Day 86 | God uses a donkey to get to Balaam | Jesus teaches on obedience | A Roman Centurion amazes Jesus with his faith
Day 86 of the Holy Bible One Year Challenge. God uses a donkey to get to Balaam. Jesus teaches on obedience. A Roman Centurion amazes Jesus with his faith.
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Numbers 23: 1-26
Luke 7: 1-10
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Balaam and His Donkey
21 The next morning, Balaam got up, put a saddle on his donkey, and went with the Moabite leaders. 22 Balaam was riding on his donkey. Two of his servants were with him. While Balaam was traveling, God became angry. So the angel of the LORD stood in the road in front of Balaam to stop him. 23 When Balaam’s donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with a sword in his hand, the donkey turned from the road and went into the field. Balaam could not see the angel, so he was very angry at the donkey. He hit the donkey and forced it to go back on the road. 24 Later, the angel of the LORD stood at a place where the road became narrow. This was between two vineyards. There were walls on both sides of the road. 25 Again the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, so the donkey walked very close to one wall. This crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall. So Balaam hit his donkey again.
26 Later, the angel of the LORD stood at another place where the road became narrow. There was no place where the donkey could go around him. It could not turn to the left or to the right. 27 The donkey saw the angel of the LORD. So the donkey lay down with Balaam sitting on top of it. Balaam was very angry at the donkey. So he hit it with his walking stick. 28 Then the LORD caused the donkey to speak.
The donkey said to Balaam, “Why are you angry at me? What have I done to you? You have hit me three times!”
29 Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made me look foolish. If I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now!”
30 But the donkey said to Balaam, “Look, I am your donkey. You have ridden me for so many years. And you know that I have never done this to you before!”
“That is true,” Balaam said.
31 Then the LORD allowed Balaam to see the angel. The LORD’s angel was standing in the road, holding a sword in his hand. Balaam bowed low to the ground. 32 Then the angel of the LORD asked Balaam, “Why did you hit your donkey three times? I am the one who came to stop you. You are not doing what is right. 33 Your donkey saw me and turned away from me. That happened three times. If the donkey had not turned away, I probably would have killed you already. And I would have let your donkey live.”
34 Then Balaam said to the angel of the LORD, “I have sinned. I did not know that you were standing in the road. If I am doing wrong, I will go back home.” 35 Then the angel of the LORD said to Balaam, “No, you can go with these men. But be careful. Speak only the words that I will tell you to say.”
So Balaam went with the leaders that Balak had sent. 36 When Balak heard that Balaam was coming, he went out to meet him at the Moabite town† near the Arnon River. This was at the northern border of his country. 37 When Balak saw Balaam, he said to him, “I asked you before to come. Why didn’t you come to me? Did you think I might not be able to pay you?”
38 Balaam answered, “Well, I am here now. I came, but I might not be able to do what you asked. I can only say the words God tells me to say.”
39 Then Balaam went with Balak to Kiriath Huzoth. 40 Balak killed some cattle and some sheep as his sacrifice. He gave some of the meat to Balaam and some to the leaders who were with him. 41 The next morning Balak took Bal- aam to the town of Bamoth Baal. From there they could see part of the Israelite camp.
Numbers 23: 1-26
Balaam’s First Message
Balaam said, “Build seven altars here. And prepare seven bulls and seven rams for me.”
2 Balak did what Balaam asked. Then Balak and Balaam offered a ram and a bull on each of the altars.
3 Then Balaam said to Balak, “Stay here near this altar. I will go to another place. Maybe the LORD will come to me, and whatever he shows me I will tell you.”
Then Balaam went away to a higher place. 4 God came to Balaam at that place, and Balaam said, “I have prepared seven altars. And I have offered a bull and a ram as burnt offerings on each altar.”
5 Then the LORD gave Balaam a message for Balak and said, “Go back to Balak and say the things that I have given you to say.” 6 So Balaam went back to Balak. Balak was still standing beside his burnt offerings, and all the leaders of Moab were standing there with Balak.
7 Then Balaam spoke, and this was his message: “Balak, the king of Moab, brought me here from the eastern mountains of Aram. Balak said to me, ‘Come, curse Jacob for me. Come, speak against the Israelites.’ 8 But God is not against them, so I cannot speak against them either! The LORD has not asked for bad things to happen to these people. So I cannot do that either. 9 I see them from the top of the mountain; I watch them from the high hills. They live by themselves. They do not join with other nations. 10 Counting Jacob’s people is like counting dust! Who can count a cloud of dust? May I die with honor like these good people? Let my life end as happily as theirs!”
11 Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? I brought you here to curse my enemies, but you have blessed them!” 12 But Balaam answered, “I must say the things that the LORD tells me to say.” 13 Then Balak said to him, “So come with me to another place. From there you can see more of these people, but not all of them. I want you to curse the ones you can see from there.” 14 So Balak led Balaam to Watchmen Hills.* This was on top of Mount Pisgah. There Balak built seven altars and offered a bull and a ram as burnt offerings on each altar. 15 Then Balaam said to Balak, “Stay here by your burnt offerings while I go and meet with God over there.”
