Men of Strength
Judges 11

The great need today is for men, real men of character, men of integrity, men that will stand, men of strength.  America is in trouble because America's homes are in trouble. And America's homes are in trouble because men have failed to be the men of God that they ought to be.  
Have you heard of the man named Jephthah in the Old Testament? Not many have, but God certainly knows his name. In fact, in Hebrews chapter 11, the great Hall of Fame of heroes of the faith, he is named in verse 32. What made him such a mighty man, a man of steel, a man of strength? What was his character like? 
He had a rough beginning. If anyone wanted to blame his life on his upbringing and difficult childhood, Jephthah could! His mother was a harlot, and his brothers threw him out of the family home and declared he would receive none of their father’s inheritance. 
Look at his character in the face of great difficulties. You need to learn today to be unshackled by the past and quit making excuses for your background. Stop blaming your circumstances, saying what's wrong with you now is someone else's fault and something that happened to you some time ago. He was exiled, driven out, and the Bible tells us he was “in a consort of vain fellows”; that is, he had a bad environment.  He'd known failure, rejection and poverty.
Today, psychologists and sociologists would say he's not to blame. He is the creature of his environment.  It is amazing today that there is a war on guilt. Nobody is to be responsible anymore for what they do. It's someone else's fault.  
Jephthah could have said. “Hey, don’t, don't blame me. If anybody ever had a bad background, it’s me. I’m not a perpetrator; I’m a victim.” We have a generation today of victims. Our sin is not sin; it's sickness, disease, dependency. They're “not responsible.” 
But Jesus did not die for mistakes; He died for sin. Stop blaming your past. Stop saying it’s someone else’s fault, or you'll never rise to be what you can be. The Bible teaches that guilt is real, that we are responsible, but grace is wonderful and forgiveness is free and full. 
Think of those in the Bible who came out of great difficulty to great power. Joseph was disowned by his brothers, sold as a slave, lied about, slandered, and rotting in prison, but his abasement was God's plan for his advancement. The Lord many times will humble a man before He exalts him. If the devil has been against you, remember this: God often uses the sword Satan has sharpened to cut off Satan's own head, just as David cut off Goliath's head with Goliath's own sword. 
The power of God is greater than all the odds stacked against you, and the grace of God is greater than all your sins. Stop with the alibis and excuses. Quit living in the past. Quit saying, “Well, I'm just a victim.” 
Judges 11:4 starts out, “And it came to pass in the process of time…” Note that all things, both good and bad “come to pass.” Your circumstances are not forever. If trouble comes, it will pass. Suddenly one day Jephthah’s relatives in Gilead were being attacked by their enemies, and they “went to fetch Jephthah….” He must have already had a reputation now for being a good, honorable, strong man because they said, “Send for this man that we've cast out.” When they begged him for help, Jephthah agreed to deliver them, but if successful, they must accept him as their leader. They were only too happy to agree.
Jephthah had great confidence in God. Hebrews says he was a man of faith. Even with a bad background, with his own flesh and blood hating him, he had insight into the things of God. The foe did not faze him. He's not fettered by his fear. Thus he’s found in the Hall of Heroes: 
And what shall I more say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon and of Barack and of Samson and of Jephthah and David also and of Samuel and of the prophets. Hebrews 11:32
He's in a pretty good list of names, isn't he? It’s interesting to me: they cast him out, and then when they're in trouble, they run to him. 
This man's confidence was not in himself. It was in God. 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?” 
Here is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus was despised and rejected. Yet when we see our sin and difficulty, we cry, “Lord God, come and help me!” But Jesus will ask you exactly the same question: “If I deliver you, will I rule over you? Will I be your head?” Friend, I want to tell you clearly and plainly that unless He is your Sovereign, He'll never be your Savior. You must say, “Lord Jesus, deliver me, and You will be my head.” 
How much like our Lord was Jephthah! Those who cast him out were the ones he came to save. 
Before the battle ever begins, Jephthah goes to God in prayer and asks for strength. 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. 
I wonder what dangers are facing you right now. Can you get on your face before God and tell Him all about it, remembering, “Greater is He that is in you than He that's in the world”? That's what a man of strength is.
Jephthah made a promise to God that if He would help him be victorious over the Ammonites, Jephthah would give to the Lord “the first thing that comes out of my house to meet me when I come back. Whatever it is, that’s Yours, Lord, offered up to You.” I will give You the first thing that comes out of my house when I get home.”
That is, it's going to be consecrated to You, Lord, for Your service, or it'll be a burnt offering, because he didn't know what was going to come out of the door. So he's just simply saying, “LORD, the choice is Yours, and I can trust You. What comes out of the door, it'll be consecrated to You, or it'll be a burnt offering. And, God, I can trust You to do the right thing.”
God gives him the victory. And then, when he gets home, out of the house, dancing and leaping with joy, is his beautiful daughter. Can you imagine the situation? What would you have done? The Spirit of God was upon him. So his beautiful daughter came out of the door, and he kept his vow. He consecrated her to the LORD. 
Well, you say, “Pastor, why was that such a great disappointment to him?” Here was a man, a family man, who'd not really known the joys of a family when he was a child. He had hoped, like every Hebrew, that he would be a part of the line of Messiah, that the Savior would be among his descendants. 
And what girl in Bible times did not value being a wife and a mother? But he gave his daughter over to being a perpetual virgin, never to get married, but to serve the LORD. And Jephthah knew he would have no grandchildren. 
Here was a man of strength, a man of steel, a man who refused to be shackled by the past, a man who refused to be bound by his enemies, but a man who was bound by his word. 
Character in the face of difficulty. Confidence in the face of danger. And, friend, commitment in the face of disappointment. 
If there's anything the men of this generation need to learn, it is to keep your word. Keep your word! 
If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.  Numbers 30:2 
And Deuteronomy 23:21 and 23 says you don't have to make a promise, but if you make it, you'd better keep it. Keep your word. 
You ask, “Pastor, what if a man does make a wicked vow, a wrong vow, should he keep a wrong vow?” Absolutely not! If you make a wrong vow, a wicked vow, it was wrong for you to do it, and you need to repent of it. But if you make a righteous and a holy vow, you need to keep that vow.  
What we need today are men of strength who will keep their word. Think of the promises people make: • Think of men who stand at the altar and promise to be faithful to their bride ‘til death, and they break their word. • Think of men who break their word to their family, and their friends, and their children. Think of politicians who stand and take an oath of office with their hand upon the Word of God and become dishonest liars. • Think of people who've made commitment to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and they don't keep their word. 
I'm telling you, sirs, what we need today are men! Men not shackled by the past, not fettered by the enemy, but men who are bound to their word. 
God, give us men who will stop making excuses. Give us men who are not intimidated by the enemy, and give us men who will stand by their word and their promise to their church, to their family, to their children, and, yes, Lord, to You. And help them to do it as Jephthah did when the Spirit of God came upon him by Your might. In Jesus’ name.