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(SIN CALLED GAMBLING) SCRIPTURE - Pr 24:9                                                      FEBRUARY, 1998

The thought of foolishness is sin: and the scorner is an abomination to men.
"Come on baby!!! Mama needs a new pair of shoes, HYAHH" "Give me 5 on 'Miss birdie" in the fifth." "5 on 18 black." "Royal flush' "Jackpot." "Bingo." Do some or all of these terms sound familiar??? If you have ever been in a dice game, bet on a race horse, played at the roulette wheel, played poker, or even played BINGO, you have been gambling, and there are many other games out in the world, that one, who wishes to gamble, can find.

Now, the message for this month, is one that many will find hard to swallow, because it involves something, that many, look at as just a form of entertainment, which doesn't seem to be all that bad. But, as some of you know, it is anything but.

First, what is gambling??? The dictionary says, gambling, is the playing of games of chance, for money. There are also other meanings dealing with business, and investing, but it is this particular definition, I want to address.

The playing of games of chance. In its simplest terms, means that a person is involved in something, that leaves the end result of winning or losing, up to someone or something, other than oneself.

In a crap game, your winning or losing, basically depends on the dice, and the numbers that they show on the face up side. In racing, you win or lose based on who, or what, crosses the finish line first. Winning in roulette, depends on if you have your chips on the right number and color, that the ball on the wheel, stops on. In poker, or other card games, it is the mix of cards you are dealt that will determine if you win. The slot machines allow you to win, if certain combinations of numbers, symbols, or pictures appear in the window. With BINGO, it depends on the cards that you have, and the numbers that are drawn out of the container, in which they are sitting. You, yourself, have nothing to do with the outcome. However, in some cases, people, other than yourself, may control your outcome. Loaded dice, marked cards, rigged races, slots, roulette wheels and other games, can, and do, work against you. In fact, depending on what we call the odds against you winning, determines how much you will win, if you are able to win. If the games are fixed, then the odds are almost astronomical.

Now the point is this. Playing these games and other things, strictly for entertainment purposes, to me, would mean, that you would not be losing anything, because there is nothing being bet on the games, other than some non-crucial entity, like play money or some such thing, that has absolutely no value. However, when money is introduced, then it becomes gambling, flat out.

Now, the scripture says, the thought of foolishness is sin. Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, describes foolishness as, 1: foolish behavior: folly 2: a foolish act or idea. And just who is it that comes up with these ideas??? Fools do. Therefore, if the scripture says, the thought of doing something foolish is sin, then what is it, if a person actually does it??? I can think about robbing a bank, and as dumb as that is, it is not as bad as, if I actually try to carry it out. See what I mean???

Well then, when a person, puts money in to one of these forms of 'entertainment', to win money, and realizing the odds that are against them from the offset, even when the game is not rigged, that is a clear sign of a fool, because they might just as well just toss it out the window, for all the good it will do them.

What are some of the odds of these games??? 1 in 1000, 100,000, 1,000,000 and more?? That is a ludicrous way to try to get money. Because you have money to start with, presumably, and you want to throw that away, in hopes of getting more??? Duuuuhhhh.

Well, let's look at something for a minute. Let's look at God's perspective to this. After all, He does have something to say.

First, the money that you have, is really His. Ps 24:1 The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. That means that everything on, above, under, and in this earth, is His, including you. Therefore, your money, is His. The only way you have it, is that He gave you the ability to get it, no matter which way you got it, legal or illegal De 8:18 But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.. However, just so some of you won't think the wrong thing, if you got it illegally, or shall I say sinfully, you will be paying the price for it, God will see to that. Nevertheless, the money you have, God has entrusted to you, to do things with it, that will glorify Him, 1 Co 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.. The money you have, He gave to you, so that you could feed and clothe yourself and your family. Have a roof over your head, and shoes on your feet. To be able to afford the necessities of life, and to help others. Recreational things, are also good. However, the way we seem to prioritize things, as necessities and wants, is where we have a real problem. And therein lies one of the main reasons we get in to this foolishness.

Gambling is a way of outwardly expressing what we don't really say, and that is, 'what God has given me, is not enough. I want more, and I am going to go out here and try to get it, with as little effort on my part, as possible.' In other words, you don't want to work for it. We have all been told, that the way to get wealthy, is by hard work. But, our nature, is one that will always look for an easy way to do it. Well, there are those, that will take advantage of that nature, and come up with a way, that looks good, but in reality, isn't.

