BREAKING CAMP

SCRIPTURE PASSAGE:  2 Corinthians 5:1-9

Growing up in Southern California brings back fond memories of summertime camping with the family.  My dad was a city fireman for over thirty years and because of his work schedule of 24 hours on duty/24 hours off, he would have as many as three days and sometimes five off, plus accrued vacation time which led to many camping trips during many summers.

Setting up the Campsite was always an adventure. 

Dad had to find the exact spot for the tent location.  He knew that the preciseness of location was a must or my mother would have him move the location to her liking.  The men (my dad, and brother), all three of us, would call my mom a ‘picky camper’!; the campsite had to be near the restrooms with hot and cold showers AND… the site had to be neat and clean for the entire stay.  Oh, and a clothesline was always stretched between two pine trees near the picnic table to hang out damp washcloths plus any wet bathing suits and towels brought back from the local swimming hole at the nearby river.

Don’t forget the rake! 

Mom wanted my brother and me to take turns in raking the campsite every morning after breakfast, then hook up the nearby hose to settle the dust in front of the tent.  “NO DIRT IN, OR ON THE TENT!”

The sad part in all of this…eventually, we had to leave and break down the campsite.  Although mom wanted the trip to be enjoyable for all, she also wanted her experience to feel like,,, let’s say, clean, tidy, and like home sweet home.

“But Mom, it’s all just temporary!”

WE LIVE IN A WORLD COMPOSED OF THAT WHICH IS ONLY TEMPORARY.

For,  “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.”  (1 Peter 1:24-35, NIV Bible)

ALL will eventually fade and pass away.  Only that which has its foundation built on and in God and in His Word will live on.

DWELLING IN TENTS –

The TENT should remind us of the TEMPORARY NATURE of things which we deal with.

Abraham in the Bible Lived in a Temporary Tent but looked for a Lasting City [Hebrews 11:8-10].

BEDOUIN TENTS:

  • They were portable.
  • They were protective.
  • They were durable.
  • They were temporary.

The Hebrew Nation dwelled in TENTS but looked for a HOMELAND.

Marvin Wilson, a noted author remarked, “Israel’s religion might be called a ‘pup-tent’ religion.”  [See Footnote [i].]

The Israelites traveled for forty years in the wilderness and in doing so, they dealt with the “temporary” to achieve the permanent–Canaan, the Promised Land.

Each Year the Feast of Tabernacles is a Reminder.

It might surprise some, but Jesus kept the Feast of Tabernacles as well.  On the last day, “great day of the feast”, He stood in the Temple and cried out:

John 7:37-38 (NIV)

[37]  On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.  [38] Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”

God Lived in a Tent of Meeting (Tabernacle) but Longed for the Heart of Man (Exodus 29:46) –

The Tabernacle was a CONTRAST to the magnificent temples of pagan gods that surrounded God’s people.  When God laid out the CAMPING PATTERN for the Hebrews, the TABERNACLE was at the center while the twelve tribes camped around it in the shape of a CROSS.

That may be incidental, but God did teach them that He was in their midst–in the very heart of the Campsite.  Their lives flowed from Him and He taught them this arrangement would only be temporary.

Even the TEMPLE would picture the TEMPORARY–

God permitted the Temple that King David had proposed to build but the Tabernacle had been sufficient:

2 Samuel 7:5-7 (NIV)

[5] “Go and tell my servant David, This is what the LORD says: Are you the one yo build me a house to dwell in?  [6] I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day.  I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling.  [7] Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”

The TEMPORARY was made visible when the VEIL in the Temple was torn (“rent”) from top to bottom at Jesus’ Crucifixion [Matthew 20:50-52].

God was mourning His Son–symbolized by the “renting” of His garment.

God was changing His residence [1 Corinthians 3:16, AMP] –

[16]  “Do you not discern and understand that you [the whole church at Corinth] are God’s temple (His sanctuary), and that God’s Spirit has His permanent dwelling in you [to be at home in you, collectively as a church and also individually]?

God dealt with the TEMPORARY to establish the PERMANENT [Jeremiah 31:31-34].

JESUS momentarily lived among us but looked for His Father’s EVERLASTING house (John 1:14) –

JESUS’ brief LIFE was but 33 years…His brief DEATH…3 days.

In the interim until His return, He’s preparing a PERMANENT PLACE in His Father’s House [John 14:1-6].

Jesus dealt with the TEMPORARY to establish the PERMANENT and we live in the Short-term but should look to the Eternal.

