Tuesday, October 02, 2012

When promises seem to fade

My ears perk up when I hear the same thing taught twice in a short period of time. Like God's trying to get my attention, and I missed it the first time around.

Well that just happened. I was astonished, as I drove, listening to Alistair Begg on a Christian radio station. He's the pastor with a strong Scottish accent. Have you heard him before? He was mid-message when I tuned in; now that I think about it, I don't even know what the "point" of the message was. I only heard one part.

The part on Matthew 1:1. Because our whole entire service at church yesterday was on Matthew 1:1. Astonished. I sat in the car thinking, "What are the odds..." and "Wait, if God is trying to reteach me something that I missed yesterday, what on earth could it be?" Alistair reflected on a thought that seemed obvious to me, that the verse was a seemingly dry way to kick off the New Testament. Here's God, about to tell the greatest story ever told, and He starts with this:

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Matt 1:1

I sort of agree, to be honest. Next, Matthew spends the next 17 versus listing all the key players in Jesus' family line. Matthew is not exactly trying to hook us into a compelling plot line. It's a portion of scripture most people probably skip. You know, to get to the good stuff. I've done it. We are accustomed to the convention of an "introduction" when we read, aren't we? If I'm honest, I've treated certain seemingly introductory portions of scripture as just that, introductions to skim over, to warm us up perhaps.

I guess I wanted to do that yesterday morning during church. Tune out because it seemed like we were dwelling on the warm up. I didn't quite get the message, why we had to spend all of service on Matthew 1:1.

God is saying OBVS right now, since He had to reteach it to me this morning through the radio.

(As I type, I'm reminded of this verse I memorized last year...)

All scripture is God-breathed, and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Tim 3: 16-17

Here's what God wanted to show me. Without going into all the detail on why that one verse is so important - all the prophecy it would have called to mind in the heart of the first century reader, all the implications the phrases "son of David" and "son of Abraham" have - just know this. Alistair Begg proved Matthew 1:1 is to tell us one thing:

God keeps His promises. 

God made covenants (fancy word for promises) with Abraham and David, and Matthew is saying, "Watch this. 'Member those covenants? Let me show you how God keeps His promises. And then throughout the book, He demonstrates how those promises were fulfilled in Jesus.

I think I tuned out Sunday because in order to understand this verse, it meant absorbing very heady material, sort of like a history and theology class all at once. And so I missed the personal message in it.

But what you don't know is the reason God had to reteach me this morning. There's a reason when I heard Alistair Begg summarize Matthew 1:1 that I instantly teared up.

When he said Matthew 1:1 was all about promises and fulfillment, it sunk in. I can't give you many details. But I can say I've been temped lately to question whether I've heard right on certain things I feel God has promised me. I've been tempted to lose the vision He's given me for certain things very dear to my heart. I've questioned whether He actually did promise me anything, and if He did make me promises, how on earth He was going to keep them.

Over the several hundred years it took God to fulfill His promises in the person of Jesus, I have a feeling a few people felt the same doubt as I do. At times, I find it very hard to understand this verse:

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
2 Pet 3:9 

I want to say, "Um, yes you are, Lord. You are kinda slow. Actually. 'Cause I don't have several hundred years to wait. In fact, I don't know if I can hold on to believing you for another week."

There are so many things involved here. Do I simply believe in God? Or do I BELIEVE God? And why does it feel like there is an expiration date on that belief in certain areas sometimes? (I mean, who does He think we are?!)

Well, He thinks I'm human. And forgetful. And distracted. So He patiently teaches me twice in a 24 hour period the same exact thing.

I am a promise-making, promise-keeping God.

Can a woman forget her nursing child?
that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.
Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
Isaiah 49:15-16

Amen, friends?

His love makes my heart skip a beat.

Have a great week.



  1. Amen. I needed to read this right this very minute.

  2. Oh, I am with you on that, giving my heartiest AMEN!
    This is a much needed reminder - thanks!


  3. I LOVE Alistair Begg! I used to listen to him every morning when I got into work at my old job {and I knew if I was late to work because he came on at 8am haha}. Great post and reminder that the promises God makes he keeps and fulfills! I love this! I found you through Carina's blog, new follower!

  4. What i love love about God is that He's always working behind the scenes. He's fulfilling His promises even when it doesn't feel like it to us, or when we can't "see" evidence of His promises like we so want and beg too, like if prayers aren't answered right away etc.. God is always at work, His promises STAND and His Kingdom WILL come. I love how God used the sermon from Begg, love that guy and then sermon at church to wake you up a bit:)

  5. great post!
    i think that we can get into trouble when we have an idea of how he'll fulfill his promises and we are so focused on what we think it will look like or what it most likely will look like that we almost miss the actual fulfillment.
    that's what some did with Jesus, right?
    wanted him to be a political leader and then wanted to argue the actual fulfillment of the promise when he was just a carpenter that took on all our sin and burdens and rescued us from eternal death...HA!
    makes me want to hold lightly to my ideas and look hard for him in areas that may seem surprising.

  6. great post! I saw Alistair Begg once in person and he was amazing! Also, love the great message from a verse we often glance over as unimportant. thank you!

  7. Oh, Amen and amen! Thank you for sharing and the transparency here. The reminder that God always fulfills His promises, because He is perfect and there is no other option, is always needed in my life. I needed to read this today. Thank you.

  8. AMEN!
    it's funny, because we've been studying Matthew for weeks in church, and JUST yesterday, I read and taught Matthew 1 to my children in our Bible class.
    we read Matthew 1:1-17 and discussed the importance of it, despite it seeming unnecessary at times.
    this just solidified even more the importance of every piece of Scripture.
    He didn't put in any unnecessary parts. :)
    love this.
    and yes, I have listened to Mr. Begg many, many times.

  9. God has been doing this for me so much lately... I am in a Bible study on James, reading the New Testament chronologically on my own and currently am in Romans, and also reading "A Beautiful Offering" - Angela Thomas... and there has been at least twice that I can recall in the past week that everything has been teaching on the same thing... nailing down the same points but in such different venues & such different audiences. it is so beautiful when God REALLY wants to get our attention on something... thank you for sharing this... I needed to hear it as well. :)

  10. Amen is right girl! I'm having a hard time being patient at times. Thinking that the timeline has expired and maybe I missed it??? But really it's just me giving God MY timeline and hoping whatever it may be to get accomplished during that time. So lately and hopefully forever- I'm digging in to the Bible. Every morning, during down time and praying, praying, praying. It somehow makes it more tolerable. The waiting that is:) Xoxoxo

  11. Thankyou Leslie for an inspiring blog which I found while looking at an idea someone pinned originally from your pages re BLessing Bags.
    From a sister in the Lord,