Wednesday, October 13, 2010

2010 – October 13 – The Allure of Health and Wealth

Study from God’s Word 1st Chronicles, Chapters 1 – 4 … Passage for Reflection: 1st Chronicles 4: 10 [with some context] … NIV 9 Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, "I gave birth to him in pain." 10 Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, "Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain." And God granted his request. … 41 The men whose names were listed came in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah.

My Journal for Today: Today Dr. Smith lifts a passage from those dull, but very important, genealogies from the Books of Chronicles, … a passage which was made popular in a book by Bruce Wilkinson, entitled The Prayer of Jabez, … a book which became very popular, and somewhat controversial, some years back.

As LaGard Smith points out in today’s devotional message, one must be careful to avoid some of the contentions Dr. Wilkinson made about using this prayer, which seems to fit right into the proponents of the “health/wealth” gospel proponents of recent times. And I agree with Dr. Smith. Who would not want to pray to God for an increase in wealth and for protection from pain? And of all the names simply listed in the genealogies of 1st Chronicles, as Dr. Wilkinson highlights, why would God see fit to chronicle the prayer of this man Jabez, whose name in Hebrew apparently means “pain ridden?”

Wilkinson contended, in his book, that this prayer was highlighted because God wants us to pray to Him often and regularly for well being. However, if this is the case, as Dr. Smith posits, though our Savior prayed for God to lift His “cup” of suffering, why did God not honor that request from the Son of God Himself? And why, when people like the Apostle Paul (in 2nd Cor. 12) pray for relief from pain and suffering, … like Christians in 3rd world countries must be praying daily, … why does God not lift their suffering from them? Paul prayed and prayed that God would lift his pain from “the thorn” which God allowed Satan to visit upon him. And we could ask why Christians in China are praying daily that American Christians experience MORE suffering so that God will bless us with his enabling/empower grace more readily? Tough questions … but good questions, for sure!

And in answer to these questions, perhaps, as Dr. Smith points out, we can get a hint to the answers from the name of “Jabez,” which, as I pointed out, meant “man of suffering or pain” in Hebrew. Perhaps God knew that this man, Jabez, whom we see was a very honorable man in God’s eyes, needed relief from his painful destiny because he was not equipped to handle such pain. We know that Jesus healed many as He walked through his God-Man ministry in the 1st centrury; but Jesus didn’t heal all the blind and diseased and pain-ridden souls who came into His purview.

When, in faith and as instructed by James 5: 13-16 [linked], our church congregants come to their Elders, whom I happen to be one, for healing prayer, as instructed by God’s own truth, … we Elders pray for healing with expectation, as we’re instructed by God’s word. BUT, … we know that only God knows which of these faithful ones will be healed in this life. But beyond this, … we do know that God is going to give all of these faithful ones healing and relief from any pain, WHEN HE DECIDES to do so … in this life or in the next.

Hence, there is nothing wrong with the prayer offered by Jabez for his own life, or for ours, for that matter. The only thing will be what his or our expectation is and how/when God is going to answer such a prayer. God will hear any faithful believer who prays to Him … for anythingat any time. But how and when God answers that prayer will always be within God’s will and God’s timing. If that was true for the Son of God Himself, it’s surely true for all of us; and it was, most certainly, true for Jabez.

God answered with a resounding “YES” for Jabez; but tomorrow when I pray, as I do often, for relief from the severe arthritic pain in my left hip, God may see fit to say “YES, … NO, or … BE PATIENT, Bill.” And again, I have Christ’s own instructions, through Paul, that “God’s grace is sufficient” for any suffering I may humbly bring to my Lord; and my humility in dealing with that suffering may be just what I need to reach out and become what God desires for me to become. … But, as Jabez and the Apostle Paul prayed, I do pray that He would grant me release from my pain soon. But if He doesn’t in this life, I know He will in the next. And that’s good enough for me.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, take away this hip pain; or give me the strength to deal with it and use it to grow closer to and more like You. Amen

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