"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
September 10, 2008
I remember hearing an evangelist preach a sermon many, many years ago entitled, "One More Night With the Frogs". I don't remember the content of the sermon as much as the title, which has stuck in my mind all these years. But it was taken from the story of Moses and Pharaoh in the book of Exodus.
Moses and Aaron had an audience with the king of Egypt, and requested that he allow the children of Israel leave and go back to their homeland. At this time, Moses was eighty years old and his brother, Aaron, was eighty-three. (Exodus 7:7)
God worked through them to do miracles, yet Pharaoh's heart was hardened and he refused to let them go. Due to Pharaoh's hardened heart, God began to send different plagues upon Egypt. The first one was that all the water throughout Egypt turned into blood. The fish died and started stinking, and the people could not drink the water of the river.
Next God spoke to Moses and told him to go back and tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, or there would be a plague of frogs. The frogs would come up out of the river and come into their houses, bedrooms, on their beds, into their ovens and into their kneading bowls. God sent the deluge of frogs across all Egypt.
The king sent for Moses and Aaron and told them to entreat God to take away the frogs, and he would let the people go.
Moses said to Pharaoh in Exodus 8:9, "Accept the honor of saying when I shall intercede for you, for your servants, and for your people, to destroy the frogs from you and your houses, that they may remain in the river only."
I think it's interesting that Moses gave Pharaoh the option of choosing the time when the frogs would be removed. What's even more surprising is the king's answer. Pharaoh's answer was, "Tomorrow."
I would think if your house, bed, and food were filled with frogs, that you would want them removed as quickly as possible. If given the choice, why would you wait until tomorrow and have to spend another night with the frogs?
Perhaps Pharaoh thought if he gave it one more night, that his magicians would be able to come up with some kind of enchantment to get rid of the frogs. Or perhaps he thought they would go back to the rivers on their own or would die. He may have thought that would give him and his advisors one more day to figure out a plan on how to keep the Israelite people there as their slaves. Egypt would be losing a lot of slave labor, which in turn would affect their economy and trade, so I'm sure the last thing the king wanted to do was let these people go back to Canaan.
Pharaoh ended up going back on his word, and God sent even more plagues upon him and the people of Egypt, until Pharaoh at last let them go.
For the past several weeks, we've had little frogs/toads all over our front and back yard. I don't know where they all came from. Every time I mow I see them all over, hopping away from the mower. When I walk across the yard, I see them jumping around. I have made comments to my husband, regarding the number of small frogs we have had this summer.
This past Sunday morning our pastor was speaking, and asked if anyone had noticed how it almost seemed like we had a plague of frogs this year. I watched as all across the congregation people nodded and said, "yes"! Afterwards I told Jon that apparently we weren't the only ones who had them all over our yard, but everyone else did too. It's just been very strange.
They haven't come into our house or got into our food, but still it's a bit of a nuisance. I try to watch where I'm mowing, so I don't end up running over them, then have dead frogs all over our yard. As mild as our "plague" of frogs is, if given the choice, I'd want them to get rid of them today instead of waiting until tomorrow.
As I was thinking about this, I started wondering how many times I've delayed God from answering my prayers, because I'm so busy trying to figure out how to do it myself. I have a specific need or request, and I've prayed about it and want God to answer, yet I still try to get involved and "help" God. I am a hindrance to what God wants to accomplish, because I'm so busy trying to work things out myself. God wants to answer today, but I put Him off until tomorrow. Our own stubbornness and sense of independence stands in the way of us submitting to what God is trying to do today.
There are times in our lives when we need to stand still and wait on God to answer our prayers. When we try to do it on our own, we only end up in trouble. An example of this is Abraham and Sarah. God had promised them a son. But as years went by and Sarah didn't conceive and they grew older and older in age, it seemed like an empty promise. So they decided that they needed to take things into their own hands and "help" God. Abraham went into Sarah's maid and she bore a son, named Ishmael. Only, he wasn't the fulfillment of God's promise. That was Abraham and Sarah trying to handle things on their own, and do God's work for him. They interfered with what God's plan. God has a perfect timing for all that He does, and His timing hadn't yet come to fulfill what He had promised to this husband and wife.
Abraham and Sarah ended up with heartache and more troubles than they had bargained for, when Ishmael was born. They ended up spending more "nights with the frogs" than they intended, due to their choices.
When God is at work, it's amazing what He can accomplish. But when we get involved, and let our choices and will get in the way, we only delay what God has planned. And there may be times when God sends the "frogs" in our lives in order to get our attention. He may be speaking to us, but we're so distracted by everything around us that we're not listening. The only way He can get us to focus on Him, is by placing hardships or diverse circumstances into our path.
