Faithlife Sermons

(Hebrews 13:20-21) Who Changes us: Me, Myself, or God?

New Years  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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New Years is a natural time to reflect on our Christian life. Have I been faithful, obedient, and worshipful to Christ? For many, New Years brings guilt and hopelessness as we realize our failures and apathy. We can especially loose hope if we have tried to overcome sin and failed. But Hebrews 13:20-21 stands as a great encouragment that change is both possible and probable with God. Though our flesh may fail us; God in 6 distinct ways brings about Biblical spiritual change. May we entrust God with our change as we enter a New Year.

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INTRODUCTION:
In Western culture,
We are a busy go kind of culture - we always are moving forward and looking forward.
We are a busy go culture - always moving forward
looking to the next weekend trip
the next holiday
the next project
the next pay check
but always looking forward, and only rarely looking backwards.
In
Yet, New years is the one time of year,
where our culture pauses to consider what has happened - and what could happen in the future.
My family rejoices at the fun we had has a family
- camping in Yellowstone for the first time.
- visiting family in Montana.
We have watched the kids grow up quickly
Eli has doubled in size. - He no longer fits in his space pod.
Matthew begin Kindergarten - In a sense, a first step of many out of the home.
Bekah has learned enough - she is picking up books and reading on her own.
Yet, New Years is not all happy thoughts.
It is not like thanksgiving where we only remember what we are thankful for.
New Years also represents a time in which we recognize our
failures
weaknesses
temptations
laziness
wickedness.
New Years brings a lot of guilty feelings feelings for what I should have done, could have done, and shouldn’t have done.
And so we also bear a lot of guilt and hopelessness during New Years.
- Guilt because of our sin.
And accompany hopeless because of failure
- Hopelessness because we keep being defeated.
A common response by both Christians and non-Christians is this -
One response is a a refusal to make resolutions.
In other words,
because I don’t keep my resolution - I am not going to try.
This is akin to saying,
I am going to ignore my problems and hope they go away.
The problem with resolutions is not that we don’t keep them.
The problem is two-fold - our problem is:
a. We make good resolutions, but we don’t make good plans to keep those resolutions.
- Sometimes,
we fail because there is no plan.
- Other times,
we fail because we only try to modify our behavior - with rules.
I am not going to _______X______ and so I am going to avoid it.
Yet, you find out your passion for sin always finds a way.
It overcomes the rule and the boundary.
Colossians 2:21–23 ESV
21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.
Mere rules do not change our desires - and thus are only effective so long as my desire does not overcome my resolve.
What we need is something greater than my desires; something that will change my desires.
and our text this morning will help us know where we can get that kind of help.
and our text this morning will help us know where we can get that kind of help.
The 2nd problem,
with our resolutions to change is because
b. We allow our failures and our guilt to choke the right desire to change.
b. We allow our failures and our guilt to choke the right desire to change.
We assume that failure means we can’t do it.
We assume that failure means it is hopeless.
We assume that failure means there is no point in it.
Illustration:
I remember feeling that way in my own life,
and during an old revival week - I confessed that to a visiting evangelist.
I desired to change, but I was tired of being defeated.
And he shared a great verse on the subject of a failure.
Psalm 37:23–24 ESV
23 The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; 24 though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.
Our text this morning will help us understand why we do not need to feel guilty; nor does our failure mean we should quit.
You will struggle with sin.
You will struggle with people.
This morning,
But I would like to work through a text that will give us 5 reasons why we shouldn’t feel guilty or loose hope.
I would like to work through a text that will give us 6 reasons why we should not feel guilty or loose hope to change.
But I would like to work through a text that will give us 5 reasons why we shouldn’t feel guilty or loose hope.
Hebrews 13:20–21 ESV
20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
According to Scripture -

PROP: We ought to entrust our Change to God.

Trans: And From our passage we can observe 6 reasons why we can trust God with our change.

