WOW! With such a full house, football season must be over!
A long time ago, I had a friend that loved football. She really liked the Chicago Bears, but she loved football. Forget having a conversation with her during football season unless you wanted to talk football.
She watched football all week. She even watched replays of games for “do-overs” and she would root for every team member out there. She even loved the college games.
Football, football, football, football!
Finally, I asked her why she rooted for every person on every team. She told me I wouldn’t understand.
I said “Try me.” She said to me “Look at all those heavenly bodies!”
Here I am puffing out my chest to show off my six-pack.
Don’t laugh! This was when I was much younger.
I showed off my six-pack – with four cans missing… and I realized that it was quite apparent that I did not have a heavenly body. I wanted a six-pack instead of a two-pack, but it was not going to be.
My lack of a heavenly body actually started in 6th grade in chorus. Now everyone was in chorus.
I was really tall for 6th grade and I envisioned myself to be a deep Basso Profundo singer. The teacher stuck me with the 1st tenors. That’s nearly being stuck with the girl’s alto section! My voice was not my idea of a heavenly voice, and you can see the downward spiral with my heavenly body.
I don’t have a heavenly body.
I would bet there isn’t a person here who thinks they have a heavenly body. None of us are perfect and everyone wishes for something better with our bodies.
A friend of mine, Paul, told me not to worry. The fact that I did not have a heavenly body was not important.
So, let’s see what the apostle Paul tells us about our bodies.
2 Corinthians 5:1 (NIV)
1 Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.
Paul tells us we know! He does not say we believe or we think. Paul does not say we hope. Paul doesn’t even say probably!
We know! There is no doubt! There is no uncertainty or reservation. There is no hesitation that we will have a heavenly body.
How many of you have seen the show Overhaulin’? For those of you who haven’t seen it, they take someone’s car sometimes under the pretense of stealing it. The car is usually one broken down and in need of a lot of repair work.
They have famous car designer Chip Foose make it look like a perfect customized specimen of a car way beyond anyone’s imagination. Sometimes, the car is in such bad structural shape, Chip has it destroyed in a prank and picks up another used vehicle to perform his magic on.
Paul tells us something like that is going to happen to us. God is going to throw away this flimsy tent of ours and give us a totally new body “not built by human hands.”
In other words, God is going to build us a new body – a heavenly body!
Now listen up. We are going to get a totally customized, brand new body in heaven. We are going to get a heavenly body, crafted by God for us for His purpose.
Now, Paul tells us that we have an earthly tent as our body. No wonder I didn’t have a heavenly body with a six-pack that was indestructible!
How does Paul know this?
Paul must have gone camping because he knew about tents.
I love camping and one time I bought one of those dome tents to go camping with a large group. It was easy to set up and I found a spot at the edge of the campground and put the wire stakes at the corners.
I woke up in the middle of the night feeling as if someone had beaten me with a baseball bat. I found a flashlight and turned it on.
I saw the zipper door to the tent facing down and there were rips all over the tent. I crawled out and saw I was at the bottom of a small, rocky hill. There had been a strong wind and that tent just rolled over and tumbled down the hill, ripped to shreds.
Paul knew how vulnerable and imperfect tents were. Yes, our bodies are like tents. They break, tear and suffer innumerable dings.
Even those heavenly bodies my friend saw and cheered for on the football field, eventually broke down with torn tendons and blown knees.
2 Corinthians 5:2 (NIV)
2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling,
Paul must have known a lot about our bodies. Did you ever stub your toe? It hurts, doesn’t it? When you hit that immovable object with your toe, you certainly moan!
When you get older, you get even more to moan about. When you get really old, just getting out of bed is a challenge and you moan a lot! I wouldn’t know about that, but Paul did!
On top of all this moaning, we yearn, we crave for our heavenly body designed by God.
2 Corinthians 5:3 (NIV)
3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked.
We will be clothed in this heavenly body, not naked. How to we make sure we are indeed clothed in our heavenly body, and not naked?
Do we exercise and build up huge biceps? Do we work on or abs and develop that six-pack? No, that will not do it.
Do we do good works, feed the poor and help those in need? W do that, but that alone will not get us that heavenly body.
We believe in Jesus! We accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior! We follow the words of God and Jesus in our lives.
When we do this, we will be clothed in our new bodies.
Those who reject Jesus will remain naked. Those who reject Jesus will not get their heavenly body. In fact, they will be clothed in a flimsy tent, open to the pains and horrors of being turned over to Satan.
Let’s continue with what Paul is telling us:
2 Corinthians 5:4 (NIV)
4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
Paul says it is OK to groan and complain. In fact, groaning and complaining is outright biblical!
Take a quick look at Job! I believe he is the person in the Bible that holds the record for the most complaints, and he still loved and obeyed God.
We groan through life’s calamities, misfortunes and tragedies. It is a burden we must bear.
We have been singing some spirituals today. In some of those spirituals, you can hear the groaning, you can hear the suffering as life’s burdens were borne. And during all the suffering, Jesus and His Father are praised and longed for!
We need to have patience and bear what God places upon our shoulders to carry. God does not wish us to give up and rush our mortal life along. We are not to be impatient.
Mortality will dissolve our bodies soon enough in God’s time. In the mean time, we need to take whatever burdens God gives us and move forward.
Paul tells us:
2 Corinthians 5:5 (NIV)
5 Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
This is a specific instruction from God not to rush to meet Jesus. This reminds me of a bumper sticker that says “Honk if you love Jesus!” The second line says “Text if you want to meet Him right now.”
