When Donkeys Talk
Posted on 01/08/2006 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
Do we have any crazy, on-fire, God-chasing, devil-defeating, Jesus-lovers in the house this morning?
Let's stand to our feet and take a few minutes to think about what God has done for us! Do you remember where you were before you turned your life over to Jesus? Do you remember the emptiness, the despair, the darkness, the guilt and shame? And do you remember how Jesus came in, took you in his arms, opened your eyes to the aweful mess you were in (to which you previously were blind), and then took you out of that mess and put your feet upon a solid rock?
How can we not fall head-over-heels in love with a God who is not some myth, who is not some fairy-tale, who is not some figment of our imagination, but who has proven to us over and over again, beyond the shadow of any doubt, that he is more real than the air we breath, that he is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and that the name we claim as our Lord, the name of Jesus, is so exalted above every other name, that some day soon every Christian, every athiest, and everyone in between will see him, falling to the earth in worship, and every single mouth will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!
** Listen to the praise and worship at livingsounds.org **
You may be seated.
When the pharisees rebuked Jesus and told him to keep his followers quiet, to stop them from praising him, he said that if these did not praise him, the stones would cry out!
Indeed, all of creation DOES cry out in testimony of the awesome power, creativity, beauty, and wisdom of our God.
The fact that Jesus said the stones would praise him if no one else did, testifies to the fact that it's not the vessel God uses that determines the outcome, rather it is GOD who works through the vessel who determines the end result.
Are you a willing vessel this morning? Lord, change our hearts; make us all willing vessels through whom you are free to do your will, glorifying the name of Jesus.
Some of you may remember the story of Balaam, a prophet, who the king of Moab summoned to curse the Israelites. The king saw that God was with Israel, and their enemies could not stand against them. Knowing that who Balaam cursed was cursed, and who Balaam blessed was blessed, he sent for Balaam offering him great riches if he would just curse Israel.
But God told Balaam not to go with them. So the king sent more men to offer even greater riches, but Balaam said he could not go.
However, Balaam told the men to stay the night, and he would inquire of the Lord further. The Lord told him he could go.
Now we get to the interesting part. While they were on their way to see the king, Balaam's donkey starts acting very strangely. She goes off the path to the right, and then after being beaten, smashes into the rocks on the left. As Balaam is threatening the donkey's life and wishing for a sword to teach that donkey a lesson she would never forget, the Spirit of the Lord came upon that beast of burden and guess what... the donkey began to speak.
Can God sing praises through rocks? Of course he can. Can God speak through a donkey? Of course he can.
This is Second Life, and you don't know what I look like. For all you know, I could very well be a donkey in real life. ** donkey sound ** Pardon me.
But the donkey began to speak. It said,
"What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?"
Now you would think that Balaam would have thought it a bit strange for a donkey to be speaking to him. You'd think Balaam would be a bit startled, and would probably not be able to speak.
You'd think. But you don't know Balaam. He simply said to the donkey, "Because you have made a fool of me! If I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now."
It's obvious here that Balaam is not looking for riches. First, he told the men who came to get him that even if the king game him all his wealth, he could not say anything besides what the Lord tells him. Then, he is wishing he could kill something that surely would be worth more than all the gold in the land -- a talking donkey!
Then the Lord opened Balaam's eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord with his sword drawn. While riches weren't precious to Balaam, his own life was, and he fell to the earth.
We read, starting in verse 32 of Numbers chapter 22:
"The angel of the LORD asked him, 'Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me. The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If she had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared her.'
"Balaam said to the angel of the LORD, 'I have sinned. I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now if you are displeased, I will go back.'
"The angel of the LORD said to Balaam, 'Go with the men, but speak only what I tell you.' So Balaam went with the princes of Balak."
I would like to point out that this whole event we're reading about is about speaking the Word of the Lord. God can speak through men and women, and through boys and girls. And we tend to think those people through whom God speaks are something great.
But what happens when he speaks through a donkey? Do we praise the donkey? Balaam certainly didn't. Or do we praise the one who opens the donkey's mouth?
And that brings me to the point of today's message: If God can talk through a donkey, what can he do through you who are created in his image? If he can sing praises through a dead rock, what can he do through you who have life, breath, and the Spirit of God living inside of you?
We go about life as though we are simply here to survive, or to find a bit of happiness along the way. But God has so much more in mind for us. He wants to speak through your mouth. He wants to walk through your feet. He wants to touch through your hands. He wants to think through your mind.
And God does not want to you simply survive, Jesus came so that you might have life in great abundance!
God does not want you to find bits of happiness here and there, he sent his Spirit so you could be filled with righteousness, peace, and overflowing joy all the time!
If a donkey can talk, what about you?
Jesus said that if God feeds the birds and clothes the flowers, why do we worry about him taking care of us?
God has a plan for you. God has a purpose for your life. God wants to do great things through you. He simply asks that we make ourselves available and seek for his face; for once we get a spiritual glimpse of God, our eyes will be opened, and we will see the things that otherwise a donkey would have to tell us about.
But, then, what's so bad about donkeys? ** donkey sound ** Oops. Pardon me.
Lord God, we don't want to live our whole lives in darkness, never knowing exactly why we're here, and never living the amazing life of being led by your Spirit. We ask for forgiveness for living a half-way life, for not seeking after you like the priceless treasure you are.
There may be some here this morning or listening to the recording who have not given their lives to Jesus. Now is the time. Scripture tells us, "Today is the day of salvation." Today is your day to be set free, to step into the light, and to accept the unconditional, boundless love Jesus has poured out for you on the cross, where he paid the penalty for your sins and purchased your salvation forever.
Pray with me: Jesus, come into my heart. Forgive me for my sins. Wash me clean with the blood you shed for my forgiveness. Make me a brand new creation. Give me a brand new start. And I will live for you for the rest of my life.
There are others of us here this morning who are not walking as closely with God as we know we should. We may have thought that tomorrow we'll make a change, but tomorrow never comes, and it never will. Today is the day for you to start moving in the right direction.
Pray with me: Father God, forgive me for not seeking after you with my whole heart. I know I can't do it in my own strenth. I need you to give me the motivation and strenth to follow hard after you. Fill me fresh with your Holy Spirit. Breath fresh on me! Blow on me your wind of change, as you stir deep within me the fire that once burned bright and clear. Renew the passion I once felt for you, and intensify that passion with spiritual fire.
And Lord God, I pray for all of us, that you draw us into a new place with you. May we make ourselves available to you, putting our eyes upon you so that our eyes may be healed and so we can see what you're doing around us, and what you want to do through us.
And it's in the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
The ministry team can stand please, and come across the front. If you need prayer for anything, that's why we're here. If you have not known Jesus but are ready to come into the family of God, come to the front. If you want the Holy Spirit to fall fresh on you, empowering and motivating you to seek God with new fire, come to the front. If you need a touch in your body or mind, healing from sickness in your body or soul, come to the front.
Instant message one of the ministry team, and we will join with you in prayer.
The rest of you are free to go next door to the fellowship room, and we'll join you in there shortly.
"Now may the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, make you complete in everything good so that you may do his will, working among us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen." (Hebrews 13:20-21 NRSV)