Cooper P. Abrams III
Verses 1-3 Records the voices of the people in thanksgiving.
2 Chronicles 32 and 2 Kings 19 records how that Sennacherib, Assyrian king had defeated Judah and made her a vassal state demanding 300 talents of silver, so Hezekiah, King of Judah took all the gold and silver from the temple and from the palace to give to the Assyrian king.
Assyria sent her great general Rab - shaken, with their mighty army to besiege Jerusalem. Rabshaken, mocked and ridiculed Judah by saying, “Who will you turn to for help little nation?” Egypt and the other nations will not help you. Assyria had earlier destroyed Israel, the Ten Northern Tribes, and now was attacking Judah.
He further rebuked them for claiming to be the people of Jehovah God. He told them, “You can not even call on your God, because you have not served Him. Why would your God help you after you have torn down His altars.” This plainly shows the state of idolatry to which Judah had fallen. The pagan nations plainly saw that Judah was not serving the Lord. They were in fact rejecting God. The pagan nations around them knew of their history of how the Lord had blessed them, had called them to be His people and a testimony to Him, and they mocked Judah and God because she had chosen to serve the dumb idols of the pagans.
In other words Judah was worshiping the gods of her enemies and paying the Assyrians. America is doing the same thing. Last week there was a special on PBS paid for by government with our tax dollars which praised and glorified Islam. It gave a glowing picture of Islam as a peaceful religion of peaceful people. If they gave an award for the biggest lie on TV for 2002...this documentary would win the prize hands down. It was in the name of their god Allah that the Islamists Muslim made their terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
Islam and its holy book the Koran is being promoted now is many of our public schools, colleges and universities. In many cases it has become required reading.
Assyria a pagan nation rebuked Judah and the Lord God Jehovah. Unlike America, Hezekiah turned to the Lord and confessed his and the sins of Judah, and ask God for deliverance.
The Lord responded, saying that they were not to fear the ungodly Assyrians. During the night God killed 185,000 Assyrians, and the mighty General Rabshaken with what was left of his army returned home.
Back in Assyria, God continued to work, and Sennacherib who had planned the attack on Judah, was assassinated by his own sons.
God gave a great victory to Judah. Psalm 33:12-22 expresses the perfectly. The nation who looks to God for help will be protected. Military might will not protect the nation who forsakes God.
3. I want to focus on verse 10-11. A-saf was there during all these happenings. He records in the Psalm and important detail of these events.
The people vowed themselves unto the Lord. First the King begged for forgiveness for his sins and lack of faithfulness....then lead the people to follow. They committed themselves unto the Lord and God turned their desperate situation around and greatly bless the child of God.
4. This is the beginning of a new year. It is a time to reflect on the past and consider the future.
It is a time when resolutions are made and conscious vows are made toward living a better life. Of doing better this year. Of overcoming problems and of prospering.
5. Every Christian ought to know the joy of moving forward in Christian growth by making solemn sacred vows to the Lord. Another way to state this is that we need to renew our commitment to the Lord.
We must be willing to commit ourselves , in solemn promise, to God. 2 Peter 3:18, says, "but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen."
Christians who never make any conscious dedication to Christ is a believer who does not mature in his faith and misses the blessing of God for his life and the joy of serving and reaping the rewards of serving our wonderful loving Savior.
Every Christian ought to know the joy of making promises to God and keeping them.
Every Christian ought to know the experience the favor of God in making a commitment to Him.
Only the uninformed or backslidden Christian would refuse to make solemn commitments to Christ Jesus who suffer so much for us.
5. Some have used the verse in Eccl. 5:4-5 as a reason not to make vows.
“When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay” (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5).
What is means is a Christian should not make a vow he does not intend to keep. A vow made without conviction and determination to keep it is not a commitment in the first place.
The true vow or commitment to the Lord is one that comes from a heart felt desire of thanksgiving to God and longing to serve God as God would have him serve.
6. Some faithless Christians never make a vow for fear they will not be able to keep it. They are like the servant whom Jesus called wicked and slothful, in the parable of the Talents in Matt. 25. He took what God gave him to be responsible for and did nothing with it.
Christian growth and the Lord's blessing are withheld from those who never make any step forward by faith.
Making a commitment to the Lord is an act of faith. We know we are not able within ourselves to please God.
