Standing Out Among the Crowd

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A sermon about Jabez from Steve Wagers

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TEXT: I Chronicles 4: 9-10
INTRO: In the text before us, today, we find a man who was more than just an average Christian. As you read the first nine chapters of I Chronicles, you find that they resemble a Hebrew telephone directory, with more than 500 names mentioned, most of which we have never heard of.
Yet, right in the midst of that, we find a “real oasis in the apparent wilderness”, in the man by the name of Jabez.
Though he is not mentioned any other time in scripture, he is a man who was the cream of the crop, a cut above, and one who was obviously “Standing Out Among the Crowd!”
Notice, in these two verses, three things about this great servant of God. We see:
In this verse, we clearly see that though Jabez was not well known of men, he was extremely well known by God. It’s interesting to note, in these verses:
1. By looking at his name, we catch a glimpse of the unusual meaning that is implied. Notice, again, the name “Jabez”. The name Jabez means “he will cause pain, or son or sorrow.”
2. It’s quite interesting to see why he was tagged with such an unusual name.
3. Perhaps his mother, like Rachel, in Genesis 35, who called the boy who was later named Benjamin, “Benomi”, which means “Son of My Sorrow,” named him this because of her hard labor, and travail in birthing him.
4. Perhaps he was named this to be a constant reminder to not only his mother, but to him as well, of just who he was. Or, perhaps this name was to remind him of his personal roots, and lineage.
5. Whatever the case may be, his name, no doubt, was an unusual name.
No doubt, many of you, have heard of the little boy whose parents named him “Odd!”
Throughout his schooling years, he was ridiculed, laughed at, and made fun of because of his strange name. He would go on through life, carrying with him, everywhere he went, this unusual name, even to his grave.
One day, while he lay cold in the ground, there were people who were placing flowers on a grave next to him, in the cemetery. One of them couldn’t help but notice the unusual inscription on the marker, which read, “Here Lies Odd!”
He looked at that with amazement, and wonder, and said, “THAT’S ODD!”
Truly, this was a man who would be remembered forever, for his unusual name.
6. So it is with Jabez. Though we do not know much else about him, through the scriptures., we cannot forget an unusual man, and We See His Unusual Name.
1. Notice verse 9. Not only do we see his unusual name, but his unique notoriety. Notice the Bible tells us that he was “more honorable than his brethren.”
2. It’s somewhat strange to discover that a man with such an unusual name, would receive such notoriety.
3. How could a person whose name brought the remembrance of continual sorrow, and pain, be a person with such attention, and such acclamation from God.
4. Yet, though his name meant nothing but “sorrow” on earth; his name meant nothing but “satisfaction” in heaven.
5. In the sight of God, Jabez was a man who had obtained divine favor, and honor.
6. I can’t help but glean from this, that the way we may appear to men, may not be the way we appear to God, and visa-versa.
7. You may be here, today, and you may not be the most popular, the most prestigious, the most powerful, or the most prominent person in your community.
8. But, blessed be God, He can take your dishonor, and turn it into honor. He can take your disadvantages, and make them advantages. He can take your weakness, and make them strengths.
9. Thus, if God can take a man, whose name was a lifelong reminder of pain, and sorrow, and use him. Then, Praise His Name, that lets me know that He can take, and use somebody like me.
I think of D.L. Moody, one of the greatest preachers of history. He was a simple man, with a limited education. But, oh, how he was used of God.
On one occasion, Mr. Moody was approached by a man about writing his biography. Moody replied, “A man’s life should never be written while he is living.
What is important is how a man ends, not how he begins.”
If you travel to a place called “Round Hill Top,” the hill on which he is buried, you would find the inscription on his tombstone:
Dwight Lyman Moody,
February 5, 1837—December 22, 1899
“He that doeth the will of God abideth forever!” 2
Today, 100 years after his death, a simple unlearned man is still honored, and bearing fruit from his life.
I think of the great preacher G. Campbell Morgan. Morgan preached, on May 2, 1888, a trial sermon in a large British Methodist church. He received word from the church that they were not even considering him any longer. He felt totally humiliated, and utterly rejected.
Morgan sent his father a one word telegram, “Rejected!” His father replied, “Rejected on Earth, Accepted in Heaven!”
As you know, G. Campbell Morgan was mightily used of God, and became the best known Bible expositor in the English speaking world. 3
10. Friend, you may not feel like, look like, or act like much. But, God has a special, and a specific task for you to perform.
11. You may think that you’re nothing, but God can make you something. He took Jabez, a man unknown, unappreciated, and undeserving, and took the dishonor of his person, and used it for the honor of His purpose. He may have had a Unusual Name, but God gave him an Unique Notoriety. Thus, in the sight of the Almighty, he was A Person that was Honored!
We not only see a person that was honored, but a petition that was humble. I believe that this is one of the greatest prayers in all of the Word of God. It only consists of 33 words, but how it touched heaven, and moved God. Notice, in his petition he:
1. It doesn’t take long to read the first part of verse 10, to see who it is that Jabez turned to.
2. If you were to carefully observe these chapters, you would not find that any of the other, 500 plus, persons that are mentioned, are in prayer.
