Monday, February 13, 2012

Increasing your footprint

Increasing your footprint - lessons from the life of Jabez



This message was preached by Colin D Cruz at Word Of Grace church, Pune on
 the12th of Feb 2012.  This is a summary of the message. If you would like to
 listen to the AUDIO version please click here.http://vimeo.com/36679322

What is your name?Think of why you were called by that name. I know of a lady whose name is Crystal. Thats ok! But do you know what her surname was? “Ball”!!!! Imagine if your name was “Pain”!





Text 1 Chr 4:9-10

V9 Jabez was more honorouable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying “I gave birth to him in pain”
V10 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.

Intro:

2 verses tucked away in 9 chapters containing genealogies with scores of names. Most of these first few chapters are only listing the descendants of the various tribes of Israel. the author of this takes time to mention about Jabez and his story and prayer. Nowhere else does he stop to mention about someone’s story while giving the descendants of the twelve tribes of Israel. 

Now the Bible does not tell us a great deal about Jabez or his story, in fact Jabez is only mentioned in these two verses we are dealing with today. The author does not give a complete background of Jabez, but he just mentions I would guess the important things about Jabez. It does not tell if Jabez was rich or poor, young or old. It just simply says that Jabez had a prayer.
 Now in this text we don’t find much about Jabez, but we know a few things that are definite about Jabez.
(1)         He was named “pain or sorrowful” because is mother suffered pain at his birth.
(2)         Jabez was more honorable than his brethren were, J
(3)         Jabez had a prayer that was answered!
   

Jabez – the name


In biblical times the name given to a person often meant the character or the plight in life he or she might walk. They named their children carefully  often as a prophetic statement  over their life. For instance …
-Jacob … deceiver or one who tricks … he tricked his brother out of his birthright. Then God changes his name and his destiny .
Simon – reed to Peter little rock
-Jesus … God saves … He through His life, death, & resurrection saves.

Jabez has the distinction of what his name means … to grieve, be sorrowful. His mother for whatever reason chose to memorialize his birth experience by naming her son Jabez … because I bore him in pain. 
Jabez could have pitied himself, blamed his mother and himself and gone down the tube.
This morning are you looking at your background, your circumstances, obstacles, poverty, health and feeling sorry for yourself?

But something happened in this man’s life … something that took him from pain to glory. 
What made the difference in this man’s life … who was at one point characterized by causing pain … to become a man remembered as more honorable than his brothers? It’s the third distinction of the life of Jabez … his prayer life.

Being honorable speaks of the character, responsibility and respect of the person. Jabez went from being a pain to being more honorable. His life take a turn for the realm of glory as he abounds into greatness not made on his own.
-Big distinction … Jabez believed that God heard and that God would answer. 
-Bigger distinction … Jabez left the answering of his request up to God.

Jabez called on the One who could, would and wanted to make the difference in his life. His prayer let loose God’s will, power and blessing in his life. And it can be the distinction in your life also.

Overcoming Obstacles
At the age of seven, he had to go to work to help support his family. At nine, his mother died. At twenty-two, he lost his job as a store clerk. At twenty-three, he went into debt and became a partner in a small store. At twenty-six, his partner died leaving him a huge debt. By the age of thirty-five, he had been defeated twice when running for a seat in Congress. At the age of thirty-seven, he won the election. At thirty-nine, he lost his reelection bid. At forty- one, his four-year-old son died. At forty-two, he was rejected for a land officer role. At forty-five, he ran for the Senate and lost. At forty-seven, he was defeated for the nomination for Vice President. At forty-nine, he ran for Senate again and lost again. At the age of fifty-one, he was elected President of the United States. During his second term of office, he was assassinated. But his name lives on among the greats in U.S. history--Abraham Lincoln.

So whatever your background, whatever bad things that have happened you are not a product of the past

You are no longer a product of your past but a product of the work of Christ on the cross. Neil Anderson

What did Jabez do?
Verse 10 says he was more honourable than his brothers. That is, he lived in a way that set him apart. He lived it down. He cried out to God. He took his situation and went to God knowing that God could change his destiny.

It makes a great difference who you address in prayer.

When it comes to prayer – who you pray to is very important.
Isa 44:6 “This is what the LORD says—    Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last;    apart from me there is no God.
V8  Is there any God besides me?    No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.”

Its not enough to pray to a god but to the true God. Ps139 God is omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient. Does the God you are praying to have all these three qualities?

One mediator:
1 Tim 2:5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus who gave himself as a ransom for all men...

Hebrews 4:16 we are encouraged, "Let us therefore come boldly unto 
the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to 
help in time of need." If a person is going to come to God, he has 
to start at the starting place and receive the gift of God and the 
grace of God.

What did Jabez pray?
The first point we will consider, then, is: Jabez prayed for God to bless him. He sought God’s blessing on his life. He was not worried about being selfish, he wanted God’s best and believed that God wanted to give it to him. He was bold.He remembered his ancestor Abraham, when the Lord said to him:
“I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing” (Genesis 12:2).

We must seek the blessing of God that he might be a blessing to the world. The Bible tells us that our whole reason for existence is to be a blessing to God and a blessing to the world. That’s it. You are not here for you. The world does not revolve around you. Your whole purpose for existence is to be a blessing to the world. 

There is nothing wrong with praying for God to bless you, if it is for the purpose of being a blessing. It is not wrong to pray for wealth, if you are wanting to bless people with your material blessings. If you want to have more so that you can give more, then that is an acceptable prayer. If you want to be able to give more to missions or an outreach program so that people will come to know Christ, then by all means pray for material prosperity. Let us not be like the rich fool who was hoarding his wealth – his life was taken away from him.

