Summary: How to live above our circumstances? The story and prayer of Jabez will show us how.

May 4, 2002


A. The theme for the month of May is prayer.

B. There are many things that we can discuss and talk that relate to prayer.

1. We can discuss about answered prayers

2. We can talk about men and women of prayer

3. Bible promises about prayer

4. Important ingredients of prayer

C. But for our consideration this morning, I want us to consider this topic which I have titled: The Jabez Factor—Living Above Our Circumstances.


A. The Prayer of Jabez Book

1. Written by Bruce Witkinson

2. Over 9 million sold

3. # 1 New York Times and #1 USA Today bestseller

4. Winner, 2001 Book of the Year ECPA Gold Medallion Award

5. Winner, Nonfiction Book of the Year 2000 Retailers Choice Awards

B. What Made the Prayer of Jabez Book Become a Bestseller

1. Is it because of the literary style of Bruce Witkinson? No!

a. Witkinson’s presentation is very simple. His presentation on Jabez prayer is a combination of personal testimonies and simple theological insights.

b. Sometimes he uses simple poetry to explain his points.

2. Is it because of the subject that the book is dealing with? No!

a. The New York Times Best seller lists:

1. Hard cover non-fiction:

i. Lucky man by Michael J. Fox

ii. Find me by Rosie O’Donnell

2. Hard cover advice

i. The wisdom of menopause by Christiane Norhtrup

ii. The healthy kitchen

iii. Body for life

iv. Self matters

v. Prayer of Jabez

3. Children’s books

iii. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

iv. Harry Potter and the chamber of secrets

v. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

3. Is it because of Jabez impressive personal profile? No!

a. Things that are considered impressive in today’s standard:

i. Job

ii. Financial status

iii. Possession

iv. Political and social influences

v. Physical looks

b. His name is mentioned only once in the Bible.

c. It is mentioned in the least read section of one of the least read books of the Bible.

4. Is it because of his genealogy? No!

a. Prominent ancestry, e.g., royalty, presidents, etc.

b. He was a descendant of the other clans of Judah

i. Main line of Judah—the one that bore the Messiah

ii. Other line of Judah—other clans

5. Is it because of his brothers? No!

a. He had other brothers

b. The Bible states that he was more honorable than his brothers.

6. Is it because of his name? No!

a. Names in the Bible is very important

i. It reflects the circumstances that a person was born into. It could also reflect the hopes and ideals that the parents of the new born wish to achieve for their new born.

--Isaac, for example, means “laughter.”

--Emmanuel means “God with us.”

ii. In some cases God intervenes to change the person’s name.

--Jacob, meaning “heel holder or supplanter” to Israel, “God prevails.”

--Abram “exalted father” to Abraham “father of multitude.”

b. His name means “pain or sorrow” Probably caused by

i. Painful labor of his mother

ii. His father left him before he was born

iii. Financial and material difficulties that his mother has endured in raising her children

iv. Pain of embarrassment for being born out of wedlock

v. Pain because of physical difficulties

c. No matter what was the reason why he was given the name Jabez, in the eyes of many, this sealed his fate. Jabez was destined to either be a man or pain and sorrow or one who would inflict pain and sorrow upon others. From his name alone, the future was not that bright.

d. Jabez could have very easily given up on life and no one would have blamed him. He was a man with no hope and no future, constantly reminded of the tragedy of his life every time some one called his name.

e. In reality, the name Jabez is not too strange for us.

i. Curse given to Eve in Genesis 3:16

ii. Conceived in sin. Psalm 51:1

C. What Did Jabez Do?

1. Jabez could have just changed his name

2. Or maybe add a little title before or after his name, e.g., Dr. Jabez, Pastor Jabez, etc.

3. He could have just given up and started causing pain to others

a. Blame it to his name

b. Blame it to the circumstances that he was born into

c. Blame it to the expectation of the people

d. Blame it to his mother

4. Yet, Jabez took the challenge head on and rose above the name he had been saddled with.

a. Our text tells us he was more honorable that his brothers.

b. Defined, that term means trustworthy, respected, worthy of glory and honor.

c. Jabez decided to live a life exactly opposite of what his name called for. He excelled in the good things, the pleasant things of life. He gained honor, respect, even love by the way he conducted his life and the manner in which he served his God. Our difficulties and circumstances could make it harder for us to succeed but they can never prevent us from succeeding.

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