A New Assessment of the Old Testament

A NEW ASSESSMENT OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
(A brief survey of Genesis-Nehemiah)
I.  DESCRIBING THE PROBLEM (Gen. 1 – 11)
A.  The Presence of sin (Gen. 1 – 3)
B.  The Progress of sin (Gen. 4 – 6)
C.  The Punishment for sin (Gen. 7 – 8)
D.  The Permanency of sin (Gen. 9 – 11)
(Study the book of Job here)
II. DEVELOPING THE NATION (Gen. 12 – Ex. 1)
A.  The Call of Abraham (Gen. 12 – 25:10)
B.  The Creating of Israel (Gen. 25:11 – 36)
C.  The Calamity of Israel (Gen. 37 – 50)
D.  The Captivity of Israel (Ex. 1)
III. DELIVERING THE NATION (Ex. 2 – Deut.)
A.  The Person is chosen (Ex. 2 – 4)
B.  The Plagues are suffered (Ex. 5 – 12)
C.  The Parting is complete (Ex. 13 – Nu.10:10)
D.  The Punishment for disobedience (Nu.10:11 – 36:12)
E.  The Preaching of Moses (Deut. 1 – 34)
IV. DEFEATING THE ENEMY NATIONS (Joshua – 1 Sam. 7)
A.  Possessing the land (Joshua)
B.  Polluting the land (Judges)         
C.  Pilgrimage to the land (Ruth)
D.  Prophet in the land (1 Sam. 1 – 7)
V.  DEMANDING A KING (1 Sam. 8 – 1 Kings 11)
A. The First king-Saul (1 Sam. 8 – 31)
B. The Faithful king-David (2 Sam. l – 1 Kings 2:11)
C. The Fallen king-Solomon (1 Kings 2:12 – 11:43)
(Study Psalms; Song of Solomon; Proverbs; Ecclesiastes)
VI. DIVIDING THE NATION (1 Kings 12 – 2 Kings 16)
A. The Cause of the division (1 Kings 12:1 – 24}
B. The Changes of Jeroboam (1 Kings 12:25 – 33)
C. The Consequences of their sins (1 Kings 13 – 2 Kings 16)
(Study Obadiah; Joel; Jonah; Amos; Hosea; Isaiah; & Micah)
VII. DEPORTING OF ISRAEL TO ASSYRIA (2 Kings 17)
A. The Siege of Israel (2 Kings 17:1 – 6)
B. The Sins of the people (2 Kings 17:5 – 23)
C. The Samaritans are the result (2 Kings 17:24 – 41)
VIII. DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM BY BABYLON (2 Kings 18-25)
 A. The Cause of the fall (2 Kings 18 – 23)
 B. The Carryings away (2 Kings 24)
 C. The City is destroyed (2 Kings 25)
(Study Zephaniah; Jeremiah; Nahum; Habakkuk; Lamentations,
Daniel, Ezekiel)
IX. DECREEING THE RETURN (Ezra – Nehemiah)
A. The Return of Zerubbabel (Ezra 1- 6)
B. The Reforms of Ezra (Ezra 7 – 10)
C. The Rebuilding of Nehemiah (Nehemiah)
(Study Haggai; Zachariah; Esther; 1 & 2 Chronicles; Malachi)
Wayne Dunaway
gandpministries.wordpress.com

Four Young Men Who Refused to Sin

Four Young Men Who Refused To Sin
(A sermon from Daniel Chapter One)

Introduction:

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.

CONCLUSION:

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).

Wayne Dunaway
gandpministries.wordpress.com

Looking For "Life" in Wrong Places

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).
  