That brings me to some QUESTIONS for all of us to ask ourselves:

  1. HOW MUCH TIME, EFFORT AND ENERGY DO WE PUT ON THE TEMPORARY?
  2. HOW MUCH TIME, EFFORT AND ENERGY DO WE SPEND ON THE ETERNAL?

(2 Corinthians 5:1-5) – LIFE IN TENTS

Especially notice what Paul is saying in the verses here.  He says, “For we KNOW [not we hope for or we expect or even that we believe] that if our earthly house of this TABERNACLE were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”  This is a very positive “KNOW”.  Paul knows because of the fact that the Holy Spirit has made it real to him.

The Word “TABERNACLE” – (Translations – ERV; AKJV; ASV; DBT).

The word for “tabernacle” is skene, meaning “tent”.  That’s the same word that was used for the wilderness tabernacle on the Old Testament in the Septuagint, the translation of the Old Testament into the Greek language.  The Old Testament tabernacle, a skene, a tent.  It was a flimsy sort of thing.

That thought brought me back to my CAMPING DAYS as a young boy and as a father raising my own children believe or not.  Setting up a TENT in the middle of the day was hard enough, much less at night by car headlights as once happened in the pouring rain.  At the time, I was thinking, I hate tents!  No privacy, there always seems to be small rock poking my back in the floor of the tent–right where my sleeping bag lies.

I like CAMPING IN TENTS, but only for a short time, not for weeks on end.

So it’s a little disconnecting to hear how the apostle Paul describes life in this world, as a TENT CAMPING TRIP that lasts your entire life!  For we must KNOW that if this TENT that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a HOUSE not made with human hands, but an eternal home in the heavens.  For in this tent of ours, we GROAN longing to put on our heavenly dwelling.  We don’t often think of LIFE like this, do we?

We hurt at times, reminders that our earthly bodies are TEMPORARY structures: sore joints, aches, pains, diseases, you name it!  We can resonate with that language especially as we grow older as we GROAN to put on the heavenly dwelling!

But at the same time, even as we look forward to our heavenly body, TENT LIFE is still a little scary, because one day, for each of us, hearts will stop beating, and lungs will stop breathing, and the CAMPING TRIP is over.

TIME TO BREAK CAMP and it’s then we’ll be glad that we have another home!

2 Corinthians 5:6 [Amplified Bible]

So then, we are always full of good and hopeful and confident courage; we know that while we are at home in the body, we are abroad from the home with the Lord [that is promised to us].

Let’s be honest that many times we feel completely at home in our bodies [“tents”] and they’re all we’ve known.  I know every scar and can point directly to moles on my back that I’ve never seen with my eyes.  However, as long as I’m at home in this body, I’m absent from the Lord.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight”  [2 Cor. 5:7].

Paul explains that we WALK BY FAITH–We take God at His Word.  I don’t know about you, but I would rather take His Word than anyone else’s word.

FAITH is taking God at His Word.

Remember, who you are, that the soul never dies; the soul goes to be with Christ as a true believer–the ‘overcomer’.  It is the physical body that’s put to sleep. 

It’s the BODY that must be changed–TRANSFORMED [1 Cor. 15:51-53].

RESURRECTION doesn’t refer to the SOUL or the SPIRIT.

The English word RESURRECTION is the Greek word “anastasis”, meaning a “standing up.”  It’s the BODY which will stand up.

Knowing these things, we WALK BY FAITH.

Being Ambitious [2 Cor. 5:9, AMP].

“Therefore, whether we are at home [on earth away from Him] or away from home [and with Him], we are constantly ambitious and strive earnestly to be pleasing to Him.”

The Greek word “philotin” is “to esteem as an honor”.  It is the same Greek word which is translated “study” in 1 Thessalonians 4:11 (NIV).

[11]  To make it your ambition to lead a quiet life:  You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you”

Be AMBITIOUS to mind your own business!

We should be Ambitious, LABOR, study. “to esteem as an honor” in such a way that we will be accepted of Him.  I’m not talking here about “works”.  This isn’t AMBITION to become a great somebody but to do our very best to PLEASE God.

Being ACCEPTED in Christ.

Being accepted in Christ is my…your standing before God at the “judgment seat of Christ” (2 Cor. 5:10).

God sees me in Christ, and He is made for me ALL that I need:

  • WISDOM & RIGHTEOUSNESS.
  • SANCTIFICATION & REDEMPTION.

[see 1 Corinthians 1:30]

HE IS MY PERFECTION – I am COMPLETE in Him!

You can’t add anything to COMPLETENESS.

True believers have Christ, and we are accepted in the Beloved.

