the grasshopper principle

“…we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” (Numbers 13:33)

This was the concluding argument from the 10 spies who believed it was impossible for the Israelites to successfully go into the Promised Land. Eventually, the children of Israel would concur and head back into the wilderness for another 38 years, just to eventually end up right back in the same spot.

The reason the Israelites did not get to enter into the land and enjoy all that God had for them wasn’t that they suffered a humiliating defeat. It wasn’t that they tried and just didn’t have the right strategy or military prowess. The issue was that the people who were inhabiting the land saw the Israelites as mere grasshoppers. But notice why their enemies saw them as grasshoppers.

Again, Numbers 13:33b, “…we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” (ESV)

The way they perceived themselves directly affected the way others perceived them.Screen shot 2013-06-21 at 8.40.23 PM

I refer to this as “the grasshopper principle” and it holds true for us as well. It can either work for you or against you. If you think of yourself as a “grasshopper” then you will begin to notice others seeing you that way as well. If you allow yourself to think “grasshopper thoughts” you will start to live a “grasshopper life.” And just like the Israelites in Numbers 13, that self perception alone is enough to prevent you from enjoying all that God has for you and all that He has called you to do and be. But, it could also enable you to be the man or woman you were made to be.

When our eyes are on ourselves we are limited to our own abilities and inabilities and it is easy to become discouraged and hard to believe we could ever do anything significant. But when a Christian begins to see themselves inline with the realities of who they are in Christ, then there is no challenge too great or obstacle too large. Our focus should not be on ourselves but on Jesus because “as he is so also are we in this world” (1 John 4:17), our lives are hidden in him (Col 3:3), it is no longer we who live, but Christ living in us (Gal 2:20) & in Christ we are more than conquerors (Rom 8:37).

Do others think little of you, doubt your ability, are convinced you will never amount to much or see you as a failure? It is possible that the cause of that perception is how you see yourself.

How would you like others to perceive you? How do you see yourself?

What Do You Think?

No really, what DO you think? If you look at Philippians 4:8 you will find the standard that we are supposed to have for our thought life. In this passage we are told, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Advertisers & marketers spend enormous amounts of time, effort & money in an attempt Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 1.33.22 PMto influence what you think about. From billboards & magazine images to radio & television commercials, we are constantly bombarded by their efforts. They understand that in a very real way, what we think about will have a profound affect on our emotions, attitudes, behaviors & even our relationships. But they are not the only ones who are making this type of effort. In 1 Peter 5:8 we are told to be careful & self-controlled, to be alert & vigilant. Why? Because, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” He also knows the impact your thought life has and if he can begin to influence your thoughts then he will then be able to influence nearly every other area of your life.

Others are very intentional when it comes to our thoughts and we should be too. You can begin by choosing one or two of the terms from Phil 4:8 to measure every thought with. Start with “true.” Is what you are thinking even true? Or you could start with “lovely.” Are your thoughts lovely? Or are they depressing? Getting our thought life to line up Philippians 4:8 doesn’t happen over night. It takes practice and discipline and a conscious effort but it will be well worth it. You can do it & you can start right now.

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14

real faith?

I once heard someone making the case that David’s faith, as he went to fight Goliath, was really not quite as extraordinary as it might initially appear.  “You see,” the argument went, “God told David what was going to happen.  David already knew that he would be Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 1.42.33 PMable to defeat Goliath.” From a human reasoning standpoint, I can understand how any foreknowledge David may have had could make the story less impressive.

If he already knew what would happen, then was he really all that brave? 
 
Did it really take that much faith if God had already tipped David off about what was going to happen?

In reality, however, this is not a good argument against the strength of David’s faith. It is actually closer to the definition of faith.  In fact, having God tell us things is where faith comes from in the first place.

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom 10:17 NKJV)
 
In Genesis 15 God told an elderly, childless man that he would have offspring that would be as numerous as the stars.  In verse 6 we are told that when Abraham (at that point still Abram) heard God tell him these things that he actually “believed God.”  Hebrews 11:11 says that the way Abraham was able to become a father was by faith.  Abraham “considered him faithful who had made the promise.”
 
“By faith Abraham, even though he was past age—and Sarah herself was barren—was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise.”  (Heb 11:11 NIV)

Let’s hear what God has to say about us, stand on His promises & claim by faith what God has provided by grace!

“He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” (1 Thess 5:24)


good question

I have been reading the Gospel of Matthew.  One thing that has been standing out to me this time through are some of the questions Jesus uses, particularly the questions that are left with no response.  I will not attempt to answer any of these questions, but I would like to draw attention to their significance.

One example is found in Matthew 8.  It is the story of Jesus asleep in the boat as he and the disciples cross the lake.  A storm threatens to sink them and they wake Jesus up, fearing for their lives.  In verse 26, just before rebuking the storm, Jesus asks this question, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” (NASV)  The disciples never respond to Jesus’ question.  The obvious answer would be, “well Jesus, we are afraid because of this terrible storm and the fact we are about to sink.

Surely Jesus was aware
that the disciples saw the storm as the cause of their fear. But I have a hard time believing that Jesus took the time to ask the disciples a question with such an obvious answer.  His question, in the middle of a storm, was not a use of sarcasm, or an attempt to belittle the other men in the boat.  There was something deeper that Jesus was attempting to draw attention to.

Another example is found in Matthew 14.  In this chapter we find the disciples at sea once again.  This time Jesus comes to them, walking on the water.  Peter leaves the boat to approach Jesus but begins to sink.  After Jesus rescues Peter, he asks him this question in verse 31, “Why did you doubt?” Peter never answers the question and the story moves on.

Typically I just keep on reading, the answer to Jesus’ questions seeming fairly obvious. But for whatever reason, as I read through Matthew this time, I keep getting stuck on these questions. Jesus was not wasting time with redundant questions.  He was probing, teaching, helping the disciples come to some realization.  After failures of some sort the disciples are left with a question.  I have to believe Jesus’ heart in asking these questions was to help them, to lead them to some insight that would prevent them from making the same mistake in the future. When Jesus asks a question, there must be a corresponding answer.

As I wrestle with these and other unanswered questions in Matthew I am finding it enlightening to apply these questions to my own fears and doubts.

When I struggle with doubt, why? When I am afraid, why?

Is there something I have allowed into my life that has caused it?  Is there a “voice” that I have listened to that I shouldn’t have? Are there things I need to be doing to keep my faith strong that I have neglected? Is my focus where it should be?

Again, when Jesus asks a question, there must be a corresponding answer.  Pay attention to these types of questions in the Gospel accounts.  Next time you find an unanswered question, consider that maybe you are the one who is supposed to supply the answer.