Lord, Let Your Hand Be With Me!
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture:1 Chronicles 4: 9-10
Sunday 22nd June 2014
We are continuing the series 'Prayer That Changes Circumstances', our journey of understanding on Jabez prayer in 1 Chronicles 4. Previously, we understood that Jabez refused to be limited by his background and his birth, and instead cried out to God for more. Jabez moved beyond a mere request for a blessing and asked God to enlarge his territory, which we understood to be a request to God to enable him to make greater impact. The prayer of Jabez was a lesson to each of us to be hungry for more in order that we may make eternal impact and to always approach God with an expectation that there will be a manifestation of the fulfillment of our request. Our request to God to enlarge our territory had, we understood, five key implications: it was a request for God to enlarge our influence, our capacity, our resources, our responsibility and our opportunity.
There is so much life-changing revelation loaded in this brief prayer. Today we are going to focus on the third aspect of Jabez's prayer: his request that God's hand be with him. It is interesting to observe that following Jabez's request to God we are told 'So God granted him what he requested.' From this we can deduce that there was something that Jabez did which caused his prayers to be answered. Wisdom dictates that if something works and brings positive results, we should observe, learn and apply it to our lives in order to obtain the same. 1 John 5: 14 (NLT) states, 'And we are confident that He hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases Him.' This makes clear that God hears us when our requests please Him. God answered Jabez because his prayer pleased Him. Jabez's request, "bless me indeed" pleased God; his cry, "enlarge my territory" pleased God and his request, "let your hand be with me" also pleased God as did his request to God to keep him from evil. Each aspect of the prayer was pleasing to God. 1 John 5: 15 says, 'And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.' Because Jabez's prayer pleased God, He heard his request and as a result, Jabez's request was answered. There is much for each of us to learn from this.
The first thing to observe is that Jabez, 'called on the God of Israel'. You will notice that the bible does not refer here to 'The Lord' as it refers to God elsewhere but very specifically says that Jabez called on the God of Israel. The Bible is communicating something of significance here which we must not overlook.
It is telling us that Jabez was covenant aware and as a result, God answered his prayers. God takes covenant very seriously. He says in Psalm 89:34, 'No, I will not break my covenant; I will not take back a single word I said.' Jesus told us to take the bread and the wine of communion in remembrance of Him, namely the covenant that we are now parties to and beneficiaries of because of the cross. God is a covenant keeping God and we must approach Him with our covenant in the forefront of our minds.
The request that God should put His hands on us is quite a popular prayer. Often however, we Christians say things without really understanding what it is that we are asking for. What does it mean for us to ask God to put His hands on us? If we fail to understand what we are actually asking for, how will we recognise it when our prayer is answered? There is most certainly a place for understanding when approaching God in prayer. Let's look at some scriptures which provide us with insight into the hand of God: 1 Chronicles 29: 12 says, 'Wealth and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength.' Job 5: 18 says, 'For though he wounds, he also bandages. He strikes, but his hands also heal.' Job 12: 10 tells us that the life of every living thing is in God's hands. Psalm 95:5 presents to us the creative power of God, the maker of dry land and sea and Isaiah 41: 12 reveals to us the incomparable magnitude of God, being the One who 'held the oceans in His hands and measured off the heavens with his fingers.' Psalm 31: 5 reveals God as the One to whose hands our spirits are committed and Isaiah 49: 16 assures us that our names are written in the palms of God's hands. Daniel 4: 35 states 'No-one can restrain His hand' and in John 10: 28 Jesus says, 'And I give them eternal life and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.' These scriptures give us understanding of the magnitude and power of God and what it is that we are really asking for when we ask Him to let His hand be on us.
Jabez understood what he was asking God to do; it was not a flippant prayer. It was a purposeful and specific request and God granted this to him. 1 Corinthians 9: 26 tells us that we should run with purpose; this extends to the way in which we pray. We must pray with specificity and intentionality. In this season of waiting on God, it would be futile to come without an aim. We are not shadowboxing or simply beating the air. We must have an expectation and be deliberate in our prayers. Jabez was asking God for all that He had for him; and his prayers were answered.
The hand of God represents the power and the might of God. It is this aspect of Jabez's request on which I will focus today. We need the power of God. There is nothing that we can obtain that we do not need the power of God to maintain and sustain. We cannot be a blessing to others without God's grace and God's power. In asking God to let His hand be with him, Jabez was making a request for the power and the anointing of God. He recognised the significance of the power of God. We have not been called to live powerless lives. Neither have we been called to walk in our own strength and power. We are called to walk with God and do ministry by His power. There is nothing that we can do of any significance without the power of God. It is only by drawing on the power of God that we can be assured that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church; without God's power, the gates of hell would completely overwhelm and destroy us.
