Friday, January 20, 2017

The Lurking Serpent and the Biblical Application Challenge

One of our missionaries posted the picture (above) on Facebook. It's of a snake peeking in her window. It appeared to have crawled along the frame and down the screen, inside her house. 

It wasn’t the first time she’d had to deal with a snake in our short acquaintance. The first I remember was after a motorcycle accident when one arm was banged up and she had to use a machete in the other hand to kill a snake lurking in front of her toilet. 

The toilet snake was one too many for me. The one in the window was, I thought, a final straw. 

These are sneaky creatures, slithering into the most unlikely of places. The thought of them brings a sense of unease and, often, of abject fear, and well it should. They can be deadly.

I commented on her photo. “There are far too many snakes in your life.” 

"Let's see you apply that Biblically," she challenged.

It wouldn't be the first time I've applied a snake story Biblically, so I accepted. 

You know the story of the serpent in the garden, but here's the Leanna paraphrase...

The serpent saw Eve walking in the garden, so he sneaked around until he caught her by herself. This wasn't just any serpent, it was the devil himself, who had sneaked into the serpent's skin. 

Finally, he caught her alone and approached her. Since Eve hadn't used up all her words for the day, she decided to talk to him, even though he was a serpent, and very creepy.

He started in with a bunch of devil lies. "You can't trust God." "God lies." He twisted God's words around and made it sound as if he was right. He casted doubt on God and, before he was done, he promised what he couldn't provide. "You can be like God if you want. Eat that fruit and you'll be as smart as He is." As if that were possible.

Eve fell for it, hook line and sinker. She ate the fruit, introduced sin into the world, and convinced Adam to eat the fruit, too. Together, they doomed mankind with a sin nature that could only be overcome by the blood of Jesus.

It looked as if the serpent had won a great victory. And he had. But only temporarily

Since that dreadful day, snakes have come to represent those who are crafty and not to be trusted. They're a symbol of the evil one and his attacks on our hearts.

Metaphorically speaking, the constant lurking of snakes around the home of our missionary can be seen as representative of the wily tactics of the evil one, constantly seeking someone whom he can deceive.

The enemy of our soul knows who's making a difference in the kingdom of God. He does all he can do to stop them and, thus, stop the progress of Christ in the hearts of mankind. It's no surprise that the enemy would lurk around missionaries nonstop. 

If you are willing to sell almost everything you have, travel to another country to share the love of Christ, and spend years doing it, you are serious about your commitment to Christ. It should not come as a surprise that the enemy wants to stop you.

Our missionary has a problem with snakes lurking around the house, but we all have a problem with the enemy of our souls lurking around us, seeking an opportunity to catch us unaware. He will stop us by enticing us to sin if he can.

Our job, whether we choose to accept it or not, is to be alert to his schemes and stand firm in the face of his onslaught. We flee temptation but stand firm in battle. (The difference is a topic for another day.)

Today, pay attention to the temptations that come your way. Those are not from God. Think of them as the serpent trying to slither his way into your life. That thought's a game-changer for me. What about you?

Let's stop indulging temptations. Stop allowing the sin-serpent to slither into our hearts. Stop welcoming sin. 

"Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." James 4:7 esv
p.s. - Our missionaries do not have an easy time of it. Their job is not glamorous or particularly comfortable. Snakes are only one of the hardships they face. The need our prayers, our encouragement, and our financial support. 
If you know a missionary, why not send them a note of encouragement today?
For those who have had a hard time downloading the James study to their phones, I've divided it into separate blog posts, and you can access it that way. Links are embedded. You won't need the BLB app, but you will need the electronic copy to have the links, even if you print it.
If you'd like to participate in the James study, here's how: More than Enough: Living a Life Worth Living
If you missed yesterday's post, here's the link: James: The Hard Thanks Giving
If you'd like to help support this ministry, here's the link to give: Global Outreach Acct 4841
Thanks to Rhonda Criswell, Uruguay, for the photo.