Empty Nesters Class 6

The 6th in a series of Empty Nester's class by Hampton Roads Church's Elder, Clayton Walker, and his wife, Jean Walker. 

Empty Nester’s Class 6: “Love”

[Slide 1] Good evening and welcome to or our sixth and final class in our Empty Nester’s breakout session series for the year 2017. Tonight we will be examining the Apostle Peter’s plea to be continually adding to our faith: Love. And more precisely: Love for the things of God. I’ve entitled this lesson “DON'T Zone Out” because I believe our natural tendency is to become complacent in our relationship with God. I will also be presenting how our theology or belief system (regarding our Love for God) can greatly influence generational lift versus generational drift.

[Slide 2] Obviously, by my use of pyramid imagery I am implying that “Love” tops everything else, but that this “Love for God” is dependent upon all those foundational “character qualities” that lie beneath it.

[Slide 3] In our theme scripture (Matthew 22:37-38), Jesus describes to his audience what is most meaningful to his Heavenly Father - love for Him.

[Slide 4] But what exactly does Love for God mean?

Jesus, of course, gave us the most perfect demonstration of Love for God. But, I think the apostles’ attempts to love God give us perhaps more relatable examples to try and emulate. So with this in mind, [Slide 5] let’s take a look at the events recorded in chapter thirteen of John’s Gospel and examine how the Apostle Peter demonstrated his Love for God and discuss how his actions revealed his theology (or belief system).

Some Discussion Points [Slide 6] from the Gospel of John, Chapter 13:

  1. Verse 1-5 [Slide 7]. Jesus [Slide 8], as usual, takes the initiative in demonstrating God’s love for his creation.
  2. [Slide 9] Verse 6-12 [Slide 10]. As usual, man [Slide 11] tends to misunderstand what God is trying to tell him.
  3. [Slide 12] Verse 13-17 [Slide 13]. What Jesus [Slide 14] is trying to exemplify before his departure is that Love for God should be displayed by humble service to others.
  4. [Slide 15] Verse 31-38 [Slide 16]. Jesus [Slide 17] seemed pretty clear and emphatic about this new command [to similarly love one another], but what was Peter’s take away? And what did Jesus feel compelled to re-emphasize to Peter upon his return?

[Slide 18] Let’s explore this idea by examining Jesus’s Reinstatement of Peter as recorded later in John’s Gospel in chapter twenty-one. Here are some discussion points from this passage:

  1. [Slide 19] In verses 14-15: why did Jesus ask Peter, “Do you love me more than these?” [Slide 20] And who were the “these” he was referring to? [Recall that it is of first importance to love God above all else, then secondarily to love your fellow man (Matthew 22:37-39).]
  2. [Slide 21] In verse 16: what would you have asked Peter next? Or, for example, [Slide 22] how would you have felt if Peter didn’t stick up for you while he was waiting around in the high priest’s courtyard?
  3. [Slide 23] In verse 17: what do you believe was the purpose for Jesus asking Peter [Slide 24] the same question three times?
  4. [Slide 25] With John 14:15 [“If you love me, keep my commands.”] in mind, do you think Jesus was trying to get through to Peter that Love for God is obedience to His commands and that one of these essential [new] commands (namely, from John 13:34) was to “love one another” (i.e., “take care of my sheep”)?

And why was this such an important teaching for Peter to grasp?

[Slide 26] Most scholars interpret Peter’s role to be that of the lead Apostle - to set an example for the other apostles (and all future disciples of Jesus) to follow. It makes perfect sense to me then why Jesus is determined to help Peter get his theology on straight, lest the Apostle contribute to Generational Drift. This is highlighted by the Apostle John at the close of his gospel. Let’s pick back up again in verse twenty of John 21. [Slide 27]

[Slide 28] What does God expect from us? Are we obeying God? Are we really “getting it”?

[Slide 29] Or are we just acting like we’re really listening, like my grandson Cameron is demonstrating?

[Slide 30] It’s now several decades later for Peter and the Apostle will soon be martyred. I believe he’s calling out to us over the ages and encouraging us to listen carefully and not forget these truths so that we too may be used by God to promote Generational Lift

[Slide 31] Let’s read together again our theme scripture for this year - 2 Peter 1:1-15.

[Slide 32] So also, I would like to reiterate the “Saint Peter Guarantee” in verse 10, as I believe all of us are wanting our faith to be effective and productive for God just like Peter describes in verse 8 [Slide 33].

[Slide 34] Furthermore, Peter provides us with a very useful suggestion in verse 9 to help us maintain such a faith. Peter talks about the importance of remembering how you have been cleansed from your past sins. Here are my practical suggestions for helping us maintain a sharp spiritual view of such things:

  1. [Slide 35] At this time of year we are already well attuned to recalling how richly God has blessed us.
  2. Based upon the Apostle Peter’s comments [Slide 36], I would like to also suggest we count our demons too!
  3. Or, more accurately [Slide 37], our ‘cancelled’ demons.

Please allow me a few minutes to explain what I mean by way of reference to two individuals who had an encounter with Jesus that radically transformed their lives. I really enjoy these stories because of how they describe these men falling in love with God. First, the synoptic gospel writers all mention how Jesus healed a man possessed by many demons. I am particularly fond of Mark’s account of this familiar story.

[Slide 38] Let’s pick up in verse fourteen of chapter five. What I believe made this man’s faith so effective and productive was his testimony of how God blessed his life (i.e., had mercy on him) by sending a savior [Jesus the Messiah] to rid him of the many demons that tormented him. I have highlighted in the text how God used him to promote Generational Lift. But perhaps you find this man’s situation too difficult to relate to. Let’s consider then a second individual, a certain man who was blind from birth, who had a “coincidental” encounter with Jesus.

[Slide 39] Please turn over to chapter nine of John’s gospel. I’ll begin reading in verse one. Again, I have highlighted in the text how God used him to promote Generational Lift.

[Slide 40] Let’s continue reading in verse thirteen. It’s kind of sad to me that when the whole community should have been celebrating along with a man who could now see for the first time in his life, that instead they have thrust the poor guy into the middle of a heated political debate (or “gripe session” if you will) about Jesus - a man he had just met for the first time earlier that day. But the story didn’t end there.

[Slide 41] As we continue to read in verse twenty six you will see that, similar to the formerly demon-possessed man, this formerly blind man had a story to tell his family and anyone else who was willing to listen. As evidenced by his behavior and boldness, it’s obvious to me this man - who was blind, but now can see - fell in love with the Son of God.

[Slide 42] As I conclude, I wish to leave you with these final questions to ponder and discuss with one another tonight:

  1. Because Jesus has done so much for you: “What story will you tell in the Decapolis?”
  2. Because you were blind, but now you see: “How will you display the works of God?