Scriptures: Hebrews 11:32-34
Think about the next couple names and what comes to mind: Walt Disney, Oprah Winfrey, Beatles, Winston Churchhill, Burt Reynolds, and Clint Eastwood.
Walt Disney was fired by an editor who said he lacked imagination. Oprah Winfrey was fired as a TV report she was told she was unfit for TV. The Beatles had several recording studios say they had no future in show business. Winston Churchill ran for office and was defeated every time until the age of 62: he became the prime minister just before WWII. Burt Reynolds was fired and told he had no acting ability. Clint Eastwood was fired and told his Adam's apple was too big and distracting for an audience.
Jephthah is a Bible character who faced the same kind of issues. His father was prominent member of society, but his mother was a prostitute. His father died and his brothers took his inheritance and kicked him out of town. He lost his home, family and respect.
The Ammonites came and attacked the nation of Israel. Jephthah had the reputation as a tough guy and a leader, and the very people who rejected him now asked for his help. Jephthah offered his help, but with the condition that they made him their leader.
Hebrews 11 names the heroes of faith of the Old Testament and there are sixteen names listed: including Jephthah! He is named alongside: Gideon, David, Samuel, Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Barak and Samson. Jephthah's faith and character impressed God. When he went to war the Bible says: "Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah." God took a rejected man and transformed him into a spiritual hero.
God uses people that others overlook: "God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things and the things that are not to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him, " says 1 Corinthians 1:27-29. Jephthah was a man of faith and destiny.
Do you want to be a person of faith and destiny? It's not what happens to you in life that determines your future: it is how you respond to what happens that determines your future. Some of the most influential people in history were folks who refused to be shackled by their past. The lesson of Jephthah is that we can rise above our difficulties and makes the right choices. "If your background is dark: God can use that as black velvet background on which to display you as a diamond of His grace!" It takes character in the face of difficulty and it take courage in the face of danger.