Romans 12:1-8 (NIV) — “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”

I must admit that some of the defects in my armor have surfaced in the midst of this ongoing pandemic (I hardly needed a cause).

Hence, the focus on our opening passage of scripture. This 12th chapter gives me a lot to help me stay, or should I say regain, my spiritual focus when I tend to step off the curb. Just the first eight verses are a spiritual feast like breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

I like the passage from Acts 17:21 — “now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”   

What I glean from that is not the comparing of people but a standard, a practical form of measurement of character.

To me this 12th chapter is like a smorgasbord of study in one spot — especially if you take it in small bites — with the foundational thought being, “what you believe determines or governs your conduct.” 

WARNING: “Practice what you preach” is often a stone thrown should the chinks in your armor show or you stumble in your Walk of Faith. Be encouraged that many Biblical men and women who stumbled and outright sinned proved to be great testimonies of faith ... after their trials and temptations. 

Are you familiar with the Roman Road of Salvation? It’s often used as an evangelistic tool to lead others onto the path of Biblical faith.

But to tell you the truth, I often have to use it to reign myself in, to remind myself of my purpose and mission. 

Sometimes I have to say to myself, “Dave” (I know it’s me because I recognize my voice), “Dave, focus up …”

Romans 1:16 — “I am not ashamed of the Gospel because it’s the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.”

Romans 3:23 — “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Romans 6:23 — “For the wages of Sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 5:8 — “But God demonstrates His love for us in this; while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. 

Romans 10:9 — “That if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”  

What does this Roman Road have to do with this 12th chapter? In my opinion, your faith will constantly be under pressure as a day by day testing, often moment by moment. Not only of your belief but the refining of our words and deeds.

You’ve heard the saying, “You talk the talk, but can you walk the walk”?

Have you watched the TV series “NCIS”? The character Gibbs uses a slight slap to the back of the head. He explains that a slap to the face is humiliating but a head slap is a wake-up call.

And for me, I need reminders to keep me on track. I don’t advocate the head-slap, but I find the point useful. So I have a saying for myself: “Discipline yourself so others don’t have to.” 

So how does all this come together? I can feel the Gibb’s slap!  Right there in the beginning of Romans 12:1-2 — “Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship.” (Note to self: that’s all day, every day.) 

My reality is that there are some flaws in my armor, and sometimes it’s easy to get down on one’s self when faced with moments of personal shortcomings.

I try to keep my focus by reminding myself of Romans 12:6-8 — “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it to the portion of his faith. If it is serving, let him serve. If it is teaching, let him teach. If it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him do it generously; If it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.” 

So I say to myself, “Focus up and stay focused!”

I read a saying by Maya Angelo: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

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