Faithlife Sermons

7 Surefire Tips to Avoid a Coma

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Malachi warns the people to wake up from their spiritual complacency.

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I Took Five Times

Illustration: In little rural town sat a little rural church building where the same people had gathered for worship week after week; month after month, and year after year. On One of those predictable Sunday mornings, in the middle of the pastor’s predictable sermon, one of the long time members died from a heart attack. The pastor had one of the leaders call the funeral home to come during that time to carry out the beloved church member. It took them five times to figure out which one he was. The director said they all looked dead to me.
The pastor said “I have gotten used to it, much like visiting a member in a coma”
As you read in the sermon title, I want help you today to avoid ever falling into a coma. Of course:
A coma in the church is a spiritual problem of complacency.

Definitions of Complacency

“A self satisfied state of negligence or carelessness, especially in relation to one’s personal situation.” - Webster’s Dictionary
“The improper quality of being overly satisfied with life circumstances, even to the point of idleness and laziness.” - Bible Dictionary
“A feeling of smug or uncritical satisfaction with oneself or one's achievements.” - unknown

Complacency in God’s Nation and Temple

I you remember from last Sunday, or if you were not here, the purpose of Malachi’s messages to God’s people was to confront complacency that showed up in their marriages, their money, and their ministry for God. The people of God during Malachi's time parallel many of God's people in churches today. Like them, Christians have been promised a coming (2nd) of our Messiah, yet preachers still declare it and Christians still wait, causing many of them to become apathetic or complacent in those same areas but always begins in the area of their worship of God.
Malachi knew God’s people placed a spiritual problem not a political one. Only a spiritual solution could wake them from their spiritual coma.
Malachi thus preached the need for spiritual renewal.
God speaks in the beginning of chapter 2, addressing the biggest indicator of complacency: not listening to God’s leading.
Malachi 2:1–2 NKJV
“And now, O priests, this commandment is for you. If you will not hear, And if you will not take it to heart, To give glory to My name,” Says the LORD of hosts, “I will send a curse upon you, And I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have cursed them already, Because you do not take it to heart.
God’s dissatisfaction with them is immediately apparent here in this chapter. The meaning conveyed by the Hebrew word translated as “hear” indicates obedience to God’s Word. It gives the idea that a person who hears God listen intently or with the intentionality of taking what God says and putting it into practice in their personal life.
This indictment was further emphasized by the statement “if you will not take it to heart” indicating they were not and had no plans to. This word take meaning “to consider/think very carefully about God’s Word and determine a course of action based on what you learned from what He says in His Word.”
God does not pass by, nor take lightly the fact of Spiritual complacency in the hearts of His people. This is seen in verse 3.
Malachi 2:3 NKJV
“Behold, I will rebuke your descendants And spread refuse on your faces, The refuse of your solemn feasts; And one will take you away with it.
“Behold” is an emphatic word used to allude to immediacy towards God’s discipline. God is emphatically saying “Hey Folks I am Serious about this issue.” “The” curse meaning God will be very intentional and deliberate in his actions toward them. To show how serious he gives 2 consequences for Complacency:
Their family will also suffer from their discipline. (Ours will too if we remain in this spiritual state)
God would humiliate them in front of many people. “Feces” - God was showing their worship and sacrifices was a pile of poop in his eyes. He would make sure it gets smeared all over there face. (No humilitaion is worse than the humiliation God will bring upon you and me when we are pridefully fixed and immovable in our complacency.)
v. 1 - “commandment” or NIV says “warning” saying look if you do not change from your attitude of and behavior from complacency then these curse are determined, set in stone according to God to happen to you.
Complacency is one of the indictments that sent the former generations in to exile in Babylon and brought destruction of Solomon’s Temple. God told Ezekiel to write Ichabod over the Temple, Kabod as here in vs. 2 meaning Glory, Ichabod meaning the glory of God had departed the Temple. Complacency is what Amos had warned the pre-exile generations about.
God’s glory left the Temple because:
Complacency led to the Death of the Nation
Complacency caused people to reject and fail to carry out God’s mission to the nations
Complacency denied them their destiny as a great Nation

Complacency in God’s Church

I did a little Facebook survey of my friends list, asking them to name some reasons for Spiritual complacency. Here is what they gave me:
“I feel good. Sunday morning sermons feel like it’s enough.” “Being comfortable with the life you are living. Blindness to certain sins Blindness to the constant need of the savior.” “it’s seeking material satisfaction.” “resting on their parents and grandparents faith.”
To give you a mental picture of complacency in a church: “Someone whose face looks like it’s forgotten their soul got saved.” - Unknown
Chuck Swindoll describes what complacency can look like in his life and the church as: “finding a great deal of security in the mediocrity and predictability of sameness, yesterday dwellers, searching for ways to settle in and get comfortable with things just the way they are and have always been.”

