The Sermon on the Mount. Often before break of day, while the disciples were still sleeping, Christ arose to meditate and pray. He refreshed His spiritual strength by communion with God. On the morning of the day when He delivered the Sermon on the Mount, He was on the shores of Lake Gennesaret, near Capernaum. Long before daybreak He was engaged in meditation and prayer.
Although Christ loved retirement, He could not remain alone very long at a time. As soon as it was day, many people could be seen hastening to the lakeside. Why were they going there so early in the morning? They had learned where Jesus was. They were anxious to hear the word of truth.
Health Reform . Seventh-day Adventists are handling momentous truths. On the subject of temperance they should be in advance of any other people.
None can be fully aroused to see the evils resulting from an improper diet, until they have an intelligent understanding of the principles of health reform. And even if, after seeing their mistakes, they have courage to change their habits, they will find that the reformatory process requires a struggle and much perseverance. But when correct tastes are formed, men will realize that the articles of food concerning which they once said, "Oh, those things do not hurt me," were establishing in the stomach a condition that was laying the foundation for dyspepsia and other diseases.
Parents, in giving food to children, should use good, common sense. It is usually in the early years that the appetite is perverted. Children fail on the
same point on which Adam and Eve failed in Eden. Many have educated their taste to relish certain foods that are injurious and that cannot make the best quality of blood.
Too great a variety of food at one meal causes a disturbance in the digestive organs. Weakly children who eat vegetables and fruit at the same meal often become fretful and peevish. These children are regarded as having a very bad disposition, when the real cause of their irritability is the food that is provided for them by their parents.
Soul-culture, and Service for Others . We should be careful in regard to soul-culture. If we use all the provisions made for us by heavenly agencies, we shall be co-laborers with God.
The Lord has given us moral susceptibilities. He has given us Jesus, who came into the world to show us in His life what our lives should be. He has given to us the same principles of truth that He gave to ancient Israel. These principles we are to follow in the formation of character.
In order to be made whole, we must connect with the Source of our strength. If the Lord in His mercy heals our infirmities and diseases, we are not to be presumptuous or to think that we can indulge perverted appetite, heedless of His message to abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul. Let us not mock God by perversity of spirit. When He works a miracle in our behalf to give us health, it is that we may devote our restored powers to His service.
Christ lived not to please Himself, but to glorify His Father. And this was God's purpose in delivering the Israelites. Moses declared: "For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto Himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth" [Deut. 14:2]. If the Lord's ways had always been kept by His ancient people, in
the history of nations there would never have been a record of the destruction of Jerusalem.
The Lord has a message for us at this time. The truths that have been given to us, we are to receive into the heart and reveal in the life-practice. We are to be indeed channels of light to the world. The Lord has appointed us as His agencies to carry out His beneficent designs. His bounty has been lavished upon this world for the satisfaction and supply of all in need.
Gratitude to God. Men and women, by their ingratitude to God, reveal that their attachment and devotion to Him, in acknowledgment of His goodness and mercy, is less than that of the beasts of the field. The dumb animals possess more gratitude to God than do many of the beings who have been endowed with reason and capabilities. What a reproach to man is the superiority of the service of the beasts over the service of men!
Through Jeremiah the prophet the Lord says: "Yea, the stork in heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but My people know not the judgment of the Lord. How do ye say, We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us? Lo, certainly in vain made He it; the pen of the scribes is in vain. The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken: lo, they have rejected the word of the Lord; and what wisdom is in them?" [Jer. 8:7-9]. The entire chapter is a presentation of things as they are.
"Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord" [Jer. 9:23, 24].
Idolatry . Satan's work is to destroy. Idolatry is the masterful, powerful working of Satan against truth and righteousness, and therefore against God.
Satan's last temptation of Christ at the beginning of the Saviour's ministry, was on the point of idolatry. Taking Jesus to an eminence, Satan caused the kingdoms of the world, in all their glory, to pass in panoramic view before Him. The traces of evil were hidden. Christ's eyes, so lately greeted by gloom and desolation, now gazed upon a scene of unsurpassed loveliness and prosperity. Then the tempter's voice was heard: "All this power will I give Thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will give it. If Thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be Thine" [Luke 4:6, 7].
This was the most subtle and overpowering temptation that Satan could bring against Christ in His human nature to unsettle His faith in His heavenly Father and to separate Him from God.
Christ an Abiding Presence . The life of the true believer reveals an indwelling Saviour. The follower of Jesus is Christlike in spirit, in temper, in his meekness and humility. His faith works by love and purifies the soul. His whole life is a testimony to the world to the power of the grace of Christ. The pure doctrines of the gospel never degrade the receiver, never make him coarse, or rough, or uncourteous. The gospel refines, ennobles, and elevates, sanctifying the judgment and influencing the whole life. In true believers of the gospel, Christ is revealed as an abiding Presence.
"Spare Thy People." "Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare Thy people, O Lord, and given not Thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them:
wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?" [Joel 2:17]. This is the prospect threatening us now.
"Then will the Lord be jealous for His land, and pity His people. Yea, the Lord will answer and say unto His people. Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen" [verses 18, 19].
The Lord will work for His people, if they will work with Him in His way, and not in the way of their unsanctified hearts. "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" The word to us is, Everything will be shaken that can be shaken.
Justice in Dealing with Others . "The Lord spake unto Moses, saying, "Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy. Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and keep My Sabbaths: I am the Lord your God. "Turn ye not unto idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods: I am the Lord your God" [Lev. 19:1-4].