Wayne Dunaway
gandpministries.org

START WITH THE CONCLUSION

A Satisfied Mind. This sounds so appealing…like such a good feeling…almost worth stealing. But we are worn-out, burned-out and stressed-out. We live in a “pressure-cooker” world and according to statistics we are not handling it very well. Stress is making us sick mentally, emotionally and physically. We are restless and cannot seem to stress-less.
 One contributing factor is communication. We know too much about what is going on. We are constantly bombarded with “News from Around the World” almost instantly and guess what? Most of it is bad. And if it is good, we don’t pay much attention to it. We focus on the “locust.” We concentrate on the things that complicate. It is good to “turn your radio on and listen to the music”…but only if it is the right kind of music.
Another contributing factor is our fast pace world. We are definitely in the fast track when it comes to living. We eat fast food and live our lives in the fast lane. I heard about a movie titled, “Fast and Furious.” But we don’t have to watch it, because we live it. We are furious because life in our generation is so fast. A soap opera is named, “The Young and the Restless.” But in our world, we are all “restless”…young and old and all in between.
We try everything for a satisfied mind. 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? What does it take to have a satisfied mind?
The answer is in the book of Ecclesiastes. This is Solomon’s dairy. His journal. It is his dairy about his decisions. It is his journal about his journey. It is his search for a satisfied mind. It records his reaction in his search for satisfaction.
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. But his mind was not pleased or 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 of Godand His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
The “kingdom of God” is Jesus “ruling on our hearts.” The kingdom is “within” (Luke 17:20-21). Jesus came to make it easier to practice what Solomon taught. It is easier to “remember our Creator” (Ecclesiastes 12:1) if we understand how much He wants to be remembered (He sent Jesus to die for us) as well as why He wants to be remembered (because our Father loves us). He has put “eternity in our hearts” (Ecc. 3:11) because He wants to spend eternity with us. This is what is missing in the lives of most. Putting God first and letting our light shine creates internal joy….and a satisfied mind. Solomon’s conclusion (Ecc. 12:13) is to put God first (Matt. 6:33)….which is always the best way to start.
Wayne Dunaway

 

gandpministries.org

S E C Companionship

S.E.C. Companionship
Those of us who love football in the Southeastern Conference know about the importance of the SEC Championship Game. We all want our teams to participate because we want them to win the Conference Championship and then perhaps play for the National Championship.
 Just so in the game of life all faithful Christians need to participate in S.E.C. Companionship. We are “companions” in tribulation and in the kingdom so we need to support and help each another (Rev. 1:9; Heb. 10:33). That is we all need to Strengthen, Encourage and Comfort each other as spiritual companions. It takes desire and commitment for a football team to reach the Southeastern Conference Championship game and it takes the same attitude to be involved in SEC Companionship. The Bible teaches us to:
Strengthen one another.
…we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith (1 Thess. 3:2, NASB). See also Acts 15:32.  
Encourage one another.
 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13, NASB). See also 1 Thessalonians 3:1-2.
Comfort one another. 
Therefore comfort one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:18). See also 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.
 One reason for preaching and being together in our assemblies on Sunday is that all believers can be involved in S.E.C. Companionship. Read the following verse in the New Living Translation concerning the Christian assembly with this in mind.

But one who prophesies Strengthens others, Encourages them, and Comforts them (1 Corinthians 14:3, NLT).

Jesus wants believers to be…continually involved in S.E.C. (Strengthening… Encouraging…Comforting) 
Wayne Dunaway

