THE LORD AS A BRANCH

THE LORD AS A BRANCH

A Sermon by Rev Frederick M ChapinDecember 4, 1994

 

And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, “We will eat our own food and wear our own apparel; only let us be called by your name, to take away our reproach.” In that day the Branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious; and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and appealing for those of Israel who have escaped. (Isaiah 4:1 & 2)

The world was about to be destroyed, when the Lord was born upon the earth. This critical situation was not externally apparent. True, corruption and abuses were daily occurrences. But evil did not appear to be so prevalent that the entire human race was on the verge of becoming extinct.

However, internally or spiritually, the human race was in peril. The Writings for the New Church explain that our ability to understand and affirmatively respond to genuine truths from the Lord was on the verge of being destroyed. We came dangerously close to becoming alienated from Divine truth, without any hope of recognizing it in our lives.

However, when the Lord came to the earth, He came as Divine truth itself. By so coming, the Lord can directly effect our lives. Before the Lord’s coming, falsities had arisen to such an extent that the communication between heaven and the earth was severely threatened. When falsities were prevalent, it became impossible to understand truth. And when truth was not recognized, it became impossible to conceive of what was genuinely good.

There are four things that falsities do that make it impossible for us to recognize Divine truths. First, they make an evil life allowable. They justify our delights which hurt other people. They excuse our affections preventing Divine order from becoming established upon the earth. Second, falsities exclusively focus upon external things. If we examine falsities closely, we can see that they entice us to concentrate only upon external things with no consideration about spiritual things. The less we have spiritual things influence our lives, the more we are prone to live a life that just pleases our physical senses. Third, when falsities are believed to be truths, we will have a misconception about what is good. So long as we believe a falsity to be the truth, our image of good will be tainted and impure. And fourth, we will not be able to recognize the Lord fully. Falsities put limitations upon our belief in the Lord. This will prevent us from sincerely acknowledging the Lord’s infinity.

This is the reason the Lord came to the earth, namely, to restore our ability to know and to even apply genuine truths in our lives. This means that it is now possible to worship the Lord as He really is, and to live a life that fully manifests the Lord’s love and goodness.

This is why our text from Isaiah begins with “seven women holding unto one man.” This pictures the desperation of genuine good finding the truths so it could fully express itself. “Seven” represents what is holy, while women represents the affections that desire to do what is truly useful for others. That there was only one man shows that when the Lord was on the earth, what was generally regarded as good and true at the time had very little ability to express the Lord’s love.

However, the church that was set up by the Lord was pure and good. This is referred to by the fruit being described as “excellent and appealing”. Despite the spiritual depravity that surrounded the Lord’s coming, the church that He established was a beacon of light to anyone who sincerely desired to live a good life. The Church the Lord established on earth allows us to fulfill this prophecy in Isaiah:

 

For as the earth brings forth its bud, as the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations. (Is 61:11)

The prophecy continues by describing the Lord’s coming as a Branch. Actually, the Hebrew word for Branch has the idea of being a shoot or a sprout. The Lord came as a branch or as genuine truth itself which gives a true teaching of the Lord and the life we are to lead. This branch of truth became more and more rooted in the earth as the Lord was overcoming temptations.

It is important that somewhere on the earth, some form of genuine worship is maintained. When we are given the means of knowing that the Lord is the one God of heaven and earth, and what a true life of charity entails, we have the highest form of spiritual nourishment. We are spiritually nourished when our external daily lives are directly influenced by spiritual principles. We are then living in the highest form of charity that we can possibly be in. This can only happen when we have an accurate understanding of what the Word is teaching us. And the Lord’s coming to the earth, which we are celebrating at this time of year, made it possible to genuinely understand what the Word is teaching.

Also when we know and live according to genuine truths, they activate the affections of good and truth that the Lord carefully preserves in all of us. These states of affections are referred to as remains. These wonderful states, which are formed especially during infancy, are the part in us that can respond to genuine truths without doing violence to them. In our text from Isaiah, these states of affection are referred to by those left in Israel.

When the Lord came to earth, the truths He revealed could activate these states of affection in us. The prevailing doctrine of life, that existed at the time of the Lord’s birth, was becoming more and more inadequate to activate these remains. It finally became necessary for the Lord Himself to come and reveal the truths that could stimulate our affection towards what is Divinely good. The truths that the Lord revealed are the Branch which the Lord was said to come as.

However, we must have good soil before we can accept genuine truths from the Lord without perverting them. This good soil is especially cultivated when we desire what is good and true not for our own sakes, but to be conjoined with the Lord. Our highest priority in life is that goods and truths are more firmly established upon the earth. When this happens, the Law is said to be written upon our hearts. We are affected with what is good for the sake of good, not just for the sake of self-interest. This can only transpire when iniquity is removed from our lives. Then our selfish conception of truth becomes a rationality that is open towards the Lord’s guidance and direction. (AC 2657)

As the Lord is the Branch, we can be an offshoot of this Branch. As we read in our second lesson from the Gospel of John, the Lord said,

 

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. (Jn 15:5)

Every individual has a unique way of displaying the Lord’s truth in their lives. We are all equally dependant upon the Lord for knowing the truth and living according to it. We all draw from the same source. This is the Branch that was referred to in Isaiah. However, all the varieties of expression and manifestation of that Branch is referred to in the New Testament. When we conform to the truth, which the Lord has revealed in His Word, we are bearing our unique fruit. And this fruit will also be “excellent and appealing”.

Each one of us has a unique way of responding to the Lord’s revelation of truth. All of us can read the same passage from the Word, yet, each one of us can draw different insights from that passage. What is amazing, all of us could be right. The Lord can bring our unique perspectives together whereby the church is formed. Unfortunately, the Church is weakened when individuals try to force others to interpret everything of doctrine as he or she does. Instead of respecting the different ways the Lord’s revelation of truth can be responded to, such people try to impose their personal belief upon others. However, if we express our uniqueness, without infringing upon other people’s uniqueness, the Lord can form His church more effectively. The Church is formed when many branches are springing from the Lord’s branch or vine.

