Don't Kill The Donkey!
Take a lesson from Ballam
Text: Numbers 22
Balaam had a reputation for taking fees for divinations and his services were desired and highly sought after. Balak send men to pay him a fee to put a curse on the Israelites so he could defeat them .
Balaam sought God's will, spoke with God and was told not to curse them because they were blessed. He then refused to go to Balak and told the men why. He followed God's leading- - - - this time.
When more princes came with the same request, he gave the same answer (Numb 22: 18-19) . He stayed consistent with his words, ...but how about his heart?
God told him to go but to only do what He said to do. (Num 22:20)
So, off he went on the Mission and met with difficulties on the way. Three times his donkey responded to the angel in the road and was beaten by Balaam. Although he was unaware of it, his difficulties on this mission turned out to be his protection. The donkey protected Balaam from being killed by the angel!
What are the donkeys in our lives?
What things in our lives frustrate, anger, and depress us as they stop us on the road to somewhere?
What are we NOT seeing as we focus on the "donkey?"
What are our motives in the first place?
Balam was committed to speaking only what God told him to say, yet he was very blind in other areas. Even after he got there, he did not stray from the message he was to give, no matter how much he was bribed and threatened to do so.
Another point to look at here is the motives of Balak. He wanted Balam to put words in God's mouth to fit his own needs. He may have sought a "man of God" for a word, but his heart did not want the truth. Even after Balam told him what God said, he tried two more times to get him to see things his way and say God that agreed.
God evaluates all of our motives and actions, such as Balaam's desire for power and money. Our inner heart attitudes will eventually be revealed, no matter how well we disguise them outwardly.
"Character" is what we truly are compared to what we seem to be. It is different from "piety" which is a personal relationship with God. Character refers to the quality of a person. The two are inseparable. God is interested in our character, and something is very wrong if a pious person does not have good moral character.
When we talk about good moral character, the term "virtue" often comes up. The ancient Greeks used the term to mean "excellence." If we use that as part of our definition of character, we see four cardinal virtues.
So, what have we to learn from all this ? I can only speak for myself, and it has taken me literally weeks to put all these pieces together. God has laid this lesson heavily on me, and it wasn't until last night that the final piece of the puzzle was revealed to me.
It is so awesome when you get a direction from the Lord!
You know where you are going, and you are excited about it. You know you are doing His work, and it energizes you. That is the first instant when satan will attack. In whatever way he can he will begin his attack on this plan. The sooner he can get you off track, the greater his victory. So, if we start off on our journey without caution and without a sense of need for constant prayer, we have already gotten into trouble. What satan does not know is what God has put in place for our warnings of danger. Just as Balaam went off on his trip with "good intentions," and was blind to God's warnings, so are we. Balaam had missed his first warning......Somewhere along the line, he gave the message that he could be bribed. He had not been forceful enough in his answer, or there would not have been a second group to ask him for his services.
So, then the first time of attack is right when the "call"comes. Right then and there, we need to seek God with our whole heart. No matter how noble or wonderful the call may be, it has to be His will, or we go out of His will.
Say we miss the first warning, and we head into the journey, ministry or whatever, thinking we have it all under control. We know where we are going and we are going to do God's work. We may be so excited and happy, that we are blinded. Or we may be so serious about this work that we don't look anywhere but to the goal. Our focus is already off the Father. Just as Balaam was blind to the angel, we may be blind to anything God put in our way to stop us. And I firmly believe it is often angels in our case too. This is where I said satan doesn't really know what God has planned to help us see. He knows before we take off that we are going to miss the dangers that are right in front of us.
Think of it - if an angel could drop men to their faces and make then speechless because of their awesome appearance, how blind can we be to miss them? That's pretty blind!!! Balaam's donkey was able to see the angel, and she responded appropriately. All Balaam knew was the donkey was messing up his trip. His focus was still on the destination. Three times, this happened to him. Instead of sensing the danger, he beat the donkey. Now really, if this donkey had never done this before, and suddenly was behaving so badly, should that not have been a clue?
