Families – The Prayer of Jabez
Our scripture reading for today is found in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10.
9 Jabez was more honorable than his brothers; and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.”
10 Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that thou wouldst bless me and enlarge my border, and that thy hand might be with me, and that thou wouldst keep me from harm so that it might not hurt me!” And God granted what he asked. (1Ch 4:9-10 RSV)
Lets us pray:
Father speak to us. Open the eyes of our understanding and our inner ears to hear what you have to say to us. We are ready to receive from you, speak Father. In Jesus Name we pray Amen!
In school they taught us that a family is composed of father mother and children; it is the most simplistic definition of a family which leaves out more than it gives. Give it to the education system though, at least they gave us a definition to begin with. What they left out is that though everyone is born of a father and mother not everyone is brought up by both parents. Some have one, some have none: because of diverse reasons ranging from desertion, divorce, distance or even death just to name but a few. Other families don’t have children, and we could go on and on about the definition of a family.
Be that as it may today we tackle the topic of family by focusing on the household of kwa akina Jabez??. We are not told about his father but his mother and brothers though they remain nameless are mentioned. Jabez was born in pain and was named pain as the scriptures we have read tell us. I don’t know what your negative name is leave alone what it means or even the negative name your family is associated with but if it is in the family of names like Jabez, be of good cheer you are in the company of greatness. If only you follow in the footsteps of this man Jabez, then that negative name you bear/ the negative name your family is associated with will cease to hold any power over you In Jesus Name!
The virtue of self control is one that will guide us in our study this morning, because if there is a virtue that can ground, grow and guard a family it is self control; lack of it breeds the opposite and sadly many of us are testimonies. We will look at three ways in which the Lord is calling us to practice self control as relates to the topic of family and drawn from our scripture reading this morning.
These three things are:
Self control in words; self control in thoughts; and self control in deeds.
Lets us begin with the tongue, since as we all know that’s where most if not all our family problems begin; are rooted.
1. Self-control of our words
The mother of Jabez (whose name is not recorded) bore her son in pain and as a result decided to name him ‘pain’. The root word of Jabez in Hebrew connotes the meaning of: sorrow, vexation, grief, labour and wrestling. I am not quite sure why, the Bible doesn’t give us any more information, but it would seem that the birth of Jabez was quite a laborious one for the mother. I don’t want to go back to Genesis 3 and discuss the results of the fall of man but be that as it may pain in childbirth was to be the woman’s consequence of sin.
The mother of Jabez having gone through difficulty in giving birth to her son makes a decision to name him pain! This is very sad when you sit down and reflect on it. She could have rejoiced that she gave birth to a living healthy baby, but nooooo she got stuck in the pain of child bearing and chose to put it as a permanent mark on her son by naming him ‘pain’.
Let us look inwards for a moment.
What is our reaction within our family when unpleasant moments occur? Are we quick to lash out with our tongue or do we embrace self control and bask in the gold that is silence?
Do we speak in anger or wrath? Do we speak without understanding? Do we judge too harshly or too quickly in situations that in hindsight we realize we knew nothing about. What does the Bible say about our speech, our words?
29 Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear. (Eph 4:29 RSV)
6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer every one. (Col 4:6 RSV)
Just like the permanency of the name Jabez got from the mother so are words; once they leave the mouth there’s no recalling them back; the damage has been done. Remember the word of God tells us that life and death is in the power of the tongue, let us be careful what we speak especially in the family unit.
But wait a minute does this mean that you can go around cursing people, or calling them names and affecting their lives forever? What about ‘generational curses’? Brothers and sister, ladies and gentlemen there’s a limit to the power of man and praise the Lord for that. The bible clearly states in Galatians 3:13
13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us — for it is written, “Cursed be every one who hangs on a tree” — (Gal 3:13 RSV)
Jesus Christ was hang on a tree and became a curse. He became a curse to redeem us from any and all curses and generational curses are included in the list praise the Lord! All we have to do is believe in the finished work of Christ on the cross specifically regarding curses and receive the blessing that is ours in Jesus Name.
Some of us here are walking around carrying the burden of generational curses; drunkenness, immorality, early deaths, failure and the list goes on and on. We have been born again yes but we do not yet know or even believe that Christ finished it all. Therefore we walk around searching for release, for answers, for deliverance even. Brethren, when you got born again you received the finished work of Christ on the cross and it covers everything: past present and future Hallelujah! Therefore in the name of Jesus Christ this morning let go of the lies that the accuser of brethren has been whispering to you that you are cursed from your family lineage; let the enemy know you changed families the day you got born again, you belong to the family of God, God is your Father and nobody can curse what is His; you are God’s. Hallelujah!
2. Self – control of our thoughts
The second area of self-control we will look when it comes to families is self-control of our thoughts. This area of thoughts many a times becomes the tipping point at which either freedom in Christ is achieved within families or bondage to the lies of the enemy regarding families their past present and future is cemented.
God commanded Joshua in Joshua 1:8
8 This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success. (Jos 1:8 RSV)
For us to exercise self control of our thoughts in the area of families and in all areas of our lives we must be continuously meditating on God’s Word. It is this Word of God that will renew our minds and cause us not to be conformed to the patterns of this world (Romans 12:1-2).
