A Man Named Jabez
It was a year ago today that I became the Lead Pastor of New Covenant Christian Church in Fort Dodge, IA. I can't believe that a year has already passed by and I have been in this position for exactly 365 days. The time went by SO fast!
Being the Lead Pastor for this past year has most definitely been a transition and has brought with it a whole bunch of emotions. I have felt overwhelmed, underwhelmed, excited, bummed, confident and inadequate. But there is something I have learned through all of this:
My inadequacy is God's opportunity.
You probably think that when preachers preach, it's only for the benefit of the people listening. While I do hope that others benefit from teaching that comes from the Bible, many times I am learning and receiving insight right along with the rest of the congregation.
A few months ago I talked about the prayer of Jabez in a sermon. You can watch it HERE if you would like (the message starts at 39:40). Jabez's prayer can be found in the book of 1 Chronicles.
1 Chronicles 4:9–10 (NLT) 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.
The name Jabez means “He causes or will cause pain.”
There were four requests made in this prayer. Let's look at them quickly:
Oh, that you would bless me. Seems fairly selfish, but is it? This depends on how you define the word 'blessing.' Bless means to impart or ask for supernatural favor. When we ask for God’s blessing, we are not asking for more of what we can get or accomplish ourselves. We are crying out for the goodness that only God can give us.
Expand my territory. Maybe this means more physical space, but I think it means also more influence, responsibility, and more opportunity to make a difference! Expand my sphere of influence. Bruce Wilkinson says, “If the God of heaven loves you infinitely and wants you in His presence every moment, and if He knows that heaven is a much better place for you, then why on earth has He left you here?” Because God wants you to “expand” your territory or boundaries.
Please be with me in all that I do. God has now shown Jabez what to do and how He wants to work through Jabez. Now Jabez is nervous. Now he has to stop and think if he really wants to expand his territory - to step into the unknown. Maybe Jabez feels inadequate to take the next step. Just like Jabez, we too can be afraid of the unknown. We feel inadequate to ______ (fill in the blank). But here is the good news:
Our inadequacy is God’s opportunity!
When I feel inadequate I know that it is with God's help that I can do all things. When I am unsure of what to do, I go to God in prayer and I trust that he will direct my path and order my steps. When I am weak God is strong in my life! My inadequacy is an opportunity for God to do something amazing and receive all of the glory.
If you feel like you are unqualified or that you cannot do something, then you are probably right where you need to be. Remember, when we ask for God’s blessing, we are not asking for more of what we can get or accomplish ourselves. If you were qualified and knew that you could do something, what need would you have for God?
Finally, Jabez prays:
Keep me from all trouble and pain. Jabez was praying that God would keep him away from places of trouble and pain. Remember, his name literally means to cause pain. Jabez could not rely on himself to stay out of trouble, he needed God's help.
AND GOD GRANTED HIM HIS REQUEST!
What prayers are you praying? Are you feeling inadequate or overwhelmed? I encourage you to pray to God and trust in Him. What seems impossible to you is possible for God!