Monthly Archives: January 2015

The Purpose of Thorns


The Purpose of Thorns by Rick Burdette

2 Corinthians 12:7-12:10

2 Cor 12: 7-10
Why did God put thorns on roses? Well, here is the answer from a Harvard Science Professor…
Rose plants have prickles not thorns. Prickles are sharp-pointed  hairs that contain epidermal and subepidermal tissues. A thorn is a short, sharp modified stem. Roses use prickles to ward off predators which may help extend their life.
New answer, but the rose didn’t choose to have a thorn…excuse me “prickle”
Now evolution might teach that the rose plant miraculously sensed its need to not be “ate” and so over millions of years “prickles” evolved to protect its beautiful blooms from being munched upon.
For those of us that approach the world through a “biblical” world view we would say, “God designed the rose’s beauty and put the thorns there for its protection. Without the thorns it just wouldn’t last very long…hmmmmm.
There could be a biblical application to that theory…in fact some intelligent good teaching ministers might even develop an entire series about thorns and roses from 2 Cor 12: Listen to it
2 Cor 12: 1-10
The saying look at my heart…look at my motives, it was never about money…ever. But these “Super apostles” have tried to offer you a different Jesus with a different spirit…”Wake Up…the spirit of Christ isn’t selfish or self focused…Jesus is the head of the church…but always showed a servant’s heart…haven’t I saved you free of charge…
And then Paul gives a warning about those men…
2 Cor 11: 13-15  “Their end will be what their actions deserve”
It’s in His defense of who he is that Paul shares Chapter 12…it’s his glory and his pain…He’s standing there spiritually speaking in his “boxer” shorts…as if he’s speaking about himself and his experience.
“I know a man in Christ who 14 years ago was caught up into the 3rd Heaven…I don’t know whether he was in his body or if it was just his spirit…God knows. He heard heavenly expressions…beyond his ability to share. I’ll boast about a man like that.”
Mystical people have as their aim a religious experience where they see God…dreams, visions, circumstantial experiences…where you experience the presence of God…all are beyond reality…
Mystical stuff is scary and sometime “stupid or satanic”
Seeing Jesus in a piece of toast or after taking Peyton buttons…mystical, but certainly not trustworthy…
So as Paul tells this mystery about being in heaven and experiencing the presence of God as proof of his calling…why should the Corinthian’s believe him, why should anyone? Well, what happened 14 years before he wrote this helps us understand his glory…and his thorn.
Some believe this happened at his conversion…during the 3 days he was blind…but many, myself included believe it took place after Saul was stoned in Lystra…the timing is about right…Paul is preaching, but Jews from Iconium and Antioch (remember this is the place he was ordained in) they persuaded the crowd to stone Paul…they did, and then they dragged him out of the city, presuming he was dead…(and he might have been, who knows…was he still in his body or not…God knows)
After the crowd leaves the disciples gather around Paul’s’ body and pray…and he gets up and went back into the city to preach the gospel once more.
It would take something pretty motivating to get someone to go back to the place they’d just been stoned to death.
Mystical things aren’t stupid or frivolous….but Paul hadn’t told anyone this for 14 years, nor does he mention it again…He’s been accused of boasting being a braggart…so why does he do this here…in defense of his ministry….because for Him it’s one of the most powerful reinforcements of God’s teaching his life and he doesn’t care if anyone else believes him…what God has done to call and convince Paul, the former blasphemous, violent and aggressive, arrogant sinner constantly rattles around in his heart. The dog rescued from the pound is always grateful.
[I remember a “mystical “ part of my conversion…there were several, but the one that continually…convinces me of God’s pursuit has to do with a car…and 7 starters…I’ve shared this with very close friends and family, but I don’t think I’ve ever shared it from the pulpit…during the later part of my rebellious life when God began to convict me of my sin and also put Godly people in my life I was torn between surrender and selfishness…I hadn’t completely chosen to turn my life over to God…I had this car…a Fiat…I hadn’t gone back to school, yet and was still working at K.F. C. until the start of the New Year…and for a 2 month time period it drove perfect when I was going to work or to youth group or a church activity…but it wouldn’t start when I got into it to go and get high or head to a party..I put 7 starters on that car in 2 months…and after I gave my life to Christ I never had to put a starter on it again….]
Was that a miracle…a mystical miracle…it was for me and it’s not something I share very easily because of how personally powerful it is to me and how mysterious it is…
Does God do that for everyone? Does God strike everyone blind on the road to Damascus? Does God always provide fish that break nets caught in deep water? No… and if you’ve ever had it happen to you…you understand it’s power and why Paul says, “I know a man”
I believe if God is going to allow you to suffer in His name as a chosen instrument…His grace is sufficient and in faith He gives you a little glimpse of why it’s worth it.
Remember Saul’s ego? Remember the violent, persecuting, aggressive blasphemer (his words not mine…)
Well, even though he is going to be made completely new in Christ II Cor 5:12 says “Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation…the old things have gone and new things have come.”
It’s his attitude that’s changed…not his persecuting

