03/14/2021

Mental and Social Prosperity

Sunday, March 14, 2021
Featuring: Rev. Richard Maraj
Final Week of the 4-Week Series, "The Ways of Prosperity"

Click HERE to download this transcript.

Rev. Richard Maraj: Good morning, everyone, and welcome to Unity of Phoenix Spiritual Center. Welcome to our Sunday virtual worship celebration! I’m Rev. Richard Maraj, and I am so glad you’ve joined us today!

Some exciting things: can hardly wait! Easter services – Sunday, April 4 – we are excited about it. There will be three outdoor services: 6 a.m. (our regular Sunrise Service), 7:30 and 9 a.m. So we hope you will join us live for one of those wonderful, uplifting Easter services. The message is called “Rise Up!” and we are all going to do that for sure.

We’re also very excited that June the 6th – Sunday, June the 6th – will be our first live service indoors in our Sanctuary. Both 9 and 11 services! And we’re going to wait for a while so more people can get vaccinated so we can be as safe as possible, get as many people in our services as possible, and to do it as close to normal as possible. So exciting! Mark your calendar for that date: Sunday, June the 6th. Live services back in the Sanctuary.

This Tuesday, I’m wrapping up the 2-week series, “How to Get Out of Your Own Way.” If you couldn’t make the first week, you are still welcome to join us this week. We’ll do a summary and then we’ll do some additional stuff of how to get out of our own way.

Right now, I’m going to get out of the way as Rev. Lori is going to lead us in a time of prayer and meditation. But first we will listen to the choir as they sing "Surely the Presence."

Unity of Phoenix Choir sings “Surely the Presence”
Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place
I can see God’s mighty power and God’s grace
I can feel the brush of angels’ wings
I see glory on each face
Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place

 

MEDITATION
Rev. Lori Fleming: I invite you to close your outer eyes, to take in a deep, cleansing breath and release it slowly. Turning your awareness within. Take in another mindful breath. Begin to focus your awareness into your heart space: into that quiet, still, place within where we are one with the Divine. Into that place where there's the peace that passes understanding. No matter what's going on in the outer world, we know that, when we go within, we experience God's deep and abiding peace.

In this precious moment, we are one with Spirit. We feel this upwelling of God's love within: loving ourselves and loving each other. Knowing that each and every one of us has been created with sacred worth. That, no matter what we look like, no matter what we believe, each and every one is an important part of the whole. And without one of us, the whole would be diminished. Our different colors make up the tapestry of life: each and every one important for the greater good of the whole.

So we send blessings out to each and every human being on this planet. God, fill our hearts with love. Allow us to experience new and greater levels of peace within our own hearts, within our own lives. Peace within our own families and our communities. Peace in the world now.

And so we take just a few moments to move more deeply into the silence, where we feel the peace that passes understanding within.

SILENCE

And so, sweet Spirit, we come in gratitude for these amazing lives that we have the pleasure of living. For each and every good thing that we experience now and in the future. We know, God, all our good comes from you. Thank you for all of the blessings! Thank you, God; thank you, God; thank you, God! And it is so. Amen.

 

MESSAGE
Rev. Richard Maraj: Thank you, Rev. Lori; that was a wonderful meditation!

You know, the owner of a small business was interviewing a young accountant fresh out of college. He was excited to get a job. And the owner began by explaining that he had a lot of worries; he worried about everything! He was worrying constantly, and now he wanted to hire somebody to take care and do some of the worrying for him. And he told the young man it was not just a job of being an accountant, but that he was going to take over and do all the worrying about all financial matters. He was now in charge of worrying about all financial matters. And that the starting salary for the job was $80,000. The young man got so excited; he said, “Absolutely! I’ll take the job!” So he started looking through all the books and, after a while, he got a little concerned. And he went and he saw the boss, and he said to the owner … He said, “Hey; this business is losing money! It’s losing a lot of money every single week. There’s no way you’re going to be able to pay my salary.” And the owner said, “Well, that’s your first worry.” [Simulates “rim shot” drum roll]

Do you ever find yourself worrying about things? Do you ever worry about your work? Do you ever worry about your family? Ever worry about your finances? Ever worry about the future? Do you ever worry about making the right decision: an important decision in your life? Or have you ever had your mind so preoccupied on so many things you felt stressed? You felt overwhelmed? And you felt a sense of constant pressure of having to get so many things done?

