Judges 11:1-10, 29-40
February 20-21, 2021
The book of Judges is a series of deliverers or judges, not in the traditional sense, but in the sense of a deliverer and the scripture tells us that when Joshua was leading the people of Israel, that they did very well, they followed the Lord fully. Then, it says that when that generation of leaders passed, that the next generation that was after them, they did not know the Lord, they didn't know the work which God had done for Israel. Instead of following the Lord fully, as their fathers had done, they instead turned to the gods of the world. They fell away from God.
The gods of the world were absolutely worldly in every sense, they were very sensual, licentious. They fell away and they didn't have a heart after following God, which is to say, there's no relationship to God and when there's no relationship, there's no foundation for faith. They become weakened because one of the principles that we have seen in the scriptures is that sin weakens, sin brings weakness to a person's life. Faith strengthens, spiritual heart strengthens.
When sin weakens, what happens is when enough people begin to weaken, the nation itself begins to weaken and that is what happened to Israel. Frankly, it's an alarm bell for what's happening in our nation today. There is so many who are turning their back on God, even mocking and raising their fists in the face of God. I tell you, it's a warning for the very thing that we saw in Israel we will see in our nation when there's that kind of weakness that is approaching.
What happens is this? They got more and more trouble in their lives, that's predictable. When they follow after the gods of the world, the result is death, difficulty, chaos, trouble. Now, by the way, what was it? What was it about the gods of the world that drew Israel? What was it about the gods of this world that was so attractive that they would-- the next generation will always go after the gods of the world. What was it about the gods of the world that were so interesting to them?
The answer is very straightforward because the gods of the world were very appealing to their fleshly nature, the worldly nature of which they were born. In other words, it's natural. It's the natural state of man to go after those things of the flesh. It's not spiritual, it's natural, it's of the flesh. That's what was so attractive to them, very sensual, very licentious, but the trouble that arose was real.
That's true today, trouble upon trouble upon trouble, and then when they finally got to the point where they were at the end of themselves, then they would cry out to the Lord and God would send help. God would send a deliverer. There's a series of deliverers or judges that we've been studying about. We come now to chapter 11 and it tells us in the verses leading up to this, chapter 10 that the sons of Israel, again, did evil in the sight of the Lord, which is to say it's like a cycle.
When they would get to that point of desperation and call out to God, He would send help, He'll send a deliverer, and then while that deliverer lived, they did well. As soon as that deliverer passed, the next generation arose and they did evil in the sight of the Lord, and so their enemies arose and afflicted and crushed the sons of Israel, it says for 18 years.
Now, to me, that's one of the great tragedies of the story that it took 18 years before Israel cried out to God for help. 18 years is a long time to be afflicted and crushed and oppressed. 18 years, they took before they cried out to the Lord. It's like, have you ever met someone? I'm sure everyone has met someone who absolutely stubbornly holds onto their worldly ways even while the world is crashing around them. It's like, "Can you not see your world is crashing around you?" Yet, they're stubbornly holding on.
See, this is one of the lessons of the story. Whenever Israel would cry out to the Lord, whenever they finally get to the point of the end of it, God would hear their cries and send a deliverer no matter how long it took. See that's a life lesson. Even if someone is stubborn and they stubbornly hold onto their worldly ways, I don't care how long it takes when they finally get to the end of it. When they finally get to the point where the scripture describes it as coming to their senses, God welcomes them home. God opens His heart, His hands and gladly welcomes them home.
It's one of the great lessons of the scriptures to know God's heart for us. What happened was, the Ammonites arose against Israel. This is the people on the East side of the Jordan. The people of Amman, interestingly, even today, there is Amman. The country of Jordan lies directly to the East of Israel and their capital is Amman. It's the same name of the same city, which I find fascinating.
The people of Amman gathered to attack Israel. They wanted their land. Of course, they were mistaken on this, but they wanted their land. The sons of Israel in that area gathered themselves also, of course, to confront this threat against, but they had no leader. They had no commander, they needed a deliverer and that's where we meet the hero of our story Jephthah. He's called to be a deliverer and God's going to use him to bring great victory for the tribes of Israel on the East side of the Jordan.
