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Give and Receive Abundantly
Christian Science Bible Lesson Application Ideas for: Substance

March 9—15, 2015

By Craig L. Ghislin, C.S.
Glen Ellyn, Illinois (Bartlett) / (630) 830-8683

What do you value? How much is sufficient? There’s a lot of concern today about “portions.” What portion of my income should I save for the future? How large or small should a portion of a particular food be? How much of my time should be apportioned for work, sleep, exercise, recreation, worship, etc.? The value of a portion may vary depending on the quality or scarcity of a particular thing, or on the circumstances of the recipients.

In the Golden Text the psalmist is alluding to the amount to be received as an inheritance. While others would place most value on land or possessions, the psalmist seeks no earthly goods. He only desires those things that never lose value—he seeks true substance that proceeds from God.

Many of the concerns in the world today are centered on lack and inequity. Anxiety over whether or not there is enough good to go around, and who gets how much and why—all are founded on the premise of limited supply and finite resources. The Responsive Reading faces these concerns head on by changing the premise from limitation to abundance, establishing God as the Source of all goodness. God doesn’t dole out bits and pieces, or randomly give to some and not to others. He completely reverses scarcity to sufficiency. Those in need are supplied through divine law. Rather than diminishing supply, there are multiplied blessings. True substance never decreases; it only increases.

Those whose trust is firmly planted in God, don’t merely get by, they flourish. Like the psalmist, Paul too, acknowledges God’s abundant grace. There’s not even a hint of limitation here. Just overflowing goodness enabling us to do not a few good works, but every good work “being enriched in everything to all bountifulness.” This naturally fills us with gratitude for all that God gives.

Section 1: True Substance Comes from Spirit
God, being Spirit, it only stands to reason that the good He imparts is spiritual as well. God made all that was made (B1), but he didn’t make material objects subject to limitation and decay. He made grand spiritual ideas. God’s creation doesn’t need a “big bang” or billions of years to evolve. All that exists came from the “breath of his mouth” and has been forever. Notice too, that there is the sense of largeness in God’s creation—“the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.” The Psalmist urges all men to acknowledge and praise God for His wonderful works (B2). Paul reminds us that the things we see, only hint at the immensity of spiritual creation (B3). This indicates that behind the things we see is the true substance—the essence, or idea of a thing that exists in eternity. Jesus states plainly, “that which is born of Spirit is spirit” (B4). Even material science teaches that like produces like. Whatever God makes must be like Him.

Mary Baker Eddy carried this logic to the conclusion that not only is everything God made like Him; but that only God, Spirit is true substance (S1). Spiritual things are real, and eternal—they’re without beginning or end. Material things have no substance, and are temporal—they are finite and measured by time. Mrs. Eddy goes on to say that as the true substance of creation appears, “the nothingness of matter is recognized” (S2). Her reasoning is so clear that it defies contradiction. The key is whether or not we accept her premise: that God is Spirit, and He created all “in and of Himself.” She has such confidence in her reasoning that she poses the question to the reader, “Which ought to be substance to us?” (S3). Take some time to think about how you honestly answer that question. How you answer will impact how you approach every decision you make, and every challenge you face.

Section 2: What Are You Made Of?
If we go by the majority of theories taught in school, it seems that man is not much more than a collection of microscopic particles that form together to comprise organic life. The problem with that is that sometimes everything works properly and sometimes it doesn’t. Although theorists come up with laws that appear to govern how it all works, none of those discoveries shield us from inimical conditions. What’s more, the deeper they look into what is called matter, the less matter they find. According to the website, if you squeezed all the space out of every atom in the human race, you could fit the entire human race “in the volume of a sugar cube.” The bottom line is, even by mortal measurements, matter is not very substantial. But even that’s not the spiritual fact. The spiritual fact is that we’re not made of matter at all, no matter how miniscule the actual particles might be. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (B5). We are idea and all the good we have comes from God. Citations B6, and B7 acknowledge God as the source of everything good. God is the only creative power and His creation is perfect.

Everything God makes is fashioned in His image, and all that exists is the reflection of God’s being (S4). God is the only substance, and the only substance we can have is that of Spirit. We seem to be material substance, but we are “image” or “idea” (S5). What seems to be material substance, and the sin, sickness, and death that accompany it aren’t actual conditions, but distorted views of the true substance of Spirit. The real man has never existed in matter, nor is he subject to the beliefs of sin, sickness, and death. The real man God created is “always beyond and above” the illusions of life in matter (S6). Man is always perfect, because God is always perfect. We aren’t made by, or because of, material laws; we’re made by God’s law and governed by it—not partially, but completely (S7).

