Thou Art with Me

THE ACCUSER OF THE BRETHREN (the serpent)

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.  1 John 4:4

This is not the first time in the last year I’ve had an encounter with a baby rattler.  The first time, I unknowingly flattened it with my rocking chair and found it laying on the back patio the next day with a nice little rocking chair tread through it’s body.   This is not my first encounter with scorpions either.  I also unknowingly stepped on one and found it shortly thereafter — well, squooshed 🙂 (I know it’s not a real word).

Today, I walked out into the backyard with my gardener, and I stepped on a rattler.  I continued walking ahead, oblivious as my gardener yelled and pointed excitedly, telling me I had stepped on it.  His body seemed frozen but doggedly pointing to the danger.  Fortunately I had a wheelbarrow with some tools right there, so I picked up a weed hoer and pinned the head.  I asked him to grab the shovel and cut off the head of the snake.  He reluctantly obliged (Literally I looked at him and it was like ‘who me’?).  I warned him that the head could still bite, and went for my camera and asked him to watch it 🙂   Before I left I reminded him the head could still bite, so to be careful.  When I came out, he had ‘lost’ the head (because he backed up so far in fear or caution).  By that point I had to chuckle a little inside.   The head blended in with the gravel, but I quickly found it and took this short video clip, reminding him again how it could still bite, (he was to see how true that was).  At the end my little dog was approaching and I had to yell at him to get him to skeedaddle away from danger.

Lots of thoughts flooded through my mind.  Scripture for sure — (no, I do not plan on doing any snake handling or scorpion treading).  I just reminisced on how sometimes we see danger, other times we step right into it, yet the Lord is always with us even when we’re unaware.    Even as I write this the wind roars strongly outside, reminding me of the One who is in control of it.

Too many times things we may have to deal with in life can distract us from time spent with Him.  The frustrating part to me is endless forms and paperwork to fill up, and doctor’s appointments and keeping track of those, (I forgot one of his two for tomorrow even though I carefully try to set alarms for them as they are made).  I have doctor’s portals to go to both for information and to answer questions and these are things we have to do, but I long for them to subside soon, as I sometimes feel crushed under the weight of it all.   

Tomorrow, we have the infectious disease doctor and the oncologist.  The insurance company is waiting for our forms to be filled out for the theft of the trailer, and in the meantime, these same thieves, used my routing number and account number from one of the checks to pay for their cell phone a couple of days ago.  That required time on the phone with not only my bank, but the police department and also the sheriff’s department (as it turned out I wasn’t in their jurisdiction for this last event).  The plumber called and I have mounds of paperwork to turn in for the problematic tubing in the ceiling (still have holes in the ceilings of two bathrooms) and I need to mail in the offending piece.    The insurance company sent me a warning letter to let me know I wasn’t filling out the forms in a timely manner.   The other insurance man said for us to ‘go shopping’ and find all the things that had been stolen and list them in that way.  Are you kidding?  We barely have time to shop for groceries. 🙂  Seems the devil is even in the details at times doesn’t it?

Baby Rattlers (snakes) in Arizona

Back to the snake.

The enemy is likened to a serpent in the Bible and much more deadly then just a rattlesnake.  He is a roaring lion (not wanting to see one of those please) 🙂  And He is prowling about seeking whom he may devour.  Believers forget we are not exempt from his traps, and we are in a spiritual battle with him.   We have to be careful in so many ways as we can fall into the snare of the devil (1 Tim 2-3, and even be condemned by him if we allow him to get us in a trap.  He is a tempter, and can tempt us (1 Thess 3) and then turn around to point the finger, (he lives to accuse us day and night – Rev 12:10).  The whole world lies under his influence (1 John 5:19).  What can we do to best deal with what we will face in this lifetime and with our own frailties?

Ephesians 6 reminds us that we are in a spiritual battle and what armor we need to put on daily.  We forget though.  We need this armor and that includes shodding our feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Christians need to hear the gospel, the good news of what He has done for us, not what we have done for Him.  Too many who call themselves Christians consistently point to themselves, proud of who they are and what they do instead of being humbled by His goodness and love for the whole world.

