When God created us, He didn’t build robots. Instead, He gave us a free will to make decisions and act on them…whether wise or foolish. But it’s also our free will that gets us into trouble most times. We bristle at being told what to do, and obeying the rules, in our mind, is optional. Yes, our free will can become problematic! So in this passage, the Lord is quite concise and deliberate in His laying out of our options. We are given the choice…the decision is ours. Will we obey and receive a blessing, or will we rebel and experience a curse?
Everyday we should be celebrating the many blessings from God…for He does things far beyond the bounds of what we think, expect, or can even imagine. Genesis 18:14 goes further to ask, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” But I heard an interesting sermon the other day challenging the idea of just what a blessing was. Do we thank God only for the good things we have, and that happen to us. Or do we praise Him also for all the difficult, uncomfortable, and bad things that come into our lives? How do we know that something meant for bad can’t suddenly be turned around by God for good? For what we see as affliction, can become the way to deeper holiness and sanctification in our life…or what appears to be a difficult situation may turn out to be a godsend in the end. This gives new meaning then to the song “Count your many Blessings”…for we need to praise God for everything that comes into our lives…the good, the bad, and the ugly.
What Jabez prayed was pretty simple and straightforward. He asked for divine guidance, protection, and for the Lord to expand his circle of influence around him. And guess what? God gave it to him! Don’t ever think that God is too busy with the breaking news of the day to listen to your prayers…He’s not. Your prayers are equally as important to Him as anything happening in the world today. And remember, there’s tremendous potential power within a simple heartfelt prayer.
God is a generous giver and His desire is to bless us. It says in James 1:17 that, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father…” So as big-hearted as God is towards us, we need to reflect that generosity in our giving to others. But He’s not just talking about money here…for it’s easy to give money. No, He’s talking about our time…and we’re probably more tight-fisted about that than any amount of money we’d give. Proverbs 21:26 tells us, “The righteous give without sparing.” So if you’ve been stingy with your time for the Lord…think of this…you will never be able to out give God.
It’s been amazing to watch the immense fields of corn and soybeans growing around us. The farmers have planted the greatest amount they can in order to have the most abundant harvest possible. Blessing others works the same way. If we are open-handed with our generosity…we ourselves will be blessed in return. For it says in Proverbs 11:25, “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Sow generously into the Kingdom of God with open hands and an open heart…for a man reaps what he sows.
You can’t change how others in the world will react and behave towards you. The only thing you can change is how you respond…and this scripture is very direct in how you should go about it. You should love. Not loving the sin, but loving the sinner. You should bless. This means speaking well of someone even if you don’t agree with their life-style. You should pray. Now this is probably the most important command… for pray changes not only the person you’re praying for, but it changes you.