Four Young Men Who Refused To Sin
(A sermon from Daniel Chapter One)
1. There were three carryings away of Judah by the Babylonians as follows:
a. The first carrying away was in the reign of Jehoiakim, the 17th king of Judah (2 Chron. 36:5-7).
b. The second carrying away was in the reign of Jehoiachin was in the 18th king of Judah (2 Kings 24:8-15).
c. The third carrying away was in the reign of Zedekiah, the 19th king of Judah (2 Kings 25:1-10).
2. Daniel was carried as a captive to Babylon during the first carrying away in the reign of Jehoiakim (Dan. 1:1-7).
3. Daniel and three others — Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego–were among those taken and were probably under twenty years of age at the time (Dan. 1:3-4).
4. Daniel was in captivity during the entire seventy years predicted by Jeremiah. This we conclude from the following:
a. Jeremiah predicted that the captivity of Judah would last seventy years (Jer. 25: 11-13). The seventy year captivity lasted until the first year of Cyrus, King of Persia (2 Chron. 36:20-23).
b. The last statement in this first chapter was probably made to show that Daniel was captive during the entire seventy years (Dan. 1:2).
5. When Daniel and his Hebrew companions were first carried to Babylon they were to serve in the court of Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 1:4). They were Hebrew children in a heathen court.
6. While they were willing to serve (Dan. 1:12), they were not willing to sin, which brings us to our present study. We will note how these ‘four young men refused” to sin because:
a. They had a GOAL.
b. They had GRIT.
c. They had GOD.
I. THEY HAD A GOAL.
A. They “purposed” in their hearts not to defile themselves with the portion of the king’s meat nor with the wine which he drank (Dan. 1:8-18).
B. “Daniel and his three companions abstained from their eating of the food appointed of the king, probably because such eating would have involved themselves in the defilement of heathen idolatry. True enough, the food appointed by the king included meats which were unclean” (Annual Lesson Commentary, 1977-78, page 90).
C. Observe that those four young men had a goal. They were determined not to sin against God. This should be the goal of each child of God today (see Rom. 6:1-14; I John 2:1, 3:9).
D. These four young men refused to sin in spite of the:
1. Predicament they were in.
a. Many people have sinned because of the situations they found themselves in. This has caused some to believe in “situational ethics.”
b. These young men were captives in a foreign land (Dan. 1:1-3).
c. They were away from their kinfolks and the people who knew and loved them (Dan. 1:1-3).
d. Yet, in spite of this predicament, they still refused to sin.
e. Joseph is another example of a young man who refused to sin in a bad situation (Gen. 39).
f. Satan thought Job would sin if the situation got bad enough (Job. 1:8-11).
2. Pressures they were under.
a. They were young, healthy, well favored men who had ability and who probably wanted to stay alive.
b. They were captives in a land where they evidently thought nothing of making people eunuchs (Dan. 1:3).
c. They were captives of a king who would kill people who refused to do like he said (Dan. 1:10).
d. They were under the pressure of “go along to get along.” Plus the food was probably the best (Dan. 1:5, NKJV). Yet, in spite of the pressure they were under, they still refused to sin.
e.Joseph was not only in a bad predicament, he was also under a lot of pressure, yet he too continually refused to sin (Gen. 39:10-12).
f. Satan thought Job would sin if the pressure got strong enough (Job 2:3-10).
3. People they were around.
a. Many people have been influenced to sin because of the people they were around.
b. Saul “feared the people and obeyed their voice” (1 Sam. 15:24).
c. Peter and Barnabas sinned because of the influence of others (Gal. 2:11-14).
b. Evil companionships can corrupt good morals (1 Cor. 15:33).
c. These four young men were surrounded by Babylonians —when in Babylon do like the Babylonians.
d. Evidently the other Hebrew captives ate the king’s meat and drank his wine. It was “these four children” that God blessed (Dan. 1:15, 17). Therefore, everybody else was doing it.
g. In spite of the people they were around, these four young men refused to sin.
