NYT: ‘New Yorkers Join the Crush for Tickets as Powerball Jackpot Nears $1 Billion’

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Overall, government-sponsored lotteries are one of the statistically most foolish forms of gambling.  But as the jackpot’s rise and the odds seem less daunting, even people who normally do not gamble will sometimes buy lottery tickets.  This is again happening:

January 9, 2016

New Yorkers Join the Crush for Tickets as Powerball Jackpot Nears $1 Billion

On Saturday morning, the jackpot for the Powerball lottery, a game played in all but six states, climbed to $900 million. The figure lured millions of players to line up at food stores and gas stations around the country to buy a ticket, or often many, many tickets, for the drawing to be held Saturday night.

By early Saturday afternoon, officials with the lottery calculated that tickets were selling, on average, at a pace of more than $7,700 a second, or almost $28 million an hour.

It was a staggering and record-setting prize that stoked ambitions, however infinitesimal the odds, of being vaulted to a stratosphere of wealth occupied by moguls and superstars. The jackpot would actually amount to a mere $558 million if the winner chose to be paid in a lump sum, but that would still be more than enough for those waiting in line to dream of a glitzier, more comfortable life.

Mr. Johnson, for one, had already envisioned what life would be like as one of the city’s elite. To help make it a reality, he bought 10 tickets, which cost $2 each. Like many other would-be winners, he said he would spread some of his wealth and become a philanthropist. He said he would support the fellow residents of his shelter.

“I’d take everyone out and give them a couple dollars,” Mr. Johnson, 47, said. “Like, a million apiece.”

The jackpot was not just the largest in Powerball history, New York State lottery officials said, but also the largest of any lottery game in the country. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/10/nyregion/new-york-police-officer-shot-breaking-up-a-brawl-in-the-bronx.html?ribbon-ad-idx=5&rref=nyregion&module=ArrowsNav&contentCollection=N.Y.%20%2F%20Region&action=swipe&region=FixedRight&pgtype=article

Many deceive themselves about what they would do with large gambling winnings.  Some seem to try to make some type of deal in their heads with God, hoping that He will decide that they should win.

A decade or so ago, I recall a scene from a movie called Bruce Almighty and the lottery.  The premise of the movie was someone named Bruce (played by Jim Carry) complained about God and how he did not feel that God was doing His job right.  So, in the movie, God allowed Bruce to be able to hear and answer prayers for a region.

It does not take long for Bruce to get overwhelmed by the process.  So, for a time he decides to give everyone whatever they asked for. So, with the next lottery ticket drawing, all those in the area Bruce was responsible for, were allowed to win.  The winners all acted very pleased when they won, until they realized that each would only get a few dollars as the prize was split among all who asked ‘God’ to win in that area.  They were not pleased that they had to share the winnings with so many others.

The Apostle Paul wrote:

4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.  (Philippians 2:4)

I suspect that many have prayed that God would allow them to win this Powerball jackpot. Few, if any, have prayed that someone they are not close to, will win.

Could this be a sin?

What is sin?

The Bible teaches:

4 Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. (1 John 3:4, NKJV, throughout except when otherwise stated)

4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. (1 John 3:4, KJV)

What laws are not to be transgressed?

The Ten Commandments.

The tenth of which has to do with covetousness.

17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20:17)

Some will say that they are not directly coveting something of their neighbor’s when the gamble. But Jesus broadened that a bit, as somewhat did the Apostle Paul. Notice:

15 And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” (Luke 12:15)

7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” (Romans 7:7)

Covetousness can be a problem that most do not realize:

The Last — But Not the Least by Richard H Wilkinson

Not too long ago a prominent clergyman wrote that in all his years of listening to confessions, he had not once heard the sin of coveting confessed.

Interesting. Could it be because, humanly, it is easy to think of the Ten Commandments as descending in order of importance, and to not take the Tenth Commandment as seriously as the nine before it?

The last of God’s Ten Commandments, “You shall not covet” (Ex. 20:17), is just as encompassing and significant as any of the others.

The English word covet in the Bible is translated from seven different words that illustrate the different forms coveting may take. Let’s look at the meanings of these words.

1) That which is not ours. The word usually translated “covet” means to desire in a negative way, to want what is not rightfully ours. This is the Hebrew word used in Exodus 20:17; the verse speaks of our neighbor’s property.
An interesting example of the use of this word is in Exodus 34:24, where God promises ancient Israel: “I will cast out the nations before you and enlarge your borders; neither will any man covet your land when you go up to appear before the Lord your God three times in the year.”
God promised to protect His people’s property from the greed of their neighbors if Israel would obey Him and keep His festivals. When Israel didn’t keep God’s Holy Days, God did not protect them from this basic form of human covetousness (Judg. 2:11 -23).

