June 8, 2010 David Balzer

Hebrews 13:20-21 Equipped with everything good

Being a soldier serving in Afghanistan or Iraq or Timor would be hard enough. But just imagine if your equipment/ was out-dated, painful, defective, even down-right dangerous.

That’s the situation soldiers in the Australian Army find themselves in, according to a series of articles in the Sydney Morning Herald in the last few months.

Infantry soldiers, for example, say they can’t fit their ammunition magazines into the standard issue pouches because they were made for another gun; buckles repeatedly break on their packs, chest webbing and pouches; the quick-release mechanism on their body armour either fails to release or releases by ; and their backpacks are uncomfortable and 30 years out of date.

In the field, soldiers are forced to make running repairs to keep the gear working. These include cable ties and duct tape so that the webbing was comfortable and usable. They even had to modify their rifle sling because the sling unbuckles and the rifle drops to the ground.

In a survey of soldiers returning from Timor, 45 per cent of soldiers refused to use the issued backpacks, and only six out of 49 soldiers were using the issued webbing.

Major Michael Bassingthwaighte, the commanding officer of a security task group deployed in Afghanistan, recorded 187 reports of defects. Ninety per cent of his soldiers bought their own gear. Sometimes spending up to $1000 of their own money simply so they could do their job properly.

It doesn’t matter what the generals SAY about supporting the soldiers in the field, it’s problems like THAT that send a different message. A message to those on the front line that they’re not supported. That they’re not respected or valued.

Being PROPERLY EQUIPPED. It’s important for soldiers in fields of conflict. But it’s just as important for Christian soldiers. That’s US. Living for Jesus in the midst of a world that ignores him. A world where Jesus has won the VICTORY, but where skirmishes continue to be fought every day.

There’s conflict in your family, and in your workplace. Temptations with your mind, your eyes, your wallet, your priorities, your mouth. Scuffles in the media, in society, in politics, in movies, in music. It’s Jesus vs the gods of this world. And it REALLY IS the war to end all wars.

This idea of the Christian being PROPERLY EQUIPPED. It’s no ivory tower, abstract, theological theory. It’s nuts and bolts, rubber meeting road, daily, hourly practical decision-making. In the language of Ephesians 6, there’s a BATTLE going on, and we better not be un-equipped, or even UNDER-equipped. It says

11 Put on the FULL ARMOR OF GOD so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is NOT against flesh and , but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

It’s GOD’S armour. And he wants us wearing it. Fully equipped. His equipment store is fully stocked with the best equipment. Perfectly suited for the task. Offensive and defensive. Fail proof, fool proof. Powerful and effective.

(pause) And the writer to the Hebrews puts it like this in his closing words. Hebrews 13:21. “May the God of peace… EQUIP YOU WITH EVERYTHING GOOD FOR DOING HIS WILL.

It’s God’s WILL, and it’s God’s PROMISE. That you and I and every believer be THOROUGHLY EQUIPPED for the task he’s called us to.

We’re going to think about what this equipping means in THREE WAYS. Equipped BY, equipped WITH, and equipped FOR.

1. Equipped BY

The God of peace

Firstly, equipped BY. Who’s doing the equipping? From v20. The God of PEACE. The God who IS peace, and who MAKES peace. It’s a description of God that summarises the whole book of Hebrews. The God who wants to equip us is the God who’s done EVERYTHING to make peace with us.

Way back in Ch 1 v3. Through Jesus, he provides PURIFICATION FOR OUR SINS.

Ch 2 v10. He BRINGS MANY SONS TO GLORY. That’s US!

Ch 4 v15 (as well as lots of other places). He’s provided Jesus, the great high priest, SO THAT WE MIGHT APPROACH THE THRONE OF GRACE WITH CONFIDENCE.

Flip over to Ch 7. v18. The old law was weak and useless. It couldn’t bridge the gap, so God SET IT ASIDE, and introduced a better hope by which we DRAW NEAR TO GOD. Removed a barrier, AND built a bridge.

Or in Ch 8 v8. Quoting from Jer 31. God LONGED for the time when he would make A NEW COVENANT, and write his laws on his people’s hearts. A time when he could be their God, and they could be his people. And that’s available for US, NOW.

