Summary: The believers focus in facing the unknown.
You can begin the New Year however you choose to, you were made that way by a sovereign God to choose the path of your attitude and action that you desire. However the outcome is often intrinsically tied to your choices. Because every choice we make has an end result, good, bad, or indifferent. Therefore, choices are the hinges of our destiny (the choices we make, the choices that are made for us, or the choices we do not make).
So you can begin the New Year with a positive outlook or a pitiful outlook, it’s your choice. You can begin the New Year rehashing and reliving the miseries and the missed opportunities of the old year, or you can begin the New Year with wonderful anticipation of something better.
You can begin the New Year a pessimist, seeing the difficulty in every opportunity, or you can begin as an optimist, seeing an opportunity in every difficulty.
I offered to you on last week the first installment of these messages about how to begin the New Year. And on last week I invited you to consider Job’s life and Job’s choices. And out of all that he had endured, and out of all that befell him which was absolutely the zenith of pain, humiliation, and hurt. Job chose to Praise God!!
Even in the back drop of a canvas painted with chaos, crisis, and confusion, he literally gave Praise to God. In that awesome word found in Job 10:12, he says in the backdrop of all the darkness of his days, “You granted me life, favor, and the visitation of your spirit has preserved me”.
As I shared with you, Job’s theology was, Lord, I have lost much that was dear to me, I have experienced the depths of grief and pain, but I am going to praise you for life, favor, and your spirit. I am going to take the ashes of life and see if (through you) something can not come from that. That was the life application of Ms. Celie in the Color Purple as I told you last week. When she is breaking the ties from Mister’s house and going to start fresh with the life that she has, given the pain of her past.
His words to her was she was a poor, black, woman, etc. But her words were, I am all that, but I am still here!
And now I want to offer you a second consideration as you are beginning this New Year. I want to suggest that you do so in an attitude of Prayer! Not prayer at the level of the past year, but prayer at a deeper level, prayer at a more personal level, prayer at a more intentional level. I want to suggest that you begin the New Year as making prayer more habitual. As a matter of fact, I would suggest that you aim at becoming addicted to being more prayerful. To many times we are driven by crisis, circumstances, and the unexpected that increases our prayer lives. The trials and the testing’s have a way of raising our prayer thermostat!
It is this Prayer of Jabez that I offer you this morning. Bruce Wilkinson an evangelist made this prayer renowned to the world a few years ago in his book the prayer of Jabez. Not much is known about him, he does not have the prominence in the Old Testament as a Moses, Joshua, or David. He is not a Paul or a Peter, James or John of the New Testament. He literally was an obscure individual. His story is not even in a book that is interesting, Chronicles is a historical book of names of families of Israel and many of the names are atrocious to pronounce. But it’s an aspect of Jabez’s prayer that I want to lift up. In verse nine it tells us that he was more honorable than his brothers (man of virtue, vision).
So this text teaches us something about not only the man, but the mind and heart of this man Jabez. The bible does not say much about him, but the little that it does says a lots.
Jabez was a man that was marked by his integrity (piety). The verse says he was more honorable than his brothers. The scriptures does not identify the areas that he excelled in honor or the area they were dishonorable.
He was also marked by his injury (pain).
His name means pain, his mother named him the son of her pain or sorrow. So he has lived with this stigma and this label of being a pain, his life was a constant affront and reminder that he was pain.
But you know sometimes pain can be the platform of your blessings. Jabez has an antidote or a remedy for his pain. Because apparently he believed that God was a God who if you prayed about your pain, He would do something. God can bless you even if you are living with pain. When you bring your pain to God, He can reverse the order. Without God pain often becomes the landlord of your life, and you become the tenant. But God through your prayers can make you the landlord and pain becomes the tenant. And instead living in every room of your house, you designate the spaces where pain will reside. There maybe some pain that you just have to live with. But it will learn to live under your terms.