ACCEPTED in Christ Jesus the standing that ALL BELIEVERS have before God.

But to be ACCEPTED of Him is a different thing.

This has to do with our present state and refers to the way we are living our lives.  Are we living in the “tent” of ours for Christ’s sake?  Are we “ambitious” to live in acceptance of Him?

To be AMBITIOUS to be accepted doesn’t mean that we are to crawl over everybody and step on top of them in order to get to the top of the heap.

God gave His Word to the prophet:

Jeremiah 45:5 (NIV)

“Should you then seek great things for your self?  Do not seek them.  For I will bring disaster on all people, declares the LORD, but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life.”

That’s putting it plain enough don’t you think?

There are no guarantees in this world aside from the Grace of God.

This is what we hold onto in the storms we face here on this earth.  The TENTS of our lives get tattered and worn out, and they get blown about by the winds of struggle and conflict, and they get drenched by storms of tears and heartbreak and then get covered with the dirt of sin.

But we have a PROMISE to stand on that gets us through the storms.

And that PROMISE is, I’m going to have a glorified body [house] someday that will make a mansion look like a worn out tent, and my God has already paid for it in full!

KNOW THIS & STAND ON…

  • THAT OUR GOD IS GOOD.
  • THAT THE CROSS HAS CHANGED US.
  • THAT THE EMPTY TOMB WILL NEVER FORSAKE YOU.
  • THAT GOD’S GRACE WILL NEVER DESERT US.
  • THAT WE HAVE THE UNSHAKEABLE BUILDING AHEAD OF US, ETERNAL IN THE HEAVENS!

____________________________________________________

CREDITS  & FOOTNOTES

Footnote [i] :  Quote byMarvin Wilson, author of “Our Father Abraham – Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith.”

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary Of Old And New Testament Words.

Bible TRANSLATIONS:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP), or as noted in the text.

Commentary:  Sermon Notes from Jerry Shirley on 2 Corinthians 5:1-9 – Sermon Central.

Photo Images:  Google Image Search – settings, advanced.

 

 

What Does the Bible Say About Mediocrity?

The Best of the Worst or The Worst of the Best

Here is a quotation from Chip Crush that might peak your thinking, regarding the word MEDIOCRITY:

“It’s not that mediocrity is bad; rather striving [my wife likes “settling”] for mediocrity is the fault”.

A Definition:

Webster’s Dictionary says Mediocrity is;  “of moderate or low quality, ordinary, so-so”.  I know some people who read this blog regarding MEDIOCRITY, will look at Webster’s definition and say,  “What’s wrong with being an ordinary Christian?”  Is being “ordinary” really a bad trait in a Christian”s life?

I’m not much into popular music these days. The music that I listen to the most is from CD’s I’ve collected over the years and, I like all types of music for the most part.  I ran across a song the other day by group called Matchbox 20; a song titled “HANG”.  The tune was ‘catchy’ but the lyrics made me scratch my head just a bit. Is there a theme or verse I could use regarding mediocrity?  I’ll give you one verse and let you decide what the world is saying to those who are willing to listen and believe what they hear.

“HANG” by Matchbox 20:

“And we always say, it would be good to go away someday,

But if there’s nothing there to make things change, If it’s the same for you,

I’ll just hang.”

My mother used to tell me, “If you see someone jump into a fire, would you do the same?” NO, I would “just hang”.

Coram Deo:

Coram Deo” is Latin for, “Before God”.  As believers in Jesus Christ, whatever we do, NOT just on Sundays, is Coram Deo; Before God. What comes out of our mouths, how we act is seen and noticed.

After I graduated from high school in San Diego, my mom and dad sat me down at the kitchen table one day. They proceeded to tell me, now that you have graduated from high school and planning to go to college, a  reformation was going to take place. Get a job, and pay rent; fifty dollars per month [hey, it was 1959!]. In turn, I would receive room and board which included mom doing my laundry too.  Now to a 17-year-old, who had no clue what real life was about, immediately proceeded to go into shock.  Three months later I had my first REAL job, registering at San Diego State University and starting my brand new “real” job as a “box boy” aka “courtesy clerk, on the same day! Those experiences alone began my journey towards independence and the unknown. I was “waking up to smell the roses” for the first time in my life. And now looking back on my experiences, “And I thought life was tough at 17”.

