But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles as honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. 1 PETER 2:9-12
Before you were ever conceived in your mother’s womb – God knew you – He knew all about you; every cell, every hair, every birthmark, the color of your eyes, the hue of your skin. He knew your aptitude, whether you would excel in math or in art; He knew the things that would make you laugh, that would make you cry, the things that would excite you and the things that would terrify you.
There is nothing about you that is not engraved in the palm of your Father’s hand. Every strength and every weakness; every failure and every victory; every good work and every act of rebellion. Your Father knows you and has known you from eternity. He has known you from the beginning of time; and yes, even by the authority of His Word He has decreed your existence.
In the book of Ephesians, Paul declares that you are His workmanship, His craft, His artwork, you are His masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus unto good works – which He prepared for you from before time began, that you would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10). God said to Jeremiah, “Before you were formed in your mother’s womb – I knew you. Before I brought you out of her belly I knew you by name.” (Jeremiah 1:5)
Jesus said to his friends, “You did not chose me, but I chose you……..” (John 15:16)
We were conceived in the mind of God, formed by the hand of God, given life by the breath of God, delivered from the bondage of sin through the grace of God, sustained in this life by the power of God, for one purpose – that you would live to the GLORY OF GOD.
The opening query of the Shorter Westminster Catechism is this: What is the chief end of man? The answer to that question is simple and direct: The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.
Your destiny is not wrapped up in your achievements, your income, your degrees, your job. Your chief end is not what you will do for work, what offices you might hold, what power you might wield, what gold you might possess, or what great deeds of daring-do accomplish – All of the things that most of us pursue; if it is these things we reach to grasp we will fail our purpose – we will fall short of our destiny – we will miss the Grand Reason for our existence.
Imagine if you will, a creature so beautiful as to defy description. Where a human has skin he is covered with every precious stone. Instead of vocal chords as a man, his body was fitted with timbrels and pipes (organs if you will) Instruments of music. His name is Lucifer and his title is “Covering Cherub”. (Ezekiel 28:11-19)
He is one of three magnificent Archangels in heaven. Gideon is the Messenger; Michael, the Warrior; and then there is Lucifer, the Worshipper. He stands before the throne of God, a place of incomparable light. As he takes his place before the throne, all the glory of God shines through those precious stones, filling the heavens with the glory of God – the diamonds, and rubies, the emeralds, and sapphires capturing the light of the Glory of the Ancient of Days and flinging it to the furthest reaches of the heavens.
And then, the creature opens his mouth. Instead of words, the sounds of an orchestra rise as the pipes and timbrels within him summon the multitudes of the angelic hosts to worship. He was created with a single purpose – his creation, his formation, and his calling was to fill the heavens with the sounds of praise.
He is Lucifer – the Day Star – the Son of the Dawn – the most majestic of all the created beings that surround the Throne of God. Yet, in a single, tragic moment he forgets that the light that emanates from him does not originate within him. He forgets that he possesses no light of his own, and regardless of the beauty of the stones he bears– they possess no light of their own.
In that moment before time, Lucifer declared the beauty of God to be his own and thought that somehow he would share in the adoration and worship of the heavenly beings. Instead of rising up, he was cast down. Instead of basking in the blaze of God’s light, he was cast into utter darkness; no light, no glory, no beauty; a creature of the darkness. When there was no light, his stones were of no value. They had no beauty and no consequence. In the absence of the light of God, his precious jewels were no more than common rocks. The one who had been so beautiful in the light of God’s glory – lost it all.
The habitation of Lucifer and a third of the angels of heaven had no form and was void; and darkness was over the face of the deep (Genesis 1:1) It was a shapeless mass of darkness. No light all. Nothing to stimulate the scintillating shimmer of Lucifer’s precious stones. Imagine the frustration – the torment! What was once so beautiful is now dark, unseen, no more beauty than a pile of gravel.
