Prosperity redefined…

Author, Colleen Fraioli
Author, Colleen Fraioli

About 15 years ago, “The Jabez Prayer” seemed to be the new solution to life’s problems in Christian circles. Jabez was known in scripture for one prayer, and it became my mantra. In fact, I only needed to mention to friends I was praying the prayer of Jabez and their response was typically,

“Oh!  Well, that changes everything! Watch out for God’s activity! You will be blee-eesed! And your borders will be expaa-aanded for sure!”

My prayer consisted of: “Lord prosper me! Give me a large piece of property – spiritually speaking of course – that everyone may know that you are good to me and may my kingdom expanded for Your glory!”

Unfortunately I did not get the same response as Jabez. In fact, I’m not exactly sure Jabez and I were praying the same prayer.  Which made me wonder… what moved God to answer his prayer?

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve revisited 1 Chronicles 4:9 – 10 with fresh eyes. Rather than a prayer for prosperity, Jabez’ prayer seems more like a plea for more of a life than his apparent destiny dictated. This time I read,

“God, may the label of pain marking my entrance into this world not define me. Instead, bless me, and may your hand be with me. Keep me from harm. And if it pleases you, expand my sphere of influence for Your kingdom above and beyond the pain around me.” I Chronicles 4:9 – 10.

 He seemed to be sincerely petitioning for a re-defined life which was not marked or defined by the bane of his existence, (his name Jabez literally means pain), but recognized and made significant by the blessing of someone covered by and validated by God himself. He wanted God’s stamp on his life over and above the curse. This was the prayer request that God granted to Jabez.

I think God will always answer a sincere request for re-definition, and not just for a guy who made history with two verses in the Old Testament. This season of Advent and all it represents is our do-over, our chance to redefine desires, motives and values.

The Apostle Peter reminds us,

“…knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ…” 1 Peter 1:18-19

I’ve decided to now pray the intended Prayer of Jabez. I’m choosing not to schlepp last year’s mistakes into the unmarked territory of a new year. As I cross the threshold on January 1st, I am asking for a clearer understanding of the redemption I already possess. My prayer is that I will view my life from God’s perspective rather than the labels of my humanity.

I think Jabez would agree with that prayer…just living the thing.

 

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Great, and Wonderful, and Intense Love… by Ann Marie

The treeI’m soooooooo glad it’s Christmas!

No, I’m not crazy, or on mind-altering medication, and yes, LED lights still trigger an inexplicable hate response in me, but I’m thinking of getting help for that.

No matter where I am, no matter the good or bad in my circumstances, that calendar turns over to December 1st,  and a little bud of excitement begins to bloom again way down deep in the heart of the ‘real me’.   It blossoms repeatedly because of an unshakeable truth that is unreachable and untouchable by any stress, pressure, or disappointments of Christmas ‘want-to-dos’, ‘have-to-dos’, or ‘wish-I-hads’!

God loves me… perfectly, and unconditionally.

I often imagine Jesus standing on the edge of eternity and time; all-powerful, majestic, clothed in the fullness of being Almighty God, armies of angels at His command, myriads worshipping Him continuously, not needing anything from any of us, but knowing we needed everything from Him.  Our rebellion had lost us all that relationship with God was meant to be, except His perfect, unconditional love.

He knew.  Standing there in heaven’s dimension He knew exactly what His love for us would cost Him to pay the set penalty for our sin and make a way for us to get right with God and with each other.  He knew the suffering, shame, and humiliation He would endure from the same people He came to save, the continual and current rejection of His love, the prideful arrogance, the spectacular failures, even from those who believe and accept Him…yes… been there, done that.   He knew!  Yet still He came.

Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?!?!

“But God – so rich is He in His mercy! Because of and in order to satisfy the GREAT AND WONDERFUL AND INTENSE LOVE with which He loved us, even when we were dead, slain by our own shortcomings and trespasses, He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ; He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him, for it is by grace; His favor and mercy which you did not deserve that you are saved, delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation.” Ephesians 2:4-5 Amplified Bible.  (caps mine)

This year our Christmas tree is decorated all in white and gold.  However, I insisted on placing a single red heart, right in the middle, to acknowledge and celebrate this great, wonderful, and intense love that moved Him to make that step from heaven’s indescribable glory, right into the middle of our hot mess.

One day (soon?), He is going to do it again!

“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse.  And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True…And the armies of heaven, clothed in linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses…And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:

KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”  Revelation 19:1-16 New King James Version

Even so, come Lord Jesus!  Till then, … just living the thing!

 

Blessed are the pure in heart…

Wendy & Dave Morgan
Wendy & Dave Morgan

I was trying to think of what to write about and talked with my friend Sharon who said,

“What is God working on in your life right now? Write about that.”

Great idea! But inside I thought, “Are you crazy?” That’s not beautiful, that’s broken. However if I only write about what I think God has completed in me, I would run out of material very quickly.

So I got to thinking, what is God working on?

I’ve been in this place lately where I feel like I’m coasting and He isn’t working on anything. Could there be a time when God isn’t working on me because I have not been in close enough communion with Him to know or even care? Not a chance! For that would mean God needs my permission to be working in my life; see how crazy that sounds?

Thankfully, the validation of my relationship with God isn’t from me.  It’s from Him. Why then do I feel that I am in this place void of communion just waiting for something to happen?

I think it’s an issue of a pure heart; an undivided, undistracted, and single-minded heart.

“Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.” Psalm 24:3-4

A pure heart is what we give back to the Lord through obedience and our relationship with him. Although purity of heart isn’t something I can reach on my own, I can’t just sit back and expect it to happen.

“Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands you sinners, and purify your hearts you double-minded. James 4:8

According to James having a pure heart takes action on my part. I don’t want to be double-minded, and yet I find myself allowing distraction after distraction to fog my vision of God. The list is long; work, busyness, sin, cancer, football, and on and on.

What if I was as excited about God on a daily basis as I am about the Green Bay Packers?

Did you SEE that Thursday night game? What a finish! I told anyone willing to listen about Rodger’s Hail Mary pass. When was the last time I whooped and hollered about Jesus or told anyone willing to listen about my love for the Lord? My singlemindedness has been misplaced.

This Christmas season is the perfect time to refocus my heart on my relationship with God, taking my clean heart and ask God to make it pure.

The sign in front of my house tells the world what we believe.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son…”  John 3:16

I want my sincere faith and purity of heart to tell people this everyday as my love for the Lord is evident in my daily walk as I’m…just living the thing.