You’ve heard of The Prayer of Jabez; maybe listened to a sermon on it; maybe prayed it for yourself. The speaker starts telling you how radical this prayer is and how it can change your life, or that God will bless you immeasurably.
Every Sunday you sit in church listening and singing along with the latest and greatest of praise & worship music written by today’s popular artists. As you listen to these popular teachings, you nod your head, maybe clap your hands, or shout out an AMEN! This little “tickled pink” feeling floods your mind, heart and soul as you raise your hands and hit the floor foaming at the mouth. *humor*
Now that you are grinning ear to ear and thinking fuzzy thoughts, let me slap you and bust your bubble. You are singing dangerous words. You are praying dangerous words. You are unleashing the powers of the deep on your life and soul. There is no going back.
Yes you heard me correctly, but do not despair. There is more!
I would like to pause and share some irony. As I sit here typing this, a very specific song comes to mind that I was planning on sharing. This song literally just popped up on my iHeart Radio that I have blazing in the background. Dangerous words…
You are singing dangerous words. You are praying dangerous words. You are unleashing the powers of the deep on your life and soul. There is no going back.
These words are beautiful, they make my soul so hungry…
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior
Equally as beautiful, are the words that Jabez prayed to God (1 Chronicles 4:10)…
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.
Now I can picture you sitting there right now with your arms folded tightly, ready to get all up in arms defensive of my supposed slander of these words and lyrics. Rest easy. All is not as it seems.
These words are dangerous for one reason: every time you say them or sing them, you throw an atomic bomb on the enemies plan for your life. Stop and THINK for a moment what you are saying. Feel the movement of each word on your lips, let them echo in your heart and mind. Do you hear the explosion?
Both the prayer and song I have listed have a parallel theme: you are inviting the Spirit into your life, surrendering control of your mind, will and emotions. But there is a catch!
Where in the Bible did God ever say he was going to hand us the life we want on a silver platter? If you ask God to physically expand your borders, is he just going to hand you 100,000 acres of land? No. He is going to hand you the tools to obtain that land if it is within his will for your life.
Think about it like this. Your kids are running around the house driving you nuts. Grandma gave them a can of Mt. Dew and there they go bouncing off the walls. You mutter under your aggravated breath, “God give me patients…mumble, mumble…” Do you really think God is going to give you patients? Not likely. In fact, just about that time, the caffeine really starts to work it’s magic and the kids go straight bonkers. Guess what, God just answered your prayer. He gave you an extreme opportunity to exercise your patients. It’s called disciplining your mind, will, and emotions. If you do not use and maintain the tools in your workshop, they get cobwebs and start rusting.
You see, God has already handed us the tools we need in this life to make it. The question becomes, are we maintaining those tools?
So, these are dangerous words. Are you starting to follow me a little bit? Lets break it down:
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders — You just got an endless, dark path. He has already given you a Guide to light the way. Your feet have already been shod with the gospel of peace to walk with confidence wherever you go.
Let me walk upon the waters, Wherever You would call me — You just opened a floodgate. Get ready to be washed away! If you have faith, the size of a mustard seed, you can move mountains, part oceans, crush any trial in front of you. So, that shield of faith is not just for shielding yourself from the arrows of lies from the enemy, it is now your spiritual water-board.
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander — What? Now you are asking to be drowned? Are you going to be a Peter and walk on those rough waves, keeping your eyes on Jesus? Or are you going to freak out that God is working miracles in your life, and start stumbling all over your problems?
And my faith will be made stronger, In the presence of my Savior — Remember asking for patients a little bit ago? How is your faith going to be made stronger if it is not being exercised? Get ready for all hell to break loose on you. You want to be stronger? You hit those dead-weights and start pumping.
Now it’s your turn. Go pick apart The Prayer of Jabez.
Dangerous words indeed.
All irony, humor, and jokes aside. These thoughts humble me. You see, I have prayed that prayer many times. I have laid on the ground in reverent worship singing those lyrics, many times.
You want to know about my day? I woke up depressed, frustrated, my spirit felt crushed. God has had these thoughts on my heart for weeks. Every week a still, small voice telling me to write them down. This morning these verses were laid on my heart:
I have called you back from the ends of the earth, saying, ‘You are my servant.’ For I have chosen you and will not throw you away. Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. “See, all your angry enemies lie there, confused and humiliated. Anyone who opposes you will die and come to nothing. You will look in vain for those who tried to conquer you. Those who attack you will come to nothing. For I hold you by your right hand— I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.
Isaiah 41:9-13 NLT
God has no interest in destroying us, or making us teeter on the ledge. He is interested in enabling us in overcoming our fears, being victorious, and overcoming all odds while we give him the glory.
It took all day at work, mulling over these thoughts to come to peace with the chaos that is taking place in my own personal life right now. The question is, am I diligently excising the tools I have been given?
This week I am fasting a few things. Every time I think about wanting food, or partaking in some activity I have given up for a week, I am going to stop and pray, thank God, and praise him for all the blessings he has put in my life. Then I will worship him and seek for his wisdom and guidance on whatever matter eating away at my heart.
