For people just beginning to walk with Jesus and looking for the tried-and-true paths for getting to feel their faith, this week’s book: Reclaiming the Lost Art of Biblical Meditation: Find True Peace in God, will set you on a good path. For anyone who has been wrecked by guilt-inducing Bible homework, either skip this week, or use the entries from a grace-filled perspective — the Bible is more like a flask than a task.
Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt
Read Romans 12:1-8
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
More thoughts for meditation
Harriet Tubman spent much time learning, memorizing and meditating on parts of the Bible, like her beloved Isaiah 16:3: “Hide the fugitives, do not betray the refugees.” Her meditation resulted in action. Her action continues to inspire us and give us confidence that Jesus is truly alive. Like her, if we change our minds, we can change our actions and will probably change the lives around us.
If you are reading this, you probably already believe that last truth on some level and long for more light to drive away the dark shadows of anxiety, envy, anger, fear and other things that torment you. The Holy Spirit is with us to brighten us up, as Paul says puts it: to “shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). When we meditate, we resist darkness and welcome light, as today’s reading calls us to do.
Like Harriet Tubman knew, the Bible has been the basic starting place for God-seekers from the time the Old Testament was compiled into a collection and Paul sent his first letter. We don’t need the Bible to meditate on God’s word, but in it we have the word on which to meditate. The Bible says that Isaac “went out to the field one evening to meditate” (Gen. 24:63). He had creation, his family’s traditions and his spiritual experiences as a rich basis. He probably composed his heart, listened to birds and brooks, prayed, and wondered what God was going to do. As he did those things, a caravan of people arrived, including his future wife. We don’t need the Bible, perhaps, but it seems absurd to neglect it — that might be like reinventing a wheel it took thousands of years to perfect.
As we meditate, God guides and changes our thoughts, helps us process our griefs…,enables us to soak up the wonder of his greatness, and prepares us for what is coming. So this old hymn might be a good prayer with which to get started”
May the mind of Christ my Savior, live in me from day to day,
By his love and pow’r controlling all I do and say.
Suggestions for action
This book suggests we use scripture as our basis for meditation with a simple method much like our 2PROAPT
Read today’s reading attentively, maybe aloud. If you can, read it in its larger context. Imagine Jesus saying it to you. Focus on all the words and try to understand what the passage means.
Consider what the passage means to you. This is not an academic exercise, but a personal reflection. Let God speak to your heart as you mull over what you’re given. Sit down next to the Lord and listen to the verse, phrase, word, truth, command, or promise that affects you most deeply.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship….
Meditate on the word “appeal.” Remember when someone appealed to you and how you responded. What is this verse appealing or urging you to do?
How is your body a living sacrifice, or how could it be?
Do not be conformed to this world, …
Can you think of ways you are conforming to the patterns of the passing away world? What tries to conform you?
but be transformed by the renewing of your minds,…
Mull over “transformed, renewing, mind.” Visualize your brain — how do you see God transforming it?
so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
There is goodness to discover. This verse implies we are preoccupied with discovering it. How does that describe you?
Jot down a note or phrase and take it with you into your day. Review it all day, no matter what you are doing. It is like starter wheels for “praying without ceasing,” starting with changing the habits of our minds. Think about what is on your slip of paper when you fall asleep. Share it with someone. Do what it says.
Do the word. Look back on the whole reading for today and write down what has been given to you and take it with you.