Grapevine Ecclesia

“I am the vine, and you are the branches. If any remain in me and I remain in them, they produce much fruit. But without me they can do nothing"  John 15:5 [NCV]

Off the Vine

Welcome to our ecclesia blog.

Dec
05

Nativity Story 2016

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December 5th, 2016

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Oct
07

Flashback Friday

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October 7th, 2016

Flashback Friday

by Pastor Sam Kahn

Some new discoveries this week as we look back to this last week and beyond.

Todd White - Interview

Christians Who Think Evangelism Isn't Their Gift

Thoughts on the Video - share them with me.

https://youtu.be/JlZKIPO136c https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlZKIPO136c

 

How Great Thou Art
Carl Gustav Boberg, Sweden (1885)
How Great Thou Art with lyrics performed by Chris Rice

https://youtu.be/Cc0QVWzCv9k

Today in History
Lottie Moon Reached China

Learn about the impact she had in China.

Link to Article: http://www.christianity.com/church/church-history/timeline/1801-1900/extraordinary-lottie-moon-reached-china-11630569.html

Quote of the Week

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Sep
29

Christians Need to Be Careful Who They Have Fellowship With

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September 29th, 2016

by Max Aplin (more blog articles)
originally posted 12/14/2015 on FaithWriters

The Bible teaches us in a number of places that we should avoid close fellowship with professing Christians, i.e., people who call themselves Christians, who have heretical beliefs or are unrepentant of other serious sins. Here are some relevant texts:

(1) In Matthew 18:15-17, Jesus teaches that a brother who sins and then refuses to repent should be treated like a Gentile or a tax collector. The idea is that the unrepentant sinner should be expelled from the Christian community.

(2) In Romans 16:17, Paul tells the Roman Christians to watch out for people who cause divisions and obstacles in opposition to what they have been taught. Then he tells them to turn away from such people. Troublemakers within the visible Christian community are in view here.

(3) In 1 Corinthians 5:1-5, we find Paul instructing the Christians in Corinth to expel from fellowship a man who is unrepentant of sexual sin. And in verses 6-13 he tells them not to associate with any professing Christian who is sexually immoral or greedy or an idolater or verbally abusive or a drunk or a cheat.

(4) In 2 Thessalonians 3:6, Paul tells the Thessalonians to keep away from every Christian brother who lives an undisciplined life. Then in verse 14 he tells them not to associate with anyone who does not obey his instructions in this letter.

(5) In 2 Timothy 3:5, Paul instructs Timothy to avoid people who have a form of piety but deny its power. Professing Christians are in view here.

(6) In Titus 3:10-11, Paul tells Titus to reject a divisive person after they have been warned twice. Paul is referring to divisive people within the visible Christian community.

(7) In 2 John 10-11, the readers of this letter are told not to receive into their houses or even to greet those who hold heretical beliefs. The heretics in mind are professing Christians.

(8) In Revelation 2:14, the church in Pergamon is rebuked for allowing among its number those who eat things sacrificed to idols and commit acts of sexual immorality. A similar fault is found with the church in Thyatira in 2:20.

We see, then, that the Bible contains numerous instructions to Christians to avoid associating closely with people who call themselves Christians but who are unrepentant of some sort of serious sin, including the sin of believing heresy. But why should we avoid close association with such people? What are the dangers of having close fellowship with them?

Well, first, there is the likelihood that some of what is wrong with those who believe in and practise what is evil will rub off on us. Paul refers to this danger in 1 Corinthians when, in speaking of the need to expel a sinning brother from fellowship, he warns his readers that 'a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough' (1 Cor 5:6). And later in the same letter he makes essentially the same point when he states, 'Do not be deceived. Bad company corrupts good habits' (1 Cor 15:33). We should also remember Solomon, who started off so well as king, but whose idol-worshipping wives led him astray (see especially 1 Kings 11).

Second, if we join forces for Christian work with people who are unrepentant of serious sin, it will very probably weaken the effectiveness of what we are trying to achieve. Sin and the Holy Spirit do not mix, and in all likelihood the power of the Spirit in our ministry will be hindered.

