Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Nehemiah 8 - God Wants FAT Christians

INTRODUCTION

  • Are you a FAT Christian?
  • God wants FAT Christians

NEHEMIAH 8

  • Final sermon on Nehemiah in this series, although still 6 more chapters left in book
  • Nehemiah 8 – key point in the whole story
  • If you thought Nehemiah was just a story about rebuilding some walls, you are wrong.  Nehemiah is about
    • Vision
    • Faithfulness
    • Prayer
    • Courage in the face of opposition
    • Leadership
    • Unity
    • Spiritual renewal
  • Nehemiah not just concerned about repairing some walls, the vision all along was to see the spiritual renewal of not just Jerusalem, but the whole of Judea. 
  • Although God had enabled them to build the wall, the work wasn’t complete until the people had rebuilt their lives spiritually.

THE CHALLENGE FACING THE CHURCH

  • In the first sermon in this series, we compared the challenge facing Nehemiah with the challenge facing the church today.
    • Aging congregations
    • Declining church attendance
    • Fewer clergy
    • Change in family life
    • Sunday – day for shopping, visiting relatives, sporting activities
    • Christianity loosing it’s place in life of nation

MEETING THESE CHALLENGES

  • If there is to be a church in a generation’s time how do we meet these challenges?  It’s important we have
    • Good welcome
    • Radical inclusivity – Gospel is for everyone
    • Lively worship
    • Relevant teaching
    • Authentic relationships, where love is genuine & forgiveness shown
  • BUT ON ITS OWN THIS IS NOT ENOUGH - WE NEED FAT CHRISTIANS!
    • Faithful
    • Available
    • Teachable
  • What is the point about being concerned that the world isn’t more Christian, if we are  untroubled that we aren’t more Christlike?
  • Are you a FAT Christian?
  • What will help the church grow, are people who are passionate about their faith & committed to being followers of Jesus.

DISCIPLES NOT CHURCH GOERS

  • How often is the word Christian used in the Bible?
    • 3 times Acts 11:26, Acts 26:28, 1 Peter 4:16
  • How often is the word Disciple used? - 250 times
  • We need disciples not church goers
  • A disciple is a pupil, leaner, apprentice. 
  • A disciple is a FAT Christian, someone who is Faithful, Available & Teachable
  • David Watson: “Christians in the West have largely neglected what it means to be a disciple of Christ. The vast majority of western Christians are church-members, pew fillers, hymn singers, sermon tasters, Bible readers, even born again believers or Spirit filled charismatics, but not true disciples of Jesus… If we were willing to learn the meaning of discipleship and actually to become disciples, the church in the West would be transformed, and the resultant impact on society would be staggering.  This is no idle claim.  It happened in the first century.”
  • In Nehemiah 8 we see how people were Faithful, Available & Teachable. 
  • This event took place only a few days after the building project was completed, and on the first day of the 7th month – the Jewish New Year.  Significance of a fresh start, new beginning.
  • The people were enthusiastic.  The demand to hear the Scriptures read came from the people, rather than the leaders.  ‘They told Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses.’ 
  • All the people came together as one & Ezra read from the book of the Law from day break to noon. 
  • They craved for God’s word, as hungry people long for food.  And they were attentive to it.   They expected God to speak directly through the Scriptures.  There was a vitality and urgency about their listening.
  • How does this compare to us?  Are we hungry for God’s word? Do we listen attentively to it?
  • Bible reading survey of church last year showed that 8% admitted to never reading the Bible. 60% only read the Bible several times a month. 12% several times a week & 20% daily.
  • Not only must we listen to God’s word, we need to apply it to our lives.
  • Chick Yuill when we read Scripture we need to ask 4 questions:
    • What’s God doing here?
    • What does it tell me about Jesus?
    • What does it say to me as a disciple?
    • What difference will this make to me tomorrow?
  • We need to be Faithful, Available & Teachable.
  • Like the people in Nehemiah when they heard the word of the Law read to them.  They responded to it, in worship, in praise, and in penitence.  ‘They bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.’
  • We will only impact the world, if we take seriously our faith.  If we take the call to discipleship seriously.  If we’re not passionate about our faith, then why should others be?
SERVING ON OUR FRONTLINES

  • This means serving God on our frontlines.
  • If all our mission & strategies are focused solely on what we do in the church – services, meetings, home groups, etc., then we will make very little impact on the world.  (Show slide of dots in corner)
  • Graham Cray – “There is no way to re-evangelise this nation apart from the impact of the daily lives of ordinary, everyday Christians.” 
  • If ASA is 80 adults, and each person meets on average 30 people a week (very conservative) – that would be 1600 a week. 
  • What difference would it make if we were all committed to living our Christian lives as disciples of Jesus on our frontlines? 
  • 168 hours per week - sleep for 48 – leaves 120
  • Unless employed by church maximum amount people can give to gathered church activities (worship, fellowship & outreach) is 10 hours per week
  • This leaves 110 hours – life at home, life at work, life with friends, life of leisure. 
  • How can we make the biggest impact for God? In the 10 hours of church based activities, or the 110 hours amongst our family, friends, at work, & leisure?   

  • What do you think matters most to God? The church based activities we do, or what we do with the 110 hours per week.
    • Bishop of Ripon, speaking to man who introduced himself as church warden. After conversation Bishop was told this man was town planner for the largest urban area in the diocese.  What job was more important? 
    • Where are they likely to have biggest impact, as Sunday school teacher 1 hour per week, or teaching in school?
  • God doesn’t want church goers, he wants FAT Christians.  People who are Faithful, Available and Teachable.  People serious about being followers of Jesus & making a difference for him on our frontlines.
  • If we are really committed to being disciples of Jesus, it will not only transform the church, but transform our world.


ARE YOU A FAT CHRISTIAN?