Falling Asleep In Church (Acts 20:7-12)
This story is both humorous and tragic.
Humorous - Eutychus is 1st parishioner recorded in Scripture to fall asleep during a sermon. What a thing for which to be remembered!
Tragic - the fall from the 3rd story killed him. Falling asleep as a Christian can be dangerous.
5 Ways To Fall Asleep:
#1 - Be wary about falling asleep ____________________ .
We start with the first most obvious from this passage. Come to church rested and ready!
Question - do we give the same priority to our preparedness for church as we do for work or for school? Do we go to bed early so we will be rested? Do we have the attitude - tomorrow (Sunday) is a big day!? This is the day we worship God and hear Him speak to us!
I fear Sunday morning has become the left-over, go-to-church if I feel like it, and if I don't have something else already scheduled. And if I do go, I'm tired, worn out from the week and thinking about the next scheduled event.
"Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead." Acts 20:9 NIV
Not just another sermon. Paul had preached all day. "On and on." Approaching midnight. Lest we be tempted to blame Paul, it's not like he could cut it off and finish next Sunday. He's leaving Ephesus and every moment is important. Note that after he brought back Eutychus from the dead, he didn't even stop to celebrate the miracle. He preached on until the next morning.
How do we prioritize our time in church? Pastor Mark's personal application - Must stop thinking about church as a 1:15 time frame. How do we even know we have next Sunday? Each Sunday we must prioritize as if it is our last time together!
#2 - Be wary about falling asleep __________________ .
We can allow other habits to take over our lives and replace the habit of church!
"Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap." Luke 21:34 NIV
Three ways to weigh our hearts down!
(1) We get "drunkenness," right? Drinking too much. Habitually. Dulls our senses. Dulls our pain. Dulls our lives. Dulls our response to God!
(2) What's "carousing?" Not a word we use every day. When I was young, "carousing" was akin to "womanizing" - going from one to another. Another word for "partying." "Gluttony." But doesn't have to be about food or party or women. It's almost the exact opposite of drunkenness in that it overloads the senses. Grab all the gusto! It's the filling of our lives with pleasure, with what we want to do. It opposes discipline and is the very definition of idolatry. Anything that we would prefer to do on Sundays rather than worship God in church.
(3) Anxieties of life. What's that doing on this list? Here is a sad truth - Worry can be just as deadly to our souls as drunkenness and carousing. Worry robs us of the joy of our salvation. Worry steals away our quiet times with Jesus. Worry is the warning signal to pray - to turn over our anxieties to God.
#3 - Be wary about falling asleep ___________________ .
This is a tough one, because it challenges each one of you to consider right doctrine. Not just what the preacher is saying. Not just what you grew up understanding. But what is the word of God really saying?
"But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared." Matthew 13:25-26 NIV
Many warnings in the Bible about false teachers. The weeds of false, wrong grow up right next to right teaching. How can you tell? What should you do? Pray. Read Scripture. Ask Holy Spirit to guide you. Decipher if you might be guilty of wanting easy over the right?
"For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." 2 Timothy 4:3-4 NIV
This is one reason why we spend so much time preaching verse by verse through the Bible. The focus becomes on what does God want to say to us, not what does the preacher want to say! Also why the study notes ahead of time and the video after - every opportunity for you to think about the teachings here.
#4 - Be wary about falling asleep _____________________ .
This is one that the church has been guilty of for at least 1800 years! Do you wake up everyday and say to yourself - Today could be Jesus back day!?
"Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.'" Matthew 25:7-8 NIV
It's pretty clear that Jesus wanted Christians to be waiting, anticipating, living in the daily moment of His possible return. How do we keep our lamps of anticipation from going out? Jesus gave us the "oil" later in 25:
"I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me." Matthew 25:35-36 NIV
This is why we talk so much about being the "hands and feet of Jesus." It's the daily realization that the Holy Spirit lives within us and that we feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, give away clothing, look after the sick and visit the prisoner... because this daily opportunity only exists until Jesus returns. None of this will be possible once the church age is ended. Keeps our focus on the sky!
#5 - Be prepared for falling asleep ________________ .
Death is not an optional event for any of us. It only makes sense to be ready! Awake!
"We do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him." 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 NIV
This is how Scripture talks about death for the Christian - "fallen asleep in him." Comfort for remaining friends and family. Also a comfort for us before death. A promise. A hope. It's a motivation for our discipline to be ready, to be prepared, to be serving, to keep our focus upon Jesus. His resurrection will also be ours someday. Let's not fall asleep early!