Friday, February 21, 2014

Elijah - maybe he should not have slain the prophets

The story of Elijah and his contest with the 450 prophets of Baal is a familiar one so I decided to look a little deeper this morning for something new. When the children of Israel were divided in their loyalty and tempted to follow Baal worship Elijah demands that they choose whether they would follow Baal or God, you cannot serve both. A contest of sorts followed and the prophets of Baal called upon their god unsuccessfully while Elijah got an impressive display of God's power. Had he left it there and gathered the people together for teaching things might have gone differently. But he chose to slaughter the 450 prophets. God had already shown His power, Elijah did not need to show his.  Queen Jezebel reacts to the insult to her religion and the death of her prophets by promising to do the same to Elijah within 24 hours and he runs for his life. How odd. He had just seen an impressive display of God's power but he seems to think God cannot, or will not, now protect him from Jezebel. It is somewhat like Peter, who stood up to those who came to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and within 24 hours denies him three times.

Elijah escaped into the wilderness beyond Jezebel's reach. Exhausted and upset he sat down under a tree and gives in to despair and self condemnation. He must have felt that he deserved no help from God for his act against those 450 men. (We saw such a different way of dealing with that kind of threat in the Bible Lesson a few weeks ago when Elisha spares his enemies, treats them with kindness, and sends them home.) So there sits Elijah, just wanting to die. At this point God sends an angel to encourages him to rise up and take nourishment from the food and drink provided. He does so but then just goes back to sleep. The angel comes a second time and now Elijah begins '40 days and 40 nights' in a wilderness experience. But at least now he is moving forward and headed for Mount Horeb, a holy place. When he gets there he has stopped asking to die but chooses to live in a cave, he does not ask for forgiveness nor is he willing to take up his mantle and go back to teach the people. Now God himself comes to him. I love His question, "Elijah, what are you doing here?"

There have been times when I have felt that cave experience, just wanting to be left alone to go over and over a mistake I made. But God has not left me there either. He asks me the same question, what are you doing here? I have work for you to do. In Elijah's case He had shown him His great power, I have had some remarkable healing in my life as well. Why do we choose to give up when there is so much good God wants us to do? God tells him to come outside and watch. Then Elijah sees that God is not in the earthquake, wind, or fire, but is that still, small voice of Truth. And he is ready to return to doing what God has planned for him to do. As I was ready to learn from my experiences and trust my life to God's keeping.

That still small voice reaches us even in the darkest places and times, when we are most fearful. God is always talking to us, we must choose. Do we take retribution in our own hands? If we make a mistake do we go hide in some mental or physical cave or do we choose instead to be still and listen. God already knows what we need and He supplies it. He is always with us, even in our wilderness moments. Especially in our wilderness moments.

How grateful I am for all the wisdom and practical applications of what we study in our Bible Lessons. Even the great ones had testing times. Maybe that is part of what helped them to become great. It is what we take from that experience that lift us higher into a better and closer relationship with God. Next time I am tempted to 'slay the prophets' I will remember Elijah and choose instead to listen for the still, small voice.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Which path are you choosing to follow today?

This week's Bible Lesson on Mind is outstanding. It is just filled with encouragement and practical examples of how we can be blessed and guided as we choose what path to follow each day.

Abram unselfishlessly let Lot choose the part of the land where he would settle. God had lead them this far and Abram was completely confident that he and his family would be provided for. He chose to step aside and let God be in charge. And he found a way to resolve their situation with generous words and actions. No enmity or hard feelings on either side.

Elijah stood bravely against the 450 prophets of Baal to show the people which God was the true God. And they witnessed fire coming down from heaven in a clear demonstration of God's power. But when threatened by the queen Elijah took to his heels and ran for his life. He chose to leave the people he was supposed to teach and instead hid out in a cave. God sent angels to provide for him and then visited him Himself so that he could see God's power and hear the 'still, small voice' that assured him of his safety and usefulness. Elijah went back to the work God was preparing him to do. Elijah chose to be unselfish and return to help others know more about God's great love.

Several young men brought their paralyzed buddy to Jesus for healing. They did not doubt for a moment that Jesus was able to do this but at first it appeared that they could not get to him because of the great crowd. They chose to find another way in and their friend got his healing. Pretty unselfish behavior. The man who had been carried in walked out on his own, completely healed of the paralysis and with his sins forgiven.

Jesus is sleeping on a ship when a tempest arises and threatens the life of all those aboard. They waken him in great fear and he rebukes the wind, calming the sea. Jesus was familiar with the Psalms and understood how God leads us beside still waters. He knew how to 'be still and know that I am God' right in the midst of any threat. He chose the path of prayer with confidence. He understood God's control. He did not just save his own life, he saved everyone around him.

Near the end of the Lesson we read how Paul advised the Philippians to "look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others'. I will be looking for opportunities to be more unselfish in my daily activities. To be sure I am loving my neighbor. To keep my promise to 'watch and pray for that Mind to be in me which was also in Christ Jesus. To apply the Golden Rule.

This should be a really great week.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Give us our daily bread, the gift of grace for today

I'd like to share part of a poem from the September 27, 1982 Sentinel. Written by Barbara Cook it is titled "Give us this day our daily bread." "Give us grace for today; feed the famished affections."

