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We can ALL hear the voice of God!
Metaphysical Application Ideas for The Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on

“God”
for December 27 to January 2, 2021

by Christie C. Hanzlik, C.S.
Boulder, Colorado • ccern@mac.com • christiecs.com


INTRODUCTION

Happy New Year, Everyone.  While the celebration of the new year is in many ways an arbitrary holiday based on a calendar that has only the meaning that we give it, the occasion does encourage many of us to think about new beginnings and fresh starts.  This week’s Bible Lesson can serve as our reminder that as we engage in these “new year” thoughts, we can start with God.  We can step free of what can sometimes feel like redundant patterns of thought by asking with humility, “God, what would you have me to know about you and your wonderful works?”

Many years ago, during a difficult time in my life, I taped a quote from the Message interpretation of the Bible on my wall to remind me of God’s law of renewal: “God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.” Psalm 51:7-15   And, for the record, this prayer was wholly effective.

As we turn to God for renewal and uplift, we can strive for a clearer and clearer understanding of what God is and tune in to the voice of God.  This week’s lesson shows an unfolding understanding of God’s power as illustrated by four Bible stories.  It can sometimes be tempting to let ourselves think of God as a man-like being, especially when using a phrase like “God’s voice.” But God is not a person.  To counter this tendency of thought, Mary Baker Eddy, the author of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, offers seven synonyms for God that she derived from revelation and decades of deep Biblical study.  These synonyms are Principle, Mind, Soul, Spirit, Life, Truth and Love.  When we say “Truth’s voice,” for example, the phrase is less likely to make us think of a man-like being talking.  As I understand it, “God” is the word that we can use when we want a word that encapsulates multiple synonyms at once.  So, for example, the word that encapsulates both eternal Love and eternal Principle is God.  So, God’s voice is the voice of all of these synonyms combined simultaneously.

As I’m seeing it, the Bible Lesson shows a gradually unfolding understanding of God and God’s voice.  Here’s a possible outline:

Section 1—there is one God (Old Testament theme)

Moses witnesses God’s voice in the burning bush

Section 2—God knows us (Old Testament theme)

Jacob witnesses God’s communication in the dream of a ladder

Section 3—there is no other power apart from God (Old Testament theme)

Section 4—Christ Jesus demonstrates the power of God (New Testament theme)

Christ Jesus has a full understanding of God’s voice, and uses the authority of this voice to rebuke “unclean spirits”

Section 5—Christ Jesus’ followers discover that God’s power is with them

50 days after the crucifixion and resurrection, Christ Jesus’ followers feel the influx of God’s power on the day of Pentecost and their voices communicate God’s power in many different languages to at least 3000 other people in one day.

Section 6—The power of divine Love

To understand divine Love, be love-ing.  God is Love.  We are love-ing.


GOLDEN TEXT AND RESPONSIVE READING

The “Golden Text,” or central idea, of this week’s Lesson opens with the prophet Isaiah’s revelation of God’s words spoken clearly: “I invite the whole world to turn to me and be saved. I alone am God! No others are real.” (Isaiah 45:22, CEV)

The Responsible Reading reminds us to praise God, and then uses different ways of describing God’s power:

  • Divine Love “heals the broken in heart, and binds up their wounds.” (Psalms 147: 3)
  • Divine Mind knows “the number of the stars; and calls them all by their names….his understanding is infinite” (Psalms 147: 5)
  • We can “Trust in [Truth] with all our heart; and lean not unto our own understanding…” (Proverbs 3:5)
  • Divine Truth is always direct and clear with us, and never “puts us to confusion.” (Psalms 71:1)
  • Divine Spirit shall “increase my greatness, and comfort me on every side.” (Psalm 71:16)

As I understand it, the Responsive Reading reminds us that the more we understand the breadth and depth and all-ness of God’s power, the more we can accept God’s comfort and hear God’s voice.  As we begin this new year, we can start by knowing that divine Truth will direct our path.  (Proverbs 3:6)


SECTION 1:  GOD IS ALL-ACTIVE.

