I have a plaque on a wall in my office that I look at often for inspiration. On it there are two verses that can be easily missed from one of the least-read books of the Bible, 1 Chronicles.
“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.” 1Chronicles 4:9-10
I have often wondered why this brief bio and prayer got highlighted amidst nine chapters of genealogies of the people of Israel. It just seems out of place. Of all the great characters in the Old Testament why is this one man set apart?
There are elements we find in Jabez’ prayer that I believe are the qualities we need in our lives to live an above average life of faith in order to do great things for God in his church.
Jabez prayed, Lord, I want to do something significant with my life so he asks God to “bless me and enlarge my territory.” Jabez left it totally up to God to decide what the blessings would be and where, when, and how Jabez would receive them.” I believe he was praying that God would expand his influence so he could make a greater impact for him.” Jabez wasn’t asking for more real estate, but instead, he wanted more responsibility, and more opportunity to make a mark for God. Don’t we want the same?
Your territory might be your family, your community, and your church. Jabez wanted to stand out. He wanted to excel and expand, and he wasn’t afraid to ask God for his blessing and success. He wanted to dream big dreams for God and could envision God providing it.
Many people never achieve the things that they could accomplish because they walk through life with no vision, no master plan, no real purpose, no dream that motivates them toward their goal and no courage to step out of their comfort zone in order to grasp what others are not willing to reach for.
Jabez also prayed for God presence. He knew that to live large for God, it was going to take more than his own strength. It was going to take God’s power in his life to accomplish his dream.
Jesus said it like this, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” Matthew 7:7-8
In Ephesians 3:20, the Apostle Paul tells us that, “God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to His power that is at work within us.” This is one of my favorite verses because it reminds us that we can’t out-ask or out-dream God.
I’ve got a pretty big imagination and yet God says, Kyle, you think of the greatest thing possible, the greatest blessing for your family and for your church and I can top that and do something even beyond your imagination.
Jabez also prayed for God’s protection over his life. If your borders are small, you don’t have much to protect. I’ve found that the closer I grow to the Lord, and the more I attempt to impact my community for Christ, the more I become a target for the devil. That’s why Jesus instructs us to pray,“lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.”
Jabez knew that with God’s power and God’s presence and God’s protection, he could face anything, and the good news is that “God granted Jabez’ request.” When you combine these three factors– a great dream, a growing faith, and a genuine prayer life, you can count on God expanding your leadership influence so that you can make a big difference for God in your church and throughout your community.
I have devoted a chapter to each of these factors in my latest book, Church Turnaround A to Z.
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