Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Stretch and enlarge my territory!
"Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes." -- Isaiah 54:2
Many times, it is helpful when trying to understand a Bible verse better, to read the verses before and after the chosen verse. It gives you more context and lets you see what the author is really talking about. At the beginning of this chapter, God is comparing Israel to a woman who has never had children. He says he will give her more children than she can imagine...That he will grow the nation far and wide. God goes on to say that he will bring the people of Israel back to him. He was angry for a time, and turned away from them. But, he loved them and wanted to them back...so he blessed them and told then he would expand their numbers.
I have a friend who has never had children. That fact has troubled her for MANY years. She would cry out to God, asking him why, when she wanted so badly to be a mother, was she left childless? She told me onced that one night, she sat right up in bed and Isaiah 54:1 came to her. "Sing, O barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband," says the LORD." Now, this meant a LOT to her...and not just because a Bible verse came to her in the middle of the night! She also was a singer...who had lost her voice! God brought back her voice soon after that, AND he blessed her with MANY "spiritual children"...which means she became a mentor and friend to many younger people in her life. I am one of those "spiritual children" of her hers, and her story has touched me over the years. She continues to teach me, challenge me, and care for me, as if I were her real daughter. God not only gave her back the gift of music, he gave her "children" to care for!
Several years ago, I read the book The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson. This book was very popular and reached "best seller" status, but it got a lot of criticism as well. Whether I liked the book or not is not the point. The prayer that the book is based on comes from 1 Chronicles 4:10 and 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."
Some read this book and prayed the prayer, hoping for financial growth and stability. After reading that book, I too prayed that prayer, but it was not financial growth that I longed for. First, I liked the "May I not cause pain." part. I am one who does NOT like to hurt people's feelings and I never want anything I do or say to cause pain in any way. I also liked the "enlarge my territory" part. I thought the more people I know and come in contact with, the more people I can show God's love to, right? Well...God has blessed me over and over from those words! I have come in contact with HUNDREDS of people since reading that book, and have expanded my "sphere of influence" greatly through new friendships and through this blog! I don't claim to be a Bible scholar, but I do understand God's love and the saving grace of Jesus...and I try to share that love and grace with everyone I meet!
So, however you ask God for it....be prepared! Your territory may enlarge...your tents may be stretched...your number of spiritual children may grow... but God wants to bless you greatly so you can show his love to others!