June 2024

God and birthdays

     I saw that our holidays should not be spent in patterning after the world, yet they should not be passed by unnoticed, for this will bring dissatisfaction to our children. On these days when there is danger that our children will be exposed to evil influences, and become corrupted by the pleasures and excitement of the world, let the parents study to get up something to take the place of more dangerous amusements. Give your children to understand that you have their good and happiness in view.  [1T 514.2 1855-1868]  
     Through the observance of holidays the people both of the world and of the churches have been educated to believe that these lazy days are essential to health and happiness, but the results reveal that they are full of evil, which is ruining the health and the morals, and demoralizing the country. The youth generally are not educated to diligent habits. Cities and even country towns are becoming like Sodom and Gomorrah, and like the world as it was in the days of Noah. The training of the youth in those days was after the same order as children are being educated and trained in this age, to love excitement, to glorify themselves, to follow the imagination of their own evil hearts. Now as then, depravity, cruelty, violence, and crime are the results.  MR No. 491 (1890’s)  [12MR 89.2 1990]
     When our weakness becomes strength in Christ, we shall not be craving for amusement. Then holidays, that are considered so indispensable, will not be used simply for the gratification of self; but they will be turned into occasions in which you can bless and enlighten souls. When weary, Jesus sought for a place of rest in the desert; but the people had had a taste of the heavenly manna, and they came out to him in large companies. In all their human woe and suffering and distress, they sought his retreat, and there was no rest for the Son of God. His heart was moved with compassion; for they were as sheep without a shepherd, and his great heart of love was touched with the feeling of their infirmities, and he taught them concerning the kingdom of heaven. Jesus was never cold and unapproachable.  [BEcho, June 15, 1892 par. 5]
     We should be on our guard, and not allow ourselves to spend money upon that which is unnecessary, and simply for display. We should not permit ourselves to indulge tastes that lead us to pattern after the customs of the world, and rob the treasury of the Lord.— R. & H., Dec. 19, 1893.  [CS 249.3 1940]
     When you have a holiday, make it a pleasant and happy day for your children, and make it also a pleasant day for the poor and the afflicted. Do not let the day pass without bringing thanksgiving and thank-offerings to Jesus. Let parents and children now make earnest effort to redeem the time, and to remedy their past neglect. Let them follow a different course of action from that which the world follows. There are many things which can be devised with taste and cost far less than the unnecessary presents that are so frequently bestowed upon our children and relatives, and thus courtesy can be shown, and happiness brought into the home. You can teach your children a lesson while you explain to them the reason why you have made a change in the value of their presents, telling them that you are convinced that you have hitherto considered their pleasure more than the glory of God. Tell them that you have thought more of your own pleasure and of their gratification and of keeping in harmony with the customs and traditions of the world, in making presents to those who did not need them, than you have of advancing the cause of God. Like the wise men of old, you may offer to God your best gifts, and show by your offerings to him that you appreciate his Gift to a sinful world. Set your children’s thoughts running in a new, unselfish channel, by inciting them to present offerings to God for the gift of his only begotten Son. Let a box be made to receive the gifts of the children. The intelligences of heaven are waiting to co-operate with human agents in every work of benevolence, that there may be means in the treasury of the Lord, and “meat in mine house,” saith the Lord.  [RH, November 13, 1894 par. 7]
     The love of pleasure is one of the most dangerous, because it is one of the most subtle, of the many temptations that assail the children and youth in the cities. Holidays are numerous; games and horse-racing draw thousands, and the whirl of excitement and pleasure attracts them away from the sober duties of life. Money that should have been saved for better uses–in many cases the scanty earnings of the poor–is frittered away for amusements.  [SpTEd 44.2 1897]
