Extreme Makeover: Soul Edition part 4:
Completion
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
November 26, 2006

 

Main Passage: Philippians 3:12-21 (NLT)

 

If you could have a personal makeover, what would you change? Would you have liposuction? Laser eye surgery? A nose job? A chin job? A face lift? Hair plugs? If you could have a makeover, what would you change?

For the past few weeks we’ve been in this message series, Extreme Makeover: Soul Edition. And we’ve talked about some of the changes that happen in our lives as we choose to live for Jesus. We’ve seen that when we come to Jesus, He makes us a brand new person. He re-creates us from the inside out.

We’ve seen that this transformation isn’t just a superficial, cosmetic change. No, we’re changed at the heart level. There are changes that take place in our lives immediately when we come to Jesus, and there are changes that He works in our lives every day of our lives. Some of the changes are easy, some are more difficult. Some are fast, some only happen over time. Some are major changes, some are minor changes.

We’ve also realized that this Makeover is not one that we can perform on ourselves. God is the one who performs the Makeover. But we partner with Him by giving Him permission, cooperating with what He’s doing, and allowing the changes that He works in our lives to be expressed outwardly.

And what are these changes that occur? Well, I think a good summary can be found in Galatians chapter 5… Read it with me…

Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Those are the qualities that God is building into the new you. And where were all of those qualities seen most fully? In Jesus. So as these qualities develop more and more in our lives, we become more like Jesus. We become more Christ-like. And we’ve seen all along throughout this series that God’s desire is to make us like His Son… to make us like Jesus.

But that doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a life-long process that we go through. And the beautiful thing is that God always has more for us every day. But there will come a day when His work is complete.

Philippians 1:6 (NLT)
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

So there will come a day when the transformation is finished. And what will happen on that day? Well, Lynn read about it earlier…

Philippians 3:21 (NLT)
He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.

Well, that’s good news. Because if Jesus returns today, I don’t want to be stuck with this body. Hey, I’m already making old man noises when I stand up and sit down. No, I don’t want to be stuck with it. And if Jesus doesn’t return for another thousand years, well, I don’t want to be stuck with it then either (of corpse). No, when Jesus comes, these frail bodies we now cope with will be transformed into glorious ones.

You know that one thing you’d want to change? Well, it will be changed. In an instant it will be changed. This Makeover we’re going to go through is not something you can attain at Curves, or at the Spa, or through dieting, or at the hands of a plastic surgeon. This will be the most extreme makeover you’ll ever get. It will be the end result that makes everything we go through now worth it.

Now, will this Makeover be for everyone? No. No, it won’t. No, this Makeover is reserved for those who are citizens of Heaven. That’s how the apostle Paul described it. And basically he’s saying, “If you want to experience the transformation then, you need to experience a transformation now.” You’ve got to change your citizenship. You’ve got to decide during this life time where you’re going to spend the next. You’ve got to become a citizen of Heaven.

But what is a citizen of Heaven, anyway? Well, those of us who have chosen to live for Jesus and have experienced the forgiveness and new life that He offers… we are citizens of Heaven. Everyone is welcome to become a citizen of Heaven, but only citizens of Heaven will experience that final makeover then. Are you a citizen? If not, then you need to give this some serious consideration today.

In fact, let’s just pause right now and give you an opportunity to do that. If you’re not a citizen of Heaven right now, but you’d like to become one, then it’s really quite simple. You choose to live for Christ. It’s not always easy, but it’s simple. You choose to live for Christ. That means that you seek to please Him, it means you read His Word (the Bible) and allow it to impact your life, it means you allow Him full access to your life and allow Him to begin to change you. Basically, it means that your life becomes His life. You choose to live for Him. And if you’d like to make that choice today, then you can pray something like this…
 

Jesus, I’ve been living for myself. But today I choose to live for you. I’m sorry for trying to live my life without you. I want to receive your gifts of forgiveness and eternal life today. And I want to place my trust in You to transform me into the person You meant for me to be.
 