II. THEY HAD GRIT.
a. Webster defines “grit” as “firmness of mind, unyielding courage.” It means stubborn courage. These men had it. They made known their determination not to sin.
b. A goal without grit won’t do any good or help a bit.
c. Their mind was made up. They were going to stick with their purpose regardless of the circumstances, regardless of the criticism, and regardless of the consequences.
d. God’s people today need to learn from these young men who refused to sin that there is a time to stand up and speak up when it comes to our convictions.
e. When the apostles in Acts 4 were commanded not to speak at all in the name of Jesus, they answered, “we cannot but speak the things we have seen and heard.” Later, they prayed for boldness that they might speak the Word (Acts 4:17-20,29).
f. Observe also Daniel’s attitude in standing for his convictions. Notice:
1. His Courtesy.
a. He was polite, gracious, considerate toward others and well mannered.
b. “He requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself’ (Dan. 1:8).
c. He was not rude. He did not behave himself rudely (1 Cor. 13:5).
d. He was courageous, but he was also courteous. God’s people today need to be kind, tenderhearted, and always, as much as possible, do all we can to live peaceably with all men (1 Cor. 13:4; Eph. 4:32; Rom. 12:18).
e. Remember, you don’t have to be sarcastic to be sound.You don’t have to ridicule to be right. You don’t have to be hateful in order to be faithful. You can have conviction and courage and still be courteous.
2. His Challenge.
a. He was courteous, but his courtesy did not cause him to.compromise.
b. He challenged the one in charge to “prove thy servants…” Give us a chance to live like our God demands and see if we do not come out better than those who do not.
c. Faithful children of God will always fare better in the end than those in the world (Matt. 25:31-46; Ps. 73).
3. His Confidence.
a. Daniel was confident that the four would look better (Dan.1:13).
b. His confidence actually led to his conviction and courage.
c. God’s people today need confidence that God will provide if we have the conviction to do His will (1 John 5:14; Heb. 4:15-16; Phil. 4:19).
III. THEY HAD GOD.
A. They had a goal. They had grit. And they had God.
B. Daniel 1:9 says,“Now God…” and the book of Daniel teaches us a lot about Him.
C. In this first chapter we see:
1. The Power of God.
a. “The Lord gave Jehoiakim, king of Judah, into his hand…” (Dan. 1:2). Thus, we see God’s power over the nations and power over the false gods of Babylon.
b. This seems to be the theme of the book of Daniel (Dan. 4:25).
c. According to the Annual Lesson Commentary (1977-78, pages 87-88), “The prince of the eunuchs change the names of those men to names which contained as an element the name of a Babylonian god, and to names which specifically obliterated the name of the true God.” Paul Butler wrote “when the Babylonians changed their names it meant they intended to honor their gods for victory over the Hebrews who’s God the Babylonians believed they had vanquished”(C.D., p. 33).
d. This attitude on the part of the Babylonians, in thinking that their gods had defeated the God of Israel, explains one of the reasons God worked so many miracles in Babylon. The miracles served to show the Babylonians that the God of the Hebrews was responsible for the Hebrews being in Babylon —not the gods of Babylon.
2. Providence of God.
a.“Now God had brought Daniel into favor and tender love with the prince of the eunuch…” (Dan. 1:9).
b. God’s providence is also clearly seen in the life of Joseph (Gen. 37-50) and in the book of Esther.
c. He also works providentially in the lives of Christians today (Rom. 8:28).
3. Provision of God.
a. “As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom…” (Dan. 1:17).
b. They were ten times better than all the rest (Dan. 1:18-20).
c. Where God guides, He always provides. If He leads, He will meet the needs.
These FOUR YOUNG MEN REFUSED TO SIN because they had a GOAL of remaining faithful to God. They had the GRIT, because of which, they made their convictions known. They were successful because they had GOD, who controls all things at all times. May the Lord help His people today have the same kind of dedication. Thank God for Jesus! (2 Cor. 9:15).
LOOKING FOR “LIFE” IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES
When I was younger I would listen to Johnny Lee sing a song about, “Looking for LOVE in All the Places.” In it he would say,
I was looking for love in all the wrong places
Looking for love in too many faces
Searching your eyes, looking for traces
Of what…I’m dreaming of…
Hopin’ to find a friend and a lover
God bless the day I discover
Another heart, lookin’ for love
Johnny may have found it…I hope he did. But one thing is for sure, he did not find it looking for it in the wrong places.
Johnny’s song reminds me of Solomon’s search. Johnny was looking for the love of his dreams, Solomon was searching for what life really means. And according to the book of Ecclesiastes he wasted a lot of his life looking for “life” in all the wrong places. He wrote the Song of Solomon about “love.” He wrote Ecclesiastes about “life.” One is titled a song; the other is likely a sermon. One speaks about ecstasy. The other is about misery. In one he is pondering about the manifestation of love, in the other he is wondering about the meaning of life.