First, those that run the games, are just like you. They want to make money, the easy way, so the games are set up, in their favor. If the odds were even, all the way around, then they would not be in business very long, would they? Have you ever heard of a casino, race track, or bookie going broke, because of losing money, in gambling?? That means, whatever happens, they are going to be getting money. So, even if you win, let's say $1000.00 for a $1.00 wager, the operators will possibly be getting 100 or more times that amount from the losers, that supplied you with your money.

Second, think about this. The money that you win, is coming from others, that tried and lost. So your winnings, are not coming from the operators' pocket. Many of these people, that lose, may not be able to afford to lose any money at all. Their families may be needing money for food, clothing or other necessities of life, and because they see a slim possibility to make a killing, and get their families out of the rut they are in, they bet, and blow it. Maybe, you have been there. But, you don't care. You want that big score, don't you??? Well, let me tell you something, that I know, most of you haven't given a thought to. God, by your participation in this foolishness, looks at you, that's right Y_O_U, as being responsible for the effects that the loss may have had on a person, or their families. Why does God see it like this??? Because, if there were no participants, there would be no gambling. And, if there were no gambling, then there would be no one throwing money away, that could be used to take care of their families. Ro 14:12-13 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way. There it is!!! Putting a stumblingblock, or occasion to fall, before your brother (sister). That's why. Your support in keeping things going, helps them to draw others in, to tear them down. We are all linked to each other. We can either directly, or indirectly affect others, by our actions.

Now I find it funny, that people will throw hundreds or thousands of dollars away gambling, but get just as stingy as can be, if asked to give to a charity, or even to a church. Some of you, say, I'm not giving any of my money to that preacher, so he can go out and get a cadillac, or make a payment on his house, but you will give that much and more to a numbers man. Now, of the two, which, do you think is going to get you a better return for your money, the church, or the bookie??

Let's see what Jesus says about giving to the church. Lu 6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

You want to talk about odds, and a return for your money. You can't beat God. He always comes through. It's a win, win situation. Giving money to the work of the Lord, like the church, isn't a gamble at all. He says give, and, IT SHALL, not may be, or a 1 in 100 or even 2 chance, be given unto you. That is a promise from God, and believe me, He doesn't lie. Then He says it will come back, good measure, pressed down and shaken together. That means a large return on you investment. How many of you could stand to be blessed like that?? I know I sure can.

Why would you want to throw your hard earned money away on something that is only benefiting those that operate the gambling places, when you can give it to something that will benefit all those that are in need?? This is part of God's plan to prosperity. There is no risk, whatsoever.

There are those of you, that think this is all a joke. You may think it is just the rantings of a person, who has been in religion too long, and has lost his mind. You are probably laughing about it. Well, look at the last part of the subject verse. It says the scorner or mocker, is an abomination to men. Why??? Because there is nothing like a fool, that wants to try to make the one that is trying to set him straight, look like a fool. Have you ever dealt with someone, that is totally wrong, and you were doing all that you could, to help them out of their situation, and had that person, try to make you look stupid for doing it??? How did you feel??? It was all you could do, to keep from going up side their head out, wasn't it??? Well, that is what God is saying. People in sinful activities, tend to turn on those that are trying to set them straight, and therefore, turn that person against them. The person then, goes off, and lets them continue on, until they destroy themselves. Could this be you???

Some even try to vindicate themselves by trying to make God, a part of their sin. They say that God, blessed them with their winnings, while others say, the church doesn't mind getting money, no matter where it came from. Well, here's a 411 for you. The preacher doesn't need to know where it came from. He isn't the one that will bless or curse you. Don't you dare fix your mind, or your mouth to say that God had anything to do with your winning, trying to imply He looks favorably on it. That is a lie from the pit of hell. Another thing. You can't give money to church, that is ill gotten, and think that you are buying favoritism from God. See, people will even turn on God. Now that is a fool indeed.

People will blame any, and everybody for their problems, when they develop. They refuse to accept the fact, that they have a problem. They feel it is just a way of having fun, even though they can't stop. Yes, it gets that bad. We have heard of people running up credit card debt, mortgaging their houses, and even turning violent, when they can't get ahead. These people, like some of you, or maybe all of you, started out saying the same things you do. 'It's just a form of entertainment.' 'I'll never get that bad.' 'I can stop, anytime I want to.' That, my friend, is just what the devil wants you to keep thinking. That way, he can still lead you around by the nose, until he can destroy you, and your family.

So, what are you going to be my friend?? If you have a family, I hope you will remember, they depend on you, to do the right thing. Turn to Jesus today. You will be a winner every time, and that's what you want, isn't it???