Everyone of us has the capabilities to affirmatively respond to the Lord’s Advent. The Lord has carefully preserved within all of us the ability to know His truth and act from His love. However, each one of us has a unique and different way of responding to the Lord’s coming. But this unique way is our branch from the Lord’s vine. If we are faithful in performing our tasks and responsibilities, our branch will be vibrate and alive. We will be engrafted in the Lord, Who is life itself. As we spiritually grow in the Lord, the more these words will become real in our lives, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (Jn 10:10)

REMOVING MOUNTAINS

REMOVING MOUNTAINS

A Sermon by Rev Frederick M ChapinNovember 27, 1994

All of us vary from times of having great assurance of ourselves to times of a great doubt that we can do anything positive. At times, we may wonder if we can do anything right. And what we do, does not seem to make much of a difference, nor does it seem to be appreciated by others. We may have serious doubts about our value and self-worth.

We are meant to have a self confidence. The Lord wants us to believe in ourselves that we can do marvelous things towards the Lord’s creation. We are meant to appreciate and find satisfaction in our unique role in what we can offer that can establish what is good from the Lord more firmly upon the earth. The only way we can enjoy a life that is receptive of the Lord’s guidance is to have an appreciation towards ourselves. We can love ourselves. In fact, we are to love and appreciate ourselves for what the Lord can do through us. We can only be truly conjoined with the Lord only when we have a proper and orderly love towards ourselves. We can develop a self-confidence within ourselves that agrees or is compatible with a faith and dedication towards the Lord.

First, we are taught of a wrong self-confidence. We can be in a type of self-confidence that is based upon what is false, and not real but only an appearance. Our self-confidence is meant to be based upon reality, not upon a fantasy or an appearance. The Parable of the Rich Fool shows us the folly and destruction that comes with a person who places their confidence in their earthly possession and sensual delights. Eventually, these things will no longer be with us. If we place our self worth upon external or material things, than we are continually dependant upon their existence for our self-confidence. When they are taken away, we are shattered and our image of ourselves is greatly diminished. Placing our confidence in external things does not lead to a very stable life.

Not only does a confidence in external things be false, but also when we improperly compare ourselves to others. If we have a false confidence, we will feel superior to others. We tend to believe we are better than those around us. This even extends to the Lord Himself. There is the fundamental belief that we can do things better than what the Lord set forth in His Word. We are like the description in the Psalms, “”. We deny God when we insist of deciding how we are going to live and not comply with what the Word teaches from the Lord.

Also, the feeling of inferiority is just as harmful. When we feel that others are better than ourselves, we are locking ourselves from effectively doing what we are enabled from the Lord to do. We read from New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine that a spiritual person will gladly step aside if he or she recognizes that another person can perform a deed more effectively then he or she can. Such a person will not view him or herself as worthless or of lesser value than the other person. Rather, they will have the attitude that they are more qualified in performing another function, and that their assignment is just a valuable and important as anyone else’s. We can recognize other people’s qualifications without degrading ourselves as being of no value.

A person with the self-confidence from the Lord will not be arrogant towards others. There will be a strong element of humility within the confidence. We will clearly recognize our need and dependency upon the Lord to accomplish our creative purpose in life. Nor will they place external things above spiritual things. When a person has the proper priorities in life, he or she is able to be secure in things that are far more lasting and secure. When we are able to lay up treasures in heaven and not upon the earth, we are focusing and basing our lives upon things that will last to eternity, and no earthly or evil force can touch it. It can easily be seen how we can be secure and confident when our lives are based upon spiritual things.

Also, the things we will fight for will be from a promition of good, not from what merely pleases ourselves. When we strive to have good conquer and not exclusively our own self interests, we can have the utmost confidence that what we are striving for will be assured of the eventual victory. When we only have ourselves in consideration, we are doomed to defeat in the end. But when we strive to promote the good that is from the Lord, we are backing that which will be sustained for ever. Hence, our confidence in ourselves will be solid because we are a part of that which is assured to come into fruition in the end.

In the text quoted above, the Lord referred to having a positive self image by having the ability to remove mountains. “Mountains” represent the attraction towards what is evil, which we all must deal with in one form or another. Certainly, many of the attractions and vices that we are confronted with seem like insurmountable mountains. However, if we just have the simple faith and genuine trust that the Lord can overcome anything, that trust will be guaranteed the victory in the end. It will dispel our evil habits, even though at the beginning of the effort it seems no larger than a mustard seed. As we see and perceive that our bad points can be dealt with that is applied to the teachings from the Word, the confidence we have in ourselves will increase. Not that we have confidence is what is in ourselves. On the contrary, our confidence is based upon what is from the Lord in us. We will develop more and more of a recognition that when the Lord is received in our lives, we can do marvelous things.

This confidence will increase as we sense our mountains of evil weakening. For example, an alcoholic will have more self-esteem as he or she perceives the attraction and control alcohol had is not as strong as it was before. A person who has a problem with his or her temper will have a greater self-image when they are able to exercise some control over their temper that they know came from the Lord, not from themselves. Or a person who is inclined to procrastinate. When they see themselves be more responsible and take more initiative in getting things done in a timely way, they have a better confidence that they can make a positive contribution towards the earth.

Mountains have the representation of evil because originally, the Israelites were inclined to offer sacrifices upon mountains, like other nations around them. So long as we feel that we are hopeless trapped in our vices, self doubt in ourselves will remain strong and very persuasive to us. But if we truly have the faith that we can overcome any obstacle from the Lord in us, we are fulfilling this statement of the Psalmist, “He shall not be anxious in the year of drought.” (Jer)

SECURITY IN TRUTH

SECURITY IN TRUTH

A Sermon by Rev Frederick M ChapinNovember 20, 1994

 

Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice. Pilate said to Him, “What is truth”. (Jn 18:37 & 38)

Today, there is a great variety of beliefs within Christian churches. Some are disturbed by this. They wonder how it could be possible that such broad discrepancies could be formed within Christianity. They all preach from the Bible, and worship the same God. Yet, through the course of time, there have developed wide varieties of doctrine, all claiming to come from the Word of God.

