Today’s Bible reading: 1 Chronicles 4:5-5:17; Acts 25:1-27; Psalm 5:1-12; Proverbs 18:19
In 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 we read the story of Jabez. While most of the other people in this chapter thus far (and following) are mentioned by name with nothing more being said, the author of Chronicles (who many believe is Ezra) takes time to describe Jabez.
Jabez was more honorable than his brethren because he prayed. He asked God to bless him and to expand his territory (or influence). Jabez lived at a time when there were still many pagans in the land and perhaps he wanted to be a better witness to them. He also asks God to be with him in all he does, clearly indicating that he recognized that no true success could come apart from God. This is a good prayer. How do we know? Because God granted his request (1 Chronicles 4:10).
Often the people who are expounded upon in the Bible are important government officials and leaders. But here we see a regular nobody like you and me – Jabez only receives two lines in the Bible – being mentioned. Even though you and I won’t be remembered by history God notices us. You don’t have to be a king or an important person on this earth to be blessed by God.
Just as the king had many workers who lived with him and worked for him, similarly we who live with Christ are to serve Him with our skills and talents (1 Chronicles 4:23). Some of us teach. Some of us write. Some of us counsel. Some of us sing. We all are to be doing something. Once we are saved we are not to sit idly by as if we’ve crossed some finish line. We are to serve Him out of gratitude for all that He has done for us.
Even though Reuben was the born first to Jacob, he is not listed first in these chronicles (1 Chronicles 5:1-2). That is because of the sin mentioned in these verses. God will always love us. That is a guaranteed promise. But our sinful behavior will result in loss of blessing. I can only imagine what my current life and my eternal life would have been like had I only behaved differently.
Paul was left in prison for two years by Felix who didn’t want to touch his case. As soon as his successor, Festus, takes office the Jewish religious leaders make their accusations again (Acts 25:2). Its been two years yet these men haven’t given up – they still want revenge on a Paul, who committed no crime.
Its one thing to lie to another person. Its another to lie to ourselves. Mark Twain once said “I’ve been through some terrible things in my life. And some of them actually happened.” Our minds are able to convince us of things that are not true.
Its interesting to realize that while Paul was in custody in Caesarea he was protected from those who wanted to harm him. He also wasn’t in too much discomfort as he was being held at Herod’s palace. In this way God was blessing Paul.
The Jewish religious leaders plan to ambush Paul as they did once before (Acts 25:3). Religion makes a person think they are righteous when they are not. Any religion that promotes the killing of another person on religious grounds has nothing to do with God. It has everything to do with self.
Festus finds nothing wrong with Paul but decides to send him to Jerusalem for trial by the Jews (Acts 25:9). Paul knows he will be killed if that happens so he appeals to Ceasar (who at the time was Nero) which was his right as a Roman citizen. This will result in the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy in Acts 23:11 that Paul would go to Rome.
In yesterday’s readings in Acts Paul got to present the gospel to Felix, a Roman (Gentile) ruler. Today he got to present it to two more Roman rulers, Festus and Agrippa. God is using the evilness of man to spread the message of His love and His offer of salvation to many people. God is the master at using the sin of people to glorify Himself.
In Psalm 5 we are encouraged to bring our requests to God and wait for His reply (Psalm 5:3). The psalmist did this every morning. We should likewise have a time set aside each day to meet with God.
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