Thanks for a wonderful summer!

“Grapple with and overcome any and all supposed powers opposed to God.”
Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on:

“Ancient and Modern Necromancy, alias Mesmerism and Hypnotism, Denounced”
for the week of May 24 – 30

by David L. Price, C.S of Denver, CO
720.308.9500 dlawrenceprice@gmail.com

INTRODUCTION

In the last citation of this week’s Bible Lesson we are given marching orders: “Every mortal at some period, here or hereafter, must grapple with and overcome the mortal belief in a power opposed to God.” (citation S32) This lesson helps to clarify different powers; but ultimately, just like a bank teller who can distinguish counterfeit currency simply by knowing confidently what the real currency looks like, we can know counterfeit powers simply by knowing and feeling with confidence what real spiritual power looks like. So, as you go through the lesson this week, I encourage each of you to really pull out those spiritual ideas that firmly state that God is all-powerful, that God is in control.

Also, I really like this lesson as a primer to jumpstart your daily protective work. I’m reminded of Mary Baker Eddy’s call to action:

“Alertness to Duty. Sect. 6. It shall be the duty of every member of this Church to defend himself daily against aggressive mental suggestion, and not be made to forget nor to neglect his duty to God, to his Leader, and to mankind.” (Manual 42:4–8)

Feel free to send me any inspiration you received from doing this work.

GOLDEN TEXT

As most of you know, at the end of every Sunday service in a Christian Science church or society, the “First Reader” chooses a benediction, which means a bestowing of a blessing, as a conclusion. Usually for our services the rule of thumb is to find a blessing or a promise of good from the Bible, usually it should be about one or two Bible verses long.

So, at the end of one particular Sunday service while I was serving as First Reader, I put my finger on a blue sticky note which marked the page where that Sunday’s benediction was to be found. I gently lifted, and the sticky note pulled right out of its page, leaving me no trace of where that passage had fallen. I’m pretty sure a bead of sweat rolled down my forehead. Then I said aloud, “We are more than conquerors through him that loved us,” which is a verse that appears as part of this week’s Golden Text and which came to me as an angel message in just the right moment that morning. Phew!

Instead of it ending our church service this week, this verse begins our lesson, and what a way to start. It’s an assurance for each of us, which says regardless of lies told, the impersonal and personal attacks, in actuality there isn’t even a foe to contend with when you have God on your side.

Finally, just think if you go into battle, which is what we get to do every day, who wouldn’t want to be referred to as “more than conquerors” or those who are “overwhelmingly victorious?” (New Living Translation)

RESPONSIVE READING 

I want to take a little extra time on the Golden Text because I think it’s a great way to begin your protective work.

Alright, knowing what we do from the Golden Text, what do we do to be “overwhelmingly victorious?” Doesn’t that seem highly unlikely when there seems to be so many attacks: someone stops being your friend right at the end of school, or things are difficult at home, maybe it’s a struggle with a job, or a challenge with a difficult personality? (Side note – Section 5 is a good one for that last one.) Well, these “wiles of the devil” are really scheming, strategies and tricks to get you into thinking you are a victim and, more importantly, that God’s not in control. Yet, God is in control eternally, supremely in fact, and this supremacy of Truth does not share power or dominion with Truth’s opposite.

Ephesians 6 begins by redefining what a foe really is, and it’s not ninjas or a thief. A foe is really “evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world… mighty powers in this dark world” (New International Translation).

Well, even my 6-year-old, lightsaber in hand, could tell you how to battle foes like thieves and ninjas, but how do we arm ourselves for battle against this unseen foe?

This is Paul’s advice to the church at Ephesus. First, keep in mind, we aren’t talking about your personal strength; this is all about God’s strength, power, ever-presence and care.

Next, God has given you armor to wear, and not the tons of armor like Goliath had to wear. Here’s a list of things from the Responsive Reading (Eph. 6:10-17) that you should put on (and best of all, there are no upfront purchases for you to make, you already have them!):

