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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 see and demonstrate the great value of daily study of the Christian Science Bible lessons year-round, not just at camp. If more information or the text of this Lesson is desired, please see the Director’s Note at the end. The citations referenced in the “met” (metaphysical application ideas) are taken from the King James Version of the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. The Bible and Science and Health are the ordained pastor of Churches of Christ, Scientist. The Bible Lesson is the sermon read in Christian Science church services throughout the world. (Other reference books are fully noted at the end.)

Entertain angels and and God will entertain and sustain you!
Application Ideas for Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on “God” for June 27-July 3, 2005
by Julie Ward, C.S. of Westwood, MA

GOLDEN TEXT – The one true safety.
Look at the names that David used for God – my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, my God, my strength, my buckler, the horn of my salvation, my high tower, “IN WHOM I WILL TRUST!” If you were to write this Psalm, what would you call God? My song, my inspiration, my stability, my healer? You might want to try writing it with the names that mean the most to you (There are many in this lesson.) Just be sure to add those important words – “in whom I will trust.”

RESPONSIVE READING – Moses sees an angel.
This account from Acts tells us that, when Moses returned to his own people, the Children of Israel, an angel appeared to him in a burning bush. As you read the lesson, look for the appearances of angels and note what they say. Then be sure to listen for your own angels throughout the week. This is a good time to remind yourself of the definitions of “angels” and “wilderness” in the Glossary of our textbook (S&H 581:4 and 597:16). Have you noticed recently how often angels have appeared in the wilderness?

At any moment, there may be a burning bush right at our feet. And that burning bush is not just an attention-getter. It’s a living illustration of the indestructible nature of God’s ideas. Look for your burning bush, listen for your angels, and be like Moses, who didn’t run away, but “drew near to behold it.” God spoke to Moses to remind him that He was the same God of his fathers – of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And it’s the very same God who speaks to us today. And the very same God who appointed Moses to be a deliverer of his people has a specific appointment for each of us. Even though others scoffed, he was appointed “by the hand of an angel.” So are we.

SECTION I – Start here!
This section starts with the verses surrounding a favorite CedarS call-response song: “I will call upon the Lord.” (B1 — II Sam. 22:4)  God is always the best one to call one, the correct starting point for all of our prayers (S&H 4): “The starting-point of divine Science is that God, Spirit, is All-in-all, and that there is no other might nor Mind, – that God is Love, and therefore He is divine Principle.” If you ever feel that you don’t know how to start your prayers, you can start with this, and you’ll be on a firm foundation – on the rock! God will bring you into “a large place” – without the restrictions of time and space. You can run right through a troop of false beliefs. You can leap over every wall that seems to obstruct your path. And here’s another great name for God -“my lamp.” He will lighten any darkness in thought – whether it’s called confusion, indecision, depression, discouragement. Even if the waves of death overwhelm you, even if you feel you’re in hell, God will save you. Our only job is to trust in Him. The promise then follows, “Step by step will those who trust Him find that ‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.'”(S&H 5)

We are so blessed to have these seven synonyms for God (S&H 2). We must never take them for granted. We must stretch our understanding of them every single day. If you haven’t done this recently, take this week and really dig in on one synonym each day. Ask yourself, “What does it actually mean when we say that God is Mind? What does it mean to me to be the image and likeness of Mind? What is Mind doing today?” And here’s one last question for us to ponder: What does it actually mean when we say that God is self-existent and all-inclusive?

SECTION II – Another angel appears!
At the time the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon under an oak tree, the Children of Israel were completely disheartened by the frequent raids of the Midianites and the Amalekites on their crops. The Israelites would work and work, only to have these bedouins appear at harvest-time and steal away their harvests. Does that sound familiar to you? Have you ever felt that, no matter how hard you worked, the fruits of your labors were always snatched away? At the time the angel appeared to Gideon, he was having to sneak around and do his threshing in a wine-press, hoping to avoid the attention of the enemies. So you can imagine his disbelief when the angel addressed him, “The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.” Then Gideon asked two questions about this salutation – questions that often come to us (B 2) –
– If the Lord Is with me, why am I in so much trouble?
– How could I possibly be the one to save others when I’m in so much trouble myself?

Don’t be surprised if these questions come to you in one form or another – often at the time when you’re just about to embark on some great work. These are the distractions of mortal mind, which suggests to us that we ask the wrong questions. The first question starts with the evidence of the material senses and reasons backwards from there. The second question also reasons backwards, because it assumes that one has to fit a humanly designed stereotype in order to serve God effectively. It’s interesting to note, though, that many of the heroes of the Bible are not the ones who came from Central Casting. David was the youngest of eight brothers, so he had plenty of experience at the bottom of the heap. Moses was slow of speech. Even Jesus was a carpenter, born in a manger. They were unlikely heroes to the mortal sense of things, but they knew enough to trust God, to follow Him, and to know that they had no personal power. Jesus said, “I can of mine own self do nothing.” (John 5:30) These heroes were open, obedient, and humble, and that’s what we must be if we are to be spiritual heroes for own times.

(S&H 7) gives us the recipe for happiness. It’s important to note that it involves “conformity with Christ” – not with other people. In (S&H 8), Mrs. Eddy gives us a perfect explanation of what angels are, and what they aren’t. It’s particularly touching, in relation to Gideon’s story, to note that “My angels are exalted thoughts, appearing at the door of some sepulcher, in which human belief has buried its fondest earthly hopes.” Sometimes we have to bury those earthly hopes in order to see the finger that points upward “to a new and glorified trust, to higher ideals of life and its joys.” Then we’re really ready to listen to the angel and obey, and the angels stick with us “By giving earnest heed to these spiritual guides they tarry with us, and we entertain ‘angels unawares.'” Let’s make it our project this week to give more “earnest heed,” so that the angels don’t just fly on by us, but TARRY with us.

