Summary: Evil wants to get us. If we have a shaky start or messy middle, God wants us to finish strong.
“Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, ‘Because I bore him in pain.’ And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘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, that I may not cause pain!’ So God granted him what he requested.” (NKJ)
As we complete our sermon series on the prayer of Jabez we have to focus on these last words, You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain! Because the name Jabez means pain and that this man of God was branded with a name that would haunt him for the rest of his life Jabez decided he needed God’s power to keep him from failing.
You can see as we moved from bless me indeed, enlarge my territory or my influence for you this prayer progresses. Jabber moved in faith and he needed God’s power and favor of God’s hand on his life. But now as he walked in faith and stood for God the enemy comes after him. Ladies and gentlemen that is the normal Christian life.
To not get this is to miss the fact that we are in Spiritual Warfare. The Bible tells us in Ephesians 6 to put on the armor of God so that we can stand against the schemes of the devil. The Bible tells us in 1 Peter 5:8, to “Be sober, be vigilant because your adversary the devil walks about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
Because our adversary is real we have to comprehend what Jabez is asking for. He’s asking for the same thing Jesus prayed in the Model prayer. Jesus said, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one :” (KJV) Jesus is teaching us to pray that God will keep temptation away. Jabez is saying keep temptation the things that will cause me to fail help me to avoid them.
As God begins to bless our lives and the enemy strengthens his attack that’s when our struggles come. So I want to speak to the areas of our temptations and the how to avoid those pitfalls.
We fight against the world, the flesh and the devil everyday. Attacks come and we must be prepared. We need His power and we need to be real about ourselves. Why do I say tit that way? Look again at Jabez’s focus, You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!
God YOU have to keep me from this and God my plea is I don’t want to hurt my family!!!
I. The First Two Battles (Keep me)
The Bible tells us we battle against the world and the flesh. Here in our text is the word keep. It is a verb which means protect. It is much like Jesus saying “lead us not into temptation.” Jabez is asking don’t even let me go there. Keep me hedged under your umbrella of protection—and don’t even allow me to think like that.
The Bible tells us that people don’t grow in their faith like they should because the “cares of the world” have hindered their faith from taking root and maturing into fruit. We are also told to “Crucify the flesh and its lust.” So what are the areas of temptation that the enemy knows will trip up a man?
The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (NIV)
I grew up on the Rifleman, Bonanza and I really liked a short series called The Guns of Will Sonnett. If you’ll bear with me today I’m going to use the dirty tactics of the enemy and what the bad guys did in those TV shows the tactic of an Ambush. Ambush by definition means “Being concealed to attack by surprise.”
Being a little boy I can remember watching those old westerns and trying to warn the heroes that the ambush was coming. If they could hear me through the TV I would say look out behind those rocks the enemy is lying there waiting to attack you.
And that is precisely how the enemy does it. He tempts us to and then blind sides us with an overwhelming desire that lures us away from everything that God holds dear. Unfortunately many men find this out too late or fail to heed the warnings that God rings out.
This sermon gets its name from the book Finishing Strong by Steve Farrar he lists three areas the enemy awaits to ambush us and let’s also look at how to avoid them: