When my parents built their new house they put in cable electric heat. This was quite a change from the old coal and wood stove that they had in their old house. Each room had individual temperature controls. They were not marked with a graduated scale. They just had a section on the control that simply read "Comfort Zone". Go above that section and the room would be too hot; go below and the room would be too cold. Keep it in the "Comfort Zone" and everything is great.
I believe that we, as Christians, also have our "Comfort Zones". When we are in them we are more likely to relax and be satisfied with the way things are. I must guard against that in my own life and ministry. Our attendance is at the point where it would be easy to fall into a "Comfort Zone". The church is doing well financially. You are taking care of me and my family. Why push for change? Why seek to grow? After all, things are very comfortable!
The danger is that we may grow complacent and self-satisfied! When that happens, we begin to grieve the heart of God. We are in danger of becoming like the church at Laodicea! To avoid this from becoming a reality we must pray! But what should we pray? Note: 1Chro. 4:9-10
I. Jabez' Place in History.
A. Consider the genealogies.
1. We find many places in the Scriptures where there are seemingly endless lists of names.
2. It is sad to think that multitudes are listed and all that is said about them is that they lived, begat sons and daughters, and then died.
3. However that is the truth about life isn't it?
4. Few people leave an indelible mark upon this world, and even fewer have an impact on eternity!
B. What about us?
1. Ten years after our death, will it have mattered that we lived?
2. Or will we simply be one name of many in a list on some obscure genealogical record?
3. It doesn't have to be that way!
C. Jabez's name stood out from among those in insignificancy.
1. He was not a great prophet or preacher.
2. He was not a wise ruler over great nation.
3. He was not famous on the field of battle.
4. He was remembered because of his prayer!
5. He was a man that was "more honourable than his brethren".
II. The Prayer of Jabez.
A. He prayed for spiritual prosperity.
1. "Oh that thou would wouldest bless me indeed"
2. He was not satisfied with the status quo...he wanted God's blessings upon his life.
3. He recognized what was most important in life.
4. He wanted the richest, fullest blessings from God.
5. We aren't talking about money, fame, or possessions here, though they may come, we are talking about seeking God's best for our lives.
B. He prayed for widened horizons.
1. "Enlarge my coast".
2. He didn't want to stay in the "comfort zone"!
3. The word 'enlarge' means simply to make larger, extend in limits or dimensions, to extend to more purposes or uses.
4. The word 'coast' here is used to refer to boundaries and borders.
5. His desire was to reach out beyond himself...to expand his sphere of influence.
C. He prayed that the hand of God would be with him.
1. The Hebrew word that is used here is the one for an open hand.
2. Indicating power, means, and direction.
3. Jabez prayed that God's open hand of direction and power would be with Him.
4. What a comfort to know that God is there with an open hand to take ours and lift us up when we are down, and encourage us when we are weak.
D. He prayed for deliverance from sin.
1. Jabez was aware of the power of evil and the fact that God could deliver him.
2. Perhaps he had witnessed others who were grieved over the result of sin in their lives.
3. Whatever the reason, Jabez prayed and sought God's help in this matter as well.
E. God answered his prayers. v10b
III. The Application.
A. Individually, are we satisfied with our "comfort zone"?
1. There is safety in staying within the boundaries that we know.
2. That is why it is called a "comfort zone"...it's comfortable!
3. Are we growing complacent?
4. May we each receive the challenge from this brief testimony concerning Jabez.
5. Pray that God would truly bless us with great spiritual prosperity, that He would widen our horizons, that His hand would be upon us, and that He would keep us from evil.
B. As a church, are we satisfied to stay in our "comfort zone"?
1. May we receive the challenge tonight to ask God for more...
2. Not that we might be lifted up in pride, but that God might be glorified!
3. More ministries, more workers, more fruit, more work to do!
We have a great opportunity in our community to make a difference for the cause of Christ. Yes, we have had some great blessings from God and we have seen some wonderful results. But God help us not to become comfortable and lose sight of what can be done if we will simply ask God. "God granted him that which he requested". He will do the same for us!