The author of Hebrews encourages us to “Look unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).
However, most often, we find ourselves Looking Downword.
Today’s news is filled with spotlights of trouble and violence. Favorable reports are seemingly treated as less significant. As well, Christians too often dwell on the dreary side of life. Pessimism brings discouragement to self and disappointment to others, and it brings displeasure to God.
The Psalmist asked, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior” (Psalm 42:5).
Some Look Upward.
The Bible admonishes us as God’s instuments to encourage people to look upward, in faith. God is alive; He is still on the throne and is in complete control. We are to look upward because our help is from the Lord!
The Psalmist said, “I lift up my eyes to the hills– where does my help come from?” (Psalm 121:1).
Some Look Inward.
Many people in today’s world are miserably unhappy because they are self-centered. When we become unconcerned about the needs and salvation of others, we become dwarfed mentally and spiritually.
The apostle Paul reminds us, “And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Corinthians 5:15).
Some Look Outward.
As ministers we should look outward with compassion and concern for the millions who, without Christ, are headed for eternal death and destruction. We must maintain an overwhelming burden to share Christ, leading the lost to salvation through repentance and faith.
The Apostle John recorded these words of Christ, ”Do you not say, `Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” (John 4:35).
Some Look Backward.
Some people talk about past accomplishments almost exclusively, perhaps trying to compensate for what they should be doing now.
Paul gives this advice to those who live in the past, “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead” (Phillipians 3:13).
Some Look Forward.
For us, we know the best is yet to come. We look ahead with faith and anticipation, expecting to receive blessings and miracles in this life.
Paul went on to say, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phillippians 3:14).
Having pastored for 27 years, and now retired, I find myself actually loving ministry even more without all the responsibilities. I’m sure you understand what I mean!
Through the years, I have experienced many times of confusion, bewilderment, and frustration. At the same time, I can honestly say that they have been the most exciting, challenging and rewarding years of my life. It is truly the abundant life that Jesus has promised us!
John Sperrazza together with his wife Rosemary have served in pastoral ministry in various roles within the New York Ministry Network for decades. Now retired, they both serve faithfully at First Assembly of God in Niagara Falls.