the gift we have received.  We have received (through the teachings of Jesus and illuminated by Christian Science) the "spirit which is of God" rather than "the spirit of the world." (B-2)  What's the difference?  The "spirit of the world" would have us believe everything the physical senses tell us - that substance (or the essence of life) is good and bad, changeable, mortal, inconsistent, and capable of failure. (S-3) The "spirit which is of God" reveals substance to be "eternal and incapable of discord and decay"; to be Truth, Life and Love.  (S-1)  We must GIVE our consent to not depend on material sense to tell us what is true.  Instead of looking at what appears to be, we have to look at what Jesus proved to be!  The Revised Standard Version of the Bible translates Hebrews 11:1 as, "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."  We've all had things look different depending on our perspective - pictures that look completely different as you shift your view, the "snake" that turns out to be a stick, the stranger in your dark bedroom that turns out to be a pair of jeans thrown over a chair. When things seem to be going wrong, or you're faced with lack or disease or inability, give a huge dose of faith to the situation and change your perspective. And then watch out, because your whole approach to life may change as your view changes.  What seemed important before (a specific end result) will lose its importance, as you just desire to see all the good that God is continually pouring forth.  You, too, can expect to experience the "miraculous" care of God - just like Noah and Abraham and Enoch and Moses and Jacob and all the rest that gave their consent to have faith.  Faith enables us to SEE God's reality (which was previously hidden from our view) as we look from the standpoint of an unlimited spiritual perspective - rather than a limited material one. (S-4)  Soon you will become "a cheerful giver" of faith - not believing because you are told to believe but because you can't help but believe! [P.S.S.T.: What would you like to see from God's perspective this week?]

Section II:  Give back to God by giving your best - give generously!
Where does all good come from?  The Bible tells us that it comes from God. (B-4; S-5))  So, when we give, we can afford to be "cheerful" givers and give freely because we know that the source is infinite. (B-4)  Giving is really just an expression of our gratitude for God's generosity!  In the first part of I Chronicles 29, David is asking the people to give in order that the temple may be built.  Their response was a very generous one.  When we are deciding what to give to church - or what time we will devote to our worship of God - is it our tendency to "squeeze God in" or to put Him first?  Do we put something in the collection if we have enough left after all our other expenses?  Do we read the lesson and pray after we're finished with everything else - or if we're not too tired in the morning?  The Bible is pretty clear about giving generously (B-5) and giving the "first fruits" - the best of the crop. (B-6)  Think of it as an investment.  Financial advisors often suggest that people invest a certain portion of their income every pay period and that they do it first - before they have a chance to spend it on something frivolous.  This money will then grow and be available in the future - an amount much more than was invested.  At CedarS, the day starts with a spiritual message and a moment is also taken before every activity to gain a spiritual perspective and to thank God for His care.  It is a wonderful model for all of us to follow as we go about our day.  This is acknowledging God as the source of all good.  To do your very best in everything you do is "honour[ing] the Lord with thy substance". (B-7)  The promise follows that as you give generously
(to church and to others in need, as well as of your abilities), blessings will be showered upon you. (B-8)  Hymn 182 of the Christian Science Hymnal ends with the verse, "For we must share, if we would keep that blessing from above; They cease to have who cease to give: Such is the law of Love."  The best way to show our gratitude to God for all the good we have received is to take advantage of the good and use what we have to bless others. (S-7 & S-8)  We all have different ways to give.  The important thing is to actively express your gratitude to God by putting the needs of others before your own! Instead of asking "What's in it for me?" ask "What can I give; how can I bless?"  You'll then be blessed!  [P.S.S.T.: In what areas can you better follow the model of putting God and others first?]

Section III:  Get lasting treasure. Change your approach.  Give, you get - hoard, you lose!
Jesus loved to teach through parables. (B-11)  Rather than getting involved with the specific circumstances of this case, his objective was to teach a lesson.  What is he warning us of?  Is the problem how much we have - or not ever being satisfied with what we have, always wanting more, and not wanting to share
(perhaps out of fear that we will run out?)  Goodspeed paraphrases Luke 12: 15 as, "A man's life does not belong to him, no matter how rich he is."  For those who find themselves with plenty of material goods, it is tempting to rely on those goods and think that they are capable of insuring a full life.  It is easy to get distracted by material ease and not put God first - or to forget that it is only as we trust "in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy" that we build a strong foundation that can never be removed.  It is on this foundation that life eternal is built. (B-12)  It does not appear that either Jesus or Paul is saying here that there is anything inherently evil about money.  The evil comes from the reliance placed on the money, or the habit of watching our money accumulate (or diminish) - rather than relying on and watching God.  The only value of money is in the good that it can do for others.  As we share, understanding God to be the eternal source, we never need to worry about running out.  As we hoard what we have out of fear of losing it, we run the risk of not only losing our money, but also losing the freedom of truly living.  Remember that it is only in giving that we are truly blessed.  Material things can be lost, or stolen as a result of falling prey to "falsehood, envy, hypocrisy, malice, hate, revenge, and so forth." (S-15)  We've got to give up the world's standards for happiness (measured by the brands you wear, the friends you hang with, the car you or your family drives, the neighborhood you live in) and humbly look to Spirit for your happiness - as naturally as a flower turns to the light.  That's what Jesus (and his followers) taught us to do.  It is what we have to do if we're going to call ourselves Christians. (S-16)  This includes giving your love and friendship freely - without judgment or fear that you might end up in the "wrong group." (S-15)  Jesus shared in the Sermon on the Mount, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matt 6: 33)  You have to be a "cheerful giver" - giving all for the sake of glorifying God and devoting your life to loving Him and your neighbor, with no thought of what you're going to get - in order to receive the eternal blessings that Love is forever pouring out!  [P.S.S.T.: What worldly standard of happiness can you trade in today for a spiritual standard?]