What would your reaction be? I suspect many of us would pray...of course we would, we're on a journey for the Lord! And just what would we pray? "Lord, you know I am doing you work. Please solve this problem so I can get back on the road..and do it quickly!" Right? and if we could, we'd have other people pray for us. We might even go so far as to say we are being attacked and satan is trying to stop us in our mission. We could put on all sorts of pleas for help so we can get the Lord's work done!! We could even borrow a donkey, maybe.
Are you getting my point? This was NOT a work of satan that made the donkey lie down. It was a work of God!
How many times do we get stopped in our way and blame satan? Why don't we stop and ask if the Lord is trying to tell us something?
Let me give an example of what I am talking about:
We are going to start a new small group. We have the lesson plans and the group already together. The time and place are set, and we head off for the first meeting. We are so excited about this class and know we will grow so much from it! But before we can even get there, everything that can go wrong at home , does. The baby sitter doesn't show up, the car won't start; you get a headache... but we push forward, and solve all the problems, maybe yelling at someone in order to get there. But, we will get there! The traffic is awful, and we know we'll be late.....We hit every red light, and then remember we were supposed to pick up something on the way. We finally get there and can't seem to concentrate. The people irritate us, or we get a headache....and we go home tired and irritable. In this day, it is natural to say satan didn't want us there. But we plan to keep on going- we will show him!
How do we know it wasn't the Lord trying to stop us on our way? We cannot know if we don't take the time to focus on Him!
Think back of the times when you did stop, and I bet you were able to discover the reason God stopped you. I know I can remember some very specific instances that has happened to me.
Another point... the third time Balaam really clobbered the poor donkey. He beat him with his staff . This is how focused he was on his trip: the donkey spoke to him, and without hesitation, he talked right back to it! A miracle occurred right there before him, and he didn't even notice! Now, we would notice a donkey talking to us, wouldn't we? Or would we? Would we enter into a conversation with it like Balaam did?? Would we tell it off for making us "look foolish!" like Balaam did? Would we answer a question a donkey asked us? Balaam did- and that's when he saw the angel!
Here's the next painful part: How many times have we gotten angry at someone who gets in our way of ministry? Maybe our kids. Maybe a stranger? Who or what do we lash out at when we get slowed down, stopped or frustrated? Perhaps that person or thing is our donkey!
I will give you a personal example from my life, as an example of what I am talking about. I am a nurse and love my profession and I loved the way I could do God's work in it. When I suffered a back injury, and after many years of trying to get back into the work force, I finally had to accept that I could no longer do the work. For those years, I fought, prayed, and did everything I could possible do to get back to work, Nothing was successful! I was angry that I could not conquer this battle against satan! In those three years, my focus was to get back to my "ministry" in the medical field. The more I hurt, the more I determined to get past it. I was so relentless, that I ended up damaging my wrists during intense exercising for my back! My hands became almost useless, and I wore splints for 2 years . I was so frustrated and depressed. All I wanted to do was get well, and instead I was worse off. Then I opened my eyes. God did not want me to go back to work then. He wanted me home . I have no idea how much time I wasted fighting Him and thinking I was fighting against satan, but I do know I must have missed many opportunities to do His work! Once I refocused, everything changed! I did get into a ministry-- with teenagers, of all things! That was never anything I had even thought about! It was an intense growing time for me (and a whole other story), and only one of many areas that God opened up to me.
My health was my "donkey" at that time. My body was shutting down to stop me from going the way I was heading. There was nothing wrong with my work, but God wanted me somewhere else. He had been leading me that way for a while, but I had totally missed it because I was so wrapped up in my work. It has taken me a long time, but now I know to listen to what God is telling me through my health. If I am not going where He is leading, my health suffers. If I am doing what he wants me to do at that moment, He gives me just enough strength to do it. I have to rely on Him completely-- and that is what He wanted all along!
Don't get me wrong, I am not saying God made me sick to punish me. I believe that He did what He had to do to get me to listen to Him. My donkey laid down !
As you read this, can you identify? Are there things in your life that slow you down or stop you in your work for the Lord? Are there things or people that you "beat" and yell at? These very people or situations may very well be who speak God's words to you! They may reveal to you what God has been trying to tell you.
We will never know for sure if it is God or satan stopping us unless we stop, refocus on Him and listen. If we hear His voice, and He reveals where we have sinned, we must repent as Balaam did and commit to do His will Even if it means going back! (Num 22:34-35).