Poison

In an outstanding gift of mercy, God supplied rattlesnakes with rattles.
They warn before they strike. It is like an audio warning label—POISON!

Thank You, Jesus!

If life were a kitchen or a garage, all the containers with poison in them would be clearly marked. No one would accidentally die by poison.

Life isn’t a kitchen or a garage. It is an open field, a running game, a moveable feast, the “oldest established, permanent, floating craps game in New York” (from “Guys and Dolls) and everywhere else. The containers in our kitchens and garages have few warnings—the poisons are hidden among the blessings. How can we identify them without having to taste each one?

The playing fields in the Game of Life are infested with rattlers.
It is rumored that some snakes are helpful but most of us shiver at the sight of any snake, unwilling to make the close examination of the shape of the head and the eyes. Snakes depend on stealth, hiding in weeds and tall grasses, drain pipes and holes in the ground before they strike their chosen victims with serpentine lightning. Punctured and poisoned, the small victims of the poisonous snakes face the destiny of a long digestion.

The Poet compared his enemies with poisonous snakes:

“They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent; adder’s poison is under their lips.”

We need to be as wise in our day as the poet was in his.

Avoiding Snakes and Poisons
Woods are made to be walked in and fields were made to be stood in so we can let our souls breathe air that isn’t sooty. Yet these wonderful places are habitats for snakes—poisons lurk unseen just off the path or in the tall grasses.

Avoiding snakes involves constant awareness—keeping a watchful eye on every step and on the way ahead, and a weapon at the ready. (My dad loved to hunt and fish. I am the proud owner of the 5-shot .22 revolver that was his “snake gun.”) How do we affect this constant awareness?

  • Daily time with God—prayer and Bible reading—is constant awareness, warning us of paths not to take and dangerous places not to go where there are sure to be dangerous snakes.
  • The choice and ready weapon of the Word of God causes poisonous things to light up like radioactive materials in 1950s Sci-Fi movies. The name of Jesus on our lips protects us from the corruption of Satan’s poisons.

Avoiding poisons involves:

  • Constant awareness of sources—keeping a watchful eye on every communication we encounter. Every container (entertainment, art, news, publications) has a source. With the fresh taste of the Waters of Life in our mouths, we can smell the polluted streams when our paths come upon them.
  • Constant consumption of the “Good Things” is a necessity. If we go about hungry or thirsty, these needs become drives that take control. We become vulnerable to the temptation to taste the pretty poisons on any shelf we find. If we go into the world full of good things from God’s supply, our lives are not driven by hunger, but are led by the Spirit.

We can enjoy the fields, the woods, the garage and the kitchen because the Word and Presence of Jesus protects us there. Since there are no labels, let us be constantly aware of the sources that produce the poisons hidden among the blessings.

In an outstanding gift of mercy, God supplied people with His Word, “Wonderful words of life,” and with common sense.

Thank You, Jesus!

Scriptures:
Psalm 140
Deliver me, O Lord, from evildoers; protect me from the violent, Who devise evil in their hearts and stir up strife all day long. They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent; adder’s poison is under their lips. Keep me, O Lord, from the hands of the wicked; protect me from the violent, who are determined to trip me up. … I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the poor and render justice to the needy. Surely, the righteous will give thanks to your Name, and the upright shall continue in your sight.
Gen 3:1-5 NKJV
Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'” Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.
Mark 16:15-18 NIV
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
Acts 28:1-4 NIV
Once safely on shore… Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. …But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects.
2 Peter 2:1-3;18-21 NKJV
… there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. … For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I love walking in the woods or on an old road by well mowed fields. But I do so with an eye for snakes and an ear tuned to the sound of a rattle by the road. Give me a like caution as I walk through this life. I know that the snake that slithered in the Garden of Eden is still at work, stealthily stalking each believer. I will not fear him but I will be wary of him. The delights of this world shimmer on every shelf around me; so many of them are poison. I feast on Your Word today. I will drink deeply from the Waters of Life so that I am no hungry or thirsty on my walk. I will be safe in the market place, on the road and in the field because I will be full of good things from You. Amen.

Song:
Wonderful Words of Life
Words and Music: Philip P, Bliss

1. Sing them over again to me, wonderful words of life;
Let me more of their beauty see, wonderful words of life.
Words of life and beauty, teach me faith and duty;
Beautiful words, wonderful words, Wonderful words of life.
Beautiful words, wonderful words, Wonderful words of life.

2. Christ, the blessed One gives to all wonderful words of life;
Sinner list to the loving call, wonderful words of life;
All so freely given, Wooing us to heaven;
Beautiful words, wonderful words, Wonderful words of life.
Beautiful words, wonderful words, Wonderful words of life.

3. Sweetly echo the gospel call, wonderful words of life;
Offer pardon and peace to all, wonderful words of life;
Jesus, only Savior, sanctify forever;
Beautiful words, wonderful words, Wonderful words of life.
Beautiful words, wonderful words, Wonderful words of life.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer
For an article on dealing with deceptive people: “Handling Snakes with Safety”

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

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