“To keep one from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations there was given one a thorn in my flesh A messenger of Satan to torment me.”
Hey, this was not something Paul understood immediately, nor accepted easily.
He pleased (literally fervently begged, over and over again) 3 times “LORD TAKE THIS FROM ME”
I can’t live with this…I can’t function with this…take it away…get rid of it, NOW PLEASE PLEASE!!!
I don’t know what it is: was it the memory of Steven’s face? Was it malaria, epilepsy, a bad back, his eyesight…singleness…The word for thorn…”SKOLOPS” literally means “STAKE”…
It feels like a stake driven into his body and its being twisted, flesh makes us believe it’s physical or sexual in nature, but we don’t know.
It might be why Paul reminds the Corinthians that these so called “Super Leaders” haven’t repented of their impurity and sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged (see 12:21)
14 years earlier Paul was a young man..How would you like to commit yourself to being single so you can concentrate solely on the Kingdom of God? In his first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 7 he tells us he did just that.
Remember, it’s a messenger from Satan…but God has allowed and continues to allow it to be present in Paul’s life…God said, “No….Keep it”
And thorns exist in the lives of committed followers of Christ for at least 3 reason..
*First, “To keep a check on our egos”
[If you believe that you are that and a bag of chips…a thorn, a severe weakness is a continuous reminder…No…No you’re not.]
Paul came to understand this purpose —“To keep me from becoming conceited”
It’s really hard to be conceited with scars…It’s really hard to brag about your glory, when the prick of the thorn reminds you of your weakness.
It’s been 14 years…Paul didn’t understand or accept this truth immediately. It taught him the 2nd purpose of a thorn.
*Secondly: To trust God’s grace to be sufficient. How much is enough? I don’t know.
There’s different kinds of pain…I’d rather you cut off my arm than to bury my wife.
The real truth is…I don’t get to choose, nor does God need my advice in the process. In the midst of the pain, as the thorn seems to twist I say, “I can’t take it… this is too much…God why would you let me go through this…Stop it…Stop it now…
But like silver in the flame…he won’t let one be destroyed…he won’t put more on me than I can bear…His goal is to purify, make one holy…conform one, shape one into the glorious image of his son…and that requires me going through the flames…sometimes, literally.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose…for those God foreknew. He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, so He might be the first born among many brothers” (Rom. 8:28, 29)
God doesn’t allow the thorn to hurt you, to ruin you…He allows the thorn so in your brokenness and surrender to His grace He can shape you to be like his Son Jesus.
This promise is only true for those who have accepted His call, and be adopted as His sons and daughters…
Satan has oversight over those on their own who are destroyed by sin and mastered by its damage.
Only as God’s child can Christ’s power rest on you…Trust god’s grace to be sufficient takes faith in the pain, trust for the “NO”, surrender to His plan in the agony.
And I’ll conclude with the 3rd purpose for Thorns
*Third) Thorns allow us to show the world God’s power. Not only is His power made perfect in our weakness…it’s displayed most clearly when we say to the world with our faith, “this is too big for me to handle. But it’s not too big for my God!”
It’s my belief that the scars become a way for us to witness to others who have been burned or go through a divorce or struggle with a stutter.
My daughter told me last night that she was in 3rd grade before she even realized I had scars. One of her friends said, “What happened to your dad?” and she didn’t know what they were talking about. I thought everybody’s father had one leg until I was 5 years old. The people that dearly love us don’t see the scars or because of the love they become invisible. The scars aren’t who we are. They are visible witnesses of God’s grace and every single person here today has scars…some you can even see!




Busted and Embarrassed by Rick Burdette

John 8:1-11


At the end of their first date, a young man takes the girl back to her home. Emboldened by the night, he decides to try for that important first kiss. With an air of confidence, he leans with his hand against the wall and, smiling, he says to her, “Darling, how ‘bout a good night kiss?”

Embarrassed, she replies, “Oh, I couldn’t do that. My parents will see us!”

“Oh come on! Who’s gonna see us at this hour?”

“No, please. I would just die of embarrassment if someone saw us.”

“Oh come on, there’s nobody around, they’re all sleeping!”

“No way. It’s just too risky!”

“Oh please, please, I like you so much!”
“No. I like you too, but I just can’t!”

“Oh yes you can. Please?”

“No, no. I just can’t.”


Out of the blue, the porch light goes on and the girl’s sister shows up in her pajamas, hair disheveled. In a sleepy voice the sister says: “Dad says to go ahead and give him a kiss. Or I can do it. Or if need be, he’ll come down himself and do it. But for crying out loud tell him to hake his hand off the intercom button!”

Busted!!! And Embarrassed!!! Have you been there? Your hand caught in the cookie jar.

Sin is something we’d like to keep secretive, hidden. That’s why they’re called “Night Clubs” not “Day Clubs.” We lock the door so no one comes in…we go to another town where no one knows us. We want the place to be dark so no one sees us.

And why do we sin? Well, Hebrews 11:25 tells us…”we enjoy sins pleasure for a season.”

I hate pickled beets…they taste like purple pickled dirt to me. If you like them, good, but they make me physically sick. (And no I don’t want to try your aunt Gertrude’s special recipe to make them!) If sin appealed to me like “pickled beets” I’d be perfect. No problem saying NO!

