Learning from Jabez

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Last week I wrote a Facebook post on the Prayer of Jabez. It was not my best work. I woke the other day with that on my mind as the Lord was speaking to me in my dream about the part I glossed over, his name. His mother named him Jabez, because she bore him in pain. What a thing to do to your child.

Names. We are given a name at birth. Some parents try to make them as unusual as they can making up their own names or spellings, while others research meanings and try to pick just the right one.

We often have nick names or “pet” names given to us by others. Sometimes the names are the taunts of cruel children on the playground, a sibling or even a parent. I am sure Jabez knew something about that, being named a pain by his own mother.

Then there are the names we give ourselves (that the enemy feeds us) that highlight what we see as our faults and failures.

But the most awesome name we are given is the one we get when we receive Jesus as our Savior and Lord, Child of God!

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All those names that taunt and tease, and try to hold us down, only have power over us if we believe them. That’s where knowing the Word of God comes in handy. When we know who God says we are and let that truth sink deep into our souls (the Sword of the Spirit) there’s no room for those lies.

dcf901b237e3f70a3743dfd05cc7d07fI love that Jabez did not let his name define him. The first thing we are told about Jabez is that he was more honorable that all of his brothers. For someone who was likely teased by siblings and others about his name,  he did not let it make him bitter. He chose the higher way.  God’s way. He did not let it limit him or limit what he sought from God.

I know for much of my life I let those taunting names define my self-worth and limit the power of God to work in my life,  because I did not seek it. I did not seek, because I believed I was too broken and unlovable and unworthy.

Even as a believer I could pray in faith for everyone except me. I knew God could do whatever I needed, but I doubted if He would do it for me. Well, we are all unworthy (Romans 3:23) until Jesus comes into our hearts and makes us new. He made a way for us to become children of God (John 1:12). He makes us a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT.

Let me tell you, don’t listen to the enemy’s lies. He will do whatever it takes to belittle you and distract you from being all God created you to be. Don’t let the enemy tempt you with comparisons, either. You were created as a unique person for a specific purpose that is solely yours. Each of our journies may be similar in some ways, but we each have a different path that God has laid before us. And His timing is perfect for when things happen in each life. Just because Jane Doe over there started doing something in her 30s doesn’t mean it’s too late for me in my 50s. Instead of comparing be preparing yourself in the Word and in prayer. Be ready when the Lord calls and answer by following wherever He leads. 

Since I have learned what the Bible says about who I am I started taking those negative thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5)  and replacing those lies with God’s truth. Now I am able to wield that Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17) with skill and accuracy (see Jesus’ temptation in Matthew 4:1-11). You can and must, too!

Let’s take another look at Jabez’s prayer:

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He trusted God to bless him. He was bold enough to ask God to enlarge his territory. Territory equals land and that equals wealth and standing in the community which equals increasing his sphere of influence. Jabez knew he needed God to be with him to handle life’s ups and downs and to help him resist evil influences. If children in his time were anything like they are today he probably got teased about being a “pain.” He knew pain and he didn’t want to cause pain to himself or anyone else. He was an honorable man and God honored Jabez for it by granting his request.

“You do not have, because you do not ask” James 4:2 ESV.

What requests have you hidden in your heart, because you are afraid to ask God to grant your request? Do you feel undeserving of God’s love and care? Take it all to the Lord and let Him show You how much He loves you. Memorize some of the verses in the “Who I Am In Christ” list above, so you are armed for battle when the enemy taunts and teases you. Then present your petitions to God (Philippians 4:6-7). And see what He does in your life! 

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Blessings and peace,

Julia

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Scriptural Prayers

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I firmly believe in praying Scriptures. When we pray Scripture we know we are praying in line with God’s will. I’ve written a sample of a prayer based entirely on Scripture. At the bottom I have included the actual text of the referenced Scripture verses. Portions of this prayer are directed at the Made To Crave Action Plan Bible Study journey I, and many other women worldwide, are on though the Proverbs 31 Ministries OBS.

