VIDEO Get Rid of That Snake

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Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes. Genesis 35:2, NIV

One day last summer, the homes and businesses of Denton, North Carolina, suddenly went dark. Utility officials traced the blackout to a fire in a substation, and they quickly saw the problem. A snake had gotten into the equipment, sparking the fire.

When we allow the devil to slither into some habit in our lives, it causes a loss of spiritual power. When we make excuses for stepping away from the truths and standards God has set for us, we open ourselves up to sin and the accompanying guilt that comes with it.

The best way of dealing with snakes is to get rid of them. Ephesians 4:31 says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander” (NIV). Colossians 3:8 says, “But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language” (NIV). James 1:21 says, “Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent” (NIV).

Get rid of that snake!

Do not be deceived; happiness and enjoyment do not lie in wicked ways. Isaac Watts


Genesis 35:1-29, 36:1-43, Revival of the Heart

Practice What You Preach

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22

I started reading the Bible to my sons when my youngest, Xavier, entered kindergarten. I would look for teachable moments and share verses that would apply to our circumstances and encourage them to pray with me. Xavier memorized Scripture without even trying. If we were in a predicament in which we needed wisdom, he’d blurt out verses that shined a light on God’s truth.

One day, I got angry and spoke harshly within his earshot. My son hugged me and said, “Practice what you preach, Mama.”

Xavier’s gentle reminder echoes the wise counsel of James as he addressed Jewish believers in Jesus scattered in various countries (James 1:1). Highlighting the various ways sin can interfere with our witness for Christ, James encouraged them to “humbly accept the word planted in them” (v. 21). By hearing but not obeying Scripture, we’re like people who look in the mirror and forget what we look like (vv. 23–24). We can lose sight of the privilege we’ve been given as image-bearers made right with God through the blood of Christ.

Believers in Jesus are commanded to share the gospel. The Holy Spirit changes us while empowering us to become better representatives and therefore messengers of the good news. As our loving obedience helps us reflect the light of God’s truth and love wherever He sends us, we can point others to Jesus by practicing what we preach.

By:  Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

In what ways have you struggled to obey Scripture? In what ways has God transformed you?

Loving God, please make me more like You so I can use every opportunity You give me to share Your love with others.

Acquiring Spiritual Discernment

We must know the truth of Scripture so the Holy Spirit can help us discern how it applies to our life

1 Corinthians 2:6-16

With so much deception in the world, every believer needs spiritual discernment. Although we have access to God’s wisdom, it’s not something we automatically possess. Rather, it must be diligently sought. And His Word is the place to start, because spiritual discernment comes only when we know the truth and can think scripturally about every situation we encounter. 

It’s foolish to think that our own wisdom is sufficient to guide us. The human mind, while rational, is incapable of seeing the true nature of many situations and events. What is good may not always be best, and what is presented as truth is sometimes a lie. Pride in our own judgment hinders access to godly wisdom. 

In contrast, regularly partaking of God’s Word develops our insight. As the Holy Spirit of truth illuminates our mind and interprets the Scriptures, we increasingly see life from God’s perspective. Through the Spirit and the Word, we have a direct link to the very mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16). From Genesis to Revelation, God is revealing His thoughts, principles, and wisdom so we can live accordingly in any situation. 

Abraham’s Intercession Test

“I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.” (Genesis 18:21-22)

Three “men” stood before Abraham’s tent, two of whom were later revealed to be angels (Genesis 18:2; 19:1). One of them, however, was none other than the Creator Himself (as the visible Word of God), who told Abraham of the beginning of the fulfillment of His earlier promise of a son (Genesis 18:10, 14).

As the Lord reiterated the promise (now nearly 25 years dormant), the confrontation with Sarah began (Genesis 18:9- 15). She “laughs” at the repeated promise, citing her old and “worn out” body as an excuse. Most noteworthy here is the immediate response of God: “Is anything too hard for the LORD?” (Genesis 18:14). Although Sarah mocked the Lord’s promise, Abraham reacted with the laughter of joy and anticipation. His faith was now firm and confident (Genesis 18:16-22).

As God told him of His immediate plan to judge Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham began his intercession on behalf of any righteous residents there (Genesis 18:23-32). Yet, even though the Lord yielded each time to Abraham’s limiting request, it was clear that the wickedness of those cities would come under the righteous judgment of a holy God.

Abraham “returned unto his place” (Genesis 18:33), knowing that while he had prayed for God’s grace, he was satisfied that God’s judgment was “righteous altogether” (Psalm 19:9). The contrast of attitude toward God’s Word is on display in this section of Scripture. “Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves” (Psalm 100:3). HMM III

A Mournful Lament

Lord, why do You stand so far away? Why do You hide in times of trouble? In all his scheming, the wicked arrogantly thinks: “There is no accountability, [since] God does not exist.” He crouches and bends down; the helpless fall because of his strength. Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will strengthen their hearts. You will listen carefully, doing justice for the fatherless and the oppressed, so that men of the earth may terrify [them] no more (Psalm 10 vv. 1, 4, 10, 17—18).

