DATE POSTED Thursday, 2021-09-23
WRITTEN AT: Okeechobee, FL
SCRIPTURE FROM: Joshua 11:29-31; 34
TRANSLATION: Contemporary English Version (CEV)
BIBLE TEXT: 29 Then the Lord’s Spirit took control of Jephthah, and Jephthah went through Gilead and Manasseh, raising an army. Finally, he arrived at Mizpah in Gilead, where 30 he promised the Lord, “If you will let me defeat the Ammonites 31 and come home safely, I will sacrifice to you whoever comes out to meet me first.”
34 When Jephthah returned to his home in Mizpah, the first one to meet him was his daughter. She was playing a tambourine and dancing to celebrate his victory, and she was his only child.
APPLICATION: Often when we are given the right incentive, we will gain the confidence needed to accomplish much more than normal. But God is much greater than anything we could dream or imagine. It is not necessary for us to promise Him something in return for His favor, nor is it necessary for us to reassure Him of our good intentions, for He knows us by name and He also knows our very thoughts, word and actions. He will therefore give to us that which He knows is best for us and for those His blessings will touch. We cannot incentivize God to honor our request. I had a pastor who, while in the heat of battle overseas, made a promise as he petitioned God in desperation for his safe return to his homeland. Fortunately that pastor served out his promise to God and is still faithful to this very day. In today’s Scripture, Jephthah was very anxious about leading his people in war against the ammonites, because their king had mocked the idea of Jephthah ever facing such an army as his. So I would imagine that Jephthah was not just asking for victory, but also wanting to retain his pride before such a powerful king. But regardless of the reason, Jephthah made a very wild and potentially dangerous promise in the heat of the moment, for only those very near and dear to his heart would exit his house to greet him home after a tough battle. Regardless of the reason he did this, Jephthah was determined to live up to his promise. His beloved daughter, who was the first to exit his home, encouraged him to live up to his promise, and neither of them tried to wiggle their way out of the promise. Some may wonder, why didn’t God intervene and excuse Jephthah from his promise? Notice that God played no part in the promise. God didn’t condition His response on the promise, nor was He approached when Jephthah found himself in the dilemma of having to sacrifice his own daughter. I believe that our lesson here is to avoid the practice of, or the need for, swearing on anything to guarantee our word, or the need to promise something unrelated, to reinforce our request for something. God created us, and He loves us very much. He wants nothing but His very best for those who have accepted His lordship and honors Him in all that we do and say. Simply ask, and wait to see His response – the answer that is best for our good!
BLESSING(S) NOTED: God heard the cry of Jephthah and honored his request to win the battle against the ammonites. It is so unfortunate that Jephthah saw the need to try and incentivize God.
PRAYER: Here I am Lord. Just me, with no hidden agendas or pride to mend. Please control my anxious fears and my pride to win in order to better my selfish gain. Many reading this devotional may be like Jephthah, and tempted to offer anything in order to win a battle they are fighting, or a job promotion they are wishing for, or a family situation they want desperately to see resolved. Lord, I believe that You know our hearts and You therefore know whether our intentions or our request is genuine, and You will respond lovingly without any further incentive thrown in by us. Forgive us Lord when we try to use our tactics to win Your approval and Your action. You know us way too intimately to need any more than our word in its simplest form. Thank You that Jephthah kept his promise, regardless of the outcome. I pray that You will help us to learn from his experience and just trust You with our requests. AMEN!
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