Jabez's Desperate Requests
Last week we looked at Jabez's daring requests of God that He would bless him and enlarge his borders. God loves to answer those requests and use us in powerful ways. However, when we see God do wonderful things, it is easy to get overwhelmed, foolhardy, or worst of all - proud. That is why Jabez's next requests were desperate ones.
He prayed, "Oh, that your hand would be with me, and that you would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain." Jabez understood that it was God and God alone that could accomplish what He wants to do. Jabez knew that if God's hand wasn't with him, he was doomed to ultimate failure.
Asking for "God's hand" is to acknowledge that as He blesses us and enlarges our borders, it must be God who carries us, empowers us, gives us wisdom, and most important - gets the glory. In the New Testament, the equivalent phrase is to "be filled with the Holy Spirit." (Ephesians 5:18). To walk day by day, being controlled and empowered by Christ is our only hope to live out what we were created to be.
Believe it or not, we were not created to fulfill the "American dream." Our prayers for blessings are not to allow us to realize independence, self-fulfillment and a boat-load of possessions. Rather, we are to be a living sacrifice that becomes more and more dependent upon God's hand. Jabez's request is one of desperation that God would be doing these great things in and through him.
Jabez's last request was that God would keep him from evil. What a practical request! Why don't we think of that more often? The spiritual battlefield is littered with leaders who have seen great success, made great gains in God's name, only to fall prey to temptation and sin. Jabez's answer is to ask God to keep him from the evil in the first place.
Sounds a lot like Jesus' advice to His disciples when He instructed them to pray, "And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil." These prayers are not to avoid all temptation (pretty hard to do), but rather to ask God to keep us from those things that can easily bring us down. It is a prayer of desperation, acknowledging that we are weak and we need God's help to avoid those certain areas that can easily move to sin.
One word of caution - Jesus also instructed His disciples to avoid the use of "meaningless repetition ... for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words." The prayer of Jabez is not the 'secret to the Christian life.' It is not to be repeated by rote as a guarantee of God's blessings. It is just a good reminder that our life was meant to be lived on the edge of faith in total dependence upon God.
Scripture: II Corinthians 3: 5,6 - "Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life."
Action Point: Where does God need to show up with His hand in order for you to succeed today? What evil do you need to avoid today? Trust God for something only He can do today.
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