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[Demonstrate the Power of Understanding God’s Name. See P.S.]
Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on:

“God”
 

December 30, 2013—January 5, 2014


by Craig L. Ghislin, C.S.  Glen Ellyn (Bartlett), Illinois
craig.ghislincs@icloud.com / (630) 830-8683
[With bracketed italics by Warren Huff, CedarS Director & Met editor]

“What’s in a name?” writes Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet Act II, Scene II). When it comes to God, quite a lot. [See P.S.]  In both Hebrew and Greek, the word rendered “name” in the Bible means, “a mark of individuality, authority, or character” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible). Strong’s also suggests that the Greek word onoma could be a derivative of the word ginosko meaning, “to know, be aware, feel, have knowledge, perceive, be resolved, can speak, be sure, understand.”  To my sense, this definition describes what happens when we acknowledge God’s name, or character.  We begin to recognize that God is a power we can know, be aware of, feel and perceive.  Knowing God enables us to speak intelligently about Him, and to declare His law with surety and understanding.

The Golden Text gives us a name for God that sets the tone for understanding His character—”the Great, the Mighty, the Lord of Hosts.” There is no equivocating about God’s capability here.  Our God is not only capable, but almighty.

The Responsive Reading is a hymn of praise to God.  The author isn’t shy about it. He is absolutely convinced of God’s presence and power, and he expects that others will also see God’s magnificence. Theologian Albert Barnes points out that people tend to talk about what interests them. People of faith—”the saints”—as Barnes calls them, find the most pleasant theme of meditation and conversation to be God. In society, we are often counseled to avoid discussion about God and religion, yet it is as perfectly natural for those who believe in God to refer to God, as it is for mechanics to talk about cars, or financial planners about the stock market. It’s just who we are.  Don’t let the world’s doubt curtail your natural desire to share your love of God.  Not that we need to be preaching on the street corners, but we certainly don’t need to be ashamed of our love for God.

One of the most natural things to do when thinking or talking about God is to remember all the evidence we’ve seen of His presence.  Sharing our experiences can also be a good way to share with others. When we’re doing well, it affirms our position, and when things aren’t going the way we’d like them to, it helps to remind us of previous victories.

Barnes also notes that “the original word rendered ‘glory’ is the same word which is commonly used to denote ‘praise’… The idea is, in your praises let the main subject be the name of God.”  The psalmist has no doubt that God will continue to be praised forever—“His name shall be continued as long as the sun”—and he fully expects that the whole world will come to this glorious understanding.

Section 1: Get to Know God
The Bible tells us that God spoke with Moses “face to face, as a man speaketh to his friend” (B1).  Think about that. How do you speak with your friend compared to others? Moses’ encounter at the burning bush wasn’t a dream or a vision, but a very direct and intimate communication. Conversations between friends are often very frank, and sometimes we hear things we don’t want to, but we know that we can always rely on a true friend with complete confidence that our friend “has our back”. [An intimate, life-changing encounter with God like Moses had at the burning bush (B2, Exodus 3) can be experienced by anyone who takes "Ruth's Run" zipline tour at CedarS Bible Lands Park.  The first landing platform, at the "Horeb height where God is revealed" (S&H 241:25), takes everyone back 3000 years to a burning bush experience where "the great I AM" speaks to all time travelers about their God-ordained missions. There also the Biblical basis for God's synonymous names is spelled out. See citation S3, 587:5.]

Moses was seeing God more clearly than anyone else up to that point in history.  But he was still not quite sure about how he should share this understanding with the others.  While the scriptures say God was aware of the afflictions the children of Israel were suffering (B2), a major point in Christian Science is that God knows nothing about evil.  This can be reconciled by thinking of it from Moses’ point of view as recorded by the author of the book of Exodus.  Moses was awakening to the fact of God’s ever-presence, and omniscience.  He realized that he and his people were not alone against the world, but that there was an omnipotent power available to meet every need they had.  So it seemed to Moses that in order to meet those needs, God had to be aware of them.  But just as light isn’t affected by, or (if it were conscious) aware of the darkness, God, being all good, can meet every supposed obstacle to His presence simply by the virtue of His omnipotence and omnipresence.  His very allness supersedes and eliminates anything that would seem to oppose Him.  So, it’s only from our human point of view that it appears that God knows our need.  It is this indisputable, incontestable ever-presence that’s expressed in the phrase “I AM THAT I AM.”  God is self-existent, eternal, unchangeable.  He is what He is, and that’s that.  There’s nothing equal to or apart from Him.