Section IV:  Cheerfully give up your false sense of body to see your true substance.
What appears as materiality, including the mortal body, is not "the indestructible man, whom Spirit creates, constitutes, and governs." (S-1)  Colossians 1: 17 has its basis in Proverbs 8 and speaks of God as having "existed before all things, and in Him all things consist (cohere, are held together.)" (The Amplified Bible, B-16)  We're tempted to think that we are having to hold our lives together - and sometimes it feels that we're barely hanging in there.  It can feel like our body is falling apart - joint by joint, muscle by muscle, bone by bone.  But we must give up this false sense, presented by anatomy and physiology. (S-18)  Jesus showed us that the problem is never in a body.  It is thought that must be changed.  Mrs. Eddy explains, "bones have only the substance of thought which forms them." (S-19)  If all things truly consist of God, then we have a right and obligation to insist that our bodies reflect that consistency (that substance). The Amplified Bible speaks of the woman whom Jesus healed of an 18-year condition as having "an infirmity caused by a spirit (a demon of sickness.)"  This again points to the problem being an error of the human mind - expressed on the body. (S-18)  Through freely giving of the Christ, which he so fully embodied, Jesus recognized that "any abnormal condition or derangement of the body is as directly the action of mortal mind as is dementia or insanity."  It was Christ - the truth of God - which "stir[red] the human mind to a change of base, on which it ... yield[ed] to the harmony of the divine Mind" and the body immediately responded. (B-14 & S-20)  What are we accepting as our base - as our foundation, our substance?  Christian Science brings this sunlight of Truth today just as Jesus brought it centuries ago. (S-20)  "The divine must overcome the human at every point." (S-21)  We can be so grateful that God always causes us to triumph in Christ. (B-15)  So, there is no reason to feel discouraged if we haven't yet felt that touch of Christ that frees us from whatever belief would bind us.  We MUST be willing to give our full attention to the spiritual facts and not straddle the fence by depending on matter to fix some things.  "God arms [you] with strength and he makes [your] way perfect." (B-13 New Living Translation) Give it all up to God and watch the divine "overcome the human at every point"! (S-21) 
[P.S.S.T.: In what area can you stop depending on human (vs. divine) solutions?]

Section V:  Cheerful givers use what they've been given - Don't let fear stop you!
Once again we have the opportunity to be taught by Jesus through a parable.   In this case three individuals were entrusted with various talents
(various amounts of money). Two of the individuals exercised the qualities of promptness (remember that prompt is another translation of the Greek word for cheerful?), courage, and devotion.  As they USED what they had been given, they were able to give back more than had been given them.  The third was shackled by fear (and possibly laziness) and his talent brought no return.  In fact, as a result of his lack of action, his talent was taken away. (B-18)  How is that fair?  The poor guy was just trying to not lose his master's money.  But, there is a real lesson for us here.  We have each been given gifts.  The English word "talent" comes from this parable.  It would appear that some start life with more than others - both in terms of money and abilities and even spiritual understanding.  That's not the point.  The question is what are we DOING with what we have been given?  It is tempting when it feels that we have nothing to spare - whether it be funds or strength or friends to try to simply hang on to what we have.  Are you afraid to talk to someone outside of your "group" for fear that you will not be accepted by the new person, and at the same time lose the friends you have?  Are you afraid you won't have enough strength to do what you want to do later, so you don't do what you'd like to do NOW?  Moms and dads, are you afraid to venture out on a new business opportunity for fear of giving up the job you have now - even though it is not satisfying?  IF you are willing to trust God; if you are willing to USE what you have - think outside the box in response to God's direction and without fear - you will receive.  God gives us talents, but we have to USE them! (S-25)  We have opportunities every day to use our talents - including using whatever little understanding we have of God's healing power.  God's law never asks us to do something that is too hard. (S-26)  The parable indicates that each individual was given "according to his several ability."  Divine Love would never allow us to be in a situation that is too hard.  But we have to ACT like we have the God-given power that we do all have.  As we accept God's gift of good, we'll SEE the good that was hiding from view. (S-27)  As Christian Scientists we have the opportunity to invest our talent of spiritual understanding in the world.  Invest your prayers.  Put into practice what you know. (S-24)  At the end of My Bible Lesson this week is the story of a girl who wasn't afraid to offer to pray for her friend.  Not only was her friend healed, but also the friend was then able to help bring healing to the girl.  Cheerful giving always increases our true sense of substance - the essence of our being!  [P.S.S.T.: What under-utilized talent or ability can you improve and share today?]