The children of Israel were instructed not to oppress their brethren in any wise. They were to bear in mind that God's gifts are to be shared. The gleanings of harvest-field, orchard, and vineyard were to be regarded as the Lord's portion, to relieve the necessities of the poor and the stranger.
[Verses 9-18, 30, 35-37, quoted.]
Our Responsibility in the Time of the End . On Calvary an infinite sacrifice was made to connect finite man with the infinite God, and to unite earth with heaven. Christ, in coming to the earth, irradiated light sufficient to enlighten the whole earth. But, sad to contemplate, only a few have chosen to walk in this light.
Never before has there been a time when the responsibility resting upon men was so great, never before has the position of Christ's followers been so solemn, as at the present time. God's messengers are now bearing a testimony that condemns those who refuse to accept it. We are rapidly approaching the close of this dispensation. "When the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?" As the end approaches, we look for sin and violence to increase. The present state of the world answers to the terrible word-picture Inspiration has given through the apostles.
In the time of the end, the world will be divided into two classes --those who follow Christ fully, and those who are on the side of Satan.
We, as a people, profess to believe sacred truths. Are we happier and holier, more earnest, self-denying, and fervent, because of our belief in these truths, than are the people of other denominations? What evidence do we give to the world that our faith is above that of the ordinary religionist of the day? We can estimate the influence that advanced truth and increased light have on us, by the work that we do. "By their fruits," Christ declares, "ye shall know them." Our words, our works, are the fruit we bear. Do our works correspond to the sacredness of our faith?
We have no time to allow indifference or carelessness to mark our actions. Satan is an untiring foe. Peter says, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." The fullest consecration, the most earnest devotion, is required of us. The world is to be warned. The masses will not heed God's solemn warning, nevertheless His message must be proclaimed to "every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people."
Living Water . At the Feast of Tabernacles, the most impressive ceremony, one that called forth greatest rejoicing, was one commemorating an event in the wilderness sojourn. At the first dawn of day the priest, in a most imposing manner, dipped from the flowing waters of the Kedron a flagon of water, and, lifting it on high in the presence of the people, ascended the broad steps of the temple and entered the court of the priests, where he poured the water out before the altar.
In the last year of His ministry Christ witnessed this ceremony commemorating the smiting of the rock in the wilderness. That rock was a symbol of Him who by His death would cause living streams to flow to all who are athirst. There in the presence of the assembled multitude He set Himself apart to be smitten, that the water of life might flow to the world. He declared that He was the living Rock, of whom the rock in the wilderness was a symbol.
Not long since, Christ had pointed a Samaritan to the water of life. "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give Him," He had said, "shall never thirst." But now it was not merely one whom He was inviting. The temple courts were crowded as Jesus suddenly lifted up His voice on "that great day of the feast," and said: "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water."
The condition of the people made this appeal very forcible. Many of those who heard Jesus were mourners over disappointed hopes; many were crushed and trembling in spirit; many were seeking to satisfy their restless longing with the things of the world and the praise of men; but when all was gained, they found that they had toiled only to reach a broken cistern, from which they could not quench their thirst.
Christ could read the hearts of those before Him. He knew that notwithstanding the apparent joy of the throng, there had been nothing in the round of ceremonies to meet the want of the soul, nothing to satisfy its thirst for that which perishes not. He knew that many parched souls panted for something more satisfactory. The people were in need of spiritual food and drink.
Christ's Steadfastness . No threat could intimate Him, no peril awaken His fears, no hardship exhaust His endurance, no temptation allure Him from duty.
The First Cleansing of the Temple . "After this He went down to Capernaum, He and His mother, and His brethren, and His disciples; and they continued there not many days. And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem" [John 2:12, 13].
The Passover was the most impressive and important of the Jewish feasts. The Jewish leaders had instructed the people that at Jerusalem they were to be taught to worship God. Here during the Passover week large numbers assembled, coming from all parts of Palestine, and even from distant lands. The temple courts were filled with a promiscuous throng. Many were unable to bring with them the sacrifices that were to be offered up as typifying the one great Sacrifice. For the convenience of these, animals were bought and sold in the outer courts of the temple. Here all classes of people assembled to purchase their offerings. Here all foreign money was exchanged for the coin of the sanctuary.
The money-changing gave opportunity for fraud and extortion, and it had grown into a disgraceful traffic, which was a source of revenue to the priests.
And the traders bought at low prices the animals and doves that were used for sacrificial offerings, and sold them at exorbitant prices.
The morning before the Passover supper was to be eaten, Jesus mingled with the throng that filled the outer courts of the temple. His righteous indignation was aroused when He found that within the enclosure, voices of praise and prayer were mingled with voices engaged in the contention of traffic.
With a voice of authority, Christ commanded: "Take these things hence; make not My Father's house an house of merchandise." He overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and cleansed the temple-courts from unholy traffic.
Nicodemus was a witness of this scene. He greatly desired an interview with Jesus, but shrank from seeking Him openly. Learning by special inquiry the Saviour's place of retirement in the Mount of Olives, he waited until night, and then went to Jesus to learn more fully in regard to His mission, and to seek for evidences that would prove that Christ was indeed the promised One. This night interview was productive of rays of light that have had a powerful influence upon the world.--Ms 60, 1902. Ellen G. White Estate Washington, D. C. Nov. 5, 1987. Entire Ms.