HAMBURG, Germany (AP) – A Spanish businessman and devout Roman Catholic who stopped to pray at a church during a trip to Stockholm ended up a millionaire, the Bild newspaper said Wednesday.

The church was empty except for a coffin containing the remains of a man, so Eduardo Sierra knelt down and prayed for the deceased for 20 minutes, the Hamburg-based daily said.

Sierra, 35, signed a condolence book after he saw a note saying those who prayed for the dead man should enter their name and address. He noticed he was the first to sign.

Several weeks later he got a call from the Swedish capital informing him he was a millionaire, Bild said.

Jens Svenson, the man he had prayed for, was a 73-year-old real estate dealer with no close relatives. He had specified in his will that “whoever prays for my soul gets all my belongings,” Bild said.

Our word of the week is “Blessings.”

What an incredible blessing to pray for a deceased stranger and become a millionaire, eh? If it sounds almost too good to be true, well, it’s not true.  (In fact, there’s more than one thing that’s inaccurate in this story.  But that’s fodder for another time.)

Actually, even the AP gets pranked sometimes. Although this 1996 story has been often been repeated in books, bulletins and blogs, it’s a hoax. A ruse. An urban legend.

I suppose folks are easily duped by it because it speaks to the dream of many–one day we will be at the right place, at the right time, and fortune will befall us. It’s the ultimate adult fairy-tale.

But, there is another kind of riches that is waiting to be claimed. It’s real. Guaranteed. And ready to be received. It’s the spiritual blessings in Christ.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Eph 1:3-4).

God’s plan before he ever created the world was to provide blessings for Believers in Christ. Paul affirmed this in Acts 13:34 when he quoted the prophet Isaiah, “I will give you the holy and sure blessings promised to David.” Jesus, the descendant of David, brought blessings to the new Israel.  But the blessings were spiritual, not material.

Think of the blessings in Christ. Redemption. Pardon. And Salvation from sin. Future Forgiveness when we fail. Fellowship with God. The privilege of prayer. Peace of mind. Purpose in life. A spiritual Family. Freedom from sin’s enslavement. The power to subdue the devil’s temptations. Removal of death’s dread.  Hope beyond the grave. And a heavenly home for eternity.

Indeed the wise man was right, “Blessings crown the head of the righteous,” and “A faithful man will abound with blessings”(Prov. 10:6; 28:20) And that’s not an urban legend!

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman


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