Jabez emerges in the midst of epitaphs on tombstones as the Spirit of God is pleased to hover over his life a bit longer than any other mentioned in this context. Because God singles out Jabez, we are wise to pause and learn the truth of the story. By doing so, many who feel their lives are marked by obscurity and insignificance can gain fresh courage to excel.
Our world desperately needs models worth following. Authentic heroes. People of integrity whose lives inspire us to take God seriously, to follow His Word obediently, to pursue Christ passionately.
Thankfully, the Bible places before us a spiritual "hall of fame"—raw, uncensored, gritty stories of men and women sometimes soaring, often stumbling, through the incredible life of faith. They wrestled with sin, experienced God's grace, struggled with weakness, and overcame by faith. Their inspiring biographies have been memorialized in Scripture, not simply because of their faith in God but because of God's faithfulness to them.
These great lives from God's Word not only provide realistic portraits for appreciation but also relevant principles for application.
Although a rather obscure character, Rehoboam, who lived in the days of the kings, illustrates the principle what appears on the surface doesn’t always match what lies beneath. We can learn many lessons about integrity from his life!
Family feuds, wayward kids, parent-child clashes, husband-wife disagreements, and other in-house pressures have a way of breaking our spirits and stealing our joy. And no one is immune who compromises with God’s standard—not even a king such as David. In this study we witness the monarch’s misery as the sword of consequences falls on him and his family.
The story we discover recorded in 1 Samuel 25 is amazing—change a few particulars, the geography, and the date, and we find ourselves reenacting a series of events as modern as today’s news. It is the story of an unfair boss, a strained marriage, and a great-hearted woman whose act of unselfish bravery saved her husband’s neck! Its fairy tale ending makes the story one of the most memorable in all the Old Testament.
When Saul became king, he was “little in his own eyes” (see 1 Sam. 15:17), but some time later all that changed drastically. The erosion of his character left him proud, impatient, and downright rebellious…a man who refused to bow even to the Lord his God. A serious failure and well worth our attention.
The boy Samuel heard God’s voice in the middle of the night. Have you ever wondered why God spoke to him? Or what God said that night? The scene may be familiar, but what it represents is not. It is a message as relevant today as it was when the Lord first spoke it.
Two things make Achan’s story especially sad. First, it occurred so suddenly on the heels of an incredible victory—the miraculous invasion of Jericho. And second, it resulted in a devastating toll on so many others. One man—a single, isolated individual—deliberately chose to disobey, yet numerous innocent victims fell in the wake of his sin, bringing calamity to a nation.
Though a twin, he was quite the opposite of his younger brother and ultimately became the heartache of the family. Ripped off by his brother and rejected by his family, he couldn’t win, no matter how hard he tried. As we shall soon discover, the Bible pulls no punches. And you may find several places in this story where you can identify with Esau, “the son who couldn’t win.”
Letting go is always difficult. And the closer we are to the thing (or person) being released, the more difficult it is to let go. We must hold everything loosely. Some of the most poignant examples of letting go come in the context of parent-child relationships. Upon receiving God’s command to offer his son as a sacrifice, Abraham let Isaac go and obeyed without resistance, illustrating his allegiance to God above all.
The story of Cain and Abel is tossed around rather generally in both Christian and non-Christian circles. Many folks are aware of the big picture aspect of the account—namely, that the older brother murdered the younger—but beyond that, little is known and even less is applied to everyday life. But woven within and between the lines of this amazing story are several insights that await our discovery.