BE EQUIPPED IN EVERY GOOD WORK

Hebrews 13:20-21 – Now the God of peace equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight.

The Scripture above is part of the benediction the writer of Hebrews gives as he brings his letter to an end. The benedictions of the Apostles emphasize “peace.” True peace can only be found in “the God of peace.” Men have sought to establish peace in the earth, but it has been a peace on their terms. True peace can only become reality when the “Prince of Peace” is received. The true peace of God was brought about when He raised Jesus from the dead. He is the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant.

Jesus equips His saints in every good thing to do His will. By the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, we are given the mind of Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ was equipped in His life and ministry to do the Father’s will. He now is equipping His followers to do the same. Through gratitude and thanksgiving, we should pursue the Father’s will to do what is pleasing in His sight. This is a great conclusion as we approach the end of one year and prepare for the new.

Equipping implies training. Training begins with personal responsibility and discipline. Throughout the year we have examined numerous disciplines that should be in every believer’s life. As a believer, we have been called to the fellowship of prayer with our heavenly Father. As we open our hearts to Father God through the pattern of prayer Jesus gave us in Matthew 6:9-15, we are continuously brought to the Throne of Grace. As we develop the discipline of reading the Word of God, including memorizing scripture, meditating upon truths, and writing down what the Lord shows us, we prepare ourselves for “every good thing.”

As we develop our relationship with Father God, we become prepared to relate the Good News of the Gospel to others that come across our paths. This happens mostly by how we live our lives, but also by taking every opportunity to share God’s love. Every day, ask the heavenly Father “what is pleasing in Your sight”?  Ask to be filled each day afresh and anew with the Holy Spirit so you can do the will of God.

Father, thank You for the peace You have made possible through Jesus Christ. Thank You for the blood of the eternal covenant making it possible for Jesus Christ to equip me in every good thing to do Your will. Strengthen me in the disciplines of the faith so I might bear witness of Your love to others. Fill me today with Your Holy Spirit to be empowered as Your witness. 

THE CHANGELESS CHRIST

Hebrews 13:5 – I will never leave you, nor will I ever forsake you.

With confidence we can say the Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. We are living in questionable times. Many of the certainties we have known in the past have disappeared. More and more uncertainty grips the hearts of people. As we have considered before, God is shaking everything. Only the unchangeableness of Christ cannot be moved. It is in His promises every believer can depend. We must draw near to the Lord through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit to receive the confidence necessary in these challenging days.

As we move toward the Christmas season, it is vital that we seek the wisdom of God regarding finances. The world will be working hard to draw people into debt. The world will play on our emotions, both through guilt and greed. The Scriptures state, “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have” (Hebrews 13:5a). Perhaps this is a time for simplicity rather than extravagance in terms of material things. During this season, I want to seek the Lord for a greater simplicity in my lifestyle and an increase of extravagance in terms of consideration and love of others. Would you join me in greater expressions of gratitude to our heavenly Father for His blessings and increased expressions of love toward others?

The Lord desires to draw closer and closer to us. The willingness of our heart to give the reigns of our life to Him is what draws the Holy Spirit into increased intimacy with us. He is waiting for our invitation for Him to draw near. There are times when it feels like the Spirit of God has taken leave. He really has not, for He promised to never leave us nor forsake us. He waits for us to be desperate for His presence. It is a prepared heart that the Lord desires, not a need for a momentary fix.

As we prepare for the Christmas season, be reminded how the Lord spoke through the prophets of old concerning the day He would dwell among His people. He looked forward to the time He would be among those who named the name of the Lord. His desire has not changed. He sent His Holy Spirit to indwell our lives, filling us with the presence of the Lord. He so desires to draw close during this time of remembrance of His birth long ago. Let us first remember to seek Him and invite His presence among us. Next, let’s remember others above ourselves. Finally, let us reach out to those less fortunate, even as the Lord reached out to us.

Father, again I give thanks to You for all Your multiplied blessings in my life. Your love to me is so undeserved, but I receive it with gratitude. Work deeply in me that I might communicate Your love to others. I stand in the knowledge that You will never leave me nor forsake me.

THE CHANGELESS CHRIST

Hebrews 13:5 – I will never leave you, nor will I ever forsake you.

With confidence we can say the Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. We are living in questionable times. Many of the certainties we have known in the past have disappeared. More and more uncertainty grips the hearts of people. As we have considered before, God is shaking everything. Only the unchangeableness of Christ cannot be moved. It is in His promises every believer can depend. We must draw near to the Lord through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit to receive the confidence necessary in these challenging days.

As we move toward the Christmas season, it is vital that we seek the wisdom of God regarding finances. The world will be working hard to draw people into debt. The world will play on our emotions, both through guilt and greed. The Scriptures state, “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have” (Hebrews 13:5a). Perhaps this is a time for simplicity rather than extravagance in terms of material things. During this season, I want to seek the Lord for a greater simplicity in my lifestyle and an increase of extravagance in terms of consideration and love of others. Would you join me in greater expressions of gratitude to our heavenly Father for His blessings and increased expressions of love toward others?

The Lord desires to draw closer and closer to us. The willingness of our heart to give the reigns of our life to Him is what draws the Holy Spirit into increased intimacy with us. He is waiting for our invitation for Him to draw near. There are times when it feels like the Spirit of God has taken leave. He really has not, for He promised to never leave us nor forsake us. He waits for us to be desperate for His presence. It is a prepared heart that the Lord desires, not a need for a momentary fix.

