God’s purpose is overarching – and merciful

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 16
Recap and message

Genesis 9:8-17 (Monday reading)

God’s way of mercy established in the first unconditional covenant, with Noah

Psalm 25:1-10 (Tuesday reading)

An appeal to the covenant and pledge to keep God’s ways even in the face of personal adversity

Mark 1:9-15 (Wednesday reading)

Jesus demonstrates the way of dependence on God as a key to a Holy Spirit empowered life

1 Peter 3: 18-22 (Thursday reading)

Peter explains God’s higher purpose in Jesus’ incarnation and death on the cross, making a way for us to have a clear conscience before God

The emerging message – God’s loving purpose is not limited by our perspective

From not quite the earliest times, but from very early times, God acted in judgment but also spoke a covenant promise for all time against such a flood disaster being repeated. Given the wickedness of the then world, to wipe out mankind would have been a just decision – but God’s mercy and greater purpose overruled.

David faced constant and at times vicious opposition, including a rebellion led by his son Absalom, but it was the attacks on his character which he struggled with most. Keeping a clean heart in the face of betrayal is one of the hardest things any of us is called to do, and David calls down God’s higher purpose in the language of covenant, to help him do this.

Jesus is the incarnation of God’s higher purpose – and the incarnation of God’s mercy and love. Jesus told Philip that having seen Him, he had seen the Father. Or certainly seen what the Father is like. He shows this sense of higher purpose in his first public appearance, by the banks of the River Jordan where John was preaching repentance and baptising those who responded. For Him to be baptised was not just symbolic, or giving a lead to others, but an act of repentance which released His Holy Spirit-empowered ministry. There’s a challenge there for us in discerning where God intends for our ministry with Him to be, and whether we are “fit for purpose” and prepared to live in constant repentance and dependence. That fights with our human self-sufficiency at every level.

Peter refers to our call to be baptised as a statement that we are turning to Jesus and away from our old lives. He links what we know as baptism with a precursor, a kind of global baptism, which Noah knew as he escaped destruction. Then he links this with those in the spirit world who have merited destruction, and describes Jesus preaching to them.

God is so merciful that He is always looking for a response, even when it seems that no response could be expected.

As we consider the world of not-yet-believers around us,  the few who are seeking to find out who God is and the many who appear to be mocking or scoffing, the message of these passages is surely to aim higher. It is to find out what God is doing, in the context of what He is always doing, and seek to love into the kingdom even those with the hardest hearts.

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