“My soul clings to the dust; Revive me according to Your word.” Psalms 119:25 NKJV
If I ask you to think back to September 11, 2001, what images come to mind? No matter what image you thought of first, they are all etched in our minds.
From the horrifying impact of the planes crashing into the Twin Towers, to the plume of smoke rising above Manhattan, to the brave first responders rushing to the scene, and the collapsing of the towers, all these images provoke the emotions of that day.
One image that has always stuck to me was the vast dust cloud that poured through the streets as people were making their escape. For nearly a three-mile circle from Ground Zero, the dust literally clung to everybody and everything in its path. It was a visual reminder of the destruction and death of that day.
The Psalmist uses the imagery of dust to describe the destruction of sin and death that all people will face. In Psalms 119:25a he states: “My soul clings to the dust…” This is poetic language of someone who has been placed in the grave and whose body is now turned to dust.
If the verse ended there in the dust, that would be a very bleak picture. The psalmist then adds a prayer in 25b to the hopelessness he was feeling: “Revive me according to Your word.” The psalmists believes that God who spoke the world into existence can speak life to a soul that is clinging to the dust.
As we think about the images of 9-11 twenty-one years later, God’s word is still valid today. He brings hope and life amid destruction. When it feels like the dust of sin, and death, and the world clings to our very souls, He wants to revive us as individuals and as a church.
I love you and it’s a privilege to be your pastor.
“Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him.” Matthew 3:13 NKJV
Why did Jesus get baptized? That is a question I have often thought about. Even though I have often thought about it, I really have not done a study of it or even preached a message on this topic.
As a practice, I have always read Matthew 3:13-17 before every baptism I have ever done. It tells the story of the baptism of Jesus. Here is the passage in the NLT:
Mat 3:13-17 NLT] 13 Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to talk him out of it. "I am the one who needs to be baptized by you," he said, "so why are you coming to me?" 15 But Jesus said, "It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires." So John agreed to baptize him. 16 After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, "This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy."
John had been preaching a “baptism of repentance” to show that the people were preparing their hearts to receive the coming Messiah. Jesus is thirty years old and is at the beginning point of His ministry.
When Jesus came to John to be baptized, John protested and tried to prevent Jesus from being baptized. There was no need for Jesus to repent. At this point, Jesus tells John why He was being baptized in vs 15: “it should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.”
Jesus is baptized to set the example and set the pattern for all future believers and followers. We follow His example and pattern when we are baptized after we put our faith and trust in Him. We are not baptized first and then follow Jesus, we believe first and then follow Him in baptism.
The baptism of Jesus shows what He came to earth to do for us. He came to die, be buried, and then rise again for us. Baptism is a symbolic act that depicts that. We when are baptized, it shows that we too have died to self, are buried, and rise again to a new life in Christ.
If you trusted in Christ, but have not been baptized yet as a believer, I want to encourage you to follow the example and pattern of Jesus.
I love you and it is a privilege to be your pastor.
“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32 NKJV
As Americans, we value freedom. It is one of the core principles of our foundational documents. The Declaration of Independence states:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
Our Founders realized that the right to liberty, a synonym of freedom, is God given. That right does not come from man, or man’s government, but from God. In fact, one of the greatest gifts God gave us is a free will.
Because Americans are free, we have such rights as free speech, freedom of the press, religious freedom, freedom of assembly, and others. The very nature of these freedoms at times produces competing truth claims. Sometimes, when emphasizing these claims, the person may state; “the truth shall make you free.”
Politicians, activists, scientists and even some atheists will use this statement to reinforce their point. Sometimes, even well-intended Christians will us this statement as well. The problem is that this statement is taken out of context.
In fact, I believe it is one of the most misinterpreted and misapplied verses in the Bible. What did Jesus mean when He made this statement? The context of this verse in found in the verse just before it. John 8:31-32 says: Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
Cleary then Jesus is not talking about all truth claims. He is specifically talking to believers. The truth He is pointing to is His teachings. The context of the statement is discipleship. When we follow Him, we can know the truth. It is that truth that sets us free. Jesus teaches us that He is the Truth. That truth is embodied in Jesus.
When Jesus sets us free, we are free indeed. Even though we live in a free country, there are millions of Americans who have not experienced true freedom. Let us be known as a church that points others to the One who truly sets us free.
I love you and it is a privilege to be your pastor.