There have been several versions of the classic story “Dr. Dolittle” over the years. My favorite was the version with Rex Harrison back in 1967. In this version of the story, we learn that Dr. Dolittle used to be a Dr. to humans. He tended not to like humans. One day after a series of bad incidents with humans he learns from his parrot that can speak English that she can speak over 2000 animal languages. He asks her if she will teach him to talk to the animals. She agrees. From then on out he began his study of animal languages and doctoring the animals instead. I have often wondered what my animals are thinking. It seems like it would be great fun to hold a conversation with them. However it might be kind of a weird all at the same time. After all, animals see us all the time as we really are. We let our guard down with our pets all the time. What would they tell us?
We started the story of Balaam yesterday. Today we take off where we left off in Numbers 22.
20 God came to Balaam at night and said to him, “Since these men have come to summon you, get up and go with them, but you must only do what I tell you.” 21 When he got up in the morning, Balaam saddled his donkey and went with the officials of Moab. 22 But God was incensed that Balaam was going, and the Angel of the LORD took His stand on the path to oppose him. Balaam was riding his donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23 When the donkey saw the Angel of the LORD standing on the path with a drawn sword in His hand, she turned off the path and went into the field. So Balaam hit her to return her to the path. 24 Then the Angel of the LORD stood in a narrow passage between the vineyards, with a stone wall on either side. 25 The donkey saw the Angel of the LORD and pressed herself against the wall, squeezing Balaam’s foot against it. So he hit her once again. 26 The Angel of the LORD went ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn to the right or the left. 27 When the donkey saw the Angel of the LORD, she crouched down under Balaam. So he became furious and beat the donkey with his stick. 28 Then the LORD opened the donkey’s mouth, and she asked Balaam, “What have I done to you that you have beaten me these three times?” 29 Balaam answered the donkey, “You made me look like a fool. If I had a sword in my hand, I’d kill you now!” 30 But the donkey said, “Am I not the donkey you’ve ridden all your life until today? Have I ever treated you this way before?” “No,” he replied. 31 Then the LORD opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the Angel of the LORD standing in the path with a drawn sword in His hand. Balaam knelt and bowed with his face to the ground.
We can gain some good instructions from this part of Balaam’s story. Yesterday we saw that Balaam hung around with temptation. He was told to not go with Balak’s officials and not to curse God’s people. Instead he let Balak’s officials spend the night so he could ask God again. God understands Balaam’s temptation issue. I think he responds to Balaam’s request to go again with a green light to test Balaam’s faithfulness and obedience. You would think Balaam might say, “Why are you letting me go now, when you told me not to go before God?” Instead we just see him hop on his donkey and head out. We see in this Biblical account a faithful donkey who had more spiritual insight than Balaam. The donkey could see more than Balaam could spiritually. The donkey knew that God did not want them to go further and that their lives were at risk. I think one of the things we need to ask God to do for us on a regular basis is to have Him open our eyes spiritually so we might see what we need to see. We need to see what He sees in people. We need to see Him at work in the World. We need to see where He wants us to join Him in His work. We need to see where the spiritual dangers are, etc.
So ask God to open your spiritual eyes so you can see clearly.
Momma birds and sometimes Papa birds do a great job feeding their babies. They build a nest to protect the birds while they go out and look for food. They then bring back the food and feed the babies. The baby birds don’t have to do a thing. They just have to let Momma know that they are hungry and she feeds them. When she is done feeding them they are satisfied. God is like our Momma bird. Read Psalm 81: 8 -10.
8 Listen, My people, and I will admonish you. Israel, if you would only listen to Me! 9 There must not be a strange god among you; you must not bow down to a foreign god. 10 I am Yahweh your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.
The key to being fed until we are full spiritually is to put God first in our lives. We are to have no other gods ahead of Him. He may not have brought us out of Egypt like the Israelites, but He did save us and gave us eternal life with Him. There should be nothing else before Him. Yet the majority of Christians are not living that way. They put sports, fun activities, kids, spouses, parents, school, jobs, hobbies, vacations, etc all ahead of Him. They schedule everything in their lives before they make time for Bible Study, Church, or Service. Once they have accomplished those things , then they see if they can make it to Sunday Services once that month. Or maybe they volunteer for a job at church that conveniently fits their schedule and is easy to do. Many are making gods out of the things in their life. Many are being left unfed. Spiritually empty. That is why we see division in churches, broken homes and marriages inside the church, etc. We are empty. We have chosen other gods. Let’s follow God’s instructions in these verses to stay inside His protecting nest and look to no other but our Momma bird to feed us. Open wide and let Him fill you!
