You have heard the many concerns in our church today, be with those who need your guidance and love. Hold our hearts in your hands and grant healing grace to those who are sick or hurting. Be with our leaders as they make hard decisions in such difficult times. There is so much evil in the world at this moment Lord. It is hard not to be saddened by it. Be with your faithful. Lift up our hearts. Jesus, when you were on Earth you taught us to pray this prayer, the Lord’s Prayer.
1 Corinthians 13New International Version (NIV) 1-13
13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
The Word of God for the People of God. Thanks be to God.
I have to tell you at my house we don’t run from insanity, we embrace it. Crazy things happen a lot at our house. I think they happen at a lot of people’s houses but a long time ago I learned to look at life as an adventure.
Tuesday morning I woke up about 2am and my heart was racing like it has been off and on the past couple of months. But this time my left shoulder was hurting. I know your left arm hurting can be one of the signs of a heart attack and I didn’t want to play around but then my mind said, well you did get pretty wound up playing a game with Alyssa earlier in the night and that may be why your arm is hurting. Anyway, I get up and get dressed. I am thinking I do not want to go to the Hospital for a false alarm, nor do I want to wake Donna as we don’t have anywhere to take the kids at 2am in the morning so I will have to make up my mind. So I go into the living room and Zander is sleeping on the couch. The TV is on, I have no idea how he sleeps with it on. I am a quiet and dark room kind of sleeping person. Anyway, they are showing How its Made, or something. It is a show that well, shows how things are made. I sat down in the chair unsure what to do. I didn’t want my stubbornness to prevent me from doing the right thing. So I said, Lord, if I need to go to the hospital, have the TV say the word Heart in some way. So I sat there less than five minutes and an ad came on for that new drug for Atrial fibrillation without a valve problem. So I left and drove myself to the hospital. And of course by five thirty am, they found nothing. No heart attack, my heart had stopped beating fast before I got to the hospital and by the time I left my shoulder had stopped hurting. I told the Lord as I was on the way to the hospital, even if this is a false alarm, I am going to do whatever you tell me. I think the Lord sends us on strange adventures just to see if we will be faithful to him. I know some of you ladies are married to stubborn husbands and are perhaps thinking, you idiot, you should have awoken your wife. You idiot, you shouldn’t have drove yourself to the hospital. And some of you are just thinking, you idiot. I can accept that.
Donna and I have been married twelve years (I think). 2003 carry the one, yeah yeah, I am sure. Donna and I and a group of our friends all arrived at the Men’s Garden right across from the Country Club. The flowers were all in bloom and we were married standing in the gazebo there. It was so beautiful. We were married by a friend of ours who is a Notary. In our state a Notary of the Public can marry people. Our Pastor at the time was there. We were Baptist at the time so don’t hold that against me. Because we threw the wedding together so fast, I didn’t ask him to officiate because I wasn’t sure he could make it so we asked our friend Lisa, who has been such a part of my life while working at Fuji, it just seemed more special But like all of the adventures in our lives, getting married was just the first of many Donna and I have been on. Then we had a reception at Lisa’s house. It was crazy suddenly getting married but being that there is a waiting period on marriage licenses, it wasn’t really that rushed. When you figure out you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, strangely you want the first day of the rest of your life to start immediately. And the day we married was so beautiful and unstressed I would recommend it to anyone. I am still so in love with Donna. And that is the catch for many. Scientist have said and studied Love and say that feeling of being in love is a chemical reaction. You know the crazy feelings you do during courtship? Where you can only think of that person and nothing else? You can’t sleep, you can’t eat. All chemical reactions. We are sort of high on these chemical reactions. Over time this fades away for most. There are days when we are in love. Days when your significant other makes you mad or makes you crazy. The person who knows you best is always the person who can make you the craziest.
There are at least four types of Love mentioned in the Bible: Here are the Greek words for them: Eros, Storge, Phileo, and Agape.
Eros, it is romantic love. This is the love that is more related to chemical reactions in the Brain and body. This is the love that makes you do crazy things. Where you don’t want to take a single breath without being near that person. If you want to read about Romantic love in the Bible, then you should read Song of Solomon.
Storge love, this is the type of love a family has for each other. You could apply this even to extended families. But it is a bonding love that keeps a family together. You could perhaps have this type of love for your spouse. They are your family and are kin to you.
Phileo (fillayo) love is the love of friendship and kindred spirits. This is the love you have for your BFF (Best Friend Forever). If you are truly blessed you have this type of love for your spouse. It is a platonic love. It is a love of mutual respect for one another. David and Jonathan were brothers and friends of the spirit. This is the love you and your best friend have when you disagree strongly about something yet can still be friends.
And finally there is Agape love. This is unconditional love. This is the love we are supposed to have for everyone. This is the love God has for us. He puts no boundaries up or requirements up for him to love us. It is truly unconditional. This could be the love you fall back to when you are mad at your spouse. They did something that really makes you mad but you love them so you aren’t going to swat them upside their head. This is totally without limits unconditional love.
