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Tom & Patty Douglass Renewal of Vows June 22 2008

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Tom & Patty Douglass’ Renewal of Vows Service

Message – “Real Love Is Not for the Faint of Heart” 1 Cor. 13

Introduction

Fainthearted= timid, cowardly, lily-livered, spineless, fearful

Life is Not for the Faint of Heart!

            Life is not easy

            Life is challenging

            Life brings some interesting twists and turns

            Life brings the unexpected

                        Untimely deaths of friends and family members

                        Injuries and sickness

                        Pressures that seem beyond our ability to bare

                        Family struggles

                        Financial pressures     

Original lyrics by Hal David,
music composed by Burt Bacharach.
Another simpler version (instrumental)
world.mid (16 kB)

"What the world needs now
is love, sweet love
it's the only thing
that there's just too little of
What the world needs now
is love, sweet love,
no not just for some
but for everyone.

We need Love but we need the Real Kind of Love!

We don’t need a substitute!  It just won’t work

3 Words for Love in Greek

Eros – In mythology there was a god called Eros- which is the god of lust, speaking of sensual or erotic kind of love, purely physical, fleshly, mostly selfish in nature.

            Purely physical love won’t cut it all the time.  It is nice within the bounds of marriage to meet one another’s needs physical, however, there needs to be more to help in the tough times.

Phileo – Speaking of Brotherly kind of love that you would have for mankind.

            Purely brotherly love is wonderful and help us to deal with a lot, but we need more.

Agape - this word represents divine, unconditional, self-sacrificing, active, volitional, and thoughtful love.

Which kind of Love do you need when the pressures of life flood our way?

Which kind of Love is needed when problems arrise in relationships?

Which kind of Love is needed when the bills pile up and there seems to be no way out?

Answer:  AGAPE Love

True Agape Love is not for the Faint of Heart.  It is not just ooozing out of our hearts and minds naturally.  It is Hard work!  It is not natural to us.  Our default setting doesn’t come up with Agape Love.

Where do you get this kind of love?  From God.  It is not within our nature to express this kind of Love.  In fact, it is impossible to express this kind of love without God’s help.

So behind all of this talk on love this morning must come the realization first that we need God’s Help, God’s intervention in our Life.  We need to humble ourselves before God and recognize our need for Him to help us in order to Express and Live out this kind of love in the Challenges of Life!

=========

It was Jonathan Swift, the satirical author of the famous book that many of you will know from childhood, "Gulliver's Travels", it was he who said these words: 'We have just enough religion to make us hate one another, but not enough religion to cause us to love one another'. If you like, in summary, that is what the apostle Paul is saying to this church at Corinth. Remember from the very beginning of this book, Paul commended them that they were a church that came behind in no gift - they were filled with not only natural talent, but spiritual ability. There were great leaders, great orators, great mighty charismatic leaders within the church - but the fact of the matter was, for them contextually as we look at this passage tonight, they had enough religion to hate one another, to envy one another, to be prideful with each other because they were envious, competitive in this egotistic sense, but yet they hadn't enough religion to love one another.

Real Love is for those who are strong and courageous

Real Love is only possible with God’s Help!

Reality of Homes today:

What’s normal & ordinary in homes today…
It’s Usual & Ordinary;
• For husbands & wives to give up on their marriage when things get too tough
• For family members to be slow to listen, quick to speak & quick to become angry
• For family members to be takers and not givers •
• For parents to exasperate their children (to drive them crazy) by being; demanding, inconsistent, unreasonable and hypocritical
• For there to be more harsh words of criticism spoken then gentle words of encouragement
• For husbands to NOT love their wives
• For parents (especially dads) to put their career before their family
• For family members to expect others to serve them rather then looking for ways to serve
• For family members to NOT talk about deep things and to just live on the surface
• For family members to act one way in church and another way at home
• For family members to (when things don’t go their way) – flip out, get angry and yell
• For wives to NOT respect and honor their husbands leadership
• For family members NOT to say; thank you or please…
• For past hurts, mistakes and pain to be used as a weapon

One person described marriage this way: “Every marriage is two incompatible people in an impossible relationship.” If that’s the case, how in the world can any marriage work today? What holds marriages together? Simply put, the glue is love. I’ve shared this definition before but it’s the best I’ve ever heard: Love is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person. If you suddenly realize that you’re “incompatible” that just means that you now know what God has always known. The real challenge is to live out your unconditional commitment by loving your imperfect spouse.

