Talking Donkeys

Posted on 03/27/2011 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

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TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)

*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***

Public Prayer Requests:

I may be facing cancer and I would like prayerful support to stay strong and at peace.
    -Lestat Chenault


Please turn around and click one of the offering plates by the doors, and give as the Lord leads.



I love to be in Your presence
With Your people singing praises
I love to stand and rejoice
Lift my hands and raise my voice
You set my feet to dancing
You fill my heart with song
You give me reason to rejoice


I will bless the Lord at all times
I will bless the Lord at all times
His praise shall continually
     be in my mouth


I love you, Lord
    and I lift my voice
To worship You
    O my soul rejoice!
Take joy my King
    in what You hear
Let it be a sweet,
    sweet sound in Your ear

*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***

In the book of Luke, we read about what is refered to as "The Triumphal Entry" of Jesus, as He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. 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!

We read this in Luke chapter 19, beginning with verse 37:

Luke 19:37-40 (NKJV)

37 Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen,
38 saying: "'Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD!' Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"
39 And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, "Teacher, rebuke Your disciples."
40 But He answered and said to them, "I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately 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.

You probably remember the story of Balaam, the 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. The king also knew that who Balaam cursed was cursed, and who Balaam blessed was blessed, so he sent for Balaam, and offered 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 still said he would not go.

However, Balaam told the men to stay the night, and he would inquire of the Lord further. And Balaam did just that, asking God once again if he could do something that God already told him he could not do. And this time, 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 Balaam beats her for it, 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.

And 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 start speaking to him. You'd think Balaam would be a bit startled, and would probably be left speachless.

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 was not looking for riches. First, he told the men who came to get him that even if the king gave him all his wealth, he could not say anything besides what the Lord tells him. Next, he was 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 ground.

We read, starting in verse 32 of Numbers chapter 22:

Numbers 22:32-35 (NKJV)

32 And the Angel of the LORD said to him, "Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to stand against you, because your way is perverse before Me.
33 The donkey saw Me and turned aside from Me these three times. If she had not turned aside from Me, surely I would also have killed you by now, and let her live."
34 And Balaam said to the Angel of the LORD, "I have sinned, for I did not know You stood in the way against me. Now therefore, if it displeases You, I will turn back."
35 Then the Angel of the LORD said to Balaam, "Go with the men, but only the word that I speak to you, that you shall speak." So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.

I would like to point out that this whole event about which we're reading has to do with 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 our lives as though we are simply here to survive, or maybe 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 you to simply survive; Jesus came so that you might have life in overflowing 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 whether He will take 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 just a glimpse of God, our eyes will be opened, and we will see things that otherwise a donkey would have to tell us.

But, unlike donkeys and rocks, you and I have a free will. We can choose whether to speak the word of the Lord; we can choose whether to be His hands and His feet. In fact, if we are going to consistently do God's will, we MUST choose. It won't always happen on accident.

And we can choose to be like the donkey, who sees the Lord moving around us and speaks the truth; or we can be like Balaam, who doesn't even recognize God when He makes a donkey talk, and who came very close to having God strike him dead. And how did Balaam become so blind to God's hand, and so deaf to His voice? It's simple, and it's the same way we become blind and deaf today: Balaam questioned what God had already told him.

How often do we do the same thing today. We don't like what God has already told us, or we're hoping or wishing He would say something else. Maybe we don't obey what He has already told us by His Spirit or in His word. And as a result, we unknowingly become blind to what He's really doing in and around us, and we unknowingly become deaf to His voice, and vulnerable to being deceived.

But just like Balaam, we can get back on the right track today. Just like God opened Balaam's eyes, so He opens YOUR eyes by driving His word home to you. If this message strikes something in your heart, then that is God opening your eyes.

Next, after Balaam's eyes had been opened, he responded by saying, "If it displeases the Lord, I will go back." He responded with an obedient heart. If he had not, chances are pretty good he would have been destroyed right then and there.

You see, God doesn't hold up his hand of restraint because He wants to do us harm; instead, God opens our eyes and speaks to our hearts because He wants to protect us. It is up to us to listen and then to obey.

I'd like to open this altar. Let's all stand to our feet as we close today's service with prayer.

Maybe you have not given your life 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.

Or maybe you are not walking as closely with God as you know you should. Maybe you have thought that tomorrow you'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.

You're invited to get out of your seat right now and make your way to the front, as you bring your self to this altar as a living sacrifice to God, and as we agree together to listen to God's voice the first time He speaks to us, and to whole-heartedly obey.

If you'd like someone to talk or pray with you, you can instant message me or Mariposa or anyone on the staff or ministry team. Whenever you need to go, you're dismissed, and I wish you a blessed week.

After your time at the altar, you're invited to make your way to the Fellowship Room to your left, where we'll all meet in a few minutes for a bit of fellowship.