Mark 16:17-18 - (Jesus said) "And these signs will accompany those who believe: in My Name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover."
In his play, The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare wrote:
"The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose. An evil soul producing holy witness is like a villain with a smiling cheek, a goodly apple rotten at the heart. O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!"
Shakespeare was merely underlining a fact that was shown at Jesus' wilderness temptation: the devil knows Scripture and is willing to quote it and bend it to his purpose. It was a technique he has used in the past and which he still employs today.
Case in point: 24-year-old Sandra Summaya of Uganda. This past Christmas Day she publicly confessed her faith in the Savior. But that was not all she did on that festival occasion. She told the newspapers: "I later shared my testimony with my brother, who outrightly accused me of being an infidel and an outcast from the family and the Muslim community."
Summaya confessed: "I felt great pain inside me because of the insults."
The following Sunday, Summaya's family gathered together to celebrate the New Year with a meal. At the high point of the gathering, one of Summaya's uncles read a Bible verse, the verse at the head of this devotion, and suggested it meant God would protect her from harm, including illness from ingesting poison.
The uncle asked, "Do you believe that Issa (Jesus) is able to protect you from poison as written in the Bible?" Summaya answered, "Yes." With that confession, the family forced her to ingest rat poison to confirm her faith in Scripture.
In a few moments, Summaya became ill and asked to be taken to a doctor. Instead of helping her, the family took her outside the home, tied her with ropes to a tree, and left her to die. Eventually, her cries were heard by a Christian who rescued her and took her for emergency attention.
Summaya is expected to live.
My friends, it is important for us to realize that the devil is constantly taking Scripture, ripping it out of context, subverting God's Words, and turning them to his own purpose. In some cases -- like the one reported above -- he is blatant and bold. In the Western world, he is more subtle as He twists God's Words to say something completely contrary to what the Lord has intended.
By God's grace, may we know and cling to the true Word and help those who are confused by Satan's lies to see the truth and love of God, which is begun and finished in the Savior, our Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, bless and protect new Christians like Sandra Summaya. Send Your angels to preserve the faith and lives of those who are being persecuted. At the same time, I ask You will keep all believers strong in the faith and safe from the lies of Satan. This I ask in my Savior's Name. Amen.
The story upon which this Daily Devotion is based was carried by Morning Star News on January 5, 2017. The website where the parent article can be found is: www.christianheadlines.com/blog/christian-woman-in-eastern-uganda-coerced-into-taking-poison
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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