Then those who revered the LORD spoke with one another. The LORD took note and listened, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who revered the LORD and thought on his name.
Malachi 3:16 (NRSV)
“We are all pencils in the Hand of God” - Mother Teresa
Entries in Renewed Mind (12)
“THE POKER GAME OF LIFE”
Imagine that you have come to a place in life where you are so overwhelmed by your debts and unavoidable circumstances of life; you are helpless to even begin to repay even a fraction of what you owe. Then imagine if the richest two men in the world; Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, got together with Doyle Brunson the original cowboy of poker. Known as the “Godfather of Poker”, referred to by many as the greatest to ever play the game. At age 74, he is a living legend in the poker world. These men by some internally supernatural knowing knew you were in trouble with your debts, and out of sheer generosity and compassion, got together and decided to give you enough money to pay all that you owe and much more. They come up with a plan and it involves you playing poker with Doyle Brunson while these billionaires are going to be Doyle’s backer. They send a limousine to your house with five of the toughest, biggest, badest, body guards you ever saw in your life. They get out, all decked out in their sun-glasses, Brioni, Kiton, and Canali suits – all five of them, and come to your door. You think “Oh my God” the bank is really serious this time and they are going to haul me out of here and take my house, my car, and all my furniture! You don’t know what you’re going to do because you got fired from your job six months ago, your flat broke all but a few dollars you have in your billfold; and you borrowed that from your grandfather whom you sort of blame for all this anyway - since you’re so much <like him and he always had a tendency for losing everything he had. You start thinking “I shouldn’t have ignored all those warnings and notices about how much I owe and are behind on;” “I guess I should have at least called and asked for a grace period or something because of my unemployment and inability to pay”. You are totally at a lack to even begin to pay what you owe.
You answer the door, but instead of the angry glare you were expecting they are all standing there with big Texas smiles. They say “Sir you are going to go with us to play poker with Doyle Brunson. Now you’re really freaked out, you have played some poker and watched some tournaments and you have heard of the “Grandfather of Poker” Doyle Brunson. This all seems like a dream, it’s crazy you think. So knowing you’re not going to resist these huge men you go along wondering what’s next. They pull into the driveway of the largest mansion you have ever seen and a butler comes out to greet you at the car. You get out and are escorted inside where there is beautiful poker room all decked out like you have only seen in the movies. While you are standing there dazzled by the enormity and lavishness of this house - in walks Doyle Brunson followed by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. Doyle walks over and sits at a rather stylish poker table while the butler and the body guards show you to your chair. You are introduced to Doyle, Bill and Warren; then they ask you about yourself. You are at a loss for words and hardly know what to say except that you really don’t have any money to be playing poker, especially with this sort of competition. The men try to calm your nerves by offering you a drink while they tell you not to worry about it they have it all figured out. Now you are thinking this is a strange sort of arrangement; everything seems backward to the way am accustomed to. Somehow they knew what you were thinking and Bill says to you “that’s often the way we do things; reversed to the way the world operates”. The butler brings your drink, the dealer comes in and sits at the table and begins to shuffle the cards. As he is shuffling you start to explain that you only have a few dollars in your billfold and Doyle just says take what you have and put it all on the table. You pull out your wallet and there are only four dollars in it. Doyle says we are going to play five card draw; are you familiar with that game? You say yes, but you think this is even stranger still since these big time players rarely play this game it’s so simple. Again they know what you are thinking and Warren says “you are going to think it is even more mysterious when you see how we are going to play; you see we are not going to play by the standard rules; we are going to play by our rules”. The cards are dealt and you are holding a three of hearts a five of diamonds a queen of clubs, a king of spades and a joker. Doyle looks at you and says ante up! Then puts a million dollars on the table. You say “ah ahh ah I cah ca can’t pay that much I only have four dollars.” They all look at you and say “put in a dollar”. So you say ok and shakily put your dollar on the table by the stacks of bills while you’re thinking “I don’t know what’s going on here it all seems so surreal”. It’s your play and you throw down everything but the king of spades and queen of clubs hoping to at least get a pair of some high cards. The dealer deals you three more cards and says “before look at them I want you to know these aren’t regular cards and you are going to “HAVE TO” bet on each one of them – it’s our rules”. The dealer looks at Mr. Brunson and He just looks back, nods with a smile and says “I’ll just hold what I have; it should be more than enough”. By now you’re really wondering what you have gotten into. The dealer looks at you and says pick up one of your cards keep it to yourself and make a bet…. Nervously you pick up one card and to your amazement it is not a poker card at all, but has the word “furniture” on it with what you owe on the furniture plus the added interest. Doyle looks straight into your eyes and says strappingly “make a bet”. So you take one of the three one dollar bills and slowly place it on the table knowing you are going to have to bet two more times on the other two cards with the other two dollars. Doyle says, “I’ll see your dollar and raise you seven million dollars!” by this time you’re thinking this whole bunch is nuts! While wondering how they know you and about the furniture. So it’s your turn so the dealer says “pick up another card, keep it to yourself and make a bet” you reach down pick up a card and again mysteriously the card says “car” and the amount you owe plus the interest. Doyle says with a smile “make a bet”. So you push another dollar bill to the center of the table next to the million dollar