  1. First, put on Truth, especially the Truth about you in God’s image and likeness. Lies never stand up to what is true and honest.
  2. Make sure you fortify with righteousness that space around your heart, seeing and doing God-inspired goodness. That includes seeing others as God sees them, even if on the outside it looks like they aren’t doing the right thing. (Remember, we aren’t battling people; we are battling the power that tries to use and abuse people through suggestion and trickery.)
  3. Next, put on such a peacefulness that you want to help others drop their weapons. This is the very Gospel of Peace. I loved the analogy of wearing peaceful shoes (“feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace”) and was reminded of that passage from Isaiah, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” (Isaiah 52:7) This is the Christly way. So, it is step by step being ready and willing to speak of the good news, the kingdom of heaven right here and now.
  4. Put on the Shield of faith – and you can do this by being confident and firm that turning to God always keeps you protected and gets you the answers you need.
  5. I love to put on the helmet of salvation. Sometimes we are just too in-our-own-heads, overthinking things, blaming ourselves, or feeling guilty for what we haven’t done. The helmet of salvation reminds you to turn thought back to God, because with God you have mercy and forgiveness which makes up salvation.
  6. Finally, you get to wear a weapon, an actual sword (well, not an actual sword, which would have been my son’s favorite. My daughter would say, “Not a lightsaber? Boring.”) You get to wear the sword of Spirit. This is so powerful because it is the word of God. With this sword you get to stand firm in what you know to be true, you even get to say it out loud. You can start by knowing and feeling how very much God Loves each and every one of you.

SECTION 1 – GOD IS SUPREME AND ALL-POWERFUL; EVIL UNDER WHATEVER NAME, INCLUDING ANIMAL MAGNETISM, CANNOT PREVAIL AGAINST TRUTH.

The essence of Section 1 is to trust God who is all-powerful, omnipotent. No matter what kind of enemy has taken up arms against you, it will not prevail. The last Bible citation in this section drives home this fact, “There is no power but of God….” (B5/Romans 13:1)

Of course, the material world would like you to believe that there are other powers that can do you harm, and even human history can sure convince you of this. One thing we can do right now in this moment is to consider what your struggle seems to be, and then bring this struggle to the lesson for answers. Consider what the first passage (cit. B1/I Chron. 29:11) is assuring you of, that God is where the power and the victory will be found. Turn to God and trust.

This idea of “taking away … judgments” in a passage from Zephaniah (verses 3:14,15/cit. B2) reminds me of a time right out of law school. I definitely was pretty selfish and thinking mostly about how to have a good time, but I was also struggling with a difficult, judgmental and angry boss in my law job. Interestingly, because of my selfish behavior, I believed that I kind of deserved it. As I began learning more and more about Christian Science in my prayerful study, I kept hearing this underlying message: you are loved, and God forgives you. Ultimately, God did provide a path out of my difficult employment and into something better. Even more importantly, I started to know God better. So, what I saw was the promise in this citation fulfilled. The “judgments,” or “punishments” as the Good News version of the Bible puts it, were taken away, and my employment [“enemy”] was solved with a new and better job [path].

Just remember, the God I’m talking about is universal Love, so these same blessings are for each one of God’s children, you included.

Citation B3 (Isa. 54:17) mentions servants and brought a friend to mind. One of my friends had responded to her sister, who declared that she didn’t want to be anyone’s servant, “Who wouldn’t want to be the servant of Love?” So fellow servants, what a blessing to know that you are safe in your service of Love, you are safe.

Next, I really appreciated the practical sense of the translation in New International Version for this passage from Nahum: “The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him. Whatever they plot against the LORD he will bring to an end; trouble will not come a second time.”  (Nahum 1:7,9/ cit. B4)

These Bible passages really lay out what is true about God. The first citation in Science and Health reinforces the last verse in the Bible, “There is no power apart from God. Omnipotence has all-power…” and then Mary Baker Eddy lays out our responsibility, saying even acknowledging another power is dishonoring God. (SH 228:25-27/cit. S1)

So, what is this false power? Well, in simplest terms it is evil. What is the foundation evil builds upon? Well, it’s the lie that evil has at least some, if not equal power to God. And I think we can all relate to being tricked by this lie – when you look at what’s going on around you, you can see things like war in the Middle East, political divide, worldwide pandemic. Those are powers, right? It’s hard not to stand aghast, even feel like a victim. Mary Baker Eddy is so observant of human tendencies towards powers opposed to God when she says, in effect, “If you’re going to be startled by bad material power, you better also be startled at the good God is doing, because that’s what’s really going on.” (SH 130:26-2/cit. S3)

A healing that happened in our family a few years back really drives home this point. Our little daughter fell from a ledge and hit her head on the corner of a retaining wall. The evidence from a material standpoint was a head injury that, at best, could have used stitches. In those first moments, we chose as a family to remain steadfast in God’s healing presence and look for the spiritual evidence. During our prayerful work there was peace, tangible Love, and the Christ. And the healing occurred that evening, no stitches or bandages necessary. We even attended Wednesday church with kids in tow. I was and am startled by God’s care and harmonious control. Let’s all take a moment and be startled at God’s goodness.

