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A DOLLAR AND A DREAM AND WE CAN GAMBLE OUR LIFE AWAY

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT THE
HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

FOR THE GOOD FRIDAY EVENING SERVICE

29 MARCH 1991

By: Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Psalm 22:1-18
Luke 19:26
John 19:17-30

Preparation Verse (Luke 19:26):

“I tell you, that to everyone who has shall more be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.”

We often hear the slogan of the New York State Lottery: "A dollar and a dream!"

That slogan is meant to entice us away from reality and into a dream world.

It's a slogan that is intended to take us away from the truth.

It is a slogan that makes many people think that money can cure everything in our lives.

But it cannot.

Money can make things easier, but it can't give us eternal life.

Even without participating in this form of gambling, we bet our eternal life on other worldly ways and lifestyles.

And when all our worldly desires fail, there is really only one place to turn, and that's to the Lord Jesus.

How much better it is not to gamble in the first place, and to receive the greatest prize that anyone could ever receive.

When we participate in our sins, we are gambling.

When we indulge in our lusts, we are gambling.

When we fail to recognize that Jesus died for each and every one of us, personally, we are gambling.

When we gamble with our unbelief, we are gambling in a way that always comes up as a loser.

About a thousand years before Jesus was born, David wrote a Psalm of deliverance; and he felt the anguish of a suffering Christ and God, who cared more about us, than about Himself.

David wasn't gambling.

God knew He would win some and lose some, and He knew that we were the determining factor in who would ultimately win.

Let's follow along and listen to Psalm 22:1-18.

1. My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?
Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.

2. O my God, I cry by day, but Thou dost not answer;
And by night, but I have no rest.

3. Yet Thou art holy,
O Thou who art enthroned upon the praises of Israel.

4. In Thee our fathers trusted;
They trusted, and Thou didst deliver them.

5. To Thee they cried out, and were delivered;
In Thee they trusted, and were not disappointed.

Have you ever struggled with something and fretted over not getting an answer?

That's gambling with no hope of winning.

Did you hear how David wrote of the abandonment and, yet, of the hope in the faithful answer of God?

That isn't gambling; that's preparing oneself to receive the winnings, for everyone who sets their heart upon the Lord will win.

Let's continue:

6. But I am a worm, and not a man,
A reproach of men, and despised by the people.

7. All who see me sneer at me;
They separate with the lip, they wag the head, saying,

8. "Commit yourself to the Lord; let Him deliver him;
Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him."

We mistakenly believe that we must go along with the crowd in order to be accepted, and that may be true in the beginning, but not when things get tough.

We fear the reproaches spoken of in this passage.

We're afraid to lose.

We want to be winners.

So, for the sake of our relationship with others, we gamble with what we know to be right with the Lord, and we compromise the good for the bad.

Jesus Christ took the shame upon Himself, so that we could stand firm and not bend to every whim of the crowd.

See, the winners have already been chosen, and if we believe and act upon that word, then we receive the prize no matter what the crowd says about us, as the psalmist confirms:

9. Yet Thou art He who didst bring me forth from the womb;
Thou didst make me trust when upon my mother's breasts.

10. Upon Thee I was cast from birth;
Thou hast been my God from my mother's womb.

Babies don’t gamble to determine if their mothers will bring them forth to birth, and then feed them.

Almost all mothers do this; thus, almost all babies are automatic winners.

The Lord wants us to have the same faith and trust in Him.

If a baby could gamble, and lost, he or she would be a loser – a loser unto death.

Jesus Christ didn't die for us so that we would die without Him. We're to hang in there, even to the point of death, as He did.

11. Be not far from me, for trouble is near;
For there is none to help.

12. Many bulls have surrounded me;
Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me.

13. They open wide their mouth at me,
As a ravening and a roaring lion.

14. I am poured out like water,
And all my bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax;
It is melted within me.

15. My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
And my tongue cleaves to my jaws;
And thou dost lay me in the dust of death.

16. For dogs have surrounded me;
A band of evildoers has encompassed me;
They pierced my hands and my feet.

17. I can count all my bones.
They look, they stare at me;

18. They divide my garments among them,
And for my clothes they cast lots.

A thousand years before Jesus died on the cross, David felt His reproach, His shame, and the futility of His oppressors' actions.

