Old Testament: 1 Chronicles 4:5-5:17
1 Chronicles 4:5-5:17 Jabez, A Real Pain
The highlight of this passage is 4:9-10. The genealogies of Hur, Asher, Simeon, and Rueben are given here (yawn). But the most interesting verses are about Jabez in the line of Ashur. An entire book was written about this passage by Bruce Wilkinson.
Verse 9 begins, “Jabez was more honorable than his brothers.” He was more “honorable” but his mother bore him in “pain.” Why mention that? Didn’t God promise women that they would have pain in childbirth? (Gen. 3:16). He must have been more of a pain than other kids. In fact, Jabez’ name in Hebrew sounds like the word for “pain.”
It interests me [read: “disgusts me”] that most churches don’t talk about sanctification anymore.(1) We live in such a narcissistic generation that churches don’t think they can talk about pain and the value of it or they will lose members. Romans 5:3 says that “exult” in our “tribulations” (“sufferings” NIV). The reason is that it leads to character and hope (v. 4).
Over a hundred years ago when such things could be said in church, Oswald Chambers wrote, “If we are going to live as disciples of Jesus, we have to remember that all efforts of worth and excellence are difficult. The Christian life is gloriously difficult, but its difficulty does not make us faint and cave in—it stirs us up to overcome. Do we appreciate the miraculous salvation of Jesus Christ enough to be our utmost for His highest—our best for His glory?”
We want to be more like disciples of Norman Vincent Peale and Dale Carnegie than Jesus Christ. As we can see in our NT readings, the apostle Paul was willing to go to death for the Lord.
So Jabez’ mom was willing to bear the pain to produce Jabez. Why was Jabez more honorable than his brothers? He asked God and believed Him in faith to “enlarge his borders.” For a true disciple of Jesus Christ, “enlarging borders” means to bring people to Christ. True prosperity is growing spiritually, not materially! It is becoming more like Christ (cf. 1 John 2:6) and leading others to Him (cf. Prov. 11:30). How is it that “God’s hand” would be with us? It is only as we do God’s will. John 14:21, “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.”
What is true prosperity? It begins with knowing the Bible. Here is the formula. Josh. 1:8 “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. 9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
First, we must know the Word. Do many people know their Bibles today? Is the Bible really taught in many churches today? (The only reason I can write this way is because almost no one reads this blog. The only conclusion I can come to is that not many are reading their Bibles otherwise at least a few would want these shrunk-down explanations of what they are reading.)
We must not only know the Word but meditate on it (v. 8) with the purpose of doing it. The result will be prosperity, having our “spiritual borders enlarged.” Having our “spiritual borders enlarged” would also, of course, mean having a better relationship with the Lord with the result that “the Lord Your God [will be] with you wherever you go.”
And that entails suffering and difficulty. I believe when Jabez prayed that “harm may not pain” him, he didn’t mean that he wouldn’t have any pain but that his pain wouldn’t ultimately pain him. He would first, go to heaven, and secondly, have great rewards in heaven. To understand these verses in any other way runs counter to the entire tone of Scripture. Anyone who is commended in Scripture was a person willing to suffer. Jabez, in the morass of names in the genealogies of Chronicles and all Scripture was singled out as a man willing to suffer and prosper spiritually for the Lord. Because of that, Yahweh answered His prayer.
(1) Sanctification means “growing in holiness”
New Testament: Acts 25:1-27
Acts 25:1-27 Getting A Charge Out Of Paul
The Jews were hoping that Festus would send Paul to Jerusalem so they could assassinate him on the road. But Festus stayed in Caesarea telling the Jews they’d have to prosecute him there. The Jews brought a number of serious charges against Paul but they couldn’t prove them. Paul maintained his innocence so Festus asked him if he’d be willing to be tried in Jerusalem. He did this as a favor to the Jews but Paul said he was going to make his appeal to Caesar in Rome according to his rights as a Roman citizen.
After several days, King Agrippa and his wife Bernice arrived in Caesarea. Festus asked the king what he thought about the case against Paul. Agrippa said he’d like to hear Paul make his case in person.
The next day, Festus made Paul appear before the aristocracy and intelligencia of the city. Festus told the crowd that he found no illegality that he could pass on to Caesar and that he was hoping that Agrippa and the others might find something with which he could charge Paul.
