Monday, October 30, 2017

1 John Pt. 4 - Abiding

Have you ever been told to stay put? It sounds like an easy thing to do but works against all the urges of our independent nature. Staying put tugs at the reigns when we’d rather be running full speed. Your least favorite verse is Wait upon the Lord. Be still and know..

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. (1 Jn 4:15)

The Bible word for abide is stay put. Technically it means remain, but stay put speaks louder to me. It is one of our first lessons as Believers.

The first lesson in training a dog is to get him to sit. It sounds simple, but he has to fight urges coming from all sides. But unless he learns how to sit, he can’t graduate to more challenging commands.

The mark of a well-trained dog is his ability to do what he’s been told to do. If you say stay, he’ll stay. If you say come, he’ll come. Learning to obey simple commands develops his ability to focus, block out distractions and obey.

When God tells us to abide, stay put, He’s not just talking about some position or location, He’s talking about our approach to life.

Abiding is a relational term. It’s more than stay where you are and don’t go anywhere else, it is stay within the context of the presence of God and reflect back to Him what that means.

A dog staying is following an order but also demonstrating submission to his master. When he stays put he is saying this person is important enough to me that I will obey him. Typically, your dog isn’t going to respect my commands because we have no relationship.

An incorrigible dog may reluctantly obey, but only when threatened or rewarded. He doesn’t do it out of loyalty, respect or love, but out of fear or self-interest.

Dog to friend. Watch me get a treat from my master. He trots over to the master and sits, then lies down and roles over. The master pats him on the head and tells him good boy and gives him a doggy treat. The dog returns to his friend. See, all I do is a few tricks and I get a treat. How long did it take you to get him to do that? Oh, not long. He trains fairly easily. If I need to go outside I go to the door and whimper. If I want back in, I scratch on the door. He picked it up pretty fast.

God is not training us, but shaping our hearts. It takes focus. Abiding holds our attention on Him.

1Jn 4:15  Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.

God keeps His attention on us so He can shape our lives. Like the potter.
But God’s interest lies further than just the moment of confession. John is taking us a step further, wanting us to see what happens as a result of that moment of confession.

A reciprocal love relationship is begun.

1Jn 4:10  In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Joh 15:9  "Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.

Joh 14:15  "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

Joh 14:21  "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him."

1Jn 2:4  The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;
1Jn 2:5  but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him:
1Jn 2:6  the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.

It’s how Jesus lived. It’s how we live. Jesus never woke up and said, well, I think today will be a spiritual day. Let’s see if the Father has anything He wants to put on my agenda. He didn’t have spiritual and secular days. They all were simply days He lived in relationship with the Father.

1Jn 3:24  The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him

See the cycle: learning to abide – stay put – blocks out distractions, sharpens our focus, keeps our minds set on Him. So that when He commands we obey. Obeying Him shows Him we love Him.

How do we do that?
·         Turn down the volume of other voices trying to distract us.
·         Spend time with Him in reading His Word, meditating on what we have read, putting it into practice.
·         Maintaining a continuous conversation with Him throughout the day.

Go back to the dog. For the dog to obey, he has to have a relationship with his master. The better the relationship, the more likely he will obey. When he obeys the command he’s not just doing what he’s told, he’s demonstrating his love for his master.

Joh 15:1  "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.
Joh 15:2  "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.

Bearing fruit – showing evidence of God at work in our lives. It is the work of God in us and through us.

Joh 15:4  "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.
Joh 15:5  "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

Apart from – separately from

A dog will not obey himself. Without a master the dog is just a dog. A dog trainer said once, “An untrained dog is the waste of a good dog.”

Without the abiding presence of God, we have no influence driving us toward holiness. Our urges are self-centered, not God-centered.

When we abide in God, we are focusing our attention on Him. Being alert to His commands. When we obey His commands we produce fruit, showing evidence that God is active in and through our lives.

Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. [we have removed the hindrances to keeping our focus on Him]. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. (Gal 5:24-25)

Dogs and cat

Abiding: willingly submitting myself to the authority God exerts within me, living my life as an expression of my love for Him.

1.       Obedience requires focus.
2.      That upon which I focus has my attention.
3.      Whatever has my attention has captured my heart.
4.      What has captured my heart has become my treasure.

5.      When God becomes our treasure, we will obey Him because we love Him.

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