Today: Psalms 37:32-40; Luke 6:37-49; Luke 7:1-10; Numbers 22:21-41; Numbers 23:1-26

Psalms 37

David reveals more of God’s conditional promises in Psalms 37. I don’t use the term “conditional” in a negative way. God KEEPS His promises. So He can’t just throw them out carelessly. That would be foolish and irresponsible and God is neither of those things. These promises are like a contract. They go both ways. We can’t claim them unless we keep our end of the bargain.

Here are the promises and conditions from today’s reading:

  1. Condition: Wait for the LORD and keep His way
    Promise: He will exalt you to inherit the land
  2. Condition: Be blameless and upright and a person of peace
    Promise: You will have a future
  3. Condition: Take refuge in the LORD
    Promise: You will have strength in time of trouble. The LORD will help and save you and rescue you from the wicked

God makes promises to the wicked as well:

  1. They will pass away and be no more
  2. They will be destroyed
  3. Their future will be eliminated
"Sermon on the Mount" painting by Miklos Farkashazy

Luke 6 – Sermon on the Mount

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus continued David’s pattern in Psalms 37 of God’s conditional promises:

  1. Condition: Do not judge
    Promise: You will not be judged
  2. Condition: Do not condemn
    Promise: You will not be condemned
  3. Condition: Pardon
    Promise: You will be pardoned
  4. Condition: Give
    Promise: It will be given to you, poured into your lap a good measure — pressed down, shaken together, and running over (I LOVE this one!)
  5. Condition: Come to Jesus, hear His words, and act on them
    Promise: You will be “like a man building a house who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when there was a flood, the river burst against that house and yet it could not shake it, because it had been well built.” (v.48)
"Roman Centurion Faith Sketch" artwork by Leighton Autrey

Luke 7 – The Centurion

I’d love to know more about this interesting centurion. He was evidently a very good man, who treated the Jews with respect. The Jewish elders told Jesus that the centurion loved their nation and had built the Capernaum synagogue for them. He obviously cared about his slave and was deeply troubled by his slave’s sickness.

There seemed to be such unusual great love between this Roman official and his Jewish subjects. He wasn’t the one who sent for Jesus; it was the Jewish elders who took it upon themselves to petition Jesus for the centurion’s slave. The centurion instead sent friends to tell Jesus NOT to come because he was unworthy for Jesus to enter his home. A Roman officer tells a Jew, that the Jew is more worthy than a Roman?? Unheard of!

The centurion knew that if Jesus merely spoke the word that his slave would be healed. He was a man of authority and recognized Jesus’ powerful spiritual authority. The centurion’s understanding of who Jesus was, and his resulting faith and humility were extraordinary!

Numbers 22 – Balaam & his Talking Donkey

Balaam and his talking donkey are one of my favorite Old Testament stories. I find it to be a bit of comic relief from all the killing and blood splattering in Numbers. Balaam couldn’t see the angel of the LORD standing in his way. But his donkey could and veered off the path three times to avoid the angel. When Balaam beat his donkey, God opened the donkey’s mouth to speak to Balaam. Funny thing is that Balaam was so mad he doesn’t even wonder how in the world his donkey is speaking. Instead he argued back! I find it so funny that here was clueless Balaam arguing with an ass who could speak and see angels. That donkey saved Balaam’s life. I hope he got some extra treats!

Numbers 23

In Numbers 23, we see Balak, the king of Moab, trying to negotiate with God. When he didn’t get the answer he wanted, he kept trying to make a deal, marching Balaam around to various locations attempting to get his desired answer. Balak recognized Balaam’s authority, but not God’s.

I observe so many people trying to do this same thing today. Every time I hear somebody say, “Me and God, we have an ‘understanding,'” I always think of Balak. God doesn’t need to make deals with us lowly humans. We don’t get to write up the contracts. God’s in control. He holds all the cards. He is the rightful ruler. He earned His throne by creating us and giving us breath. We either recognize His power and submit to His authority or we are just fooling ourselves. God is in charge whether we recognize it or not.