Summary: This sermon uses the life changing prayer of Jabez to lead others to personal change
1 Chronicles 4:9-10 – A Changed Life
Jabez was more honorable than his brothers; and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.”
Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!”
And God granted what he asked.
Ever had one of those moments when you WISH you could change yourself?? Sure you have. Most of the time we feel pretty good about ourselves - but then we have a moment of frustration and we think – “WHY do I keep doing this?!?! I wish I could change this about myself?!?!”
Can a person REALLY change???
Wander into any bookstore and you will see whole sections devoted to “making a better YOU!” “7 keys to the good-life!” “How to overhaul yourself!”
There’s a reason there are so many self-help books out there - - We all have a longing to do life ⇒ better.
If that’s YOU – there is no greater place to start than the Bible – and probably no more relevant example to learn from than our text.
When we read through the Bible, we're tempted to skip whole sections because there seems to be so little practical information there for us. Take the first nine chapters of 1 Chronicles as an example. All you find are lists of names with very few details to offer any glimpse into the lives behind those names. Genealogies may seem like a waste of time to the casual reader.
But occasionally we’ll run across a hidden gem like the story of Jabez… a life summed up in two short verses.
The chronicler paused to tell us that he was "more honorable than his brothers" (v.9). “Honorable” means “weighty… significant… respected.”
Why did Jabez carry greater influence than his brothers?? It probably has something do with the short prayer he uttered.
The Jews put a lot of thought into the names they gave their children.
Often the name would communicate the hopes and dreams of the child’s parents... like the name “Jesus” which means “Jehovah is salvation.”
Other times, the nature of the times greatly influenced their choice in a name - like the name given to Eli’s grandson after the Ark of the Covenant was stolen by the Philistines … “Ichabod” which means “the glory of God is departed.”
Sometimes the name was prophetic… revealing something about the person's character, like “Isaac,” that means “laughter” or Jacob which means “trickster.”
Names had meaning. Solomon wrote: “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.”
But Jabez wasn’t so fortunate as to receive a name of nobility. No, HIS name means "he caused me pain." Unless you are in the mob or something, I doubt you would want a name like that.
Why would she call him that? Maybe it was because of the intense suffering she experienced in childbirth. Maybe his birth was untimely – the result of some shameful experience or during difficult times like famine or war.
Whatever the reason, every time his name was called he was reminded of the pain he had brought his mother.
Instead of allowing that to define him, Jabez turned to the Lord. He asked God to bless his life, to change his destiny. He was not a man who surrendered to his circumstances… No, he aimed for something higher ⇒ to be “honorable.”
I love this story, because in many ways, it is my own. Maybe YOU too identify with Jabez. Your story, like his, has been one of pain and you have often wondered if there isn’t something you can do to overcome it. No matter what your story has been, you CAN rise above those things and enjoy the “blessed life.” But for THAT to happen, you’ve gotta reach some of the same conclusions we see in Jabez.
1. First, Jabez experienced the blessed life, because he realized that his only hope for change was God.
He could have blamed others for his situation.
He could have become bitter about his childhood experiences and spent all of his time sullen over them – as though the world OWED him something.
He could have even relied upon his own resourcefulness to “pull himself up by his own bootstraps”
or turned to the world and the pleasures offered by the world to find some sort of comfort.
But INSTEAD - instead of resorting to sin or falling back on excuses, he gave himself to God totally and asked the Lord to change his life.
The “blessed life” can become yours as well; but understand, there are some things in our lives that hinder that step of trusting God.