16 So the LORD came to Balaam and told Balaam what to say. Then he told Balaam to go back to Balak and say these things. 17 So Balaam went to Balak. Balak was still standing beside his burnt offerings. The leaders of Moab were there with him. Balak asked him, “What did the LORD say?”
Balaam’s Second Message
18 Then Balaam said this: “Stand up, Balak, and listen to me. Hear me, Balak son of Zippor. 19 God is not a man; he will not lie. God is not a human being; his decisions will not change. If he says he will do something, then he will do it. If he makes a promise, then he will do what he promised. 20 He told me to bless them. He blessed them, so I cannot change that. 21 No disaster is planned for the descendants of Jacob. No trouble is ahead for the Israelites. The LORD their God is with them. The Great King is with them! 22 God brought them out of Egypt; they are as strong as a wild ox. 23 No curse can defeat the people of Jacob. No magic can stop the Israelites. People look at them and say, ‘See what God has done!’ 24 The people are as strong as lions, and they fight like a lion that will not rest until it eats what it has caught, until it drinks the blood of what it has killed.”
25 Then Balak said to Balaam, “If you will not curse these people, then at least do not bless them!”
26 Balaam answered, “I told you before that I can only say what the LORD tells me to say.”
Be Careful About Criticizing Others (Matt. 7:1-5) 37
“Don’t judge others, and God will not judge you. Don’t condemn others, and you will not be condemned. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give to others, and you will receive. You will be given much. It will be poured into your hands—more than you can hold. You will be given so much that it will spill into your lap. The way you give to others is the way God will give to you.”
39 Jesus told them this story: “Can a blind man lead another blind man? No. Both of them will fall into a ditch. 40 Students are not better than their teacher. But when they have completed their training, they will all be like their teacher.
41 “Why do you see the small piece of dust that is in your friend’s eye, but you don’t notice the big piece of wood that is in your own? 42 How can you say to your friend, ‘Let me get that piece of dust out of your eye’? Can you not see that big piece of wood in your own eye? You are a hypocrite. First, take the wood out of your own eye. Then you will see clearly to get the dust out of your friend’s eye.
Only Good Trees Produce Good Fruit (Matt. 7:17-20; 12:34b-35)
43 “A good tree does not produce bad fruit. And a bad tree does not produce good fruit. 44 Every tree is known by the kind of fruit it produces. You won’t find figs on thorny weeds. And you can’t pick grapes from thorn bushes! 45 Good people have good things saved in their hearts. That’s why they say good things. But those who are evil have hearts full of evil, and that’s why they say things that are evil. What people say with their mouths comes from what fills their hearts.
Two Kinds of People (Matt. 7:24-27)
46 “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but you don’t do what I say? 47 The people who come to me, who listen to my teachings and obey them—I will show you what they are like. 48 They are like a man building a house. He digs deep and builds his house on rock. When the floods come, the water crashes against the house. But the flood cannot move the house, because it was built well.
49 “But the people who hear my words and do not obey are like a man who builds a house without preparing a foundation. When the floods come, the house falls down easily and is completely destroyed.”
Jesus Heals an Officer’s Servant 7 (Matt. 8:5-13; John 4:43-54)
When Jesus finished all he had to say to the people, he went into Capernaum. 2 An army officer there had a servant who was very important to him. The servant was sick and about to die. 3 When the officer heard about Jesus, he sent some older Jewish leaders to him. He wanted them to ask Jesus to come and heal his servant. 4 They went to Je- sus and begged him to help the officer. They said, “This man is worthy of your help 5 because he loves our people. He even had a synagogue built for us.”
6 So Jesus went with them. Just before they reached the house, the officer sent friends to say, “Lord, you don’t need to do anything special for me. I am not good enough for you to come into my house. 7 That is why I did not come to you myself. You need only to give the order, and my servant will be healed. 8 I know this because I am a man under the authority of other men. And I have soldiers under my authority. I tell one soldier, ‘Go,’ and he goes. And I tell another soldier, ‘Come,’ and he comes. And I say to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
9 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. He turned to the people follow- ing him and said, “I tell you, this is the most faith I have seen anywhere, even in Israel.”
10 The group that had been sent to Je- sus went back to the house. There they found that the servant was healed.
32 The wicked are always looking for ways to kill good people.
33 But the LORD will not let the wicked defeat them. He will not let good people be judged guilty.
34 Do what the LORD says, and wait for his help. He will reward you and give you the land he promised. You will see the wicked being forced to leave.
35 I once saw a wicked man who was powerful. He was like a strong, healthy tree.
36 But then he was gone. I looked for him, but I could not find him.
37 Watch carefully those who are good and honest. Peace-loving people will have many descendants.
38 But those who break the law will be destroyed completely, and their descendants will be forced to leave the land.
39 The LORD saves those who are good. When they have troubles, he is their place of safety.
40 The LORD helps good people and rescues them. They depend on him, so he rescues them from the wicked.
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