Sunday, January 13, 2013

" ... for the sake of my holy name ..."

"Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says:  It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name ...  the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Sovereign LORD, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes.  for I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land.'"   -  Ezekiel 36:22-24

Israel ... the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob ... "Jews," they are called by the world ...  Why is the whole world talking about Israel?  There is only one reason:  Israel's GOD!  The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

As I preached the second part of a twelve-part series on "the end." this morning, I was struck once again by the reality of this truth:  we exist for the glory of God, our Creator.  All who have come to know this one true God through His Word and by the work of His Spirit within us exist for this reason, and this reason alone.  We say that, don't we?  But do we understand that ... or do we really believe that?

For the glory of God!  Five words ... we just heard the words of the angels as we celebrated the birth of Jesus, the Christ:  "Glory to God in the highest!"  For the glory of God:  for His name's sake, for His honor.  Unless you believe this, unless you know this, unless you live your life for this high and exalted purpose, you miss the grandest, most excellent, exalted, glorious opportunity that can be given to any human being ... to LIVE for the glory of God!!

What does that even look like?  Has anyone ever done that?  Of course, you know someone did ... Jesus did.  How did He do it?  He was God, in the flesh.  But there's more.  Jesus did not just live for the glory of God because He WAS God.  He was also true man.  And as He neared the time when He would offer Himself on the cross as a sacrifice for all mankind, He prayed to the Father, "I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do" (John 17:4).  Jesus brought glory to God by doing what He was put here to do.

Back to Israel ... Israel was chosen by God for His glory.  They rejected Him and worshiped idols.  They rejected Jesus, the Messiah, and they faced God's judgment.  They were exiled into the nations of the world until ... until ...

Isaiah 43:5-7:  "Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west.  I will say to the north, 'Give them up!' and to the south, 'Do not hold them back.'  Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth - everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made."

Isaiah predicted the return of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to the land God had promised to their fathers.  Why?  For the glory of God!  Ezekiel says it in the verses quoted above.  God will do all this not for Israel's sake, but for the sake of His holy name.  God will show Himself mighty through the "Jews," through the people of Israel.  Then the world will know that He is God, the ONLY true God, and that Jesus Christ is King and Lord.  This is what "the end" points to.  It is the culmination of God's plan to reveal to all mankind His power and majesty, His wisdom and glory.

And so the CHURCH exists today for THIS reason ... not the "church," not an organization, a hierarchical structure or a denomination ... the CHURCH -- PEOPLE who have been born again by the Spirit of God, who are united to Christ by faith and who exist for His purposes, for His glory.  And we bring Him glory by completing the work He has given us to do.  We are here to fulfill the highest and most glorious purpose of anything in all of God's marvelous creation.  David writes in Psalm 19:1:  "The heavens declare the glory of God!"  But WE are re-created in Christ to do the same.

Peter writes, "You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may proclaim the majesty of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light" (I Peter 2:9).  Chosen for a purpose ... for the glory of God.  What if we lived that way?  What if we realized that while God is faithful, while He pours blessing after blessing after blessing upon His children, while He saves us through His Son Jesus Christ, God does not exist for US; WE exist for GOD!  We have been created for His glory!!

Whatever God calls you to do, whatever He calls US to do, He will give us all we need as we accept our calling to bring Him glory.  Are you called to bear suffering?  It is for His glory.  Have you been given gifts to use to accomplish great things?  It is for His glory.  When you are challenged to persevere, to endure, it is for His glory!

"For the sake of my holy name" ...  

Tomorrow is Monday ... the people around you will know that He is Lord when He shows Himself holy through YOU, for you were created for His glory.  That's a reason to get up isn't it?!

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