God at Work
May he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ. Hebrews 13:21
“How have you seen God at work lately?” I asked some friends. One replied, “I see Him at work as I read the Scriptures each morning; I see Him at work as He helps me face each new day; I see Him at work when I know that He has been with me every step of the way—I realize how He has helped me to face challenges while giving me joy.” I love his answer because it reflects how through God’s Word and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, God stays near to, and works in, those who love Him.
God working in His followers is a wonderful mystery that the writer to the Hebrews refers to as he draws his letter to a close in what’s known as a benediction: “. . . and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ” (Hebrews 13:21). With this conclusion, the writer reinforces the essential message of his letter—that God will equip His people to follow Him and that God will work in and through them for His glory.
The gift of God working in us can take us by surprise; perhaps we forgive someone who wrongs us or show patience to someone we find difficult. Our “God of peace” (v. 20) spreads His love and peace in and through us. How have you seen God at work lately?
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In Hebrews 13:20 Jesus is called the “great Shepherd of the sheep.” We see the shepherd metaphor used throughout the Bible. In Psalm 23, one of the most beloved of all Scripture passages, the Lord is referred to as “shepherd.” In Genesis 48 the term is used to describe the God of Israel: “May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked faithfully, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, the Angel who has delivered me from all harm—may he bless these boys” (vv. 15–16).
The book of Revelation, with its breathtaking apocalyptic imagery, includes a reference to the combined shepherding care of God who sits on the throne (see 7:15) and the Lamb: “For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes’ ” (v. 17).
In between Genesis and Revelation, poets (Psalm 80:1), prophets (Isaiah 40:11), and apostles (1 Peter 5:4) employ this great metaphor to emphasize God’s gracious, caring work on behalf of those who belong to Him.