One of the first places a code for life shows up, the Ten Commandments. It is developed throughout the scripture. Micah says, He has shown you, O man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you, but to do justly and to love mercy and to walk calmly with your God. And then Jesus condenses the matter into this statement. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, strength. This is the Christian life. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, strength. This is the Christian life. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, strength. This is the Christian life. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, strength.
This is the Christian life. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, strength. We read, Behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you, but tarry in Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high. In Acts chapter 1 we read, But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to me. In Romans 1 we read, For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes. In 1 Corinthians chapter 2 we read, My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. In 2 Timothy we read, For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. In 2 Corinthians we read, And he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, most gladly, I will rather boast in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me. And then in Luke chapter 18, Luke writes this about Jesus preaching on prayer.
Then he spoke a parable to them that men ought always pray and not lose heart. Very striking verses on the Christian life. It offers something that is not found anywhere else. It offers a friendship and a community or a communion with Jesus Christ who is God Almighty the Son, God the Son. It offers results in the life to come and this life right here, right now. But it certainly isn't that simple.
It does not need to be made complex either. I think this ministry of believers, this body, this particular assembly, I think that possibly the jewels that were bright at one time are not as vibrant in our crown presently. Not a rebuke, not at all. This is part of life. The routines, the ebbs and the flows. But also part of life is our response to the routines, to the ebbs and the flows. What are we going to do about the things that God brings our way or allows our way?
Whether they're good or bad. How am I going to respond to this? Will I be noble? Will it be honorable? Or will it be shameful?
Will it be neglect? What will I offer in return? Yesterday, Sean and I had gone to Virginia Beach there. Calvary Chapel, Virginia Beach had a men's conference and we were invited and so we went. And on the way back we were talking about all sorts of things and one of the questions was asked to this effect. What do I see happening with the body right now? What's going on with the church? Is there a coup in the making? Is there a great explosion of the Holy Spirit? Is there grumbling in the ranks?
What's going on? The question wasn't put like that. I don't recall the exact word, but that's how I received it. And I like to respond to that because when I had gone up to do the conference, I had to do three sessions in one day. That's Iron Man preaching. God is going, I love that guy. I had planned to use the last message for this morning's message, but I wasn't sure, so I went home and I tried to see if the Lord wanted me to say something else.
That didn't work, so I returned to where I first intended to be. And that is with this prayer of J. Bez. It has been refitted for a congregation of men and women and young adults, but I think very appropriate. And so when I think about the question, the state of this body, and as I was working in this, I felt the Lord begin to very clearly direct me in this way, that we as a body of believers need fresh power in prayer.
It's not entirely missing. If I have been successful at all as a pastor, it's because the people that I've been allowed to pastor, they pray for me. But as the body goes, you can do better. We can do more. There's more power to be had. We have bigger guns to fire. And we won't if we neglect lessons such as this at a time such as this. They need not only our attention, but our eager attention.
There's a big difference, a big difference. It's something to nod at something, you've given it attention. It is something, it is something else to nod with an eagerness, to stand up, to welcome it, to go forward with it. And I have hoped and hoped and will hope for my own life and service that the indisputable presence of God and the favor of God is on my life. No matter what's going on, even when troubles come, we tend to think, well now I've got this big problem so God's favor is not on me and that's not, that is certainly not always the case that born again believers very often is not the case at all.
It was not the case with Job, for example. I've also hoped for the frequent, unmistakable encounters with God daily in my life. Every day I look for an encounter with God. Throughout the day, not just once, I don't always get it, but I always look for it and I often do receive it. I have hoped for it and still hope to have the power, the soundness and the love of God traveling through my life like a mighty river.
Not a tributary, but like a mighty river. This is what I want. I think this is what every born-again, spirit-filled Christian wants. It is the very thing that your flesh and my flesh and the devil and the world work against and try to keep from happening. Now going back to our text, which I think will bring all of this out, or at least much of it, it is a seemingly random verse. This is a desert of names, of people we don't know.
We can't even pronounce their names. And all of a sudden we stumble upon this one verse in the midst of them all. It is a prayer as outstanding today as it was when it was spoken. Someone took notice of these words in this man's life and then they took the time to have others notice this man's words and his life and God's response to this man's words, which is very critical for me because whenever we consider characters in the Bible, we are looking at God's response to that individual and not so much the individual. We identify with the individual.
We understand them. We understand the circumstances surrounding them, but it is God who we want. We want to see how God responds to the drama that is before us in the pages of Scripture. It is interesting that there is, in this record of this man's prayer and God's answer, no indication that he prayed for hours. And yet undeniably, indisputably, it was a fervent prayer and it accomplished much.
