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God's Motives

Romans 9:16-18
It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: "I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. (NIV)

As human beings we are naturally selfish. Even those born again by the Spirit of God are still liable to be dragged down by a self-centred gravity. So whenever we think about God and what He does, we tend to personalise it: for example, "Is this fair to me?" or "What do I get from it?" That is wrong. God's existence does not centre on us - ours is intended to orbit around Him. God's purpose is always to demonstrate the power and magnificence of His character - the Bible calls that His 'glory'.

Everything that God does is right (by definition) and is designed to bring Him glory. Even wicked people bring Him glory: He shows wonderful mercy to those who are repentant, and a stark judgement to those who refuse to obey His Word. So God is glorified both in salvation and judgement. Today's verses refer to a time when the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, and greatly oppressed. However God showed them His mercy, while at the same time hardening Pharaoh's (already hard) heart. In that way, the deliverance of Israel was a wonderful miracle, proving His power and bringing glory to God through many generations.

When we realise that our Christian faith is all about bringing glory to God, then we start to understand a little of His motives. All the blessings we receive are wonderful by-products of His glorious grace. So whatever your circumstances simply trust Him - that He will both display His glory and satisfy your needs. There is no other alternative way of living which will adequately respond to God's powerful intentions to work in and through you.

Gracious and all-powerful God. Thank You that Your purposes are never thrown off course by human decisions, but that You bring every circumstance to the point at which Your glory can be seen. Forgive me for trying to 'tame' You to do what I want, rather than trusting that You see the bigger picture and are able to do 'immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine'. Help me to expect that You will work in sovereign power, in Your time and in Your way. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams