1 Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty warrior. His father was Gilead; his mother was a prostitute.
2 Gilead’s wife also bore him sons, and when they were grown up, they drove Jephthah away. “You are not going to get any inheritance in our family,” they said, “because you are the son of another woman.”
3 So Jephthah fled from his brothers and settled in the land of Tob, where a group of adventurers gathered around him and followed him.
4 Some time later, when the Ammonites made war on Israel,
5 the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob.
6 “Come,” they said, “be our commander, so we can fight the Ammonites.”
7 Jephthah said to them, “Didn’t you hate me and drive me from my father’s house? Why do you come to me now, when you’re in trouble?”
8 The elders of Gilead said to him, “Nevertheless, we are turning to you now; come with us to fight the Ammonites, and you will be our head over all who live in Gilead.”
9 Jephthah answered, “Suppose you take me back to fight the Ammonites and the LORD gives them to me-will I really be your head?”
10 The elders of Gilead replied, “The LORD is our witness; we will certainly do as you say.”
11 So Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and commander over them. And he repeated all his words before the LORD in Mizpah.
Rejected by Man, Accepted by God!
The Bible has many examples of people who were pressed low by rejection, and yet they bounced back to achieve great heights in life. Their stories bring hope, inspiration and motivation.
You are not alone in your suffering. You can overcome your pain and turn it into your gain. The greater the rejection, the greater the rebound in the Lord! Man may have rejected you, but God has accepted you!
Jephthah was such a person. He was born in a tragic family circumstances. His father went to a Canaanite prostitute and she became pregnant. Was it her choice or his choice to keep the baby? We don’t know. But Jephthah was born, and his father took him home.
You can well imagine how the rest of the family viewed him. His father’s wife must have looked upon him with anger and hatred. Her attitude was passed on to her children. As far as they were concerned, he was a shame, he didn’t belong, he wasn’t even supposed to be born! He must have grew up a lonely boy, rejected, looked down upon.
Once the father passed away, they drove him out of the house. They didn’t want him to have any share in the father’s inheritance. No doubt, he must have gone to the city elders for help. But they rejected him too.
So he fled to a place called Tob, which was located east of the Jordan River in Syria. Why did he have to flee? What wrong has he done? What crime has he committed? It was the sin of his father, no fault of his, but he became a reject, an outcast, a misfit.
Is there hope and future for such a man like Jephthah? Thank God, YES there is hope!
Jephthah became the Commander and Chief over his people, including the brothers who threw him out of the house.
How did he do it? What can we learn from him?
I. Face the Fact of Man’s Rejection
Everyone faces rejection at some point in life. From the womb to the tomb, no one is exempted from rejection.
Maybe it’s because of our look: we’re too tall or too short, too thin or too fat, too dark or too pale.
Maybe it’s because of not enough: not wealthy enough, not educated enough, not talented enough, not sociable enough.
Even a rich tycoon like billionaire Donald Trump faces rejection. He won the presidency in America, but he lost the popular vote, meaning that slightly more than half of the Americans rejected him. In fact, right after the voting result was released, thousands of voters took to the street in riot, with sign boards in their hand saying, “Not Our President!”
Some may say, “Who cares, he won anyway.” Just remember, it is a lot easier to talk about other’s experience than your own.
Rejection never tastes well. It hurts and it hurts so bad, so deeply. It doesn’t have to be the whole world against you, it may be just one person who rejected you, but it can feel like it’s the end of the world.
Rejection makes you feel like you are not loved, not wanted, not valued.
The more you dwell upon the rejection, the more it hurts you and it can eventually lead to self-rejection. Many times the rejection does 50 percent of the damage and we do the other 50 percent of the damage.
So how do you overcome rejection? Accept it! Face the fact that you can’t please everybody, you will get rejected by someone, sometimes, somehow.
Realize that most of the time it’s not your fault. Nothing wrong to be rejected. In fact, something may be wrong if you are always accepted. You may have surrounded yourself with people who are insincere and only want to flatter you. In front of you they may say good things, but behind your back they may be cursing you.
Just remember, perfect and holy as the Lord Jesus is, yet He is still being rejected by many people.
So face it, accept it, and get over it!
II. Focus on Your Own Reaction
You can’t change other people; neither can you force them to like you.
You can’t control their rejection of you, but you can control your reaction to them.
Don’t let anger and bitterness get the better of you.
Don’t allow your self-esteem and confidence to be beat up and torn down.
Don’t compromise your values and character to avoid rejection and gain acceptance.
Do what you can to grow, to develop, to excel in your God-given gifts and talents.
Move in the direction of your dreams and destiny, not in the direction of people-pleasing.
Judges 11:1 Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty warrior. His father was Gilead; his mother was a prostitute.
Jephthah was bullied from young, he had to fight to survive. He became a mighty warrior. His reputation and leadership grew, so much so people were attracted to follow him.
Judges 11:3 So Jephthah fled from his brothers and settled in the land of Tob, where a group of adventurers gathered around him and followed him.
