THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date – 8-16-09
LESSON TITLE: “THE WORKS OF THE FLESH ARE:
Thank you for joining us this morning, let me welcome you to the program. The Living Word is a work of our Lord, dedicated to doing God’s Will in His Way! As always, it will be our privilege today to sing songs of praise and to study from His Word. In these acts of worship, may we all be encouraged, but ultimately may we each praise God according to the sacrifices to offer toward His Throne. It will also be our honor this morning to speak with God through prayer. Will you bow with me as we talk to our creator?
There is no doubt how much our God loves each of us. The question is, “how much do we love Him.” As we might often say, the proof is in the pudding. Are you just talking the talk or are you walking the walk? Our first song of the morning deals with our love for God. So, won’t you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing together, “My Jesus I Love Thee?”
(SONG # 1)
Are we ever guilty of putting other things before God? Maybe some of us have actually gone so far (at least at times) as to have made the things of this life our true god! However, what does God expect of us as His Followers. Does He allow us to commit spiritual adultery and to put other things before Him? The answer is NO!
In Joshua 24:19-20, we read, “But Joshua said to the people, “You cannot serve the LORD, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you, after He has done you good.” I think this passage helps us to clearly see that God alone is God and He is the only true God which man can follow. In the book of James, we read this inspired writer saying that even the devils know and believe in the one true God, chapter 2, verse 19. So there must be more in the life of a true follower than just believing.
The next challenge we find from Joshua is found in the same chapter, 24, but back up to the statement made in verse 15. There we read, “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… but as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” You see our purpose as children of God is about serving our God according to His Will. It is not about serving our self or our own desires.
Oh, how important it is to realize that our God truly is a jealous God and He expects us to follow Him and Him alone in the lives which we live. So, let me ask, are you striving to put God first in your life? Are you striving to make Him your God and the only God of your existence?
As far as our study this day - we will be continuing our series which is entitled, “The Works Of The Flesh Are…!” Our specific lesson of the morning deals with “Gambling.”
So please stay with us this morning and after our next song together, I will lead us in our main thoughts of the day. Now it’s time to join in our second song of the morning, the name of this hymn, “Nothing But The Blood.”
(SONG # 2)
By Ray Sullins
Thank you so much for continuing with us today as we return to God’s Word and consider another one of “The Works of the Flesh.” Certainly we have for several weeks now looked at several things that should challenge us and encourage us to want to be more Christ-like and to put away those things that the world often socially accepts that really are not according to the Will of God. And so this morning we want to do the very same thing realizing that we must be lights in this world, that we are to illuminate in all things Christ Jesus and Him crucified. And so our every action and word needs to be that which is befitting of a child of God.
Certainly that is why we learn that we are to seek the kingdom of God first (Matthew 6:33) and in doing so we are able to glorify our God in Heaven, there in Matthew 5, and also verses 14-16 for we again are the light is the light.
Therefore we learn there in Acts chapter 5 and verse 29 that, “They were challenged in that day to be those who realized that we should obey God rather than man.”
So perhaps the question we need to continue to ask ourselves: Are we willing to obey God? Are we willing to simply do it His way or do we choose to follow man or ourselves, our own desires, our own wants? So today as we look at this next topic, we again find something that is really a plague in many ways on society but yet it is something that so many engage in on a daily basis, and that is gambling.
When we define gambling, we can go to the dictionary and find out very easily what it is referring to. It says there in the dictionary, “It is to play a game of chance for money or other stakes.” And so it involves a game. It is something that you are trying for something, a chance. You are wanting to receive something. Then you wage your money or other stakes that are uncertain in their outcome. So it is a game that you play to get something more than what you put in but that you are willing to put up something that you know most likely you will lose.
Another concept in the definition is, “It is something to expose the value or the risk or even hazard of an advantage of gain.” In other words, that you in a clear way hazard something or that you are someone who puts a great risk or of that of value puts those in jeopardy those things that you already have to gain something greater.
Now think about that for a moment. When we play most of these games or we gamble or we think about that which we do and we put up a small amount or a certain amount of money that we might gain a lot of money, what is the goal? What is the desire? What is the purpose? What is the intent? Those are the things that we want to begin asking this morning in understanding what gambling is. Certainly I think we would all agree that there is a lot of gambling that takes place in what we call casinos, but not only in casinos but also we find horse tracks where you bet on horse races, or dog tracks. We even find the concept throughout our area and our land of a lottery. In fact, many states today have their own state lotteries where people are putting money every day. In fact, most of you are aware of that because you wait in line while there are those who buy tickets while you simply want to buy a loaf of bread.