     In the interchange of presents at the commencement of the new year, we trust that our people, not only at Battle Creek but in all other places, will remember the wants of God’s cause. The Lord is not honored by the practice of bestowing costly presents upon a few favorites because it is the custom. These favorites are seldom the Lord’s poor. There are but few whose chief interest at this holiday season is to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and lift up the discouraged and oppressed. Many are really perplexed to decide what gifts they can select that will give pleasure to those who are abundantly supplied with the good things of this life. Let the money usually expended for these gifts, flow into the Lord’s treasury. When tempted to purchase expensive ornaments, or other needless articles to please the eye and indulge the fancy, let every one ask himself, “Can I do this to the glory of God, or is it merely to please my friends?” How many, at the commencement of the new year, consider their indebtedness to God while they are making their holiday presents?  [RH, January 4, 1881 par. 4]  
     There is no harm in presenting to our friends gifts which they really need. But I entreat you, my brethren and sisters, do not, because it is the custom, bestow gifts upon those who have no real need, while you do little for the poor, and entirely neglect to make your offerings to God. All that we possess belongs to God, and he has made us his stewards. Let us not expend our means for idols to please the fancy and engage the affection of our friends, while we at the same time neglect our best Friend,–the one to whom we owe everything.  [RH, January 4, 1881 par. 5]
     Our gracious God still bears long with the impenitent. He gives them light from Heaven, that they may understand the holiness of his character, and the justice of his requirements. He calls them to repentance, and assures them of his willingness to forgive. But if they continue to reject his mercy, the mandate goes forth devoting them to destruction.  [ST, August 24, 1882 par. 7]  
     Thus was it with Sodom. Behold the fairest city of the plain, set in a garden of beauty. To human vision it is a scene of quietness and security. The fertile fields are clothed with harvests. There is an abundance for the supply of every want, almost without labor. The distant hills are covered with flocks. The merchants of the East bring their treasures from afar. The people live for pleasure and make one long holiday of the year.  [ST, August 24, 1882 par. 8]  
     Idleness and riches are their curse. They are absorbed in worldly pursuits and sensual gratification. Yet no visible token of God’s wrath hangs over the devoted city. Their last day is like many others that have come and gone. Their last night is marked by no greater sins than many others before it. But mercy, so long rejected, ceases at last her pleadings. The fires of divine vengeance are kindled in the vale of Siddim. The beautiful but guilty Sodom becomes a desolation, a place never to be built up or inhabited.  [ST, August 24, 1882 par. 9]
     Satan is gratified to have the attention of youth attracted by anything to divert their minds from God, so that the deceiver can steal a march upon them, and they, unprepared for his attacks, be ensnared. They are not aware that the heavenly Artist is taking cognizance of every act, every word, and their deportment; and that even the thoughts and intents of the heart stand faithfully delineated. Every defect in the moral character stands forth revealed to the gaze of angels, and they will have the faithful picture presented to them in all its deformity at the execution of the Judgment. Those vain, frivolous words are all written in the book. Those false words are written. Those deceptive acts, with the motives concealed from human eyes, but discerned by the all-seeing eye of Jehovah, are all written in living characters. Every selfish act is exposed.  [RH, March 30, 1886 par. 7]
     Many hardly, know as yet what self-denial is, or what it is to suffer for the truth’s sake; but none will enter Heaven without making a sacrifice. Yet self-denial will not make us joyless; it will not cast a shadow upon our holidays. It is not what we have, not the abundance of the things of this life, that will make us happy. Our happiness depends upon the relation we sustain to God. An approving conscience, a contented spirit, sweet communion with Jesus, will make us the happiest beings in the world.  [ST, December 8, 1887 par. 18]
     But many, very many, have not so educated themselves that they can keep their expenditures within the limit of their income. They do not learn to adapt themselves to circumstances, and they borrow and borrow again and again, and become overwhelmed in debt, and consequently they become discouraged and disheartened. Many do not remember the cause of God, and carelessly expend money in holiday amusements, in dress and folly, and when there is a call made for the advancement of the work in home and foreign missions, they have nothing to give, or even have overdrawn their account. Thus they rob God in tithes and offerings, and through their selfish indulgence they lay the soul open to fierce temptations, and fall into the wiles of Satan.  [RH, December 19, 1893 par. 5]
