Summary: This sermon lays the axe to the root of the deadly sin of gambling.

The singer Kenny Rogers and I have one thing in common. We've both met up with a gambler! It happened to me on a flight from Dallas/Fort Worth to Reno. He was in the seat next to me and welcomed my questions concerning the world of gambling.

I listened as he described a night at the casino. "Some people," he said, "go around the clock at the tables and machines, begrudging even the time spent in the restroom." He told me that his expensive hotel was "just a place to brush my teeth."

It all sounded like a lifestyle depicted by King Solomon in his Proverbs. He said, "Daydreams are the sluggard's downfall; work his hands will not; all day long dreaming and scheming, while honest men never spare themselves, nor take their ease." Proverbs 21:25,26 (Knox Translation)

When my friend finished his story, I concluded one thing. Gambling is an addiction! It is a fever! It is the cruelest of all the perverted instincts. It observes no sense of reverence although it often disguises itself in the wardrobe of charity. It showed up at the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ and raffled off our Savior's clothes. Depravity reached an all-time low.

Being a pastor for over 43 years I've heard many tales of sorrow which involved gambling. They all sound about the same. "My spouse left with his check on Friday and went to the casino, came back home the next morning with his paycheck gone. We have no money and the children are hungry."

Obviously, that's not the case with everyone who gambles, but it is the story of far too many people. The sad thing is that the whole scene is repeated the following week. And on and on it goes.

The man who risks his salary, credit, business reputation and respect of his family finds it easy to risk his soul. He takes the most deadly risk of all. A chance on his soul. The Bible records a few who fit this picture.

Felix heard the Gospel from the lips of the Apostle Paul. He shook under the mighty weight of it. In essence he said, "Paul, when I get ready to receive Christ, I'll let you know." The Bible says that he would wait for a convenient season. He wanted to get saved on his terms. That season never came. He gambled on his soul and apparently lost.

I have never been one to extend an invitation at the end of a service unduly long. I do remember one night in Winston-Salem, NC when I went well beyond my normal time for the altar call. I believe the Holy Spirit was pleading with the lost through me that night. I have never been more in earnest.

I did not know that a lady present that night would in just a few days take a horrible fall down the basement stairs to her death. She gambled on more time to receive Christ and lost.

The beautiful thing about the Christian life is that we live by faith and not by chance. The Maker of this universe is our companion and guide. There is no risk here, only a certainty. Philosophically, we are givers and not takers.

Jeremiah said it best. He said, "For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome." Jeremiah 29:11 (Amplified Bible)

And we believe that songwriter Ronny Hinson was truthful when he wrote, "There's only two winning hands and they were nailed to a tree."

Charles G. Clary

Hurley, Mississippi

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