People good with their money will usually take some of their money and invest it in safe investments to earn some interest on their money. They may buy land or stocks. Of course as many of us have seen over the last few years some of the things we thought were safe and sound investments have turned in to major losses. There is something else we can invest in that is even more important. As good parents we should be investing in our children emotionally, physically and spiritually. We should be spending time with them physically. We should be encouraging them emotionally and teaching them spiritually. The Bible takes this investing a step further. Read Proverbs 13:22:
A good man leaves an inheritance to his grandchildren, but the sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.
All of us love our kids, even when they drive us nuts. So why not after we have spent years investing in them to help them have a good life as they grow up shouldn’t we be leaving them an inheritance to remember us by and help them out in the future when we are gone? It just makes good common sense that when you love someone that you would want to help them in any way you can. It’s interesting to note that this scripture makes the point leaving an inheritance helps to define us as a good parent or grandparent. This inheritance can be in a variety of forms. Maybe it is the obvious, money. Maybe it is some land. Maybe it is some prized possession or family heirlooms. Maybe it is book that you have written full of the wisdom you learned living your life. Maybe it is family history outline and photographs. Even these sentimental things are a wonderful inheritance. Not everyone has money that they can leave behind. Things happen in life to destroy excess money. However, we can leave something special to our children and grandchildren that will either help them in life physically, emotionally or spiritually. The important thing is that they see through this inheritance gift your love and a reminder of what you were to them in their lives. So start now thinking about how you can invest in your children and grandchildren after you are gone with an inheritance you have left for them.
One of my biggest battles in life is controlling the words that come out of my mouth when I speak to others. After being reminded about the importance of controlling my speech from scripture and starting out to pay attention to what I say, it seems like within seconds I have already blown it. I mostly have this problem, because I don’t stop to think before I speak. I speak based on some emotion pushing me to speak. Whether it be anger, fear, silliness, know-it-allness, or activism. My words can show others my wisdom or my foolishness. Read Proverbs 12:18.
There is one who speaks rashly, like a piercing sword; but the tongue of the wise [brings] healing.
If I am taking time to stop and think before I speak, I will put others first. I will think about whether my words are really necessary or helpful. I will think about whether they put others first in their feelings and needs. I will think about whether they will bring spiritual, physical or emotional healing to their lives. This will be the wise way to speak. My emotions and needs should not dominate my speech. My care for others should dominate my speech. Above all my need to glorify God should dominate my speech. When I pray, think and engage my brain before speaking, my speech will show wisdom. Rashness of speech will usually only end up cutting someone else in the process. In Proverbs 16: 27 -28 we see that the unwise person’s speech burns up the good things in life and brings out evil in life.
27 A worthless man digs up evil, and his speech is like a scorching fire. 28 A contrary man spreads conflict, and a gossip separates friends.
More friendships have been lost by careless words of unwise friends. Businesses and churches have been destroyed by foolish words. Even what might seem like insignificant or casual speech can do harm if it is unwise. Gossip is fire out of control once it begins. I pray for God to take over my brain and tongue. May my words glorify Him and help others. May I be deemed wise by my words and glorify God.
Have you ever been on “Soarin’” at Disney’s California Adventure or Disney’s Epcot Center? Great simulator attraction based on flying over the countryside. I just love that feeling of flying, even though it is just a simulation effect of visual, motion, air on the skin, etc. I love the view that brings of the beautiful scenery. I just wish it lasted more than 4 minutes and 40 seconds. It brings a sense of freedom, adventure, excitement and relaxation all at the same time. In some ways it is re-energizing to my soul. I would love to be able to run right off the end of the ride back around to the front of the line and ride it again.
I think we all need to experience those sensations and feelings in our life. Sometimes our everyday life can be draining to us physically and spiritually. Then there are those extra difficulties in life that can further drain us. We are just wiped out. We sometimes don’t feel like we have the strength to go on or to face one more minute of living with the chores and the problems. We need to be revived, encouraged and strengthened to continue what seems like the uphill climb in life. God has given us very clear and easy instructions on how to do this in Isaiah 40:31 –
“…but those who trust in the LORD will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.”
