Hebrews 12:2 (GW) We must focus on Jesus, the source, and goal of our faith. He saw the joy ahead of him, so he endured death on the cross and ignored the disgrace it brought him. Then he received the highest position in heaven, the one next to the throne of God.
Things certainly have changed since I was young! We had cameras, but they were a little complicated, on the expensive side, requiring film and film development and produced a product which was in black and white or less than perfect color! My family didn’t take many pictures. That action was reserved for special occasions and travel when we bought postcards of the more exceptional views! We took pictures of others, never ourselves.
Now, many of us are taking all kinds of pictures using the camera apps on our phones. We record special events, use pictures to accompany text, send our pictures to friends and family via Facebook, Instagram, etc. AND… many people are addicted to taking pictures of themselves - better known as selfies. Like so many attitudes and actions of the 21st century, the selfie epitomizes our self-centered focus. Many of our actions point to our needs, desires, self-gratification and self-positive presentation. How interesting that the use of our cell phone camera helps to satisfy these needs.
As Christians, we too get sucked into this self-serving mindset. We lose our spiritual focus and fall prey to the world’s ways. We forget to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author, and perfecter of our faith” Heb.12:2. This week, we will examine our own focus and discover how Jesus helps us turn outward and reach for Him and His own. You can begin this right now by asking Jesus to show you how to sharpen the focus on Him.
Philippians 2:3–4 (NIV) Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others.
Re-read the familiar story found in Genesis 3:1-6. Applying the notion that mankind is inherently self-centered, study the self-serving behaviors of Eve and Adam as they are prompted by the snake/Satan. Neither seems affected by the knowledge that they were created in the image of God. They selfishly wanted more – more knowledge, more power, more self. The stain of the sin of selfishness came into being as the root of all sin. Man was caught in an ever-lasting cycle of spiritual death and damnation.
But in His gracious love, God had a plan. His plan was self-less, and His grace would come at great price. His perfect Son would pay the price of sin, enabling man to forgo punishment and live focused on Jesus, serving others instead of themselves.
What a great gift He gave us! It prompts us to give that gift to others, share the Gospel with them, and look to their needs, whatever they might be. Use Paul’s words to the Philippians as a guide and think of the “others” in your life. Make a prayer list of things you are thankful for about these people. Also include their needs, desires, and anything else that would be beneficial for them.
Are you an “innie or an “outie”? In other words, does your navel point in or out? Never mind taking a selfie of that!
In His word, God has much to say to us about the direction our spiritual focus toward Him and others… are we an innie or an outie. Today, read and meditate on some of the things He has to say. Ask the Spirit to help you apply God’s words to your life.
May God richly bless your study!
Hebrews 12:2–3 (The Message) Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!
It’s one thing to know I should accept and share God’s love and mercy with others, but how do I do that? Is there a formula, a pattern, an example? Absolutely! It’s Jesus who showed us how to love. While on earth, he visited with the poor, the downtrodden, the outcast, the sinner, the sick, and many others. He didn’t judge, he didn’t consider his own needs, instead, he tended to the needs of others. Ultimately, he paid the price for the sins/selfishness of mankind. His selfless love for us assures new life – a life free from our own centeredness and focused on others. Look at Him, study His life, learn from His teachings and come to him. A perfect prayer today as we seek a new focus in Him is found in the old hymn, “Just As I Am”.
Just as I am without one plea,
But that thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God I come, I come!
Just as I am, Thy love unknown
Hath broken every barrier down
Now to be Thine, yea, Thine alone
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
Read Ephesians 4:24 – 5:2
In Ephesians 4:24, Paul tells us that “as children of the light, we are to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness”. And later in 5:1-2 he says: “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
What a huge task these teachings call us to. Our response will be enabled by the Holy Spirit! We are only human, still sinful, yet forgiven, but our Savior goes with us in this life.
Now, when you take that spiritual selfie, what do you see? See a beloved child of God whose whole self is covered with the blood of Jesus. Therefore we can imitate him and turn from a life framed by self to a life lived for Jesus and others.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
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