Program Air Date - 9-16-01



Welcome to the Living Word Program on this wondrous Lord's Day morning. It is always an honor and privilege to have you with us. We are thankful you have chosen to be with us as we commit this time to the things of God. It is our hope and prayer this morning that we may each participate and do our part to make this time acceptable before Him and according to His Word. Now let's begin by talking to God through prayer!

This week we would like to mention another congregation which helps in making the Living Word Program possible. The Monett Church of Christ in Monett, Missouri, is a congregation which has been with our work for some time now. We are really happy to have them aboard and we appreciate this fine congregation for their desire to see God's Will carried Out.

Please take advantage of the opportunity to meet with this family of God - even this morning. Today they will assemble for Bible classes at 9:30 a.m. This is followed by a worship service at 10:30. Again on Sunday evening these brethren assemble for worship at 6:00. A mid-week Bible study is also offered at 7:00 every Wednesday evening.

If you have any questions or need further information about this congregation, please feel free to contact me and I will be happy to assist you as best I can. Or you might choose to call, their phone number is 417-235-3785. Again, we thank this congregation for their involvement.

This morning we want to begin our songs of praise by singing a song which reminds us of what we must do as Christians. So, at this time, won't you join in with the congregation as we sing together, "Kneel At The Cross."
(SONG # 1)


What a week it has been as we have seen our freedoms challenged and our country attacked. I know that everyone has been touched by the monumental event which took place last Tuesday morning. Surely our hearts and love go out to all of those who suffered, lost loved ones, or who still don't know the outcome of this tragedy in their lives.

Oh, how tragedy's like these try us and cause us to sorrow in many ways. However, on the other hand, think of how tragedies like this pull us together and strengthen us as a nation. In my life time, I can never remember or recall such patriotism, love and care for fellow man. In fact, instead of bickering, arguing and fighting, people have seemed to lay all aside for the bigger picture. They have put aside selfish wants and desires to step into the shoes of those who are suffering. They have laid aside prejudice to help and assist where they can. Isn't it times like this that really remind us of what is truly important in this life?

I think the greatest lesson we can all learn from this tragic event is how much we need God and each other! Without God what or who are we. Without the Savior what is it all for. But also, without our fellow man, friends and loved ones - would this life really be worth living. Oh, how precious Godly relationships are in His sight. In fact, think of the great example Christ left us as He strove to have friends and to prove Himself friendly.

I hope we all will use this occasion to draw closer to God as we are reminded of the brevity and frailty of life. We don't know how long we have or when our time may come - so we must always be ready. Therefore, may we each take advantage of our special relationships and the time we share in this life. May we each learn to live life to the fullest, focusing again on truly those things which matter. But ultimately, realize that God is the answer in all things. It is only in Him we will find the comfort, strength and salvation that we need to live for an eternity. James said, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you."

This morning, we will continue with our series called, "Socially Accepted Sins Of Today!" Our specific topic today is, "Gambling!" So, please continue with us this morning, and after our next song together I will return with this study from God's Word. The name of our next hymn is, "Let the Lower Lights Be Burning!"
(SONG # 2)


Speaker: Ray Sullins

Thank you for continuing with us this morning as we have this opportunity again to look into the pages of God's word. It's always a privilege to come together on Sunday mornings and sing praises together and to be able to speak to God through prayer, and then also have the great privilege of looking into His word because without the Bible, without the knowledge of what He has told us, then we wouldn't really know what to do on His behalf or what He would desire for us to do in our everyday lives. So again we have the opportunity to continue our study that we've been looking at: Socially Accepted Sins of Today. As you and I are well aware, there are many things in this life that are considered as socially acceptable in our society, which really as far as the lives that we live in accordance to the will of God would be quite the opposite. God does not always say that the things that man does or participates in are proper. In fact, many times tells us that those things that man does are actually contrary to His will.

