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Archive for June, 2011

Somewhere along the journey of life each one of us takes a picture of ourselves.  And in that snapshot, we magnify our faults.  We memorialize a moment of failure, a moment of weakness, or an insecure or awkward stage of life.

At some point in time, someone said something, pointed out a fear, or made a judgment about you — and it stuck.  In fact, it is still sticking.

As much as we try to hide, it seems impossible to get away from the flaw-filled person we see in the mirror.  We are all wounded by the damage we have received, and even more, we all fear the damage we can cause.

As personal as our story may be, we are not the only ones who feel this way.  It is a wound common to us all.  Tucked away in the pages of the Bible, we find a man who shared our common pain, our common fear.

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.  (1 Chronicles 4:9-10 NKJV)

I see three simple, yet powerful connections between each of us and the life of Jabez.  Through acknowledging these three truths, we could each find ourselves breaking the cycles of our past and enjoying the grace of God for our lives today.

  1. We all carry scars.  However hidden or personal our story may be, we are all united by the simple fact that we are not alone.  Everyone around us finds themselves trying to make sense of their life.  We all carry scars of the pain we have received and the pain we have caused.
  2. We all carry fear.  The most damaging impact of the scars we carry is the haunting fear that the pain may not be over, that our past may wound us again in the future.  We carry the fear of being hurt again and the fear of hurting others in the same way we were hurt.  If left unanswered, our fears will box us into a small and unsatisfying life.
  3. We all carry hope.  It is what moves us forward.  Somehow, somewhere, someone has to have more to offer than a life lived in cycles of fear and pain.  Hope invites us to take risks and embrace a life of meaning and purpose.

This was the story of Jabez.  He carried the scars of the wounds he caused as a child and the fear of the name given him that he would continue to cause pain all the days of his life.  But somewhere in the midst of the scars and fear, Jabez nurtured hope, and his hope caused him to cry out to the God who created him, “Bless me, indeed.  Enlarge my territory.  Let Your hand be upon me.  Keep me from evil.  Keep me from causing pain.”

A powerful and faith filled prayer.  A prayer we still connect with on a very deep level.

If I were to summarize my personal connection with the prayer of Jabez, it would be: “I don’t want to keep hurting from the same old wounds, and I don’t want to be the link that causes my pain to become my children’s pain.”

Do you have a personal connection with the prayer of Jabez?  How does his cry touch your heart?  What does it stir in you?

May you be blessed indeed!  May God enlarge your territory, your sphere of influence!  May the hand of God be upon you.  May God keep you from evil!  May you and those you love be free from pain!  Amen.

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Every Sunday morning, about three songs into worship, just before we receive Communion, I stand before my friends at church and invite them to experience the healing grace of our Lord Jesus.

I usually have a list in my hand, filled with words of knowledge from our ministry team.  As they pray for the service each Sunday morning, they take time to listen to the invitation of the Holy Spirit to speak to specific physical and emotional needs of people attending our worship service.

I often find myself saying something to the effect of, “When Jesus died on the cross, He made a way for your sins to be forgiven and your body to be healed.”  And every Sunday I watch in awe as people respond to the call for ministry and receive the healing Jesus purchased for them.  I’ve seen it over a hundred times and it is beautiful every time.

But, this Sunday was different.  This Sunday I was the one in need.  A few years back, I became aware of a painful spot in my left shoulder while I was lifting weights.  I didn’t give it much thought, changed my workout routine so as not to aggravate it, and moved on.  Recently that “catch” in my shoulder has resurfaced.  I felt it in the gym, I felt it wrestling with my sons, I felt it laying down to sleep, I even felt its sharp reminder when I would cross my arms.

The usual battery of fear began to run through my mind as I considered living a lifetime struggling with shoulder pain.  I found myself contemplating the possibility of shoulder surgery to heal the damage.  And then I remembered Sunday morning.  Every Sunday morning I invite people to experience God’s healing.  Why not accept my own invitation?

So last Sunday, I was the first one to the healing line!  I went to the first person in the line, explained the situation and received prayer for healing.  It was a simple and sincere prayer.  I didn’t feel anything or hear anything while being prayed for, but at the end of the prayer I started testing my shoulder and I was pain free!

It amazes me how I am still amazed by answered prayers.  I truly expected my shoulder to be healed and then I was stunned when it was.  Then, I began to wonder if it was really going to last.  We often program ourselves for disappointment in such a way that we have trouble receiving good gifts from God.  I still find myself being careful with my left shoulder, expecting a sharp pain when I move in a certain way.  But, the pain is gone!  And it’s not coming back!

I know many of you have been whispering fragile prayers and holding on to fading hope.  Hope for healing.  Hope for freedom.  Hope for reconciliation.

God answers prayers, my friends.  Psalm 103 tells us He forgives, heals, redeems, crowns, and satisfies.  I encourage you to stretch out and ask God to bring healing to your situation.  I encourage you to let a friend pray with you at church this Sunday.

And don’t be too surprised when God answers your prayer.

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