Thursday, November 8, 2012

Kissing Frogs!

I recently found something I wrote in 2005, thought I'd share it with you...

Kissing Frogs! (Previously, No Frogs Allowed!)

I was about 4 years old when I met my first toad. He was in Mom's garden, catching bugs. We named him Herman and every year when it was time to plant the garden Herman would show up. I thought he was one ugly looking creature, but he ate the bugs that I disliked, so I tolerated him. We also had a tree toad that lived in the lilac bush by the back porch, I never saw him, but on warm summer nights he'd join the crickets in the evening bug song.

Over the years I've discovered that frogs come in many disguises... the Poison Dart Frog or the Red Eyed Tree Toad are quite colorful and even look fun, there's also the the Bullfrog that loves to make noise. There's even stories about frogs, like the Princess who kissed a frog and it turned into her Prince Charming. I don't know about you, but I've never wanted to kiss a frog. Do you remember the Bible story about Pharaoh and the plagues of Egypt? Frogs were one of the plagues. As if kissing a frog wasn't bad enough, who in their right mind would want to live in a house full of frogs?

The other day I was praying about some decisions I had to make. I really wanted to do a particular thing, but people in my life whom I respected told me that this wasn't the right path. That upset me, because I really felt this was a good thing. But because I respected them I prayed about it and asked God what I should do. He answered my question with a question, "How long will you allow the frogs to stay?" All day I had been thinking of the story of Pharaoh and the plagues, but until that moment had no idea why.

The story starts in Exodus 1, but for now I want to take a closer look at the frogs: 

Exodus 8:1-15: 

Then the Lord said to Moses, Go to Pharaoh and say to him, Thus says the Lord, Let My people go, that they may serve Me.
And if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite your entire land with frogs;
And the river shall swarm with frogs which shall go up and come into your house, into your bedchamber and on your bed, and into the houses of your servants and upon your people, and into your ovens, your kneading bowls, and your dough.
And the frogs shall come up on you and on your people and all your servants.
And the Lord said to Moses, Say to Aaron, Stretch out your hand with your rod over the rivers, the streams and canals, and over the pools, and cause frogs to come up on the land of Egypt.
So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land.
But the magicians did the same thing with their enchantments and secret arts, and brought up [more] frogs upon the land of Egypt.
Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, Entreat the Lord, that He may take away the frogs from me and my people; and I will let the people go that they may sacrifice to the Lord.
Moses said to Pharaoh, Glory over me in this: dictate when I shall pray [to the Lord] for you, your servants, and your people, that the frogs may be destroyed from you and your houses and remain only in the river.
And [Pharaoh] said, Tomorrow. [Moses] said, Let it be as you say, that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God.
And the frogs shall depart from you and your houses and from your servants and your people; they shall remain in the river only.
So Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh, and Moses cried to the Lord [as he had agreed with Pharaoh] concerning the frogs which He had brought against him.
And the Lord did according to the word of Moses, and the frogs died out of the houses, out of the courtyards andvillages, and out of the fields.
[The people] gathered them together in heaps, and the land was loathsome and stank.
But when Pharaoh saw that there was temporary relief, he made his heart stubborn and hard and would not listen orheed them, just as the Lord had said.

Because Pharaoh hardened his heart against God's plan the frogs came, along with 9 other horrible plagues. Some of the plagues lasted 7 days! Exodus 8:9-10 tells us that when Moses asked Pharaoh when he wanted the frogs destroyed Pharaoh told him "tomorrow". Pharaoh allowed the frogs to hang out one more day. 

With each plague we see that Pharaoh's heart became harder, until the last plague when his firstborn son died. At that point he finally listened to God and let the people of Israel go to the Promised Land. But, the story doesn't stop there. After Gods' people left Egypt, Pharaoh realized he made a big mistake, he hardened his heart once again and pursued the Israelites with the best of his army. 

However, God was with His people! He made a way for them to escape. 

Exodus 14:13-14Moses told the people, Fear not; stand still (firm, confident, undismayed) and see the salvation of the Lord which He will work for you today. For the Egyptians you have seen today you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace and remain at rest. 

The sea opened up  and the Israelites crossed over on dry land, the Egyptian army followed, only to have the sea swollow them up. The best of the best of the Egyption army died that day. Ultimately, because Pharaoh entertained the "frogs" for one more night he lost his life!

What is a frog? A frog is anything that distracts you from what God has called you to do. You may think a "little" frog is ok, but it's not. Once you have a little frog it will grow, causing you to harden your heart against God's plan for your life. God made us to be able to harden our hearts, shutting out unwanted influences. Psalm 1 talks about this:

Blessed (happy, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands [submissive and inactive] in the path where sinners walk, nor sits down [to relax and rest] where the scornful [and the mockers] gather.
But his delight and desire are in the law of the Lord, and on His law (the precepts, the instructions, the teachings of God) he habitually meditates (ponders and studies) by day and by night.
And he shall be like a tree firmly planted [and tended] by the streams of water, ready to bring forth its fruit in its season; its leaf also shall not fade or wither; and everything he does shall prosper [and come to maturity].
Not so the wicked [those disobedient and living without God are not so]. But they are like the chaff [worthless, dead, without substance] which the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked [those disobedient and living without God] shall not stand [justified] in the judgment, nor[b]sinners in the congregation of the righteous [those who are upright and in right standing with God].
For the Lord knows and is fully acquainted with the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly [those living outside God’s will] shall perish (end in ruin and come to nought).
What does a hard heart look like? It's cold, insensitive, and unyielding, it wants it's own way, it just has to do what it has to do, it only cares about itself, what it can get today, it doesn't think of the future. 
Mark 8:17-18, And being aware [of it], Jesus said to them, Why are you reasoning and saying it is because you have no bread? Do you not yet discern or understand? Are your hearts in [a settled state of] hardness? Having eyes, do you not see [with them], and having ears, do you not hear and perceive and understand the sense of what is said? And do you not rememer?

These verses show us that the disciples (Jesus closest friends), were unable to perceive, understand, see, hear or remember the things He had taught them. A hard heart dulls a person's ability to perceive and understand Spritual things. The person may be able to see a little bit of what the Lord is showing them, but they don't know how to apply it to their life.
What is the condition of your heart? The things you consider, your heart softens toward. The word consider means to study, ponder, examine and think about. Consider could be described as focus. It wasn't sin that made the disciple's hearts hard; it was what they were focusing on. They had just seen the miracle of Jesus feeding the multitude, yet when they forgot to pack a lunch for their journey, they focused on natural things. If they had been focused on Jesus they would have known He would take care of them.

The moral of the story... Stay away from the frogs! Don't even think about entertaining them. If they're hanging around get rid of them today! Listen to God's voice, follow what He says with your whole heart and you will be blessed. Deuteronomy 28 and Proverbs 4 talk about what it's like to walk in God's blessings and Colossians 3:12-15 talks about hte peace God gives when you're obedient to Him.

I want to leave you with this thought: Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him]. Ephesians 4:27

Thanks for the great pictures.

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