February 16

Numbers 22-24 , Psalm 47

Many who make a profession of faith to follow Christ, go on to wonder why their walk seems so anemic. They question why they don’t feel the Holy Spirit leading them and complain of a lack of power in their lives. The problem for many is their inability to rid themselves of their former ways when they lived without God. C.S Lewis said, “Until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self”. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “One act of obedience is better than one hundred sermons”. Our pastor, Lloyd Pulley, in his book, “Under His Influence”, gives a good picture of what being partially obedient as opposed to fully obedient to the Holy Spirit looks like, on pages 108-109. Using Ezekiel 47, depending upon how far we are willing to submerge ourselves in the water of the Holy Spirit and let Him carry us, reveals just how much we are yielded.

We see in the story of Balaam, a man who partially obeyed God. But we all know that partial obedience is really disobedience. Balaam’s story is described in Numbers 22-24. God fully expressed His will in the beginning of the encounter in Numbers 22:12, “And God said to Balaam, “You shall not go with them; you shall not curse the people, for they are blessed.” That is as clear and definitive a directive from God that you can get. But God will never override one’s free will, so as the story continues we will see that initially Balaam chose to partially obey. As we follow the story to its conclusion we will see that he simply chose to get around God, rather than truly follow Him. The reason for his disobedience was greed. He desires the riches offered by King Balak rather than honoring God. We see the effects of his advice in Numbers 25. In Numbers 31:16, it describes Balaam’s role, ” Look, these women caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to trespass against the Lord in the incident of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord.” In Jude 11, we read, Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.” Jesus offers the best description of what Balaam actually did in His letter to the church of Pergamos in Revelation 2:14, “But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.” Balaam knew that he could not curse the Israelites, but by recommending the Moabite women to tempt them, their behavior would necessitate a response from God. We will see in Joshua 13:22, that Balaam died by the sword, as a result of his disobedience.

What is apparent from this story is that God doesn’t need our special qualities. In this section, He uses a donkey (Numbers 22) and a false prophet. God can use any of us, not because of the innate gifts that we possess, but because we choose to approach Him with a willing heart. We are nothing more than clay in the Potter’s hands. When we realize this we can all say, as Isaiah did in Isaiah 6:8, “..Here am I! Send me.”

God wants to use each and every one of us. We must choose to decide whether, as in the Parable of the sowers (Matthew 13:1-9) we will be like the good soil and allow ourselves to be used, or whether like Balaam we will allow the problems of this world, our fear, our cares for this world to cause us to disobey. The choice is ours.

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Aaron Salvato