Tuesday, December 31, 2019

A New Focus

Tuesday, December 31, 2019 Some material take from Enlarge My Border by Van Houser
Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother named him Jabez saying, "Because I bore him with pain." Now Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, "Oh that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from harm that it may not pain me!" And God granted him what he requested.  1Chronicles 4:9-10  
Here we are once again - December 31st, New Year’s Eve - and not only is it the end of a year but also the end of a decade. This is the time of year most of us re-evaluate our lives, priorities, goals, dreams, and the direction we are headed.  We look back over the year, or decade, and take stock of what has happened and how our lives have changed. Births, deaths, marriage, divorce, graduations, illnesses, moves, and job changes are some of the big things in life that change us forever. And we have our resolutions we make each year and goals we make, short term and long term.  
What hopes and dreams do you have for this next year? We all want good things for ourselves and those we love.  Jabez prayed for God to bless him and enlarge his border. Author Bruce Wilkinson suggests Jabez looked at his present circumstances and concluded, "Surely I was born for more than this!" You may have felt that way before about your life, but Jabez had a heart and a burden to serve God, not just a selfish desire for his life to be better. He wanted God to expand his borders and by that he meant he wanted to do more and be more for God.  Jabez had learned what a truly fulfilled life was, and that it could only be found in a relationship with God and serving Him.
What if our new year’s resolutions were all about others and not about ourselves at all?  What if we only made goals that required us to step out and go and tell others about Jesus and His life-giving grace? What if at the end of the year we could look back and see the lives we touched and changed because we focused outward instead of inward? We were saved to serve; to tell the world about Jesus and His grace and goodness that we have experienced in our lives; to bring hope to the suffering, the poverty stricken and the sorrowful. What would God have to expand for us to know the kind of increase Jabez was asking for? We would need to expand our willingness to serve, our vision to match His, and perhaps our faith. We don’t have to wait for riches to help the poor. We don’t have to wait for education to minister to others.  We don’t have to wait until we have the time - we need to make the time.  It is amazing what God lays in front of us when we step out in faith.  
If we pray the prayer of Jabez, we are asking God to:
·      Expand our sphere of influence so we can reach more people
·      Enlarge our responsibility so we can be found more faithful
·      Open more opportunities for ministry so that we can be used by God
This desire is not about us, but others!  It is not about profit, but purpose. There was no selfishness in this prayer!  There was great commitment in this prayer! Jabez prayer was for opportunity to serve the purpose of God. What would that look like in our lives?

As you lay out your goals for this year, give them over to God and ask Him to do what He wants to do in your life in the next 365 days. Ask Him to expand your heart to reach outward. Only when we give ourselves up to be used by God will we find the borders of our lives being expanded … sometimes beyond our wildest dreams!

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