Approximately 250 years after Jesus was born in Bethlehem, there was a priest by the name of Valentine who lived in Rome. At that time, Claudius was the Emperor of Rome. Some people called him Claudius the Cruel. St. Valentine didn’t like Emperor Claudius, and he wasn’t the only one! Claudius wanted a large army, and tried to get men to volunteer to join. Many men just did not want to leave home and go off to fight in wars. They did not want to leave their girlfriends and wives, so, not many men volunteered for the Roman army. This made Emperor Claudius very angry. He had a crazy idea that if men were not married, they would be more inclined to join his army. So Claudius decreed that there would be no more marriages. Young people thought his new law was really cruel. Valentine thought it was ridiculous! One of his favorite duties as a priest was to marry people. After Emperor Claudius passed his law, Valentine kept on performing marriage ceremonies in secret. 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 told that his punishment was death. St. Valentine tried to stay cheerful. Many young people came to the jail to visit him. They threw flowers and notes up to his window. They wanted him to know that they, too, believed in love. One of these young people was the daughter of the prison guard. Her father allowed her to visit him in his cell. They often sat and talked for hours. She believed he did the right thing by ignoring the Emperor and performing marriage ceremonies. 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 of exchanging love notes on Valentine’s Day. It was written on the day he died, February 14, 269 A.D. Now, every year on this day, people remember. But most importantly, they think about love and friendship. When they think of Emperor Claudius, they remember how he tried to stand in the way of love, and they laugh -- because they know that -- Love can’t be beaten! Tuesday, February 14th is Valentine’s Day, and with love in the air many couples will say “I do”. In fact, out of the 2.2 million marriages in the U.S. this year, more will be scheduled on the 14th than any other day! But few if any will leave their reception with a shower of rice. By the mid-1990s, it was common knowledge that the uncooked rice would kill unsuspecting birds. The rice would swell in their stomachs, cause them to burst, and cause a tragic death. So the tradition of rice, superstitiously believed to foster fertility, was abandoned and alternatives like birdseed, confetti, and bubbles were established. Ironically, there is no truth to the idea that rice is a threat to birds. Miyoko Chu, a Cornell University ornithologist (bird expert), has stated there are no documented cases of birds dying as a result of eating rice. She says, "In fact, house sparrows, red-winged blackbirds and bobolinks eat it all the time in the wild." Weddings and marriage are surrounded by so many myths. If a whole country can be duped by misinformation about rice, how many more people are being confounded by the idea that when they get marry, they will live happily ever after! After all, doesn’t love guarantee a perfect marriage? When the honeymoon is over, and weeks give way to months which give way to years, the love that once burned with passion has some times become a weak flame. What has happened? Where has the love gone? Many wish they could make the fire hotter, to make it like it first was. My friend, Valentine dreams still come true! You can find true love! You can have a happy home! God will help you to have a successful marriage! It’s never too late to change and rekindle the fire! A woman woke up and told her husband, "I just dreamed that you gave me a pearl necklace for Valentine’s day. What do you think it means?" "You’ll know tonight." he said. That evening, the man came home with a small package and gave it to his wife. Delighted, she opened it - to find a book entitled "The Meaning of Dreams" In each of us is that innate desire to be loved and to love. What can be done to make our Valentine dreams come true? How can you or I rekindle the flame in my relationship or marriage? How can I experience the feelings of love? I believe the Bible provides the answer. Scripture is full of rich insights of rekindling the Valentine dream – and there is none better than that found in Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi. Paul wrote this “love letter” to the congregation who he knew was struggling in the area of unity. There was friction and bickering between several members, two of which he named: Euodia and Syntyche. In the 2nd chapter, we discover sound advice from Paul for unity in the body. Practically speaking, these principles will also work for married or dating couples, to strengthen their relationship with one another. So to rekindle valentine dreams, Principle #1: Encourage one another. Philippians 2:1a 1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, When was the last time you or I praised our significant other with encouraging words? Someone has noted, "Man doesn’t live by bread alone. He also needs buttering up." And that’s true! Life is difficult enough. We all need encouragement, a pat on the back, a boost in our daily lives. George M. Adams wrote, “ There are high spots in all of our lives and most of them have come through encouragement from someone else. I don’t care how great, how famous or how successful a man or woman may be, each hungers for applause.” — Jimmy Stewart Actor Jimmy Stewart stayed young until the day he died at age eighty-nine. Although extraordinarily talented, he remained touched by the fact that he was a celebrity. One time a stranger put his hand out and said, "Mr. Stewart, I don’t guess it means much to you, but I want you to know I think you’re wonderful." Taking the man’s hand to shake it, Jimmy held on to it tightly, looked him in the eye, and said, "It means everything to me." I have never met anyone who has told me, I praised them too much! We all need it – and the more, the better! Encourage one another in the Lord! It makes all the difference in the world! And watch as your Valentine Dream flickers more brightly. Second Principle: Comfort One Another. Philippians 2:1 1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, Because of the “comfort from Jesus’ love” Paul had affection for the congregation at Philippi. The same applies to any relationship. Any comfort you or I give in Christ will grow affection in our relationships, including that special person. God allows us to go through struggles, pain, even separation and death so that we can experience His magnificent comfort! He is the “God of all comfort and Father of all mercies who gives you comfort to comfort others!” Have you received comfort from His love? Loving comfort brings out affections in others! Mary Anne Evans, British novelist in the 1800’s who is better known from her pen name, George Eliot, discovered that comfort and affection go together in a deeply meaningful way. At the age of 17, after the death of her mother and the marriage of her elder sister, she was called home to