2) Dishonest gain. Another word often translated “covet” has the connotation of wanting something but not being willing to pay the price for it. It is not necessarily that the object of desire could not rightfully be ours, but we want it dishonestly. Ezekiel speaks of princes of Israel who were ” like wolves tearing the prey, to shed blood, to destroy people, and to get dishonest gain” (Ezek. 22:27). The phrase dishonest gain is translated from this second word.
Gambling, in its various forms, reflects this kind of coveting when it is based on the human desire to get and yet avoid paying the price.

3) Wanting for the wrong reasons. A third Old Testament word for “covet” means wanting something for the wrong reasons. It is in this sense that the prophet Amos wrote, “Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord” (Amos 5:18). We can desire a good thing for wrong reasons.

4) Overvaluing the physical. In the New Testament we find instruction regarding another kind of coveting: setting too high a value on some physical thing. Paul wrote, “I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel” (Acts 20:33).  In Genesis 25:29-34 we see this attitude displayed in Esau’s desire for Jacob’s pottage. Hebrews 12:16 warns us against being a “profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.” The word profane here means not putting enough value on the proper things, and especially the things of God.

5) Wanting more and more. Ever heard the expression, “Some people are never satisfied”? One of the words translated “covet” in the New Testament comes from a root meaning “to get more,” “to overreach,” “to be moved by greed.”
It is not wrong to exercise diligence and the principles of success, but God’s Word clearly says that a dissatisfied attitude — one of always desiring more — is only another form of covetousness. Paul used this word when he wrote of “covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col. 3:5 ).

6) Obsessive desire. Another word used in the New Testament refers to a deep desire. A desire is not wrong of itself (see I Timothy 3:1), but this word can also reflect an inordinate or obsessive desire. (Good News, May 1983)

Covetousness is wrong and is sin. Gambling is often driven by covetousness, and even when not, often leads to covetousness.

Do I buy lottery tickets?


Paul also wrote:

9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:9-10)

This does not mean that Christians should not try to improve their financial conditions through honest work.  But it is a warning about how far to pursue money.

Jesus taught that His followers were to pray:

13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. (Matthew 6:13)

We are also to not lead our own selves into temptation. We all have strengths and weaknesses. What may tempt some, does not seem to have the same affect on some others (cf. Galatians 6:1).

Do not deceive yourself (cf. 1 John 1:8) if you have a gambling problem.

7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. (Galatians 6:7-8)

If gambling may negatively affect your financial standard of living, become an obsession, or lead to covetousness, it should be avoided.

Many governments are looking at extending the legality of gambling. I consider lotteries and similar programs as a tax on the poor. I believe it often demotivates people to improve themselves financially and often gets people to be focused on getting something for nothing.

The fruits of Powerball are not good.  But mainly serve to encourage greed.

Some items of possibly related interest include:

Gambling and Sin: Is it a Sin for Christians to Gamble? What does the Bible reveal? A related video is Gambling: A Covetous Sin?
Living as a Christian: How and Why? In what ways do Christians live differently than others. What about praying, fasting, tithing, holy days, and the world? There is also a YouTube video related to that also called: Living as a Christian: How and Why?
The Seven Laws of Success Herbert W. Armstrong had seven laws that he felt could help people become successful.
Christian Success Does the Bible teach that Christians are to be successful? Are there at least seven laws of success that Christians should follow? How does the Bible teach we are to become successfully spiritually? Does the Bible really teach that Christians should be successful physically? This video answers these questions and more from the Bible. An outline of some of the scriptures used is here: Christian Success Outline.
Anglo – America in Prophecy & the Lost Tribes of Israel Are the Americans, Canadians, English, Scottish, Welsh, Australians, Anglo-Saxon (non-Dutch) Southern Africans, and New Zealanders descendants of Joseph? Where are the lost ten-tribes of Israel? Who are the lost tribes of Israel? What will happen to Jerusalem and the Jews in Israel? Will God punish the U.S.A., Canada, United Kingdom, and other Anglo-Saxon nations? Why might God allow them to be punished first? Here is a link to the Spanish version of this article: Anglo-América & las Tribus Perdidas de Israel. Information is also in the YouTube sermons titled Where are the Ten Lost Tribes? Why does it matter? and British are the Covenant People. A short YouTube of prophetic interest may be Barack Obama and the State of the Apocalypse.
Will the Anglo-Saxon Nations be Divided and Have People Taken as Slaves? Will the lands of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand be divided? What about Jerusalem? What does Bible prophecy teach? Are there non-biblical prophecies that support this idea? Who will divide those lands? Who will end up with the lands and the people? Here is a link to a video titled Will the USA and other Anglo-nations be Divided and Their People Made Slaves? Here is a related item in the Spanish language ¿Serán divididas las naciones anglosajonas?

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