Moses‘ revelation triggered the children of Israel’s exodus from slavery to the eventual acceptance of the responsibility to demonstrate what it means to gain an understanding of, and live by the laws of God (B3, B4).  The Bible is careful to point out that the laws of God didn’t come from Moses, but from God.  In ancient times as well as in many places today, people worship a pantheon of gods—each one having a specific task, purpose, and relationship to mankind, the world, and the universe.  The cornerstone of God’s new covenant with Moses is monotheism.  The God of Israel is One Lord, there is none else (B4, B5).  This might seem like a “no brainer,” to us, but it’s a significant point.

We don’t look to some imaginary power, luck, karma, fate, or to a “super-human” style deity; nor do we look to material laws of health, physics, or anything else.  We look only to God—”the sustaining infinite” (S1) for our every need.  Doing so, we are assured blessings. God is all—there is nothing else (S2).  Like Moses, Mary Baker Eddy discovered a deeper sense of God that surpassed all previous ideas about Him.  Her definition of God (S3) leads to the conclusion that God cannot be defined by any limited human concept or description (S4).  God is beyond and above anything the corporeal senses can conceive of.

As Moses demonstrated an advanced view of God through a “face-to-face” relationship, so Mrs. Eddy advanced the understanding of God from being a humanized deity with variable human traits, to a divine, unchanging Principle.  She saw that God couldn’t be understood by looking at Him through a material lens.  Only spiritual understanding can comprehend a God who is Spirit itself (S5).  The last line of this section declares, “The Christian Science God is universal, eternal, divine Love, which changeth not and causeth no evil, disease, nor death.” [140:25]

Section 2: God Wants Us to Understand Him
What does it take to understand God?  Jeremiah implies that God wants us to know Him (B6).  In the story of Job, we find a man struggling to figure out why he is suffering.  He wants to take his case to God and get straight answers.  Elihu enters the story after several interchanges between Job and his other three friends.  Even though Job’s three friends were very learned, they could not satisfy Job’s concerns.  Elihu claims to be spiritually inspired.  In other words, he’s claiming that true knowledge comes directly from God (B7).  Flashing back a bit in the story, Job laments that every effort to find, and understand God has failed him (B8).  Going “forward” and “backward” meant facing  East and West respectively.  Commentators point out the while modern geographers are oriented to the North, the Hebrew geographers of the time were oriented toward the East—the direction of the rising sun.  When facing East, turning to the left hand meant the North and the right hand the South.  Job is saying that he has looked in all directions in the natural world and still found no explanation of God’s purposes.

When the Lord appears out of a “whirlwind”—an ancient symbol of judgment—the tables are turned on Job (B9).  Job’s answer comes directly from God: “Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?”—who pretends to speak on things he cannot begin to comprehend?  Where was he when the world was framed?  Job is humbled, and his comparative ignorance in thinking he can explain God through material observation is exposed.  Job gets a radically different view of God here (B10).  He’d “heard of God with his ears”—previously understood what he could of God through the instructions of men; but now he “sees with his eyes”—understands through spiritual inspiration the glory of God’s nature and power.

