Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Talking Donkeys and Recognizing Purpose


Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?”And Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have made a fool of me. I wish I had a sword in my hand, for then I would kill you.”And the donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey, on which you have ridden all your life long to this day? Is it my habit to treat you this way?” And he said, “No.”Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, with his drawn sword in his hand. And he bowed down and fell on his face.
 Numbers 22:28-31

Talking donkeys?  I don't think that is the issue here.  I mean, after all, is it so strange?  Surely you've seen the YouTube video of a dog saying "I love you", why not a donkey whose mouth has been opened by God to say "Knock it off, I'm trying to keep us safe here..."

No, the bigger issue comes in Balaam's disobedience. 

I'm going to confide here, no matter how many times I read his story found in Numbers 22, I'm always a bit perplexed...

 And God came to Balaam at night and said to him, 
“If the men have come to call you, rise, go with them; but only do what I tell you.”  
So Balaam rose in the morning and saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab.
Numbers 22:20-21

Didn't God just tell Balaam to GO? I mean, before this whole donkey whipping, donkey talking incident, verse 20-21 occurs.  So if Balaam arose and went, wasn't that what he was suppose to do?  Why did God get angry with him?  Why did he stop him?

Last Wednesday I shared a Word on purpose.  I will admit, I threw an idea out there but I left out the solution.  If our 'purpose' is not ours but God's and He gifts us and works through us to fulfill HIS purpose... how do we know?  How can we be sure we are on His path and not our own.

Well, there are many ways, actually.  But today, I'm going to talk about Balaam's way. 

You see, to the easy reader of Numbers 22, one might draw a contradiction in God's Word.  Balaam asked, God said no.  Balaam asked again, God said fine... didn't he?  Matthew Henry explains this best:
He seemed to refuse the temptation; but he expressed no abhorrence of it. He had a strong desire to accept the offer, and hoped that God might give him leave to go. He had already been told what the will of God was. It is a certain evidence of the ruling of corruption in the heart, to beg leave to sin. God gave Balaam up to his own heart's lusts. As God sometimes denies the prayers of his people in love, so sometimes he grants the desires of the wicked in wrath.

So what we see here isn't a contradiction, rather, a conviction.  Henry commentary on this passage in it's entirety (link in his name above) points us back to the first visit from this contingent of Balak's and reminds us: God had already spoke on the matter.  Yet, Balaam pushed and it would appear, by all evidence, he had hoped God would change His mind... on a sheerly secular matter which He has firmly already spoken on.  If that isn't eye opening enough... the most haunting statement in Henry's commentary causes us readers to sit and take notice:

many call God theirs, who are not his

Ouch.

Christian, be at ease.  I am not calling you 'not a Christian'.  There are those out there... snake oil salesmen types... who are in it for a show.  Their pride runs the course and their faith is merely for gain, not for God's glory.

No, for us, stumbling fumbling Christians who just want to understand how do we know God's purpose, where do we step?  How do we step?  Am I going the wrong way now?  Well, back to Balaam and his donkey...

If you read this whole scene in context (and I hope by now you grabbed one of the links or your Bible and did that) you will notice Balaam's donkey tried to divert course at God's prodding via the Angel of the Lord, THREE times (for you number enthusiasts: 3 = signature of God!)

What was Balaam's response each time?

Yup, that poor donkey got whipped and yelled at.  Balaam becomes angry and threatens the poor beast.  And then the donkey talks.  Or should we say (on our theme of GOD's purpose) God opens the mouth of the donkey and speaks through it.

Dear Christian who wants to know if you have gotten this whole "purpose" thing upside down or upside right..... is God diverting your donkey?  Are road blocks to the work you feel He is calling you to do constantly popping up and gradually upsetting and frustrating you more and more?  Are these road blocks the work of Satan who is trying to stop you from God's work and will?  One sure way to tell (and a favorite piece of encouragement a missionary friend gave me when we first went into field work)

If you aren't sure whether or not you are doing the right thing 
or in the right direction, 
go back to the last thing you clearly remember God telling you to do 
and do that.

