The rattler!

rattlesnake.jpg

I may have mentioned previously, but I have Native American heritage. There are a lot of tales and legends that are intended to teach about life, how to live and do right; warnings of what to avoid to keep oneself out of danger, whether it be physical or moral danger. One such tale, that I have heard in a variety of ways depending on the tribe from which the version originated, is about the danger of things creeping into our lives that seem harmless but one finds out later that it is far more dangerous thing that it appeared to be originally. It’s about rattlesnakes. The version I’m going to tell is the Navajo version, mostly because I like it.

It was a cold night in the desert and the old Navajo man had a nice fire built in his hogan (their name for their traditional houses) and he heard a noise and looked and saw a sidewinder (a type of rattlesnake found in the southwestern states) and it was trying to get in under the door. He couldn’t quite fit and asked the man to please let him in so he could get warm because the desert is so cold tonight and he couldn’t get to his burrow and he knew he would die if he didn’t keep warm. The old man said, “No, you are a sidewinder and you will bite me and I will die!” The snake told him, ” no, I promise! I will just lie here by the fire and get warm and will stay there and leave in the morning. I won’t rattle my tail and wake you or anything. I just want to be warm.” The old man thought and said “I don’t know if I can trust you. You are a snake and snakes are known to be liars.” The snake repeated what he had said earlier and the man still said no. But the snake persisted. He told the man he would even bring him a rabbit or other wild game the next day in payment. The old man finally agreed and opened the door and let the snake in.

The next morning the snake was waiting by the door to be let out and went on his way. The old man figured he’d never see that snake again. But that night the snake was back and he had brought a rabbit as promised. The old man let him in to get warm and cooked the rabbit. This went on for several days. Then, one morning the snake was waiting by the door to get out and as the old man walked up to open the door the snake struck and bit his leg. The old man could feel the burning from the venom and knew he would die from it. He cried out, “SNAKE! YOU BIT ME, YOU PROMISED YOU WOULDN’T!” To which the sidewinder replied, “yes, but you knew I was a snake and we are liars and cannot be trusted to keep our word. You should have known better than to trust me. You and your people have seen what snakes do and that we break promises all the time as long as we get what we need we keep our word. But the nights have gotten warmer and I no longer need your fire so I had no reason not to bite.” He hissed as he crawled away. Not ever looking back or showing any concern for the old man as he laid dying.

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.                             2 Corinthians 11:3

 

3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4

 

We are warned many times in the Bible not to believe satan, not to accept his lies to us, not to let him into our lives. Yet, we often are deceived by his lies. His promises to do good things for us and reward us and that we will come to no harm despite our knowing better, satan convinces us that he will only do good things for us, but eventually there is a cost to what he does for us. Just like how the snake bore gifts and gave the old Navajo rabbits that he could eat, satan gives us things to trap us and make us think he is doing good for us and then, suddenly the cost of accepting those “gifts” costs us dearly. Spiritually, if we allow satan into our lives in a small way we gradually come to not feel nervous or concerned about him being there and we become accustomed to it so we let our guard down and he will eventually do something to harm us and separate us from Christ and instead lead us to spiritual and eternal death.

Even Christ was tempted by satan. But, He denied the temptations that were placed before Him by the devil.

1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.
3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,
6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.

Matthew 4:1-11

 

Jesus teaches us that we can, and should resist satan when he tries to tempt or deceive us. That we should resist the devil and that by doing so remain strong and steadfast in the Lord. There are times satan slips in, he appears to do no harm, he seems genuine and sincere so we trust what he says is true, but he lies. He promises no harm, while always thinking of how he can further compromise us; we are fooled into believing that the things we accept are okay because we need them or want them and that results in our being progressively less concerned about the devil in our midst. We think that since he has not harmed us yet, he won’t and then, suddenly we find ourselves, with the poison from being in a compromised situation with the devil, working its way into our spiritual lives and we find that we have sustained a fatal strike. Now, the difference in our spiritual life is that we have only to confess our sins to Christ, sincerely ask forgiveness and He will do so. We just have to do our best not to be deceived by satan again. I wish it weren’t so, but I have at times been deceived by satan. I have allowed him into my life in little ways and he has, despite making me think I was safe and wouldn’t be harmed, ended up having horrible impacts on my spiritual walk. At times, I thought it would be safe to tolerate a little sin, a small snake so to speak, and still been bitten by the effects of even small sins in my life. (yes, technically a sin is a sin, with no such thing as a little sin but we are able to convince ourselves that some things are not as big of a sin as others.) I convinced myself the small victories I received, the gifts, from satan were worth the risk and still I suffered the harm. Satan seeks only to steal, kill and destroy and when he gains even a small foothold in a seemingly harmless way he will be plotting our destruction.

 

Lord, I praise Your Holy Name and thank You for my salvation, for the deliverance from sin and the ability to resist the devil when he tries to worm his way into my life. I pray in the name of Jesus that You strengthen me in that area even more. Make me able to recognize satan as he offers temptations and I realize that it is not of You and that I need to only lean on You for my strength and ability to resist the devil. Help me be strong in my walk with Christ so that I am the example for others that You want me to be in my life. I ask that You help my loved ones recognize temptations before they become trapped in sin and that they look to You for their deliverance from sin if they find themselves in such situations.

