Free files for youth pastors:
I often like to think back on the journey God has taken me through to get to where I am now. I grew up in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. From there I spent time in Pensacola for college, back in Tuscaloosa for more college, northeast Pennsylvania to graduate college, northwest Michigan for three summers of camps, Detroit for a year long youth ministry internship, Louisville for the masters degree, southeast Indiana for my first full-time youth pastorate, and now I live in the Huntsville area of Alabama for my dream job. God certainly did not tell me at the beginning that I would end up here, and I’m glad He didn’t. If He had, I may have been tempted to skip a few stops along the way which would mean I wouldn’t have met all the wonderful people in my life. Ultimately, I would have not grown from every experience He took me through.
As we study the life of Abraham, we see that God did tell him the future. He would bless Abraham by making his name great and giving him a great nation of descendants, but God didn’t tell Abraham where He would be taking him (Gen 12:1-3). Abraham is said to be the second most important man in all the Bible. Throughout all the Scriptures, God constantly refers back to Abraham, his faith, and His covenant-promises to Abraham. Abraham (called Abram at this time), is approached by God whom he did not know. Many say that Abram was worshipping false gods at this time. When God calls Abram to leave for a land He’ll show him later, Abram went (Gen 12:4). What was God promising this 75 year old man? Everything! Just as God had promised Adam and later Noah rulership over the earth and fruitfulness of children, He is continuing this covenant thru Abram. God is telling Abram that if he will trust Him, He is going to make him a great nation through which He’ll bless all other believing nations, give Abram land for his nation to live, and make Abram’s name great throughout all the earth and all history. God is bringing the blessing of salvation through this one man.
This means we have to understand what blessing means as well. We are often told to live right so that God will grant us blessings. When we think about this passage, we aren’t to connect with Abraham but with his descendants. The reason his descendants are blessed is because God had promised Abraham these covenant-blessings. God’s blessing comes through one man. Abraham isn’t the ultimate receiver of God’s blessing. Everything God promised to Abraham was just a small picture of how God would bless an entire universe through the final Man, Jesus Christ (Eph 1:3). God is giving to Jesus an earth full of followers, an entire planet for a land to rule, and a name that is above every name (Philippians 2:9-11). Does God bless us for the good things we do? I think it is safe to say that He does, as long as we understand that the good we do is Christ’s righteousness being worked out in our lives and not our own. Therefore, God always blesses through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ and not our own.
Isn’t it frustrating how faithless our lives for Christ can be? Our struggle of faith can often leave us in seasons of doubting our salvation. “How can I be a Christian and do this and think that,” we ask ourselves. It is comforting to see how God repeatedly brings up the name of Abraham in the Bible when referring to faithfulness. It is comforting because we see that Abraham’s faith goes up and down more than a Six Flags rollercoaster. He follows God, then he calls his gorgeous wife his sister! He believes God, then has a baby by another woman! The life of faith is no picture of perfection, but rather it is a repetition of always coming back to God in belief of His covenant-promises. When Abraham asks God how he can know for sure if He is going to be faithful to His promises, God made a blood-covenant by having many animals torn in two and walking in the midst of them which signifies, “If I break My covenant, may this be done to Me.” God of course never breaks His covenant, but there was a greater final covenant to come. The sacrifice of His own Son was to seal the deal for eternity. As we struggle with doubt, we must remember our assurance isn’t found within us, but in the work of Christ (Prov. 24:16).