Remember the elements of three: First, God is love. Second, those who abide in love abide in God. Third, God abides in them. Abide—we don’t say the word much anymore. Someone once painted a word-picture for me of abiding being like leaning against a large tree and letting yourself sink into that tree. That’s abiding.
Abiding means staying in touch with God. Jesus did that in his life. He sometimes separated himself from other people, even from his disciples, so that he could reconnect with God. That time away, that time set aside, also provided an opportunity for God to be in touch with Jesus—time for Jesus to listen. Listening deeply supports the being in touch. And you may have to rearrange your life to achieve that time apart.
A woman drove to physical therapy twice a week. It was only twenty-five minutes away, and she sometimes stopped in the town to go to a store or to check the used-book shelves at the library. But most of the time she drove there and came back home. At home she always had a list of tasks to accomplish.
One day as the woman drove home from therapy, she realized that halfway home she passed a small, peaceful-looking lake. On this particular day she pulled into the fairly vacant parking lot. It was cold and she stayed in her car, but she took some time to see the lake. In those set-aside moments, she also took time to connect—to be in touch with God—to abide.
At the close of the passage, the author issues the challenge to love. Verse 19 declares that we love because God first loved us. And verse 21 puts a must into the words: “Those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also” (emphasis added).
God, help me know you are always available to me. Help me notice where I can pull over and be in touch with you. Amen.
Two primary themes emerge from our readings for this week. In Psalm 22, we find the promise that even faraway nations will turn and worship the Lord. The book of Acts provides partial fulfillment of this promise. Through the action of the Holy Spirit, a court official from distant Ethiopia hears the gospel and can take it home to his native land. The Johannine readings focus on the theme of abiding (remaining) in God. “God is love,” the epistle states, so all who claim to abide in God manifest love to the world. The author pushes the point: If we maintain animosity toward others, we cannot claim to remain in the love of God. In John, Jesus states that we must remain in him if we want to bear good fruit for God.
• Read Acts 8:26-40. What boundaries do you draw? How would God view such boundaries given what you know of God?
• Read Psalm 22:25-31. How will you create a daily remembering of God? How will you tell the story?
• Read 1 John 4:7-21. How do you comb out the tangles in your life—in relationships, in your work setting?
• Read John 15:1-8. How secure do you feel about being attached to the vine? What has God done in your life to make it more productive?
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