Hopefully none of us ever become so hard hearted as Pharaoh, that we refuse to acknowledge the miracle workings of God. But there may be times when we want our own way and want things to go as we plan, so we harden our hearts somewhat to what God is wanting to do. God may give us the choice of surrendering to His plan and obeying what He wants to do, or spending another night with the frogs, and we choose the frogs.
Pharaoh may have been afraid of what would happen to the wealth of his country, and questioned where they would ever find enough workers to take over the jobs the Israelites were doing for him, and been scared of financial ruin. He may have been concerned that some of his power would be stripped from him, and he'd look like a weak leader to the other nations if he let the Israelites go back to Canaan.
Too often, we allow worries and fears to hinder us. Our minds can scheme and plan and think of every possible scenario for any and all situations. We can come up with more "what ifs" than what could possibly happen, and want to know the answers of them all, before submitting to God's plan. Sometimes the "frogs" in our life are comfortable and we know how to deal with them, but what happens without them is unknown, so we choose the road of comfort over faith.
Choose to get rid of the "frogs" in your life today, and don't continue letting them live with you. Don't allow them to interfere with what God is wanting to do. And don't delay asking God to help rid you of them today. You don't have to spend another night with them in your life, but can be freed of them right now. Just ask God to come and help you this moment, and He will be there to respond.
I recently watched a supposedly motivational speech in which the speaker said that "People change as they grow older" is a myth. He claimed that people never change. His only evidence was that you could go to a high school reunion. Well, don't believe him. I've been to my high school reunion, and only a very few of my classmates had never grown up.
I started telling a co-worker that I thought the speaker was wrong, and why. She agreed. She pointed out that when Jesus came into someone's life, He will change them. I agreed, and had already thought about that, but didn't plan to say it. I didn't feel bold enough to say something like that in a workplace, where I don't know the person I'm talking to well, and don't know who would overhear. Talk like that might offend someone.
I felt terrible that I had avoided talking about Jesus and how He can change a person. I'm not ashamed to be Christian. But I'm not open and bold about it, either.
About a week later, I took the opportunity to talk to another co-worker about it. I'd never heard him talk about religion, either. But I was glad to hear that he felt the same. And now, I feel a little bolder about being open. I doubt I'll go out of my way to approach anyone, but I don't plan to keep silent, either. And maybe the second co-worker will be a little more open, too.
Cheesy Spinach and Bacon Dip
1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed & drained
1 lb. Velveeta Cheese, cut into ½ inch cubes
4 oz. (½ of 8 oz. Pkg.) Cream Cheese, cubed
1 can Rotel tomatoes
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
Combine ingredients in microwavable bowl. Microwave for 5 minutes or until Velveeta is completely melted and mixture is well blended, stirring after 3 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips.
A while back, Jon and I went to Lampe, MO to spend the weekend at my family's home. My sisters and I take turns mowing, and it was mine and Jon's turn. It was late in the afternoon when we got there, and Jon started using a riding mower that a brother-in-law had left down there. I looked at how much he had to mow, and decided that I needed to help out. So Jon and I walked up to a neighbor's house (who is also a cousin of mine) and borrowed his push mower. While we were standing out on the porch talking to him, five kittens came onto the porch. My cousin's son had dropped the kittens off to his dad; leaving it up to him to figure out what to do with them. Jon couldn't resist picking one up and petting it. Later when it started getting dark, we took the mower back home and he picked up another one and held it for a minute. Jon should NEVER had done that!
All five kittens followed us back to the house. We went inside and Jon said if we ignored them and didn't feed them, they'd go back home. The next morning we went outside and were sitting out on the porch eating breakfast. We heard, "Meow." Looking around, we saw that two of the kittens had climbed up a big oak tree in the front yard and couldn't figure out how to get back down. Apparently they had spent the night there. Jon stood on a chair and reached up to help them down. We took them home, only to have one of them determined to follow him back to the house. Jon tried everything to get rid of it. We had a spray bottle of Listerine (I had heard that spraying Listerine around an area kept mosquitoes away). Jon would spray the kitten, thinking it wouldn't like it and would go home. Nope! The kitten kept climbing up Jon's pant leg. It would lick the Listerine off it's face and eventually got "drunk". Jon finally walked it back home, only to have all FIVE of the kittens follow him back to the house that time. We went inside, thinking they would get bored and go home. Later we looked out and didn't see anything, so thought all was clear. As soon as we walked outside, here they came swarming us. We tried walking up the road, thinking they would follow us home and get sidetracked and stay there. Nope again! Some of them did stay home, but a couple followed us back to the house. Finally, Jon had them follow him back to their place of residence, they got distracted, and he was able to make it home without them following him. I told Jon to not be so friendly to animals next time!
Life may not always seem fair, but it can still be good.
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Loretta & Jon