We are loved by a God who always keeps his promises. The Old Testament is rich with promises concerning our coming Messiah, and from the opening lines of Matthew, we begin to see those promises perfectly fulfilled, starting with the most intimate details of Jesus’ birth. Back in 2019, we invited you and your teenagers to join us for a 16-day Christmas devotional series centering around Messianic prophecies. This year we will round out that series with eight more posts, so you’ll have one for every day of the Christmas season.
We pray your heart will be encouraged and your faith strengthened as you and your teenagers meditate together on the game-changing truth that our God says what he means and means what he says. O Come Let Us Adore Him!
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 12:1-3).
An influencer I follow on social media recently shared about being left out. It startled me to think of this person I admire feeling excluded from the cool kids’ group (adults have these, too, I’m sorry to say). I thought of times when I’ve felt on the outside of things, and I remembered I’m not alone. In reality, every human being experiences feeling left out at times—even the people who seem to have it all together.
Not only have we felt the sting of being excluded, but we’ve often seen groups of people pushed to the sidelines because they look or act or live somewhere different. Nearly every day we hear stories of different kinds of prejudice in the news.
If you’ve ever felt sadness, frustration, or even rage over these broken human relationships, the story of the Bible comes as really good news. From the beginning God has been working out a good plan to rescue human beings from every corner of the world, to bless them and include them in what he is doing.
Our relationships are broken because human beings have resisted God’s authority and tried to make a name for ourselves (which the Bible calls “sin”). But God promised long ago to restore relationship with us and to redeem all that is broken in our world. As we prepare for Christmas, we remember how he fulfilled the first part of his pledge when Jesus came as a baby, and that the second part will finally come true when Jesus comes again.
The God Who Makes Promises
In Genesis 12:1-3, we read seven specific promises God made to Abram (later renamed Abraham): to make Abram a great nation, to bless him, to make his name great, to make Abram a blessing to others, to bless those who bless him, to curse those who curse him, and to bless all the families (or nations) of the earth through Abram.
The promise to bless the nations through this particular man seems odd at first. Abram and his father were idol-worshippers (Josh. 24:2) who had no knowledge of the one true God. And yet God initiated a relationship with Abram, not the other way around. This pagan, idol-worshipping family was the family to whom God chose to reveal himself! God included Abram in his plan to rescue the world, even though Abram did nothing to deserve it.
Later in Genesis God explains his blessing will come through Abram’s “seed” or descendants (Gen. 18:18; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14). At the time Abram and his wife Sarai are old and childless, so it seems impossible that God could actually fulfill his word to them.
The God Who Fulfills His Promises
As the family’s story unfolds, we find that God does all he promised for Abram, giving him a son, Isaac, whose descendants become the nation of Israel. And throughout the Old Testament, God often includes other nations, even Israel’s enemies (Ex. 3:16-22; 9:20-21; 12:38; Exodus 18; Josh. 2; Ruth 1:1-5; 4:13-17) in the blessings he has promised.
Still, all of God’s blessings to Abram find their ultimate fulfillment when Jesus arrives on the scene. He is the “seed” or offspring of Abram’s line who “comes to make God’s blessings flow,” as we sing at Christmas.
Jesus regularly engaged with people across ethnicities and social statuses, inviting them to trust him in faith. He lived, died, and rose again in their place and ours. When we come into a relationship with Jesus, he welcomes us in this diverse family God promised so long ago.
The New Testament shows how the early church embraced God’s mission to include the nations of the world. What started as a Jewish movement quickly expanded to include the Gentiles (or non-Jews), including men, women, and children from all walks of life. Christianity is the most socially and ethnically diverse movement in the world, in large part because early missionaries like Paul first took the gospel to people of many backgrounds.
In Revelation, the final book of the Bible, we read that when Jesus returns, “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language” will gather at God’s throne to worship him (Rev. 7:9). This diverse gathering results from God’s saving work in Jesus. No human effort could ever accomplish this culmination of God’s promises!
From the beginning God has been pursuing people of all ethnicities and backgrounds, inviting us into relationship—and that includes you and me. Like Abram, we do nothing to deserve God’s blessing; we receive it through grace alone. Also like Abram, God blesses us so that we might bless others in his name, bringing the good news about Jesus to all kinds of people.
Our God is a promise-maker and a promise-keeper. Just as he fulfilled his promises to Abram, in Jesus he will bring about his good plans for the whole world.
Questions for Reflection
Can you think of a time when you’ve felt left out? Have you ever been disturbed by seeing others excluded?
What are some of the messages we hear (at school, on social media, etc.) about the solution to broken human relationships? How do these compare to the gospel, which says we can’t save ourselves, but need Jesus to rescue us?
How could it help you to remember the way God has included you in Christ? When do you most need to remember his good plans for our world?
Lord, this world is so broken. I experience it in my relationships, and I see it in the way people everywhere struggle to get along. Thank you for sending Jesus to rescue me. Help me to remember the good news that you are pursuing people from every nation and tribe. Please make me brave to trust you and to point others to you. Amen.
Click here for a downloadable pdf to share with your teenagers.
Click here for the entire series as it is posted.