Scripture Reading: Numbers 22:12
“…you shall not curse the people, for they are blessed.”
In the Boise, ID area in 1984 an old, but still in use building burned and was eventually destroyed. The area was cleaned up and a parking lot put in its place while the city downtown association decided what they would do with the property. Meanwhile, someone rescued some of the gargoyles from the top of the building, part of the main stone archway over the door, and a couple of the arch side doorways. One is still for sale in a rock yard some thirty years later.
A company came to the designers with a building that would fill the space where this old magnificent building had been. The city approved, and construction began. The basement was dug, foundations poured, and the hole was readied. But something happened. The work stopped. There was no explanation to anyone as to what happened. For years the “hole” was there, representing the empty words of a company that could not pull through on its promise to build.
Finally, a few years ago, a company came in with a plan to build a large bank building on the site. Construction began. Construction continued. The building was built and now stands as the new Zions Bank in the skyline of Boise. This was the result of someone who put actions to their words and followed through.
Balaam in Numbers 22 was like the first contractor. He wanted to do what looked good to the people. He knew that the children of Israel were blessed, but King Balak wanted Balaam to curse the people. Balaam, seeing a quick opportunity to get some extra cash for just a little curse on the people did not seem an out of hand thing to do. However, he still went to God and asked for permission to curse the people. God replied, “you shall not curse the people, for they are blessed.”
Balaam went back to the king and told him that the people would have to go back to their own towns and places of residence because the Lord refused to let Balaam curse the people. It appears that Balaam was following the direction of God, but in reality Balaam wanted the money and wanted to curse the people to see what God would do. If you continue to read the story, you find out how Balaam finds out what God really wanted through an animal.
How many times in our so-called Christian lives have we known what God wants us to do, but tell ourselves that God really does not want us to do that? We have started to build, and then leave the building with just a hold in the ground. We fall short, just as Peter fell short in denying that he knew Jesus, was with Jesus, and was a part of Jesus’ ministry (the three denials that Jesus predicted).
We would like to be a part of the world without actually having to acknowledge that we know Jesus Christ. We dress and act like we are not a part of the ministry. We deny that we ever were with Jesus, seeing the wonderful building powers of a God in action in our lives. We wish to be normal parts of society and the neighborhoods in which we live.
How would our lives change if we did the opposite of just using words and started using some action, as God intended our lives to be? It is God’s intention that we use action to back up the Christianity we so conveniently carry hidden in our spiritual wallets. We forget what we can do if we take the wallet out of our pockets, open it up, and start using what is in it?
God intends that we bless the people of God every day of our lives. God intends that we continue to build a beautiful building in the spot where God has placed us – a place where the actions that we do reveal the type of people that we are. Are we excited about the resurrection life that Jesus has given us?
In Mark 14, we read about Peter’s denial of Christ. The location of this denial occurred outside of the high priest’s house, which is probably the same location mentioned in the other gospels. However, Jesus was in an upper court; Peter was in the lower court, allowed in by the guards probably because of his language revealing him as part of the Jesus crowd. After the third denial, though, Jesus looked down from the upper court to the lower court directly to the face of Peter. Peter realized he had sinned by lying to himself, lying to Jesus, and then doing what he said he would never do, even to the death.
At that moment, though, the hole that Peter had started to dig finally began to become filled with a ministry that would center in the Jerusalem area for the rest of his life.
We need that building influence in our lives so that the life that we do live is the one that God has intended for us to live. What is God’s call on your life? What actions does God have for you to do instead of just words and empty holes? Surely, there is a building that God wants you to erect for the blessing of the people of God, where there is no cursing of the people in that building, but continual construction of all of the good things that God has placed into our hands, said into our ears, taken us on foot, and shown us with our eyes.
Today, let a new building start to occur in our lives, that we live, and move, and have our being only through Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. Amen.