My kids will from time to time say they hate things. I tell them I do not want them to hate anything or to even use the word hate. You can strongly dislike things but never hate. Except brussels sprouts, it is okay to hate those.
While I won’t say it is easy to always love your family and spouse, they are the ones we usually love unconditionally. But what about outside the four walls of your home? Can you love unconditionally that crazy person in the car in front of you who just cut you off at the intersection? Can you love unconditionally the man who is at the corner at Wal-Mart begging for money? Can we love the someone unconditionally who has wronged us?
Donna and I are part of an Emmaus Community. Every year they have two walks, one in the Spring, and another in the Fall. The 72 hour weekend (starts on a Thursday night) is a spiritual pilgrimage. You spend 72 hours with God focused on him. And as you will usually learn over the weekend, God focused on you. You won’t wear a watch or carry your cell phone as you are on God’s time. At the end of the weekend, the Pilgrims are given time if they want to talk about what the weekend meant to them. I had been helping some with the weekend behind the scenes and I happened to be at closing before everyone goes home. There was a man there who had lost a daughter through carelessness. She had been dating this guy and he was drunk and she rode with him somewhere and there was an accident. She died in the accident. And as often happens the boyfriend lived. This boy and his family had been close to her family forever before they even dated and certainly before this happened. The daughter’s death had crumbled her family. It had crumbled the friendship between the two families and this father could not forgive. But that Emmaus weekend he felt God had told him, his life could not move on if he and his family did not forgive. You see before this it had broken his family. To suffer such a lose, to lose a close friendship, this would probably devastate anyone. He and his family even pulled away from their church because the other family was there too. This was the church his family and the other family had grown up together in. But he promised that after he left the walk and went home it would be his priority to forgive, to rebuild, to embrace, and to love. And I waited to see. This was a story I wanted to know the ending to. It is kind of like riding on a bus or a plane and someone has this story they tell and you don’t get the hear the ending and sure, you shouldn’t have perhaps been listening to their conversation but you heard it. They said it out loud where about near anyone could hear if they weren’t too far away from their seats but the plane lands and well, you are left wondering the rest of the story. Remember Paul Harvey and The Rest of the Story. I love hearing that program. They were written so well and you felt like it was a cliffhanger and you just had to know the rest of the story.
I was listening to the radio the other day and David Jeremiah told this story and it fit so well for the message I was planning and I had to tell you.
So there was this young man name Bratcher who was about to ship off to war. He goes into a library looking for a book to read and there he finds a book but it isn’t the book that appeals to him but the beautifully written notes in the book. On the notes there is a girl’s name. And he is thinking he has to know this girl. So he does searches and thankfully because her name was unique, he finds her address and writes to her telling her how much her notes mean to him. And so while he is at war, they both exchange letters. The more letters he receives, well, he starts falling in love with her. He asks her to send him a pictures of herself and she tells him that he needs to wait. And so they keep writing and he falls in love with her via her letters. And he is heading back stateside and they arrange to meet each other at Grand Central Station in New York and she is to wear a rose and he is to bring the blue covered book and they are to meet at 7pm. So he is waiting in the station and it is 7pm and he is looking all around to find the girl with the rose. And this beautiful girl is walking toward him and he is so dazzled with her and he wants to go with her and then he notices she is not wearing a rose She says Hey Sailor and keeps on walking passed him. And he is thinking to himself, I want to follow that girl but I am so in love with the girl with the rose I must find her. And he looks past where the girl was and sitting near the wall is a women wearing a rose. And he proceeds toward her. She is not a beautiful lady he decides and he thinks she is about forty. She is heavy set and he is a bit bitter and disappointed, but his heart has loved this woman so he has to talk to her. So he walks up to the woman with the rose and shows her the book. He tells her he is so pleased to meet her and if she wouldn’t mind he would love to take her to dinner. And she says, Son, I am not sure what this is about. That lovely lady that just walked past you asked me to wear this rose and she told me if you asked me to dinner to tell you she is in the restaurant across the street waiting for you. She said it was some kind of test.
And the father whose family suffered tragedy, he did forgive. He learned the other family and the boy mourned the death of his daughter too. They were devastated to lose the friendship, the kinship, the wedding that never happened. It didn’t happen overnight but they mended. They are friends again. They celebrate the life of his daughter and mourn the lose of her together. And he is back working hard in church again. He was a very active member and a part of the church’s support system. And he is active in Emmaus.
Like in Matthew 18:21-22
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.“
Forgiving others is part of that unconditional love. Loving others in spite of their faults, is unconditional love. Your kids will do things you don’t agree with but you will love them unconditionally. We are God’s children. We have made mistakes. We have done things we know the Lord does not approve of and yet He loves us. There is absolutely nothing we can do that will lose God’s love. It is like Paul alluded to in our Scripture Lesson today, we could be the captain of industry, but without love, it means nothing. We could have the biggest outreach program to help others, but without love it means nothing. We could have the greatest family, but without love it means nothing. Do as God does, love others unconditionally.
Let us pray:
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you so much for allowing us to be in your house today. Watch over our hearts Lord and do not allow us to hate. Bring out of us the love you share with us.
These things we ask in your name,