The story of Jephthah isn't filled with victory, but tragedy, one of the tragedies of Jephthah's story is that he was rejected. His brothers, his physical brothers cast him out. They didn't want him there. They actually rejected and cast him out. Why? Well, they have the same father, but they had a different mother. His mother was a harlot. Oh, okay, here we go. I see, he's got some shame in his backstory. If your mother's a harlot, I suggest to you, this is some shame in the backstory.
The brothers cast him out so that he wouldn't have a portion of the inheritance, but it tells us that after he was cast out, he became a valiant warrior. Then when the Ammonites gathered to attack, who should they turn to for help, but Jephthah. It's a story of God choosing the rejected, the outcast, those who have shame in their backstory for His glory.
Now Jephthah is famous for another tragedy, aspect of his life, and is this, after he was placed as head over the people of Israel in the area of Gilead, he makes a vow to God. In many ways, this becomes a tragic vow. Really, it's a central theme of the story. In fact, the victory over the sons of Amman are actually insignificant in comparison to this vow.
The vow is this. His vow was that if God would give him the victory, if he would give the sons of Amman into his hand, then it would be that whatever came out of the door of his house to meet him when he returned to victory will be dedicated to the Lord. What or who should come out of his house to greet him, but his own daughter, and that's part of the story. All right, let's read it.
We're going to read it in two sections. The first is chapter 11, we begin in verse one. "Now, Jephthah the Gileadite, of the land of Gilead is on the other side of the Jordan near the North." We would call it the Golan Heights today. "He was a valiant warrior, but he was a son of a harlot. Gilead," so his father's name, he was named after the patriarch of the land. "Gilead was the father of Jephthah.
Now Gilead's wife bore him sons, legitimate sons. When his wife's sons grew up, they banded together and drove Jephthah out. They said to him, 'You will not have an inheritance in our father's house for you are the son of another woman.'" Now they could have said that really harsh, but they're nevertheless casting him out. "Jephthah fled from his brothers and he lived in the land of Tob." Now, by the way, we know this word in Hebrew, it means good. That's a good land. Whenever you go to Israel, you'd like to learn a little bit of Hebrew. This is one of the words you learn.
We say, "Good morning." They say, "Morning, good." It's Boker Tov, morning good. Boker Tov, we love saying that. Every morning we get up, "Hey, Boker Tov." We know the word, it's a good word. The land that was good, but then it says, and then worthless fellows, verse three, "worthless fellows gathered themselves about Jephthah and they went out with him."
Now it came about after a while that the sons of Amman fought against Israel. It happened when the sons of Amman fought against Israel, that the elders of Gilead went to Jephthah in the land of Tob. They said to Jephthah, 'Come, be our chief that we may fight against the sons of Amman.' Then Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, 'Did you not hate me? Did you not drive me out from my father's house? Why have you come to me now, now that you are in trouble?'
The elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, 'It is for this reason we've come now, that we've returned to you, that you may go with us and fight with the sons of Amman and become head over all the inhabitants of Gilead,'" not just commander, but head. "Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, 'If you take me back--'"
Now there's a part of this that you can sense, he wants to come back. "If you take me back to fight against the sons of Amman and the Lord gives him them up to me, truly, will I become your head?' The elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, 'The Lord is witness between us. Surely, we will do as you've said.'" Jephthah then went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and chief, and Jephthah spoke these words before the Lord at Mizpah," his hometown in Gilead.
I. God Uses Those who are Nobodies
This is the first section I want us to see and apply. There's so much to apply in these verses, starting with this understanding that God uses those who are nobodies. It's a part of the theme of the scriptures. God delights to use nobodies. Jephthah is the son of a harlot. Now that's not exactly the foundation of greatness. Today, there are so many websites that you can actually do your genealogy. You send in your sample of your DNA, whatever, and then they give your genealogy from even way back, if you so desire.
