Stop Sleeping In Church!
I just read this sermon by Chuck Sligh, so touched me and, as a positive-change loving Christian….. You said it! I had to share! Enjoy…. and please, don’t sleep halfway, read to the end!
The Man Who Fell Asleep in Church
August 5, 2012
A PowerPoint presentation of this sermon is available upon request at email@example.com.
TEXT: Turn to Acts 20
JOKE – There was a man who always fell asleep in church because the preacher was so long-winded. The pastor got so agitated about it that he gave one of the deacons a stick to hit him over the head with every time he fell asleep. Once the man dozed off, the deacon tapped him on the head and woke him up. A few minutes later, he starting dozing again, so the deacon hit him again, this time a little harder, again waking him up, but only temporarily. When he fell asleep the third time, the deacon hit him so hard he knocked him out of the pew and onto the floor, almost knocking him out. Rather than responding in anger, the delinquent church member was heard to say, “Hit me again; I can still hear him preaching!”
You can get into a lot of trouble falling asleep at the wrong time.
Illus. – Tell the story of my falling asleep at Maranatha Baptist Church in the community of Snuffyville, Georgia, a suburb of Summerville, Georgia—snoring in church, Susan laughing, etc.
Most of the stories people have about falling asleep in awkward situations are simply humorous. There are some situations in which it would be DANGEROUS to fall asleep—like while driving, for instance.
In our text, we have a story of a man who fell asleep in church which we wouldn’t normally think of as dangerous (some of you do it all the time with no ill effects), but in this case it was. We find this story in Acts 20, beginning in verse 6.
In this passage of Scripture, note with me the following points:
I. FIRST, IN VERSES 6-7, WE SEE A FAITHFUL ASSEMBLY – “And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days. And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread…”
These believers were faithful to gather to worship on the Lord’s Day.
In this passage it’s obviously evening because the rest of verse 7 says Paul preached until midnight, so this wasn’t the Sunday morning crowd—this was Sunday night church!
The thing that we want to see first is the faithfulness of these people to be in the Lord’s house whenever the church met for worship and fellowship.
Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
As we see the day of the Lord approaching—the day of His return—the writer of Hebrews exhorts us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together.
We need to be faithful to gather with God’s people to hear the Word preached, worship, and pray.
II. NOTE SECOND, AN EARNEST PREACHER – VERSE 7b – “…Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.”
I get teased sometimes for being a long-winded preacher.
Well, let me tell you something: I NEVER PREACHED TILL MIDNIGHT!
J.W. Burn said, “The most popular preachers have not been short preachers; witness Chrysostom, Henry Smith, Whitefield, James Parsons, Punshon, Liddon, Spurgeon, Knox…”
Sometimes people wonder why preachers are often long-winded.
So in defense of myself and my brethren who preach the Word week after week, let me offer two excuses—I mean REASONS—why we’re sometimes long-winded:
First, there’s so much to say, it’s hard to keep it in three quick points and a poem.
Second, we get so excited about what we have studied and are sharing that sometimes we just can’t hush up!
That’s the way Paul was: when he got a chance to preach, he would just “let her rip”—and I guarantee you, the LENGTH of his sermon wasn’t his overriding concern!
Paul always had a sermon in his heart like any good preacher does.
In 1 Corinthians 9:16 he said, “For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!”
And you see, when you’ve got a sermon burning in your heart, you can’t always contain it in 30 minutes!
So have a little heart for your preacher, will ya?
And you pray for me—not that I would preach SHORTER SERMONS, but that I would preach soul-stirring, life-changing messages that challenge you and stir you and make you think and which God uses to change you through the power of the Holy Spirit.
III. NOTICE IN VERSES 8-9 AN INATTENTIVE LISTENER – “And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together. 9 And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead.”
Now when I read this, I immediately asked myself, “Why did Eutychus fall asleep?”
Illus. – Andrew Fuller was a great preacher of the Gospel and wrote several books that are considered classics in Christian literature today.
