Monday, September 21, 2015

Missing Out on a Great Deal

What if that "too good to be true" offer really was true?

Have you ever gotten one of those phone calls announcing, “Hello, you’ve won an all-expenses paid trip to…”? Maybe it was a cruise to the Caribbean, Alaska or Europe, or an extended vacation at some posh hotel or resort. What has been your reaction?

We get calls like that at least once a week. I either hang up immediately or, if it’s a real, breathing person calling and not some computerized recording, politely state I’m not interested or don’t have time to talk…then hang up. Maybe you do the same.

But what if the offer proved to be legitimate – you really did win some incredible, no-cost-to-you excursion? You’d want to accept it, right? If the offer were for you to go anywhere you wanted, no money out of your pocket whatsoever, where would it be? Ponder that for a moment.

Now: What if you received a call like that, but dismissed it as a marketing scheme, only to learn later – too late – that it was genuine? Maybe your next-door neighbor, or a good friend, received that same call and was now packing for the trip of a lifetime, while you were resigned to staying home, all because you said, “No thanks. We’re not interested.” How would you feel?

I don’t suggest allowing yourself to get suckered in the next time a telemarketer dials your number. There are too many scams and con artists out there, ready to pounce on the next gullible individual they find. But there are real contests out there, and real people do win them. At least that’s what I’ve heard. It would be a shame to miss out, wouldn’t it?

Sadly, every day thousands of people ignore or turn down an opportunity that seems too good to be true, forfeiting the offer of a lifetime – actually, an eternal lifetime. This offer, you’ve probably surmised by now, is eternal life. It truly is free, no strings attached, available to anyone willing to receive it.

One of the first Bible verses I ever learned was Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” There it is in just 20 words. We can’t earn it or deserve it – what we’ve earned or deserve is death, everlasting separation from God. But in its place we’re offered a gift – eternal life and an everlasting relationship with God based on what Jesus has already done for us.

Because as Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Putting it in everyday terms, He erased a debt He did not owe to pay a price we could not pay. One caveat: like any gift, it must be accepted. “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

As with the phone call we get promising something that sounds too good to be true, countless people every day are rejecting this great deal – this incomprehensible offer. Reasons are many. Some conclude, “It’s just too good to be true – it can’t be that simple.” A good friend said those words to me years ago. Thankfully, in time he discovered it is true – and it is that simple.

Most people refuse the gift out of pride, in one manner or another. Some think they can prove themselves deserving, that they’re good, moral people, so how could God reject that? Others are defiant; they want to live their lives their way without any interference from God or anyone else. There’s the old “faith is a crutch” rationale. And some blame the Lord for the pain in their lives, or problems we see around the world – therefore they opt for disbelief or choose to reject God, as if He needs our stamp of approval.

I compare that to the phone call with the fantastic promise. Most offers do sound too good to be true, because they are. But I can attest, along with thousands of people I’ve met over the years, that God’s offer of eternal life, hope, joy and peace – far beyond anything the world can offer – is good. And it’s true. Just not “too good to be true.”

Jesus said, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20). Unfortunately, even among those that profess to be His followers, we sometimes leave Jesus outside the door, knocking and asking to be welcomed in while we busily go about our business.

Perhaps someone reading this needs to answer the door and for the first time, invite Jesus to enter. Others may know Him, at least on a casual basis, but if they’re honest, He’s not yet their Lord. If you’re one of them, maybe it’s time to let the door swing open and for once, allow Him to show that He truly is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20).

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