When we were in Mumbai we lived in a small one bedroom apartment but we did a lot of hospitality and had scores f people stay at our home. When we moved to Pune and were considering buying a home we wanted to buy a 3 bedroom apartment so that we could do a lot of hospitality. God made it possible for us to have that.
 

Jabez also remembered his ancestor Jacob who wrestled with God. When God told him to release him,
Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me” (Genesis 32:26).
 And from that point on Jacob entered the promised land and prospered so that his descendants blessed the whole world with unbelievable spiritual blessings. Through Jacob and his offspring, God’s Messiah came into the world. God wants to bless us, but we have to want the blessing. We need to wrestle with God and not let go until he blesses us. 

Heb4:16 We can boldly approach the throne of grace. God wants us to be bold in our asking, for yourself, your family.

Enlarge my territory

Jabez asked for multiplication.

 Jabez asks God to bless him by enlarging his territory by increasing his border. He is simply asking God for more land. Jabez wants God to prosper him specifically by giving him more land because he thinks that will help reverse his situation.

Ask God for increase in sphere of influence. You are the light of the world. WE have treasure in jars of clay

The surest sign that you are a growing Christian is that there is within you a growing desire to have your life used by God. The thing that grieves me most about our current culture is our preoccupation with ourselves. It is all about us. We want more, and we want it faster, better and cheaper. Our lives become shallow and self-centered when we are worried about how we look, what we have, and who might have more. So many people never have a purpose larger than themselves. 

This is why Jabez prayed the second part of his prayer: Jabez prayed that God would enlarge his borders. Jabez was from the tribe of Judah,which was the ruling class among the Hebrews. To increase his territory meant that his people would have more area to live in and that he would have more people to serve as a leader. He was not thinking of himself, he was thinking about the welfare of others. A leader is a servant of other people

Jabez wanted to be used by God more than anything else. Is that your prayer and desire? Is there a longing, a passion inside of you, to be used by God no matter what it takes? Are you living only for yourself at this time, or are you wanting God to use your life in this world? Do you want to be blessed by God to be a blessing? Then pray for God to enlarge your life and your sphere of influence. Ask him for something so big that you cannot possibly do it by yourself. Ask him to enlarge your territory. Surely there is more to life than trying to make yourself happy. 

In a time of great discouragement, God spoke through the prophet Isaiah saying,
“Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes” (Isaiah 54:2).

 God wants you to see beyond the circumstances. He wants to enlarge your life if you will join him by praying and believing for his blessing. 
 And their vision gets limited by their circumstances and instead of taking giant steps of faith, they take baby steps.

I’m reminded of the story of a man who had done something wonderful and the king called him in and told him he could mark off as much of the kingdom as he wanted and it would be his. The man took his staff and traced a line in the dirt around himself. The king watched as he finished and said, “Is that all you want? Just what’s in that circle?” The man said, “NO. I want everything OUTSIDE the circle.”

What if we drew a line around this building and said we want to claim all the territory beyond this place for God? Jabez looked beyond where he was and what he could do to where God was and what God could do. We can take a lesson from the vision of Jabez. Let’s not sell ourselves short. Don’t put God in a box…think of everything that’s outside these 4 walls!


Let your hand be with me

Jabez next asks God that God’s hand might be with him. 
This terminology denotes God’s presence and empowerment.

Therefore, Jabez’s prayer that God’s hand might be present with him is a request for divine power to accompany him and to help him in some capacity


The third thing to consider is: Jabez prayed for God’s hand to be upon him. Jabez knew that what he was praying for was bigger than what he could accomplish himself. He was praying for something so big that only the hand of God on his life could accomplish it. 

What would you pray for if you knew that you could not fail? What is God speaking to you about which you have been ignoring? What have you dreamed about, but dismissed because you thought it was an impossible dream? Begin to pray for the hand of God to be upon your life so that you can accomplish something great for him. Hopefully, it will be something so great that when it comes to pass, you and everyone else will have to say, “This had to be the hand of God, because there is no way I could have done this by myself!” 


Keep me from all harm


Mt 6:13 And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.

Jabez, then, is asking God to bless him in three specific ways in order that life might not pain him. His name means pain and he wants God to bless him so that life will not pain him by bringing him hardship and distress. If God blesses him by enlarging his land, by helping him in life, and by dealing with him apart from evil, then God will have reversed Jabez’s situation, and life will not pain him. This interpreter connects the purpose of the prayer with cause for the prayer. Because Jabez was born in pain, he asks God to bless him and reverse his situation that he might not have pain.


There are forces of darkness out there. Pray for God’s protection. We read in the newspaper of how a teacher got stabbed by a student to got a “remark “ in his diary from her. She was not expecting this to happen. Pray that you will not fall into temptation. We need to keep ourselves pure and holy.Its not wrong to pray for protection.
In the context of the church pray for enlargement and protection.

Free from pain

The story ends with the sweetest words – “God granted his request”. Isn’t it wonderful when God answers prayer.

As a church I want us to prayer for these 5 areas.
MagnifyingGod – that is the purpose.
Maturity, Mission, Ministry – pray for enlargement and expansion that your spiritual footprint is increasing.
Membership – Lord keep us united in the purposes of God.

Pray for your jobs, your family. Fathers it is your responsibility to pray for the family and take responsibility  for the spiritual welfare of your family.
Lets pray.

Colin D Cruz.
Feb2012