Many times what really drains us is the fact that we are doing everything in our own strength and we are trying to accomplish it all ourselves. We see a financial problem…we try to get a loan or sell something to pay the debt. We see an adult child struggling with drug problems…we try to take over their lives and stop the abuse. In reality what God instructs us to do, is to actually trust Him to take care of the problem. We need to go to Him and ask for His answer. Sometimes that means we need to be patient and wait for Him to respond. Instead we just jump the gun and take the bull by the horns. As time goes by we become discouraged and drained. We need to trust that God will do what is best and we need to wait on Him. Don’t push to make life easier, let God do the pushing. Don’t flap your arms trying to fly through the mess. Let God be your wind and just put out your arms and soar!
In light of the recent skepticism and mockery created by the recent false prophecies of a certain religious group, we need to address as Christians how to handle being mocked or respond to the mocker and skeptic. As Christians our witness is put on the line by all those around us proclaiming to be Christians, as well. So when groups like this do things that put Christians in a bad light, we are going face more pressure from the world for our faith. We need to know how to respond. Jesus gave us the best demonstration of wisdom when it came to those who deliberately mocked and scoffed at Him. All throughout the four gospels you will find accounts of Jesus being ridiculed, laughed at, and asked skeptical questions. Many of the questions He was asked were just to make Him look bad and place Him in jeopardy of the law. When it came to His last days on Earth we see Him deal with mockers and scoffers even more frequently. During His various trials before the Jews and conversations with Pilate we see Him being continually accused. In Mark 15: 3-5 we read:
“3 The chief priests were accusing Jesus of many things, 4 so Pilate questioned him again,
Aren’t you going to answer? Listen to all their accusations! 5 Again Jesus refused to say a word, and Pilate was amazed.”
In our own human nature, we want to defend ourselves. Jesus was the only truly innocent man there ever was. Of all people, He had a right to defend Himself. He also had all the power and wisdom to defend Himself that He needed. Yet, in His wisdom He chose not to respond to the mocking and accusations. His actions really did speak loudly for Him in the end. By the time Pilate was done with Him, he felt Jesus was innocent and should be released. Think about how you would feel about Jesus if you knew that He didn’t go innocently to the cross for us. If Jesus lashed out at His accusers, and punished them for what they were doing, what would you be thinking about Him? By the way He responded we see Him more as that true gentle, peaceable, loving Lamb of God. We see Him as the true sacrifice for sin. If He had gotten revenge on those who blatantly did wrong against Him, we would probably have a whole different view of Him. He did more for the faith by staying strong and silent, then by coming back at those who mocked. Even on the cross Jesus asked that the Father forgive them and in wisdom stated, “For they know not what they do.”
Mockers, scoffers and skeptics truly don’t know what they are doing. They react out of worldly conditioning and sinful natures. We need to learn to respond to those who come against us for our faith in wisdom like Jesus did. We need to remember where they are at spiritually and if it were not for Jesus, we would be there too.
When I am hot and thirsty, somehow over the years I have programmed myself to think that a nice glass of soda with ice will satisfy me. My thirst will be quenched. Unfortunately, the result isn’t always as good as I hoped. The soda helps, but doesn’t really do the trick. My habit of reaching for a soda is not really wise, when I am thirsty. When I was young I should have trained myself to drink water, even if I didn’t prefer its taste in the beginning over soda. Drinking water regularly may have been difficult, but it would have been better for me in the end. My body would have been a whole lot healthier.
It is the same with our spiritual life. Most humans have a tendency to reach for items that bring us pleasure. We enjoy our hobbies and our friends, more than we enjoy spending time with God. We enjoy a good adventure movie more than we enjoy reading our Bibles. We enjoy our accomplishments in our careers more than our accomplishments in our work for the Lord. In the end those choices will not be the best for us. They are temporary pleasures that make us spiritually unhealthy.
David was running from King Saul and had ended up in the wilderness. A place that was very dry and desolate. While he was there he took the opportunity to pen Psalm 63. His life was difficult and he had no clue how it would all end. Yet, in this Psalm we see David’s wise heart. He declared to us his habit of being thirsty for the Lord:
“1 God, You are my God; I eagerly seek You. I thirst for You; my body faints for You in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water. 2 So I gaze on You in the sanctuary to see Your strength and Your glory.”
What do you thirst for in this life? Are you in the habit of wisely thirsting for the Lord? Are you pleased by just seeing His strength and glory as you spend time looking at Him through His Word or His Spirit’s eyes? You are in a dry, spiritually desolate place in this world. This alone should cause you to thirst after the Lord.