If you just prayed that, then congratulations. Your citizenship just changed. Sure, you may still hold citizenship here in Canada, but your primary citizenship is now in Heaven. And someday you will be welcomed home there. You should let somebody know about that here this morning.


Okay, so as citizens of Heaven, we have that as our final destination. That’s where the Makeover will be complete. What do we do in the meantime? How do we make our way toward Heaven now? Well, in that same passage that Lynn read, Paul gave us a map. He told us how we get there from here.

Philippians 3:13-14 (NLT)
…I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

So what I want to do for the rest of our time here this morning, is talk about that. How do we advance toward our final destination? How do we progress toward the completion of our Makeover? How do we get there? How do I reach my final makeover?

 

How Do I Reach My Final Makeover?

Paul said…

Philippians 3:13-14 (NLT)
…I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past

So the first thing is…

1. Keep the past in the past.

This means a couple of things. First of all, your past failures… they’re in the past. You don’t have to live in bondage to them any longer. You can be set free from them. Don’t allow the failures of the past to hinder your progress from here on out.

And I know this is a major thing for many of us. We all have hurts… we all have those painful experiences that can continue to haunt us. But you know what? We should learn from them, yes, but we should never allow them to prevent us from moving forward. We should never be bound by them. Jesus came to set us free from the failures of our past. And if you’re struggling with something in your past, then you need to begin to pray about it and trust Jesus to set you free.

But you know, it’s not just the failures that can bind us. For some, it’s your past success. You may have accomplished some terrific things in your life. And you should be applauded for that. But don’t rest there. Don’t think that you’ve arrived. Those successes are in the past, and there’s more ahead. And that’s the second thing that Paul tells us…

 

Philippians 3:13-14 (NLT)
…I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead
 

2. Stay alert and aware.

When I was a teenager, I did some stupid things. And I remember one occasion in particular when I was out driving with a friend of mine. It was dark, and we were exploring some of the back roads near Fredericton. We weren’t really familiar with where we were. But we were driving along having a good time just exploring.

Well, we started to wonder just how dark it was. I mean, we were outside of the city, there were no street lights around… how dark was it? And so we decided to find out. As we were driving, I switched off the headlights for a second... turned them back on… and there in front of us was a cement wall. It was actually one of the pillars under a train bridge, I think. Well, we had just enough time to swerve and we narrowly missed it.

I think you’d agree, that was pretty stupid. We had stopped looking forward, we were unaware of what was right in front of us, and it almost meant disaster for us.

You know what? There are all kinds of things that life will throw across your path that could mean disaster for you… if you are not alert and aware.

1 Peter 5:8 (NLT)
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil.

You’ve got to stay alert and aware of what’s happening in your life. Be on your guard against any of the deceptive tricks of the devil.

1 Thessalonians 5:5-8 (NLT)
For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night. So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded… protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation.


Stay alert and aware. Next, Paul says to press on.

 

3. Press on toward the goal.

Philippians 3:13-14 (NLT)
…I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race

In these verses, Paul paints a picture of a race. And he says that to finish the race the runner needs to press on. That was true for marathon runners in his day, and it’s still true in our day. Watch this…

[Video – “Inspiration” from http://www.ingnycmarathon.org]

That was a video for the New York City Marathon, which was held just a few weeks ago. The fastest runner this year was a Brazilian who finished in just under two hours ten minutes. But I think most people who finished the race took over three hours to do so. That’s a long race. And where do you think those marathon runners had to press on? Where do you think they had to really persevere?

Did they have to press on at the very beginning? No, they were full of energy then. Pressing on is not an issue at the starting line. So did they need to press on when the finish line was in sight? No, not really. Because then they could see the end. They could see their goal. And that’s more than enough to give them a second wind and motivate them to cross the line.

