Sermon Options: July 30, 2023

June 10th, 2020

The romancing of love
Genesis 29:15-28

I read about a minister who had reached that part of the wedding ceremony where he asked, "And do you take this woman for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, through sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, in ..." The bride, almost in tears, whispered to the pastor, "Please, if you aren't careful, you're going to talk him out of it!" Jacob would not be talked out of his love for Rachel. Love is part of any marriage, especially a Christian one, for it involves purity, devotion, and a strong sense of fidelity to the individual. Jacob and Rachel's love shows us what really is involved in a loving relationship.

I. Love Involves Emotion (v. 17)
An emotion is a strong, surging feeling marked by an impulse for outward expression, or it is any strong feeling. A feeling is a sensation, either physical or psychological. God made us as emotional creatures. We have strong feelings or impulses to love. Those feelings usually come first in a relationship. Unfortunately, feelings or emotions are the first to leave when relationships turn sour in marriage. Here are some tips to keep emotions alive and positive:

Speak kindly to each other. Include affectionate terms in your life.

Keep a positive spirit. Nothing kills a relationship like negative undertones.

Be spontaneous—at least occasionally!

Keep fit. Experts have discovered that exercise actually causes your brain to release "happy" chemicals called endorphins, which boost sagging spirits.

Say no to alcohol and drugs. These cause mood swings and affect emotions. There will be a chemical boost after using drugs or alcohol, but be prepared for a crash at the next turn. That boost is only temporary.

As H. Jackson Brown wrote in P.S. I Love You, "Sometimes the heart sees what is invisible to the eye."

II. Love Involves Work (v. 18)
Carl Jung said, "Seldom, or perhaps never, does a marriage develop into an individual relationship smoothly and without crisis; there is no coming to consciousness without pain." And AndrT Maurois stated, "A successful marriage is an edifice that must be rebuilt every day." How does a couple make a marriage work? Some basic rules are helpful.

Commitment. Antoine DeSaint said, "Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction."

Communication. At a golden anniversary party an elderly couple was being honored. The husband was moved by the occasion and wanted to tell his wife how he felt about her. She was very hard of hearing, however, and often misunderstood what he said to her. With many friends and relatives gathered around, he toasted her with these words: "My dear wife, after fifty years, I've found you tried and true." Everyone smiled approval for his endearing words, but she replied with an "eh?" He repeated his statement louder. His wife shot back, "Well, let me tell you something—after fifty years I'm tired of you, too!"

Christ as head of the marriage union. The miracle of Christian marriage occurs when two minds and two hearts seek the will of Christ. Many years ago I read a paraphrase of Matthew 7:24-27. As I recall, it goes like this: "Therefore if a man and a woman who plan to become friends, husband and wife, and lovers hear my words and put them into practice, they are like the wise couple who built a house on the rock. The rains of life came down—mortgages, taxes, jobs, unemployment, lawsuits, kids, PTA, college bills, unexpected injuries, blown-up transmissions, church involvement, club memberships, grocery buying, live-in in-laws, disease—the streams rose, the winds blew and beat against the marital house; yet it did not fall, because its marital foundation was on the Rock.

"But the couple who hears my words and does not practice them is like a foolish couple who built a house on sand and when the rains of life came, and the streams rose, and the ill winds of adversity blew and beat against the marital house, they went to the divorce court with a great crashing and bashing of each other, or lived in absolute disdain of each other."

III. Love Involves Fulfillment (vv. 21-30)
Jacob's dream of Rachel in his arms and life finally came to reality. Love finds a way to be fulfilled. Love is not something to fall in and out of; rather, it is a choice of uniting together in a lifetime bonding process. That type of love stems from a God-given love fulfilled in each other. As Jesus said, "Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate" (Matt. 19:6). (Derl G. Keefer)

The awesome power of God's love 
Romans 8:26-39

Can there be a more overused term in the English language than love? It shows up in movies, popular songs, television, even commercials. It is used to describe how you feel about your spouse, your kids, your cat, your new car, and the way that new and improved detergent takes care of the soil around your shirt collar. Don't you just love it?

Tragically, the term "love" is so tossed about in our culture that many of us may have little real understanding of what it truly means. A wonderful starting point for such knowledge is this passage of scripture—particularly verses 31-39—in which Paul affirms the awesome, remarkable power of God's love for us, his children.

What does God's love mean for us? Paul suggests three remarkable promises that are ours because of God's awesome love.