Hebrews 11:6, says it is impossible to please God without faith. Paul says in Phil. 4:13, "that in Christ Jesus he could do all things."
God wants a willing heart and when we allow Him to he works and that is where we find our strength! Being willing to be used of the God.
It is easy to try and excuse ourselves by saying our flesh is weak. The failure of the flesh is NO excuse. We are to live by faith in God's strength, We are not to serve God through the flesh.
It is true what the old saying says, NOTHING VENTURED NOTHING GAINED.
Our Lord certainly beckons each of us to not be faithless, and to believe God and trust in His power to work this miracle in you. Of maturing you, or using you.
7. I want to suggest that you and I make four vows unto the Lord.
I. A VOW OF SEPARATION.
A. No Christian can be obedient to Christ who does not live a separated life.
1. A young husband separates himself from former companions in order to give himself more completely to his bride and family.
Even so the child of God must separate himself from worldly attractions in order to give himself Christ in love and complete devotion.
2. However, it is much more that just a turning from the world!
Believers who abstain from worldly practices and habits with no intention of doing anything positive for Christ have completely missed the point.
3. The separation is from the world, and unto Christ. Either one without the other is useless and doomed to failure.
B. Daniel was not unlike you and I. He had the same weaknesses and human failing as all have. However, what made him different was his commitment to the Lord.
1. "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself." Daniel 1:8
2. Note: "He purposed in his heart". Daniel made a conscious vow to be faithful to the Lord.
In being faithful to his vow he was faithful to the Lord.
3. He had great pressure from the world to live as they did. It actually endangered his life. But his commitment was complete.
Know matter what the consequence, he vowed to do what was right!
C. God says be separated from sin. "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty" (2 Corinthians 6:17-18).
1. That is God commandment to us...thus we should surely be committed to this?
Would it be a act of love and thanksgiving toward Christ, not to live as He in love directs us too?
2. A separated Christian is a happy and satisfied one.
3. With Daniel would you not purpose in your heart to be separated from the contaminated wine and meat of the world?
II. A VOW OF SERVICE.
A. Some have reckoned that this is the day of "spectator Christianity."
1. Churches have become a show place where the pastor and a few others put on the show. The pulpit has become a stage instead of the sacred desk where the Word of God is preached. The congregation sits back an watches the show. Music is the center stage and not the preaching of God’s word. People in these apostate churches have a good time, but they always go away spiritual enemy, waiting for the next “show” when they temporarily entertained and for a few minutes forget their sorrows and spiritual deadness.
2. Every Christian is called on to render faithful service to God. This is a task for which God will not accept any substitute.
B. Christians are not spectators! They are the ones who are working actively for the Lord.
1. No one is saved unless an effort is made to reach them. No one receives Christ without someone making an effort to tell him of the love of Christ.
The gospel must be carried, until someone picks it up it remains idle. The power of the Bible is released when it is read, preached and taught. That is God's plan and his plan is to use you and I who profess His name to reach the lost.
2. God says that it is require of a servant that he be found faithful.
This is elementary! It needs not even to be said....it is abnormal for a Child of God to be idle and not serving the Lord.
3. NOTE: If the Vow of Separation is not made it will hinder or stop cold, the believers faithfulness.
C. It should be a family commitment.
1. "Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD" (Joshua 24:14-15).
2. It is the example over and over again in God's Word, that the child of God make a conscious vow to serve the Lord, or not.
3. Many a child suffers because the parent never commits himself to the spiritual upbringing of the child.
Many a child suffers because the parent has not made a total commitment to serving the Lord, and thus the child has no example to follow.
What better thing could a saved wife or husband do in leading their unsaved spouse to the Lord, than a total commitment to serving the Lord.
A half hearted service, never encourages anyone. It appears as it really is...a sham and hypocrisy.
III. A VOW OF STEWARDSHIP.
A. No Christian who fails in the area of stewardship can claim to be living for Christ.
1. "So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7).
2. The faithful child of God realizes that stewardship is a vital part of our Christian life.
3. It is not what we profess or say we believe that determine what we truly are...but what we actually do determines what we are.
To say we love God and refuse to faithful give to support it is a contradiction.
B. No Christian has given a gift unto the Lord until he has first given the tenth or tithe.
The Bible tells us that the tithe is the Lord's. He gives it to us to give to Him. Ours is the 90 % which is left. What we give out of that determines what our commitment is to the Lord.
