Summary: Sermon 3 of 4: God addresses why He has been withholding His blessings from the people.
Consider Your Ways
Woodlawn Baptist Church
October 16, 2005
In the book of 1 Chronicles, there is a little prayer that swept our country a few years ago that reads like this,
“Oh that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil.”
Many of you recognize it of course as the prayer of Jabez, made popular in 2000 by Bruce Wilkinson in the book titled The Prayer of Jabez. The subtitle goes on to say, Breaking Through to the Blessed Life. Of course it was a best seller and the topic of much debate. Was the book scriptural or was it just more of the health, wealth and prosperity gospel that has deceived so many? Is there anything of any substance in it or is it more of the bubble gum, psycho-babble that has swept Christianity in our generation?
A couple of you bought me the book, and what caught my attention then and continues to do so now is not finding answers to those questions, but watching our modern pursuit of God’s blessings. Jabez prayed, “Oh that You would bless me indeed…” It is still the prayer of God’s people today. But in my opinion it has become more than a prayer: it has become an obsession. Let me explain.
Of all people on earth, we are the most privileged, not of this generation only, but of all generations. We have more stuff, more information, and more opportunities than of any people before, but it is not enough. I don’t have to convince you of this; it is evident all around us. We race here and there trying to do more, trying to accumulate more, trying to accomplish more than ever before. We cannot find significance in being good husbands and fathers; we are driven to be more than that. We cannot find significance in being good wives and mothers; we are compelled to find significance outside the home.
You might disagree with me, but in my opinion our nation’s greatest days have been our leanest days, and that is not only true of our nation, it is true of the Lord’s churches and of His people in general. We have grown fat on God’s blessings, and now those blessings do not satisfy, which is why so many people are attracted to preaching and teaching that is aimed at helping them “maximize their potential,” or whatever other things so many “feel good” and “be happy” preachers are preaching these days. Especially telling are the signs across our land that say, “God bless America,” the same America that has largely turned its back on God.
Our study in Haggai has shown us a people like this. They had sown much, but had brought in little. They had eaten much, but were never filled. They had drunk much, but were always thirsty. They were making lots of money, but it was never enough and you know that their prayer was that God would bless them. “Oh that you would bless me!” “Oh that you would bless us!”
God told them in chapter one that He was not going to bless them because they couldn’t find the time or resources to build His house when they had plenty of both to build their own homes. They always had excuses as to why it was never the right time to do His work. Well now they’ve gotten to work. They’re building God’s house and doing what He said, but the blessings still aren’t coming. They can’t find joy; can’t find satisfaction in their work, can’t enjoy their relationships, aren’t enjoying the fruit of their labors and are just generally unhappy with the way things are going in their lives.