So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.
1 Corinthians 15:58 NLT
The subject matter of today’s My Utmost for His Highest (below) is personally a huge challenge for me. I’m a “plan B” kind of guy, always having a plan or strategy of escape. With so much going on in our family’s lives right now, it’s easy to look for the next step or plan. The reality is we must wait and be patient, listening for the still small voice of the One who loves us and has promised to meet our every need.
I can tell you from personal experience that resting in a place of complete surrender to God’s work and will in my life is the most incredible and scary thing I have ever done. In doing so he has asked me to do some very difficult and somewhat insane things. But as I look back and see the miracles in my life that have come to pass and the opportunities I have been presented with, because of my willingness to surrender my fears and ambitions, it blows me away. You would think it would be so easy for me to do it again, but the truth is that it is even harder to wrap my mind around such a concept, particularly now that I have a family to think about.
Today’s My Utmost for His Highest
Look Again and Think
Do not worry about your life… —Matthew 6:25
A warning which needs to be repeated is that “the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches,” and the lust for other things, will choke out the life of God in us (Matthew 13:22). We are never free from the recurring waves of this invasion. If the frontline of attack is not about clothes and food, it may be about money or the lack of money; or friends or lack of friends; or the line may be drawn over difficult circumstances. It is one steady invasion, and these things will come in like a flood, unless we allow the Spirit of God to raise up the banner against it.
“I say to you, do not worry about your life….” Our Lord says to be careful only about one thing— our relationship to Him. But our common sense shouts loudly and says, “That is absurd, I must consider how I am going to live, and I must consider what I am going to eat and drink.” Jesus says you must not. Beware of allowing yourself to think that He says this while not understanding your circumstances. Jesus Christ knows our circumstances better than we do, and He says we must not think about these things to the point where they become the primary concern of our life. Whenever there are competing concerns in your life, be sure you always put your relationship to God first.
“Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34). How much trouble has begun to threaten you today? What kind of mean little demons have been looking into your life and saying, “What are your plans for next month— or next summer?” Jesus tells us not to worry about any of these things. Look again and think. Keep your mind on the “much more” of your heavenly Father (Matthew 6:30).
This is a very bitter sweet post for me to be writing tonight. The irony is staggering in all actuality, but what an amazing opportunity for me to stare the greatest of enemies in the face, and charge head on?
So a couple of days ago, I was browsing through my XM radio and stumbled across a sermon. I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I listened to the entire sermon because it was by someone I am not a fan of at all. But I will digress. The point is that the topic caught my interest and left me thinking some deep thoughts that sound so basic, yet they are mind shattering when you implement them into the reality of your life.
Faith conquers all fear. Fear is the absence of faith. The truth of the matter is, it does not make any difference which one you embrace, they have the same working property. When you embrace either one, you give it the right, the authority, to take root in your life, and the outcome will be affected whether you like it or not.
This story was told:
There was a guy who had a bad habit of worrying about something bad happening to him. He was at work one day, and the boss said everyone could leave early to attend a birthday party for one of the foreman. This guy was about to get out of the frozen box car he was working in to leave as well, when he came to the startling reality that the door had closed and he was trapped inside. For hours, he screamed and banged on the door until his voice was horse and hands were bleeding. He was very aware he was in a box car freezer and he became consumed with fear that he would freeze to death. Hours went by, he only got colder and colder. He found a piece of cardboard and road these words: “It is getting so cold. These may be my last words.” Sure enough, when the crew got back to work the next day, they found this guy in the boxcar, dead. According to his autopsy, he had frozen to death.
But…this was a huge mystery. You see, the temperature in the boxcar was only 61 degrees.
Shocked? I was too. You see, when you give in to fear, you allow it to play with your mind, which will play with every other area of your life. His fear became his reality. It consumed him, robbing him of both faith in being found, and ultimately his life.
All you need to do is pick up your Bible. It will not take long before you start reading promise after promise from God. I am not going to give you examples. Why? Because it is each individuals duty to seek our own relationship with God and to find His promises for us.
When we implement faith into every scenario, not only do we allow it to take root in our lives, we are also relinquishing our fears to God and basically telling Him that these are not our problems, they are His. So lets say something bad or awful still comes to pass. Do we give up on faith? Not at all. If you were able to look back at the bigger picture, you would see that God can take any circumstance in our lives and turn it into something far more amazing than we can imagine.
You are probably wondering why this is such irony for me to be talking about right now. Well, if anyone had any reason to fear right now, it would be me. For three years I have sacrificed for my family in ways you cannot even begin to imagine. Tomorrow, the fate and totality of my small little family will be in the hands of a judge. The final judgement will be made, and it could make us whole, or shatter what little we do have.
Here is the greatest part! I am not afraid! God has given our family so many promises! Not only of a future, but of a mission, even a ministry. In fact, I am confident in these promises and the future.
God has been so faithful in my life. He does not set us up for failure. He does test our faith, but explicitly asks us to trust him and leave our biggest fears in his hands.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” ~ Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)