Pressing into the Kingdom of God
Since John the Baptist, the good news of the kingdom of God has been preached, and many are “forcing their way into it” (Luke 16:16).
John the Baptist was the forerunner, paving the road and preparing the people for Christ (Matthew 4:17, 11:11; Luke 1:17) and for the disciples (Matthew 10:7). Then, like the morning star before the sun, John diminished (John 3:30), and many wanted to enter the kingdom of God, including Pharisees and Sadducees, tax collectors, and soldiers (Matthew 3:7, Luke 3:12-14). The kingdom of God has been forcefully advancing (Matthew 11:12).
Many desire to enter the kingdom of God and run away from their misery and from hell (Luke 10:42, Psalm 27:4). Once the opportunity to enter is gone, those remaining will not be spared from God’s wrath. No one can comprehend the power of God’s anger, so press earnestly, firmly, and steadily to try to get in.
The path to get in is difficult to find (Matthew 7:14, Luke 13:24). Like searching for the hidden treasure (Proverbs 2:1-5), we must use our utmost energy (Ecclesiastes 9:10). Such desires depend on God giving our hearts the resolution.
“To press” implies there will be barriers, opposition, and difficulty along the way. And devils will continue to distract and discourage us. But with God’s given earnest spirit, we can press on (Philippians 3:10-11). Look up to God and repent. God’s mercy is sufficient to enable us to enter His kingdom (Acts 8:22, 2 Timothy 2:25, Jonah 3:8-9).
Be willing to sacrifice everything for His kingdom. Crucify our possessions, pride, and worldly wishes for the sake of your soul and salvation (Galatians 5:24; Luke 3:19; Matthew 14:3, 19:16-22). Forget your accomplishments. If we want to reminisce, we should reflect on our past mistakes (Jeremiah 2:23). Forge ahead for our salvation (Philippians 3:13-14).
Persevere to the end. Don’t arouse God’s anger (1 Corinthians 10:22, Ezekiel 22:14). Since no one knows when He will return, use this time to press on towards the kingdom of God.
A summary of a sermon by Jonathan Edwards:
施洗约翰是先锋. 他为基督（马太福音 4:17、11:11; 路加福音 1:17）和门徒（马太福音 10:7）铺平道路, 做好准备。然后，约翰就像太阳出来之前的晨星一样消失了（约翰福音 3:30），而许多人因为他的事工想要进入神的国，包括法利赛人、撒都该人、税吏和士兵（马太福音 3:7，路加福音 3:12-14）。上帝的国一直在大力地推进（马太福音 11:12）。
许多人迫切渴望进入上帝的国，逃离苦难和地狱（路加福音 10:42，诗篇 27:4）。因为一旦进去的机会消失，剩下的人不会免于上帝的忿怒。没有人理解上帝愤怒的力量。所以要认真、坚定、稳定地努力进去。
进上帝之国的路很难找（马太福音7:14，路加福音13:24）. 要用最大的力量去寻找（传道书 9:10）像在搜索隐藏的宝藏（箴言 2:1-5）一样。 只有上帝将决心赐下，才会有这样的渴望。
努力意味着一路上定会有障碍、反对和困难。魔鬼会继续阻碍和分散我们的注意力。但凭着上帝所赐的恳切精神，要奋力前行（腓立比书 3:10-11）。 仰望上帝并悔改，祂的怜悯足以使我们进入上帝的国（使徒行传 8:22、2 提摩太后书 2:25、约拿书 3:8-9）。
要愿意为上帝的国牺牲一切。为了灵魂和救恩，将个人的财产、今生的骄傲、世俗的愿望都钉在十字架上（加拉太书 5:24; 路加福音 3:19; 马太福音 14:3，19:16-22）。 忘记过去的成就。如果我们想回忆往事，请记住过去的错误（耶利米书 2:23）。为了救恩向前迈进（腓立比书 3:13-14）。
竭尽全力坚持到底。 不要惹怒上帝（哥林多前书 10:22，以西结书 22:14）。 无人知道主何时再来，那就趁着今天向上帝的国度奋进吧。
Don’t Try to Put God in Our Box
We tend to have our own idea of what God should do. “This is the perfect time for you to show your power, God.” “Why don’t you stop the injustice?” If God does not meet our expectations, we feel disappointed. It turns out God’s top prophet, Elijah, had a similar experience in 1 Kings 19:1-18.
Ahab, Israel’s king, had made Baal to be Israel’s god. Elijah, before the Israelites, challenged the 450 Baal prophets. Through a spectacular miracle, he got all of them killed.
