Enlarge My Territory
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: 1 Chronicles 4:1-12
Sunday 8th June 2014
Last week, we commenced a new series, 'Prayer that Changes Circumstances' with an examination of the life of Jabez in a message titled, 'Lord, Bless Me Indeed!' We understood that despite his background, Jabez was a man whom, unlike most in his lineage, refused to live an ordinary life and cried out to God in prayer and changed history. We understood that in this brief account of his life, there is a lesson for each of us and that is the notwithstanding that life may have started badly, it need not end that way. Jabez reached out to God in prayer and demonstrated that prayer changes things. We carry within us the ability to release the power of God to bring about change to our circumstances. From Jabez' life we can extract a number of lessons, including the power of knowing God; knowing that God has a plan and that it is God's desire to bless us and the need for each of us to be like Jabez and take responsibility to effect change in the place of prayer.
Today, we are going to focus on the latter part of Jabez's prayer, in which he asks God to enlarge his territory. The word of God, we are taught in Timothy is inspired by the Holy Spirit and is useful for instruction and correction. We must be careful to look beyond each factual account and examine closely what it is that God is using the factual account to teach us. Jabez, whose name was synonymous with pain, was a man whom, by any account, started badly in life. However, he finished well. His life is a lesson that wherever you are in life, you can finish well. I do not know where you are right now but the counsel of the Lord to you this morning is that things will get better. We understand that the scripture describes Jabez as being more honorable than his brothers. We need to look carefully at what it is that he did to earn that description and turn his life around. I want you to look at whatever confronts you in the eye and declare, "I am more honourable!" It is not the will of God for you to die in pain and sorrow and live an average life. You are greater than that. Jabez moved beyond his condition and asked God to bless him. He wanted all that God had for him. His life teaches us not to settle for less. His prayer to God was faith-filled, honest and bold; a prayer which resonated with God. Jabez knew God's ability and willingness and desire to give him more. It was filled with faith and therefore God granted his request. It is in the nature of a good parent to give his child just enough; a good parent wants to give their child more than they ask for. In fact, we tend to be upset with our children for failing to make their needs known to us as it is our delight to bless them. If, as the bible teaches, that is the case with us whom are evil, what more of God?
Recently, I have found myself praying the prayer of Jabez over my life more regularly. I do not want to live an average life as I do not serve an average God. I find myself regularly, asking God to bless me indeed; to enlarge my territory, to keep me from evil that I do not cause pain. I ask God boldly and for extravagant blessings as I know that it is His pleasure to answer my request. It is a mindset issue; the battle for enlargement takes place between our ears. It is in the realm of the mind that the question arises as to whether it is right for us to ask God to do more in our lives. I have settled it; God desires to do more and therefore I now look for not widely used scriptures that reflect the magnitude of God's desire to extend His blessings towards us. Ephesians 3:19 speaks of us being 'filled with the fullness of God'; I pray this prayer over my life. I want to live a life that is filled with the fullness of God. Deuteronomy 1: 10-11 says, 'The Lord your God has increased your population, making you as numerous as the stars! And may the Lord, the god of your ancestors, multiply you a thousand times more and bless you as He has promised!' This is another prayer that I pray over myself; I recommend that you do too. When we do not pray in accordance with the extent of God's word, we only limit ourselves. This is the lesson of Jabez' life. It is the secret that made him to be more honourable than his brothers; he determined to walk in the fullness of all that God wanted him to be. The word honourable in this context is the Hebrew word 'kabod' which is translated as 'glory'. It is a word signifying wealth, weightiness, significance and substance. This is the promise of God for you. This is what our lives are supposed to look like. John 15: 8 says that it glorifies God when our lives bear fruit. We are God's children, carrying His DNA. If our lives do not resemble the nature of our Father then there is a problem. It is the prayer of Jabez, his boldness to ask God to bless him and enlarge his territory and God's response that caused him to be more honourable in God's eyes.
