Summary: The first in a series of messages on Matthew 24 & 25, this message focuses on understanding that Matthew 24 is primarily pointing to the destruction of Jerusalem and warning us not to waste time predicting the time of Christ’s return. Rather, be prepared at all times.

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Because Jesus Is Returning . . .

"Understanding Matthew 24"

You can’t read the article that appeared in the Atlanta Journal, June 5, 1997 without some remorse and sympathy for Clarence Jackson. "The clock struck midnight and Clarence Jackson didn’t turn into a millionaire." Jackson, who is 24, works in a small cleaning business in Hartford, Connecticut to help support his elderly parents. He won the Connecticut Lotto jackpot in October 1995. It was worth 5.8 million dollars. He submitted the ticket three days after the one year deadline.

He had given the ticket to his ailing father and didn’t realize it was a winner until fifteen minutes before the deadline. He didn’t know he could verify the ticket at his local lotto dealer. Instead, he waited until Monday to redeem the ticket at lotto headquarters. It was too late. The Connecticut House of Representatives voted 82-63 to award Jackson the money. Senator Alvin Penn refused to allow the bill to come to the floor of the Senate, and thus the bill died. Representative Michael Lawlor said, "Give the guy the money . . . You say we can’t change the rules. That’s all we do here is change the rules! We’re the Legislature." Jackson left the Connecticut State Capitol a dejected man.

What’s it like to be too late and lose 5.8 million dollars you could have had? I don’t know - but it would be devastating. I would be awfully hard to live with after that. Not that I’m easy to live with now. But it wouldn’t be nearly as devastating as being too late for the return of Jesus.

- Titus 2:11-13 says, "For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with self-control, right conduct, and devotion to God, while we look forward to that wonderful event when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed."

That’s our theme for this series of messages - anticipating and being ready for the return of Christ.

When you think of the second coming of Jesus, what comes to mind? The rapture, the tribulation (7 years of intense persecution), the Beast, the Antichrist, the mark of the Beast? We tend to think of things that deal with WHEN we think He will come. We like to be informed, not surprised. That is human nature. We want to be in the know.

I want to propose to you this morning that God has intentionally prevented us from knowing WHEN Jesus will return, so that we will live like we are ready all the time. Human nature is such that we would likely get ready right before He came if we knew when it was. We do that all the time.

- school - write that paper or study for that test the night before.

- home - clean up the house right before guests are due to arrive.

The disciples of Jesus were like the rest of us. They wanted to know when Jesus would bring in the fulness of His kingdom. What would be the signs they could look for to tell them the time was near? We find a passage about this in Matthew 24,25.

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