A lot of people are very interested in this because they are hoping, "Maybe there's some king in my genealogy, maybe I'm related to the King of England or something." What if you're doing your genealogy and then you find out about four generations back that there's a harlot in the family. Well, you don't post that on Facebook. "Oh, guess what I discovered? You won't believe it. This is amazing. There's a harlot in my backstory." No, that's a shame.
Here's an interesting fact though, did you know that there's a harlot in the backstory of Jesus Christ? It's like, they make a point of bringing it up in the genealogy of Jesus Christ in the Gospels. They make a point of showing that there's a harlot in His backstory. Now that is absolutely amazing.
Here you have a principle that God is showing us out of this story. He's the son of a harlot and because he's the oldest by rights, he ought to be given a double portion of inheritance and a position of authority over his brothers and his brothers would have nothing to do with that.
They banded together and cast him out and he fled to the land of Tob. Here's where we relate to the story because many people have shame in their backstory, no need to do a show of hands. There are so many that have shame in their backstory, there's stuff in the closet. There's shame in the closet or people have shamed you or cast you out.
I suggest to you that perhaps God uses people like Jephthah so that people like you and me can see the heart of God revealed. If God can use people with shame in their backstory, God can use people with shame in the closet, then He can use you and me. In fact, I suggest that God delights to take nobodies. He delights to take people with shame in the backstory and use them for His glory. In fact, I suggest it even gives Him more glory because then you know it's God who did it, but I say this important principle.
Yes, God, delights to take people with shame in their backstory or stuff in the closet but what you notice is this, but when he takes hold of them to use them for His purpose, He will transform them. He takes them with the shame of their backstory, and then He does something about it. He transforms them. It's a principle of scripture. There's a great verse about this in 1st Corinthians 6:11, "He says, and such were some of you."
The verse before, it's very interesting. It says, "The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God. No fornicators, not idolaters, not adulterers, not thieves or drunkards or revilers." It's interesting. I remember reading this story of this fellow who came to church, and he looked around and he said that he looked around and he felt out of place because he looked around and he saw people at church and he thought, "I don't fit in here. Look at all these people, they're wonderful, they're beautiful, they have everything together, they're mature, but not me."
Then it just so happened that the pastor was teaching on 1st Corinthians 6, and he brought up that verse where it says, "The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God, nor fornicators or idolaters or adulterers or drunkards or thieves." Then he says, "And such were some of you." Then he looked around and then people are like, "Yes, amen." He looked around and he thought, "Well, maybe I do fit in after all. If God can use people like that, he can use me because there's shame in the backstory."
A. God transforms nobodies into vessels of honor
Would you notice, he transforms 1st Corinthians 6:11, "And such were some of you," but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the spirit of our God." He does something about it, that's the principle. God transforms nobodies into vessels of honor. God does delight to take those with shame in their backstory, but He transforms them into vessels of honor.
Hey, if God is using you for His purpose, you are a vessel of honor. If God fills you with the very spirit of the living God, you are a vessel of honor. If he adopts you as a son or as a daughter and the Everlasting Father is your Father, you are a vessel of honor. That's what He does. He's a son of a harlot, his brothers drive him out, but rejection and tragedy and shame, God used it. Here's the thing. Rejection and tragedy and shame will either break you down or it will make you stronger. God can use it, make you stronger because that's what we see in the story.
Jephthah fled from his brothers to the land of Tob where other rejected and outcast fellows gathered themselves to Jephthah. Then it reminds us of David frankly, and his group of outcasts that the Lord brought about him. You remember David's story? We're going to be reading it pretty soon. David, before he was King, Saul was King. Saul could see this young man was anointed. One day he'll arise as King, so he was quite envious and jealous and insecure over this and tried to kill David. David is on the run.
Then it says, 1st Samuel 22:2, "Everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, everyone who was discontented gathered to David, and he became captain over them." Now there were 400 men with him. David gathers with them, these malcontents, these misfits, these outcasts fellows but would you notice that he does something about it? They are transformed. By the time you get to the end of the story, David is used of the Lord to make these men mighty men. In fact, some of the mightiest men in the scriptures come out of this band of misfits and malcontents.