The first reason,

1. We know the character of God.

Titles and Names in Scripture are in important.
You can do a study about who God is simply by his names.
The same can be said for Christ.
And the same can be said for the Holy Spirit.
Our text this morning gives us two names that tell us about the Character of God.
ILLUSTRATION:
To often, we quit trying to change because
we think God hates us for our sin.
or I am to bad for God to possibly change me.
Yet these names should wipe away our guilty feelings and hopeless despair.
The first one,

a. God the Father is called the God of Peace.

What does the author mean that God - is the God of peace?
speaks of God making atonement - which is to say God satisfies his just Holy wrath for our sin.
Hebrews 2:17 ESV
17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
By the mercy of Christ, God the Father had his anger and judgement was satisfied through the death of his son.
He literally bought us peace between us and God.
God could have justly condemned us to eternal punishment for sin.
And yet, he found a way to have peace with us through the Gospel of Christ- He signed the ultimate peace treaty.
So,
Why should we not feel guilty for our failure to change in the New Year?
Because God purchased our peace - he is the God of Peace.
Should we refuse to try change because we feel guilty - when God satisfied our judgement with His son?
Now matter what our struggle is, when we fail - may we remember our judge is the God of Peace.
The 2nd title that tells us about God’s characters is:

b. God the Son is the the Great Shepherd of sheep.

The imagery of the shepherd is for many people, there favorite imagery in the Bible.
Is Christ literally sitting next the Father in Heaven with a great shepherds cain?
And the answer is no,
But uses this imagery, and the author Hebrews uses this imagery here.
I wish we could stop here and really work out the imagery here.
But the point - Christ Shepherds our souls.
Certainly that means
- he provides for us.
- He cares for us.
But of more importance in this passage,
and as we consider our struggles to change.
He is the shepherd who looks for the lost sheep and brings them back to the flock of God.
Christ is in the business of not only providing for sheep,
but when in their foolishness and stubbornness they run away.
He brings them back to His flock.
Now consider that!
Did you fail to change in some way last year?
Are you going to fail to change in some way this year?
And the answer is yes.
But we have a reason to still have hope. A reason to still strive for change.
No matter how far we get away from the flock,
No matter how far we get away from the flock,
Christ will rescue us and return us to his flock - because he is the great shepherd.
Jesus in one of his parables taught this -
Matthew 18:12–14 ESV
12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13 And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. 14 So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.
And that describes how God works in our lives - ever calling his sheep to himself.
We ought not to entrust our change to God
because we know God’s character.
Why should we feel guilt when he brought the ultimate peace.
Why should we loose hope, when Christ is like Shepherd directing stray sheep back to the heard.
A second reason we ought to entrust God with our change is because -

2. We know God works in our lives for change.

ILLUSTRATION:
Even how he has worked in our lives over the last year.
And certainly God does.
To often - we give up trying to change because we think God doesn’t see our problem.
We have tried a hundred times to get our lives right,
but we have failed a hundred times.
Have you ever been there,
where you have tried so many times and failed- that you don’t think there is any point in trying again.
All it does is punish us. Make us feel guilty. Depress us.
But the resurrection should remind us that though we may keep failing - there is no reason to give up hope.
Notice the emphasis on the resurrection in our text and it’s important for our change.
Hebrews 13:20 ESV
20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant,
Hebrews 10:20 ESV
20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,
Hebrews 13:20–21 ESV
20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
It is important to begin with,

a. The Resurrection demonstrates God’s greatest work in our lives - for change.

a. The Resurrection is the greatest demonstration of power that we could know.

Which is greater
- parting the Red sea?
OR
- bringing someone from the Dead?
It is what describes as the immeasurable demonstration of God’s power.
The power of the resurrection is important - because it demonstrates that God has the power to work in our lives.
If God can bring his son to life from the dead,
then isn’t it a small miracle for God to bring change in our lives.
The Resurrection demonstrates he has the power to change us.
And That ought to give us hope.
But further,

b. The resurrection is also the greatest act of love - we could ever know.