You see, God has made us for the purpose of carrying the burdens of life to build up our strength. How else will we be able to build up our spiritual six-pack while here on earth?
Remember my flimsy tent? We need to strengthen our earthly tent to make it through life.
It will still be weak when compared to our heavenly bodies, but it will suit us fine here.
God even gives a guarantee! I can just imagine Paul appearing on TV and telling us in his best TV voice “He guar-run-tees it!” as Paul points to the heavens. God guarantees we will get a much-improved heavenly body made by His hands.
How does God guarantee it? As Christians, God’s word should be enough of a guarantee.
However, if there is any doubt, God provided something extra.
If you rent an apartment or an automobile, how do you guarantee you will return it in good condition?
You pay a substantial deposit and they get to keep the deposit if you don’t return it or return it damaged. When you return the car or apartment, you get the deposit back. The deposit keeps us honest.
Well God gave us a deposit to guarantee that we get the heavenly body he will build for us.
We mortals often need reassurance and God naturally knows this.
That deposit is the Holy Spirit. What better support system do we need to help us with our burdens?
Remember that Jesus paid the initial cost for our salvation by being tortured, crucified, buried for three days and then being raised from the dead by God.
On top of this, we get the indwelling Holy Spirit to fortify our bodies and make it possible to get through our toils and shoulder whatever tasks and hardships that God has for us.
The Holy Spirit also guides us so we can accomplish all God wants of us. Jesus gave us the Great Commission to spread His word to the world. The Holy Spirit will help us achieve that task.
Paul then goes on to tell us we are not yet at our destination.
2 Corinthians 5:6 (NIV)
6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.
Paul tells us we are at home and confident in our bodies here on earth. I wear mine like a good comfortable shoe.
It has nicks and bangs, broken bones and scars. It is well worn but it is quite comfy.
He also reminds us that since we are still sitting all snug and warm in or bodies – although we may be moaning about it – we are not yet with God and Jesus in our heavenly bodies. We still have work to do.
We are physically separate from the Lord. We are not in heaven praising Him; we are down here praising Him.
Paul continues to assure us that we will eventually receive our heavenly body:
2 Corinthians 5:7 (NIV)
7 We live by faith, not by sight.
If we could go to a body shop catalog on the Internet and look up our heavenly body, we could see exactly what we would be getting.
We could see all the bells, whistles and options that were included. We could see what God designed for us which will fit His purpose.
We would see what is in store for us. We might even see a “Made By God” label attached.
However, Paul tells us that we won’t be able to see our new and improved heavenly body on the Internet. He does.
He tells we have to have faith and trust the Word of God. God promised us a heavenly body. We have to take Him at His Word, not by seeing.
2 Corinthians 5:8 (NIV)
8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
So, by having faith in God’s Word and His promise, we are confident we will be getting a heavenly body.
Paul says that even he would prefer to be in heaven with the Lord in his new body than here on earth in his vulnerable tent. Yes, we do look forward to eventually being in our heavenly body with the Lord.
In the mean time, Paul tells us what to do.
2 Corinthians 5:9 (NIV)
9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.
This is plain and simple and Paul doesn’t mince words here. We are to please Jesus by following his way of life. We continue to please no matter where we are; whether we are in our earthly body or in our heavenly body, we will continue to please the Lord.
2 Corinthians 5:10 (NIV)
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
We will be judged. Whether we have done bad things or good things, we will be judged for what we do in this tent, our earthly bodies.
Jesus, our Lord and Savior will judge us when we appear before Jesus in His courts. We will be judged on how we lived our lives and how we followed the teachings of Jesus.
Then we will receive our heavenly bodies.
So what will our heavenly bodies look like? Will my two-pack become transformed into a heavenly six-pack? Will my voice be a deep Basso Profundo voice?
Last week, Tim Ruiz told us of a man he befriended in a wheel chair. Will that man be walkin’ all over God’s heaven?
Will the deaf be listening to the holy worship and song in heaven? Will the mute be singing?
We know that there will be no pain or suffering as Jesus told us that.
All of us have a different idea of what our heavenly bodies will be like.
Maybe my lip will be strengthened so I can play all those really high notes I can’t reach today.
Will I truly be able to play the trumpet on the day the Saints come marching into heaven?
I am sure everyone here has their own idea of what their heavenly body will look like and how it will perform.
We really do not know all the details.
Let me share one more thing.
It was Easter Sunday and President Bush was aboard Air Force One with Condoleezza Rice and Karen Hughes. They were going to miss church services. The President excused himself from the reporters and retreated to the private area aboard the jet along with Karen and Condi.
President Bush turned to Karen Hughes and asked if she would lead them in singing. The hymn books were passed out and their bibles readied to be read.
Karen had an embarrassing problem: she could not sing. In fact, she was tone deaf! Imagine being asked by the President of the United States to lead worship in song on an Easter Sunday and there you are with only a horrid musical voice.
So Condoleezza, who is a consummate classical piano virtuoso and singer, lead them all in song and Karen sang along with everyone in her best spirited monotone harmony.
In her book, Ten Minutes from Normal, Karen Hughes writes:
“I’m certain I’m going to heaven, not because I am faithful, but because God is. Jesus promised, and I believe: no one can snatch me from His hand. I am confident that by the time I get there, Jesus will have nurtured in me a longing for peace, a liking for harmony, a sense of contentment that I can only dream of in this earthly life. And when I get to heaven, I’m learning to sing.”
Karen believes her new heavenly body will be singing with the best!
Let us pray.