Sometimes it takes awhile for reality to set in. Several years ago the Saturday Evening Post ran an article called “How Things Change” that was subtitled “A Husband’s Sequence of Reactions to His Wife’s Common Cold.”

The 1st Year: “Sugar Dumpling, I’m really worried about you. You’ve got a bad sniffle and I don’t want you to get strep. I’m checking you into the hospital.

The 2nd Year: “Listen, Darling, I don’t like the sound of that cough. I’ve called the doctor and she’s coming right over.”

The 3rd Year: “Maybe you better lie down, honey. I’ll bring you something to eat. Is there any canned soup?”

The 4th Year: “Now look, dear, be sensible! After you’ve fed the kids, washed the dishes and finished vacuuming, you better lie down for a few minutes.”

The 5th Year: “Why don’t you take a couple aspirin?”

The 6th Year: “I wish you’d gargle or something, instead of sitting around barking like a seal.”

The 7th Year: “For Pete’s sake, stop sneezing! You’re going to give me pneumonia!”

I was reminded this week that many girls marry men just like their fathers, which may explain why so many mothers cry at weddings!

In the famous “love passage” that is read at most weddings, 1 Corinthians 13 helps us understand what love is and what it looks like in daily life. Love is not primarily a feeling but an action. The kind of love that you and I are called to demonstrate must be seen and experienced. It’s more decisional than emotional. When Paul wrote this chapter, he was not thinking about weddings or romance. Chapter 13 comes right in the middle of a lengthy discussion on the use and abuse of spiritual gifts in chapters 12 and 14. All sorts of disputes and divisions plagued the Corinthian church. They argued about which spiritual gift was the greatest; they were selfish and immoral, they were taking each other to court, they had conflict during communion and they were impatient with others. And I’m sure their marriages were a mess as well.

This kind of love is a selfless and unconditional commitment to imperfect people. Agape is a love for the utterly unworthy and ugly, a love which proceeds from a God who is love. It’s a love lavished upon others without a thought of whether they are worthy to receive it or not. It proceeds from the nature of the lover, rather than from any merit in the beloved. That’s the word that is used throughout 1 Corinthians 13.

     When you have conficts or communication struggles- go to God’s Word & - respond in a biblical manner.

Marriage is something you both have to work at.  Don’t take this lightly- give it your constant attention – it is worth it.

Christ Gives us the Supreme example of how you should love one another:

True Love originates with God himself.  He not only is Love but He demonstrated his love by acting in our behalf.  He sent his one and only son into this world to show us his love in a very tangible way.  His son laid down his life so that we could have the hope of eternal life and the joy of knowing that our sins are forgiven as we place our trust in His Son Jesus Christ.

 

1John 4:9ff

9.  This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  10.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  11.  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

 

Because of the example we have in Christ we are exhorted to "love one another".  Love is especially important in the marriage relationship.  It is important because of the challenges, trials, differences of opinion on many things, that all enter into our relationships with our mates.  Without real love for each other we cannot make it. 

 

Lets consider for a moment a very familiar passage in the Bible that shows us some of the ways that Real love is supposed to act or not act.

Paul is, of course, speaking here not of our love for God or his for us, though that love too is revealed here in a secondary way. Nor is he speaking about romantic or married love, though that love too is revealed here in a general way. He is not speaking directly about the love of parents for children or children for parents. Paul is speaking of brotherly love, the love Christians are to have for and practice toward one another.