We will experience challenges and set-backs but it is important to remember that this is not the end. However life looks right now, regardless of the challenges and the disappointments, there is always the 'other side' of your set-back. Jabez was a paradigm breaker; he refused to settle in the place of pain. He refused to settle for average, as his predecessors had. He wanted all that God had for him. Not only did he cry out to God to bless him indeed, he also asked God to enlarge his territory. As well as a blessing, he wanted more, an enlarged territory. God would have smiled at that bold request. Jabez, in asking God to 'enlarge' wanted exceeding greatness, multiplication and to be more numerous; territory here represents his sphere of influence and border or boundaries of his influence in order to be able to make more impact. At the heart of his cry to God was the desire to make more impact. He wanted to add more value to the lives of others. Jabez had a world-changing mentality. He asked God to take his life and use it to make greater impact; he desired to be an agent of change and to affect lives in his generation. Jabez did not want to just live and then just die. He knew that he was created to affect his world. He desired a greater territory in which to influence mankind.
If your reason for asking for more is simply to consume it then you are missing the point and have failed completely. Jabez wanted to reach out and touch live. Your life must be lived with the same objective. Jesus described believers as the 'light of the world' because like light, we have been designed to change our environment. He also described us as the 'salt of the earth', again because like salt, we have been designed to bring change. The cry of your heart this season is that God should increase your resources in order that you may affect more lives. The increase that I pray that God brings to your business and your ministry is that your may make greater impact for Him. "Lord, give us the opportunity to influence this community, this city, this nation, this world for You! Give us ministries on the seven mountains of influence" Jabez refused to be constrained, he cried out for greater influence. His prayer was in the same period in which Joshua was allocating the land amongst the tribes. He must have looked at the territory allocated to him and determined in his heart that this simply would not do and therefore called out to God for enlargement.
You will notice that in the prayer of Jabez, there is not an iota of doubt. His prayer was full of expectation. Expectation forms the basis of the miraculous to manifest. We must never go to God in prayer without the expectation of results. We must be full of hope and confidence that God will answer. Elijah displayed this essential quality when he said, "I hear the sound of abundance of rain" and notwithstanding that there was no physical evidence giving weight to his declaration, adopted the position of prayer. We must be like the beggar at the gate called beautiful; he looked and Peter and John with expectation. Often however we approach God without expectation; at the root of this a lack of faith. The expectation of the righteous is not denied.
God has absolutely no problem in responding to our request but there are two fundamental principles which must be borne in mind: Firstly, God will not force anything on us. We must ask Him. It is only when we ask that we receive. James 4: 2 explains that the reason why do not have what we desire is not because that God does not have it, it is that we do not ask. Your asking is linked to your desire. When you carry your desire to the place of prayer with expectation, you will have what you ask for. The second key principle to be aware of is that God will not give you what you cannot handle. The principle established in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that God will not permit us to be tempted beyond our ability to handle it also applies as regards the degree of blessing that we can receive. Your capacity determines your blessing. If your old Nissan Micra is un-serviced, filthy and full of takeaway wrappers, why would God want to give you a Ferrari? If you cannot manage the upkeep of a one-bedroom flat, you will not be able to handle a mansion. If you desire a greater blessing, you must present to God a greater capacity. The degree of blessing is determined by you.
Let's look quickly at five implications of asking God to enlarge our territory:
• Asking God to enlarge your territory is asking God to enlarge your capacity: Your territory cannot be bigger than you are. In Genesis 26: 13-14, Isaac's physical possessions were matched by his own personal greatness. Our capacity must be enlarged in order to receive an enlarged territory.
• Asking God to enlarge your territory is asking God to enlarge your resources: Deuteronomy 8: 18 makes clear that it is God that gives the power to get wealth. Jabez was asking for increase in his resources alongside his enlarged territory.
• Asking God to enlarge your territory is asking God to enlarge your opportunity: The prayer for an enlarged territory is a request for avenues to be opened up and being connected with the right people. Ecclesiastes 9:11 makes reference to chance, which can be equated to opportunity and speaks of (NLT), 'by being in the right place at the right time.'
• Asking God to enlarge your territory is asking God to enlarge your responsibility: If you do not drive a car, the price of petrol does not become a concern. With a greater territory comes greater responsibility. With an enlarged church congregation will come a greater degree of responsibility.
• Asking God to enlarge your territory is asking God to enlarge your influence: A greater territory is a larger platform on which to influence and affect the lives of others.
In this season, let's learn from the life of Jabez and ask the Lord to enlarge our capacity, our resources, our opportunity, our responsibility and enlarge our influence in order that we may be fit for the Master's use and advance His purpose on the earth.
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