We read about that at the end of the prayer, which we'll return to. But in the first verse, well, actually the ninth verse, but the first verse of our text, it says, Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His name means he will cause pain. Today, you use the name Jabez and it's just that, Jabez. It's just a name and nothing more. But in his day, when he had to answer to this name, when people knew him by this name, it meant sorrow.
It meant something and it was not good. He didn't ask for this name. His mother gave it to him. At birth, he was cheated.
For life, for life he was cheated due to an unfair name in a society where they valued the meaning of a person's name. I hope we learn from this man that it is in our best interest as Christians to overcome unfairness. What we often do when something unfair has happened to us is we question God. Why did you allow it?
How come you're not stopping this thing? I thought you loved me. I thought you died for me. I thought you were looking to fill me with the Holy Spirit.
God's response to all of those is, I do love you, I did die for you and I have and will fill you with the Holy Spirit. But I need you to serve as a servant. And when Christians stop serving as servants, the jewels in the crown grow dim. When Christians are sidetracked, when there is a me first way of life, which can happen so subtly that you don't even notice it, when these things begin to happen, the light dims, the charm is reduced, and the power is gradually taken away to be born with such a name, sorrow.
Here comes Mr. Sorrowful. That's the idea behind what he had to live with and work with. His story starts out with a finale. The end is given to us right at the beginning of what he left behind in this world, being born with such a name. The Bible tells us it was an honorable testimony. Again, forged out of a congenital disadvantage.
From birth, from birth, he was disadvantaged. And yet, he did not let that stop him. When I use the word forge, I have in mind a picture of a man swinging a hammer with heat. There's heat. There is power. There is energy.
There is work. That's what it is in the Christian life. For him to have this title in the end from God, God renamed this man through his testimony.
It says in verse 9, Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. It came through hard work. It came through heat and effort and skill which has developed along the way. These things are the very things that defeat the causes of hell. These are the things, these are principles. These are principles that govern our lives, our speech, our behavior. It is a code of life.
It is a way to live. We Christians, we have a code in life. One of the first places a code for life shows up is the Ten Commandments. It is developed throughout the scripture. Micah says, He's shown you, O man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you. But to do justly and to love mercy and to walk calmly with your God. And then Jesus condenses the matter into this statement, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, strength. This is the Christian life.
How it should be. But it is also significant that in this section of scripture, his brothers are not named. In a book where names are important, in a book where we have to swim through all these names, the brothers of Jabez, their names are not recorded next to his. That alone is a statement from God. It is an encouragement of God for us to be separate. Listen to the blessing that was given to the tribe of Joseph from Moses.
This would include Joseph's sons that became the tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim. And he says, With the precious things of the earth and its fullness, and the favor of him who dwelt in the bush. That means God. When Moses was on Mount Horeb and there from the burning bush, God spoke to him.
He's referencing this poetically. And he says, Let the blessing come on the head of Joseph and on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brothers. How would you like to be the recipient of such a blessing? For God to single you out and say, You are separate from your brothers and as such a special blessing is upon you. You're not like everyone else.
The touch of God is on you. I think one of the things we learn from this is that to achieve an honorable name is to be separate from such brothers. There's not brothers in the spirit. I'm not talking about those types of brothers.
I'm talking about those who you are closely related to who do not have an honorable name. That is why the distinction is made. This may cause unpleasantness to many who don't understand. Luke chapter 2, we read, Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel and for a sign which will be spoken against. Yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. The scope of this prophecy is so far-reaching that it is ongoing.
It is still the case. There is much confusion about Jesus Christ. There's confusion certainly in unbelievers, but even amongst the believers there is much confusion about why he does what he does and how he does what he does and how long it takes him to do or to not do. This being separate from brothers and others will cause discomfort for many who cannot recognize God's handiwork, those who are ignorant to the work of God. Romans chapter 12, If your enemy is hungry, feed him.
If he is thirsty, give him a drink, for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. This speaks of the sting of conviction from the righteous. The sting of the conviction from the righteous is a nuisance to the life of those who are not right with God. It is a nuisance to their conscience because they're guilty. Even if their guilt is simply immaturity, it is convicting.
That is the idea behind you and I being the salt of the earth, the light of the world. Samson was supposed to be an incarnate conscience and he simply became a menace. He is not the man to follow in scripture. Though he was blessed when it was all said and done and he shows up in Hebrews chapter 11 as one of the heroes of the faith, there are things about his life that are recorded that are of more benefit for us to avoid.
They are great and they are profound in their scope. And so we see from these things that honor is not an entitlement. It is an achievement.
You are not entitled to have a good testimony simply because you named Jesus as your Lord. That is not enough. There's too much going on.
The stakes are too high. God requires more from his people. And that is effort. That is work in the power of the Holy Spirit.