But then we get into the religious realm and into those who claim and proclaim themselves to be Christians who also ask for money, who wager for money to play certain games in order to what? Well to receive something! Such as those who might have Bingo or raffles. Have you ever had a church raffle? Have you ever had somebody say, “Well we want you to give and we want you to give so that we might do this good work, but if you win you are going to get a car, or you’re going to get some big item?” Well why do you give? “Well I give because I, you know, want to do good or I want to help.” We give because the incentive is clear, because what we want is that house. What we want is that car. What we want to accomplish is that end goal or that end result that really is not ours, that we didn’t work for, but that we want to receive by chance knowing all along that the odds are way against us, knowing that the money I have given, that I have been placed by God as a steward, most likely is lost and gone forever because the chances are maybe a million to one, or maybe 50 million or 100 million to one!!! Have you ever read the fine print? You know sometimes it is amazing to me even when you see these games that you don’t put money into therefore it is not gambling, but maybe this thing that, “Well we’re going to give this away, and if you’ll just sign up, we’re going to give something away that we might encourage you to come,” and then we see that you read the odds and it says, “One in 5 billion chances.” In other words, the chance you have to get struck by lightning or have a car accident or die the same die is probably greater than to win that raffle or that chance or that which you are striving for.
These things having been said then I want to challenge us to consider what it is then that is spoken about gambling. We want to get to the Word of God but first we want to look at the concepts that are presented by our society, our world. Whenever there is proposed gambling, we hear of all the jobs. We hear of all the wonderful things that will come to our society, the tax revenue, the tourism, all the things it will bring in, how it will help our city, and all that will be accomplished therein. Certainly we could go into a lot of detail and look at a lot of specifics in relationship to how in some ways initially maybe there is some benefit and help, but I want you to look at the long term situation. I want you to consider states and by the way, you can get on the internet very easily and go to most states and find out quickly the problem of the social ill of gambling and what quickly happens to the home, what quickly happens to the society, what quickly happens to crime in the area including prostitution, drug increase in use and trade, dependency on social services, the need for more welfare, the need for more religious groups (for assistance). You see the get rich concept really does cost most people. There might be one person or two people that win, but most people certainly are the great losers. What about suicide? Many states you check into you will find that after gambling was introduced in their areas that an over 80% increase in suicides took place. People who use their whole check, the whole month’s check and they blow it gambling thinking, “I’m going to get money to pay all of my bills for the year.” And guess what. They not only do not have money to pay their bills for the day but they don’t even have the money to eat. Think about what we are talking about.
There were some great men of our history who certainly had clear opinions about gambling as they saw its effect on society.
What about George Washington? George Washington said, “Gambling is the child of (inaudible), the brother of iniquity and the father of mischief.”
What about Benjamin Franklin? He said, “Keep flax from fire and keep your youth from gambling.”
There was another man that many might recognize, a man named Harry Reid, that used to be over the Nevada Gambling Commission, the chairman there. I want you to notice what that commission stated about gambling in their area and what really it had accomplished for their state. It says, “Any state trying to follow Nevada’s lead will find that the social cost far outweighs any economic benefits.” The social cost, the long-term cost certainly is too destructive. It is harmful and it destroys!
That being the case, we find time and time again lives destroyed, cities destroyed and places destroyed where these things have taken place. But yet what do we do? We find man after man, city after city, state after state greedy to get their own hands on some more money and revenue and so what do they propose? They propose types of gambling despite the cost to the average man.
Now let’s go to God’s Word because that’s really what matters. What does God say about this? Certainly there are clear principles in scripture that show us what God expects of the followers.
For example, in Ephesians chapter 24 and verse 28 we notice here that it challenges those who are now Christians to, “Let him who stole steal no more, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good that he may have something to give him who has need.” What is the challenge? To work what we get and to receive what we have our due. Isn’t that what the world has always been about, what God has always been about, not what we might get by chance, but to use as stewards what we have gotten through our efforts that God blessed us with.
Another text there in Ephesians chapter 5 we find there in verses 15-17 the concept there of “walking carefully not as fools but walking wise, redeeming the time, why the days are evil.” You see we are those who need to understand that God has set a day for judgment. Therefore we must live everyday as righteously as possible.
What are some other concepts, Biblical concepts that certainly would be violated by gambling? What about covetousness? What do we do when we covet? Coveting is more than just envy. It is more than just being jealous of someone. It is saying that, “I’m so jealous that I am going to do something to get what they have.” Well in Colossians chapter 3 and verse 5 we find that covetousness is condemned, and I want you to notice how it is condemned. It states here that, “It is amongst sin and it is that which is even known as idolatry.” Read there. It says, “Put to death your members which are of the earth such as fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desires and covetousness which is idolatry.” You see God knew. God knew that when we focus on minds and hearts, on wanting and getting what really is not rightfully ours that we do what? Anything it takes to get it, and therefore we begin to what? Sin and transgress the Will of God, things that are not rightfully ours for we have not worked or strove to accomplish those.