Mary Baker Eddy underscores that God can only be understood through spiritual sense (S6).  Man owes everything he has, and is, to God (S7).  God is the “supreme ruler”—the highest authority there is, and in fact, the only authority (S8).  The relationship between man and God isn’t based on emotionalism or even on strong faith.  Our real relationship to God is found as we live in full obedience to His law.  As discussed earlier from Moses’ point of view, God seemed to be aware of the people’s needs in order to supply them; and we saw that from a spiritual standpoint, true supply implies that there is never a need to begin with. The actual fact is that the true spiritual relationship we have with God is “entirely separate from the belief and dream of material living” (S9).  The “real and eternal” is in Spirit, and while it seems to be unseen to material sense, we will see it and live in all its glory through the awakening of our spiritual understanding (S10).

Section 3: Live in the Kingdom
The scriptures tell us that God is to be found in the kingdom of heaven (B11). Is that some location? How do we find it? We don’t really have to go anywhere. It’s already here, within us (B12, B13).  As we’ve said before, God hasn’t set up an obstacle course through which we must travel in order to find Him.  It is his “good pleasure” to give us the kingdom (B14).  Not only does God give us the kingdom, He gives us the instructions to find it.  Theologian Adam Clarke considers The Lord’s Prayer that way.  He says, “A king who draws up a petition which he allows to be presented to himself, has doubtless the fullest determination to grant the request.”  When Jesus is asked “Teach us to pray” he gives the manner in which we should approach God [and hallow His name—see P.S.].  While we are fully aware that Jesus is not God, he is the highest authority we have on prayer, and he tells us exactly what our attitude should be (B15).  We start with a recognition of God’s being, His allness, and acknowledge that the kingdom is here.

Our Leader, provides us with further details.  We recognize the fullness and completeness of God.  We acknowledge that God is One.  We declare that God’s kingdom is here right now, and that God is ever-present (S11).

One of our family mottos is “Live in the Kingdom.”  That’s the standpoint of realizing the kingdom of God right here, right now.  It’s acknowledging that we don’t have to wait for it, or find it.  True prayer is seeing the reality.  That’s the Scientific way.  We start with Truth.  This standpoint is a constant rebuke to error (S12).  The definition Mrs. Eddy gives of the Kingdom of Heaven (S13) isn’t a place.  It’s a condition of being and consciousness in which God, Mind, Spirit, Soul, defines and regulates all that exists.  A key element of this kingdom is that it’s absolutely harmonious (S14).  There’s no trouble, discontent, fear, anxiety, jealousy, sickness, sin, or death.  Everything is perfect and in perfect order.  Jesus’ statement that the kingdom of God is within us implies that we aren’t fallen children of God.  We have the ability right now to see the reality of His kingdom (S15).  Our Leader tells us that if we allow that kingdom of heaven to “reign within us” all seeming evils will “diminish until they finally disappear” (S16).

Section 4: Fully embrace the all-power of Truth and Love.
One of the things we need to understand about God is that His power is abundant—unlimited.  Even those who say they believe in God, often feel that God either intends to give us challenges, or isn’t really able to help us.  We might think that there are certain situations that are beyond repair.  But a key point of the Bible is that God is all-powerful (B16).  He’s also omnipresent, operating “in all the earth” (B17).  But people still occasionally have doubts.  Even with the greatest healer of all time right there with him, John the Baptist still found himself questioning the veracity of God’s power (B18).  Jesus responded with a list of healing proofs that his message was authentic, and his healing ability was ample evidence of the power of God.  The book of John includes several occasions in which the people questioned Jesus about who he was.  It’s as if they just couldn’t comprehend it.  They see the healing works and Jesus tells them who he is, yet they ask again, “But who are you really?”  Do we find ourselves doubting if what Christian Science teaches about God is for real?  Even after a lifetime of healing proofs, sometimes we still question it.

