Frogs in a Pot

Greetings and blessings to all!

I hope to challenge some today – provoke some thought on new things or perhaps bring to mind some things forgotten – maybe answer a question or two – or – leave more questions than answers!

Frogs in a pot, or Finding God's will in a sinful world

If you put water into a pot – room temperature – put it on the stove, turn the burner on – and put a frog in – it probably wont hop out.

The frog is comfortable where he is – likes the temperature. As the temperature rises – the frog gets used to it – adjusts to his new reality – as the temp  goes up gradually – the poor frog doesn't mind that it gets too warm – and goes to sleep until finally he is cooked – never once gets around to hopping out of the pot to safety.

Our lives can be like that – living in a world of sin – the temperature gradually rises – the morals decline – step by step – little by little – what was taboo 40 years ago is now common. Consider TV – remember watching Andy of Mayberry, Leave it to Beaver, Mr Ed, Green Acres – now we have the Simpsons – Family Guy – and enough versions of vampires – well – 40 years ago a school classroom – virtually every child  was from a 2 parent family, and both parents were actually their biological parents. In many schools today that is the exception.

How do we deal with this? Do we conform to the world? Romans 12:2 says “do not be conformed to this world.”

Do we move away and form Christian only communes? Not a good track record for that overall, and not what the Lord recommends either, 1 Corinthians 5:9-11. “I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of this world.”

So the scripture says to stay in the world, but not to be conformed to the world.

An important part of avoiding being frogs in a pot – is to understand the environment we are in. If the problem with the world is sin – then what is sin – how do we see it – how does the world see it? Sin is often portrayed by our society as something that is fun that God doesn't want us to do. But who defines sin – does society define it through their own laws, statutes and moral codes? Do we get to define it for ourselves? Does the church define it? Actually God defines sin – and in more contemporary language, sin is a crime committed against God. In reality Gods rules for us are for our good – our long term benefit.

So, how do we find out what Gods definition of sin is? Where do we find that out? In His word. Yet, over time, our understanding and standing on his word gets diluted, and we get complacent in our view of God and his righteousness. Can we as Christians so freely quote from one section of the bible and totally ignore very plain verses in others?

In Protestant Theology we place a strong emphasis on salvation by faith alone. When I was in California I remember a street sign that said “Jesus Saves” and I would always think “Now what?”

 - “Saved by faith alone”  Ephesians puts it so well in chapter 2 verses 8-10 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that – not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, Not of works – lest anyone should boast – for we are His workmanship – created in Christ Jesus – for good works – which God prepared beforehand – that we should walk in them!

So while Paul is emphasized as pushing the concept of “by faith alone” He had reason for it – there was a plan of action to be followed after Salvation – there was work to do!

What are good works – in fact – what is Gods very definition of the practice of Religion? Isaiah in Chapter 58, verses 5-10

“Is it a fast that I have chosen, A day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush, and to spread out sackcloth & ashes? Would you call this a fast and an acceptable day to the Lord? Is this not the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out. When you see the naked that you cover him and not hide yourself from your own flesh – then your light shall break forth like the morning. Your healing shall spring forth speedily – And your righteousness shall go before you – The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard – Then you shall call – and the Lord will answer – You shall cry and He will say – Here I am – If you take away the yoke from your midst – The pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness – If you extend your soul to the hungry – and satisfy the afflicted soul – then your light shall dawn in the darkness – and your darkness shall be as noonday.

James 1:27 sums it up well “Pure and undefiled Religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble – and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”

Gods rules, so what are they?

The Torah had many rules to follow, and the church of the day added even more to the list. The New Testament church answered the question clearly for gentile believers in Acts chapter 15 at the Jerusalem council. “therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the gentiles who are turning to God. But we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols – from sexual immorality, from things strangled – and from blood.”

While it doesnt say it there, most consider the ten commandments attached to that, and a study of other new testament verses confirms it. Jesus says in John 14:15 “If you love me keep my commandments, if you keep my commandments you will abide in my love”

1 John 5:2-3 “By this we know that we love the children of God – when we love God and keep his commandments – for this is the love of God – that we keep his commandments – and His commandments are not burdensome.”

These past few years have been a renewed search for me – seeking to know and figure out Gods will in our lives, and in that search I found I kept reading how there was a direct correlation to blessings in this life and keeping his commandments. Deuteronomy chapters 7 and 8, Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 all hammer it home in no uncertain words. 1 John 3:22 sums it up “and whatever we ask we receive from Him – because we keep his commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight!”

Don't get me wrong – your not “saved” by it – but He does suggest things work out better if you do – even your prayers have more effect – James 5:16 “the effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much!”

So, I think we have looked at some of the ways of avoiding being frogs in a pot.

Salvation by Faith – Good works – Following Gods rules.

Now is there a way to find out God's will in our lives – more directly – day to day even – this has perplexed me for many years. Is there a way to KNOW God's will at the turning points – the crossroads – the hard times, even the good times?

If you are one of His – and your not paying attention He does have a way of getting our attention – and its not always pleasant. Sometimes God gets involved in getting us out of our pot as he did with Lot.