In the days of the Apostles as recorded in the book of Acts, we see that the power of God was a regular experience. Acts 4: 33 tells us that the Apostles operated with 'great power' and 'great grace.' We are called to walk in this way also. There is a school of thought that suggests that the power of God was released and made available only to the Apostles. Where did that 'idea' come from? In 1 Corinthians 2: 4-5, Paul explains that his speech and preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom but in the 'demonstration of the Spirit and of power.' Human wisdom cannot sustain you through life; you need the power of God. Our faith cannot be in our own power and wisdom but must be wholly in the power of God. I Corinthians 4:20 says that the Kingdom of God is not in word but in power. A gathering of believers without the power of God is nothing more than a pointless social club. Jabez understood that he needed God's power and God granted him his request.
1 Thessalonians 1: 5 says, 'For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit'. Why is it that we are content to live without the power of God? In order to be effective, we need the power of God and we need it to be demonstrated in our lives. In Acts 5, we understand that the expansion of the early church was attributable to the signs and wonders that were demonstrated amongst them. Matthew 4: 23-244 makes us to understand that Jesus' fame throughout the region of Syria was also directly attributable to the power of God with which he healed 'all kinds of sicknesses and all kinds of disease.' Great multitudes followed Him from all around the region, because He demonstrated the power of God. If the modern-day church of Jesus Christ demonstrated His power, we would not need to advertise or use television and radio; the outpouring of God's power would draw the people of the world to Him. We have, however, become satisfied and comfortable and content to live without the power of God. We are satisfied to just come to church and for church to be 'business as usual'. When the power of God is released, church is anything but 'usual', it is dynamic, exciting and life-changing! We are however far too complacent and as a result, we are devoid of a real longing for God's power to be revealed in our lives. The power of God is still available to us, if only we would ask for it. God will not give us what we do not desire.
The truth is however that the people of the world will not come to Church unless the power of God is demonstrated, as without it, we have nothing to offer them. If you look at it objectively, they have more fame, more money and live in better houses; they have everything they need and we cannot compete with them; however the power of God is what distinguishes us. It is only the power of God that will attract the lost.
I am tired of seeing Christians living powerless lives! Too many of us are being oppressed by the very demons that we were instructed to trample on. Too many of us are struggling with problems that God has given us total victory over but because we fail to walk in the power of God, we appear to be defeated. Jesus experienced multitudes thronging Him, even when He wanted to retreat and yet we are struggling with empty church buildings; Why? It was because He moved in the power of God. The woman with the issue of blood did not wait to be invited to church; she understood that the power of God was available even at the hem of Jesus' garment. When the power of God is at work, healings and miracles are available even to those on the fringes of the church. We have been given power and authority to tread on scorpions and we have been assured that nothing will in any way be able to harm us – so what is the problem? The power of God is not just for a select few such as Benny Hinn and Reinhardt Bonnke, but for everyone. I want the power of God to break out in our cell groups such that entire neighborhoods are transformed. Can you just imagine the degree of transformation that Woolwich will encounter when we see the dynamic power of God break out amongst us in every service?
How, therefore do we operate in the power of God? The first key is to ensure that your motive is right. Remember the account of Simon the sorcerer in Acts 8 who tried to offer the Apostles money to enable him to lay hands on people in order that they may receive the Holy Spirit? He earned a stern rebuke from Peter who said, "Your money perish with you ... You have neither part nor portion in this matter for your heart is not right in the sight of God." His motive was all wrong and was focused on glorifying himself rather than glorifying God. God's power being revealed is for the glory of God only. Secondly, we must seek God's face and develop a real relationship with Him. In Philippians 3: 10 Paul revealed that the desire of his heart was to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and that everything else paled into insignificance. The power of God is revealed in the place of intimate relationship with Him. We cannot operate in His power when we do not know Him. It is in the place of loving Him that the power of God is released. Thirdly, we must pray for His power. James 5: 16 says that the effective prayer of the righteous makes power available. Jabez's prayer was heartfelt and passionate and God answered him. God's power is available to those who would ask.
This is a wake-up call for the body of Christ. We have not been called to live powerless Christian lives. The power of God is as available and as relevant as it has ever been. We have been called to affect our generation in time and for eternity. We can only do this by drawing on and walking in the power of God.
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