Here are my rough message notes from last Sunday's message.
1 Chronicles 4:9–10 (NLT)
9 There was a man named Jabez who was more honorable than any of his brothers. His mother named him Jabez because his birth had been so painful. 10 He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request.
We don't know much about Jabez.
He's mentioned here and then there is a town called Jabez back in chapter 2 which could have been named after him? (1 Chron 2:55)
As far as we know he was an ordinary bloke with no particular title or position.
What we do know is that he was a godly man, why? Because he put God first in all things. He was a man of prayer.
We also know that his name, Jabez, means 'pain' or 'distress'.
He was given this name by his mother because of the pain of his childbirth.
Names are important in the Bible - Jabez wanted to make sure his name didn't hold him back.
And so he prays a prayer that God answers.
The first part of the prayer is to ask for God to bless.
Essentially it's asking God to look favourably upon us.
We are already so blessed.
We have been saved by Jesus and are now sons and daughters of God.
But we can come to God and ask Him to bless us even more.
Father God, as we unlock church life we ask for you to bless us in all that we do for you.
The key way that God blesses us is through His presence.
God is everywhere all the time
But God also manifests His presence in a more obvious way to bring blessing to His people.
So when we talk about God's presence we really mean that God is present/ here to bless.
So again as we pray for God to bless us - let's be asking for more experience of His presence with us.
When we gather as the church
When we go, as scattered servants into our workplaces and homes.
Expand Our Territory
This seems pretty straightforward doesn't it?
As we pray let's be asking God to grow us.
We'd love to see our numbers grow and let's believe God for that increase
But Jabez is asking for an extension of his borders, his land.
Remember he was living in the promised land. He was asking God to help him take possession of more of the land for God.
That's our prayer isn't it? We want to see the kingdom of God advance through our witness.
Let's be asking God to enlarge our influence, our impact on the community for Christ.
Let's be praying for lives to be changed by the gospel.
Keep Your Hand On Us
Our version says "Please with with me in all that I do"
ESV - "your hand might be with me"
The ‘hand of the Lord’ is a term used in the Bible to mean God’s power and presence in the lives of His people.
Jesus has promised His presence with His people always.
He also said that he would provide power to His church as they witness for Him.
When my kids were very small, sometimes would have to walk through a busy market place or street.
Sometimes I would put my hand on my children and gently guide them left or right through a busy market so they didn't get lost or knocked over.
In those moments, as I had my hand upon them, they were under my power and presence.
We want this from Father God so much.
We want His hand on us guiding us and steering us as we walk through this next season.
We don't know where we will end up but if God's hand is upon us, it will be the best place to be.
Let's also pray for more of His power at work in us and through us.
Let's keep asking for our experience to get nearer to our understanding.
Keep Us From Trouble
I'm sure we can all say a hearty AMEN to that one!
We have had a lot of trouble and pain these last 16 months.
Following Jesus never came with a promise of an easy life.
But it's encouraging to see that Jabez wasn't afraid to pray for God to keep him free from trouble and pain.
In 2 Cor 12:7-10 we find Paul praying for God to remove a "thorn in the flesh".
No-one knows what this "thorn" was exactly but as Paul prayed God spoke to Him. 8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
As Jesus was preparing to go to the cross He repeatedly prayed to God and asked Him to spare him that suffering. (Matthew 26:39-44)
In doing so Jesus received the strength he needed to go through that period.
So asking God to keep us from trouble may not mean life is a breeze but it will mean God will be in it with us.
Of course we can make choices that will cause us pain and trouble.
So part of us praying like this is to give God plenty of opportunity to stop us doing something really dumb!
Each day I feel I should be praying that. Lord - please don't let me do anything really dumb today!
So what do we make of all this.
Well Jabez was a godly man who prayed and God answered his prayer.
That reminds me of that verse in James 5:16.
Listen to how the Message Bible puts it The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.
So let's keep praying.
As life unlocks don't allow busyness to steal time with God.
Let's keep praying for God to bless Grace Church on the weeks, months and years ahead.
Let's keep asking Him to increase our gospel impact.
Let's keep praying for his power and presence.
And let's keep asking for him to steer us clear of trouble and pain.