I want you to notice with me then this morning concerning gambling, because if you look around our society today, we have been affected in so many ways and really gambling does affect so many individuals. Not only the ones who gamble, but also those who do not gamble in our society. But in the scripture, we really have great warnings about these types of things that come our way that sometimes just aren't black or white or cut and dry where maybe we have a "thou shalt not do something." But nonetheless, again we find a lot of scripture that deals with the principles that relate to gambling and that might show us really what the Bible has to say about such. Gambling is nothing new. You might recall an occasion that took place back in the gospels, that is in the book of Matthew specifically in looking at chapter 27. We find there the story of how that Christ died and how that He shed His blood on the cross, and it was there on the cross as it says that "they had just hung the Savior." They had just put Him there. They had put the crown of thorns and pierced His head. They had given Him this sponge of vinegar in order that He might quench His thirst, which obviously would not do that. But notice with me if you will what it says in the verse that's found there in Matthew 27 and verse 35. It says, "And they crucified Him and divided His garments, casting lots that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet." Then it goes on to give that prophecy. "They divided my garments among them and my clothing, they cast lots." Notice the idea there about how they divided His garments and they cast lots. Very clearly here, we see that they were gambling in a sense. They were trying to make agreements and go through acts in order to receive something that really wasn't theirs. So they were casting lots. So gambling is nothing new. It's something that was done throughout Bible times and it's something that during Bible times that was done, I hope you'll notice, by a certain type of people. People who were not godly, and people who were actually of the world and were trying to receive something which really they had not done anything for or which they had not worked for.

That's why in the book of Peter, I believe, 1 Peter chapter 5 and verse 8, we are warned there about these very types of things as he says there, "To be sober and vigilant because your adversary, the devil, walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour." Here, we have a warning that the devil is looking for those temptations. Sure, sometimes it might be fun to do those types of things. Sure, it might be fun to put a quarter in something and get back $100. But what about the other 99% of the time when you put the quarter in and you get back nothing, and actually you lose. Well again, you have to think about these temptations. It's something that sounds great that might give us something that we don't have or wealth or somehow power we might feel, but again we need to look deeper at it to see what it's all about.

First of all then, looking at the definition. If we were to look in the dictionary, we would find several definitions about gambling. Some that I chose to relate with you this morning is that it means to play a game for the sake of money or for a stake, in other words that you have put something up in order to receive whoever is the winner of that game. Another idea is to hazard or to risk what is yours to get that which belongs to another. I think that definition there even goes the next step, the further mile, to say, "Look you're putting something else that actually is your own in order that you might get something, and not just get something, get something that really is someone else's."

Now if you'll think about this again, we want to look at this from the standpoint of really what does the Bible have to say about it? Does the Bible really teach that we're to be individuals that should try to look at what others have and try to get what others have? Or that we should try to take something from others at their expense and really hope that we will get what they have and whether they suffer or not, it doesn't matter. Are these principles really that again show us that really they are godly and righteous and according to the will of God? Well, I want to look at that together looking into scripture.

Look if you will beginning in the book of 1 Timothy. Of course in the book of 1 Timothy, we have here a young evangelist who would have been tempted by many of these types of things that we talked about on a weekly basis, but here this evangelist was encouraged about one specific problem that all of us in this world from time to time have had a problem with. There in 1 Timothy chapter 6, I want you to notice with me what is said in verse 10. It says there, "For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." Here I suggest to you first of all is what about the love of money? What does the Bible have to say about an individual that is so obsessed and consumed with money that they will take what they have and that they are assured of in their hands or in their pocket and they will put it up in order that they might receive something that really they haven't worked for. Well again, I hope we are able to see here that really the love of money leads to what? It says here, "evil." And not only that but notice the next idea that's presented there and that we really would naturally go to: greed, greediness. Is greed a godly principle? Well certainly not because here it says, "Because of this some have even strayed from the faith in greed." Some have because of their love and desire to get money have allowed that greed, that desire and that working towards getting it, in other words focused and primarily working towards that, they have allowed that greed to consume them even to the point that they've left God. Then he finally says to the point that "they have even brought many sorrows in their lives." Brought many sorrows. Why is it that we find here that this would be the case?

