Archive for January, 2012

I was reading Numbers 13-14—the story of the twelve scouts whom Moses sent into Canaan to explore the land that God promised to give the nation of Israel—when I wondered, “Would I be among the ten scouts who came back fearful to occupy Canaan because they saw themselves like grasshoppers next to giants?”

That image of themselves as grasshoppers next to giants led ten of the twelve scouts to incite rebellion among the Israelites who were persuaded that it was too dangerous to try to conquer Canaan.

As a result, countless numbers of Israelites lost the opportunity to settle in Canaan, and, instead, spent the next 40 years wandering the desert until they all died.

Only two scouts—Joshua and Caleb—along with every youth age 19 and under would live to enter Canaan after the forty years were up.

Would I—and would you—have been among those ten scouts going against Joshua, Caleb, and God?

It might be easy for each of us to quickly reply, “No way would I be among the ten scouts! I would be on the side of Joshua and Caleb!”

But let’s ask ourselves the following. When making decisions with others in our jobs, organizations, businesses, churches, ministries, corporate boards, or in our families, do we tend to:

• be overly cautious; always avoid risks; want guarantees; take a wait-and-see approach…
• be skeptical; criticize; resist new ideas and approaches…
• discourage others; or cause dissent when things don’t go our way?

If we find ourselves doing any of those things or having similar attitudes, we might have been among the ten if we lived back then.

It was understandable that the scouts were afraid to go ahead with a highly risky and dangerous war against the Canaanites. After all, the Israelites were average height men who were dwarfed by powerful nine-feet-tall giants living in large fortified towns and cities.

And common sense would insist there was no way that a rag-tag army with no previous war experience had a chance of conquering the Canaanites in their highly fortified cities.

But the ten scouts were wrong when they spread bad and discouraging reports among the Israelites and stirred up dissent and rebellion against Moses and God.

And, most significant, they were wrong in not trusting God that he would give them the victory over the Canaanites, for it was only three years before that they saw how God:

• dealt with the mighty Pharaoh and led them out of slavery from Egypt
• held back the waters of the Red Sea
• led them to safety to the opposite shore
• destroyed the Egyptian army and charioteers with the collapsing walls of water, and
• provided food and water for them during those three years in the desert

The tragic failure of the ten scouts was that despite all of God’s evidence that he was capable of giving them the victory, they did not trust their future to him, and they incited rebellion against him. As a result, they were struck dead with a plague. (Numbers 14:36-37)

To make matters worse, when the rebellious followers heard how and why the scouts died, they tried to appease God by invading Canaan without God being with them. The giants slaughtered every single one of them! (Numbers 14:39-45)

So as we face the coming months in 2012, a year in which we will undoubtedly face giants of our own, how is our faith? How is our trust in God?

Some of us will be facing giant challenges of unemployment, illness, cancer, financial failure, broken relationships, betrayal, loss of loved ones, and more. Will our faith and trust in God be strong enough to sustain us through those ordeals and leave us stronger and loving him more deeply—no matter the outcome?

Others of us will be facing major opportunities that involve gigantic challenges, great risks, enormous potential rewards, but offer no guarantees of success. Will we be overly cautious? Timid? Afraid to move ahead?

Most important, will God be with us in those opportunities? And if God is not with us, will we still move ahead in our own strength and abilities?

From where we now stand in early 2012, we don’t know how we will react to those giants. But here are two things for us to consider and guide us:

First, “Is this opportunity from the Lord?”

Unless the Lord builds a house,
the work of the builders is useless.
Unless the Lord protects a city,
guarding it with sentries will do no good.
(Psalm 127:1, New Living Translation, NLT)

Second, “Do I believe in the Lord enough to trust him?”

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths.
(Proverbs 3:5-6, NLT)

The Israelites believed in God, but they didn’t trust him to lead them to victory in Canaan. They were depending on their own understanding of the situation, an understanding that failed to trust God’s promises and capabilities!

Many of us believe in God, but do we trust him when we face our giants?

Will we rely on our own understanding and insist on doing things our own way, or will we seek God’s will in all we do, trusting that he will direct our paths and see us through our challenges?

Remember—if we are in God’s will, we will be able to do everything with the help of Christ who gives us the strength we need, for God promises to supply all our needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus! (Philippians 4:13, 19)

The good news is that when we grasshoppers entrust our lives to God’s care and commit to fulfill his will and purpose—giants fall!


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