Summary: You can break out of the status quo life by praying the final three requests of Jabez.
The Touch of Greatness
Rev. Brian Bill
I like listening to messages on people’s answering machines. Here are some of my favorites:
· Hi. Now you say something.
· Hello. I’m David’s answering machine. What are you?
· Greetings, you have reached the Sixth Sense Detective Agency. We know who you are and what you want, so at the sound of the tone, please hang up.
· I can’t come to the phone now because I have amnesia and I feel stupid talking to people I don’t remember. I’d appreciate it if you could help me out by leaving my name and telling me something about myself. Thanks.
· Hi. I’m probably home; I’m just avoiding someone I don’t like. Leave me a message, and if I don’t call back, it’s you.
As we learned last week, Jabez was so eager to have his call answered that he “cried out” to the God of Israel. He wanted God’s full attention. Thankfully, he didn’t receive a recording when he sent his four-part prayer to heaven.
This morning we’re going to look at the final three requests of Jabez from 1 Chronicles 4:9-10. Let’s read this passage together: “Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, ‘I gave birth to him in pain.’ Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ‘Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.’ And God granted his request.”
As we learned last week, Jabez had a number of shadows in his life:
· His character was strong but his brothers were bums.
· He was a pain to his mom.
· His future was bleak.
· His father had bailed on the family.
· He was poor.
But, he didn’t want to stay where he was. He asked God to break the cycle of dysfunction and despair that hung over his family like a dark cloud. Instead of settling for mediocrity and the status quo, He asked God to unleash cloudbursts of blessings in his life. And, the showers of divine favor came pouring down like a torrential rainfall! The same thing will happen in our lives when we ask God to bless us.
As a church, we’ve declared January to be “Jabez month.” We’d like everyone to pray this prayer at least daily for the next 17 days. The acrostic B.E.S.T. will help us remember it:
· Bless me “Oh, that you would bless me!”
· Expand my ministry “Enlarge my territory.”
· Stay with me “Let your hand be with me.”
· Take evil away “Keep me from harm…”
Expand My Ministry
Jabez had his character changed when God blessed him. Now, in this second request, his destiny is re-routed by asking God to remove the restrictions that were hemming him in. We see this in verse 10: “…enlarge my territory!” In the world of Jabez, land was marked by unmovable boundaries that had been divided among the tribes and families. Every family had its own inheritance, which was passed on from generation to generation. As we pointed out last week, Jabez was saying that he wanted more. And, he didn’t just want more property…he wanted to make a mark for the Lord.
The word, “enlarge” means to “increase or expand.” It can also mean, “multiplying.” The word translated, “territory,” literally means a “cord.” It carries with it the idea of a border that has a rope around it to let everyone know its dimensions and limitations.
In Genesis 9:27, Noah asked God to “extend the territory of Japheth.” Exodus 34:24 reveals that God was interested in giving an expanded vision to His people when he said, “I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your territory…” Isaiah 54:2 uses the image of a tent to help us see the importance of increasing our impact: “Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes.”
Jabez was asking God to expand the boundaries that had been imposed on him by his name. He wanted the rope repositioned and his boundaries blasted out! He wanted his impact intensified and his ministry multiplied. He didn’t want to be known as “pain” or “sorrow.” He wasn’t going to hold back any longer but was determined to move out for God. He wanted to make a difference. He wanted to be an impact player. He wanted to be entrusted with more.
Translated into our world, it means that we ask God to break us out of whatever may be limiting us. If you’re in the grip of a bad habit, or feel tethered to the tentacles of your past, ask God to expand your ministry impact. Don’t settle for just plodding through life.