Well the wisest man who ever lived said basically the same thing that Paul told Timothy and this wise man, Solomon, in the book of Ecclesiastes chapter 5 said the following in verse 10, and I hope you'll notice the similarities here as he said, "He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver, nor he who loves an abundance with increase. This also is vanity." Here we see the wisest man who ever lived who had opportunity in his life to strive to get everything that he could, to strive to have everything that he could have, who was well-blessed and had all possessions that he could have and had all wealth that he could have and all at one point even the women that he could have. He found that none of them appeased his desires or satisfied him except for what? Except for God. Here he mentions the concept of money, of silver, of gold, of having something and even having an increase. He said, "It's vanity. It's worthless. It's nothing." Why? Because that's not where happiness is found. You see, gambling really is promoting a concept of greed or this concept of really just needing or having to have more when really do we? That's not what Paul said. The inspired Paul in Philippians chapter 4, verses 11 through 13 said, "That I've learned in whatever situation I'm in to be satisfied, to be content, whether I have a lot or a little to be happy, whether I've abounded in all things or really abased to be satisfied, to accept what God has given me." Now, now don't go to far the other extreme and say, "Well, we never want to better ourselves." That's not what I'm saying this morning. I'm not saying that we can't better ourselves or look and set goals and try to maybe improve or have better jobs or houses or vehicles. I'm not saying that, and I don't think God really would suggest that either. God said we should do the best with what He has given us. What we're talking about here though is an act, a sin if you will once again, that really encourages us again to have something today that really we have done nothing extra for and really again that as we will see is at the expense of others. In other words, getting and receiving something that really is someone else's and someone else has suffered for. Now you might say, "Well, I don't know about that. I don't know that they suffered." Well, where did the money come from? Do you think that there not some individuals who may have put money in that they didn't have? Individuals who may have put the money in that they should not have because they needed to use the money for other things such as family? Let's look at that just a little bit deeper in just a moment.

But now let's mention also what does gambling have to do with being good stewards? You and I know that the Bible tells us clearly that everything that we have is obviously from one place. Why? Because we're children of God, and obviously God is going to give us all. There in James chapter 1 and verse 17, if you'll notice with me it says, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning." Everything good or great. Everything we've received is from who? It's from God. If we're a Christian, everything we have is God's as you well know. The money we have, the houses, the cars, once again all of the possessions we have is only through the grace and the blessings of God. So once again, when we talk about what we have being God's, then we understand also the Bible tells us that we have been made stewards then of what God has given us, that which He has placed us over. Well then, what does the Bible say about being theses types of stewards?

I want to go to the book of Corinthians there where Paul wrote again a letter, a letter to a church there at Corinth. In 1 Corinthians chapter 4, notice with me what he said there in the verses as we again understand how important it is to be those who are good stewards. In verse 2 of chapter 4 he says, "Moreover, it is required in stewards that one be found faithful." Now if you look back in verse 1, he mentions there that "we're considered servants of God's and stewards of His mysteries." We've been blessed by Him with His will, blessed by Him in so many physical ways, God has made us stewards of what we have, and then he says again as we read in verse 2 that stewards must be what? "Found faithful." As we understand that, think about how important it is then that yes, we are found faithful. How important? Well, I want you to go with me to what Jesus had to say about this topic because He also addressed it in one of the gospels. In Luke chapter 16, if you'll turn there, I want you to read with me the first two verses as he again mentions a parable here about stewards. He says there, as He says to His disciples, "There was a certain rich man who had a steward and an accusation was brought against him that the man was wasting his goods. So he called to him and said to him, 'What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be a steward.'" Here again, we have someone condemned. We have an individual where a person comes before the master and he is found unworthy. The stewardship is taken away from him because he didn't handle what he had been given by God properly.

