Balaam’s Ass – part two

Today is part two of our look at the story of Balaam’s ass – read yesterday’s post first, as we’re drawing lessons from the three stories today.

Explaining the satire

As I said yesterday, these three stories interpret each other. The comedic interlude of the talking donkey – it’s there to explain the next scene. It’s a satire – to provide commentary in advance on what’s about to take place between Balak and Balaam. Have a look at the parallels between the two stories:

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Balaam’s Ass – part one

Before we begin a new series next week, we’ll spend the next two days looking at the (rather comical) story of Balaam’s ass in Numbers 22-24. It deals with some of the issues about God’s sovereignty raised in yesterday’s discussion of James 5.

This began life – as many of these posts have – as a sermon. But it wan’t a passage I chose to speak on – it was chosen for me by my (mischievous) congregation when I foolishly asked them to vote on which Old Testament stories they wanted preached over our summer break. I suspect that this story got voted for simply to see how many times I could use the word ‘ass’ in an amusing fashion. I don’t think I disappointed on that score. Yet in the process, I trust people learned a bit about God’s sovereignty through this bizarre story.

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James 5:13-20 – The Prayer of Faith (part three)

Today we’re concluding our study in the letter of James, which is all about the temptation to be double-minded: trying to be friends with God and friends with the world. Today is the last part of a three-day focus on James 5:13-20.

See yesterday’s post for today’s to make any sense.

We’re now at the point where we can look at one possible answer to the problem with this passage in James ‘And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well.’ The prayer of faith is one offered in accordance with the will of God. Faith produces a righteous lifestyle (James chapter 2); a righteous lifestyle (such as Elijah’s) means we can pray according to the will of God. Which means it will be done.

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James 5:13-20 – The Prayer of Faith (part two)

This week we’re concluding our study in the letter of James, which is all about the temptation to be double-minded: trying to be friends with God and friends with the world. Today is part two of a three-day focus on James 5:13-20.

The prayer of faith

Today, James moves from the general exhortation to live a prayerful life (verse 13, yesterday), to a specific case – in which we pray for a person who is sick. James gives us a simple instruction:

5:14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.

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James 5:13-20 – The Prayer of Faith (part one)

This week we’re concluding our study in the letter of James, which is all about the temptation to be double-minded: trying to be friends with God and friends with the world. Over the next three days we look at James 5:13-20.

A man walks into a … milk bar (in case there are any traditional Baptists reading). With an ostrich. And he orders a ginger beer. “That’ll be $3.90” says the milk-barman. So the man reaches into his pocket and pulls out exactly $3.90.

The next day, the man and his ostrich are back. He orders a coke. “That’ll be $3.50” says the milkbarman. And the man reaches into his pocket and finds exactly $3.50.

On the third day, the man and the ostrich go into the milkbar again, and the man asks for a milkshake. “That’ll be $4.80.” And again, the man reaches into his pocket to pull out the exact change. The milkbarman is curious, and asks him why it is he’s always got the exact money with him. 

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James 4:13-5:11 – Rich and Poor (part two)

This week we’re continuing in the letter of James, which is all about the temptation to be double-minded: trying to be friends with God and friends with the world. This is part two of our focus on James 4:13-5:11.

Yesterday, James (probably drawing on Jesus’ parable of the Rich Fool) has a go at wealthy Christians who are double-minded: they say that God’s in control but by their actions they show that God is far from their thinking. For a start, they forget that – just like the rich fool – God could take it all away from them in an instant. But more than that, they are thinking selfishly, storing up for themselves rather than being rich toward others. They are sinning by omission:

4:17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

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James 4:13-5:11 – Rich and Poor (part one)

This week we’re continuing in the letter of James, which is all about the temptation to be double-minded: trying to be friends with God and friends with the world. Over the next two days we look at James 4:13-5:11.

Life is short, is it not? What’s more, we don’t even know exactly how short ours is going to be. Statistically, I’m around the halfway mark. But it could end tomorrow, if there’s a bus out there with my name on it. Or a chicken bone, or an exploding backyard crystal meth lab (that’s near where I live).As it says in Ecclesiastes: life is a vapour. A mist. We’re here one minute, and gone the next. Life is short, and its end is unpredictable.

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