Open Your Jail Doors!
Fox News has its little mantra you may have heard: "We Report, You decide." In the newsroom at times you might here some one belt out that tune.
Easter has passed. Christ is risen. So where are you at this moment?
by Bill Martin
I can do you one better and it's a bit more meaningful: You Yield, God Works! In other words get yourself out of the way so God helps you. How many times have you been your own worst enemy?
Theologians call it sanctification. The process of molding you into the likeness of Christ. Yes, it is a process.
What God has done for us is finished. He sent His son to cleanse us. He gave us the Holy Spirit to perfect us. Now it's time for us to cooperate. It's an effort between God and us. All relationships require effort.
Dr. Laura Schlessinger writes "The path to solid, supportive, healthy relationships, self-respect, and a quality life starts with the usually painful decision to do the right thing." She continues, " I truly believe that we, as human beings, should wish to be loved and embraced for our character, respected and relied on for our courage, and trusted for our conscience. "
None of this can come without your willing relationship with Jesus Christ. Peter 4.8 "And above all, have fervent love for one another: for love shall cover the multitude of sins." Here's the point for us: It's all about grace.
Grace is not about earning our way to God because the Gospel says we can't earn enough credits to get in. It does say it is about faith. Luke 7:50 "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace."
I'm not talking about faith not in some liberal version of a weak God, but in the true strength of Jesus Christ. God accepts us into his kingdom solely because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. John 3:16 "For God loved the world in this way: He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life." John Newton, author of that tremendous hymn "Amazing Grace" reminds us that "grace will lead us home." Grace is the spiritual gasoline that runs our life engine.
It's not about thanking God for grace and then going out to live life on your own, like so many Christians do. Newton understood very well two hundred years ago when he so boldly said that he was a great sinner but God was a great savior. Where are you grounded?
One of my favorite Bible commentaries explains grace like this, "as the cistern receives water from the fullness of the fountain, the branches sap from the fullness of the root and the air light from the fullness of the sun, so we receive grace from the fullness of Christ." Grace is the central core of the Gospel message. Paul begins and ends every one of his books with a word about grace. Something I stole for my correspondence now. I sign nearly every letter "grace and peace, Bill ". Grace radically changed his life as it has changed mine.
Grace is from God to us and from us to each other. This is grace from God not to break your heart but to heal your soul. In fact you will never know the truth about yourself until you know the truth and grace about God. John 1:16 "For we have all received grace after grace from His fullness."
Finally, Martin Luther writes this sermon based on Matt 9:1-8, which was preached on Oct. 3rd 1529:
"For do not let this be the least grace upon earth, when you have come to this decision in your heart and your conscience rests upon it. We owe this assurance to the blessed Gospel alone, in which we should delight and which we must reverence, even if we receive no other benefit or use from it than that it quiets our conscience and positively teaches us how to live, and in what relation we stand to God."
In these troubling times let God's grace help you, comfort you and, most importantly, save you!
Bill Martin is a multiple winner of Emmy and Associated Press Awards for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism. He was also inducted into the Ohio Television/Radio Hall of Fame in 1999.