Sometimes the Snake Bites

Have you ever had a season where it just seemed like anything that could go wrong has gone wrong? I know that I have. I have had times as a believer that I felt like the best option I had was to cry out like Elijah “just kill me Lord”. Then as I turned to God to allow him to heal my heart another thing would happen. I know I am not alone in this. Whether it is financial situations, relationships, lack of relationships, work, family, or the car that won’t stop breaking down, I know you have lived a season of nonstop arrows into your camp. Do you want to know how I know this? Because the world is watching. They are waiting to see how you as a believer, who has the hope of glory living within you, will react to the setbacks of life.

Let’s look at Paul in Acts 27. He had just been put on trial in front of Festus, a Roman court judge in Caesarea,  because of the accusations made by his own Jewish people. Paul appeals to Ceasar and Festus grants his request which starts Paul’s long journey to Rome. He is placed in the custody of Roman soldiers and is put on a boat with several other prisoners. The journey was hard due to weather conditions. Everyone on the boat was fearful as a northeaster took them out into the sea without any control of the ship.  They eventually become shipwrecked on the island of Malta where the life of Paul and the other prisoners are spared by Roman soldiers who originally wanted to kill them to ensure they would not escape. 

At the beginning of Acts 28 Paul makes an account of how nice the people of Malta were. He tells how the people of the island built a fire for them to get warm from the cold rainy weather. Then, this happens:  “As Paul gathered an armful of sticks and was laying them on the fire, a poisonous snake, driven out by the heat, bit him on the hand” Acts 28: (NLT). Can you believe that? After being beaten for his faith, falsely accused, imprisoned, almost dies at sea, gets shipwrecked, now he gets bit by a venomous snake just because he is trying to get warm! He did nothing to deserve it. Does this sound familiar to anyone? 

The next few verses then say: “The people of the island saw it (the snake) hanging from his hand and said to each other, “A murderer, no doubt! Though he escaped the sea, justice will not permit him to live.”  But Paul shook off the snake into the fire and was unharmed” Acts 28:4-5 (NLT). Let’s look past the fact that the people miss judged and focus on that last verse: “Paul shook off the snake and was unharmed”. He was unharmed because his focus was never on the snake. He was never focused on the enemy when he was beaten or when he was falsely imprisoned. His focus was not on how unfair the situation was when he nearly died at sea. His focus was always Jesus. His focus is what brought about his survival. 

I went through all of this story just to make this one point, Sometimes the snake bites. Sometimes it does not matter how devoted we are to the Lord, how deeply rooted we are in his love, how we look after the orphans and the widows. We still end up getting bitten by a venomous snake. My question to you is, do you focus on it? Do you complain to everyone around you about how you try and do everything right and everything still goes wrong? Or do you shake the snake off into the fire? I am not saying that there are not situations that are heartbreaking that we need time to heal in, I am saying where is your focus? Is it on Jesus who thought that you were so amazing and cared enough to give his life for you? If your focus is on Jesus then you can walk away unharmed, but if you choose to give that nasty snake any of your attention then you better be prepared to have some of that bitter venom enter your bloodstream. The attention that you give to your negative circumstances is not worth the death of your hope and focus on Jesus. 

Then there are the people around you who are watching you, They want to see if you will work out your salvation with the faith you claim to have. After Paul was bitten it says that  “The people waited for him to swell up or suddenly drop dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw that he wasn’t harmed, they changed their minds and decided he was a god.” Acts 23:6 (NLT). Paul then found a man who was sick in the village and healed him and many more. I am not saying that we want people to think that we are gods, but we do want to respond to life in a way that they mistaken us for him, so we can, in turn, introduce them to our Father. 

So, My sweet brothers and sisters, let this be an encouragement. In life we have trials and snakes will bite us, but Jesus says in Luke 10:19 “Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you” (NLT). We will not be injured if we just keep our eyes on who Jesus is and what he has said over us. Then not only can we walk away unharmed from a battle with a snake but we can show others that it is pos

Featured Image by Erin Ramsey

Sand of the Desert Season

In the desert season, we must not forget that His thoughts are innumerable like the sand found in that desert. Every season is an opportunity to stare at our loving Father in the face and see His love. As Christians, it is hard to not go through life without hearing someone or even ourselves say, “I am in a desert season.” So many people believe that a time in the desert means that God is far away or that our destinies are far from our reach. I think that sometimes we forget that what seems like a time of difficulty is actually an invitation to lean in closer to our Father, a time to find refuge under the shadow of His wing.

Sometimes these seasons are not so much desert seasons as it is a time where our sin or disobedience has kept us from aligning with the will of God in our lives. Even though I find this to be true, the “desert season” that I am addressing is the one in which you are doing everything that He asked of you. You are in close relationship with Him, and you have moved at the beat of His own heart. I can say that I have walked through that desert season in my own life, and I can still see it so clearly.

The Lord had some friends and me start a ministry. There was a time in which we were running full force in our ministry and seeing the Lord move miraculously through us. We were experiencing the presence of God in a tangible way. There wasn’t a time where we would enter into worship that we didn’t have an Isaiah 6:1 moment: “I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple” (NIV). We were hungry and were risking for the Lord in every area of our lives. We were building a family with one another, and the book of Acts was being played out through our lives. It was one of the most beautiful seasons of my life.

Then came the shift. The enemy seemed to be taking ground against us. The division began to take place, and people became more focused on the problems of the world instead of the joy set before them. The family that we had built in our ministry started to look a lot more like the broken system of marriage and family that the world seems to expect. The grief of this division started to push me, as a leader, into what seemed like a desert season. It was like I had walked out of Eden into a desert with wolves that gnashed their teeth at me every move I made. It seemed like the wind would blow, and instead of feeling the Holy Spirit, I would just end up with sand in my eyes and a broken spirit.

Staying laser-focused on the truth of my destiny became harder, but I had to make a choice of looking at the lie of defeat or believing in God’s promise of a prosperous future (Jer. 29:11). I had a promise of a family in the body of Christ, and most importantly, I had Jesus. I started to look at the scenery of this desert season, and I saw it as a land of opportunity. I began to make it my mission to find God in every situation.

Because I started to shift my focus to the promises of God, I became overjoyed that this desert was full of sand. What if in our desert seasons we shifted our perspective? What if we chose to bend down and take the sand in our hands and remember that the thoughts our Father has for us are innumerable? It says in Psalm 139:17-18:

Every single moment you are thinking of me! How precious and wonderful to consider that you cherish me constantly in your every thought! O God, your desires toward me are more than the grains of sand on every shore!  When I awake each morning, you’re still with me (TPT).

Every season is an opportunity to stare at our loving Father in the face and see His love and everlasting delightful thoughts about us. His love surpasses our understanding, and that love is unchanging. Staying focused on who He is versus the season that we are walking in is how we are able to walk through the fire and come out not even smelling of the smoke of that season.

If we just shift our thinking, no season is unbearable. I walk through the fire but come out refined like the purest of golds. I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, but He is with me. I walk through the desert, but I then get to experience His innumerable thoughts of me that are full of favor and love. Let us walk in such an understanding of His Grace that no season rules over us but, instead, gives away to those around us the hope of glory that is Christ Jesus.

Featured Image by Ian Dooley

Watermarked Ministries Blog

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Jenimar Pendleton