A Brief Word…Time to Abide

Hello good people of “Digging Daily with Pastor Michael”!

Thank you for following. As is my custom from time to time, I will be taking a break from public devotions through this blog. I will be in and out of town over the next several weeks, and I find that my time with this blog is best spent when I am in my normal routine.

So, through June and much of July, I will be posting, but only sporadically. I look forward to my travels with youth trips and vacation time with my family.

Blessings!


Photo credit here

S (Scripture): Numbers 23:25 Then Balak said to Balaam, “Don’t curse them or bless them.”

26 But Balaam answered and said to Balak, “Didn’t I say to you, ‘I’ll do whatever the Lord tells me to’?”

27 Balak said to Balaam, “Please come and I’ll take you to another place. Perhaps God will prefer it, so that you could curse him for me from there.”

O (Observation): Balak is King of the people of Moab, a place through which God’s people asked to march, on their way to the Promised Land. Balak said no…he did not give his permission. Moses spoke to God. God said, we are going anyway.

Balak wants to fight God’s people. So, in order to weaken God’s people, Balak sends messengers to Balaam (a sort of priest) to talk with God, in order to send a curse on God’s people. Balaam speaks to God. God says, “I blessed these people. They’re gonna march on.”

Balak’s like “no way.” Balaam’s like “way.”

Twice already, Balaam has blessed God’s people, since God has already blessed them.

Now, we have the text above. For a third time, Balak is seeking to curse God’s people. Nope. Not gonna do it. Not even if Balak sweetens the deal.

A (Application): Ever tried to go against a calling God has placed on your life? To move into a new thing? Ever tried to convince God to choose a different path forward?

We are so tempted to be like Balak…sweeten the pot. Convince God to get on our side.

Only to be disappointed when God doesn’t choose “our” path.

What is God saying to you today? How is God shaping your thoughts and heart today? Who are you in God’s eyes?

With that blessing, now ask yourself: What is God calling me to do? Now that I am reminded that I am God’s…which direction will I head towards now?

Seek wisdom from friends and trusted leaders around you. Share your thoughts and dreams. Seek prayer partners to help you in your discernment this day.

P (Prayer): Lord, help us to hear and see our place in your journey. Amen.

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Check Yourself


S (Scripture):Numbers 24:10 Then Balak became very angry at Balaam, and he struck his hands together. Balak said to Balaam, “I called you to curse my enemies, and look, you have done nothing but bless them these three times! 11 So now, go back where you came from! I said that I would greatly honor you; but now the Lord has stood in the way of your honor.”

O (Observation):  Balaam heard from the Lord and at this point has now blessed Israel three times.   Balak claps his hands together in an angry manner, and demands that Balaam leave at once.  Balak thought he could manipulate God through Balaam’s connection to God.  Balak thought if he could get Balaam to curse Israel, then God’s people would be thwarted. 

Balak was a bit twisted in his viewpoint of who God is.   And his last line is what really throws me off: “now the Lord has stood in the way of your honor.”  

A (Application):  If my honor ever depended on earthly gain and a Kingdom loss…you can keep your earthly gain.  

I admit that I’ve fallen prey to earthly gain and Kingdom loss, but that is never my hope or goal.  We see this a lot:

  • When someone chooses to save face, rather than stand in solidarity with one being persecuted unjustly
  • When someone chooses to take the credit for someone else’s actions/wisdom
  • When we make a purchase that saves us money, because someone is willing to slave away for $1/hour 

But the part that blows me away is Balak’s notion that the Lord would cause Balaam to lose his honor.   

But then again, maybe that is the lesson here. Maybe the Lord does cause us to lose honor in this world.   But that honor is not lost in the Kingdom.  

May we be bold enough to lose honor (according to the world) in the name of Jesus Christ. 

P (Prayer): Lord, help us to be brave, bold believers.  Amen. 

“Balaam’s Ass” Moments


S (Scripture): Numbers 22:26 Then the angel of the Lord went farther, and stood in a narrow place, where there was no way to turn either to the right or to the left. 27 When [Balaam’s] donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she crouched down under Balaam. Then Balaam was angry, and he beat his donkey with a staff.

28 Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you that you have beaten me these three times?” 29 And Balaam said to the donkey, “You have made me look stupid; I wish there were a sword in my hand, for I would kill you right now.” 30 The donkey said to Balaam, “Am not I your donkey that you have ridden ever since I was yours until this day? Have I ever attempted to treat you this way?” And he said, “No.” 31 Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way with his sword drawn in his hand; so he bowed his head and threw himself down with his face to the ground. 32 The angel of the Lord said to him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? Look, I came out to oppose you because what you are doing is perverse before me. 33 The donkey saw me and turned from me these three times. If she had not turned from me, I would have killed you but saved her alive.” 34 Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned, for I did not know that you stood against me in the road. So now, if it is evil in your sight, I will go back home.” 35 But the angel of the Lord said to Balaam, “Go with the men, but you may only speak the word that I will speak to you.” So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.

O (Observation):  This story is a bit strange to follow.  God’s people are on the march and seeking passage through the Moabite territory.  They just go done destroying the Amorites, because they opposed God and God’s people.   The Hebrew people want to pass through Moab now, with no fighting.  But the Moabites are deathly afraid that the fate of the Amorites will now be their fate, as well. 

Because of the fear that captures the people of Moab, their king, Balak, wishes Balaam (a sort of prophet of the Lord) to bring a curse down on God’s people…which he refuses.   

To help convince Balaam that he should curse God’s people, Balak tries to persuade him by sending the rich princes of Moab to entice Balaam with money in order to get Balaam to curse God’s people.  

God allows Balaam to go with the princes, but strictly warns Balaam that he must say exactly what the Lord tells him to say.   

Now…on his way with the princes, God is angered.  (Perhaps God sees the riches as Balaam’s motivation, rather than his call as a prophet…). For whatever reason, God is directing Balaam with an Angel.  

Who sees the Angel?   Balaam’s ass.  The donkey sees it and turns away twice.   On the third time, the donkey cannot turn, for the path is too narrow.  

The Lord finally reveals the Angel to Balaam.  Balaam is reminded that God’s presence is here.  That God is in control and God’s words – and God’s words alone – are what Balaam is to speak to the Moabite King, Balak. 

A (Application):  When was the last time that you were reminded of God’s presence?  Have you had a major, “in your face” moment?  Has God spoken through a strange means to you?

Today I think about the disappointments in my life, and how those were “Balaam’s ass” moments for me.  

Failure at my first full-time job turned into a reminder of what God was NOT calling me to do with my life.   

Failure as a pastor reminds me that the ministry of Word and Sacrament is not mine to dole out. Rather, I serve the Lord, who shows all of us the way forward.  

Failures as a husband reminds me that when God is not at the center of my relationship with my wife, we suffer.   But when forgiveness and reconciliation happens between us, we deeply sense the joy that is God’s presence in our lives.  

Failures as a leader remind me that God is the one who leads me.   And that is sufficient.  When God wants me to lead…I will lead.  When God wants me to follow…I will follow. 

We never know through what means God will speak to us.  Rather, our call is to discern what God is saying to us…to determine the grace being poured out into our lives.   Then, after discerning that grace, we move forward… confident that God’s grace is what makes our movement possible. 

Listen for God’s voice. Perceive it.  Share with others what that voice says to you.  And move forward.  

P (Prayer):  Lord, you bewilder us sometimes.   But in all ways, you can show us mercy.   Help us to discern your ways and your will for us.  Guide us as we move forward today.  Amen.