Thursday, September 8, 2011
Bad boys, Bad boys.... or Commitments in the hour of desperation (9)
On with the review:
3) God can use us regardless of our past. Although Jephthah was the product of an illicit relationship and a social outcast, God was able to raise him up and use him as a leader and deliverer. Jephthah was not defined by his origins, but by his faith. Hebrews 11:32-40 lists Jephthah in the “Hall of Faith”.
We can be encouraged that God uses outcasts, second bests, also-rans, set-asides, looked-over, never-picked to further His kingdom.
Why do we then persist in treating each other so poorly? Do we think so much of ourselves, or, more dangerously, that our standards are higher than God's?
And, there is a second life lesson here that many of us still need to learn or re-learn. Our pasts should not hold us hostage and should not constrain us from "getting our acts together" and soaring to new heights. If you are held prisoner by your past, that is your choice.
As much as you might like to blame the state of your affairs on others, you choose the company you ride with. If your best friends aren’t lifting you up, speaking positive-ness into your life, helping you move forward and contributing good-ness to your life…DUMP THEM! (see Fleas and Fellowship)
Get new people around you who are leading the life you want to see yourself in. Get mentors. Connect with some people who are going somewhere. Take a class. Take responsibility and ownership of your life. DO SOMETHING…
4) Stop making empty vows to God and to everyone else. If you must make a vow, plan to keep it. Work to increase your trust and faith so that you will not be tempted to try to ‘bargain’ for your blessings; so that you won't be tempted to bargain away your life and your future.
When we make commitments, if we insist on making them, we must remember to count the cost of the commitment. When Jephthah made his vow, it is apparent that he did not count the full cost. How could he have even considered making such an insane vow if he had truly anticipated that his one and only child who would meet him at the door upon his return home?
If we find the cost to be greater than what we expected, we must, nevertheless, be willing to follow through with our commitment to the Lord, and to everyone else.
Text: Judges 11:1-12:7
We must possess the will to remain committed. As awful as this story is, it took a lot of “will power” for Jephthah to follow through with the vow he had made to God. Despite arguments that he may have been “half-pagan,” he has chosen to honor God and take the approach of being “all in.” He has voiced his commitment to God, and even though he screwed up, he follows through.
This is hard stuff, even for me. We must possess the will to remain committed. Jephthah apparently loved God more than his daughter. This is not to say that Jephthah wasn’t heartbroken about having to fulfill his vow, but his respect and love for God took precedence. We must love God more than any other person or thing that might challenge our commitment to God. (Matthew 10:34-39)