But Paul here and the Bible as a whole do not leave us in any doubt about what love is. It is a whole-souled commitment to another person and to that person's welfare. It is a commitment that embraces mind, and will, affections and emotions, thoughts, attitudes, and, most profoundly, actions.

Outline

The chapter has been divided, aptly I think, into three sections:

1.  The Prerequisite of love; (v. 1-3)

2.  The Practice of love; (v. 4-7)

3.  The Permanence of love. (v. 8-13)

 

1.  The PREREQUISITE (NECESSITY) of True Love; (v. 1-3)

First he says to these Corinthian believers who were recipients of those extraordinary gifts and the experiences that went with them - miraculously speaking foreign languages, giving prophecies directly from God, healing the sick by merely a word or touch - greater powers than these it is hard to imagine; nothing more amazing has ever been seen in the world, but if love is missing these gifts and powers are nothing, and you who have them are nothing also. Without love the most powerful person, the most famous person, the most influential person, the most admired person is a zero! He or she is not simply a zero in one person's estimation, he or she is a zero. In fact, worse that and lower than a zero.

Love is how we must now live; love is how the saints of God shall forever live. Love is the principle of that everlasting life that begins when a sinner is saved in this world, becomes a new creature in Jesus Christ, and the principle that continues unchanged and forever in the world to come.

Now, that being so, Paul says, it is foolishness in a high degree to go chasing and pining after that which lasts only for a short time and neglect what remains and matters forever. Zealous for the immediate boost to their prestige, these Christians were indifferent to what God has made the central and everlasting principle of the Christian life.

Take the Lord's word to heart, brothers and sisters. Love is to be everything in your life and mine, love as Paul here defines it, love as a commitment of the heart and the will, a selfless devotion. It is the measure of your life and mine.

Now, we are all too much of the time interested in other things than this love. Some of us would rather have knowledge and we read books and study arguments. Some of us would rather have station or position, others want success in this way or that, even in the church. Others, and all of us too much, are more interested in simple things such as pleasure and money. How often do you say to yourself or to others that your goal in life, your highest hope and aspiration is to be someone who loves others greatly. That you want above all things to be known for your love. That you will be missed when you are gone above all else for the love you showed to others. Love is not, far too often, the be all and end all of our lives

In verse 1, Paul is saying that even if he could master several languages and be able to speak the heavenly language of angels, but he didn’t have love, then he would be nothing more than a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. In the first century, there was a big gong or cymbal hanging at the entrance of most pagan temples. When people came to worship, they would hit this gong in the hope that it would awaken the pagan gods so they would listen to their prayers. Paul is saying that even if he were so blessed that he could speak with great eloquence in every language known to man and angels, if he didn’t have love it would be as useless as the ridiculous act of pounding on a piece of metal to wake up a non-existent deity.

In verse 2, Paul says that love is more important than prophecy, insight and knowledge. Even if we know everything about nuclear science, medicine, philosophy, psychology and theology but still do not have love, we are nothing. He next states in verse 3 that love is even more important than generosity and sacrifice: “If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I am nothing.” Even for those of us who do VBS or mission’s projects, etc, if we accomplish a lot of things, help boys and girls, and serve others, but don’t do it with love, we might as well not even go or do it. No matter what we might do or endure or give up, if we are not practicing love, then we lose.

We could do all kinds of good things and perform all kinds of ministries----- however, if not done from a true heart of love- it is Zero (nothing), Zippo!!!

True Love Is Absolutely Necessary!!!

2.  The PERSONALITY (NATURE) of True Love; (v. 4-7)

. Love is not a technique in the Bible. We are never taught the five easy steps to love or the ten ways to become a loving person. Love is the humility that comes from a profound sense of one's own sin and guilt and unworthiness expressing itself toward others. Love is the gratitude for an inexpressibly great salvation, purchased at terrible cost to God and given freely to you while you were his enemy, expressing itself toward others. Love is a devotion to God and a hunger and thirst to live a Christ-like life expressing itself toward othe Our life is far too often summed up in these words:

I lived for myself, I thought for myself,

    For myself and none beside -

Just as if Jesus had never lived,

    As if he had never died.