There are Christians who argue that we should not distance ourselves from any professing Christians, even if they are unrepentant of grave sin, in order to avoid visible disunity that would damage the church's reputation in the non-Christian world.

In answer to this, it is true that in relatively minor matters, and even in moderately important ones, there is a place for agreeing to disagree with other believers and for working hard to overcome divisions. However, in serious matters, contrary to much popular Christian opinion, the Bible frequently tells us to separate from those who are in serious error and sin, as the texts cited above show. In the light of these biblical passages, we need to realise too that it is often completely unrealistic to expect unity of the entire visible church. Christian unity is first and foremost an unseen unity of those who are born again.

It would also be a mistake to think that we should closely associate with professing Christians who are in serious error so that we can try to change them. We who are God's people first and foremost need a spiritually safe haven, a place where we can be built up securely in the faith without the danger of being led astray by bad influences. Certainly, let us engage in dialogue and try to influence professing Christians who are in error, but not at the cost of entering into close fellowship with them.

Neither must we imagine that the more people we are involved with, the more we will necessarily be able to do. Remember Gideon's army. At 10,000 strong it was not fit for God's purposes. However, when its number had reduced to 300, He was ready to use it (Judges 7). It is the quality of our relationship with God that is of paramount importance, not how many of us there are.

Finally, financial considerations should not be a factor in causing us to enter into close fellowship with those who are unrepentant. This can be a temptation if a church has financial difficulties and another, wealthier, church that is not true to the Bible in all important matters is willing to join forces in some way. The key thing, however, is for us to remain close to God and to move forward spiritually, even if financial difficulties arise. There are many wealthy churches in the world where spirituality is weak and little is achieved. On the other hand, there are many materially poor churches, notably in Africa, where much is accomplished. We would do well to bear in mind the words of the risen Jesus to the church in Smyrna: 'I know your suffering and [material] poverty but you are [spiritually] rich' (Rev 2:9). Besides, it is quite possible that God might choose to bless a church financially once it has decided to put spiritual matters first.

It is true that there is a danger of being over-zealous in avoiding professing Christians who are in error. The parable of the wheat and the weeds (Matt 13:24-30, 36-43) serves as a warning against taking things too far.

It also seems reasonable to think that there might be various exceptional situations in which it would be God's will for us to associate closely with professing Christians who are even in serious error:

First, there may be occasions when those in a church who are unrepentant are the majority, and the faithful minority is not really in circumstances that allow separation. This could be the situation of the church in Sardis in Revelation 3:1-6.

Second, despite what I said above about not having close fellowship with unrepentant professing Christians so as to try to change them, I think it is nevertheless true that God may occasionally call Christians to work within a compromised church in order to try to change things from within. This, however, is surely not something that would happen more than rarely, and it would only be a task for strong, mature believers.

Third, there may be rare occasions when joining forces with those in serious error might be acceptable to God because it would open an important door that would remain closed if no cooperation were entered into. However, given the warnings in Scripture of associating closely with such people, we can expect such occasions to be relatively few and far between.

Soon after the origins of Christianity, false teachings began to arise within the Christian community that threatened the church, and in the New Testament we constantly find believers opposing professing Christians who are in serious error. This theme has been a frequent and recurring one ever since. Today, as much as at any time in the church's history, we need to oppose people of this kind and to avoid close fellowship with them when possible. Instead, all too often believers seem to be influenced by what we could call a spirit of accommodation. This willingness to put our arms around everyone who calls himself or herself a Christian, and to welcome them, however, is far from being a biblical attitude.

Furthermore, if we want to help those who have gone wrong, the most loving thing we can do is to keep ourselves pure and separate, to pray for them to repent, and to engage them in discussion when the opportunity arises.

I have been a Christian for over 30 years. I have a Ph.D. in New Testament from the University of Edinburgh. I am a UK national and I currently live in the south of Scotland. Check out my blog, Dropping the Traditions, at droppingthetraditions.blogspot.com

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.com-CHRISTIAN WRITERS

Sep
24

Saturday Reflections

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September 24th, 2016

Saturday Reflections - Links to interesting articles, videos and facts.

