Make every day PAY-DAY (2)

Dispute of Jesus and the Pharisees over tribut...

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(Jumping right back in where we left off yesterday)

If you or I were Jeph, we would have responded to Israel’s elders as well as his brothers by saying “You kicked me out when I was a helpless little kid, now you come knocking all these years later after I have made a life of my own, only because you need my help? No! You laughed at my tears of sadness when I was just a child, now I laugh at you as adults!” Thank God Jeph was not any of us. He didn’t seek revenge at all. Instead he accepted, with only the stipulation that he be given some alone time to worship God and pray privately.

Haven’t all of us been in those shoes? I wish we could all be like Jeph. I’m sure some of you were hurt by somebody, maybe that someone was a church member, and you haven’t had any use for the church ever since. But Jeph was greater in heart than we are. He began his great test. The test that would bring him to the spiritual pay-day in the very near future. Keep in mind that this type of pay-day is not the same as ours. This type of pay-day is when we keep our word to God regardless of the cost. Your test, won’t come when you are at the office with a Christian co-worker on either side of you. That would be too easy. Your test, is what your faith can do for you in the middle of a godless crowd. Daniel was tested in the lion’s den, remember? Remember what the king said to Daniel? “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?” Daniel 6:20b In my mind I can see Daniel cracking a smile in response while petting a lion.

Jeph, went to battle on the altar of prayer and made one of the BOLDEST promises to God that has ever been made. Jeph promised that when he returned from battle, the first thing or person to come through the tent door to greet him and welcome him home, he would sacrifice to God. Sounds crazy doesn’t it? Jeph was a single father, who lived with his only daughter, you cannot possibly convince me that you would make that promise knowing what could come of it. Jeph was exhibiting RECKLESS FAITH. Today we are all so proud of our self-control. We take pride in the fact that we are not that person a few seats over in church that falls on their knees in worship because they know it is only about them and God and not maintaining appearances. We are so proud that we can keep our hands in our pockets while half the congregation is raising theirs in honor and praise of God almighty.

Some of the Bible’s key characters though, exercise RECKLESS FAITH. A faith where the consequences are not weighed and total confidence is placed in God’s hands. Remember Mary? She wasted a whole case of perfumes and oils when she washed Jesus’ feet. What about the widow at the temple who gave very little, but to her it was a great amount because she was a very poor woman, remember Jesus telling the Pharisees that she had given way more than they had regardless of the amounts they gave? The recklessness of these two ladies made them immortal in our hearts, and the hearts of every Christian in the world throughout all of history. Jeph made a vow, and when the time came, he knew he owed it to God to keep his word.

Now we come to Pay-Day. Jeph returns home after winning all of his military battles, and what happens? Yes. His beautiful daughter steps out of the tent singing a song of greeting and welcome to her father. What does Jeph say to her? “Alas, my daughter you have brought me very low”. After telling her of his promise to God, she agreed and was sacrificed. What?!?! Does that make you shake your head? Does it make you think Jeph is a bad guy? It shouldn’t. You cannot hold Jeph to our modern 21st century standards, we have to judge his actions based on the times in which he lived. He kept his promise, his word to God. “I given my word to God, and I can’t take it back”.

My friends, I wish there were a lot more “can’t take it back” men out there. When Joseph faced the greatest temptation of his life, he said “I can’t do it”. When the apostles were ordered to keep silent and not preach about Jesus they said “We can’t do it”. And Jeph here, with a breaking heart said “I can’t take it back”. Many of us would think to ourselves “nobody knows I made that promise but God”. We can justify it however we want. We think “it won’t matter much to anyone other than God”. Think about that! The one person we are supposed to live to please! Jeph didn’t tell anyone about his promise to God. It wasn’t peer pressure like Herod had to deal with when he ordered the killing of John the Baptist. Jeph was urged to do it based on the strength and conviction of his faith.

The lessons from this are so plentiful that I feel the need to extend its conclusion until tomorrow. Stay tuned.

God Bless

Chris

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