There are many reasons that can be given for the great variety of beliefs today. One, it is inevitable that there will be different interpretations to the same thing. It is a common occurrence that two or more people draw out different conclusions, even though they may have witnessed the same thing. So it happens with the Word. Even though the words of the Bible are the same to everyone, yet each person draws out something different. Gradually, as more and more people came in contact with the Word, more and more interpretations were taken from it. Different doctrines were brought out, even when many had good motives. It is possible for two or more people, each having the desire to simply teach what the Lord says, to come up with totally different conclusions. Indeed, we see this even within particular denominations and churches. Though each member adheres to the same general doctrines, yet they inevitably disagree and come up with different applications when particulars are discussed. Once again, each particular application can be formed with sincerity, without any intent of deception on the part of the person.

However, some beliefs were formed strictly for the sake of selfishness. Some have formed and advocated certain teachings, not for the worship of the Lord, but strictly to have control over others. They deliberately attempt to deceive others. These false teachers the Lord warned about when He told His disciples: … false christ and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect. (MT 24:24)

Therefore, there are those who put on a good display before others only with the intent to deceive.

Therefore, how can we know for sure who is teaching the truth? This can be especially difficult when we hear an articulate speaker advocating a certain belief or idea, and then we hear another speaker, equally talented, promoting another thought. It does not take long to feel like we are drifting from one opinion to another, not knowing what to believe. It is during these times we may feel like Pilate when he said to the Lord, “What is truth?”

This is why we need to have doctrine from the Word. We need doctrine to have stability in the Word. We need to read, study, and interpret the Word under general guidelines, so our applications will be consistent and effective. Without doctrine, our minds would wonder from one idea to the next, eventually leading to frustration and discouragement. (SS 52, TCR 348) Paul once stated to the Ephesians that we are protected from being deceived when our understanding of truth is conjoined with love. He wrote:

… we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive, but spreading the truth in love, may grow up in all things unto Him who is the head-Christ. (Eph 4:14 & 15)

We must have doctrine to live by, if we are to be guided by the Lord towards a productive and effective spiritual life.

It should be noted that just because a person may say that he or she believes in the Lord, does not necessarily mean that person is on the right path to eternal life. (AC 4683) Certainly, there are many recorded in the Word that made a confession that the Lord had the truth, but they really did not mean it. The Pharisees pictured such a person. They once said to the Lord:

Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do you care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men. (Mt. 22:16)

Yet, they certainly were not sincere when they made this statement. They merely said this with the intent to trick the Lord, so the people would turn against Him. Likewise, there are those who confess the Lord with their mouths, not with their hearts. They believe that if they merely acknowledge the Lord’s existence and what He did on earth, that is enough for salvation. But that is not a true faith, because it is not conjoined with a love towards the Lord. The Lord spoke of such when He said:

 

Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” And I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart form Me, you who practice lawlessness!” (Mt 7:21-23)

This is the condition of those who only display a confession of the Lord before others for the sake of themselves.

Those who are not in a true faith towards the Lord make matters of faith a higher priority over acts of good or charity. They believe that it is more important what we believe than what we do. When faith is regarded as the highest essential of the church, divisions are the result. (AC 6272) When salvation is regarded only according to what is known and believed, everyone else is condemned who disagrees with that belief. Such is the result when faith is not conjoined with a love towards the teachings of the Word.

However, we are graciously assured that anyone can have a true faith that leads to the lord Jesus Christ. Everyone can know Who the Lord is and how we can truly worship Him in our lives. Such a faith is put forth in Jeremiah

I will put My law in their minds and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, “Know the Lord,” for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. (Jer 31: 33 & 34)

We all can enter a faith that has a real confidence that the Lord is present in our lives and actively leading us into His kingdom.

How can we enter such a faith? Simply, not just knowing what the Word says or teaches, but by actually living according to it. (AC 8987:3) It is just not our external deeds that must agree with the commandments of the Word, but our thoughts and intentions as well. If there is a genuine belief in the Lord, that belief will manifest itself in the conduct of our lives. The Epistle of James points out the importance of showing our faith in the Lord by our external actions. It states:

 

Show me you faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe and tremble. (James 2: 18 & 19)

When there is a genuine commitment to live according to what we regard as true, our faith is conjoined with love. Faith must be conjoined to love before it real and productive. (AC 4352:3, 7762) When there is such a dedication to live according to the doctrine we sincerely believe to be true, we will have a perception of the Lord leading and directing our lives towards heavenly peace and contentment. This perception gives us the assurance that the Lord is with us, and leading us to enjoy heavenly delights. (AC 5963, 8435) When the Lord removes the doubts and gives us the assurance that we are safe in His care, we will make the same genuine confession His disciples made after He calmed the storm, “Truly, You are the Son of God.” (Mt 22:16)

Nevertheless, before we can enter into such a faith that gives us the assurance that we are in the right path, we must go the Word. However, we must not study the Word just to have it confirm our prejudice or have it say what we want it to say. We must simply look to the Word to learn what the Lord would have us do to be united with Him. If this is the primary purpose for going to the Word, then the Lord will reveal to us truths that are contained therein. From the revelation of truth in the Word, the Lord will produce a conviction and trust that we are in His care. (TCR 137:5) It is the Lord that causes truths to shine forth in His Word. (TCR 349) Everyone can have clear direction in their lives by recognizing how the Word is to be applied in life. When this happens, these words of the Lord will become a reality in our lives:

 

When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. (Jn 16:13)

If we have a commitment to live according to what we are taught in the Word, the Spirit of truth will come and guide us in all truth.

But before we can see truth in the Word, there must be the acknowledgment that the Lord is the Son of God. This acknowledgment is the first principle of true faith. (TCR 342) We must read and study the Word with a sincere, heartfelt confession that the Lord Jesus Christ has the authority to teach us how to live, because He is Divine Truth itself. If this is our sincere acknowledgment as we approach the Word, our minds are in the proper order whereby the Lord is enabled to enlighten us. When we have this acknowledgment of the Lord, together with the commitment to do what He commands, we are in a genuine worship toward the Lord. If this is the case, we are in the power of becoming aware of truth that is directly from the Lord. (TCR 354) Everyone is created by the Lord to learn genuine truths from the Word. Therefore, everyone, regardless of how they were raised or what they are taught, is able to recognize truth from the Lord. (351) This promise the Lord gives to all who desire to come to Him for direction in life. This promise He gives to anyone, regardless of their doctrinal belief:

 

… the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. (Jn 14:26)

