Thursday, January 28, 2021

Good News: You May Be Rich and Not Know It!

Have you gotten a promotional mailing recently that said you might have won millions of dollars? Woo-hoo! Or maybe you’ve received one of those emails, supposedly from a foreign official, advising you’ve been chosen to receive some hefty sum of money? Recently I saw an ad declaring that millions of dollars are waiting for people to rightfully claim them. Maybe we’re rich, and we don’t know it! 


Years ago I did receive a phone call from the representative of a restaurant, informing me that I’d won a contest that I had registered for during a visit a couple months earlier. At first I was skeptical, suspecting some kind of scam. I even replied to the caller something like, “Yeah, right!” However, it proved to be legitimate; a few weeks later I received a check in the mail.

 That was the only time that’s happened to me. Usually when we hear about unclaimed riches there just for the picking, it’s a gimmick. But did you know there indeed are unclaimed riches, available to every one of us, with no tricks, gimmickry or deception involved?


Actually, there are two different classifications. One, according to the Scriptures, is the priceless gift of redemption and eternal life. As John 1:12-13 declares, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” 


Romans 6:23 explains, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” And Ephesians 2:8 affirms this, stating, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”


Sadly, and in my view, amazingly, many choose not to receive this gift. Similar to the millions of unclaimed dollars, God’s gift of eternal life doesn’t benefit anyone unless it’s received.


There’s a second category of eternal riches available – except these are reserved only for those who already belong to God’s family. It’s the power to live a new, transformed life. The Lord offers it to all of His children, and it’s readily available, but too many of us fail to take advantage of it.

 In John 15:5, Jesus cautioned His followers, “apart from Me you can do nothing.” The uninitiated might be inclined to ask, “What’s that supposed to mean? I can do lots of things.” But I like the clarification the apostle Paul offered: “I can do everything through [Christ] who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).


We can think, like the skeptic, that we can do many things without relying on Jesus Christ. But the point is that apart from Him, we cannot do anything of eternal value. But with Him, even the simple acts we do throughout a given day – speaking a kind word to someone, deciding to give some of our time to another person when we didn’t think we had any spare moments, approaching our work responsibilities, even offering a friendly smile to someone (when a facemask doesn’t hide it) – can be transformed into sacred moments through the power of Christ.


Thinking back, I ruefully recall the years I spent trying to serve the Lord and live the so-called “Christian life” in my own strength. And wondering why it wasn’t working as I expected. Then someone introduced me to the eternal riches available to me that I wasn’t utilizing.


One of my favorite verses, 2 Corinthians 5:17, declares, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” Unfortunately, it took me a long time to understand that. I would still awaken each morning as if I were still the old guy I was before Christ, only trying to live up to a new set of standards. That’s not difficult – it’s impossible!


Romans 6:4 says, “We were therefore baptized with [Christ] through baptism in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Another translation says, "walk in newness of life." Just a few verses later we’re told, “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11). We’re instructed to let loose of our old, unproductive lives – but that’s only possible by embracing the new, resurrection life of Christ that resides in us.


This seems straight-forward, and some reading this might think, “What’s the big deal about this?” Well, it is a big deal. 


If you were to visit one of those unclaimed riches sites and discover to your astonishment half a million dollars that has been sitting there with your name on it, waiting for you to claim it, how would you feel? Excited? Amazed? Overwhelmed? That’s essentially how I felt after discovering how, after trying to live the Christian life in my own strength for years, I could appropriate the power and unspeakable riches of Jesus Christ for successfully living the life I’d been failing at so miserably. It had been there all the time – I just didn’t know it. 


Let me ask you: Are there any unclaimed spiritual and eternal riches waiting for you, if only you fully understood they were there, if you were just willing for the Lord to give them to you? 

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