God takes those with shame in their story and He transforms them into vessels of honor, but He does something about it. When I was young, I didn't want anyone to know my backstory. Now, today, people know my backstory. I was born in extreme poverty. My father was an alcoholic. There was chaos and mess all around us. I openly reveal my story today because I think I can use it, but when I was young, I was ashamed. I didn't want anybody to know my backstory. I didn't want anybody to come to my house because then they would know who I was.
See, when you then see the heart of the Lord is so encouraging, that He delights to take people with a backstory of shame, and then He will transform them into vessels of honor and use them, and that gives Him more glory. Would you notice this, because it's a very important part of the story? That although Jephthah's brothers reject him, he's got shame in the backstory, his mother is a harlot and he's got all kinds of troubles, outcast, rejected. Would you notice something? He does not reject God because there's a lot of people who would.
When they encounter troubles and life gives them a bad turn. They go, "Why God? You say you love me, and look at these troubles in my life?" No. It's the Lord you need in times of trouble. It's the Lord who takes people like that and uses them. He delights to use them and He's the one who does something about the story. See if people have rejected you or betrayed you or broken your heart, don't walk away. Don't reject God. He's the help you need.
It's a theme that runs through the Bible. God delights to take outcasts, misfits, nothings and demonstrate the greatness of His glory. Notice this verse, 2nd Timothy 2:21. "Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel of honor, sanctified, useful to the master, prepared for every good work." You can see it over and over and over in the scriptures, Gideon, David, Jeremiah, on and on, Moses.
Wait a minute, Moses? That's different. Moses, he had a silver spoon in his mouth. He had privilege like no one else. That's true. Okay, that's a true part. Yes, he was adopted by Pharaoh's daughter and brought into a place of privilege, money, and education. That's true, but that's not what gave him greatness. In fact, when he was 40 years old, at the peak of what people would call success at 40 years old, he goes out and about, and he sees an Egyptian mistreating a Hebrew. He arises in anger, strikes down the Egyptian.
The next day he's found out that he kills an Egyptian, so he runs for his life, escapes through the desert, where he then resides for 40 years as an abject failure. That's when God can use him. When he's got shame in the backstory, that's when God can use him. Joseph is another example. Joseph, in the book of Genesis, was the son of Jacob. In fact, he was the favorite son of Jacob. His father is wealthy, well-known, renowned in the land of Canaan and Joseph is the favorite, but did that position of favor have an advantage for him? No.
His brothers were jealous of this, betrayed him. You want to talk about betrayal and outcast. His brothers betrayed him, took hold of him, sold him into slavery in Egypt, his own brothers. That's when God could use his story. See, it's a life lesson. Never doubt the power of God to transform your life and to give you meaning and purpose. Your background, the shame in the closet, the lack of pedigree does not limit what God could do to use you for the greatness of His glory in your life.
Notice this in Psalm 147:10-11, "God does not delight in the strength of a horse. God does not take pleasure in the legs of a man." In other words, the strength of a man. No, "The Lord favors those who fear Him." That's what it is. The Lord favors those who wait for the loving-kindness of the Lord. Now, go back to Judges 11, and let's look at the next section.
B. No need to make deals with God
Notice in verse 29, let's read that together. "The Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah," so notice now the Spirit of the Lord is coming upon him so that he passed through Gilead, Manasseh, and he passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from Mizpah of Gilead, he went on to the sons of Amman, and then it tells us, "Jephthah made a vow to the Lord. He said, 'Now, if you will indeed give the sons of Amman into our hand, then it shall be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the sons of Amman, it shall be the Lords.'"
Now a lot of versions say, "And," but it should well say, "Or, I will offer it up as a burnt offering." In other words, if it is suitable for a burnt offering, it will be a burnt offering but if not, it will be a dedication to the Lord, which was actually fairly common in that day. Samuel was dedicated to the Lord.
There's a woman named Anna in the New Testament, dedicated to the Lord.