 I am privileged to pray for you today. Please find a place where you can be alone for a few minutes. A place where you will feel comfortable speaking these prayers aloud. Faith comes by hearing (Romans 10:17).

    The first paragraph I am praying over you from 2 Peter 1:2 NLT and Ephesians 3:14-20 ESV. The rest of the prayer I have written in the first person using Scripture verses for you to pray over yourselves and portions for those you love, so that You can feel the power of God’s Word filling You and renewing Your mind with His truth.

     Now, get quiet before the Lord. If you have troubling trying to focus on prayer you can do what I do and say, “Jesus, Jesus Jesus, thank You Jesus. Be present with me in this place as I lift my prayers to You.” Take a deep breath and let it out. Let’s pray…

    May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. I bow my knees before our, Heavenly Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of His glory He may grant that you, dear sister (or brother) ___________ (insert your name), will be strengthened with power through His Holy Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

    My Father in Heaven I give thanks to You Lord, for You are good! You faithfulness and love for me endures forever. You have made this new day, Lord, and I will rejoice and be glad in it! You are MY God, and I will praise You! You are MY God and I will exalt You! You live right here with me Lord, and You are MY mighty Savior. You take delight in me and it makes You glad, You calm all my fears with Your love, and You rejoice over me with joyful songs. In You Lord I have confidence that when I ask for anything according to Your will, You will hear me.
    Take my cravings for food and turn my affections toward You instead. Give me an appetite for healthy, wholesome foods and a desire to exercise to be strong and healthy, so that I can present my body as a living sacrifice that is holy and acceptable to You God, to worship You with everything that I am.
    As I dig ever deeper into Your Word, renew my mind with Your truth that I AM Your child having been born again through faith in Your Son Jesus Christ. And I know and I thank You that because I have been born again, that I AM an overcomer and I HAVE the victory that overcomes the world — my faith. Therefore, I know that I WILL overcome ALL obstacles that would try to come against me as I make this journey of craving You Lord above everything else in my life.
    You have promised that because I fear Your name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in His wings. And I will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture. Jesus himself bore my sins in his body on the tree, that I might die to sin and live to righteousness. I confess that sometimes my faith waivers and I let my struggles bring me down, Lord I believe Your power is greater than my weakness and Your grace is enough for me, help my unbelief. (Add any petitions you have here). By His wounds I have (and/or my loved one ________ has) been healed of _________. Praise You, Lord!
    Lord there are those in my life that I dearly love who have not yet received Jesus as their Savior. I lift up before Your throne _______________ (speak the names of each one). I am thankful that You are not slow to fulfill Your promise (of Jesus’ return) as some count slowness, but You are patient, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. Send Your Holy Spirit to prepare their hearts to receive Your Son Jesus as their Savior, for no one can come to Jesus unless You, Father, draw them to Him. Jesus said, “The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” I speak that life over my loved ones right now that they would be set free, in Jesus’ name. For where Your Spirit is, there is freedom.
    For the answers to this prayer, Lord, I give You praise and thanksgiving. May You receive all the glory and honor, In Jesus’ mighty and precious name, amen.

References:
May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. 2 Peter 1:2 NLT

14For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:14-21 ESV

1Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.
24This is the day the LORD has made.
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
28You are my God, and I will praise you!
You are my God, and I will exalt you! Psalm 118:1, 24, 28 NLT

For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”  Zephaniah 3:17 NLT

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 1 John 5:14 ESV

1I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2 ESV

12But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. John 1:12-13 NLT

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” John 3:3 NLT

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 1 John 5:4 ESV

“But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture. Malachi 4:2 NLT

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24 ESV

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24 NLT

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 ESV

For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up. John 6:44 NLT

The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. John 6:63 NLT

For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17 NLT

Blessings,
Julia

The Rock of Ages

Isaiah 26:4: Young’s Literal Translation, “Trust ye in Jehovah for ever, For in Jah Jehovah is a rock of ages”      

Darby Bible Translation, “Confide ye in Jehovah for ever; for in Jah, Jehovah, is the rock of ages.”