But sin appeals to our nature like “red velvet cake” and fried chicken” does to my appetite. It tastes good, but then I know I shouldn’t have done that.

We enjoy the high at the party and if feels good temporarily…the problem comes when we wreck the car or get pulled over on the way home…We hide behind the locked door, but then someone walks in…We go to the other town where no one knows us, but run into our sister in law at the restaurant. And the pleasure is replaced with the harvest we’ve planted.

Billy Sunday he old evangelist said, “Most people live their lives sowing wild oats all week long, and then they go to church on Sunday to pray for crop failure.”

Paul tells the Galatians, and us “Do not be deceived, God cannot be mocked, we reap what we sow.” Whoever sows to please their flesh, with the flesh will reap destruction, whoever sows to please the (Holy) Spirit from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Gal. 6:7-8)

Satan tries to convince us that sin doesn’t matter. We can hide it, pretend no one sees or hears. But all the while we’re leaning against the “spiritual” intercom and our heavenly Father knows exactly what we’re doing.”

Our story of brokenness this morning involves a woman who gets caught in the very art of adultery. There’s no uncertainty about what’s going on. In the middle of this sin…the door swings open, and the lights come on. Busted. It takes two for adultery to occur…it says a great deal about the accusers in this story…that only the woman is “held accountable.” Was it a set up…the man one of their own…I don’t know, but they were willing to crucify an innocent man, or two, so nothing is beyond their deceit.

She is brought to the temple courts. Where a crowd of people are gathered. She is made to stand before “these religious leaders,” the crowd, and Jesus himself. Are you with me? At her worst, in her sin guilt and shame she is made a spectacle.


Sin will always be one of the greatest litmus tests when it comes to the human heart. Ours, and how we deal with the sins of others.

[I watched a 20/20 ID program about two football players from Stubenville, OH. They were two local heroes from “The Big Red” High School Football team. And one night after a preseason game they went to a party, in fact 3. A 16 year old girl from W.V., an honor student and soccer player showed up. She got drunk, then she got drunker, and before the night was over these 2 football players…raped her, and video taped the rape…but so did dozens of other kids…through the night there were over a hundred texts and pictures posted…“Drunken Whore.” “She looks dead LMAO.”

And a picture where they were carrying her from the car to a third house…where a mother kicked them out, but never called the police.

We live in an age where sin has become a spectator sport! These two young me were convicted, but so were others who just watched.]

Neither the woman in John 8 or the teenager from WV made great choices and that got them in horrible situations. But, you can always tell the spectator and the accuser when it come to someone else’s sin. One does nothing but watch and be entertained by it, and the other picks up rocks so the “sinner” can be punished.

The Pharisees tell Jesus, the law of Moses commands us to stone such women…now what do you say…They were using this question in order to have a basis for “accusing” him.

They’re using one person’s sin in order to have a reason to accuse Jesus of “sin.”

Sin dirties us. God’s not a stick in the mud, not wanting us to have any fun…Sin creates separation, it makes things dark, dead and lost. Satan, the murderer, the thief, the liar, loves what sin does. Because his ultimate purpose is to hurt God. He’s still at war with God.

And although our battle isn’t against flesh and blood but the Spiritual forces of wickedness in the Heavenly realm (Eph. 6:12). These dark forces sometimes use people as their pawns.

Why do the “paparazzi,” the photographers of celebrities, have jobs. The crowd loves to see Brittany Spears, Justin Bieber, and Lindsay Lohan fail. Spectators and acusers love to be entertained by other’s sins. The individual doesn’t mean anything…but there’s a quick motive for condemnation and punishment.

So Jesus gets out a spiritual mirror and turns it on the accusers and spectators. He teaches us.


Jesus bends down and writes in the dirt as the woman stands there, as the crowd looks on, and the accusers hold rocks.

“But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.” I want to scream at John the Beloved…“What did He write?”

In fact He does this twice…and in between the two writings He says, “If any of you have no sin in your life, let that one throw the first stone.”

[Did he write specific sins the first time and then specific names next to their sins the 2nd time? Gossip – Joseph; Coveting – Isaac; Idolatry – Aaron. I don’t know…but whatever he wrote became a spiritual mirror to hardened, judgmental, condemning hearts.

Because those who heard him began to o away, one at a time, the older ones first and then the younger…until only Jesus is left. Why older first, probably because life teaches you about sin…and accusers.

The earthen jar of my life is waaaaay too cracked for me to start examining all your flaws. I need to take care of the log in my eye before I start focusing on the speck of sawdust in yours.


The only time Jesus dealt harshly with sin while here on earth was with the accusers. Those who thought they didn’t really need a Messiah like Jesus…Listen to what he said to them:

MATTHEW 23:1-7, 23-28

Pursuing holiness without humility will make you an accuser, a condemner and a spectator of sin. It will lead to a heart that picks up rocks and a tongue twice as hard and evil, instead of a heart that wants people to experience redemption, forgiveness and grace.

Jesus’ goal was always redemption. Even when he says, “Neither do I condemn you…now go leave your life of sin…He’s not minimizing sin…sin will require His death on a Roman cross is payment, But He is speaking life…instead of death.