It is important to try to have a genuine doctrine in life. It is important to be able to interpret the Scriptures correctly, so they can teach us Who the Lord really is and what a genuine Christian life involves. Therefore, we should always approach the Word with the desire to learn what the Lord would want us to believe in. The more truths we receive from the Word, and the more they are orderly arranged, the more our faith in the Lord is perfected. We can know that our doctrine is genuine if it glorifies the Lord as the one God of heaven and earth. Our faith is pure if all creative and redemptive power is directed toward Him. Also, the particulars of our doctrine must agree, support, and enhance all other particulars. If the particulars are contradicting or at variance with the clear statements from the Word, that is a sign that we may have to prayerfully re-examine how we are interpreting the Word. Also, our interpretations must lead to what is good for everyone. If our doctrine does not perform uses towards others, then there is something lacking. However, if our doctrine leads us to useful deeds, then our faith is united with charity. If this is the case, the Lord will enlighten our understanding so we may have a sure confidence that we are indeed a part of the Lord’s kingdom. And when we are in a state of charity, we will still be able to see how those who differ with us are still a part of the Lord’s kingdom, because of the good they are striving to perform. When we look to the Lord as the source of truth, than this promise He made will be fulfilled in us:

 

If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

THE EASY LIFE TO HEAVEN

THE EASY LIFE TO HEAVEN

A Sermon by Rev Frederick M ChapinNovember 13, 1994

 

Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Mt 11:28- 30)

The Lord spoke these words to a multitude of people, who had made the way of salvation burdensome. He had just upbraided them for their disbelief in Him, despite His mighty acts. But the Lord ended His preaching with the comforting words of our text. He urged them to turn from their ritualistic practices and believe in Him. And He promised that if they obeyed His teachings, He “would give them rest and they would find peace in their souls.” (Mt 11:28 & 29)

However, at other times, the Lord gave an opposite message. He warned of hardships that would result from following Him. He told one person who wanted to be His disciple, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay His head.” (Mt 8:20) He was telling this individual that he would have to sacrifice his comfortable way of life and enter into times of uncertainties. Also, He warned His disciples that they would have to endure persecutions and torments because of their willingness to obey Him. Therefore, while the Lord promises a gentle leading to peace to those who obey Him, He also warns of struggles and trials along the way.

Certainly the Writings for the New Church give the same pair of teachings. They clearly state that temptations, or periods of doubts and fear, are inevitable, if a person strives to obey the Lord’s teachings. Anyone who has made the effort to live according to the Word, can state from experience, the deep and painful struggles they had to endure. Yet, while the Writings teach the reality of going through temptations, they also teach that living a life that leads to heaven is not so difficult. (HH 533) They state that all that is required is to comply with the Lord’s Word, because it contains Divine laws. (HH 535) And this simply involves performing one’s responsibilities as honestly and justly as possible. (AC 8121, 8122) If all that is required to live a life that leads to heaven is to be an honest, trustworthy, and moral person, why do we have to go through such struggles that take every ounce of spiritual strength we have to overcome them?

This question assumes that the Lord originally designed it this way. We sometimes think that when He created us, it was His will to have us go through difficult states. But such was not the case. The Lord’s will is that we be continually happy. He does not delight in our miseries or discomforts. The nature of the Lord’s Divine love is to be conjoined with His creation and to make us happy from Himself. (TCR 43) It was because of the fall of man, when mankind intentionally turned from the Lord and desired to live only for themselves, that caused temptations to emerge. Evils have prevailed to such an extent that the only way we can now be conjoined with the Lord is by going through states of temptations. We ourselves make the way to heaven difficult, because of our inborn tendency to regard ourselves alone. The Lord originally planned to lead us into His kingdom gently, whereby we would find it delightful along the way. But our hereditary and actual evils have complicated the very simple plan of the Lord leading us into His kingdom.

One of the ways we make the road to heaven difficult is having the idea that we must renounce every aspect of the world. (HH 228) Some people have the belief that any enjoyment or pleasure in the world is sinful and must be avoided. They think that to be a true follower of the Lord, we must live in poverty and divest ourselves from every earthly delight. But the gospel of John points out: “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (JN 3:17) When a person has the idea that we can not have any enjoyments, such a person is like the Pharisees with their overbearing rules and regulations. We make the Lord’s Word have no effect on our lives if we can not find any delight in it. And the Word can only bring heavenly delights to our lives, if we are actively participating in the world. (HH 528 & 529) We need to have associations and contacts in the world if we are to perform uses from the Lord through His Word. (HH 360) In fact, we love the Lord when we strive to benefit others. The Lord taught, “Assuredly, I say to you, insomuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” (Mt 25:40) The Writings further teach that we can even pursue a comfortable and financially secure life. (HH 358) We can enjoy the benefits of a wealthy life so long as we regard the riches as a means of being useful to others and regard the Divine laws as more important than obtaining riches. (Mt 6:19 & 20) Abraham, Isaac, and Joseph are just a few mentioned in the Word who enjoyed a rich and lavish lifestyle. Yet, they were not rebuked for their wealth, because they put the Lord’s commandments as the highest priority in their lives. Therefore, we need not debase ourselves from pursuing enjoyments and pleasures in the world to follow the Lord. We can be a true follower of Him and enjoy the comforts of the world at the same time. All that is required is to regard spiritual things as more important than natural delights.

But what especially makes the way to heaven difficult for us is our tendency to do evils. Evils are especially difficult to put away when we are in the habit of doing them and find delight in them. (HH 533) In fact, resisting our tendency to love ourselves alone and the world is the only obstacle of entering heaven. (HH 359) Therefore, we must fight against loves, thoughts, and actions that we find delightful, but we know are against the Lord’s Word. And since we must fight against evil desires we find delightful, living a life that is receptive of the Lord is full of spiritual battles and struggles.

