Bless Me

In Jewish culture, names are significant. Some names reflect the mother’s pregnancy or birthing experience. Others give praise to God. Names are also a way for parents to express their hopes and dreams for the child’s future. Jewish parents want the name to capture the child’s personality and set the path of their life.

The first nine chapters of I Chronicles contain lists of names. Starting with Adam, they record generations of names covering about 2900 years. Very little explanation about the lives of the people is given. We read about some — good and bad, choices and traits — in other parts of the Old Testament, but here the focus is on their place in the genealogy of God’s people.

But in the middle of these lists, two verses stand out:

Jabez was more honorable than his brothers; but his mother named him Jabez, saying, “Because I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that You would indeed bless me and enlarge my border [property], and that Your hand would be with me, and You would keep me from evil so that it does not hurt me!” And God granted his request. (I Chronicles 4:9-10, AMP)

God did not tell us what made Jabez more honorable, so we must not need to know. We can be assured that Jabez’s character and life were pleasing to God. It was so pleasing that his prayer is recorded among hundreds of names representing 2900 years’ worth of lives.

The name Jabez appears to be an unpleasant burden. Although God viewed Jabez as honorable, his mother associated him with pain. We are not told why she made this connection; the Hebrew word for pain (otseb) can also mean sorrowful, wicked, or even idol. Perhaps it was a difficult labor and delivery. Perhaps there were negative circumstances in her life that she blamed on him. Whatever the reason, his name served as a constant reminder of that pain.

At some point, honorable Jabez had enough. He called out to God from his distress and made some bold requests:

Oh that You would indeed bless me… Jabez’s prayer begins with an appeal. He is desperate for God’s blessing. He acknowledges God as his provider, protector, and authority. He looks to God alone for His needs and wants. He knows nothing is impossible for God. Jabez knows God can reach beyond his name and pain to bless him.

and enlarge my border (property)… We do not know how much land Jabez owned, but he asked God to give him more. As an honorable man, it seems safe to assume he was wanted more than personal riches. More land would also bring more influence, responsibility, and productivity. Jabez wanted to do more, to become more, for God. Jabez was born into the tribe of Judah, which had received the greatest blessing from the Israelite patriarch, Jacob. Jabez boldly asked for the opportunity to be entrusted with more of God’s treasure and blessing.

and that Your hand would be with me… God’s hand represents power, guidance, help, and direction (Psalm 18:35; Psalm 21:8; Psalm 119:173; Psalm 139:10; Proverbs 21:1; Daniel 4:35). Jabez asked for more than just material blessing. He wanted to be blessed with God’s approval and help as well. He wanted a closer connection to God and to witness God’s work in his life. He wanted to experience God in action.

and You would keep me from evil so it does not hurt me. Jabez also wanted to rise above his name and the expectations it carried. Rather than being known as a man of pain, Jabez wanted to be known as a man blessed by God. He wanted to be as far from evil — and as near to God — as possible. He trusted God to protect him rather than his own strength, wealth, wisdom, or tribe. He wanted his life to be characterized by righteousness rather than sin. He wanted to rejoice in God’s work rather than be overcome by pain.

This prayer indicates that Jabez wanted far more life. He asked for a deeper connection to God that would impact every aspect of his life. Jabez knew his request would glorify God. And God shows His agreement by granting the request. This implies that Jabez’s life became a picture of God’s goodness, grace, power, and provision. God’s invisible qualities became visible to others; I believe Jabez gave God all the credit. God Almighty blessed the man of pain. God generously expanded the man of pain’s territory. God’s hand helped and guided the man of pain. God’s righteous instruction and provision protected the man of pain from evil.

By answering the prayer of Jabez, God showed His compassion. Although his life was hidden in the midst of generations spanning 2900 years, God noticed Jabez. God heard. God responded. God blessed. And He notices each of us, too. Especially when we, like Jabez, are asking for far more life.

Far more life is a blessed life. Sometimes it is blessed by pleasant circumstances. But it is also blessed by a connection to God. Blessed with stewardship of the gifts He gives. Blessed under the protection and guidance of God’s hand. Blessed with righteousness. Blessed to see God at work. Blessed with joy.

