#909. Let’s Remain in the vine (29/9/23)
Today, I want to simply overview some of the ground that we have covered in the last three weeks as we've been using this idea of remaining in the vine (John 15) as inspiration for our vision series.
‘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 because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. '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 15:1-5)
Lesson: Remaining in the vine by depending on Christ in all things needs to become a lifestyle.
To listen to this devotional, click to go to:
Over the last 3 weeks, we've looked at many aspects of what it means to remain in the vine. Fundamentally, it's about depending on Christ for salvation and all of life. Like the branch depends on the vine for life and fruitfulness, so we need and can depend on Christ for life and fruitfulness. This is both a challenge and a wonderful promise.
This is our vision
Remaining in the vine is another way of stating our vision at CCP, which we've outlined as 'Bringing people to Jesus: myself, one another, and our community.'
Will we remain in the vine?
Will we truly believe Jesus’ words? Will we agree that He is 'the true vine' and that 'apart from me you can do nothing'? Do we believe that all success or fruitfulness flows from our relationship to Jesus? Can we make this a lifestyle by developing a lifestyle of prayer?
Will we trust the Father's work as He prunes us to make us more fruitful? Can we embrace the challenges of our lives as opportunities to become more fruitful?
Are we concerned for those without Christ? Will we trust that it’s through remaining in the vine personally and together that we will bear 'fruit that will last' as we help many in our community come to faith in Christ?
Remaining in the vine by depending on Christ in all things needs to become a lifestyle.
As we bring this short series to a close, let me urge you, as I urge myself, to bring yourself closer to Jesus each day in prayer and worship out of His Word; bring one another to Jesus by devoting yourself to small group life; and, finally, seek to bring your community to Jesus by serving, investing, and inviting them.
For your help, here is the list of fifteen devotions and ‘lessons’ that we’ve thought about over the last 3 weeks:
Week 1 (We focussed on ‘bringing myself to Jesus)
1. I am the true vine - Jesus, in calling Himself the true vine, means that we must be joined to Him in order to receive spiritual life and to be a part of God’s people.
2. My Father is the gardener - The Father is judge and sanctifier. He righteously judges and condemns those who are not connected to Jesus, whilst He sanctifies and improves those who are connected to Jesus.
3. Remain in me through faith - Repentance and faith are the way that we are joined to and remain in the vine.
4. To abide in Christ is to choose His way - To remain in the vine involves choosing to do Jesus’ will.
5. To abide requires waiting - To abide in the vine requires a willingness to patiently and prayerfully wait for Him.
Week 2 (We focussed on bringing one another to Jesus)
1. Remaining in the vine is loving one-another - Loving others is, in great part, what it means to remain in the vine, and it is also the fruit of remaining in the vine.
2. Remain in the Word to remain in the vine - To remain in the vine together means, in part, to love Jesus’ word together.
3. This is my command - The fruit of remaining in the vine is a church community that is shaped by the cross.
4. The Spirit gives gifts to make us fruitful - The fruitfulness of the church is made possible (in part) through the spiritual gifts that Jesus gives to the church.
5. Effective prayer by remaining in the vine together - A church community that remains in the vine will be devoted to prayer and powerful in prayer together.
Week 3 (We thought about bringing our community to Jesus)
1. God wills and empowers us to Bring our community to Jesus - We must embrace God’s will, and receive the Spirit’s power in order to bring our community to Jesus.
2. Those in the vine show what God is like - Good fruit, particularly the fruit of love, helps to bring people to faith because our lives will authentically show what God is like.
3. We are ‘pruned’ to better show God’s glory - The Father’s ‘pruning’ in our lives will make us more effective at revealing Christ to others because pruning makes us more like Christ and gives us experiences that we can share.
4. Clean by the Word - Let’s build bridges with people to give them the opportunity to hear the gospel—the message that cleans us of all our sin.
5. Let’s Remain in the vine - Remaining in the vine by depending on Christ in all things needs to become a lifestyle.
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
Let's use the icebreaker that we talked about in our vision series: How has God been speaking to you from His Word this week and how has this helped you?
3. STUDY AND PRAY TOGETHER
Please read John 15:5, 26-27
This week, as we end our brief vision series I thought that we could ensure that we understand the vision and goals and spend some time praying over it.
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).
What is SIV?
SIV stands for Serve, Invest, and Invite. This is our very simple strategy to help bring our community to Jesus. We believe that God has placed us in relationships and in specific locations to be 'salt and light.' We can effectively bring people to Jesus by 'Serving' them, demonstrating the love of Christ in practical ways; by 'Investing' in the people to whom we feel the Spirit is leading us; and by 'Inviting' them into our homes and hospitality, to church events, to Alpha, and ultimately, inviting them to come to Jesus through the gospel.
1. How does Jesus' teaching on remaining in the vine relate to our vision and goals?
2. Please now read John 7:37-39, which is another text that has been very influential in the forming of our vision. How does this text relate to our vision and goals?
3. This week, we focussed on reaching our community for Jesus. Please ensure that you understand SIV and our goals around this.
4. Do you have any encouraging stories of how you are serving, investing and inviting?
4. SIV - Do you have a prayer list of people that God has put on your heart?
5. SIV - Do you have any friends that you could invite to church or a church event? If yes, how have you developed this relationship, if no, how could you make progress?