What about another idea? What about the Golden Rule? In Matthew chapter 7 and verse 12 we read that, “We are to do good unto (who?) everyone.” In fact, we are to “do good and treat others as we would want to be treated.” How many people walk away from that casino or that lottery losers, having used money that they should have used for what God has put them stewards over that is proper in life? How many walk away as winners? One or two. And so not only do we lose, but not only are we those who are in harm in a sense in that way, but we also are a part of the bigger problem. We are not amongst those that win. Therefore, how do you feel about those that win? When you see those people on TV that have won those hundreds of millions of dollars, do you really rejoice with them? Or are you kind of angry or mad (thinking), “Well why wasn’t it me this time?” Well you see again the motives, the intentions, the feelings, the things that it brings about in our hearts that are not deserving of us because we haven’t worked for it are all wrong and they create in us a spirit and a heart that is wrong. “Oh but Ray, I hear that down in Tunica they have made 17 million in one weekend and all those taxes go to the state.” Well how many of those millions were taken out of the homes in that area? How many of those millions harmed children that needed clothes for school, or shoes, or even food to simply eat every day? You see again, we cannot allow ourselves to jump in again to things that are not right that create issues and problems and somehow justify them no matter what the level is that is accomplished of good initially. What is it ultimately destroying? The home! The things that God has set in motion.
Is that not what the Bible teaches us? Are we not to have houses that are houses of God, homes that are homes of God that are led by fathers, that are led by mothers that love God and the Lord and that train their children in the ways of God? What is that about? Teaching our children to work and to be productive in society or figuring out how they can get something in this life for nothing, or accomplish something in this life for nothing?
You see our homes are all about God. They are all about serving God. They are all about accomplishing His Will. They are all about doing that which is right and therefore we need to strive to do as God has commanded.
Also in relationship to our homes, what about those things that are good and wholesome? What about going out with our families and spending time together? What about playing games at home? What about spending money on things that are productive in bringing our house and our household together rather than squandering it for a few seconds on something that we HOPE to gain even greater things from?
Well you see overall what we find is that as the lights of this world where we began in the first part of our lesson, we must be those who ever strive to do that which is right and spiritual, that which is pure. Are we righteous, those striving to be God-like? Or are we those who are ungodly? Are we those realizing that sin takes no part in our life? Or are we those who participate in sin and therefore through our actions or activities, our spirit, our attitude allow ourselves to get caught up in things that are not according to the Will of God?
We mentioned in Matthew 5 earlier the city that is on the hill, the light that illuminates. I want you to think for a moment about how that example, that example that we have is so important, how we are challenged by God to make sure that when someone looks at me what they find is a standard. I always like how Paul spoke about God telling us that we should imitate Him there in Ephesians 5. But in 1 Corinthians 11, I love the fact that Paul says, “Be imitators of me as I am of Christ.” You see that city, that light, those individuals who say, “In my actions, in my thoughts, my words, what I do, what I strive to accomplish is all about God, all about helping my fellow man, all about picking those up who are down.”
Now let me ask you a question. If you go and you gamble and you do such things as we’ve talked about, how many of you give all of your money to the Lord? How many of you give every dime to someone else? How many of you go outside that place where you just got the money and when you get out there you say, “Here I want to give all of you your money back.” Not a one of us. Because what we want is that prize. Well there is a prize that God offers but it is not about the world. It’s not about achieving the things of the world. The prize that God offers is eternal life and we can have that through Jesus Christ our Lord by being those who are willing to understand what He has asked of those who would be faithful to His call.
If you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God you need to make that great confession before your fellow man for without that confession you cannot be saved. You need to repent of sin in your life such as gambling and other sins that you have allowed to be prevalent not only in what you have done but also in your example, in leading others astray. Get your life right, repent and live for Christ! Then you need to be buried with your Lord and Savior in baptism for it is in baptism that we can be forgiven of all and any sins no matter what they were in the past and we can begin living for Christ, living in the light as He is in the light and therefore as those of the light, guess what we share in: the fellowship not only of Jesus Christ but the fellowship of one another as those who love God.
So I challenge you this morning to consider not only the social ill that we have looked at this day, but other social ills and make sure what we do is always about God first and foremost, never about self or our fellow man, because when we put God first we can never go wrong because we know what He has promised us in the end, eternal life.
(SONG # 3 - “Peace Perfect Peace!”)
Let me thank you again for choosing to be with us today, in this offering to God. I know our time together has been an encouragement and blessing to all of us. We invite you back every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this service of God!
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Praise God for showing us His truth concerning Gambling. May we realize that the principles of Christianity conflict with such activities? Furthermore, may we be willing to simply obey God and not engage in such activities. Who are you serving in this life?