Nehemiah, chapters 5-8

“Do not feel sad, for the joy of Jehovah is your stronghold.”
~Nehemiah 8:10

This verse has personally been one of the cornerstones of my faith.
But why did the audience feel sad to begin with?
“All the people were weeping as they heard the words of the Law,” (Neh. 8:9).
It was the month of Ethanim (mid-September to mid-October), the start of the Jewish agricultural year, a month that marks many biblical historically relevant events.
It was a month of festivals.
This day started out with special trumpet blasts announcing a holy convention (Lev. 23:24).
The Jews in Jerusalem had but a few days earlier, against all odds, completed rebuilding the city walls (Neh. 6:15).
True worship was finally and officially ready to go fully back into effect.
When the scribe Ezra read the book of the law, and the Levites explained it, the people took it to heart (Neh. 8:2,3,7,8).
They understood what Jehovah was trying to tell them.
They were compelled to tears of sadness because of the errors of their ways.
But understanding God’s word was reason to rejoice, not cry.
The Levites helped them to correct their attitude, “so all the people went away to eat and to drink and to send out portions of food and to carry on a great rejoicing, for they understood the words that had been made known to them,” (Neh. 8:12).
When I personally experience sadness, do I make Jehovah’s joy my stronghold?
Understanding his word and serving him are not small reasons to rejoice in.
It is a beautiful privilege to form part of God’s people.
There is no better place to seek refuge than in the stronghold of the “happy God,” (1 Tim. 1:11; Ps. 16:11).

1 Chronicles, chapters 1-4

“O that you would bless me and enlarge my territory and let your hand be with me and preserve me from calamity, so that it may bring no harm to me!”
~1 Chronicles 4:10

Jabez is a lesser known Bible personality.
This is the only passage in the Scriptures that makes reference to him.
Upon beginning to read Chronicles, it may seem like a restatement of genealogies and some passages appear to be copied straight out of other books.
However, the writer Ezra, who was both scribe and priest, referenced some seventeen to twenty scrolls of his day that are not currently in existence.
That is why the book of Chronicles provides details essential to developing a fuller faith in Jehovah God and the Bible as a whole (“Chronicles, The Books of.” Watchtower Online Library, Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, June 2015. Web 12 Oct. 2015).
Returning to the story of Jabez, Jehovah heard his prayer and “brought about what he had asked for.”
From this, we gather that to be outstanding in God’s eyes, we do not need to go out and perform great deeds that change the course of history.
Jabez put his faith in Jehovah, not so much in himself, and that distinguished him enough for God to include his account in the Holy Scriptures.