Devotional on Numbers

2014 – Mt Rainier National Park

Grasshopper thinking
Numbers 13: Alongside them we felt like grasshoppers. And they looked down on us as if we were grasshoppers.
I’d love to come up with some unique, interesting way to talk about this famous statement, but, alas, I think preachers across the centuries have pretty much nailed it. In preparation for invading the Promised Land twelve explorers are sent to check out the area. They find a rich, bountiful land and, to the dismay of most of them, they also find physically imposing warriors. All their faith in God and his promises concerning this land dissipates. The most famous line of the report of the majority is that, compared to those big guys they feel like grasshoppers. Through the centuries since, preachers like me used this passage to remind our listeners that if we think of ourselves as grasshoppers others will do the same. Grasshopper thinking stops us from even attempting great things by defeating us before we ever begin. It’s a self-fulfilling and God displeasing prophecy. When God gives me his plan, my job is not to evaluate the wisdom of that plan. Instead, I’m to trust him and obey in the assurance that God will provide everything necessary for it to succeed. To do otherwise is to see myself as a grasshopper – what Zig Ziggler called, “Stinkin’ thinkin’.”
Take Away: If we think of ourselves as grasshoppers we’ll perform like grasshoppers and others will tend to see us that way too.

Devotional on Genesis

2013 – Along Natchez Trace – Fall Hollow

Can’t we all just get along?
Genesis 45: Take it easy on the journey; try to get along with each other.
Having revealed his true identity to his brothers Joseph informs them that the famine will continue for another five years. He urges them to relocate to Egypt where he can take care of them. As he sends them back to Canaan he adds, “Take it easy and try to get along.” Isn’t that an odd statement? They’re returning home with lots of good news. Joseph is alive, he’s a powerful man, and he’s going to take care of them all. It’s been over 20 years since he spent time with them, but he’s experienced firsthand the results of the rivalry among them. With that in mind he cautions them against disagreements in their number. Centuries later, Paul says something similar to the Christians at Rome: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Ro 12:18). Apparently even people with good news and better things to do sometimes fail to get along. Joseph wants his brothers to keep the big picture in mind. Paul wants the same thing for the church. Once in a while, maybe all God’s people need to be reminded to take it easy and to try to get along.
Take away: Getting along sometimes takes real effort on our part, but it’s a worthy goal.