BAPTISED, AND SAFE

Have you ever been to Fort Myers Florida? Is so, you’d be in good company. Thomas Edison used to enjoy spending his winters in Fort Myers. Henry Ford used to have the winter estate next to his. Harvey Firestone, the founder of the Firestone Tire Company, used to live nearby, too. De’mari Jackson used to live there.

While you probably recognize the first three names, I doubt you’ve heard of De’mari Jackson. But he’s my key illustration for our verse today, which says
IN PEACE I WILL LIE DOWN AND SLEEP, FOR YOU ALONE, O LORD, WILL KEEP ME SAFE

Two weeks back, De’mari Jackson made two critical decisions. And I mean that word “critical” literally. (“Critical” has a few different meanings. It can be related to that which is necessary for life. It can refer to a turning point. The word can even describe careful judgment and evaluation.) De’mari seldom attended church, he didn’t see the point. But, for whatever reason, he decided to go two weeks ago when his two brothers and a cousin invited him to come along.

It was the first time he’d ever attended the Rock Church of Fort Myers. That morning the pastor told those in the congregation, “If you want something, then you’ve got to go full forward and get it. And when God’s calling you toward salvation, which is the first step toward our walk with God, don’t delay.” The Holy Spirit convicted Jackson. He knew his life wasn’t right. De’mari didn’t know Jesus personally; he’d never made the decision to admit his sin, believe in Jesus and confess Him as his Lord. De’mari decided that needed to change … then and there.

When the altar call was given, De’mari went forward, committed his life to Christ and was baptised shortly after noon. It was a joyful and glorious moment. Giving his life to Jesus was the first of his two critical decisions.

A few hours later, at approximately 8:15pm, De’mari Jackson was shot and killed protecting a friend from the gunfire that erupted out of an argument in a nearby field across the street. Protecting the girl on the porch was the last decision he ever made on earth.

IN PEACE I WILL LIE DOWN AND SLEEP, FOR YOU ALONE, O LORD, WILL KEEP ME SAFE

Now you may think that this verse doesn’t apply to De’mari, but I would have to disagree. Because the true measure of peace and safety is not what happens to our body. It is only determined by what happens to our eternal soul.

If I were to get into some sort of an accident and have my new trousers ripped and torn, that might be unfortunate. But if you were to call me afterwards, we’d not spend a great deal of time speaking of clothing. Your question would be, “Are YOU alright?” Some years back my daughter’s car was crushed as she waited in line at a traffic light when a truck driver fails to stop. Though the car was a total loss, she was saved and all but uninjured. When we heard about the accident our first thoughts were for our daughter, not the car. We said, “Thank God she’s safe” not “Is the car OK?”

De’mari had made peace with God. He and Jesus had a covenant. He is safe. Right now. His confession accepted the offer of a swapped life, De’maris’ sin for Jesus’ righteousness. His baptism was the seal of the covenant; the rite of entry into the Church’s fellowship, marking the beginning of his new life in Christ. Through faith, repentance, and baptism we are spiritually united to Jesus and become children of God the Father. Like the ring in a marriage, it does not create the bond; but it is a visible and outward sign of a covenant which has been established.

I think that the key points for you and I to consider today are these …

  • De’mari Jackson had no idea when he decided to listen to Christ’s invitation how much time he had left on earth.
  • The pull of a trigger sealed his eternity. When his time came, Jackson had no time to reconsider his options.
  • Our relationship with Jesus is binary. Either He is your Lord (and therefore your savior) or He is not. There is no middle ground.
  • The time to make the decision is NOW, while you have the opportunity.

When the pastor who gave the altar call reflected back on that morning’s service, he said, “I remember telling the congregation, ‘Today is the day of salvation. You don’t know what tomorrow’s going to bring.’ And then to find out that he gets shot and passes away that evening, I mean, it emphasizes that point so incredibly.”

De’mari Jackson was invited to the altar and made a critical choice. Literally.

Right now, you are the one receiving that same open invitation from Jesus to follow Him.

Are you coming?

IN PEACE I WILL LIE DOWN AND SLEEP, FOR YOU ALONE, O LORD, WILL KEEP ME SAFE

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