Remember the story about the talents? Those who used their talents wisely for God were blessed. Wisely though again there is the key. Stewardship, using what God has given us in a proper way. Not trying to gain where we don't deserve gain. Not trying to gain at other's loss. Not trying to do that which will receive immediate somehow wealth or authority. Again, not considering the outcome. And then again as we have said, putting up that which we don't have to receive that which we long and we dream and we hope for.

What about the golden rule? That's another great concept that we must consider in gambling. There in Matthew 7 and verse 12, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." What does gambling have to say about that? In order that we again get something from someone who has to lose in order for us to get it. Well obviously that's not the golden rule. That's more like the iron rule. "Give it to me. I deserve it. It's mine. I won." Well again, that's not what God says at all through the scripture. What about the law of love that we find there in Matthew 22, verses 36 through 40. We find there that the greatest commandment as was told by Jesus was "to love the Lord thy God," but the second was likened to it, "to love thy neighbor as thyself." If we love our neighbors, and that is everyone that we come in contact with that we live around, if we love our neighbors, how are we going to treat them? We're going to treat them in a way that will edify and encourage and help them and not in a way that we take food away from their children, that we take money away from that really should have been spent on bills, or money that should have been used in another way. And consider again those who do lose. "But Ray, it's not my fault. It's not my problem if someone does that and he loses such." Well, what does the Bible say about that? What does it tell us about that individual that is involved or causes or is involved in the issue of stumbling, about an individual who might not immediately be directing their actions toward someone to cause them to stumble but still they do something and someone is affected and they sin because of it? Well, in the book of Corinthians we are told by Paul that if it causes someone to stumble, that I won't do it. It's a sin. So again to do that, we have again done something that is contrary to the will of God.

I know there in the book of 1 Timothy again, chapter 5, verses 9 and 10, we are told "the great responsibility a man has is to care for his family, to work, to provide, to have a shelter over their head, to feed them, to clothe them," and we have to do that. But how many do you know, how many have you heard of in these areas where gambling is so prevalent, have you heard who have been destroyed because of this? Whose homes and children again have suffered, whose lifestyles have been altered because they've been obsessed in such? So whichever side you're talking about, whether you are on the side of the taker, which again is not a godly principle, or whether you are on the side of the loser. Again, we find that neither one is acceptable before God. Something that we must understand that it is not godly.

What about filthy lucre? You remember there in the New Testament several times elders were addressed and those who were leaders in the church, filthy lucre was something, lucre that was received, money that was received in an improper way was condemned by God.

What about envy? What about coveting? What about seeing what someone else has and liking it, but then going so far as to try to get it? Well, that's what gambling promotes. Again, something that really isn't rightfully mine but I choose to get that somebody else has lost. You see, we must understand that these principles do not exemplify Christ. They do not show us forth as Christians. In fact, they show us forth as just the opposite. We must understand that social ills like this bring us down to the level of society and they do not bring us up to the level of Christ and to show ourselves forth as cities on the hill, as lights that can be seen by all men. So we need to seriously consider when we involve ourselves, or consider involving ourselves in social ills such as gambling. How are we affecting not only ourselves but our influence in this world? How are we affecting those also in participating in those who lose in this sin also? I want to encourage you really to do it God's way. Consider what His will has to say, and to stand in Him and Him alone.
(SONG # 3 - "O Master, Let Me Walk With Thee!")


Again, let me thank you for choosing to be with us this morning. I hope we all have been encouraged through our time spent together. Please remember, you are invited to join us every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this service of God.

Now let me ask if you have any questions or comments about today's lesson? Maybe, you would like a free transcript or a free cassette tape of this program? Possibly, we could assist you with free Bible materials or free Bible correspondence courses? No matter what your need is, please contact us at the following address:

The Living Word
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May we all take more time to consider what the Bible says about gambling, so that we may learn to stay away from those things which contradict the true nature of a Christian.

(Program closing)