Verse 32, "Jephthah, crossed over," that was his vow. "He crossed over to the sons of Amman to fight against them, and the Lord gave them into his hand, and he struck them with a very great slaughter from Aroer, that's the river, to the entrance of Minnith, 20 cities, and as far as Abel Keramim. The sons of Amman were subdued before the sons of Israel." That's the summary of the whole thing.
Back to the vow. "When Jephthah came to his house in Mizpah, behold, it was his daughter coming out to meet him with tambourines and dancing. Now she was his one and only child. Besides her, he hadn't either son or daughter." This is the tragedy of the story. He's only got one child who's now going to be dedicated to serve in the temple of the Lord because he has said.
"And it came about that when he saw her, that he tore his clothes and he said, 'Alas, my daughter, you have brought me very low and you are among those who trouble me for I've given my word to the Lord and I cannot take it back.' She said to him, 'My father, you have given your word to the Lord, do unto me as you've said because the Lord has avenged you of your enemies, the sons of the land.'" In other words, people have lost their life in this. This is a small price for me.
"She said to her father, 'But let this one thing be done for me. Let me alone for two months that I may go to the mountains and weep because of my virginity.'" In other words, she knows that she will not be married, she will not raise children and she will be serving the Lord, "I and my companions. He said, 'Yes, go.' He sent her away for two months and she left with her companions and wept in the mountains because of her virginity.
It came about at the end of two months that she returned to her father who did to her according to his vow, dedicated her to the Lord, which he had made and she had no relations with a man. Thus it became a customer in Israel that the daughters of Israel went yearly to commemorate the daughter of Jephthah, the Gileadite, four days in the year." In other words, her companions would visit her four days every year. This is the story.
I want us to understand, he's making this vow for the purpose of trying to get God to help him, trying to somehow convince God. If he makes it out, that maybe God will help him. "God, if you will help me, I promise you," see, there's the deal you can say. "If you help me, I promise you I will dedicate whatever comes out of the door of my house."
Here's what I want us to see. There's no need to make deals with God. There's no need to make deals. The life lesson is that you don't need to convince God to bless you. You don't need to convince him because he's already promised to bless you. In fact, he's promised to bless you more than you can ask or even think.
Let me give you a great word for this, Ephesians 3:16-20, Paul prays. "I pray that He would grant you according to the riches of His glory, which is vast, that you would be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, and that you being rooted and grounded in love may be able to comprehend. If you could only comprehend what is the breadth, the length, the height, and the depth, and to know the love of Christ, which surpasses understanding. Open your eyes, see. Then he continues, "That you may be filled up to all the fullness of God."
I say to you, if you are filled up with all the fullness of God, you are blessed. Your soul is alive. You're overflowing with the joy, the presence of the Lord. You are blessed indeed. Then he adds like a doxology of worship. "Now unto him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or even think according to the power that works within us." You don't need to convince God to bless you. He's already promised it.
Here's another one, Ephesians 1:3, "Blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ." You don't need to convince God, He's already blessed you with every blessing in the heavenly places, and He's already made you a son or a daughter. If you have God as your Everlasting Father, you're already blessed. He will bless you just like a father would bless His son or His daughter.
Notice Matthew 7:11. "If you then being evil," or being of the world, "know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what's good to those who ask Him?" Just ask. He's already promised. You don't have to convince Him. He didn't need to make this vow, and even today, I suggest that even today, there are people who make vows to try to convince God to help them or do something that they want God to do.
"God, if you would just help me." They get into some trouble or something, "If you just helped me, I promise you that I will," whatever. "I promise you that I'll be a missionary in Africa." God doesn't want you to be a missionary in Africa because you're trying to convince God to bless your life. If you become a missionary in Africa, do it because you love God and you've got a passion for people in Africa, that's the reason to be a missionary in Africa. He didn't need to make a vow, what he needed to do is simply believe, to have confidence.
II. Have Confidence that God is Enough
Faith is belief, strong confidence that God is enough, that God is enough. He didn't need to make a vow to convince that God would help. God is the one who called him. He just needed to believe that God was enough because surely God is enough. He makes this tragic vow hoping that this vow would somehow make God bless his efforts, but you don't need to. You see, he's trying to convince God to do what he wants God to do. He's trying to get God to respond to him, but what the scripture shows us is that that is the opposite of the way God is.