VIDEOS | BLOGS | REFLECTIONS

Practial Guidelines for Reading the Old Testament Laws

A quick and practial guide to reading a set of scripture that can can be hard to understand. Straight forward approach to applying the Old Testament Laws into today and applying them into your life.

http://georgehguthrie.com/new-blog/5-practical-guidelines-for-reading-the-old-testament-laws

Tic Tac Toe

Sharing your faith can be as simple as a game like Tic Tac Toe.
Watch this video for some quick and cool ideas for Evangelism. Yes I was a little convicted by this.

This Week in History

1950 "Operation Magic Carpet" - all Jews from Yemen move to Israel. A project started in May 1949 and wrapping up in September 1950.

www.haaretz.com/jewish/books/the-frayed-truth-of-operation-magic-carpet-1.432991

Are You All In?

Proof that being all in and answering your calling is important. The people you can impact by being all in will feel the love you are putting out into the world.

 

Quote of the Day

"All the pain, degradation, and corruption of our world is a testimony to the fact that this journey of spiritual transformation is very difficult."

Ken Black, 12 Steps to a Christian Alpha Male Character

Looking forward to seeing what next week brings.  Check in next Saturday for more Reflections.

 

 

 

Sep
22

Shining Brightly

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September 22nd, 2016

The Presence of God within us has come to shine and bless us and to draw others to Himself. Are we drawing others to him by our actions and words?

This was a statement in one of my devotions I read one day recently. It hit me like a boulder between the eyes. If I claim God is living in me first of all is he shining through me? I thought about a dark room and how often times we use a flash light to brighten up the room. The flash light shines through the darkness so we or others can see to get around. God should be shining so brightly through us others can see their way in the darkness to get to him. We should be the beacon. A lighthouse is another example. A light house is used to help sailors find the light in the storm or when it is dark outside. Am I allowing God to shine through me or am I blocking the light and not allowing God to shine through me?

Some folks shine as brightly as the sun, but unfortunately they are not drawing others to Christ. They are drawing others to themselves. For them it's more about shining the light on their accomplishments, or their showy words, or their many deeds. Luke 18 remind us of this story, "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other peoplerobbers, evildoers, adulterersor even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.' "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted." The Pharisee was shining his light but he wasn't drawing others to Christ, he was drawing others to see all the accomplishments he was making daily. We can be doing all kinds of wonderful things, but if we fail to give God all the credit, if we become smug about all the things we are doing, or if we do something just to make a name for ourselves we are not drawing others to Christ. It's never about what we are doing or what we can do; it's about what God is doing through us.

As I speak I have people coming up and telling me what a great job I have done. I am quick to reply I am just God's instrument. He is the one that has picked me up and started playing me. He is the one making the music I am just His tool.

When we do things to receive praise or a pat on the back or to look good before others, then we are drawing others to ourselves not God. That is never a good thing.

I love the prayer that goes, Lord let there be less of me and more of you in my life. That's what it is all about.

Have you thought lately about whether you are a beacon for others? Have you thought about whether God is shining so brightly others can't see you for Christ? Or are you shining so brightly that you are all people can see?

Do your words reflect God shining through you? Sometimes we use words that make others wonder if we even know Christ. Sometimes we bring others down with our words when we really should be lifting others up. Just like our actions our words can draw others to God or our words can point some in the wrong direction. Our words can sting and hurt or our words can be comforting and soothing drawing others to Christ. Are your words a lamp to God or a sword to harm and hurt?

Let's reflect this week or this month or this year on whose light is shining through us. Let God's light be so bright in your life that others are drawn not to you but to God. Amen

Dear God, I so want there to be less of me and more of you in my life. I want others to be drawn to you and not to me. It's not about me, but it's about you using me to make a difference in someone's life. Thank you, for allowing me to be your instrument and thank you for being the one who makes the music in my life. Amen

By Becky Brown
reprint/repost permission granted by Author and Faithwriters

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