These are worthless fellows, scoundrels, good-for-nothing people. But under Jephthah they became mighty warriors too.
Some time later, when the Ammonites made war on Israel, the elders came to Jephthah asking him to be their commander.
At one point they asked him to leave, now they asked to lead!
They had no use for him when things were going well, but when problems arose, they ran to him for help.
It’s sad that there are still those who do that today – not only to people, but to God!
Jephthah worked on his reaction, his heart attitude, his talents and strengths. When opportunity came, he was ready for it.
The reject became the ruler!
III. Faith in God’s Restoration
Ultimately, it was faith in God that restored Jephthah.
When Jephthah sent messages to the Ammonite king, he showed great knowledge of Israel’s history and the Word of God. He was almost quoting word for word from Number 21.
Judges 11:29 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah.
Judges 11:32 Then Jephthah went over to fight the Ammonites, and the LORD gave them into his hands.
Rejected by man, but accepted, chosen, and greatly used by God!
Other rejects in the Bible: Joseph was betrayed and sold by his brothers, yet he was chosen by God to become the Prime Minister of Egypt in order to save his family and world from famine.
David was overlooked by his own father, yet he was chosen by God to be king over Israel and became the ancestor of the Messiah.
Around 1500 Michelangelo was asked by the consuls of the Board to complete an unfinished project begun in 1464 by Agostino di Duccio and later carried on by Antonio Rossellino in 1475. Both sculptors had in the end rejected an enormous block of marble due to the presence of too many “taroli”, or imperfections, which may have threatened the stability of such a huge statue. This block of marble of exceptional dimensions remained therefore neglected for 25 years, lying within the courtyard of the Opera del Duomo (Vestry Board). After working on it for 3 years, the astonishing Renaissance sculpture was created. It is a 14.0 ft marble statue depicting the Biblical hero David, represented as a standing male nude.
Psalm 118:22-23 The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone. 23 This is the LORD’S doing; It is marvelous in our eyes.
God is still looking for rejects to turn into His masterpiece!
There is a warning here against making rash vow before the Lord.
Judges 11:30-31 And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD: “If you give the Ammonites into my hands, 31 whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the LORD ‘s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.”
36 “My father,” she replied, “you have given your word to the LORD. Do to me just as you promised, now that the LORD has avenged you of your enemies, the Ammonites.
37 But grant me this one request,” she said. “Give me two months to roam the hills and weep with my friends, because I will never marry.”
38 “You may go,” he said. And he let her go for two months. She and the girls went into the hills and wept because she would never marry.
39 After the two months, she returned to her father and he did to her as he had vowed. And she was a virgin. From this comes the Israelite custom
40 that each year the young women of Israel go out for four days to commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.
It’s more likely that Jephthah offered his daughter to serve the Lord in the tabernacle. She remained single for the rest of her life.
She was a beautiful picture of obedience, submission and devotion.
Jephthah offered his daughter to the true God, whereas many parents today offered their children to the false gods of prosperity and success!
Judges 12:7 Jephthah led Israel six years. Then Jephthah the Gileadite died, and was buried in a town in Gilead.
Hebrews 11:32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets
Rejected by man, accepted by God; forgotten by man, remembered by God!
25 Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them,
26 "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.
27 Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
28 For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?
29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him,
30 saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.'
31 Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand?
32 Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.
33 So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.
34 Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned?
35 It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
Demands of Discipleship
Is there a difference between a Christian and a disciple?
Some people think of discipleship as being a special class of Christian, such as the super spiritual and the most committed one.
Some people just want to be ordinary Christians will do, thinking that they cannot live up to the demands of discipleship.
Actually, a Christian is a disciple, and a disciple is a Christian.
The minute you become a Christian, you’ve signed up for discipleship.
A disciple is a learner, a follower.
No one can be a Christian unless one becomes a learner and follower, i.e. a disciple of Jesus Christ.
What Christ demands of His disciples is the same demands for all Christians, for all Christians are His disciples.
Salvation is free, but discipleship is costly.
Salvation is free, but Christian life is costly.
If someone sponsored you to go climb Mount Everest, the trip is free but the journey is costly!
Some people say, “I only signed up for salvation, the part about going to heaven and peace and joy. I don’t want the part about demands and requirements of discipleship.”
But that’d be like parents saying, “We just want to have a baby that is cute, pretty and happy. We don’t want the part about the baby growing up, learning to walk, going to school, facing challenges of life.”
All babies are cute, but after ten years if the baby still remains as a baby, then it is not cute anymore.
You don’t want your baby to remain a baby all his life! You want him to grow up, mature, be a useful and productive member of society.
Salvation is spiritual new birth. Jesus wants you to grow up, mature, be a useful and productive servant of the Kingdom of God.
Growing up may be painful, but it is worth it!
No pain, no gain.
Beware of cheap grace teachings, all it does is keeping you a self-centered spiritual baby.
The grace of God is free, but it is costly.
It costs Jesus His life, and it will cost your life too.
