Summary: If Jabez was to be blessed indeed, he had to be kept from evil. Some important principles to overcoming the obstacles to expanding the borders of God’s blessings he has prepared for us are also discussed.
(Based on comments by Bruce Wilkinson at Walk thru Life Conference
PPT slides and outline available)
Today I continue with part 3 of the challenges of the prayer of Jabez.
A man had a problem finding a parking space. He finally parked in a no parking zone and left a note on his windshield that read: "I’ve circled the block for 20 minutes. I’m late for an appointment and if I don’t park here I’ll lose my job. Forgive us our trespasses." When he returned later that evening he found a parking ticket on his
windshield and a note that read: "I’ve circled the block for 20 years and if I don’t give you a ticket, I’ll lose my job. Lead us not into temptation."
If this is your first time here, if you are saying, “Who in the world is this Jabez guy? Let me push the rewind and give you the quick Reader’s Digest version of this interesting personality. In the book of 1 Chronicles, chapter 4, six hundred genealogies are listed, name after name, after name. Suddenly, in verses nine and ten of 1 Chronicles, chapter 4, a thumbnail sketch of this man is given in the middle of all these genealogies. This man, Jabez, must have lived a life of greatness, because historians tell us that a city was named after him, people followed him, and he was a true man of God who turned his pain into prayer.
Here is his brief bio: “Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers.” In other words, he stood out. “His mother called his name, Jabez, saying, ‘Because I bore him in pain.’ And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying,” now, here is the prayer, “’Oh, that you would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory.” Expand my coastlines, God. So far, we have Jabez, a man named Pain, I would hate to have that name. That was his name. For some reason, he was able to take this pain and transform it into prayer.
He prayed something unique. He said, “God, bless my life.” We said that God wants to bless us. The word to bless simply means for God to pour out his supernatural favor on our life. Sometimes that it’s hard to believe, like “What? You mean God wants to bless me? God wants to expand my influence, my client base, my personality, my leadership?” The answer is “yes.” If we say, “God, not my will, but yours. God, not my agenda, but your agenda. God You work through me.” As long as we understand that, then God will bless us the way he wants to bless, and he will expand our territory the way he wants to expand it.
Today I want to think about the part of the prayer where Jabez prays that God would keep him from evil. In essence he prayed, "Lead me not into temptation." In my opinion, this part of Jabez’ prayer is the very important of the things for which he prayed. Whether or not he experienced the blessings of Gods depended on whether or not he was kept from evil. If he was to be blessed indeed, he had to be kept from evil. If he wanted his coasts enlarged, he
had to be kept from evil. If he wanted God’s hand to be with him, he had to be kept from evil.
If the prayer of Jabez has taught us anything it is that God wants to do great and mighty things for us,
with us, by us, and through us. Yet, if we are not kept from evil, if we cannot break through the barriers to the territory none of these things will be experienced.
If God blesses me, which He wants to, if God expands my coastlines, which He wants to, if God’s hand is upon me, which He wants it to be, then God wants to keep me from evil, keep me from Temptation. Lead me not into temptation is how Jesus expressed it. What does it take to allow God to keepus from evil?
Maybe this skit with the Bethany players will give us some direction.
[Title: Listen (from SermonCentral.com web page)
Description: The key to answered prayer is to be quiet and listen. ]
That’s a Biblical principle—if you fail to listen to God’s voice in your life you will fall, you encounter obstacles to this Jabez territory that God wants to enlarge for you. Adam and Eve, way back in the book of Genesis, at the pinnacle of the creation, everything was going perfectly. They had just been made in the image of God. Everything was humming along and what happened? Satan rumbled onto the scene and began to tempt them. Why did they give into temptation? The woman was convinced. The fruit looked so fresh and delicious, and it would make her so wise! So she ate some of the fruit. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her. Then he ate it, too.” (Genesis 3:6) They didn’t listen to God. And they lost the territory God had blessed them with: So the LORD God banished Adam and his wife from the Garden of Eden. Genesis 3:23a