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Serve God Now!
Matthew 4:12-17
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - Feb. 6, 2013
*In our last study two weeks ago, we looked at the temptation of Jesus Christ, but there's a little bit of whiplash as we go forward tonight.
Under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, Matthew abruptly jumped forward almost a year.
He omitted the Judean ministry of Jesus that is covered in John 1-4.
*With that little bit of background in mind, let's read Matthew 4:12-17.
This Scripture helps us see that now is the time to serve 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 is time to serve the Lord, 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 life was full of devotion to the Lord.
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 up in West Monroe.
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: "Holy Smoke!
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 her 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.
So we must not waste our lives.
Now is the time to serve the Lord, because our lives are speeding by.
2. But also because God's Light still shines.
*We see the Light of the Lord shining in vs. 13-16:
And leaving Nazareth, He (Jesus) 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.''
*The Lord was on the move in vs. 13, and He is still moving in His world today!
The Scripture Jesus fulfilled in these verses came from Isaiah 9:1-2.
Those words were written over 700 years before Jesus was born, but God fulfilled that prophecy, and He is still fulfilling prophecy today.
*The Light began to shine for those people in vs. 15&16, and it is still shining today!
I know there is darkness all around us, but we can still see the Light.
*Gardner Taylor pastored the 14,000-member Concord Baptist Church of Christ in New York City for over 40 years, but he started as a young preacher in Baton Rouge.
It was during the darkest days of the Great Depression, and Gardner was in the middle of a sermon one Sunday night.
*Suddenly the electricity in the small church went out.
Standing there in the darkness, the young preacher stood motionless.
He didn't know what to do.
But finally, an older deacon yelled out from the congregation, "Preach on, preacher!
We can still see Jesus in the dark."
*And we can.
No matter how dark it gets in this world, we can still see Jesus in the dark.
God's Light is still shining, and it should change the way we live.
As Jesus said in John 8:12, "I am the light of the world.
He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."
*Jesus Christ is the Light of the world!
And in Jesus we have the light of life, but only because Jesus took our death when He died on the cross.
Do you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins?
Most of us would say, "Yes!" Do you believe that He rose again from the dead?
Have you seen the Light?
But are you walking in the Light of the Lord?
*1 John 1:5-7 says:
This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.
If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
*How could we not serve the Lord who died so that we could live in the light?
Now is the time to serve the Lord, because God's Light still shines.
But also serve, because the lost are still sitting in darkness.
*We see some of them in vs. 15&16:
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.''
Vernon McGee reminds us that the Lord grew up in Galilee.
But here God's Word calls it "Galilee of the Gentiles because so many people from the Roman Empire had migrated to the area.
There was a resort area near the Sea of Galilee.
It was very popular, but also very worldly and wicked.
The people in that area were very far from God.
So in vs. 16, the people "sat in darkness . . . in the region and shadow of death."
*Think how terrible it would be to live in constant darkness.
Commander Richard Byrd reminds us.
Once this famous explorer spent six months living in a metal hut at the South Pole.
In the Antarctic winter, the sun made no appearance during four of the six months Commander Byrd was there.
*Listen to these words from Richard Byrd's journal: "I find that I crave light as a thirsting man craves water. . .
A funeral gloom hangs in the twilight sky.
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