Then, God stepped out of eternity into time. “Let there be light,” He said. Where there had been only darkness was now bathed in the brightness of His presence. Over the next few days God spoke, over and over again, God spoke – and as He spoke, the earth took form, stars and planets flew across the sky, whales and fish began to swim in the oceans, and the thundering hooves of herds shook the earth. At His word, the sky was filled with the flutter of wings and the earth was suddenly teeming with life. That which was dead was now alive. There was air, and food, and light, and warmth. God had created a living space; but for what; for whom? What creature would require such a complex and beautiful habitation?
Out of the dust of the earth, God formed a man; and out of the man, a woman of whom God said, “They are created in my image! I have breathed my own breath into this creature to create a living soul; a soul born for a single purpose –- TO FILL THE WHOLE EARTH WITH MY IMAGE! This is my image bearer, the ONE through whom I will show my glory. I have a new worshipper and his name is man.”
Satan was filled with rage, for God had given freely to Adam what Lucifer could not take; His own image. His very glory was invested in this puny creature of flesh. The evil one moved swiftly and with great cunning to steal from the man what God had given him. His promise, “You can be like God!” The very pride, the very greed for glory, the very hunger for adoration that had caused his exile from heaven, Lucifer poured into the heart of man, so that in man too, that image might be darkened.
From time to time you may wrongly believe, “the devil is after you”. I hear it all the time, “the devil really wants me.” He does not want you. He can’t stand you. He hates you. He would kill you in a moment if he could. He doesn’t want you – – he wants what you have AND YOU HAVE WHAT HE ALWAYS WANTED – – the very image, the very glory of God. You mean no more to the devil than the wrapper on a candy bar. I see them all the time on my street and in my neighborhood; men created in the image of God to bring Glory to God, empty wrappers that have had the life of God sucked out of them and cast aside like an empty wrapper.
The great news of the atonement is that Jesus has come to restore the light where the darkness has crept in. In one glorious act of sacrifice Jesus has given back to us that which was stolen – the light of God.
Matthew 5 says, “You are the light of the world – let your light so shine that men seeing your good works might glorify your father who is in heaven.”
A man is not great when he sits upon the thrones of the kingdoms of this world.
A man is not great when he holds the wealth of the mines of this world.
A man is not great when he sits in the presence of the mighty or when he holds the power to sway the course of nations.
NO, THESE THINGS DO NOT MAKE A MAN GREAT.
A man is at the pinnacle of human existence when other men can hear Jesus in his words;
When men can feel the touch of the Master in his hands.
When men can behold the greatness of compassion, and grace and mercy in his life.
When a man can cry, “Let me decrease that He might increase”
Let me be small so that He can be great.
Let my will be consumed by His will.
Let the greatness of God be revealed in my weakness.
That man is living in the purpose for which he was born – that the glory of God be seen in his life.
A story was once told to me of a gospel singer who had the opportunity to do concerts in the heart of Africa. He traveled to one remote village where people walked for many miles to hear this famous singer. They set up a huge tent and prepared for his concert. Alone, before the performance, the singer was praying, cleansing his heart of any sin that might diminish the anointing of God. After a season of confession, the Holy Spirit spoke to his heart: “Stop confessing and start worshipping.”
Right there, in his dressing room he quietly turned his heart to worship God. As he exalted the Name of his God, the knock came on the door calling him to the stage. As he came onto the stage he brought his worship with him. Instead of launching into his program, he sat down at a piano and continued his worship. After just a few bars, a woman in the back of the tent shot straight into the air, screaming and writhing. She fell to the ground and began to writhe, like a snake, down the aisle toward the stage and as she did, the demons in her began to leave and she was set free.
All through the afternoon men and women were healed of diseases and delivered from demonic possession. At the end of the day, the performer returned to his dressing room, weeping with joy and blessing God. He fell on his face and cried out to God, “Father, what was that? What happened out there? I do not understand!”
The Holy Spirit whispered gently to his spirit, “While you were in here worshiping me; preparing to minister, you were polishing your stones and when you walked out on that stage every demon in hell thought it was me.”
You were created for one purpose.