     Parents have not taught their children the precepts of the law as God has commanded them. They have educated them in selfish habits. They have taught them to regard their birthdays and holidays as occasions when they expect to receive gifts, and to follow the habits and customs of the world. These occasions, which should serve to increase the knowledge of God and to awaken thankfulness of heart for his mercy and love in preserving their lives for another year, are turned into occasions for self-pleasing, for the gratification and glorification of the children. They have been kept by the power of God through every moment of their life, and yet parents do not teach their children to think of this, and to express thanksgiving for his mercy toward them. If children and youth had been properly instructed in this age of the world, what honor, what praise and thanksgiving, would flow from their lips to God! What a revenue of small gifts would be brought from the hands of the little ones to be put into his treasury as thank-offerings! God would be remembered instead of forgotten.  [RH, November 13, 1894 par. 5]  
     For long years God has been robbed of tithes, and gifts, and offerings. Men have forgotten him, and through ignorance of his claims, they have allowed their gifts and offerings to flow in a perverted channel. Let parents and children teach the world by self-denial how they may honor the birth of Christ. Parents will have need of patience and moral strength, in order that in the fear of God they may unlearn the customs of the world. Tremendous evils have come into the world through forgetfulness of God, and through the coming holidays Satan will gather a large harvest of souls, and reap a large revenue of means through enticing men to gratify the desires of the unrenewed heart. Many souls will be led into false paths from which they will never recover. Earnest Christian endeavor should be put forth to establish a new order of things, so that the professed people may work in harmony with his plans, and thus glorify God and bless humanity   [RH, November 13, 1894 par. 10].
     Parents, you need to study your Bibles in order to know how to bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. You cannot continue to indulge in your fitful manner of managing your children, and yet be accounted as true and faithful before God. You must watch for the souls of your children as those that must give an account. You should consider it your duty before God to educate your children in some useful employment. They cannot be permitted to spend their lives in amusing themselves simply, without being exposed to temptation. You should train your children to orderly habits, teaching them to bear responsibilities according to their years. You should train them also in habits of economy, instructing them to bind about their wants and restrict their desires for indulgence in dress and holiday pleasures.  [ST, May 7, 1894 par. 7]
     The youth might become an army of young soldiers, to go forth as missionaries for God, but they cannot do this while their ideas of what constitutes religion are so far below the standard. Too often they make it manifest that they do not feed upon the word of God; they have a knowledge of the theory, but no realization that it is necessary to live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. They live to please self, to enjoy their own way, to indulge in their own habits and customs, to seek pleasure in holiday festivities, and if they have earned a little money, to spend it upon things to gratify themselves. They study self, they glorify self. Many names on the church record are not on the record of heaven–not in the Lamb’s book of life. These youthful persons who profess to be Christians, are not living for Christ. They are not bringing their will into subjection to Christ.  [YI, March 1, 1894 par. 5]
     In this country, Satan has in a most striking manner enthroned himself to control the leading men in the government of the nation. The education which they have received from childhood is erroneous. Many things are regarded as essential which have a most injurious effect upon the people. The many holidays have had a baleful influence upon the minds of the youth; their effect is demoralizing to the government, and they are entirely contrary to the will of God. They have a tendency to encourage an artificial excitement, a desire for amusement. The people are led to squander precious time which should be employed in useful labor to sustain their families honestly and keep clear of debt. The passion for amusements and the squandering of money in horse-racing, in betting, and various similar lines, is increasing the poverty of the country, and deepening the misery that is the sure result of this kind of education.  [SpTEd 86.1 1897]
