Becoming a Christian takes only a moment; living the Christian life is a long-term challenge. While Jesus gives us His power to overcome sin, we are actively involved in the struggle. We also engage in spiritual warfare as we battle the forces of evil in prayer for ourselves, others, and the world around us. Our lives are never predictable, yet sometimes we look for a formula, a rule that will be a sure-fire solution to each day’s issues and perplexities.
In a discussion about rejoicing, one person offered, “I discovered years ago that joy depends on serving Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last.” While this is true, this acrostic quickly becomes a platitude to anyone who does not seek God’s renewing power on a continual basis. I’ve never been able to meet daily challenges with platitudes.
My verse today again reminds me how true that is. 1 Chronicles 4:10 says, “And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!’ So God granted him what he requested.”
This verse is the foundation for the best-selling book, The Prayer of Jabez. It became a formula for thousands of people who looked for just one basic rule for life that would insure victory over sin and and bring them continual blessing. Does it work?
Watchman Nee, who wrote my devotional book, says that it is God’s intention to continually bless His people. If that blessing is absent, there is a reason. Instead of asking God to bless us, we need to find out what we have done to stop its flow into our lives.
Someone once illustrated this using a cup. He said if our lives are right with God, we are like a cup standing upright and He is pouring blessing into it. However, if we sin, the cup tips over and all is spilled out. The only way to be restored to our upright position is to “confess our sin and He is faithful and just to forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Then this man repeatedly tipped and righted the cup and said, “Just realize that you will go through your Christian life tipping over and getting up. The best you can hope for is that the length of time becomes longer between tip-overs.”
This is the closest pat answer or formulas that I know of for a successful walk with God. While the prayer of Jabez is a good attitude to have, yet the prayer Jesus taught His disciples (commonly called the Lord’s Prayer), is just as good, and so also are the prayers of Paul. More important is praying according to the will of God in regard to the need of the moment and the desires of my heart, and even more important than that is keeping short accounts with Him so He can bless me.
Walking with Jesus is hard work, a daily, even a moment-by-moment act of paying attention to Him. Hanging a verse on the wall, memorizing and repeating verses, learning acrostics and catchy sayings do help me remember what I am learning, but no one thing covers all.
Only the person and work Jesus Christ covers it all. His blood covers my sin and my need to be clean, and when I turn to Him for answers, His direction conforms to His Word, not just one verse, but all of it. Not only that, instead of giving me pat answers, His daily bread always has an element of “being new every morning” and a delightful surprise to my heart.