1) Intro (Snake Handling)... Praise God, Church. Tonight I want to talk about snake handling. Now I know that we Pentecostals always get accused of handling snakes. My wife and I often joke about the first time that we ever visited a Pentecostal church, And how we half expected for them to open up a box and turn the snakes loose. It seemed funny at the time. But tonight, church, I stand here to tell you that snake handling is no laughing matter. Here at Federal Point Pentecostal we don't introduce snakes into our worship services as some denominations do. They get their idea of handling snakes from Mark chapter 16. In verses 15 through 18 we see several signs that Jesus Himself said would follow those who believe. Mar 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. Mar 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. 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. When this scripture says “take up” serpents, it’s not talking about bringing a box of snakes to church. It's not talking about carrying them around your neck. The Greek word for the phrase “take up” is airo (ah'ee-ro). And airo does pertain to picking something up, but the idea is to “do away” with it or “cast it away.” So should we as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ take up serpents? YES Our job as Christians is to cast away Satan and his works! And that includes removing the snakes from our life. I'm not telling you to go out looking for snakes! But be assured that if you walk in Christ’s ways, you will encounter some snakes! Satan himself is pictured as a snake! Rev 12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. 2) How To Catch a Snake (3 steps to set a snake trap)... How many in here tonight have ever had a snake in their life? How many know that we need to be able to identify the snakes in our life in order to destroy their strong holds on our life? You say "well brother John, How do we identify the snakes in our lives?" Well turn with me to Acts 28, and let's find out how to catch a snake. Let's learn from Paul's life the three steps in setting a full proof snake trap. After spending two weeks on the stormy sea in the middle of winter, Paul and those with him found themselves shipwrecked off the coast of Melita. a) Step 1: Finding Refuge in the Lord Act 28:1 And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita (me'lee-tay). So Paul had come to a place called Melita, Amen. See this is the first step in setting the trap. Paul came to Melita. The word Melita is a canaanite word meaning refuge. So Paul had come into a place of refuge, Amen! In the same way we as Christians have come into a place of refuge that we find in the Lord Jesus Christ. And by doing so we've set out the bait, Amen? See there were no snakes around intending us harm when we sought after worldly things. AMEN! But when we started seeking the things of God we got their attention. They're coming from all around to see what's going on. They've taken the bait! Notice that I said there weren't any snakes intending us harm. I didn't say there weren't any snakes in your life. They were there! Hiding in the wood pile. In hibernation, Numb from the cold that the darkness of sin had caused in your life. The winter of sin in our lives leaving them torpid. Meaning they had lost motion or the power of exertion and feeling; Torpid maybe. Numb maybe. But they were there! And now you have there attention. b) Step 2: Start a Fire... Act 28:2 And the barbarous people showed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold. See, here we have step two in setting the trap. You want to know what's real and what's a snake? Start a fire, Amen!!! When you showed interest in the things of God you had their attention, But when you start feeding that interest with the word you got some upset serpents,Amen!!! See Satan doesn't care if you go to Church on Sunday as long as you serve him the rest of the week!!! But when you're in prayer and revival the rest of the week, Or you're able to catch a midweek service... HOLY GHOST!!!! You better look out, Amen!!!! c) Step 3: Feed the Fire... 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. Here we have step three...Feed the fire!!! Paul didn't have to fuel that fire. He was a prisoner. Freezing cold, if not suffering from hypothermia. Maybe not. That all depends on how cold the mediteranean sea gets in the middle of winter. But none the less it was cold in those soaked and wet clothes in the cool are of a sicilian winter. Amen!!! The natives had already started the fire. They could have tended it, but Paul, setting an example for Christians today, Showed a spirit of servitude in helping fuel the fire. Are the snakes manifesting themselves in your life? If not ask yourself what kind of fuel your putting on the fire. Are you relying on Holy Ghost power, Or are you trusting in CP&L. I should have put a disclaimer on this snake trap. No alternatives, Amen!!!..... No generic ingredients. Paul had the real thing, Amen! And the snake came out. Notice it didn't go after any one else. It went after Paul. The one in Mileta the place of refuge who was building the fire. Paul took up that serpent from the wood pile and unknowingly cast him into the heat. And the heat thawed this snake, so to speak, from his numb torpid state. And that viper attached himself to pauls hand. See, the snakes in your life want to do the same thing, Church. They want to attach themselves to your life. 3) Shake It Off... 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. See the devil wants to attach himself to you in any way possible. He doesn't want people to see Jesus when they look at you. He wants them to see him. He wants to ruin your witness. He doesn't need for people to assume you're a murderer like the natives did Paul. He'll attach himself in any way that flaws your witness. In the form of an addiction, Or a physical ailment. He'll attach himself to your marriage, or your finances. Your job, your flesh, Anything that will bring you harm. He doesn't care as long as there's a little bit of him in your daily activities. This cannot be so, Church. We have to do what Paul did in verse 5. Act 28:5 And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm. See we have to take up that serpent and cast him into the fire. Amen!!!! Satan knows his destiny! Do you know Satan’s destiny? Rev 20:10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever He's already been defeated. And he knows it! He's wants you, God's precious creation, to suffer defeat with him. He wants you to experience a Hell that wasn't created for you. He wants to bring you harm, But the Bible says, he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm. Church, in order to break the strong holds that these snakes have on our lives We have to shake them off!!! When the Devil comes knocking, Shake 'em off! Are you suffering from spiritual poverty? Shake it off! Are the snakes in your life attacking your marriage or you finances? Shake 'em off!!! etc. etc. etc.-Shake 'em off!!!!!!!!!!! 4) Conclusion... Rom 13:12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.