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TO CONTROL OR NOT TO CONTROL: THAT IS THE QUESTION

Numbers 24 (NKJV)
1
Now when Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to bless Israel, HE DID NOT GO AS AT OTHER TIMES, TO SEEK TO USE SORCERY, but he set his face toward the wilderness.
2
And Balaam raised his eyes, and saw Israel encamped according to their tribes; and the Spirit of God came upon him.

Note the meaning of the following words from the Miriam Webster online dictionary:

SORCERY: “the use of power gained from the assistance or control of evil spirits especially for divining.”

Sorcery is related to the word Necromancy. NECROMANCY: “conjuration of the spirits of the dead for purposes of magically revealing the future or influencing the course of events.”

~~~

In today’s “modern” society, it might be easy to think that there is no way that what Balaam did connects with what people do today.

Yet, spiritism, occultism, New Age philosophy, witches, and warlocks are on the rise in American society as they have been in Europe for many years.

Even if no one reading this is directly involved in any of these precise activities, note that Balaam was trying to influence the Lord—to gain control over the Lord—through sorcery.

How many times have you and I, deep inside, wanted to control life and to control God (not that this is possible) so we could have the life which we consider “the perfect life”?

The issue of control is rooted in fear. Yet, the key issue of the Christian faith is not trying to keep or gain control. Rather, the Lord Jesus requires precisely GIVING UP CONTROL.

Matthew 10 (NKJV) – Jesus speaking
34
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.
35 For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’;
36
and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’[ quoting Micah 7:6 ]
37
He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
38
And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.
39
He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

NOTE:
The Lord Jesus requires that we give up control to find life. The “seed” analogy seems to have been a favorite picture that Jesus used. A seed, if it refuses to die as a seed will never become the tree that God planned.

In order to God’s full purposes to occur—and for the fullness of what you and I were meant to be to happen—we must die to ourselves. Jesus must be first. Our love for the Lord Jesus should be that even others in our families are jealous of our love for the Lord, so that BY COMPARISON our deep love for family appears like hate when placed next to our love for the Lord.

The rich young ruler was given the same choice. He, like many of us, chose to keep the “control” of having money as his security. Yet, the Lord Jesus told Peter what would have happened if the rich young ruler—or any one of us—would have gained by giving up human control.

Giving up our controls ENABLES US TO HAVE THE RICHNESS OF GOD’S BLESSINGS—in this life and in the next. And, of course, people will not like our bright shining love for Jesus, and they will persecute us for it.

Following the Lord Jesus will truly cost us everything—but loving the Lord Jesus will truly enable us to have everything of God’s best for us.

See Jesus’ response to Peter after the rich young ruler kept his “control”.

Mark 10 (NKJV)
28
Then Peter began to say to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You.”
29
So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, 30
who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.
31
But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

Vance

More simple this morning, the reading that I felt in my very soul has to do with Mary treasuring the things spoken to her in her soul, and the image of her sitting quietly, pondering the miracle taking place both inside her own body as well as externally in world. I remember those early days of love, when I kept silent regardng things my late husband and I shared, or the spiritual times, when a verse would leap out at me and I would bath in it before sharing it and why it meant so much to me with anyone.
It is a reminder to me to hide God's word in my heart for those times when I need to be reminded of His great love for me, especially as a young widow and now single parent. I need to ponder His words silently, directing my mind and spirit back to them often. Great choice of readings all around today for my tired spirit!!!

Spiritside, welcome to the OYB Blogroll!
http://www.chipbennett.net/wordpress/index.php/2006/03/spiritside/

Thoughts on Today’s Reading


Unbelievers, pretenders can get a Word from God, but that doesn’t make them “righteous.” I have been given “a word” by people who I knew out right were into the occult because they were out in the street standing in front of their “palm reading” shops as I walked by. Yet, there are pretenders who operate out of what the Bible calls “familiar spirits,” spirits who know your history because they have hung ‘round your family, hiding out in the Church. They cloak themselves with the “appearance of …,” like Balaam.

