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Hit the Jackpot This Thanksgiving!

That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:7)

If you were suddenly incredibly rich, what would you do with your new-found wealth? You’ve thought about it, haven’t you? Even if you recognize the intrinsic selfishness of gambling, you’ve probably run the lottery numbers in your imagination. “What if?” you think. “What if I suddenly hit the jackpot and found myself with $250 million? Even if I took the reduced lump sum and subtracted 30% for taxes, I’d still have more than $100 million in the clear. Of course, I’d be very generous to the church and other charities. Then, after I’d set up large trust funds for my children and grandchildren, there would still be plenty to buy everything my heart desires, and I’d spend the rest of my life in luxurious ease!”

The Bible tells us that these flights of fancy are not just harmless musings; in fact, they pose a trap: “Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.” (1 Timothy 6:9)

What, then, is the cure for the “what if” temptation for earthly wealth? This Thanksgiving, turn your heart and mind to a different jackpot, that is, to the real treasures which God freely gives. For a fresh and thankful outlook, give some thought to a different set of “what ifs”:

  • What if I had someone who was both qualified and willing to become guilty of all my sins and pay the full price for them?
  • What if I didn’t have to wonder about what God thinks of me, but could know for certain that He receives me as His own dear child?
  • What if I had someone to stand by my side throughout all of life’s troubles, giving me strength for each day and guiding me till my dying day and beyond?
  • What if I could be absolutely confident that when I leave this world I will be with God in the glories of heaven?
  • What if I had a reliable source to find out what God Himself actually says about these things, instead of having to take someone else’s word for it?
  • What if I could make many others equally wealthy, both loved ones and strangers, while keeping my own riches?

Oh, that’s right—we HAVE all those things! Because of Jesus we don’t have to play “what if.” In Him we have a qualified and willing Savior. In Him we are certain of God’s love, His abiding care for us each day, and our own glorious future in heaven. In the Bible we have His own Word, true and reliable, about all these precious promises. With that same Word we can share these “exceeding riches” with our loved ones and all people. This jackpot is real, it is permanent, and it is yours as God’s free gift in Christ!

Those of us who know Jesus as our only Savior are truly the richest people in the world. This Thanksgiving, instead of hankering after the trivial things of this world that we don’t have, let’s ponder and appreciate the most expensive gifts, those which were purchased with the lifeblood of our Savior, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)

I lay in fetters, groaning, You came to set me free.

I stood, my shame bemoaning, You came to honor me.

A glorious crown You give me, A treasure safe on high,

That will not fail or leave me, As earthly riches fly.

(LSB 334:3)

Bruce Naumann is senior pastor of Messiah Lutheran Church in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.