We try everything in looking for “life.” Drugs, alcohol, work, eating, exercise, vacations, affairs, moving from one place to another, changing jobs, changing mates, and a host of other things, but nothing works. Something is always missing. There is still a void. An empty place. A vacancy. What is it? Where do we look life?
The book of Ecclesiastes can help. This is Solomon’s dairy. His journal. It is his dairy about his decisions. It is his journal about a journey. It is his search for life’s true meaning. His search for satisfaction. His conclusion ended his confusion. And we need to start with that conclusion. I know how it is whenever we read books we have the conclusion at the end. When Solomon wrote his book of twelve chapters he had his conclusion at the end. But it seems that one of the reasons that God had Solomon to write this book was that He wanted us to start with his conclusion. In other words, the reason that God wanted him to write the book was so that we would start with his conclusion and not make the same mistakes that he made.
In this inspired volume we have what Solomon tried, then what he replied, and finally what he cried. He tried wisdom, women, work, wealth, and wine. But he was still miserable most all of the time. He tried pleasure and possessions which led to his pitiful confessions. His was not pleased and his mind was not at ease. He replied over and over, “It is all meaningless.” Nothing he tried worked. He finally reached a conclusion. His conclusion was his solution.
Here it is: Let us hear the CONCLUSION of the whole matter: FEAR GOD AND KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS, For this is man’s all (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
Or in the words Jesus: “But SEEK FIRST the KINGDOM OFGOD and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
Jesus came that we might have “life” and have it more abundantly (Jn. 10:10). He came to show us how to live the best life in the here and now (Jn. 13:15-17) as well as give us eternal life. Paul said that “godliness” (reverencing God by doing His will for our lives) has promise of “life that now is” as well as that which is to come (1 Tim. 4:7-8). While we are “justified” freely from our sins by the gospel of Jesus (Rom. 3:24-25) we will not experience all of the “joy” that He provides unless we “fear God and keep His commandment” or “seek first the kingdom of God (His rule in our hearts) which is what Solomon taught in Ecclesiastes 12:13. Thank God for Jesus! (2 Cor. 9:15).
The Power of a Prayer (of Jabez)
INTRODUCTION: I Chronicles 4:9-10
We are going to be looking at the POWER OF A PRAYER! Did you hear that? The Power of “a” Prayer. Now, I didn’t say we were going to study about the power of prayer, although we could spend our time talking about that. Because all of God’s successful servants in the Bible were really men of prayer. But we are speaking in this study about the power of a specific prayer. I want you to notice what your Bible says in 1 Chron. 4:9-10,
“Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested.”
Now, I want you to notice why this is such an important prayer.
First, it is important because of where it is placed.
I don’t know if you have ever studied the book of First Chronicles or not. The first nine chapters are pretty boring. At least it is to me. You say, “Well, Wayne, are you saying the Bible is boring?” Well, it is in this section because I can’t read it. All those names I can’t even pronounce. I usually just skip over all of that. I say, “Hickey”, “What’s his name,” “Whatmacallit,” and such like.” It’s really tough. (The entire Bible is equally inspired…but not equally inspiring.) But right in the middle of all these names it just changes gears and says, “Now Jabez was more honorable…” and then tells us of a prayer he prays. The writer was right in the middle of a role call about this guy and this guy and this guy and then all the sudden he inserts this prayer by a guy we’ve never heard of…before or since! And so it is an important prayer because of the place where it is in the Bible…sort of “out of the blue” and for no apparent reason.
The second thing I want you to notice is that it is an important prayer because of the person who prayed.
Not only is it important because of the place, but it important also because of the person. Notice in verse 9, “Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, ‘Because I bore him in pain’.” Now the word Jabez means, “pain.” How would you like to have a name like that? (Now this is a true story: When I was in High School we had an English teacher whose name was Mr. Pain. And brother, he was! Of course, he spelled his name “Payne,” but to us he was a pain. He was a tough teacher.) His mother gave Jabez this name evidently because he caused her some extraordinary pain at birth and/or maybe she thought he would be the type to cause pain throughout his life. In the Bible they named people like that. For example, if you where to study the book of Ruth chapter one, Elimelech and Naomi named their two sons Mahlon and Chilion. Now Mahlon means “sickly” and Chilion means “wasting away.” How would you like to have a name like that? Imagine they are standing around and someone says, “Come here, Sickly, and you too, “Wasting Away.” I don’t know whether that had any affect on them or not, but both those guys died at an early age. Jabez, he had a name you love to hate. (Johnny Cash had a song about a boy named, “Sue.” My first name is “Belma”). He had a name that meant pain. His mother evidently didn’t think he had a very good chance in life. She may have thought that he would go through life causing pain…who knows?