In Matthew 4, when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, Jesus answered the enemy three times, ‘It is written’.  The Word of God is powerful, it is a two edged sword we need to answer the enemy with.  It also provides us with seed to sow and food to eat (Is 55:10-12), it revives us and strengthens us in hard and lonely times, it gives us comfort.

My soul clings to the dust;
Revive me according to Your word.
My soul melts from heaviness;
Strengthen me according to Your word.  Psalm 119:25, 28

For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.  Romans 15:4

Believers are just human

  • Believers can be deceived and fall into apostasy (1 Kgs. 11:1-10).
  • Believers can love and go back into the world (2 Tim 4:10).
  • Believers can be unfaithful to Christ and deny Christ (2 Tim 2:11-13).
  • Believers can be barren and unfruitful (2 Pet 1:5-9).
  • Believers can be snared or led into error by the enemy (1 Tim 3:7; 2 Tim 2:26; 1 Thess 3:5).
  • Believers can be filled with pride and envy (and more) due to the enemy (1 Pet 5:5-6; James 3:14-16).
  • Believers can fall from grace because of the lies of the enemy (Gal 3-5).
  • Believers can have their gospel rendered ineffective because of the enemy (2 Cor 11:3-4).
  • Believers can be carnal (1 Cor 1-6).
  • Believers can bite and devour just like the snakes (Gal 5).
  • Resist God’s chastening (1 Cor 11:30-32).

There is more than that, but ultimately, the Lord is in control of the enemy too, he has so much of a leash.  And we have a part in restraining him, even though he is the god of this age /world and would have people’s minds blinded to the good news (the gospel of their salvation).  We need to remember — submit to God and resist the enemy.  He also comes in the form of  many little accusers of the brethren out there — many wolves, many false teachers (do not forget they look like soft, fuzzy sheep who do good works – Matt 7:15-23).  Many are deceived and being deceived (as we were told ahead of time).  No wonder so many have turned their back on God and the Word.  The ‘picture’ they see of mainstream Christianity is pious, self-righteous, holier than thou.  I am sad wondering too if others have pictured me that way in my lifetime, instead of genuine or loving to others.  We are even to love our enemies and do good to them (I don’t think that includes the rattler, sorry…)

The Sword of the Spirit, the two-edged Sword

Our weapon against the enemy is His Word, the sword, please don’t forget it.   Don’t be distracted.  It’s not only to protect us, but to feed us — our necessary food.  And remember, He will never leave us or forsake us.   The next snake may get me.  But the Lord knows before I do, and if I will try to remember to continue to acknowledge him in all my ways, He will direct my paths.  I think I had a direct hit on the top of the head of the snake because he didn’t bite me.  Or maybe an angel kept him from it, whatever it was, I give God all the thanks and the glory for averting another disaster.  (So did my landscaper by the way), and that opened a path to say a few things.   May we tell others who would like to know, more about Him.  In even sorrowful times, seize the opportunities we have, and keep upholding each other.  We are nothing but laborers. Some plant, some water, we know we are nothing, but the Lord gives the harvest.

If you love Jesus, Feed His Sheep (John 21:15-17; Isaiah 55:10,11)

There are far too many ‘shepherds’ out there who aren’t shepherds, but are there to either win a popularity contest, or to pound their chests in public declaring things they do or do not do.  They don’t drink or smoke, they don’t chew, and they don’t go with the girls that do 🙂  (I know, I’m showing my age)… Or they don’t do the ‘big’ sins.   They rattle off a list of who is not going to heaven, I wonder if they consider their own eligibility…

The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed:  Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock;  and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.

Submit to God, Resist the Devil

Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”

Cast your care upon Him

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.  But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.  

To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.  1 Peter 5

 

Love in Christ to you all, we appreciate your love and care for us, and mostly your prayers for us.  They matter!

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