Receiving the Inheritance (1)

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Hello? Did you hear my great Aunt died ?–… 

Hmm? Yes, it was just last week.

–Thank you, no, no, I didn’t know her very well- but, well, she died and I was her sole beneficiary. It was quite a shock. …

What? No, not the death itself, so much as the money. …

Hmm? Oh, quite a lot, really …

Yes, you’re right, I have been struggling with credit card debts for a few years. Never seem to get clear. One thing after another. Letters –even debt collection agencies, I’m afraid . Talking bankruptcy in fact. Or at least an IVA for three years. …

No, no, that’s all finished now. …

The legacy? Well, it’s a little short of twelve million pounds …

Imagine if it had been you on that one-sided phone conversation. Imagine the incredible change in your life. Imagine how all the things that held you back and restricted you were now all things of the past. You have come into your inheritance! You know you don’t deserve it, but you have simply received it. It’s a gift, free gratis. Absolute grace. No strings attached.

And imagine if, like so many, you had been bound with the restrictions of debts mounting. You were receiving unpleasant letters. Every morning you looked at the postman with something like dread. And you could see no way clear, no matter how responsibly you tried to live.

And now it’s all changed because you have received an inheritance.

Someone suggested that this was how we should listen to the Bible -to see what we can get out of it! That sounds a bit self-serving, but it has a wonderful truth about it. When you listen to the “Reading of the Will” you are tuned in to just one thing – the mention of your own name! Everything else is prelude.

And our Bible is split into “Testaments” isn’t it? So as we listen to the “Last Will and Testament” of our elder brother, Jesus, we want to know if this relates to us in some way.

And it does.

There is a legacy waiting for you’ You stand to inherit so much that it will certainly change everything forever.

This is how Paul teaches us about the new life of faith in Galatians. In 3:25 he says: “When faith comes, you are no longer under the supervision of the law.” He sees the life of the Pharisee as joyless and restrictive –do this, don’t do that- like living in debt.

But the life of faith is essentially that of coming into your inheritance. Your real status before God is not that of someone bowed down with worry, striving to do your best (and failing) …not at all. In Gal 4:7 he says that because of what Christ has done “You are therefore no longer a slave but a son and if a son, then an heir of God.”

An heir! The legacy is yours. Right now.

I think I need to get a whole lot more excited about being a Christian.

So what are the details? Paul calls it “the blessing of Abraham.” Here’s the context in Galatians 3:

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.’  He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. …  If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Gal 3:13,14,29)

The “curse of the law” is expounded in horrific detail in Deuteronomy 28:15-68. Read it and weep. Basically it’s that old life of debt and worry and fear.

But God has something else planned for you!Abraham’s legacy has your name written on it. Read Deuteronomy 28: 1-15 as a picture of total blessing in body soul and spirit.

There are just a couple of points however, before you receive the inheritance:

First: you have to belong to the family of Abraham. Obviously you don’t qualify for the inheritance unless you’re a family member, right?

Second, you have to know your rights, and claim them. Much of what I do as a preacher is not to provide inspiration so much as information. So much of what God has for us remains unclaimed, like those legacies that you hear about for which the beneficiaries cannot be found.

And third, you do have to stick to your word on this. This is how the “reading of the will” begins in Deuteronomy 28: If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands that I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God.”

This isn’t a nit-picking, joyless routine of rulekeeping. Think of it as family loyalty, of knowing who you are, to whom you belong, and living with the honour and privilege of that belonging.

So: Point 1: Are you children of Abraham? Galatians 3:29 (NLT) clarifies the point: “And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.”

Point 2: Are you ready to claim your rights by receiving Christ? John 1:12,13: “To all who did receive 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.”

Point 3: Are you determined to be loyal to your “family”? That was the question that Joshua  set before his people in  Joshua 24. “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the [foreign] gods …and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, …But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.’ “

I have a little prayer card in my Bible here. Let me just share it now, as the very first baby step in receiving all that God has for you.

A Prayer of Commitment

Lord God, Please forgive me for all the things I have done wrong. I turn to you and turn away from sin.

[Pause. Silently ask forgiveness for anything you know is keeping you from God.]

Jesus, please be the center of my life. I welcome you personally as Lord and Savior of my life. I ask you, Holy Spirit, to fill me and empower me to live as a [son or a daughter] of God. I want to have your grace to truly live a new life. Thank you for hearing my prayer through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

 

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