|Vol. 14 No. 5 May 2012||
Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor
So true are the words of the familiar, encouraging song, “My faith looks up to Thee, Thou Lamb of Calvary, Savior Divine…” Christianity is certainly filled with its “mountain top moments” when the devil is on the run and the local congregation of which you are a part is a foretaste of heaven itself. “Mountain top moments” are when your health is great and your life has few noticeable negatives! However, conversely, there are times when each and every child of the King finds himself or herself in the proverbial valley of despair. Satan works hard every day to keep us in those valleys (1 Peter 5:8; Job 1:8ff). Ironically, it is during these times that one’s faith is purified (1 Peter 1:6-7) and perfected (James 1:2ff). However, during these times, it is also quite easy to become blurred in our spiritual vision. There are certain blessings attached to the one whose faith looks up to Thee (cf. Isaiah 26:3).
Firstly, faith that looks up to Thee has the blessing of prayer. No matter what valley we encounter, our God is always ready to listen (Psalm 4:1; 39:12; 65:2; 66:20; et al). To be able to “cast” all our heartaches on our Father is a blessing indeed (cf. 1 Peter 5:7)! However, “oh what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer.” For faith that looks up to Thee, prayer is a blessing, so pray fervently!
Secondly, faith that looks up to Thee has the blessing of partnership. Often when we find ourselves in a deep, dark valley of trial, we sometimes feel as though we are alone. “Alone” may well be the scariest word in the English language! However, Paul reminds us that even when all others forsake us, we are not alone; “Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me…” (2 Timothy 4:17a). We are truly never alone, as inspiration comforts, “…I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5b). For faith that looks up to Thee, partnership is a blessing indeed!
Thirdly, faith that looks up to Thee has the blessing of promise. Life’s valleys, although difficult and trying, are limited in the “big scheme” of things. Life’s valleys cannot take away the promise of our reward! Jesus’ words to Christians in the midst of a dark valley were, “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). For the faithful, our reward is certain! Life’s valleys cannot take away the Promise of rest! No matter how weary we become in this life, as we battle the physical, if we do not quit, Jesus promised that we one day will have, “…rest from their labours; and their works do follow them” (Revelation 14:13b). What was said of Abraham is true of us as well, “after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise” (Hebrews 6:15b). For faith that looks up to Thee, promise is a great blessing.
There is no question as to whether trials and valleys will come, for they are assured (James 1:2), however, for faith that looks up to Thee, prayer, partnership and promise are assured as well! I may not know what tomorrow holds, but I certainly and surely know Who holds tomorrow! It is for that reason that we courageously sing, “My faith looks up to Thee, Thou Lamb of Calvary, Savior Divine …oh let me from this day be wholly Thine!”
David A. Sargent
Josh McDowell has related the following incident:
An executive hirer, a “headhunter” who goes out and hires corporation executives for other firms, once told me, “When I get an executive that I’m trying to hire for someone else, I like to disarm him. I offer him a drink, take my coat off, then my vest, undo my tie, throw up my feet and talk about baseball, football, family, whatever, until he’s all relaxed. Then, when I think I’ve got him relaxed, I lean over, look him square in the eye and say, ‘What’s your purpose in life?’ It’s amazing how top executives fall apart at that question. Well, I was interviewing this fellow the other day, had him all disarmed, with my feet up on his desk, talking about football. Then I leaned up and said, ‘What’s your purpose in life, Bob?’ And he said, without blinking an eye, ‘To go to heaven and take as many people with me as I can.’ For the first time in my career I was speechless.”
In light of this conversation, Brett Petrillo challenges us: “Put yourself in this interview for a minute. What would you have said to this executive headhunter? Would you have an answer or would you fumble around trying to think about the right thing to say?”
What is your purpose in life? For too many, life will simply end without them ever knowing why it began. Some have made prosperity their purpose in life. These will “spend” their lives making money to “spend” upon material possessions. Jesus warned, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15).
For others, their purpose in life is the pursuit of knowledge. To seek to grow in knowledge is worthwhile, but we must be sure to seek the right kind of knowledge. The lives of many today are characterized in the Scriptures as those who are “always learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7).
Some pursue worldly pleasure as the sole reason for their existence. Some continue to live by the Epicurean philosophy of old: “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” Again, the Scriptures warn of many who are “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:4). Others seek position, power, popularity and the list goes on and on.
Consider again Bob’s answer to the question, “What is your purpose in life?” “To go to heaven and take as many people with me as I can.” That is a great answer! Why? Because everything associated with this world is temporary. “The world is passing away, and also its lusts, but the one who does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:17; see also Matthew 6:19-21). To place our primary focus upon things of this world is sinful, and sin condemns us to eternal destruction (Matthew 7:13-14).
However, Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for our sins and to give us the hope of eternal life in heaven (John 3:16; Ephesians 1:7). Jesus has promised to give salvation and eternal life to those who will: place their faith and trust in Him (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Him before men (Romans 10:9-10) and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). To follow Jesus all the way to heaven and take as many people with us as we can is the greatest purpose in life. Will you accept this purpose for your life?