Talkin' To Jesus (6)
"Jesus, bless me!"
Some of you remember Y2K. Oh, it was supposed to bring the end of the world! Of course, the end of the world is coming, but God isn't exactly a prisoner to the Julian calendar or to possible computer glitches.
Anyway, there was something that did happen in 2000 AD that was somewhat memorable, or at least relevant to today's blog entry: "The Prayer of Jabez" was published. It was a very popular inspiration in many churches. Written by Bruce Wilkerson, it sold 9 million copies in 2 years. If you do an internet search about the book, you will find that it had a subtitle: "Breaking Through to the Blessed Life."
The book (and the paraphernalia that sold along with it) was built on 1st Chronicles 4:9-10, "Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, 'Because I bare him with sorrow.' And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, 'Oh that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!' And God granted him that which he requested."
How awesome is that! Can it really be that simple?
Of course, Jabez is not the only one to ever receive special blessings from the hand of God. The biblical poet wrote in Psalm 119:17, "Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live, and keep Your word." And, God did just that (for David).
Isaac, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Solomon: these all asked for unique and (it could be argued) extravagant blessings. And, they got what they we're asking for too! In fact, they all got more than they asked for!
All blessings are not equal, of course.
Among other things, God blessed Job with twice as much material wealth as he had owned prior to his trials, and gave him the most beautiful daughters in the land. He blessed Moses with mercy for his people. He blessed Joshua, Gideon, and Jephthah with military victories. He blessed Solomon with wisdom. He blessed Daniel and Paul with visions and revelations. He also blessed Paul with converts.
God has a storehouse (so-to-speak) full of good things ready for distribution. God is rich. Infinitely rich.
He's not stingy either. Check out the words of the Apostle Paul found in Romans 8:31b-32, "If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not with Him also freely give us all things?"
A disclaimer is surely fitting here. We are not to buy into the modern prosperity gospel. It's not just a modern heterodoxy anyway. It's an error as old as sin itself. In 1st Timothy 6:5-6, Paul warned Timothy about it. But the error has survived. Today's "name-it-and-claim-it" (or, "gab-it-and-grab-it") gospel — espoused by many TV preachers — is just about as far from the truth as can be imagined.
Our natural inclination is to think that for God to bless us we must get something material, something now, something easy, something fun, etc. But God's idea of "the blessed life" is not the same as Satan's idea. Imagine that.
Consider the "spiritual blessings" Paul wrote of in Ephesians 1:3-6. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He has made us accepted in the beloved."
Remember how Jesus told His disciples to rejoice because their names were written down in heaven, not because they had power over demons? And they weren't even coveting evil things. They were just aiming their spiritual telescopes a little too low.
It's difficult, but we are instructed to "set our affections on things above, not on the things of this world." We are told to "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness." We are warned not to "love the world or the things of this world."
So, if we will first buy into the priorities God recommends, then we can pray for blessings like Jabez did and not be surprised when God grants us exactly what we desire.
One of my favorite verses in the Bible is 2nd Chronicles 16:9a, "The eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him." The key, of course, is to learn to value and treasure what He values and treasurers.
Read Proverbs 3:5-10 & Psalm 37:3-6. These passages tell us so much about how God works in our lives; or how He wants to work in our lives. If we can learn to agree with Him concerning what is important; what matters... then we can pursue blessings with abandon. The material dainties — with which Satan normally tempts us — will lose their luster. We will become properly enamored with things that are truly godly. We will see blessings from an eternal perspective. We will have heavenly vision.
If we will simply come to Jesus and learn of Him, then we will be able to pray boldly, "Jesus, bless me," and be certain that He will do just that.