When I desperately need God, where is he? I feel the terror of being abandoned. God seems far away, as if he is in hiding. How must I react when I’m in this kind of corner?

First, I can lament. As David did, I can pour out my soul to God and let my raw emotions flow out to my Creator.

Second, I can face reality. In verses 2-11, the psalmist described a wicked tyrant who is boastful, greedy, blasphemous, and atheistic. Yet he appeared to be prosperous, stable, and happy. This harmony between evil and success seems grossly unfair! But the psalmist faced squarely the tyranny of this wicked ruler and confronted God with his responsibility.

Third, I can pray. The psalmist prayed for God to remember the helpless, to see their trouble and grief, and to break the power of this evil man. This response is an excellent model for me to follow when I face problems, God is much greater than any problem, so I need not fear that I’m asking too much.

Fourth, I can praise. David expressed faith that the Lord hears, listens, encourages, and defends. As he worshiped the Lord of eternity, his terror diminished.

I too must learn to lament, to face reality, to pray, and to praise, I must free myself of empty cliches and repetitive, timeworn phrases. When I’m honest with my Heavenly Father, I will begin to praise him with my whole being.

Personal Prayer

Instead of internalizing anxiety and anger, May I learn to lament to you, O Lord, my King forever.

A Worldview for Reading and Meditation

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.—Psalm 9:9

Philosophers have said that if we are to live effectively and securely in this world, then we must have a worldview of things—a cosmic framework in which to live, think, and work. The Germans call it weltanschauung—the big picture. When we have a cosmic framework, it gives a sense of validity and meaning to all we do. It makes us feel we are a part of a universal purpose. Many modern thinkers believe that the reason there is so much insecurity in the hearts of men and women is that there is a breakdown of this world frame of reference. One writer says: “Modern man is homesick. He is going on a hand-to-mouth existence day by day, and what he does and thinks does not seem to be related to the Whole. This has made life empty and jittery because it is insecure.”

The Chinese have a saying: “In a broken nest there are no whole eggs.” The nest, the world in which we live and think and work, has been broken up by sin, and therefore our central unity has gone. This can be seen on a small scale when the home is broken. Nearly all the children in reform schools come from broken homes. Why? The framework in which they have lived has broken down and has left them inwardly disrupted and confused. As a consequence, morals break down.

Can you see now why Jesus taught us to have a worldview of things? With our eyes focused on the kingdom, we know that at the heart of things there is utter security.

Prayer

O God, I am so grateful that I am not an orphan in this universe. I have a homeland, the kingdom of God. And because nothing can hinder the establishing of that kingdom, I have a peace that nothing can disturb. I am so grateful. Amen.

Further Study

Ps 24:1-10; 2Ch 20:6; 1Tm 1:17; Rv 19:6

What picture does the psalmist give us?

What is his exhortation?

Saints with Rosy Cheeks

2 Corinthians 4:7

My saints are not on pedestals. They do not look down at me condescendingly from stained-glass windows, or by their lofty words from behind rostrums fill me with awe. There they would be so still and cold, so remote, so apart from the good earth and the experiences that wring both tears and laughter from me.

My saints have rosy cheeks and warm, kind hands; they are jolly! They are near, too. Sometimes they are in the next office, in the shop around the corner or in the flat downstairs.

One of them all through her girlhood wrestled to control, by the grace of God, what seemed to be an uncontrollable temper. God and my saint were the victors.

“I hope,” she said, “that I shall have a large family. I’ll come with my six boys to see you and they’ll tramp, tramp, tramp all over your immaculate house.”

She had four children. Three were not the noisy boys who were to have invaded my home, but gentle little girls. Within a few days of each other two died; a few years later a third had left her.

My saint did not come out with placid face and unearthly calm. Her grief staggered us and ravished her strength. But God and my saint conquered again. She stole out to find other little children. She became a young people’s sergeant-major establishing three Bible home companies, one for each dead child. One was formed from the Islamic population of a city, to whom the Christian message had never before been taken.

Some of my saints are young. One is only 14, a lad who tends his invalid mother at night and contends with a drunken father by day. Some are students with brows unduly furrowed by the effect of study accompanied by what, at times, must look like a losing battle with poverty. Some are mothers who never mention mystical experiences, yet have established the kingdom in their homes. Another of my saints is a Salvation Army officer, in an unromantic situation, who has not attained the recognition that many self-proclaimed “saints” demand, but in a faraway land to a great company of people, she is a light in the darkness.

Sometimes I wonder why my saints care to company with me. I expect it is because they do not know they are saints. And the world is rather slow in discovering it too. Can it be that we still prefer the stained-glass window kind with their white, solemn faces, smooth, untried feet and hidden hearts?

Catherine Baird, Evidence of the Unseen