I’ve been listening to a new Steven Curtis Chapman CD (Deep Roots available at Cracker Barrel or Crackerbarrel.com) of old familiar hymns including Rock of Ages. I’ve sung that hymn probably 100s of times, yet it’s only since I got this CD that the lyrics really started speaking to me. I feel a smile come over my face as a picture forms in my mind when I hear, “Rock of Ages cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee.” I see the Rock moving to form a space, a shelter in which I can hide. In that cleft (cave) I am enveloped in The Lord’s strength, embraced by His power, and safe in His love. Whether it’s translated The Rock ofAges, The Eternal Rock, or The Everlasting Rock, this Rock will never crumble, crack, or roll away. Our God is strong steadfast, and true.

1 Chronicles 16:11 (NASB),  Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face continually.

When we’re in the “cleft” of the Rock, we are in His presence. One of the reasons I like this verse is the word continually. We need to seek God’s presence continually, not just in the hard times. Could it be that we might be able to miss some of the hard times if we did this. Some versions of this verse use the word presence instead of face. Both words are good, but I like the face version of this verse because it emphasizes we need to be seeking God’s face and not just His hand of provision and protection. Face time with the Lord. I want face time like Moses (Exodus 33.11, 21-23) and Elijah (1 Kings 19:9-18) had with the Lord. Even Abraham was called God’s friend (Isaiah 41:8, James 2:23) and he conversed and even debated with the Lord (Genesis 18:16-33). God wants us to be real and truthful with Him. Even if what we are feeling is anger, fear, or doubt, we can bring it all to God because it is the real truth of how we feel. There is no point in prentending or sugar coating things for God. He knows our thoughts and the condition of our hearts. He just wants us to come to Him acknowledging that He is bigger than our problems and only He can help us through them.

I find much wisdom and solace in the Psalms. David sometimes lamented to God about the trials he was going through. Read Psalm 22. http://niv.scripturetext.com/psalms/22.htm This is a great example of how David cried out to God in his troubles, yet he never forgot that God was more than able to meet his needs and rescue him from his troubles. Sometimes we just need to pour out all those feelings, to let go of them. That’s okay, more than okay. Just don’t forget that He is The Rock of all the Ages and He will never let you down. It’s a matter of trusting God and His timing to make it all work out for us, the ones He loves, that He has called to fulfill His purposes for our lives (Romans 8:28) and the lives of people we touch. The hardest times we will have to face in our lives (tests) then become our testimony. Our testimony is what has prepared us to help others through similar experiences. God reveals Himself to us and through us to other people. So, when you are going through trials, seek the Lord, but also ask Him to direct you to another believer who can come along side of you to help you walk through the test/trial. Then, when you have gone through and have your testimony, keep your eyes and ears open for God to lead you to someone else who needs your help in the same way. I have found it truly amazing how the Lord has seen me through some of the hardest times in my life, brought someone else into my life with similar cicrumstances that I could be His hands, feet and mouth (to speak). I have seen God changes lives and I have been able to praise God for the troubles I had because I was able to relate to and help another person through their trials. It is healing to your own soul, too. Hallelujah! God is good!

David knew what it was like to be afraid and tired of his circumstances. He spent years running and hiding in caves as King Saul pursued him wanting to kill him (see 1 Samuel 19:1-31:6 for the story of Saul’s pursuit of David to kill him and how both men handled their relationship with God). David not only wrote psalms of lament, but also wrote many about the Lord being his Rock, Shield, and Fortress  (ex: Psalms 18,  19, 28, 31, 33…). He found safety and protection not only in the physical caves, but in the presence of the Lord. That’s where we need to live. In so personal a relationship with the Lord that we are comfortable in His embrace and continually talking to Him, sharing our inmost fears, wants, and needs.

Remember this when you are going through trials in your life and you don’t think you can take another moment in your circumstances: 2 Samuel 22:2-3, 47 The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior– from violent people you save me. “The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be my God, the Rock, my Savior!

Blessings,

Julia

What Can A Christian Do In The Face Of America’s Moral Decline

1I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. 7And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles. 8Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing (1 Timothy 2:1-8 NIV).