God is actually trying to get you to do His purpose in your life. In other words, God takes the initiative. God is the one who's stirring up. God is the one who's calling you. God is the one who takes the initiative. See, when people make a vow to get God to do what they want, they're trying to get God to respond to them, but God doesn't bless your life because you made a vow or you somehow convinced Him. He blesses your life because He loves you because He's got a favor poured out already.
A. God takes the initiative
It's the theme of the Scriptures. God takes the initiative, we respond to Him, it's not the other way around. In other words, you don't worship God in order to obtain His favor. No, you worship God, because he's already poured out His favor and you're very thankful for that, so you worship God. You don't give to God so as to convince Him to give you more in return contrary to what people see on Christian television. No, you give out of the blessing that He's already given you.
It's like this principle, 1 John 4:19, "We love because He first loved us," that's why you love because He loved you first. He took the initiative, so you respond, only believe, simply believe. Simply believe. One of the things, we look at the story of Jephthah and we say, "Jephthah, he was going to give you the victory. He was going to give you the victory anyway. You don't have to make the vow."
The thing is, we have the answer key, we already know the answer, we already know how this is going to turn out in Jephthah's life, we have the answer key. Jephthah did not have an answer key. He didn't know how this thing was going to turn out. That's why he's trying to get God to help him because he doesn't know how this is going to turn out. There's where we've got to see a life lesson.
See, we got the answer key for Jephthah, but we don't have the answer key for our lives. You don't know what's going to happen. You don't know what's going to befall you, you don't know what's in front of you, you don't know. You don't know the tragedies or the blessings, you don't know. Therefore, because people don't know, they're trying to get God to do this or that. No, listen. I don't know what may befall. I don't know what may come in the future, but I know who holds my future in His hand.
I know that God orders my way. I know that the hand of God is upon my life. I know that His favor resides on me so that no matter what comes, I have this confidence that God will use me for His purpose and that He will order my way. You notice this, Isaiah 43:1-2, He says, "Do not fear for I have redeemed you." I have already redeemed you. You've opened your heart and received, I've redeemed you. He says, "I have called you and I've called you by name. Child, you are mine."
B. The daughter was also a hero
Who takes the initiative here? "I called you by name, child, you are mine. I love you. Do you not see?" He says, "Look, when you pass through the waters," and He means your troubled waters. "When you pass through the waters, I'll be with you." Do you not believe? Take hold of this great truth. I'll be with you, when you pass through the rivers, they will not overflow you. Now, back to the story of Judges 11. I say this is unlikely heroes. Let's look at this daughter. I suggest to you that this daughter is also a hero.
Interestingly, the name of Jephthah is actually in the New Testament. Many people don't remember this, but the name Jephthah is in the New Testament. He's in the famous Chapter 11 of Hebrews, where he mentions all the great heroes, not all, but many of the heroes of faith. It says, Hebrews 11:32, "What shall I say? Time will fail me if I tell of Gideon or Barack or Samson or Jephthah," all these being judges by the way, "Or of David or Samuel or the prophets."
I suggest that if Jephthah is listed as the hero of the faith, I suggest that his daughter should also qualify because you see this beautiful heart, this willingness to accept that she will live out her days, she will serve the Lord as dedicated to the Lord. Now she mourns the raising of children, but she willingly lives out a dedication to the Lord. Her heart is beautiful.
"You made a vow, don't turn back. You've given your word, don't turn back. You made a commitment, hold on, don't turn back. God has blessed you, giving you this great victory. Many lost their lives in that. This is a small prize for me. Don't turn back." There we see this example to be applied to our own lives, no turning back. No turning back your heart. I have decided, I have made my mind. I am not wavering. I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. No turning back. You know that famous song that we have sung in the church for many years. It's so simple.