A brief sidenote, an offering on how you might do a metaphysical treatment. Use citations S4 and S5 (SH 71: and 103:15-23) to take the issue you’re contending with and plug it in where the word “evil” is used. Of course, don’t do this as a prayerful formula, because as we all know there are no formulas in prayerful work. Instead, see the gravity of what these statements mean. Use that spiritual sense and feel that goodness to be true. In the face of Truth, evil does not stand.

SECTION 2 – THERE IS NO ADVERSARY, WHEN YOU TAKE STEPS TO GUARD THOUGHT AHEAD OF TIME AND PLACE ALL YOUR FAITH IN GOD.

The adversary (SH 580:28-31/cit. S6), which is another name for the devil, or that which “opposes, denies, disputes” the power of God, is really “mortal mind,” the belief that what the five physical senses says about you and the world is what’s true and real.

How do you protect yourself from this adversary? Well, you can start with humility, yielding to God’s ever-present care. Then we might take a closer look at whether our intentions are to satisfy our material cravings or if they are directed toward God.

So, let’s begin with the Truth that there is only one Mind and idea, in order to exterminate evil (cit. S11/469:13-17). Here are a few ways to get thought focused.
1. Humble yourself! (cit. B6/1st Pet. 5:6-8) Look, you’re safe. God is all-powerful and is caring for you and protecting you.
2. “Be sober and be vigilant,” which means don’t be dopey. “Stay alert!” (more cit. B6/1st Pet. 5:6-8, New International Version)
3. Have that Mind that was in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 2:5; SH ix:16; 497:24) This is a good one, but how do we make this practical? We can simply begin with looking at the ways Christ Jesus lived his life, take those lessons, and work to do the same. I specifically appreciate the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-12) from the Sermon on the Mount, which include meekness, mercy, purity, recognizing that even if you have just a small amount in Spirit you still get the kingdom of heaven, really desiring divine goodness, being a peacemaker, etc. These qualities of Jesus, just to be clear, are natural and normal in all children of God.

Why spend the majority of our time on divine Mind and our expression of this Mind? Because this conscious affirming, which in a sense means putting off the tattered garment of “faith in matter,” preemptively guards yourself against whatever takes a stand contrary to or against Truth. It guards yourself against the adversary. (cit. S10/234:17-18, 31-3 and cit. S11/469:13-17)

Finally, I’m reminded of Mary Baker Eddy’s statement about the power of Mind, “You must utilize the moral might of Mind in order to walk over the waves of error and support your claims by demonstration.” (SH 455:8-10)

SECTION 3 – HOW TO HANDLE SPECIFIC MENTAL MALPRACTICE THROUGH GOD AND GOD’S ACTIVE LOVE

This section addresses a specific form of evil: mental malpractice. Here we have the king of Moab, Balak, who, seeing the Israelites and how great these people are, becomes afraid that they are going to overthrow him and his kingdom and use up his country’s resources. He decides to mentally attack the children of Israel by convincing Balaam, a prophet for other supposed gods, to destroy the Israelites by cursing them. This part isn’t in the lesson (cit. B11/Numbers 22:2, 5, 6), but on Balaam’s journey, he meets up with an angel who appears to his donkey, and the donkey won’t go any further. This makes him so mad he begins to beat the animal. Only then does he understand, his donkey is more perceptive than he is. Once he gets it and listens to the angel message, he refuses to go along with King Balak’s plan. “How shall I curse, who God hath not cursed? Or how shall I defy, who the Lord hath not defied.” (cit. B12/Numbers 23:5, 8, 11, 12, 20) So, the Israelites were saved from mental malpractice through God.

When you seem to be under attack, there are lots of ways to reach out to God in prayer.  One way is called a prayer of petition, or a request for divine assistance as shared in citation B10 from Psalm 64. (verses 1-3, 10) In one sense, this type of prayer allows you to sort out what you might be afraid of, what you think has a power to contend with God.

Here’s helpful insight into the adversary that sets out to direct evil specifically at you – “All mental malpractice arises from ignorance or malice aforethought [this means intentional and planned out evil].  It is the injurious action of one mortal mind controlling another from wrong motives, and it is practiced either with a mistaken or a wicked purpose.” (cit. S15/451:26-3)

In simplest terms, to defend against mental malpractice all you have to do is stick with the supremacy of Spirit, trust in God’s abiding care. One way to make sure you protect yourself is to have an “upright heart” (cit. B10/Ps. 84:10), recognizing that everyone, even those who seem to shoot mental arrows, are God’s children. By impersonalizing mental malpractice, which is to say, by seeing the person who seems to be doing the attacking as someone who is tricked or used by evil, you are able to focus your work against the evil, not the person. And in this way, you yourself are not guilty of mental malpractice, but instead are loving your neighbor as yourself. This is the sentiment behind citation S14 (SH 205:22).