Jesus’ healing power and authority came directly from God (S17).  Mrs. Eddy points out the contradiction of giving lip service to the power of God, and then looking to material means when challenged with disease (S18).  Does a drug really have more power than God?  Our textbook is very blunt about this.  To paraphrase, “If God can’t do it, we shouldn’t even try it.”  If God doesn’t heal, there is no healing (S19).  This is another way of saying “drugs do not heal.”  If, as some people feel, God allows or creates sickness, there’s nothing we can do to stop it.  But as we understand in Christian Science, God has nothing to do with any sickness, sin, or death.  Science and Health says discords have only a “fabulous” existence.  The Student’s Reference Dictionary defines “fabulous” as “feigned, as a story, devised, fictitious… related in a fable, invented, not real” [emphasis added].  Regardless of the severity, duration, or complexity of the story mortal mind tells us, discords of all types are destroyed through the all-power of Truth and Love.  I love the idea that the power of Christian Science is “indeed adequate”—in truth, fully sufficient—to “unclasp the hold and to destroy disease, sin, and death” (S20).  Why doubt it?

Section 5: [Cheerfully await] the time when “all shall know” God!
Just in case we’ve forgotten, the Bible tells us again of God’s exalted power (B20).  There’s nothing feeble or weak about our God.  There’s an added promise that the whole earth will eventually see this, and praise Him accordingly.  John had a revelation about the dawn of a new society in which God is fully known and acknowledged.  He saw “the holy city, new Jerusalem coming down from God” (B21).  This vision wasn’t a renovation of the present world.  Here everything is new.  In this city there is no separation between God and man.  He is with them, and they are His people.  There’s no need for anything external.  The light comes from within, and there is no night there.  Nobody is left out of this light.  “All nations shall walk in it.”  This vision coincides with the Old Testament promise that everyone shall know God “from the least of them unto the greatest of them” (B22).

Mrs. Eddy felt that the fulfillment of that promise was only a “matter of time” (S21).  She sees John’s vision as the culmination of the ongoing unfoldment of spiritual understanding in human consciousness.  We began the Lesson with Moses—getting a clearer understanding of God, but wondering how to explain it; and now we have John’s vision that all people will eventually come to a full understanding of God (S22).  Mrs. Eddy also points out that the vision comes to John through the same angel that held the vials containing the seven last plagues.  This encourages those who are struggling with difficulties [and those who have esperienced damage and loss, that full repayment and restoration is God’s will].  Nothing we face can deter us from realizing the healing power of God (S24).  She describes the New Jerusalem as divine Science—the full awareness of the presence of the kingdom of heaven (S25).  Most people would say that without the sun, all life would perish.  The heavenly city does not need the sun.  Its light comes from within, and it sheds its light on everyone.  This city contains nothing but perfection. All human titles, position, and power are dropped because God is all that’s necessary (S26).

Section 6: Fully accept that “All” Means—ALL!  [See P.S. below.]
The culmination of this heavenly vision is signaled by the sound of the trumpets (B23).  This is the final victory over all material beliefs.  There are no kingdoms apart from the kingdom of heaven.  The consciousness of God’s omnipotence transcends time.  It is, and was, and is to come.  The last Bible citation takes us back to the Old Testament. David’s blessing and praise of God (B24) is the basis of the last line of The Lord’s Prayer.  It is the fulfillment of the expectation expressed in the opening lines of the prayer.  We start with Truth and end with it.  We declare the end from the beginning. [Beginning “with the end in Mind” we daily find application ideas of this “prayer which covers all human needs” (S&H 16:10).  MyBibleLesson.com shares how Sunday School students found healing ideas in each part of this prayer as originally published in the Jan. 16/23, 2012 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel at jsh.christianscience.com.]

Science and Health provides the spiritual interpretation of this line of the Lord’s Prayer that emphasizes God’s allness (S27).  We say “allness” pretty easily, but do we really realize the powerful implications of that?  “All” means ALL!  Not most of the time or some of the time, but truly ALL.  The Christ, the true idea of God is “now and forever, here and everywhere” (S28).  Now remember, that “All-in-all” (S29) doesn’t mean God is “in” everything.  That’s nothing but pantheism.  God is never in matter or contained in anything.  All is in Him.  That’s the realization of the “maximum good.”  Truly understanding God’s name—His nature—means having God as your only consciousness (S30).  It’s what Jesus means when he says, “The Son can do nothing of himself,” and “I and my Father are One.”  That’s what we’re shooting for—having the Mind of Christ.  It’s the understanding that’s fully aware of God—feeling His presence, perceiving His Law, resolved to trust Him, able to hear God’s voice, sure that there is nothing else.  That’s living in the kingdom, and realizing the true name of God, and needing no other consciousness.


