July 5, 2021

Look to Jesus

When we look around at the world today and see situations and circumstances that are troubling, it is easy to fall into the trap of trying to figure out a solution. We want to determine what is right and what is wrong, what is true and what is not. We listen to the news and want to do something about the problems taking place, but instead may just end up frustrated or confused. Worse yet, we could be tempted to burden each other with our opinions and complaints. None of this leaves us or our friends feeling very good, because confusion and complaints are tools of the devil. The Word of God does not direct us to do any of these things in response to the problems around us. It says to look to Jesus, “the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). This world needs Jesus! We have loved ones, friends, co-workers, and classmates who need Jesus. That is at the heart of every problem, and He is the solution.

We cannot change the world, but by looking to Jesus for a personal change of heart or a closer walk with Him, we can experience peace within and have an impact on our community.                                                      

Humble yourself and answer God’s call

Looking to Jesus starts with humbling ourselves. We read in 1 Peter 5:6, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” Humbling ourselves before God includes placing ourselves under His mighty hand—being obedient to His call. There are many examples in the Bible of people who humbled themselves, submitted to God’s will, and experienced a change of heart that also impacted the people around them.

One example is Zacchaeus, whose account is given in Luke 19. He was a wealthy tax collector who was hated by many for exacting too much tax and keeping the extra. When Jesus came to his town, Zacchaeus was curious to see who He was. However, being short of stature, his view was blocked by the crowd. Determined to see Jesus, he climbed up into a tree. When Jesus passed by, He looked up and told Zacchaeus to prepare to receive Him as a guest in his house. Zacchaeus hurriedly obeyed the Lord’s command, and hosted Him. Then he made a full surrender, repenting of his sin. As a result, his life and his community were changed. He pledged to give half of his goods to the poor and restore fourfold what he had stolen.

We read about Saul of Tarsus in Acts, chapter 9. He was a religious zealot who persecuted disciples of Jesus, seeking to have them bound, brought to Jerusalem, and killed. He was sure he was doing right until the Lord stopped him in his tracks. As he was traveling on the road to Damascus, a bright light brought him to his knees, and he had an encounter with Jesus. In the days following, God revealed to him the sufferings he would endure for the Gospel. He submitted to God’s authority, and became Paul the Apostle, preaching Christ rather than persecuting His followers.

When we feel God speaking to our hearts, there is no denying it.

When the Lord calls someone, it is very effective. When we feel God speaking to our hearts, there is no denying it. In high school, I had a friend who started talking to me about things in the Book of Revelation. I had no idea what he was talking about, but I wanted to appear like I did, so I started reading Revelation. Then one night, I went to bed and felt something in my spirit. Looking back on it now, I know the Lord was speaking to my heart. When we seek the Lord by looking into His Word, He will take that opportunity to communicate with us. He will call after our hearts. I had never experienced anything like that before, and I did not want to again. I did not respond in the way that I should have, and God did not trouble my heart again for a long time.

Zacchaeus and the Apostle Paul did respond to God’s call. They humbled themselves and obeyed, and their lives were changed, along with the lives of those around them.

Seek God for a closer walk

When we look to the Lord, it should be intentional, with a purpose to seek a closer walk with Him. In Jeremiah 29:13 we read, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” Seeking to draw closer to God is not something to do incidentally; it needs to be deliberate. It is not something we just think about doing, but we must put forth effort and carve out time for earnest prayer. When we go about it this way, we are promised results.

Looking into chapter 6 of Isaiah, verses 1-8, we find the prophet in prayer. King Uzziah had just died, and with change comes uncertainty—especially when the change is in leadership. Isaiah was seeking the Lord, and he saw quite a scene. God was “sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.” Above Him were angels proclaiming, “Holy, holy, holy, is the <smallcaps>Lord<smallcaps> of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.” In drawing closer to God, and seeing who He is, Isaiah realized there was something lacking within himself; he realized his need to be purified. Overwhelmed, he said, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips.” There was nothing Isaiah could do about his condition except acknowledge his need and look Heavenward. As he did, an angel took a live coal from off the altar and touched it to his lips, purging his sin and cleansing him. Then this question came from the Lord, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Isaiah responded, “Here am I; send me.”

When we look to the Lord with purpose, seeking to draw closer to Him, He will reveal where we are lacking. As we surrender these areas to Him, He will enable us to do His will and to minister to those around us.  

Cast your cares upon Him

Part of looking to Jesus is giving our burdens to Him. Returning to 1 Peter, chapter 5, we see that after we have humbled ourselves and submitted to God’s authority, the next step is “casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (verse 7).

