|Vol. 12 No. 10 October 2010||
You may recall a few years back a best selling little book called, The Prayer of Jabez, taken from 1 Chronicles 4:9-10, which reads:
And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow. And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.
Although a bestselling book with this title, we see the story by inspiration in the best selling book of all time, the Holy Bible. As something written aforetime for learning (Romans 15:4), the prayer of Jabez is worthy for consideration.
As a person, Jabez was honorable in that he sought “…the honor that cometh from God only” (John 5:44). He was humble (James 4:10). He was a praying person (Philippians 4:6; 2 Thessalonians 5:17). He did not ask to be relieved of burdens and responsibilities, but rather called upon the God of Israel, a God in covenant with his people (Deuteronomy 5:1-3) and a God who hears his people (Isaiah 59:1-2). Very simply, Jabez was a person who put God first in his life (Matthew 6:33). His priorities were right, and his life was upright.
Oh, to read that beautiful, simple prayer! He asked to be blessed by God! He knew the One that grants comforts and blessings (Ephesians 1:3)! He asked God to enlarge his border (Matthew 6:33; 7:7). He asked that God’s hand be with him, such assurance as we read in John 10:28. “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”
However, note the final request; he asked God to keep him from evil. Evil is deceptive (Ephesians 6:10-13). Place a frog in cold water, put the pot on the stove and boil slowly. The frog will allow himself to be boiled to death! He does not realize what is happening! Slowly but surely the frog becomes accustomed to what is around him. Jabez knew what evil would do; evil grieves! We watch the news and hear the stories of how evil doing causes great grief for so many that are innocent. Evil will attack our thoughts. “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts…” (Matthew 15:19). Then, it attacks our hearts (Hebrews 3:12), which results in evil works (Romans 13:3) and is enhanced by evil communication (1 Corinthians 15:33). Jabez knew that his renewed daily devotion to God would keep him from the evil that lurks for men.
Mentioned briefly, Jabez had a life that was simple and faithful, and he desired to do God’s will. May we walk in the quality of life as Jabez did and offer up our prayers to God to keep us safe and faithful. Dear friend, are you walking with our Lord? Are you a member of the church of Christ? Let us know how we can help.
Have you ever had one of those moments where you really thought to yourself, “Man, am I in a heap of trouble”? Have you ever experienced one of those times when you knew very clearly that you had either fallen into a hole too big to climb out of or had dug your own grave and now had to deal with it? Maybe I am alone here, but there have been several occasions where that has happened to me. For one reason or another, a brief, but powerful chain of events occurred just in the right order to land me in some hot water.
Well, if you are reading this note, then I would dare say that you trust I made it through alright. Yet, in the midst of trial one never knows just how it will pan out. Years ago when I was laboring at a church in a region far north of the sunny shores of Florida, which is my current location, I fell into one of these situations. It had snowed for days. Before that we had freezing rain. It was a Saturday night, and I had some last minute work to do, so I prepared to set off for the office, which was about a one minute walk from my front door, across the church parking lot, into the building, and then across the building to the door of my office. Seems like such a simple thing.
As I prepared, I heard the sound of the plow working on our parking lot to get it ready for the next day’s service. Finally the noise ceased, just moments before I opened the door to head out into the cold. The front steps to the house were still covered with snow as I departed, and I grabbed some rock salt from the bag on the steps and spread it around not only to gain footing, but to melt the snow and make it clear by morning. I did the same with the drive way and then, having put the bag of salt back, headed down the driveway to the office, noticing the freshly plowed parking lot. It looked wet, but clear of ice and snow.
Anxious to get to the office and then back home to bed, I jumped over the freshly created snow piles to land on the parking lot for a short walk to the church building door. I never made it, and bed time would come many hours later as well. When my feet hit the parking lot, I realized in a split second that it was not “wet,” but a sheet of ice. Instantly, I fell backward and might have been okay had it not been for the eight inch curb that surrounded the lot. I both felt and heard the sickening thud of my head striking against the frozen asphalt. For a moment or two, I could not move. Perhaps, I was unconscious. It is hard to recall.
When I came to my senses, I turned my stiff neck to stare at a star-filled sky through the bitter cold of a January night. It seemed so quiet and calm – until I realized that the wetness now covering me was my own blood. The calm night dissipated rapidly as I realized as well that I could not see out of my left eye. To make matters worse, I soon realized that I had tossed my keys while reaching out to break the fall. I limped toward the house, but found it locked. Everyone was fast asleep, and I had no way to get in. I pounded and pounded on the front door. I pounded and pounded on the back door. I still could not see and the blood still flowed.
Finally, my wife opened the door, and within moments, we woke the neighbor to watch the kids and headed for the hospital. In the end, I found out that I had a two inch gash just above my eye that cut nearly to the bone. I was probably never in any “life or death” danger, but at the time it felt like it.
Just a small misjudgment and carelessness altered everything. How many times had I walked across that lot in the same conditions? How many times had I experienced the effects of ice and snow? There are far too many to count. I should have known better.
As I sat in the ER, I kept hearing the words to that well-known children’s song ringing in my head – “Watch your feet, watch your feet, where they go, there’s a Father up above, looking down in tender love, so watch your feet, watch your feet, where they go.” I didn’t watch my feet.
Of course, the song is not just talking about literal feet. Rather, it is talking about what you get involved with and the spiritual danger that exists in the world. It is one thing to get a cut on your head from some carelessness. It is a whole different thing to take that careless step into sin and the anguish and heartache it will bring. My eye has healed, and I can see just fine. As a matter of fact, you can’t even see the scar because my eyebrow covers it. With sin, it can take a lot longer and cause much greater pain. As someone once shared with me, sin will “take you farther than you ever would go; keep you longer than you wanted to stay and make you pay more than you ever could afford.”
In this day, don’t be careless with your spiritual life. Start each day with a planned spirituality so you may never find yourself in that hole that seems too deep to climb out of.