The Big Promise

Genesis 12:1-3 (NRSV)

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. 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 the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”


I find myself repeatedly referencing these promises while I’m preaching or teaching. The last one, “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed,” is one of those linchpins of the Bible, firmly connecting the Old and New Testaments.

Abram, of course, eventually was renamed “Abraham” by God, who worked through this man to establish a people, the Israelites, with whom God could be in relationship. Sin had broken the relationship between God and humanity, but God has from the earliest pages of the Bible wanted it restored.

What a sweeping promise: All the families of the earth shall be blessed! When we really start to think that through, it boggles the mind.

Yes, Abraham is known widely, having influenced the development of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. But being known and being the conduit of a blessing spanning millennia are two very different matters.

As Christians, we understand that God came among us in flesh through the Israelites, the promised descendants of Abraham. Jesus Christ died on the cross because “God so loved the world.” Through the work of Christ, restoration to God—the great blessing granting us forgiveness from sin and eternal life—is possible.

The promise to Abraham seems to go beyond mere possibilities, though. “All” and “shall” hint at the completeness of God’s plan, which will play out in ways that should astonish us. Salvation through Jesus Christ will be global; no family will be untouched.

The astounding quantity of God’s grace should fill us with hope, whatever our circumstances.

Lord, we seek new visions and evidence of how widespread your loving work extends, and we look forward to the day when it is complete. Show us our role in all that is to transpire. Amen.

Into 2021!

John 3:16 (NLT)

For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.


If there’s anything we’ve learned from 2020, it’s that we have no idea what a year might have in store for us. With one exception.

I have no insight regarding when the pandemic will end. I do have high hopes for the vaccine, and I’m praying for something resembling normal worship during the Easter season. (Easter Sunday will be April 4.)

I’m also praying that wonderful events during 2021 will lift us up globally. Perhaps a powerful outbreak of the Holy Spirit, another true Great Awakening regarding Jesus Christ’s work in this world? I would so like to see that happen.

About that exception I mentioned: I can promise you this, the grace poured out on us by God will remain available. It has remained available in 2020, and it will always be available, until we turn off the calendar and simply stand before God in full, rejoicing and worshiping our savior into eternity.

By “grace,” I mean the love God continually shows us despite the fact we do not deserve it. It is a great, continuous gift, one we simply have to agree to receive.

Grace is available even before people acknowledge God exists. It tugs at us; it exists as a feeling there is more to life than what we simply see.

Grace washes over us and into us at the moment we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. From then on, grace changes us, as much as we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives.

Based on the truth of ever-present grace, I can say that 2021 will be an important, powerful year. People will find Jesus Christ and eternal life through simple belief. People will grow to be more like what God would have them be.

Any more good news will simply be additional evidence of how much God loves us.

Have a blessed, grace-filled 2021!

Give Thanks! Exercise 4

Psalm 100

First, meditate for a bit on the Contemporary English Version translation of Psalm 100, linked above.

With Thanksgiving Day tomorrow, let’s circle back to the one whom we thank, and let’s remember again what God has done for us.

John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (NKJV)

However you may be in contact with others on Thanksgiving Day, it is my prayer that Christ is at the center of your celebration, remembered constantly as the source of your joy!

Life Talk devotionals will resume Monday, Nov. 30, God willing.