We could go on. But you get the idea. Now jump back to Ch 13. Here at the end, the writer prays. “May the GOD OF PEACE equip you with everything good for doing his will”. (pause) In other words, THIS is the God who wants to equip you. If he’s already done ALL THAT in THE PAST, you can have COMPLETE CONFIDENCE he’s going to equip you into the future.

Raised Jesus from

Let’s move on to the next aspect of who’s equipping us.

20 May the God of peace, WHO THROUGH THE OF THE ETERNAL COVENANT BROUGHT BACK FROM THE OUR LORD JESUS,

A of ideas here. As we’ve already seen in Hebrews, this is the God who replaced a temporary, ineffective covenant with a PERMANENT, POWERFUL one. Who SEALED the contract with the of the perfect sacrifice, his Son Jesus.

In other words, the God who wants to equip you is completely TRUSTWORTHY and RELIABLE. He’s written his promises IN . Promises that can’t be undone.

And he’s also POWERFUL. He brought back from the our Lord Jesus. He RAISED him. And he’s now REIGNING WITH God. If God can do THAT, the equipment he supplies must have power to defeat EVERYTHING.

The Great shepherd of the sheep

And another aspect of what God’s like is that he’s COMPASSIONATE. The Jesus he raised from the is THE GREAT SHEPHERD OF THE SHEEP.

The God who wants to equip us is the One who provided us with A GREAT SHEPHERD.

Which is just what we need. We’re wandering, dumb animals. Who easily get lost. Wander off the safe path. Who need a shepherd. To lead us beside quiet waters, to lead us through the valley of the shadow of , as Ps 23 puts it. We need A GOOD shepherd, says Jesus in John 10:11 who LAYS DOWN HIS LIFE for his sheep.

That’s the sort of shepherd our COMPASSIONATE God has given us..

(1 Peter 5:4 calls him the CHIEF Shepherd. Which is great news for those of us who are UNDER shepherds. Who care for a small portion of God’s flock. We’ll never do the job as well as the CHIEF shepherd. We WILL fail, we WILL fall asleep on the job. And that’s because we’re SHEEP FIRST. Sheep who need a SHEPHERD, TOO. But we have a GREAT shepherd over US, as well as over our flock.)

The point of all these descriptions is THIS. The God who wants to equip you with everything good is not some fallible, mismanaged, under-funded, over-worked government department. But the powerful, trustworthy, compassionate God who paid the ultimate price to secure our peace.

And just before we move onto the second point – (equipped WITH). As an aside, notice how encouraging it is when we focus on the wonderful Biblical names and descriptions of God. Whether we pray publicly, or privately, Just addressing God by the descriptions the Bible uses/ reminds us of his CHARACTER and HOW HE WORKS. It deepens our love for him. Increases our resolve to FOLLOW him. It strengthens our ability to trust his promises.

Let’s be more deliberate and intentional about how we address God. It really does affect how you think about him, and how you pray. The God who wants to equip you with everything good is the God of peace, who through the of the eternal covenant brought back from the our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep

2. Equipped WITH

The second point. What are we equipped WITH? The word for equip has a few ideas connected with it.

It can just mean to MAKE or FORM. God FORMED the world in Heb 11:3. He also PREPARED certain people for a purpose in Rom 9:22.

The word can also have the idea of MENDING or RESTORING. RETURNING to the original. In Mt 4:21, the disciples are MENDING nets. EQUIPPING them for their original purpose. And Galatians 6:1 talks about RESTORING gently those caught in a sin. Bringing them back to wholeness.

And a THIRD aspect of the meaning includes the idea of COMPLETING something FOR A PURPOSE. So in 1 Thess 3:10 Paul wants to see the his readers again so he can SUPPLY WHAT IS LACKING in their faith.

And he wants to see the Corinthian church PERFECTED or RESTORED or COMPLETED in 2 Cor 13:9. It’s why God gives gifts to the church in Eph 4:12, so that his people might be PREPARED for works of service.

And that’s the idea here. That God equips us so that we might be COMPLETED, FILLED UP with what we’re lacking. And ready for his purpose.

So, what are we equipped WITH? The SHORT answer, from v21: “equipped with EVERYTHING GOOD FOR DOING HIS WILL.” In other words, whatever’s needed.