The over-confident Elijah ran to Jezreel, the capital of Israel, perhaps expecting Ahab and the Israelites to repent and return to God. Instead, Ahab’s wife threatened to kill him within a day.
Elijah ran for his life. He even let his servant go, implying quitting his ministry (v3). Totally demoralized, he asked God to let him die (v4).
How did God treat Elijah’s depression?
Twice, an angel touched him, fed him, and let him sleep (v5, 7). Strengthened by the food, Elijah travelled for 40 days to Horeb (or Mount Sinai), where Moses had been given the ten commandments.
God asked him what he was doing there (v9). Elijah responded that he was the only one zealous for Him, basically asking, “What’s wrong with you, God? Why didn’t you show your power and do what I think you should?” (v10).
Elijah assumed God would do certain things in Israel. When God didn’t follow through, Elijah became overly pessimistic: “I am the only one [prophet] left” (v10). Elijah tried to put God in his box, and when God was not there, Elijah grew cynical and depressed.
As described above, God treated Elijah with comfort, sustenance, sleep, and time. He also just allowed Elijah to talk without condemning him. Then God responded.
First, God showed a glimpse of His strength through powerful wind tearing mountains apart, earthquake, and fire. Then God gently talked to Elijah, telling Elijah His plan. God counseled and healed Elijah with gentle words.
God’s ways are beyond us. Don’t try to put God in our box. Instead, have faith in the almighty and brilliant God, and listen to His words. God will do the right thing at the right time.
Summarized from a Tim Keller sermon:
人往往有自己的想法认为上帝应该做什么，比如“神啊，这是显示你的大能的最佳时机,” 或 “你为何不制止冤屈？” 如果上帝没有满足自己的期望，就会感到非常失望。上帝最优秀的先知以利亚在列王记上 19章1至18节中有过类似的经历。
上帝问以利亚在那里做什么（列王记上19：9）。以利亚回答说只剩下自己对上帝大发热心。 他实际上在问神：“上帝，为何不显示您的大能, 做点我想您做的事?”（列王记上19：10）
How to Deal with Depression
If we are depressed and cannot feel God’s presence, even when we don’t think we have done anything wrong, what should we do? Let’s learn from Psalms 42 and 43.
The author was very depressed. He felt God had forgotten him (v42:9). He didn’t think he had sinned, but he had lost his relationship with God and he was experiencing spiritual darkness.
What could have caused it?
First, he had lost his community. Previously, he was with a joyful, religious crowd, but now he was isolated in the mountains (v42:4,6). It is easier to feel depressed if we don’t have others’ support.
Second, bad things were happening to him, leading people to ask him all day long where his God was (v42:3). Gradually, he also asked God the same question (v42:9).
Third, he had lost his appetite (with tears as his food) and lost his sleep (crying all night) (v42:3).
Such setback, failure, and physical weakness, with no support, particularly when he didn’t know the cause, could have led to his depression.
How did the author get back up again?
Though the author felt down and out, he didn’t stop praying. Instead, he desperately searched for God, pouring himself out to Him (v42:1, 4). He also reminded himself to consider the love of God in his life (v42:6, 8).
Furthermore, he kept preaching to himself. Three times he questioned himself why he was so miserable. Three times, he told himself to put his hope in God (implying not in worldly things). And three times he said he would praise God, his Savior (v42:5, 11; 43:5, 3:3).
If we are depressed for a long period, we should take care of our health and find support from others. But it is much more important to keep praying to God, remembering His love as shown by Christ suffering for us. Also, we should keep asking ourselves why we are sad and remind ourselves to put our hope in God, praising Him as our Savior.
Summarized from a Tim Keller sermon:
这里的作者感到非常沮丧, 觉得上帝已经忘记了他（诗篇42：9）。他虽不认为自己犯了罪, 但已经失去了与上帝的关系, 正在经历心灵的黑暗。
除此以外，作者不住地向自己讲道。他三次自问为何如此沮丧，三次告诫自己要将希望寄托在上帝身上而非世俗的事物上，和三次宣告赞美上帝, 他的救主（诗篇42：5,11; 43：5；3：3）。
如果长期处于抑郁状态，应该照顾好自己的身体并寻求他人的支持。但更重要的是不断向上帝祈祷，记住祂的爱, 记住基督为我们受苦。此外不断地反省为什么感到难过，并告诉自己要将希望寄托在上帝身上，以及不断赞美祂, 我们的救主。