The third thing I want you to notice is not only the place where this prayer is found, and the person who prayed it, but notice also the principles in the prayer.
This is just a little simple prayer. Just four little requests. Look at them in verse 10.
Number one, I want You to bless me indeed.
Number two, enlarge my territory.
Number three, I want Your hand to be with me.
Number four, I want You to keep me from evil so that I will not cause pain.
Just four simple requests.
But not only was it a simple prayer, it is a sincere prayer. The Bible says that “Jabez was more honorable than his brothers.” Honorable people pray honorable prayers. It must have been a sincere prayer because the last line in verse 10 says, “So God granted him what he requested.”
It was also a scriptural prayer. He prayed like God wanted him to pray. This is the reason God answered the prayer. The Bible says, “He who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination” (Proverbs 28:9). So this guy prayed a scriptural prayer. God heard him!
And finally, it was a successful prayer. Why? Look at verse 10. The last line says, “So God granted him what he requested.” This is a powerful prayer! That is what I want us to us to consider in the rest of this article about the prayer of Jabez. I want you to notice what he prayed for.
I. He prayed for PROSPERITY.
He prayed for blessings. Now, he left exactly how God was going to bless him up to God. He didn’t tell God when to bless him or how to bless him or with what to bless him. He just said, “I want you to bless me.” God is interested in us prospering. When we think about prospering I am not necessarily talking about financially. But I am talking about prospering as Christians and prospering as people. In fact, in Psalm 1:1-3 the Bible says, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he does shall prosper.”
In III John verse 2 John said, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” And while Jabez did not tell God how to bless him, he did say this, “I want you to bless me.” He didn’t tell how to bless but he told him who to bless. BLESS ME! You know, we don’t pray like that in our prayers. We might pray like David did in Psalm 51:1, “Have mercy on me, O God.” We might pray like the publican in Luke 18:13 when he said, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” We might pray like the apostles did in Acts 4:29 when they said, “Grant Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word.” Or we might pray like Paul in Second Corinthians 12 when he had this thorn in the flesh and he prayed that God would remove it. But how many times do we simply say, “Lord, I want you to bless me. I want you give whatever blessing you want me to have. I am not going to tell you what it is. I just want it. I’ll leave it up to you to decide what the blessing is. I just want you to bless me.” Did you know that there are some blessings you are not going to get from God if you do not ask? Now there are some blessings you are going to get whether you ask or not. For example, the Bible says in Matthew 5 that he sends rain on the just and the unjust. So you are probably going to get the blessing of rain and sunshine whether you ask him or not. The Bible says in Act 17:27 that, “He gives to all life, breath, and all things.” You are going to get that whether you ask for it or not if you live. But there are some blessings you will not get unless you ask! There is not telling how many blessings He has stored up in heaven that He would have already given us if we would just ask. But we don’t ask. Look at James chapter 4:2, “You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.” There are some blessings you are not going to get if you do not ask for them. But Jabez said, “Lord, I want you to bless me and I don’t care what it is, I just want you to bless me.” And then I want you notice also what he said in verse nine. He said I want to bless me INDEED. In other words, Jabez was sort of like this. He said,
* “Lord, if You are going to bless me with bread, I don’t want only bread to eat, I want steak and lobster and Hardies biscuits.”
* “If You are going to bless me financially, I don’t want just enough to get by, I want you to open up the windows of heaven and pour it out abundantly.”
* “If You are going to bless me with health, if that is what You have decided, I don’t want to just be free from disease, I want to feel great!”
* “If You are going to bless me with strength, I want to be one of the strongest around.”
* “And if you are going to give me the Holy Spirit, I want you fill me with the Spirit.”
You see, he said, “I want all the blessings that you will possibly give to me.” And do you know one of the reasons why WE don’t have those blessings? It is because we ask for the wrong reason. Look at James 4:3, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” You ask for the wrong reason. You ask because you want to consume it on your lust. You are just worried about you. That is the reason your prayer is not heard. That is the reason I don’t give you what you want. You see, somebody says, “I wish God would bless me financially.” Do I think it is right to pray for that? SURE! That may be what He has in mind, I don’t know. If I needed some financial help I would not mind asking for it. But the question is, “Why am I asking for it?”