We’re in the final week of our four-week series called, “The Ways of Prosperity.” And, in it, we’ve really learned and discovered that prosperity is more than just about money and wealth and possessions. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but prosperity – true prosperity – include love and peace of mind and feeling a sense of fulfillment. Feeling close and positive and nurturing, intimate relationships. Feeling a sense of optimism and gratitude and thankfulness. Feeling that our lives have value and meaning. A true prosperous life is about living a full and fulfilling life in all areas.

That’s why this series has been expanding our awareness of what prosperity is by looking at eight different areas of prosperity. We’ve looked at spiritual prosperity; relationship prosperity; emotional prosperity; physical prosperity; financial prosperity; professional prosperity; and, today, we’re going to look at mental prosperity and social prosperity.

The second reason we’re doing this series is to really show how to learn and develop all the skills needed to create and manifest the level of prosperity and the abundance we want to experience in our lives.

The Scripture for this series has been from the third letter of John, and let me read it to you again. It says, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things, and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” And that’s really the key. Because what it’s saying is: if you want to live a prosperous life, you need to prosper your soul; prosper your spirit.

And the story we’ve used for this series is from the Book of Luke, Chapter 5, where the fishermen were fishing all night, and couldn’t get any fish. And Jesus said, “Cast your net on the right side of the boat.” And they did, and they caught an abundance of fish: enough to have, enough to share, enough to sell, enough to make a lot of money from. And what that’s really saying is to cast your net – we need to be like fishermen – cast our net on the right side of the boat. Cast your consciousness on the spiritual side. And, like the fishermen, we have to actually do the work to manifest the things that we want in our lives.

Remember when Jesus said, “Seek ye first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you”? What he was saying: seek first – cast your net on the spiritual side – and then do the work. In Unity, we use the word “righteousness” to mean “the right use-ness” of God’s laws and practices. To use God’s tools of meditation and prayer, of visioning and intention, of asking and seeking. Using all of God’s spiritual laws and practices; then all of these things will be added unto you. Seek ye first, and then have the right “use” of your spiritual powers, and all these things will be added unto you.

Prosperity is available to all of us! The question is: Are we willing to do the work and the practices, and to embody them, to attract and manifest all the good we desire?

So mental prosperity and social prosperity today.

So what is having a prosperous mind mean to you? I’m sure if we’re thinking about a prosperous mind, I’m sure we’re not thinking of the mind that constantly worries and is anxious and is fearful.

Proverbs says, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” And what it’s saying is that a prosperous life is connected to having a positive mind. Positive thoughts. The first element of having a prosperous mind and mental prosperity is to make sure your mind is positive. Studies show that the key to happiness is actually how positive our minds are. A positive mind usually leads to a happy mind.

They did some studies with some kids about the impact of having positive thoughts on our performance and how well we feel. And what they did was: they had the kids do a little task of putting together blocks. But one group, before they began, had to think of two things that made them feel good: like ice cream or a puppy or a hug from their mom. And consistently, the group that infused positive thoughts – things that made them feel good – were twice as efficient, and twice as effective, as the group that didn’t think about something good or positive before they did their task.

Studies show even a little bit of infusion of positivity on a regular basis – particularly before difficult or challenging actions or meanings or decisions – absolutely makes an incredible difference. Another study they did was asking people to write down three things that made them feel good during the day, every day for a week. And what they found was that that “feel-good” energy of making them feel happy lasted six whole months! From just doing three things a night for one week.

So here’s your assignment: I want you to think and write down three good things that happened to you. Every night, before you go to bed: just get a little legal pad, and every night write the three good things. And just notice the difference of how more positive and how much happier you are. And they say we tend to be more optimistic, see good in situations, and get over challenging situations easier by having a more positive mind. Because a positive mind truly is a prosperous mind.

