Find Us
Css Menu List by Vista-Buttons.com v5.7
20121 Santa Maria Ave
Castro Valley, CA 94546



Sunday Message for April 2, 2023

Strong in the Lord

Today we are talking about being Strong in the Lord. We want to learn how we are a "pillar of strength." We stand strong and we grow in our true expression of life.

Strength is often associated with our back. When we are talking about a person who has moral strength of character, we say that they have "backbone." Charles Fillmore felt that our power of strength is centered in our lower back. Dr Robert Knapp, who has researched Mr. Fillmore's teachings and has worked with the Twelve Powers as a medical doctor since 1974, agrees and further extends our strength location in the body to the whole spine. He compares our spine to a tree trunk, strong enough to weather storms and flexible enough to bend but not break. A tree often bears fruit and puts forth seeds to multiply itself, just as we do. The Bible describes us as a "tree of life."a

The comparison of us to a tree is a rich and meaningful analogy, maybe because our life is so connected to the life of trees. The tree takes in carbon dioxide and gives out oxygen. We breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. We live in houses and have furniture made from trees. And now we realize that our air, medicines and whole future may depend on what we do to the rain forests.b So as you picture yourself as a tree, know that you are "strong in the Lord.c"

In Matthews it says, In the morning when Jesus returned to the city, he was hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the side of the road, he went to it and found nothing at all on it but leaves. Then he said to it, "May no fruit ever come from you again!" And the fig tree withered at once.d

This is a troubling parable for a lot of people. How could he do this to the poor defenseless tree? Why would he kill a tree? Oh the horror of it!

          But if you will take the time to look at it as a parable, which it was meant to be, you will see a very valuable lesson contained in this story. He is talking about people who leaf out, but never bloom and produce fruit.

          There are people in this teaching who have been to all the classes, even taught a few Unity classes, and can recite paragraph and verse of Charles Fillmore - but they have never applied this teaching in their lives. They can talk the talk, but they can't walk the walk. They have a lot of leaves, but no bloom, and no fruit. And so, they are fated to wither and die.

On the other hand, there are those who delight in applying principle in their lives because it makes their lives so joyful. It says in Psalms that, They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do they prosper.e

          So when we attend to our spiritual growth and apply Unity principles in our life, we are planting ourselves beside that which nourishes us and causes us to bloom and create positive results in our lives. We yield our fruit.

          And, though unseen, we also grow a solid root system, grounding ourselves in God. We have our roots in unfailing Truth and we base our life on Principle. Unlike a lot of 'fly by night' groups that teach you to produce fruit temporarily, but eventually fall over because they have no root system. We are solidly established in spiritual principle.

The prophet Ezekiel said,
"Thus says the Lord God:
I myself will take a sprig
     from the lofty top of a cedar;
     I will set it out.
I will break off a tender one
     from the topmost of its young twigs;
I myself will plant it
     on a high and lofty mountain.
On the mountain height of Israel
     I will plant it,
in order that it may produce boughs and bear fruit,
     and become a noble cedar.
Under it every kind of bird will live;
     in the shade of its branches will nest
     winged creatures of every kind.
All the trees of the field shall know
     that I am the Lord.
I bring low the high tree,
     I make high the low tree;
I dry up the green tree
     and make the dry tree flourish.
I the Lord have spoken;
     I will accomplish it."f

I grew up in the Northwest where we have some of the world's most beautiful trees! Hemlock, Spruce, Douglas Fir, Giant Sequoia, Western Red Cedar, Ponderosa Pine, and many, many more. Loggers in the area look to trees for their livelihood.

Environmentalists see them as a dwindling treasure to be protected. And I have seen vacationers in Oregon simply stand underneath them and look up in awe!

Also there are trees everywhere in Scripture. The Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden, and the Tree of Life in Heaven, with its 12 kinds of fruit. The description of this one is so significant to what we did last year with the twelve powers. It says in Revelations, On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nation.g

There are trees in stories, and trees in parables, and trees in the Psalms. And we would expect that because Israel was a dry land that needed shade. Israel was a hungry land that needed fruit - figs and olives and dates. So it is not surprising that there is a lot of 'tree talk' in the Bible.

Ezekiel was sent to a nation in despair. Their glory was gone. Their hopes crushed. Jerusalem had fallen to the Babylonians! The temple was burned and King Zedekiah was slain.

So to a nation in ruin, at a time of bleak despair, the prophet announces hope in this way: God will plant a tree! It will be a small tree, a mountain tree, a cedar tree, a blessing tree, and a wisdom tree.

Their hope will start very small; it will be a shoot, a tender sprig. That was what happened in the aftermath of the Mt. St. Helens eruption. I was there in 1980 and the landscape looked barren, almost lunar in its desolation. 4 billion board feet of timber on 230 square miles had been blown over, incinerated! There was nothing but barren slopes covered with ash.