Dangers of Complacency

Complacency leads to the death of churches
If you remember as well, we see like Malachi did here at end of OT, Jesus at end of NT confronted complacency in at least 2 of His churches in Asia then and consequently now in His followers/churches. In letter to Ephesian church:
Revelation 2:4–5 HCSB
But I have this against you: You have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.
Also in letter to Laodicean Church:
Revelation 3:15–16 NASB95
‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. ‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.
Complacency robs churches of energy and enthusiasm
Complacency robs the Christian and thus churches of joy and reward (not living its destiny, no glory of God)
Complacency prevents people from being saved
Complacency measures self against others instead of against God leading to self-righteousness and judgment of instead of compassion for non-Christians. A Committed Christ follower though measures self against God seeing the great forgiveness given to him/her and from thankfulness telling non-Christians the gospel. Desiring for them to receive that same forgiveness.

5 Symptoms

Far too easily satisfied
Quick to make excuses
Never enough time
No longer teachable or a disciple maker
Content with success in the past
Easily satisfied - the big wins are not spiritual wins. ie: got the color carpet you wanted in the church. Paid the bills this month. There is no visible fruit from the church or the Christian.
Excuses - that’s not gonna work here, never done it before, it has always been like that. Small sins are overlooked because they give a lot, they are family members, or we don’t want to loose people.
Time - busyness but not about God’s business of seeing souls saved. Unwise use of time.
Teachable or disciple maker - Not pursuing spiritual growth, of which complacency is the enemy. Pridefully resisting change or something new or different. Don’t care to be a mentor to other Christians. Don’t care to help others grow in their faith.
Past success - Only Relish in something God did years ago. Depend on and delight in traditionalism over the Bible and the Spirit which is always transforming us, changing us, and leading us in new ways.
A spiritual coma seems like it can be an extremely serious problem if it ever happens. What God promised to do to the priest and people looked like a pretty harsh cure. Grandma always told me “An once of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” As I promised 7 surefire tips to avoid a coma or Spiritual Complacency:

Tips to Avoid Complacency

Never leave God (“hear” and “take to heart” his word, Mal. 1:2-5 constantly show your gratitude for God’s love for you beginning with salvation but always for each new day, Mal. 3:6 consider how God is faithful to you each day)
Always Fear God (Mal. 1:14; 3:5,16; 4:2-3 - in the Bible the fear of God deals with how we are supposed to respond to God’s holiness: with reverence or respect, with a sense of awe, with consistent obedience)
Keep Holy things Holy
Giving honor to God’s name (Mal. 1:6-14 - to know God’s name means you understand His holiness, sense His power, and feel His love. Honoring God’s name means honoring Him with attitudes and actions)
Being sincere in your worship (Mal. 2:1-9 - sincere worship comes from your heart. Sincere worship is finding joy being together with God’s people focused on God’s pleasure in our worship. Sincere worship is meaning what you sing and pray and give.)
Seeing your marriage as a witness (Mal. 2:10-16 - God designed the marriage covenant to represent to the world the covenant between Jesus and His bride the church.)
Treat others with integrity (Mal. 3:5 - caring for widows and orphans as James said is pure religion. We must care for and love our neighbors as ourselves whether poor or not, illegal or not, refugee or not, same race as us or not.)
Trust God enough to give the tithe (Mal. 3:7-12 - God’s Word is proof. He provided then and still will now.)
Fellowship with one another (Mal. 3:16-18 - The worst the world gets the better we should be to one another. Fellowship does not happen by sitting in the pew next to one another. It may begin there, but you have to get out of your comfort zone and get close to one another through word and action)
Expectantly look for the Lord’s return (Mal. 3:1-6; 4:5-6 - That expectancy keeps us from complacency and leads us out each morning looking to see souls saved.)
Conclusion: A complacent Christian is: Lukewarm, apathetic towards the unsaved, un-zealous about God (zealousness does not equal attendance as can be seen in Malachi) and uncommitted to the mission/work of God. Complacency is okay with average.
“Average is the best of the worst and the worst of the best” A Committed Christian never settles for Average
From my Facebook survey: A committed Christian is...
in the Bible daily
Will always tell others about Christ and what he did for us all
If you and I follow those 7 tips we will remain a committed Christ Follower growing in and used by Christ to build His Church.

Invitation to Respond

A time of invitation is for everyone who has met with God. Today during this service God came to meet with you. My prayer is that you have been receptive. Whether you need to ask God to save your soul because you realized you are a sinner unforgiven, or you are a forgiven Christian needing to make right with God something he has convicted you of, right now is the time for you to do business with God as He is leading your heart. You may just want to come to the altar and bring before God some people you have a burden to see saved or to return to God from complacency. Whether through singing or praying respond now.
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