The primary theme in the Old Testament of the Bible is the Hebrew people’s discovery and growing understanding that there is only one God and that God is good.  The first section of this week’s lesson highlights that we can hear God’s message, and it uses the story of Moses and the burning bush as an example.  Moses learns from hearing God’s voice that he can lean upon God’s power and trust God to lead him and the Children of Israel out of slavery. (citation B2, Exodus 3: 1-14) It is as if God said to Moses, “I invite [you and the children of Israel] to turn to me and be saved. I alone am God! No others are real.” (GT, Isaiah 45: 22, CEV)

If we didn’t already know of God’s great good-ness and love for all mankind, this story sure would be even more surprising.  I mean, it’s one thing for a voice to come from a burning bush, but right before this, Moses had just made some really big mistakes—like murder!   And here was God speaking directly to him in a way that could get his attention.  I wonder whether people of this time felt like it was more surprising that a voice came from a burning bush or that God was speaking in a loving way to a murderer.  This is a huge plot development in the Old Testament’s story of a greater and greater understanding of God.  For one, it shows that it is possible to have a direct relationship with God.  And also, God speaking to the seemingly-flawed Moses can help us realize that, like Moses, there is nothing that we can do that would make divine Love stop loving us…divine Love is always available to meet our needs.

God is active—”the universal cause.”  (cit. S2, 331: 18) As Mary Baker Eddy explains in her definition of God in the “Glossary” of Science and Health, God is “The great I am; the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-acting, all-wise, all-loving, and eternal; Principle; Mind; Soul; Spirit; Life; Truth; Love; all substance; intelligence.”  If God was speaking this definition, it could read….”I am all knowing, I am all-seeing, I am all-acting, I am all-wise, I am all-loving…”  There is no activity besides God.

God is active good that unifies, saves, and heals.  Look at the action words in this statement from Science and Health, “One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself;’ annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry, — whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes; equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse on man, and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed.”  (cit. S5, 340: 23) This paragraph has held great meaning for me over the past several months as I’ve been praying about what seems like great polarizing divisions in the world.  When I start to feel frustrated by vitriol in current day politics, I quickly turn away from this frustration and affirm that Truth is right now actively unifying us.


SECTION 2: WE HAVE A DIRECT CONNECTION TO GOD.

The Old Testament is all about a growing understanding of monotheism, but it also contains the theme of our ability to hear God’s message…that there is a connection between God and us.  The second section of the Lesson highlights this theme of our connection to God, and the awareness that God knows us.   It opens with the psalmist’s statement, “O [Mind], thou hast searched me, and known me [You] compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.” (cit. B5, Psalm 139:1, 3) With this simple statement, the psalmist assures us that God knows us and knows our path.  To be known by divine Mind is to not feel invisible, or unnoticed.  To be known by God is to be loved.

This psalm continues with wonderfully comforting words that assure us of divine Spirit’s power to reach us and comfort us no matter where we are and no matter what we’ve done…. “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.  If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”  (cit. B5, Psalm 139:7)

Here is a link to folks from all six Christian Science summer camps singing Psalm 139: https://youtu.be/gpfltJmfNSo

And here is a link to an audio recording of several ways in which I’ve found comfort from Psalm 139: https://www.dropbox.com/s/048m58dpiddgiav/Whither.m4a?dl=0

The second section also includes the Bible story of Jacob’s dream of a ladder. (cit. B6, Genesis 28:10–13, 15, 16) Before this week I hadn’t connected with this story, but I’m now realizing the irony of my lack of connection since the story is all about connection…the connection between God and us.  As I understand it, to Jacob the ladder symbolized his God’s communication to him, and the story reveals that even though Jacob had recently betrayed his brother, divine Love still guided and guarded his progress.  So, in the first section, God speaks to a murderer and in the second section, God communicates directly to a man who had just betrayed his family.  Even if we “make our bed in hell” (metaphorically), divine Love is there for us.

