Vows

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What is a vow? The dictionary defines it as a solemn promise; one by which a person is bound to an act, service or condition. It’s an oath, pledge, troth, a word. The most common vows are the ones made by husbands and wives in their marriage ceremony. We promise to love, honor… until death do we part. Interestingly, the Old Testament is full of men making vows to God and to one another. The Bible doesn’t say that God vows to us – it says that He has given us His Word; His Promises. He is not a man that can lie; He is able to keep His promises – unlike us.

I remember lying on my bed with a ruptured disc for 3 days. I was in so much pain, I couldn’t move – I’ll spare you the details! I was so desperate for God to touch me and heal my back that I started to ‘bargain’ with Him. “God, if you heal me and take this pain away, I vow I’ll never watch TV again!” (I was really reaching for stuff I thought would move Him). Come on, haven’t some of you been there (at least in desperation or ignorance)? “God, If you get me out of this mess, I promise to (whatever).” “God, if you help me through this, I promise to serve You for the rest of my life!” Oh, how we think like mere men (or little children).

God did miraculously heal my back on the 3rd day. I was so amazed by what He did that I really didn’t know how to respond – almost like I needed to pay Him back or something. Oh wait, I vowed if He healed my back I wouldn’t ever watch TV again. So, I started out keeping my vow to Him pretty well, sort of… but, then I forgot and flipped on the TV. I instantly felt so overwhelmed by this self-condemning thing that came on me. What was I thinking? Who am I kidding? What a deceptive web the enemy weaves! God is the author of our FAITH, not our confusion or deception!

I finally stopped, looked into His face and cried out to Him, “Daddy… save me! I can’t make sense of this! Show me what’s going on!” I saw myself as His little child; confused and upset by what had taken place. I repented of my ignorance and my emotions. I knew He was there, smiling at me and loving me as the perfect Father He is.

The understanding I gained was that it’s not wise to vow a vow to God, and if we do, we need to do it with His wisdom and understanding and then keep the decision we made to Him. A vow is really a choice we make out of our understanding at the time we make it. There is no bargaining or making deals with God. He has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness by the Blood of Jesus. There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. We are forgiven, we are accepted, we are the apple of His eye! He is the Father, we are His children. His Word instructs and corrects us and that is enough! He corrects us through His Word. There’s no punishment, no time-out, nor being grounded like some earthly parent would do. He’s (more than) happy to instruct us in the ways of Righteousness. Repentance is a way of life for the believer because we don’t know everything and He already knows when we are going to miss it. We’re learning – we are to practice righteousness and practice the Truth. (1 John 1:6, 1 John 3:10)

Ecclesiastes 5:4,5 says, “When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; For He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed. Better not to vow than to vow and not pay.”

Consequently, I’m not likely to vow a vow to God. It’s not like we are supposed to declare some hard and fast rules or regulations that we need to keep to stay in His grace. I do make a list of things I want to do for Him. #1 is loving Him more, then knowing Him more and loving my fellow man more. I desire to please Him in every way with my life, my thoughts and actions. I ask Him to correct and instruct me when I miss it. Most of all I’m aware of the blood covenant He’s made with me for all eternity! As His Bride, I vow to keep my part of the covenant with Him by loving Him with all my heart, mind, soul and strength; and to love others as myself. I know I can’t do any of this on my own. (My spirit is willing but my flesh is really stupid.) He is the one who first called us, who first loved us and He is the one who sustains and draws us. We can’t even come to Him or walk with Him without the help of His Holy Spirit who lives in us.

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. Romans 8:14

Our walk with the Lord really boils down to obedience. Obeying the voice of God is the most important ‘vow’ we can make to Him and to ourselves. What is the voice of the God (especially if you can’t hear Him in your heart yet)? It is His voice inside of us, but mainly  His Word. We need to read the Bible consistently – like we eat, drink and sleep. Not many of us miss a meal or a night’s sleep. Why would we not carve out a few minutes of our day to study the Bible and talk to God when we know it is so vital to our spiritual health? Like eating, drinking and sleeping is to our bodies, having our minds renewed by the Word and our fellowship with Him keeps us from all kinds of deception and error.

You do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. Matt. 22:29

God keeps His word, He keeps His promises to us. He is not a man that He can lie. We would do well to rely fully on the Holy Spirit to keep us in all of our ways and leave our vows for the marriage alter.

Give It All To God

it will all be ok

Life gets messy sometimes. Just when you think you have a handle on your life and situations, something changes. Life is always changing. When you think about it – does anything really ever stay the same?

Glory to God that Jesus remains the same! He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is the anchor of our soul. He is always in a fixed position in our lives. Can you imagine what it would be like if God changed from one day to the next? It’s hard enough to keep up personally with our own changing world, attitudes, thoughts and circumstances – let alone try to figure out what God is thinking today! Jesus is the sure foundation under our feet – one that will never change like the shifting sands of this life.

We can always experience a place of peace, rest and trust in Him that we will never find in this world. No other name brings us comfort and assurance but the name of Jesus. Just saying His name transports us to a place in Him where all is well with our soul.

We don’t have any problems but what He cannot fix. There is nothing wrong with us that He cannot change. There is no lack in our life but that He won’t provide. He has given us all things that pertain to life and Godliness. (2 Peter 1:3)

It’s OK to feel out of control and not know what’s going on in our lives. He has promised, to the believer, that ‘all things work together for good to them that love God.’ (Rom. 8:28) and ‘all things are possible to him who believes.‘ (Mark 9:23) We don’t have to figure out our lives. He tells us over and over again in His word that He’ s already got it figured out. We are to let go and trust Him – putting everything in His hands.

Most of the time, it’s our perception of the things we are seeing and holding onto. What are you holding onto that you need to give to Him? What are you facing that you think you need to fix on your own – by your own intelligence or understanding? What are you trying to figure out apart from God’s wisdom and direction?