And in no other way can it be done. And that's why I started off this message this morning speaking from the scripture's verses on power, how important it is. And the idea behind it all is that there is no power available to the Christian worth preserving in a sea of names if there is no contact with God on a regular basis. Plugged into the Lord no matter what. Defeat is not a cause to stop praying.
Being unhappy with your life, being depressed, being cheated, being the victim of that which is unfair, these are not reasons to sever communion with the throne in heaven. They're reasons to show up in front of it. Honor is not an entitlement. When honor is shown to those who don't deserve it, we are irritated. We're disturbed. We're bothered by that. Jesus himself spoke about this thing that belongs to life, this principle of honor.
Even he subjected himself to this. It says in John chapter 8, Jesus answered, If I honor myself, my honor is nothing. It is my Father who honors me.
Honor is not something we take to ourself. It is something that others recognize because it becomes a beacon. It flashes out. It radiates. The jewels in the crown, they radiate. The crown is given to us by the Lord in the power of service under the Holy Spirit. And yet we have to ask ourselves, Does our jewelry need to be polished?
Does it need attention? Now about his mother, it says, His mother, in verse 8, called his name Jabez saying, Because I bore him in pain. What was she thinking? Well, she was not thinking.
It's closer to the idea. Others fell under the same shadow of a mother's misdirected lashing out at life in Scripture. Mothers, your position is such a high and honorable position. But again, you're not entitled to honor as a mother simply because you've had a child. There's more to motherhood than simply giving birth. There's the need to give Christ.
There's the need to give instruction and care. These things are essential. They're not ancillary. They're not on the side. They're not something that just helps it along.
They are critical features. Benjamin, one of the sons of Jacob, when he was born, Rachel named him Benonai, son of my sorrow, son of my pain. Fortunately, Jacob was there to reverse that decision and said, No, his name shall not be Benonai, but it shall be Benjamin, son of my right hand. He exalted the child.
He reached in and he helped out. Mom, in a time of great pain and sorrow, Ichabod was named Inglorious One because he happened to be born at a time when the people who were supposed to be God's people had brought much shame on themselves. But there was no one there, we read in Scripture, to help Ichabod and say, That's not the name to put on this innocent lad. There was no one there to help Jabez when he was born and say, No, don't name him man of sorrow.
Name him something else, anything else but that. In spite of all this, we don't read of Ichabod again, but we do read of Jabez, and we read that he did not allow himself to be tripped up by that which was unchangeable, something he had no power over. And so the contrast is before us. You can be dealt a rotten hand in life, like Ichabod and Jabez.
You can live in such a way that there's nothing more said about it, like Ichabod. Or you can live as Jabez did, and you can have an honorable name amongst your brothers. You can pray to God with fervency and effectiveness because God grants you the very things you ask for. And now verse 9, it says, And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying... Well, we'll just pause there. Jabez called on the God of Israel.
This is the master key to life. When the Apostle Paul was converted from sure destruction, destruction of his own soul, destruction of the lives of others, this is what we read about that moment. Paul telling the story of what it was told to him by another disciple when that disciple went to him and baptized him and said, God's a great plan for your life.
It says, And now why are you waiting? Arise, be baptized, and wash away your sin, calling on the name of the Lord. A good study is to find out the phrase or the callings on the name of God or the Lord just in the book of Genesis and see how many times it's attached to Abraham and how when he called on the name of the Lord, he also built an altar and offered sacrifices to God. And then he continues in his prayer, O that you would bless me indeed. He wanted the favorable touch of God upon him, upon his life. This again, this is the kingpin of the prayer.
All else that follows is the detail. But this is what it is really all about, that you would bless me indeed. Luke's gospel in chapter 2 records this about Jesus Christ. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men.
You see, God's blessing was on the Lord Jesus Christ, certainly in a greater way than anyone because God's blessings on Jesus Christ was a signal to mankind that this one is the Christ. You've been listening to Cross Reference Radio, the daily radio ministry of Pastor Rick Gaston of Calvary Chapel in Mechanicsville, Virginia. Pastor Rick is teaching from God's word each time you tune in.
As we mentioned at the beginning of today's broadcast, this teaching is available free of charge at our website. Just visit crossreferenceradio.com. That's crossreferenceradio.com. We'd also like to encourage you to subscribe to the Cross Reference Radio podcast. Subscribing ensures that you stay current with all the latest teachings from Pastor Rick. You can do so at crossreferenceradio.com or search for Cross Reference Radio in your favorite podcast app store. That's all for today. Join Pastor Rick next time for more character studies right here on Cross Reference Radio.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-06 23:54:18 / 2023-03-07 00:03:30 / 9