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Sunday Message for March 3, 2024

Abundant Life

Today is the third Sunday of Lent. It has been 18 days since the beginning of Lent. How are you doing with whatever it was that you gave up for Lent? Is it easy? Or are you finding it hard to stick to your resolve?

A man took his young son to a baseball game. While they were sitting there, he asked the boy what he was going to give up for Lent. The boy replied, "I don't know, Dad. What are you going to give up?"
His father said, "I've thought about this a lot and decided to give up liquor."
Later in the game, the beer man came by, and the man ordered a beer. His son objected, "Hey, I thought you were giving up liquor!"
His dad answered, "Hard liquor, son. I'm giving up hard liquor. This is just a beer."
To which the boy replied, "Well then, I'm giving up hard candy."

Jesus, too, was faced with several temptations while in the desert. (Matthew 4:2) Jesus fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished.a Don't you think that he might have been tempted? Jesus had just realized his power and his mission on this earth. Don't you think he might have been tempted to just change the stones into loaves of bread? He knew that he had the power to do so.

We always have choice. Jesus remembered what was written in (Deuteronomy 8:3) One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.b And so he concentrated his efforts on spiritual understanding.

Charles Fillmore states: The forty days' fast is an all-round denial of sense demands. In fasting, we in our thoughts live above the material needs. We are "led up" and our appetites and passions are for a season in such an eclipse that we think that they will trouble us no more. But afterwards he was famished. There is a return to sense consciousness.c

Three great temptations were presented to Jesus, and He met them within His own consciousness, even as we must do. They are typical of the enticements that come to us when we realize that we have access to spiritual power. How are we going to use this power? To benefit the personal man or for the glory of God? Jesus is our great Teacher, and His experience shows us how these temptations should be met.

The second temptation was to throw himself from the pinnacle of the temple and remain unharmed. This was a particularly subtle temptation, for there was a belief among the Jews that the Messiah was to appear in some spectacular manner. Had Jesus performed a feat of this sort, He would have called immediate attention to Himself. His desire was to serve mankind. Would He not be entitled to secure a following by performing a miracle?

Charles Fillmore states that this temptation means that no display of spiritual power for personal glory should be made. We cannot make a display of our spiritual power with safety.

The third temptation was to worship the Devil and to rule all the kingdoms of the world. But we should never allow ourselves to be under the dominion of the personal consciousness. It promises power that it cannot give, and to yield to its alluring voice would pave the way for our own destruction.

To worship the Devil is to worship personality; to live in personal consciousness and give it the substance of our life and thought. When the temptation arises in our consciousness to use our God-attained spiritual faculties and powers for the building of our personal ambitions, we should know that under the divine law there is but one worthy of our worship and service, the Lord God. To serve God we must build up spirituality in mind, body, and affairs.

Jesus met each of the three types of temptation by speaking the word of Truth. The Christ Spirit will not permit God-power to be used for selfish ends.

When we surmount temptations, we experience release in mind and body and feel the peace and comfort of Spirit. The overcoming of temptation is our own choosing. It is not the way of selfishness, even though it may seem to be a claiming of the good that is ours by divine right. It is the way of righteousness, and we have chosen it, since we love the Most High.

Lent is a season of spiritual growth, a time for progressive unfoldment. When we can blend and merge our mind with God-Mind, the way is open for the Lord to glorify us and to lift us into a higher, purer, more spiritual state. And that is why we give up something in the physical world, so that we can more effectively concentrate on God-Mind.

Charles Fillmore tells us that Lent has a sound spiritual basis. Moses, Elijah, and Jesus Himself set a precedent for it. Each observed a forty-day period of prayer and fasting as a preparation for spiritual work. Moses received the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai at the conclusion of his fast. Elijah talked with God on Mount Horeb at the conclusion of his period of prayer and fasting. Jesus began His great spiritual ministry at the close of His fast in the wilderness.

(Isaiah 55:1-13)
Ho, everyone who thirsts,
   come to the waters;
and you that have no money,
   come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
   without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money
   for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which
   does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,
   and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
   listen, so that you may live.
I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
   my steadfast, sure love for David.
See, I made him a witness to the peoples,
   a leader and commander for the peoples,
See, you shall call nations that you do not know,
   and nations that do not know you shall run to you,
because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel,
   for he has glorified you.

Seek the Lord while he may be found,
   call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake their way,
   and the unrighteous their thoughts;
let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them,
   and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
   nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
   so are my ways higher than your ways
   and my thoughts than your thoughts.

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
   and do not return there until they have watered the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
   giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,

so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
   it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
   and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

For you shall go out in joy,
   and be led back in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
   shall burst into song,
   and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
   instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial,
   for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

This piece is called an 'Invitation to Abundant Life.' It is telling us that God's grace cannot be purchased but is freely given to us without our ever earning it. It is saying that we can trust in God's grace in our lives.

There is a similar invitation in Proverbs 9 where Wisdom is calling from the highest places in the town, Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Lay aside immaturity and live and walk in the way of insight.

It says in verse 6 Seek the Lord while he may be found. And this is also in Jeremiah 29 where it says, When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations.e

We should remember that in all ways, God is for us. He wants us to have all good things in our lives.

As we age, some of us think that we have lost our youth. But we should remember that our youth, which we love so well, never really dies; it merely falls asleep in the realm of the subconscious.

People grow old because they let the youth idea fall asleep. By using spiritual understanding, they can awaken it.

The awakening of youthful energies is necessary to one in the regeneration. We were created in the likeness and image of our Creator, but the body cannot be refined and made eternal before all the thoughts necessary to its perpetuation are revived in it.

Jesus represents man in the regeneration; that is, man in the process of restoring his body to its pristine purity where it will live on perpetually without old age, disease, or death. A necessary step in this process of body restoration is the quickening of the vitalizing energies in the subconsciousness that feed the body and give it the life force that renews its youth. Eternal youth is one of the God-given ideas that man loves.

Waste of substance is the great sin that results in body disintegration. It is the sense mind that causes all waste, whether in the organism or in the more external realm called the world. Jesus came to save men from sin and to make them ready for an abundant entrance into the glorious kingdom of Christ, which is to be established on the earth.

We can get at the subject of conservation definitely by considering the life (Colossians 3:3) hidden with Christ in God,f for the hidden protected life is the conserved life.

Make conscious union with the substance of all spiritual attributes and affirm: Through Christ the divine economy is active in me, and I conserve the spiritual essences in all phases of my life.

There is a legitimate outworking of perfect Principle - the steady onward march of mind from stage to stage in the unfoldment of its infinite possibilities. In the harmonious working of life's problems according to Principle, there are no backward steps.

(Matthew 22:32) He is God not of the dead, but of the living,g said the illumined Jesus. The God of the living is always present with you, awaiting your conscious recognition.

Let the divine life substance flow into your mind, and it will cleanse you of all false race beliefs. You will become renewed in thought and in action; your face will again show forth the freshness of youth, and immortal life will be written upon your brow.

When your consciousness rests in Spirit, your dominion is sure and certain; then you do not come under the law of denial. You can simply conform to the command, (Psalms 46:10) Be still, and know that I am God,h and the work is done.

aMatthew 4:2
bDeuteronomy 8:3
cKeep A True Lent Charles Fillmore
dIsaiah 55:1-13
eJeremiah 29
fColossians 3:3
gMatthew 22:32
hPsalms 46:10

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