The mother of Jabez definitely did not have a renewed mind, instead she allowed her present circumstances to direct her thought patterns and resulting into her action of naming her son pain. On the other hand her son Jabez though named pain was of a different mind praise the Lord!
The opening line of our scripture reading states a profound truth:
Jabez was more honorable than his brothers (1Ch 4:9 RSV)
Then the story behind his name follows and lastly the action that changed his destiny.
Jabez could have chosen to follow the path of sorrow, failure, misery and vexation that his mother had put him on from birth. But he did not think himself in that line and we’ll shortly be discussing his action.
Some of us have come from families where injustices, including the names we bear and their meanings leave alone things that have been done or not done to us and words that have been said or not said to us. The problem is that we have become defined by those painful experiences. They are all we think about, all we talk about and as a result all we have become.
The Lord is calling us out this morning into His Word. He’s admonishing us not to be conformed to the words and actions done against us in our families. God is calling us to raise above the suffering and unfortunate circumstances we have gone through in our families. God is calling us to Himself and what He thinks and says about us.
- He says that He loves us so much that He gave His Only Begotten Son to die for us (John 3:16)
- He says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)
- He says that we are the apple of His eye (Zech 2:8; Psalms 17:8)
- He says that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb 13:8)
- He says that He’s preparing a place for us so that where He is we may be also (John 14:2-3)
- He says that as far as the east is from the west so far has He removed our transgressions from us (Psalms 103:12)
- He says that he knows the plans He has for us, plans of good and not of evil to give us a future and a hope (Jer 29:11)
Praise the Lord!
That is what God is calling us to read and meditate; to talk about and to action moment by moment day by day. It is not going to be easy since we are human, easily and deeply hurt by the words and actions of other but with Christ living in us we will walk in victory step by step.
And Jabez was more honorable than his brothers – may the Lord daily teach us to have self control of our thoughts.
3. Self-control of our deeds
The last but not least of the three areas of self-control we will look at this morning is self control of our deeds.
The story of Jabez appears in a long winding genealogy of the 12 sons of Jacob. He descends from the lineage of Judah. Whereas all the others are just mentioned father and son with a sprinkling of mother names here and there the abruptly stops at 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 and then continues as before. Jabez is unique, not because of his name but because of what he did with the situation he found himself in.
This brings us to our last area of self-control in family matters and that is self-control of our deeds or actions.
Brothers and sister ladies and gentlemen, if you are walking with me this morning you’ll notice that there is a flow in our lesson; what you think is what you say, what you say is what you do and what you do and you become. Thoughts are the centre of it all no wonder the call above to have our minds renewed by meditating on God’s Word!
Jabez did something with his family situation. From our scripture reading this morning we are told:
10 Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that thou wouldst bless me and enlarge my border, and that thy hand might be with me, and that thou wouldst keep me from harm so that it might not hurt me!” And God granted what he asked. (1Ch 4:10 RSV)
Praise the Lord!
I thank God for Jabez, I thank God that he had a renewed mind and chose to turn his eyes to God to change the destiny his family had put him on specifically his mother from birth; He called on the God of Israel!
Brethren, ladies and gentlemen when you look at the not so pleasant, less than favourable situation in your family that has affected you negatively where do you turn to? What do you do? Do you just follow the path set before you or do you make a decision to call on the Name of Lord and ask Him to change your story? I don’t know what choices you have made in the past but this morning the Lord is calling you to stop, evaluate and choose the path of life. Call upon the Name of God!
And when you do, don’t mumble; don’t complain about your family history; don’t start informing God about your name and its meaning (He knows all that); ask Him to change your name from pain to honor.
Jabez gives us a blueprint prayer to follow and it would be wise to do so because we are told that God granted what he asked. The prayer of Jabez pleased God and He answered it. So what exactly did Jabez ask for:
- Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border
- And that thy hand be with me
- And that though wouldst keep me from harm so that it would not hurt me
This prayer reminds of another prayer recorded in Matthew 6:9-13, the prayer we rightly call the Lord’s prayer.
There’s no magic in prayer, there’s only faith mixed with God’s Word presented back to God who in turn answers it in His time and in the way He deems best. Jabez called on the name of God and made three specific requests and God answered His request. And what was the result: the man who was named pain became known as the one who was more honorable than his brothers! Note than his name Jabez never changed but when God answered his requests it henceforth became associated with honor and no longer pain.
Father in heaven, thank you for speaking to us this morning. Thank you for sending your Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins and for us to have life in abundance. This morning we receive that abundance, we receive it by faith and we chose to walk in the truth of your Word. Help us Father, all these your children reading this to walk in the freedom of being Your sons and daughters.
Father in the Name of Jesus Christ we ask that you break free us this morning from our past. From all the negative associations with our families, from the names we bear and their negative meanings, from our negative family reputation, from the words spoken by our parents, from the actions they did to us. Through the power in the blood of Jesus Christ set us free, and we shall be free indeed.
Thank you for hearing our prayers in Jesus Name we pray, Amen!
NB: The complete version of this sermon was first preached at the University of Nairobi Main Campus Christian Union on 25th September 2016.