Summary: This is part of a series I did on topics my congregation requested. Several of these messages are two parts.



Sunday May 21, 2006

Scripture Reference: 1 Timothy 6:9-11


A. I just want to begin this message today by saying, “You Asked For It.” This is not going to be an easy message for me to preach but for some of you it will not be an easy message to hear but I just want to remind you that “You asked for it”. These were the sermon topics that you chose so you can’t say that I chose a sermon topic that I knew you would not like. I can tell you without reservation that there is no topic that we pastors hate to preach on more than we do the topic of money which is really what the issue of gambling is all about. I know that some people think we enjoy it and some think it is all we talk about but neither of those assumptions is true. I don’t enjoy preaching about money and I certainly don’t do it all the time, but here is what you also have to know. I am not afraid to speak on this issue and I certainly do not shy away from it. When I leave this church whether it is because God has called me elsewhere or because I am retiring I want my words to be the same as Paul’s when he spoke to the Ephesian elders the last time in Acts 20:26-27 Let me say plainly that I have been faithful. No one’s damnation can be blamed on me, for I didn’t shrink from declaring all that God wants for you.

1. It may not be fun for me to speak to you on this issue but since you requested it then I am left to assume that it is an issue that concerns you and you want to know what God has to say about it and for that I commend you and I ask those who may not feel you want to hear this message to be open to the Holy Spirit today because I think God has something to say to all of us even if gambling is not an issue that you struggle with. If it is not an issue for you I can guarantee you that you know someone for whom this is an issue and maybe a very destructive issue.

B. Let me begin by sharing with you some important statistics about gambling in America today. This is not going to be a statistical message but as I did my research for this topic I was amazed at the things I learned about gambling in America today. Here are a few of the things I learned.

• In 2004 Americans spent $700 BILLION dollars on legalized gambling. (Please note that I said “legalized gambling” so this does not include interoffice betting or people using bookies or things illegal like this.)

• Gambling is the fastest growing industry in America.

• More people gamble on-line than go to the movies.

• Americans gamble more money than they spend on groceries.

• Evidence proves that problem or pathological gambling is directly linked to other social problems like divorce, child abuse, domestic violence, bankruptcy, crime and suicide. It is estimated that 15.4 million adults and adolescences meet the criteria of these disorders.

This is what shocked me most of all.

• According to an article in the Christian Century April 27, 1994 by Martin E. Marty, in 1993 churches in American and Canada gave $3,222,753,233.00 to benevolences like world poverty, the aged, homeless, or other “outside purposes”. Since we gamble at the rate of $904,000,000.00 per day this means that in all that churches gave to do the work Christ called us to in one year was matched in just 3 ½ days by those who gamble.

I am left to wonder how much of that money was also spent by those in the church who said they could only afford to give $5 or $10 dollars to the work of World Evangelism.

1. We ought to be very concerned about the impact and effects that gambling is having on our society, but I think we have to face an even greater concern. That concern is this, “What is the impact that gambling is having on the church of Jesus Christ today? As those who call themselves Christians we MUST wake up to the fact that gambling is a threatening moral issue. We need to engage ourselves not in what we “feel” about gambling but we need to engage ourselves in what the Bible says to us about this issue and that is precisely what we will do today. I want to alert you to beware of the spirit that says, “Hey pastor, mind your own business.” “This is just my form of entertainment.” “It is my money, I earned it, and I can do with it as I please.” Do you care what God says about this matter or will your mind and heart be closed?

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