Who’s Your Valentine? (2/14/16)

Posted by on Feb 16, 2016 in Sermons | 0 comments

February 14… Valentine’s Day!  Is it just another “Hallmark Holiday?”  What is Love?  What do we do with it?  And bigger than that, what does it mean to be loved by God?  And- really important- what do we do with THAT??? Pastor Jim took a look at these questions (and at some questionable pop music) during his sermon of February 14, 2016.

Click the below “Play” button and scroll down to follow along (the recording is from the 9:30 service)…

 

The scripture was from “the other Love chapter”- John 15:9-17.   Open the drop down boxes to read along (Pastor Jim used The Living Bible; the NLT is shown below)…

John 15:9-17

9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love.

10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.

11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!

12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.

13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

14 You are my friends if you do what I command.

15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.

16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.

17 This is my command: Love each other.

What is Valentine’s Day????

Many of us approach Valentine’s Day with mixed feelings.  We ask our wife, “What do you want for Valentine’s Day?” and the answer comes back “Nothing.”  Do you believe your wife at this juncture???  Things were simpler when I was a kid.  I may have been the only boy doing this, but I would give a Valentine to every girl in my class.  But as I got older, I realized that I was never getting one back!  One year, as I got older and “wiser”, I just stopped giving them out.

So it all makes you wonder:  Who Is Your Valentine?  What is love?  Who do you give Valentines to?  Who gives you Valentines?

God wants to be YOUR Valentine!  And, He wants YOU to be HIS Valentine.  My question for us today is: how do we develop and nurture a love worth giving on Valentine’s Day and on every day?

 

St. Valentine…

The following “Bonus Material” was not included in the sermon delivered on Sunday.  To learn more about Saint Valentine, check out the below drop down box…

St. Valentine

About 250 years after Jesus was born in Bethlehem, there was a priest by the name of Valentine.  He lived in Rome during the reign of Emperor Claudius, who was committed to rebuilding the once great Roman army.  However, he believed it was important for men to volunteer for armed service, rather than in drafting men into service against their will.  But given a choice, most young men in the Roman Empire refused to serve.  They’d rather stay at home with their wives and children than to go off into battle.

Claudius came to believed that only single men would volunteer for service, so he issued a ryoal edict that banned all further marriages.  He actually outlawed weddings in the Roman Empire, earning himself the nickname of Claudius the Cruel.

Valentine thought it was ridiculous!  One of his favorite duties as a priest was to marry people.  So after Emperor Claudius passed his law, Valentine secretly continued performing marriage ceremonies.  He would whisper the words of the ceremony, while listening for soldiers on the steps outside.

One night, Valentine did hear footsteps at his door.  The couple he was marrying escaped, but he was caught.  He was thrown in jail and sentenced to death.  Valentine tried to stay cheerful.  Many of the young couples he had married came to visit him in jail..They threw flowers and notes up to his window.  They wanted him to know that they, too, believed in love.

One day, he received a visit from the daughter of one of the prison guards.  Her father allowed her to visit him in his cell and they often sat and talked for hours.  She believed he did the right thing by ignoring the Emperor and performing weddings.  On the day Valentine was to die, he left her a note thanking her for her friendship and loyalty.  He signed it, “Love from your Valentine.” 

That note started the custom/tradition of exchanging love notes on Valentine’s Day.  It was written on the day he died… February 14, 269 AD- a day that was set aside in honor of a man who gave his life for God and for love.  Now, every year on this day, people remember Saint Valentine, but most importantly, they think about love.

Pastor Jim isn’t the only confused about Valentine’s Day…

Some of us are as confused about love as little five-year old Kari who told her teacher, “Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.”   

 

Love, Love, Love…

Jesus had a lot to say about love, and His final night with His followers just before His crucifixion, Jesus spoke about “Love.”

During the course of the evening (which began in John 13 and carries on through John 17) Jesus uses the word “Love” 30 times!  It’s His last night; His last chance to instruct His disciples.  So you’d have to think this was important.  You take notice of a person’s final words.

Tina Turner asked “What’s Love got to do with it?”  “What’s love but a second hand emotion?”

  • According to Jesus, Love has to do with EVERYTHING!  It is not just a “second hand emotion.”

The Captain and Tennille proclaimed that “Love Will Keep Us Together.”

  • In John 15:9, Jesus told us “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love.

Jesus wants us to be His Valentine.  He wants to love us, even if (like St. Valentine) it costs Him His life.  Jesus’ Valentine’s Day was on Good Friday…

If we are going to live and give with Jesus as our true Valentine, there are several things we need to keep doing…

 

1: Receive His Love

I Love You!

Jesus knew that the time for Him to leave this world had come.  He knew that the time he had left with His disciples was short.  And He wanted to spend that time showing them the full extent of His love.  In verse 9 He said:

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me.  Live within my love”

Jesus said “I Love You”!!!  Do we have trouble saying those words???  Jesus didn’t…

In March of 1967, Frank and Nancy Sinatra released a record called “Something Stupid.”  Part of the lyrics say, “The time is right your perfume fills my head and oh the nights so blue.  And then I go and spoil it all by saying something stupid like I Love You!”

  • But Jesus didn’t think it was stupid.  In fact He considered it to be extremely important:  Jesus said I Love You!

In fact, Jesus says “I Love You” to us all of the time and that continues to reassure us and encourage us in our relationship with Him.

