Reading 1 - Num 22
"The way of Balaam (Num 22-24) is the prostitution of a spiritual gift for a base gain. The error of Balaam is the secret idea that the will of God may be circumvented under cover of an outward respect for His Word. The doctrine of Balaam is the counsel to ruin by seduction the people who cannot be cursed by permission" (J Sidlow Baxter, "Explore the Book").
And, in Num 25, the sins of Balaamites are seen to be: sex, money, power! What an ancient but timeless story, as we see it unfold! And how distinctly descriptive of the most modern stories: of the climb to precarious heights of power, and then the precipitous fall.
When it appeared that other means had failed, then the "counsel of Balaam" (Num 31:16) was to use "strange women", temple priestesses and prostitutes of Moab to seduce -- and ultimately to destroy -- God's special people. The people of God may win many engagements against the forces of evil, but they must ever be on their guard: the "friendship of the world" -- which comes when it is least expected, and is the most subtle, and seems to have nothing to do with the "real" battle -- may be the most dangerous and destructive part of the whole conflict.
Reading 2 - Pro 16:31
"Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life" (Pro 16:31).
"The hoary head is a crown of glory, IF it be found in the way of righteousness" (KJV).
"Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art."
"Listen to the oldsters: learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself."
Reading 3 - Eph 3:8
"Although I am less than the least of all God's people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ" (Eph 3:8).
"The apostle Paul felt it a great privilege to be allowed to preach the gospel. He did not look upon his calling as a drudgery, but he entered upon it with intense delight. Yet while Paul was thus thankful for his office, his success in it greatly humbled him. The fuller a vessel becomes, the deeper it sinks in the water. Idlers may indulge a fond conceit of their abilities, because they are untried; but the earnest worker soon learns his own weakness. If you seek humility, try hard work; if you would know your nothingness, attempt some great thing for Jesus. If you would feel how utterly powerless you are apart from the living God, attempt especially the great work of proclaiming the unsearchable riches of Christ, and you will know, as you never knew before, what a weak unworthy thing you are" (CH Spurgeon).