pile. Doyle now smiling so big you would think he was going to laugh says “I’ll see your dollar and raise you fourteen million!” You reach down and try to pinch yourself without being seen wondering now if you are really having a bad dream. You’re not really seeing the humor in all this by now, and all these smug grins on these men’s faces – “if I’m not dreaming, what in the world are these men up to?” The dealer once again looks to you and says “pick up your last card, keep it to yourself and make a bet”. Doyle looks up at his two partners on either side of him then back to you, leans back in his chair and with a twinkle in his eye and a perceptive beam on his face says “go ahead give it your best shot”. So you reach down, pick up the last card slowly turn it over and sure enough, as you had begun to suspect it had written on it the word “house” with the amount you owe plus interest. You throw your last dollar in the pile this time. Doyle once again with an almost jubilant tone says “I’ll see your dollar and raise you another forty nine million, no, no, let’s go ahead and make it a complete FIFTY million!” Your mind is whirling with all kinds of thoughts “what is this all about, is this some banker’s sick game of toying with people before he pulls the rug out from under them?” So you look up at the three men and for the first time during this whole episode you speak a little forcefully and say “there you go, that’s it, rock bottom, I guess that’s what this show is all about; flaunting your wealth as you belittle me!” Now with quite a different look on their faces the three men; they looked as if they had transformed into angels with God’s eyes full of love and compassion. Doyle looks at you this time as if you were looking into your very heart and soul and says in a still small voice “put all your cards on the table”. So you drop your cards and look at the men and say “ok I guess I lose; I can’t pay all these debts”. Then Doyle, with another smile – a most heavenly one this time says “just wait, you haven’t seen my cards yet”. And with that he begins to turn his cards over one by one; his cards also are not regular cards; from the first to the last the cards say; “YOU” “WIN” “IT” “IS” “FINISHED”. But, but, I ah ah I only have…. And you look down at your cards and they are blank! Just clean white shinning rectangular paper cards! The three men get up and begin to walk away and you say “wait! What does this all mean? What’s this all about? How could I win? It’s not fair!” At once they all stop and turn around and as if speaking with one voice they say “no it’s not fair, but it’s GOOD… just accept our gift and be thankful; Oh and don’t worry even if something goes dreadfully wrong there is much, much more where that came from” Amazed, bedazzled, and overjoyed you bag up your money and allow the chauffeur to drive you home with a peace in your heart and mind that is beyond comprehension; knowing you will never have to worry about a debt again!
This is a modern parable I was given in my quite time with God this morning. Some of the parallels in the characters are; Doyle is the Father, Bill is Jesus, Warren is The Holy Spirit. The man is all of mankind. The mans Grandfather he blames for his inherited condition is “Adam”. The “Debt” he is unable to pay is your and my sin. Being “fired, unemployed”, and unable to pay our debts is the human condition in our sinful nature. The “Body Guards” are Angels. The “Limousine” is our prayers. The “mansion” is heaven. The “poker game” is this life on earth being dealt to us. The “plan” is God’s absolute sovereignty. The “drink” is the help and comfort of the Spirit. Those “warnings and notices” are the biblical written law. The “Banker” is the Adversary that uses God's word to condemn you. “Grace period” is a prayer for forgiveness. “at a loss for words” - in the presence of the Glory of God. They “have it all figured out” - the sovereignty in the plan of God. “Everything seems backward” - God causes the first to be last and the last to be first. and God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. “Put it all on the table” - we have to lay our total self on the altar of God trusting him to do what is best for us no matter what it looks like to us. “This game it’s so simple” - we must become as little children. “Even more mysterious - standard rules - our rules” is that God's ways are not our ways, the 3 of hearts is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The 5 of diamonds is the number of Grace which they offer. The joker is your joy. These are the ones you discarded. You keep the queen of clubs who is the harlot world system spoken of in Revelation; and the king of spades is the world ruling powers that want to kill and bury you. The dealer is the providence of God. The change in your cards is your revelation of God's Omniscience and realization of His intimacy with you. Your dollar bets are your sins and your feeble efforts to redeem yourself. Rom 5:20 Doyle's huge bet raise is God's overabounding Grace given to you each time you sin - Rom 5:20 The smiles, grins, and composure of the men is God's patients with you and understanding of you. "give it your best shot" is God allowing you to come to a complete end of your own efforts to redeem yourself and your becoming angry is your frustration with God because of how you have pictured Him in your struggles. The number 7 is the perfect number in scripture 14 is perfection multiplied, the number 49 is 7x7 which is a way of saying “infinite” and a number used by Jesus concerning how much we should forgive, The number 50 is the number of the Holy feast day of Jubilee every 50 years where all debts are canceled and we return to our original homes, property, and released from any slavery we were in bondage to. “Still small voice” is the voice of God speaking to your spirit. "You win" and "it is finished" is your revelation of the completed work of salvation through Christ. “Drop your cards” is you believing this and giving up on your own efforts; the “cards changing to clear white” is your realization of being born again in righteousness. "No it’s not fair but it is GOOD" is the cross of Christ. "Amazed, bedazzled, and overjoyed you bag up your money and allow the chauffeur to drive you home with a peace in your heart and mind that is beyond comprehension" is your prayers of gratitude and confidence in your unchangeable relationship with God from this point on. "Knowing you will never have to worry about a debt again!" is you’re finally believing that Romans 5:20 is really true and you will never have to worry about your sin ever coming between you and God again!" He will always have you covered!
