17 May 2017
Some men came down from Judaea and taught the brothers, ‘Unless you have yourselves circumcised in the tradition of Moses you cannot be saved.’ This led to disagreement, and after Paul and Barnabas had had a long argument with these men it was arranged that Paul and Barnabas and others of the church should go up to Jerusalem and discuss the problem with the apostles and elders.
All the members of the church saw them off, and as they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria they told how the pagans had been converted, and this news was received with the greatest satisfaction by the brothers. When they arrived in Jerusalem they were welcomed by the church and by the apostles and elders, and gave an account of all that God had done with them.
But certain members of the Pharisees’ party who had become believers objected, insisting that the pagans should be circumcised and instructed to keep the Law of Moses. The apostles and elders met to look into the matter.
Jesus said to his disciples:
‘I am the true vine,
and my Father is the vinedresser.
Every branch in me that bears no fruit
he cuts away,
and every branch that does bear fruit
he prunes to make it bear even more.
You are pruned already,
by means of the word that I have spoken to you.
Make your home in me, as I make mine in you.
As a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself,
but must remain part of the vine,
neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine,
you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me, with me in him,
bears fruit in plenty;
for cut off from me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
is like a branch that has been thrown away – he withers;
these branches are collected and thrown on the fire,
and they are burnt.
If you remain in me
and my words remain in you,
you may ask what you will
and you shall get it.
It is to the glory of my Father that you should bear much fruit,
and then you will be my disciples.’
“You are pruned already, by means of the word that I have spoken to you.”
There was a period of about 2 years when I stayed away from church. I was going through some personal issues and had wanted to be left alone. Till then, I belonged to a church choir, playing the guitar, and I also occasionally stood in as a conductor.
During the period away from the church, I found myself being slowly isolated. My prayers moved from daily, to occasional, then almost never. I felt increasingly distanced from God. To me, He became someone who did not care, and was almost never on my mind.
After a period of time, a few good friends started calling me and gently cajoled me to go back to the Church. While I did not feel any motivation to do so, my friends ultimately convinced me to go back.
It was a slow start, but once I did, I felt God’s hand in my life again. Like the son in the parable of the prodigal son, I felt God’s embracing love.
In addition to a closer intimacy with God, I also felt the re-entry of God’s counsel in my life. While it is likely that it never left in the first place, I sense the guidance of the Holy Spirit and sense the soft promptings. The experience of being ‘plugged in’ allowed me to understand where He wants to bring me.
Let us always be open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and always strive to be connected with God. It is only through this connection that we would continue to learn His will.
(Today’s Oxygen by Paul Wee)
Prayer – Father, help us to be open to Your pruning and Your guidance. Help us to be willing to shed what is not helpful or good for us and help us to remain in You.
Thanksgiving – Thank You for loving us as Your children, and for never giving up on us.