The next one is to have a mind that is willing to let go. They did a study on centenarians – people who lived at least to be a hundred years old. And they asked them: besides genetics, what do you think are the key things that helped you live this long, and live as happy a life as you are living? And they said: number one, positive attitude. Not surprised! Second one was having things to look forward two: goals. Third was good social network: knowing and connecting with people. And the fourth was the ability to let go of the past.

See, whether it’s a hundred years or we are 20 or 30 years old, or 50 years old, we are always accumulating challenging and things – pains and frustrations and hurt and grudges – that we tend to hold on to. They tend to weigh us down. They tend to occupy our mind. They tend to make us focus on the negative, and keep us stuck and stagnating. Letting go – having a mind that can release – is one of the most peaceful, freeing, liberating things we can do that helps us become more positive, helps us see the good, and actually helps us get more in the flow.

So my question for you is: Do you have a mind that easily lets go? Lets go of the past? Lets go of hurts? Lets go of mistakes? And lets go of regrets?

The Bible tells us over and over again how important the practice of letting go and releasing really is. Here are a few Scriptures. In Matthew it says, “Anyone who puts his hand to a plowshare and looks back is not fit the kingdom of heaven.” And you remember Lot’s wife was warned: “Don’t look back!” And what did she do? She looked back, and she turned into a pillar of salt. So there’s a clear warning there of: Don’t look back to the past! Don’t keep stuck in the past!

In Philippians it says, “Forgetting what is behind and straining forward to what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize to which I’ve been called heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Forget what’s behind! And it’s saying: let that stuff go. Let the past go. Even when one of the disciples said to Jesus, “How often should I forgive, Master? As many as seven times?” And Jesus said, “No; 70 times seven.” And what he is saying is: to let go of the resentments. Consistently release the things that cause us bitterness or blame or anger.

So the question we need to ask ourselves right now is: What do I need to let go? What in my life am I holding on to that it’s time for me to release? See, a prosperous mind is a mind that can release and let go to create the energy to create solutions and joy that we often occupy in holding on to all sorts of things.

Here’s an interesting twist on that whole mindset of letting go. In John 15, Verse 2, it says this: “He prunes the tree so that it may bear more fruit.” And what it’s saying is: sometimes in our lives, we need to cut away certain things. Ever overdo it, and have too many activities? It’s kind of like down-sizing. Simplifying. Sometimes looking at our lives and saying, “You know; I don’t really need to do this.” Or, “This thing isn’t serving me; maybe it’s time for me to release it and let it go.” Maybe it’s decluttering the stuff in our home. Maybe there are friendships that are dangling – that are unhealthy for us – that we just need to release.

So my question is: In this area, what do you need to prune in your own life? What do you need to cut back on that’ll bring more prosperity, bring more time and energy to enjoy your life more fully and more freely?

And the third thing about a prosperous mind – mental prosperity – is to have a mind of joy. We think that joy is just an emotion, but joy is a mindset. Joy is a way that we look at life. Here are the Scriptures of joy. Jesus said he came, “that his joy may be in us, and our joy may be complete.” Another Scripture says, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord!” And one of my favorites: “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” And a powerful one, but a tough one to understand, is when Paul said, “Count it all joy, brethren, when you face trials of any kind.” And that’s similar to Paul when he said: “In all things give thanks, for this is God’s will for you.”

So my question for you is: Do you have a joyful mind? Now, a joyful mind includes being playful and silly, and having fun, and being optimistic and positive, but I also believe that a joyful mind is having a deep appreciation for life, no matter what circumstances are going on. That, even when things are challenging – even when things are difficult – give thanks that we are here to live it, to experience it, to learn from it, to make a difference in it, and to become a better person from it.

Every one of us has been born into situations that are not easy. They are tough. That we experience traumas and challenges and difficulties and endings. And we’ve also been born into situations that are beautiful. That are positive. That are uplifting and wonderful. And they’re all a part of our lives! They’re all a part of our joy, and what makes our joy complete.