King Hezekiah is one who humbled himself and sought God, casting all his cares upon Him, and found a solution to the problem he and his people were facing. The account is given in 2 Kings 18:17-37; 19:1-36. The king of Assyria, after conquering all of the neighboring nations, was ready to take Judah, beginning with the city of Jerusalem. Part of his process was to intimidate those who lived there into simply surrendering. He sent representatives backed by a great army to declare to the people that trusting in their king and in God would not save them. After all, many other nations had trusted in kings and gods, and they had been destroyed.

King Hezekiah took the letter, along with the cares that were burdening him, and spread them out before the Lord, and prayed. He did not try to figure out a solution himself.

When the people did not surrender, the Assyrian king sent a letter to Hezekiah stating, “Let not thy God in whom thou trustest deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria” (2 Kings 19:10). King Hezekiah took the letter, along with the cares that were burdening him, spread them out before the Lord, and prayed. He did not try to figure out a solution himself. He did not say, “They are speaking lies about my God, and I am going to do something about that.” He took everything to the Lord, and his attitude was, “The battle is Yours.” As a result, God delivered him and his people.  

Another man who cast his cares upon the Lord had a son who was possessed with an evil spirit. In Mark 9:16-29, we read that the spirit tormented and tortured the boy, causing him to foam at the mouth and fall into fires. The father went to the disciples first, but they could not help him. Then, he turned to the Lord with his plight. Jesus said, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” The man replied with tears, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief,” and Jesus healed his son.

When we look to Jesus, casting all our concerns upon Him, we will find the solution to our problems. He will help us.

Know God’s Word

Prayer is one way in which we can look to our Savior for guidance and help in troubling times. Another way is to turn to the Bible. We find in Romans 10:17 that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

Especially when problems arise, it is important that we know and understand God’s Word so we can respond in accordance with His will. In every situation, however, we need that foundation of truth in our hearts so all our actions will glorify God and His blessing will be on our lives. We are told in James 1:25 that “whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”

One time, I attended a church service where at the close just the Christians were asked to stand. At that point in my life, I had not read the Bible much, and did not understand salvation. However, I had gone to church almost my whole life, so I stood up. Within about ten seconds, I began to tremble and could not stop. I did not know why this was happening, but in looking back now I can see that the Lord was being faithful to speak to my heart. He was letting me know that there is more to being a Christian than what I had thought. We need to know the Word of God so we can act according to His will and not our own ideas.

We also need to be able to recognize and discern when we hear something that doesn’t align with God’s will.

We also need to be able to recognize and discern when we hear something that doesn’t align with God’s will. We read in Hebrews 12:15, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” In his commentary on this verse, theologian Adam Clark explained, “A root of bitterness signifies a poisonous plant.” He went on to say, “The root of bitterness is here used metaphorically for a bad man, or a man holding unsound doctrines, and endeavoring to spread them in the Church.” We need to look diligently into the Word of God. When our faith is grounded in God’s Word, we will not be swayed by what others are doing or saying.

The result is fellowship

People can be very persuasive. We live in a society when differing points of view are strongly felt. In Matthew 24:10, Jesus was speaking to His disciples about the signs that would precede His return and said, “Then shall many be offended . . .” This is true today. So many people have such strong opinions about matters that it doesn’t take much to offend someone. There is nothing wrong with having differing convictions. However, the verse continues, “. . . and [many] shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.” We also see this happening in the world today, and we don’t want such division to get into the church. It will not if we all look to Jesus. In a world that is divided, looking to the Lord will not only result in a closer fellowship with Him, but also with other believers.

When my wife and I were preparing to marry, we learned about the marriage triangle. This is an illustration of a triangle with God positioned at the top point, and each spouse at one of the two base points. It is used to demonstrate that as the spouses draw closer to God individually, they become closer to each other.

This concept applies to congregations as well. In his book “The Pursuit of God,” A. W. Tozer uses the example of a tuning fork to explain. A tuning fork is a tool that resonates at a specific pitch when struck, and is used to tune musical instruments. An excerpt from the book says, “Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers meeting together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become ‘unity’ conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.”

We will maintain a close fellowship with each other if we will first look to the Lord and draw near to Him.

Look up to Jesus!

Are you disturbed by the events going on in the world today? Do you find yourself becoming frustrated and discouraged by the problems you see all around you? When that happens, look up to Jesus! He is the solution.

It starts with humbling yourself and surrendering your life to Him, along with your burdens. If you will do this much, the Lord will help you. He will “make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you” (1 Peter 5:10). He will give you peace in these unsettling times.

Where are you looking today? Look up!

Clarke, Adam, The Adam Clarke Commentary, Public Domain.

Tozer, A.W., The Pursuit of God (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2015), p100.

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