Friday, May 01, 2015

Cleansing word

Open Bible
TODAY'S SPECIAL: John 14:22-15:10

TO CHEW ON: " 'You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.' " John 15:3

In our beautiful passage, John quotes Jesus' words about the mysterious oneness with Him and God that believers can have. Living within the matrix of love and obedience (John 14:23) they will have the Helper—the Holy Spirit—within them. Jesus likens them to branches attached to a main vine that bears fruit because the life of the vine (God) is flowing through them (John 15:1, 4-8).

It all sounds wonderful until we come to the part about pruning and cleansing (John 15:2).  Cleansing may be uncomfortable. Pruning may hurt. But, He assures us, they will be so worth it when we see the fruit that comes as a result (John 15:5).

One means of cleansing Jesus mentions is through the word. That idea comes up in other places in the Bible as well. Here are some ways the word is able to cleanse:

  • When we obey it:
In Psalm 119:9 a young man (or, I'd submit, a man, woman or child of any age) cleanses his way by heeding the word. 1 Peter 1:22 speaks of "… purifying your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit."

  • When it prunes us:
Jesus' words in John 15:3 in the context of pruning (today's focus verse) tell us that the word purifies / cleanses us as we follow its direction in what to subtract or cut or prune from our lives. James 1:21 names "filthiness and overflow of wickedness" as things to lay aside.

  • When it sanctifies us:
In John 17:17 Jesus prays that the Father will "Sanctify them by Your truth." "Sanctify" means to set apart or consecrate. The picture is of God's word active in our hearts and minds separating us from the world and setting us apart for Him had the Holy Spirit-empowered life.

  • When it frees us from needless guilt and legalism:
In 1 Timothy 4:5 Paul warns Timothy about those who would again burden the church with systems of food rules. He is not to get caught in introducing or enforcing bans against foods that are now allowed. In other words, they are not to let man-made rules make them feel needlessly unclean where the word allows liberty.

In our quest for fruitfulness, let's acknowledge the place of the word (the Bible) to:
- Set the standard for behavior—and obey it.
- Alert us to what needs subtracting from our lives—then purify and simplify.
- Set us apart for God—in holy living.
- Keep us from needless legalism.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, help me to become increasingly familiar with Your word. Help me to understand it and how it relates to my everyday living, and to obey it. Amen.
MORE: Feast of St. Philip and St. James Apostles

Today the church celebrates the Feast of St. Philip and St. James.

This Collect begins the day's liturgy:

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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