#903. The Spirit gives gifts to make us fruitful (21/9/23)
This week we are considering what Jesus’ teaching on remaining in the vine from John 15 means for us together.
‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.’ (John 15:5)
‘This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.’ (John 15:8)
Lesson: The fruitfulness of the church is made possible (in part) through the spiritual gifts that Jesus gives to the church.
You can listen to this devotional at:
We have been promised that if we remain in the vine – in Jesus – we will bear much fruit. Today, I want to briefly consider how our remaining in the vine will result in great fruitfulness.
As we have seen, remaining in the vine involves loving our church community in a sacrificial way. This love for the church will lead to a readiness to encourage those who are weary and wandering in their faith. A church becomes more and more fruitful as each of us looks out for the needs of those around us. This process is outlined in the book of Hebrews:
‘And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.’ (Hebrews 10:24-25)
When we think of a person and a church maturing, it's too easy to think of the fruit that Jesus promises as something He alone produces in us. Maybe we have visions of ecstatic times of singing with our hands in the air and we leave the meeting transformed. This, however, I suggest, is not the primary way that we are to think of our growth. I hope we can see that both the 'pruning' and the 'fruit' are often the result of God working in and through each of us in the church community. This process often unfolds through the use of spiritual gifts through which Jesus works among us. We read of the good that these gifts do:
‘Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.’ (1 Corinthians 12:7)
Do you see that the Spirit gives us gifts that build us up and enable us to become more fruitful? We read of something similar in Ephesians:
‘So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up…Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.’ (Ephesians 4:12, 15-16)
Here, we see that the body, the church, grows and matures as individuals use the gifts that the Spirit provides.
As we remain in the vine, staying prayerfully close to Christ, we will receive spiritual gifts for the 'common good' and the growth of the church.
The fruitfulness of the church is made possible, in part, through the spiritual gifts that Jesus gives to the church. As we remain in the vine, the Spirit gives us gifts through which the church becomes more fruitful. Each of us can only be effective in promoting the fruitfulness of the church if we are both close to Christ (in the vine) and close to one another!
Specifically, is our connection to the vine being seen in our connection in a small group? Are we using our love and gifts to encourage those in our Community Group?
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
As this may well be your first group meeting in a while, perhaps you’d like to catch up on highs and lows from the summer period.
3. STUDY AND PRAY TOGETHER
Please read John 15:1-17
This week, we continue with our vision series that is inspired by John's teaching on Jesus being the vine.
Let’s begin by reminding ourselves of our vision and goals as a church:
At CCP, our vision is: 'Bringing people to Jesus: myself, one another, and our community.'
1. Myself(I bring myself to Jesus)
We are seeking to build a church in which every member knows the importance of, and has the skills to come to Jesus each day so as to live as fully devoted followers of Jesus every day.
2. One another (We bring one another to Jesus)
We have an Acts 2 vision of the church where we see their devotion to meeting together. Together, we encourage each other to come to Jesus and put Him at the centre of our lives.
3. Our community (we seek to bring our community to Jesus)
We are a church that has deep compassion for our community and we know that God wants to work through us to bring people to Him. We understand or identity as 'salt and light' in our communities doing good works and sharing the gospel thoughtfully. We love to ‘serve, invest and invite’ in our community - invest in friendships and invite them into our lives, church community and closer to Jesus, particularly through Alpha.
Our 4 simple goals
To help with this, we have 4 very simple but, I believe, powerful goals that encourage every member to work on:
Goals to help me to bring ‘myself’ to Jesus:
1. We 'come to Jesus daily' by setting aside quality time each day in prayer and worship out of the Bible and asking to be filled with the Holy Spirit (20 minutes, using the ‘come to Jesus daily’ blog is a good start)
2. The 'icebreaker' used in our CG meetings is, normally, 'How has God been speaking to you from His Word this week and how has this helped you?'
Goal to help bring 'one another' to Jesus:
3. We are devoted to building an amazing Community Group (Meeting weekly is a good start).
Goals to help us to bring ‘our community’ to Jesus:
4. We aim to share, pray and plan about how we are ‘serving, investing and inviting’ into our community every time we meet in our Community Groups. Additionally, we pray and plan specifically during our monthly ‘SIV Week’ (Serve/Invest/Invite).
1. Do you have any questions about our vision and goals?
2. Reflecting upon our reading from John 17, What are the ways that one can ‘remain in the vine’ personally?
3. What is the link between loving one another in the church and remaining in the vine?
4. SIV - Why will we become effective at reaching our community outside of the church if we remain in the vine?
5. SIV - How could you better Serve, Invest and inVite with the people and in the places that God has put you into?