Psalms 103-104 -
O my soul, bless God, from head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name! O my soul, bless God, don’t forget a single blessing! He forgives your sins, every one. He heals your diseases, every one. He redeems your life from hell, saves your life! He crowns you with love and mercy, a paradise crown. He wraps you in goodness, beauty eternal. He renews your youth, you’re always young in his presence...
God is sheer mercy and grace: not easily angered, he’s rich in love. He doesn’t endlessly nag & scold, nor hold grudges forever. He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve...He knows us inside and out, keeps in mind that we’re made of mud...God’s love, though, is ever and always, eternally present to all who fear him...
And you, O my soul, bless God! O my soul, bless God!...What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at your side, made earth overflow with your wonderful creation... The glory of God--let it last forever! Let God enjoy his creation!...Oh, let me sing to God all my life long, sing hymns to my God as long as I live! Oh, let my song please him; I’m so pleased to be singing to God. But clear the ground of sinners--no more godless men and women! O my soul, bless God!
Matthew 3 -
John, called “The Baptizer,” was preaching in the desert country of Judea. His message was simple & austere, like his desert surroundings: Change your life. God’s kingdom is here.”
John and his message were authorized by Isaiah’s prophecy: “Thunder in the desert! Prepare for God’s arrival! Make the road smooth and straight!”
People poured out of Jerusalem, Judea, and the Jordanian countryside to hear and see him in action... When John realized a lot of Pharisees and Sadducees were showing up for a baptismal experience because is was becoming the popular thing to do, he exploded: “It’s your life that must change, not your skin!” Being a descendant of Abraham is neither here nor there. What counts is your life. Is it green and blossoming?...The real action comes next: The main character in this drama..will ignite the kingdom life within you, a fire within you, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out... He’ll place everything true in its proper place before God; everything false he’ll put out with the trash to be burned.”
Jesus then appeared, arriving at the Jordan River from Galilee. He wanted John to baptize him. John objected, “I’m the one who needs to be baptized, not you!” But Jesus insisted. “Do it. God’s work, putting things right all these centuries, is coming together right now in this baptism.” So John did it.