Psalm 5:1-12 Mourning Morning A Lament By David
Psalm 5:1-12 Mourning Morning
Ever wake up in a bad mood? David did (vv. 1-3).
David reminds God that He doesn’t like bad people (vv. 4-6). He reminds God that he is one of the good guys (vv. 7-8).
The bad guys should be held accountable (vv. 9-10).
David asks God to bless him and surround him with protection like when he is safeguarded on the battlefield by his shield (v. 11-12).
Like many of David’s psalms, this one starts with whining but during the course of the psalm the psalmist reminds Himself of Who God is. He ends up trusting the Lord.
Did you start out whining to God this morning?
Can you end in trust?
Proverbs 18:19 Burn Me Fice
Jesus said that we should forgive someone seventy-seven times (cf. Matt. 18:22). Of course, if Jesus said that, we should do it. But if that person takes a swing at you, I think you are allowed to duck! We still need to maintain a good conscience toward that person (cf. Acts 24:16).
I had a friend who kept showing up at different places and insulting me in front of my other friends. I forgive him. But I wouldn’t plant a church with him (cf. 2 Cor. 6:14). He kept offering me gifts and apologies but I still won’t hang out with him anymore. What’s the expression? Burn me thrice? Fourice? Fice?
You get the idea.
Choose Life: Scripture: Acts 25:7 NASB “A Really Bad Movie”
“After Paul arrived, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many and serious charges against him which they could not prove . . .” Acts 25:7
If you are so mad at one of your leaders, you might want to look into yourself to find out why. Paul once said, “So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?” Gal. 4:16 . Jesus once asked the Pharisees which good work had he done that they wanted him dead (John 10:32).
If you would like someone dead or, at least, removed from your presence, you should check yourself for legalism. Paul had been a legalist and wanted Christians removed from the face of the earth. He did his best to achieve that until he met Jesus.
Notice that in the case of both Jesus and Paul, their accusers didn’t have any evidence (cf. this verse and also see Matt. 26:59-64). Though the Scripture says that there must be at least two witnesses to accuse a teacher or prophet (Deut. 17:6; 19:15; Matt. 18:16; 26:60; 2 Cor. 13:1; 1 Tim. 5:19; Heb. 10:28 – is that enough evidence for you?), legalists normally have no proof of their accusations. They don’t even usually know that the Scripture requires two witnesses. They also are ignorant of the process outlined by Jesus in Matt. 18:15-17.
The biggest offender is the one who does not admit to himself that he himself is a sinner (have I mentioned legalists?). In psychological circles they would be called guilty of the “defense mechanism” of “projection.” Projection is when a person has a bad trait they can’t come to grips with and they psychologically “project” that trait onto someone else that doesn’t have that trait. It is like a movie projector (remember those?) that projects the image of the film against a white screen. The screen isn’t responsible for the image, the projector is!
Jesus spoke of this phenomena when he spoke in the Sermon on the Mount about taking the two by four out of your eye before trying to extricate the speck of dust out of someone else’s eye (Matt. 7:3-5).
Check yourself and make sure you’re not watching your own really bad movies projected on someone else’s white screen!
If you do, you will find that you are choosing life (Deut. 30:19)!
I have found many bad leaders in churches. I don’t mean pastors. I mean people who have been put in power positions because of either their standing in the community or because they have money. They have squelched pastors and the Holy Spirit for decades in this country and probably around the world. They are probably hugely responsible for the downfall of the Church everywhere and they will be judged accordingly.
Years ago, when I first became a pastor of an old country church, of course, there were problems. I asked one of the elderly leaders who had been a deacon since about the year I was born, what he thought about the procedure of confronting sin in Matthew 18. He said he wasn’t even aware of it. He was a leader but was oblivious to one of the most important passages that a leader should know. He never did check it out though he would be critical if I ever came near the concept of the church having to deal with sin.
When you look at what’s happening in our country these days, I think you’d have to agree that the Church has been responsible for the mess we’re in. We have not been much light or very salty in decades (cf. Matt. 5:13-16).
Is there anyway you can be active in your church to ensure that it shines a light and provides salt in your community? Pray for those who would stand in the way of a biblical ministry.
The purpose of the “Choose Life” is to pick a positive help out of the One Year Bible (OYB) reading plan for the day. There is always something positive in the Word of God to cheer us and give us strength. For more on today’s reading, check out my One Year Bible blog: A Real Pain