The Durability of Faith in 2021; Part 1

January 5, 2021
Dear Visionary Leader:
There is a huge need today for men—real men: men of character, men of integrity, men that will stand, men of strength. Our world is in trouble because our homes are in trouble, and our homes are in trouble because men have failed to be the men of God that they ought to be.
In this chapter we are going to study about a man who was a man of faith. His name was Jephthah. Most of us have not heard of Jephthah, but God has heard of him. God wrote about him in Hebrews chapter 11:32, of the great heroes of the faith. He didn’t tell anything about him but just says Jephthah was one of these mighty men. We are going to find out the marks of his character. What made him such a mighty man—a man of steel, a man of strength? What was his character like? He was one of a handful of men that God put in the Hall of Fame of Faith in Hebrews chapter 11.
In Judges chapter 11:1-3, we “Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valour…”—right away, we know something about him: He was a man of strength—“a mighty man of valour, and he was the son of an harlot: and Gilead begat Jephthah. And Gilead’s wife bare him sons; and his wife’s sons grew up, and they thrust out Jephthah, and said unto him, Thou shalt not inherit in our father’s house; for thou art the son of a strange woman. Jephthah fled from his brethren, and dwelt in the land of Tob: and there were gathered vain men to Jephthah, and went out with him.”
There are several durable qualities of strong faith. Our Lord desires for these powerful qualities to help us to endure the test and trails that will come our way during our lifetime.
We Need Character in the Face of Difficulties
If anybody ever had a background that he could use for an excuse, it was Jephthah. We need to learn today to be unshackled by the past. You need to quit making excuses for your background. Stop blaming your circumstances, and forget all this psychobabble about, “What’s wrong with you now is somebody else’s fault and something that happened to you some time ago.”
Jephthah was the son of a harlot; he was an illegitimate child. However, in reality, there are no illegitimate children in the truest sense of the world—only illegitimate parents. Every child has a right to live, and I’m glad he wasn’t aborted. But, in today’s lingo, he was an illegitimate child; and, as a result, he was looked down on by his half-brothers, who disowned him. They said, “You’re not going to share in the inheritance.” Actually, he was exiled; he was driven out. The Bible tells us that he was in a consort of vain fellows (Judges 11:3). That is, he had a bad environment; he’s known failure, and rejection, and poverty.
Today, most people would say, “We don’t expect much of Jephthah. He has an excuse, if he turns out bad.” I mean, the psychologist and the sociologist would say, “He’s not to blame. It’s all somebody else’s fault. He is the creature of his environment.” Today, we do that, don’t we? We use our background as an excuse.
It is an amazing thing today that there is a war on guilt. Nobody is to be responsible anymore for what they do wrong; it’s somebody else’s fault. To feel guilty is considered unproductive. Thus, the word guilt is obsolete. It’s an affront to our dignity and our self-esteem in this day where me-ology has taken over from theology.
That’s exactly what this man Jephthah could have said: “Hey, don’t blame me. I am not a perpetrator; I am a victim.” We have a generation today of victims. I mean, nobody’s responsible; we’re just casualties. And our sin is not sin. It’s sickness; it’s disease; it’s a dependency. We’re not an alcoholic or a druggie; we have a chemical dependency. We’re not a glutton; we have an eating disorder. We’re not a sex fiend; we are sexually challenged—somebody else’s fault. Guilt’s out of date.
That’s the reason today the therapy industry is booming. People are spending millions for people to tell them that they’re not sinful—they’re sick; they’re not responsible: “Don’t think of yourself as a sinner. You come, and you can be my patient. What your problem is—you’re an addict.” You know, we’ve got sex addicts, and gambling addicts, and nicotine addicts, and anger addicts, and wife-beating addicts, and child-molesting addicts, and debt addicts, and self-abuse addicts, and envy addicts, and failure addicts, and over-eating addicts, or whatever. The problem with all of this is just simply this: If you make a wrong diagnosis, you’ll never get the cure. Jesus did not die for mistakes; He died for sin. Stop blaming your past. Stop saying you’re somebody else’s fault. You’ll never rise to be what you ought to be.
The Bible teaches that guilt is real, that we are responsible; but the Bible teaches that grace is wonderful, and forgiveness is free and full. Here was a man—he had a bad birth and a bad background. But the Bible teaches that, if we were born wrong the first time, we can be born again—that we can be a royal blueblood, a child of the King. If you’ve had a rough background, just remember that just may be the black velvet on which the diamond of God’s grace is displayed.