“Oh that You would indeed bless me and enlarge my border [property], and that Your hand would be with me, and You would keep me from evil so that it does not hurt me!” (I Chronicles 4:10, AMP)

Sisters,
What does your name communicate about you?
What do you think it means for God to call someone honorable?
Have you asked God to bless you? Was your motive honorable? How did God respond?
Would you want God to enlarge your border?
How have you seen God’s hand with you?
Have you asked God to keep you from evil so it could not hurt you? What happened?
Follow the example of Jabez this week as you ask God to bless you with far more life!
-Shari

Copyright 2021, Shari Damaso

For His Name’s Sake

There are a lot of deep and challenging questions about God that I cannot answer. It is not fair that God allows some people to suffer more than others. It is not fair that evil and sickness and disasters wreak havoc in the lives of “good” people. It is not fair that God created Satan and has given him reign over the earth. Ultimately, it is not fair that God has predestined some people to spend eternity in heaven and others to receive punishment in hell. But it is also not fair that Jesus willingly submitted to being tortured and killed on the cross to pay for our sins. It is not fair that He will bear those marks forever while we — who deserve to be separated from God forever — are welcomed into His perfect eternal home.

As I pondered this, I was reminded of the phrase, “for His name’s sake”. Doing a word search, I found it in 3 Bible passages:

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. (Psalm 23:1-3, NIV)

When our ancestors were in Egypt, they gave no thought to [the Lord’s] miracles; they did not remember your many kindnesses, and they rebelled by the sea, the Red Sea. Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, to make his mighty power known. (Psalm 106:7-8, NIV)

Through [Jesus Christ] we have received grace and apostleship to bring about believing obedience among all the nations for the sake of his name. (Romans 1:5, NTE)

The simple truth of these verses is this: in whatever they face, God works in and among His children for His name’s sake. He provides all they need for His name’s sake, to reveal His character. He protects them for His name’s sake, to display His power. He draws them to love, obey, and follow Him for His name’s sake, to demonstrate His grace.

Those who live in relationship with God are not protected from everything bad, but He limits the evil that is inflicted on them. Here are two examples from Job’s life:

 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” (Job 1:12, NIV)

 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.” (Job 2:6, NIV)

God was working for His name’s sake. He let Satan do anything he wanted to Job except kill him. What kind of Father would allow His child to suffer like that? One who is all-knowing and all-powerful. God knew Job’s heart and character would withstand. He knew Job’s response would be a lesson and encouragement for people for thousands of years in the future. God let Job suffer for His name’s sake.

God even brought good from Job’s situation. In fact, He brought more good than the pain and loss Job suffered.

The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. (Job 42:12, NIV)

When we suffer for His name’s sake, it is never wasted. I have experienced some hard times in my life that I would not want to repeat. But I can also say I am glad I went through each one because they grew my faith. They exposed my weaknesses and revealed God’s strength. I experienced His love and provision. My prayer life was deepened. My understanding of the Bible was expanded. God became more real and personal to me. His name was glorified as He provided all I needed through my suffering. Looking back, I can see how He was working for His name’s sake.

Sometimes when we face intense difficulties, we experience a crisis of faith. Our misperceptions and doubts are exposed. We may question our beliefs or even God’s existence and goodness. There is nothing wrong with this; God is not threatened by our doubts. Working through a crisis of faith actually strengthens our faith. Wrestling with hard questions solidifies our beliefs. We bring God glory by working out our faith during these times. His name is honored.

Millions of people have suffered terrible persecution because of their faith in God. This is not just in the past, it also happens today. God gives them supernatural strength to endure, even to the point of death, for His name’s sake. The gospel message spreads where people witness this faith that is proven to be real, deep, and powerful. The suffering of those faithful believers is not in vain; it is for His name’s sake. If you asked them, they would agree.

Right now, there are many who reject Jesus, curse His name, and ridicule those who follow Him. But the Bible describes the day His name will be revered by all. Those who have suffered for His name’s sake will overflow with joy on that day!

Therefore God exalted [Christ Jesus] to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11, NIV)

Sometimes we are spared from hardship for His name’s sake. Other times we endure hardship for His name’s sake. He invites us to experience far more life in every situation when we embrace it for His name’s sake. Will you accept His invitation?

