This week I want to take a journey through the book of John. John’s gospel is probably my favourite book of the Bible, because it provides an x-ray into Jesus’ inner world—his relationship with his Father, his prayer life, how he depends on the power of the Spirit. But it doesn’t stop there. It also unpacks how Jesus’ inner world is a pattern for our relationship with God. It’s stunning.
A couple years ago I stumbled across this verse in John 15, the Vine and Branches passage: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean (lit., pruned) because of the word I have spoken to you” (15:1-3).
I was stunned. Jesus is saying that the words he’d already shared with his disciples had pruned them, priming them to bear more fruit than before. Pruning words are concepts that help us say no to anything but God’s best for us, words that draw us to live by the Spirit instead of our own human effort. I immediately flipped to the beginning of the book to write down every pruning word I could find to see what I could learn from them. Once I had my list of verses, I put them into categories. What I’m going to share this week are the pruning verses from John’s gospel, rephrased to become personal prayers of declaration. As you read them, I challenge you to pray them aloud and make them your own manifesto for a Spirit-filled life. As you we do that together, they will prune us, and Jesus promises the result will be a more fruitful life. Awesome, huh? So here we go.
My Father is always working in the world around me, even to this very day. So I’m working too, remembering that flesh (my own effort) gives birth to flesh (purely human results) and Spirit gives birth to spirit (supernatural results). My faith in Jesus means I can I do the kinds of things he did – and things even greater than that. He’s gone to the Father and given me his Spirit. When I ask Jesus for anything in His name, He does it.
The Father is always with me. I am progressively realizing that Jesus is in the Father, and I am in Jesus, and He is in me. I am never “on my own” if I do what pleases Him.
I want my life to be one continuous act of worship. True worshipers worship the Father in spirit and in truth. I want to be the kind of worshiper my Father seeks, so I’m learning to worship him in spirit and in truth.
I understand that 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. This means that if I love my life I’ll lose it, but if I hate my life in this world I’ll keep it for eternal life. Holding to Christ’s teaching proves that I’m His disciple. As his disciple I’m growing to know the truth by experience and I’m also being set free by it as I go.
Tomorrow: On Guidance