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[PSST: Teach Students the Dominion of Defending Thought!]
Possible Sunday School Topics for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on
“Ancient and Modern Necromancy, Alias Mesmerism and Hypnotism Denounced”

for Sunday, May 31, 2015

By Tom Evans Jr., a former staff member and big fan of CedarS

The subject of the lesson denounces, casts out necromancy, mesmerism, and hypnotism from the past and today. Have a little chat about this. Is Mrs. Eddy lumping them all together as untrue? (Yes) What examples of modern necromancy mesmerism and hypnotism are trying to get our attention today? (The belief of life in matter, the lie that disease is real, all things medical… ) The passage from Isaiah in the Golden Text assures us that everything warring against truth will be wiped out. Why? (Because God will hold your hand, will guide you, and will reassure you in fearful moments.)

How does the Responsive Reading build on this promise of divine provision? Look for key words describing the ways God takes care of us. (Psalms 37:3 Fed, 37:5 God makes it happen, 37:7 rest / trust in God, 37:11 Meek receive peace, 37:18 inheritance is forever, 37:39 salvation from trouble, 37:40 help and deliverance).

Look at Ps 37:18. Have a discussion with inclusive language “The steps of a good man (and woman) are ordered by the Lord.” The New Revised Standard Version puts it this way: “Our steps are made firm by the Lord, when he delights in our way.” Why does God delight in our way?

PSST for Section 1 — defend your thought
Immediately after citation B2 is the familiar passage about the breastplate of righteousness and the shield of faith, etc. in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians 6:14-17. In this passage, there is no armor listed for the soldier’s back (Matthew Henry Concise Commentary). What does this say about approaching a scary situation? In citation B2 Paul tells the Ephesians that they can stand against the tricks of the devil. Do you have confidence like this?

The entire book of Deuteronomy takes place on the eastern bank of the Jordan River right before the Israelites cross over to the Promised Land. Picture Moses’ farewell speech to the Children of Israel. On Monday I had the opportunity to stand in CedarS’ Bible Lands Park and walk across the Jordan River with a group of family campers. In this setting of anticipation, knowing there will be challenges ahead for his people, Moses strengthens the Israelites’ resolve to focus on God alone (B3). How can you use the truths presented in this section to avoid false beliefs? One power (S1); false foundation / origin of evil (S2); naming a lie, animal magnetism, for the purpose of destroying it (S3), citations S4 and S5 denounce the lie of animal magnetism.

In citation B5 Paul takes a political risk by telling the people of Rome that there is something else superior to Rome—“there is no power but of God.” Are you willing to speak up in thought or out loud even when some other false power might try to shut you down? Look at Martin Luther’s Hymn #10 in the Christian Science Hymnal. It begins with “All power is given unto our Lord…” What did Martin Luther speak out against a controlling power?

PSST for Section 2 –
The Israelites worshipped one God alone and had to stay focused to do so. Neighboring nations and partners in trade brought spiritual distractions, other false gods to worship, human advice and human will (see section 4). How can our consciousness be a metaphor for the defensive work the Hebrews were constantly involved in? Citation B6 God is a strong hold; citation B7 be careful of those who say the opposite of God’s spiritual word; citation B8 don’t give in to temptation; citation B9 the advice or counsel of the heathen or ungodly will produce no good results—they will have “none effect.”

Look at the descriptions of “voluntary” and “involuntary” mesmerism in citations S6, S7, and S9. What is the role of the hypnotist or “operator” in citation S8? Citation S10 is an absolute statement about Mind and citation S11 points out disbelief in error destroys error. How can you ensure you don’t fall for Animal Magnetism’s voluntary or involuntary suggestions? Explain key points in this section in your own words. Use examples from your life. Teachers: have some thoughts and examples prepared ahead of time if you are going to do this.

PSST for Section 3 —
What gives us the confidence to be fearless (B10)? Hint: God strengthens and helps us. Jerusalem is under attack (B12-B14). God protects every part of your being in the same way Jerusalem is protected for Hezekiah. What did Hezekiah do when he knew the Assyrians were attacking Jerusalem? How can we have the same kind of faith? How was Sennacherib (the king of Assyria) malpracticing the Israelites? Look at citation S14 for ideas to respond to that type of malpractice. Why is it so important to guard our thought against mental malpractice? How much power does evil and malpractice have? Hint: see citations S16 and S17. What is significant about the statement that “no mortal mind has the might or right or wisdom to create or to destroy” (S18)? How can you apply this to your experience?

More depth: Why is it important to be aligned with God when facing a challenge? Hezekiah follows God alone (II Kings 18:3-7) and brought the kingdom of Israel back to worshipping God after his father strayed (II Kings 16:1-4). He destroys all of the idols in Israel. Part of the invading idol-worshipping Assyrian’s insults attempt to cast doubt on Israel by saying, “Hezekiah broke all of your idols! Who can you rely on now to save you?” See Isaiah 36:7. Why does this passage give us encouragement if we are trusting in God alone?

PSST for Section 4 –
Citation S15, Matthew 9:35, is often repeated in the lesson. For those who mark their books regularly, this passage is visually well-loved. What was it that Jesus was doing? Don’t just skip over this one. He wasn’t just healing physical ailments. He connected with followers by putting his messages into familiar contests while “teaching” and preaching the good news of the kingdom. Citations S19 and S20 denounce human will. Try putting this into your context. In citation B16 could the warring powers Jesus hypothetically alludes to be human will? Citation B17 is Jesus humbling himself and giving all credit to God. Why is humility important when removing human will?

PSST for Section 5 –
Look at citations B18, B19, and B20. How does God deliver us from our afflictions? What are some challenges that you are facing? How can you turn them over to God to be healed? Can you give an example of how God restored your health and/or healed you of your wounds? Citation S24 points out that casting out evil and fear enables truth to outweigh error. Are you throwing your weight on the right scale? Are you taking “antagonistic grounds” against lies about your health and perfection? What does that look and feel like? What do you think about citation S25 describing how we “disarm sin of its imaginary power.” Is there real power in sin? (No!) How do we better understand this? What has all power (S26)?

There are many chains of ideas building throughout the lesson each week. One example this week is citation S11 in section 2 where disbelief in error destroys error, citation S20 in section 4 where someone has to empty their thought of the mortal influence, and then citations S23 and S24 where Truth must outweigh error—we must pay more attention to Truth in order to heal disease. Ask your students to find some multi section connections like this for next week! Can you find some Big Ideas covered in the lesson?

PSST for Section 6 —
How are you celebrating God being in control (B22)? What is Paul directing us to do in citation B24? How can you be steadfast and unmovable in your reliance of God? How are you “abounding in the work of the Lord”? What does that look like? What is the truth that you know that makes you free (B25)? Think about what Mrs. Eddy is saying in citation S27. How are you witnessing “the entireness of God, good, and the nothingness of evil”? Remember, if God is all, anything that isn’t God is nothing. Citation S29 continues with the idea of the nothingness of error. What does it look like to understand that error is nothing? What does it feel like? What stands out to you in citation S30? Give an example of experiencing God’s infinite ever-presence.

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