Thursday, June 21, 2012

Claim your prize!

I’ve sat down to write every day this week, but the words just haven’t come together.  This morning I tried again to write a summary of Sunday’s lesson.  Though I was able to put together more than two sentences, it wasn’t a lesson summary as I had intended.  Instead you'll find, as I did, a disclaimer … a caution … a plea for anyone who has come across this blog but has never claimed Jesus as Savior and Lord.  If I’m talking to you, please do not close this page!!

When a person wins the lottery, the prize is not awarded until s/he comes forward to claim it.  You wouldn’t carry around a winning ticket, waiting to cash it in when you're ready to retire!  You would have missed so much along the way.  God’s grace is similar.  Blessings have been planned specifically for you.  Don’t carry grace in your back pocket until the last possible moment, “enjoying” life as you see fit and yet trying to ensure your own comfort later on.  With every day you wait, opportunities are missed.  Eternal life – abundant life – starts the moment you confess your faith in Jesus Christ, claiming Him as your prize. 

Regardless of whether or not you ever accept Him as your own, Jesus died and was raised so that you could receive the grace of God His unearned, undeserved favor upon your life.  Let that sink in.  Regardless of whether or not you ever accept Him … Jesus chose to die for you!  Don’t just carry Jesus in your back pocket until you’re “ready.”  Claim Him today by praying this prayer for yourself.  You may read it silently for now, but sometime today read it aloud.  Read it like you mean it.  Remember this prize is greater than any Power Ball jackpot!  

Dear God,
I come to You in the name of Jesus Christ my Lord!  That’s right, I have come forward to claim the prize that You have held for me.  I believe that Jesus died on the cross for me and that You raised Him from the dead so that I could be saved from my sins … saved from myself.  Teach me the value of this prize and how to use it for Your glory.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Congratulations!  So now, what to do with it?!  Lottery winners have said that they wished they would have sought out dependable guidance as to how to use their prize.  (1) For you and me, guidance comes from God’s Word.  You need to get your hands on a Bible.  Don’t feel overwhelmed!  Start with one of the Gospels Matthew, Mark, or Luke if you’re more literal.  You may enjoy the Gospel of John if you think more abstractly.  (2) You have and will continue to have questions.  Whether or not you feel it yet, God’s Holy Spirit has moved into your heart.  One of His functions is to teach you; be willing to learn.  (3) Ask God to bring you to a flesh-and-blood community of Christians who can help you learn and grow in your new-found faith. 

… For those believers who have stuck around to witness others coming to Christ today, my prayer is that you will pray for believers everywhere (old and new) – that we will have a hunger for God’s Word and understanding with which to wash it down.  Remind yourself of the prize that you claimed however long ago that may have been.  Celebrate it today, and recommit yourself to taking full advantage of it – all for the glory of God.

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