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Week Two: Faith in promises

 

“When our daughter, Grace, was about 5, our best friends divorced. Their children stayed with us off and on during the separation. Our little girls were best friends. One day Gracie looked up at me and asked if the parents would be going to jail. Shocked, I asked her why she thought they might. Without hesitation she replied that they had lied, that they had broken their promise to each other.

 

How do we learn what to rely on when a promise is made? In the first year of our conversion to Christianity, after Ted and I had been married for four years, we acquired a small blue plastic box called “Precious Promises.” In it were 150 notecards, on which was written a single verse of Scripture, a promise from God. We memorized some, but mostly just read them to each other, taking turns picking them from the front and replacing them in the back. At first, given our habits and orientation to the world, it was a bit like reading a horoscope. But gradually, over time, as we learned to trust each other’s voices, we found ourselves beginning to trust the words, written by God to us. For the last ten years we have led a Bible study and, for New Year’s Eve, have invited the participants and their families to a party. Part of the celebration is to seat everyone in one room, 30 people or so, including small children, and pass around the “Precious Promises.” Every one reads one and, if they want to, talks about what it means to them for the coming year. Listening to trusted Christians read those promises over and over renews and affirms my confidence in them.

 

Our children’s natural reliance on their parents’ consistency is a vivid picture of our dependence on God’s. If His promises do not issue from His character, how are we to trust them? Just as His character must be the same in both the Old and New Testaments, so the stories in each bear the same lessons about Him.

 

J. Alec Motyer points out many parallels between Moses and Jesus. They were both born in humble circumstances. As babies they were hidden by their parents to save them from being murdered; each baby found safety in the Egyptians. After leaving Egypt, they both went through the water, Jesus in Baptism, Moses crossing the Red Sea. They both immediately went into the wilderness, Jesus for 40 days, Moses for 40 years. In the desert, the Israelites cried for food, which was one of the three temptations for Jesus in the desert. What was the final plague on the Egyptians? What judgment falls on God’s first-born Son? In each case one lies dead for the many. Moses meets God on the mountain to receive the 10 Commandments. Matthew 5:1 tells us that Jesus delivers The Beatitudes “on the mountain.” This Christmas, as we celebrate baby Jesus’ birth, let us remember that He is the very God who brought His people out of Egypt, through deep waters, and rescued them from slavery. Let us place our faith in Him. Let us remember His promises. Let us cling to His love. — Catherine Prescott B.A. retired, art faculty, award-winning portrait artist


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