While love is to be preferred to anything else, in verses 4-7, Paul challenges us to put its properties into practice. It’s not enough to just acknowledge that love is essential; we’re called to exhibit agape love in our lives.

Love is not a suggestion; it’s a command because agape always leads to an action. That means that you must fight for your marriage, that you must actively demonstrate love to your spouse, and that you can’t just say that you don’t feel like being loving. In the original, these adjectives are actually verbs, meaning that love has more tenacity than talk, more obedience than emotions.

1Cor 13:4-7

 

(verse4)  Love is patient = slow to become resentful, long tempered

            It describes someone with a long fuse. 

            In today's world we are encouraged to strike back or retaliate.

            Here we are instructed to be patient with each other

This property is passive in the sense that love hangs in there and waits for God to do His work. This refers to “someone who is able to avenge himself yet refrains from doing so.”

 

Love is kind = disposed to be useful, good natured

This second property is more active.

It’s really patience in action. Love volunteers to help others when they’re in need.

            Living our life for the benefit of others, to be serving, useful and gracious

The next list of properties tells us what love is not or what love doesn’t do.

 

 Love does not envy =  unpleasant feelings towards others who have something we would like.  It could even go so far as to wish evil on others so that we could enjoy more.

 

Instead of wishing I had what you have; love helps me to celebrate what God has given you without being jealous of it.

 

 Love does not boast = Boast literally means braggart or wind-bag.

Love Doesn't seek the applause of others or brag about what I have done.

            Bragging puts ourselves first.  Every one else is then of less importance.  This ought not to be in marriage.

 

 Love is not proud   =  The word means to blow or to puff.

 It is the state of being conceited

            Real love says, I want to know all about you and your needs.

            Pride is only concerned with self.

Pride has no place in a believer’s life because everything we have is by grace. Do you remember “The Fonz” on Happy Days? He really struggled to admit that he was wrong and when he did, it almost killed him as he would say, “I was wr…wr…wr…o…oo…n…ng.” If you think you are always right and need to have the last word, you are not living out love.

 

(verse 5)   Love is not rude = Rude means love doesn’t behave in an ugly, indecent, or obscene manner.

It doesn't have poor manners.

            Acting rudely shows little care for the feelings of others.

Love doen’t needlessly offend.

 Love is not self-seeking = Self seeking is the exact opposite of agape love.  True love does not seek to build up self but rather puts others first.

True love doesn’t live with the motto, “I'll do it my way”

Alan Redpath has said, “The secret of every discord in Christian homes, communities, & churches is that we want our own way and our own glory.”

 Love is not easily angered = Is not quick tempered

A person who is living under the influence of love is not prone to violent anger or exasperation.

The Phillips Paraphrase of this portion says, “Love is not touchy”

            Lets get angry with the injustice that is going on but not over petty differences.  Be careful to talk things over and not let bitterness well up in side you.

 Love keeps no record of wrongs = It doesn't calculate the wrongs committed. It is an accounting term meaning to add up and itemize.

Instead of remembering everything that’s ever done to you, wipe out those wrongs by forgiving and by refusing to hold your spouse hostage to what he or she has done in the past. 

Are you keeping score?  It is time you let it go by forgiving and forgetting. 

 True love doesn't bring up past failures.

 

 

(verse 6)  Love does not delight in evil = It doesn't take satisfaction in others wrongdoing

Paul now moves to 5 positive aspects of love which paint a picture of love in action.

Even though you might not feel very loving to your mate or others, you need to still act loving toward them.

Your feelings may follow your obedience or they may not.  NO matter what, you still are called to live out love.