One time when he was preaching, he observed that several in his congregation dozed off almost at the beginning of the service! He banged his huge pulpit Bible three times loudly on the pulpit and exclaimed, “What! Asleep already! I often fear I preach you asleep, and grieve over it; but the fault cannot be mine today, for I have not yet BEGUN!”
Well, there are a number of reasons Eutychus might have fallen asleep that evening.
Let’s examine them:
• First, he might have been a servant and was required to work long hours, and therefore arrived at church in an extremely tired condition.
If so, you really can’t blame him for being tired. In fact, he should be commended for being there at all.
Illus. – I’ll never forget a number of soldiers in my church in Wiesbaden who would pull CQ on Saturday night, and sure enough—there they were in church on Sunday morning in their fatigues, showing an amazing commitment to the Lord and worshiping on the Lord’s Day in His house with His people.
Illus. – Tom Mowers, an MP who works with police dogs, has to work all night just about every Saturday night, and yet he comes in and works in the sound booth every Sunday after staying up all night. – Tom’s only fallen asleep at the computer back there once or twice and I never get on his case because he misses a slide because I’m just thankful he’s here…every Sunday…week after week.
If this was the case with Eutychus, you wouldn’t be able to blame him.
• Second, Eutychus might have stayed up late Saturday evening involved in some purely innocent pleasure or activity, like staying up and playing Bible Trivia (I’m sure they had that back then), visiting with Christian friends, or some other harmless pursuit.
In that case, then I guess you would have to say that he brought this upon himself.
I have two thoughts I’d like to leave with you on this before moving on:
1) First, you should honor the Lord’s Day.
I know that we’re not under the Mosaic Law, and therefore do not have to strictly observe the Sabbath or its Christian replacement, Sunday. But the idea of a special day set aside to worship and honor the Lord goes back to before the Law, and fits in with Jesus’ instruction to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness in Matthew 6:33.
So, though I wouldn’t lay down any legalistic practices you must or must not do on the Lord’s day, I’m well within mainline Christian thought to say we ought to set aside Sunday as different from every other day of the week—a day to worship God, to rest from the labors and cares of the rest of the week.
2) Second, you should PREPARE for the Lord’s Day:
To the Jews, a day began at sundown the evening before. So for Jewish Christians, the Lord’s Day really began on Saturday evening when the sun went down, not Sunday morning at sunup. If we started thinking of the Lord’s Day on Saturday night instead of Sunday morning, I think we’d get much more out of the Lord’s Day. Let me share three ways to prepare for the Lord’s Day:
1) First, prepare yourself for the Lord’s Day SPIRITUALLY.
Spend some time in the Word and prayer Saturday night and Sunday morning—asking God to bless the services and to work in people’s hearts, and especially to prepare your own heart.
Go to bed with a prayer and a Bible verse on your heart.
2) Second, prepare yourself PHYSICALLY.
a. Get plenty of rest Saturday night. – One of my commentaries said: “One doubtless needs a fair amount of sleep, but during the sermon is not the time to seek such refreshment. The house of God was never intended for a dormitory.”
b. Second, get to bed early.
c. Don’t stay up watching TV late Saturday night!
d. Don’t stay up late visiting friends.
e. Don’t stay up late reading an interesting book.
f. Instead, go to bed at a decent hour so your you’re refreshed to worship the Lord and receive the preaching of God’s Word.
g. Get some rest on Sunday afternoon so you can be fresh for the evening service.
3) Third, prepare yourself for the Lord’s Day PRACTICALLY.
a. Get your Sunday clothes out and ready to put on in the morning.
b. Press your clothes on Saturday night, not Sunday morning.
c. Polish your shoes Saturday night, not Sunday morning.
d. Give the kid’s their baths Saturday night.
e. Get your Bible out and find a pad of paper and a pen to take notes on and place them at the door to take in the morning.
f. Calculate the time you need to get ready for church in the morning, and then set your alarm 15-30 minutes EARLIER to be prepared for contingencies so that you don’t get to bed late, get up late, run around like chickens with your heads cut off getting ready for church, and then race to church at breakneck speed!
Illus. – [ACT OUT] Some of you hurry through breakfast, shouting at the kids to hurry up, yelling from the car, “Hurry up! Let’s GO!” screaming and arguing all the way to church and the moment you get to church—you put on a BIG SMILE, and greet someone and say, “Hello, brother, how are you?”
