As I opened my Bible this morning I was vaguely aware of the message I gave this past Sunday. After giving a message on the topic of personal discipline, it was in the back of my mind as I thought about the first things to do for the day. Of course, I was vaguely aware of anything at that time because I hadn’t woken up totally, either. My mind was still foggy, and I wanted to go back to bed.
My prayer before I read is simple. I stole it from Mike Bullmore, my instructor at the Pastors College on the theology of the spiritual life, but it captures my heart for my time with the Lord. “Father, as I approach your Word, would you please form your heart and your mind within me? I want to feel about things the way you feel about things. I want to think about things the way you think about things. I want to respond to things the way you would have me respond to them. So, would you help me now through your Word?” I also give a short prayer confessing my desire to get my soul happy in the Lord during this time, referencing a quote from George Mueller and his spiritual disciplines.
These are as much reminders to me on how I want to orient myself toward this time as they are requests of God.
I read through the next passage in Romans. I am starting chapter 5, and it is chock-full of loaded statements of being justified, suffering, endurance, access by faith, etc. I realize my brain is still not awake as I breeze over these words. My sermon comes to mind about the hard work of thinking about the passage. So I read it again… and again… and one more time as I try to latch onto something.
I study the notes at the bottom of my Bible to gain a better understand.
I thank God for his saving me while I was still a sinner. I offer praise to him for his justification and that is when it hits me. A deeper appreciation for the mystery of God’s grace grows within me – that he would reconcile himself to a person who was not seeking him. This also gives me new eyes to appreciate why Paul would be able to write that we are able to rejoice in our sufferings. We can trust in a God who sovereignly works through all things, to save and to sanctify.
I mentioned in my message a Bible reading plan that I am using. I like it because it gives some cushion at the end of each month in order to catch up if needed. However, I don’t feel chained to this plan or the need to get through the Bible in a year. I just use it to help me have a plan. I am attaching (see sidebar) it to this blog in the hopes it might serve some of you.
Jacob Wilson is a pastoral intern at Covenant of Grace Church in Copley, Ohio.