You know, I’ve shared with you that my brother has pancreatic cancer. And he got even worse news: that he’s got a higher stage of cancer in his lymphatic system. So things aren’t going as well … and we were already devastated by it. I had a chance to speak with him the other day, and we were chatting on the phone, and talking about how things are, and being hopeful and positive. We laughed our butts off a little bit here or there. And then we had this moment where he wanted to teach me a new meditation. And so we were doing this meditation – I’m actually lying on the ground with my face on the carpet, the phone there – and we’re meditating together. And I could just feel him breathing and me breathing. And I’m telling you, in that moment, there was a sacredness and a tenderness and a connection I felt. He’s in Canada! He’s on the phone! And we’re just breathing together. And I just felt this love and connection for him. And there was no place in the world I would have rather been in that moment than right there.

And they’re not easy situations. I be every one of us has situations going on in our life right now that we wish was not happening. But the thing is: we’ve got to be glad we’re there. And we’ve got to use all of our joy and our love and our spirit to let us learn, be fully present, and make the best – and make the most positive – difference from those situations.

A joyful mind laughs and plays and smiles, but it also has a deep and rich appreciation for life itself. That we get this opportunity to live. We get this opportunity to love and to learn and to support and be there for one another.

So let’s look at social prosperity. What does it mean to be prosperous in a social way? The truth is: we all are here for connection and love and encouragement and support and caring and sharing for one another. From our family to our friends, but to all the relationships and connections in life. Because ultimately, human beings want to be loved, and they want it in the form of belonging. They want it in the form of community. They want it in the form of connection.

You know, I was so impressed. The last couple of Wednesdays, these group of ladies on campus at Unity have been getting together and having parties and balloons everywhere. And they’re just celebrating while the staff a couple of hundred feet away are holding our staff meeting outdoors. And it was just so much fun; I was so touched to see them connecting and feeling joyful in this challenging situation. Not letting anything stop them from experiencing that sense of joy.

Sometimes doing fun things together … like, two weeks ago I went, for the second time in my life, I held a gun and I shot it. I was at a shooting range. And it was fun. I went with four friends; we did it. It was really a cool and fun experience. I hit the bull’s eye! I’m not bragging. Okay, I’m bragging! Because I have never really done that. And I hit it, and it was fun! But what was even more fun was just to get to share that experience with others.

When Scripture says, “Where two or more are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them,” there’s something amazing about being connected with a group of people. Whether it’s church, whether it’s friends, whether it’s family, whether it’s in a support group … something about being – even when I’m in class with Zoom! – there’s something magical about feeling a part of something. And sharing and listening and supporting and encouraging and enjoying the experience together.

So in what ways do you want to experience more social prosperity? And are you willing to use your tools of being vulnerable, of risking, of asking, of sharing, of caring to help you feel a deeper connection? Because that’s one of the greatest feelings in the world: is to have people to share their joy, your challenges, your struggles with. Because we are meant to love! We are meant to be in community and connection, and there for one another in a sense of togetherness.

There’s a wonderful Scripture that says, “Brethren, isn’t it great to dwell in unity and love?” And that really is why we are ultimately all here.

Russell Conwell is the person who founded Temple University. And he’s famous for telling a story, and this is it. It was about a farmer in Africa who is discontented with his life. He’d heard about other farmers and people striking it rich, and he wanted a rich life: a prosperous life! And he got so frustrated, he sold his land, left his family, and went seeking his riches. And he sought it everywhere; couldn’t find it. And got so frustrated and despondent that he threw himself on a tidal wave and died, and was never seen again. The person that bought his land was walking around on it one day, and saw something kind of shiny, and went and picked it up. It was like a nice huge crystal, and he put it on his mantelpiece. And then several weeks later, somebody came and saw the crystal, and picked it up and said, “You know what this is?” The guy said, “I don’t know; it’s a crystal. I just found it.” He said, “No! This is one of the largest diamonds, and I bet one of the largest diamonds ever!” And it turned out to be – and it became one of the largest diamond mines in the world. And the lesson is: if that farmer had simply known how to recognize on his own property all of the diamonds that were available to him, that his life would have been prosperous, instead of him chasing it.

