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.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 2
The emerging message + reflections
Proverbs 8:1 and 22-31
Wisdom is described like a personality, and as the first of God’s works, involved in Creation.
1. Wisdom and folly can seem all too similar – and man’s wisdom can all too quickly turn out to be no wisdom at all. How do we recognise and choose God’s wisdom?
Praise to God for His provision and His purpose.
2. Are we more inclined to point out how everything is going wrong, or how God is over all the affairs of our world, “renewing the face of the ground”? Which is more like agreeing with Him?
Introducing His gospel, John tells us how the Word who was with God before Creation, later chose to become a human being to show us God’s grace and also glory.
3. What is your understanding and experience, expressed simply, to start to recognise the true light of Jesus (verses 9-10) and to receive Him and be born of God (verses 12-13), and come into a new identity as a child of God (v.12)?
4. Do you have a story of this kind of encounter with Jesus that you could share very briefly with another person?
A quotation from a hymn of praise to Christ, Lord of creation and redemption.
5. Knowing Jesus is an exciting discovery but also a call to His purpose, to reconcile to the Father the world that doesn’t know Him, before it’s too late. How do we identify that purpose and respond to that call?
Our role in calling into being the original intention of the Creator
God’s original design and intention, distorted by man’s pride and independence, remains the objective of His reconciliation.
As believers, we have experienced our reconciliation, and it is the source of our joy, whatever is going on around us. We know that God has this purpose, to reconcile all things to Himself so that they return to His good design in Creation.
Jesus, we learn, was involved in Creation, and we have life in Him – and a whole new identity in Him, as children of God. So we are not so powerless after all. The heavenlies, both good and evil, have to listen to our words and songs of praise and truth. The angels join in and the demons hide. The creation spirit at the heart of Father, Son and Holy Spirit is still creating and renewing. Jesus, in whom all things were created and hold together, is now risen and ascended to the place of all authority, seated in the heavenlies. His Spirit has been poured out on His church, and He is the active Head of His body of ‘little Christs’ or Christians, anointed ones.
Our oneness, our praise and worship, our declarations and words of blessing are what God is relying on to bring what is fragmented and disordered, back into His creation order. It’s another facet of the same plan He had at the beginning.