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Acts 20:7-12             FROM SLUMBER TO SPLENDOR

Intro: One night, the meeting place of a small, ineffective church caught on fire and burned to the ground. Several from the community, as well as the church, had gathered to combat the blaze, but to no avail! It was a total loss. Looking around the gathered faces, one church member saw a local man who had always been opposed to the work of the church and who refused to attend church. The church member said to him, "Well, I never saw you come near this church before." "No," said the man, "but then, I have never seen this church on fire before either." We have met here this week for the sole purpose of seeking the Lord in revival. Only He can sent it, I didn’t bring it and I can’t preach it up and we can’t work it up!. We need something tonight that only God can give us. We need some of the things the early church had that we are missing in our day, Ill. Acts 2! Ill. The context. Paul is in the midst of his second missionary journey. Stops at Troas for a week. He goes to church on Sunday to preach. Notice with me some truths in this passage that can help us tonight, as we think together on this thought, From Slumber To Splendor.

I. v.7-8 A DEVOTED CHURCH (Devoted = On fire!)

A. An Appointed Hour - Ill. The Lord’s Day. The purpose - to worship Jesus and hear the Word.

B. An Eager Attendance - (Ill. Love of assembly - Acts 2:46) Ill. Why should I go to church? Matt. 18:20; Jude 1:18-19; Heb. 10:25 Ill. Easy to get a crowd for a Feast, A Funeral, or a Fight - But it’s hard to fill up a church for preaching!

(Ill. Once there was an old man who, although he was nearly totally deaf, still walked to church every Sunday morning. One day, his neighbor stopped him and said, "Hey, old timer, why do go insist on going to that church down there? After all, you can’t hear a thing that preacher says." The old man responded, "Yes, I know, but they love me and I feel at home there.")

(Ill. Someone has said, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder!" If that statement is true, then there are some people who really love their church!)

(Ill. One preacher said that his church was afflicted with "Divers Diseases" He said they dive for the mountains. They dive for the beach and they dive for the door.)

(Ill. One fellow was asked why he refused to go to church. He said that he wasn’t going back because every time he did, they threw something at him. He said that when he was a baby, they threw water, and when He got married they threw rice. His friend responded, "Yes, and if you wait too long, the next time they will be throwing dirt!")

(Ill. Why I don’t go to church, versus movies. Some years ago a news reporter invited people to send in their response to the statement, "Why I don't go to church." After he had received a number of replies, he decided to show the weakness of their alibis by inserting the word "movies" wherever "church" appeared in their letters. Here is a sampling of his column: One said, "I am out of the habit of going to the movies, that's why I no longer attend." Another wrote, "I know a man who has gone to the movies for years, and he is no better than I am." Still another remarked, "There are as many good people outside the movies as inside." Some commented, "I stay away from the movies because I went when I was a child." A number of other excuses were given which proved equally absurd when "movies" was substituted for the word "church." The reasons given were not valid. They were attempts to conceal a declining interest in their spiritual life, a refusal to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, or a lack of love for God's people.)

C. A Close Fellowship - (Ill. Amos 3:3) Ill There is a need for unity in the church! Psa. 133:1; Eph. 4:3; 1 Cor. 1:10; Phil 1:27 (Ill. Rom. 16:17) (Ill. Anything that disrupts the unity of the church is not of the Lord – 1 Cor. 14:33.)

D. Word of God in Prominence - (Ill. The Centerpiece!) (1 Cor. 1:18; 21) (Ill. 2 Tim. 4:2-4) (Ill. We need preaching that is gun barrel straight, Hell hot and Heaven sweet! Preaching that god can use to touch hearts!)

(Ill. Liberal Preaching - "Brethren, unless you repent, in a measure, and be converted, as it were, you will, I regret to say, be damned, to some extent!")

(Ill. The liberal version of Three Blind Mice and Row, Row, Row Your Boat.

Three Blind Mice

A trio of sightless rodents,
A trio of sightless rodents,
Perceive how they scamper about,
Perceive how they scamper about,
They all pursued the agriculturists spouse,
Who severed their extremities with a carving utensil.
Did you ever perceive such and phenomenon in all your existence,
As a trio of sightless rodents,
A trio of sightless rodents.

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

Propel, Propel, Propel your craft,
Languidly down the liquid solution,
Ecstatically, ecstatically, ecstatically,
Life is but an illusion.)

(These are marks of a devoted church!)

II. v.9 A DEAD CHURCH MEMBER

A. A Dangerous Position - (Ill. Window!) Probably didn’t start there. Backsliding is subtle and dangerous!

(Ill. Airplane and a rat! An airplane pilot was flying his plane one day when he heard a scratching sound behind him. Knowing he was the only one on board, he quickly realized that it must be a rat. Putting on his oxygen mask, he began to increase altitude and continued this until the scratching and gnawing sounds stopped. After concluding his flight, the aviator searched his plane and found the dead body of the rat next to a hydraulic line that was almost chewed into. He had killed it by taking it to an altitude where there wasn’t enough oxygen to sustain its life. Had he not done so, that little rat could have taken the pilots life.

