Recently I have started going to the Convergence House of Prayer and doing personal devotional Bible study in the prayer room. I’m there right now. My method is simply to look up a passage on my ipod using the YouVersion app, read it slowly, ask God to teach me and transform me by these words, and write my thoughts in my personal prayer journal as I go verse by verse. I’ve been looking at the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Rome for the last week or two, particularly chapters 9-11, one of the most difficult and most violently debated passages in the Bible.
As I sat here, it occurred to me that what I am writing in my journal may be helpful to one or two other people who may read this, or perhaps to my children and grandchildren. So here is my meditation on Romans 9 today.
Tuesday, August 21 – 4:38pm, at CHOP
“Father, give me wisdom and revelation as I seek to learn from your word today. O, give me a fresh outpouring of your Spirit! For Jesus’ sake, hold back nothing good from me! I am poor and undeserving. I pour myself out as a drink offering at your feet. I have nothing you have not given me. Teach me to receive more! Let me not fear your indwelling! I want to lay down my pride completely, abide fully in you, to do only your work, and not stand in your way. I want to be fully flexible and malleable as your instrument, fully in your will to control as your hands and feet, as a member of your body.
In Romans 9, Paul has unceasing anguish for his brothers in Israel, that they might be saved. I do not have such a burden. O Father, give me a full burden, that I might be put to good use! Give me your strength to carry it.
But what is this mystery of your hardening of hearts by your will, your choice, in order to make your might known? Your sovereignty over all! This is a fearful thing, Lord! How can we stand before you? O, Give me mercy! Don’t turn from me, don’t harden me! And give me a heart that can accept your will. Yet let my heart be holy and righteous, reflecting your heart. How your are full of compassion while hardening some is a great mystery, yet I know that it is your compassion I must seek to own; because you alone rule the hearts of men, I can only imitate your mercy. But we are all but lumps of clay in your hands, and this is a fearful thing! Oh let me be put to honorable use! And give me faith to believe you answer my prayers, that you truly love me. I wish I wasn’t such a pathetic son! I do believe, yet I doubt! Help my unbelief!
And I want to intercede for al my brothers and sisters! So many! So many! Only you know! All at WPC, IPC, GCC, CHOP, FRCC, IHS, UMA, SJSU, SJYS, IVCF, and more! Have mercy! Harden not their hearts! Yet give me a heart that will rejoice in your justice as well as your mercy. You are greater than I can handle, too big, too powerful, too scary.
Yet you are good to me. I know it full well. I have seen your mercies to me daily. Why are you merciful to me but not to others? Surely it is not because of my amazing awesome beauty, for I am but a poor sinful man. Surely you ought to hide your face from me, spit upon a wretch like me. But you saved a wretch like me. Are you unjust? No, because you punished Jesus in my place. You are not unjust, but it is easy to see why so many object to this idea. It is truly a stumbling block, foolishness, that you would punish the innocent for the guilty. Yet it is my only hope. If I were you, I surely would not punish my only begotten Son, who was my pride and joy, perfect in beauty and holiness, the pure shining representation of my glory. Would I love my wretched fallen creations like you do? What is Man, that you are mindful of him? Yet you have lifted him up. You did not spare your own Son, but gave him up for us all. And it is when we take by faith His flesh and blood, broken and shed in just and righteous propitiation for our sins, that we are healed. You will put no one to shame who trusts in you.