Amen

 

Thanks to all for your visit today. I hope that my rambling thoughts make sense and are helpful to someone. I hope all are blessed today and able to be a blessing to someone else too.

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The Vines

 

vines

 

I am getting ready to head to the home town for a couple days to do some more work at my parents’ house. So much to do and little time to do it but it all needs done and if I don’t get it done it will keep building up. The auction is underway and actually ends later this week. I am praying that God has His hand on that and the auction is successful. He will be sure to take care of that according to what He knows so I do have that knowledge to comfort me. At this time some of the work I would like to do to the house is by necessity on hold due to things being in the way. But, there is still more than enough to keep me busy. The next couple days is going to be spent working in the yard. Thankfully the weather is better for that and not brutally hot.

My mom loved plants, all kinds, flowers, shrubbery, trees and vines. She would know which was good and which were essentially weeds. But, the vines are the ones with which I must contend now. Many of the vines have grown up and over the fence and boy have they done so, but while growing they have gotten a bit out of hand, they cover the fence some over the gates so opening and closing them is difficult at times. They are EVERYWHERE! The fence is covered and trying to remove them has been a chore. They weave in and out of the fence. And, since the fence needs to come out eventually, the vines need removed.

Thinking about the fence, the vines and the way they have just about gotten to the point where it doesn’t even look like there is a fence there I realized that sin can be like that. We start out with a nice fence, whether a privacy fence to keep out unwanted things or to keep things in. Then, somehow a vine starts to grow, maybe something a neighbor planted sends a small branch over, perhaps an animal has carried a seed and that takes root. They start to slowly grow and since it doesn’t seem like a bad thing and perhaps may look kind of nice, you don’t pull it out and instead leave it to grow. But, like sin, once it finds somewhere to grow it grows, and grows and grows. Spreading further into one’s fence, into one’s life to the point that, if not diligent it essentially takes over. Sin can take root like that, sin rarely starts out as a massive thing, it starts as a small thing that if ignored, because it isn’t that bad, it grows, it weaves itself into our lives and can eventually take over. I have had things in my life that were sins, things that didn’t seem like a big deal, sometimes realizing that it was there but also thinking, “oh that is nothing much, it’s just a little small thing and won’t do any harm.” In fact, sometimes one sees sin and thinks it will be somewhat beneficial so not only is it ignored, at times growth is encouraged because one thinks they can control it and use the sin for our own good. Sadly, that is rarely the case and over time we get lost in the sin, it creeps over the fence of our lives, weaving in and out and gradually it has taken over. It does so slowly so from day to day we don’t realize it until it seems too late. Choking out the good things in our lives. We realize it is no longer beneficial, but rather detrimental and has to be dealt with in order to make things right. Just like I now need to work to remove the vines one needs to remove the sin. But, the amount there, the way it has taken over our life it seems to be an overwhelming task and nearly impossible and for humans it would be impossible. But there is a master gardener, a groundskeeper of our souls, who can wipe out those vines. He won’t do it if we don’t “hire him” and ask Him to clean off the fences and get rid of those things. But, if we do, He will remove the sins from our lives and make us like new. We may have to deal with remnants of the sin for a while, just like some of the tendril of the fine may be more difficult to completely eradicate than others, He will help us as we struggle with those things and strengthen us while weakening the hold sin has in our lives.

I realized that many vines had become big issues for me over the years. But, Christ has helped with them and removed all manner of sin from my life. He has made me better. A better person and far better Christian than I had been for many years. What an amazing Lord we serve. Oh, He still has work to do, things to help me with to remove any remnants of things I need out of my life, but He strengthens me by cleansing all those things.

The sin, like the vines, at times seemed harmless and maybe even helpful, so I ignored them and thinking about that, I realized (yeah, its a simple concept but sometimes one gets an aha moment when they finally recognize to what point things have gotten) that due to tolerance, complacency, willingness and sometimes even desire for certain benefits I allowed the sin to creep in and take over some parts of my life.

 

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God [is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it].  1 Corinthians 10:13

He will give me the ability to overcome the temptation and avoid letting it grow if I seek Him and His strength.

 

8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:8-9

If I pretend the sin does not exist or that even if I recognize it I ignore it I am simply deceiving myself. But, when I admit to the sin He will cleanse me.

 

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.   2 Corinthians 5:17

 

He cleanses the sins. He renews me. He makes me a new creature. He removes those vines of sin from the fences and restores me to that which He would have me to be for His glory.

 

Lord,

I praise Your Holy Name and thank You for the little lessons that show me my failures and shortcomings, for showing me those vines of sin I have allowed into my life and helping me remove them to become what You would have me become. I thank You for my salvation and the forgiveness You give me. I pray in the name of Jesus that You continue to show me what vines need removed, what areas I need to further clean to become what You plan for me. Help others see the things they need to remove so they are able to follow You and take the paths You plan for them. Draw us all closer and teach us how to seek You and how to be the Christians You wish. Help us all better know how to seek Christ. I pray You bring loved ones and others to You and give them the better lives through Jesus.

Amen

 

Thanks for your time. I hope that some of the lessons that really are simple things that I for some reason finally see in a way that helps me understand are helpful to others as well. I hope everyone has a chance to be a blessing to someone today and that you have a blessed day as well.