I think of those who came out of great difficulty to great power. Think of Joseph. He also was disowned by his brothers, and sold as a slave, and lied about, and slandered, and rotted in prison; but his abasement was God’s plan for his advancement. If the devil has been against you, remember this: that God often used the sword that Satan has sharpened to cut off Satan’s own head—just like David cut Goliath’s head off with Goliath’s own sword. The power of God is greater than all the odds that are stacked against you, and the grace of God is greater than all of your sins. Stop making alibis and stop making excuses.
Here was a man that had a terrible background, but he’s listed in the Hall of Fame of Faith. We must have character in the face of our difficulties. We should disentangle ourselves from our past. All right? Quit living in the past. Quit trying to say, “Well, I’m just a victim. I’m just a bundle of bad genes or a victim of psychological muddles.” Begin saying, “I can be what I ought to be by the grace of God today.”
We Need Confidence in the Face of Danger
We need not only character in the face of our difficulties, but we need confidence in the face of danger.
A. We Are Not Bound by the Past
Now, look in verse 4: “And it came to pass in the process of time…”—by the way, a man used to keep this part of this text on his desk. It said, “It came to pass.” That’s all he had. He said, “I look up there. And, if I’m having too good of a time, I know it’s going to pass; but when the trouble comes, it’ll pass too”—“it came to pass in the process of time, that the children of Ammon made war against Israel. And it was so, that when the children of Ammon made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to fetch Jephthah out of the land of Tob” (Judges 11:4–5).
He must have already had a reputation for being an honorable and a strong man, because they said, “Send for this man that we’ve cast out.” “And they said unto Jephthah, Come, and be our captain, that we may fight with the children of Ammon. And Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, Did not ye hate me, and expel me out of my father’s house? and why are ye come unto me now when ye are in distress? And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, Therefore we turn again to thee now, that thou mayest go with us, and fight against the children of Ammon, and be our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead. And Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, If ye bring me home again to fight against the children of Ammon, and the LORD deliver them before me, shall I be your head?”—“I mean, if you bring me back to battle and I win the battle for you, will you follow me? Will I be your leader?”—“And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, The LORD be witness between us, if we do not so according to thy words. Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and captain over them: and Jephthah uttered all his words before the LORD in Mizpeh” (Judges 11:6–11).
B. We Are Not Bound by the Foe
We can tell that he had great confidence in God. He was a man of faith. I don’t have to think about it. I know that I know he was a man of great faith, because he’s listed in Hebrews chapter 11. Here was a man that, somehow, out of a bleak background, out of people hating him and despising him—even his own flesh and blood—had somehow seen God.  I mean, he somehow had an insight into the things of God. Jephthah had character in spite of difficulties and confidence in spite of danger. The foe did not faze him. He’s not fettered by his fear. Fear is a dark room where negatives are developed.
In Hebrews chapter 11:32 we read, “And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets.”  I’d say he’s in an amazing list of names, isn’t he? But, it’s kind of interesting to me—they cast him out; and then, when they’re in trouble, they run to him.
Yet, I like what he said: “All right, you’ve sent for me. Now, you need me, and I know it’s not me that you need—it’s God that you need.” But, he said, “I want to ask you a question: If I give you the victory, if I deliver you, will you then follow me? Will I be your head? Will I be your leader?”
I see a glimmer of the Lord Jesus Christ in this story. He was despised and rejected. However, when we are convinced of our sin and our difficulty, we say, “Lord God, come and help me.” Jesus will ask you the same question: “If I deliver you, will I rule over you? Will I be your head?” He is the head of the Church. And friend, I want to tell you very clearly and plainly that unless He is your Sovereign, He’ll never be your Savior—unless you say, “Lord Jesus, deliver me, and You will be my head.”
How much like our Lord was Jephthah! Those who despised him, rejected him, hurt him and cast him out—those were the ones who he came to save. In Judges 11:11, we see that he goes to God in prayer before he ever begins the battle. Before the battle ever begins, he goes to God in prayer, and he asks God for strength: “Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and captain over them: and Jephthah uttered all his words before the LORD.” He does this before he goes to battle—not afterward. Prayer was not his last resort; it was his first thought. He enters into battle in prayer. Don’t ever claim to be a man of strength, if you’re not a man of faith; and never claim to be a man of faith, if you’re not a man of prayer.
There’s something about this man. He could unshackle himself from the past and refuse to let present dangers intimidate him. I wonder what dangers are facing you. I wonder if you can know to get on your face before God, and tell God all about it, and remember that, “Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
Until The Last Person Has Heard,
Dr. James. O. Davis
Global Church Network
Cochair / Global Networking
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