SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS McCARTHY
20TH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
OCTOBER 7, 2018
Title: “Look Unto the Hills”
Text: ‘I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth” (Psalms 121:1-2)
Scripture Reading: Psalms 121:1-8
God is the God is a God of the mountains. His footprints can be traced from mountains peak to mountain peak through the Bible. In fact, there are 467 references to mountain in Scriptures. Early Israel thought of the mountains as the dwelling place of God.
A beautiful legend tells about the creation of the mountains. Once, long ago, the earth was flat or gently rolling plains. There were beautiful flowers ; rich, luxuriant grasses; groves of tall, leafy trees and peaceful lakes mirroring the fleecy clouds and blue sky. God looked down, and everything was so beautiful and his heart was filled with so much love that he wanted to embrace the whole world. God must have thought, “Oh, world, I cannot hold you close enough!” With infinite tenderness, forgetting his great powers, he stroked the earth, caressing it with his mighty fingers. The force of his touch dredged out the valleys and piled the mountains high, stretching them out for miles along the earth. He looked again, saw what he had done, and it was good.
The mountain do declare the glory of the Lord, and every rock, tree, and spring shows his handiwork. No wonder the psalmist wrote, “I will lift up my eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.”
In the Bible, there are many different hills of God. We have mount Calvary. It is the place where Jesus died for our sins, We as Christians look in faith to the cross of Calvary and experience God’s forgiven grace and saving power. Mount Sinai is a mountain that depicts well-disciplined life. It is the place where God calls us to keep his commandments. The Bible says, “Blessed are they that keep my ways” (Proverbs 8:32). Will we climb the mountain of obedience? It leads to happiness. Mount Hermon tells us about the Transfiguration. It was the place where Jesus Christ was transfigured before His disciples and they saw Him as the divine Son of God. They heard Moses and Elijah talking with Him and knew that He had direct communication with heaven.They heard the voice of God saying, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased. Hear ye him” (Matthew 17:5). Mount Olivet is referred to as the mount of the ascending life. It is the place where Jesus ascended to heaven and His disciples looked up desiring to follow Him. As we lift our eyes heavenward and strive to be with Jesus and to be like Him, we can live the ascending life. Let us look at the lessons we can draw from the many hills of God. Let us look what it means to look unto the hills from where our help comes.
In our quest to bring the good out of life and know God, we must understand that the road to life is upward. There is no downhill road to living. My grandmother was eighty six years when she died. My grandmother loves to visit with us. I love to listen to her tell historic things about the town my dad was born in. I also love to listen to her quote Bible verses while she was in her eighties. She was aged, wrinkle, and gray, and she was feeble, but she always had a sparkle of humor about her. She told me a story about a man who went about collecting ants to cut down the ants population in town. When I asked her why she was always happy, she would say with eyes twinkling, “I am on the downhill road and can’t find something to hold unto.” I knew she was speaking to me figuratively about her physical being when she said that. It did not surprise me because I have seen the tragedy of that statement in people’s spiritual lives. Many people seems to be on that downhill road and cannot seem to find something to hold unto. They are not able to resist the downward pull of life and its temptation.
Colossians 3:1-2 God is saying to us, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things of the earth.” Paul gave us his personal testimony, saying: “I count not myself to have been apprehended: but this one thing I do…I pressed toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). The life and character of Christ challenge us: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
Though we may never be able to attain perfection, humanly speaking, we are challenged to keep climbing . The heights appeal to the daring , heroic, adventurous nature of people. Living a victorious Christian life captivates the courageous.
Captain George Mallory had always wanted to climbed to the top of Mount Everest. When he spoke at Harvard, he said, “Someone is bound to ask me why I wish to climb to the top of Everest. My answer is, ‘Because it is there.’ ” The questions from Captain Mallory’s story are, Doesn’t the life of Christ beckon you? Doesn’t it challenge you to keep reaching heavenwards? It is said that the higher mountain climbers climb , the higher they want to climb. The higher you climb in Christ, the higher you want to climb.
One subject that fascinates me is History. I learned about the Valley of Arve in Switzerland. In that Valley it is told that the statue of Horace Savesure stands beneath. Horace pioneered the trail up Mount Blanc. His body is thrust forward, his hand extended toward the mountain. There is an inscription that reads, “This is the way.” Jesus Christ, the pioneer in living, stands in the valley beckoning all humankind, pointing upward, saying, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).
Look unto the hills. On the hills we get God’s viewpoint. Study the life of Jesus and you will see that time after time he withdrew to the mountains to pray. Whenever Jesus went up to the mountain to pray, he returned with power to serve in the valleys. This same rhythm of Jesus characterized the life of Elijah. A voice told Elijah “to hide thyself” (1 King 17:3). Later the voice told him “shew thyself” (18:1). We must hide ourselves away taking time for prayers and meditation, and then come forward to show ourselves strong on behalf of the cause of Christ.
A missionary in the Balkans once took a little boy who had lived at the base of a mountain on a journey up its side. When they gain the summit, the little climber looked this way and that and said in astonishment, “My, what a wonderful world. I never dreamed it was so big!” On the heights our horizon are broadened, our imaginations are kindled, and our vision of God is greater.
Look unto the hills. Finally, life on the heights is uplifting and strengthening to the soul. It brings a lift to the spirit. It heightens the vision. It empowers the will. Paul wrote to the Ephesians, God hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6). I have been on some mountain peaks with Jesus. I have stood on some high places spiritually. It has been place of joy, service, and worship.
At the Buduburam Refugee Camp in Ghana, I went one morning on the mount to spend the day to seek the face of God. I wanted to seek God’s face on what direction in life He wanted me to go in the midst of my refugee struggles. As I approached, a group of people who had been there early were singing: “As the deer pants for the waters so my soul longs after thee. You alone are my heart, desire, and I long to worship you…” As I stood there and look at the sun rising in the east, and I looked across the broad expanse of the heavens, I felt the presence of the Lord. A sense of hope and joy filled my heart. I experience a moment of inspiration that my life did not end in a refugee camp. I was not only on the mount physically, but emotionally and spiritually was well. Life is so refreshing on the heights that you can certainly forget all your troubles. Life on the hills with Christ is so refreshing.
A man advise a friend, “live above the snake line.” There is a level on every mountain that marks the place above which snakes cannot live. Live above the snake line, above the cheap pettiness of this world, above the bitter jealousies and seething resentments, and above the burning prejudices and brooding hatreds. If you live on the heights with Christ, you can face the temptations and evils of the world about you and be victorious.
A father bought his son some parallel bars for Christmas. Out in his backyard everyday, the little fellow would reach up and try to take hold of the bars. One day a neighbor asked him what he was doing. He replied, “I am reaching up, trying to take hold of the bars. My father says if I keep reaching, one day I will be able to take hold of them.”
Keep your eyes on the hills of God and keep reaching upwards. Look unto the hills, it is where you will get your help. Look unto the hills for it is where Jesus went and returned with power to minister in the valley. God bless you.