Spiritual dehydration can happen quickly. Without constantly partaking of Christ, our lives will shrivel and die. Guard your heart so that no affection leads you away from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.
Water is the source of life. We can go 40 days without food but only three days without water. When your body (which is about 60% water) is dehydrated, your vital organs begin to shut down … quickly.
Knowing this, most great cities of the world were settled along rivers, for everything depends upon water. Where there is no river, wells must be dug if possible.
Your Spiritual Well
The spiritual life has but one true source: Christ Himself. Christ often reminded us of this truth.
Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:37-38)
Guarding the Well
The wise Proverbs writer gives us a powerful reminder of how carefully we must guard the entrance to that Well.
Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23)
Our heart is the seat of our affections. What we love and value. Everything in one’s life is determined by their heart’s affections. Whatever you think is valuable is what you will pursue, whether right or wrong, good for you or detrimental.
The Proverbs writer is not admonishing us to guard Christ, but to guard that in us which determines whether or not we will value Christ.
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By Tommy Keene — 7 months ago
You are already well equipped to productively read this wonderful book. You don’t have to understand it all to get something out of it. If you are able to immerse yourself in it and stand in awe of the Victorious Lamb, you are doing well.
There’s a saying I’m kinda fond of, though it’s not very sophisticated: “the beginning of things tells you stuff.” The idea is that writers tend to show their readers how to engage with and appropriate their work within the opening lines of their work. I’ve written about that elsewhere, and it’s true for most works, both ancient and modern, but it’s especially true of Revelation.
There is so much we learn about the book in the first few verses. Moreover, what we learn in that short space has a systemic impact on how we interpret the book. Revelation seems so difficult and confusing, but John has actually given us firm footholds in the opening of his letter. He’s guiding his readers in how Revelation is to be read.
Here’s an incomplete and “in brief” list of some of the essentials.
Jesus is the first recipient of Revelation, not John. Most English Bibles title the book “The Revelation to John,” but that’s only partially correct. This is actually the very first thing that John tells us. This book constitutes “the revelation” that “God gave to him” (1:1), and the “him” in that clause can’t be anyone other than “Jesus Christ.” The verse goes on to explain how this book got into John’s hands. The Father first gave it to Jesus (and you can read about that in Rev. 5), then Jesus passed it along to John via an Angel, and John in turn wrote it down and sent it to the churches (Rev. 1:2). There’s a lot to unpack here, but remember when Jesus told the disciples that “not even the Son of Man knows the day or the hour” (Mark 13:32)? Well, the obvious next question is: when will that information be disclosed? Revelation is that disclosure, and it was disclosed first to the only one accounted worthy (Rev. 5:9). Then, and marvel at this my friends, the one worthy chose to disclose all these things to us (Rev. 1:19).
The first form of this Revelation was seen, not imagined, written, read, or heard. We haven’t left the first two verses yet. Revelation is “shown” to Jesus, then to John, then to the church. The first and primary iteration by which the Father revealed these things is through visions.
By contrast, the church at large only receives Revelation in its written form (1:19 again), not its visual form. John “writes what he saw.” The writing down of that which was first seen involves a kind of “conversion” of media. We’re moving from the visual, to the verbal. This in itself has multiple implications. Here’s two:
First, we can note that communicating information visually and communicating information verbally require different skillsets. How do you “novelize” a movie? How do you describe the impact that a personal experience to friends without lamely concluding “you just had to be there?” It’s tough, and it requires a lot of artistic and literary and story-telling skill. John has those skills (he wrote a Gospel!), and he uses them to “show” the church what he saw.
Second, and equally importantly, there is a corresponding burden on the reader to now “recreate” the vision from the written word. John is supposed to write what he sees. The reader, in their turn, is supposed to “see” what is written. There’s a burden on both writer and reader here. Our burden is to visualize the word written. You have a ready tool for this, given to you by God. It’s called the “imagination.” Use it.
By Bill Muehlenberg — 2 years ago
The action might be ours, but the strength is not. It comes from the one able to fully command it and us: Jesus as Joshua, the one who leads his people, and resources them beyond their ability to the fulfillment of great things. It is precisely in our weakness that he is strong and courageous, able to bring us into promised “new lands”.
These are trying times. Whether it is wars and rumours of wars, or global pandemics and questionable government responses, or floods, or droughts, or terrorism, or much more personal matters such as family breakups, or battles with cancer, these are very difficult days indeed.
During these tough times the strength of men may easily fail. Fear and uncertainty may be our main responses instead of strength and courage. Yet for one Old Testament character – Joshua – there was a pressing need to demonstrate exactly those latter traits.
The days of Moses were nearing their end. His was a remarkable journey. A Hebrew raised in the courts of Pharaoh, only to flee for some decades, and then return and confront Pharaoh about letting God’s people go. The mighty exodus took place under his leadership, and forty years wandering in the wilderness occurred as well.
Now it was time for Moses to meet his Maker. Joshua his successor now had to lead this large group of rebellious and disobedient people into the Promised Land. What a massive task. What a frightening challenge. Joshua would need all the strength and courage he could get.