But just a few years later, there they were. Tiny shoots. Tender sprigs sprouting out of the desolation announcing, "a forest will grow here again!" And if we look at it now, there are trees 20-30 feet tall nourished by the ashes. The animals again have a home. The promise of life is renewed - is coming true. Those trees are growing bigger year by year.

Then Ezekiel says this tree will be planted "On the mountain height of Israel." This would be on the mountain that the temple stood on, Mt. Zion.

The third thing he said is that is would be a cedar, because the cedar is a "kingly" sort of a tree. It is the tree kings used when they built their palaces and temples. "Cedars of Lebanon" were the trees King Solomon bought and floated on rafts down the coast to build his magnificent Temple in Jerusalem. So this little tree, planted on a mountain, is to be a kingly tree.

Then Ezekiel said that it will be full of blessing. "it may produce boughs and bear fruit, every kind of bird will live; in the shade of its branches." Fruit and shade are the two things we want when we plant trees today.

And finally, Ezekiel says that this tree of blessing will also become a learning tree, dispensing God's wisdom. This tree has a message of hope, rooted in God's ability to take things dry and dead and make them living and fruitful again. All of this in a tree that God will plant, Ezekiel told them.

We can certainly use this hope-filled picture, because we live in a time of financial ruin, a time of despair for many people. Jobs lost. Businesses closed. Homes foreclosed. Even people living in tent cities. Our budgets are cut to the bone and there are school teachers being laid off. We live in a sort of "Mt. St. Helens blast zone," blown away by all that has happened.

But God planted a tree! A small tree? Yes, it was, at first. He grew up like a young plant and like a root out of dry ground.h This tiny tree, this man-child, planted in a manger in Bethlehem. Jesus began tiny but didn't remain so. He made his way to the mountains, where trees grow. On Mt. Zion, in the temple of Solomon, Jesus listened as a 12-year-old boy, and taught as a 30-year-old man.

From that kingly tree have come the blessings we so desperately need. His teachings feed, strengthen and refresh us.

Today we celebrate Palm Sunday. Again, we see trees - but this time it is Palm tree fronds. In the book of John, we read of Jesus' Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem: it says, "The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord-- the King of Israel!"

Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written:
"Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion.
Look, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey's colt!"
His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him.

So the crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to testify. It was also because they heard that he had performed this sign that the crowd went to meet him.

The Pharisees then said to one another, "You see, you can do nothing. Look, the world has gone after him!"i

The Easterner has his donkey just as the American has his car. They are much like taxicabs, ready to be hired or loaned to friends when needed. Notable men and holy men have the privilege of using the animals at any time. It is quite an honor to lend a donkey to be ridden by a holy man. The owners gently reply, "Take it, kill it if you wish, it is yours, you don't need to ask me."

Everybody, including his disciples, expected Jesus to restore the kingdom of Israel. Instead, he continually repudiated all talk to a temporal reign and tried to impress upon the people, his kingdom was not of this world. Jesus wanted to enter Jerusalem humbly and meekly and try further to destroy these rumors.

So, when Jesus arrived at Bethphage, he sent his disciples to bring a donkey and a colt from the nearby village. The donkey was brought because the colt was not broken and could not be separated from its mother. An earthly king or ruler would have despised the donkey and would have ridden a horse to enter Jerusalem. Jesus rode the colt, which no man had ridden before.

Jesus is traveling into Jerusalem because Jerusalem is the Holy City. Charles Fillmore tells us that Jerusalem symbolizes within us the habitation of peace, the possession of peace, the vision of peace, the abode of prosperity within us.

In each of us Jerusalem is the abiding consciousness of spiritual peace, which is the result of continuous realizations of spiritual power tempered with spiritual poise and confidence (or balance). From the Jerusalem center within us, Spirit sends its radiance to all parts of the body.

Jesus symbolizes our I AM identity. His going up to Jerusalem means our taking the last step in unfoldment preparatory to the final step, when the ego is crucified and the Christ triumphs.

When the I AM takes charge of the body a new order of things is inaugurated. Through high and pure ideals, the whole consciousness is raised to a higher standard.

The hosannas of the rejoicing multitude and the spreading of their garments and branches of trees before Jesus, represent joyful obedience and homage that all the thoughts in one's consciousness give when an error state of mind is overcome. "Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord."

          I would like to close with a poem by Myra Perrings entitled "Mirror."

How clearly does the stream reflect the bending tree.
The water is so still and pure that it can be
A perfect mirror for the boughs of leafy green,
Whose shadows gently fall like the patterns on a screen.
How clearly does the soul reflect the Master's' will
When it is purified of self, when it is still:
As waters trace designs of boughs that bend above,
God's pattern shows through lives made pure by love.

aRevelation 22:2
bTwelve Powers in You David & Gay Lynn Williamson & Robert Knapp
cEphesians 6:10
dMatthew 21:18-19
ePsalms 1:3
fEzekiel 17:22-24
gRevelation 22:2
hIsaiah 53:2
iJohn 12:12-19

Top of      page