There is no question that no matter how nice of a person we are in this life, that we will face at some point or another in our life a person we will consider an enemy. They may disagree with us and make their opinion known very loudly to us and others. They may not want to speak to us and may yell at us. They may not want to help us when we need it. They may even do things out of jealousy towards us. David, as we have seen previously, love the Lord and behaved wisely; yet still he had enemies. Read I Samuel 18: 15 and 16 –
“15 Therefore, when Saul saw that he behaved very wisely, he was afraid of him. 16 But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them.”
King Saul saw that David was a mighty man and well loved. He was extremely jealous of him. King Saul sought many times to kill David because of his jealousy. Saul could see that because David behaved so wisely that there was no way to honestly take him out of the picture. As a result, King Saul became afraid of him.
When we behave wisely, we keep our enemies at bay. As a result, like King Saul, our enemies will take steps to do wrong, to be rid of us, their threat. The things they do will in the end be their un-doing. They may be eaten up inside mentally, emotionally and spiritually. They may be taken out by their enemies or even by God’s justice. Bad never leads to good, but good only leads to good spiritually. Behaving wisely only makes common sense. Don’t give your enemies ammunition.
God is so amazing. With a single breath He can do so much. First in Genesis chapter 1, we see He started with breathing life in to every living creature. Then in Genesis chapter 2, we see Him breathing life in to the first man, Adam. Then in Exodus chapter 15, we see God breathing over the seas and taking care of Israel’s enemies. In II Samuel chapter 22, we see David praising God for his rescue from his enemies by God’s breath.
God breathed spiritual life in to us, when we believed what His Son did for us on Calvary and through His resurrection. To be made spiritually alive by the breath of God is the most wonderful thing that could ever happen to us. Once that happens we have the opportunity for God’s breath to give us another spiritual gift from above. Read Job 32:7 and 8 -
“7 I thought that age should speak and maturity should teach wisdom.8 But it is a spirit in man and the breath of the Almighty that give him understanding.”
Elihu, one of Job’s good friends, share’s with us a very important piece of information that will benefit us as we walk through this world. It isn’t our education or our time of learning from wise men that gives us true wisdom. It isn’t living to a ripe old age on this Earth and learning wisdom through experience during a long life that gives us true wisdom. It is the spirit that lives in us and God breathing understanding in to us. We will never be able to obtain true wisdom or understanding on our own. It is only going to be obtained when God chooses to breathe it in to our lives. We need to seek it from Him. It is a gift only He can give once we have Christ in our heart. So ask God to breathe common sense in to you. Ask with a pure heart or for the right reasons for God to give you a breath of understanding.
We do a lot of picking and choosing in life. We might have a whole classroom of people we spend time with at school, but we pick and choose who will be our friends. We may look at a whole pile of apples in the fruit section at the grocery store, but we pick and choose from them only a few to buy. We thump our way through the melons. We pick and choose off the marquee which movie we will watch. The list goes on. Picking and choosing is natural for humans. We love choices. When you talk to missionary kids who have grown up in other countries and then come back to the United States to go to college, you find out that they have a very difficult time, when going to a store to purchase even a simple item like Aspirin. They say there are so many choices that they just stand there and stare and don’t know what to do. They will even leave the store confused with no purchase in their hands. However, our habits as people, especially Americans, of wanting choices and wanting to pick and choose all the time can go too far. When it comes to God and His instructions, we are not allowed to pick and choose. Read Deuteronomy 5: 32-33:
32 “Be careful to do as the LORD your God has commanded you; you are not to turn aside to the right or the left. 33 Follow the whole instruction the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live, prosper, and have a long life in the land you will possess.”
God makes it very clear that we are not to turn to the right or left, but do as He has commanded. We are to follow the “whole” instruction of the Lord. We are not to pick and choose which passages are applicable and which are just too “old school” to follow. God is so good to us as to even give us a reason why we should follow the whole instruction of the Lord. He tells us that we will live, prosper and have a long life. In other words, God’s instruction might keep us from harm’s way, self-destructing sins, and there by help us to live and maybe live longer. His instructions will help us to prosper spiritually. God will bless us for our faithfulness.
So are you picking and choosing what you will obey in God’s Word? Or do you take time to read the whole Bible and know what instructions God has in it for you?