Therefore, temptations are unavoidable if we are going to be a part of the Lord’s kingdom in heaven and on the earth. Even though the Lord does not will to have temptations afflict us, He allows them for the greater good which they can produce, namely, the removal of evil loves and a closer union between the Lord and ourselves. Evils simply can not be removed unless they are seen. (HH 533) Therefore, temptations are really the exposure of our evil loves and habits, and the effort to have them removed. Only when we emerge victorious in our temptations will we be in a state of genuine good that is from the Lord. And we simply can not be in charity without going through temptations. This is why the Lord allows us to go through these hard times: so when we overcome the allurements and control of the hells, we can enjoy heavenly peace and contentment. The Lord watching us go through the hard times of temptations can be illustrated by a parent who watches his or her child in a dentist chair. Certainly, the parent does not enjoy watching the child go through discomfort and fear, while the dentist is working on the child’s teeth. But the parent allows the child to go through this difficult time because he or she can foresee the benefits it will bring to the child. The Lord also does not enjoy watching us endure times of spiritual fear and doubts while we go through them. But He allows us to endure them so that our disorderly loves can be removed, and we can enjoy a healthy and productive spiritual life. We simply can not enjoy life from the Lord until our evils are put away.

And when our evils are eventually removed, we are then in a state where we can perform genuine acts of charity or uses toward our neighbor. All that is required to be in a genuine state of charity is to live according to the Ten Commandments. (AC 3249) When the Ten Commandments are obeyed, because they were given by the Lord Himself, we are in a state of good. In fact, we love the Lord by obeying the Ten Commandments. (AC 10578) Furthermore, genuine worship of the Lord is simply learning truths from the Word and living according to them. (AC 10645) Being a spiritual person does not require a degree in theology. Instead, to be a spiritual person requires that we base our loves, thoughts, and acts upon what is taught in the Word. When this is done, truths will be discovered. The Lord will reveal them to us. And when they are so perceived, we must take the necessary steps to have them active in our lives. If this is done, our evils are put away, and we are conjoined with the Lord.

Therefore, living a life that leads to heaven is not so difficult. Anybody that has the capabilities of simply knowing right from wrong has the ability to be associated with heaven. And living a spiritual life does not mean we can not enjoy a life in this world. In fact, a genuine spiritual life that is guided by the Lord, is not separated from a natural life on earth. (HH 529) Such an individual will simply appear to others a civil and moral person. (HH 530) He will be regarded as one who obeys the laws of the country and is honest in his dealings towards others. If this is the life we strive to live, because the Lord has so taught, we are assured that we are associated with heaven. (HH 530) For the most part, we will be unconscious of our communication with the angels. (HH 530) But they will have a profound influence upon us that will gently lead us to heavenly happiness.

All that is necessary to enjoy such a fellowship with the angels is to refuse to indulge into anything that we know is against the Lord’s Word. (HH 533) The more we are in this habit, the stronger our association with heaven will become. (HH 533) This is why the Lord referred to the way to heaven as strait and narrow. Not because it is difficult, but because it is the only way to heaven.

The Lord did not make going to heaven a complicated system to figure out. He made it simple enough for everyone to understand what is required to go there. If we know the differences between what is evil and that which the Lord would have us do, we are capable of knowing how we can go to heaven. For the Lord says to all, “Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Mt 11: 28-30)

CRYING OUT THE MORE

CRYING OUT THE MORE

A Sermon by Rev Frederick M ChapinNovember 6, 1994

 

And behold, two blind men sitting by the road, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, saying, ‘Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!’ Then the multitude warned them that they should be quiet; but they cried out all the more, saying, ‘Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!’ (Mt 20:30 & 31)

Everyone is created to be wise. All of us have the capabilities to be a wise person. Being wise goes far deeper than having an abundance of knowledge of certain subjects. A practice of study and an accumulation of knowledges or facts do have a proper role in becoming a wise person. But the Writings of the New Church go far deeper than obtaining knowledges to become wise. It is what we do with those knowledges, and how we apply them in life that determines if we are wise. The Writings are straightforward that humility must be present if there is to be wisdom. When there is the simple willingness and desire to be led by the Lord along with the knowledge of how we should live, we are wise.

One way we can regard wisdom is having a clear picture of what we want to accomplish in life. It is having a true and clear picture of what we want in life. Being wise does not necessarily remove all doubts or questions. Despite the questions and the uncertainties, we can still have a clear sight of what we would like to do in life. And we are wise if this clear vision is such that it honors and glorifies the Lord and gives benefits towards others. Being wise is not exclusively in obtaining knowledges. It is being humble whereby we can consistently have a firmer conviction that all good comes from the Lord, and not from ourselves. This confession is the basis of all genuine wisdom. (Ref)

Nevertheless, there are times that we will enter into states of ignorance. In certain ways, ignorance can be a positive or helpful state for us to go through. It can protect us from doing spiritual harm to the truths that are from the Lord, and it can also encourage us and make it easier for us to confess that all good is from the Lord. Ignorance, when used properly, can prevent us from believing that we know from ourselves what is good and true. Ignorance can be helpful in not fixing ourselves in a state of self-intelligence. Self-intelligence is the main barrier that can prevent us from being in a state of true wisdom. And when we are let into times of confusion or obscurity of how to accomplish our ideals in life, we can be in a stronger recognition that we are dependant upon the Lord to provide us with the life that can manifest the spiritual principles that are revealed in the Lord’s Word. Simply put, we can not be wise without going through times of ignorance. Even the angels in heaven are let into states of obscurity from time because they too are susceptible in believing the love they have and the wisdom they are in are from themselves. There is a certain ignorance in wisdom in that we sincerely recognize and confess that from ourselves, spiritual wisdom would be impossible to achieve.

Specifically, the Writings speak of three causes of ignorance. The first is a blatant life of selfishness. The life that is only concerned with one’s self interest will be in total ignorance regarding spiritual life. Sadly, such a person does not concern himself or herself with their ignorance. They just want to drift alone with the type of life that they are living. This cause of ignorance is deliberate and formed by choice of a person who disregards the consequences upon others.

Second is an innocent cause of ignorance that actually can still lead to good. This is spoken of specifically with those who do not have the Word or have never heard of the Lord. The Gentiles are not at fault, nor did they make an actual choice to reject the Lord and a life according to His commandments. The Writings assure us that if they live according to what they regard as true as sincerely as they can, the Lord can lead them to heaven when they enter the spiritual world. In fact, the Writings state that despite the fallacies that they believe to be true, the Lord can bend these fallacies towards good. This is because they still want to do what is right and good. This desire will allow the Lord to be conjoined with them and bring out the maximum good that their beliefs can produce.

