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The Snake Bite

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The Snake Bite

John 3:14-21 – Num 21:4-9 – Eph 2:1-10

Rev. Falao Mamadello an African pastor was sent to Bible college by his church.

Leaving his wife and 4 children behind he set out for Hamilton Ontario for the 3 year M. Div program at McMaster Divinity College.

It was at McMaster that I met Mamadelo.

He came to our home and became a friend of our family.

One fall – visiting our home we were walking from the church back to the house and he froze:

-        “Snake… do you want me to kill it?”

In Africa this would now be a life or death situation.

It’s either my life or your life Mr. Snake!

In front of ‘First Woman’ Satan stood in the form of a snake and said:  ‘You shall not die!’ 

Listen to me.

       Throw off the rules of God.

              And you can become your own god!

Listen to me – you can know your own knowledge of good and evil.

What a lie!

Still today the lie is attractive and we fall prey to the trap of its lure.

The Israelites knew what it was to be in slavery.  They worked for generation after generation as slaves in Egypt under harsh and demanding taskmasters. 

No living Israelite knew what it was like to live free.

They cried out to God in their misery and He heard their cry.

God cares about people who are in bondage.

God wants you to live in freedom.

And through a series of miracles still celebrated millennium later God delivered His people from Egyptian bondage.

On their way to the Promised Land God spoke to His people speaking the rules of good governance – instructing His people how to live together in peace – shalom.

Yet the lie of Satan still echoed in their ears.

       “God’s way is too harsh.”

              “God’s way is too dull and boring.”

                      “You’re not on the way to the Promised Land.”

“You’re going to die of thirst and starvation.”

And the people listened to their own reasoning instead of remembering the God of compassion and miracle.

“You will not surely die!”  hissed the snake.

The fangs pierced under the skin.

The poisonous venom spread quickly throughout the body.

       Death ruled instead of life.

Once again the people cried out to God.

Once again their God of compassion heard their cry and provided a way for them to live.

Reminding them of the Father of lies, God had Moses make a bronze snake and lift it up on a pole.

       Look to the snake on the pole.

              Look and you shall live.

You can imagine how the people chose not to venture outside the perimeter of the sight of that bronze snake on a pole.

Not being able to see the truth and the snake bite still brings death.

Paul’s words to the church at Ephesus still speaks to us today:

“Once you were dead in your transgressions and sins…”

Once you were dead > zombie – ‘the walking dead’.

What is it like to be the walking dead?

Slaves – who no longer even know they are slaves.

In bondage and thinking the bondage is real living.

Not realizing they are walking blindly towards eternal death and in their walking they are already dead.

       Incapable of any rational thinking

This condition is caused by transgressions and sins.

A choice to listen and live by the lies of Satan – the ruler of the kingdom of the air.

Yes, Satan, has a kingdom,

and his subjects are slaves

– zombies,

the walking dead.

Church: this is how you used to live!

       Following the ways of the world.

Make sure that you do not do as the Israelites and forget the God who has brought you:

-        out of slavery into freedom

o   out of darkness into His glorious light

§  out from death into abundant life.

Still the ways of the world attract and lure God’s people.

Give Satan only a moment of your time

His lie with lightening speed and almost imperceptibly will pierce into your being.

Look at the ways of the world and wonder what you as God’s child are missing out on.

The world looks happy.

       Their parties seem so alive.

              Their wallets so thick they can buy everything!

Some hold to this lie:

God’s ways are so prudish, so restrictive, so constrictive.

Why not have it both ways:  Eat, drink, and be merry and then just before death turn to the God of life?

And we swallow the lie

We do not seek the truth

death becomes the norm.

Look at the walking dead.

       They are not even aware of their condition.

They cannot even stop for a moment in their frenzy for more: more experience, more that gives momentary happiness.

If they stop they will collapse in the exhaustion of death and face the emptiness of their soul.

The way of the world seeps so easily into the Christians way of living.

Young couple come to me for pre-marriage counseling.

       That’s good.

They’re already living together.

       That’s the world’s way – not God’s.

His grandfather is a member of our church.

       That’s good.

He’s a widower and has chosen a friend he met in Florida to live with him.  Because of their tax implications its better not to get married > That’s the world’s way of thinking – not God’s.

The lies of Satan have once again deceived the children of God.

Again Jesus asks:  ‘Do you love me more than these?

-        More than saving money on income tax

-        More than gratifying the cravings of your sinful nature?

o   More than following its thought and desires

A Los-Angeles-based ethics institute: The Josephson Institute, recently conducted a character survey of nearly 30,000 students at 100 randomly selected high schools nationwide.

Among the findings:

·       Sixty-four percent of students said they had cheated on a test in the past year.

·       Thirty percent had stolen from a store.

·       Forty-two percent said they would lie to save money.

·       Eighty-three percent said they had lied to their parents about something significant.

