From the Pulpit of a Holiness Preacher
An email newsletter ministry of Richard D. Swift, publishing the sermons of Rev. Reed A. Swift, a holiness preacher
The following sermon was preached in the Free Methodist Churches of Yale, Buel, Ball, and Caro, Michigan (1929-’33); Olive Branch, Louisiana; Glendale, California (Jan ’34- March ’35); Cottage Grove, Oregon; W. Hollywood, California (March ’35-’38); and Phoenix, Arizona (1938-’39)
Text- “I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all His people”
You may be surprised but I think the first vow on record in the Bible was made by Jacob, and it was to give back to the Lord 1/10 th of all the Lord gave to him. Genesis 28:20-22 (read). Then there was the ancient Nazarite vow. They were not to touch wine or strong drink. No razor was to touch his head. [Others] Jephtha’s vow, Hannah’s vow.
1. Vows to Our Fellowman
It is no little thing to make vows to our fellowman and then deliberately break them; it shows but little manhood if we donot go the parties we vowed to and tell them the reason our vows to them are broken. In case of obligations to them, we will keep our vows to them as far as it is within our power to do it. Nothing will hurt our Church any quicker than to make vows either with God or man and then not keep them. It looks, and no doubt is as bad as a lie, and no liar has a part in the Kingdom of God. Let’s keep them if just and proper, and if not tell them the reason for not keeping them.
2. Vows to the Church
These are vows which should inspire us to a closer walk with God. Read them and practice them, and I am sure it will do your soul good. But to draw back and count them lightly means you will be a curse and a blight to our spiritual Zion and your own soul will be blighted and cursed also. As these vows are in accordance with the will of God and should be kept faithfully as one who must give account to God at the judgement. Read General Rules in the Discipline
3. Vows in marriage.
It seems but a little thing anymore for marriage vows to be broken as sacred and as divine as they are men and women who have taken these sacred vows think it a small thing and for the most trivial excuses do they break those sacred vows. They may run to Reno, Nevada and for a few dollars have a divorce in a few days by telling most any kind of a falsehood. But those vows are recorded in heaven as well as in earth. God doesn’t allow them to be broken that easily and they will meet them again at the judgment (Give scripture). Man and wife joined together as long as they live.
4. Vows to God.
These no doubt are the most important, but if we keep them then we no doubt will keep them with our fellow man also. Then our most sacred vows to God should be kept to the letter by the Spirit's aid and assistance. For it is better not to vow a vow then to vow and then not pay the vow.
Solomon says Ecc.-5:4-5
God will hold us accountable at the judgment for the vows we make to him. Many men when in distress and difficulty promise much to God he will help them out of their distress. But vows are often forgotten when the distress and trouble are over. As I said it is better not to vow then vow and not keep it. If we mind God and walk in the light it usually isn’t necessary to make vows. We are obligated to obey regardless of vows. It has been told that some ministers have said they would not eat or sleep until a break came and the break never came. Such vows made publicly verge onto egotism or self glory. Obey God and fast and pray and the break will come if things are breakable. Same with a sister and her Godless children she fasted and fasted and lived on milk or fruit juice for months. But mother says they run the streets with no stockings on and grown up girls and she had better trained them when young. Instead of turning them loose to run with boys and
not know where they were. Obedience better then vows or sacrifice.
Anything that exalts man is dishonoring to God .we don’t need to do things to attract the attention of man to us for God deserves the glory. He gave his son as the only remedy for every trouble.
Some vows publicly announced looks like you are striving for honor and praise. But exalt Christ and sinners will be converted. As Bishop Zahnizer said. Preacher- Lawyer – Blacksmith. I don’t go much on mere pledges etc. But there are some pledges of taking up our cross that we must make and keep. A promise like this may help bind and hold fast obedience to the leading of the spirit.
It is the Holy Spirit Dispensation so let's be obedient to the Holy Spirit. We promise at altars that we will obediently fallow God. The word and the Holy Spirit are the voice of God. The Spirit and the Word agree so what we need to is an enduement of power from on high. We need the witness of the Spirit. And obediently follow the Spirit's leadings.
Jonah was a man as God called him, and he felt his inability he started to run the other direction. But Jonah vowed not some rash vow, but while in the belly of the fish, he said, “I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving.” I think if many would do that, God would help them and bless them as He did Jonah. So he said, “I will pay that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord; I’ll obey; let me out.” “And the Lord spake unto the fish and it vomited Jonah upon the dry land.” God’s voice and message was the same as before: “Go to Nineveh and preach the preaching I bid thee.” And Jonah went.
Immediate action and obedience: David said, “ I will pay my vows to the Lord NOW in the presence of all His people.” Be prompt in obeying God or the devil will usually defeat you.
It is not as important to announce our vows publicly as it is to pay them publicly. David said he would pay them in the presence of all the Lord’s people. That is the important thing: to pay our vow. It isn’t as important to make a pledge to a church or anything as it is to pay it.
Usually a pledge is no stronger than the man who makes it. God will always give strength to do His will, and if there is any failure, it is on man’s part. Obedience on our part isn’t a matter of whether other folks can do certain things so we ought to be able to do them. The important thing with us should be, am I doing what God wants me to do so that I am clear before Him?
He will pay the vows he made when he was in trouble. Because the Lord heard his cry and delivered him when he was afflicted and in trouble. How many make vows when in trouble or afflicted or in soul trouble, and then when God delivers they forget their vows and fail to pay to pay them? The psalmist did not give the Lord some lame, blind, sickly sheep to pay his vows with but brought the best of the herd and of his fold and sacrificed them to the Lord who wrought so great a deliverance. Do we do that when we pay our vows after a great deliverance? I trust we do. And I am trying to do that very thing myself.
As I said before, the all important need to enable us to pay our vows to God and man is the Power of Pentecost or the Witness of the Holy Spirit in our soul. Have we that witness now? We must have the Holy Ghost within us to enable us to win sinners to God. “The world by wisdom knew not God.” It takes a revelation from God. God, the Holy Ghost gives this revelation thru His God sent men as He did at Pentecost. There were tongues of fire that sat on each that received the Holy Ghost at Pentecost. Those tongues of fire went out and thousands were won to Christ. We will be a power for God if we have a tongue of fire, and we will have that if we have received the Holy Ghost. There is Power in a personal Pentecost that will win others to Christ and to God. Do we have that witness of this power of the Holy Ghost within our hearts tonight? Oh, it is our privilege! Bless God!