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The Kingdom of God is in your Midst
I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted. I remembered you, God, and I groaned; I meditated, and my spirit grew faint. You kept my eyes from closing; I was too troubled to speak. I thought about the former days, the years of long ago; I remembered my songs in the night. My heart meditated and my spirit asked: "Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?" Then I thought, "To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand. I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds." Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples. With your mighty arm you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. (Psalm 77:1-15)
This psalm was written two and a half thousand years ago, yet it could have been penned by my daughter in the last few years as she faced the heartache of her toddler son's battle with leukemia. My wife might have written these lines in her diary two years ago when she faced a daunting diagnosis of an aggressive breast cancer.
The two women of my heart know full well what Peter meant when he wrote, "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed." (1 Pt 4:12-13)
When I say they understand this passage fully, I don't mean they memorized it or that they believe these words are inspired of God. Rather, I mean they can say, as John did long ago, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, we have seen with our eyes and our hands have touched" (from 1 Jn 1:1). They haven't merely read about the sufferings of Christ; they have "participated" in them: innocent (in that neither did anything to "deserve" cancer invading their world) and yielding to the wisdom and timing of the Lord - because He is the Lord and because they trusted Him with their very lives.
Also, Ps 77 fits my two loves because they not only were convinced the Lord performed "miracles of long ago", but were, at all times, aware that He is "the God who performs miracles". A God who is holy and great, as this psalm declares, is a God who can be waited on till "You display Your power among the peoples".
Keep in mind, David did not write "My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?" because he was calmly reclining with pen in hand thinking, 'What shall I write about the Messiah today?" No; he cried those words out of his own heartache and out of his own experience. While others wrote prophecies, David's life was prophetic. His path had wandered onto the path to be tread by God.
Beloved, the Lord is looking for more about whom He can say, "But you are those who have continued with Me in My trials. And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me." (Luk 22:28-29)
It is written, "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory" (Jn 1:14a). If you thought this ONLY meant Jesus Christ walked on the Earth, then you need to think it through again. Of course, that is its primary meaning, but a principle is also seen here: Whenever the word of God "becomes flesh" - comes alive in our lives vs. merely sitting on the page as interesting history - then His glory will be seen.
Remember, Jesus Christ is not the only person to have walked on water; Peter did it, too, with the Lord. Also, Jesus Christ is not the only one to sit at the right hand of God, ruling the nations with an iron scepter - He Himself has tendered an invitation to anyone who will overcome as He did to join Him (Rev 2:26-27; 3:21). Further, it was a messianic verse that Paul and Barnabas claimed as their own, in the midst of an argument with unbelieving Jews. For Paul declared, "For so the Lord has commanded us: 'I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.'?" (Act 13:47)
God Himself declared to the serpent in the garden that the seed of the woman would crush his head, and the Church has always viewed this as a messianic prophecy. So why did Paul end his great letter to the Romans with this verse? "And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen!" (Rom 16:20) This verse is laid out just like Peter walking on the water: Here Paul says God will crush satan, yet it will be done under our feet; there Peter's feet certainly walked upon the water, but it was only because of Jesus Christ at his side.
This isn't heresy. I am only saying what the word says: We are partakers of the divine nature (2Pet 1:4) and given the glory of being one with Christ even as He is one with the Father (Jn 17:21-23). For He who said He would never give His glory to another (Is 42:8, 48:11) also said "Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you." (Is 60:1) And, closer to the opening theme of this letter: "If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you" (1 Pet 4:14a)
For while it says of Jesus Christ "God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him" (Col 1:19) scripture also says this and with this I will end:
"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen" (Eph 3:16-21)
© Matthew Schilling August 2014
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