No wonder then that seven times in two chapters we read this: “be strong and courageous”. We find this command three times in Deuteronomy 31 (verses 6, 7, 23), and four times in Joshua 1 (verses 6, 7, 9, 18). In the first instance Moses spoke these words to the people. The second time Moses spoke them to Joshua. The next four times the Lord spoke them to Joshua. And the last time it was the people urging Joshua on with this phrase.
A big job with big responsibilities requires a lot of strength and courage. So seven times Joshua and/or the people were given these words. The application for us today should be obvious. We may not be commissioned to go in and possess Canaan. But we all are often given important tasks from the Lord, or are facing major enemies or crises. We too need strength and courage.
The question is, how do we get this? Do we just muster this up ourselves? Or is it a divine gift? Or a combination of each? Let me draw upon some helpful commentators here to help answer these questions. And they all emphasise the main points found in these two chapters: the divine presence is our source of strength, but our obedience to his word is the key to our success. Both are needed.
Concerning Yahweh’s presence, we find in Joshua 1:5 these words: “Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you”. Indeed, when God first commissioned Moses for his immense task, he had used the exact same words: “I will be with you” (Exodus 3:12).
As Dale Ralph Davis puts it:
It is because of this assurance that Yahweh can exhort Joshua to ‘be strong and bold’ (vv. 6, 7, 9).
By Scott Postma — 1 year ago
Kuyper fought for a national system of free schools for the entirety of his public life. He firmly believed that free schools were the best way to serve all parents, not just Christian parents because “it was best for all children to experience a unity of world view and values between school and home” (361). In 1917, his Antirevolutionary Party won a great victory. “As a culmination of these efforts, the Dutch constitution was amended to guarantee this right, and in 1920, the year Kuyper died, a new education bill was passed which put that amendment into practice” (xii). Although Kuyper made three substantial, albeit pragmatic, compromises to his ideal, he believed they were ultimately successful since compromise is always necessary when working in an imperfect political system. Nevertheless, while their own struggle culminated in a victory for free schools, Kuyper also recognized that the “struggle of the spirits” behind the struggle of the schools was far from over.
Well-known for the doctrine of “sphere sovereignty, ” Abraham Kuyper once famously declared: “no single piece of our mental world is to be hermetically sealed off from the rest, and there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: “Mine!” Kuyper is also notable for delivering the 1898 Stone Lectures at Princeton’s Theological Seminary in which he offered a profound and lasting treatment of Calvinism which remains relevant to us who are living in the postmodern era. But it is his significant work of educational reform in the Netherlands spanning nearly fifty years (1869-1917) that features in On Education.
On Education is a substantive anthology of Kuyper’s thoughts on Christian education, published as part of a twelve volume series of Kuyper’s works, produced by the Abraham Kuyper Translation Society, the Acton Institute, and Kuyper College. And it is precisely because of Kuyper’s “unique gifts, experiences, and writings” on Christianity and education that On Education is more than just a helpful resource; it is a uniquely prescient guide for everyone concerned with the education crisis plaguing twenty-first century North America (vii).
The volume is divided into four parts, tracing Kuyper’s involvement with the Netherlands’ seventy-year political battle over parents’ rights to choose schools representative of their religious convictions. Part One introduces the beginnings of the struggle: in 1868, the Society for the Common Good issued a manifesto stating what it perceived was a need to protect its gains of having achieved “the religious neutrality of the public school;” Kuyper responded that his party was not attempting to take back the Society’s perceived gains but, instead, to “make it possible for more children to receive the religious education desired by their parents” (9). This section further treats Kuyper’s grave concern about Dutch public schools “teaching the immortality of the soul,” something he contends is not “safe in the hands of the state school teachers” (22).
Part Two consists of four chapters dedicated to Kuyper’s antirevolutionary vision of sphere sovereignty which, when properly applied, would protect Christian schools from the revolutionary spirit of “false mingling,” whereby the state “sought to mix together precisely what God had separated” (53). Kuyper argued that it is only by properly distinguishing between the boundaries and bonds ordained by God that Christians can keep their schools from falling prey to the state and resist those secularists who would use the public trough to take away their freedom to preach Christ.
Part Three consists of six chapters of parliamentary addresses, journalistic articles, public speeches, and theological writings that address Kuyper’s pluralistic program for national education. At the time, the Netherlands was a nation that consisted in near equal measure of Rationalists, Calvinists, and Roman Catholics. In short, it was Kuyper’s position that, “The state may not use its supremacy to favor one part of the nation over another. All spiritual compulsion by the state is an affront to the honor of the spiritual life and, as an offense to civil liberty, is hateful and abominable” (xi).
Finally, Part Four consists of five chapters that treat Kuyper’s appeal to the public conscience, his concern for the injustice done to the poor of the nation, the political struggle, and ultimate victory—albeit a compromised victory. Kuyper sought a political policy of “principled structural pluralism”(xlii). And his Antirevolutionary Party “worked diligently to establish the right of all parents to provide their children with a quality education in accordance with their deepest convictions and values” (xii). Directed by his motto, “Free schools the norm, state schools a supplement,” (361) and by the foundational Christian principles of “freedom of conscience, equal treatment of religion under the law, and the place of schools within civil society” (365), Kuyper fought for a national system of free schools for the entirety of his public life.