Daily Devotional for Sunday March 25, 2012

The Poker Craze

(Psalms 118:8)

I have spoken often in the past of the relentlessness of satan, and we have another great example of that in the current poker craze that is sweeping across the nation. Poker, of course, has been around for a long time, but in the past several years television and the internet has introduced this game to millions of people that have become addicted to it.

Television has been responsible for the incredible interest in poker over the past year by airing poker tournaments where "average Joes" with no real experience ended up winning hundreds of thousands of dollars. It fosters the "if he can do it, I can do it" mentality that has encouraged people to start playing the game, primarily online. Don't be deceived. POKER IS GAMBLING! Of course, like in all gambling, in the end there is only one real winner, the house!

Professional Golfer Phil Mickelson gained much notoriety several years ago when he placed a $20,000 bet at 28-1 at the beginning of the NFL season on the Baltimore Ravens to win the Super Bowl. The Ravens DID win the Super Bowl that year and Mickelson collected $560,000 from his bet. What you never heard about, of course, were his losses, since anyone who is throwing out $20,000 on 28-1 long shots is losing many more times than he is winning.

Reports over the years spoke of Mickelson's gambling problems and the $15-$20 million he has been in debt to Las Vegas casinos at times. Former basketball superstar Michael Jordan is another high-profile athlete whose gambling losses over the years have become legendary.

The reality is, Mickelson and Jordan have the ability to lose millions of dollars gambling and still live their lives. It is a horrible use of the incredible resources God has bestowed upon them, but their gambling problem, even losing those types of dollars, has not forced them into poverty though it could at some point.

Most people who are losing money gambling do not have the type of resources and ability to earn money that Mickelson and Jordan do, and gambling can and will literally destroy their finances. As glamorous as TV and the internet has made poker, never forget for a second that it is GAMBLING.

The Biblical case against gambling! I am often asked whether it is a sin to buy a Lottery ticket. I am going to tell you up front that there is no verse in the Bible that says, "Thou shalt not gamble." However, let me give you a Biblical basis why gambling is a sin.

Gambling is a game of chance. Ultimately, you are putting your faith in something other than God for the outcome. Therein lies the foundation of why gambling is a sin. Instead of trusting God, instead of putting your faith in God, you have chosen to put your faith in luck. You are hoping to beat the odds and it is putting your hope and faith in something other than God that makes gambling a sin. Let me outline for you three additional reasons why gambling is a sin.

First, it can cause you to lose sight of your priorities. Never forget, anytime something is more important than the Lord in your life, it is a sin. We are to love the Lord our God with all of our heart and He MUST be our first priority at all times.

Second, it can be a poor use of God's resources that He has entrusted to you. Many people I have counseled are in financial difficulties, not because they have not been blessed by God, but because they have misused and mishandled their blessing.

Lastly, it can be a stumbling block to your brother or sister. Many people have a compulsive nature and could end up in total bondage to gambling. So while it may not be a problem in your life, your involvement may cause someone else to have a problem with gambling.

The root of gambling is GREED. You are trying to make easy money fast. Las Vegas is a thriving city in the middle of the desert that was built on the false hopes of millions looking to make that easy money the fast way. It is a mirage that will ultimately lead you to financial ruin and literally destroy your life.

The untold story of gambling is that even if you win today, you will lose it back tomorrow. The initial draw is greed, but it is soon overtaken by the "high" from being in the action. At some point, money is no longer the driving force of the gambler, it is that need to be ?in the game.?

I love you and care about you so much. Every night you can flip through the cable television stations and find poker tournaments being shown. It has brought millions of new players to casinos and card rooms around the country as well as those who play at home on the Internet. Sadly, it is causing lots of young adults who never gambled before to start playing poker. Young high school and college men are meeting on the weekends and having poker tournaments.

Many may say it is simply harmless fun and that most of these games have very little money involved. The problem is, any time you open the door to satan and invite him into your life, you may not be able to get him to leave! Playing poker on the weekend is no different than sitting down to watch a porn movie. You are opening the door of your life to satan to come in and destroy you.

I will be praying for you today, especially those who have been caught up in the bondage of this addiction to poker. If you, or someone you know is addicted to gambling of any kind, know that I will be praying today for those who are in this bondage.

God is a God of deliverance and He can deliver you from the bondage of gambling. Never forget that there is hope in Christ, and no matter how bad someone has destroyed their life, God can help them put the pieces together if they are ready to surrender to Him. Poker is a trap from satan . . . RUN FROM IT!!!

In His love and service, Your friend and brother in Christ,

Bill Keller