Somebody says, “I’m going to ask Him to help me financially, because I have all these credit cards and they are all maxed out. My wife has been to Wal-Mart and K-Mart…and Penny’s and Sears.” And American express is calling me everyday saying, “Wayne, please leave home without it.” And Visa’s calling me all the time saying, “It’s everywhere you want to be!” (But I want to be out of debt and Visa hasn’t put me there.) And then someone called me the other day and wanted to give me a Discover Card. Man, I don’t need a Discover Card, I need a “recover” card. Because I have already discovered how to get into debt now I need to recover.
But why do you want to get out of debt? Someone says, “Oh, I want to get out of debt so I won’t owe anything, then I can buy me a house out on the lake and I can live the American dream.” Maybe that is why you don’t get what you ask for. Consume it on your lust.
Suppose you had this attitude. “Lord, I fooled around here and I have gotten myself in a bind and I can’t give to You like I would like to and I am not giving to the Church like I would like to. I wonder, would You bless me so that I could give you more?” Or maybe, you are praying about health. Why do you want to be healthier? “Oh, well, I want to feel good. I want to “run, and jump and skin the cat…do anything…just look at that.” But let’s suppose you were to pray, “Lord, I don’t even feel like worshipping and studying and praying and doing those things that I know I need to do. I would like for You to help me with my health so that I can serve you better.” It makes all the difference in the world. Suppose you have all these family problems and you say, “Lord I need your help, my kids are driving me crazy and everything is in turmoil. Our family is just falling apart.” Well, why do want those problems straightened out. “Oh, I just want to be able to take it easy and lay out in the shade and sleep good at night.” But just suppose that you were to pray, “Lord I have all these family problems and I can’t concentrate on praying and I can’t concentrate on Jesus and it is hard for me to study the Bible when I am thinking about all the things that are happening to me. I would like for you to help me out on this so that I can concentrate on Jesus more.” You see, we ask a lot of times and we don’t receive a lot of times because we ask “amiss.” We are only concerned about us. Me, myself, and I. God and His will is not the focus in our prayers.
Jabez said, “I want you to bless me and I want you to bless me indeed.” I want you to bless me a lot. And I think that is a really good way for us to pray. “Lord, I am not telling you how to bless me; When to bless me; Or where to bless me; I just want all that you will give to me that I can serve you better.”
II. He prayed for POSSIBILITIES.
Look again at I Chronicles 4:9, “And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory.” I think maybe he is probably thinking of more here than just real estate, but rather opportunities and possibilities. Since I have learned this prayer, when I pray I say, “Lord I want you to enlarge my territory.” I am asking Him to open some doors of opportunity for me to expand His kingdom. I didn’t know Jabez’s prayer back in the 70’s. I was baptized in 1970. And I didn’t know about the prayer back then that we are studying about today. I didn’t know about the power in that prayer. I just remember the desire that I had. I wanted to be used in His service. I know this as well, whenever I have prayed sincerely. When ever I have sincerely asked God to use me, He has always opened up some door of opportunity to serve. I would not have ever thought that He would ever us me to speak, or lead a prayer, or become a preacher, or serve as an elder. All you do is ask, “Lord, expand my opportunities. And mean it! “Lord increase my territory.” And he will do it. Most of us believe in a God who does not exist. We believe in a God who is more or less out of the picture. Let me tell you something. Our God still works supernaturally in this world today and always has. You see, all miracles are supernatural acts of power, but all supernatural acts of power are not necessarily miracles. Somebody says, “Well, Wayne, I would rather call it providence.” I don’t care what you call it just so you believe God is doing it! And that He is active in your life personally. You see, Jabez said, “Lord enlarge MY territory.” When you pray, pray, “Lord open up some opportunities for ME.” And when you mean that sincerely and WATCH HIM! Just watch Him!