There’s no need for you to be afraid of material laws of any kind. You’re not matter. You are idea, and your substance is in Spirit. That’s what you’re made of and nothing can touch it.

Section 3: “Would You Like Fries with That?”
An awful lot of attention is focused on the foods we eat. Advice on portion control, quality, what to avoid, and what to get more of, are all determined by the belief that we are organic and governed by chemistry and genetics. Recently, even Christian television stations have begun to promote biblically based diet and exercise plans. Nutrition and exercise are huge industries in Western culture. The psalmist invites us to “taste and see” things from a different perspective. God is the source of all goodness, and trusting in Him brings blessings (B9). Commenting on the psalmist’s invitation to “taste and see” theologian John Gill (1697-1771) points out that the unregenerate individual often has corrupted tastes and would rather feed upon the sinful appetites of the flesh, whereas the converted have new tastes and are willing to be nourished by God alone.

The story of Daniel and his companions’ refusal of the king’s meat (B10) is usually thought of as an example of how the food itself has no particular power to benefit health compared to the ability of God to sustain man, irrespective of how fortified a particular food might be. But John Calvin points out another interesting aspect. Conquering kings often used luxuries as ways to soften resistance of captives. They fed them and did everything they could to blot out any longing for their former home. They even changed the names of their captives. Daniel’s abstinence from dietary luxuries was not simply to fast, but to remind him of his heritage, that he was a captive, and to avoid being enticed by the sensual pull of his captors. He was rejecting not just their food, but, their entire way of life, and protecting himself from being drawn into it.

Christ Jesus also taught that the enticements of the flesh were detrimental to spiritual growth. Spirit and flesh are opposites, and only the Spirit is beneficial (B11).

The Discoverer of Christian Science clearly understood the clash between Spirit and flesh (S8). Spirit, God, is defined as “the only substance” (S9), and the flesh as an error of belief claiming life, substance, and intelligence in matter (S10). She didn’t expect us to stop eating, and drinking; but she held to her conviction that man lives in Spirit, not matter (S11). She knew that through spiritual progress we would, step by step, give up the belief that food sustains us. In order to reach that standpoint we need to begin from the correct premise that God is the only true substance (S12). Mrs. Eddy reasoned through this issue very logically. Mortal belief always works from two standpoints. It says that sometimes food is good for you and at other times it can harm you. The pendulum of mortal opinion swings back and forth constantly (S13). First they say, “Eggs are good, then they’re bad, then only parts of them are good, and other parts bad.” Grains have gone through the same cycle, as have certain vegetables, meats, and other foods. Every method has its advocates and detractors.

The bottom line is that we are spiritual, and food plays no part in determining our health or spirituality. Mind governs all, and matter has nothing to do with it (S14). Calvin wrote, “…we ought to consider our life sustained neither by bread nor by any other food, but by the blessing of God.” Our Leader tells us to lean “on the sustaining infinite” (S15). As our hunger for spiritual things overrules the appetite for material foods, delicacies, or whatever human diet we may choose, we will find our true substance in spiritual nourishment.

Section 4: The Substance of a Right Idea Opens the Door to Divine Possibilities
Jeremiah’s plea for healing (B12) stands as an example of what it mans to fully trust God. Such whole-hearted faith is a potent force in healing. Paul likens the power of Christ to the light shining in the darkness (B13). The light is a presence—it has substance. The darkness isn’t a presence, but an absence. Therefore, it cannot resist the light.

Luke records Jesus’ healing of ten lepers (B14). Methodist theologian Adam Clarke (1760-1832) links the claim of leprosy to sin. He writes, “Sin is the worst of all leprosies; it not only separates those to whom it cleaves from the righteous, but it separates them from God; and nothing but the pitying heart and powerful hand of Christ Jesus can set any soul free from it.”

