“So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon to fight against them; and the Lord delivered them into his hands.”
Judges 11: 32
King James Version
“The Hand of Man or the Hand of God”
“Be thou my breast-plate, my sword for the fight,
Be Thou my armour, and be Thou my might,
Thou my soul’s shelter, and Thou my hightower,
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.”
When I find myself in a battle within my own life, whose hand do I trust?
Do I rely on myself?
Do I rely on my heavenly Father?
“O Thou who dost direct
my feet to right or left where pathways part,
Wilt Thou not, faithful Paraclete
Direct the journey of my heart?
Into the love of God, I pray,
Deeper and deeper let me press,
Exploring all along the way
Its secret strength and tenderness.
Into the steadfastness of “One”
Who patiently endured the cross
Of Him who, though He were a Son,
Came to His crown through bitter loss.
This is the road of my desire-
Learning to love as God loves me,
Ready to pass through flood or fire
With Christ’s unwearying constancy.”
“Why are you so full of heaviness, my soul, and why so unquiet within me? O put your trust in God, for I will praise Him yet, who is my deliverer and my God.”
Psalm 42: 11
I want to ask you a question today. Have you ever made a mistake and your “goof,” whatever it was, happened to be so big and your humiliation so great you felt you could never live above your failure? I am going to honestly answer this question in my own life by saying, “Absolutely, yes!”
If you’ve made a mistake, and all of us have, and you’re feeling weighed down by the pain of what you did, then our text today is for you.
In the last few days, in Judges 11, we have found that over and over, God’s children, “again did evil in the sight of the Lord.” This wasn’t a once in awhile stumble, it was behavior that was repeated. To spotlight the problem more directly, God left us with the stories of individuals who made some of the most unwise decisions possible – and the record of their lives is laid out in detail in Judges.
When we began studying the lives of all the women in the Bible, named and unnamed, I told you we would ask two questions about each story we studied:
1. Why would God put this story in the Bible?
2. What does this story have to say to me, a woman (or man) living in the 21st century?
While it would be easier to skip over Judges 11, as some authors do, and ignore Jephthah’s life and that of his daughter, one of the Bible’s many unnamed women, to do so would be to miss out on God’s message for you and me today.
As we learned from Jephthah’s life over the past few days, instead of giving his painful past to God, he allowed the embers of revenge to roar into a fire that consumed his present and totally destroyed his future. When he became a mighty warrior, instead of recognizing the glory of his success belonged to God, he focused on himself and his abilities and ignored who was leading.
Once we hit the high peak of success, what shaky ground we are on when we lose sight of “Who” is the “One” who planted our feet on the mountaintop. The consequence is that when we forget who our Deliverer and Guide is, we start to rely on ourselves and before you know it, we are fouling up, making decisions on our own that run us off-track into a ditch of destruction.
Judges 11: 32 is one of those Old Testament texts easy to read too fast or skip over and yet the phrase, “And the Lord delivered them into his hands,” is a line you and I should not forget, ever!
Right now, you may be facing terrible financial hardship, so many people are, but instead of going up against your “Ammon” by yourself, I want to remind you that God delivered “Ammon” into Jephthah’s hand. Now remember Jephthah had to show up on the battle field; he had to be prepared to fight; and he had to be willing to attack when God said move forward, however make no mistake, it was God who delivered the success and ultimate victory. Unlike Jephthah, may you and I never forget who our deliverer is. The “One” who is our power, strength and guide.
“O Jesus, I have promised
To serve Thee to the end,
Be Thou for ever near me
My Master and my Friend,
I shall not fear the battle
If Thou art by my side,
Nor wander from the pathway
If Thou wilt be my guide.”
John E. Bode
“My God, I can do no more!
Be for me, the One who can!
“God, who is with us at our beginning and ending, be with us now. Help us to find You in the chaos of our lives. Let Your light shine in our darkness so that we may be guided to walk in Your ways all the days of our life.”
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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