As the famous verse ,
John 3:16 ESV
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
To resurrect his son, he first had to die as the sacrifice for sin.
The resurrection is hope,
because God saved the World by sending His son to die for our sins.
The love that is demonstrated in the Resurrection is important to our change.
How do we know that God cares what happens to us?
How do we know God cares whether I can overcome the obstacle of sin before me.
Because he has already shown much greater love.
The Resurrection reminds us that God loves us enough to help us change.
The Resurrection demonstrates that God is working in our lives
He has shown the greatest immeasurable love and power in our lives already.
reminds that God will finish the work he started in the death and Resurrection of Christ.
The third reason we ought to entrust our change to God -
b. We know that God is the one who accomplishes our change.

3. We know that God is the one who accomplishes our change.

b. We know that God is the one who accomplishes our change.
ILLUSTRATION:
One of the saddest realities in this world -
is there are thousands of people who think they are too wicked and evil and sinful for God to be able to change.
And you can hear their objections.
Sometimes out load, sometimes in tears while they are all by themselves at home.
You don’t know what I have done. My sin is to bad.
There is no Good in me - all I do is hurt, rob, steal, and plunder.
Look, I have tried a hundred times - If I could be changed I would have.
Have you ever felt that way?
Because I have. I have felt the weight of the World because overcoming sin has been that difficult to overcome.
I felt that My sin is too great for God to change me.
I felt that My sin is too great for God to change me.
Yet, as we consider the change that is found in the Gospel-
Who changes us?
If it is us,
then we are doomed.
Everyone of us are confirmed sinners are death row.
And there is no hope. Someone on death row doesn’t get a second chance to change his life.
Are sentence, verdict, and fate is already confirmed.
We are just riding the bus of life to our doom.
Yet,
our text tells us that God is the one who accomplishes our change - not us!
what do we have?
Look down at your text and notice what it says -
Hebrews 13:20–21 ESV
20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
By the Blood of the eternal covenant”.
“through Jesus Christ.
God is the one who accomplishes it.
- Our change is accomplished by the eternal blood covenant of Jesus Christ.
- Which is why our text says it again, “through Jesus Christ”.
This text emphasizes that God and His son are the ones who accomplish our change.
CAVEAT:
This doesn’t mean we don’t have to make Biblical choices.
Or that once I get saved, I am magically sinless.
But it does mean that God will ultimately accomplish change in my life.
It doesn’t matter how bad I am, or how stuck in sin I am,
I can’t hold back m
Because God is the one who changes us,
I will change.
,
teaches us that we are released from the power of sin.
And from that point on God is using -
our conscious
His Word
Other People
And suffering.
To help us change.
If you are sitting there saying,
I can’t change - then you are right!
Instead, remember that God is the one who accomplishes our change.
We ought to entrust our change to God because he accomplishes it.
The fourth reason we ought to entrust our change to God is because:

4. We know God’s Purpose in our lives is for us to change.

ILLUSTRATION:
There is an irony when a Christian sits down and says,
I can’t change.
I won’t change.
I am to bad to change.
What is ironic about that?
It Goes against one of the major reasons God resurrected his Son.
Have you ever seriously considered why God would send his son?
Certainly one of those reasons is he loved us.
Certainly one of those reasons he is loved us.
Another, is because he wanted to save us.
But another is to change us.
Since Adam’s sin,
every generation has struggled with sin and disobeying God’s will.
According to our text,
one of the reason’s God raised Jesus from the dead was that we could be changed.
We Really get this from ; where we are told the purpose of God resurrecting Jesus.
Hebrews 13:21 ESV
21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
So what are the reasons:
a. To equip us to do every Good work.
b. to enable us to do the will of God.
Why do I know I can entrust God with my change?
Because God’s greatest miracle and greatest love act - was performed so I could change.
It is what God is working towards in the Gospel - a people who are transformed by Christ.
In fact,
in many ways the Gospel of Christ is God working to correct the sin problem that has plagued the world since Adam and Eve were forced out of the Garden.
So am I really ever
to guilty, to bad, or to lost to be changed.
If
No.
May we entrust our change to God.
5thly, we ought to entrust our change to God because:

