Balaam Blesses Israel

Monday Musings for January 30, 2017

Good morning, Musers,

I have a devotional thought for you today, and it’s about Balaam of all people! You see, God has this odd habit of using unholy people to do his holy will… and I find that so entertaining! But one of the reasons that I’m so entertained is that I identify with them. (I have this feeling that God is laughing to himself every time I publish!)

But every so often God reaches way down into the dark places to get things done… like using Saul’s visit to the witch at Endor to evoke the dead. But Balaam’s story is not that bad… although I wouldn’t come within a mile of a prophet-for-hire to do legitimate prophesying… but I’m obviously not God.

Now, God did indeed use that morally ambiguous prophet to carry the moment. But he also used him to teach me the lesson that I’m no different than him. Compared to the God who called me to this work, I am as soiled and unworthy as is the lowest of his enemies. Yet… and by his grace… I persist. That’s today’s emphasis.

I find Balaam’s story especially useful because Christians want to be all shiny and clean to serve God — and you know what? That’s a great target! But that’s not a requirement… and I’m grateful for that. Here’s the thing: if God doesn’t require that people be shiny or halfway reformed before he saves them, why would he require that to use them in his service? The fact is, he doesn’t… unless you’ve forgotten Samson… and King Saul… and King David… and King Solomon… and the Apostle Peter — all of whom God used in spite of character flaws.

That being said, all who seek to serve God should do so as purely as possible. But it is a great mistake to wait until you achieve a certain level of holiness before beginning. Such thinking is immature. Furthermore, it retards the work of the kingdom of God. How so? We are positionally holy… but our complete functional holiness awaits the Christ… and we’d miss our window if we waited.

So, there’s good news and bad news: God won’t force you to do anything — that’s the good news — because that’s the price of free-will. What this means is that all who serve are volunteers, and every moment of service is voluntary. But the bad news is that every missed opportunity for service represents something that goes undone. Remember, God doesn’t force you — or anyone else — into service to fill those gaps… except for this one ass… which makes a good story.

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