What the World Needs Now!

John 3: 16
(A Valentines Day Sermon?)

by Robert Brooks

Introduction:
“What the world needs now is love, sweet love” (song by Burt Bacharach).
In the English language we use one word for “love.”  We say, “I love my cat, I love my house, I love my car, I love my wife, I love God,” many different kinds of love with just the one word.

The Greek language is so rich it has four words for love.  We will examine these four words briefly. The ancient Greek language took three forms.  There was the classical Greek such as was used by Plato and the intellectuals of the day.  Classical Greek ruled until 300 BC, after which it was displaced by Hellenistic Greek (this dominated culture as a result of the conquest of the world by Alexander The Great).  Then there was Koinē Greek such as was used by the common people.  The New Testament was written in Koinē Greek.

I. The Greeks, signifying depth and shades, had at least four words for love.

A. Philia, from which we get the word philosophy (the love of wisdom).  It is the classical Greek word which expresses intimate love relationships—intimate relationships of the body, mind and soul.  Philia may even express kissing or caressing.
B. There is the word storgē, referring to the love for family.
C. Erōs is the classical Greek word referring to sexual love.
D. Then there is agapē.  Agapē is the Koinē New Testament word for God-created love.

Hardly does the word exist in secular or classical Greek.  It is born through revelation.
Agapē (love) is not possible except in Christian fellowship.  God’s agapē is universal:
He loved the whole world by sacrificial death.  The Father gave the Son by way of the
cross.

II. “Now abideth faith, hope, and agapē (love), but the greatest of these is agapē.” I Corinthians 13.  God created and sustains love.  “God is Love.”

III. The rich word for love in the Old Testament is hesed.

Note Psalm 136.  There was a time when I did not appreciate this psalm.  I felt it was too
repetitive!  But then I saw its message of the overflowing love of God.  The Hebrew word
for love (hesed) is translated in the King James version as “mercy,” but this word is many-
facetted, almost untranslatable.  It is sometimes rendered as “loving Kindness,” at other
times “steadfast love.”

Conclusion
Christians, let God’s agapē love guide your life by the Holy Spirit.  Reach out in true fellowship (agapē) to your neighbors.

Lost person, accept God’s unmerited love and allow that love to invade your life!
“What the world needs now is love, sweet love.  It’s the only thing we have too little of.”

60 Years Headed to Forever

by Staci Stallings

Love is patient; love is kind. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all thing. Love never fails.
–1 Corinthians 13: 4,7-8

When I was a young impressionable child, I remember going to a cousin’s 10 year wedding anniversary celebration and thinking, “Wow, 10 years. That’s a long time.” Since then I have had the honor of attending my parents’ 25th celebration, my parents’-in-law 40th celebration, numerous 50th celebrations for aunts and uncles, and even two 60th wedding anniversaries-both of which are now headed to 65 years of marriage.

Amazing in our world today that these couples could have made it that long. When ex’s are becoming the norm, and couples think “divorce” as soon as they have their first fight, what gave these couples the strength to hold on? I always wondered that myself.

Now, I’ve been married ten years, and the mystery is ironing itself out.
When I look to my immediate family-my parents, brother, sister, husband, and the three sets of parents of our in-laws. Here is what I see:

My parents 39 years of marriage; me and my siblings 34 years of marriage
between us; the three sets of parents of the in-laws married into our family
an astounding 139 years of marriage. In case you’re not good at math, that’s a total of 212 years of continuous marriage in our family. Now, there’s a solid foundation for the grandkids to build on. Wouldn’t you agree?

How have these people amassed these amazing numbers? Maybe they were the lucky ones-you know, the ones who never had any problems. Let’s examine that:

One set suffered seven miscarriages; one the death of their youngest child
at 12 years of age not to mention one spouse’s deterioration into
Alzheimer’s disease; one set had two children diagnosed with cancer; one is
now facing the cancer of one partner; one moved far away from family in
order to get started in a business; one set had a child born three months
early, spent two full months in the hospital, and brought that child home
happy and healthy; and one has moved four times and had four kids in an
eight year span.

No, “easy” doesn’t quite fit.

So, what is their secret then? Having lived around these people my whole
life, I think there are many, but here are a few that I’ve been able to
tease out:

Their relationships are founded on God’s love. They trust God’s guidance in
their lives and in the lives of their family. They hold fast to the trust
that they place in one another, and they respect the trust of the other
person enough to behave so that they don’t abuse the trust of their spouse.
Their priorities are: God, each other, their children, themselves, family,
others. They believe in the hope of tomorrow even through the storms of
today. And when they said: “until death do us part,” they meant exactly
that.

The rain descended and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst
against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded upon
the rock.
–Matthew 7:25

That was the gospel we chose to have read at our wedding, and the more I
think about it, the truer those words become for me.

As an inspirational romance writer, these are the couples I have grown up
around, the couples I have watched, the couples who have taught me how to be in a relationship and how to make not just a marriage work but how to make a relationship work. These are not people hanging on for the children’s sake.
They are people who truly love each other as much or more now than they did when they got married.

No, every day is not wine and roses, but they never bought into either the
myth that every day was supposed to be, nor the myth that once you’re
married, wine and roses is a thing of the past. These are couples who
cherish their relationship enough to work on it and to trust its power to
endure on a daily basis. This is the kind of relationship I write about
because in truth this is the kind of relationship that I know.

I wish everyone were so lucky, and yet I think of those couples now married
more than 60 years. Every day of that 60 years they had a choice, and every day they chose to cleave together, to trust God, and to find a way to make it work. That’s a choice every single person now in a marriage has-if they have the courage to choose that option.

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