Summary: This is the first of a four-part sermon series on godly marriage. This message particularly addresses the themes of commitment and service.

I’m starting a new series -- we about relationships.

Pretty much everything we talk about around here has to do with what Jesus called the two greatest commandments -- Love God, Love Neighbor.

So every once in a while I feel the deep need to preach about our relationships with each other. This won’t just be about marriage -- you can apply it however you want. But the truth is if you are married you only have a 50% chance of staying that way -- and THAT’S NOT GOOD.

If you are single -- you will have these kinds of relationships -- and God wants them to work. I have a preacher friend that did a wedding for two 90 year olds. So you never know...

If you are divorced, I don’t want to lecture you about why your marriage failed. I’m not trying to lay a guilt trip on you for being divorced. I don’t want to dredge up a lot of painful memories. This was not your idea, you didn’t ask for it, you never expected it, and you wish you could undo the damage. Listen to me, you are not a second-class Christian or a second-class person because of what happened. Whether the divorce was your fault or not, God loves you and He wants to heal your heart. What I want to do is look at "from this day forward."

WE-HARMONY.COM -- using some old music to illustrate the point of the harmony we should have in our relationships. Today is ’ONLY YOU" as Joel sang for the prelude.

Jesus summarizes from the Old Testament, ""Haven’t you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator ’made them male and female,’ and said, ’For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

At Saint Mary’s Catholic Church, they have a weekly husband’s marriage seminar. At a session last week, the Priest asked Luigi, who was approaching his 50th wedding anniversary to take a few minutes and share some insight into how he had managed to stay married to the same woman all these years.

Luigi replied to the assembled husbands, "Well, I’ve a-tried to treat-a her nice, spend the money on her, but best is that I took-a her to Italy for the 25th anniversary!"

The Priest responded, "Luigi, you are an amazing inspiration to all the husbands here! Please tell us what you are planning for your wife for your 50th anniversary."

Luigi proudly replied, "I’m a-gonna go to get her."

My goal would be to help you figure out how to stay married --living in the same place. AND IT’S NOT EASY.

Following her wedding to CONRAD HILTON in 1950, ELIZABETH TAYLOR said, "Your heart knows when you meet the right man. There is no doubt that Nicky is the one I want to spend my life with."

Following her wedding to MICHAEL WILDING in 1952, she said, "I just want to be with Michael, to be his wife. This is, for me, the beginning of a happy end."

Following her wedding to MIKE TODD in 1957: "I have given him my eternal love....This marriage will last forever."

Following her wedding to EDDIE FISHER in 1959: "I have never been happier in my life....We will be on our honeymoon for 30-40 years."

Following her wedding to RICHARD BURTON in 1964: "I’m so happy you can’t believe it... I love him enough to stand by him, no matter what he might do."

Following her second wedding to RICHARD BURTON in 1975: "There will be no more marriages or divorces. We are stuck like chicken feathers to tar."

Following her wedding to JOHN WARNER in 1976: "John is the best lover I’ve ever had.... I want to spend the rest of my life with him and I want to be buried with him."

In November of 1990, ELIZABETH TAYLOR finally said, "I don’t think I’ll ever get married again." ...

However, in OCTOBER of 1991, she did marry again; this time to Larry Fortensky. One columnist suggested that this time, the guests should throw MINUTE RICE!

Following that wedding, she said at a Press Conference: "I look at marriages kind of like movie scripts. I go into it hoping it’s going to be a hit, but knowing it may turn out to be a dud."

I think Elizabeth Taylor’s problem is that she just never had a realistic view of what really makes a relationship work.

That’s why I love the new Disney movie -- Enchanted. I mean it’s still Disney -- but what they did was take a character from one of their unrealistic cartoons -- happily ever after -- stories and bring her into real life.

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