For both Moses, who heard God’s voice in the burning bush, and Jacob, who heard God’s message through a dream of a ladder, the communication and connection with God was symbolic.  Each of us learns of our connection to God in different ways.  As Mary Baker Eddy explains, her sense of God progressed throughout her life as she gained more and more understanding.   She describes her progress in the third person singular: “The author subscribed to an orthodox creed in early youth, and tried to adhere to it until she caught the first gleam of that which interprets God as above mortal sense. This view rebuked human beliefs, and gave the spiritual import, expressed through Science, of all that proceeds from the divine Mind. Since then her highest creed has been divine Science, which, reduced to human apprehension, she has named Christian Science. This Science teaches man that God is the only Life, and that this Life is Truth and Love; that God is to be understood, adored, and demonstrated; that divine Truth casts out suppositional error and heals the sick.” (cit. S9, 471:23) Ultimately, Mary Baker Eddy’s discovery led her to write, “[Divine Love] is everywhere, and nothing apart from [divine Love] is present or has power.”  (cit. S10, 473:7-10)


SECTION 3: THERE IS NO OPPOSITE TO GOD

The third section describes the omnipotence—the all-power—of God.  It is worth pondering what omnipotence means.  It doesn’t mean just very, very, very powerful.  It means that there is not any other power.  There is no opposite to God.

The omnipotence of God is another major theme of the Old Testament.  It was common, of course, for people in biblical times to think about other gods and the powers of other gods such as Baal.  The Old Testament shows the Hebrew people’s gradual awakening to the fact that there is one good God, who knows us, and is all powerful.  Note that in the Old Testament, God (Yahweh) is the God of the Hebrew people, is often presented as anthropomorphic, and is not yet understood as universal and divine Love.  I find it useful to think of the Bible as the story of the gradual unfoldment of a full understanding of God.  It is useful to remember that the concept of God becomes clearer and clearer as the Bible progresses, with Christ Jesus’ ministry being revolutionary.  With this in mind, the discovery that there is no power apart from God is a crucial step forward in our understanding of God in the Old Testament, and that discovery will take on even more meaning in the New Testament.

Pausing to ponder the idea that there is no opposite to God is an effective form of prayer.  Counterfeit forces such as electricity, emotionalism, evil, gravity, human history, human opinions, fear, and so forth are impotent—powerless.  These false forces have no power.  If we projected onto a wall a video of a swinging hammer, we would not be worried that the hammer would damage the wall.  The hammer is powerless—impotent—to affect the wall.  These false forces are as impotent as the projection of a hammer on a wall…there is no substance behind them.   It is not just that these counterfeit forces are opposed to God’s power or weaker than God.  No.  God is omnipotent.  There is no other power.  God is the only power.  There is only the power of God, good.  (cit. S11, 228:25-27)

As we catch even a glimpse of the fact of God’s omnipotence, the suggestion of other forces begins to fade from our experience.  Our understanding of God’s omnipotence is constantly unfolding to us.  We can first catch a glimpse, then a view, then a vision and then the full revelation of God’s omnipotence.


SECTION 4: CHRIST JESUS DEMONSTRATES GOD’S POWER

The fourth section explains “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power.”  (cit. B10, Acts 10:38) Jesus possessed the power of the Christ—the pure and constant awareness of our connection to God—and was thus called Christ Jesus.  In fact, Christ Jesus so clearly understood God’s omnipotence that he could demonstrate this omnipotence for others.  As Mary Baker Eddy explains, “Jesus is the name of the man who, more than all other men, has presented Christ, the true idea of God, healing the sick and the sinning and destroying the power of death.” (cit. B16, 473:12-15)