When I started my art career – I sat in the harbour in Tobermory and painted – sat in the dirt in the little parkette in the harbour – lined my paintings along the rocks – I did this for 4 summers the last two years it was my primary income – so the winter of 91 I went to Palestine do do the mural of the Sea of Galilee – got back in the spring – this was BR (before Rachael) – money was very tight, but summer was close, the July weekend only 2 weeks away – then I got a letter from the municipality – said I could still paint there, I just couldn't sell them. But I made my living at it there???, I was not impressed – but I stuck it out – stayed until the July weekend. If people wanted a piece, I would pack up and take them back to the cottage where I lived, do the transaction there. Needless to say it was a bit awkward. After the long weekend I just stayed at the cottage and pouted – came in the harbour only twice after that over the next 3 weeks. One person suggested to me to setup in the Gazebo parked in front of my cousins place, Pathway Crafts. Pete had been bugging me to move to that side for a few years – but I rejected it – no atmosphere – light from the wrong direction. I liked my pot. But a few more days at the cottage – pouting – no income  hmmmm I could sit in the Gazebo – in a chair, use a table, line my originals on the sunny side, prints on the shaded side, rotate them as the sun moved,, hmmmm – so I went and asked if I could try it. I said I would give it three days – word to the wise, don't set limits on God.

I setup after lunchtime the first day, no sales, second day, no sales, third day, no sales. Ok, fine, I setup the first day after lunch, give it another day, sold 7 that day. In just the last week of July I ended up tripling my sales from the year before. And I gave Pete a hard time over it, told him he lied to me. He told me there was twice the traffic on that side of the harbour, there was about 10 times the traffic.

Also as a result of getting kicked out of the parkette I also contacted another cousin and ended up renting where the current Gallery now is, so overall a very negative situation was turned into a massive two-fold blessing – the frog got kicked out of his pot!

Now we jump forward 20 years – another Pot experience – we will leave the details for another time – but we were driven back to a renewed – fervent – study of His word. We needed help. We needed direction. And we needed it quick!

Its not usually recommended to study His word by just opening it up, in fact it is generally frowned upon, but that is exactly what I resorted to doing, getting up first thing in the morning, going to my tower, and just crackin open the book and reading.

My study method is fairly simple – I take it literally, within context – but literally as a whole, not trying to cherry pick verses and having others that contradict. Deuteronomy 4:2 says to not add to his word, and take nothing from it

One of the first verses that hit me was Proverbs 3:5-6  "Trust in the Lord with all your heart – And lean not on your own understanding – In all of your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths”

Applying Don't add, don't subtract, what does it say, what doesn't it say. It doesn't say to Not use understanding, He gave us brains for a reason, He is saying to not LEAN on your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge Him – doesn't say some – doesn't say when convenient – doesn't say only when the going gets tough

and He will direct your paths!

OK, but this still doesn't answer the question of How to discern His will at the crossroads. At what level should we seek His leading? I once thought that since He gave us Brains that we shouldn't really bother Him with small details – but sometimes the small details are important – and what does His word say? If He takes the time to be bothered to know the number of the hairs on my head – an easier job now than when I was younger – its not just that he knows how many but they are numbered as well! So why wouldn't he be interested in even the small details of our lives?

Soon after I opened up to Philippians chapter 4

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything – by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God
and the peace of God – which surpasses all understanding will guard – your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Words cannot describe how powerful that is.

Can you get to the place where your faith and trust in God means that you are at peace – whether the light at the end of the tunnel is deliverance – or a train?

How many times have I read those two verses and never put two and two together? So this gives us peace moving forward with our lives – knowing that God was with us and available to us in the trials and tribulations of life, even to the smallest detail.

An incredible peace knowing that when we seek His will He has a very direct way of communicating with us, that is not immitatable by any outside force.

Our final confirmation that we were on the right track came a few weeks ago – I had been upstairs working – finished off the evening with a game of soduku on facebook – Rachael and I challenge each other – I've been playing since Rachael was sick – she started a few months ago – I'm not saying who wins most of the time now....

Anyways – finish the challenge, I lose – so I head for bed – get into the room, the boss is still up reading her bible, I look at her deadpan “ you think your smart, don't you?”

She doesn't know what I'm talking about. I get into bed, am antsy, unsettled, not at peace, on edge like I don't know whats coming, but something is...Rachael puts down her bible and picks up her blackberry, doesn't say a word. Does a search, hits a website, and starts reading. Out loud. This doesn't happen very often, in fact I don't remember another time.. she makes some interesting points, bible stuff, I'm listening, then quotes a passage from

Psalm 32 if you obey “the Lord will guide you continually”, this is one of the verses we had hit in our search, ok, I'm now paying attention

Next she reads proverbs 3:5-6, a short pause, then Philippians 4:6-7. Dead silence

Did you just read that”? From the site?”


Long pause

My anxiety is gone – dead quiet – like in the movies where everything goes into slow motion

whats the site?

I don't know.

She starts scrolling up, its a blackberry  and the page is huge

finally, Globalopps, a group dealing with tentmaking missions

Some key points from the page I would like to share with you -

1/ Seek to do God's will every day. Why should he say anything more to us if we disregard what he has already said, Jesus says in Luke 6:46 “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not what I say?” If you love me you will keep my commandments (John 14:15)

2/ Common Sense (just don't lean on it). The Lord does not seek to control our lives. He isnt likely to give special guidance when common sense or His word is sufficient. But be open to His leading in the little things as well. If you feel a leading to contact someone – there may be reason for it – we don't see the big picture – God does!

3/ Study the bible – it saturates us with knowledge of God and what He thinks - Jesus said “If you abide in me and my words abide in you – then ask whatever you will and it will be done for you” (John 15:7)  “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path (Ps 119:105)

A good understanding of Scripture helps keep us from mistaking God's guidance because He never guides anyone contrary to His written word.

4/ Desire to do whatever God says. Do we already want one answer so much that we are not open to others? God expects us to have preferences – He may give us desires so he can fulfil them. But we must examine motivation.

5/ Rely on His promise to guide.

6/ Ask Him for Guidance

Seek His peace

Another reason to avoid being frogs in a pot – is to stay open to God's leading – not be complacent about where God has put you – never stop seeking – knocking – reassessing your role in God's plan. What does God want you to do with the rest of your life. Every day is the first day on that journey.


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