The third cause is between the deliberate rejection of the Lord with those who are only concerned about themselves, and the good of those who are good despite the fallacies they believe to be true because they never heard of the Lord or the Word. This ignorance is the result of putting external things above internal things. Such a person can know the truths but they are only in the memory, not in his or her life. Such a person puts so much attention upon enjoying worldly things that he or she lose sight of spiritual things and how they can effect life. As a result, they do not know truth in life, only intellectually. They do now know the true impact or relevance of truth by not living according to it fully in their lives.

This is why the belief that if we just confess that the Lord died on the cross we are saved, regardless of what we may do or the type of life we may live is so dangerous. This type of belief makes living or focusing strictly on externals very enticing. This belief does not encourage one to concentrate on internal loves and thoughts. It creates a very strong tendency to put externals over internals.

When external things dominate our lives, the light from heaven is not received in as openly or fully. The Writings explain that the truths that we do know are known only in generalities. We only have an obscure understanding of their relevance in our lives. They are like a person who only knows the general and basic rules of a game or sport. As long as only there is only a basic understanding about the game, it will not be as stimulating until the sport is known in greater detail. Such is the understanding of truth. It will not be fully appreciated so long as we have an obscure understanding of their impact in our lives. Only when we have a dedication to fully submit ourselves to the Lord’s commandments will we have a deeper appreciation of their importance and power in our lives. Along with this deeper appreciation will come a greater insight and clarity of how we are to live that will truly bring honor to the Lord and perform meaningful uses towards those we come in contact with.

We can emerge from a state of ignorance to a state of wisdom. The crucial step is to sincerely confess that all good comes from the Lord and that there be a dedication to obey His commandments in all aspects of our lives. The emergence from a state of ignorance is treated of by the story of two blind men at the road to Jericho. The blind men cried to the Lord to heal them of their blindness when they heard that the Lord was passing by them. The crowd around them told them to be quiet. But the response of the blind men was that they cried the more, they became louder. The Lord stopped and touched their eyes, whereby they could see.

The crowd around the blind men pictures the world’s philosophy and trends which entice us to be quiet and remain in our blindness. It tries to tell us that we should not concern ourselves with spiritual matters. Why should we be concerned about the quality of our relationship with the Lord? Why should we be concerned about the impact our actions and words will have upon others? We are just to live from day to day, not fully knowing where we are or what direction our lives are heading. So long as we are in ignorance, which blindness represents, the world will have control or power over us.

Strangely enough, there will be something in us that wants to remain in ignorance. So long as we do not know an alternative to external delights, we can enjoy them. Why bother in having a clearer light that comes from heaven that can effect our lives? Just remain in the life we are living now and do not do anything that could make such a life no longer pleasant. Our proprial desires will be enticed to follow such a philosophy of life. It will not bother us that we are under control of others and not truly free. We are heavily concerned if we are living in the current trends of worldly behavior and standards. But we accept being under their control, for we can enjoy sensual delights.

In history, the Church prevented the laity from reading the Word by reading the Word in Latin, which only the priests could understand. Yet, most of the laity did not mind being completely dependant upon others for direction. By being in ignorance, they could indulge and find an excuse to remain a life of sensual pleasures.

One way that many throughout history have combated influences from the world is to separate themselves from it. They believe that a life that is in total isolation from worldly thought and life will make them pure. The Writings teach that this is not a proper approach. Instead of having purer and more humble thoughts and attitudes, the opposite occurs. They feel superior towards others and feel more deserving of rewards in heaven for their sacrifice upon the earth.

We are not to remove ourselves from a life in the world to combat worldly tendencies and enticements. Instead, we are to do what the blind men did, cry out the more. We are to have a greater and stronger commitment to compliance with the Lord’s Word. This even stronger commitment will overcome the noise that the world will direct to us, whereby the Lord may touch the eyes of our understanding and give us sight of a clear knowledge of how we are to live and what we can offer to the Lord’s creation.

A BRIDE FOR ISAAC

A BRIDE FOR ISAAC

A Sermon by Rev Frederick M ChapinOctober 23, 1994

 

So Abraham said to the oldest servant of his house, who ruled over all that he had, ‘Please, put your hand under my thigh, and I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell; but you shall go to my country and to my kindred, and take a wife for my son Isaac. (Gen 24:2-4)

Abraham was an old man, when it was time for Isaac to have a wife. He sent his most trusted servant to his native country with the task of finding a wife for his son. This was a serious responsibility. The servant had to find the right woman that not only would make Isaac happy, but would also be able to start the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise that Abraham’s descendant will occupy the land of Canaan. Before the servant left on his important mission, Abraham made him take an oath that he would not choose a Canaanite. Instead, he was to select one from Abraham’s own ancestry. Abraham also gave strict orders that Isaac was not to accompany him. He was concerned that if Isaac went with him, he might fall in love with a woman that would not be willing to travel back to Canaan. Therefore, Isaac would be inclined to marry the woman there and not return to the land promised to his father. Abraham assured his servant that the Lord would guide his ways and lead him the right woman.

When the servant arrived at Abraham’s homeland, he strategically placed himself at the city’s well during the evening. The servant knew that it was most likely that Isaac’s bride would come from one of the women who drew water at the well. When the women came, the servant earnestly prayed that the Lord would somehow make known which woman was best suited to became Isaac’s bride. He prayed that whoever would offer to give his camels water, that would be a sign that this woman was the Lord’s choice. Before the servant was finished speaking, he noticed Rebekah’s beauty. He went to her for a drink of water. When he was finished, Rebekah than offered to give his camels water. After the camels finished drinking, the servant found out that she was the daughter of Abraham’s brother. The servant was ecstatic. He knew that his important mission was accomplished. Afterwards, when Isaac saw Rebekah, he rejoiced and married her.

Like Abraham’s servant, we also are called to find a bride for Isaac. We are to find genuine truths that can properly display good that is from the Lord. “Isaac” represents genuine good in our lives. “Rebekah” represents the truth that make this good visible. When this account is examined interiorly, it can teach us how we should search for the bona fide truths that can express heavenly goods or loves. This story can also teach us how we can distinguish authentic truths from apparent truths.