Christ Jesus so understood infinite Love that he could love beyond measure, beyond personality, beyond limits.  Christ Jesus so understood eternal Life that he could raise the dead.  Christ Jesus so understood omnipotent Mind that he could know and foresee events.  Christ Jesus so understood divine Principle that he could walk on water and be unphased by storms that frightened those who only saw from a limited viewpoint.  Christ Jesus so understood the ever-presence of Spirit that he could always be right where he needed to be…and immediately.  Christ Jesus so understood everlasting Soul that his identity and individuality are still clear today, over 2000 years later, and were known and prophesied about even before he was born.   Christ Jesus so understood eternal Truth that as he stated the truth about others, they were healed and immediately free of sickness, sin, and death.

The fourth section offers the account of Christ Jesus healing the insane child.  In this account, Christ Jesus rebukes the “unclean spirit”—false power—that seemed to be possessing the child, and healed him.  (cit. B11, Luke 9:38-43) He knew that the “unclean spirit” had no real power.  There is no power apart from God.  The “unclean spirit” was as powerless as a projection of a hammer on a wall.  It had no source or power over the boy.  Christ Jesus’ clear understanding of the powerlessness of the “unclean spirit” enabled him to heal the boy.  In this case, divine Truth naturally overturned the lie of the “unclean spirit.”

Christ Jesus demonstrated the power of Truth to overturn lies.  The more clearly we know what is true, the easier it is to know when something is not true.  For example, the clearer we are that 2 + 2 = 4, the less likely we are to believe someone who suggests that 2 + 2 = 5.  It stands to reason, therefore, that the clearer we are that God is the only power, the less likely we are to believe a suggestion that there is a power other than God.   Understanding the omnipotence of God is a truth that heals.  As Mary Baker Eddy explains, “Truth, spiritually discerned, is scientifically understood. It casts out error and heals the sick.”  (cit. S19, 275:31-4)

SECTION 5: WE ARE ALL AT ONE WITH GOD.

In the fifth section, we are reminded that Christ Jesus was our Wayshower, but that we too can experience the omnipotence of God.  The section includes the account of the day of Pentecost that took place 50 days after Passover and Christ Jesus’ resurrection.  People from many regions and who spoke many languages were gathered in Jerusalem for Pentecost.  And, in the upper room on Broad Street, 120 of Christ Jesus’ followers met together in unity…  “all with one accord in one place.”  These 120 were most likely from the same region and spoke the same language as one another, unlike the cacophony of languages happening out on the streets of the city.  And in this room, these devoted followers were praising Christ Jesus’ teachings while also feeling confused and disoriented about what they should do next.

It was at this point that “there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.” (Acts 2:1, 2) Just like Moses heard God’s voice in the burning bush, and Jacob experienced God’s communication in a dream of a ladder, these devoted followers of Christ Jesus experienced the Holy Ghost—divine Spirit—filling them with the knowledge of God’s power.  With this influx of divine knowledge, these followers now knew how to share the Christ-Truth, the message of salvation, with others.

Along with this influx of divine knowledge, these followers also became able to speak in many languages.  As they rushed onto the streets, they spoke to people from many different regions, each in their own language.  Because these devoted followers had such fervor, the people on the street at first accused them of being drunk.  But Peter quickly rebutted this accusation, explaining first that it was too early in the day for them to be drunk (I think Peter is being humorous here), and second that they were fulfilling the words of the prophet Joel.  Peter’s speech and recounting of Joel’s prophecy convinced the crowd.  And that day, the fervor of the followers in sharing the Christ message resulted in 3,000 people being baptized that day in the name of Christ Jesus. This means that 120 people helped 3000 new people discover the truth of Christ in one day.  And, “many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.” Inspiring! (cit. B15, Acts 2:1-43)

