Summary: Let us dare to connect with His power.
“Only God.” Have you ever had a life-changing experience that only those two words can explain? Have you ever done something for the Lord that in the end you could say “Only God could have done that”?
In his book “Axioms,” Bill Hybels wrote, “It’s the only phrase I intentionally overuse, but it’s for good reason. When God accomplishes activity that no human being could possible orchestrate, you have to respond somehow. And the simple phrase I’ve landed on in recent years is ‘Only God.’ …We watch for our heavenly Father to move and stir and act and call. And when he does, we humbly thank him with the only two words that could even begin to give credit to the one to whom alone credit is due: ‘Only God.’”
It’s my prayer that more people in our church would experience such a God-moment. And when we dare to pray a daring prayer, I believe we will have an “Only God” encounter. Let’s read 1 Chronicles 4:9-10. “Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, ‘I gave birth to him in pain.’ Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ‘Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.’ And God granted his request.” Jabez first prayed, “Oh, that you would bless me”. So, I dared you to channel God’s blessings. Then, he prayed, “enlarge my territory”. That’s why I dared you to conquer challenges. Next week, we will look at the fourth and final request: “keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” For this morning we will look at the third request in the prayer of Jabez. “Let your hand be with me”. Today I would dare you to CONNECT with His power. Let us pray first…
Jabez faced a great challenge. He just made a vow to the Lord that he would conquer his portion of the Promised Land and would drive away the Canaanites from that territory that God gave him. He knew that without God, he could never get it done. That’s why he prayed, “Let your hand be with me”. One commentary has this to say about the prayer of Jabez: “His prayer… seems to have been uttered when he was entering on an important or critical service, for the successful execution of which he placed confidence neither on his own nor his people’s prowess, but looked anxiously for the aid and blessing of God.” With God’s help, he did just that! It was an “Only God” experience.
“Let your hand be with me”. In the Bible the hand is “a symbol of might and power… The touch of a person’s hands was held to communicate authority, power or blessing”. In fact, there were times that the Hebrew word for “hand” is translated “power” or “dominion”. That’s why there are verses in the Bible that calls it God’s “mighty hand.” According to the NIV Bible Dictionary, “In the OT the hand is also the symbol of personal agency. When the Lord stretches out his hand, it means that he is taking personal action in whatever case or situation is involved, and this usage carries over into the NT”. To ask for the Lord’s hand is to ask for His presence. That’s why the clause “let your hand be with me” is translated this way in the New Living Translation: “Please be with me in all that I do”.
Since this prayer of Jabez is found in 1 Chronicles, let us see how both books of Chronicles use the word “hand.” By the way, this is the first time in 1 Chronicles that the word “hand” was used. I think Jabez had those meanings in his mind when he prayed, “Let your hand be with me”.
First, it means God’s power. In 1 Chronicles 29:12, David prayed to the Lord, “Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.” In 2 Chronicles 20:6, Jehoshaphat declared, “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you.”
When we attempt great things for God, we can only do it according to His plan. When we are doing His plan, we need His power. Only God can accomplish a God-sized dream. That’s why we need to connect with God’s power. We will only experience an “Only God” encounter when we pray, “Let your hand be with me”. The tasks at hand for us here at MGC are so overwhelming. I admit there are times I really feel so insignificant and insufficient. Don’t you feel the same way? But I thank God I don’t need to depend on myself. We don’t need to depend on our own strength. Someone wrote, “Only when we have knelt before God can we stand before men.” We connect with His power when we pray.