Jesus Loves Me This I Know

Theologian Karl Barth once said, “Everything I ever needed to know about theology I learned from just one song:  ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”Valentine2016- Windshield

This simple song expresses the single most significant and profound truth known to humanity in three simple words… Jesus Loves Me!

Receiving the love of Jesus and living in His love every day is the first and most essential step in growing as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

We Can’t Do Anything Without Jesus

We can’t point people to Jesus and grow disciples unless we know Jesus first.  We must love Him above all else.  Loving the Church, or loving our head knowledge, or loving the things we do won’t work.  Our Love Actions must be an outflow of our love for Jesus if it is to be of any use.

Jesus explains it this way in John 15:5-8…

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. Grape Vine _italy-851204__400x300

If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.  If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 

In other words, as we draw closer to Christ and stay connected to Him, through the Holy Spirit, God funnels the love of Jesus’ love into our hearts and lives; enabling us to live a life which reflects Jesus and allows us to love unconditionally.

Living Out The Love Chapter

Some of the most beautiful words that Paul ever penned are written for us in 1 Corinthians chapter 13…

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.  NIV

Try as we may, God’s love through Jesus is the only perfect and pure love.  It is essential that if we are to reflect that love in our lives and through the Church then we must be in relationship with God.  We fall short when we try to do it on our own power.

In a marriage, is it a 50/50 relationship? Each partner shares 50% of everything and gives up 50%?
No! It is a 100/100 relationship! Each partner gives up 100% of themselves to the other; they hold nothing back. They give themselves fully and sacrifice constantly for the other.

And that’s how it should be with our relationship with God.  Jesus said that we must

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

Mark 12:30 NIV

2: Reciprocate His Love

In Jesus’ day, a rabbi’s disciples were generally known as the rabbi’s servants.  But Jesus changes that.  He says “you are my friends.”  You are no longer my “slaves”.  Jesus invites us to the inner circle.  In a marriage there are no secrets.  And in these verses, Jesus is telling His disciples that “I have made known to you everything I heard from my Father.”  No secrets!

In our relationship with God, Jesus promotes you from servant to friend… which sort of begs a question:

  • We know what kind of friend Jesus is to us…
  • But: What kind of friend are you and I to Him and to each other?

It’s one thing to say “Jesus Loves Me” but can we honestly say that “I Love Jesus.”  Can you honestly say that???

The love we have for our spouses or lovers is a driving force in our lives.  Our decisions in life are made, sacrifices are made, and things done or not done because of this love.  Is our love for God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) the driving force of our lives?

In 1977 the Bee Gees asked, “How Deep is Your Love?”  

  • In John 15:13, Jesus gave us an answer, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

If everything we do isn’t spurred by our deep love for God, then nothing we do really matters!

Eugene Peterson, in The Message, puts Romans 12:1 this way…

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life — your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life — and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.

 

 

3: Recycle His Love

Repeatedly throughout this passage and the rest of the chapter, Jesus says,”This is my command: Love each other.” (v17)

Once we’ve Received the love of Jesus into our lives and Reciprocated His love, then we’re ready to Recycle that love by sharing it with the rest of the world.

Jesus was very specific, though, about how we should love people.  He said, “My command is this:  Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)

This commandment knocks the walls out of any definition that would limit the scope and intensity of love.  We are to love as Jesus loved and loves.  An amazing opportunity… and challenge!

Just hours before issuing this comprehensive command, Jesus demonstrated it.  The spring showers would have most likely turned the Palestinian dirt into thick sludge, possibly several inches Windows-LastSupperdeep.  The country roads and even the city streets would have been caked in mud; mud which would have oozed into the open toed sandals of the disciples.  So it was customary for a servant to use a basin of water and a clean towel to wash their dirty feet before sitting down to dinner.

As the disciples reached the upper room, they probably spotted the towel and water basin easily enough, but there were apparently no servants around.  So while the rest of them gathered around the table, tracking mud through the house, Jesus prepared to do something wonderful.

John 13:4-5 tells us,

He got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin.

Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.  NLT

Jesus Christ- the son of the living God, the Alpha and Omega, the One for whom and by whom creation was made… this Member of the Godhead got on His  knees and washed the dirty feet of the ones who would soon betray and deny Him.  He took the role of a slave and keeled at the feet of the ones whose sins were sending Him to the cross.

He didn’t just do this because He felt like it.  He did this as an example.  We are to do the same kind of things.

Anne Grahm Lotz, daughter of Billy Grahm said, “Looking back on that night, John must have recalled:

  • the tender tone of His voice,
  • the loving look on His face,
  • the gentle grace of His gestures, 
  • the piercing passion in His eyes,
  • the princely posture of His person…

John must have been awe-struck that Jesus had expressed His love for His disciples to the utmost degree of which He was capable- through serving them!”

 

What are You Doing with His Love???

St. Valentine may have become infamous for defying the Emperor and standing up for love and marriage, but what really made him a saint was that he Received the love of Jesus, Reciprocated that love, and Recycled it through a life of service.  When you and I do that, we are no less saints than was Saint Valentine!

Nothing is more important than loving God and loving Jesus.

Who’s Your Valentine???

 


Quiz Time!

As you reflect on what you’ve just heard/read, give this quiz a try.  If you don’t understand an answer (or if you disagree with the “correct” answer, post a comment)…

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