     When drink is in, reason is out. This is the hour and power of darkness, when all crime becomes possible, and the whole human machinery is controlled by a power from beneath, when soul and body are brought under the control of passion. And what can stay this passion? What can hinder it? These souls have no certain anchorage. Holidays are leading them on to temptation; for on a holiday many think that it is their privilege, because it is a holiday, to do as they please. –Manuscript 17, 1898.  [Te 30.2 1949]
     The pursuit of pleasure and amusement centers in the cities. Many parents who choose a city home for their children, thinking to give them greater advantages, meet with disappointment, and too late repent their terrible mistake. The cities of today are fast becoming like Sodom and Gomorrah. The many holidays encourage idleness. The exciting sports–theatergoing, horse racing, gambling, liquor-drinking, and reveling–stimulate every passion to intense activity. The youth are swept away by the popular current. Those who learn to love amusement for its own sake open the door to a flood of temptations. They give themselves up to social gaiety and thoughtless mirth, and their intercourse with pleasure lovers has an intoxicating effect upon the mind. They are led on from one form of dissipation to another, until they lose both the desire and the capacity for a life of usefulness. Their religious aspirations are chilled; their spiritual life is darkened. All the nobler faculties of the soul, all that link man with the spiritual world, are debased.  [COL 54.3 1900]
     Light has been given me that the cities will be filled with confusion, violence, and crime, and that these things will increase till the end of this earth’s history.–7T 84 (1902).  [LDE 110.3 1992]  
     Young men and women, you have no time to lose. Seek earnestly to bring solid timbers into your character building. We beseech you for Christ’s sake to be faithful. Seek to redeem the time. Consecrate yourselves every day to the service of God, and you will find that you do not need many holidays to spend in idleness, nor much money to spend in self-gratification. Heaven is watching for those who are seeking to improve and to become molded to the likeness of Christ. When the human agent submits to Christ, the Holy Spirit will accomplish a great work for him.  [YI, September 10, 1907 par. 9]  
     Every true, self-sacrificing worker for God is willing to spend and be spent for the sake of others. Christ says, “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.” By earnest, thoughtful efforts to help where help is needed, the true Christian shows his love for God and for his fellow beings. He may lose his life in service; but when Christ comes to gather his jewels to himself, he will find it again.  [YI, September 10, 1907 par. 10]
     Shall the Angel Record, “A Day Lost?”–After a day of pleasure seeking is ended, where is the satisfaction to the pleasure seeker? As Christian workers, whom have they helped to a better, higher, and purer life? What would they see if they should look over the record the angel wrote? A day lost! To their own souls a day lost, a day lost in the service of Christ, because no good was accomplished. They may have other days but never that day which was idled away in cheap, foolish talk, of girls with boys, and boys with girls.  [AH 472.4 1952]
     Never will these same opportunities offer themselves again. They had better been doing the hardest kind of labor on that holiday. They did not make the right use of their holiday, and it passed into eternity to confront them in the judgment as a day misspent.  [AH 473.1 1952]
     Using Our Holidays to Run Errands for the Lord.–There are other lines of work. Some are capable of reading the Scriptures and communicating to others that which we believe. These may be channels of light and a precious comfort to some poor discouraged souls who seem to be unable to grasp hope and exercise faith. Others should search and study how they can be doing errands for the Lord. If those whose employment takes the most of their time, excepting Sundays or holidays, instead of spending this time in their own pleasure, use it in blessing others, they will be of service in the cause of God. Your example will help others to do something that will tell to the glory of God. Heed the words of the inspired apostle, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” Thus a living principle will be brought into your daily active life, of being good and doing good. . . .  [WM 76.2 1952]  
     The hours so often spent in amusement that refreshes neither body nor soul should be spent in visiting the poor, the sick, and the suffering, or in seeking to help someone who is in need.–Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 276.  [WM 76.4 1952]