[P.S. Check out 2 uplifting video messages about God’s name and obeying the 3rd Commandment:  The first is a fun animation of Bible scholar Barry Huff’s explanation of how to act with full force faith that we have the nature, power and presence of God at:

http://christianscience.com/member-resources/for-churches/sunday-schools/sunday-school-resources/media-library/the-third-commandment/%28language%29/eng-US
The 2nd is a deep poetry dive and interpretive dance by Christian Science Lecturer Laura Lapointe that amplifies the 3rd commandment and God as All-in-All at
http://christianscience.com/member-resources/for-churches/sunday-schools/sunday-school-resources/media-library/calling-god-s-name ]


[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 Bible Lesson applications with older, as well as younger, Sunday School classes by clicking the "Subscribe Now" button (lower left) at http://www.cedarscamps.org/metaphysical/ ]

[Warren Huff, CedarS Director & editor of these notes & bracketed, italic additions.]

[GREAT NEWS!  CedarS met its $25k Maintenance Musts Challenge Grant, THANKS to all you dear givers! It also looks like donations will cover the re-building of all the old fences for our horses– with the exception of one $6,000 riding arena.  So, please pray about supporting this and CedarS Matched “Adopt the Herd” fund for year-round horse care; and/or our need to underwrite applications coming in daily for 2014 Campership funding!]

And, HUGE THANKS to our current Monthly Donors of all amounts.  See a recent video from 4 monthly donors about how significant your support is! 
THANK YOU in advance for MONTHLY MAKING A TAX-DEDUCTIBLE GIFT ONLINE,

BY PHONE at 636-394-6162
OR BY MAIL at:
CedarS Office, 1314 Parkview Valley Dr, Ballwin, MO 63011

[Check out CedarS with its Fundamental Concepts, Unique Facilities and Features designed to transform lives! Click to see testimonials in writing!]

[Additional Director's Note: You can sign up to have these application ideas emailed to you free — by Monday each week in English; or by each Wednesday you can get a FREE TRANSLATION: in German, thanks to Manfred and Jeanette; or in Spanish, thanks to a team of Ana, Erick, Claudia and Patricio, or in Portuguese, thanks to helpers of Orlando Trentini in Brazil.  A voluntary French translation by Rodger Glokpor, a Christian Scientist from Togo (West Africa) has been contributed.  Thank you, Rodger and all translators! Go to http://www.cedarscamps.org/ and click "Newsletters" to sign-up for a free translation into these languages.  This sharing is the latest in an ongoing, 13-year series of CedarS Bible Lesson "Mets" (Metaphysical application ideas) contributed weekly by a rotation of CedarS Resident Practitioners and occasionally by other metaphysicians.  (Ask and look for "Possible Sunday School Topics "and "Possible Younger Class Lessons" in emails to follow.) These weekly offerings are intended to encourage further study and application of ideas in the lesson and to invigorate Sunday School participation by students and by the budding teachers on our staff. Originally sent JUST to my Sunday School students and 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, application and inspiration they had felt at camp, CedarS lesson "Mets "and Sunday School ideas are in no way meant to be definitive or conclusive or in any way serve as 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 and background as well as new angles (and angels) on the daily applicability of some of the ideas and passages being studied. The weekly Bible Lessons are copyrighted by the Christian Science Publishing Society and are printed in the Christian Science Quarterly and in a variety of useful formats as available at Christian Science Reading Rooms or online at eBibleLesson.com or myBibleLesson.com. The citations referenced (i.e.B-1 and S-28) from this week's Bible Lesson in the "Met" (Metaphysical application ideas) are taken from the Bible (B-1 thru B-26) and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy (S-1 thru S-32). 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 the 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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