Clearly these devoted followers gained a fuller sense of God’s omnipotence on this day, and it stuck with them.  They gained spiritual sense, the ability to see beyond the limited and outward appearance of things.  They discovered that they did not need the physical presence of the man Jesus in order to feel a connection to divine Spirit.  They each had their own connection and, like Jesus, they could live the power of the Christ, an awareness of their inseparability from God.   Their ability to speak in many languages and in “new tongues” was perfectly natural.  As Mary Baker Eddy explains, “Spiritual sense is a conscious, constant capacity to understand God. It shows the superiority of faith by works over faith in words. Its ideas are expressed only in “new tongues;” and these are interpreted by the translation of the spiritual original into the language which human thought can comprehend.” (cit. S21, 209:31)

In the book of 1st John, the author writes about the spiritual sense of God, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”  (cit. B16, I John 3:2)    The author shares a clear sense of our connection to God, but also states, “It doth not yet appear what we shall be…”  It is as if the author is saying that our connection to God is clear, but we are left with the questions like: What are we?  What is our true being?

In Science and Health, we find the answers to these questions in the “scientific statement of being” (p. 468: 8) The “scientific statement of being” is the scientific statement of what we are, our being, as it was revealed to Mary Baker Eddy.  While the author of 1 John states that it “doth not yet appear what we shall be,” the “scientific statement of being” resolves this query, explaining what we be.

Divine Science is the knowledge of our true being and the full understanding of God’s power.  We can be inspired by divine Science in the way that the devoted followers were inspired by the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost.  Mary Baker Eddy offers this definition of “Holy Ghost”: “Holy Ghost. Divine Science; the development of eternal Life, Truth, and Love.” (cit. S22, 588:7)  I like to think of the Holy Ghost as those moments of pure inspiration in which we are nearly overwhelmed with joy for a new insight into divine Life, Truth, and Love.  Those moments when we feel bursting with inspiration and knowledge of God…that’s being filled with the Holy Ghost.

In order to feel the power of God, Moses needed the burning bush, Jacob needed the ladder dream, the world needed Christ Jesus’ demonstration, and the disciples needed the influx of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost.  And each of these examples serves to show us that we can feel the power of God here and now.  These stories are examples of ways in which people have heard God’s message.  We can hear God’s word now.  The power of the Word is with us.  We are capable of feeling the inspiration of the Holy Ghost and awakening to a fuller and fuller understanding of God’s omnipotence.  As Mary Baker Eddy explains, “Material sense does not unfold the facts of existence; but spiritual sense lifts human consciousness into eternal Truth.” (cit. S24, 95:30-32) In other words, a limited view will not show us the facts of what we are, but an unlimited view open to the divine Word lifts our consciousness and awakens us to the knowledge of eternal Truth.


SECTION 6: THE POWER OF DIVINE LOVE

It can be tempting to feel like we don’t know enough about God.  It can be tempting to feel like even if we know something about God intellectually, that we don’t know enough in a deep enough way to feel a genuine connection to God’s power.  And maybe we don’t feel as if we can never know as much as Moses, Jacob, Christ Jesus, or the disciples.  But, if we allow ourselves to get caught in that negative pattern of belittlement, we are missing the whole point of their message.  We are good enough.  Their examples are gifts for us so that we too can hear God’s message.  The message of salvation is that we are already saved, we are already loved by divine Love.  We are already connected to divine Truth.  We are already in the atmosphere of Spirit.

But if we are still in doubt that we know enough about God, we can start with the simple and clear idea that God is Love.   God is Love, and since we are the outpouring, the be-ing of God, we are love-ing.  As we are more and more love-ing, then we feel more and more of divine Love’s presence and power.  The author of 1st John gave us clear instructions along these lines: “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.” (cit. B17, I John 4:7, 12)

In short, to understand divine Love, be love-ing.