Despite their transgressions,

93 percent of the students surveyed said they were satisfied with their personal ethics and character,

with 77 percent adding, "I am better than most people I know."

Hugh Poland, Kingwood, Texas; source: David Crary, "Students lie, cheat, steal, but say they're good," www.chron.com (11-30-08)

(How easy it is today for the individual

in the privacy of their own home

and for may of our children – the privacy of their own bedrooms

to turn on the television set and put in a DVD with only a questionable rating

or to turn to their computers and within seconds fill the screen

with pictures of the thoughts and desires of this world.)

We want our freedom – the freedom to experience all the world has to offer.

And our sin-affected mind makes us blind to the fact:

-        We are walking the road that leads to lies and more deception and bondage and slavery.

-        This road leads to death.

The kingdom of the kingdom of the air is under the rule of Satan.

                             He has blinded their eyes

6  If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.

7  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1Jo 1:6-7 NIVUS)

Paul says:  “We were by nature objects of the wrath.”

Our very nature – the essence of who we were is outside the realm of the blessing of God.

By our very nature we were aligned with Satan and those of his kingdom who are enemies of God.

              Objects of wrath (Rom 1:18)

The Snake bite has led to bondage

       Depraved minds

              Deaf ears

and blind eyes.

Slave, cry out to God. 

       He still hears the cry of the suffering one.

              He still looks with compassion on the afflicted.

                      His desire is to set the captive free.

4 ¶  But because of his great love for us,

God, who is rich in mercy,

5  made us alive with Christ

even when we were dead in transgressions

— it is by grace you have been saved.” (Eph 2:4-5 NIVUS)

 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (Joh 3:16 AV)

Moses’ final speech to the people he has led for 40 years:

19  This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that

I have set before you life and death,

blessings and curses.

Now choose life, so that you and your children may live

20  and that you may love the LORD your God,

listen to his voice,

and hold fast to him.

For the LORD is your life (De 30:19-20 NIVUS)

Help!

       I want this life.

              I cannot kick the habit

                      The habit of the mind

                             Perhaps the habit of the flesh.

I have cherished secret sin.

              I have listened to the ways of the world.

I have moved outside the sphere of God’s light;

of God’s love;

of God’s blessing.

Oh God help me!

And God provides – again. 

John 3:14,15  Jesus said: just as Moses lifted up the snake…

The OT records many events that show God relating in love with His chosen people – but the event more than just an historic moment. 

It becomes a picture of a much larger plan of God’s salvation for whosoever will.

The invitation from God is for you to:

       Look and live!

       Look to Jesus now and live!

Jesus said: The Son of Man (referring to himself) must be lifted up

-        lifted up on the cross to die

o   John 3:16 believe > have eternal life (passed from death to life).

The king lifts up his banner as a rallying cry for the forces to gather for battle.

It is time to face the enemy.

       It is time for the offensive.

              It is time to take back what has been stolen.

Rally around God’s banner as it is lifted up:

       Choose this day whom you will serve.

              Look to Jesus and live.

31  Now is the time for judgment on this world;

now the prince of this world will be driven out.

32  But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself."” (Joh 12:31-32 NIVUS)

The Light of the world has come.

And we know that light wins over darkness.

There is no question of who will have the victory

> rally around Jesus as He is lifted up

and you will be victorious! 

You will turn from darkness to light;

from death to life!

Stephen Baldwin is one of the four famous Baldwin brothers, a family of Hollywood actors.

Referring to his newfound faith in Christ, Stephen said, "I've never been as excited or happy about where I am in my life. There's no one I know in Hollywood who can say that."

Stephen's wife came to Christ in 2000 and announced to Stephen, "I'm going to be serving Jesus now."

Baffled at her conversion, Stephen thought, Who does this Jesus dude think he is coming around here?

The events of September 11 were pivotal in his change of mind as he realized that the impossible was possible.

As Stephen describes it, "It made me say the Bible is true, and Jesus Christ could come back tomorrow."

How has his life changed?

Stephen's work as an actor "has largely dried up."

He won't work in a film that includes adultery, violence, or profanity.

He's traded his Porsche for a Chevy Malibu.

Stephen spends his available time preaching the gospel.

He directs and hosts a DVD project aimed at reaching young people through extreme sports.

As for his marriage, Stephen and his wife are now "as one."

Stephen truly is a new creation.

"Baldwin's Great Awakening," The Week (11-5-04), p. 12; submitted by Ted De Hass, Bedford, Iowa

Last Sunday, Michael Nicholson, challenged us.

The one phrase that specifically caught my attention was to make all of our decisions more theologically.

I want to again challenge you:

every decision you make

think: Am I living and walking in the light

or am I moving towards the ways of the world.

Again I place before you life and death.

Rally around the King of Heaven

       The One who is Life and Light

The One whose standard raised for all to see is emblazoned with His own sacrifice for us.

Turn from the lie that Satan has woven into the ways of this world.

This morning call out to God

Accept God’s invitation:

Choose life.

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