Sometimes we are the same. We think we’ve got to chase somewhere beyond our own life. But the fact is: God has put everything on our “acres of diamonds” – on our property. The question is: Are we recognizing it? And are we using it? Are we seeing the diamond in the rough situations, and relationships, that we can buff up and make shine even brighter? And enjoy and live a more prosperous life? Or are we thinking, “Not in my life! I’ve got to go look at somebody else’s life, or go somewhere else to do it!”?

The truth is: God has planted all the riches, and all the abundance, and all the love, and all the opportunities, and all the experience, [laughs] and all the blessings we could ever imagine in our lives!

Here’s an interesting Scripture from Proverbs: “It is God’s privilege to conceal things, and it is man’s privilege to discover those things.” All the prosperity we need is already here! The question is: Are we recognizing it? Are we casting our net in the widest area on the spiritual side of the boat? And doing our work to bring forth these things?

Every one of us wants to live a more prosperous life. And I really believe if we cast our net on the spiritual side, and do our spiritual work, that we truly will learn, experience and enjoy all the ways of prosperity!

God bless you all!

 

SOLO
Guest artist Charity Lockhart sings “The Blessing”

The Lord bless you
And keep you
Make His face shine upon
And be gracious to you
The Lord turn His
Face toward you
And give you peace

Amen, amen, amen
Amen, amen, amen

Lord bless you
And keep you
Make His face shine upon
And be gracious to you
Lord turn His
Face toward you
And give you peace

Amen, amen, amen
Amen, amen, amen

May His favor be upon you
And a thousand generations
And your family and your children
And their children, and their children

May His favor be upon you
And a thousand generations
And your family and your children
And their children, and their children

May His presence go before you
And behind you, and beside you
All around you, and within you
He is with you, He is with you

In the morning, in the evening
In your coming, and your going
In your weeping, and rejoicing
He is for you, He is for you

He is for you, He is for you
He is for you, He is for you
He is for you, He is for you
He is for you

Amen, amen, amen
Amen, amen, amen

May His favor be upon you
And a thousand generations
And your family and your children
And their children, and their children

May His presence go before you
And behind you, and beside you
All around you, and within you
He is with you, He is with you

In the morning, in the evening
In your coming, and your going
In your weeping, and rejoicing
He is for you, He is for you

He is for you, He is for you
He is for you, He is for you
He is for you, He is for you
He is for you

Amen, amen, amen
Amen, amen, amen
Amen, amen, amen
Amen, amen, amen

 

OFFERING
Rev. Lori Fleming:
It’s that time in our service to give of our gifts and our tithes and our offerings. Thank you so much for sending in your checks and donating online; you’ve been keeping our wonderful work going through this past crazy year!

Our offering blessing is: “Divine love, through me, blesses and multiplies all that I have, all that I give, and all that I receive.” And so we say thank you, Mother/Father God, for these gifts, these tithes and these offerings. We know they are given in love, they are received in love, and that they move through this ministry with the energy of divine love out into the world as good. And that each giver is blessed – heaped up, pressed down and overflowing – for that is the Law. And so it is. Thank you, God! Amen.

 

CLOSING

Rev. Lori Fleming: Well, we’re so grateful that you could be with us online here. We are blessing you! We hope to back in person sometime soon! We don’t know when that will be, but we hope that you have a wonderful week. And now will you join me in listening as the choir sings the Peace Song?

Choir sings Peace Song:
Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me!
Let there be peace on earth
The peace that was meant to be!

With God as Creator
Family all are we!
Let us walk with each other
In perfect harmony!

Let peace begin with me;
Let this be the moment now!
With every breath I take
Let this be my joyous vow:
To take each moment and live each moment
In peace eternally!

Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me!

Rev. Lori Fleming: And now will you affirm our Prayer for Protection with me?

The light of God surrounds us;
The love of Gold enfolds us;
The power of God protects us;
The presence of God watches over us.
Wherever we are, God is. And all is well!

Have a blessed day!

Copyright 2021 Unity of Phoenix Spiritual Center/Rev. Richard Maraj

Location and Contact Information

Unity of Phoenix Spiritual Center

1500 E Greenway Pkwy
Phoenix, AZ 85022
Phone: (602) 978-3200

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