I. God's Love Offers the Promise of His Provision (v. 32)
Have you seen the commercials in which the "Prize Patrol" visits people's homes to deliver the good news that they have won the $10 million sweepstakes? Or the ads for state lotteries, that imply that investing just $1 in a lottery ticket could provide everything you'll ever need? If only it was that easy! The only real source of true provision is found in God's love. The Creator of the cosmos loves us so much that he willingly gave his own Son to die on our behalf. If God provides for us this ultimate provision, should we worry about his willingness to provide anything else we truly need?

Scripture is filled with examples of God's provision for his children, but one such example is found in the earlier portion of this text (vv. 26-27): God's provision of the Holy Spirit, who ministers on our behalf. Whatever your need, our God will supply it "according to his riches in glory."

II. God's Love Offers the Promise of His Protection (vv. 33-34)
Christ is the guarantor of our protection; his death and resurrection are the basis of his intercession on our behalf. As Paul noted in verse 31, "If God is for us, who is against us?"

I remember a show in which a small boy in the neighborhod had grown tired of being constantly abused by the bigger boys, and the day came when he finally stood up to them. Unknown to the small boy, his big brother quietly came up and stood a few feet behind him, and when the neighborhood bullies saw the older brother they took off running!

In a sense, Jesus is like that older brother who protects us, keeps us safe and in his care. That doesn't mean we won't encounter problems or tough times, but it means that nothing can take us out of God's protective love and care.

III. God's Love Offers the Promise of His Presence (vv. 35-39)
Absolutely nothing can take the believer out of the loving presence of God. Paul goes through a list of potential hazards—both physical and spiritual—and assures us that God's awesome love is greater and more powerful than anything that might try to remove us from his presence.

Paul had certainly experienced opposition in his own life—critics, beatings, imprisonment—and eventually he would face execution. Yet he knew that God's love was greater than anything he would ever encounter, and that knowledge gave him confidence to serve Christ with boldness. Have you experienced God's love in your own life? That remarkable journey can begin today. (Michael Duduit)

Life's greatest treasure
Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

What is the treasure of your life? In North America, our treasure is often material in nature. The passionate pursuit of these things as life's treasure is a futile and empty effort.

There is treasure, however, in relationships. My granddaughter, Emily, climbed onto my lap when she was less than three and, without provocation, said, "I love you, Popaw." On another occasion my wife sent me a card that said, "God must have sent you into my life so there would always be love in my heart." Those were treasured moments in my life that were very fulfilling. But even those warm moments are not life's greatest treasure. Life's greatest treasure is to be a part of God's kingdom through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Why?

I. The Value of the Kingdom Is Greater Than Anything Else (vv. 44-46)
The central point of these parables is that the Kingdom is more valuable than anything else. There is a twofold message here concerning the value of the Kingdom. First, it is worth more than anything or anyone else we can know. It is worth more than all the money or possessions that we can accrue. It is even worth more than our most treasured earthly relationships. Second, because it is worth more than all else, it requires that we be willing to surrender all to Jesus in order to possess the Kingdom, life's greatest treasure.

II. The Nature of the Kingdom Is to Persevere to the End (vv. 31-33)
We have two parables here that point to the persevering nature of the Kingdom. The mustard seed of Jesus' land was similar to that in the United States but grew much heartier in the fertile soil of the Jordan Valley than in most other places. Yeast, or leaven, is often used elsewhere as a metaphor for evil. But here it represents the Kingdom, which will inevitably reach the completion of its task.

Neither of the parables should be understood to suggest that things are going to get better in this world. Far too many passages teach that the opposite is true. Therefore, the message here is one of perseverance. That is to say, the Kingdom is life's greatest treasure not only because of its great value but also because it will endure until its planned culmination. All other things will fail, but the Kingdom will persevere to the end.

III. The Work of the Kingdom Is to Share This Treasure with Others (vv. 51-52)
After Jesus had completed this series of parables, he confirmed that his disciples understood. He then appointed them to be scribes who would be able to communicate the message of the Kingdom. To be a scribe is to be honored. A scribe in Palestine was highly respected. Jesus thus bestows honor on his disciples by entrusting them with this ministry. Even more, to be a scribe is also to bear the responsibility of teaching others the truths of God. In other words, Kingdom disciples have an evangelistic responsibility.

IV. The Joy of the Kingdom Is Available to All (vv. 47-50)
The picture of the dragnet demonstrates the availability of the Kingdom to all. When a dragnet is used, the idea is to sweep up everything in its path. So it is with the Kingdom; the purpose is to touch every soul with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The tragic reality, however, is that many will choose to reject the Kingdom. Becoming a part of God's kingdom through Jesus Christ is life's greatest treasure. What is the treasure of your life? (Douglas Bunch)

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