Earlier this week, I posted a note about getting prepared. Isaiah 54:2 says
2 "Enlarge the place of your tent,
stretch your tent curtains wide,
do not hold back;
lengthen your cords,
strengthen your stakes.
As I read this, two stories are immediately brought to mind, the prayer of Jabez and that of Rahab.
As we think about the wonderfulness God is bringing into our lives--even if we are simply at the stage where we are *contemplating* faith and are subsisting on hope--we have to understand it will not happen if we are unprepared. I want you to see the prayer of Jabez:
9 Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, [a] 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.
Jabez cried out because he was in pain...his mother reminded him often of the plight of pain and sorrow he has caused her. How is a person to grow healthy and strong and prosperous if he/she is continually reminded of their shortcomings, their mistakes, their negative circumstances? Simply they can't.
Words are the most important thing we have. If negative and passive words have taken root in the heart, and, thus, the mouth (a man speaketh as his heart directs), negative actions will ensue. Jabez, however, had had enough. He went straight to God--"Lord, change the direction of my life. Set me free from my namesake...!" And, God granted his request. What want you to see here is this: Jabez was a honorable man, so he was already prepared and preparing for God's blessing. He asked that God's hand be on him, meaning, that he was willing to surrender to God's will over his life. He did not ask for a mercedes that all his friends and relatives would know that "he has arrived." He asked for God's will and protection, that over this prosperity God might be glorified. He asked the God would change his future, renaming him, in a sense, and in this Jabez will continually commit himself to the service of the Lord. He was prepared and preparing for the Lord's blessing. Jabez was an honorable man.
Our Biblical Sister of the Week
Sister, we need not wait for the title of "honorable" before we get prepared. There are so many women in the The Bible that I could have pulled for this lesson. I chose Rahab. Although she will become a mother to Jesus, when she first began to lengthen the scarlet cords across the bows of he family home, she was still a prostitute. She was still a prostitute. Her story is in Joshua 2.
There is so much here that I want to delve into that is slightly off topic. The symbolism of the scarlet cord, the three days, and so much more. But, with this study, I am determined to stay on course. so, enter Rahab and the Spies. At first glance it appears that Rahab is shrewdly negotiating the lives of her family for the safety of the spies. I dare anyone to tell you there are no strong, bold women in the word of God. Rahab epitomizes the best of them--and she was a mother to Jesus! Does it get any better! oh, and by the way , she shows up again the "Faith Hall of Fame" in Hebrews 11. While yes, she is negotiating for her house...she has proclaimed the sovereignty of the Lord. She gives testimony to his greatness:
8 Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof 9 and said to them, "I know that the LORD has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. 10 We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea [b] for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. [c] 11 When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone's courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below. 12 Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign 13 that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and that you will save us from death."
14 "Our lives for your lives!" the men assured her. "If you don't tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the LORD gives us the land."
She testifies to the Lord greatness and they confirm saying that when the LORD turns over the land, her house will be safe. This whole entire transaction was based on faith in the LORD.
Rahab was prepared, just as Jabez was...not because their circumstances said they were, but because they were prepared in faith--in the knowledge of who God IS. Rahab tied her scarlet cord and began gathering her family.
So, Sisters, are you prepared in faith? Are your cords lengthened, has your tent been enlarged? "DO NOT HOLD BACK" Isaiah 54:2 says...are you holding back? Get on with it Girl...the LORD is here and he is waiting for you to be prepared.