5. We know it pleases God for us to change.

ILLUSTRATION:
How quick are we at accomplishing what we like to do?
I think of Matthew, my son. He is at the age where hot-wheels are really cool.
He will spend hours setting up all his cars in just the right position.
Incredible attention to detail.
But ask him to pick those cars up
- and suddenly it is a real burden.
It is easy for us to do what we like to do. What pleases us.
Which is why the last part of this verse is no reason to stop considering our change.
Hebrews 13:21 ESV
21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Which is why the last part of this verse is no reason to stop considering our change.
It please God for us to change.
Why can we entrust our change to God?
Because I know God is invested in it.
It is what pleases God.
Our change is not some obscure detail that never catches the eye of the great ruler of the universe.
It is exactly what God likes to do.
We ought to entrust our change to God.
We ought to entrust our change to God.
The
is impor
The 6th Reason we ought to entrust our change to God is because:

6. We know it glorifies God for us to change.

Sometimes God’s glory seems odd to us.
Why should God be motivated by his honor alone?
But we must remember that God is not like us - he is the supreme ruler of all the universe.
He created all.
He upholds all.
He rules all.
So for us to give honor and respect to a false idol - or false religion is to rob God of his rightful honor.
But God is not only robbed of glory when we worship a false God,
but when we worship any object.
Worship is often demonstrated by the “I wants” of my heart. - which has a huge range.
I wants can range from
tranquility - to freedom
the experience of people to the experience of the outdoors.
Anything I want more than God becomes what I worship - and most importantly it robs God of the glory he is due.
I want to have
When we sin,
we are saying I worship this more than I worship the creator and ruler of the universe. And we rob him of glory.
And we rob him of glory.
So naturally,
God is very interested in returning the glory that belongs to him.
And the greatest way God can receive the glory due to him,
is that we change.
We can entrust our change to God because it brings him glory.
CONCLUSION:
Our you sitting here today,
and New Years for you is reminder of:
New Years also represents a time in which we recognize our
New Years also represents a time in which we recognize our
failures
weaknesses
temptations
laziness
wickedness.
- And you feel guilty about what you should have done, could have done, and shouldn’t have done.
- You feel Hopeless because you keep being defeated. And you are wondering what’s the point.
- Guilt because of our sin.
May I say,
don’t feel guilty and don’t give up hope.
- Hopelessness because we keep being defeated.
Don’t allow defeat and guilt to stop you from making new resolutions to change this New Year.
- It may be helpful to consider some pragmatic steps to change.
- Those can be helpful, but also remember your desires can render those boundaries useless.
But most of all,
make God your plan for change.
This means, if you have not trusted in Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection to save you from your sins - then you need to trust God today.
You can’t have change apart from Christ.
As we said earlier, he is the one who accomplishes change.
As Believers,
May we entrust our Change to God.
PROP: We ought to entrust our Change to God.
tells us 6 reasons why we can trust God with our change.
1. We know the character of God.
a. God the Father is called the God of Peace.
b. God the Son is the the Great Shepherd of sheep.
2. We know God works in our lives for change.
a. The Resurrection is the greatest demonstration of power that we could know.
b. The resurrection is also the greatest act of love - we could ever know.
3. We know that God is the one who accomplishes our change.
4. We know God’s Purpose in our lives is for us to change.
5. We know it pleases God for us to change.
6. We know it glorifies God for us to change.
This is 6 great reasons we know God will change us.
So don’t be defeated, hopeless, or ashamed.
This New Year,
Let the Gospel work in your life.
Entrust your change with God.
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