Someone is Watching:

My dad explained to me, if I was to keep my job and my boss’s approval, never be idle on the job.  I was to find things to do even if there wasn’t anything to do.  If the floor needed to be swept, don’t ask the boss if you should sweep the floor, just do it! This statement was long before a tennis shoe company used the same terms.  “What if the floor had just been swept”, I asked?  My dad’s answer, “Sweep it again. Somebody is watching you and they will appreciate your hard work.”  Looking back on my dad’s wisdom, his telling me to work and live above the common, ordinary, commonplace, characterless, colorless surroundings would benefit me in the long run.  If you don’t do, you become “mediocre”.  My dad’s words about being mediocre have stuck with me all my working life and today, in my Christian life.

What Does “Abba-Father” Say to Us About MEDIOCRITY”; Does He Notice?

II Timothy 4:6-8 says,

For I am already about to be sacrificed [my life is about to be poured out as a drink offering]; the time of my [spirit’s] release [from the body] is at hand and I will soon go free.”

“I have fought the good (worthy, honorable, and noble) fight, I have finished the race, I have kept (firmly held) the faith.”

Anyone who thinks that the Apostle Paul  lived in mediocrity can see in verse 7,  that wasn’t who Paul was. This past Sunday, our Pastor continued his summer series on “The Matters of the HEART”.  He spoke about our CHARACTER and defined it by saying, “Character is the will to do what’s right as God defines right, regardless of the cost!”  I would add “What is right” is what God’s Word says is right.  It’s not what I feel is right based on “stuff”.  Dr. Creflo Dollar says, “when you do right because of what’s right you will prosper and prosper others”. NO MEDIOCRITY HERE!   He continued with this phrase on CHARACTER:  “You will never rise above your limitations of your character.”

II Timothy continues in verse 8:

“[As to what remains] henceforth there is laid up for me the [victor’s] crown of righteousness [for be right with God and DOING RIGHT], which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me and recompense me on that [great] day–and not to me only, but also to ALL THOSE who have loved and yearned for and welcomed His appearing (His return).”

Do you see a life of mediocrity in verse 8 into Paul’s character?  That is a rhetorical question. “Yeah, but I’m not Paul” you might be thinking. If that is what you are thinking, then it is you who are living in mediocrity.  Make it personal, I personally have done so before.  And YES, our Father does notice how we are living around others.

Staying out of MEDIOCRITY; Changes in your desires:

What would you say to a fellow believer, if he or she gave an answer to this question, “What type of Christian would you call yourself? After a long wait, the answer was, “I am just an ordinary Christian. Like everyone else I guess”. According to Webster’s definition that would be “mediocre”.

Turn to Romans 15:14-33 and read first, then let’s go back and underline or write down some important keys Paul gives in staying out of MEDIOCRITY.

1.  Being rich in goodness towards others. (verse 14)

2.  Amply filled with all [spiritual] knowledge. (verse 14)

3.  Being competent to admonish, counsel, instruct one another. (verse 14)

4.  Winning obedience from the unbelievers by your word and deed—CHARACTER. (verse 18)

5.  Fully preach the Gospel [faithfully executing, accomplishing, carrying out to the full the good news] of Christ in its entirety. (verse 19)

6.  An ambition to preach the Gospel, not where Christ’s name was already known. (verse 20) NO MEDIOCRITY in that ambition!

7.  Giving to the less fortunate among believers. (verse 26)

8.  Wrestling in prayer–fervent, boiling over, type prayers. (verse 30, JAMES 5:16)

There was 8 Keys to getting out of mediocrity as a Christian. See if you can go through the verses and list some other keys if you are willing and able.

You Need A Different or Changed Attitude to see RESULTS:

Romans 12:1-2  “I APPEAL to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [ALL] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.”

Two of the most important steps that you can take in life are:

1.  Accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior of your life.

2.  The Renewal of your mind [a new attitude with new desires].

“Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], BUT be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].”

Almost every morning when I open my eyes, I first thank my Father for giving me another day. Then I ask for a renewal of my mind for that day; a new attitude TOWARDS OTHERS who aren’t always “lovely” in my life and I am not always lovely either.

God’s Word Always Lifts You Above Mediocrity:

“I don’t always have time to read in my Bible in the morning”.  With excuses like, “I slept in this morning, I don’t feel good, the kids are driving me nuts, I’m just to busy…I’ll read when I get home”.  Those are excuses and they will keep you in a life of MEDIOCRITY.  As Paul tells Timothy, there is a victor’s crown waiting for us someday and the Lord is watching our lives in Christ Jesus. 

Joshua 1:8 encourages us and gives us a promise:

“This Book of the Law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe and do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall deal wisely and have good success.”

You cannot and will not live in Mediocrity if you obey that quoted verse!