Act 28:3 And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand.
Act 28:4 And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live.
Act 28:5 And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm.
Act 28:6 Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god.
Mar 16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
Mar 16:18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
I always get a kick out of reading the main text Acts 28, how man changes his mind so fast, it is like being carried about my every wind of doctrine. It was the same with Jesus, Hosannas than crucify him, many believed on Jesus because they were fed food, others because they were healed, still others because they saw signs, wonders and miracles. At the end of the day, after the signs faded as a memory it was crucify him, and so goes man.
These Pagans on the small island of Malta, many were converted, they knew as any indigenous people what was poison and what would kill a man in an instant, this was no Gardner snake that bit Paul, Gardner snakes do not bite with such ferocity you have to shake them off. Only deadly vipers do that, and many of them just strike, this was a super deadly snake, that should have killed Paul instantly and these natives on Malta knew it.
The lesson here is, the way humans think, first we notice the great Apostle Paul was the one gathering the fire wood, he was not sitting on rose peddles, he was doing labor, he was in a since washing the disciples feet, Paul knew the greatest is the least, the first last, and he knew about being a servant.
The secret of being a servant was put on full display, and he was a prisoner at that. You will know a true Christian by putting others before themselves and walking in a humble spirit, serving as a servant of the lord would.
When we as humble servants are about our masters business, we will encounter vipers, spiritual wickedness, persecution and such. The devil is called the old serpent and snake, as he came in that form in the garden of Eden, he changes not , same old devil, same old serpent, but the servants of Jesus in his name overcome the devil, we are to trample under foot scorpions and snakes, as Jesus said.
This again speaks of spiritual warfare.
There have been many people all through out history, that embraced the Gospel and left it as soon as a concern, a storm, or a problem arose, narrow is the gate that leadeth to life, and those who enter in are few, but broad , and large is the gate that leads to hell and many will be going in that gate to eternity.
We also learn, and Mk 16 backs this up, lit. If we drink any deadly thing we shall not be hurt, just eating the food we do now days is dangerous and filled with additives and poisons.
GMO foods, the lord only knows the full affect all this genetically modified food will do to us, but we will not be hurt, it we pray over every meal.
Note; this Mk 16 verse is the verse, the single verse, the Pentecostal cults in W.Virginia practice snake handling, they are almost all gone, a few are around, but this is the only verse they use, the danger of a crazy practice or belief based on one verse, this is the norm in a cult.
These Pagan Barbarians as many are , are full of superstition, they were not saved yet, understandable, in ancient history, even now many cults are very superstitious , they fear planet alignments, and comets, many things, they worship the creation and not the creator. Native American Indians do this, and this is where many New Age teachings come from.
A similar story happened in Acts when Paul and Barnabus were ministering in signs and wonders the superstitious people lifted them up and wanted to make them gods.
Modern day T.V. ministers only wish they could get such a mystical people so they could be gods, many think they are, and to hell, they will be going.
Saved and unsaved a like, many people change their minds often; this should not be the case.
Jas 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
Jas 1:6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
Jas 1:7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.
Jas 1:8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
In the Greek double minded means to vacillate between two opinions and not steady. Pagans do it, Christians do it, and Humanity does it. In this lesson, we learn faith, not vacillation always changing our mind and doctrine.
In ministry as a Pastor, I found at first men welcomed me, they listened , responded, but always in time, gossip started, back biting, putting the man behind the pulpit down because he had a white sock on and a grey one on, and things like that, people never change, and they never will. One day its your anointed, the next your a murderer, the N.T. Jesus said if you hate your brother you committed murder, we have a lot of Christian murderers out in the world, and many need to deal with that.
It is always Hosanna, and than crucify him, always, Jesus said if they persecuted me, they will persecute and kill you.
Signs and wonders are on us and coming, but know this, when people accept Jesus because of a sign or a wonder and do not stay the course, they will have their chance to decide, will I stay with these Jesus freaks, or will I go where there is comfort, people, food, hay a simple mark is all I need and my suffering will be over, sadly we must arm ourselves with this fact, many will chose that broad and wide gate, we are not to be discouraged, we continue on to the next teachable, willing soul, and simply move on.
You are not being rejected, the lord and your ministry is. We have victory over every scorpion and snake, we trample them underfoot. We are given in Jesus name the ability to say, the lord rebuke you Satan and he must flee.
We do not sit around and have a conversation with the devil, he would love you to interview him as there is no such thing as bad press, too many talk to much of the devil, and not enough about Jesus, this gives the devil center stage, and he loves it.
Concentrate on the lord, worship him, adore him, love the brethren and look for miracles, signs and wonders, but know in advance many times in this life you will stand alone.
Be of good courage, because when this happens, the lord himself will stand with you, you are never alone. He will never leave or forsake you. Let the serpents bite, let the fellow believers reproach you, the spirit of God and Glory rests on you as Peter said, and to this we are called.