It’s no wonder people aren’t ready to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth Sunday morning! It’s no wonder people aren’t able to receive the preaching and teaching of God’s Word! They need two hours at church JUST TO UNWIND!
So after all these preparations on Saturday, on Sunday morning do this: Come to church EARLY; drive to church at a leisurely pace; and enjoy fellowship with other believers.
• A third reason Eutychus might have fallen asleep is that he might have been indifferent to the things of God and thus cared not to listen to Paul’s preaching and fell asleep out of indifference or boredom.
In that case, it was a SPIRITUAL problem before it became a PHYSICAL one. Paul tells us in Romans 13:11 – “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.”
If Eutychus had been awake SPIRITUALLY, he might have been able to stay awake PHYSICALLY. If that was his problem, then he needed to get his heart right with God.
IV. NOW IN VERSES 10-12, NOTE WITH ME A LIFE-GIVING TOUCH – “And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him. 11 When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed. 12 And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted.”
Paul brought Eutychus back from the dead. Imitating Elisha’s procedure in restoring the Shunammite woman’s son to life, Paul stretched himself on Eutychus and miraculously brought him back to life.
So there you have it: the story in the Bible of a man who fell asleep in church; a situation we can all relate to in some degree or another. But it’s not just a humorous story—there are things that the Lord wants you to learn from it:
• First—you need to be faithful to meet together in God’s name at church and in our homegroups, like Eutychus and others in this church were.
• Second, understand the urgency of your preacher’s heart and pray for me—not that I would preach SHORT SERMONS—well, I guess you could pray for that too!—but mostly that I would preach powerful, penetrating, soul-stirring, Spirit-filled sermons.
• Third, why don’t you make a decision to prepare adequately for the Lord’s Day so it will be a blessing to you and so you can be a blessing to our God whom we come to worship?
Illus. – I preached this sermon in England and my cousin’s wife was stirred by it. She came to me afterward and said, “Chuck, I’ve had a habit of staying up late Saturday night, getting up as late as I can to get more sleep, and stressing out Sunday morning, and by the time I get to church, I’m not in a state to worship the Lord.” She and Larry made some changes, and in the process, ended up coming earlier to church where they started being a real blessing just fellowshipping before church and greeting folks as they came in. Sunday became a time of leisure and ministry instead of hurry and stress.
• Finally, deal with any spiritual barrier in your life that prevents you from experiencing full and unfettered worship and the reception of the Word of truth.
QUESTION: Do you need to deal with a sin in your life that’s robbing you of your spiritual vigor, causing you to come to church in a spiritual stupor? Perhaps you’ve become lukewarm and sluggish in your walk with the Lord.
Maybe it’s not a major sin per se, but you’ve just let the cares of this life crowd God and His things out of your life. Like the church of Ephesus in Revelation 2, have you lost your first love?
Jesus told that church in Ephesus how to restore their first love in Revelation 2:5: “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”
Jesus’ prescription in this verse is really very simple, though by no means easy:
1) First, “remember from whence you are fallen.”
In other words, remember where it was you lost your way. Maybe you stopped reading your Bible or spending time in prayer, or you stopped sharing your faith, or you coddled a habit you knew was wrong, and you let it overtake you. Go back to where you first started to be defeated and you lost the sweetness of your love for Christ.
Second, “repent.” – Just go to God in prayer and admit you were wrong and tell Him you’re sorry.
Third, “do the first works”.
That is, do what you did when you first fell in love with Jesus. Remember when you first became a Christ-follower?—You couldn’t stop reading your Bible; you couldn’t keep your mouth shut about God; you prayed all the day long; you had a constant sense of the presence of God; as soon as you sinned, you felt so convicted, and immediately confessed and forsook your sin.
What happened?—You lost your first love. Go back and do THOSE things again, Jesus tells you in this verse. Do the first works.
And don’t go to sleep spiritually. Paul says in Romans 13:11 – “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” Wake up!…and get back in the battle for the Lord.