[This woman in John 8 is the picture of shame and sin, guilt and condemnation hang on her like an anchor on a drowning man. She seems to look up when Jesus says, “where are your condemners?” Are there any here, and she says “No one sir.” By the way Jesus isn’t holding a rock…and He’s the only one who had no sin!

What if I took a picture of you at your worst. Right after you’ve put out manure or mulch, or better yet I wake you up at 4 AM, snap a picture of your sleep haired, drooling self and then post it on Facebook with you tagged on it.

Is that you? Yeah it’s you!!! at your worst. It’s not how you’d want everyone to see you for always and forever. It’s you at your ugliest.

Forgiveness allows for that ugly picture to be torn up…deleted. It sets people free. It doesn’t mean you forget the pain and hurt if the person has attacked or accused you, but it does in Christ allow you, once again, to pursue the image, the picture for which you’ve been created…God’s image. And it allows for them to pursue that image as well.]

Real forgiveness involves a life change.


As the woman looks around and discovers all her accusers have left, Jesus looks at her and says, “Neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.”

He doesn’t say, “Your sins are forgiven, like he does something. Why, because she’s not standing in front of Him because of faith. She’s been busted.

And repentance is always about more than being sorry you got caught. Repentance is a godly sorrow that changes your heart and life.

Remember those 2 football players from Stuberville OH…convicted of rape and video taping it…One of the boys made a statement almost as if it had been written and rehearsed. He apologized for videoing the incident, not the incident…but the other boy…got up, walked over to the family of the girl and poured out his heart…begged for their forgiveness. He wept uncontrollably…this is after the sentencing. (It would not change the punishment). And the girl’s mother got up, came around the bar, wrapped her arms around this young man and wept with him saying, “You’re forgiven, you’re forgiven.”]

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” (2 Cor. 7:10)

True repentance never has a chip on it’s shoulder or justifications in it’s apology!

This woman’s life after this day would prove whether she’d left her life of sin. Do you know how you’d know?

It’s whether she continued to commit adultery…and to live like she had before meeting Jesus.

If the jailhouse confession doesn’t last after you’re released from jail – it’s not really conversion is it?

That doesn’t mean you will leave the meeting place of conversion and walk in perfection until you die or Jesus returns. In fact what it means is you no longer walk in the same direction, and your awareness of sin and it’s power are considered differently. Holy isn’t the Spirit’s first name…it’s His work…If He live in you and you live in the realm of the Spirit instead of the realm of the flesh…You’re led by Him, and those led by Him according to Romans 8 are children of God.

[How does God love people? And how much? Many present God as a “Drill Sergeant” ready to straighten out new recruits…or a strict teacher who want us only to learn valuable lessons…but that’s not the picture Jesus paints…His picture is an elderly Father, who has tucked his garments into his belt, and is running…with open arms to receive back a wayward child.

A grandfather found his grandson, jumping up and down in his playpen, crying at the top of his voice. When Johnnie saw his grandfather, he reached up his little chubby hands and said, “out, Gramp, out.”

It was only natural for Grandfather to reach down to lift the little fellow out of his predicament; but as he did, the mother of the child stepped up and said, “No, Johnnie, you are being punished, so you must stay in.”

The grandfather was at a loss to know what to do. The child’s tears and chubby hands reached deep into his heart, but the mother’s firmness in correcting her son for misbehavior must not be lightly taken. Here was a problem of love versus law, but love found a way. The grandfather could not take the youngster out of the playpen, so he crawled in with him.

God loved us so much He crawled in with us!]

When God Flexes His Muscles

top-muscle-building-supp1When God Flexes His Muscles by Rick Burdette 

1 Corinthians 2:1-2:5 


I Cor. 2: 1-5 


Bruce Larson tells about how he used to help people who were struggling with crushing burdens in their lives…Here’s what he says….about surrendering their lives to Christ.

For many years I worked in New York City and counseled at my office any number of people who were wrestling with this yes-or-no decision. Often I would suggest they walk with me from my office down to the RCA Building on Fifth Avenue. In the entrance of that building is a gigantic statue of Atlas, a beautifully proportioned man who, with all his muscles straining, is holding the world upon his shoulders. There he is, the most powerfully built man in the world, and he can barley stand up under this burden. ‘now that’s one way to live,’ I would point out to my companion, ‘trying to carry the world on your shoulders. But now come across the street with me.’

“On the other side of Fifth Avenue is Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, and there behind the high altar is a little shrine of the boy Jesus, perhaps eight or nine years old, and with no effort he is holding the world in one hand. My point was illustrated graphically.

“We have a choice. We can carry the world on our shoulders, or we can say, ‘I give up, Lord; here’s my life. I give you my world, the whole world.”

Bruce Larson, Believe and Belong.

When the Apostle Paul showed up in Corinth to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ he did not think polished speeches or intellectual debates would convince people that God was powerful enough to hold their world.

He can with his testimony. He was no longer the arrogant Pharisee who had all the answers…He did not come into their community with his chest stuck out and his finger pointing. The strut was gone, the chip had been knocked off his shoulder…and the humble, transparent, forgiven sinner came into their presence broken and contrite, which are the sacrifices God desires. He came in weakness, he was afraid, his knees were shaking.