3. Therefore, we must assume that while others may have been making a good life, and drawing a good salary, Jabez was a man who knew how to get in contact with God.
4. No doubt, he knew who he was. No doubt, he knew that he was a “Son of Sorrow, and Pain.” But, that only made him aware that he stood in need of approaching his sovereign Lord; and, he did!
I’m reminded of a story I read about an old Scottish preacher named Jim. He was a man, who had a wonderful, and a personal relationship with the Lord. When he prayed, you would almost want to look and see if Jesus was sitting by him.
Once, when they were in a preaching service, and things weren’t going too well, Jim would get on his knees, and say, “Hello Jesus, this is Jim. This service isn’t going too well. Jesus, how about you coming down and taking control?”
Somehow He would, and the service would do well. Whenever there was a problem, Jim would get on his knees and say, “Hello Jesus, this is Jim. We’ve got a problem down here and we can’t seem to figure it out. How about you coming and working this problem out?” It wouldn’t be long until somehow He would, and He would work it out!
One day, Jim’s wife got deathly sick. He had the doctor on one side of the bed, and he got down on the other side of the bed, and said, “Hello Jesus, this is Jim. My wife, as you know, isn’t feeling too good. I’ve got the best doctor I could find for her. But, Jesus, how about you coming down, and being the Great Physician?”
Not long after that, his wife was totally well!
5. When I read that, I thought, there was a man who knew God, and how to get a hold of God. Oh, may we be like Jabez. Though we may have limitations, liabilities, and losses, may we realize as David said in Psalm 121:2, that, our “help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.” Jabez turned to none other but God, and we see him as He Approaches a Sovereign Person!
1. Notice the last part of verse 10. Not only do we see that he approached a sovereign person, but he acknowledged a supreme purpose. As you read this short, but powerful prayer, you will not find one selfish motive, intent, or desire expressed.
2. He’s not asking for a new home, a new car, a new boat, or even a new job.
3. He’s praying, totally, for God’s will, God’s work, and God’s way to be done in his life.
4. Thus, we see that Jabez was a man humbled before, but honored by God.
5. I ask you, this morning, how long has it been since you’ve come before the Lord, not to bring all of the things you desire, and want; but, to just, yield yourself to Him?
6. Have you asked for His purpose, His plan, and His program to be done in your life?
7. Oh, how we would do well to follow Jabez’s example, of not only approaching a sovereign person, but of acknowledging a supreme person. Notice, in his petition:
a. As he opens his petition, Jabez says, “Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast…”
b. Now, to some, this would appear to be an expression of a want, and not a need.
c. But, did you notice, what it is, exactly, that he is asking for?
d. He’s not asking for a bigger lot to build a home on. Nor, is he asking for a prime piece of real estate that he could buy, and sell for a profit.
e. He is asking God for bigger responsibilities, and greater opportunities to serve Him. He, no doubt, was grateful for what he had, but he wanted to serve God in a greater way.
f. Thus, he’s saying, “Lord, if you’ll enlarge my coast, and give me a bigger responsible; then, I want to do more for you!” He asked for God’s Providing Hand!
a. Not only did he ask for God’s providing hand, but for God’s performing hand. Notice, he says, “and that thine hand might be with me…”
b. You see, he’s asking for a greater place to serve in, but also for the power to serve with!
c. William Carey, the founder of modern missions, prayed, “Oh God, Oh God, help me to be the man that you want me to be!” Carey also said, “Attempt great things for God. Expect great things from God.” 4
d. You see, Jabez realized from whence his power came. He realized that it wasn’t by “might, nor by power, but by my Spirit…”(c.f. Zech. 4:6)
e. He, above anything else, wanted God’s hand to be upon him. He wanted to be empowered, enabled, and equipped to serve the Lord.
f. May we glean from his desire. May we desire greater avenues to serve God; but, may we also desire the power that it takes to do it. He not only asked for God’s Providing Hand, but for God’s Performing Hand!
a. Not only did Jabez ask for the Almighty’s providing hand, and performing hand; but, for His protecting hand.
b. Notice, he says, “and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!”
c. You see, Jabez realized that if he was to serve God in a greater capacity, then he would not only need God’s provision, and God’s performance, but also God’s protection.
d. I wonder how many of us, myself included, have asked for God’s forgiveness for a particular sin. How about a second time? A third? A hundred times? Or, even five hundred times? I believe, if we were to be honest, we would have to admit that we’ve all been guilty of this.
e. However, the secret lies not only in forgiveness, but in forbearance. Not only in confession, but in consecration. Not just in pardon, but in protection.
f. You see, many learn how to pray “Lord, forgive me!” But, not many pray, “Lord, protect me! Thus, they find themselves fighting the same battle, with the same sin, everyday of their life. As a result, sad, but true, they’re holding on for dear life.