Sisters,
Are you more aware of God’s hand on your life when things are good or bad?
When has He shown His character, protected you, or drawn you to follow Him more closely through your circumstances?
Do you trust God to bring good from your challenges? If not, why do you believe He has allowed them in your life? Is that belief confirmed by Scripture?
If your knee will bow in adoration, thank God for far more life that will last for eternity!
-Shari

Copyright 2021, Shari Damaso

At the Name of Jesus

While waiting for our children to be born, my husband and I undertook an important task: choosing a name. It felt like a huge responsibility, selecting the name that would carry this child through life. The name had to be just right: not too cumbersome or common; not too formal or weird; not too old for a newborn or too young for an octogenarian. The syllables had to flow well. It had to evoke positive emotion — at least in us, the parents. So many considerations! Part of the challenge was defining someone we had yet to meet. Would the name we chose fit the person God was adding to our family?

A good name is more desirable than great wealth. Respect is better than silver or gold. (Proverbs 22:1, GW)

A name is much more than a word. We answer when called by name. Others know us by our name. When people hear our name, they have an image or impression of us. It describes us and become part of our identity; it is a symbol, a representation, of who we are.

Names are very important to God. Throughout the Bible, names and their meanings are explained. In fact, angels told Mary and Joseph the name God had chosen for His Son:

And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. (Luke 1:31, NASB)

She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21, NASB)

Jesus means to deliver, to rescue, or he saves. What a big name — and life mission — for a baby to grow into! While Mary and Joseph were relieved of the task of choosing a name, I imagine they pondered how a child — their child — could live up to all this name implied.

But Jesus did grow into His name. He fulfilled His God-given purpose on earth. He delivered people from the power of sin and death. He saved people from the punishment they deserve for their sin. He will return to rescue people from the presence of sin and death. We find far more life in Jesus, in His deliverance, His salvation, and His rescue.

When we hear a name mentioned we react to it based on our experiences with that person. We may feel sad when hearing the name of a loved one who is deceased. We may feel joy at the name of a long-lost friend. We may feel a surge of love hearing the name of a person or pet that is especially dear to us. We may feel anger or pain at the name of someone who has wronged us. We may feel hope and anticipation hearing the name of a person we are about to meet for the first time.

People also react to the name of Jesus. Currently, His name is often used as a curse word, a term of contempt or disgust. But one day every person who has ever lived will react to His name this way:

…God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11, NASB)

Imagine what it will be like when everyone reacts with reverence to the name of Jesus. It gives me goosebumps just to think about everyone giving Him the response He deserves! I believe in that moment we, God’s daughters, will experience far more life as never before. I believe His presence will fill our hearts with more love, joy, and peace than we can imagine. I think we will gain a deeper understanding of Jesus as our deliverer, rescuer, and Savior.

Fortunately, we do not have to wait until Jesus returns to have far more life. We can begin living in fellowship with Him during this lifetime. Think of how rich life would be with a best friend who is:

  • Immanuel; God with us (Matthew 1:23)
  • Faithful (Revelation 19: 11)
  • True (Revelation 19:11)
  • The Light of the World (John 8:12)
  • The Way (John 14:6)
  • Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6)
  • Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6)
  • The Word of God (Revelation 19:13)
  • King of Kings (Revelation 19:16)
  • Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:16)

Jesus is all of these and more to each person who calls on His name.

And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Joel 2:32, NIV)

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. (Romans 10:9-10, NIV)

Consider the incredible love that the Father has shown us in allowing us to be called “children of God”—and that is not just what we are called, but what we are. (I John 3:1, PHILLIPS)

Being able to call on Jesus and receive the name “child of God” is a great privilege. Living in His name and experiencing far more life is an honor. And one day, on our knees, we will have the joy of calling out the name of our Deliverer, Rescuer, and Savior.

Sisters,
What does the name of Jesus mean to you?
Are there any of His names (characteristics) you doubt?

Are there any barriers that prevent you from calling Him your best friend and experiencing far more life?
Experience far more life by being alert to how His names are active in and around you.
-Shari

Copyright 2019-20, Shari Damaso