By Paul Lawler

 

At the Christ Church Birmingham gathering last Sunday, I taught on the importance of “Abiding in Christ.” This was Part 4 of our series titled Conditions.  Through this series, our listeners are learning more about meeting the conditions God describes for our redemption and our ongoing sanctification as believers.

It was John Riddle who once said, “Fruitfulness is the second most important issue in your life as a Christian.”  I have a tendency to agree.  After our salvation, producing enduring fruit, which will be tested by fire, is of great importance (1 Corinthians 3:13).  Based on the words of our Savior, we cannot be fruitful apart from “abiding in Him.” (John 15).  Jesus taught that as we “abide in Him,” the desired will of God is produced through our lives by creating a fruit-bearing life, and that our prayer life also takes on life-giving, dynamic power.

In an effort to equip you in patterns of “abiding in Christ,” I want to offer you three methods for abiding and fruit-bearing in the Christian life:

 

Method 1:  The S.O.A.P. Method (First developed by Pastor Wayne Cordeiro)

S.O.A.P. stands for Scripture, Observation, Application and Prayer. It is a way of getting more out of your time in God’s word.

S– The S stands for Scripture. First, you physically write out the Scripture. You’ll be amazed at what God will reveal to you just through taking the time to slow down and actually write out what you are reading.  This is a first step in getting the Word of God into your heart.

O– The O stands for observation. In this step, you ask yourself: What do I see in the verses that I’m reading? Who is the audience? Is there a repetition of words? What words stand out to me?

A– The A stands for Application. It is here where we allow God’s Word to become personal. We ask, “What is God saying to me today?” “How can I apply what I just read to my life?” “What changes do I need to make?” “Is there an action that I need to take, someone I need to forgive, a sin I need to confess and repent?”

P– The P stands for Prayer. Pray God’s Word back to Him. If He has revealed something to you during this time in His Word, pray it.  Pray God’s Word over your own life, your family, the lives of others, your church, city, the nations, a missionary, unreached people around the world.

 

Method 2:  Turning the Three Valves of Living Water (First developed by John Riddle)

One of the images of Jesus is that of Living Water (John 14).  Picture your heart as having three valves through which, when turned to the proper position, the Living Water of Jesus flows.  Here are the three valves a Christian may turn daily to aid them in “Abiding in Christ” and producing a life of fruitfulness:

  • Confession of Sin

Dr. Dennis Kinlaw once said,

“A Christian does not become holy because they become sinless; a Christian becomes holy because they are quick to confess their sin and maintain intimacy with Christ.” 

The apostle John instructed Christians in the following way:

“If we confess our sin, God is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”                                                                                                                                                                                 1 John 1:9

Because God is holy, un-confessed sin is a barrier between us and the intimacy with Christ that comes through abiding. When we confess our sin, placing our sin under the shed blood of Jesus Christ, intimacy with Christ is restored and living water begins to flow.

  • Die to Self

The Apostle Paul once stated, “I die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31).  Paul was referring to the reality that every day his old nature (sometimes referred to as the flesh or pride) wants to be in charge, rather than allowing God to be in charge.

Jesus said it this way,

“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”                                                                                     John 12:24 (NIV)

A seed does not burst forth into its true design without yielding its life in submission to being buried in the soil.  The Apostle Paul led a life of great fruitfulness because he yielded his life to his Designer.

Dying to self is really about choosing for God in our daily choices, rather than settling for “choosing for self.”  When we choose for God, we move into a life of great fruitfulness.

We need the grace of God working in our lives in order to “die to self.”  This valve is turned when we pray, “LORD, give me the grace today to choose for you and not for me.  I trust you are working for good both in me and through me unto a greater life of fruitfulness as I die to me and live for you today.”

  • Communion with Christ

As we move from Confession of Sin and Dying to Self, we now move to a time of Communion with Christ.  This may mean all or a part of the following:

– Taking time to read three chapters of Scripture, asking God to speak to you as you read.

– Practicing the S.O.A.P. method.

– Turning on your favorite worship music and adoring the LORD through Song.

– Prayer.

– Praying the Lord’s Prayer (using it as an outline of prayer over your life, family, church, business, relationships, children, grand-children, missionaries, etc.).

 

Method 3:  A.C.T.S. Method

A – The A stands for Adoration.

This step opens your time of prayer with adoring the LORD by ascribing glory to Him, expressing praise and blessing to God.

C – The C stands for Confession of sin.

Let’s review:

Dr. Dennis Kinlaw once said,

“A Christian does not become holy because they become sinless; a Christian becomes holy because they are quick to confess their sin and maintain intimacy with Christ.” 

The apostle John instructed Christians in the following way,

“If we confess our sin, God is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”                                                                                                                                                                                 1 John 1:9

T – The T stands for Thanksgiving.

The Psalmist once said,

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.”                                                                                                                                                        Psalm 100:4 (NIV)

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”                                                                                                  Philippians 4:6 (NIV)

Take time to give God thanks for your name being written in the book of Life, for God’s good gifts, for the many things and people you are thankful for.

S – The S stands for Supplication

Supplication is the act of asking and making requests of God.  Be mindful of Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:7:

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

 

May the Lord richly bless you as you step into some new patterns of “abiding in Christ.”  As you abide, may God bless you with greater degrees of fruitfulness as a Christian for His glory.

 

Paul Lawler is the Lead-Pastor of Christ Church and founder of The Immersion School, a discipleship training center in Birmingham, Alabama.  He and his wife, MJ, have four children and one daughter-in-law.  In addition to serving as a pastor, Paul and his brother, Dallas area businessman Patrick Lawler, founded the Patricia B. Hammonds Girl’s Home for 60 orphans at high risk for human trafficking in Thailand. The home is operated through the international ministry of the Compassionate Hope Foundation.  Paul also serves on the North Alabama Conference Discipleship Team. He often tweets Kingdom thoughts at @plawler111

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