I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. This is resolved with me. It's like Joshua, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." This thing is resolved. It says, I love the next verse, "The cross is before me. The world's behind me, world's behind me. There is no turning back." I've resolved this. I say this is such an important place to come in your life of resolve.
C. No turning back your heart
I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back because I know of many who've been in ministry a long time, I've known of many who've turned back. They wanted to go back to Egypt, wanted to go back to whatever, and the end result was trouble upon trouble upon trouble and emptiness and brokenness of heart. That kind of light doesn't fill the soul. It empties the soul. There we see this tremendous example. Jephthah is an example of a man who won't turn back.
God has done so much for you. He's given you eternal life by paying the price for the forgiveness of sin when He sent His Son to die on the cross, shed His blood as payment for every sin you've ever committed. That is a glorious gift of love. He's giving you the gift of eternal life. He's adopted you as a son or as a daughter that you might call God your Everlasting Father. This is done. What then should you do in response to that? What does God want in response? Love. Just to love Him. Just to be thankful that you would let Him then move in your life.
Mark 12:3, "You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart." That's the right response, "And with all of your soul, and with all of your mind, with all of your strength." You think about all that God has done, here's my vow. I love you. That's all. You don't need to convince God to bless you. He's already blessed you. You don't need to convince Him to pour his favor out on you. He's already done that. Just love Him.
Then you come to a point of resolve where you say, "No turning back. I have decided, I have made my mind, I have resolved this, I know in whom I have believed and I know how I want to live, I want to honor you," because you take people with tragedy and shame in their backstory and stuff in the closet. You actually pursue people like that.
"Here I am, Lord. Got shame in the backstory, got stuff in the closet, here I am. God says, "Yes, I've been pursuing you for a long time because I delight to take people with shame in their backstory, I delight to take people with stuff in the closet because I'll do something about it because I love you and I'll do something about it." You just come to the point where you say, "Yes, God, here I am. Here I am. Just love him. Just be thankful. No turning back, resolve this matter. Let it be resolved.
I suggest to you today that if you have not asked Jesus into your heart as Lord and Savior, I suggest to you that today's your day. Maybe God has been pursuing you for some time. He says, "I know your name. I know your name. I know your backstory and yet I pursue you because I love you and I want to do something about your life. I want to give you purpose. I want to give you meaning. I want to make you a vessel of honor. Just say yes. Open your heart and say yes."
Let's pray. Father, thank you so much. Oh, your heart is so beautiful. What you reveal to us in this story is so remarkable that you take people with shame, stuff in the closet, and not only do you not shun them, you actually pursue them. What an amazing heart you have. What do you ask in return? Love.
Today, as we're praying now, as we're before the Lord, how many would open your heart to him? He's pursuing relationship to you. He knows your name, He knows your story, and yet, He pursues you, or maybe because of that, He pursues you, because He and He alone can do something about it, and can give meaning and purpose to your life.
How many would open your heart today and receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, to be forgiven of sin and be adopted as a son that you might call God your Everlasting Father? How many would say yes to the Lord today? Open your heart to Him and receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, would you? Is this today, your day? If you would open your heart, would you just simply raise your hand that I could agree with you? I just want to agree with you in prayer.
God bless you. God bless you there in the back. God bless you here in the front. God bless you there in the back on the side, God bless you. Resolve this thing, resolve this matter. Let it be known, I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back. Anyone else? Want to give you an opportunity, anyone else? This is your day. This is your day. If you have made that commitment to the Lord, then I'm going to ask that you would just pray this prayer with me, just repeat this prayer. You can do it silently, but just pray this in your heart.
Lord Jesus, thank you for forgiving me of my sin. I receive you into my heart. Be my father. I want a relationship to you. Make me a vessel of honor. Give me purpose and meaning in my life. God thank you. Thank you for what you're doing. I have decided, I have resolved to follow Jesus and there is no turning back with me.
Father thank you for everyone who says that prayer in their heart. You delight to take the broken and give meaning and purpose, we love you for that. Our response to you is love. With much thankful heart, we give you praise today in Jesus' name, and everyone said? Can we give the Lord praise?