God will speak through his Word.... no fuzzy or twisted interpretation... simply speak.
God may also use your circumstances and/or people around you.

God.will.speak. and HIS peace will be what will prevail... even in the trials Satan may try to throw in your path.

But if it isn't from God....
Peace will be out the window.
You'll be beating your donkey.
NO good results will appear.  At.all.

Most of all: check your heart, check your motives.

God's purpose through you is for his glory alone.
Not your gain.
Not money and riches.
Not your name in bright lights
Not self recognition.

If any of those are why you are doing a thing as "God's purpose for you", I would encourage you to step back, get right with God, recharge your purpose and... if necessary... pull out of whatever path you are on to get on the right one.

That may mean stepping out of a ministry at church because you realize you are't the one God called to the job.  (I can't tell you how many churches we have worked with over the years who had spiritually sick leaders and/or teachers who kept on because of pressure and ignored God's call to re-situate their hearts or step down thinking 'no one else' could take their place... but that is a whole other message!)

It may mean he calls you to slow down.  Take some non-essentials off your plate to make more room for peacefully walking in the essentials.  (Too many people in our culture and time seem to think they need MORE MORE MORE in their schedule and in their lives when, in fact, God is calling us to less, less, less!)  Check out this new song from Danny Gokey for some encouragement today:


And finally... (especially you moms out there)... God's purpose through you isn't always at the head of a Bible Study class, ministry, or MOPS group.  God's purpose takes on many forms, especially in the lives of women. 
  • Raising children with eyes on Jesus is a HUGE purpose, don't sell yourself short.  
  • Providing Biblical hospitality is a HUGE purpose which God uses to minister to the weary souls of others.  
  • Caring for your husband and household is a HUGE purpose which reflects the servant attitude Jesus often modeled to his Disciples.  
What's that theater saying?  Oh, yeah:

There are no small parts, just small actors!

I pray for you this week, as you walk the path of life, that it would be the path God has laid for you and, if you are on the wrong one, that you wouldn't beat your donkey, but instead, stop, get off, and turn to face Jesus asking in all honesty; "What is the last thing I clearly heard Him tell me".  Be encouraged sweet Christian, you are never too far gone for God to reach down and pull you close.... simply let him!

Blessings,







Consequently, I read a PHENOMENAL book this summer:
Click on picture to see more details
Click on picture to see more details

I will be sharing some notes in a new monthly thread coming out this week, "Notes from my Reading Nook".  I was so blown away by this book and it's over-arching profound message I want to give it to EVERYONE I know!!!! No kidding!  No matter where a person is in their faith walk from new Christian all the way to a veteran in the faith, EVERYONE will be moved and empowered by God's message through Adrian Rogers.

Well, I can't afford to buy a copy for everyone, but I'm starting with a give-away to one reader this month!  Who knows, maybe I will make it two!  Sound interesting?  Read below to see how you can enter to WIN!



Be sure to go to the sidebar and sign up for my Monthly Newsletter (I promise, I won’t spam you!)  It looks like this:

I started this sign up around my 8 year blogaversary a few months ago and then my dad became sick so I wasn’t able to get the newsletter in motion right away.  However, I am hard at work behind the scenes praying over and putting together a periodical which I think everyone can find something in to enjoy in their email box at the end of each month.  There will be some exclusive content you won’t find on the website!   

Also, everyone who signs up this month will be entered into a drawing to win the amazing book, "What Every Christian Ought to Know" by Adrian Rogers.  (If you already signed up, don't worry, your name will automatically be entered!)


2 comments:

  1. Amanda, that's one of my husband's favorite passages. I love how you explained it and Matthew Henry's quote. He can open up a passage as well as anyone in the world and to think he did all that studying with no computers or internet. Of course, he didn't have all the distractions of modern life that go along with it either. Thanks for an excellent well thought out post. Blessings!

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    Replies
    1. Donna, Thank you for your encouraging comments, it blesses my heart!

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