The State of Our Union 2018

Series: Special Occasions

January 21, 2018
Brad Shockley

Episode Notes

On January 1 I saw this funny but true meme from a Christian comedian…

“Shout out to everyone reading Genesis 1:1 this morning.”

Anyone trying to read through the Bible this year? 

If you are, that’s great! It’s quite the undertaking, but the blessings are huge. You can’t go wrong rubbing shoulders with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, the prophets; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; Paul and Peter.

I’ve started 2018 by reading the Bible through in a cool new way. They have now what’s called a reader’s Bible. It’s the Bible made into a set of books without verse or chapter numbers. I try to read daily from the OT and the NT (don’t be impressed; I get bogged down in Leviticus just like you). Right now I’m in the letters of Paul.

A few days ago I read his letter to the Colossians, and while doing so something reached out and grabbed me by the collar (as I’ve been thinking about what to share today).

In chapter 2 Paul opened up his prayer book for the Colossian believers, letting them peek into the list of things he’d been praying about…

Colossians 2:1–2 (ESV) — 1 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ,

Paul struggled in prayer for them, wanting them to know encouragement and have a full assurance in and understanding of the mystery of how God made them into his children through Christ.

But what stood out to me was this phrase: “being knit together in love.” Knit together is from one Greek word meaning joined or brought into union. Paul used it to describe how our bodies’ parts are joined or knit together with ligaments and such. And he used that as a word picture to explain the spiritual body of Christ where he is the head and we are the members (arms and eyes and feet and such). Just a few verses down Paul strongly advised the Colossians to not get distracted or caught up in the foolish teachings of those who were leading them astray, those who were not…

Colossians 2:19 (ESV) — 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

And then to the Ephesian Christians he wrote…

Ephesians 4:15–16 (ESV) — 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Love is what knits or joins the body of Christ together. What happens if there is no love? The same thing that happens if a body has no joints or ligaments: it falls apart. Paul prayed they would experience a kind of unity and fellowship through love only Christians can know. Keep that in mind and let’s look at chapter 3…

Colossians 3:1–14 (ESV) — 1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 

Paul reminds the Colossians and us to think about who has raised out of death and into life — Christ — and focus our affections accordingly. There is so much more here to talk about, but let’s move on towards what struck me so. 

Since we have been hidden safely with Christ in God, through believing in and receiving what Jesus did for us in his life, death, and resurrection, we must…

5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 

That is one example of what is called a “vice list” in the Bible.

6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. 

If you are a Christ follower you get this. There’s this old you, this part of who you were before Christ that haunts you. Then it was all about doing what felt right or what was easiest. But now there’s this new you, this part of you that wants to do the opposite of all that. We have to put away all that old stuff and focus on the new. It goes against the grain of who we were, but it aligns with who we now are (whose we now are).

Again, there’s so much here, but I want to get to what grabbed me (in light of this state of our union address)…

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 

This is a virtue list!

14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Different Greek word for “bind” here but exactly the same idea. This is what got me because this is us. I’ve never pastored a church with such a sense of unity and purpose.

Are we perfect? No (just look at our deacons). But are we enjoying something special in the community of faith here, as brothers and sisters in Christ? YES.

We have a diversity of political views, a diversity of biblical interpretations on the nonessentials, a diversity of economic and social backgrounds, and yet here we are all working together and getting along.

Why? The love of Christ binds us together. That is the way it’s supposed to be. Colossians 3:11 rings true at PVFBC…

11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. 

The other side of that blessing is a caution: We must jealously and zealously guard this because it makes us a target. The devil would love nothing more than to bring all this down. Someone has well said every church is always one prayer meeting away from revival and one business meeting from disaster.

As we look at the state of our union at the beginning of 2018 let’s celebrate our knitted-togetherness! That’s a biggie. But as we look back at what’s happened this past year, there’s more to rejoice over.

In 2017 we enjoyed…

Baptisms - 11

It’s not about the numbers; it’s about people who identified with Christ by being baptized. People who believed in and received him and followed through in obedience by being baptized. You all played a part in that.

Additions - 18

More people decided to make PVFBC their church home, purposing to give of their time, talents, and treasure here.

Not only that, we enjoyed a number of…

Outreach efforts


Christmas Eve

Family night

Finances - record giving

Renovation - the team gave us a glimpse.


Student Ministry - hiring of a student pastor.

Folks we have so much to celebrate. A bad day at our church is better than a good day at most churches!

As we look ahead, though, we also have many challenges. That’s a good thing! We will never get to a place where we can kick back and be complacent.

This year we will launch one new ministry and resurrect an old one…

  • KidsView HD on Wednesday nights.
  • VBS this summer with family night capping the week.

This year we must redouble our efforts in…

Outreach - we have to find new ways to reach out and connect with our community (I’ll talk about that more in a minute). Easter this year we are going to take it to a new level with a more hands-on approach.

This year we can’t get too comfortable with our...

Finances - they are very good, but we have much to do. The need for staff to maintain.

This year we will re-invigorate our core ministries (bell curve):

  • Guest services - we need to refocus, something we’ll do as we head into Easter. We also need a director!
  • Children’s Ministry - we need more volunteers. We are looking for directors.
  • Leadership Teams
    • The ones in purple are where we need help the most.
    • We need a LifeView and Sunday school director!

This year we will revisit Vision Nights - following present Wednesday night study.

This year we will have a renovation plan to act on.

This year, we need to hear from you - see handout

This year we want to see more saved, more added to what God is doing. And that takes us all working together, praying together, and protecting our knitted-togetherness.

Full plates and the importance of what’s happening in the fellowship of faith.

Conclusion: 1765 John Fawcett was called to pastor a very small congregation at Wainsgate, England. He labored there diligently for 7 years, but his salary was so meager that he and his wife could scarcely obtain the necessities of life. Though the people were poor, they compensated for this lack by their faithfulness and warm fellowship.

Then Dr. Fawcett received a call from a much larger church in London, and after lengthy consideration decided to accept the invitation. As his few possessions were being placed in a wagon for moving, many of his parishioners came to say good-bye. Once again they pleaded with him to reconsider.

Touched by this great outpouring of love, he and his wife began to weep. Finally,  Mrs. Fawcett exclaimed, “O John, I just can’t bear this. They need us so badly here.” “God has spoken to my heart, too!” he said. “Tell them to unload the wagon! We cannot break these wonderful ties of fellowship.”

This experience inspired Fawcett to write a hymn. “Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love! The fellowship of kindred mind is like to that above.”

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

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