III. He also prayed about POWER.
Look at verse 10 again. “And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, and that Your hand might be with me,” Now, when we talk about the hand being with him, he was talking about God’s power being with him. You know we do that sometime. We will be lifting something and someone will be standing near by when you are straining any you will say, “Hey, give me a hand.” You see, that is what we want. We want their strength and their power to help us. That is what it means when he talks about the hand of God. I remember in the book of Exodus 3:20 it talks about the hand of the Lord was against the Egyptians. I remember reading in Acts 11:21 “And the hand of the Lord was with them” when talking about the church. That is what Jabez is praying for. “I want the hand of the Lord.” “I want your power to be with me.” We need to pray for that. The Bible says in Ephesians 6:10, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” In Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” In Ephesians 3:16, “That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.” Then in Ephesians 3:20, “Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” Did you hear that? Listen! He can do exceeding. Not just exceeding, but exceeding, abundantly. And not just exceeding, abundantly, but above. And not just exceeding, abundantly above, but exceeding, abundantly, above all. And not just exceeding, abundantly, above, all, but exceeding, abundantly, above, all that we ask. But not just exceeding, abundantly, above, all that we ask, but the Bible says He can do exceeding, abundantly, above, all, that we ask or think. He can do more than you can think because of His power! But the problem is that we do not ask! Someone will say, “Wayne I heard what you said a while ago. And I realize that my prayers and my motives have not been right. And I wish I could pray that I could give more and mean it. I wish I could pray that I would feel better so that I could study more and be more involved in the Lords work and really mean it. I wish I could pray about these family problems and really mean that I want to serve HIm and that is the reason that I am praying about it. But I am not able to do that. Or I haven’t been.” Don’t you think that maybe you need the hand of the Lord to help you. Ask Him to help you with that. You see that Bible says in Philippians 2:13, “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” He can not only help you do it, He can help you will to do it. And a lot of times we might need to pray, “Lord I know that my motives may not be right.” Maybe I need to ask Him to bless me so that my motives are right. Ask him to help you, and then watch Him. Well someone might say, “Well, I don’t trust Him enough to ask Him.” Then ask Him to help you trust Him. “Well, I just can’t pray.” Well, ask Him to help you pray. You see, we want not only the provisions of God and the possibilities of God, we want the power of God to help us. In fact in Hebrews 13:21 says that God is, “working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight.”
IV. He prayed for PROTECTION.
Not only is this a prayer for prosperity, possibilities, and power, but it is also a prayer for protection. Look at verse 10 again “And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil,” Now if you are going to pray this prayer, add that for sure. Because, do you know what happens a lot of times? He blesses us and He blesses us indeed. He enlarges our opportunities. And His power is with us. And then we fool around and get the big head or we fool around and enjoy the blessings and forget about the one who gave them to us. Israel did that. In Deuteronomy 6:10-12 God said “So it shall be, when the LORD your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant; when you have eaten and are full; then beware, lest you forget the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.” Beware, because after you have received all these blessings you will forget me. And lo and behold when you read about the dark ages of the history of Israel in Judges 3:7, the Bible says they “forgot the Lord.” The one thing I don’t like about preaching this sermon is this part. Because I have done exactly that. I have been blessed beyond measure. I have everything going my way. Doors opened, prayers answered, power given, and it is so easy to loose our focus. It is so easy to concentrate on other things. I am not going to forget this part of that prayer, “Keep me from evil.” So I want to pray for protection. It is a lot easier to stay out of danger than it is to get out of it once we’re into it. And that is what he prayed for. He said, “You keep me from evil, because I don’t want to cause any pain.”
This is a prayer that has power. Oh, if we could just pray this prayer and mean it. There is no telling what God can and would do for us. And you know, we have such an advantage over Jabez! Jabez didn’t have the New Testament when he prayed that prayer. He didn’t know about Jesus. He didn’t know what I know. He didn’t know who I know. You see, God did not give Jabez this New Testament that tells us all about Jesus. Jabez didn’t know Him like you can know Him. Jabez didn’t have the relationship with God that you and I can have by being “in Christ.” One of the privileges of being a Christian is the ability to pray a powerful prayer. Bless me and bless me a lot. Enlarge my territory. Let your hand be with me. And keep me from evil. And may God grant us what is requested. Thank God for Jesus! (2 Cor. 9:15).
In Heaven It Will Be…My Mother and Me!
In Heaven my mother will still be my mother and I will still be me. There will be a change in our location but not in our identification. Heaven changes our destiny but not our identity. There will of course be other changes because we will be in a sinless society without the influence of Satan, sin and the flesh. But changes have always been the norm in relationships even here on earth. For example, the expressions or aspects of my relationship with my mother changed numerous times in my lifetime. Once I was a baby in her arms. Then I was her little boy who needed his hurts kissed away and to be tucked in at night. Then I was a teenager who was told by her what to do and taught to do right (which, by the way, did not always work). Then I was a grown up, and she let me be out on my own and make my own decisions. Then I was a married man with children and grandchildren of my own that she would visit as often as she could. Then she got old and sick, and I helped take care of her at times. But she was always my mother and still is. There were always changes made in certain aspects of our relationship as necessary, but the relationship itself never changed. I believe that my relationship with my mother will obviously change in some other ways in Heaven (enhanced, intensified, heightened, who knows?), but the relationship itself will never change. She will always be my mother and I will always be her son.
