Benediction

Hebrews 13:20-25

Lots of people/entities make lots of promises – peace, power, protection, prosperity, you name it. Others claim there will be no peace, they have all the power, your protection is ineffective, and your money is worthless. Perhaps to many in world it all seems like cruel joke that Christians celebrate birth of one called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”.Isa 9:6

You think peace is problem now? Imagine if you can a world where every last soul is enemy of God, where God is justly angry with everyone, no Savior who has been or ever will be born. Rightly called “hell on earth”. As bad as it may seem, angels did promise “tidings of joy …to all people; peace on earth, goodwill to men”. Unless they got their signals crossed, was a true message. Not just unlikely, was impossible for that to happen. So is it realistic to expect peace? blessing? in a broken world?

Angels declared it, apostles prayed for it, we can count on it. God has not left us on our own to try and live Christian life. Referred to it last week – central element of this apostolic blessing: that God graciously equips his children to do his will. Rest of benediction fleshes that core principle out. Three basic sections to our text: be blessed, bear up, and be a blessing.

A. be blessed v.20-21

is a seven-fold blessing – complete, covers all areas of need, every aspect of life… this one and next

peace – “the God of peace”

first thing believer experiences is peace with God – no longer enemies, estranged; reason for conflict removed by Jesus’ work of redemption applied

Rom. 5:1; 8:1 “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

then God supplies his peace as operating principle for heart and mind – internal peace in midst of external conflict

Phil. 4:7; Col. 3:15 “and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts”

we can live peaceably with all men, can live in peace because the God of love and peace is with us (Rom. 12:18; 2 Cor. 13:11)

power – “brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead”

could easily associate peace with inaction – not what God has in mind: Christian life is active one, are to be accomplishing things

God does not expect us to produce in our own strength, supplied by our own power – he blesses us with abundant empowering to meet expectations

same power that raised Jesus from the dead raised us from spiritual death to life… and continues to worik in us as we depend on him

is no task whatever that God will expect of us, no place Jesus expects us to follow that exceeds power he supplies

protection – “great Shepherd of the sheep”

can’t be content to play it safe, stay in comfort zone – if Jesus was committed to staying in comfort zone:

would never have left heaven; would have stayed there sharing in glory he had with Father before creation

would never have left Garden of Gethsemane – “not my will… but yours be done”

truth is “Shepherd of the sheep” will lead his sheep into and through places they never would go on their own

bet you didn’t think of that when you were converted – yes, I want to follow Jesus… but not there!

must keep this in mind: the Good Shepherd, the Great Shepherd never stops being the shepherd, never leads then bails out

John 10:12 “But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them.”

instead, John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.”

perpetuity – “the blood of the everlasting covenant”

God’s blessings given to God’s people in perpetuity – come through Jesus to those in union with him… on basis of covenant

“this cup is the new covenant in my blood” – is an eternal covenant: means there will never be day down the road when your bill to God comes due

will never be a day when God takes hands off, takes forgiveness away, takes back blessings of peace and power and protection, says “you’re on your own”

God is way more committed to you finishing well than you ever could be – he has done, is doing, will do all necessary for you in this life and the next

we never outgrow or outlive dependence on God and his gracious blessings

provision – “make you complete”

“Now may the God of peace… equip you with every good thing to do his will” NET – another essential piece, every necessary resource

God blesses his children with the power, protection and provisions to do his will his way – all we need to meet his expectations

step back a little: God will do everything necessary to make you to be person he has designed you to be – won’t arrive in heaven with unfinished details

just as need cannot outstrip God’s power to perform, so need cannot exhaust his ability to provide – his resources are infinite

means he can fully supply everyone’s need without short-changing anyone – God never faced with either-or situation

production – “working in you”

important note: it is God who empowers and equips and works, making your good works possible and effectual

is God who works in us, changing us from inside out by Word and Spirit – see evidence of Spirit’s work when we display: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control

God further blesses by graciously receiving our good works through Jesus – what makes them acceptable to him… as if produced by Jesus

praise – “to whom be glory”

one of greatest blessings: God’s gracious enabling and receiving of our praise – is God who gives us desire, understanding, ability to worship him

Phil. 2:13 “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

remember 5 Solas – sola scriptura, sola gratia, sola fide, solus Christus, soli Deo gloria …explain

God does everything for his own glory including his working in/through us… expects we will follow his example

Jesus’ “life verse” – John 4:34 “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.”

Augustine summarized: “Lord, everything good in me is due to you. The rest is my fault.”

B. bear up v.22-23

under exhortation – don’t be discouraged by correction… and all the rest… in the last hour, or in our case, the last year

preacher had a lot to say, much of it challenging to grasp, some frightening perhaps; occasionally some pinching

can be sure he put himself in category from v.17 – those who “watch out for your souls”: all he said/wrote had good of their souls in view

Prov. 27:6Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”

God’s goal for God’s people is their continual ongoing spiritual growth – means you don’t get to coast, go along for ride

faithful under-shepherd will stretch, challenge, encourage study and effort, continuous movement toward greater maturity

same shepherd will be sensitive to all in the flock, making sure to best of ability there is nourishment and encouragement for each individual

don’t tune out what you don’t immediately grasp or don’t want to hear – work at it with God’s help to understand and apply

during incarceration – don’t be surprised by hardship and testing

not a big secret Paul spent time in prison – he speaks openly about it a number of times; Timothy, though, no details

this bit of good news about Timothy also a reminder – following Christ is costly: may be expected to bear up under tough circumstances… more likely with every passing day

Jesus made plain to followers – they treated him badly, we should expect same; don’t need to purposely seek out hardship

but… if sailing through life w/o any opposition whatever, maybe ought to check: how easy is it to identify you as Christian?

additional point: fear of hardship should not keep us from following Jesus openly and boldly; remember those 7 blessings?

God will fully meet our needs regardless of address/or circumstances and man can take away nothing of eternal significance

evil men cannot even take our lives: Col. 3:2-3Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

C. be a blessing v.24-25

“greet those”

spiritual blessings you receive are primarily for you but not exclusively – pass it on

2 Cor. 1:3-4Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

comfort = To make strong; to invigorate; to fortify; — God makes us strong in our affliction so we may be able to make strong those who are in any affliction with the strengthening with which we are made strong by God

share the grace

“he wishes renewed discoveries of the love and favour of God; fresh communications of grace from Christ; an abundant supply of the spirit of grace; an increase of internal grace and external gifts; and a continuance of the Gospel of the grace of God.” Gill

If you are child of God, you are most blessed of all people in world. Have heard Gospel, been given gift of faith, received God’s peace, are empowered by him and equipped to do his will. What more reason do you need to praise him continually? The Savior reigns, we have seen and experienced the glories of his righteousness, the wonders of his love. Let us use all that God has entrusted to us for his glory, be used by him to bring joy to the world.

 

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