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Jan 1st by William Jay

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  • Gary Gearon
    EVENING EXERCISES. JANUARY 1 And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: save that the Holy
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 2, 2003

      JANUARY 1

      "And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the
      things that shall befall me there: save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in
      every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me." Acts 20: 22, 23.

      Paul here speaks of himself as an apostle. But the facts he expresses with
      regard to his official destination, will apply to our experience as men and
      as Christians. And we may derive from them a reflection peculiarly
      seasonable at the commencement of another annual period of our time. With
      regard to the future, he was both ignorant and informed; unacquainted with
      some things, but well apprised of others.

      Though Paul sometimes prophesied, he could not command the attribute of
      foreknowledge when he pleased. The use of it was always a miracle, and
      limited to a particular subject. He was therefore left uninformed of the
      ordinary course of life, and had to learn the will of God by events. Hence
      he says to the Philippians, "I hope presently to send Timothy, as soon as I
      see how it will go with me." Phil 2:23 It is the same with us; and as he
      was now going up to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that would befall him
      there, so are we entering into another year, not knowing what a day may
      bring forth. Pro 27:1 But is this to be lamented? "Even so, Father; for so
      it seemeth good in thy sight." Luk 10:21; Math 11:26 The concealment is
      wise and kind. We may judge of this by our past feelings. Had we been
      previously informed of the scenes through which we have passed, our hearts
      would have failed at the thought; yet when the dispensations came we were
      able to bear them, and had been really, though unconsciously prepared for
      them. And suppose we were now informed of some of the changes we may be
      called to endure in the months before us, we should be seized perhaps with
      an overpowering surprise and oppression, rendering us dead to all present
      enjoyments, and incapable of every present engagement. He therefore says, "I
      will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths
      that they have not known; I will make darkness light before them, and
      crooked things straight: these things will I do unto them, and not forsake
      them." Is 42:16

      Let us trust in him. He claims the full confidence of the heart, not only by
      his goodness, but by his wisdom. Although we go out not knowing whither we
      go, he knoweth the way that we take. Nothing can deceive or perplex our
      Guide. Especially let us check the workings of a vain curiosity. To this we
      are naturally prone. All pant to draw back the veil and pierce into
      futurity. But none are entrusted with its secrets. Even our Lord's own
      disciples were rebuked for wishing to know the times and the seasons which
      the Father reserved in his own power. This advice will be found to be not
      only our duty, but our privilege---our "strength" here, "is to sit still."
      Is 30:7 We may consider the year before us as a desk containing three
      hundred and sixty-five letters addressed to us, one for every day,
      announcing its trials and prescribing its employments, with an order to open
      daily no letter but the letter for the day. Now we may be strongly tempted
      to unseal beforehand some of the remainder; but this would only serve to
      embarrass us, while we should violate thereby the rule our owner and Master
      has laid down for us: "Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the
      morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day
      is the evil thereof." Mat 6:34

      But Paul's ignorance was not entire. Though he knew not what in particular
      would befall him at Jerusalem, yet the Holy Ghost testified that in every
      place bonds and afflictions awaited him, so that he was sure of one
      thing--sure of always being a sufferer for the sake of the Lord Jesus. And
      thus it is with us. Though the future is not laid open to our view, yet it
      is not concealed from us in every respect and degree. Though we know not
      what is to come in the detail, we can apprehend much of it in the mass.
      Indeed, without some reliance on the general course of things, we could not
      properly carry on the system of life. Many of our present duties derive
      their existence and importance from some future relations. Instinct, in the
      brute creation, teaches them to look forward; and the turtle and the crane
      and the swallow observe the time of their coming; and the ant provideth her
      meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in harvest. Jer 8:7; Pro 6:6-8
      And is reason given us in vain? Or is there nothing for it to operate upon
      beyond the present hour? "The prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth
      himself," Pro 22:3; 27:12 says the Scripture. And the same authority adds,
      "Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before
      thee." Pro 4:25 (20-27)

      With regard then to the future, in every period, relation, and condition of
      life, some things may be reckoned upon. Thus, in the natural world, we know
      that the seasons will come round in their time and place with little
      variation. "While the earth remaineth, seed-time and harvest, and cold and
      heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease." Gen 8:22

      We also know that the general state and usages of society will be what they
      ever have been. "The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and
      that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing
      under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new?
      It hath been already of old time, which was before us." Ecc 1:9-11

      We are sure no creature possessions and enjoyments will fully meet our hopes
      and wishes. They never have produced satisfaction. They were never designed
      to do it; they are incapable of doing it.

      We may certainly expect that trials of one kind or another will be our lot.
      They grow out of our very state and nature. "Man is born to trouble, as the
      sparks fly upward." Job 5:7

      We must be infatuated if we are not aware that all our connections here are
      precarious. Some may abandon us from insincerity; some may leave us from
      infirmity; some may be removed to a distance by events; some may be laid in
      the grave. Need we be informed that the desire of our eyes is mortal? That
      childhood and youth are vanity?

      Can we be ignorant that with growing years we are to look for growing
      privations and weaknesses? That our senses will decay, that desire will
      fail, that the grasshopper will be a burden? It is the tax of age. "The
      days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength
      they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is
      soon cut off, and we fly away." Psa 90:10

      For the living know that they shall die. 1 Ki 2:1,2; Josh 23:14 It is the
      way of all the earth; and whatever may be doubtful when we look onward,
      there is not a human being but can say, "I know that thou wilt bring me to
      death, and to the house appointed for all living." Job 30:23 He knows also
      that the event cannot be far off, and may be very near.

      And is this all that we are apprized of? No. We also know that God will be
      found the same he always has been Num 23:19; 1 Sam 15:29; Psa 102:25-28; Mal
      3:6; Heb 13:8; Jam 1:17--we know that he will always prove himself the
      hearer of prayer--we know that he will never leave us, nor forsake us Heb
      13:5--we know that our "shoes shall be iron and brass; and as our days, so
      shall our strength be" Deut 33:25 --we know that "he will guide us with his
      counsel, and afterward receive us to glory." Psa 73:24

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