Learning from Jabez

ee8e59aa0c6d85e5afa41e037aa54a3f

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!

d89657725ca78243f2702a9445dd12c3

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:

13912706_996437737148976_3730456882390080673_n

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! 

545e095ff1541aa8f5ad5532949c989f

Blessings and peace,

Julia

If you enjoyed today’s article please “like it,” comment, and share it with your friends. Thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Celebrating the Special Women In Our Lives

If you are a mother, Happy Mother’s Day!

Whether or not you are a mother, you are definitely a daughter, maybe a sister, or an aunt, and surely a friend. Whoever you are you have a sphere of influence. You have opportunities everyday to have an impact on someone else’s life, and it doesn’t have to be someone you know. Even just a smile in a stranger’s direction can lighten their heart and turn a frown upside down. Who are the women in your life that have had an impact on who you are? Is it mom, grandma, auntie, a mentor, friend, co-worker, Sunday School teacher…? How have they made a difference in your life? Have you told them how much they mean to you?

Let’s take a look at Ruth and Naomi. These two women had an impact on each others lives. Naomi moved with her husband and sons to Moab to escape the famine in Israel. One son married Orpah and the other married Ruth, both Moabites. Moabites didn’t worship the God of Israel. They worshipped an idol name Chemosh. When Naomi’s husband died and then both of her sons, it left the 3 women widows without sons to take care of them. Naomi found out there was food back home and she decided to go home. The girls started to go with her, but Naomi knew there would be a better chance for them to get married again if the stayed in Moab, so she tried to get her daughters-in-law, to go back to their mothers’ homes. Orpah went home, but Ruth refused saying, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me” (Ruth 1:16-17). Naomi’s influence caused Ruth to embrace the God of Israel as her God and the people of Israel as her people.

When the two women arrived in Bethlehem Naomi told her friends, “Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me” (Ruth 1:20-21). Although Naomi felt bitter, she still had her faith in God. She used wisdom and sent Ruth to glean in the fields, to provide food for them. Ruth took care of her mother-in-law. She gleaned in the fields every day. When Naomi found out Boaz owned the fields where Ruth was gleaning, she knew it was God’s provision. Boaz was a kinsman-redeemer to them from her husband’s family. Ruth found favor in the eyes of Boaz and he blessed her with extra grain and food.

Eventually Boaz married Ruth redeeming the property of Naomi’s husband, and providing for both women for the rest of their lives. This could not have happened if Ruth had stayed in Moab. Ruth had an impact on Naomi’s life and Naomi had an impact on Ruth’s life. Ruth gave birth to Obed, who fathered Jesse, who fathered David, making Ruth an ancestor of our Savior, Jesus. Who would ever have imagined that a Moabite woman would become an ancestor of the Son of God? Yet God has a plan and purpose for both Naomi and Ruth, and He has a plan and purpose for your life, too! Don’t ever doubt it! As a woman you have a unique opportunity to speak love and life into the lives of the people around you – whether they are our own children or not. I thank God for all the wonderful women, who throughout my life, have been there in love to be a friend, mentor, teacher, nurturer, prayer warrior, challenger, discipliner, comforter, and encourager. Most especially, thank you to my mom! I love you!

Blessings and peace,

Julia

Radical Obedience – Saying #YesToGod

This blog post is in response to the online Bible Study of Lysa TerKeurst’s book, “What Happens When Women Say Yes To God” for the week two blog hop.

Back in 2007, we were considering renovations on our house in California. One day as I was trying to figure out how to best layout our great room I clearly heard God’s voice in my heart/spirit saying, “Don’t worry about it you won’t be here.” I somehow got it in my head that it would be 18 months from then. I had always wanted to move to the Central coast of California. Our favorite vacation spot is Cambria. That’s where “I” wanted to move. Our youngest child got married in September 2008. I was certain that we would be moving soon after that. It didn’t happen. I figured I heard God wrong and put it out of my head.

