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Keeping Your Vows

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God’s hand was heavy on me. I could feel the weight of His presence bowing me to the ground in tearful surrender. Like King David cried out in Psalm 32, my strength had dried up. There was nothing else to do but give in. Have you ever felt like that?

It had been a difficult season filled with big choices that would affect my family’s future, conflicts with people we cared about, and emotional reminders of commitments I’d made which I’d failed to keep. And one day, my resolve to continue just crumbled in painful, glorious defeat. It was glorious because only in defeat did I find God’s heart for me. And part of it was this:

“This is what the LORD has commanded. If a man vows a vow to the LORD, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth” (Numbers 30:1-2 ESV).

When the Lord spoke these words to His people, He was helping them understand how to live with His blessing. If they obeyed His Word, they could expect Him to walk with them and provide out of His abundance. But when they disobeyed, they would find Him resisting them. He wanted to make them holy like Himself, completely set apart from the world. So, He called on them to keep their word—especially to Him.

The day I surrendered, God reminded me of His Word about vows. He used the story of Jonah, sharing with me how Jonah ran for as long as he could from what God had called him to do—preaching repentance to his enemies in Nineveh—before finally yielding to God’s will. When Jonah gave in, he said,

“I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the LORD!” (Jonah 2:9).

I also had run from a call to preach God’s Word publicly, for years. And God reminded me that I’d promised on the day of my salvation to let Him do anything He wanted with my life. Our heavenly Father chastens every child He calls His own, as a good father must—so He’d been disciplining me. And as the Word says,

for the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (Hebrews 12:11).

God disciplines us for our good, and He reserves the right to do whatever it takes to make us holy like Himself.

The good news is, God gave Jesus to us as a new covenant (Isaiah 42:6), an agreement where our failure would not break the covenant, because our Beloved would keep both ends of the agreement for us. What a wonder! But that means we ought to pour out our lives in thankful service to the One who has chosen to bind Himself to us forever.

Let’s remember today what Jesus has done, and let’s look back at the promises we’ve made to God—and to others. As Jesus said, we ought just to keep our word rather than make vows, but that also means that every word is a promise. So, what promises have you made? Let’s turn to God in repentance and trust Christ in us to empower us to do all things and fulfill our vows. Let’s allow God to make us holy in this area of our lives. His Spirit loves to fill a holy vessel!


Scripture is quoted from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®). ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. The ESV® text has been reproduced in cooperation with and by permission of Good News Publishers. Unauthorized reproduction of this publication is prohibited. All rights reserved.

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About The Author

Jonathan Macnab

Jonathan works with CBN’s Operation Blessing, and he considers it a great privilege to be a small part of bringing God’s love to the nations. He’s a published author who lives near Tupelo, Mississippi, with his wife and precious kids. They enjoy exploring new places and tasting new treats.

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