And because of that the Corinthians experienced the power of the message–instead of the polish of a motivational speaker. After Paul finishes telling his story they do not say, “Man that guy is a great preacher.” They say, “Oh God how gracious and loving you are to forgive him…will you forgive me?”

We know what Paul’s testimony about God is…He records it for us in his 1st letter to 

Timothy. Here’s what he says

1 Timothy 1:12-17 

[Jesus has given me the opportunity to serve him and the strength to do it, even though I was once the worst man you could have ever met—I lived like this because I didn’t believe, I was ignorant of the truth.

He saved me. He extended his grace to me…the worst sinner ever so I might serve as an example that God can save anyone…Because of that I praise my forever, divine King who is God even though I can’t see him!]

[Bill Gaither wrote these words: Shackled by a heavy burden, beneath a load of guilt and shame and then the hand if Jesus touched me. Now I am no longer the same.] It’s the exact testimony of John Newton a former slave trader who wrote “Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found was blind, but now I see”.

What kind of power can transform “the worst of sinners,” “wretches”, 17 year old High School drop outs lost in a haze of rebellion.”

The Power of the cross…”Jesus Christ and him crucified.”

What is the greatest demonstration of that power? The power of the cross…the spirit’s power…God’s power?

It is the saving and transforming of a person’s life–it’s the very reason for the cross!

And God the almighty One almost always has to convince us of our weakness before salvation and transformation can happen. when your flat on your back, or in Paul’s case face down in the dirt blind—you realize your not that powerful. It will change your attitude…It will give you a brand new resolution.

I Resolved to know nothing, but Jesus

So many times we try to figure stuff out with our own energies, or we seek advice from friends and others….and then we go to Jesus and ask Him if this idea is ok.

Paul used a different method—everything went through Jesus first. Every move was weighed in view of his salvation by the cross. The cross wasn’t the last place he went…it was the starting place. What was unimportant enough to be considered outside of this filter…”Nothing”.

I know we’re modern day people…with modern day stresses and modern day calendars, but why is our faith sometimes the last thing we consider in the decisions of life? Could it be that we think Jesus is more like Santa Clause than Savior and Lord. “Give me what I want…provide the presents, but don’t bug me the other 364 days of the year.”

When we intentionally make a commitment to know Jesus and the power of the cross…It’s a resolution…a daily resolution…a minute by minute resolution…your Lord…I want you to be Lord…Guide my thoughts, change my heart, direct my word. Demonstrate your spirit’s power…my faith does not rest on human abilities God…it rests on your power.

And where is that power made perfect? God’s word tells us…

It’s Jesus speaking to Paul in the middle of his “Thorn in the flesh” discussion. 3 times Paul has asked for its removal…3 times Jesus said “NO”. This thorn whatever it is weakens Paul, it humbles Paul…He’s begged “Take it away from me!”

It’s in our weakness that


God’s grace isn’t just amazing to save us its sufficient to uphold us when we’re heart broken and weak…this is the place where God proves his power in our lives

CONCLUSION: No one will be saved because of my speaking ability, or how clever I am at crafting a sermon not just the right amount of scripture, stories and jokes. If anyone is saved…it will happen because God’s Spirit demonstrates the ability to break our hearts and crucify our egos…He convinces us of our sin, our weakness

No Wonder 1 Cor 1:18 says

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it as the power of God.”

Sometimes the world you’ve been straining to carry on your shoulders has to fall to pieces so Jesus can prove he hold’s it with no problem in his right hand…and He’s been waiting patiently for you to come to a point where you know it…and you resolve to live it…and God flexes his muscles through your testimony and your service.

How Are The Dead Raised?


How Are the Dead Raised by Rick Burdette

1 Corinthians 15:35-15:49

1 Cor 15: 35-49

There aren’t many funerals I do that I don’t share one of my favorite stories about one of my favorite preachers….
My Dad’s favorite, or one of his favorite T.V. shows growing up was He Haw…By knowing this you might understand a little about my heritage…he was from a little town outside Rock Hill, S.C. My Mom was born in Quicksand, KY…I was born and raised in Lexington, KY, but my roots are deeply countryfied. I loved Jr. Samples, Grandpa Jones, LuLu, (My Dad took special note of the He Haw Honey’s) But my favorite person on the show was a preacher named Grady Nutt….He talked about carrying around a 97 lb. scoffed reference Bible, not just for spiritual reasons, but it fend off attacks from farm dogs when he went calling. Grady Nutt reminded me a lot of my preacher, Wayne Smith…I thought he was hilarious while attending Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In November of 1982 his plane crashed after a speaking engagement in Calmaw Ala… Everyone on board was killed…He was 48 years old.

At his funeral one of his best friends gave the eulogy…told stories, celebrated his life and then in the midge of this time of laughter, pain, grief and joy said…”you’ all understand that Grady isn’t here don’t you…Only the shell…the Nutt has gone home.”

This body that we live in is just the shell and although every single person has an eternal soul…that gives life to those mortal bodies. These bodies are first temporary…they get cracked, they get sick, they get old…and they get destroyed…they are not designed to house our eternal souls forever.