1. It is a shame that a small part of the church has to bear the financial burden of the whole church.
ILLUS: No club, civic organization is run that way. Everyone is assessed dues. If you don't pay your dues you are not a member. I am a member of the Kiwanis to be a member we must pay our dues. With the finances received in dues the organization could not function. Those who are committed to the goals of the organization willing pay their dues so the work can go on. We can see this principle in civic organization, but many do not seem to see it applied to the Lord’s church.
2. The mark of a faithful child of God is that they recognize their responsibility to share a part in God's work.
3. It is very confusing that a person would claim to have saving faith and trust the promise of God for salvation, but not be a tither.
There is a difference in the two acts. One of accepting God's promise of forgiveness of sin, and the other of actively tithing.
One can walk an aisle and be baptized and voted a member of the church. Up to this point little is outward required but to say you believe in Christ and submit to coming forward and baptism.
However, what follows validates the outward act of profession Christ.
First becoming a Christian is receiving. Receiving Christ, receiving church membership and baptism.
However, after receiving comes the giving. The acts of showing thanksgiving unto the Lord.
We show the acts in coming to the services of the church, in praying, in working in what ever way we can to support the work of Christ's church, and part of that is giving financially to God.
C. Every child of God should naturally make a vow and commitment to see the work of the Lord carried on.
1. Those who do not give generously to the Lord are guilt of having a covetous heart. They are guilty of not trusting God. They are being disobedience.
2. You see the person who makes this commitment learns an important truth! God promises to give back to you all you give and much more and to meet your needs.
"Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you." Luke 6:38
"But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully" (2 Corinthians 9:6)
4. Folks this is a better financial secret than all the folks on TV who sell you their Secrets to Success programs put together.!
D. If you are a child of God and have not made the commitment to tithe and generously support the work of the Lord, then because of your love for Christ who died for you, won't you do it now?
IV. A VOW OF SALVATION.
A. The great reality that is hidden from view is the fact that man is a sinner and without Christ's atonement is bound for a devils hell.
1. It is a literal place. It is a place of torment and eternal punishment.
2. It should break every child of God's heart to see the lost dying without Christ.
B. It may be that some here have for year even contemplated receiving Christ as your Savior?
1. Some maybe fully intend to trust in Christ at some time in the future. That may be you intention.
2. Can you not realize contemplation without decision is a deceitful trick of the Devil. Satan will even consent to your realizing your need of Christ as long as you do not determine in your heart to be saved until some later date.
No one in his right mind would intend to die without Christ and go to Hell. Good intentions do not save.
Would you not right now say Yes the to message of God for you today? Yes I will trust in Christ, Today I will settle the matter and get my life straight with God.
1. Good intentions do not help the Christian serve the Lord. Only a conscious commitment does that.
2. I am sure that every believer here has good intentions toward Christ.
I am sure we all are grateful for His suffering for us.
We want to live as He wants us....Yes, we all want it, don't you?
But, we realize that at times we fail. Maybe the reason for our failure is our lack of commitment to Christ and His work? It is possible to be saved and be fairly contented with our lives and yet not be faithful to the Lord?
Don't you think that is possible? The evidence of that is in the fruit we are producing! Are you producing Fruit.
Are you faithful in being separated from sin?
Are you faithful in service. In attending and supporting Christ's church.
Are you faithful in stewardship. Do you tithe and give thanksgiving offerings above the tithe?
Are you saved my friend? Do you know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior? It all starts there does it, by believing and trusting in the Lord to forgive your sins and give you eternal life. Salvation is a commitment to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior...and as our Lord.
Would you do as Judah did and respond today by making a vow to be obedient to Christ, in what ever area we have not left Christ have first place.
Invitation: Two fold.
First: With only the music playing. If you are here without Christ would you receive Him now.
Second: (After giving time for a response) You make a public commitment today, make a outward sign of your dedication to the Lord?
Would you come forward an join me in bowing before the Lord, and praying with me dear Lord Jesus, this day, I commit my all to you.
Lord, I know I am weak, but you will make me strong, I want to grow spiritually ever closer to you and stronger in my faith.
I want to be a man of faith. Lord help me to believe.
And in this year 2003, I vow to serve you as best I can in what ever place you desire.