I do believe you have a destiny.
And if God were writing your fortune, I believe He would say:
I want to accomplish my plans with your hands and feet.
I want your life to be abundantly full of purpose and meaning.
I want to change generations through you.
I want to bring hope and healing to hurting people through you.
I want to show you how deep and wide and great my love is for you.
Before God can do these things, we need to know who we are. Deep down to the core. And as we sang, He wants us to really believe…
I am royalty
I have destiny
I am set free
Some of you are thinking, that’s all fine and good but I’ve made some serious mistakes. I don’t even know where God and I stand at this point.
Just because you MADE mistakes doesn’t mean you ARE a mistake.
I made a sandwich for lunch today, but I didn’t become a sandwich.
The things that have happened to you might explain you, but they don’t define you.
There’s a powerful story in the scripture about a woman named Esther.
King Xerxes is having a party…another party. He loves to show off his stuff. At one point he wants to show off his queen. He wants to flaunt a beautiful woman that he has, for selfish reasons. So he summons her and she says she’s not coming. Smart woman. She is busy washing her hair. So, Xerxes decides to get a new queen.
They hold a Miss Persia beauty contest. Each contestant would go through vigorous beauty treatments, and in the end the girl “who pleased the King” would become the ultimate trophy wife. Kind of reminds me of the bachelor a little bit.
One of the contestants is a young Jewish girl named Esther. She was adopted and raised by her cousin, Mordecai. We’re told in the scripture, that she is lovely in form and features. Aka She’s a babe.
We don’t know what Esther’s dreams for her life was. We don’t know whether she volunteered for this contest or was drafted. But we do know, she was chosen by Xerxes. And we know when she was chosen, Xerxes, shockingly threw another party.
In a twist of the story, it turns out the Kings chief of staff, Haman, had been mortally offended by Esther’s cousin Mordecai. Mordecai served God and wouldn’t bow and pay honor to Haman. Haman was obsessed with power and a tiny corner of rebellion on Mordecai’s behalf could not be overlooked. So Haman decided to get revenge by destroying all the Jews in the kingdom. He talked King Xerxes into this genocide.
When word got out this was the plan, everyone realized that there was only one person in the empire in position to save all of Israel. The pageant winner. Esther.
Mordecai says to Esther….you must go to the King.
The King could kill her for challenging his chief of staff. Her entire life was on the line.
But Esther had been working out her identity. She was royalty. She had destiny. She had been set free.
Esther came to a firm foundation of a new identity as someone who belongs to God, is loved by God, has found favor in the sight of God, is forgiven by God, is helped by God, is possessed by God. And that changes how she perceives herself, and that changes how she lives her life.
Esther’s parents died and she’s an orphan. That may explain her, but it doesn’t define her. Mordecai’s not been the greatest adoptive father. That may explain her, but it doesn’t define her. She entered a competition that was really unholy, and that may explain her, but it doesn’t define her. She was the queen of Persia. That may explain her, but it doesn’t define her. Her identity has changed.
Her famous line is “Who knows but that I have come to the royal position for such a time as this?” The fate of the whole nation, the fate of the people of God, rested in her hands.
“On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace…
“And when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she won favor, in his sight.”
I can’t help but think this is a picture of what happens with us. We approach our King, Jesus Christ, and we win favor with him instantly.
What happens to us might explain us, but it doesn’t define us.
It is when we’re born again in Jesus Christ. We receive a new identity. And we don’t live for our identity. The problem with culture, and marketing and advertising just pressures you to compete and to purchase so that you can produce an identity. As believers in Jesus, we don’t work FOR our identity, we work FROM our identity.
Your identity is received, it’s not achieved. Adam and Eve didn’t do anything to obtain this identity. God made them, God spoke to them, God defined them, and God blessed them. It’s all God. Your identity is not achieved, it’s received. It’s not something you do, it’s something God does. It’s not what you earn, it’s what he gives.
This truth frees you up from the performance trap. It frees you up from the competitive trap. It frees you up from the bitterness, and the jealousy, and the coveting that is so easy to fall into. It lets you be who God made you to be, and rejoice in who God made others to be.
All people equally bear the image and likeness of God. Male and female, young and old, black and white, rich and poor, first world and third world, born and unborn, healthy and sick.
Some people are richer, some people are smarter, some people are tougher, some people are more competent, capable, and able, (we can’t all be like Dylan Sonney) but all are made in the image and likeness and God, all have dignity, value, and worth. One of the great lies is that some people are more valuable than others. Your net worth has nothing to do with your self-worth.
