Looking Beyond Ourselves

“I urge you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice—holy, acceptable to God—which is your spiritual service. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. For through the grace given me, I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of yourself than you ought to think—but to use sound judgment, as God has assigned to each person a measure of faith. For just as we have many parts in one body—and all the parts do not have the same function— so we, who are many, are one body in Messiah and everyone parts of one another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace that was given to us—if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; or the one who teaches, in his teaching; or the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who gives, in generosity; the one who leads, with diligence; the one who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without hypocrisy—detesting what is evil, holding fast to the good. Be tenderly devoted to one another in brotherly love; outdo one another in giving honor. Do not be lagging in zeal; be fervent in spirit. Keep serving the Lord, rejoicing in hope, enduring in distress, persisting in prayer, contributing to the needs of the kedoshim, extending hospitality. Bless those who persecute you—bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be proud, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own eyes. Repay no one evil for evil; give thought to what is good in the eyes of all people. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live in shalom with all people. Never take your own revenge, loved ones, but give room for God’s wrath—for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine; I will repay,” says Adonai. Rather, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink. For by doing so you will heap coals of fire upon his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12

Our desires must be focused on Christ our Lord. We must feel the anticipation and the excitement to walk with Him, so that we not only hear His Word but we do His Word. If we become stuck in our anxious thoughts, confusion or the stressed out urgency of life, we stop and get our focus right! Pray that the Holy Spirit intercedes in you and removes the disruptions. Allow yourself to receive His comfort and grace. Remember it is not anything we do or effort on our part, we are only to receive what Christ our Lord gives us. To receive, we need to make sure stuff that gets in the way, are out of the way.

There are times when I journal, that is keep a diary of what is going on in my life. I sometimes look back on them and gain new insight on what I was going through, that I did not have back then. I have become more adept to interpret God’s leading and plan for me, the more I experience life and receive what He has done. By looking back on what we have been through and seeing the hand of God there, it will give great comfort and encouragement for what lies ahead or what we are going through now.

As I gain new insight into my personality and the Lord’s working into my issues and problems, I realize how minuscule they are compared to my Lord’s holiness and greatness. Concentrating on Christ and what He has done will lift us up better and more complete than anything we could ever do. The thrust of journaling has taught me to look beyond myself and keep focused on Christ. The other end of journaling is a problem that people, including Christians, in their zeal keep faithful to their journals, is that they become self absorbed and only see themselves or their problems , not the Lord. Be careful if you do this exercise of journaling, keep focused on why you are doing it, that is to grow closer to the Lord and not to yourself.

We are called to keep looking at God’s Word as a mirror to ourselves, to our soul, as not to see us, but to see God working in us. When we only see ourselves, we see sin, brokenness, failure, self-seeking inclinations and wrong attitudes. We must see God’s interests, then the journey of maturing in the faith will become more real as our problems become less and He becomes more.

The same thing can happen when we read the Word. We become so consumed with our interests, we do not see the calling and response we are to give. We grow bitter, thinking that this devotion stuff is not for me, so we turn it off. We replace it with so much activity that God is pushed out of our lives, except on Sunday morning. Even then, we are rushed and stressed and do not feel the worship or hear the lesson. We only hear ourselves, our problems of getting the kids ready, or the stress at work or at school. The results of a mature life will respond from the impact of our devotional life, by applying what Christ has done.

We need to respond to the text with a surrendered will and a mind cleared of our anxious thoughts. When we are focused on our fears, hopes, dreams, needs or emotions, we have no room to learn what God has for us. We will not be able to think deeply enough into the text so there is a transformation of our nature and will, as philosophers call our existential core. There can be no serious behavior or personality change unless the core of who we are changes. And Christ is the only one who does that right!

This transformation in Romans 12 cannot happen when we are in the way. God does as He pleases, but He usually does not override our will. He waits for us to be surrendered and poured out to Him. So do not take the chance and allow your stubbornness to get in the way of God working in you!


  1. When and what did you do to mess up in life? 
  2. Have you ever had the thought that God has left you out? If so what did it take to shake you out of it? If not what keeps you focused?
  3. As a Christian what fears do you or have you had? How do you feel that you have been deeply loved and pursued by the only eternal and wise God?
  4. How would Obedience help you in distinguishing between what is good and what is bad in life?
  5. What issue is in your life that would improve with more Obedience?
  6. Think through the steps that you need to take to put Obedience into action in a specific instance. For example, how can you use obedience to improve your faith, Fruit, character, relationships, confidence, leadership ability, parenting, and/or relationship with Yeshua and others?
  7. God’s desire is for all Christians to have-and use-great faith. What do you need to do to make this more of a reality in your life and in your church?
  8. What would your church look like if you and the leadership were more obedient to Yeshua?
  9. What will you do now?
  10. How does God’s pursuing love affect your daily activities?
  11. Who are you in Yeshua? What are the promises of God that you take to heart?

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