The Moral of the story is things don’t always seem fair but God works them all out for the GOOD of us all. Then most importantly the betting is explained in
Romans 5:20 “But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:”
As The Amplified version puts it “But where sin increased and abounded, grace (God's unmerited favor) has surpassed it and increased the more and superabounded,”
When we bet on our sin in the game of life God sees our sin, calls it, and abundantly supersedes it with His Grace. When we sin more his Grace rises up and over it to cover it. As unfair as it may seem on this side of eternity in heaven, God has provided inexhaustible Grace to always rise higher and much more than our sin; so that no matter what you have done Grace is always greater. This is not to say there are not consequences to our actions in this life; there certainly are; this is how we learn, grow and mature into the likeness of Christ as we progress through these trials and failures purifying us of all impurities that would pollute the pure essence of Christ deep within every man as Christ is in All Col 3:11. When these are purged out of us through these earthly fiery trials and sufferings caused by our sin, mistakes, and poor decisions we become more and more like Christ as it says in
2Co 3:18 But we all, with our face having been unveiled, having beheld the glory of the Lord as in a mirror, are being changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Lord Spirit
Romans 5:20 in itself in the context should be enough to show beyond doubt that there cannot be one human being lost by their sin overriding the flood of Gods unmerited GRACEalways rising up above our sin as a mighty title wave of love that covers a multitude of sins; as it is applied to all the children of Adam (the type, Rom 5:14) through Christ Jesus the second and Superior Adam (the reality, Rom 5:14) – head of all the human race – his body - with him as the head. Romans 5:18-20 is clearly speaking of the downfall of the human race in Adam and the not just equal; but super abundant over abounding inundation of the Grace of God in Jesus Christ – the second (real) Adam’s Redemption of all that fell in the first (type) Adam. The same “ALL” were redeemed in Real Christ Jesus that were lost in the typical Adam.
It is impossible to out-sin God’s Grace. When we (bet) put our trust in our sin and follow our hand (flesh) finding ourselves overwhelmed by the debt we owe, Gods Grace rises higher to cover it every time.
Thomas Talbott called it “the inescapable love of God”. President Abraham Lincoln called it “The Larger Hope” Gary Ameruilt Calls it “The Victorious Gospel” Carlton Pearson calls it “The Gospel of Inclusion” Bishop Jim Swilley calls it “The Real Gospel”. Harold Lovelace calls it “The Overwhelming Sovereignty of God” Andrew Jukes called it “The Restitution of All Things” Thomas Allin calls it “Christ Triumphant”
Jesus Christ called it LOVE.
Rom 5:18-20 GNB So then, as the one sin condemned all people, in the same way the one righteous act sets all people free and gives them life. (19) And just as all people were made sinners as the result of the disobedience of one man, in the same way they will all be put right with God as the result of the obedience of the one man. (20) Law was introduced in order to increase wrongdoing; but where sin increased, God's grace increased much more.
To sum it up, Eugene H. Peterson put it this way in “The Message Bible”
18–19 Here it is in a nutshell: Just as one person did it wrong and got us in all this trouble with sin and death, another person did it right and got us out of it. But more than just getting us out of trouble, he got us into life! One man said no to God and put many people in the wrong; one man said yes to God and put many in the right.
20–21 All that passing laws against sin did was produce more lawbreakers. But sin didn’t, and doesn’t, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it’s sin versus grace, grace wins hands down.
It’s a done deal, the cards have already been dealt and the game is over – you have lost. (your sin) God wins and you do too!