We should feel the same.

Let the people who do the evil things in this world gamble away their lives by rejecting their Lord and Savior.

Let us not be that way.

They were even more interested in gambling over Jesus' clothes, than in recognizing the suffering of the innocent Passover Lamb.

Note the similarity of David’s prophecy with the actual witness of John in 19:17-30.

17. They took Jesus therefore, and He went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha.

18. There they crucified Him, and with Him two other men, one on either side, and Jesus in between.

These two men had gambled for something that wasn't theirs, that in the eyes of God they were not ready for.

They were not thankful for what they had, and didn't trust in the Lord, nor seek Him to receive what they didn't have.

So they gambled, thinking that they could get away with what they knew to be against God's will. As a result, even what they had was taken away from them – even their physical lives.

19. And Pilate wrote an inscription also, and put it on the cross. And it was written, "JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS."

20. Therefore this inscription many of the Jews read, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and in Greek.

21. And so the chief priests of the Jews were saying to Pilate, "Do not write, 'The King of the Jews'; but that He said, 'I am King of the Jews.' "

22. Pilate answered, "What I have written I have written."

Pilate knew the truth, and He wasn't going to gamble with the truth he wrote down; but he did gamble with the innocent truth when He condemned Jesus to death.

We can never wash our hands of our responsibility to God, for any excuse.

Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent, but he gambled that by condemning Him to death, he would find favor with the people and keep his job.

And the same was true with the chief priests and the scribes who brought Him to Pilate.

They gambled away their own eternal lives in heaven for a few short years of so-called human success.

23. The soldiers therefore, when they had crucified Jesus, took His outer garments and made four parts, a part to every soldier and also the tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece.

24. They said therefore to one another, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, to decide whose it shall be"; that the Scripture might be fulfilled, "They divided My outer garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots."

25. Therefore the soldiers did these things. But there were standing by the cross of Jesus, His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

The hearts of these soldiers were so set upon personal gain that they gambled over a few pieces of clothing, rather than having some compassion and giving them to the family of the condemned.

What kind of dreams could they have had that were worth doing this?

26. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, "Woman behold, your son!"

27. Then He said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" And from that hour the disciple took her into his own household.

Jesus didn't gamble that everything would be all right with His mother if she went back to Nazareth.

He didn't gamble that His brothers and sisters would believe in Him.

He sought the best comfort and protection for His mother.

He placed her in the care of John, for He knew that he would care for her, and protect her both spiritually and physically.

We gamble with our families' salvation every day, by allowing them to seek their own way in the world, away from the family of God.

These are very poor odds to be gambling with.

28. After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, "I am thirsty."

29. A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop, and brought it to His mouth.

30. When Jesus therefore had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit.

All that happened to Jesus was prophesied; there was no gambling involved.

It all happened as God said it would.

We have also been told what will happen to us, if we believe and follow Jesus; and also what will happen if we don't.

The problem is that while most people say they believe in Jesus, they don't follow His teachings, and continue in the ways of the world, and continue to gamble with their eternal lives

The first choice is a sure winner.

It is more than a dream. It is reality.

And we don't have to bet even one single dollar.

With the second choice, we can dream all we want, and bet every dollar we have; but we will still lose.

Jesus is the only winner for us.

Jesus has made the best for us.

For our sake, He has taken upon Himself all the bad things.

He suffered and died so that we would live forever with Him.

He made the best wine for our wedding feast with Him; yet, for our sake, He willingly drank of the poorest wine.

Do you have a dream?

Is it of some material thing here on earth, or is it of our eternal life with the Lord?

With the things of this earth, we can bet a dollar and find out that we bet our whole life, as well.

With the things of God, all we have to do is scratch off the covering before our eyes, that blinds us from the truth, and we will see that we are instant winners.

“A dollar and a dream” will never give us the true joy and happiness we seek, no matter how many times we bet.

Our simple belief and faith in Jesus Christ will bring us a peace and joy and happiness beyond our wildest dreams.

The choice is ours!

Prayer…

Amen.

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