Jesus uses two parables to teach us of the cost of discipleship.
Whether building a tower or going to war, you must first count the cost.
Have you counted the cost of following Jesus? The cost is death to self, death to sin, death to worldliness, but what you get is life! Eternal life, abundant life, victorious life, fantastic life!
More importantly, have you counted the cost of NOT following Jesus? The cost is sinful and messy life, bad habits and broken heart, spiritual bondages and eternal death in hell!
What you give is pricey, what you gain is priceless;
What you give is temporal, what you gain is eternal!
The choice is clear; it’s all worth it to follow Jesus AT ANY COST!
I. Worship the Lord at Any Cost (Luke 14:26-27)
Christ demands absolute loyalty and supreme worship of Him.
No one is to come between your love and devotion to Jesus.
No one, not even yourself!
Do you know what is really more important to you? Just look at whatever it is that can stop you from worshipping Jesus.
Just take Sunday Worship as example. If rainy day can stop you from coming to church, then you treasure personal comfort and convenience more than the worship of God.
If friends’ invitation can stop you from coming to church, then you treasure socializing with friends more than fellowshipping with God.
Make a choice today, commit yourself to worship at any cost!
II. Work for the Lord at Any Cost (Luke 14:28-30)
Life is like constructing a tower.
1 Corinthians 3:10-15
10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it.
11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,
13 each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work.
14 If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward.
15 If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
Only one life So soon it will pass Only what's done for Christ will last
III. War with the Devil at Any Cost (Luke 14:31-32)
We are at war with Satan, at war with sin, at war with sickness and death.
We are called to be soldiers, not diplomats.
There is to be no compromise or negotiation with the devil.
The devil comes to steal, kill and destroy, and he shows no mercy.
We shall fight him with our faith and with our prayer;
We shall fight him with our unity and with our testimony;
We shall never surrender and we shall be victorious!
IV. Witness to the Lost at Any Cost (Luke 14:34-35)
We are the salt of the earth.
Salt preserves – our world is corrupted
Salt heals – our world is sick
Salt flavors – our world is meaningless
Salt must be applied and come into contact with the meat.
We are to be separated from sin, but not isolated from sinners.
Luke 14:33 So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.
Let us worship the Lord Jesus Christ, work hard for the Kingdom of God, wage war with the devil, and witness to the lost AT ANY COST!
1 It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them.
2 He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword.
3 When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
4 After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover.
5 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.
Prayer is the most fundamental and yet indispensable discipline in the Christian life.
As breathing to the physical life, so is praying to the spiritual life.
Without prayer, we wither and die spiritually.
A prayerless life is a powerless life.
More praying, more power; less praying, less power; no praying, no power.
The problem is, we know it in our head, but we don’t believe it in our heart.
Do we really believe in the mighty power of prayer? If we do, we’d pray more.
Time to arise and be a praying Christian! Time to arise and be a praying Church!
The story of Acts 12 opened with the early church facing persecution from King Herod.
The year was 44 A.D., i.e. about 12 – 14 years after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. The church was still in its infancy.
This king is Herod Agrippa I. Hatred and hostility towards Christianity ran deep in Herod’s family.
His grandfather was Herod the Great, who massacred the babies during the time of Jesus’ birth. His uncle was Herod Antipas, who beheaded John the Baptist and put Jesus on trial. His son was Herod Agrippa II, who tried the apostle Paul.
King Herod arrested some in the church and beheaded James the apostle. When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he arrested Peter too, intending to execute him after the Feast.
In his eyes the church was easY prey. The Christians were poor, ordinary folks. They had no political connection nor financial power to fight the persecution.
Furthermore, he had Peter under heavy guard – chained to two soldiers, watched by another two, rotated with a squad of 16, there was no way he could have escaped or rescued.
Acts 12:5 So Peter was kept in prison, BUT the church was earnestly praying to God for him.
The situation looked desperate and hopeless, yet we thank God for the BUT!
How Should We Pray?
I. Pray Earnestly as a Family
They were praying for Peter as if for one of their own family member. In truth, we are one family in the Lord.
II. Pray Earnestly in Faith
James had just been beheaded, Peter had been imprisoned. We may not understand why, but the answer is found in holding on to faith!
III. Pray Earnestly with Focus
They were praying specifically for Peter. Focused, pointed and purposeful prayer are powerful prayer.
IV. Pray Earnestly and Fervently
They prayed with passion and fervency for many days, taking the risk of being discovered and arrested as well.
Praying earnestly means seriously, intensely, persistently, passionately, desperately.
Desperate times call for desperate prayer!
Is there fire in our prayer?
Amazing and astonishing miracle awaits the praying church!
Peter was imprisoned by a king, but the King of kings dispatched angel to escort him out of prison.
Herod exalted himself as god, but God humbled him as worms.
The church was praying for Peter, yet they were caught by surprise with his release.
Mark 9:24 "I do believe; help my unbelief."
Our faith may not be very strong, doubts may linger, nevertheless PRAY, and you will still see the mighty miracle of God!