Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Ultimate Gamble

Once there was a man who for days prayed for God to let him win the lottery. Despite his persistent begging, nothing happened. Finally after pestering the Lord one last time, this man heard a booming voice: “Give Me a break! Buy a ticket!”

People hoping to become instant millionaires spend billions of dollars every year on lottery tickets. Last night’s Powerball jackpot was worth a record $900 million. The odds of someone winning that were 1 in 292.2 million. It’s often been said that you are more likely to be struck by lightning than winning the lottery. Do you know anyone who has been struck by lightning?

Years ago Americans had to flock to places like Las Vegas and Atlantic City to gamble. Now there are state lotteries and casinos all over the country. As a result, the number of “problem gamblers” has sharply increased ruining the lives of many families. Just like with alcohol consumption, some argue gambling is okay if done in moderation.

One might ask, “What about sweepstakes or drawings?” I’ve heard testimonies of Christians having prayers answered through prize giveaways. I know of one church that gave away a shopping spree as an incentive to attract visitors. Many other churches have raffles or bingo games to raise money. Personally I don’t think it’s wrong to enter a sweepstakes if it doesn’t cost anything to enter. I used to regularly enter the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes hoping to hit it big.

Winning a large jackpot will not necessarily solve someone’s problems. Most individuals who win a million dollars or more often find themselves where they were before financially within two years. Proverbs 28:22 in the New Living Translation says, “Greedy people try to get rich quick but don’t realize they’re headed for poverty.”

Some gamblers might point out “casting lots” was a form of gambling permitted in the Bible. Examples of this include determining the scapegoat in Leviticus 16:10, the disobedience of Jonah (Jonah 1:7), and the eleven apostles choosing Matthias to replace Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:26). But casting lots was done to determine God’s will, not for making money. Presently under the New Covenant, we are to depend on the Holy Spirit for guidance.

A friend told me about a French minister who once found himself stranded in Las Vegas and needed to return to Paris. The Lord instructed this minister to walk into a casino and put a coin in a particular slot machine. The minister hit a jackpot large enough to provide him with the finances to return home. Proverbs 13:22 does say, “…the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.” However, I believe a better way for that to happen is for wealthy people to become born again.

Unless God specifically instructs you to walk into a casino or buy a particular lottery ticket, I believe it's best to totally avoid gambling. Otherwise, you are taking a chance with money God entrusted to you being used for the wrong purpose. Jesus said in Luke 4:12, “You shall not tempt the LORD your God.” Gambling can also lead to greediness. 1 Timothy 6:10 says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”

If you’re still thinking about going to your local convenience store to buy a lottery ticket, ask yourself, “What is my motive for gambling?” I’ve heard some believers claim, “If God lets me win the lottery, I will give a large portion of the money to the church.” What are you doing with the money you have right now? If you are not at least tithing, don’t expect God to help you become rich. Malachi 3:8 says that you are robbing God.

In Matthew 27:35 while Jesus was dying on the cross, the Roman soldiers gambled for His clothes by throwing dice. Many people today are gambling with their souls. Sometimes when I’m in a store and see someone buying a lottery ticket, I'll hand him a gospel tract and say, “Here’s something you don’t want to gamble with.” A person living his life without knowing whether he will end up in heaven or hell is like playing Russian roulette. The odds of entering into heaven without knowing Him are ZERO. Jesus said He’s the only way to eternal life (John 14:6).

Don’t gamble with eternity!

“You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is really an idolater who worships the things of this world.” - Ephesians 5:5 (NLT)

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