I once read of two little sisters who were playing with their dolls, and singing, “Safe in the Arms of Jesus!” The younger sister asked, “How do you know that you are safe?” The older sister said, “Because I’m holding Jesus with both of my hands!” The younger said, “That’s not safe. Suppose the devil came along, and cut your hands off?” The older sister looked troubled for a moment, but then said, “Oh, I forgot! I’m not holding onto Jesus, Jesus is holding onto me, and the devil can’t cut his hands off. So, I’m safe!”
6. Do you ask for God’s protection as you embark upon a new day? Do you realize that outside of the gracious, protecting hand of God, that you would be subject to all of the powers of darkness?
7. I like how Martin Luther once prayed, “Behold, Lord, an empty vessel that needs to be filled. My Lord, fill it, for I am weak in the faith; strengthen thou me. With me there is an abundance of sin; in Thee is the fullness of righteousness. Cleanse me, Cover me, Consecrate me, and Control me, lest my feet stumble, and my faith suffer!” 5
8. Jabez desired great things, but he also desired God’s Providing Hand, God’s Performing Hand; and, God’s Protecting Hand. He, no doubt, approached a sovereign person; but, he also, acknowledged a supreme purpose. What a model, and an example of A Petition that was Humble!
We have observed a person that was honored. We have seen a petition that was humble; but, in the last part of verse 10, we find a prayer that was heard.
One writer once said, “It’s one thing to pray. It’s quite another to be heard!” However, we find that God heard Jabez’s prayer, and:
1. As we read the last statement of verse 10, we undoubtedly, notice that God must have been pleased with not only the person of Jabez, but the prayer of Jabez. Thus, He expresses that pleasure, for he “granted him that which he requested.”
2. You remember, we uncovered, a couple of weeks ago, what it takes to please God. No doubt, Jabez could have well preached that message to us, for it is apparent that he satisfied God, delighted God, and pleased God, thus, as a result, We See God’s Pleasure is Expressed!
1. Not only do we see God’s pleasure expressed, but also, God’s pleasure extended. For you notice the word “granted” that is used. The word “granted” denotes the meaning of “giving, passing onto, or extending.”
The word speaks of the idea of not only giving something, but giving it with great pleasure. This word is only used 15 times in scriptures, and is the same word used by Solomon in Proverbs 10:24, when he said, “The fear of the wicked, it shall come upon him, but the desire of the righteous shall be granted.”2.
Thus, God extended, gave, and granted Jabez’s prayer.
3. You see, Jabez didn’t have some falsely motivated prayer. But, he was praying exactly what God had put in his heart to pray. As a result, he found spiritual and supernatural satisfaction by finding the will of God, and getting into it.
4. He not only had, as Adrian Rogers, well said, a Sanctified Ambition, and a Specified Petition, but a Satisfied Condition!
God heard his prayer, and delighting in answering it. His Pleasure was not only Expressed, but it was also Extended.
Jabez was A Person That Was Honored, and had A Petition That Was Humble; but, he wonderfully enjoyed A Prayer that was Heard!
No doubt, most of you have heard of the football coach and his scout discussing the players that they were looking for. The scout asked, “Coach, what kind of player do you need?” The coach replied, “Well, you know that there’s a guy who you knock down, and he just stays there.” “Yea, coach, we don’t want him, do we?”, asked the scout. The coach said, “No, son. But, there’s also a guy who you knock down, and he gets up, then you knock him down again, and he just stays there.” The scout said, “I don’t think we want him either, do we coach?” The coach replied, “No, son. But, there’s also a guy, that you knock him down, he gets up, you knock him down, he gets up, you knock him down, he gets up; and, you keep knocking him down, and he keeps getting up!” The scout said, “Boy, that’s the guy we want, isn’t it coach?” The wise old coach said, “No, son! I want you to find the guy that’s knocking everybody down. That’s the guy I want!”
When I think of that story, I say may we be “spiritual linebackers, and tackles” for our Lord. Again, as I said, there are those who are doing things for God that they ought to be doing; but, not many are doing things for God that they could be doing. I believe that the poet, James Russell Lowell, said it well, when he wrote:
“Life is a leaf of paper white,
Whereon each one of us may write,
His word or two,
And then comes night.
Greatly being, though thou have time,
But for a line,
Be that sublime,
Not failure, but low aim, is the only crime!” 6
I don’t know about you, but I want to be a Jabez. I desire to aim high, shoot high, and travel high for the Lord. There was, unquestionably, A Person that was Honored, A Petition that was Humble; and, A Prayer that was Heard! May the Holy Ghost help us to be the cream of the crop, all that we can be, and may we, like Jabez, be “Standing Out Above The Crowd!”
1. Rising Above The Crowd., Brian Harbour., Broadman., 1989., p. 16.
2. The Life of D.L. Moody., William R. Moody., Sword., 1975., p. 559.
3. Prokope., Warren Wiersbe., Baker., March 1998., p. 2.
4. Message by Adrian Rogers
5. IBID., Prokope., p. 3.
6. The Pursuit of Excellence., Ted Engstrom., Zondervan., 1982., p.92
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