Can you tell the difference between Good and evil? are you sure?
“But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to distinguish between good and evil.”
We walked through the tall, dry grass with a forester friend as we checked out the progress of the fledgling evergreens on our property overlooking the Clearwater River valley. The men sauntered down the hill, intently inspecting the little trees. The friend’s wife followed. I brought up the rear, watching my feet.
In this part of the country, you never know what might be lying in your path.
Toward the bottom of the hill, I heard the buzz and saw the grass part beside me. The rattler had lain quietly while the others passed, and only alerted at my approach.
I shrieked. The snake crawled away. My husband carried me back up the hill.
In northcentral Idaho live two species of snakes that look remarkably alike to the casual observer. The bullsnake, a subspecies of the harmless gopher snake, has a pattern much like its venomous neighbor, the Northern Pacific rattlesnake.
When threatened, it coils and shakes its tail in warning. A longer inspection reveals this species to have a longer, thinner body and rounder head. The above photo is one of a bullsnake.
The rattlesnake is fatter, shorter, and more docile. Its head has the characteristic viper triangular shape with the hooded eyes. Its tail has the namesake rattles to warn an intruder. Sometimes, the first alert to its presence is its distinctive, loud buzz. Occasionally, it gives no warning, and you must be able to recognize it before it strikes.
Both snakes are beneficial hunters.
One can kill you.
Satan is compared to a snake in the Bible because of several common qualities:
- His predatory nature. Snakes hunt and feed on the vulnerable.
- The ability to camouflage his presence. Like a snake, he blends into his surroundings to get close to his prey.
- His deadly bite. In John 10:10, we read that Satan comes “to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10 NASB)
In our part of the country, it’s imperative to know the difference between a harmless snake and a venomous one. It’s a solemn reminder that it’s a deadly error to either denounce the innocent as evil or fail to recognize danger ahead. It takes trial and error, success and failure, to discern good from evil.
We live in challenging times. The temptation is strong to either ignore the warning signs or to lash out blindly at those around us. Our charge is to be as wise as the serpent. Know what is good and what is evil. Watch your path and be smarter than your adversary. And always, be as gentle as the Spirit of God.
Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.
Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.
-Matthew 10:16 (NKJV)
When God Invades Our Despair
Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week….
So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst….
“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation,” Henry David Thoreau wrote in 1854.
My Southern-born mom put it less eloquently but more graphically on her bad days: “I’m so low I have to look up to see a snake’s belly.”
It’s hard to get much lower than the dirt. And that’s where the serpent wants us, groveling in the dust as he slithers over us.
Christians are under attack like no other time in history. There is more persecution of believers in this age than ever before. Satan roams the earth, storming homes, churches and families. He feeds on shattered lives, hearts, and relationships while he grows in insolence against heaven.
We are shaken as everything we believe is trampled under the brutality. Our trust in God’s Word faces its most severe challenge. What happened to all His promises? Where is the life of victory?
Alone, trapped in hopelessness, our people suffer in quiet despair. We can’t even understand the heartbreak happening to us, much less confess our struggles to someone else. So we hide in the darkness, convinced of the permanence of the death of our hopes and dreams.
Just like Jesus’ first disciples.
When the disciples met the Christ, the majesty and power of the carpenter ignited their imagination. They believed He was their Messiah, the King of the Jews. They followed Him, watched His miracles, listened to His word, and rejoiced. The Kingdom of God had arrived with this Deliverer.
They eagerly waited for the Anointed One to take His throne. Instead, he shocked them by dying at the hands of the executioners. All they hoped and believed died with Him
In their panic, they forgot everything He taught them. Imagining they were next to be killed and in complete despair, they trembled behind locked doors and waited to die.
Then, it began to dawn.
True to His word, Jesus rose again, conquering death in a single moment. Nothing but the graveclothes of their misconceptions remained in the tomb. The miracle of miracles shattered the desperation, killed every lie of the serpent, and raised them up out of the dirt.
Now they understood. God had planned it all. At no moment were they ever out of His hand. Even in their deepest night, He carried them toward the greater dawn of a new forever, better than anything they could have imagined. And nothing was lost except their fears.
This Easter morning, the tomb still lies empty. The risen Savior still reigns over this earth and every single moment of our lives. He will give us strength for today as He crushes the enemy under His feet through our acts of faith.
The serpent is defeated. Arise from the dirt.
Dawn is coming.
The Lord has risen indeed…!
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