I’ve never heard of a marathon runner who dropped out just before crossing the finish line. They don’t drop out at either the beginning or the end. So where do they drop out? They drop out in the middle. When they start to ache, when they feel like they’re falling behind, when the excitement they had at the beginning has diminished, when the going gets tough. That’s when they’re tempted to just give up.

Have you ever heard of Florence Chadwick? Florence was the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions. Well, back in July of 1951, she attempted another swim. She attempted to swim from Catalina Island to the California coast. Here you see it on the map. [PowerPoint] But this time, the challenge was not the distance; the challenge was the bone-chilling waters of the Pacific. And to complicate matters, on the very day she chose to swim, a dense fog set in over the entire area, making it impossible for her to see land. But she set out anyway, and she swam and she swam and she swam, until she couldn’t swim any more… and finally, after about 15 hours in the water, Chadwick gave up. She climbed into the boat that was accompanying her… only to discover that she was within a half a mile from her goal. She would later tell a reporter, “Look, I’m not excusing myself. But if I could have seen land, I might have made it.”
Well, she was pretty disappointed about what had happened. So not long afterward, she attempted the feat again. And again, a fog set in so that she couldn’t see the shore. But this time… this time… she made it. Why? Because she kept reminding herself that the land was there. She couldn’t see it yet, but she knew she was getting closer. So she pressed on, and she achieved her goal. In fact, she broke the men’s record by 2 hours!
[from http://www.resourcefoundation.org/Community/Schools/Persev-i.shtml]

So when do you need to press on? When you’re well into the race and you’re getting tired and you can’t see the finish line, but you know it’s there… that’s when you must press on.


And when you consistently do these first three things… when you leave the past in the past, when you look ahead at what’s coming your way, and when you press on even when you might feel like giving up… you will eventually finish the race and receive the prize.

That video we watched from the Marathon… It’s straight from the New York City Marathon website, and it’s called Inspiration. And what was the inspiration? It was crossing the finish line and received the prize. Getting that medal. That’s why they ran the race… to finish it and receive the prize. So that’s number four…

 

4. Receive your reward in Heaven.

The marathon runners got bragging rights and a medal to hang around their necks. What is your reward? Well, we talked about it earlier. It’s when you will exchange your weak, mortal bodies for glorious ones… like Christ’s own. Remember we read…

Philippians 3:21 (NLT)
He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own…

Now what that means, I don’t really know. I can’t exactly describe to you what your resurrected body will be like. Not even John, one of Jesus’ closest friends, could do that. He wrote…

1 John 3:2 (NLT)
Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is.

So we don’t know exactly what our resurrected bodies will be like. But we do know a little bit. We know that we will be like Him. We know…

1 Corinthians 15:43-44 (NLT)
Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies.

That was from Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth. In his second letter, he continued this discussions and said…

2 Corinthians 5:1-5 (NLT)
For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies… God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.

Joni Eareckson Tada, who herself is a quadriplegic, has talked about this resurrection of the body and has described it this way…

“One day no more bulging middles or balding tops. No varicose veins or crow’s-feet. No more cellulite or support hose. Forget the thunder thighs and highway hips. Just a quick leapfrog over the tombstone, and it’s the body you’ve always dreamed of. Fit and trim, smooth and sleek.”
~ Joni Eareckson Tada, in Heaven: Your Real Home

And that, my friends, is the Extremest Makeover. That’s our hope. That’s what we’re aiming for.

 

Can you imagine what a day that will be? Can you imagine what it will be like to have all of the troubles of life behind us and perfection before us? Can you imagine being freed from the limitations of these weak mortal bodies and to receive new, glorious ones? Can you understand how it will all be worth it on that day?

Well, for now we can only imagine. We certainly can’t describe it. But that promise of a future reward is enough to give us the focus and the courage and the perseverance to press on until we get there.

 

 

 

Copyright © Greg Hanson, 2006 SunriseOnline.ca