Promises

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Promises

Genesis 21:1-7

The Birth of Isaac 1

The Lord dealt with Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as he had promised. Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the time of which God had spoken to him. Abraham gave the name Isaac to his son whom Sarah bore him. And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Now Sarah said, “God has brought laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.” And she said, “Who would ever have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”

Hebrews 3:1-6

Moses a Servant, Christ a Son

Therefore, brothers and sisters, holy partners in a heavenly calling, consider that Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses also “was faithful in all God’s house.” Yet Jesus is worthy of more glory than Moses, just as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that would be spoken later. Christ, however, was faithful over God’s house as a son, and we are his house if we hold firm the confidence and the pride that belong to hope.

Faith is all about promises and how we keep them. The Bible refers to most of these promises as covenants, the sacred promises made particularly between God and people. Somehow, these covenants which create relationships, seem to always get started by God and reciprocated (to a lesser degree) by us. It is how we get adopted into the Kingdom of Heaven. God goes searching for lost people and finds us, and invites us home with Him.

Most of God’s promises are miraculous, whether they are big or small, loud or silent. It is almost as if God were too easily bored to just do things the simple way. He chose Abram and Sarai to be the parents of His chosen people, and instead of catching them at the ripe age of 18 or 20, God waited until they were 60 and 80 and then didn’t give them a child until 20 years later. By that point they were well beyond ripe. The fruit had fallen off the tree. Nevertheless, God kept His promise.

God chose Moses from birth, but led Him too on a 60 year wild goose chase from the palace of Pharaoh to the desert wilderness and back and forth over and over again. Moses, who is still celebrated as the Giver of the Law (or delivery man of it at least) never got to set foot in the Promised Land, but he led the people there. After going around the desert in circles for 40 years. There were definitely quicker routes.

Then there was Jesus, the Son of God Himself. He could have set things right with a word. Instead He chose to become the Word made flesh. He lived and served with us, suffered and died for us. That might seem counterproductive, but the author of Hebrews calls Him first here an apostle, one who is sent. We normally think of the first disciples as being the apostles, but I think Jesus was the original “sent” one. He trusted God’s promises and responded with His own faithfulness. Those who followed after Him saw His faithfulness and responded by trusting His promises and being faithful themselves.

What promises has God given you? Are they miraculous promises?

How are you responding to those promises?


  1. (Heb 11:11)

The Faith of Politics

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The Faith of Politics

After the two days he departed for Galilee. (For Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his own hometown.) So when he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, having seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the feast. For they too had gone to the feast.

So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill. When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was recovering. So he asked them the hour when he began to get better, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” And he himself believed, and all his household. This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee. (The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Jn 4:43–54). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.)

This is a story about faith. Here again, Jesus returned to Cana of Galilee and found more welcome there in a place that had more gentile influence than in His own more Jewish hometown of Nazareth. An official from the nearby town of Capernaum came to see if Jesus would come back with him and heal his son who was at the point of death. Jesus told the official that he would not believe unless this miracle was accompanied by signs and wonders, but the official persisted. Jesus then turned and announced that the boy would live. When he returned home he found that this was true and that the boy’s fever had left him at the time Jesus announced that he would live.

It is a story of faith, not because anyone does anything that demonstrates great faith, but because it is faith shown in the lack of signs and wonders, yet it yields the same results. Everyone takes a back seat in this story besides Jesus and this father. With only the power of His word, Jesus changes the outcome and heals this boy who is miles away. There is no laying on of hands or chanting. He simply says it is and it is. It is not noted whether this man is Jewish or gentile, which tells us that it doesn’t matter who you are. What matters in this story is this: in the face of insurmountable odds, will we seek Jesus… and when we do not get a show of divine intervention, will we continue along our way in faith that what He says, goes?

It strikes me as ironic that politics are built upon and held together by promises kept in faith. We make promises to our leaders and they make promises to us, and we trust they will fulfill them and that we will fulfill ours. Yet our politics today are not marked by faith, but by doubt. We have lived through 40 years, an entire generation, of presidents and national leaders who were not trusted to the extent that distrust is the new norm and there has been an entire generation raised that has never known otherwise. It has followed a similar shift in distrust in God. We campaign on distrust now, not stating what we stand for, but spending our energy and resources attacking our opponents. This tactic is not new, but neither does it work well in the long run. We have changed the environment, changed the rules of the game so that political winners fall faster than ever from the returning waves of distrust that carried them into power.

This miracle shows us that faith in anything begins with a faith in God, even when we do not understand – perhaps especially when we do not understand. Facing an environment hostile to anything related to trust, it shows that it only takes one to change the rules again… particularly when that faith is placed in God. Will we believe God even if we cannot see the proof before us? Can we trust God to be God, not just in the spiritual world, but in the brokenness of our political situations, or will we take matters into our own hands?

All Hallows Eve

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I found my last bed

in the place of the first

lesser my heartbeat

greater my thirst

only my pain can realize

        the silent fear

        that lingers here

among a dozen wetted eyes

and hearts doubled over

to see yellow skin

my last fleshly covering

a sad soul within

whose mate in tears resides beside

        my rock and love

        my precious dove

in whom I hope my fate abides

yet she refers me

toward other things

with halos of light

and feathery wings

but I cannot see the light from here

        with eyes gone grey

        fading away

and filled with cold and bitter tears

for fear and regret

all these chains that I’ve earned

in those toiling days

whose dreams I burned

with tunnel vision and selfish pride

        my fate I chose

        the thorny rose

whose beauty at last has bled me dry

leaving naught but a shell

that cannot receive

a blessing that’s blocked

by anger and grief

but I may have one final gift

        my heart to give

        to one who lives

long after this soul passes through the rift

may he love her with care

for better, for worse

and learn from my death

lest he fall to the curse

that still lingers here within the air

        with brutal eyes

        on new love lies

and fixes them with unmerciful stare

so my final act

will not be a cry

for mercy or peace

I simply will die

an example to a foolish world

        to which I belong

        a son of its song

        its promises lies

        when everyone dies

but lives like their lives cannot be unfurled

so breathe like it matters

live without regret

and love while you live

and never forget.