Some days I feel the urge to tidy up my surroundings and put everything back in its place, as if that’s going to change my spiritual perception for the day. In actuality, God is asking us to give Him those things that seem out-of-place in us. Put them in His hands where they belong! We are to cast our cares on Him because He cares for us.

We walk by faith and not by sight (or our feelings). Our carnal way of thinking has this insatiable urge to try to fix everything on its own – like a default mode of operation. Remember to ‘Think Jesus’! Remain calm and like my son used to say, “Put the cookie down and step away from the counter and nobody gets hurt.”

I don’t want to make light of anyone’s circumstances or situations. There are Christians everywhere that are struggling to the point of suicide, turning to drugs and alcohol to take away their pain (whether spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, financial or relational). Turning to these are man’s remedies – not God’s. He would never want us to come to the place where we think we have to take matters into our own hands. We must submit to God. “For all the promises of God in Him are yes, and in Him Amen, (2 Cor. 1:20).

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you the root of your pain and agitation. Pray, cry out to God – even seek Godly council with a trusted source, but do not think you have to figure out how to get relief on your own. God has the answer to our every need. Believe that He loves you.

Holy Spirit Fire is the Wisdom of God.

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Have you ever really thought about the definition of fire?  It’s energy, it’s hot, it purifies, and it consumes – yet what it consumes is changed from one form to another such as wood to ash and smoke. In the natural, fire is a destructive force for certain! Webster’s definition of fire is 1) The phenomenon of combustion (the act or instance of burning). 2) Burning passion 3) Inspiration 4) Brilliancy, Luminosity.

This sounds a lot like the definition of fire in the spiritual realm. In Matthew 3:11, Jesus is saying that He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. Hebrews 12:29 says “God is a consuming fire.” The Greek word for fire is (G4442) ‘pyr’ – meaning ‘to purify’.

1 Peter 1:7 “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”  Our faith is referred to as gold being tried in the fire. The process by which gold is purified is that the gold is heated up so the dross comes to the outside. It’s then cooled and the dross is brushed off. The gold is then put back into the fire to be heated up and purified again – over and over until the gold is pure. (Even we desire pure gold over impure gold!)

What is consumed in us by the Fire of God is changed from one form to another. Although the old man was crucified and died with Christ, there remains a residue of the carnal thought patterns we were born into such as pride, immorality, idolatry, arrogance, perversion, worry, discord, doubt, anger, wrath, etc, etc.  We must submit our souls to pass through a furnace of affliction to be purified and refined of all that would hinder us as a new creature in Christ. Isaiah 48:10, “Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.”

When we accepted Jesus as Lord over our lives, we in essence, gave Him permission to do His work in us. We are transformed by the renewing of our minds in order to be transformed into the likeness of Jesus in every way. The old thought patterns and structures of how we thought in the past need to be consumed, burned up and purified in order for the transformation from the carnal mind of man to the Mind of Christ – His passion, His illumination, His way of thinking and His inspiration! How is this done? I say; not by our own doings! Man is not capable of delivering himself from old mindsets anymore than he can pull himself up by his own bootstraps. This is done only by the work of the Holy Spirit. We cannot change ourselves by ourselves – it is not possible because the carnal man (old self) is all about self-preservation.

Romans 8:7, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”

Romans 8:13, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” 

God purifies our souls through His Wisdom – His Wisdom literally destroys our impurities! The book of Proverbs is so important for us to study and meditate on concerning Wisdom. So, what does the Fire of God and the Wisdom of God have to do with each other? Everything. Without the Wisdom of God to apply to our minds and hearts, we would literally have no lasting benefit from His Fire! The instruction of His Wisdom mixed with our faith brings about our purified minds and hearts (the soul). He doesn’t do a work in us apart from our knowledge of it. He wants us to be fully aware of the work He’s doing in us – even though we don’t fully understand how He goes about accomplishing it at the time.

That’s His Wisdom – His Fire is working in us to burn up all that would hinder our new man from surrendering and abandoning our all to Him. God knows exactly what He is doing! He knows the what, how, when, where and why. He plans out our course very strategically. He will not hurt the preciuos fruit of the vine (our souls)! No, never! However, He will prune back that which doesn’t produce fruit. Read John chapter 15.

When you are being refined in the Fire, things seem to look blackened and sooty – not so much like polished gold; either on the outside or the inside of us! I dare say this is a process that may last a very long time. Do not be discouraged. Do not give up. Know that your Heavenly Father loves you more than you can comprehend. He doesn’t leave you in the fire for long periods of time without refreshing you. He knows perfectly how to purify, purge, consume and change the very essence of who you are designed to be. This process is most important! They are not true sons of God who do not submit to His process of purification. At times, your old self will not like it – but rather think it’s dying! Isn’t that the point? However, He promises that when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned nor the flame kindle upon you – the Jesus in you; your true identity.

“It  is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” Gal. 2:20

Surrender to God until you are wholly absorbed in Him. He is Love and His Love draws you upon the Potter’s wheel. In love, stay on the wheel and respond to His work in you. There is no other way. You will not be ashamed or disappointed. You will wear the victor’s crown. Remember, we are just passing through this life, this is not our final home. We have an eternal reward in Heaven (Matt. 5:12). It’s all good.

Jesus My Friend

Let us Rest

Let us rest and talk awhile

Turn my heart from all that’s vile.

In your presence does my heart mend

Truly you are my closest friend.

Pick me up and draw me near

Your tender love chases way all fear.

Forgive my busyness and things at hand

Draw me away to Your Holy Land.

My true desire is to be with you

Only Your Grace can see me through.

In You alone are all my remedies

For Your Blood has washed away my enemies.

Debra Lilly