     Let all who profess to believe the present truth calculate how much they spend yearly, and especially upon the recurrence of the annual holidays, for the gratification of selfish and unholy desires, how much in the indulgence of appetite, and how much to compete with others in unchristian display. Sum up the means thus spent all needlessly, and then estimate how much might be saved as consecrated gifts to God’s cause without injury to soul or body. Mites and more liberal gifts may be brought in, according to the ability of the giver, to aid in lifting debts from churches which have been dedicated to God. Then there are missionaries to be sent into new fields, and others to be supported in their respective fields of labor. These missionaries have to practice the strictest economy, even denying themselves the very things you enjoy daily, and which you consider the necessaries of life. They enjoy few luxuries.  [RH, November 21, 1878 par. 4]
     Young persons generally conduct themselves as though the precious hours of probation were one grand holiday, and they were placed in this world merely for their own amusement, to be gratified with a continued round of excitement. Satan makes special efforts to lead the youth to find happiness in worldly amusements, and to justify themselves in thus doing, by endeavoring to show that these amusements are harmless, innocent, and even essential to health. He represents the path of holiness as difficult, and that of worldly pleasures as strewn with flowers. The impression has been given by some physicians that spirituality and devotion to God are detrimental to health. This suits the adversary well.  [RH, March 11, 1880 par. 8]
     If all the means that will at this holiday season be expended to gratify unsanctified desire, or that will be needlessly invested, were brought as an offering of gratitude to God, to be used in advancing his cause, what an amount would flow into the treasury! Who are willing this year to deviate from their usual custom? How many will turn their thoughts and plans into a more elevated, heavenly channel? In this time of peril and backsliding from God because of selfish indulgence, will we not look from the human to the divine? Will we not show our remembrance of God and our gratitude for his continual mercies, and, above all, for the gift of his dear Son? Shall we not seek to conform to the Divine Model? to imitate Him who went about doing good?  [RH, December 26, 1882 par. 11]
     Manual occupation for the youth is essential. The mind is not to be constantly taxed to the neglect of the physical powers. The ignorance of physiology, and a neglect to observe the laws of health, have brought many to the grave who might have lived to labor and study intelligently. The proper exercise of mind and body will develop and strengthen all the powers. Both mind and body will be preserved, and will be capable of doing a variety of work. Ministers and teachers need to learn in regard to these things, and they need to practise as well. The proper use of their physical strength, as well as of the mental powers, will equalize the circulation of the blood, and keep every organ of the living machinery in running order. Minds are often abused; they are goaded on to madness by pursuing one line of thought; the excessive employment of the brain power and the neglect of the physical organs create a diseased condition of things in the system. Every faculty of the mind may be exercised with comparative safety if the physical powers are equally taxed, and the subject of thought varied. We need a change of employment, and nature is a living, healthful teacher.  [SpTEd 98.1 1897]
     “The altar and the plow are the experiences for all who seek eternal life.”  [Advocate, August 1, 1900 par. 15]  
     “I have been shown that study in agricultural lines should be the A, B, and C of the educational work of our school. . . . The youth are to learn how to work interestedly and intelligently, that wherever they are, they may be respected because they have a knowledge of those arts which are so essential for practical life. In place of being day laborers under an overseer; they are to strive to be masters of their trades, to place themselves where they can command wages as good carpenters, printers, or as educators in agricultural work.”  [Advocate, August 1, 1900 par. 16]
     Recreation is needful to those who are engaged in physical labor, and is still more essential for those whose labor is principally mental. It is not essential to our salvation, nor for the glory of God, to keep the mind laboring constantly and excessively, even upon religious themes. There are amusements, such as dancing, card-playing, chess, checkers, etc., which we cannot approve, because Heaven condemns them. These amusements open the door for great evil. They are not beneficial in their tendency, but have an exciting influence, producing is some minds a passion for those plays which lead to gambling and dissipation. All such plays should be condemned by Christians, and something perfectly harmless should be substituted in their place.  [PH145 21.1 1912]