Summary: When God begins to bless you with new opportunities for ministry.
We are continuing in January with a church wide emphasis on increasing our prayer lives.
“The one concern of the Devil is to keep the saints from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, he mocks our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray.”― Samuel Chadwick
We are commanded to “Pray without ceasing” in 1 Thess. 5:17, encouraged by Jesus that “men ought always to pray and not lose heart,” in Luke 18:1, and commanded by Jesus that “my house shall be called a house of prayer,” in Matthew 21:13.
Prayer is the lifeblood of Christianity. Even the disciples knew this when they asked Jesus, “Lord teach us to pray,” in Luke 11:1.
In November we looked at the first part of the prayer of Jabez. It is a prayer we will examine over the next three weeks. It starts with a man asking God to bless him. Not only did Jabez ask for God to bless him, but now He calls on the God of Heaven to enlarge his territory. That word means borders, expand my borders for you.
Jabez was asking for God to increase his influence for God. He wasn’t asking for more property or more wealth he was surveying his circumstances and asking God to help him do more in God’s kingdom.
That is a significant statement because Jabez name means PAIN. To a Hebrew your destiny was tied to your name. Jabez was praying what Jesus commanded in “Let your light shine, so that others will see the good that you do and will praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 (CEV)
Prayer shapes into positive people. Negative people don’t pray. Oh, they will pray in a pinch, but positive people have spent time alone with God in prayer.
This part of the prayer of Jabez speaks of influence. We are either influencing people, our family, friends, and future positively or negatively for Jesus.
We all are influencing someone and it is either positive or negative.
W.M. Taylor said, “Influence is the exhalation of character.” Our character determines what kind of influence we are:
Biblical Example of Negative Influence
The Bible gives us many examples of those who had influence. In Numbers 13 and 14 we read that twelve men were sent to spy out the land. These spies came back—ten with a bad report and two with a good report. The ten persuaded the whole congregation to believe their report, thus influencing them to say "no" to God and not to enter the Promised Land. The influence of ten men cost the lives of several hundreds of thousands of people!
But listen. They influenced the whole nation to turn its back on God!
Probably many of the heartaches the Jewish nation has experienced in the last nearly two thousands years are the result of the influence of those ungodly men. And even though they’re long since gone, their influence lives on.
We all have areas of influence and it’s in these areas that God expects we influence the world for Him. The Bible says in: 2 Corinthians 10:13-16 (ESV)
“... the area of influence God assigned to us is to reach you. (Now) our hope is that as your faith increases, our area of influence may be greatly enlarged, so that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you.”
So today if we have expelled sin, and are willing to serve Him, why not pray that God will use us to the fullest? Why not ask God to be used for His glory? Let’s examine three areas of influence.
I. Influencing Your Family
Parents, husbands and wives, soon to be parents or one day you’ll be one, now that covers just about everybody, listen up—you’re greatest influence you will ever have in life is your home. Your home is the single most powerful arena on Earth to change a life for God. Why wouldn’t God want your family to be mighty for Him?
A. A Mother’s Influence—“Mothers have as powerful an influence over the welfare of future generations, as all other causes combined.” John Abbott.
A mom has an enormous impact on the family. Prov. 31:10-31 speaks of this virtuous wife who submits to her husband and takes care of the needs of her family. Mom’s don’t you ever let Satan slip you a lie that you are not making a difference because you are changing the world through the lives of your children.
Thomas Edison once said, “I did not have my mother long, but she cast over me an influence which has lasted all my life. The good effects of her early training I can never lose. If it had not been for her appreciation and her faith in me at a critical time in my experience, I should never likely have become an inventor.