Recently I had the opportunity to really feel a sense of God as Love and express it outward in the face of hatred and resistance. I was tasked with reading a book written specifically against Christian Science. Before doing any work, I began with prayer. I really did know God was supreme, but I was concerned that frustration and anger would get the better of me. In my prayerful work an angel message came to me, “I love this author, and this will never change.” It wasn’t on me to somehow fabricate a human love for this author; God never stopped loving, and since I was a transparency for Love, I couldn’t help but love. That sure stopped dead in its tracks any personal sense of frustration and anger. With this sense of God’s presence and care, I felt no effects from the reading project.  Citation S17 (571:18-19) reminds us to wrap ourselves up in that sense of Love that completely protects like the suit of armor discussed in the Responsive Reading (Eph. 6:10-17). Another way of putting it is to just feel the Love that has already and eternally wrapped you up, then no hatred can harm or even “reach you.”

SECTION 4 – IMPERSONALIZING SICKNESS AND DISEASE IN ORDER TO CAST OUT EVIL

I loved the healing in this section (cit. B14/Matt. 17:14-18). First, it’s worth mentioning that some translations don’t agree about whether the son’s affliction was a mental health disorder or a seizure/epilepsy. I’m reminded of Mary Baker Eddy’s Church Manual provision on describing diseases, “Testimony in regard to the healing of the sick is highly important. More than a mere rehearsal of blessings, it scales the pinnacle of praise and illustrates the demonstration of Christ, “who healeth all thy diseases” (Psalm 103:3). This testimony, however, shall not include a description of symptoms or of suffering, though the generic name of the disease may be indicated.” (Man. 47:13–20)

We don’t give descriptions, only the generic name of an ailment, in order to avoid leading others to think more deeply about the ailment than about God. It’s kind of like when someone tells you they got a particular type of wound, and you totally cringe. You don’t want to do that to someone else. Jesus himself does not name/diagnose this affliction; in fact, he does not even make it personal to the son. Instead, Jesus handles the “devil,” or adversary, and casts it out. And then the boy is well, completely healed.

Finally, in this healing example, Jesus rebukes his disciples for not being able to heal the boy. And we shouldn’t take this lightly. In one sense it’s an expectation that what Jesus has been teaching the disciples is not just nice words but rather practical healing. Referring to the disciples as a “faithless generation” in effect meant they lacked the power to heal because they forgot that healing power comes exclusively from divine Mind (cit. S19/147:32-4).

Here’s basically what Jesus says to his disciples from the Message: “’What a generation! No sense of God! No focus to your lives! How many times do I have to go over these things? How much longer do I have to put up with this? Bring the boy here.’ He ordered the afflicting demon out—and it was out, gone. From that moment on the boy was well.” (cit. B14/Matt 17:17, 18, Message)

If we are disciples (and really each one of you is called), then we should be asking, what is that “life focus” Jesus was talking about? And in a sense citation B15 from Romans 16 (verses 19, 20) is an answer. It is to be focused on what God has created – those things which are good, spiritual and eternal. Also, make sure you have no part in evil. I appreciated this translation, “I want you to be wise in doing right and to stay innocent of any wrong.” (New Living Translation)

The passages in this section from Science and Health are both a practical approach in your healing work, as well as assurance of your God-given ability to successfully do healing work, and that includes continued “spiritual understanding, potency, enlightenment, and success.” (S-23)

In order to handle a false claim sometimes called serpent, devil, red dragon (those things that say material condition has power and intelligence), we can be assured that it is the present Christ, the spiritual idea, that destroys that belief. Remember Jesus casts out the devil and the boy was healed.

In healing work,

  1. Cast out any evil;
  2. Make sure you don’t rely on material methods to do spiritual work;
  3. Destroy the belief that one human thought can control another in order to heal. For a spiritual healing patient, Mary Baker Eddy advises, “Emptying his thought of the false stimulus and reaction of will-power and filling it with the divine energies of Truth.” (cit. S20/185:22, 32);
  4. Handle and destroy fear (cit. S21/392:5);
  5. Remember that world belief goes completely counter to spiritual healing, so handle “human resistance.” (cit. S22/329:32-2) In order to do this, remember that if people resist your prayerful work, they are coming at it from a false premise. Truth will always overcome an error in thinking, just like light always dispels darkness.

SECTION 5 – DON’T BE DISTRACTED BY LOW THINKING AND EGO-DRIVEN CHARACTER. THE LOVE OF GOD KEEPS YOU FOCUSED AND SAFE.

