Perhaps you feel unwanted, forgotten, and unloved today. Well there is a list of people in Scripture who felt just like you. What does God do for them? What does He say to them? Find out now as Stephen reminds us why we are never forgotten.
"Naming the Nameless or Never Forgotten"
(I Chronicles 1-9)
In Chuck Swindoll's devotional book entitled "Come Before Winter", he told about a conversation he had had with a young woman. She wasn't wanted by her mother and dad when she was born. They placed her in a foster home and walked out of her life, leaving no clues of their whereabouts and no promise of their return. She went from home to home longing for the day when they would come back and want her and love her and accept her. They never did. Years passed. She became a teenage rebel - lashing out at the world and then at herself by attempting suicide. Misery stalked her steps as she waited in vain for the return of her parents. Finally, suddenly, she decided she would go and find them. She did! Through an incredible chain of events and so-called coincidences, she walked back into their lives one evening . . . but soon discovered she still wasn't wanted. Her parents allowed her to stay for a while, but the relationship was forced and awkward. One morning they told her they had plans to adopt a baby boy - and "start all over." Deep within her heart she longed to be included in that new beginning . . . reluctantly she squeezed out the words; "I don't want to be in your way - maybe I'd better leave." To which her dad replied, "Okay, I'll help you pack." He hurriedly stuffed a few clothes into her backpack, rolled up a sleeping bag and gave it to her and handed her a $10 bill. He then shook her hand, smiled, and waved goodbye" Since that dark moment in her life, that young woman has lived in the hills, slept in alley ways, eaten out of garbage cans, and hunted unsuccessfully for work. Wanting neither pity nor a handout, she finally hung up the phone because she was cold in the phone booth and needed to find shelter. . .Swindoll said, "I shall never forget her voice; and somewhere is a girl who is confused, totally disillusioned about life, and terribly in need of being wanted."
While that story is a dramatic extreme of being unwanted, I'm very aware that the deceiver of humanity has at one time or another, whispered into your ear - "You aren't really accepted by God - you don't really matter to God, He'd probably like to start over again, without you."
Ladies and Gentlemen, this communion table is intended, among a myriad of other things, to silence that accusation - to shatter the myth that God doesn't care about you - He cares so much, his fleshly body was ripped and torn for you - a pool of blood under a rugged cross declares His love for you.
I believe in an audience this size, I'm speaking right now to poeple who, even now, feel unwanted, forgotten, unloved. Frankly, there are times when we've all felt that way . . . it's a common denominator of fallen humanity.
That's why, as we prepare our hearts to recieve, to remember the incredible declaration of love from God, I want to take some time and turn with you to an ancient list of names . . . to a lonely passage of scripture that has had its own share of being forgotten and overlooked.
We're currently studying through the Books of Kings and Chronicles - well, this list appears in I Chronicles and it begins with chapter one and ends in chapter 9. It begins in chapter one with Adam and ends in chapter 9 with Azel.
Obviously, we don't have time to reference every story or character in this grand list - it is, in fact, the history of humanity up to this point.
But for God to take up the space of inspired scripture; for God to take the time to see that everyone's name is included, tells us some wonderful truths.
Let me suggest several of them before I take you on a quick tour of just a few people mentioned in the genealogies.
Some Preliminary Principles:
*According to God's word, (It will show us that, to God,) no child of His is ever forgotten or unwanted.
*According to God's perspective (It will also show us that,) in heaven, value/worth is defined far differently than on earth.
Jabez and his painful past (I Chronicles 3:9-10)
Times were hard; war was constantly on the lips of everyone. What this list was was, as one man put it, a cemetery. A series of one epitaph after another. As you look at this chapter, the Spirit of God seems to pause and hover over one life.
J. Oswald Sander wrote, "When God troubles to preserve the epitaph of one man out of millions and gives it in such concise and meaningful language, we can be certain that it will repay detailed study."
That's what we have here.
Let's read the two verses: they're found in II Chronicles 4 (in your notes it says chapter 3 - that's another one of those bloopers - I just wanted to set the record straight, before the secretaries get a hold of me. II Chronicles 4:9. And Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother named him Jabez saying, "Because I bore him with pain."