 

These are troubling times. Our country as a whole no longer clings to the faith of our fathers, to the Word of the Lord. Instead, our values are being corrupted. Many people are working through the courts and legislatures to make what is sin, acceptable in the eyes of man. When Christians point out the sin as being wrong we are called intolerant, bigots, etc. It does not help that some Christians are going about trying to reform the “sinner” in a very combative manner. This gives all Christians and especially God a bad name. It also puts the “sinner” on the defensive. 

The Holy Spirit may very well already be at work convicting a person of their sin, which is why I feel they are so determined to put laws into place to validate their behavior as good and normal. We must work in cooperation with the Holy Spirit in God’s timing and direction to make changes in our country, see souls save, and lives changed. We will not win the battle of right and wrong with arguments and criticism. It will only bring about fear and lashing out from the “sinner”. 

Christians are being too confrontational instead of loving toward those who are openly sinful in their lifestyles. We cannot back down from the Word of God and make allowances or accept sinful lifestyles as right and normal, BUT if we use the Word to bash people over the head it only serves to drive them farther away from God. We are supposed to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Even if you consider someone an enemy, we are commanded by Jesus to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:43-48, Luke 6:27-36). “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare” (Proverbs 15:1 NLT, see also 15:18 & 25:15).

So, what should we be doing in the face of the decline of our country’s moral fiber? Our response should be:

Keep praying for America and confessing our country’s sins before the throne of God.

Pray also for the Holy Spirit to touch hearts, preparing the ground for the seed of the Word to bring souls to a harvest of repentance and new life in Christ. 

Live our lives every day in love with grace and mercy. Do not persecute the “sinner”, but proclaim the love of Jesus to a lost and hurting world (love the sinner hate the sin). Reach out in love to lead others to the cross. The Holy Spirit is the one that will convict their hearts to bring repentance.

Pray generally for our country, but also specifically for our leaders from President Obama on down, to the local mayor and town council, that they would give their lives to Jesus and live to honor Him and bring glory to His name.

Pray for and talk to your neighbors, co-workers, unsaved friends and family. Share with them the testimony of how you were saved and how you have seen God work in your own life.

When it comes time to vote, pray over the ballot and vote according to the Word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit.

If we want to see revival and true repentance as a nation, we need to spend more time on our knees “standing” in the gap for those who are lost. It is the only way. Prayer is our offensive weapon in spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:18).a

Philippians 4:4-7 NIV, 4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Colossians 4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 pray continually

We are at war, but not with the sinner, for we are all sinners made righteous only through the grace of God and faith in what Jesus did to redeem us at the cross. We are waging spiritual warfare:

10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people (Ephesians 6:10-18NIV).

Notice that all the armor is on the front of the body. We are meant to face the battle and never turn our back to the enemy. We need to equip ourselves for these battles by: 

Being sure of our salvation (Romans 5:3-5; Philippians 1:6, 2:12; Hebrews 5:9; 1 John 1:9)

Speaking and believing the truth. The Word of God is trustworthy and true (Psalm 33:4, 40:10; Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18). 

Living in the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus and doing everything in His name (Romans 1:17, 3:21-26; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Colossians 3:17). 

Keeping the faith and never losing hope. God always keeps His promises (Psalm 145:13, 1 Corinthians 1:9, 2 Thessalonians 3:3).

Knowing and memorizing the Word, so we can wield it as a weapon against the lies and tricks of the enemy (Psalm 37:31, 40:8, 119:11; Matthew 4:1-11).

Let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts to keep us from fear and doubt (John 14:27, Colossians 3:15, James 3:17-18).

Pray continually and in all things seek God’s presence and release His power in our circumstances (1 Chronicles 16:11, Daniel 6:10, Matthew 6:33, Acts 1:8, Romans 15:13, 1 Thessalonians 5:17). 

Pray for all God’s people to remain firm in their faith (Ephesians 1:15-21, 3:16-19; Colossians 3:3-14).

Stay alert and resist temptations, so we are not deceived by the ways of the world (Ephesians 4:26-32, James 4:7-8, 1 Peter 5:6-11).

Blessings,

Julia