care for her father. In those long days of constant care, she discovered that comfort really does draw two souls together. Listen to her words: “Oh, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away.” Valentine Dreams do come true, if we learn the art of comforting one another. Third Principle: Spending time with one another. Philippians 2:1 1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, The “fellowship with the Spirit” was the fellowship Paul and the Philippians experienced together, with the understanding that the Holy Spirit helps believers cope with one another in their weakness. Romans 8:26 (NIV) the Spirit helps us in our weakness. So if each believer is helped in his or her weakness, one’s individual quirks (and we all have them), then the only thing left is fellowship. Now, fellowship is very important. And I’m confident everybody here knows how to fellowship. We know how to enjoy each other’s company. But there’s one thing you and I can need for fellowship to be the best – time. Fellowship involves time! And Spending time together is so important for any growing relationship, for those who are married, considering marriage, or just wanting to be friends. Tornado A tornado hit a Kansas farmhouse just before dawn one morning. It tore off the roof and picked up the beds on which the farmer and his wife were sleeping. By some miracle, the tornado set them down, unharmed, the next county over. The wife was sobbing uncontrollably. "Don’t be scared, Martha," her husband consoled, "We’re not hurt." Martha continued to cry. "I’m not scared," she said between sobs. "I’m happy... this is the first time we’ve been out together in 14 years." David Jeremiah Listen to David Jeremiah’s wise words on time spent together: “You’ve heard the saying, “It’s not the quantity, but the quality of time that really counts.” Simply defined, the statement means that one can make up for having minimal moments with his family by making certain that the time he does have is quality time. On the surface, this concept seems to make a lot of sense. It is possible to spend much time with one’s family that is seemingly meaningless. All of us experience times when we are at home physically but our minds are wandering miles away. I can remember days with the family that could have been “scratched” in terms of “quality.” So what is the “quality time” myth? It’s as phony as the fake diamond in a one-dollar ring. The fact is, there is no quality without quantity. Too many parents live with the regrets of abandoned moments. It takes time to be silly, to share a secret, to heal a hurt, to kiss away a tear. Moments of uninhibited communication between child and parent cannot be planned; they just happen. The only ingredient we bring to that dynamic of family life is our availability … and that is spelled T-I-M-E.” Spending time together is so necessary! Couples must find time in their busy schedules to be together and enjoy each other’s company. Without time together, fellowship is decreased, and so is any Valentine dream. Fourth Principle: Be Tender and compassionate to one another. Philippians 2:1 1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, Tenderness What is tenderness and compassion? The words literally refers to our insides. The Jews saw our inner parts as the source of the more tender affections—the feelings. Compassion was literally the movement of the intestines. In Paul’s case, it was the affectionate feelings Paul had for the Philippian congregation and they for him. Interesting enough, tenderness and compassion inwardly will always show itself up outwardly in such qualities as acts of kindness and caring for the other. Husband Shopping Center I understand there is now a "Husband Shopping Center" where a woman can choose from among many men, for her husband. It is laid out in five floors, with the men increasing in positive attributes as you ascend up the floors. The only rule is, once you open the door to any floor, you must choose a man from that floor, and if you go up a floor, you can’t go back down except to leave the place. So, a couple of girlfriends went to the place to find men. First floor, the door had a sign saying "These men have jobs and love kids." The women read the sign and say "Well that’s better than not having jobs, or not loving kids, but I wonder what’s further up?" So up they go. Second floor says "These men have high paying jobs, love kids, and are extremely good looking" “Hmmm,” say the girls. “But, I wonder what’s further up?” Third floor: "These men have high paying jobs, are extremely good looking, love kids and help with the housework." “Wow!” say the women. Very tempting, BUT, there’s more further up! And up they go. Fourth floor: "These men have high paying jobs, love kids, are extremely good looking, help with the housework, and have a strong romantic streak." Oh, mercy me. But just think! What must be awaiting us further on! So up to the fifth floor they go. The sign on that door reads, "This floor is just to prove that women are impossible to please." No marriage or any relationship has ever been perfect except one. Adam and Eve Adam and Eve had the world’s only perfect marriage. She couldn’t talk about the man she might have married and he couldn’t complain that his mother was a better cook. Eve: “Adam, if you had it all to do over again…would you still marry me?” Adam: “Who Else?” But most marriages and relationships would be a lot better if both spouses would flavor acts of kindness and tlc (tender loving care) into the mix of every day life. Fifth Principle: Have a Good Attitude Philippians 2:2 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Paul urges the Philippian congregation to complete his joy by being like-minded, cultivating a single mind, have the same love ( a love not just for one another, but also for Lord Jesus Himself) I have found when I love Jesus first, it makes it easier for me to love those around me. “Being one in spirit in purpose.” Having the right attitude! That’s so important – maybe the most important. For your Valentine: encourage, comfort, spend time, be kind, and most importantly, have a right attitude. Two businessmen had a significant encounter in an airport baggage claim area. One was a family man and the other was unmarried. The single traveler watched with great curiosity as the family man was engulfed with hugs and kisses by his wife and children. They embraced and smiled as though the man had been gone for weeks. The skilled salesman was taken back by their abundance of affection so he asked the family if they had been separated for a long time. The man affirmed he had indeed been away on business for two whole days. In amazement at such a strong knit family, the fast-track single businessman stated, “I sure hope I can have a family like that some day.” The other man turned from his family and replied, “Don’t hope, my friend. Decide!” Every day you and I live, we decide on whether to enrich our marriage, our relationships, our friendships, or tear them down. Valentine Dreams can come true. It’s totally up to you!!