Jesus called these pretenders out when he spoke this:

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:21-23 KJV).

I am so grateful that Mike was led to create a “space” on the WEB devoted to and focused on reading through the Bible. Fully knowing God’s Word and making it a systematic study is the only way we will be able to identify the pretenders in our midst. Identifying them is truly essential for our spiritual and natural lives.

Reading the first verse of chapter 24 stunned me,

By now Balaam realized that the LORD intended to bless Israel, so he did not resort to divination as he often did. (24:1 NLT). His previous failed attempts to “curse” Israel, which turned into a blessing had been by “divination,” and everything he had stated that was recorded in the previous chapters was all true none of it was inspired by God!

In the twenty-fifth chapter, not everyone in the assembly participated in the worshiping of the gods of Moab, yet the entire assembly was tainted by the sin of a few. Jesus warned the disciples to beware of the “yeast” of the Pharisees: that small amount of “yeast” that causes the entire batch to rise. Also, note that Moab was Israel’s relatives. She was the descendents of Abraham’s nephew Lot. Do you think they approached Israel by using that blood relationship to tear down Israel’s defensives? Have you ever had a relative use “family” tradition and relationship to do something you knew God said was a sin in the name of family unity? I have and yes, I fell into the trap to keep the peace. After all this is “family.” Did I live to regret it? Yes indeed.

Grace and peace,
Ramona

Balaam

For Dwayne, myself and any others who might want more "color" to the story in Numbers 25 - I went looking for commentary from the Talmud and the Midrash from Judaism.

I found a bunch of different sites but all the info seemed to be combined in these links: first is a google cache, second is a pdf file - both are for the same site.

http://72.14.203.104/search?q=cache:VlwA1yV_ZpYJ:www.chabadonline.org/pdf/balak_2001/Complete.pdf+baal+peor+worship+excrement&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=19

http://www.chabadonline.org/pdf/balak_2001/Complete.pdf

Go down to page 16 and "noodle" around.

It is not the Bible, so I didn't think it appropriate to go through it on this blog. Yet, I think it is worth reading.

Balaam

For me the lessons have been focused on the New Testament passages.

2Peter 2:15
"They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness."

The "way of Balaam": Peter warns about false teachers (prophets) that seem all right, may even have fellowship with Christians, but they sow heresy, lies, and evil. In the end they are destructive, as Balaam was for the Israelites. They do it all for the love of the wages of wickedness and all it's adornments.

Jude 1:11
"Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam's error; they have been destroyed in Korah's rebellion."

Balaam did not understand the righteousness of God, and the consequences if he participated in the corruption of the Israelites. It is also the error of false teachers of Chrisitanity today. They don't fear righteousness, because they do not understand it.

Rev 2:14
"Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality."

The doctrine of Balaam: When you believe Satan is an entity (I do), you realize that what he can not kill - he attempts to corrupt. The doctrine of Balaam was one of corruption from within - Satan's oldest trick.

Luke

Two little notes:
1)I always thought Simeon was waiting for the Jewish Messiah. In verse 32 - Like John the Baptist, Simeon proclaims that Jesus was here for Gentiles and Jews.

2)verse 33 - I do not know why NIV did this, but the original Greek manuscript says: "Joseph and his mother marvelled".

Yes Ramona even the best wisdom is useless if it is not applied to life. Its not enough to read the Word of God but it must be applied to and concern your life, your relations, your work ethics, principles, issues of scial justice etc.

This brings me into an interesting contrast with Catholicism.Some Protestants are sometimes so into Catholic bashing that it beomes their logo, ''Salvation by faith and grace alone'' Trouble with this is that it can be interpreted negatively, which all Christians should guard against. Epistle of James is an interesting read that emphasises the importance of works, doing good, living out your faith.

On this theme I remember a nice quote, ''Our worth is determined by the good deeds we do rather than the fine emotions we feel.''

But of course negative side of ''Works'' is as useless, i.e. salvation through sacraments, confessions, alms-giving (to THE CHURCH). You know what I mean!

May God make our faith firm and give us the grace and strength to live out our faith.

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