Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 11 Mar 18:
1. Numbers 21:2 – God is the only one who can defeat your enemies.
2. Numbers 21:4-5 – Constant unbelief and complaining angers God.
3. Numbers 21:7 – God wants leaders who pray for a troubled people.
4. Numbers 21:9 – John 3:14-15 shows you need to look to the lifted-up Jesus.
5. Numbers 21:10-35 – Finally Israel followed God without complaining. God does not lead you through safe paths but through paths where you can experience Him and His deliverance.
6. Numbers 22:5 – Balaam was a prophet from Moab who was also used by God.
7. Numbers 22:18 — Balaam could not go against the word of God, no matter what the outcome.
8. Numbers 22:27 – “When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she lay down under Balaam.” We may be totally unaware of the spiritual reality around us, with less spiritual awareness than an animal.
9. Numbers 22:29 – “And Balaam said to the donkey…” Perhaps what is even more amazing than the donkey speaking is Balaam answering and gets into a conversation with the donkey.
10. Numbers 22:32, 33 — “And the angel of the Lord said to him, ‘Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to oppose you because your way is perverse before me. The donkey saw me and turned aside before me these three times. If she had not turned aside from me, surely just now I would have killed you and let her live.’” The Lord was angry with Balaam because he was on a “reckless” path. On this reckless path, Balaam’s donkey was more aware of the presence of the angel of the LORD than was Balaam. When God opens Balaam’s eyes, Balaam recognizes that it was his sin that had blinded him (v34). Balaam is on his way to confront the leadership of an unbelieving kingdom and has now been shown his sinfulness, blindness, and unpreparedness for such a task. So, how is he to proceed forward? “Go with the men, but speak only what I tell you.” When Balaam meets Balak the king, he says to him, “But can I say just anything? I must speak only what God puts in my mouth.” I think we can learn something from this: As we confront the sinful culture in our sinful condition, we must be avoid pursuing that mission recklessly; do not quench or grieve the Holy Spirit, and be prepared to answer every man from the Word of God, not from worldly opinion or tradition. As messengers of God, we must know God’s Word and be prepared to apply God’s Word to our daily interactions. The Bible reminds us that we cannot trust our own understanding and must live by the Word of God which we meditate on all day long every day. How well do we know and understand God’s Word? Are you prepared to share God’s Word with others?
– “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)
11. Numbers 22:34 – “I have sinned, for I did not know that you stood in the road against me.” Being unaware of God’s presence leads to sin.
12. Numbers 22:38 – “I have come to you! Have I now any power of my own to speak anything? The word that God puts in my mouth, that must I speak.” Again, God’s prophet and Christ’s Ambassador has no commission, power, right, or authority to speak anything other than the words that God puts into his mouth. Jesus said, “For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak.” (John 12:49) Likewise, Jesus did nothing apart from what God commanded — “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise…. I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. (John 5:19, 30) A person cannot serve two masters, both God and self. If an Ambassador mixes the interests and messages of two competing parties, that Ambassador becomes wholly unreliable and unworthy of the position. If Balaam, motivated by self-interest, had spoken a single word against the Israelites, he would have been cursed by God (see Gen 12:1-3). Proverbs says the God hates perverted speech, words contrary to God’s will (Proverbs 8:13). Christ’s Ambassador must never speak words that God hates, words He did not put into the Ambassador’s mouth. Jesus said, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.” (Matthew 12:36) The Ambassador must consider very seriously the great responsibility he has been given to represent God before people. If you don’t know what God would say, say nothing. The world could use a lot less chatter anyway. As Proverbs say, “The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.” (Proverbs 18:4)
– The “angel of the Lord” stopped Balaam from going down a “perverse” path, perhaps one of comprising God’s word. In 2 Timothy 4:2-4 we are reminded to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. More and more, God’s commands conflict with the values of our society. Many will ask you to endorse the sinful practices of this world in the name of “tolerance.” Will you reply with the word of God or go down a perverse path?
13. Proverbs 11:1 – “A false balance is an abomination to the LORD.” God abhors unfairness.
14. Proverbs 11:6 – “The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the treacherous are taken captive by their lust.” Lust is a prison to those taken captive by it.
15. Proverbs 11:11 – “By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is overthrown.” Wicked messages and popular opinion can destroy society. Proverbs warns against it.
16. Proverbs 11:24, 25 – “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” God gives richly to those who give freely.
17. Psalm 30:5 – “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Your trials won’t last forever.
18. Psalm 30:6, 7 – “As for me, I said in my prosperity, ‘I shall never be moved.’ By your favor, O Lord, you made my mountain stand strong; you hid your face; I was dismayed.” God will give you challenges to remind you of your total dependence on Him.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 11 March: Say whatever God convicts you to say today, in accordance with His word and His love. Avoid saying anything that isn’t inspired by the Holy Spirit. Remember, you are Christ’s Ambassador, speaking for Him, not yourself. Ambassadors cannot represent themselves but only the KING. (Numbers 22:38)