And perhaps the key to that is found in the verse before. God’s given us THE LORD JESUS, THAT GREAT SHEPHERD OF THE SHEEP. HE’S what we need in every situation.

His victory over sin and means he has the full arsenal of weapons to deal with any situation. Whether it be the spiritual WEAPONS of Ephesians 6. Like faith, truth, righteousness, salvation, and the word of God.

Or the spiritual GIFTS of Ephesians 4, or Romans 12. Like pastoring, evangelising, encouraging, leading, giving, or governing. All for building up God’s people.

Or the spiritual FRUIT of Galatians 6. Like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, humility, self-control.

Paul paints a colourful, counter-cultural self-portrait of this fully equipped soldier. WHATEVER the circumstance. 2 Cor 6:4

4 Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7 in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; 8 through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

Jesus, our great shepherd of the sheep. Will PROVIDE for us, and PROTECT us, and LEAD us. He said THIS to his disciples in Luke 21:14. He warned they’d be persecuted, arrested, and brought to trial. Then he said.

14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15 FOR I WILL GIVE YOU WORDS AND WISDOM that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.

That’s a GREAT shepherd! It’s not just a promise for THOSE 12 DISCIPLES. But FOR ALL Jesus’ sheep. For you and me. That he’ll give you WHATEVER you need, in whatever SITUATION you need to do his will.

A few months after I’d started at Western Blacktown I got a call from Blacktown hospital about 11 o’clock at night. I’d never been to the hospital, and done very little hospital visiting at all. The nurse said a guy was dying, and wanted a Presbyterian minister to visit. To be honest, I was wracking my brain to think of someone else to do it instead. But I agreed to go.

In the car on the way, I was praying for God’s help. I walked into the room at the hospital, still not knowing what I was going to do. The guy was still alive. His family was surrounding him, looking devastated. Everyone was looking at me. I don’t remember exactly what I said. But I introduced myself. I read a Psalm. I talked about the hope we have in because of Jesus. And I prayed. Only took about ten minutes. And when we opened our eyes at the end of the prayer, the guy had just stopped breathing. Like he’d been waiting for that. It was quite extraordinary.

I don’t know what the outcome was for that guy, or for his family. But, somehow, I’d felt EQUIPPED for the TASK.

The feeling of not knowing what I’m going to do is a fairly common one for me in this job. And that’s OKAY. Because I DON’T have all the answers. I’m a sheep who needs a great Shepherd. On my own, I’ve got nothing. God promises to equip us with everything good for doing his will.

And to comfort a family, to point them to Jesus, and to pray with them – that’s God’s will. So he’ll equip me.

Perhaps for you the situation’s a bit different.

Your kids are growing up. Situations come up that you feel completely unequipped to deal with. Bullying, boyfriends, or alcohol. Driving, learning difficulties, or not wanting anything to do with Jesus anymore. No friends, or the wrong friends.

God promises to EQUIP you with everything good for doing his will. And to raise your kids healthy, well-adjusted, and following Jesus is God’s WILL. So he’ll EQUIP you for it. So look to him with trust. ASK him. Pray these verses for yourself.

Or perhaps it’s ENDURING A DIFFICULT RELATIONSHIP. With a spouse who’s either cold, or hostile. Or an aging parent who can never say a pleasant word to you. You feel like giving up. You just don’t have the STRENGTH any more.

But God promises to equip you with everything good for doing his will. And it’s his WILL for you to be faithful to your marriage vows. It’s his will to honour your parents. So he’ll equip you for it. So look to him with trust. ASK him. Pray these verses for yourself.

Or perhaps you’ve been dreadfully HURT. Cut to the core. Someone’s BETRAYED you. And it’s just eating you up inside. And you just can’t imagine how you can forgive them. How you can move on.

But God promises to equip you with everything good for doing his will. And it’s his WILL for you to FORGIVE as you have been forgiven. His will for you to LIVE IN PEACE with everyone. So look to him. He’ll equip you for it. ASK him. Pray these verses for yourself.