As we prepare for the Christmas season, be reminded how the Lord spoke through the prophets of old concerning the day He would dwell among His people. He looked forward to the time He would be among those who named the name of the Lord. His desire has not changed. He sent His Holy Spirit to indwell our lives, filling us with the presence of the Lord. He so desires to draw close during this time of remembrance of His birth long ago. Let us first remember to seek Him and invite His presence among us. Next, let’s remember others above ourselves. Finally, let us reach out to those less fortunate, even as the Lord reached out to us.

Father, again I give thanks to You for all Your multiplied blessings in my life. Your love to me is so undeserved, but I receive it with gratitude. Work deeply in me that I might communicate Your love to others. I stand in the knowledge that You will never leave me nor forsake me.

FILLED WITH THANKSGIVING

Psalm 100 – “Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the Lord Himself is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the Lord is good; His loving-kindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.”

What an expression of praise and thankfulness! When it comes to the Lord, a quiet thank you does not seem sufficient. Shout to the Lord. There have been times when I just had to lift my voice to a loud level and shout to the Lord. Not shout at the Lord, but to the Lord. It was not because He was hard of hearing, but simply because He is worthy to receive my praise and thanks with all my strength.

Part of being filled with the Holy Spirit is being filled to overflowing with praise, thanksgiving, and gratitude for all our great God and King has done for us. Truly, there is no one like our God! Consider how our God humbled Himself and became as one of us. God, who is Spirit, took on our form in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The God of all creation allowed His created man to crucify His flesh on the “Old Rugged Cross,” the cross stained with the blood of our Creator and now our Redeemer. What utter shame, complete rejection, and absolute cruelty He endured. Love beyond imagination, love so sublime was poured out all for you and me.

It is difficult to comprehend this kind of love! It is a love for individuals, a love for communities of people, and a love for the nations. The entire world has known His love. God’s love spread from Israel to Asia Minor and Europe and then across the Atlantic Ocean to what became America the Beautiful. The Gospel spread from Europe and America to the nations of the world. The message of God’s salvation is so rich and so free. The Gospel continues to impact the nations as Asia is filled with men and women born into the kingdom of God. The Gospel is not static. It is a dynamic force in the earth bringing transformation to those who will believe what Christ has accomplished in His death, burial, and resurrection.

Like the Sun that moves across the sky from east to west, the Gospel is moving back to Jerusalem. Its power will transform Arab nations to trust in Christ. Eventually, a great company of Jewish people will come to know the Messiah who died for them, as the nations are harvested for Christ. Rejoice O Saints of God! We are victorious in the end!

As Americans celebrate the National Day of Thanksgiving, let us remember what God has done for all mankind. Here are a few Scriptures to encourage us as we express personal gratitude to the Creator and Redeemer of our souls.

“Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God” (2 Corinthians 9:10-11).

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2). “Amen, blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 7:12).

THE FATHER’S DISCIPLINE

Hebrews 12:5 – My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him.

This section of Scripture is one of the strongest affirmations of the Father’s love toward every believer. The phrase “my son” carries with it a very strong commitment of love. For Father God to address us as sons puts us on an equal level with Christ. Because of Christ’s sacrifice of His life for our sins, we have access to the Father as sons of God. This includes believing women, much the same way as believing men become part of the bride of Christ. 

The writer begins his thoughts early in verse 4 saying, “You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin.” In short, he is saying that Jesus shed His blood to deal with the issue of sin. You have not lost your life battling sin. Then he reminds his readers of the Lord’s exhortation found in Proverbs 3:11: “My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord or loathe His reproof.” Do we understand that hardships are really opportunities for the Lord to develop us as mature sons of God? As one grows older, it becomes easier to identify how the Lord used difficulties to develop a Christ-centered maturity in our life. The difficult times were really instruction times from God used to train us.

Solomon reminds us, “If you are slack in the day of distress, your strength is limited” (Proverbs 24:10). The word slack means “to give up.” Lack of strength means “not understanding God’s purpose in the times of trouble.”  Trouble can prepare us to  endure to the end. The Lord does not discipline our lives in order to cause us to give up, but rather for us to learn how to endure.  Because He loves us, He instructs us by the pressures and trials of life. Even when He finds it necessary to punish us, it is always with a view toward our benefit.

Beloved, God deals with believers as “sons.” Even in the natural realm we know that a good father will discipline his son. A believer is subject to the Father of spirits and through discipline, the believer grows to maturity. Discipline for the moment is never enjoyable; in fact, it can really feel uncomfortable and perhaps sorrowful. If we receive it for its intended purpose, it will produce “the peaceable fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:11).

“Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble” (Hebrews 12:12). As we become strong in the Lord through His disciplines, we can turn our attention to others and be a conduit of His grace to help in their time of weakness.  Rejoice in correction, learn to appreciate rebuke, and learn in humility. His favor is on you when He applies divine discipline. Many times it comes through others. Don’t resist, but allow His Holy Spirit to sanctify you through the process.

Father, I thank You for Your great love revealed in Christ and continued through Your wonderful disciplines used to mature me in Christ my Lord.  Fill me with gratitude for Your favor upon me as a son of God through corrections and reproofs.