Living life VITALLY connected to our Vine

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Living viatlly

Sunday 02/11/24

Title: Living life VITALLY connected to our Vine

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Living life VITALLY connected to our Vine

[The main microphone was not working during this recording so the sound quality is not very good.]

Last week we saw how God encourages us to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly – that is to say abundantly.

Here is a predominant way in which the lives of the modern church are at severe variance with the commands of the New Covenant

At best, it might be said that cherry-picked, favorite statements from scripture dwell to any degree in the hearts of believers. 

I do believe however it would be more than charitable to say that your average believer, at least in 1st world countries, actively seeks to know and absorb the words of their Lord with hunger and reverence.

I will be honest with you, it has been my experience that the modern church is nearly bankrupt in terms of honesty, sincere respect for God and knowing the scriptures.

This would be bad enough if it were just the running opposite of the command of God, but it is also quite hostile to the parting words of our Lord before going to the Garden where He would be betrayed. 

Some weighty consideration needs to be made in the heart and mind when considering the last words… the last lesson Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit to teach His disciples before being betrayed.

He strictly told them, and by extension He told us all, to dwell in Him and let His words dwell in or take up permanent residence in us. 

This was in direct connection with Jesus’ explanation of our New Covenant relationship to Him as being branches Vitally connected to our Vine Who is Christ!

What does the word “vital” mean? It means absolutely necessary for life!

So if our connection, as branches to our Vine, is VITAL and that connection is by means of His words dwelling in our hearts – what does it at least suggest of those whose involvement and participation with the Word of God is scarcely present at all? If it does not hold THE primary place in their hearts and lives?

Remember the Parable of the Heart Soils. Jesus’ word cannot simply occupy a position of importance equal to and alongside earthly thoughts, considerations and devotions – it MUST supersede them in every way

The heart that seeks to share THAT ground equally with the affairs of this life is the third heart. The heart with weeds that brings NO fruit to fruition! 

[See –The Thorny HeartThe Thorny Heart Pt. 2The Thorny Heart Pt. 3: Darwin’s Thorn]

I don’t need to tell you what a dangerous place such a state is!

Jesus said that in that specific scenario the Word of God will in fact be choked out by the world – not the other way about.

Remember another similar teaching of Christ where He said, “No one can love two masters?” 

In the end, one devotion will totally eclipse the other. 

What did He say? 

You CANNOT serve God and mammon”. 

Now the word mammon means avarice.

As such the term cannot purely be reduced to money alone, but is a representative word for wealth or possessions. 

This is NOT to say that money or possessions are inherently bad or evil, but that it is a potential master and thus competes with God for the loyalty of the heart. God MUST BE first, and He never has and never will endure any rival.

Again Jesus addressed it another way which more closely brushes up against each heart here by warning us against the concerns of this life. 

Jesus said why do you worry about food and clothing and housing

Don’t you know that these are the concerns of the children of this world?

You as God’s child must seek first the kingdom of God and right standing in that Kingdom and all of these natural concerns will be addressed by the Father

So Paul’s encouragement to the saints in Colossae was to let the word of Christ dwell in their hearts RICHLY – in abundance.

Who can tell me the litmus test for determining what is in the abundance of the heart?

It is found in what comes out the mouth.

This is why James says that if your devotion to God cannot even curb what comes out your mouth, your devotional worship is meaningless! [James 1:26]

As a child I was always confused by the statement found in Joshua which said, “This book of the Law will not depart from your mouth”. To me that meant I should not talk about it, when in fact the net result of the command was the complete opposite.

The verse says, 

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

The confusing wording I discovered much later actually meant you should never stop talking about it and in that way it will never STOP being in your mouth.

This was among the very next thing Paul told these Colssians to do. They were to live the word which is what is meant by “then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” 

Now the promise as spoken to Joshua was to prosper and succeed in observing to do all that is written in the law.

Back in our Word of Faith days, we twisted this scripture to promote the notion of financial prosperity and success in business ventures, but that is NOT what was the clear direction of this prosperity as is stated in the very same verse.

This precise same prosperity in New Covenant terms means that Christ will be formed in you!

Then we learned last week that the way of doing this was to stay alert in prayer and thanksgiving to and with God the Father.

Colossians 4:2, (2) Be devoted to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving.”

Then Paul commanded us in verse 5 to Conduct ourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of opportunities.  That we let our speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that we may know how we should answer everyone.

Of course Paul’s goal in all of this was to cause Christ to be formed in each believer. That they might be brought to true maturity in Jesus and conformed to His image.

Being like Christ is not just about taking on His moral character, but His human ways as well! 

As I told you last week – it is a misunderstanding to assume Jesus knew what to teach and how to answer those who opposed Him because He was God

Jesus was constantly led by the Holy Spirit in all He said and did. 

In like manner, we become a clear picture of Christ NOT just in the sinless life we lead, but by seeking in our every moment to be led by the Spirit of God. This is at least in part what is meant in 2 Corinthians 3:17 when it says, “Now the Lord IS the Spirit…“. Meaning, the way your obedience to the Lordship of Jesus is fulfilled is by following after the leading of the Spirit.

As we become more and more adept at being led by the Spirit, we will, as Paul just said here, “know how we OUGHT to answer each one.”

This is the secondary focus of being in Christ.

Having Jesus formed in us has been a primary focus of my teaching and our corporate learning for some time now and that is appropriate! But the secondary portion of our call to Christ is to seek to form Him in others.

Said another way. 

  • The first call is to have the kingdom formed within us as individuals. 
  • The second call is to establish His reign in the hearts of others!


Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keeps authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provide teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!