Hebrews 13:20-21 May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
This benediction is a mouthful! It starts by reminding us of just who God is. It means a lot that He’s the God of peace. That’s not just the absence of war, it’s inner peace in the middle of very unpeaceful times. Along with that, we are reminded of His covenant and His power. He is One who makes good on His promises, and He has the power to do so. In the process we are reminded that our Lord Jesus is the Great Shepherd. That may not mean so much to us today in our urbanized lifestyles, but throughout the Bible this image is used to indicate both the gap between God and us in terms of intelligence and ability, as well as the level of care and concern that is exercised for us. It is an image that, properly understood, eliminates both pride and anxiety. Then we get to what this marvelous God will do for us, and that is to give us everything we need for what is important. This isn’t a prayer that I would be given an elephant gun, for example. However much I might think that would be a nice thing to have, it would serve no purpose in advancing God’s plans for my life, which are unquestionably the very best thing for me. It is also explicitly a prayer for good things. God’s gifts are always of the highest quality! At the same time, it is a recognition that we need work done in us, and He’s the one to do it. None of us are perfect yet; we will all be under construction until we are before His throne. And then this closes with the purpose for it all: that Jesus Christ be glorified. When you think about it, every believer has the power to bless others through their words. This should serve as a reminder to use that power under the guidance of the Holy Spirit so that God’s will may be done in this earth, just as Jesus told us to pray. (Matthew 6:9-13)
It was about 35 years ago that I attended a conference in Fukuoka held by Yongi Cho of Korea, and something in it (I don’t remember exactly what) impressed me with our power to speak blessing. I remember that in a restaurant immediately after that I intentionally spoke blessing over a little child who happened to be there. In the years since I haven’t exercised this privilege as consistently as I could have, but I think it is a characteristic of my lifestyle. When I am focused on me and my problems, that blinds me to how I can be a channel of God’s blessings to others. I need to be open at all times for God to touch others through me, not only for their sake but also because I know that is the path of greatest blessing for me as well.
Father, this is yet another example of needing to live out the truth I know. Help me not deceive myself, but do and be all that You have spoken to me, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!