 

Vs 6 Love rejoices with the truth

 

Truth is opposite of evil.  Instead of thinking about the evils or bad things about your spouse or others, love celebrates or applauds his good qualities

 

 (verse 7)   Love always protects = Love bears in silence all annoyances, troubles and overlooks the faults in others.  It protects others from exposure, ridicule, or harm. 

The picture here is that of a blanket that covers or hides things.  Instead of exposing blemishes or sins of others, true love covers them with a cloak of love.

Love doesn't expose or broadcast the failures and wrongs of others.

1 Peter 4:8 says, “Love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

When I am quick to notice fault, I am not practicing love.

 

 Love Always trusts = Love is not suspicious but is very quick to defend

The idea is that we don’t lose faith in others even if he or she has messed up or hurt us.  We resist the temptation to think the worst.  We delight in giving second, third, or hundreds or thousands of chances.

 

Love Always hopes = Love doesn't take the failures in others as final.  As long as there is life, there is hope.

NO matter how dark things are or how bleak things look, love maintains an attidude of hope that they ca get better.

One way to demonstrate it is to say to others, “I know we can make it because God is not finished with us yet.

 Love Always perseveres = Love holds on and doesn't give in when difficulty comes.  Military term used of an army holding a vital position at all costs.

3.  The PERMANENCE (Neverendingness) of love. (v. 8-13)

In the final verses of this chapter, Paul establishes that love is permanent and superior to anything else.

 

 (verse 8)  Love never fails = At no time will love fall, wither or decay.  By nature, true love never gives up.  It outlasts any failures.  It is eternal.  True Love keeps going....and going.....and going!

There will never come about a time where we no longer need Love!

Feelings may fail, prophecies may sputter out, tongues will be stilled and even knowledge will pass away. They all have an expiration date. But because love is fundamental and basic to God’s very nature, it will never fail. In essence we’re all looking into a fuzzy mirror now but there’s a time coming when we will see Christ face-to-face and then we’ll really understand what love is all about. The city of Corinth was known for its bronze mirrors that gave a true image but one that was blurry. It will be like turning away from the image we see in a fuzzy reflection so we can look at the Lord of love face-to-face.

1 Corinthians 14:1 says that we can’t just be passive about love, it’s something we must pursue: “Follow the way of love…” I like Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase: “Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it — because it does.” Are you ready to go after a life of love? Have you ever noticed that our feelings often follow our actions? Doing the loving thing is a good place to start. When God provides the opportunity for you to act in a loving way to your spouse, make sure you do it. 1 John 3:18: “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” To paraphrase something C.S. Lewis has said: “Do not waste your time bothering whether you love your spouse or not; act as if you did. As soon as you do this, you’ll find that when you behave is if you loved your spouse, you will presently come to love him or her.”

Conclusion:

Keep these six commitments. It’s more important that you “be” the right person than to wonder if you married the “wrong” person. David Holwick challenges us to keep these six basic commitments.

  • To grow in Christ for the rest of my life
  • To stay committed to our marriage and to work to resolve all problems
  • To be faithful in mind, heart and behavior
  • To communicate no matter what
  • To be a servant
  • To assume in everything that my mate’s intentions are good

If you want to have a Happy 50th Anniversary, put these principles into practice (from Ray Pritchard):

  • Spend lots of time together
  • Don’t let things build up between you
  • Thank God for what He’s given you
  • Reaffirm your commitment often
  • Be committed to the spouse you have, not the one you wish you had
  • Remember that marriage is a marathon, not a sprint

Here are two people. A man married to a woman. He’s a believer but struggles in many ways. He is not perfect. Sometimes he is not kind, ignores his wife and loses his temper. But deep down in his heart -- so deep he can hardly speak of it -- he is committed to his wife to the very end. His wife has no idea how hard it is…or how much he means it. In a thousand ways he fails but he never gives up. Give that man a crown. Put him on a throne. Everybody on their feet; let the throngs clap and cheer. Let the band play. Let the people shout his name. He failed in so many ways but he was faithful to his bride. He is a genuine hero.

