For those reading through the Bible in a year, the passages for today are: Numbers 30-31:54; Luke 4:1-30; Psalm 63:1-11; Proverbs 11:20-21. This devotional commentes on Numbers 30 and the passages in Luke.
The first part of Numbers 30 addresses the speaking of vows. It is clear that God expects us to be men and women of our word. If we make a commitment, we should stick to it. I remember learning this lesson the hard way. I was in 7th grade and all my friends had gone out for track. “You should go out for track too,” they said.
I went home and begged to be allowed to join the track team. My parents tried to convince me that this wasn’t really the best idea. They knew me better than I knew myself at the time, but they relented and let me join the team. This was a commitment for them as we lived out in the country, and someone would have to make the drive into town to pick me up, not to mention getting me to the bus early Saturday mornings so that I could make it to the track meets.
It didn’t take long for me to decide that I wasn’t really cut out for track. In fact, I hated it. The coach always put me in the long runs. Not only did I come in last, but I crossed the finish line in tears. I then begged my parents to let me quit.
My dad’s words still ring in my head today, “You made a commitment to the coach and a commitment to the team. You need to see it through.” He would not let me quit even though it would reduce the amount of taxi service hours that my parents were putting in. He understood that I was learning a life lesson. Through that experience I learned to think about my commitments before I make them and to keep the ones I make.
God is saying the same thing to us in Numbers 30. Think about your vows before you make them, and keep the ones you make.
In our New Testament passage today, we see Jesus being tempted by Satan in the wilderness. He stood his ground refuting Satan’s words with scripture. How often do we need to do the same thing? There is power in scripture, but we have to know it in order to use it.
How might the Holy Spirit be leading you to respond to Christ’s example? Can you hide God’s word in your heart that you might not sin against him (Psalm 119:11)? Ask the Lord to show you how you can better integrate his word into your life.
It is notable that after Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness, eating nothing and being tempted by Satan, he returned to Galilee, “filled with the Holy Spirit’s power” (Luke 4:14). This is incredible! After a great struggle, he had power. If we allow him to, God can strengthen us through our times of struggle, and we can come out of them, full of the power of the Holy Spirit.
I am reminded of Corrie ten Boom, a well-known Dutch Christian who helped hide Jews during World War II. She and her family were eventually arrested. Corrie and her sister ended up in Ravensbruck, a notorious concentration camp. Her sister died there, but Corrie survived to return to the Netherlands and minister to other concentration camp survivors as well as Dutch citizens who had collaborated with the Nazis but were then jobless. She traveled to several countries sharing her testimony of how God sustained her through the horrors of that time. She was a powerful witness for Christ. Even after all she had been through, she came out filled with the power of God.
We serve a powerful, living, God who wants to build us up in strength. The key lies with our response to the struggles that we face in life. We have a choice to be defeated by our hardships or come out strengthened with power. As we feed on God’s word, fight our battles with that word, and submit to him in prayer, we can emerge full of the Holy Spirit and power.