The Apostle Paul shares this exact truth in his 2nd letter to the Corinthians…”Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, and eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands” (2 Cor 5:1)

Tents are designed for camping out…a couple of days at the lake…or at most temporary shelter for soldiers who are displayed in war…no one really wants to live in a tent for too long…winds blow them down, rain saturates them…bears think they’re sandwich wrappers. After about 3 days they smell like old sweat socks and its time to go home.

Sot as the apostle Paul writes about the resurrection in our text he’s dealing with the questions about this body we live in…shells and tents…what happens to them when we die….? Here’s what he writes.

1 Cor. 15: 35 “But someone may ask (and I’m pretty sure someone already has)
“How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?”

Folks, despite what you’ve been told


You remember when your teacher would tell you there were no stupid questions…and then someone would ask a question and everyone in the class including the teacher knew she was wrong.

[Kari and I were going through a tour of Mammoth Cave…we loved it, but I have the Ranger a hard time all through the tour…and he gave it right back…we had a blast with each other…but at the end of the day as we got ready to exit he asked…Do any of you have any questions…and my hand shot up….”I told Kari, watch this” She rolled her eyes…and as the ranger looked at me he rolled his and said “Yes” And I asked him “if all of the cave was underground”. And he cracked up…left character for a moment… and said and I quote…”Yes, stupid it’s a cave, its all underground”

Paul has been dealing with resurrection questions He’s taken us on an underground tour…and here’s a ride paraphrase of a question he’s dealing with.

“Some of you might laughing at the idea that these temporary bodies have any long term significance…you think it’s a joke and sarcastically ask…If the dead are raised what kind of bodies will they have…won’t they stink? They’re gonna look pretty ugly and zombie like aren’t they? Partially decaying, bones sticking out…why would I want to be resurrected and have to walk around in the condition?
Here’s Ranger Paul’s answer:
1 Cor. 15-36-44
What a foolish question! “When you plant a seed in the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first.
And whatever you put in the ground is not the plant that will come out of the ground.

If seeds get a new body when they die…don’t you think people will get a new body too?
“God gives it a body as He has determined and to each kind of seed He gives its own body” (v. 39)

Paul’s point …stop thinking that our resurrected bodies will be anything like these temporary shells we live in now.


This body is perishable…the resurrected body is imperishable …this body is dishonorable (it lack honor or integrity) the resurrected body will be raised in glory. This body is weak…that body will have power…This body is natural…the resurrected body will be spiritual. (V42-44)

“If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.”

Paul tries to illustrate a basic truth…God has given different kinds of bodies to men, birds and fish…they certainly aren’t the same.
And our heavenly bodies, which will be given to us by God at the resurrection, certainly aren’t the same as the earthy ones we live in now.

He uses the word “Splendor” to describe the difference between these 2 kinds of bodies. It’s the Greek word “DOXA” and it means “Brightness or Glory”…

Paul says the Sun has one kind of this “doxa” while the moon and stars have a different kind of brightness or splendor…even the stars shine differently.

Now the catch this point…”It is the same way for the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies fill die and decay…there’s not much splendor or glory in these temporary shells…but our heavenly bodies will really shine.

That’s the extreme difference Paul expresses in his 2nd letter to these Corinthians. We’ve already looked at verse 1 in chapter 5…but look at what follows earthy tents verses eternal houses.

2 Cor 5: 2-5
Using the terms Heavenly bodies or “spiritual bodies must have drove “opponents of the resurrection” nuts…they thought bodies were evil…irrelevant….but Paul says, “You’re a fool if you think our resurrected bodies will be anything like these temporary ones we live in now…”

[Have any of you ever seen “Survivor man” or Bear Grylls “Man vs. Wild? They try to survive in the most difficult of circumstances…one of the first things they do is make a temporary shelter…like a “lean to” or branch Hut…for a week they survive on bugs, snakes, plants…but then they’re picked up by helicopter and flown home. Even these rugged dudes are excited to get to their real home…it’s not easy to survive in the wild.]

Paul’s whole point is…”Were camping out here on earth… we live in a tent…we’re strangers and aliens in survivor mode…one day God’s gonna come pick us up and take us to our real home…We groan for that day…down here its bare bones….after the resurrection its clothed in the splendor of Christ…and we can’t even fathom the difference.

Benjamin Franklin wrote his epitaph while still a young man. It wonderfully catches the spirit of what Paul is talking about in ! Cor. 15.
“The body of B. Franklin, printer, (like the cover of an old book, its contents torn
out and stripped of its lettering and gilding) lies here, food for worms. But the
work shall not be lost; for it will (as he believed) appear once more, in a new and
more elegant edition, revised and corrected by the Author.”

I do not have the skill or the ability to describe “this revised elegant edition….nor did Paul or any man…but the most important truth I can end with this morning is…


1 Cor. 15: 45-49

“And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthy man (Adam…he sinned…He died) so we shall bear the likeness of the man from heaven (Jesus…who never sinned, but died to pay for our….was resurrected “the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep”)

This promise, this resurrection is for all those who are “in Christ. His victory over death becomes our victory over death…Romans 6:5 says “If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection”

Unless you die to your sin, unless your are buried in Christ…you cannot use to walk in newness of life…but if you have…God gives you the Holy spirit as a deposit…His guarantee, so you can rise and walk in newness of life…that new life starts here and now…that fruit is evident, even in this temporary tent…but one day that spirit will have a new residence.