1 Peter 2:9-10 says this:
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
You are a chosen people.
God chose you. We are chosen. It was nothing in us of value. We did not earn it or merit it, or meet any conditions to get it.
Verse 10 says: ” . . . you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
When God chose us, he then saw us in our sin and guilt and condemnation and he loved us. We are not just chosen. We are loved. We are the not just the objects of his choice, but the objects of his mercy.
You are chosen and you are loved. God did not just choose you and stand aloof. He chose you and then drew near in mercy to help you and save you.
You Are God’s Possession
You are chosen by God; you are loved by God; and the effect of that love is that God takes you to be his own possession. You are God’s inheritance. You are the ones he aims to spend eternity with.
You are chosen; you are loved; you are God’s possession—the ones he will walk among and reveal himself to in a personal relationship forever.
Verse 9 says : “You are a holy nation.”
You have been chosen and loved and possessed by God; and therefore you are not merely part of the world anymore. You are set apart for God. You exist for God. And since God is holy, you are holy. You share his character, because he chose you, loved you, possessed you. You are holy.
If you do not act in a holy way, you are acting out of character. You contradict your essence as a Christian. For your identity is holiness to the Lord: you are holy.
You Are a Royal Priest
You are chosen by God and loved by God and possessed by God and holy like God and royal priests to God. You have immediate access to God—you don’t need another human priest as a mediator. God himself provided the one Mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ. You have direct access to God, through God.
You have an exalted, active role in God’s presence. You are not chosen, loved, possessed, and holy just to waste away your time doing nothing. You are called now to minister in the presence of God, for such a time as this. All your life is priestly service. You are never out of God’s presence. You are never in a neutral zone.
Your identity leads to your destiny. You are chosen, loved, possessed, and holy—all for a purpose—to shape history!
I am royalty. I have destiny. I am set free.
Because of that…..
I’m going to shape history
God made us who we are so that we might proclaim the excellency of his freedom in choosing us. The excellency of his grace in loving us. The excellencies of his authority and power in possessing us. The excellencies of his worth and purity in making us holy.
In other words he has given us our identity in order that his identity might be proclaimed through us. God made us who we are so we could make known who he is.
Our identity is for the sake of making known his identity.
The best word picture for me that is in scripture is that of a mirror. God says, though he is spirit, he wants his attributes to be visible on the earth. He wants creation to know something about him, and so he’s made us as his mirrors. We were made to mirror.
And so God is loving, and when we love, we reflect his love to others. God is truthful. When we tell the truth, we reflect his truthfulness to others. God is forgiving. When we forgive others, we’re reflecting his grace and his mercy to others. God is generous, and when we’re generous, we’re reflecting his generosity to others.
And so our life is to be one of mirroring, that it doesn’t begin with us, it begins with God. And the goal is not for this campus to know us, but the goal is for this campus to know him. We are to reflect, to mirror, to show, to echo something of God’s attributes to Edinboro University.
So many of our decisions are based around, “How will this make me look?” That’s the wrong question.
“How could they see God?” That’s the right question. “How could I reflect or mirror, who God is in this moment?” How can I bring to attention what God is doing in this situation? How can I point to the work of His Spirit right here, right now?
When we mirror God, we shape history. It changes things, for eternity!
Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.
Shaping history doesn’t mean organizing huge marches, having hundreds of people come to an event, or having eloquent words to explain spiritualty.
Shaping history is loving God out loud. Showing other people how to love Him, so they can love him themselves.
God’s kingdom is built one life at a time. If you want to shape history, start with one person on this campus. Acts 17 says that God determines the times and the places in which we live. We’re not here by happenstance, or circumstance, or chance, but by providence. Start loving someone in your life, on this campus, out loud.
To be in a relationship with God is to be loved purely and furiously. And a person who thinks himself unlovable cannot be in a relationship with God because he can’t accept who God is; because He’s love. We learn that we are lovable or unlovable from other people…That is why God tells us so many times to love each other.
What if, all of us, just in this room decided to yes to God. Decided to reflect like a mirror God to one other person on this campus? What would happen?
The writer of Hebrews describes people who say yes to God…. “Through faith they conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies…others were tortured and refused to be released…some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two, they were put to death by the sword…the world was not worthy of them.
We would shape history. We’re going to shape history this Spring 2013.