When the lepers appealed to Jesus for help he told them to show themselves to the priests. Jewish law required that to be pronounced clean by the priest, and therefore able to rejoin society, you had to be healed already. This meant that the ten had to have a firm expectation that their healing would be complete before they got there. Would you trust that much? Some people won’t believe until they see the results, yet Jesus demanded they proceed in full expectation that the healing had been accomplished. One of the ten, a Samaritan, whom the Jews considered to be a wicked and undesirable people, may not have been aware of the proper protocol. However, what he lacked in the letter, he had ample supply of the spirit. Before seeing the priests, he stopped to give thanks and glory to God for his healing. The gratitude he expressed had more substance than the disease and was a key to his healing.

The citations in this section from Science and Health emphasize gratitude as a key point in all healing. Gratitude has a lot to do with recognizing the good God is doing, and exercising spiritual sense. Clarke’s commentary on the healing of the lepers touched on sin as an impediment to healing. Someone who is embroiled in the senses may have a hard time seeing what God is doing, and consequently a difficult time being grateful for it. As our textbook says, a false sense of substance “hides the divine possibilities,” and spiritual perception “brings out the possibilities of being” (S17, 18). Gratitude is focusing on the good, and then utilizing it. When we’re really grateful, our outlook is transformed, and our lives conform to our new view (S19).

Sometimes people may hesitate to turn fully to God because they are afraid of giving up their material beliefs, but we can never lose anything by turning to God. Our true identity—­that which is truly substantial—always results in more blessings and a fuller understanding of our relationship to God. The more spiritual we become, the less we will feel the pull of earthly desires (S20).

It’s important that our expressions of gratitude aren’t superficial. That transformation mentioned above really needs to be borne out in our lives. The lepers were completely transformed and even though we might not be in their condition, Adam Clarke’s point about the “leprosy of sin” is well taken. Let’s be as willing to let go of false personality traits, and sinful appetites as the lepers were to be cleansed. Let’s let our true sense of substance shine through the flimsy nothingness of materiality, and open our hearts to the divine possibilities.

Section 5: The Substance of Church
John Gill writes that the fervent love called for in I Peter (B15) is “a distinguishing badge of Christianity, …without which all profession of religion is a vain and empty thing.” This implies that the substance of the church is love for one another. The word “fervently” comes from the Greek ektenos, which relates to the metaphor of a bow. The further it is bent, the greater the force of the arrow shot from it; so the stronger our love for each other, the more abundant its benefit. How strong is our love for each other? Do we hold back a portion of it, or do we draw back our bowstring fully to ensure the greatest impact? The early Christians needed ardent workers. Notice that the point is made in Acts that the church added multitudes of “believers” to their ranks. They weren’t particularly interested in numbers alone. They wanted sincerity and devotion. Theologian Albert Barnes (1798-1870) notes that a smaller membership of deeply devoted adherents was preferable to a large membership whose interests were lukewarm (B16). Those called to be saints are those who have been called for service to God. This meant separating themselves from worldly objectives and pursuits and giving total devotion to God and their cause (B17). As did Peter, Paul also reminds the Roman Christians to be “kindly affectioned one to another” (B18). This type of love wasn’t insincere or obligatory. It was complete and genuine. The phrase “kindly affectioned” comes from the Greek, philostorgos, which is a compound of the words philos and storgeh signifying that tender, indescribable affection between mother and child, and to delight in it. They treated each other like family even to the point of putting their lives on the line for each other (B19). They were “all in” as the saying goes. Their churches weren’t buildings, but communities of fervent believers.

For Mary Baker Eddy the substance of devotion was indeed love, but that included the demonstration of love through healing sickness and destroying sin (S23). She urges us to go beyond faith to actually walk the pathway to holiness. “Unselfed love” is the key (S24). It’s not what we say, but what we do that makes the difference. And for us, as for the early Christians, this means separating ourselves from the pull of the world. Our Leader writes, “Self-forgetfulness, purity, and affection are constant prayers” (S25). As the tightly drawn bow sends forth an arrow with greater force, so our spiritualized affections produce abundant fruit (S26).

As believers and demonstrators of the Truth, we are a family; and we naturally love each other when we fully realize that we all have one Father. The world is facing serious threats to peace and safety. Christians are again being persecuted and killed for their beliefs. It might appear that violence and radicalism would overthrow the desire for peace. But the power of Truth is counteracting the insurgence of evil influence in every corner of the globe. Love is stronger than hate, and love will win. The question is, do we love fervently enough to dissolve hate? We can’t know all the motives of those who are moving to bend the world to their beliefs through force. But it wouldn’t be surprising if fear played a role in it. It’s true that many of the combatants are nothing more than mercenary criminals. But there may be some who honestly feel that the only proper course is to impose their view on others for fear of losing their way of life. That’s only speculation, but whatever the case, we know that perfect love casts out fear. Our church is the church of Love, and it is up to us to see that we are bending our bows to their limit, and letting our arrows of fervent love hit their marks.