Here are the first few verses:

What did they - they who heard the Master - know of bread?
I think they knew the work of it.
Gathering, mixing, kneading, forming, baking - not an easy job.
And every day.
Since only daily bread is never stale.
Fresh and sweet and new it comes,
the fragrance always wonderful.

So when our Master taught them "Give us..." in his prayer
What could they think? A gift of bread, NO WORK?
This truth/bread given free to us each day?
Can this be true, no need for men to EARN their bread,
Just open arms?

I didn't understand at once - not I,
Who years and years believed in earning everything
From love -
Working for good was what I knew.
(Yet we are saved by precious grace of God, not works, says Paul.)

The wonderful grace of God, given so graciously to each of us, daily.
Always fresh and new. I make bread twice a week for our household and I know how much goes into each loaf. It is a labor of love for the family. God, our dear Father Mother, is giving us grace for today to feed and nourish us. Our daily bread. How often do we take time to acknowledge the gift? How often are we even aware of it? I love it when they come home from school and work and gravitate over to the warm bread cooling on the counter. That deep sniff of its fragrance and the delight in a slice, still warm, to nibble on. God loves each of us that way. What a thought!

Be grateful for your daily bread, appreciate it, savor it. That is what God wants you to do.  It surely feeds the famished affections.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Mrs. Eddy and the Lord's Prayer

This week's Bible Lesson includes the Lord's Prayer and its spiritual interpretation found in Science and Health. There is a letter Mrs. Eddy wrote to an unknown recipient with instructions to pray the Lord's Prayer each day. Here is the letter.

Pleasant View
Concord, N.H., Aug. 27, 1896

My precious child

May God abundantly reward your obedience and answer Mother's daily prayer. And He will. Love must will bless all unselfish endeavors to work for the cause of Truth. Be of good heart, you have everything for you and nothing against you. Every day pray the Lord's Prayer in the meaning and spirit thereof.

Thy Kingdom is come. Here ask for the true sense of God and man to come to your understanding and into your affections. Ask for just what you need spiritually. Ask to be made patient and loving when persecuted, to be strictly honest speaking the truth, and never misrepresented in even the smallest thing. Ask to be gently tempered and delivered from all anger or spirit of revenge. Ask for this daily bread to feed you. Under forgive my debts "as I forgive my debtors" (ask to love your enemies and to forgive them) even as you need God's dear pardon and deliverance from condemnation and punishment. Under "Lead me not into temptation, etc."(Pray for deliverance from yielding to the influence of mortal mind) either your own of another's and the recognition of but one Mind. Keep steadfast to this prayer and thought. Ask to know just how to do good and act wisely in your field of labor and that no sin or sinner can turn you aside from the right way or tempt you to stray. (Oh Mother is so alone on earth, has none to make the hours seem less long or cheer her labors. Oh yes, forgive me. She has all in God)

Ever lovingly,


Here is what I found in V.C. Bath's book The Lord's Prayer in Daily Life.

This is the only petition that has any condition attached to it. It means that only just in accordance as we are doing to others can we expect to be done by; just as much as we are loving others can we expect to be loved; just as much as we are just can we expect to have justice around us. We must watch and look to ourselves and see how much we are loving, in fact, how much we are radiating good; so that we may be entitled to have love and joy around us, and may have the right, according to our prayer, to expect them in our homes and lives.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Let nothing you dismay - be comforted

This week's Bible Lesson on Spirit includes Isaiah 51:3 and I've been working with it every day.
"For the Lord shall comfort Zion: He will comfort all her waste places; and He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody."

What a promise! God will comfort us. The dictionary defines comfort as to sooth in times of affliction or distress, to ease physically, relieve. God will do all that for us.

He will sooth us when we feel that we are trapped in waste places. Do you ever feel that all your best efforts are wasted, that it is a waste of time to make changes, that all your efforts have been wasted? Right then and right there God is with you to comfort you.

He will make your wilderness as beautiful as Eden. In Science and Health Mrs. Eddy defines wilderness as loneliness; doubt; darkness. She continues with another view of a wilderness experience, 'the vestibule in which a material sense of things disappears, and the spiritual sense unfolds the great facts of existence'. (S&H 597) Since God is good, and He fills all space, we are never alone, or doubtful, or in darkness. We are always in the presence of divine Love, illuminating any situation with the light of Truth. The truth at good is always present and operating on our behalf. We choose which view of wilderness we believe. Jesus often chose to go apart for time in prayer and communion with God, to learn more about his relationship to Him as His very image and likeness. Jesus was then able to behold 'the perfect man' and this correct understanding healed.

Maybe it is more of a desert experience, devoid of all color and freshness, with no signs of growth. Perhaps you have prayed long and hard and some problem is not yielding, the healing has not taken place. You might be feeling like your inspiration has just dried up, your supply has evaporated, your sense of your real spiritual identity lost. That is not what God is telling you about Himself or yourself as His beloved and unique child.

God, Love, comforts, guards, and guides. Comfort can also mean console, calm, soften, lighten one's burdens, encourage, brighten one's outlook.

You find you are not trapped in a wasted life or relationship or career. You are not lost and alone.
Your life is not empty. Not at all. It is filled with angel messages assuring you of God's love, protection and supply.
all the wonderful things you are being given and all the wonderful things you have to give. Let this reality, the radiant reality of your true being, fill you with joy and gladness. For it is a gift, not something you have to earn, from a loving Father Mother. Listen quietly and expectantly and you will hear the melody of your life. Be comforted.