Friday, February 26, 2010

2010 – Feb. 26 – The Making/Keeping of Vows

Study from God’s Word Deut. 23: 1-8; Num. 6: 1-21; Lev. 27: 1-34; Deut. 23: 21-23; Lev. 19: 1-2, 19; Deut. 22: 9-11… Passage for Reflection: Deut. 23: 23 … NIV 21 If you make a vow to the LORD your God, do not be slow to pay it, for the LORD your God will certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty of sin. 22 But if you refrain from making a vow, you will not be guilty. 23 Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the LORD your God with your own mouth.

My Journal for Today:
The making and keeping of VOWS has waned in our western culture. Certainly in the days I read about in today’s study, vows were considered very important; and that would be a definite understatement. When one made a vow to God in the days of Moses, under God’s law, he was expected to keep that vow as a sign of surrender to God and man’s attempt to be holy just as God is Holy (see Lev. 19: 2 or 20: 7 in today’s OT readings or 1st Peter 1: 15, 16, repeated in the New Testament]. Today, I’m afraid that our use of vows has become far too superficial, even such ceremonial vows as marriage, which we know, in commitment and reality, only last about half the time.

Under the Old Covenant, the making and keeping of vows was serious business; and Nazirite vows were good examples of that. When a Hebrew man took a Nazirite vow, he vowed to separate himself in holiness so as to be used by God. Examples of those who took Nazirite vows in the Bible were Samson, Samuel, and John the Baptist; and in those days, these Nazirites vowed to let their hair grow and abstain from wine as signs of their intent and commitment to separate themselves unto holiness. Well, we know what happened to Samson, who definitely had trouble keeping his vows. Today, about as close to making vows as most of us get is in making New Year’s resolutions; and I think we know how often these fall by the wayside when it comes to keeping them.

This year, I have undertaken to make, and prayerfully keep, some commitments that are more like vows than resolutions. I began the year attempting to activate or maintain a series of behavioral commitments which I felt were those things which helped me to deepen my desire toward becoming a “living sacrifice,” as spelled out in Romans 12: 1-2. My initial surge was a 40 day commitment to maintain these habits and record these commitments to/for God; and I was able to go through those 40 days at the outset of this year, keeping – and even reporting my daily fulfillment. At the end of the 40 days, however, I realized that I needed to keep up the accountability and maintain my “vows” to God, which I felt were Spirit-led, anointed, and a calling to become more intimate in my relationship with my Lord. THEREFORE, I have surrendered myself to keep doing and reporting these vow-like commitments, at least for the remainder of this year. Those who are part of the ministry I lead [Battle Plan Ministries] see my logging of completion of these behaviors daily so that I might be accountable, somewhere, to someone, to document what I’m doing in surrender mode to God.

I don’t desire to be seen as being a “Nazirite” or something special because of my calling to pursue these commitments. I’m not doing these things to be seen as some kind of disciplined “Minister of commitment.” If anyone really knew me, they would know how far from that is from my normal, default, and very human mode of living. Bill Berry is naturally undisciplined, disorganized, and definitely selfish. Hence, this is my need to be more serious about going into and remaining in “surrender mode,” as I call it, to a Spirit-led life which allows me to deepen my relationship with Christ.

I know that only when I make habitual choices to follow Christ will I be able to receive His enabling grace and then to become fruitful for His Kingdom. Allowing myself to go into my default, natural mode of fulfilling my fleshly tendencies, I would become useless for God. And in the spirit of self analysis (which is exhorted by God’s word in 2nd Cor. 13: 5), I would charge you to take an inventory of your commitments to God (i.e., your vows of holiness); and decide which areas you might “tune up” for God’s glory. Then, write down those commitments (“goals,” if you will); and finally develop some way to be accountable for your commitments. And this needs to be far above any new year’s type resolutions. These need to be “VOWS” in the sense of today’s highlight verse; and I think you know which ones need to be made, recorded, and maintained for God’s glory.

I know that doing what I’ve been doing thus far this year has deepened my intimacy of relationship with Christ; and that is well worth any brief failures I’ve experienced during this year.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, I pray that I can keep on keeping on in my desire and intent to be more holy and follow You. Amen

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