Evangelist Dennis Caldwell
Romans 5:20 KJV But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:
(NLT) But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant.
(The Message) But sin didn’t, and doesn’t, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it’s sin versus grace, grace wins hands down.
(NCV) But when sin grew worse, God’s grace increased.
(LEB) but where sin increased, grace was present in greater abundance,
(NJB) But however much sin increased, grace was always greater;
(NAC) God lavished his grace upon us beyond all measure. His grace exceeded immeasurably the extent of human sin.
(AMP) But where sin increased and abounded, grace (God's unmerited favor) has surpassed it and increased the more and superabounded,
(ASV) but where sin abounded, grace did abound more exceedingly:
(BBE) but where there was much sin, there was much more grace:
(CEV) Yet where sin was powerful, God's kindness was even more powerful.
(CLV) Yet where sin increases, grace superexceeds,
(Diaglott-NT) where but abounded the sin, superabounded the favor;
(DRB) And where sin abounded, grace did more abound.
(ERV) But where sin increased, there was even more of God's grace.
(ESV) but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,
(GNB) but where sin increased, God's grace increased much more.
(GW) But where sin increased, God's kindness increased even more.
(ISV) But where sin increased, grace increased even more,
(Phillips NT) Yet, though sin is shown to be wide and deep, thank God his grace is wider and deeper still!
(JM-NT) But where the Sin (the failure; the missing of the target) increases (abounded to be more than enough; becomes more intense) THE GRACE super exceeds (exceeded) over and above, surrounding to excessive abundance,
(NASB) but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,
(NIrV) But where sin increased, God's grace increased even more.
(NIV) But where sin increased, grace increased all the more,
(Rotherham) but, where the sin abounded, the favour greatly superabounded:
(RV) but where sin abounded, grace did abound more exceedingly:
(TCNT) . But, where sins were multiplied, the loving-kindness of God was lavished the more,
(WNT) But where sin increased, grace has overflowed;
(YLT) where the sin did abound, the grace did overabound,
(Wuest's Translation): Moreover, law entered in alongside, in order that the transgression might be augmented. But where the sin was augmented, the grace superabounded with more added to that.
Romans 11:25 (NLT) I want you to understand “THIS MYSTERY”, dear brothers and sisters, so that you will not feel proud about yourselves. Some of the people of Israel have hard hearts, but this will last only until the “FULL NUMBER” of Gentiles “COMES TO CHRIST.”
The original here just says “comes in” but “comes to Christ” is quite obviously implied by the context.
“THIS MYSTERY” this has been a secret held in the mind of GOD until it is revealed to whoever He chooses to reveal it. It is in Strong’s Greek No: 3466 – Transliterated: musterion - 1. hidden thing, secret, mystery
a. generally mysteries, religious secrets, confided only to the initiated and not to ordinary mortals
b. a hidden or secret thing, not obvious to the understanding
The KJV has “fullness” here, it comes from a Greek word that means “the whole amount” or “complete number” it is the same word used in Psalms where it says “The earth is the Lords and the “FULLNESS” thereof. Psalms 24:1; also 50:12; 1Cor 10:26,28 and in other contexts John 1:16; Eph. 3:19; Col. 2:9. There are many other references showing the word means “ALL”
“FULL NUMBER” of “FULLNESS” in the KJV comes from Strongs Greek No. 4138 plērōma; “A FULLNESS OR FILLING UP”:— ALL...CONTAINS. It is from 4137 plēroō; and it means “to MAKE FULL, COMPLETE, OR COMPLETELY ACCOMPLISH”
So, this says that “ALL” the “Nations” Gentiles, that is all people other than Israel WILL COME TO CHRIST! That is the hidden mystery that had not been known. But hang on Israel is coming too!
Therefore it is really no wonder that many do not understand the truth of the predetermined plan and purpose of GOD to save the whole world through Christ, who IS the SAVIOR of the WORLD. (Jhn 4:42; 1Jhn 4:14) Because this particular truth is “HIDDEN” from the minds of people until GOD decides it is time to reveal it to them. Don’t try to feed a baby steak; he will choke on it. The bible says “each one comes in his own “ORDER” 1Cor 15:23. There is an order to GOD’S plan. This is totally up to GOD in His Sovereign timing and infinite wisdom and love of ALL. ALL will come to GOD through Christ, but it is up to Him when and how they come.
Then again, you didn’t think GOD set himself up to lose almost everyone, be defeated by a devil, and fail in His own creation, did you? Nope, He’s the winner…, He takes “ALL”…. After all, He is GOD….
Peace, Grace, and Love to you,
Rev. Dennis D. Caldwell
Thomas, R. L. (1998, 1981). New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek dictionaries : Updated edition (H8674). Anaheim: Foundation Publications, Inc.