And the hope is whether we are still alive when Jesus returns. ..or whether our bodies are in the ground ready to be reunited with our spirit’s that Jesus will bring with him
“Listen, I tell you a mystery, we will not all sleep but we will all be changed —in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye at the last trumpet…for the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised imperishable…” (1 Cor 15: 51,52) and we will be changed!”

You can spend all your life making the tent comfortable and spending an eternity in Hell…or you can spend your life camping out here on earth for the glory of God and spend your eternity in a mansion built by God himself for you…Its why God made you….for this very purpose.
[I remember hearing about a King that came to one of his servants and said I’m going on a trip but while I’m gone I’d like for you to build me a palace…so after the King left the servant went to work…but as the project progressed the servant started cutting corners, using cheap products and pocketing the money…He used cheap materials, he covered up mistakes instead of correcting them. The Palace looked good on the outside, but lacked strength and integrity in all the important places.
When the King returned…He visited the palace with the servant…it looked beautiful…but it was just a facade…And then the King did something surprising…he said, “this is your home…I’m giving it to you…may the work you’ve done on it stand for eternity..]
We are building for eternity here…you can choose cheap materials like wood, straw and sticks…or you can build out of material that will stand the test…Gold, Silver and precious stones…
But one day all of us will be accountable for the house we’ve built.

Building Material That Lasts


Building Something That Lasts by Rick Burdette

1 Corinthians 3:14-3:14



Do you remember the story of the three little pigs? It’s my grandson Peyton’s very favorite story…I’ve read it to him so many times…he finishes the sentences. It’s the story of three little pigs who set out to build houses of their own after the Mamma pig tells them their too big to live in her house any longer.
The first little pig runs into man with a load of straw and he quickly constructs a house made of this material, the second little pig runs into a man with a load of sticks and be quickly builds a house out of this material…but the 3rd little pig runs into a man with a load of bricks…and painstakingly builds a strong house with two windows and a chimney…it’s a house make to last/ when the big bad wolf comes calling…when he huffs and puffs…the first two houses come crashing down…the 2 little pigs
run for safety to the brick house…and when the big bad wolf comes calling he cannot blow this house down…Its built to last…and when he tries to sneak in the chimney he ends up in a big pot of boiling water…the 3 pigs live together in the brick house…happily ever after.

I don’t know if the original author of this story every read 1st Corinthians chapter three, but both stories have the same theme…when you build….build out of material that lasts.

The three little pigs story starts out “Once upon a time there were three little pigs whose mother said to them…”It’s time for you to go out into the big world to build houses of your own..

They are sent out with a very specific purpose…and if we are to be a church with a powerful purpose we need to understand our mission at lest as well as these 3 little pigs.

Here’s what Jesus told his followers as he sent them out into the world.

John 17: 15-18

Jesus does not take his followers out of this world, instead he sanctifies us and sends us out into it for a very specific purpose…build something that will last…use eternal material, and when the big bad wolf (comes huffing and puffing…it will remain standing….
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of min and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock…the rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its formation on the rock.” (Matt 7:24-25)

The Apostle Paul lets us know in 1 Cor. 3 who that rock is.

1 Cor. 3:10-11
[My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness…All other ground is sinking sand…all other ground is sinking sand.]

It and important question isn’t it? The most important question! What are you building the hope of your life on?

The god of this world would have you build it on sand. He’ll lie to you….he’ll try to convince you that your hopes of stability and security are justified. He’ll tell you that relationship will give you value. This accomplishment will seal the deal. This possession will really make you happy….and he laughs hysterically as your house collapses and slides into the sea.

What’s so scary is that people continue to build their lives on this sandy material time after time. Maybe it will be different this time, maybe this relationship will keep me safe, maybe this accomplishment will be enough…collapse…rebuild…collapse….rebuild…and life is over…and you look back only find the straw and sticks blown to kingdom come.

Jesus is the only foundation that offers security and eternal hope…it’s the only foundation that will not collapse as we build for eternity in this world….Before the foundation of the world God prepared this building site….”No one can lay any other foundation than the one already laid, which is Christ Jesus”

He becomes our foundation for hope when we give him our lives…when we finally surrender to the truth that this world only offers straw and sticks…and he has a powerful purpose for each house built on his blood and righteousness….the old house is demolished and new project is begun.

For us to realize the powerful purpose of God’s building plan…the one he is the architect of before time began we have to realize.


If you go back a little earlier in 1 Cor 3 you see the church at Corinth divided and arguing about which minister it was better to have become a Christian under. Was it more spiritual to have accepted Christ because of Paul’s ministry, Peter’s ministry or Apollo’s.

Paul tells them baby’s argue and fight about stuff like this…people still in the world are jealous concerning who the most popular leader is…he writes to them and says

1 Cor 3: 5-10
If you want to see an effective leader’s heart…a leader that understands his purpose in the world all you have to do is look at Paul’s attitude. All of us have egos…all of us like to feel valued, but Paul knows that Jesus eternal building project is a team effort…it requires builders with different gifts…and none of those gifts are more or less important in the construction.

