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Years ago, when I was a real stay-at-home Mom, and not a WORKING-full-time-at-home Mom, I used to love Wednesday afternoons. Montel Williams always had his psychic Silvia Browne on those days. Ya know, back when I didn’t know any better, and I had time to squander away naptimes with senseless television…now I’m working and can’t do that. Naptimes are filled with picking up, planning activities and menus, mopping the kitchen floor or filling the dishwasher, mountains of laundry…

Anyway, I’m getting off topic here…

But I used to love watching Silvia Browne. She could just look at someone and tell them their futures or the ghosties they had following them. Your dead Aunt Wilma, or whoever that had a message for you….I used to find that fascinating! Oh and let’s not forget John Edwards….to have someone give me a message from my favorite Grandma Leona….a tale from my Grandpa Ed….or some sentimental note from my Grandmother Wylene who I was partially named after…..I would love that. I miss them all so terribly and would love to have just one afternoon with them again just to hug them and listen to their voice, tell them all the things I wish I’d said before they passed away. Are they proud of me?

And all these interesting psychics promise wonderful things from our dearly departed loved ones, or what our futures hold. Will I ever adopt a Chinese baby girl? Or any baby girl? I’m not picky, I’ll just take any extras….will my children be successful? Will Mike and I get to go on Mission trips together? Will I be successful with photography? Will I ever stop worrying about money?

I recently found myself guiltily watching John Edwards’ Crossing Over and wished for just a second that he could give me a message from my Grandma. When Mike came in, I got the long sigh, and the eyeroll and the “Why in the world are you watching THIS?” Me: “He talks to DEAD people! How cool is that?!?” Him: “You know it’s not real don’t you….” Me: “Then how could he possibly know all of this?”

And just as I said this, John Edwards said when he was trying to hone his skill, he checked out every book on the occult he could get his hands on.

EEK!! Well….there’s my answer. That’s how he got his skill: Satan. Well, there goes that show….and I haven’t watched it since. It is from the pits of hell and I want no part of it.

Oh yes, and I asked forgiveness of God for my stupidity as well. And then selfishly asked Him to hug my Grandma for me. I miss her.

Yes, all this rambling can only mean ONE THING: a lesson is coming up. Today we’re headed into Numbers 22-24.

The Israelites had grown increasing in number and were scaring everyone around them. One of them being Balak. If the Israelites continued to grow, they would take over all the land and push everyone else out. Not a good future for them.

So, Balak sent messengers to Balaam (who was not an Israelite, but he was a professional diviner who sought the will of the gods through observation, omens, and visions). Actually, the Scriptures never call Balaam a prophet or a seer, but a soothsayer (Josh. 13:22), a title never used in relation to true prophets. Soothsaying (fortune-telling) was forbidden among God’s people as an abomination in the sight of God (Deut. 18:10). It was considered not only as a grievous sin, but as the mark of a false prophet. He was very successful in his occupation, and everything he cursed was cursed and everything he blessed was blessed. So Balak sent for Balaam to curse these darn Israelites so they would stop growing and Balak would be able to defeat them.

Balaam said. “In the morning I will tell you whatever the Lord directs me to say.”

But that night, God tells Balaam NOT to curse the Israelites. “Do not go with them. You are not to curse these people, for they have been blessed!” Numbers 22:12

Did you get that? Balaam was not an Israelite, but he had knowledge of the true God! He talked to the Lord, and the Lord talked BACK! I find that simply fascinating! Not only that, but he wouldn’t go against what the Lord told him! God said “Don’t” and Balaam said “Yes, sir!” But even though Balaam knew of the Lord and what He had done, his heart was not right with God.

Balak was less than pleased with Balaam’s answer and persisted, offering him more money.

Numbers 22:18 But Balaam responded to Balak’s messengers, “Even if Balak were to give me his palace filled with silver and gold, I would be powerless to do anything against the will of the Lord my God. But stay here one more night, and I will see if the Lord has anything else to say to me.”

Balaam had to do what the Lord told him to do, and he was well aware of that fact, however, he wanted the money as well, so Balaam agreed to go, but God would control what Balaam would say.

In the end, Balaam never could curse the Israelites, God made everything that came out of his mouth a BLESSING over the Israelites. And yes, you can imagine that did not go over well with Balak, who then refused to pay Balaam, and that did not go over well with Balaam’s greed.

But the moral of this story to ME, is that Balaam experienced the awesomeness of God firsthand, and yet still did not know Him. He spoke to the Creator of the Universe, and the Creator talked back! But Balaam’s heart was never changed.

But I see this all the time. I see teenagers that come to church, come to camp, and they experience God in some way, and yet, their hearts are never changed. Going through a church camp like ours (Faithweek in Siloam Springs, Ark), is an experience! I’ve been to other church camps, but NONE compares to this one. You WILL come face to face with God, but whether or not you are willing to change your HEART is completely up to you. I believe our Youth dept is much the same, you WILL experience God if you come, but the life-change is up to you. We have a phenomenal Youth leader who has taken our Youth students to a whole new awareness of who God is, but as great as Jeff is, he cannot MAKE you accept Christ.

And I see Youth come and go, experience God, and then leave Him behind to do what they want. And I’m not picking on the Youth, because I see it in adults as well. Play “Sunday School/Church” on Sundays, and then go out and do their drinking and partying and permiscuous sex during the week. They know OF God, but to actually commit their lives to Him in salvation and restoration of their hearts….that’s too much. It requires too much sacrifice of what they want to do for them to commit. How many people do we know that say they are a “Christian” but there is no evidence of any kind to show for it?

Matthew 7:21-23

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

And that is a tragedy. The story of Balaam is a TRAGIC story. Yes, it’s full of God’s protection, God’s power, God’s mercy, and a talking donkey….but it’s sad. In all of these things, Balaam experienced God’s power and mercy and blessing, but he wasn’t willing to give up what he wanted…his own power, and greed, and wealth. And in the end, the Israelites killed Balaam, so he lost everything anyway.

Lord, I thank You that I experienced Your almighty power and saving grace. Lord, help me in my teaching so that others may experience it as well. Like Balaam, put the words in my mouth so that none of Dana is heard, but only You and what Your message is. Lord, keep us from being greedy and selfish, but seek Your will and Your plans for our life. Open my mouth to speak boldly Your words, in Jesus name….and if it’s not too much, go ahead and hug my Grandparents for me….I still miss them.