Summary: Now is the time to serve the Lord... 1. Because our lives are speeding by (vs. 12). 2. Because God's Light is still shining (vs. 12-16). 3. Because God wants more people to be saved (vs. 16). 4. Because the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand (vs. 17).
Now Is the Time to Serve the Lord!
The Gospel of Matthew
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Prepared November 20, 2020
*Please open your Bibles to Matthew 4. Last time in vs. 1-11, we looked at the temptation of Jesus Christ, but there is a big jump forward in tonight's Scripture. Under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, Matthew abruptly skipped forward almost a year. He omitted the Judean ministry of Jesus that is covered in John 1-4. (1)
*With that little bit of background in mind, let's read Matthew 4:12-17. This Scripture helps us see why now is the time for all of us to be serving the Lord.
*About 250 years ago, John Wesley was a tremendous servant of God in England. Revival came to the nation, and they were spared the murderous darkness that descended during the French Revolution.
*John Wesley's motto for Christian living was:
"Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can." (2)
*As long as he possibly could John Wesley faithfully served the Lord. But now it is our time to serve God. And here God's Word shows us some crucial reasons why.
1. FIRST: IT'S BECAUSE OUR LIVES ARE SPEEDING BY.
*Our time in this world is running out. John the Baptist's trouble in vs. 12 reminds us of this truth. Here Matthew gave this report: "When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee."
*John the Baptist lived an excellent, godly life. His was fully devoted to the Lord, and his life counted for Christ. In Matthew 11:11, Jesus even said: "Among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist."
*John the Baptist faithfully served the Lord. But now his time had almost run out, because Herod the Tetrarch had put John into prison and would eventually kill the great prophet. Church: We may not like to think about it, but our time is running out too.
*There is a steep hill in our neighborhood. One afternoon I was walking up that hill, just as a young mother came running down, pushing her little boy in a stroller. When I saw her, I thought, "If I came down that hill as fast as she did, I'd have to go back up to get my kneecaps!"
*Anyway, -- just as I passed that mom and that stroller, I asked her, "Do you ever wish you could swap with him?" She laughed, and I trudged on up the hill. But then it dawned on me: One day she will. If that young mother lives long enough, one day she will swap places with her son, and he will be pushing her.
*Our time is running out much faster than we realize. We need to pray like King David prayed in Psalm 39:4-5. From the Amplified Bible: "LORD, let me know my life’s end, and to appreciate the extent of my days; Let me know how frail I am, how transient is my stay here. Behold, You have made my days as short as hand widths, and my lifetime is as nothing in Your sight. Surely every man at his best is a mere breath, a wisp of smoke, a vapor that vanishes!"
*Our time is running out much faster than we realize, and now is the time to serve the Lord, because our lives are speeding by.
2. ALSO SERVE THE LORD BECAUSE GOD'S LIGHT STILL SHINES.
*We see the Lord's great light shining in vs. 12-16:
12. Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee.
13. And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali,
14. that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:
15. The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles:
16. the people who sat in darkness saw a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.''
*Here Jesus fulfilled a 700-year-old prophecy from Isaiah 9:1-2, and one day, God will fulfill all of His prophecies! But Jesus Christ is the "great light" shining in vs. 16, and He is still shining in the world today!
*Take a moment to think about our sun. We tend to take it for granted, because it's always up there in the sky, but our local star really is amazing. It's 93 million miles away, and 864,000 miles across. About one million earths could fit inside! That boggles my mind. And the sun is hot. At the core of the sun the temperature is about 27 million degrees Fahrenheit! (15 million degrees Celsius). (3)