Or, let’s try one more. It’s been a shocker of a day at work. lines missed, stuff-ups galore. Some major dummy spits. The drive home was a nightmare. You pull into the driveway. And the first thing you can hear are the arguments and screams. It sounds like the kids are tearing each other apart. You hope it’s next door. But no, it’s YOUR family. You can only imagine what state your wife is in. You feel like turning around and going straight back to work. You just don’t have the energy to cope. The tool kit’s empty.

But God promises to equip you with everything good for doing his will. And it’s his WILL for you to lead your family by serving them. To support your wife. To love them like Jesus. So look to him. He’ll equip you for it. ASK him. Pray these verses for yourself.

Suck it up. Turn off the radio, get out of the car, and get into it.

Working in us

But perhaps you think you just haven’t got the strength. Then listen up, ‘cause there’s more!

Not only is God the God of peace who provides the great shepherd to guide and lead us. And who equips us with everything good for doing his will.

He works WITH us to achieve what’s pleasing to him. He doesn’t just hand out the equipment and leave us on our own. He’s the ENERGY SOURCE, the PARTNER and CO-WORKER, as well as the PROVIDER. See it there in v21?

God equips you with everything good for doing his will, WORKING IN US WHAT’S PLEASING TO HIM.

It actually repeats the same word for DOING. He equips US for DOING HIS WILL, then DOING IN US what’s pleasing to him.

There’s a COOPERATION, God AND us working together. To do what pleases him. But it’s not like riding a tandem bicycle. If God’s doing the pedalling, we can just put our feet up and enjoy the ride. No, when God is doing in us what’s pleasing to him, that should MOTIVATE us, EMPOWER and ENCOURAGE us, to work all the HARDER. Because there’s A POINT to it. REAL CHANGE is POSSIBLE. In yourself, and in the situations you’re working for.

Paul puts it like this in Colossians 1:29.

28 We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. 29 TO THIS END I LABOR, STRUGGLING WITH ALL HIS ENERGY, WHICH SO POWERFULLY WORKS IN ME.

That’s the sort of equipping we’re thinking about in these final verses in Hebrews.

3. Equipped FOR… to give Jesus glory

Finally, let’s think about what we’ve been equipped FOR. Short answer. Obviously, it’s there in v21. We’ve been equipped with everything good FOR DOING HIS WILL. FOR WHAT’S PLEASING TO HIM.

Which is all sorts of things. In all sorts of areas. In all sorts of ways. And we’ve thought about a few of them already.

But let me focus on just ONE ASPECT of what we’ve been equipped FOR. To give GLORY to Jesus. See it there at the end of v21?

through Jesus Christ, to whom BE GLORY FOR EVER AND EVER. Amen.

God equips us with everything good. And works all these pleasing things in us THROUGH Jesus Christ, our great shepherd. Because of him. At his initiation and by his authority.

AND SO ALL GLORY BELONGS TO HIM. FOREVER.

That’s your PURPOSE in LIFE. It’s why God elected you, called you, saved you, reconciled you. It’s why he keeps you alive. It’s the goal of your church ministry, the goal of your work life, your family life, the goal of your marriage. The goal of your education, your recreation, your retirement. It’s the purpose of your words, your actions, your thoughts.

And, when you die, it’s what your purpose will be for all eternity. TO CAUSE ALL GLORY TO BELONG TO JESUS.

In one glorious sentence in Ephesians 1, from v3 to 14, Paul paints a huge picture of the meaning of life. What we’re here for.

V5 of Eph 1. God predestined us to be adopted as his sons TO THE PRAISE OF HIS GLORIOUS GRACE.

Or down to v10. Actually the same sentence in the original. The mystery of his will is TO BRING ALL THINGS TOGETHER UNDER THE HEADSHIP OF Jesus. In other words, that everything might give JESUS ALONE all the honour and glory.

Or finally, down in v12. We were chosen so that we MIGHT BE FOR THE PRAISE OF HIS GLORY.

That’s what God’s equipped you FOR. For the praise of his glory.

Is that what you DOING? Are people looking at YOUR LIFE, and saying “Praise Jesus for what he’s doing in … David’s life! How GOOD is he? How powerful, and precious, and lovely, and gracious and forgiving, and loving?!”

Let me send you out into this week with THAT GOAL in mind. Please join with me in praying these verses for ourselves.

20 May the God of peace, who through the of the eternal covenant brought back from the our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 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.

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