This man's name was Yavetz - transliterated, Jabez. It means "intense sorrow. . .pain." Because she bore him in "yavetz" or pain. This was more than physical pain - I've had four children born to my wife and I - and I will never forget the pain she experienced in delivering our last child - and the pain I experienced from her squeezing my hand.
There was pain . . . but not sorrow.
We don't know what the situation was that caused his birth to be a sorrowful time to his mother - to be such an untimely moment, that the birth of a son, that would normally bring great joy, brought great sorrow.
This kid's named "Pain".
To him, it really wasn't very funny. Everywhere he went, his name reminded everyone of the negative shadows from his past.
That's why the first part of verse 9 sends an interesting message. And Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. . ."
Honorable - the word means "influential, powerful. . .heavy". . .what happened.
Verse 10 - Now Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, "Oh that Thou wouldst bless me indeed, and enlarge my border, and that Thy hand might be with me, and that Thou wouldst keep me from harm, that it may not pain me!"
Jabez was praying what some of you have prayed. . .what all of us, in varying degrees should pray - "Lord, make a difference in my future - I don't want to be handicapped by my past!"
Isn't that a great prayer. . .notice again a key phrase in the middle of verse 10. ". . .that Thy hand might be with me." Did you notice the phrase "That thou wouldst keep me from harm, that it may not pain me - that my life may not Jabez me."
Jabez is praying, "Lord, I don't want to live up to my name . . . I want to live differently!"
And the last part of verse 10 says, "And God granted him what he requested."
Reuben and his valiant sons (I Chronicles 5:18-20)
success is determined by dependance
victory is the result of a relationship
Pastor Dan Schmeizer came across a conference paper on the subject "Spiritual Renewal." In the conference paper, a snapshot taken from the life of the great desert fighter from the First World War, Lawrence of Arabia. After the end of World War One, Lawrence brought several Arab leaders to Paris to represent their interests at the Versailles (pronounced "versai") Peace Conference. Those rugged sons of the desert were filled with astonishment at the sights of Paris - the technology and the modern conveniences. But nothing intrigued them quite as much as the running water in their hotel rooms. In the desert water was such a luxury - it had to be dug for, drawn one bucket at a time from a well. Here, it seemed to be free and never ending, at the turning of a tap. When it was time to leave Paris, Lawrence found those Arabs removing the faucets from their hotel bathrooms, believing that those magic instruments would give them water at will back in their native Arabia. Only after great length and difficulty did he finally convince them that the faucets were no good if detached from the hidden pipes that led to a water supply. "No good if detached!"
What a terrific reminder for every believer - it is only when we remain openly and intimately related to our Savior does the flow of power and peace flow richly into our lives.
The temple and its dedicated servants (I Chronicles 9:17-34)
-the gatekeepers (17-27)
-the utensil counters (28)
-the furniture polishers (29a)
-the spice mixers (29b-30)
-the bread bakers (31-32)
-the music makers (33)
Now remember, that God isn't just recording that there were people who mixed spices and wrote music - He tells us their names. Who people were was more important than what people did . . . and still is.
In fact, the moment you begin to think that its more important what God does through you than what God does in you, is the moment you begin to place more value in results, figures, status, position - than in character, integrity, purity, intimacy with God.
Some Closing Principles:
*Your service for the Lord may never be recognized or applauded on earth.
*Your service for the Lord will never be overlooked or forgotten in heaven.
Listen to Hebrews 6:10. "For God is not unjust to forget your work which you have shown toward His name in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints."
I want to remind you - if God can remember that there were 212 gatekeepers, if He can answer Jabez's prayer that emanated from a past of pain; If God can remember and respond to the panic stricken cry of terrified Reubenites on the field of battle - that's His way of reminding you - He hears you too.
Now isn't it ironic that almighty God would give us a table like this and command us to do this in what? remembrance of Him.
It always astounds me to think that a Sovereign God would ask us to remember Him.
So this table works both ways - it reminds us that He remembers and deeply loves us:
And it challenges us with the thought, do we remember and deeply love Him. How important is His name to us.
Sing: "Jesus Name above all Names"
CALL MEN FORWARD and sing as men come forward:
Sanctuary (need for cleansing)
When I survey (a great Him of remembrance)
Alas and did my Savior bleed. . .at the cross.
Special - People Need the Lord
In my heart; life; church. . .be glorified today.