Section 6: Return on Investment
As touched on earlier, there is much concern over resources and who will or won’t get their fair share. Governments and legislators debate these questions constantly, and individuals are either frightened by the pundits, or trying to beat the system to get their portion of the pie. There seems to be shortage everywhere we look, of food, healthcare, education, and so on.

In every age, there have been charitable organizations vying for funds, not the least of which is the church. The ancient Israelites were expected to donate a tenth of their crops to feed the priests and Levites. Some tried to hold back a portion of their contributions to the temple. The prophet tells the people that rather than suffer potential shortage from bringing in all their tithes, doing so would result in blessings so abundant there wouldn’t even be room for it all (B20). The true substance sustaining the Levites wasn’t the grain given to them, but the people’s generosity, gratitude, and trust in God’s provision. We can never lose by trusting God. True giving is expressing gratitude, and we can’t run out of that. In fact, whatever God supplies can never run out (B21). God’s goodness always comes in abundance. God is the Source of all true substance—never recycled, or stagnant—always perpetually fresh (B22). As alluded to earlier, it’s so important to know that the true understanding of God isn’t the result of human reasoning or understanding. It comes directly from God, and is discerned through spiritual sense (B23). Knowing the things “freely given to us of God” precludes doubt. So here again we see the benefit of throwing our whole weight into the scale. The early Christians laid their lives on the line, not only for themselves, but for the benefit of future generations. “All these things are for your sakes” (B24)

We now have our part to contribute for generations yet to come. What portion of our time do we give to church? To our own spiritual growth? To praying for the world? Mrs. Eddy’s definition of “tithe” (S29) includes gratitude—which was discussed earlier—and the word “homage.” The first entry in The Student’s Reference Dictionary, (an abridged version of the Webster’s dictionary from Mrs. Eddy’s time) is telling. It refers to feudal law and explains the procedure of a tenant doing homage to his lord. “The tenant being ungirt and uncovered, kneeled and held up both his hands between those of the lord, who sat before him, and there professed that ‘he did become his man, from that day forth, of life, and limb, and earthly honor,’ and then received a kiss from his lord.” Are we willing to pledge “life and limb” to our Lord? It’s something to ponder.

So much of what the world calls substance is, in the end, worthless. Our textbook defines substance as “that which is eternal and incapable of discord and decay” (S30). All substance belongs to God; as does all “intelligence, wisdom, being, immortality, cause, and effect” (S31). According to physics only 98% of the universe is invisible ( While physicists continue to research and theorize about the substance of matter, Mrs. Eddy has already made the leap to the substance of Spirit. She tells us that as we advance in our understanding of God, “multitudinous objects of creation which before were invisible, will become visible” (S32). Everything has its true substance in Spirit. Life is never in matter. Rather than seeing a fractional portion of creation, we will eventually see the whole picture, through the understanding of Christian Science, beholding “all the glories of earth and heaven and man.”

[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 for more about how you can provide even monthly support online. Or you can always call the Huffs at 636-394-6162 get information or discuss privately how to transfer securities or other assets to help support and perpetuate CedarS work.]

[You can also reach a member of the Founding family nearly anytime by
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Significant funding is still needed for these special opportunities:
1. Now that CedarS video show circuit is in full swing, it is apparent that getting many to camp will depend on "Love's Provision" of campership assistance. Could you be one of the angels who gives towards camperships and the life-altaring and life-altering experiences they provide at CedarS?]

2. Over 100 needed items are featured on CedarS Giving Tree that could fit the budget of every grateful Met-recipient and camper. You can choose for yourself $1-and-up ways to give to support CedarS needs. Click here to see 2 young alumni tell their reasons to give.

3. “Adopt the Herd” Matching Opportunity! Generous donors, aware of the ongoing need to care for CedarS herd, will match donations for our horse program! (~$20k needed to reach $50k goal)]

[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 ]

[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 in the past. Thank you, Rodger and all translators! Go to click "Newsletters" to sign-up for a free translation into these languages. This sharing is the latest in an ongoing, 14-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 or 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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