It would have been so easy to divide this church. Paul could have gathered his team…Peter his team and Apollo’s this team.

It happened in 3rd John…Gaius a church leader or pastor welcome others who came in Christ’s name to help and minister. He showed hospitality to fellow builders.

A church leader named Diotrephes did not. He wanted to be first in power and popularity…listen

3 John 8-11

If you want to identify the heart of a leader who understands eternal building…look at Paul, or Gaius…it doesn’t matter whose just or whose powerful…only that hospitality is shown to other people who are building, and that the church is focused on Jesus…not themselves. Diotrephes was the example of a leader focused on self, and trashing others behind their backs.

If we are to build with material that lasts these are the spiritual truths that must be followed. There will be a messenger that lays the gospel foundations in Jesus….there will be mentors who help people become strong and secure in their faith, their will be people who refresh with encouragement like water to a thirsty plant…none of these people are more important than the other…they’re all servants. “The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose…and each will be rewarded according to his labor.” (v.8) Neither he who plants or waters is anything, but only God who makes things grow” (v.7)

That one purpose is clearly leading people to Christ Jesus and helping those people in turn become effective builders for Christ. Helping them become temples in which God lives instead of houses built on sand…tossed back and forth by worldly stones. Yes there will be people who argue about which ministry is more important, yes there will be people who love to be first like Diotrephes…and gossip will tear servants down.

But there will also be builders who realize they are servants…that God is the only one who can grow anything or build anything…and they will welcome others to share in ministry for God’s eternal glory…there will always be weeds and wheat in the field…even in God’s field.

That’s the very reason Paul tells us “each one should be careful how he builds…because


“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple, and that God’s Spirit lives in you… If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him, for God’s temple is sacred and you are that temple. (v 16,17)

It’s the exact correlation to Luke 17: 20-21 where Jesus is asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come and Jesus replied “The Kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation nor will people say “Here it is or there it is because the Kingdom of God is within you”.

When you are born again in Christ you receive the Holy Spirit. He takes up residence inside you. Your body becomes the temple in which God lives. The foundation for building a beautiful temple for God’s glory and His purposes has been laid.

Now the construction to make it a Holy residence for His presence begins. Each of us is responsible for its continued Holy construction for ourselves…and we are also helping others become Holy tenders. The bible calls this process – sanctification. It is the process of becoming like Jesus.

And if any of us presume to be builders for God we’d better build carefully using gold, silver or costly stones.

If we go outside of God’s purpose and use wood, hay or straw…”The builders world will be shown for what it is…because the day will bring it to light…it will be tested by fire…and the fire will reveal the quality of each man’s work

Paul chose gold, silver and costly stones when it came to the Corinthians. He chose to build maturity in their lives instead of choosing sides in petty arguments. He wanted to teach them to be temples instead of outhouses.

Godly builders have to dig deep for these sacred truths. You might find straw, wood and hay just laying around on the surface—but the costly things….the things that last and stand the test of fire require courage to dig deep spiritually.

[Here’s an example: suppose someone doesn’t like something in the church and they begin to get critical or begin to tear down…do you dig deep and remind them of “the one purpose” or as you settle for wood, hay and straw by trying to placate and please…Do you try to make sure they’re on your side… or do you share the expectation that building for the kingdom is much more important]

It seems clear there will be builders who chose the wood, hay and straw option…and they will not lose their salvation….”They’ll suffer loss, but, he himself will be saved as one escaping through the flames”

But as a leader in God’s house I don’t want to stand before Jesus with a smoldering mulch pile behind me….I want to stand before him with people who have dug deep and are purified by the fire, like Gold and Silver, not burnt up.

People as the temple of God are so sacred each building block of ministry we lay…needs to be laid with the question…does it build up or destroy…does it help people grow up into Christ or does it keep them infants. Let me end by saying….A church with a powerful purpose is laid by men and woman who are spiritual in their thinking and wisdom. It is that Spirit that makes us sacred….It is that Spirity that gives us insight into the heart and mind of God according to Romans 8:27.

“And he who searches our hearts, knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will”.


Janus Chan in the book “Forgotten God” shares the reason the Holy Spirit exists in each believer. It’s shared and it’s the right reason

While we may have our own purposes for desiring the Spirits presence and power in our
lives, so does God! First Corinthians 12 tells us that each follower of Christ is given a
“manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (v.7) As we’ve seen, these manifestations, or gifts, are “empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills” (v. 11)
So these reflections of the Spirit’s presence and activity in us have nothing to do with our
natural abilities, and we have no received them because we have earned or somehow deserve
them. Since these gifts come according to God’s will and not ours, it should be clear that they should not be used for our own boasting or entertainment.
The Spirit is intentional as He apportions these spiritual gifts to each person, according to His
will and purposes. The most obvious and stated purpose of these manifestations if for the good
and edification of the church. The Spirit desire to use us when our hearts are aligned with this vision, when we are filled with genuine love for the church, and when we desire to see the church grow in love for God and others.

So, this little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed home, this little piggy had roast beef and this little piggy had none…and this little piggy built for God’s Kingdom all the way home.

Let’s pray.