In the previous section, we are warned to really root out and destroy “will-power” as well as hypnotism, especially when it is used as a form of cure. Luckily, we can be assured that it is destroyed through “the divine energies of Truth.” (cit. S20/185:32) In this section, it is the pull of human ego or will, including force of personality, which is being exposed. I was thinking specifically about the iconic, “cool kid”— the one whom others seem to gravitate toward. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, unless popularity pulls others away from what’s right, away from God, in which case it is low-thinking and low-acting behavior.

Think of how the following words are the opposite of yielding to the omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient Mind: blind, stubborn, and headlong [recklessly hasty]. Now consider how bad things might get when you combine these mortal qualities with “appetite and passion.” (cit. S25/490:8)

This section really caused me to think not just about how I might resist the influence of mortal thought, but how I might in a subtle way be influencing others myself. I thought about how complaints about other people, church, news items, or politics can rile up others to start down that road of low thinking. Let’s all take a moment to sort through our motives and actions in order to resist using human will in this way.

One of my all-time favorites is the quote is from citation S28. It really is the treatment for both avoiding the enticing passion and desire of others, as well as an instructive encouragement to stay on the straight and narrow path. It begins with the right incentive and then assures us that Love is a complete help. It encourages right motives, and ends with the power of Love and Truth, the altar ready to destroy what is unlike God. Here’s the quote, “Love for God and man is the true incentive in both healing and teaching. Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way. Right motives give pinions to thought, and strength and freedom to speech and action. Love is priestess at the altar of Truth.” (cit. S28/454:17-22).

SECTION 6 – GOD IS CARING FOR YOU AND NOTHING CAN SEPARATE YOU FROM THE LOVE OF GOD, WHICH IS IN CHRIST JESUS

Here is a final checklist in your work to see God’s present care and Love for you. (cit. B18/1st Pet. 3:8, 9, 12,13)

  1. Unity
  2. Compassion
  3. Brotherly and sisterly love
  4. Tenderness
  5. Humility

These qualities are a great way to show your love for God. I appreciated the translation of “railing for railing” from New Living Translation: “don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing.” And just for clarification’s sake, it seems to me that when you work counter to God, it’s not that God stops caring for you and protecting you, it’s that you are now looking in the wrong direction and so are blinded to God’s care. (cit. B18/1st Pet. 3:8, 9, 12,13, NLT)

I love to read citation B19 from Romans along with correlative passages from Science and Health in this way – When you show your faithfulness to God, you see more clearly that God is the cause of all things working together for good. You are called by God in this very moment, even when things seem unclear, scary, cold or dark, God is right there leading you forward, and nothing can separate you from God’s love. (cit. B19/Rom. 8:28; cit. S29/304:9-14; cit. S30/458:23-28)

As this Lesson’s final citations (cit. S32/569:3-14 & cit. S31/450:29-2) remind us, ultimately, the goal is to let go of the belief that there is power in matter, a particular material condition, or evil (which is the claim of animal magnetism) and see and feel the supremacy of Truth. Mastering your mortal beliefs, you will see demonstrable healing and feel and see more and more of God’s Love!


**Join us for a virtual CedarS Sunday Hymn Sing! (by Zoom Sunday at 7pm Central Time.) Invite family, church and other friends and even neighbors to join in this healing CedarS tradition along with a happy, worldwide “chorus” every week. You can sing along (muted) with CedarS unmuted, host musicians seven hymns that all are invited to request.
Click here for a link and fuller details.

(A precious prelude precedes each sing at 6:45pm Central Daylight-savings Time (CDT.) We encourage singing along in Zoom’s gallery view to share the joy of seeing dear ones in virtual family-church reunions that bless all generations.

To protect privacy and copyrights, these “brief, but spectacular” sessions are NOT recorded. So, calibrate your time-zone clocks, mark your calendars, and remind friends, so that no one misses any of these inspiring, weekly reminders of our precious, spiritual oneness with each other and with our ever-loving, Father-Mother God who owns and embraces us all!

Lovingly singing prayers and praise to God for about 30 minutes each Sunday is such a warm, “Welcome Home” tradition to bless the start of each week with joyous, peaceful GRACE. (Our 2021 theme.) We have loved singing-in this grace with longtime as well as first-time friends—not only from ALL 50 of the United States, but also from 22 other countries! So far, our “Hymn Sing family” has clicked or dialed-in from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, England, Germany, Ghana, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, New Zealand, Pakistan, Paraguay, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Scotland, Spain, South Africa, Switzerland, as well as from each of the United States! In the universal language of divine Love, “the ‘still, small voice’ of scientific thought reaches over continent and ocean to the globe’s remotest bound.” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, p. 559:8–10)


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