SECTION III – Only ONE God!
During Gideon’s time, it wasn’t unusual for the people to give lip service to the idea of one God, but to still hang on to Baalism. Do we sometimes do the same, worshipping diet, exercise, fashion, television, gambling, etc.? In (B 3), the angel of the Lord gave Gideon very specific instructions about how to throw down the altar of Baal and destroy even the grove that grew beside it.. It was as if it had to be COMPLETELY erased to make room for the true worship of God. Often we have to do that, too. The interesting thing is that Gideon did this under cover of night, perhaps because he knew that his family and friends wouldn’t be so happy with it. After all, this was his father’s altar to Baal. When they discovered what he had done, the men of the city wanted to put Gideon to death. Standing up for only one God is no more popular today than it was back then. But Joash, Gideon’s father, made a very stringent point to the people. He said, “If he be a god, let him plead for himself.”

“The supposed existence of more than one mind was the basic error of idolatry.” (S&H 11) The idolatry of today is based in this SUPPOSITION of many minds. We certainly wouldn’t bow down and worship a graven image, so we must guard our thought against this supposition that there is a separate mind from God – a mind that is personal, limited, selfish, fearful, or even evil. As human thought progresses, we may seem to face a “long night” – just as Gideon did. “…But the angels of His presence – the spiritual intuitions that tell us when ‘the night is far spent, the day is at hand’ – are our guardians in the gloom.” (S&H 12)

SECTION IV – Fearful odds? Lean on God!
The Interpreter’s Bible has a wonderful headline for this story – “Strength through Subtraction.” It says (Volume2, page737), “If Israel thought she was delivered from the oppression of Midian by her own strength, the experience might carry her farther from God instead of bringing her nearer….The army therefore had to be small, so small that their defeat would be inevitable if they were left unaided.” The IB also mentions the two points of elimination for the army. The first was that those who were afraid would be sent home. The second seems harder to understand, but it’s very practical. Those who drank from a cupped hand were apparently considered more alert than the ones with their faces in the water. Finally, the Israelites were cut down to three hundred soldiers, while the Midianites and the Amalekites were “like grasshoppers for multitude.”

Gideon’s endeavors were “beset by fearful odds.” Sometimes it seems as if ours are, too. How many times have we said or heard, “The chances of that happening are slim to none”? More and more, medical diagnoses are based on numbers, a continual measurement that sizes up the probabilities of our life and health. Are you “beset by fearful odds”? Have you “no present reward”? Then be very sure that you obey (S&H 14) and “go not back to error, nor become a sluggard in the race.” This is the moment to lean more than ever on omnipotent Good. If it seems that our world is turning upside down, we can take our place with the three hundred. We can refuse to be afraid and stay alert. We can refuse to be over-whelmed by error, but aid in its ejection. We can “maintain law and order” in our own thought and “cheerfully await the certainty of ultimate perfection.” Yes – cheerfully! (S&H 17)


SECTION V – Defeat evil through intelligence.
As Gideon armed his men with trumpets, pitchers, and torches, he also armed himself with his own sense of oneness with God. He had the armies shout, “The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon.” He put God first – acknowledged Him in all his ways. The enemies were thrown into confusion, and fled in terror. Like David battling Goliath, Gideon had refused to meet the enemy on the enemy’s own terms. Intelligence won out over brute force. “The good you do and embody gives you the only power obtainable.” (S&H 18) There is no personal power. Gideon was humble enough to step aside and let error destroy itself. We can do that, too. And we’ll do it more easily and efficiently as we recognize that “Evil has no reality. It is neither person, place, nor thing, but is simply a belief, an illusion of material sense.” (S&H 19)

There was one last foe for Gideon to face: human popularity. In their joy over this victory, the people asked him to rule over them. His answer was consistent with his earlier stand on the issue of Baalism: “I will not rule over you., neither shall my son rule over you: the Lord shall rule over you.” (B7) Only when we reject personal power do we find the true power of God. “God is everywhere, and nothing apart from Him is present and has power.” (S&H 22)

SECTION VI – The Kingdom of God is here.
The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, which “when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth.” (B 9) Gideon was like that mustard seed. He was humble, threshing his wheat in the cover of the wine-press. But Gideon was willing to listen and follow and grow. Are we?

Christ Jesus began humbly. Who would have expected a carpenter born in Bethlehem to become the Saviour of the world? And yet, his simple words, “Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity,” healed a woman who had been bowed together for eighteen years. He must have seen the Kingdom of God within her. You and I may be as humble as the tiniest mustard seed, but as we are humble and obedient, trusting God with EVERYTHING, our branches will spread out and become a haven and a shelter for others. “When man is governed by God, the ever-present Mind who understands all things, man knows that with God all things are possible.” (S&H 27) There are no limits to our ability to bless and to be blessed.

Camp Director’s Note: The above sharing is the latest in a long series of CedarS Bible Lesson “mets” (metaphysical application ideas) contributed weekly by a rotation of CedarS Resident Practitioners and occasionally by other metaphysicians.  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 in the books. 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 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.)  

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