Camp Director's Note: The above sharing is the latest in a series of CedarS Bible Lesson "mets" (metaphysical application ideas) contributed weekly by a rotation of CedarS Resident Practitioners and occasionally by other metaphysicians [with bracketed notes and possible Sunday School topics offered by me as editor]. This document is intended to initiate further study as well as to encourage the application of ideas found in the Weekly Bible Lessons as printed in the Christian Science Quarterly and as available at Christian Science Reading Rooms.* Originally sent JUST to campers, staff and CedarS families who wanted to continue at home and in their home Sunday Schools the same type of focused Lesson study and inspiration they had felt at camp, CedarS lesson "mets" are in no way meant to be definitive or conclusive or in any way a substitute for daily study of the lesson. The thoughts presented are the inspiration of the moment and are offered to give a bit more dimension, background and daily applicability to some of the ideas and passages being studied.   The citations referenced (i.e.   B1 and S28) from this week's Bible Lesson in the "met" (metaphysical application ideas) are taken from the King James Version of the Bible (B1-24) and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. (S1-30)  The Bible and Science and Health are the ordained pastor of the Churches of Christ, Scientist.  The Bible Lesson is the sermon read in Christian Science church services throughout the world.  The Lesson-Sermon speaks individually through the Christ to everyone, providing unique insights and tailor-made applications for each one.   We are glad you requested this metaphysical sharing and hope that you find some of these ideas helpful in your daily spiritual journey, in your deeper digging in the books and in closer bonding with your Comforter and Pastor.  Have fun unwrapping, cherishing and sharing your special, spiritual gift(s)!  

Enjoy!

Warren Huff, Camp Director    director@cedarscamps.org (636) 394-6162
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The weekly Metaphysical Newsletter is provided at no charge to the 1,200 campers and staff blessed each summer at CedarS, as well as to CedarS alumni, families and friends who have requested it. However, current and planned gifts are a big help and are greatly appreciated in defraying the costs of running this service and of providing needed camperships, programs and operations support.  Click http://www.cedarscamps.org/giving for more about how you can provide support online or to get information or discuss privately how to make a special gift to help perpetuate CedarS work. 

You can also MAIL your tax-deductible support to:

The CedarS Camps, Inc.        THANKS TO YOU PRECIOUS DONORS

19772 Sugar Drive                      FOR YOUR ONGOING SUPPORT

Lebanon, MO 65536                    OF CedarS IMPORTANT WORK!

LETTING SPECIAL NEEDS BE KNOWN - Thanks to many of you, a need to cover 4 recent Lectures has been met!  F
unding is still needed to help underwrite these special opportunities:

      1. The CSO (formerly "College Org") Summit over Labor Day 2007 (Aug. 31-Sep. 3) at CedarS for all college and university students and professors as well as incoming high school seniors.  This event sponsored by TMC Youth (The Mother Church Youth committee) includes workshops offered by Christian Science lecturers, speakers and writers for the Christian Science Monitor, Journal and Sentinel.  CedarS and our donors need to subsidize $2,000 more to cover expenses for this event.
 
 

      2. "Maintenance Musts" Matching Opportunity!  A generous donor who is aware of the ongoing maintenance needs to make CedarS facilities measure up to its mission will give two dollars for every dollar donated! (up to the $25,000 needed goal)  A $25,000 grant will be available by the end of September and another $25,000 by the end of December, IF we raise $25,000 by then.

   

MyBibleLesson is a new, visually oriented and very helpful resource for study of the weekly Christian Science Bible Lesson.  It is being produced by The Christian Science Publishing Society and can be found at: myBibleLesson.com.  What a great auxiliary to lesson study -- maybe even reading beyond citation markers using the handsome new student books now sold in Reading Rooms.   MyBibleLesson contains word definitions, Bible background info, fun topical cartoons, timelines and translations, plus many healing ideas to use.  Why not check out this vehicle to help bring new meaning and life to each beloved Bible lesson in order to bless the youthful thinker and Sunday School student (and teacher) in us all!  
 
You can receive or stop your free subscription to CedarS weekly newsletter in your email box by Sunday or Monday of each week by subscribing - or unsubscribing --at www.cedarscamps.org/myCedars  For additional support, or if you have any concerns, please send e-mail to: director@cedarscamps.org.

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