I do expect Heaven to be a place where my relationship with her and the rest of my family will be very clear and very dear. I certainly do not expect those relationships to just disappear. I expect some changes in certain aspects of our relationships, but I do not expect a total elimination of those relationships.
Women like Euodia and Syntyche have their names in the Book of Life just like men do (Phil. 4:1-2). And their names are not Elvis and Samson. Women here will be women there! (Believe it or not fellows, but most women don’t want to men.) I believe that my mother here will be my mother there. It is one thing to believe what Jesus said about how, in the resurrection, we will be “like the angels” in the sense that we do not die anymore and will not marry in Heaven, for these are things He clearly said (Lk. 20:35-36). But to say, or believe, that He said anything about us being “sexless beings,” and indicating that all of our earthly relationships will be dissolved and be as though they had never existed, is something I have never read!
Of course, I don’t know exactly what Heaven will be like as far as all the aspects or expressions of our relationships are concerned, but I do believe that it will be better than ever in every way and “somewhat” as they are now in a number of ways. When it comes to my mother, I am looking forward to living in the “new heavens and the new earth” (2 Pet. 3:13) and how it will be …in the glorified bodies prepared for mother and me (1 Cor. 15:35-57)!
THE LORD, THE LAMB, AND THE GREAT I AM
Introduction: John 1:23&29; 8:58.
A. On one occasion Jesus told the Jews to “search the scriptures for in them you think you have eternal life and these are they which testify of me.” (John 5:39). See also Luke 24:27.
B. In order to help us better understand His mission and message, Jesus is called by many names, designations, and titles throughout the Bible.
C. For example, He is the Christ, the Messiah, the Rock of Ages, the Root & Offspring of David, the Bright & Morning Star, etc., etc.
D. In this study we want to concentrate on three of the designations that are used in reference to Him.
I. The LORD.
III.The Great “I AM.”
BODY: THE LORD, THE LAMB, AND THE GREAT I AM
I. The LORD (John 1:23).
A. John The Baptist was sent to “make straight the way of the Lord.” (John 1:23).
B. This refers to His position and His power.
C. Observe from John 1 that He is:
1. Expression of God.
(a) In the beginning was the word…” (John 1:1).
(b) Why is Jesus called the “Word”? He is not the written Word, or the spoken Word, but He is the Word Personified – i.e. He is the message of God revealed in a human body.
(c) The Word was “made flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).
(d) It was, as if the Father said, “We need to show man what we are really like” So Jesus said, “I will go down and dwell among them so they can clearly see what we are like.”
(e) No man has seen God at any time, but the Sonas “declared Him” (NKJV), “made Him known” (NIV), “shown us what God is like” (NCV), or “explained Him” (NASV). John 1:18 He is “the express image of His person” (NKJV), or “the exact representation of His being” (NIV). (Hebrews 1:3). That is why Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). In other words, the way Jesus acted when He was on earth is exactly and precisely how the Father would have acted, had He came to dwell in a body among us.
(f) And one of the main things that Jesus came to emphasize and make known about God is that He is a God “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
(g) He shows us that God is a God of grace and that He supplies “grace for grace” (NKJV), or “grace upon grace” (ESV). (John 1:16; Hebrews 2:9; 2 Cor. 8:9 & Heb. 10:25).
2. Eternally God.
(a) “In the beginning…the word was with God” (John 1:16).
(b) He existed “before Abraham was” (John 8:58) and “was in the beginning with God” (John 1:2).
(c) His “goings forth are from old, from everlasting (Micah 5:2).
(d) He created the world (John 1:3). He controls the world (Heb. 1:3; Rev. 1:5). He cares for the world (John 1:12; 3:16).
3. Equally God.
(a) “The Word was God.” (John 1:1a).
(b) Jesus was “Himself equal with God” (John 5:18).
(c) He shared “equality with God” (Phil. 2:6).
(d) John clearly shows that Jesus is equal with His Father in person, perception, and position (John 5:21-27).
II. THE LAMB
A. Not only is Jesus the Lord, He is also the Lamb (John 1:29 & 36).
B. Being “Lord” emphasizes His power and position. Being the “Lamb” emphasizes His purpose and pardon.
C. He “takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) because He “saves His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).
