June 17, 2018

My Tent...and My Heavenly Home

4th Sunday of Pentecost
First Lesson:  Ezekiel 17:22-24

Second Lesson:  2 Corinthians 5:1-10

Gospel Lesson:  Mark 4:26-34

Preacher:  Pastor Loren Lucht

2 Corinthians 5:1-10
For 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.
2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 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 instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
5 Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
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. 7 For we live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
In the Name of Jesus Christ, Dear Christian Friends,
No one here should desire to argue that Jesus was a good Teacher.  The rich, young ruler said,
“Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?   Luke 18:18
And the apostle Nathanael declared,
 “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” John 1:49
When Jesus was teaching, He used the things around Him to make His point.  Sometimes He referred to the birds flying above them, or the lilies, growing around them.  (Luke 12:24,27) Sometimes Jesus used ideas that everyone was familiar with to teach a lesson: A greedy son, who took his inheritance and left home;  Planting seeds in good soil and on stony pathways. 
Although we often refer to him as the greatest apostle, and he certainly understood God’s grace and love for sinners, through Christ, Paul also was a good teacher, using ideas with which people were familiar, to teach a lesson.  But he was not always an interesting teacher. 

Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.  . . . Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead.  Acts 20:7,9
Today, we are learning from a parable that Paul used.  We can call it, The Tent and My Heavenly Home.
Paul makes a comparison of life: earthly life and eternal life in heaven.  Both are given to us by God, our Creator.  The first one, our earthly life, Paul compares to building a TENT.  If you compare your earthly life  to a TENT, do you see your tent as small or insignificant?  Or are you still “building” your TENT, bigger and bigger every year?  In either case we have to realize that our TENTS, our earthly lives are temporary.  We will leave everything we have accomplished or accumulated behind.   That’s not bad!  Because, as believers in Christ we are heirs of the mansions of heaven.  That’s our ETERNAL HOME.  Jesus told His disciples,

In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would
have told you.  John 14:2 (KJV)
Let’s see how Paul compares these two lives.  In this world our lives are generally speaking made up by our own doing and decisions.  It’s true that God the Father gave us earthly life, but He has also given us free will to choose how we will live.
-  We choose our friends and our spouses
            -  For the most part, we choose our careers.  We determine how we will use
   our God-given abilities.  We choose how we will earn money to support
   our lifestyle.
-  We choose our lifestyle, whether it will be basic and simple, or if we fill
    our lives with busyness or adventure or pursuing a level of wealth or fame.
-  We choose how much of what we accumulate to take for ourselves or to
   share with others.
-  Some decide to take better care of their health and others sacrifice their
   health, perhaps to their jobs or to addictions.

We all have made our own lives, built our TENTS, by our hands, our efforts and our decisions but . . .
In heaven there is “an eternal house, not built with hands.”  Now Paul speaks of an entirely different life.  God has prepared many mansions.  There we can make no wrong decisions. 

“There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Rev. 21:4
This will be MY HEAVENLY HOME.  As we consider the earthly lesson Paul is teaching, that all we do and have in this life is temporary and will decay or end up with someone else, for believers in Christ it begins to sink in:  “I like it here, but I’d like to go home.”
For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened. Verse 4.
“We groan.” We suffer in this life.  We have to deal with our past mistakes, wrong doing, bad decisions and their consequences.  We have to face up to personal problems whether we created them or someone else has brought those issues into our lives.
“We are burdened.”  For example: in this life we must live up to expectations.  Sometimes other people have expectations of us. Sometimes we create our own expectations and struggle to meet them.  Maybe we see that there are more things to do than we have time for;  More to pay for than we have money; More to straighten out and live with than we have the ability to handle.  Won’t it be wonderful to go to our HEAVENLY HOME and be free of our burdens and our suffering, our fears and our sadness.  Listen to Paul again,

We do not wish to be unclothed (to lose this life) but to be clothed instead with our HEAVENLY DWELLING. Verse 4
We do not so much desire “to put off” this life as to “put on” that glorious life promised in heaven.
So that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Verse 4

Usually we see death and the grave as “swallowing up” those we loved or knew.  But the truth is that through Christ, God has “swallowed up” our mortality, and the burdens we carried, and the suffering, fear and shame we lived with.  God swallowed it up and gave us life eternal.
So here’s the problem:

As long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. Verse 6
One thing we sometimes wish for is that God our Father would make His presence known; that we could see Him, sit beside Him and work out our difficulties with Him.  That won’t happen, “As long as we are at home in the body.”  That too, is one of the burdens of life.  We must “by faith” trust what God has said.  Paul tells us this in the parable he is using today.

7 For we live by faith, not by sight.
8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
The comparison of the two lives that God has given us, this TENT and OUR HEAVENLY HOME brings us to a definite preference, but we do not brood about continuing to live for Christ rather than with Christ.
9 We make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.
We leave this entirely to the Lord.  We often pray, “Thy will be done,” and this includes whether we live in this TENT or OUR HEAVENLY HOME.  Our lives are to be pleasing to God.
From Paul’s parable we learn that we have, possess two dwelling places, both given to me by God: a life of a few short years to live for Christ, to serve others with our abilities, to lead others to know of Jesus and His saving work; and, an eternal life, to live with Christ, to praise and honor Him for all the He has done, to enjoy what joys and peace God has prepared for us in Heaven.
“I like it here, but I’d like to go home, to my HEAVENLY HOME.