Over here is a woman married to a man. She struggles in so many ways and often feels forgotten and neglected. She seldom gets the attention she deserves and at times just wants to give up. But she has made a bottom line commitment to stand by her man through good times and bad, through laughter and tears, through poverty and riches, through great victories and bitter defeats. Give that woman ten thousand roses. Put a crown on her head. Let us rise when she comes into the room. Let the choir sing, let the band play. She failed so many times but she was faithful to her husband. She is a genuine heroine.

Make sure you have received the love of God. How can we measure up to this kind of love? Maybe you feel like breaking out into tears and running away. This kind of love is impossible without God’s love first being shed abroad in your heart. You cannot express love until you have first experienced it. Romans 5:5, 8: “God has poured out his love into our hearts…But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” And because God keeps His covenant promise to us, we can keep our sacred promise to our spouse. Love ultimately isn’t about us; love is about Him! All true love starts with Him and comes down to us. An interesting assignment would be to read through 1 Corinthians 13 and substitute the name “Jesus” for every use of the word “love.”

During the 17th century, Oliver Cromwell sentenced a soldier to be shot for his crimes. The execution was to take place at the ringing of the evening curfew bell. However, the bell did not sound. The soldier’s fiancée had climbed into the belfry and clung to the great clapper of the bell to prevent it from striking. When she was summoned by Cromwell to account for her actions, she wept and showed him her bruised and bleeding hands. Cromwell’s heart was touched and he said, “Your lover shall live because of your sacrifice. Curfew shall not ring tonight!” Jesus sacrificed His bruised and bleeding body as the greatest display of unconditional love ever exhibited! He did it for you and for me. He did it so that we can be vessels of His unconditional love to the imperfect people in our lives.

            Tom & Patty hope that even as they renew their vows together today that some of you who have been married for a while will renew your commitment to each other.  They also hope that all those who witness this today will put their faith and trust in the Christ that means so much to them.  May this be a day where all of us look to God for help in making our marriages not only last for a lifetime but ones that are great testimonies to the mighty working of God’s grace.

Review of Years Together

 

Renewal of Wedding Vows

Pastor to Tom -- Do you Tom, continue to take this woman to be your true and wedded wife; and do you solemnly promise before God and these witnesses to LOVE, CHERISH, HONOR AND PROTECT HER: to forsake all others for her sake; to cleave unto her, and her only, until death shall part you?

Groom -- I do.

Pastor to Patty -- Do you Patty, take this man to be your true and wedded husband; and do you solemnly promise before God and these witnesses to LOVE, CHERISH, HONOR AND PROTECT HIM, to forsake all others for his sake; to cleave unto him and him only, until death shall part you?

Bride -- I do.

Pastor to Tom -- Tom, REPEAT AFTER ME: I,Tom …continue to take thee Patty… to be my precious wife . . . to have and to hold...from this day forward . . . for better or for worse . . . for richer, for poorer.. in sickness and in health . . . 'till death do us part

Pastor to Patty -- Patty REPEAT AFTER ME: I, Patty,… continue to take thee Tom …to be my precious husband . . to have and to hold.. from this day forward . . . for better or for worse . . . for richer, for poorer . . . in sickness and in health . . . 'till death do us part

Sealing of Vows

You may Kiss Your Bride of 30 years

Prayer for Couple

     Thanks for all those who have come to witness this union

     Give them lasting Love

     Help them through the tough times to lean on you

     Help them to be gracious and kind to each other

     May household be a testimony to Love of Christ

     Pray for your hand of blessing on their lives.

Read following:

            May Christ be the head of your house, the unseen guest at every meal, and the silent listener to every conversation.  And may Heaven's constant blessing crown your union with ever increasing joy, and unite your hearts and lives with the grace and love of a continued long & happy marriage

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