When Abraham’s servant was about to depart on his important journey, he received strict orders not to take Isaac with him. It certainly would have been much more convenient to take Isaac along and have him choose a wife for himself. But Abraham knew that the Lord’s promise could only be fulfilled if the servant himself made the long journey alone. When we make our important searches for truth, we should not do so casually. We too are given strict orders to select the proper truths that can fully express a love to the Lord and toward the neighbor. We are not to just accept anything that sounds good. Instead, we are to examine, study, reflect, and pray as we strive to recognize genuine truths in the Word. It would be simpler for us to just accept anything that sounds good or is pleasant to our senses. But instead, we are commanded to reflect and thoroughly examine what we regard as true before we take the step of applying it to our lives. When we are willing to exercise the necessary caution we are in the affection of truth. If we are in this affection, we will long not just for anything that appears good on the surface, but for that special truth that will enable us to perfectly manifest the Lord’s love that is within us. This willingness to make the painstaking search for the genuine truth is represented by the servant’s willingness to make the long journey alone.

Abraham’s servant was not only commanded to make the journey alone, he was also told not to choose a Canaanite woman. When we choose a principle that we will live by, we must be certain that it will not excuse or justify an evil desire. We must not conform the Word to confirm an evil love or habit; rather, we must conform ourselves to what the Word teaches. If we choose to twist the meaning of the Word around so we will be able to continue to indulge in our evil delights, then we have chosen a Canaanite. However, if we strive to understand what the Word is genuinely teaching, then the holiness of the Word will remain intact. Just as it was vitally important for the servant to choose a woman from Abraham’s own family, so we must choose the genuine truths in the Word before the Lord can operate fully within us.

When the servant came to Abraham’s homeland, he purposefully went to the well where the available women would probably come. When we make the determination to live according to the truths which the Lord directly teaches, we must go to the Word itself and conduct our search there. Genuine truths come form no other source. The Word is where the Lord is directly present, where He reveals and teaches Divine truths to us.

While the servant was at the well, he earnestly prayed to the Lord that the best suited woman would be revealed to him. The servant’s prayer illustrates the quality of our desire in making our search for truth in the Lord’s Word. When we search for Divine principles that we are to live by, we must also pray, in our individual way, for the light that enables us to recognize these truths. Divine truths are revealed by the Lord through the Word. He only reveals Divine truths, truths to live by, to those who look to the Word with the desire to be conjoined with Him. If the servant conducted his search at the well with the attitude that he did not need the Lord’s help, he would have overlooked Rebekah. If we go to the Word with the attitude that we can know Divine truths without help form the Lord, then we will not recognize them.

When Rebekah was revealed to the servant, he noticed that she was very beautiful. When the Lord reveals Divine truth to us, it will be very beautiful. It will be beautiful because we will perceive the heavenly joys we will have when they are applied to life. It will be beautiful because we will receive the assurance that the Lord is operating, with His full Divinity, within that truth. And it will be beautiful because we will find fulfillment and satisfaction in the service we will be able to provide for others. Divine truth is the means whereby we can free ourselves from evil. Divine truth breaks the grip and the bonds which the hells hold over us. This freedom from the hells is the core of the beauty of Divine truth. The Lord taught that spiritual freedom comes through truth when He told those who believed Him:

 

If you abide in My Word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (Jn 8:31 & 32)

Freedom from bondage to the hells is what makes Divine truth attractive. This beauty is revealed only to those who allow the Lord to enter their lives through truths, just as the beauty of Rebekah was revealed to the servant when he prayed for Divine guidance.

But notice, Abraham’s servant did not immediately respond when he saw Rebekah’s beauty. He waited until she had watered all his camels, before he asked here who here family was. Rebekah still had to perform the test. When we form ideas from the Lord’s Word that sounds good on the surface, we still are not to apply them immediately. Further examination is still required. We must be absolutely sure that the doctrine we draw from the Word is based upon genuine truths. Each teaching we receive from the Word must past the test before we determine that it will be applied to our lives. The test is simply if the teaching will lead to a stronger relationship and conjunction with the Lord, and if it will provide true uses toward our neighbor. We must insure that the teachings we find beautiful in the Word are beautiful because they benefit the Lord’s Church on Earth, not merely because they benefit ourselves.

After the servant found out who Rebekah’s family was, he brought her to Isaac. When Isaac saw Rebekah, he loved her and they became husband and wife. This conjunction between Isaac and Rebekah represents the application of genuine truth to our lives from a love to the Lord and a love toward our neighbor. When we make the necessary effort to find out how we are to truly love the Lord, and how we are to truly acto toward others, the Lord will show us. And when we are sure how we are to love, think, and act, we must strive to make Divine truth a reality in our lives. If we do what the Word truly tells us to do, then we will receive heavenly blessings from the Lord, which are represented by the marriage delights between Isaac and Rebekah.

Therefore, daily reading and study of the Word need not be a drudgery. Rather, it can be the most stimulating and inspiring part of our lives. When we approach the Word with the right purpose, the Lord will directly communicate to us as He did with Abraham’s servant at the well. The Lord will speak to us, when we are willing to search the Word carefully and reflectively for the principles and guidelines in our lives. But the examination of doctrinal teachings must be perpetual. The deeper we penetrate the Lord’s Word for guidance, the more pure and perfect our doctrine from the Word will become. The leading into more genuine and perfect truths in the Lord’ Word is the promise of the Holy Spirit. And this promise the Lord made to His disciples is just as alive today:

 

… when He the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore, I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you. (Jn 16:13-15)

GOD AS A REFUGE

GOD AS A REFUGE

A Sermon by Rev Frederick M ChapinOctober 16, 1994

 

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Ps 46:1)

Security is one of the most fundamental human needs. Everyone needs a safe place to turn to, especially during troublesome times. We must have security to be productive and useful. We all need some form of a dependable sanctuary, if we are to have the necessary security to lead a productive life. This safe and dependable need can come in the form of another person, like our spouse, family members, or close friends. It may be in a quiet place, like a walk in the desert. Whatever the form or manner, we need someone or somewhere to go to find renewal in facing our challenges and responsibilities.

In the forty-sixth Psalm, which we read for our first lesson, we see that God can be our refuge. The Lord can be our safest and most dependable sanctuary. The Hebrew word for refuge gives the message that the Lord can be our hope, trust, and shelter. The Lord is the source of our security and strength. Regardless of where or to whom we turn for encouragement, the Lord alone is the one that works through the means that brings us comfort.

