Summary: Understanding that God’s ways are higher than our ways will help us to apply God’s practical formula for traveling the Jabez territory--and to know when God has shown up in our lives.
(Powerpoint slides and audience outline available)
Today I continue with part 5 of the challenges of the prayer of Jabez. Today I want to stimulate your thinking about how to make a difference for God, what are some practical steps for the Jabez territory.
Much of this message today was inspired by Ed Young. I saw him speak (by video) at the Visionary Leadership Conference with Bruce Wilkinson that I attended last month in Florida. He’s pastor of Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas outside Dallas. Ed Young’s church has 16,000 0n Sunday—started with 150 people in 1990. Either the town has grown a lot since I was there or people are coming from all over the place to the church.
Pleasant little town. I remember a small winery and really good restaurant—had a great Blackberry pie. Nice little shops downtown—we bought this Santa Claus raikes bear on a sled that was so big we had to ship it back home. So Ed from Grapevine, Texas, is the inspiration for much of today’s lesson on the prayer of Jabez.
Some of you know that I enjoy listening to jazz—especially contemporary jazz—what they call Smooth Jazz in the radio world. Regardless of the type of jazz, there is nothing like the smooth sound of jazz. Accomplished jazz musicians can just go with the flow. They can find a beat and hang with it, and it turns out to be some awesome music. There is nothing like the sound of jazz. When you think about it, Jabez could play some serious jazz. He had the uncanny ability to pick up on God’s beat and to follow his flow.
Why? Because Jabez knew how to pray. He knew how to talk to God. He is one of the least known and least recognized persons in all of scripture, and he is sort of camouflaged in one of the least read sections in the entire Bible. I believe that after this series, that is going to change. I think this lesser known guy will become a well-known guy. I think this least read section of scripture might become one of the most well read sections of scripture. Jabez.
To do a quick review, we talked about this prayer that Jabez prayed. The book of Chronicles, to be exact 1 Chronicles, chapter 4, highlights this guy named Jabez. This book, and in particular this section of scripture, will put the most serious Bible student in a daze. It will make anyone tired. Six hundred, count them, genealogies, name after name, after name, after name. You say, “Man, I want something exciting. Give me something cool. Give me something relevant.”
Suddenly, Jabez rises above the rest and God gives him two verses. He prays this life-changing prayer. Let me read it, and you follow along. “Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called him Jabez, saying, ‘because I bore him in pain.’” It doesn’t sound that great so far, does it? Let’s go ahead and read his prayer. “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’s it. The prayer of Jabez. He had the uncanny ability to pick up on God’s flow to follow his beat, and Jabez prayed some serious prayers. He played God’s jazz, some jazz that God wants you to play and me to play.
Jabez started out in pretty tough circumstances. The word Jabez means, “pain.” Can you imagine your name being pain? For some reason, his mother had a horrible pregnancy, or for some reason, either his father bolted after his birth or for some reason, maybe Jabez had a physical abnormality, but for some reason, people called him pain. Yet because of his prayer and because of this jazz of Jabez, he morphed his pain into prayer and he rose above the rest and achieved greatness.
God wants greatness for every person’s life. If you pray this prayer and ask, and say, “God, bless me. God, expand my coastlines,” God will do it. He wants to bless your life. He wants to bless my life. The word bless simply means for God to pour out his supernatural favor on your life, on your existence.
Remember, we have got to say, “God, I want your will. I want your agenda. I want your plan for my life.” We can’t come to God and say, “God, give me this. Give me that. Thank you God.” That’s that. “I want you to satisfy my materialistic yearnings.” No. We have got to say, “God, I’m asking and seeking your agenda. I want You to work through me.”
I hope you are following along now. Jabez prayed this prayer, “God bless me. God expand my horizons.” If we do that, God’s hand, Jabez says, will be on our life. Notice the progression. Jabez didn’t walk up and say, “Hey, God, I want your hand on my life.” He said, “God, bless me. God, expand my coastlines.”