It seems to me that if we desire a greater influx of the Holy Ghost, we can strive to be “all with one accord in one place” as the followers of Christ Jesus were on the day of Pentecost.  I don’t think this means that we need to be physically and literally in one place, but rather that we cultivate a genuine and deeply shared love for Christ, our awareness of our connection to God.  We are not connected to each other person to person. We are only connected through our shared understanding of divine Love, divine Truth.  As we see one another as inseparable from divine Love and divine Truth, our pure love for one another becomes more and more apparent. If we were in a church service, for example, but felt distracted by suggestions of personality and personal opinion, then we’re not quite in “one accord.”  If we see someone as a personality, then we’re, in effect, seeing them as having a personal power from a source other than God.  If we’re distracted by thoughts about someone else needing to change, or even that we’re not getting it…. we’re harboring a false view that we could somehow be disconnected from divine Love.   In contrast, as we see one another only as the outpouring of divine Love’s power, we gain a deeper sense of our shared connection to Christ.  We thus gain a love for one another that eclipses the belief of personality, and we are more and more open to hear God’s voice, to feel the influx of the Holy Ghost—the pure inspiration of divine Life, Truth, and Love.

Mary Baker Eddy states these ideas clearly in Science and Health when she writes, “’God is Love.’ More than this we cannot ask, higher we cannot look, farther we cannot go.” (cit. S26, 6:17-18)   Later, she adds, “Whatever holds human thought in line with unselfed love, receives directly the divine power.”  (cit. S27, 192:30)

The simplicity and purity of the message that “God is Love” could not be clearer.  Each time we meet a challenge with love, we grow and expand in our view of God as Love.  As we read in Science and Health, “Each successive stage of experience unfolds new views of divine goodness and love.” (cit. S28, 66:14)

And, in Mary Baker Eddy’s final statement about God in Science and Health before the “Glossary” chapter, she offers us the 23rd Psalm using the words “divine Love” in place of “the Lord.”  It’s as if she’s saying that we understand God as we understand that God is Love.  She writes, “[Divine love] is my shepherd; I shall not want…Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house [the consciousness] of [love] for ever.” (cit. S30, 578:5, 16)


CLICK HERE for more application ideas & Bible-based GEMs from Cobbey Crisler & others! [This is mostly complete but may have additions before it is emailed.]


Ken Cooper’s insightful POETIC PRELUDE” brings to life
Bible
EXAMPLES of the Science of Christ & its power to bless YOU & all mankind!

    • Ken’s poem,“I AM THAT I AM” (from The Christian Science Sentinel) refers to this as “The Word of God to Moses”  (Exodus 3:14/cit. B2 ) and contains powerful affirmations of infinity.

PDF copies are available under Downloads in the online version of  this Met.


THANKING ALL WATERSPORTS SUPPORTERS!
All our prayers about the need to update CedarS 2008 Malibu ski boat have brought steady and much appreciated progress!!   We now need only $2,500 by year end to seal the deal! If it’s a right idea for you to give online whatever you can or by check please just text or call me at 314-378-2574 — or email warren@cedarscamps.org — that  the intent of your tax-deductible gift is to help us secure the ongoing excellence of CedarS watersports fleet. Virtual hugs in advance!!


THANKS TO OVER 427 DONORS FOR HELPING US MEET OUR $75,000 WATERSLIDE RENOVATION GOAL!


LASTLY WE ARE BEYOND FOREVER GRATEFUL for a multi-year Endowment Matching Grant!  We’re just over halfway to our match and making steady planned giving progress.  Thank you for helping us share a love of Christian Science and its practical application with generations to come.

To discuss how to join me and many others in playing a vital, ongoing role in our work, feel free to call or text me (Warren Huff) at 314-378-2574 with your pledge or intent to give a planned gift, required IRA distribution or an endowment gift (that will be MATCHED!). Your ongoing support is needed to help us “love into view” continued, lasting blessings and legacies of love each year.  With heartfelt gratitude for and to all you, greatly NEEDED and precious supporters, who continue to help CedarS give LIFELONG, DIFFERENCE-MAKING BLESSINGS to hundreds of families and thousands of individuals all across the U.S. and the world.

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