Strength depends upon the feeling of security. When we have a dependable place to go to when difficulties arise, we are more self-confident in executing the tasks we are called upon to perform. When the Lord is in the center of our lives, we will sense His presence which will make us safe and strong in withstanding the attacks that evil spirits will wage against us. This is why the Psalm states that the Lord is a very present help in the time of trouble. The Lord comes forth when we are weak and vulnerable. The Lord is actually with us when we are attacked or in distress. He does not merely observe our difficulties. He is actually present with us in what we are going through, and leading us to safety.

The idea of the Lord being a refuge came from the concept of the cities of refuge in the Old Testament. When the Children of Israel first entered the land of Canaan, the Lord established six cities that were to be called cities of refuge. These cities were designated as a place that a person could go and find safety if someone was killed accidentally. If the person could flee to a city of refuge before the “avenger” (who usually was the closest relative of the slain person) could catch him, then that person would be safe from any harm. A trial was then held, and if the person was guilty of deliberate murder, that person would be put to death. If however, the person was found innocent by not intentionally killing another person, then he would be absolutely safe as long as he remained within the city of refuge.

These cities of refuge are wonderful images of how the Lord can be our personal refuge. When we are threatened to be overrun by the hells, we can turn and flee to the Lord, in Whom we find complete safety. No harm can come to us so long as we remain within the boundaries of the Lord’s commandments. This is a life that is in compliance with the Lord’s Word. One way we can regard the Word is that it establishes the boundaries that we are to live within in order to be under the Lord’s Divine protection. The Lord can be like a caring parent who a child turns to when he or she is hurt or saddened. It is quite common that when a child is upset or frightened, the child will immediately look for the mother or the father and run into their arms to find comfort. Usually, in a matter of minutes, the hurt is forgotten and the child resumes to play as if nothing had happened. The Lord can be the same source of comfort and support. We can always turn to Him and find comfort and renewed strength, so we can return to our tasks in the world.

We feel the most vulnerable when we are undergoing change. The challenges of going through a change are described in the Psalm as the “mountains shaking and the waters roaring”. While we are going through a change, we do not know for certain what the outcome will be. We then feel as if we are on a shaking mountain and on waters that are roaring. We are the most uncomfortable when we feel less in control of what may happen to us.

It is during these hard times that the Psalm continues to say that “there is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God”. This refers to the stability of truth. Truth never changes. The manner and the form in which it is presented may vary from generation to generation, but the basic message will always remain the same. The same pattern of living that gives us a refuge gave countless others throughout history the power to have victory over injustices and temptations. Likewise, we can be assured that as we face a difficulty, we have a stable force that can sustain us. The Lord has created each one of us to have His truth work in our lives. The more we apply truth in all our situations the more we are in the Lord’s city of refuge where we are safe and secure from our enemies.

If we are spiritually growing, it is inevitable that we will undergo a process of deep personal changes. We are in the process of changing our former loves into new heavenly loves from the Lord. Many of these times can be frightening. We are giving up that which we find enjoyment in and in which we identify our very humanity. We may sense that we are becoming a new person, and it may seem that we are not in control. However, if we remain in truth, we will be assured of victory in the end. Change can be very difficult to accept, even if we recognize the need for it. For example, we may recognize that we need to remove a bad habit. Yet, how often do we struggle to make the necessary changes despite the benefits that we may acknowledge at the end. All change is hard, and it is during these times that we need the Lord to be our refuge.

The most fundamental change that a spiritual person will constantly undergo is making the love of self serve the love to the Lord and to the neighbor. The removal of the love of self as our highest love is referred to in the Psalm as the mountains being in the sea. Our very person is being threatened and there will always be the temptation to do things our own way.

Yet, if we remain faithful to the truths that are revealed in the Lord’s Word, we will have a sense of the Lord’s continual presence in our lives. The “break of the dawn” will come, as the Psalm promises. The dawn breaks when we are able to recognize, from within, the Lord’s help. The Lord has always been there, but now His presence is more visible to us. We have emerged with the confidence that the Lord’s commandments are indeed the best way to handle any situation or difficulty. There are two basic commandments that embody the Lord’s truth: “to love the Lord with all our heart and to love our neighbor as ourselves.” If this is our fundamental approach in dealing with our personal challenges, we will eventually see the breaking of the dawn. We will recognize the Lord’s presence by enduring our turmoil. We endure our turmoil by never relinquishing our devotion to the Lord’s teachings in His Word.

When the dawn breaks, peace will come. The Psalm refers to peace as the Lord making wars to cease and in being exalted among the nations. The weapons that are waged against us now become useless. All they can do is afflict our externals, they can not touch our internal loves and principles. The Word teaches us how to have our internal loves of the Lord be more important than our external loves or needs. When this becomes the case in our lives we are in the most secure peace that we can possibly be in. It is not difficult to conceive that when internal principles of honoring the Lord is more important than our external pleasures and status, we will become a very secure and confident person. Job pictures such a person. His steadfast faith in the Lord allowed him to persevere all the heartaches and traumas he was called upon to endure. Likewise a person who has deeply held convictions that he or she will remain true to the Lord’s Word no matter what the obstacles, will sense many personal moments of being safe in the Lord’s hands. Such a person is described in the passage of the Arcana Coelestia, which we read for our third lesson,

…unruffled is their spirit whether they obtain of their

desire, or not; and they do not grieve over the loss of

them, being content with their lot. They know that for

those who trust in the Divine all things advance toward

a happy state to eternity, and that whatever befalls them

in time is still conducive thereto. (AC 8478)

When we are in this state, or this is the condition of our lives, we are at peace.

Finally, the Psalm concludes with astounding words that our lives can exalt the name of the Lord. When the Lord is our most fundamental refuge, our lives will be able to exalt His presence. Those that are around us will see the presence of the Lord in the conduct of our lives. And when our internal principles govern our external behaviors, we will exalt the name of the Lord. And when we value the internal condition of our lives as more vital than our external conditions, we will have more confidence and understanding in these words from the Lord, “My Father, Who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My hand” (Jn 10:29)