Summary: a sermon based on the popular book: The Prayer of Jabez.
Moving from Pain to His Presence with Passion
5-His Hand is With Me
20 May 2001
Do you know what the most popular book in the country is? Yes, that’s right, The Prayer of Jabez. The most we know about this Old Testament character is found in two verses in 1 Chronicles 4:
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.
--1 Chronicles 4:9-10, NIV
A few weeks ago, Ted Williams shared with us about A Heart God Delights In. "Jabez was more honorable than his brothers." What distinguished Jabez from the rest of the crowd? He had a heart God delights in. I’m sure he was humble. He recognized God was God and he wasn’t! He was contrite. He knew he was broken and crushed and he must have been totally dependent upon the Lord. And he trembled at God’s word. He was under the authority of God’s holy Word.
The next week, I shared with you about how "Jabez cried out to the God of Israel…" Jabez called on the name of the Lord. We need to place our call and connect with God for his power through listening and talking with him.
Ted was able to take us right into the first petition of the prayer. "Oh, that you would bless me…" God wants to "pour it on." He doesn’t want to give us his gifts because we deserve them. He gives us every spiritual blessing in Christ out of his grace, because he loves us.
Last week, Matt reminded us that we can’t be fenced in as we pray, "…enlarge my territory!" If you and I pray this prayer every day thinking God wants us to have more stuff, bigger stuff, better stuff, we’ll be very disappointed. We’re praying for God’s blessing, for more influence and territory for his glory and the building of his kingdom. Around us there are thousands of people who need to become part of God’s kingdom. About everyone here has probably seen the film Titanic. More than 1,500 of the 2,200 passengers died when it sank on April 15, 1912. Perhaps the greatest tragedy is that many of those people didn’t have to die. A lot of people climbed into the twenty lifeboats, but many were only half full. Hundreds of people were in the cold water with life preservers. Most of them did not die from drowning; they froze to death. The people in the lifeboats heard the cries of those dying people, but they chose not to go back for fear of capsizing. Only one lifeboat returned—after it was too late. Of the hundreds who were in the water, only six people were rescued. Those who were already saved didn’t go after those who were dying. When we pray for God to extend our territory we must ask God to break our hearts so that those of us who are already saved will go after those who are dying.
This is an awesome task. How can we accomplish it? That’s where the next part of the prayer comes in: "Let your hand be with me…"
You know what, I think this is one of the most encouraging verses in the whole Bible. God wants us to pray that his hand would be with us. What does that mean?
In the Old Testament days, a person’s activity was the work of their hands. The hand was a symbol of power. When you were in someone’s hand you came under their authority.
The Bible teaches us that it was by God’s hand that the universe was created.
My own hand laid the foundations of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I summon them, they all stand up together.
When God’s hand is present, there is joy and victory:
Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: "The LORD’s right hand has done mighty things!
When God’s hand touches our lives, all our needs are met by him:
You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.
When we have God’s handprints on our lives, we have his support:
If the LORD delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.
I think all of us will want to pray, "Let your hand be with me…"
Why would we pray this? Well, things might get difficult for us, but nothing is too difficult for our Lord! Why do we want God’s fingerprints on our lives? Because he wants what’s best for us.