Summary: We are never stronger than when we bow our hearts and heads in prayer. It is to be our first option, not our last resort.
• For this month I have prayed that, collectively and individually, we might get a ‘FRESH START’ in our walk with God and His ministry for us. Even though I am a part of the older generation, I don’t want to be ‘stuck’ nor do I want us to be stuck. I don’t want us to be ‘stuck’ in the past, in tradition, or in spiritually, or a situation, my heart is for us to move forward into Faith territory.
• Have you ever been stuck? A few years ago, I went to see my dad and he said, “Son, Got my tractor stuck in the woods.” Honestly, I thought him, my brother, and I could drive down there and get it out, BUT I was WRONG. Not only was he ‘stuck’, but he was stuck “bad”!! The mud was so deep that the tires could not even touch the ground for traction. Ultimately his brother had to bring a powerful ‘wrecker’ down & pull the tractor out. Because when you’re stuck, it takes effort.
• All too often, people get stuck. They get stuck in a job, a financial situation, a marriage or some other relationship, or even emotionally, and when a person gets stuck they feel trapped. You know what trapped is, it is when you feel like there is NO WAY OUT.
• From time to time churches, congregations, and Christ followers find themselves stuck. Not only are they stuck practically, but they are stuck spiritually. I know that it’s very easy for me to get stuck. Take Prayer. We are called to “Pray 1st”. How easy it is to NOT PRAY. I’m speaking of deep, passionate, & heart-felt praying. When we get in the habit of NOT PRAYING, we will find ourselves stuck spiritually. Perhaps this is where you are. The question is, “How do you get out of the bog?” Here’s the truth which those who have been in the woods with vehicles, the effort required to get you out of a bog is directly proportional to how deeply you are entrenched or stuck in the bog. When you get deeply stuck, it requires major help to get free and move forward again.
• So I ask, “are stuck in your spiritual growth?” Are you closer to God today than 6 months ago? Many will say, “Yea, I am. I feel closer to God today.” If this is true, can you give evidence of it? You see, we don’t walk closer with the almighty & remain unchanged.
• I have been meditating on this topic of being stuck spiritual because of an article I read by a friend of mine. He suggested that the reason or way a church can become stuck (I.E. plateaued or declining) is by church members (those who make up the church) not growing in their walk with God. Be CLEAR: It’s not that they intended, set out to, or even wanted to get stuck (getting stuck is always an accident), but for whatever reason they just kind of bogged down.
• As we have started this month, which I have termed “Fresh Start”, my prayer has been for to have a “Fresh Start” that is not one of our own making or one of our “plain determination.” Too many churches attempt to ‘work for God’ in the power of their determination. My heart prayer is that we, me & you, will experience a Fresh Start in our journey with the Lord and that it will happen through a fresh encounter with the Spirit of God. An encounter which will free us, release us, & make us ready to move forward to build His Kingdom, follow His will, & to reach/disciple people.
• What can we do? Pray 1st. Who can we learn from? I think we can find help in an obscure person taken from the Old Testament. Turn to 1 Chronicles 4. If on some night you have insomnia & need to sleep, you might open your Bible to 1 Chronicles 1 and start reading. The first 9 chapters are nothing but genealogies. It begins in chapter 1 with Adam, Seth, & Enosh and conclude in chapter 9 by repeating the genealogy of King Saul. In other word ‘so-in-so fathered so-in-so’ ad infinitum. If you like that type of reading, you have been given a place to read into oblivion.
• This reading is so much that same that it is easy to miss ONE MAN who can give us some much needed inspiration and help. That man is Jabez. Let’s walk through these two verses which are basically all we know about this man and let’s learn some lessons from one who “PRAYED FIRST”.
1. About the Person – Like it or not, everything we know about Jabez we discover in these two verses & perhaps the context of the scripture. Knowing that he is from the tribe of Judah & was likely living in southern Israel after the conquest of Canaan is probably small compared to the rest.