In a spiritual sense, when we allow ourselves to fly too low, we also run the risk of letting little things into our lives that can defeat and destroy us. Out duty is to fly high and to fly for the Lord. Sin can’t live at high spiritual altitudes.)

(Ill. A man in a window can look inside and outside - The outward look is very dangerous! Ill. Heb. 12:2)

(Ill. The disciples - Matt. 26 - 8 left at the gate! Only 4 were close enough to Jesus to hear Him pray. The other eight could look into the garden and out at the world. It was a very dangerous place!)

Only Two questions for you who are looking where you ought not:

1.) Gal. 3:1

2.) Jer. 2:5 (Ill. Israel and their looks!)

B. A Sad Condition - (Ill. Asleep!) (Ill. Paul a longwinded preacher - Ill. Why - Jer 20:9)

(Ill. One fellow went to church and the sermon was extremely long. In the middle of the message he arose to leave, when an usher said to him, "Where are you going?" The man answered, ‘To get a haircut!" The usher asked, "Why didn’t you do that before you came?" The man answered, "I did!")

(Ill. One fellow gets up to walk out of a church service and an usher says to him, "Hey, you can’t leave, our Pastor isn’t finished yet." Oh he’s finished." said the man, "He just hasn’t quit yet.")

(Ill. Once a Bishop at Yale preached in the chapel service and spent considerable time on each letter of the name, drawing a spiritual lesson from the y, the a, the l, and the e. It was extremely boring and all the students were dying to get out. After it was over, and all the students were leaving, on young man was noticed bowing at his seat and praying silently. When he finished his friend said, "Man, that speech must have really touched your heart." "No." said the boy, "I was just thanking God that I didn’t go to Dartmouth.")

(Ill. One Sunday morning in a service, a man was listening to the sermon and nodded off. His wife didn’t notice it until the man began to snore loudly. At this point, she elbowed him pretty hard in the side. Like a flash, the man cried out, "Hit me again, I can still him!")

Ill. A lot of Christians are asleep - Ill Disciples - Matt. 26; Ill. Rom. 13:11) (Ill. Be good to the preacher! He isn’t your hired boy, he is God’s man! Check on him, encourage him and be a friend to the man of God!)

C. A Tragic Fall - (Ill. More out than in!) (Ill. You cannot control sin it will control you!) (If you play around at the edge, you will fall out! Ill. David! 2 Sam. 11!

D. A Terrible Conclusion - (Dead!) Ill. The condition of many believers tonight!

(No joy, no peace, no zeal, no power!) (Ill. There are consequences to backsliding and dying on God! Heb. 12:6-8) (Ill. What about the kids and the lost?)

III. v.10-12 A DELIGHTED CHURCH

A. v.10 A Genuine Reaction

1. Went Down - Concern - Gal. 6:2

2. Embrace - Love - Matt. 22:39

B. v.11 A Glorious Reunion - Total and absolute reconciliation - Ill. Most people’s attitude Ill. Prodigal Son - Luke 15:11-24 - Ill. Contrast between the Father and the brother! Ill. Gal. 6:2. What many churches need is genuine restoration of fellowship between the brethren –

(Ill. There were 2 Deacons who hadn’t spoken in years. Each hated the other and whenever they came to church, neither would speak, but would look the other way.   Another fellow in the church, tired of the hinderence it was to worship, decided to become a peacemaker.  One day, he was at Deacon Jones' house, and Deacon Jones was complaining about Deacon Smith and just fussing.  The peacemaker spoke up and said, "Well, all that you said may be true, but don't you think that Deacon Smith is a pretty good carpenter?"  Old Deacon Jones answered, "Yes, I'll have to admit that he is a fine carpenter."  Well the peacemaker took this compliment and went straight to Deacon Smith's house.  When he got there the conversation soon turned to Deacon Jones and the awful thigs he was supposed to have done.  As they talked, the peacemake said, "Deacon Smith, can you guess what Deacon Jones said about you?"  Deacon Smith was ready for a fight and he asked, "What did that old buzzard say?" "Well," said the peacemaker, "He said that you were a fine carpenter."  "He did!", exclaimed Deacon Smith.
    The next Sunday, these two brothers met coming into the church house, and for the first time in years old Deacon Smith said, "Morning, Deacon Jones."   After that day, they eventually buried the hatchet and had their fellowship restored because one fellow was a peacemaker and not a talebearer!

(Ill. Matt. 18:21-35; Luke 17:3-5; Eph. 4:32) Don’t be a Prodigal brother!

C. v.12 A Great Revival - (Ill. sadness over a dead member! But the joy over one reclaimed! There is great joy in repentance for all involved!

(Ill. All revival really is, is waking up and going with God!)

Conc: What keeps God’s people from seeing their churches set on fire in old-fashioned Holy Ghost revival? God’s people! Guess what? There is hope to be found in the Heavenly Father. Ask God right now, to reveal anything in your life that in hindering your church. Ask Him what He would have you to do to see revival come this week!

 



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