gandpministries.org

Successful Sinners and Suffering Saints

SUCCESSFUL SINNERS AND SUFFERING SAINTS
Introduction: Psalm 73
1. It is interesting to note that Psalm 73 and Psalm 37 both deal with basically the
    same theme. Both deal with envying evil doers. (It might help us to remember 
    this by observing that when you turn the number 37 around it is 73.)
2. The problem of why bad things happen to good people has haunted man since the beginning of time. And the reverse is also true, why do good things happen to bad people?
3. The book of Job is probably the oldest book in the Bible and this is the problem that Job’s three friends could not understand. (See Job 4:7-8 & 8:6)
4. In fact, Job himself struggled with this problem. Observe what Job said in 
   chapter 21:7-15, Why do the wicked live and become old, yes, become mighty in 
   power? Their descendants are established with them in their sight, and their offspring 
   before their eyes. Their houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of God upon them.
   Their bull breeds without failure; their cow calves without miscarriage. They send forth 
   their little ones like a flock, and their children dance. They sing to the tambourine and 
   harp, and rejoice to the sound of the flute. They spend their days in wealth, and in a
   moment go down to the grave. Yet they say to God, ‘Depart from us, for we do not
   desire  the knowledge of Your ways. Who is the Almighty, that we should serve Him?
   And what profit do we have if we pray to Him?
5. Solomon said, “I have seen everything in my days of vanity: There is a just man who perishesin his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs life in his wickedness.” (Ecc. 7:15).
6. So the problem of “Successful Sinners and Suffering Saints” is a problem that we all face from time to time.
7. In Psalm 73 God uses a saint named Asaph to help us have the proper perspective in considering this age old problem.
8. In this study we will observe:
             I. HIS CONVICTION
            II. HIS CONFESSION
           III. HIS CONDITION
I. HIS CONVICTION
1. In the first verse we have Asaph’s conviction. Conviction means “the state of 
    being convinced.”  His conviction is that God is good to His people. Regardless of how it may seem otherwise, God is good “to such as are pure in heart.” (Ps. 73:1).
2. We teach our children to pray, “God is great. God is good.”
3. God is too loving to be mean. God is too powerful to be manipulated. And God is too wiseto be mistaken.                           
4. According to Psalm 100, we should “be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good: His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations. (Ps. 100:4-5).
5. God is good, yes He is, He’s good all the time. God is good, yes He is, and we must all keep this in mind.
II. HIS CONFESSION
1. First, he talks about the Boastful (vs. 2-9). Then he talks about the Believer. (vs.
    10-21). Then he talks about the Beast. (vs. 22).
2. He confesses that he had almost fallen. He had almost slipped away.
3. Then he tells why. “For I was envious of the boastful…
4. When he thought about the boastful, or wicked, he almost let it get to him. It 
     looked as though they had it made. He saw their:
            a.Prosperity. “I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” (vs. 3).
            b. Painlessness. “For there are no pains in their death…” (vs. 4)…
            c.Peacefulness. “They are not in trouble as other men…” (vs. 5).
            d. Pride. “Therefore pride serves as their necklace..” (vs. 6).
            e. Plentifulness. “They have more than the heart could wish.” (vs. 7).
            f. Perversion. “They make fun of others and speak evil; proudly they speak
                                    of hurting others.” (vs. 8; NCV).
            g. Profanity. “They set their mouth against the heavens..” (vs. 9).
4. He also saw the problems that the people of God were having and how they
    wondered whether or not God knew what was going on. (vs. 10-12).
5. He even wondered whether or not it pays to do the right thing. (vs. 13-14)
6. When he sought to understand this it was “too painful” for him. (vs. 15-16)
7. He had this problem “until” he went into the “sanctuary of God” and 
    “understood their end”. (vs. 17).
8. He knew that, in the end, they would be “utterly consumed with terrors” and 
    “brought to desolation, as in a moment”. (vs. 19-20)
9. A good illustration of this is the parable that Jesus told about the “Rich Fool”,  
    who seemingly had it made, but died in a moment and without warning.
   (Lk. 12:16-21).
  10. The psalmist further confesses that he had been “foolish and ignorant” when he had felt and thought the way he did. He admits that he had been like a “beast” in thinking as he had thought. ( Note: A beast is only concerned with the here and now.)
11. When the wicked seem prosperous in spite of their sin, do like this psalmist and think about their end.
III. HIS CONDITION.
1. After thinking about his foolishness, he then starts thinking about his condition as a believer.
2. In doing so he thinks about:
     a. His Favor. “I am continually with you, you hold me…guide me… (vs. 23-24a).
     b. His Future. “And afterward receive me to glory.” (vs.24b).
     c. His Father. “Whom have I in heaven but You, and none upon earth that I 
         desire besides You.” (vs. 25).
     d. HisFaith. “But God is the strength of my heart…I have put my trust in the  
         Lord God. (vs. 26-28).
 3.  If we ever find ourselves in this envying  position, it is then that we should think about our spiritual condition
CONCLUSION: In this study we have observed at least one solution to the problem of envying wicked people when good things are happening to them. It is a problem that we all have probably had at one time or another. And if we haven’t, we probably will. However, many of us might not be honest enough to admit it. But Asaph did admit it, and we can profit by considering what he had to say. And remembering what we have learned from Psalm 73 can help us, and can help us to help others. It’s all about having the proper perspective. It is all about how we look at things and what we focus on. Paul wrote, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which areseen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things that are seen are temporary, but the  things that are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:16-18).
                                                                                                             
 Wayne Dunaway
 wdunaway.blogspot.com

 

 ohatcheechurch.org

The Power of a Prayer (of Jabez)

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.”

Conclusion:

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).

Wayne Dunaway
https://gandpministries.wordpress.com/