D. It is interesting to trace God’s LAMB through the Bible. For example, we have the sacrifice of the Lamb:
1. Implied (Genesis 4).
2. Prophesied (Genesis 22).
3. Typified (Exodus 12).
4. Personified (Isaiah 53).
5. Identified (John 1:29).
6. Verified (Acts 8).
7. Glorified (Rev. 5).
E. He “offered one sacrifice for sins forever” (Heb. 10:12). He “appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself”
(Heb. 9:26). That is why He is called the Lamb because He is the sacrifice.
F. And that one sacrifice takes care of the sins you have committed, the sins you are committing, and the sins you
you will commit.
G. Salvation has been “accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph. 3:11).
H. When Jesus is called the Word it does not mean He is a book, but He is a Message. And when Jesus is called the
Lamb, it does not mean that He is an animal, but He is a Sacrifice. I do not expect to be saved by trying to keep law, but by trusting in the Lamb. I do not expect to be saved by the way I live, but by trusting in the Lamb. I do not expect to be saved by the way I love, but by trusting in the Lamb. I may not always behave, but I can “behold” and believe (John 1:36).
III. THE GREAT I AM
A. Not only is Jesus the Lord. And not only is Jesus the Lamb. He is also the great “I Am” (John 8:58).
B. It is important to understand that God’s name is “I Am”. When the children of Israelasked, “What is His name?” Moses was to reply “I Am who I Am” (Exodus 3:13-14).
C. God said, “This is my name forever, and this is my memorial to all generations” (Exodus 3:15).
D. The reason people need to remember or be reminded of this name is that God is in the present.
E. God is in the now. He is not in the past. He is not in the future. He is in the now.
F. Why is this name so important? Because it will help us live in the now. Today is all I have, all I need, and all I can handle.
G. At times we all focus on the past. We would all like to go back and live at least part of our lives again. There
are mistakes we have made that we would like to correct. And things we did not do that we would like to get done.
H. We have a tendency to dig up bones – exhuming things that are better left alone. (Remember the song, by Randy
Owen or was it Randy Travis?) We resurrect memories of a life that is dead and gone.
I. Some think, in our past we have:
(1) Messed up in a marriage.
(2) Had an abortion. Got hooked on drugs/alcohol etc.
(3) Shacked up for a while/had many one night stands.
(4) Lied, stolen, and mistreated others.
(5) Did things I can’t believe I did.
(6) Said things, thought things, and did things, that were shameful, sinful, and sometimes stupid.
(7) Left undone things that I should have done, and wasted a lot of my life serving Satan.
(8) Believed things that were not true, taught things that were not true, and did things that were not right.
(9) Mistreated, misled, and missed time with our children.
(10) Disobeyed and ignored our parents, and took advantage of our friends.
J. But God says, “Don’t go there!” I’m not in the past. My name is not “I was” but “I Am”.
K. I am the Lamb and the Great I Am. I have taken care of the (your) past.
L. In Jeremiah 31, Hebrews 8, and Hebrews 10, God said, “Their sins…..I will remember no more.”
M. If you read Acts 26, I Timothy, and Philippians 3, you’ll see that Paul regretted many things in his past.
N. But he said, “One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind……I press toward the goal…..” (Phil. 3:13-14).
O. It is good to learn from the past but not live in it. His name is “I Am” not I “was.”
P. At other times we fear the future. We wonder and worry what is going to happen? What’s next?
Q. And God says, “Don’t go there!” My name is “I Am” not “I will be.”
R. He is not only the Lamb who covers the past, He is also the Lord who controls the future.
S. He knows “from eternity…..all His works” (Acts 15:18). He “works all things according to the counsel of His
will” (Eph. 1:11).
T. He says, “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough
trouble of its own” (Matt. 6:34, NIV).
U. We need to live one day at a time. Life by the mile is a trial, by the yard it is hard, but by the inch it is a
V. Since Jesus has come we can say, “This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).
W. God said remember my name for all generations and and forever (Exodus 3:15). It is “I Am”. Don’t fear the
future – I am the Lord. Don’t focus on the past – I am the Lamb. And don’t forget that I dwell in the present – I am the great “I Am.”
CONCLUSION: In this study we have discussed, “The Lord, The Lamb, and The Great I Am.” Hopefully, we have learned that He is not the God of the past, nor the God of the future, but the God of the present. If we focus on the past, life is hard, because God is not there. If we fear the future, life is hard, because God is not there. He is always in the present. Thank God for Jesus! (2 Cor. 9:15).