Fast forward to August 2009, I was laid off from my job. At first I was devastated, not to mention our budget. It was a very stressful job, which only got worse for the people who were left behind to pick up the slack left by all the people who were laid off. I was so stressed prior to the lay off that being laid of was actually less stressful for me and I found peace and rest. The severance package we got in the lay off helped cushion the blow. In the whole experience I saw God’s hand of provision in our finances and my peace of mind.

That same year Jim’s employer filed bankruptcy. Just before Christmas we found out the business was for sale as part of the bankruptcy and a local company looked sure to win the bidding. When hubby went back to work after the New Year the owners were there – Surprise! – a company from Missouri. They were moving the whole operation to their facility in St. Louis. They asked Jim to go, too.

When Jim came home and asked me if I was willing to move to Missouri my first thought was no, but then God reminded me of what he told me years before, and I heard myself saying yes. Missouri, not exactly the coastal oasis “I planned on.”  Jim was put in charge of the move on the California end. It took until July to get the move completed.

The end of June 2010, one week before we left California we found out our baby girl and her husband were expecting their first child/our first grandchild. We had been looking so forward to being grandparents and now we were moving away. I was heartbroken. That last Sunday in California during worship I cried out to God asking why we had to move away. He said to me, You can choose to stay, but if you want to see (my heart’s desire) you have to go. I’m not ready to reveal this desire, as it has not come to pass yet. Of course, I knew in my heart that we had to go, for so many reasons, but most of all I did not want to disobey God. Nothing good ever comes from that. It was not easy, for sure, but following God isn’t always easy. That’s where faith really comes into play. Trusting that the Lord’s plan is better than your plan/desires. Over the last three years I have experienced quite a bit of depression, primarily when I focus too much on me, my feelings, and how much I miss our ever-growing family. But I have also experienced much joy and fulfillment in obeying the Lord, not only in coming here, but in following Him in the way I live and serve Him.

But there are still some things I still have to learn about completing what God gives me to do (like the book I’ve been supposed to be writing now for too many years) and waiting on His timing in other things. I’m realizing that until I complete the book, some of the other parts of the ministry/calling God has on my life will not move forward. He’s not going to show me the next step, until I complete the one I’m on. I ask all my #YesToGod sisters to keep me in prayer, so I can find the courage to complete the book and move forward with the Lord’s plan for my life. 

On 1-17-04 I was having breakfast “with God” at a McDonald’s when a young man came up to me and asked to see my Bible. He opened it to Joshua 1:1-9. He pointed to it and told me, “Take it, take it.” These verses are where God is commissioning Joshua to take over as leader of the Israelites after Moses’ death. Three times God tells Joshua to be strong and courageous. For years I questioned how these verses could be for me. I have a past. I never went to college. I’m not a pastor. Who am I to teach others, be a leader? When I finally started seeking God on this He showed me that it’s not about me, it’s about Jesus. It’s about how God equips me through His Spirit and His Word, not about who I am. I just need to be strong and courageous and make myself available to Him, say YES to Him. Yet, sometimes I still waiver and allow my circumstances to get me so down that I don’t do what I know I need to do. Even more, what I enjoy doing. I love being in the Word. I love seeing how God uses me, even in small things, to touch other people’s lives. We all have our ups and downs, but hopefully we’re still moving forward through those peaks and valleys.

A friend recently pointed out that maybe God had to move me here, fsr from my family, because I would be such a devoted grandma that i might lose my focus on the ministry God is giving me. God has given me a small group of sister-friends here in Missouri that encourage and support me in where God is leading. I didn’t have that so much in California. God is good and provides what we need.

God has a plan and a purpose for each person, young old, male, female. My oldest daughter’s church is even training children to work in the healing rooms. It’s not about our abilities, but our availability to God’s work and trusting Him to see the work completed in and through us with “Radical Obedience.”

Blessings and peace,
Julia

http://proverbs31.org/online-bible-studies/current-study/